Dr. Sarah Breen shares her journey from practicing pediatrician to becoming COO of the global company BREpic Network. She talks about how she was immersed into the entrepreneurial world through her husband, fell in love with the concept, and brought her communication strengths as a physician to become COO. Sarah provides insight into balancing her clinical work, family life, and new business endeavors. She advises doctors who feel stuck in their career to listen to their gut, try new things, and not be afraid to open new doors.
Key Takeaway: You only live once – don’t be afraid to explore entrepreneurship and open new doors outside of medicine!
BR Epic Network – Connecting Visionaries to Serve Humanity
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Today, we’re going to delve in the fascinating story of a dedicated pediatrician who went away from the stethoscope and transformed herself into the CEO of the global company, BR Epic Network. You’re going to hear her transition from the medical field to the business world, and she’s going to share with you challenges and triumphs she’s learned along the way. How she was able to harness her communication skills honed in medicine to excel in entrepreneurship while still maintaining that delicate balance of clinical work, family life, and her new role in business.
More importantly, you’re going to learn invaluable advice to you, the medical professional. So if you’re someone who maybe you’re feeling a little bit trapped in your career, I think this episode will offer you some beacon of hope and perhaps a call to action to embrace new possibilities.
I think you’ll really be inspired by her story. My interview with Dr. Sarah Breen on this episode of BootstrapMD.
Welcome to BootstrapMD, the physician entrepreneur’s podcast. Your source to help you, the entrepreneurial doctor live life on your own terms, get new ideas and inspiration to help you find more balance in your professional life.
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Hey guys, this is Dr. Mike Woo-Ming. Welcome to another edition of BootstrapMD. This is the podcast for healthcare and physician entrepreneurs. You know, from time to time, we spotlight physicians who are going outside of the box, starting their own businesses or working in other businesses, and this is certainly no exception.
And I’m really excited to bring her on. She’s a board certified pediatrician. She’s been practicing general peds in the north suburbs of Chicago since 2011 after being fully immersed in the entrepreneur world by her husband, Justin Breen, Sarah fell in love with our epic network and became the chief operating officer this year in 2023.
She enjoys spending time with her 2 sons. Exercising her three doodles and traveling the world where their husband, Justin. Now if that name sounds familiar, we actually had him on the program just a few episodes ago. And we thought it’d be a great opportunity to learn about his other half. Justin would say his better half and who’s someone who actually happens to be a physician and actually traversing in this world of. This world, which she most likely didn’t have a lot of exposure to. At least I know in medical school, we hardly get any business experience at all.
So I’d like to welcome to the program, Dr.. Sarah Breen. Sarah, how are you doing today?
Dr. Sarah Breen: I am great. Thanks for having me.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Thanks. Yeah. So I met Justin at a mastermind. We were sitting at a table and just talking about all of his different experiences and he mentioned that’s where you first mentioned that his one of his real superpowers is you, his wife, and I think was pulling it into to his world and maybe he took some cajoling and you finally decided to do it.
So I want to talk about your upbringing. First let’s talk about why you became a physician and then specialize in Pediatrics.
Dr. Sarah Breen: Sure. So I always say if there was anything else that I wanted to do, I would have gone into it. I just absolutely loved medicine from the beginning. I actually thought I was going to be a veterinarian.
So from seventh grade on, I did a lot of volunteering with different pet hospitals and different sizes of animals because you have to get everything in so that looks good on your resume. President of the Pre Vet Society at WashU, fully into veterinary medicine. And when I started to apply, I second guess myself, I shadowed a family friend who is an ER physician and I absolutely loved it.
And I felt like I was doing the veterinary stuff because I had to, and I really enjoyed shadowing for humans. So completely changed my mind, went to medical school, kept an open mind until rotations, but veterinary medicine, pediatrics has some similarities. So not fully surprising to anyone. I fell in love with Pediatrics, general peds and never second guessed myself.
Love the choice I made. I love animals, obviously I have three dogs now, but I am really happy and have been in Pediatrics.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: So tell me about your pediatric practice. How is it organized? How does it work?
Dr. Sarah Breen: Sure. So I’m still lucky enough to be in a private practice. We are not owned by anyone. We are just associated with two different hospitals.
So I think that makes a big difference in some of the choices that we’ll probably talk about later. It is a bigger group as well. So there are about 10 of us right now. So we have two different locations and I started part time, or I’m sorry, I started full time right out of residency. I worked 10 years of full time, dropped to part time during COVID and dropped more part time as I started to work in my husband’s business.
