We delve into the remarkable journey of Michele Cho-Durado, a pediatric gastroenterologist who transitioned from clinical practice to non-clinical endeavors while also authoring a book to enhance her child’s financial education and promote financial literacy. Join us as we explore Michele’s unique perspective as a healthcare professional and her passion for empowering children with essential financial knowledge.
Through her book, titled Reach for the Stars, Dr. Cho-Dorado skillfully combines medical expertise with finance, providing practical tools and invaluable insights to foster financial literacy among young readers. We discuss the importance of financial education for children, the impact it can have on their future, and the steps parents can take to instill these vital skills. Get ready for an engaging, friendly, and informative conversation that seamlessly combines healthcare, finance, entrepreneurship, and personal growth.
Dr. Michele Cho-Dorados’s website:
Reach for the Stars
Mike Woo-Ming MD: Welcome to another edition of Bootstrap md. This is the podcast for physician and healthcare entrepreneurs, and here we have. On the show today is a physician entrepreneur. I got to meet her in our mastermind group and she’s been doing some amazing things. She is a pediatric gastroenterologist, but now works as a medical director.
She’s a children’s book author and founder of Bright Futures, e d G, and she came up with a book called Reach for the Stars. It’s a children’s book and it introduces basic financial concepts to young kids, BrightFuturesEDG.com was formed to be a platform. To share information on financial literacy while empowering kids to be bold and to think big.
So like to welcome to the program Michele Cho Dorado. Dr. Michele Cho Dorado. Michele, how are you doing?
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: I’m good. How are you, Mike?
Mike Woo-Ming MD: Good. Well, it’s always great chatting with you. I got to know you over the last few months as part of the mastermind that I’ve had with Peter Kim, and now with Vikram Raya and I wanna know, learn about your story cuz you’ve done some tremendous things in terms of a physician and have to take some pretty big leaps.
So share to the audience about what you’ve encountered.
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: Sure. Well, first of all, thanks for having me. Yeah, so my background is that I’m a trained pediatric gastroenterologist and I was about eight years into practice as an attending physician when I made a bunch of realizations and made some big pivots in my life.
Up until that point I had just been taught mostly to work and save for retirement, and I thought I would work till maybe 60, 70. It’s basically all I knew. I had, gotten married and had two young kids, and again, about eight years in. I think I just started to realize that I really had not received much of a financial education.
I didn’t know how to really manage money. My husband Ken, who you’ve met started planting some seeds about you, like thoughts about retiring early or passive income and things like that. And I just hadn’t even thought about it. Around the same time I had. Gotten exposed to a community of physicians a lot of people that you know as well.
But you know, a group of physicians who were talking about finances openly. And I just realized that, I’m not the only doctor who felt this way. This was all actually before the pandemic. And again, having two young kids and just kind of trying to get my financial stuff in order. I started to read a little bit, but at that point didn’t have much knowledge still.
I’m gonna back up a little bit because you mentioned that I’m a medical director, so all of this kind of overlaps in terms of, what happened in that timeframe, but with the two young kids, I think I just realized also that I wanted to reprioritize my time a little bit more. I had some thoughts about transitioning out of practice with my first child, but you know, you spend so much time and energy.
To become a doctor. And I was still fairly early in my career and I wasn’t emotionally really ready to process, leaving practice at that time, but it was always kind of in the back of my mind. We had talked about moving geographically as well out of Chicago, which is where we were at the time.
And so, I. I had thought that if there ever were a time where we would move that maybe that might be a good time to transition. So fast forward when I had my second child and I would say there, there were a few like minor health scares that just kind of made me realize that I wasn’t prioritizing.
I. My family, my own health. Work always seemed to come first. And so, around that time is when we had decided, okay, we’re gonna move. I decided to transition outta practice. I took this new position as a medical director for healthcare company, which allowed me to work remotely and. I had to give actually a six month notice to my work before leaving.
And so in the timeframe that I gave my notice, and when I actually completed my time at the practice that’s when the pandemic hit. And so, six months of, everything being on lockdown I had come across Peter Kim’s community, passive income, MD around that time, and he had a virtual summit during the pandemic.
And I didn’t really know much about the community at that time or much about making passive income. And I happened to just catch two of the talks during that week. One of ’em happened to be late tea from late, and Kenji, who does the semi-retired md and then another one was another surgeon Corey Faucet, who’s a surgeon, real estate investor.
And it really. Resonated with me for some reason. Just hearing these other doctors talking about doing things outside of medicine, making passive income, working towards financial freedom, it was just something that I hadn’t really come across before or thought about much. And so something resonated with me at that time and I was talking to my husband and I said, Hey, this sounds like something that, maybe we can do and these other people are doing it and seeing other doctors that were living.
