Louis M. Profeta is a nationally recognized, award-winning writer and Emergency Physician at St. Vincent Hospital of Indianapolis. He is clinical instructor of Emergency Medicine at Indiana University and Marian University Schools of Medicine. A graduate of Indiana University and its School of Medicine, Dr. Profeta completed his post-graduate training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a dynamic and sought-after public speaker and writer as well as a frequent guest on TV and radio who has gained critical acclaim for his essays on topics such as his eye-opening look at our national preparedness for influenza pandemics in What Scares Me More than Ebola.
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Doc2Doc was founded for doctors, by doctors. They understand the challenges and hard work involved in becoming a doctor, and they support doctors throughout their careers. Using their in-house lending platform, Doc2Doc considers the unique financial considerations of doctors that are not typically considered by traditional financial institutions. So, Don’t let financial stress hold you back from achieving your goals – Doc2Doc lending has you covered. Visit https://rxforsuccesspodcast.com/doc2doc to Learn more.
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In 2015, 2016 and again in 2017 he was named LinkedIn Top Voice for readership in health care. In 2020 he was recognized by LinkedIn as one of the Top Voices In Health Care related to Covid-19. The Society of Professional Journalism honored his scathingly sarcastic but passionate essay, Your Kid and My Kid Aren’t Playing in the Pros, as one of the best articles on sports in 2014. In 2018 he was honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his contributions to online media.
Dr. Profeta’s best-selling book, The Patient in Room Nine Says He’s God, continues to earn critical acclaim as a poignant and passionate look at society, God and life through the eyes of an ER doctor. His essay I Know You Love Me–Now Let Me Die has been read more than five million times on LinkedIn, the Huffington Post and NPR and has sparked a whole new debate on end-of-life care. His 2017 essays, When the Lion Kills Your Child , A Sunday Talk on Sex, Drugs, Drinking and Dying with the Frat Boys and I’ll Look at Your Facebook Profile Before I tell Your Mother You’re Dead, are three of the most read and shared articles ever on LinkedIn, exposing the disastrous consequences of the opiate epidemic, drug and alcohol abuse, and sexual assaults on college campuses. He is quickly becoming one of the most widely read opinion essayists in America.
Dr. Profeta and his wife Sheryl are parents of three grown sons. They currently live in Indianapolis, Indiana, with their Maltese dog Mimi (that he claims to hate but really loves).
Dr. Profeta’s Prescription for Success:
Number 1: Expand your sphere of influence.
Number 2: See beauty in the everyday.
Number 3: Every tragedy in your life hides a miracle.
Connect with Dr. Profeta
Notable quotes from Dr. Profeta’s interview:
We highly overvalue compassion and empathy, and undervalue action.
Act when you see something that you can fix. Do it yourself. Get out there and be active.
I tell them: ‘Listen, I want you to have a dream one day, and that dream is that you are going to look down at your own kid, and you are going to realize at that moment what love is, and you are going to look back at this moment, of this discussion, and you are going to say ‘Oh my God, I get it.”
I’ll forget your face five minutes after I zip up that body bag, but I’ll remember the screams of your parents for the rest of my life.
The worst thing I have ever seen is the look on your mom and dad’s face when I tell them you’re dead.
Access the Show Transcript Here
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Register today at rx4successpodcast.com slash lifestyle. [0:33] Music. [0:39] Paging Dr. Cooke. Dr. Cooke, you’re wanted in the OR. Dr. Cook, you’re wanted in the OR. [0:47] Music. [1:09] Welcome to the Prescription for Success podcast with your host, Dr. Randy Cook.
Hello everyone and welcome to Prescription for Success. I’m Dr. Randy Cook, your host for the podcast, which is a production of MD Coaches, providing leadership and executive coaching for physicians by physicians.
To overcome burnout, transition your career, develop as a leader or whatever your goal might be, visit MD Coaches on the web at mymdcoaches.com, because you’re not in this alone.
My guest today is not only a highly respected emergency physician.
He’s also a prolific essayist and author, and an uncommonly effective public speaker as well.
He was good enough to sit down and chat with me about life in the emergency room and elsewhere, So let’s hear my conversation with Dr. Louis Profeta. [2:00] Music. [2:06] What a great pleasure it is for me today to welcome Dr. Lewis Profeta to Prescription for Success.
I’ve been looking forward to this interview since seeing a YouTube video that he became even more famous for. He’d been famous for quite a while, even before the YouTube, I think.