So I work two days a week now in the office and then I split call and rounding with my partners.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: So let’s talk about your journey from clinical duties to nonclinical duties, your current work with your husband. Tell me first, like, how did that start? When did he first mention it to you? Or did you mention it to him? How did that all begin?
Dr. Sarah Breen: That is a great question. So we were at a couples connection weekend for one of his mastermind groups. It’s the third time we’ve been and it every time that I’ve been to it, I couldn’t put a name to it, but I had trouble transitioning from that meeting back to what I call normal life as I was sitting there this time.
It truly was a snap decision there. I’m sitting in a room of entrepreneurs and some of them working with their spouses, some of them without. And for those of you who did listen to my husband’s podcast and have already figured out in the first five seconds, we are very different, especially at communication. And I’ve always known, of course, that we’re very different, but I realized that my weaknesses are his strengths and my strengths are his weaknesses. And so I thought, wait a minute, I could probably help you communication wise and we could do something together. And so it was a hundred percent my idea.
Neither of us ever had thought about it before. I grew up. You go to college. You go to med school. Get a job and you, that’s how you’re going to be until you retire. So it never even occurred to me that there was not a straight line path because that is always been my mentality is just go. I think a lot of us just go.
And it just took off from there. So I decided to work with him. He has two companies. This is his second business that was not off the ground. They had two visionaries trying to figure out how to run this, but nobody to actually do it. And so I was able to start it and do it.
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Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Explain the difference between a conference where you’re getting CME that you’re going to versus a conference of entrepreneurs, you set the stage of what to expect, because I’ve explained it a few times, but for those who haven’t been to a conference that didn’t require you to get continuous medical education credits. How different are they?
Dr. Sarah Breen: Entirely. So the goal of this is to almost use business like strategies to determine your future. So you talk about your 1-year plan, your 5-year plan, your 10-year plan. And it’s both as a couple as in business, your family, different goals. You have setting goals for yourself.
It’s all about inner work. And a lot of it are things that I find the most fascinating are the things that I’m bad at. I’m not good at future planning. Neither. Actually, neither of us are. So to set a 1-year goal was very hard for us and something we’ve never done, which is great for us. There’s a lot more communication that goes on.
So they have you do this and then you break into groups and you talk about it with other people. And I have to say that those other people are the reason my life changed. I talked to another couple and I was talking about a goal of a new house or a bigger kitchen or, that kind of thing.
And this one of the entrepreneurs, he looked at me and he said, Sarah, he said, I know your husband and I know what he’s going to do in this world. I think you need to think bigger than what you’re thinking right now. And that has stuck with me and it made me see a bigger future than what I’ve been thinking.
It’s just not how I think at all. So it’s people who are just so completely different and helpful in their own ways, and they look at things from the outside and help you. It has nothing to do with sitting there listening to someone talk about over. It’s all about the, it’s all about the connections, really.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Yeah, you had mentioned that as physicians, we kind of have a linear path, right? Like you said, if you want to get into to become a doctor, you’re going to do well in school. You’re going to take the MCAT or some type of medical boards to get into medical school. You do well in in residency to get into the specialty that you want.
So it’s dictated when you go into business, not so. And one of the difficulties that many physicians have to reversing into the business world is overcoming risk. We’re not trained to be involved in risk, we’re risk averse, right? As physicians, did you have any difficulty with that going into the unknown?
Dr. Sarah Breen: Yes, definitely. That is also something that, yes, that’s something that we struggle with all of us, I think. And I, part of the reason I was able to one is because Justin is very much a risk taker that has helped me take a little bit more risk for sure. He’s helped me mentally take a little bit more risk.
I obviously did it slowly from my path of I kept working three days a week in the beginning and just also working as the COO and then eventually dropped a day and also I still am doing both. So I wouldn’t say it was a huge risk, but also I believed in the company.
So this company, it’s a great idea. I wanted to see it. And honestly, doing this is really fun for me being a COO, meeting with entrepreneurs. Our entire company is based on visionaries who are serving humanity. So it’s all about people helping people, which is still.
It’s not far off. I talk to people all day. I’m good communicator because of my training and high level people are, they’re just very fascinating. So, I understand the risk portion is hard, but I do carry the insurance. I do. That was the whole thing when he started his business was that, it wasn’t as much of a risk for him because I was working full time, carry the insurance. It was not as risky as a lot of entrepreneurial journeys, but it was terrifying for me to make the mental leap because my identity is associated with being a physician. You’ve got your family, your friends, everyone has something to say. And it’s just, it’s hard, but you going inward and looking at the bigger picture and the big goals, it’s worth it.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Now, when I talked with Justin, he talks about finding visionaries and he also was very upfront about what his weaknesses were in.
