Ep #95 | What's Your Superpower?



Dr. Darria Long is an emergency room physician, regular expert on national TV - you'll find her on CNN, HLN, and The Dr. Oz Show, mom of 2, and also the author of the national bestselling book Mom Hacks - which has been endorsed by Dr. Oz and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Darria has become the national 'go-to' doctor for women and parenting health - Dr. Oz refers to her as the "make-life-better-for-women doctor". Dr. Darria is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School, and residency training in emergency medicine from the Yale School of Medicine.



Shantel: Hi Dr. Darria, welcome to the show.

Dr. Darria: Hi Shantel, thank you so much.

Shantel: And of course we're so excited to learn more about your journey in entrepreneurship and becoming a doctor and a mom and all things. And I would love to kick things off with sharing a little bit more about ... to our listeners about what's currently keeping you busy.

Dr. Darria: Yes, absolutely. So really exciting projects I'm working on right now. Obviously we'll be talking about the book Mom Hacks, but I just signed with a new network about doing a new health show pilot and that really excited about that. So we'll be talking about, I'll be able to tell you about that in a few weeks. And then David Kirsch is this amazing trainer. He's like the guy who helped Heidi Klum lose her, baby weight six weeks after she had her baby and she went on the Victoria's Secret runway. But he's also just an amazing guy and he and I are creating a course for people, a 14 day course. So I'm just so excited about both of those projects right now.

Shantel: That's so exciting. You may ... I'm tempted to just want to ask all these questions about a show. Hold on.

Dr. Darria: I know. I am still doing the CNN stuff and all of that, but this is one I can't talk about it yet. It's very hard.

Shantel: Well, I mean already I'm buzzing with other kind of questions on this. So you're doing this show, you are a new author, which I imagined you require some book tours and sign in and just talking about the book promoting on CNN, ER, I mean how ... let's kind of dive into what does a day to day look like for you and do you do all of those every day or do you kind of time block things out?


Dr. Darria: I am a huge time blocker and I laugh now because my days are very binary now. I'm either in studio, full hair, makeup, wardrobe, everything or I'm like at home in my workout clothes, writing and preparing my talks and things. There's nothing in the middle, I don't think anymore more. Which is actually really good because I... it was a kind of an interesting position to move to a home office, but since the rest of my work really pulls me away, that enabled me to have a little bit of balance so that when I'm not on camera and that place where I truly have to be remote or working in the ER, which I obviously cannot do near my family. Then when I'm not doing those two things, I do get a little more time at home. Therefore see my kids, take a little brain break, see my children, things like that. So unlike from the islands.

Shantel: And Are you traveling to ... out of state for the ER. I feel like getting in your bio.

Dr. Darria: That's a really good question. So I'm on faculty at two different places but one of them is Unity at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is where I'm a clinical assistant professor. Now it sounds really far, it's Tennessee, it's actually not. It's little over an hour, hour and a half. And my family lives there, so we'd go up there anyway. So it's really wonderful to be on faculty at UT Erlanger and to be able to contribute there and to be working there. So I really love it.

Shantel: I bet. Well, so I'd love to hear a little bit more about the journey of you get your PhD, you become a doctor and then how do you start to get into this network space, this TV, this... becoming an influencer, an entrepreneur.

Dr. Darria: Well, I appreciate you thinking I have my PhD, I did not have a third degree. I have a MD. Thank you for the compliment. Having a PhD, always very smart, so thank you. The media was not always the plan. I had gone to business school in the middle of a medical school and was very interested because I felt like I was seeing very many changes in how healthcare was provided, often made the decisions made by people who did not practice medicine. And I saw many physicians and patients are like very frustrated with that. So that's what ... There was initial impetus for getting my MBA was, I thought if I have that, then I can speak from both sides, as both the practicing physician and someone who has knowledge of business. That was kind of the initial plan. And then when I was in residency, I was at Yale and there was the swine flu epidemic and a bird flu epidemic and everybody was watching. And if you ever watch local news, a lot of the coverage there was stay tuned for the 10:00 PM for the death toll from swine flu. So everybody was petrified. They were coming at our length of stay in the waiting room alone just to see a doctor was eight hours because we were so crowded. And I remember thinking, you'd see a patient, you probably do have it, but you're 35 and you're going to be fine and I'm sorry you were so worried by this. So that was the first time I thought, I want to touch my patients. Not physically, I want to be able to reach them, three hours, three days, three months, three years before they actually come in the ER. And the best way I realize I do that was to be able to have some voice on media. So that's where it started, was just seeing that real need and local news, and local work led to being a national spokesperson and led to doing the Dr. Oz show and a lot on national TV. And it really just came from the knowledge I have an experienced with my patients and realizing what is it that everybody needs to know that isn't getting provided to them in other sources.