Life after they’ve already experienced what you can do. Making passive income and being in real estate really appealed to us. And so that led to us taking the Zero to Freedom Real Estate Course which just really changed my mindset. I think, again, we were with the community of other physicians who are all in the same boat and At that time a lot of the doctors were also really burnt out cuz in the, it was in the middle of the pandemic.
And so just hearing how the medical profession and jobs were not as stable as everyone had once thought I think it really kinda shed a light on living differently and maybe having different goals. And so we dove into real estate, we started educating ourselves and. I would say the biggest part was just the mindset work.
Honestly I read a ton about personal growth and mindset and real estate and taxes and just soaked in everything I could at that time. My husband and I just started making bigger goals for ourselves and then, as I became more educated on finances, and again, I’m still not, I’m still learning but at the time it was much more than I had ever.
Really been exposed to. Prior to that with the young kids, I just decided, I want our kids to learn this stuff early. And so I ended up writing the book that you mentioned. It’s called Reach for the Stars, and it took, it was a two year process. Honestly, I started the manuscript at that time and wasn’t even sure if, it would happen, but I just kind of stepped to my guns and said, Hey, why can’t I do this?
Again, just thinking bigger. And it took two years for the manuscript to eventually get published and illustrated, and it just, came out a couple months ago now. So that’s been exciting and I’ll pause cuz I saw that you were gonna ask me something.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: What a great story. A great story that, that, that come out.
So I’m gonna have, I’m gonna have you back up a bit cuz you went through your whole Yes. There’s a lot of steps from me and I know the listeners are going well. How did you get from here to there? So let’s talk about when you were in Illinois working as a zoom full-time pediatric gastroenterologist.
And then you were thinking about what else was out there, and you mentioned some circumstances that occurred in your life that made you think about it. Did you share that with your colleagues at all? Your other physicians that you worked with, or staff that you worked with? Did you share it with your family, what you were thinking at the time?
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: So you mean talking about leaving practice altogether? Yeah. Not really, because I wasn’t sure if it was really gonna happen. It was something that I just kind of kept in the back of my mind and I had kind of toyed with the idea. I mean, even from the first thought of having that. Idea to actually happening.
It took two years for me to even process that to become a reality. Again, just because emotionally I wasn’t ready to leave practice. And I, and actually after I left, I can tell you I went through what felt like a grieving process in itself. Yeah, it is. Yeah. But yeah, I mean initially I really didn’t, I think until I knew for sure that’s what I was gonna do, I didn’t wanna vocalize that because again, at any moment I could have changed my mind cuz I, I wasn’t so sure for those two years.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: Yeah. And it’s funny you had six months. I similarly had a similar story when I left medicine or left corporate medicine and. People think it’s just like two weeks. Yeah. And you’re putting your notice. It doesn’t work that way in my circumstances. I had to, I was a shareholder, so I know only wanna leave.
I had to pay to actually leave. And then it was supposed to be for three to four months. And then we, they wanted me to wait around because they wanted to help me train the new person, whoever was going to replace me and, Being a doctor, you still, well, okay, I want to be a team player and help him out, but it’s not easy.
So when you finally transitioned and you made the move to nonclinical medicine. And you can talk more about what you do. How big a jump was that for you?
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: It was very different. I mean, I don’t see patients anymore and I think so much of my identity was in being a pediatric gastroenterologist, and it’s something that I had, I.
Again, spent so many years working towards and I really felt like it was my calling to go into medicine and serve in this way. And so when I made that decision to leave, I think that’s part of what I struggled with was, how can something that I thought was my calling for so long, no longer be, and why am I making this decision and is it the right one?
And I mean all sorts of emotions. And. Obviously I have no regrets. I, it, I mean it’s been the biggest blessing for our family and it’s really changed our entire life actually. I mean, just in terms of not just location, but what we’ve focused our energies on and our time and things like that. But with that said, it was not an easy transition and I think at the time my husband’s not in medicine and it was hard for him to kinda understand.
Why my emotions were all over the place and I don’t think I even quite understood what I was experiencing until months later. But yeah it was not an easy transition, just more emotionally, I think, again, because of what I had put into getting to where I was. And then also, yeah, go ahead.
Well, I was gonna say, being Asian, the first thing I thought when I, gave my notice was that my parents were gonna be upset with me. And, I was scared to tell them. Luckily they both were very supportive. But yeah, it just, again, what I was thinking in my head, Yeah.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: I actually told my mother like a year later.
Yeah. And it, it took her like sounds right. She still doesn’t quantify it sometimes, and I’m sure you’ve got it similar, whether it’s with friends or maybe you’re meeting someone the first time. It’s like when you tell your someone you’re a doctor. Oh. Like, what kind of doctor are you what’s your practice like?
