Episode 105: Just being you: fixing the disconnect between your identity and your job – with Dr Karthik Ramanan

Karthik Ramanan had a high-paying, respectable job at Goldman Sachs and it looked like he was living a successful, happy life.  But inside he was unsatisfied, felt disconnected, and hated the man he saw in the mirror.

Many of us have a disconnect between who we are and how we feel we should portray ourselves, but what happens when you fully align your identity and your work?  Karthik explains how he fixed the disconnect between himself and his job, and how others responded to him changing his career so drastically.

Today’s guest

Karthik Ramanan

Website: Dr Karthik Ramanan

LinkedIn: Karthik Ramanan

Facebook: Emotional Health Warriors

Twitter: Dr Karthik Ramanan

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Dr. Karthik Ramanan, NMD (“Dr. K”) is a licensed Naturopathic Physician and Emotional Health Mentor.

Dr. K completed his undergraduate studies at Cornell University with a dual bachelors degree in Biological Sciences and Applied Economics and Management.  He went on to work eight years on Wall Street, a period of time that spanned the recession of 2008 and the years after.

But although he was wildly successful and making a decent salary he wasn’t happy with who he was becoming.  After experiencing a life-changing 100-pound weight loss journey, he left his career and attended Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona to become a naturopathic physician.

Today, Dr. K is committed to helping other high-achieving entrepreneurs and professionals end burnout so that they can stop chasing joy and begin living in wonder.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [1:42] What Naturopathic Medicine is and how it can help heal chronic diseases.
  • [4:09] How Karthik got his job at Goldman Sachs and the possibilities of making large amounts of money working in finance.
  • [12:17] The impact your job and immediate environment has on your physical and mental health.
  • [18:01] How to make the shift to a healthier, more fulfilled life.
  • [24:47] The fulfilment that results when you align your passion and career.
  • [31:14] How to make the decision to change your career even when you know it’s going to hurt you financially.
  • [33:46] How family and friends responded to Karthik leaving his well-paid job.
  • [36:08] How long it took Karthik to get work after qualifying in a new medical field.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.

Episode 105: Just being you: fixing the disconnect between your identity and your job - with Dr Karthik Ramanan

Jeremy Cline 0:00
No matter how outwardly successful you seem, if there's a disconnect between what you're doing and your genuine self, then that's going to start to cause you issues. You might be in a high-powered, well-paid job, but if it doesn't reflect who you truly are, you might find that it leads to burnout, stress and possible other health issues. So, what do you do in those circumstances? That's what we talk about in this episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:42
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the podcast that is all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. Now, there are certain companies which, when someone tells you they work for them, you might think, 'Wow! You work for them!?' Whatever you might think of them, they have a certain reputation attached. For me, one of them has always been Goldman Sachs, the bank who, despite having taken a few knocks to their reputation in recent years, I still see as one of the top companies out there in the financial services sector. What was it like to work for them? And perhaps more importantly, what was it like to leave them? To find out, I'm delighted to be joined this week by Dr. Karthik Ramanan who, having been promoted to Vice President to Goldman, left to study naturopathic medicine, and he's now a licenced naturopathic physician who specialises in integrative emotional health and lifestyle medicine. Karthik, welcome to Change Work Life.

Karthik Ramanan 1:34
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Jeremy Cline 1:37
First of all, I don't know whether it's called something else in the UK, but what is naturopathic medicine?

Karthik Ramanan 1:43
Yeah, it's a form of medicine and philosophy of medicine, where basically, it's unique in the sense that we focus on the body's innate ability to heal itself. You know, when we cut ourselves as a child, scrape our knee while learning how to ride a bike, what do we do? Well, you know, we cry first. And then after that, we wash the wound, and although we have a lot of healing cascades to take place, and ultimately, it scabs over, peels off and we're healed. And when we look at chronic disease, a lot of things are affected by lifestyle factors, nutrition, sleep, stress, exercise. And so, when we address some of those underlying factors from the get-go, and aid the body's ability to heal itself, we can make a lot of strides. Now, is it a complete replacement for conventional medicine? Absolutely not. It goes hand in hand, it really depends on the person, depends on the patient. But it's one of those things that, when I came across, just resonated with me based on my journey, and it was something that I just had to pursue.

