Stephanie & Emily Lee: Starting A Cookie Business Out Of Their Condo

Business partnerships have always intrigued me as I’ve been in a few myself and I know how absolutely challenging they can be. Through a partnership into the food business realm and that is a whole other ball game of potential challenges. 


Going against the odds, sisters Stephanie and Emily Lee have formed what seems to be the most natural match made in heaven with their business Conscious Cookie Co. and those of us that are looking for health cookie options are reaping the rewards.


On this week's podcast I had the pleasure of not only meeting these two dynamic entrepreneurs but digging deep into what makes them tick inside and outside of the business. Along with being Co-Founders of the business they both keep busy with a ton of other activities and jobs as well. Stephanie has been changing the lives of today's youth for the better for a number of years for example while Emily is heavily involved in the health and fitness community in Vancouver. The two inspiring women are not short on energy or ambition and I loved learning more about them both and their WHY with Conscious Cookie Co.


I truly appreciated their unwillingness to adapt what they are doing with their products just for a more attractive bottom line, staying true to making a product that is as clean and as healthy as it can be all while making it still seem like a true indulgence and one that so many of their customers deserve and enjoy. 


We dive deep on so many topics and I cannot wait to see where this duo take this business in the very near future.

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  • How to make health snacks taste great

  • Why both Emily and Stephanie now embrace challenges

  • What’s in a name

  • How they work together as sisters, best friends, and business partners

  • Why knowing who you are is important in business


Follow Conscious Cookie Co. | INSTAGRAM  | YOUTUBE | FACEBOOK



“Because of those food sensitivities, ok well if you care about taste so much why don’t we create something that tastes good that you can eat?” (3:36)


“Especially as entrepreneurs, if anyone is listening and thinking of doing a’re scared? That is normal.” (19:54)


“Motivation through that, because the reality is that it is not easy. I don’t think there is such a thing as an overnight success.” (38:32)


“When people come up to us and talk about the sugar, but you’re not putting a substance into your body that nature didn’t create.” (59:13)


“You know a lot of kids have come to me and have spoken up about things that they struggle with and I just feel so honoured.” (1:18:12)



Sauder School Of Business

Spin Society 

Plant Based Diet

Yoga Training 200hrs 

Bad Sugars

Post Workout Nutrition 

Gluten Free


Body Energy Club

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Jess Reno: Fostering Culture With Coffee

Whose world is this?
(The world is yours, the world is yours)

Jess Reno is one of the awesome team members behind the beast of a coffee shop in downtown Vancouver and he and his crew have created something special, something that feels as comfortable as Grandmas cooking.

This week on the podcast I sit down with Jess to discuss all thing Nemesis Coffee. We cover hip hop, food, culture, training, growth, challenges, and how to stick to your vision. I was really impressed with Jess’s ability to articulate his thoughts and share with us how Nemesis even became a thing.

One of the cooler findings for me within this episode was learning that this isn’t really his first kick at this can of owning and running his own spot. He, like so many others has come up the hard way learning from “failures” and challenges to create something that seems to be truly from the heart.

Admittedly I am a big fan of what the Nemesis team is doing at their one location in Vancouver and I am excited to see their team and brand expand with some new projects popping up in the near future.

Tune in to this episode to hear Jess and I cover:

  • How to bring a team together and see things through

  • Why his guests aren’t just customers

  • How he fosters the unique culture

  • His favourite rap album and why

  • How many projects he swung at before Nemesis

  • Where his passion for coffee started

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Follow Nemesis Coffee  | INSTAGRAM  | FACEBOOK |


“I mean we ate a bit of this $@!& on the first one. I didn’t know what I was doing man.” (12:27)

“I think the thing that drives us is after doing all those rounds in the industry and getting to know people, and when you’re talking about coffee, I fell in love with coffee.” (19:16)

“There is more to us that I want to offer, showcase and challenge ourselves with. ” (32:56)

“I can be a little bit real. When I was growing up that was one of those pushing elements. It was that I felt like we were stuck.” (46:35)

“Just be super open minded. The way things taste or what they look like, I mean F%#@ it and try it anyways.” (1:11:56)





Scandanavian Design

Hip Hop Influence In Food 

Space For Change

SOPS in Restaurants

Tom Brady




Becoming A Father

Who Do You Want To Hear From The Hospitality Space Featured On The Half A Dozen Hospitality Podcast?