Shantel: Now did you kind of you realize that there's caused gap in the industry and you'd like to reach more people, more quickly? Did you work with the publicist to PR team to kind of help you get placed in these places or did you just go knocking on doors?

Dr. Darria: Yeah to ... not to begin with really ... I worked with the American College of Emergency Physicians, which is our National Organization. And kind of told them that I was interested. So they were outlet so that when there were magazines or different people who needed an ER doctor for an opinion they would reach out to me. So that was my first exposure and then it just kind of one thing led to another. And I've reached out to local networks and local news and see I'm here, I'm a resource and it [inaudible 00:06:08] end up doing a lot of local TV and local segments and really figure out how news needs to be covered and how they message it. And so it was a lot of writing and then I ended up working for a company called Sharecare and doing a lot more writing and they would have me do videos and at a time teleprompter practice through that was like prompter boot camp because we would do like 30 videos and afternoon. And so it was really great to have those different experiences to really learn the media world because I didn't come from a world of training and media. And so to be able to build those skills that takes a while, that none of us are just born knowing how to do.

Shantel: Well, just a ... rewind just a little bit. You were talking about you were going to residency and also getting your MBA where a lot of your peers ... Is that common that people are tackling both of-

Dr. Darria: No, it's not too common. And is there ... now you are seeing a few more MD, MBA dual degrees, but it's still not ... I would love to see it be more common, but it really wasn't and it was definitely after business school. Most of my friends went to these high power jobs and they were doing these amazing things, take these great trips and I ended up going back to residency, working a hundred hours a week and just head down. So if they will be performing different lifestyle for a few years after is this school, it was really necessary because I think when I go on media, whatever the platform is, I am a physician first and people I think of them as patients or potential patients and that provides a degree of caring for them and wanting to have answers and first do no harm and kind of that mentality of how do we find solutions, especially as an ER doctor until it's been hugely valuable.

Shantel: We talk a lot on the show about niche and industry verticals and really kind of defining that customer persona. And it sounds like you kind of got right out of school and went into kind of a specialized place. Is that correct? Or do you try a few things first?


Dr. Darria: In terms of my medical specialty… So the way you do it for medical school is your last year of medical school, you choose your residency until you choose that specialty, which is ... I chose emergency medicine. So you have to kind of commit pretty early on because then you have four to seven years ahead of you of residency training. So it was a really hard route and at times it felt very much like my paths or divergent because I had this business interest in that and I had this resident medical interest and then I had this media interest. And I think it's important to say to all of our listeners that sometimes you're building and you want to make sure that, are you building things that can potentially, do you have a vision, for them to come together in the future? And if so sometimes you do have to put in the time to do each one in series, in part. So in the last two years now the clinical medicine and here as a doctor and the television and the business has all come together. But it took a long time to really see that vision through.

Shantel: I love how you didn't go the conventional route of, I will be, you had other passions, you really tapped into those and really wanted to foster that and continue to learn and grow and now ultimately have been able to merge all of those together.

Dr. Darria: So everybody can be like what is the Venn diagram of what I enjoy and like what's kind of your superpower, what can you do and often it is by making that narrow, that Venn diagram and figuring out how it is and what it is.

Shantel: I love that. I've never heard anyone say specifically around the superpower piece, which I think is really important to think about because I think people can get caught up in the, well I love to travel, which could be kind of one of those circles, but is that your superpower? How are you giving back? Did you hear that from somewhere or is that just kind of always something that you've stuck to?

Dr. Darria: I kind of need ... I think about -

Shantel: I like it.

Dr. Darria: Venn diagram super power right now, think about it. There may be instead of a person who loves to travel or there may be a lot of people in the world who love to travel and there may be a lot of people in the world who are writers that maybe there's not people who love to travel and our writers with the exact tone that you have. And now you have a targeted niche. And now you have something that's differentiated.

Shantel: I really like that. We were diving into really starting a plan for quarter three and we do this big, we kind of use these weird terms that rocks. So we're working on this one big project for quarter three and I'd really love it to be around personal purpose and helping everyone in our company to grow. Maybe what their super power or what their purpose is. And I'm really going to take this Venn diagram. Thanks. I appreciate that. And I will give you credit as we're walking through it.

Dr. Darria: Excellent.


Shantel: Well, let's talk about Mom Hacks. So when did you just recently launched? February?