But, Lewis, thank you so much for being here. I’m really looking forward to this.
Great. Thank you very much. I’m glad to be here with you.
Well, let’s get right down to business. Our regular listeners will already know that I like to talk about the story of your life beginning with the origin story, and I’ve got to say, your particular origin story is a little bit unusual.
I know that in your early teens, life as a physician was not really part of the plan, but that changed with a rather catastrophic event. So why don’t you just go ahead and take it from there?
Give us all the details about where the idea came from. [3:04] I was born in a middle class family in Indianapolis. Didn’t have a whole lot, but we never went hungry, certainly, and worked all my life.
I had aspirations of becoming some sort of great athlete. Actually, I was a gymnast, believe it or not.
I really didn’t give much, I didn’t pay much attention to school at all.
I was not a good student.
I was not one of those kids who was on honor roll or that other parents would say, hey, why can’t you get an A in algebra like, you know, Louis Perfetta did.
That wasn’t me. I was just sort of skirting through school, barely getting Cs and Ds, just enough to be able to compete and that kind of stuff.
And I had aspirations of maybe even going to the Olympics one day in gymnastics.
It was never gonna happen, but back then you can’t tell that to a 14, 15-year-old.
Nothing wrong with a dream. No, not at all, not at all. And I ended up suffering a fall during practice and broke my neck.
And was critically injured. A brief period of time, I couldn’t move from the neck down, and I ended up in the hospital in a striker bed.
I had screws and tongs drilled into my skull, and I literally had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life.
An Olympic gymnast, Ron Gallimore, who was one of the first African-American Olympic gymnasts, reached out to me and gave me some words of encouragement, and I literally decided, hey, I think I’ll be a doctor. [4:32] And watch TV on Indiana University.
I was playing Purdue University in basketball. My dad goes, what do you want to do about college?
I said, I don’t care. Whoever wins this game, I’ll go there.
It’s Indiana. It’s Indiana one, so I showed up at IU. Decided I was gonna become a doctor.
My folks thought I was crazy because I was such a bad student.
They suggested I take general studies classes and business classes and stuff like that, but I said, oh, hell with it. [4:57] I’m gonna become a doctor. And I just channeled all that energy into studying, And I had to go back and take a lot of remedial classes because I wasn’t one of those kids who was in all the advanced science and biology and all that stuff.
So I ended up going to medical school.
Well, I’d like to go back to that broken neck event, if you will.
I mean, you just sailed through it as if it wasn’t that much of a big deal.
But if you can just think back to what was going through your head when you were lying on that gym floor and you couldn’t move anything, you couldn’t feel anything.
Even over the next few weeks, what was that like for a teenager?
Well, at the beginning, I thought I was going to die.
I mean, the pain and the labor, how hard it was to breathe. I mean, I thought I was going to die.
And then after a couple of days wore on, I realized I was going to probably recover my movement, my arms and legs.
Then I was sort of left with, you know, that was my identity.
I mean, you know, this this athlete, and that’s who I was. And that was gone.
I mean, it was like gone in an instant.
I just, you know, I got some words of encouragement from people that I care about.
And I said, well, you know, this is what I was dealt. This is the hand that was dealt.
And I got a, you know, but I think I was more concerned about the fact I had no real skills. [6:12] I mean, I was actually thinking about this at 17. I didn’t have any other dreams or aspirations.
Nothing really had crossed my mind about what I wanted to be in life. And so suddenly, I was sort of hit with this prospect that I wasn’t going to go to where I thought I might I might go in for college, and certainly wasn’t going to go to the Olympics, I wasn’t going to be a gymnast, so what was I going to do?
And I had always been a little bit enamored with the biological sciences and medicine a little bit, but it never crossed my mind as a career choice, and so I said, you know, it’s time to refocus, to take that energy that I have and just try to put it into something else. And that’s what I did. [6:51] I said, you know, damn it, I’m going to do something else. It sounds like, and I want you to really correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds as if you really never had a period of feeling sorry for yourself.
You just wanted to figure out what the next step was going to be.
Am I misreading that?
Yeah, no. That’s accurate. I mean, I felt sad that I lost what I lost, but I mean, I grew up Jewish on the east side of Indianapolis in a not very hospitable area, the only Jewish kid in school.
So I was used to being, I don’t want to say beaten up, but beaten down a little bit.
So I certainly wasn’t going to let this stop me. And I came out of the generation, a little generation away from the Holocaust, so it was just a broken neck.