Jeremy Cline 2:58
So, is this something, I'm going to be a little bit careful here, is this something which you might say traditional medicine, you know, the usual sort of doctors, will recognise as a field of medicine, or is it something that's considered a bit more alternative?

Karthik Ramanan 3:15
You know, it really depends on where. You know, some places, I'm just thinking in the United States specifically, where I'm from, we are licenced, I believe, right now in about 24 states out of the 50. So, in the states in which we are not licenced, most people don't know what it is. But in states where we are, especially ones where there's a long history of naturopathic physicians graduating from usually the schools that are nearby, like you're in Arizona, you go to an MD or a DO, and chances are they know naturopathic physicians and have worked with them in co-managing care, so it really depends on who you're talking to, where you're looking.

Jeremy Cline 4:00
Let's go back and talk about your journey. How did you end up in finance and at Goldman's? Was this a sort of straight out of university thing?

Karthik Ramanan 4:09
It was a straight out of the university thing, but it was a very unique path to get there. So, interestingly enough, so I went to Cornell University to do my undergrad, and initially there, I started as a biology major. And I was going there as a pre-med. So, I went through the pre-med track, and along the way, you know, life is funny, right? You go about things a certain way and ultimately, you're drawn to something else. And I was really drawn to the business programme that they had at Cornell, and I didn't give up my biology degree, I actually added a second major. So, I ended up graduating with degrees in biology and applied economics and management.

Jeremy Cline 4:55
So, pre-med, that means that you were thinking of becoming a doctor?

Karthik Ramanan 4:59
I was. I was, yeah, that was the original plan coming out of high school. But I got more and more interested in business. And so, I took on the business major and really enjoyed the classes quite a bit. And I also in the process kind of deviated away from the idea of going to medical school. And at the end of my time at Cornell, I found myself with an opportunity to work at Goldman, and it was one of those things, especially that time in the mid-2000s, before all the challenges from the recession, and it was the place to be, it was not something I could turn down, for sure. So, it was a really exciting opportunity. And especially, you know, 21 years old, coming right out of undergrad, it was definitely an incredible opportunity that I was super excited to go for.

Jeremy Cline 6:00
Did you think at the time that it was going to be something that you'd be there for the long haul? Or did you even thought about it at that stage?

Karthik Ramanan 6:09
You know, when you're 21, it's a little hard to project 30 years into the future. So, I didn't have an answer yes or no. My mentality at the time was simply, 'Hey, I have this great opportunity to work with these incredibly brilliant people, and let me just learn everything I possibly can. Just everything I possibly can. And work as hard as I can and see what happens.' And that was really what helped me along the first few years. Now, granted, the first couple years, it was kind of business as usual, then the recession hit. And that was when things became, you know, a lot harder, obviously. The building I was in, right next door was one of the offices of Lehman brothers. I'll never forget the day that everybody in the office just suddenly went silent when they saw the news on the on the TVs around the floor about the collapse of Lehman. And we all kind of walked over to that side of the building, where we looked out the windows and just saw 1000s of people walking out with filing boxes with their stuff. And, you know, knowing at that point, and I was still just not even two years into my career, and knowing that, okay, nothing is for certain, and we have to be grateful for where we're at, and also be prepared, right? Because things can change, even outside of our own control.

Jeremy Cline 7:42
After 2008, was finance still an area where you could potentially go in, work every hour available, make a ton of money and retire at 40?

Karthik Ramanan 7:53
Depending on the role that you were in, it's possible, I suppose. It was always interesting, every year when our bonuses came out, the newspapers would always say, 'Oh, Goldman Sachs releases bonus numbers. And this is the average bonus.' The average is a very skewed number, you know. Median would have been a different number for sure. But yeah, it was one of those like, 'Well, that's...' And it was interesting also, because then all of a sudden, you start getting friends and family out of the woodwork like, 'Oh, I heard the projects working with Goldman, and I heard they did well.' Yeah, well, you know, that average is not everyone, and definitely not for a kid that's like two years in. But yeah, when 2008 hit and beyond, obviously, those numbers changed significantly. Stress level changed significantly. The hours were still very, very heavy. But my mentality was completely different too, it wasn't about, 'Oh, this is not what it used to be.' It was entirely, 'I'm really glad I still have a job right now, because there are a lot of people that don't.' And that was just the way I approached it day in and day out.