Dr. Darria: Yes, February 19th. And it became a national bestseller. We were number 19 on the national bestseller list. So it was amazingly exciting. And purpose on what we had dreamed, but better than we'd hoped of course.

Shantel: Wow. Okay. So that's less than a few months and already national bestseller. Do you have any strategies or tips for people also interested in writing something on how to achieve a status that.

Dr. Darria: Yeah, I think a lot of this is ... I'm making it up as I go because it's all up love experimentation and iteration but I think again it's finding what do you do that's differentiated and then where are the people who buy that. So just as an example I'm on CNN, one to four times a week and they always talk about my book and do these big slides and it's wonderful and that's going to millions of people, but that we never saw that really move the needle on sales of Mom Hacks as the book. And so it was interesting in that we thought would be maybe the people who are watching television don't buy books as much or maybe not this kind of book. Then I went to contrast that on Hallmark ended the Hallmark home and family show. It aired on Thursday. They shot to number one on Amazon for beauty. It reared on Friday, we'd shot to number one on Amazon for motherhood, which just goes to show it does not have to be in millions of people audience if you are targeting the right exact target for your product.

Shantel: That's powerful. Do you also think with the CNN demographic that maybe it was like a thought leadership piece so that maybe they will buy one day but they just needed some more information first?

Dr. Darria: It may be. I think that I'm still figuring it out. I don't know the exact details because if so I would do it and repeat it every single time, but it was just kind of eye opening and it's something that we've been kind of playing with because we didn't realize it would be that drastic. And I've also heard people who watch radio tend also buy more, but I listen to radio tend to buy more books. So there's just a lot to know. Whatever your product is where are your people, who are your people, where are they and where are they activated to buy or do something.

Shantel: What do you think another important takeaway for trying different pieces easily especially investing in marketing and different pieces, you ... it's hard to say, well that didn't work, now take a whole new chunk of change and try something else.

Dr. Darria: Yes.

Shantel: But you have to keep trying to see what sticks with your audience. I think that's great. What inspired you-

Dr. Darria: Well like with social media and different ... you can try a different as A/B testing and try different messages and just figure out what text works or what graphics work and that's not very expensive to do that kind of A/B testing, just do some national marketing thing. But otherwise you can iterate pretty book.

Shantel: Definitely. What inspired you to write the book?

Dr. Darria: So I wrote the book, I had my own health scare and I was in residency and always too much impunity healthy up until that point and I decided to wake up. It felt like overnight. It was over the course of weeks with my joints started to swell, my hands, my feet, my back, my knees, my hands were so ... my fingers were so swollen. They were like breakfast sausages I could not hold a pen and I couldn't really stand to talk and to evaluate my patients. I had to sit down. It literally brought me to my knees and it was really ... it was now a lot of pain and I was very scared because I didn't know what was going on. And so I ended up seeing multiple specialists and in the end they diagnosed me with an autoimmune arthritis condition. And I was fortunate, I had great doctors. They put me on some medications, we kind of had to try a bunch of different ones and ended up settling on one where I was having to give myself an injection twice a week. And I remember asking and thinking like, is this me for the rest of my life? What does this mean, for being able to have children and for being, my immune system being suppressed for the rest of my life and for my joints will I be able to walk in 20 years? And I was essentially told you'll have to stay on the meds, you'll need to stay on this. This is going to ... this is it. This is going to be it for the rest of your life. And I did not like that answer and I felt ... I was like, I'm at Yale, I have access to some of the best experts in the world. I'm going to start to figure this out and look at the research, and I really started digging in on looking on everything from nutrition, to our microbiome, to how we handle stress and sleep and all of those things and kind of created this program for myself. I kind of cut out everything in my diet, I cut out for a while. Gluten dairy, sugar, joy and happiness. I've had to cut everything for a while to see what would work. I changed my ER shift schedule once I finished residency. I handled ... trying to handle my stress differently, I started doing some meditation, I just went through the whole book at it and indeed it was like anything that looked like it may help in terms of lifestyle or anything like that. I did. And I remember telling the father and friend of mine that was gonna be doing these things and he said, that'll never work. And it worked over the course of a couple of years I was able to wean off my medications and eventually come off them altogether. And that's not to say that I have some miracle cure for arthritis or any autoimmune condition at all. I'm still not cured and I'm still aware that I have arthritis, but it doesn't limit me anymore and I don't need to be taking any medications for it. And it really was eye opening, how much we can control our conditions, especially those chronic conditions with our lifestyle. So it was kind of cruising fast along and then became pregnant and had the exact same voices of, Oh now that you're pregnant, once you've children, this is the way your life is going to be. You're never going to sleep, you'll never exercise, you'll never eat well, you'll never lose baby weight, whatever. It was the exact same voice tone and messages that I got when I had arthritis and I was like, you know what? This is Deja vu all over again. I figured it out, once I see myself not feeling well right now, I see my patients and my fellow mom's not feeling well. How can I codify what I did? And I'm an ER doctor so I am focused and obsessed with efficiency. So I really started like, how can I reverse engineer that feeling, because in the ER I always feel as an ER doctor that I've got this, I can handle it. How could I reverse engineer that to create a system that in my life and in my patients' lives and the lives of moms and women and everybody they can have that. I've got this feeling. So that's where the hacks came from.