So and I had, it was one of those things in, I guess, maybe your cultural upbringing, it’s that I was planning on being a schlub for the rest of my life.
I was going to do something. I just didn’t know what I was going to do.
I hadn’t really thought about that cultural or ethnic. [7:53] Attitude that might have been a part of your upbringing, but it certainly sounds like that might have made a difference. Do you think so?
No, absolutely it did. I mean, it’s sort of ingrained in your DNA that average isn’t acceptable.
It doesn’t have to be just average in terms of grades. You need to be a good and somewhat, I guess, maybe exceptional person.
Try to keep the bar moving, you know, north, kind of speaking.
So I mean, that’s what I want to do. I want to make my folks proud.
I wanted to make my friends proud.
I felt like I had a responsibility to my religion and for the people that went before me, and I wasn’t going to sit around and just feel sorry for myself and say, okay, my life’s over.
You can give up. I’ll go find something else to do. [8:36] Dr. Darrell Bock Yeah, that’s a great story, and I appreciate you sharing it with us.
The other thing that I’d like to ask is that you mentioned that you were not particularly scholastically dedicated.
You were not stupid, but you were not, scholastics was not something that you really felt was there for you to be the driver.
And I’m thinking that once you began to think about medical school, obviously that changed.
And I wonder if you have any way to describe how you made that turnaround, how you began to get into the mindset of acquiring and sustaining huge quantities of information in the classroom.
Is that a struggle at all?
Well, it was at the beginning. I mean, I had to learn how to learn, I sort of tell people.
I didn’t have the benefit of really having done homework, and I just turned in the bare minimum to get by in school. So I was really behind.
I had some good sort of mentors around me that sort of gave me suggestions on how to process information and study, and I sought that out.
But also, you know, with like sports. [9:45] I was really driven to succeed in this one area, and all I did was just channel that.
I mean, it was no big deal for me to go and practice for six hours.
It certainly wasn’t a big deal to go sit in the library for six and eight hours.
But to have that, I had a singular focus. OK, here’s where I wanted to be.
You know, in four years, I wanted to be in medical school.
So I knew that everything, every waking moment that I had, I had to be studying.
I sort of adopted this mindset that every time I wasn’t studying, somebody else was.
So, I mean, I got books on my own. I read them before I even started the, you know, like physics books and calculus books.
Before I even took the classes, I was going through the books and having friends sort of showing me how to do stuff.
And I got better. I mean, 1A became like 5As. Next thing you know, I’m getting straight As.
And once you start to get that confidence that you can do it, you know, it just snowballs.
It becomes easier and easier and you adopt these skill sets.
And I think it works for a thousand things in life.
So, it sounds like nowhere along the way was failure ever an option for you.
You were going to push through regardless.
The job was there to be done and there was just no turning back. [10:54] Is that— Yeah, I think that’s accurate. But I also knew that even if I did fail, I’d still keep going.
So I mean, I failed on a lot of things, interpersonal things, a whole bunch of stuff.
But yeah, but what a great educator failure is. Man, it’s highly undervalued.
I mean, I learned more in life by getting a door slammed in my face and my teeth knocked out than I ever got by getting a trophy.
Sure. I mean, it sounds like that this turned out to be more of a really interesting challenge for you rather than a struggle, which is…
A good thing, but then I know also from reading some of your published material that toward the. [11:37] End of your third year in medical school, there was another, to say the least, catastrophic event in your life that had an impact on your future plans, and I’d like for you to go ahead and tell us about that. Are you talking about the Kmart incident? I am talking about the Kmart incident.
Well, I was a third-year medical student and it was interesting, I had, during my third year I thought I was going to become a hand surgeon.
I really enjoyed, and in fact, I used to scrub in with this doctor, Jim Strickland, who was a pretty famous hand guy, and I thought I was going to be a hand surgeon.
But I would come out of the operating suite with just horrible neck pain and a neurosurgeon One friend of me said, listen, you’re wired from your stem to your stern on your neck.
He goes, there is no way you’re going to be able to hunker down over an operating table for hours on end.
You’re going to be crippled by the time you’re 50. And he said, look for some other area in medicine.
In the meantime, I had been working as a medical student, scribe kind of thing in the ER and just fell in love with it.
So I had been doing hands and emergency medicine, and I had met my future wife.
We actually met at a Jewish singles party. My mom said if I didn’t go, she wouldn’t give me any more money for medical school.
So I went to this party, and she goes, did you meet anybody?