Jeremy Cline 9:10
So, is that something that persisted, that attitude of, 'Well, I'm just grateful to have a job', is that kind of what kept you there for the next sort of five or six years?

Karthik Ramanan 9:20
No, actually, really what kept me there was an opportunity to grow. And one of the blessings that I did have in my career was a chance to help form a new team. And it was a team that worked in listed derivatives. And it was a team that really needed a combination of understanding of sales, understanding of technology and operations, and to kind of bridge the whole universe of those three areas together in the service of the client. And I was one of the people that they thought would be a good fit for that team internally and hired a couple people externally, including my manager at the time, brilliant woman. And she was really responsible for the growth in my career, the majority of the growth of my career, and she was really good at understanding how to communicate with each person on her team, how to give each person on her team the opportunities that would inspire them to work hard and deliver what we promise for our clients. And so, that was really the driving factor, right, working with good people on a meaningful project. Because you can't, the gratitude goes a long way, when you're answering your BlackBerry at 1 AM, it doesn't last as much, unless you have a very strong why behind it.

Jeremy Cline 10:48
It sounds like things were all going pretty well at that stage. What changed? What made you start to think, 'I'm not sure I want to be there'?

Karthik Ramanan 10:58
Well, it was a combination of things. And it was going well close to me. But make no mistake, it was challenging through and through. Because we didn't know when the downsizing was going to end. And it went on for years really, because they were trying to figure out this uncharted territory with the economy in general, and you're balancing the economy slowing down with some of the competitors going under, and therefore those clients coming in. So, it's this odd situation where you're getting new business, but then the overall, it's an interesting situation all around. Yet, you know, what we were able to focus on internally was going very well. But on the whole, there were a lot of challenges. And obviously, the things that were in the media as well are well known. So, that was definitely challenging, and I really allowed it to take a toll on my health as well. You know, looking back, I probably could have created some healthier boundaries around certain times of the day, whether it's evening time, or even lunchtime, lunch hour, that sort of thing. And so, every year, I would try to lose weight. I was significantly overweight at the time. And so, every year, I'd get all excited about it in the springtime, right? Weather is getting warm, it's like, 'Okay, this is the year.' And we also had a great benefit of having a very, very excellent gym facility in our office building. So, we had that available to us, it was just a challenge of, you know, extracting ourselves from the desk to go down and work out for a half an hour or an hour. But it was there. So, I'd get really excited every year, and then I'd make some progress and then plateau and go back. And then the next year, I'd do the same thing. And eventually, I just got so frustrated about it, and I was kind of approaching a bit of a rock bottom, in the sense that my health and my body wasn't improving, dating wasn't going well, my personal life was, despite all the success on the outside, and I distinctly remember, when I was able to get my own apartment, my first apartment to myself, it was a 30th floor studio apartment in a brand new skyrise in downtown Jersey City, overlooking the New Jersey horizon, there's no other buildings of that height in the vicinity. So, I was able to get an absolutely gorgeous view of the sunsets and everything else. It was just incredible. I felt like I was on top of the world. And I was able to pay off my undergraduate student loans, my parents credit card debt, I was able to give more to charity than I ever thought I could at that point in my life. On the outside, it was so incredible. But on the inside, I hated the man in the mirror. I hated the man in the mirror, because I was overweight, lonely, lacked confidence, I was putting on a face to go be a high achiever at work and be what they needed me to be to deliver for our clients and be what my client, you know, I had some good relationships with my clients as well, and I wanted to do well for them. And I put everything else first, and I put myself last. And that disconnect was just growing stronger and stronger. And ultimately, that was kind of the point where I realised there's something about what I'm doing, what I need to do in life, that may or may not involve working here, but it seemed like a bigger challenge to solve. It was less about where I was working and what I was doing, and more about who am I, what's my life about.

Jeremy Cline 14:51
I wanted to ask you that, because all these things that you've described, you know, health issues, personal life and so on, it's easy to blame a lot of that stuff on the job. But it's not necessarily the job's fault. And it's the sort of thing that you probably could, maybe with hindsight, look back and think, 'Well, you know, so I could have spent half an hour in the gym a day, or I could have spent a bit more time looking at diet and overall wellbeing and exercise and that kind of thing.' So, what was it? Was it a case of blaming the job, or was this all kind of symptomatic of the job just not aligning with what it was that you wanted to do? Where was this all going?

