Dare to Dream Physician Travel Podcast

Ep 36: Authentic Leadership with Dr. Dawn Sears

January 13, 2022 Episode 36
Dare to Dream Physician Travel Podcast
Ep 36: Authentic Leadership with Dr. Dawn Sears
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Dawn Sears is a busy board-certified gastroenterologist and hepatologist, mother of three,  who “accidentally” stumbled into the role of a physician leader. She has not only become an authentic and highly-respected leader but also helped many women physicians develop leadership skills in their careers and lives.  She is also an executive coach and founder of GutGirlMD. Along with two other amazing women physicians, she is organizing the first annual ACE (Authenticity, Courage, Empowerment) Conference for Women Physicians in San Antonio, Texas on April 28 to May 1st, 2022.

In part 2 of this inspiring 2-part interview, she shares:

  • Why she has been so successful in leadership.

  • How women physician conferences have changed lives in the most incredible ways.

  • How the upcoming ACE Conference was born and why this will be the most amazing experience for all women physicians.

Tune in to this episode to hear these gems and many more…

Dare to Dream Physician Resources:

Dare to Dream Physician, Life Planning for Physicians


Dare to Dream Physician on Facebook


DreamPhysician on Instagram



Resources for Dr. Dawn Sears:

Conference: Renew Your Life and Your Career
Authenticity, Courage & Empowerment Conference for Women Physicians
April 28 - May 1, 2022
San Antonio, TX
CME eligible

GutGirlMD, consulting and coaching with Dr. Dawn Sears

Dr. Dawn Sears on LinkedIn

Dr. Dawn Sears on KevinMD

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Note this document may have human or computer-generated errors in transcription. Refer to the audio file for the actual conversation.

Dr. Weili Gray, Host 00:00

This is the Dare to Dream Physician Podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Weili Gray. Many physicians today are feeling overwhelmed and unfulfilled living a busy life based on someone else's terms and expectations. My mission is to help physicians figure out what they really want out of life, and how to make their dream life come true sooner than they ever imagined. My fellow physicians, your time to live your only life now. Become a Dare To Dream physician. Great things are going to happen. Make sure you hit subscribe and share this podcast with another physician you care about

[00:00:48] Dr. Gray, Host: welcome back everybody To the Dare To Dream Position Podcast. I'm so excited today to bring our guests. Her name is Dr. Dawn Sears and she's a Board Certified Gastroenterologist, Hepatologist, a leader in healthcare and the Founder and CEO of Gut Girl MD, she's an Executive Coach. She just wears many, many hats and she has many passions and I can't wait for her to share her story and for her to share just her wealth of experience and wisdom with us.

[00:01:22] We're picking up from part two of a two-part conversation. If you have not listened to last week's episode, Episode 35, Taking A Glorious Sabbatical. I highly urge you to add that to your queue after you're done listening to today's episode. Let's dive in.  

[00:01:44] Dr. Gray, Host: Wow. That's amazing. I, I, I’m picturing, the moment when you look back and you're like, wait, there are people following me. I better learn how to be a leader. So for our listeners who might be, the woman who is just keeping her head down and just trying to get the work done and seeing patients. It's getting those notes done, who might have a feeling that, well, maybe they're unhappy with the way that work is going, or maybe they're unhappy with the way that their practice is being managed and, maybe they're unhappy about sexual harassment being rampid in the workplace. No, whatever it is about the work culture, how, how do they get to the point where they turn around? They're like, wait, there are people following me. What what's, what was the secret to having that?

[00:02:34] Dr. Sears, Guest: I don't know. I think it was really showing up authentically. That's more and more evidence is showing the best leaders and the ones that gain trust, which if there's no trust and there's no leadership are the ones that are being authentic and saying, I don't have this all figured out and I'm not gonna blow smoke up yet, but let's figure out the answer together.

[00:02:55] What do you think we should do? Let's work together to do this? Or what have I learned before? Or where did I mess up? So being an authentic leader who loves to communicate and over-communicate and engage the team. That's how you become a leader. Um, just showing up and doing the best she can.  You do not need to have all the answers.

[00:03:16] And for those leaders that feel the pressure that they do need to have all the answers. We're not going to trust them very long, because especially in the COVID era, we know that nobody has all the answers and the CDC and I mean, if we've ever seen mistakes from coming down and saying, and then coming back two weeks later, don't do that.

[00:03:35] Just say you don't know, and we're all okay with that. And that's how you gain trust. So showing up authentically what you do know and what you don't know, and what you're going to figure out together is so much more powerful. And those are some of the most important leadership lessons I've learned. And as I made that transition of, gosh, I better start learning.