I said, yeah, I met, I saw Cheryl Feibel, does she remember her? [13:05] And she whipped out her visa, and she said, anytime you want to take her out to dinner, I’ll pay for it.
So we ended up getting married. You had a plan. Ain’t that the truth.
So we decided we were going to go on this sort of pre-marriage kind of test trip to Canada and we were shopping for some fishing and camping gear in a Kmart.
This nice couple, the Bowers, walked in in front of us pushing two little girls in a cart and I was standing over by the fishing aisle and I looked down the aisle and I see Kevin pushing the grocery cart and his one daughter standing in the aisle behind him means he’s holding on to something. [13:43] And I turned to say something to my wife, and all of a sudden there was an explosion. [13:47] And I turned back, and her clothes were on fire, and her hand was gone. And it was a bomb. She had picked up a pipe bomb off the—somebody had planted a bomb in the Kmart. And we ran over, we put out the flames, we tried to keep her—the screams, and the parents were yelling, and it was just a catastrophe. Well, now you say we, who all was involved in the we? [14:11] Well, my wife was there, myself, and then an off-duty firefighter, John Moriarty, showed up.
He helped, too, and we did what we could to try to just calm the situation down, and then we had to be driven home by the police because they wouldn’t let us take our cars out.
It was a big national story. The ATF was involved.
It was a young man who was sort of disturbed, who committed suicide, and then shortly thereafter he had planted a bomb as maybe a practical joke, and that’s what ended up happening.
And so I went home and not really forgot about it, but I mean, we went home, we’re like, oh my gosh, I wouldn’t believe what happened.
And then I woke up in the next morning, I go to the medical school, and there’s all these TV cameras at the medical school, and I’m walking to my psych rotation, I’m looking at all the cameras, I said, man, I wonder what happened at the med center today.
So I go to my psych rotation, all of a sudden, some PR people ripped me out of the psych rotations that, you know, we got a bunch of, did something happen last night?
And they held up a newspaper and said, Indiana University medical student saves girl’s life in a bomb explosion. I’m like, oh my God, you gotta be kidding me. [15:19] And so it became a national news story. But then I also realized I probably should get out and go do my residency in another state.
This way, if I don’t screw up, it won’t say Kmart hero, uh, commits malpractice or something.
I really wanted you to talk about that a little bit more, because I have pre-digested some of the information from your book, and it really had a huge effect on you.
Did it not? All this unwanted publicity?
Yeah, it did. It caught me off guard. It’s amazing how, when I go back, if I read a chapter like that, realize I wrote that years ago, how our world is.
We need heroes and villains, don’t we? We always do.
Somebody’s got to be the hero, somebody’s got to be the villain, and it’s amazing how quick the tide can turn.
I just wanted to move away and be somewhere else, because everywhere we went, everybody knew who we were.
We couldn’t go into a restaurant or do anything, because that big of a story.
By that time, too, I had started the interview trail for emergency medicine and had fallen love with maybe going to Pitt and end up going to UPMC. [16:34] Today’s episode is brought to you by Doc-to-Doc Lending. Doc-to-Doc provides matchday loans of up to $25,000 to fourth-year medical students and current residents. These loans are designed to help students cover personal expenses such as moving costs, housing down payments, and living expenses before and during residency. With fixed interest rates, flexible repayment terms and no prepayment penalties, Doc-to-Doc Match Day loans provide financial flexibility and allow students to focus on their exciting journey towards becoming a physician.
Doc-to-Doc was founded for doctors by doctors. They understand the challenges and hard work involved in becoming a doctor and they support doctors throughout their careers.
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Doc-to-Doc Lending has you covered. Visit www.doc-to-doc-lending.com slash MDCoaches to learn more. [17:51] Hi, I’m Rhonda Crowe, founder and CEO for MDCoaches. Here on Rx for Success, we interview a lot of great medical professionals on how they grew their careers, how they overcame challenges, and how they handle day-to-day work.
I really hope you’re getting a lot of great information.
But if you’re looking for an answer to a specific problem, management or administration challenge, or if you’re feeling just a bit burnt out, like maybe you chose the wrong career, well, then there’s a faster way to get the help you need.
No, it’s not counseling.
Coaching. Rx for Success is produced by MD Coaches, a team of physicians who have been where you are.
I know you’re used to going it alone, but you don’t have to. Get the support you need today.