Karthik Ramanan 15:43
I think it's very easy to blame your job or blame your circumstances, blame your relationships. And it's not to say that there's no impact. I often talk about, you know, the environment that we're in is the strongest, most powerful factor that influences our emotional health, that influences our behaviour, how we think, act and feel. So, you're the average of the five people and ideas that you spend the most time with. So, your environment has to be in line with who you are and what you want to do. That being said, sure, that industry requires a lot of long hours, right? And some people stay in it for a little while, make some money and leave. Some people stay in there for the long run. But ultimately, I had to look around, and I saw there were a small handful of people that, despite working in a similar environment and having similar challenges, if not more responsibilities because of their seniority and all that, were still committed to eating well, still committed to spending time outdoors, still committed to some of these things that foster a healthy lifestyle. And I think in no matter what circumstance we're in, we have to really focus on what we can control. And there's a lot more that we can control than we give ourselves credit for at times. Now, after you focus on those things, if you then realise that your calling is somewhere else, then pursue that somewhere else. But if your reason for why you can't do something is because of your circumstances, chances are they're somewhere in between that you can reach.

Jeremy Cline 17:37
So, where were you sort of mentally when you were thinking about leaving Goldman Sachs? Did you realise that this wasn't your calling and you had to do something else? Or was it that you were perhaps a bit still thinking in terms of, 'This environment is not right for me, if I change that, then things will get better'?

Karthik Ramanan 17:59
It was a combination of things. I was getting to a point in my career, I had gotten the promotion to vice president. And then looking ahead, there are different levels of management responsibilities and such that I could have grown into. But I was kind of looking at the long game and thinking, 'I'm not sure this is what I want.' Now, I wasn't ready to just leave, you know. I wasn't ready to just throw my hands in the air. And some people were that way, but that wasn't me. I never wanted to run away from anything. I wanted to run towards something. I didn't know what that something was, though. So, until I did, I had a lot more self-discovery to do. And this is where things coincided beautifully. So, as I was explaining, you know, I was struggling with my personal life, and nobody knew, I never let anyone at the office know, I didn't even let my friends know. I was very, very private about the whole thing that I lived in shame all the time. At my apartment, I had the trash shoot directly across the hall from my front door. And I would collect my garbage, and if the trash can filled up, I would take the bag out, pull the drawstring, tie it up and leave it by my front door, rather than take it across the hall, because I didn't want to be seen. As much as possible, I didn't want to be seen. I didn't want to go to the grocery store, I didn't want to go outside, I just wanted to sit inside and you know, whatever it might be, I was so exhausted emotionally from being disconnected with who I am, not sure what I was, not sure what I was meant to do, who I was meant to be with, all of those things. So, around that time, incidentally, I met my sister after a three-month window, I've seen her at Christmas and then again, you know, when she came back to visit my parents for her spring break during her college year, so I went up to my parents' house to see them. And in that three-month window, she had lost 30 pounds, her cystic acne had cleared up, she looked incredible. And I thought, okay, before I even asked her anything, in my head I was, 'Okay, whatever she did, I'm going to do it.' Because if it worked for her, it'll work for me. I was at this place in my life where I was starting to think, 'Okay, maybe the long term in this industry, I'm not sure I see it for myself, and my personal life is urgh!' You know, dating's not going well, I'm starting to wonder if I'm just meant to be alone and all those questions started creeping up. And I wasn't able to lose weight and everything seemed like it was just stalling. And then I see her. And in that moment of rock bottom, we are willing to do anything. And that's why I said, okay, I asked her, 'What did you do?' And she said, 'I've just been eating a raw food plant-based diet.' And like, 'Oh, okay. Well, what is that? What does that mean?' She said, 'I've just been eating fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, like they're found in nature, as mother nature intended them.' Like, 'Oh, okay. Wow, that really sounds crazy. But sure, I'll do it.' So, I slowly transitioned to eating more whole plant foods. And in three weeks, I was at the lowest weight I had ever been as an adult. And that's when my mind blew open. I said, 'Okay, the body I wanted, the confidence I wanted, maybe the relationship, maybe it's all possible.' I had put a cap on what I could be, based on who I thought I was, based on the stories that I had going on about myself in my own head. And all of a sudden, I was presented with this information that hey, who you thought you were stuck as may not be true. So, I said, 'Okay. I don't know where this journey is going, but I'm just going to keep eating these foods and see what happens.' And slowly but surely, people at the office would notice, and they said, 'Oh, Karthik, you're losing some weight?' And it's like, 'Yeah, I am.' 'Okay, can you help me out? I've got to go to this wedding in a couple weeks, I need to fit in my suit.' 'Yeah, sure.' So, I was just giving people like juice recipes and raw food recipes and whatnot, and bringing some stuff into the office. And so, I had some people trying a few things here and there, maybe replacing their bacon and eggs breakfast with the juice and that sort of thing. And slowly but surely, I saw type two diabetes go away, hypertension, cholesterol issues, chronic migraines, and I thought, 'Okay, I don't know what I am doing. But this is pretty awesome!'