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20 Years In Hospitality; What I've Learned

I started scooping ice cream at Almos Fine Ice Cream (R.I.P Almos) in Fall River, NS in 1996 and I haven’t stopped learning about this industry and the people in it since.

I’ve told the Almos story many times on the podcast but revisiting it here I am simply reminded of the visceral feeling of joy I had having the opportunity to work with people and food. It was a dream I never knew I had come true.

Over twenty years in this food and beverage community I’ve learned what I think are some absolute jewels and I wanted to get them down here today to share with you all. And just too keep things all in line with the theme, lets knock off SIX (or Half A Dozen) of my invaluable takeaways from my time in the hospitality industry.

My Half A Dozen Jewels From 20 Years In Hospitality

  1. Have Fun. This is simple but also very difficult just due to the nature of this industry. The simplicity comes from touching base with your day number one and touching base with the times where this industry filled you up. Think of the days you were excited by what you were doing and hey maybe that is still you today and if that is the case that is awesome. Hang on to that. However, I know that for so many of us this industry can truly take more than it gives at times and if that is the case more often than not, step into that and ask yourself why you feel this way. Getting back to having fun though, it really is a must in our industry and in life in my opinion. If you’re not having fun, you need to change something because this industry demands way too much from us not to enjoy what you’re doing. If you need to switch roles, join groups outside your work space, spend more time doing non-industry stuff to bring back more joy into your actual work do that and do it before it is too late. Find ways to bring back the day one vibes you had. Remember, nothing is worth doing if at some point it doesn’t fill you up with joy. Have fun.

  2. Be Ridiculously Nice. I work with so many of my clients who aren’t having fun (see #1 above) and I get it. They are “burnt out” and that burn out and lack of fun leads them to throw courtesy, kindness and overall just being a nice person out of the window. Again I get it. I have empathy for those that feel as those they have been giving and giving and not getting anything back but we need to find a way to put on that happy face. Touching base with Jewel #1 again will allow for #2 to occur somewhat seamlessly in my opinion but let’s look at what I mean in practice. We are in the service industry and as my once upon a time podcast guest Eric Pateman put it , “I can cook a great meal at home but when I go out, I want to be taken care of.” We need to get back to the full comprehension of what we are doing here in the hospitality community. We are meant to be at the very least hospitable and this is where being nice, kind, caring, generous, etc. all begins. This one aspect of our industry and your business could be the difference between you being busy every night of the week and wondering why no one wants to dine in your space. Whether you are the owner, dishwasher, head chef, bartender or the janitor find a way to treat every single person you come into contact with (in the business and outside of it) like they are guests in your very own home. Treat people well, everyone, and that includes yourself and it will pay dividends like you’ve never experienced before. ***This isn’t unique to the hospitality industry this is an every day every way life piece***

  3. Surround Yourself With Smart & Caring People. Again I’ve seen a lot of businesses within our industry struggle not because they don’t have a kick a$$ menu or because the concept isn’t great. A lot of them struggle due to lack of proper insulation. By “insulation” I mean talented, smart, passionate, and valuable people that are going to help you, challenge you, and get you to where you want to be and likely need to be a lot faster. Don’t surround yourself with cheerleaders, people who only tell you what you want to hear. Looking at specifics I think EVERYONE in the food and beverage game should have the following people in their Power Circle. A sound and smart accountant (ideally a tax specialist), a consultant (shameless plug but really this can be a key piece in any business so long as the consultant is in line with what you are looking for), a bookkeeper (the amount of bartenders turned business owners who try to run their own books ALWAYS ends up messy), a designer (don’t pay too much but don’t get a “free” designer), a solid general contractor (whether you’re looking to complete a whole new build out or fix a busted wall, having a talented and trustworthy general contractor will be a game changer), and lastly a therapist (self explanatory, you need be proactive with this and find someone that you jive with but again challenges you)