Visit us at mymdcoaches.com to schedule your complimentary consultation. Again, And that’s MyMDCoaches.com, because you’re not in this alone. [18:53] We’ll get back to our interview in just a moment, but right now, I want to tell you a little bit about Physician Outlook.
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It also engages patients who still believe in physician-led, team-based care.
And Prescription for Success listeners can get three months free when you enter our promo code RX4SUCCESS and select the monthly option at checkout. That’s a really great deal on this stunning publication. And now let’s get back to today’s interview. [20:03] And I know that sort of coincidentally you came in contact with another individual who, who had had a similar life event, and I’m talking about Richard Jewell, who was a suspect in the Atlanta Olympics.
Yeah, strange. Do you want to talk about that at all?
Well, I’m real proud of a small community north of our city, Carmel, Indiana.
It’s a little suburban enclave just north of where I live. [20:33] And when Richard Jewell was wrongfully accused of the Olympic Park bombing for a crime that Eric Rudolph ended up, I think he’s still in jail, right?
Yeah, I felt really bad for that guy. I mean, to me, it reminded me of like the Dreyfus affair.
I mean, it had that kind of impact on me emotionally. And Carmel reached out to Richard Jewell and asked him if he would be in the parade to lead for like the 4th of July parade.
And I was like blown away by that. And I remember talking to him. He thought it was a joke. He thought that some people were trying to punk him and that nobody had ever really reached out and thanked him, and to watch all those people in Carmel give standing ovations and applaud him and cheer him, man, even now, I mean, it kills me.
It tears me up inside. I mean, I was really emotional.
But they asked me if I would, myself and my kids, would ride in the parade too, sort of as a thank for what had happened years earlier.
I’m like, yeah, okay, sure. And we did. And my kids didn’t even know anything about it.
They’re like, why are we in this parade? [21:39] But man, that was a sentinel moment in my life, meeting somebody like that.
I think the movie captured it great about you take a simple guy and you make him into a villain when this guy saved countless lives.
What a tragedy for our country.
It’s really a stain on our … It’s probably the downfall of media could be pointed to the Richard Joel event better than anything else.
I was just going to say, I think it’s a significant statement on how news gets made.
It sounds like, on at least a smaller scale, that kind of over-hype had an effect on you.
I mean, you had lived your entire life and educated your entire life right there in Indiana. [22:31] And at this point, you decided to take it someplace else. And I think I heard you say that particular event had something to do with that decision.
Am I correct about that? [22:44] Yeah, yeah. Without a doubt. We thought, you know, we need to move on, get away from it for a while, get away from it. [22:51] And then, you know, but even now, I mean, I’m 57 years old. I’ve been practicing for three decades in the emergency department.
People will hear my name on occasion and say, hey, weren’t you in the Kmart bombing?
But now more often it’s, oh, I read this article you wrote on LinkedIn, or I read that, or I read your book.
I’m on television a lot here in the Indianapolis area, so most of the people have either forgotten about that event, forgot that my name’s tied to it, and I’m fine with that.
I don’t think about it that much, to be honest. I’ve certainly had a lot more horrible things in my life, or seen a lot more horrible things than that, but that was pretty bad, that’s for damn sure.
Well, I’m glad to hear that there’s been some good progress in that regard.
And that brings me to the next thing that I really wanted to talk about, and that is for our listeners who are not familiar, you really are a prolific writer.
You have a ton of essays on LinkedIn. You have a great book called, what is it, The Patient in Room 9 Says He’s God?
Yeah, what a great title.
Thank you. And the writing is just absolutely terrific. And the thing that I like the most about it is it’s there for everybody.
This is not just for medical people. This is the stories of the lives and the souls. [24:17] Behind those events in the emergency room. And you’re very rare in that regard in terms of the people in the medical profession that write about what happens while they’re on the clock. [24:33] Have you got any idea what drew you to that avocation? Was it a way to blow off the steam or did you just want people to know?
What’s the story?
Well, you know, when I wrote the book, when I wrote The Patient Reminds Us He’s God, I was really writing something for my kids, a way of saying, this is who daddy is.
This is my life.
This is why I’m sometimes in a piss poor mood, and why I miss some of your ball games and can’t do stuff.
And maybe I’m not as interactive as I could be as a father. It was something that I wanted to leave to my kids.
And I had written the book. It had done OK. I had self-published it.
I think I sent one query letter out. Nothing happened.
And I just said, hell with it. that I’ll just self-publish it because I had no expectations of it anyways.
And next thing I know, it started selling and then it got picked up by Mainstream Publishing House.