Jeremy Cline 22:51
Simply a miracle worker.

Karthik Ramanan 22:53
It was incredible. I didn't know what I was doing. I was like, I'm just giving you recipes. But I remember, not the manager that I was telling you about before, but we have gotten a new manager later on, and he, yeah, he was telling me that he went to his cardiologist and the cardiologist was stunned that in a six-week span, he went from, you know, needing a heavy dose of statins to not, and wasn't aware of lifestyle medicine, and I don't know, I was just giving him a few recipes, and he was trying them out, and it was doing wonders for him. He lost some weight, too. And so, it really got me thinking, 'Okay, how do I make health and wellness my career?' You know, like should I open a juice bar? And I was exploring all these opportunities. I didn't know what it was, but I knew that whatever this is, my journey, my personal journey of eventually losing 100 pounds, right, that personal journey has to tie into my professional journey. So, that I'm in line.

Jeremy Cline 24:04
So, what made you say that? So, you found a solution to your particular circumstances at the time. What made you want to pass that on to the world? Why not just kind of be satisfied that 'Hey, I've found something that worked for me', you know, it's like people go to get sports massages, or they get physiotherapy and it works wonders, but that doesn't necessarily mean they want to become a sports masseur or a physiotherapist. So, what made you think, 'Yeah, this has helped me, and this is where my path lies'?

Karthik Ramanan 24:47
You know, I don't know if it was initially as I was losing a little bit of weight, saying, 'Oh, this is what I have to do.' But it was when people started telling me how inspired they were by my journey, when people started turning that inspiration into action and seeing results, that then provided me the reinforcement that wait a second, by me just being who I am and living the story, I'm inspiring people to action, and they're improving their lives. This is fulfilling. This is fulfilling on a way that I've never experienced before. And that's where I knew that I had to really explore it deeper and figure out how I can make this my career.

Jeremy Cline 25:32
I just want to repeat that. So, you were just being who you were, and that was being an inspiration to other people. Let's just pause on that a second. Because that is priceless. I mean, that's got to be that Holy Grail for anyone, if you can just be you, and when you are you, inspire other people. I mean, that just sounds like nirvana.

Karthik Ramanan 25:55
It really is a great state to be in. And the truth is, you don't need 100-pound weight loss journey to show it to be that way. There's a quality that I've since, you know, studied and learned and helped patients and clients with along the way that really it's about, we spend so much time in our lives, both personally and professionally, trying to be what we think people expect us to be, when instead, if we embrace who we really are, people are drawn to that. They know that you have a quality about you that they want too. Because everybody wants that, everybody wants to be in line with who they really are. Right? And that has nothing to do with necessarily where you work or anything like that. But it's that feeling inside that I am who I am. They're drawn to people who embrace who they are. I was just learning how to do that because of the journey that I was on with the plant foods and losing weight. But ultimately, it was the energy that I was radiating that was causing people to say, 'Okay, I want some of what he has.' And in doing so, that informed me, okay, I need to make sure that the work that I do is also in line with who I really am. Because there's nothing more fulfilling than this. I've never experienced that level of fulfilment in my life. And I knew that this is just what I had to do.

Jeremy Cline 27:34
So, how did you discover that this was naturopathic medicine, that that was ultimately what this was going to lead you to?