We talked about Kolbe scores where he strength slide, where his, where he was weak. You had intimated that where he was weak, he found strengths. What were exact those strengths and were those strengths also derived from you being a physician?
Dr. Sarah Breen: Definitely. So communication for sure. He, people who love him, but he is not the easiest to understand. Sometimes I would say he doesn’t answer questions completely. You probably notice that there’s people who will get him and love him, but most of the world doesn’t understand him and are very confused by him. So they may think that he’s coming off aggressive, but that’s just how he is.
And so I, my strengths are communication. I talk to people every day. I talked to worried parents. Worried parents are the most stressed out people in the whole world. So, I find, for sure that has helped me plus just going to medical school and dealing with surgeons, angry people yelling at you when you’re holding something wrong.
I was definitely not the same person before I started medical school as I was after and I found strength in myself. You have to find strength in yourself going through medical school, not sleeping through residency and all of that. So definitely our biggest difference is our communication.
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Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Yeah. And I can share with you a personal experience with your husband. That he’ll get a kick up, but I hardly ever heard of this before. As a physician, I have employees when I’m on practice. Physicians, let’s face it. Sometimes we’re coddled at a certain level, right? So when someone comes up to you and it’s not something that is a little bit shocking to you. That was definitely very interesting. So long story short at the mastermind that I was in, we had an icebreaker.
And so they took us to a bowl, they wanted a bowling tournament and Justin was on my team and I hadn’t bowled in years, Sarah. So I didn’t take offense to this. So as I got up and you’d be nervous. And went straight into the gutter and it was a pattern that kind of, occurred during the evening and it just after a couple of frames, he says, Mike, you are the most horrible bowler I’ve ever met in my entire life.
This is within 20 minutes of actually meeting Justin and I was thinking about nobody talks to me like that. But like I said, I have I kind of understand because I have a son who’s similar in that very direct and from that we became friends and led to this podcast. So, but yeah, so I have personal experience with that as well, but I get it every day.
So yeah. Yeah. So with the communication, it sounds like talking to you’re as a pediatrician, right? You often talk to individuals who can’t speak, obviously or difficulty communication and doing that. So that’s great.
So talk to me about when you decided to go, you were already working part time. It was that a gradual transition. Did you have to talk to your current colleagues about what you’re trying to do? Or is this kind of, you’re doing it on your own? How does that work? Because that’s often a big topic of discussion for physicians who want to do something outside of their norm.
Dr. Sarah Breen: Yeah. And I’m not very good at confrontation or dealing with things like that. So I definitely, again, had to go inward and say, you know what, this is about me. And I want to be a hundred percent honest because also Justin is a big social media person. So I don’t want there ever to be anything where it comes back that I wasn’t honest, or and it’s, it is what it is.
So yeah, I went in early to early being school physical season is the summer. So the summer is very busy. I have built up over 12 years at this practice. A good patient populate. I love, I have a lot of patients. So my boss wasn’t thrilled that I was cutting back, I said, listen, I have two kids who are in elementary school, who are in sports, who are busy too.
I want to be around for them. I’m also right now helping Justin start this company and I need to drop a day. So I just went in with quick, easy facts. And I also gave him time. I said, listen, I know the summer’s busy. I’m fully booked. I get that. I will not drop until August when the kids go back to school so that I don’t want to mess things up here either.
So it was timing too. We had just hired 2 new physicians. So that was a win. And I said, if you want me to leave earlier so they can fill up, that’s fine too. That was a hard. So, you know, so it’s been fine. Again, because we split call and rounding evenly. I don’t think it doesn’t really impact people too much that way.
My patients, unfortunately it does, they have a harder time getting in with me, but I really still love doing both for now. So, obviously both parties would like me to do one, but it’s really not up to them. So as much as I’m happy doing both. I’m happy. Like I said, I love being the COO of the company.
I absolutely love it. I love working from home. I love talking to people all day, but I also still really enjoy going to work. And I love my staff and I love my patients. So for now, I’m happy doing both.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: So you’ve got the, your job as a pediatrician, your job heading up this company and obviously your wife and mom, what is, how do you balance all of those things? Can you talk about it and maybe what is your kind of current day? How do you split all these different duties up?
Dr. Sarah Breen: Yeah, good question. Number one is I work out every day. I make time for myself every single morning. That’s how I start my day. I would, I will get up an hour. Two hours before, the kids get up or if they’re, if it’s a day I’m home, then I will work out as soon as I get them off to school.