We added a few more chapters and I mean, it’s been a bestseller.
I mean, it’s crazy. It’s a great book.
That’s kind of you. And I think that I had honed my skill in social media.
I’d honed it actually even for Facebook on a blog site called Cermo, which was like the early Docker social media site.
And one of my good friends started that site. And I had started posting just a ton of stuff, actually, at his request at the beginning.
And I got a feeling for what resonates with people, what doesn’t resonate with people, how you get stuff to sort of go viral, how you get people to read your material. [26:03] And I just sort of found that niche and realize that I had a little bit of a gift. [26:08] To be able to tell stories and keep the audience in mind. And I think that you sort of hit on, I think it’s one of the reasons why some people sort of fail in terms of writing, in terms of physician writing, because they forget their audience. And when you said, you know. [26:23] It speaks to everybody, I think that’s what you’re saying there.
Yeah, it really does. And I have enjoyed the part of it that I’ve read up to now and look forward to finishing it, and I certainly want to recommend it to our audience. I hope you’ll write another one. I bet you’ve got another book in there somewhere.
Dr. Darrell Bock Well, I mean, I’ve written so many essays now on LinkedIn. If you go to lewisprofeta.com, and some of those essays, like if you look at one of the essays called I’ll Look at Your Facebook Profile Before I Tell Your Mother You’re Dead, you’re talking about something that’s been read 30 million times. And some Some of those essays on there are four or five million reads, and they’re humongous stuff, a number of reads.
They’re in magazines all over the world and been republished everywhere.
I’m just as content putting it out like that. I don’t need it on my bookshelf.
I’ve been asked to write for so many newspapers and magazines now for the last few years. [27:22] But I like being able to write on my own, and I can put whatever the hell I want on paper without anybody telling me I got to edit these words out of that words out and I don’t need the money so what do I care I’ll do it on my own I like that attitude yeah I want to ask you about one other thing that that really caught my attention you are clearly somebody who wants to has a compulsion to give back to make a contribution and I know that you are affiliated you’re part of, I guess you would say, the faculty of an organization called Greek University? [28:00] Yeah. Would you tell us a little bit about what that organization does and what your connection with it is?
Well, Greek University is just sort of the speaking bureau. I had written an article called, A Sunday Talk on Sex, Drugs, Drinking and Dying with the Frat Boys.
And I have to give you a little bit of back story. I don’t know if you know about this.
We almost lost our oldest son, Max, my firstborn, to leukemia.
He had fallen ill when he was in college. He was in college in New York City.
I literally picked up and drove the minute the ER doc called and told me his blood count. I drove.
As fast as I could to New York City, pounded and screaming all the way there. [28:41] And I slept in a chair for seven months next to his bed while he was in the ICU, thinking that every day my kid would die. And that school, the school in New York, Yeshiva donated so much blood to him. And thank God he’s in remission. He’s done great.
But it was during that time that Chip Cutter, who at that time was the executive editor, or one of the editors of LinkedIn, reached out to me and asked me if I’d write an article about Ebola for LinkedIn. And LinkedIn was sort of fledgling at that time.
And I said, my life had changed. I was in New York and my son had cancer and I didn’t know if he was gonna live and I don’t know if I’ll ever write again. And he apologized, said, oh my God, I did not know.
I wouldn’t have bothered you, but we’re in the Empire State Building.
Is there anything that I can do to help?
And I said, yeah, donate blood. So he comes from LinkedIn and brings some other people They donate blood to my child makes it all right article and so I wrote an article about what scares me more to Bolan that was in 2014 about how we were not ready for a viral pandemic and I mapped out how I thought a million Americans would Die because of a influenza pandemic that were unprepared for. [29:51] Yeah, you’re not kidding and And that’s exactly so that article blew up It was publishing magazines all over the world and they took LinkedIn took me out to dinner And I said listen anything you write will promote and I followed it up with an article about end-of-life, Care called I know you love me to let me die that don’t deal for the end-of-life care It’s one of the most read articles ever on end-of-life care, And so when my youngest son was moving into his fraternity at Indiana I was like really sort of shell-shocked about the whole thing because I almost lost a son already I was still reeling from that and I was telling him, you know avoid this like that And he goes, Dad, you just want to talk to our pledge class.
And I said, would you let me?
And he goes, yeah. And I said, yeah. And he goes, yeah.
And I started talking to him, and it just didn’t seem like it was resonating.