Karthik Ramanan 27:41
Yeah, well, that's an interesting question. You see, I didn't know initially how I would do it. Like I said, would it be a juice bar, would it be a health coach? I don't know. You know, I didn't know that. I felt like I wanted to have a little bit more understanding of the science, of the medicine behind things, because I felt like if I wasn't a doctor, it's hard for me to really understand the pathophysiology and why certain foods are beneficial in some circumstances and not and others, understand why stress plays a factor, understand hormones. So, I knew that I needed more training. I didn't know exactly what it looked like. And it turns out, as I was scouring the internet in the early... What do you call, the 2010s, what decade is that going to be called? The 10s? Teens? I don't know. I was scouring the internet at that time, as I'm learning and continue to lose weight, I came across a naturopathic doctor. I'm like, 'What is this? What is this? I'd never heard of this before.' I did a little bit more research, and I really didn't want to leave my career and go apply and go to medical school for four years, and then all the postgraduate training and everything else. But I thought maybe that's what needs to happen. So, I called my sister who, at that point in time, remember, she inspired me to lose the weight in the first place, by that time, she had graduated from MIT, and she was working here in Arizona, and so, I call her up and I say, 'Yeah, you know, I never really wanted to go back to school, other than maybe for an MBA part time, that kind of thing, but what do you think if I apply to a naturopathic medical school?' And she's like, 'You know, one of the best naturopathic schools in the country is right up the road from where I live here in Arizona, right?' I'm like, 'Wait, what? What are you talking about?' She said, 'Yeah, look it up.' So, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. I said, 'Okay. Interesting.' So, as it is, I was getting a little tired in New York from a weather standpoint. I think you can understand this fully well given where you're from, but I had a stretch of about two and a half weeks where I didn't see the sun. Now, granted, I had a beautiful window in my apartment, but I wasn't there most of the time. In the office, I was at a part of the building where there was no windows anywhere near. So, 8 AM, 2 PM, 9 PM, it all looked the same, right? Body clock was all messed up because of that. So, I'd go to work, it was dark, I'd come home, it was dark. And then, on the weekends, my luck, it was raining all weekend, so I never saw the sun. So, it was about two and a half weeks, and I said, 'I need to go to a place that has a lot more sun. I don't know where, what.' So, when she said that there was a naturopathic school in Arizona, I'm like, 'Well, they got a lot of sun down there in the desert. So, I'm going to go and see if that makes sense.' So, I visited the school and applied later, came back to interview and eventually got in. And that's when I knew, and I was starting the following fall. So, I think I had about 9 or 10 months from that, 9 months or so. So, I said, 'Okay, let me work a little bit longer, then turn in my resignation, and move out there, give myself a little time before school starts.'

Jeremy Cline 31:05
What convinced you to make the leap? You mentioned having doubts about going back to school for four years and doing all that sort of stuff. What changed your mind?

Karthik Ramanan 31:14
It was a very hard decision. And a very easy one. Very odd, I know. I'll explain. Here's why it was a hard decision. Between, let's say, giving up four years of salary and bonus, right, so there's the opportunity cost of not working when you're going to medical school, right, then there's the medical school tuition and living expenses and everything else, so the loans that I was taking out to pay all that, and then the interest over the duration of those student loans, we're really talking about a swing of about a million dollars to make that decision. So, my wealth, right, and earning potential and all that stuff was going to take a million-dollar swing. And that was a hard pill to swallow. But on the flip side, I thought 'Okay, well, cost of living is a lot less.' Now it's not so much, the housing market in Arizona is crazy as a result of COVID. But at the time, you know, the cost of living was way less. So, I thought, 'Okay, well, it's not exactly the same as if I was continuing to live in New York.' So, I was looking at that from a rational perspective, it didn't make much sense. But from a purpose standpoint and from opportunity, if I go and do this, first of all, I'm going to get to meet incredible people that are in the same realm of health and wellbeing, right? Who knows who I'm going to meet, the relationships. Turns out, one of the people that I met in my class was a fantastic woman who would later become my wife. So, that alone was a worthwhile reason to go to medical school. But that aside, it was just one of those things that I felt so drawn. And I meditated on it and tried to understand what's my gut telling me, and I just said, 'Just go, you'll figure it out later. Just go, you'll figure it out later.' Because you can't put a price on living in alignment with who you are.