Shantel: Well, I would like to read it, and I'm not a mom yet, but I-

Dr. Darria: It's okay. I know so many people who are not parents at all. Men, Women, dog, cat, whatever, elephants, they all love the book. The effort, 80% of it is just how to make these things easier. Since I'm obsessed with time saving efficiency, I kind of started doing the hacks are what I call now the minimum viable actions of what are the tiniest things you can do to reset your health and not underestimated that power of tiny changes.

Shantel: Well, I would love to encourage everyone to get the book. But could you give us a few hacks for us shortly.

Dr. Darria: Okay. So here's a couple of easy ones. This one you can do tomorrow. When your alarm goes off, does it go off and you're like, "ah alarm hate you" And then you kind of like Zombie around for an hour and then you're tired all day and then you finally go to bed and you're like, why does this happen to you?

Shantel: I am like a habitual 10 minutes snooze or it turns into 20. Set it early knowing that I'll snooze a couple times.

Dr. Darria: Oh, I know. it's so bad. Let me refer you to hack number. No, actually don't remember it off top my head, but you'll have to look it up. But, so what happens when people are like, I'm tired in the morning and then it's finally time to go to sleep at night. There's not a number of different things going on there, but one of the things I call his circadian rhythm Jet Lag. Your circadian rhythm, which is your internal body clock is off. It's like you're living in Paris and you're trying to, keep a schedule out of California time. It's not possible you're totally thrown off. And not only does it feel miserable, studies have even shown that it totally messes with your metabolism, weight loss, everything. So tomorrow when your alarm goes off, the first thing I want you to do is get bright light. Now you can do this eventually with a light up alarm clock, if somebody has that. You can just walk into your bathroom and flip on those bright makeup lights, if you have them, whatever's really bright or in a pinch, grab your smartphone, put it on, flip it up all the way to bright and look at that for a couple of minutes. Because what that does, that very bright light, is a number one biggest signal factor for our circadian rhythm. That bright light goes in and tells your brain shuts down melatonin production is time to wake up. And by the way, start our body clock scheduled for now. So your energy's better in the morning and during the day, and it's also going to be easier to fall asleep because your body recognized that wake up time is the time you actually got out of bed. So the more you do that ... I do this every single day. Now, the minute I get up, I get bright light and then do it every day consistently.

Shantel: Okay?

Dr. Darria: You will find that it's too hard for us. And anybody listening tomorrow when they do it there for a hot second, you'll be like, I hate... Just push through it, and you'll realize you may feel a little more energy at that moment, but you're really going to start feeling it kind of over the course of morning or during the day and consistently every couple of days.

Shantel: Okay. I'm thankful though, you did not say you have to wake up at 4:30 or something.

Dr. Darria: So, now about that, you probably should not keep hitting snooze, but you know this, you don't need me to tell you. So, but if you did the light and maybe even you can, if you like, you can always get like a one of those light up alarm clocks. You'll find that you're hitting snooze less.

Shantel: Promise. I'll try it. I'll email you tomorrow.

Dr. Darria: Excellent. While you're sitting there looking at your bright light on your phone. I like it.

Shantel: Yeah. Like I'm up and I'm grumpy.

Dr. Darria: No don't be grumpy.

Shantel: No, I'm kidding. So it's called Mom Hacks. I'm guessing you're also a mom.


Dr. Darria: Yes. I have two little bad hyenas, they're five and two. So, I wrote Mom Hacks, I think it's really important to say like not because it’s perfect, not because I haven't figured out if anything in the ER we have figured out that the best solution is not always the perfect one, it is the right one that you can get done right now. And so I use those hacks because I wrote the book not because I had all the answers but because I had a whole lot of questions and needed answers to them and felt like I had access to those people through the media work and training that I had and I know a lot of women out there didn't have access to that and I thought that needed to change.

Shantel: Yeah, I think it's a great system. It sounds like a great system to follow and things to reflect on, but I imagine you probably even have some days you're like, I'm not going, that hack is harder for me to do that day. I May not do that.