Okay, they didn’t get it. And then I got that question. You know that question you get, Dr. Cook, that question every yard dog gets. What was the worst thing you’ve ever seen? [30:51] And I looked at him, and I said, the worst thing I’ve ever seen is look on your mom and dad’s face when I tell them you’re dead. And they all got real quiet. And I looked around the room, I said, you have any fucking idea how selfish that is of you?
I said, your parents will never get caught. Oh, they did.
And I just lit. I mean, I lost my shit. I mean, I lit into them.
And I said, your parents will never be happy again. I was screaming at them and, and they all just sat there and shook and I said, Oh, that’s what it takes.
That’s the problem is that it’s not that you guys don’t think this will happen to you is that you guys have no concept of what love really is. I mean, young people think they know what it is, but they think it’s such a superficial level that they don’t understand the depth of love a parent has for their own kid.
And I went home and I wrote a Sunday talk on sex, drugs, drinking, and dying with the frat boys. And I don’t think it had been published for 24 hours before I got my first call from the university that says, hey, we’ve got a problem. Could you come to our school and talk to our people?
So next thing you know, I’m getting calls from all over the country going, hey, would you come to this university? Would you come to that university?
Would you talk to my kids for Trinity? Would you come to my—and I did.
I said, I’m going to do it. I said, you know, I hit during when Max had gotten sick, I had taken care of two young upper middle class, wealthy family kids that had died of heroin and fentanyl overdoses while my own kid the same age was languishing in an ICU in Sloan Kettering.
And I said, damn it, I’m gonna. [32:17] I’m going to get out there. I’m going to do what I can do.” And so I did. So that’s what I’ve been doing. So Greek University handles those speaking gigs for me. But they came to me and they said, hey, can we help you out your bit? And I said, yes, please.
Dr. Darrell Bock You know, Lewis, that is so perceptive of you. And I don’t think I overstate when I say that it was brilliant of you to pick up on what you had discovered, because we’ve all been there.
I mean, my Lord, I’m more than a half century out of college.
And I remember those people that used to come by and tell us, uh, you know, that we were going to be sorry if we didn’t straighten up and fly right, all that kind of crap, but they don’t really tell it, uh, in the language that gets the attention of an 18 year old, do they? [33:04] Yeah. What you heard was a fraction of what I said. Yeah. And you have to.
You have to get down into them, and they have to see your vulnerability, and they have to see the world different.
They have to see it through eyes of their parents, and they just don’t.
They’re adult bodies with juvenile minds based on what they understand of the world.
I tell them, I said, listen, I want you to have a dream one day, and that dream is you’re going to look down at your own kid, and you’re going to realize at that moment what love is, and you’re going to look back at this moment of this discussion, and you’re going Oh my god, I get it because the world looks looks one way when you’re by yourself or when you’re married Or but it’s man It takes on a whole new meaning when you’ve got when you’ve got a baby or when you’ve got a child And and then imagine the darkness when you are faced with the prospect of losing your child, and I just decided, you know I tell him I said, I’ll forget your face five minutes after I zip up that body bag But I’ll remember the screams of your parents for the rest of my life Yeah, I think what you picked up on is that historically we have tried to speak to them sort of in their language and talk about how bad you’re going to feel if you let your fraternity brother aspirate and die at the fraternity party or something like that. [34:23] Yeah, but we’ve also done a shitty job as doctors of getting out there.
I mean, we think that our sphere of influence ends at the ambulance doors, and that could not be farther from the truth. [34:35] Okay, and that’s one of the things I’ll talk about later is that sort of expanding your sphere of influence.
All of that and that brilliance that you had to force them to see what the world looks. [34:50] Like through the eyes of an adult who is invested in your future was incredibly brilliant of you. Thank you.
That’s kind of you. Well, I welcome you to come. be going to Alabama in the near future.
So, uh, well, I hope you’ll let me know, come in, come and watch and, uh, you’ll see you’ll see what it really is all about. You’ll be amazed about the questions that I get. [35:15] I can’t wait. They’re earth-shattering. I will look forward to the invitation. [35:22] You know what, Lewis, I could carry on a conversation with you for, I forget how many essays you’ve written, but they go a long, long way, and I could pick your brain about all of them. Well, reach out. We’ll do it again. All right. There’s no reason why we can’t do a part 23488. So I appreciate you volunteering for that. But at the risk of losing my tiny little audience, I’m going to step out of the way here and give you an opportunity to give us what my audience usually comes from. And I’m going to close my mic, and Dr. Lewis Profeta will give us his personal personal prescriptions for success?