Jeremy Cline 33:27
That's another great line, just go, you'll figure it out later. I love that. Apart from your sister, who was clearly very supportive of this, what was the reaction of family and friends when you said, 'So, I'm leaving this fantastic job in Goldman Sachs, I'm moving to Arizona, I'm going to spend four years at school doing naturopathic medicine'?

Karthik Ramanan 33:46
It was interesting, it was a mixed bag. You know, my mother, my parents are from India. I was also born in India, myself. But education is the most important thing. And my mother has three master's and a PhD. And so, she was very supportive of the idea of me going back to school and getting a doctorate, because she had always said, 'Okay, you're doing well at this company. You've got two bachelor's degrees, sure. From a Ivy League University, sure. But you've seen for yourself, the industry is volatile. And what happens if you want to change industries? Where would you go? How would you go about it? Like, what do you have behind your name to help you get there?' So, I was thinking about an MBA and all that, but you know, and actually, I had taken the GMAT and was ready to apply actually, when the health transformation started. So, she was very supportive of it. My father as well, though he was, I think, the common question, though, is, 'What's naturopathic medicine?'

Jeremy Cline 34:52
It wasn't just me then.

Karthik Ramanan 34:54
Exactly, yeah, it was a little bit of educating on that end. But overall, I think, again, people saw the journey, right? People saw the journey, and even when I told people at work that I was leaving, toward the end there, they weren't surprised. They weren't surprised. It was like, 'You've been here for eight years, done an incredible job.' They were very happy to have me there, but they knew like, this just makes sense. I don't know if they'd ever run across somebody that left Wall Street for medical school, it's usually going for a graduate programme in business or something like that, or obviously, to another company as typically when people resigned, but yeah, it was definitely one of those things that, anyone who knew my journey knew that, well, that just seems like the right thing to do.

Jeremy Cline 35:46
It's one thing going to school and getting your qualifications, it's quite another then getting the job at the other end. When you started studying, what was the expected career trajectory? I mean, do you go from studying naturopathic medicine to getting a job? Or is this something where you start your own practice, and you build out your own client base?

Karthik Ramanan 36:08
Yeah, it's a combination of those things. So, we have our residency programmes, and most people will either join another practice or start their own. So, my wife did that, joined another practice and then started her own. But there's a good 20% of those of us who study naturopathic medicine, get our degree, our licence exam that we study for, get our licence, that do other things, whether it's working at nutraceutical companies, whether it's research, you know, go down the line. In my case, when I started medical school, I had no intention of practising full time for the rest of my life, because I knew that, okay, if I'm doing naturopathic medicine with the full amount of time that we dedicate to patients, going through their past medical history, looking at them as a whole person, our visits take some time. So, I could see, I don't know, 30-40 patients a week, let's say. Or, I can do something that I found that I really love, which is public speaking, online courses, et cetera, where now I have the potential of impacting thousands, maybe millions of people, over the course of time. And now granted, that's not the same as if I'm actually working with somebody directly running their labs, and figuring out exactly the ideal treatment plan that they'll buy into that will take to improve their condition. But if I can help them up here, the mental and emotional side of it, because I realised that my journey, yes, the plant food was a catalyst, but that doesn't happen until you believe. Healing starts and ends in the mind. And that's really where, as I went through medical school, I started realising that my real calling, my real gift was, we had talked about earlier, that inspiration, that ability to believe in people and see them not for who they are, but for who they can be, and to really help them understand that there is a way to get out of our own way, especially as high-achieving individuals, to get out of our own way, so that we ultimately are again in alignment with purpose and in alignment with the person that we say we want to be.

Jeremy Cline 38:43
So, what would you say that you do now? What if someone asked you at a cocktail party? What do you do? And do you say that you're a naturopathic practitioner? Do you say that you are a course creator, a life coach? What do you tell people?

Karthik Ramanan 38:56
Interesting, right? So, I simplify it a little bit. I say, 'Hi, I'm Dr. K. I'm an emotional health mentor. I help high-achieving entrepreneurs and professionals and burnout. And ultimately, I help people stop chasing joy and begin living in wonder.'