Dr. Darria: That's interesting that you say that because the hacks on the days of the things are harder, are the days you need the hacks so, I talked about an exercise habit and I tell people to lower your standards for exercise because I would much rather and yes you can question me on that. I would much rather you aim for seven minutes or 10 minutes a day and do it every day. Then telling me you're trying to run off, running a 5K every day because you're not, unless you actually enjoy running it and doing it and I do run three miles every day, so that's me. But that's a habit I felt I'd much rather you do less. And so I say if you aim for seven the small you achieve don't do seven, you don't feel like doing seven do three or do two do one do however small it is. Get that number as small as you need to get it, to get to something that you can maintain for the next six or eight weeks and then you can slowly start to increase it. But I would much rather you start small. So on a bad day then if your normal thing is to walk or exercise for 10 minutes, just to walk for a minute, I don't care, just do something. Jumping Jacks or dance to ... what use it for a minute doesn't matter. So that's one. And then another, it's like temptation bundling, which sounds very naughty but it's a great way to get exercise in. So, and again all the hacks like super science based, because I am a science nerd and I wasn't willing to give anybody's, I mean if it was a waste their time. So there was a study out of Wharton that found that if they took something kind of addictive like an indulgence. So an addictive audio book and told half the people, participants, you can only listen to this when you exercise. And the other half they told them they could listen to it whenever. The half that could all listen to the audio book when they were exercising exercise 150% more without ever being told to exercise. So everybody can do this. Like take ... you just mentioned Game of Thrones before we got on. Take whatever it is, if it's Game of Thrones for me, it's People magazine and then I have all these kind of mom hacks playlists that I love, that I created, whatever it is, how to get away with murder. Any of those things choose that kind of TV or magazine or music indulgence, but you only get to watch or listen to it or read it when you were exercising. And you'll realize like you actually start looking forward to exercise. I feel like I've got to find out what happened on and it didn't ... It's those tiny things that just increase incrementally the amount of healthy decisions you're making without actually using any decision or willpower or anything like that.

Shantel: I think that's brilliant. I certainly wouldn't argue against the small pieces. I've been trying to meditate for years and had someone I'm meeting last few months just say start with one minute of the day, start with one minute three times a week. And then once you do that for a full month or two weeks, add one more minute. And it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Thank you someone for finally kind of breaking it down and making it bite size. So it wasn't this overwhelming thing that I then how had this pressure, because I made it a goal and I'm not going to not reach my goals and it certainly clicked. And so I appreciate you sharing.

Dr. Darria: Amen. And you make it a small goal because we all get busy and people need to know that even if they're doing something small that's still a win.


Shantel: Definitely. Well, Dr. Darria, I just have a couple more questions to wrap things up for and I'd love to kind of think about imagining more and was there anyone in your life that really inspired you to continue to imagine bigger and more?

Dr. Darria: Oh yes. So I'm thinking off the top of my head. I had one of my deans at Harvard Business School, I remember when I was just starting to do kind of toying with this media idea. And I told him, no, I don't have any experience in media. I don't have ... Why should I try to do this? And you just kind of looked at me and he was like, "Why not you". And it was kind of the first time I was kind of eye opening, I was like, "okay, yeah, why not me". And so I think that's something we can all ask ourselves because we always hear a lot of naysayers and Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Don't let anyone, don't accept and know from someone who doesn't have the power to tell you yes." So I think both of those things, for anybody out there who's looking to imagine why not you and then Eleanor Roosevelt's quotation.

Shantel: Okay. That's a great quote. I love that.

Dr. Darria: It's on my book. I'm obsessed with it.

Shantel: That's a good one. Well, how can people get in touch with you, learn more, follow along behind the book?

Dr. Darria: Yes, I love to engage with people on the social media. I'm @theDrDarria and that's just D-R-D-A-R-R-I-A. There are two r's in Darria. So I'm @DrDarria on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and that's up to also my website is drdarria.com and you can find Mom Hacks if you're going to DrDarria.com\momhacks. And you also, if you go there, we have all these fun little bonuses with, we will buy the book and so you can access those. There's a button there or you can buy on Amazon. It's an ... they had me record the audio book. It's an ebook if you want that. It's in many ways because people are busy. And the main thing was that the book is bulleted because people don't have time for a treatise. So it's like bulleted, go to the problem you have and how, read it in whatever form is most convenient for you.

Shantel: Great. Well thank you so much for being on the show and carving out the time. I can't wait to read it or listen on audio books as well.

Dr. Darria: Thank you Shantel. So good to talk to you. You have a great day.