[00:03:54] Then I immediately went to who are the highest level leaders and what is their language and how do I learn that language? So that's when I started reading Good To Great, starting reading Malcolm Gladwell. And I started reading the women leadership stuff, like Grit or Confidence Code. I needed to know both sides of it.

[00:04:12] I needed to know the male leadership speak. I needed to know how women can use their voices in a way that doesn't turn people off because that is a high risk for women leaders.

[00:04:23] Dr. Gray, Host: Hm. wow. So many questions for you. This is so good. I love this. So one thing I'm really curious about is, you said at these conferences, they're, they're women who are crying at the end and saying, Hey, I was going to quit my job, but because I was here, that's not going to happen anymore.

[00:04:44]  And it basically changed the trajectory of their career and really up their life, because career is a big part of their life, especially if they end up quitting their job. And, and what changed? What was it that they got from these conferences that changed them?

[00:05:00] Dr. Sears, Guest: Really it's the same as in coaching, what it is, is permission to do what we know we need to do again, back to that authentic self of, are you happy? Are you doing what you want to do in a way you want to do it with this one and only precious life? Really? Really? Or are you doing what you feel like you should do and to go and discriminate those two and then fill the chasm between how can you get from should to, would love to, and give them permission to know you don't have to leap right over to it, but now you can see the possibility.

[00:05:41] Of what I love to do and not just feeling torn down by the boulders of should, should, should, cause should, will just drag you down and will suck you into the quicksand you want to be flying. And so to even see that hope, that will get you from point A to point B is all I needed. They really thought, I'm going to live this way forever.

[00:06:04] And I'm never going to be good enough. I'm always just going to keep working harder and I can't keep doing it and something's going to break. And so showing them a different way, but you don't have to keep doing all of that, you don't have to work in that 7:30 AM patients every Tuesday and Thursday, you don't have to sign up for those 28 committees.

[00:06:22] You don't have to answer that email at 7:30 in the morning. and you, it's okay to say, let me think about that opportunity. You don't have to automatically say yes. So just opening the door of possibilities. And if you only change one degree, you end up at a totally different destination a year from now and giving them hope that there could be a different destination is all I needed and permission to live their best life. 

[00:06:48] Dr. Gray, Host: Hmm. I'm hearing two different themes as you're describing. So the solution to people who are perhaps in distress or feeling like they're in an existential crisis and, one is finding that authenticity and finding, finding the, like their inner leader, right? not just following the pack, but really saying, Hey, this, I don't think this is right or, this, I think this could be done a different way. And so that sort of that leadership building part, and then the other part that it sounds is more of the boundaries and more of the perfectionism to me, those sound two different beams and two beams that women physicians do tend to struggle with a lot.

[00:07:29] Am I getting that right? I'm just trying to understand, cause it sounds like they're separate.

[00:07:36] Dr. Sears, Guest: Absolutely.  There, the boundaries are so important and giving yourself permission to have those boundaries, because a lot of women are told that we are just here to serve. We're here to serve our families, our patients, patients always come first. Your family always comes first and we don't have, we don't give ourselves permission to have any boundaries for ourselves.

[00:07:58] And as a result, we'll wear ourselves out and then we'll be less effective at leadership and care and all the things. So they go hand in hand and the other really big component in all of this is community.  Having others that have that same drive and will lift you up and support you because there's a certain segment that will always be trying to tear you down.

[00:08:19] And we ourselves are trying to tear ourselves down. So we are our own worst critic. So having a community around you, that goes, wait, is that true? Are you really a horrible mother and a horrible oncologist? Is that really true? Or are you just not what you thought you'd be as a mother and an oncologist at the same time, but are you doing amazing things?

[00:08:40] Yeah, you are. And sometimes we need good friends and a good support group reminding us of how amazing we are and all the amazing things that we are doing each and every day. And so I think that's the other important thing that I really want to encourage women to do is be surrounded. Even if it's virtual friends, if it's friends on Facebook, if it's friends through all these amazing community support, and if it's just somebody you're doing a walk at work and saying, let's just, let's just take a 10 minutes. Just walk outside. I just want to hear how your day is going and just to be there for each other is huge. Especially through the isolation that we've been through in the last two years, just to have that human connection and concern and to know that somebody else is rooting for you, at the same time. And you never know when that's going to flip and pay you back. 

[00:09:25] Dr. Gray, Host: Um, great. Tell us a little bit more about Gut Girl MD.