Jeremy Cline 39:12
Sounds fantastic. This has been absolutely fascinating hearing your journey to where you've got to now. Along the way, have there have been any particular resources which have helped you, books, quotes, tools, that sort of thing, which you can share with the audience?

Karthik Ramanan 39:27
Absolutely. My goodness, it's so many that it's hard to number. But I would say, from a psychological standpoint and a behavioural standpoint, I think Brené Brown's work has been extraordinary. Specifically the Gifts of Imperfection. I would start with that book. That's a short read, quick read, but it's beautiful because in it, she talks about when she studied what she calls whole-hearted individuals, people that live with just complete and utter joy. It's not to say that their life is easy, their life could be incredibly difficult. But they find a way to make beauty in all the circumstances and situations. And the common element of that is that they embrace the things that make them imperfect. And I think that was what I was lacking for so many years. I was trying to be this perfect person. And that's why I worked so hard to get all the promotions and the position and everything else, and the raises and whatnot. And sure, that allowed me to do some cool things and buy things and whatnot. But I still felt emptiness. I still felt that I was missing something. And it didn't have to do with where I was working, or what I was doing. It was just that for me, my life path, I had to go through that pain in order to be in a position to lose the 100 pounds, to change my career, to find the love of my life, to figure out what I wanted to do, to inspire people and help them, again, stop chasing joy and begin living in wonder. But yes, Brené Brown's work has been incredible for me and the people that I work with, and I would highly recommend the Gifts of Imperfection.

Jeremy Cline 41:22
Awesome, I'll put a link to that in the show notes. And if people want to get a hold of you, where's the best place that they can do that?

Karthik Ramanan 41:29
Well, you can find me on social media, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Dr Karthik Ramanan, we'll have that linked as well. And also, on my website, drkarthikramanan.com, D-R-K-A-R-T-H-I-K-R-A-M-A-N-A-N dot com. And I do a lot of group workshops on different topics, whether it's End Self-Criticism, Crushing Imposter Syndrome, Conquer Comparison is a class that I have coming out soon. And all these things that are, again, tailored toward the high-achieving individual, the high-achieving professional, high-achieving entrepreneur, that ultimately is so good at what they do, never feels good enough for themselves. I've been there. I know what it's like. And I know the formula to really build that, and it's what I call the five pillars of emotional health, your psychology, relationships, nutrition, sleep and body movement. So, everything that I teach is a comprehensive approach to lifestyle and emotional wellbeing. And I think that would be a fantastic place to start as well, if you're interested in going down this journey.

Jeremy Cline 42:50
I hope some people listening to this are indeed interested. Well, Karthik, thank you so much. Thank you for coming on and sharing your story. And yeah, good luck with it.

Karthik Ramanan 42:59
Thank you so much. Thanks for having me, Jeremy.

Jeremy Cline 43:02
Okay, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Karthik Ramanan. Probably the biggest point that came out of that interview for me was what Karthik was saying about how he was inspiring people, people were inspired by his journey, when he was just being who he was. He was just being his true genuine self. And it really got me thinking whether this is something that all of us can do to a greater or lesser extent. Maybe you don't need to be this huge, charismatic, empowering, influential figure, in order to inspire people. Maybe if you're just you, if you just keep on doing what genuinely represents you, what you're good at, where you find flow, then that in itself might inspire other people to do the same. There seems to be just such a disconnect these days between who people really are and how they feel they should portray themselves, whether it's on social media or wherever. This has definitely got me thinking how can I be more genuine, how can I express that, and what might the effects of that be. It's certainly going to be interesting to find out. There's the show notes for this episode with the transcript, summary of everything we've talked about and links, and they're at changeworklife.com/105, that's changeworklife.com/105. And look, I know that you're going to know people like Karthik, you're going to know people who outwardly are in these well-paid, highly successful jobs, but they are not happy. They are just not doing what is in their true nature. And if maybe they haven't started taking steps to change that, but you think that it's something that would be beneficial for them to do, then do share this episode with them. This episode could be a great starting point for people who are in that place of disconnect. Maybe they just need to hear the story from someone who's already been there to inspire them to start reflecting and possibly taking some changes. So, do please share this episode, word of mouth is the best way to get the message of the podcast out. So, do please share this episode. There's another great interview coming next week, so make sure you subscribe to the show, if you aren't already, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.

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