  4. Get To Know Your Community. For me the first community that comes to mind that we in the food service industry need to have a closer relationship with is our local farmers. All those people producing our food before it gets to us at the restaurant level. Spend time on your suppliers farms and get to understand their process and work to better understand them as people. I also encourage the multitude of talents in our industry to get out in your local community and meet your customers in different environments, volunteer with kids, attend local community events, cook for strangers, whatever it is, make an attempt to be available to your local community. With a better understanding of your community, they will get a better understanding of you and that is a WIN-WIN-WIN in my books (You win, your community wins, and your business will win as well)

  5. Be honest. This one is and has been a tough one for me, but wow, when you are honest, which is tough at times to do depending on the topic and audience but punching your way through the challenge will serve you well. How does this show up in our industry? How much time do you have? We are at a pivotal time right now in the hospitality industry where the more we share, the healthier we all will be. Sharing and being honest about what it takes to even serve a hot plate of food in the current climate is extremely valuable for everyone to better understand. Honesty about the stress, anxiety and overwhelm that you may be feeling day in and day out due to your work with the appropriate audience will allow you to feel like a weight has been lifted off of your chest. Lastly, and this one perhaps needs its own blog to totally dive in to but being honest with your guests within your business. Help them better understand what it takes to keep the lights on, staff paid, and the water running in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them but again gives them a much better understanding and perhaps appreciation for what you and your team do and why you do it. If honesty can lead to feeling and being more appreciated by your community, I vote honesty 24hrs a day 7 days a week.

  6. Get out. If you’ve been grinding away at this industry for years and you’ve given literally everything you can, truly 100% and it doesn’t feel right and you really can no longer have any fun, get out. There may be fear in the form of “What else will I do? All I know is food. All I know is this industry”. If you’ve been working in this industry for any length of time, you are no doubt suited to wear many hats in many industries and thrive. I’ve been with people in our community who are just done and recognizing that is super important. We have to have real and honest (see #5 above) conversations with ourselves. If it is time to cut the cord with this industry do it. If it is time to close your restaurant, do it. Look at what Jen Agg of the Black Hoof did years ago. She took what was a very popular and successful business and shut it down. She was done and that is both powerful and admirable. If you’re done, I get it and support your decision. You will however be missed, but know you’re always and forever a member of this unique and very special community that is the hospitality industry.

After twenty years I am still learning every single day, and perhaps more now than ever before and I cannot wait to see what else I can learn from the members of the industry and every one that engages with it.

Here’s to being humble, open to learning, and celebrating the most dynamic industry in the world today!


The Ultimate Question In Food: Work To Be Relevant Or Work To Create Art

I cannot comment on the global state of the progression in food and it’s impact on culture but I can give my report on the industry I know well here in Canada, and the one I know even more intimately here in Vancouver, B.C.

I was motivated to write about the desire to be relevant in food after listening to some musicians talk about their work and how it seems that most (meaning a lot, but not all) musicians are chasing likes, streams, and downloads more aggressively than ever before. Very few artists are doing what the name suggests, creating art. You know the stuff from the soul, the stuff that when you hear it for the first time it gives you shivers and goosebumps. It is that music, that art that changes industries, redefines a genre and likely motivates a whole other legion of young and up and coming musicians.

While listening to this conversation I was reminded of a section of The 50th Law by Robert Greene where Greene talks about Jazz in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. He describes how “the total destruction of these dead conventions, creating space for something new”. Greene is talking about how Jazz at the time (1940’s) had become hardened and was less “freewheeling” and was quickly becoming all about popular music, which at the time was big band and swing. “To make money you had to play by the rules and perform these popular genres” which left some incredible talents truly muted by their inability to express themselves and show the world their talent and their work.

Greene goes on to say that “the only way around this oppressive situation was to destroy it with a completely new sound (bebop).” This new sound gave the artist the ability to perform “on their own terms and some control over their careers.” This new sound that was being provided by the likes of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie and completely shift Jazz music for the next 20 years. For these artists, being relevant simply wasn’t enough.

Jazz and food aren’t so different.

I offer that the creation of food and drink is just as much of an art as is Jazz, Blues, Rock, any type of music or even traditional art such as painting or sculpting. So I ask all of those who are partaking in food and beverage today, are you working to stay relevant or are you working to create your art?

Robert Greene says that to destruct the current way of doing things “you must be a lion, as bad as can be.” While that may sound dramatic, I don’t disagree one bit.