But I’ll block my schedule because working out and taking care of myself is most important. And I also have set boundaries. I try not to do meetings on Mondays because otherwise my entire life is meetings. And I try, I really try to block time so that because I do, I’m also doing all the laundry. I did three loads of laundry this morning, taking the dogs to the groomer. Cooking and taking the kids everywhere. So it’s not just two jobs. It’s everything else too. So I try to set boundaries and during the week. And also actually I told my husband who doesn’t take days off. I won’t respond to him work wise on Sundays.
So I literally won’t respond to him. I won’t respond because it is. It’s even harder with your spouse because they’re right there. And I just want to spend time with my family. That’s part of the reason I’m doing something outside of medicine because I want more time with my family. I want to be home.
I want to be able to drive them to soccer. That’s something I really want. My kids are literally the most important things in the world to me. So I’m not going to let this take over that.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: But let’s talk about the company. What’s involved? You say you talk to visionaries quite a bit of time. Give us more information about this.
Dr. Sarah Breen: Oh, absolutely! Network is a connectivity platform, a vetted. Highly vetted connectivity platform exclusively for visionaries who are changing the world who just want to meet, connect and collaborate with those doing the same. So it’s truly a group of the most amazing visionaries on the planet.
It’s global. We have members in Chile, Saudi Arabia, bunch in Canada, US, Abu Dhabi. We have someone who’s about to sign from, oh, my gosh, Australia. I was going to say Alaska, Australia. So they’re all over the planet. Any sort of vertical. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about high character, high quality people who literally just want to connect and collaborate.
So this group is just people who are motivated to connect with anyone and see what comes from it, which is really cool. We have a connection platform that’s exclusively ours. And we also have a monthly mastermind that we put together as well. We now offer it three times a month because we want them to be interactive.
Again, we don’t want someone talking to us for 90 minutes. The goal is interaction and the meetings are not about businessy type things. They’re about issues that entrepreneurs face, especially doctors like imposter syndrome. We’ve all been through that. Showing up as your true self really and truly being present.
How to show up to meetings. So it’s really the bigger picture. Is what we talk through and it’s almost exclusively zoom because everyone is global, but we are having in person events as well just to increase the connections, but it’s been really awesome so far.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: So can physicians become visionaries and might be interested in this? This group.
Dr. Sarah Breen: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It’s all about the where yo ur brain is. It’s we do have some physicians, we have physicians working on longevity. We have dentists, publishers, podcasters. We have an artist. It’s literally across the board. And you never, what fascinates me the most is you never know who you talk to that’s going to change your life.
And so the people that are connecting within the network who are forming new businesses are sometimes shocking to me because you would think they would have nothing in common, but you just never know, unless you talk to people.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: And where’re we going to go to find more information about BR Epic?
Dr. Sarah Breen: We have the brepicnetwork.org website. So it’s brepicnetwork.org. And the website also has my contact information, so you can connect with me right through the website.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Sarah, this has definitely been enlightening. Thank you for sharing your journey. Maybe you can give us, give advice to a doctor out there who’s listening to this. Maybe they’re working right now. We find that a lot of our listeners are listening to this in the car, or maybe they’re listening to it at lunch. They’re working a lot. Maybe they’re happy with their job, but they’re looking for something else. Or maybe they’re a little bit dissatisfied and looking for a new opportunity, but they’re not quite ready to do it. That was your story. I think definitely resin will resonate with a lot of our listeners. What do you say to that? Someone who’s thinking about it, but just not ready, not sure if this is the right time or not. How do they know?
Dr. Sarah Breen: Yeah, sure. I think you never really know. I think you have to go with your gut and your heart. I think if and you don’t necessarily ever know what’s 100 percent right for you, but if you’re feeling like trying it, you, as far as I know, you only live once and nobody has to do the same thing for the rest of their life, which is what we’re all kind of program to think about.
And so why not try it? You’ll always have your medical degree behind you. You never know what doors are going to open after that. And I think it’s. It makes life more fun to try new things and just go with your gut.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Sarah, thank you again for joining us on the show. The website again is brepicnetwork.org is that correct?
Dr. Sarah Breen: Yes,
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: That’s your B. R. E. P. I. C. network. org. And we’ll put that in the show notes and your contact information. If you want to reach out to her, she is gladly allowing us to do that. Again, thank you for coming on a call and spending time with us today.
Dr. Sarah Breen: Thank you so much for having me and this was fun.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: And thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting the show. If you’re a physician right now, maybe you’re starting a side gig, or maybe you’re still considering it. Like you said, if you have a story to tell, maybe there’s a bigger mission that’s out there for you that maybe you’re currently not fulfilling. Entrepreneurship may be the answer for you. Again, thanks again for supporting us, and as always, keep moving forward.
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