Right. Yeah. Telling them you don’t see patients. I mean, how do you address those questions when you get ’em? Because it comes up often.
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: Yeah. So I had a bit of an identity crisis cuz I was like, do I even say I’m a, am I still a pediatric gastroenterologist?
And you know what, how do I identify myself? I. But I still do because that’s my background and I’m still certified as a pediatric gastroenterologist. I still keep up my CMEs I still go to conferences and, I still go to c m E conferences through the work I’m doing now. And so that’s still where my specialty lies.
So I still call myself that, but, The first year, I really wasn’t sure I had, I felt like I had to explain myself. Every time someone asks me, what do you do? Oh, I’m, a doctor, but I don’t practice anymore, but this and that. And then I just realized, you know what? I don’t need to give a whole like paragraph long explanation every time someone asks me what I do.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: I mean, I had to do, I’ve had, I’ve struggled that for years and I think I did like give the explanation. Like at the time I was actually left medicine and there was like, I had friends who were like, disappointed in me. Like, like, you know what happened? Like, did something happen?
You’re not telling us. But yeah. Yeah. I agree with you. Just kind of keep it short and just kind of move on and I knew an OB, B G Y N, who just like wasn’t practicing and said, he just tells people he’s a delivery man. He’s what? He’s a delivery man. He doesn’t even tell people he’s a doctor.
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: Yeah. That’s funny.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: So let’s talk about your so do you feel that, it sounds like what you’re telling me, that community that you found was really the impetus to, to get you started. Like, is it true? Is it possible that you might not have been this way if you didn’t find a group of like-minded physicians?
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: That’s definitely true. The timing of everything was such that I had already decided to leave practice and transition to not nonclinical before I found the community. But with that said, it was during that period where I started learning about real estate. I started learning about passive income. I started learning that there’s different things I could do.
I think if I hadn’t found that community, I. Would have just kept working and just focused on working and saving and working towards retirement just the same way I had before. It would’ve been with a different job, but my mindset would not have changed. I definitely would not have written a book. I would not be doing a lot of the entrepreneurial stuff that I am doing now if I had not found that community.
So to answer your question, yes, finding the community has really changed. The direction of where my energy is, where my focus is, and basically my whole journey actually. Yeah.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: So let’s talk about your decision to write a book. I mean, we talked about a little bit, but may, maybe we can go more in depth.
What, was there actually one circumstance or maybe a discussion with your kids or your husband that said, you know what, I’m gonna write a children’s book about financial literacy.
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: So it was more based on my own personal background where I felt I was 40, and I, until then, I really felt financially illiterate.
I hadn’t learned about basic investment strategies. I mean, I was just reading about the stock market and like mutual funds and, basic things that I just had really no knowledge of. And so I think it surprised me that two things, one that I had spent so much time in school and training and had not really received any formal financial education.
And two, that there were so many doctors that felt the same way. And I realized that I was not in the only one in that boat. And that was very clear. And so that surprised me. And so then with our little kids, I felt I wanted to prepare them and expose them to these things earlier on. And they, at the time, they were one in three, so very little.
It’s not like they’re gonna understand these concepts, but my thinking was, If I had something or resource or something where they could at least hear these words be exposed to them, then over time, just hearing things, I think eventually it will sink in or at least they’re familiar with it and so maybe they’re more open to learning about an idea if they’ve heard it before.
And so that was kind of our thought in wanting to introduce this stuff to our kids early. There just wasn’t really a lot of resources for the younger age group. Again, there are, like for teenagers and things like that, they’re a little bit more, but for the little kids, I thought that maybe a picture book would be helpful just to read through like a fun story.
And again, just during that time, I was learning to get past certain limiting beliefs, beliefs of myself that I wasn’t good with money, that I never knew how to handle business. These are all things that I believed because I just wasn’t exposed to it and I wasn’t taught to think any differently.
And so, my husband and I started being more intentional about the way we wanted to live and making specific goals for ourselves. And so that was one of my goals that I set. I just kind of threw out. Initially, I was like, you know what, there’s not like anything like this for kids. I’m gonna do it.
I’m gonna write a book. And it was something that I just wrote on paper. And there’s something about putting something down, saying it out loud and writing it down that keeps you accountable. And that’s kind of how it started. We just started thinking bigger. We k kept ourselves accountable to, making goals and making them happen.
And doctors are focused, motivated people. And so when you kinda set your mind to something Then you make it happen. And that’s kind of what happened with the book.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: And we’ll leave a link here, Amazon link to the book. We can go and check it out. Read for the stars. Lots of great reviews already on there.