I am aware that there are 1,000 different variables that play into why a Chef cooks what they cook or why a certain concept exists, but I wonder how all of these kitchens approach each day or each seasonal menu rollout. Are they looking for “likes” or are they looking to add something to the food culture that will help push them and this industry forward.

I challenge the masses to find restaurants that are willing to be that lion and take part in what could be a movement forward unlike ever before. The kitchens that are playing it safe, I get it, they are speaking to the masses and a lot of these kitchens aren’t set up to test new boundaries, but come on, we can try a little bit harder to move this industry forward.

Again I cannot speak for the global presence of Chefs creating art first and sexy instagram photos second, but I promise you that there are a million restaurants who have a formula thats comfortable, predictable, and it works. I don’t blame them one bit.

Looking back at the Jazz example, can you imagine a world void of the music from the likes of Charlie Parker? Heck I am not even a big Jazz fan and I know how influential he was not only in Jazz but a plethora of other musical genres. So if Parker didn’t play the role of the lion and shake things up Jazz would have looked, felt and sounded way different, one might argue not nearly as good.

So when it comes to our food scene, locally and globally who is willing to be the lion and create art that will impact the industry for decades upon decades?

Brad B

100th Episode

In just over 15 months I’ve sat down with some of the coolest, most influential, incredible, interesting, fun and creative people that make up our industry. Over that time, together, we’ve created a total of 100 episodes for The Half A Dozen Hospitality Podcast and I couldn’t be happier!

Today marks my 100th episode and for this monumental episode I was lucky enough to have my brother in-law fly out from Ottawa to change things up with me on the show. Scott joined me as we hit record for episode 100 but this time I was the guest and he was the host.

Not only was it really awesome to have my brother take over the show, but it was also a blast to sit on the other side of the table and have the questions posed to me.

This episode had me thinking and reflecting a ton.

I’ve said it before, but it needs to be said again, this podcast has given me way more than I have ever given it. I have met some salt of the earth people who I am now lucky to call friends. I’ve launched my restaurant consulting business off the back of this podcast and created a whole charitable aspect of my business through The Half A Dozen Dinner Series. None of my current reality would be remotely possible if it wasn’t for this podcast.

I am beyond grateful for every guest, every listen, every download, and every share. I am also very proud of the 100 episodes we’ve created as it is just proof to me that when you are really committed to something truly amazing things happen.

i hope you all enjoy episode 100 as it is really near and dear to my heart. If you dig it and you have some friends or family that you feel would dig it as well, it would mean the world to me if you would pass this on to someone who you think would enjoy it.

Thank you again for all of your support crew! We are just getting started.TUNE IN HERE



With over 1,000 hours of podcasting under my belt and 20+ years in hospitality I have been given the gift of meeting some of the coolest people that I know and learning from them. A lot of what I have learned has prepared me for my business as a restaurant consultant & coach as well as fuelled my passion for this industry even further.

Through the 20 years and 1,000 + hours of podcasting I have also learned that there are gaps in our community and those gaps are causing pain for not only the hospitality industry as a whole, but also for each and every one of its individuals.

Just last week I had a friend send me a private message asking me if I could help them facilitate a running group for our city’s hospitality workers, something similar to what they are doing in Toronto with The Food Runners (which as a side note seems like such an awesome group of people doing rad things). This friend told me that this city needs something like this, something to bring our community together and promote a healthier lifestyle. Next my friend told me that she’s leaving the industry for good. After running numerous kitchens, opening up her own restaurant that she’d put more than her own blood sweat and tears into, and then making the move to work as a corporate chef for a large local chain of restaurants she’s calling it quits.

Way too young and way too talented to see them go but this happens far too often where we see incredible creative and valuable people just completely burnt out. Will a running group in Toronto be the shift the industry needs? Maybe not, but you know what, it is sure a heck of a lot better than doing absolutely nothing and expecting it to change.

Thinking outside of the box a bit I’ve decided to see if I can help this industry out. With FIT FOR SERVICE I intend to bring to our community a platform that has never been seen before that will not only be the cherry on top of the already awesome efforts by groups such as The Food Runners but a quantum leap of improvement of resources available to those in need in the hospitality industry.

While I realize that stories of burn out, and just sheer disappointment with the hospitality industry, like the one above aren’t really in my control, I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t work to create some more positive change for everyone in our community.