[00:09:31] Dr. Sears, Guest: Yeah, there's three components to it. One is I have written up a blueprint of how to create a Women Leaders In Medicine program at your own institutions. So you don't have to recreate the wheel. So it's a 20, 24 page handout, you can just get on gutgirlconsulting.com and you can download it and you can play with it.

[00:09:50] And just, it would be nice if you'd let me know you did. And beam me back, your successes, victories, and your troubles.  It has got sample budgets, sample agenda. It's got ideas for surveys, ideas for making the business case for this is two or three pages of it. I also have the Kevin MD article that talks about how to pay for Women Leaders In Medicine, because that's always the million dollar question and you can get creative.

[00:10:12] You figured out med school, you figured out how to have babies. And that, provide nutrition for them while you were running around you, you can figure this out too, but it's got some ideas that will stimulate you for your environment in the group that you are working with. So that's one thing. The second thing that I do is one-on-one, coaching.

[00:10:30] And so I have a blast empowering women. I still do coaching for some nurse practitioners and some PAs as well as some CEO's and so anything in between. I just love empowering any woman that feels like she's stuck and helping her see that she's not stuck and she always has a choice. And then it's not her job's job to make her happy.

[00:10:50] Her jobs, job is to provide patients for her. And did they do that today? Odds are high that they did. And so the rest of her happiness depends on her and how she's interpreting what's coming at her. And sometimes we can help her reframe crazy stuff that seems like there's only one way to look at it. And I'm right and the rest of the world's horrible. Is that possible? There's other things we can look at. And so that's fun. And then the third one is through conferences like the ACE Conference, Authenticity, Courage and Empowerment Conference that we're going to be doing in San Antonio. And that'll be the end of April, April 28th through May 1st.

[00:11:25] Super excited for our lineup of speakers. And we're also going to be doing amazing stuff with creativity, with movement, with art, as well as having coaching sessions, time with an attorney, all kinds of amazing things and time to just rest and breathe and refill. And if you want to take a nap, go take a nap.

[00:11:44] If you want to hang out at the spa or the pool, go do that. If you want to bond with other amazing women from all over the United States, do that. We've got some amazing, honestly, just bad-ass women that right now are working in the ICU and the ERs in New York City and are so excited to be joining us, and just refilling their tank.

[00:12:02] And they're so excited to have something exciting to put on their calendar for the spring of 2022. This will not be canceled. We live in Texas. our Governor ain’t one that cancels things. So the only way that this is canceled is if he closes the whole state and that ain't going to happen. So this conference is going to happen.

[00:12:21] So you don't have to worry about registering and then being like, oh, it's one word, disappointment. It got canceled last minute. This, one's not going to cancel. It is in person. It has to be because we have to see each other. We have to eyeball the eyeball. We have to be able to give each other a hug if that's what needs to happen in that space.

[00:12:37] From the data driven results that I have from what works for women physicians. It is being in the same room and truly sharing their stories, sharing their journey and encouraging each other. So that's a non-negotiable for my conference. We got to get in the room together and we got to be with each other to celebrate, to mourn, to question, to problem-solve all things that? It'll be fabulous. 

[00:13:03] Dr. Gray, Host: Wow. And it's such a diverse conference. you have this amazing lineup of speakers and, from very different segments, I know you have, you're gonna have a run coach, my run coach.

[00:13:20] Dr. Sears, Guest:  Who is a rockstar. 

[00:13:21] Dr. Gray, Host: Yeah. How did you come up with this idea? Is this…all of a sudden I started seeing ACE everywhere in my social media feed.

[00:13:28] Dr. Sears, Guest: Whew. I'm glad to hear it. Good, good, good. It's working, Dena George and Nora Vasquez, they were actually my coaches, through, through Empowering Women Physician. And so I got to know them, love them, and they're just precious, precious people to me. So they're also coaches and physicians and moms in Texas.

[00:13:46] And so the three of us just started talking and saying, well, Dawn, are you serious? You had huge successes and what you did for four years, don't you feel like you need to continue it? I said, absolutely. I said, well, how about the three of us just partner and make it happen? And so just like when we got together, the summer of 2017 women just get together, sit around a table, pick a date and do it for goodness sake.

[00:14:10] And so that's what we did. So we picked a date, we'd picked a venue. and we originally picked October of what would have been this last October. And then we saw what was going on with Delta, starting to surge. Let's move to January and we kept it at January for about 48 hours. It was if it's going to happen again. Okay. Let's move to April. And so we had to tweak and work. And then we started dreaming. What is the most amazing conference that the women that are boots on the ground that are working their tails off that are so burnt out that are ready to quit? What are the topics and who are the people that would resonate with them?