It’s been a big hit, but can you give us the story? Story about reach for the Stars. Tell us the story.
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: Yeah, so it’s a little girl who wants to buy something that she really wants. The mom says it’s too expensive. She gets creative, she starts a business. And finds a way to earn money herself to purchase this gift that she wants.
And along the way it just introduces the different concepts of financial literacy. So, she learns to invest money. She learns to open a savings account. She learns to employ her brother and grow her business and be creative in ways to expand the business. And then eventually she also learns to give.
So that’s a big part of it as well at the end, is that, Everyone wants to earn money and spend money, but I think a lot of kids are just naturally very selfish. And so just reminding them that, charitable giving is important and part of even teaching financial literacy, I think, beyond just managing money is that.
It, it can really, if you’re learning, if you’re teaching the budget, if you’re teaching to give, it can develop a sense of social responsibility and charitable giving and build confidence and empower kids to think big. And that’s kind of part of it as well. It’s not just about the money portion, but just equipping kids with vital life skills that will help them to be more confident leaders as they grow up.
So that’s a big part of it as well.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: Yeah and I love it. My kids are now adults now, but when they were, my oldest was around 10 or 11, and I asked them, What is your plan for the future? His answer was, well, I’m going to Joey’s birthday party in a couple weeks. That was his idea of planning for the future.
And I actually encouraged him to one summer and I say encourage, I basically made it mandatory, was to make book reports on some of the, like the classics, like, think and Grow Rich and the As Man Thinketh and I think. He begrudgingly did it back then when he was a pre-teen.
But I think, it stuck with him and now he, he has a 401k and building. Yeah. That’s awesome. Future. Future. So what’s the future for this little girl Is the sequel, is she going into multi-family Airbnb? What’s the
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: Yeah, so I do actually have a couple manuscripts pending.
That’s out with the illustrators. So I do have a couple more books coming out and I really want to. Kind of drill down each concept specifically and then develop a series. And I have a whole bunch of different ideas of what I wanna do. So, it’s just a matter of making that happen. But I mean, I hope that will become a reality.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: Awesome. Well, it is, once you put your mind to it, Michelle, you know it’s gonna and make it happen. And what I love about you is you just, you went out there and just decided to make the book when you know, some of us, just. Just will look like, think about it. And then Book Never Happens.
My first book my second book actually took me like 10 years to actually write, so, more power to you. And so what’s the future for you, Michelle, in terms of what you wanna do with this? With Reach for the Stars and BrightFuturesEDG tell us about, yeah, tell us about your company.
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: So the platform I developed, After I published the book, because I felt like there was more to share than just the book, and I felt that there were a lot of parents in my same shoes. Now, I’m not any, I’m not a financial expert, but I have young kids. I’m going through it just like every other parent wanting to equip our children to, Funny, smart, and equip them with these life skills that I think financial literacy brings.
And so my hope was to provide resources for other parents as well, and make it easy for them to share these things with ki their kids. So that their kids can learn and it’s all about exposing the kids early. Again, I think, waiting till high school, college is too late. Obviously in my case, waiting till your 40 is too late.
I think the earliest, the earlier the better and as early as possible. And so that’s kind of my. Thought process. So, yeah, I developed the platform really to be able to share the book, share other resources. I have some activity sheets on there to make it more fun, to make it more age appropriate for the little kids.
And I hope to develop it more. I’m, working on building content and just trying to better understand, how I can best serve the, this audience. So yeah, I’m excited to see where it will go. You’ve been a big help as well, so I appreciate that. I appre I
Mike Woo-Ming MD: appreciate that. So if someone wanted to reach out to you, maybe someone, a budding author or maybe looking for help with their kids on and helping them introduce these concepts on financial education, what’s the best place to reach out to you?
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: So the website is www.brightfuturesedg.com. You can contact me on there. The book is on there as well as some other related items. And then the book is also on Amazon. So you can go to Amazon and look for the book for Reach for the Stars.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: All right, well Michelle, thank you so much for the interview. Any last minute thoughts before we end our call today?
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: I just wanna encourage everybody to really be able to think outside the box, to think big. And just like myself, I had limiting beliefs that really kept me back and I felt held me back for many years. So, for anyone that you know has an idea that they think is not possible, I would just say go for it.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: Awesome, awesome. And again, thank you Michelle for joining us today. And I echo her thoughts. If you’ve got something, maybe you have a book inside of you that you wanted to be the great American author and you never thought possibly was be possible, just starts probably just writing your first paragraph, right?
Or even our first few sentences. Do something every single day to keep your culture to your goals and keep moving forward. Thanks again, Michelle.
Michele Cho-Dorado MD: Thank you for having me.