Oh goodness, okay, so my personal prescription for success, I think you break it down, I’ve actually talked about this before at some corporate events, I think my philosophy is to break it down to three components.
Number one is that notion of expanding your sphere of influence.
I think that we highly overvalue compassion and empathy and really undervalue action.
What I mean by that is if there’s a problem happening within an area where you have some semblance of control, your first response should not be of empathy and compassion, it needs to be one of action.
We gotta be more active. So act when you see something that you can fix or if you have that skill set.
And if you don’t, then you find it. [36:47] But over time, expand that sphere of influence you have and the more areas that you can start to address, instead of just yelling for somebody to pick up the garbage, go pick up the garbage.
Do it yourself, okay? Get out there and be active.
Number two would be, well, I think number two is. [37:03] See beauty in the everyday.
And there’s an interesting prayer in Judaism called the Shehekianu, which is essentially blessed art thou, our Lord, our God, rule of the universe that brought us to this day.
And a prayer is designed, I think, in a lot of ways to get you to stop and appreciate the beauty that you see in nature, whether you’re looking at a rainbow or whether you’re looking at a beautiful sunset or something like that.
But there’s a tremendous amount of beauty that passes us by every single day, whether it’s the rustling of your kid’s uneasiness at a piano recital or the wry smile that your kid may give when they’re sliding into second base from a thousand different things in people’s faces that you see on a daily basis. [37:47] But you’re not gonna be able to see that if you got your face buried in a cell phone all the time.
So your eyes have to be up, they have to be looking at different beauties around you on a daily basis.
And if you do that, let me tell you, It’s going to calm your soul.
It’s going to bring a sense of peace and accomplishment and brighten the day, instead of the dinginess of, you know, a little.
You know, iPone screen. So, keep your head up, okay? Take those moments in, pause them and try to take those visions and sort of embed them into your soul. The third part, and I think we sort of touched on it a little bit, every tragedy in your life, I don’t care how small or great it is, hides a miracle. I mean, it really does. And it may take you years to see it. There’s a chapter in my book about how some girls accidentally dumped a charcoal grill on my head back in the 80s and how 15 years later that led to a young boy getting the first intestinal transplant. [38:47] In Indiana.
So, there’s a lot of bad things that happened to you.
For example, my son having leukemia, I’m an infinitely better father now after my son’s illness than I was before. I’m an infinitely better human being, I think so, too.
There’s a lot of bad things that happen, but it’s amazing how many doors open up through some of the negative things and give things a chance to play themselves out in time.
You’ll understand it better.
Don’t dwell on the negative. Always move forward and take whatever bad things happen to you and realize there’s a mystical reason and there’s a beauty in it. [39:23] You just have to be strong enough to find it. And I think those would probably be my lessons for success.
Well, Lewis, that is every bit as profound as I expected, and I am absolutely not surprised, and I appreciate you being here to share that with us.
I appreciate you asking me. We love it when people like you show up, and before you go, I want to give you an opportunity to tell us where people can find you, where they can contact you, and anything else that you’d like to share.
You can find me at lewisprofeta.com, that’s L-O-U-I-S P-R-O-F-E-T-A dot com, or connect with me on LinkedIn, and you can go and take a look at my book if you want, The Patient Room 9 Says He’s God, and there’s a TED Talk I’ve done.
But feel free to reach out to me, and if you want me at your kid’s college campus, talk, to your school about inviting me, or expand your sphere of influence, get a bunch of parents and have them pay for it themselves, you know.
But I’ll be glad to come out, but I’m, it’s an in-your-face, brutal discussion.
It’s not for the faint of heart by any stretch of the imagination.
But I’ll bet it’s worth the price of admission. It’s interesting.
Dr. Lewis Profeta, thanks again for being on Prescription for Success.
My absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me. [40:50] Thank you so much for joining us today. As always, we really appreciate a review from you, and a five-star rating helps us a lot. These ratings give our show more visibility, and help us reach more listeners. And if you’d like access to exclusive content, head on over to our Patreon page, where you can see membership-only material, including personal rapid-fire Q&A sessions with our guests, and more.
Never want to miss a future episode? Visit our website at rx4successpodcast.com, to subscribe, and while you’re there, you can offer your very own, prescription for success as well. As always, special thanks to Ryan Jones, who created and performs our theme music for the show. And remember, be sure and fill your prescription for success with my next episode. [41:42] Music.