[00:14:47] And then we had a call for speakers. So we had about 35 apply and we let, we listened to all their videos, and listened to all their proposals. We kept saying, how does this compliment. And what, is there a piece that's still missing? Oh, we need something else in parenting. Oh, we need something else in relationships or sexuality.

[00:15:04] Oh, we need something else. And other careers outside of medicine. So we didn't want it to just be a burnout conference or just be an alternative, get out of medicine conference. We wanted the whole spectrum, but if you're working your tail off in the ICU, you can relate just as good as the physician whose was a surgeon is now a full-time artist.

[00:15:22] And all the things in between. Through that, we also knew we needed to incorporate movement with the running and with the yoga and art and creativity, and there'll be some other special surprises. And we also knew we wanted to have amazing women who know how to do this. And of course, Hala Sabry from  Physician Mom Group, as well as Sunny Smith from Empowering Women Physician, there'll be our grand finale and that room on Sunday, right before we go home and have our wandering champagne brunch is just going to be on fire. So it's going to be the perfect end to spending those, those, half day, Thursday, all day, Friday, all day, Saturday in the morning on Sunday, it's it's just going to be spectacular and everybody's going to go home so energized and ready to take on whatever challenge they're going to get.

[00:16:08] And then walk in that door at home or they walk in the hospital on Monday morning. they're going to be ready for it. They're going to be empowered.

[00:16:14] Dr. Gray, Host: That sounds phenomenal. Thank you so much for coming on, sharing your amazing life story and all those, your wealth of experiences. And also to tell us about this conference. Tell us again, the date and the place?

[00:16:30] Dr. Sears, Guest: Sure it's going to be in San Antonio at the beautiful La Conterra Resorts. And so people want to bring a partner who loves golf or loves shopping or loves SeaWorld is all right. There are Six Flags and it'll be April 28th through May 1st. It is a CME event. You can use your CME time and dollars to come to it.

[00:16:51] You can come alone, you can bring a friend, you can bring your family if you want. It's going to be amazing. And then, you can register at www.authenticphysicians.com and check it out. We've got little, little surprises all the time that are coming through. So join us. Everyone is welcome. Whether you are burnt out, pre- burnt out or post burnt out.  Join us because everybody's on the spectrum somewhere, whether you absolutely love medicine and you just want to find others that love medicine or whether you're questioning whether you've made a terrible mistake. And how are you going to get yourself out of this or somewhere in between.

[00:17:30] And if you want to just experience coaching, there'll be some free sessions and just try it on and see if it works for you. And if it can be as life changing as it's been for me.  When you start empowering your own life and actually becoming the CEO of your own life, you want more of it and you never want, you never can envision going back to just being pulled down the stream anymore.

[00:17:51] Now, I was just telling Dena last night we were getting together and said, now I feel like I'm sitting on the beach, reading a book under my umbrella, sipping a pina colada and watching all these other people be whooshed along and going, oh honey, come on out, enjoy a break. Come sit with me. You don't have to keep drowning. Come on, come on.

[00:18:09] Dr. Gray, Host: Um, 

[00:18:10] Dr. Sears, Guest: So,I want to invite all my friends, all my colleagues to join me and sit on the beach for a minute and take a time out, take a sabbatical, get a coach, whatever you have to do because this career shouldn't eat you alive and it should be magnificent. And I want you to continue to serve all the amazing patients in the amazing way that you do. 

[00:18:29] Dr. Gray, Host: Thank you so much. And I will put that in the show notes. and I hope that some of our listeners, will, will join the conference. 

[00:18:37] Dr. Sears, Guest: I do too. I do too. Thank you so much for this opportunity. Isn't so much fun.

Dr. Weili Gray, Host 

Thanks for listening. Make sure you hit subscribe so you don't miss another episode. If you liked this episode, please share it with a friend and give us a five star review so we can help more physicians dare to dream and create their most abundant lives. There's also exciting news at the Dare to Dream Physician. For those of you who wish to get clarity on your own why and get energized as you explore, envision and create your dream life. I'm so excited to announce that I'm taking on a limited number of one on one clients for life planning. To get the complete details and sign up for an exploration meeting. Go to my website, daretodreamphysician.com. I really look forward to working with you. And it would be such an honor and privilege for me to be able to help you create your life plan. I truly believe that life planning will transform your life and will give you that energy to pursue your dream life sooner than you ever imagine. See you next week