FIT FOR SERVICE will operate under the HALF A DOZEN HOSPITALITY umbrella and will be accessible to anyone and everyone that should wish to engage with it. We will also be offering a membership option after the November 1st launch that will get members unique access to a tailored list of groups that will focus on all three pillars of the offering, Physical, Mental, and Spiritual.

If you or someone you know could use a platform like this, please have them email us at and we will add you to our mailing list when we go live with the platform.

Lastly to all of you out there who are giving so much of yourself to this industry it is not going unnoticed and we all appreciate what you do. With that said, take care of you, your body, mind, and spirit as nothing is worth more than those 3 aspects of you being as optimal as possible.

Keep up the awesome work crew and stay tuned for FIT FOR SERVICE on November 1st.


Pace And Lead For Incredible Results In Your Business

“The idea of pacing before leading is that if you try to persuade without them (your team) feeling alignment with you, you will likely cause resistance or objection. While pacing is not necessarily enough to ensure persuasion, without it the chance of success may be reduced.”

In this weeks podcast I quickly break down the importance of meeting your staff and team where they are each at individually for the most impactful results. The idea of pacing is that we aren’t waiting for them to catch up to us, we are joining them with the intention of bringing them up to our speed.

You can find a very high arching overview of what Pace & Lead is here. I encourage you give it a try with your team members as soon as possible as the concept makes so much sense when looking to impact your team in a positive way. All of this work creates a much greater bond and theoretically a greater culture within your business.

This is one of those techniques where I can already hear most members of the hospitality industry saying “Ah man we don’t have time for that.” Whereas my opinion on this technique and others like it, you cannot not afford to implement this immediately with your working team as the cost of leaving things as they are is immeasurable.


A Platform Must Exist

I was pleasantly surprised to see so many chefs chatting, working together, and getting things done as a team.

For years I’ve thought I had known all their was to know about Chefs and their inability, or lack of desire, to work with one another. I was obviously very mistaken.

So, last night, I was pleasantly surprised as I helped execute a charity dinner for someone in our community and watched as 13 Chefs of varying skills, backgrounds and abilities huddled in the kitchen to knock out a pretty slick 8 course dinner.

These Chefs worked together in a way I haven’t seen before, like a legit team. I was confused though, don’t these men and women all dislike each other? Didn’t that one guy steal that other guys dishwasher? Isn’t there supposed to be drama? A fist fight?

It was the opposite as each Chef literally did whatever they could to help the other. As each featured Chef executed a different course, the surrounding Chefs supported and insulated him or her like an army pushing to take over a small town. It was awesome.

There was a lot of “What do you need?” “Can I help?” “That looks great” “Oh so good”. I was witnessing a culture unfold in front of me and that culture was one that I was excited to get to witness, one that I was proud of.

So I am left to ask myself is this actually how it is, always? Have I been way off when I say that people in our industry, Chefs especially are working in silos? Perhaps I am wrong. Or perhaps I am right and last nights sisterhood and brotherhood of Chefs that came together as one unit to execute something very special was actually an anomaly.

Here’s what I think happened.

There was a platform created.

You see Chefs aren’t that unique of a species, I mean sure they have their own intricacies but they could easily be likened to say Professional Athletes that play team sports. Sure those athletes as individuals, much like the chefs, have a ton of talent on their own, but what they can all do as a team is truly special. And that is what I witnessed last night.

There was a field for all of the Chefs to come together and play. The field allowed for them to squash what maybe at some point was bas blood between one or two of them or some silly past issues that kept a few of them from speaking for months. This event, this “field’, this platform allowed for them all to come together and pull the weight in the same direction and wow it was so awesome to see.

Now I am challenged with the idea of how can we spread this platform feeling, vibe, reality, industry wide, heck globally? What needs to be in place, managed, nurtured and there for any individual in the hospitality space to access at any time? I am not too sure what this much broader platform would look like, but I am sure that once I am able to better comprehend it I will be actioning it here in my city to create more of what I witnessed last night.

Here’s to power of teamwork and stepping up to help each other out whenever and wherever we can.


The Customer Experience & How Your Culture Impacts It

Half A Dozen Hospitality + UGM.png

I was literally grinning cheek to cheek on a Monday morning at a cafe in downtown Vancouver because of the level of service that I was witnessing paired with what seemed like the coolest and most natural culture I had experienced in a long time.

Nemesis Coffee in Vancouver, B.C, Canada crushed it.

While this weeks podcast isn’t just about Nemesis and how seemingly every aspect of what they are doing is very naturally supporting the other left me inspired and motivated to ask the question to everyone else out in our industry, What is your culture? How do you nurture it? and How often are you checking in to make sure it is how you’d like it to be?

I mention in this weeks podcast how I likely look at businesses in the hospitality industry through a much different lens then most. Perhaps the “average Joe” off of the street won’t notice the attention that a given staff member is giving to those pieces of cutlery, or the sheer excitement amongst the staff to receive some new samples of a product they’ve been waiting to see, or just how actually attentive each and every staff member is towards the guests needs as well as each of their own team members as well.

While these are all things that I personally picked up at Nemesis Coffee the other day, it may not be, for example, what my Dad sees. However I would be willing to bet that even though my Dad might not be looking for those things, he feels them whether they exist or they don’t and that ultimately will be impacting his experience in that space.

Consciously or Unconsciously the culture you create in your business is not only impacting your team, but it is having a lasting impact on each and every guest that walks through your doors.

Tune in to the podcast to hear me break this all down a little further and share some insights on how you can lead your culture just a little bit better for a much greater impact.


What Can The Restaurant Industry Learn From Doctors? Balance.

I am always down to challenge the status quo and for so long (too long) the hospitality industry has been chewing people up and spitting them out. Just last week I spoke with a friend who went from running her own restaurant to running someone else’s and now is pivoting to real estate. She’s simply done.

Why is this the case? Are we in restaurants stuck in the echo chamber where it is “cool” to work unfathomable hours day in a day out? Is it sexy to burnout? How sustainable is this model?

I feel like other industries have caught on to this and facilitated the necessary changes to allow for longevity of the given industry and its individuals. The most intriguing of these industries to offer a new way of doing “business” is our medical industry here in Canada.

Featured on CBC’s White Coat Black Art we are seeing the rise of Part-Time Medical practitioners that are choosing less hours for time with family and time for themselves. A more balanced lifestyle.

“Few doctors plan for a future that involves part-time work while they're in the throes of a gruelling medical school education, but even then, Michelle Cohen knew it would be a part of her plan at some point down the line.

 "I never really wanted to be — especially with a young family — to have that kind of 60-plus-hour-a -week work,"  Dr. Cohen told Dr. Brian Goldman, host of White Coat, Black Art.

The 30-something family physician in Brighton, Ont., shares a practice with a semi-retired doctor who wanted to reduce his hours. The arrangement lets her spend time caring for her three children.

"I don't want to push myself to that extent and not be a part of my family life and not enjoy my life now that I'm finally out of school," said Cohen, who worked full-time work previously when her husband took parental leave. “

Again I want to challenge the status quo. CAN this be the hospitality industry? CAN we shift how we do things for the betterment of the industry and every individual in it? Looking at what Dr. Cohen has done is challenge the status quo to facilitate a life much more balanced and one that promotes more longevity.

What does this look like in the hospitality industry? Right now, I don’t know but I’d love to have the conversation with members of the hospitality industry and other industries as well to see what we can come up with. How creative can we be? How badly do we want to see a change.

For me it all starts with setting boundaries for your particular business and the lifestyle you want, and then being extremely mindful when things begin to get a little bit sketchy. Have you just worked 4 weeks in a row with no days off? Likely time to check in with those boundaries or set some new ones. Are boundaries not possible? O.k well then lets discuss why that is, and what you need for these boundaries to exist.

I am completely empathetic to the challenges that our industry faces. With rising food costs, staffing issues, and the subsequent low margins there doesn’t seem to be a bright light in sight, but what we need is a shift. A shift in perspective on what is possible and a greater more prominent conversation amongst our community members discussing what could be possible.

Feet on the ground, head in the clouds approach

Taking from the Stockdale paradox, we have to stay attached to reality but hold on to the ultimate vision of what is possible. I am convinced that if, as a community, we are willing to come together to facilitate this change, one that supports a greater balance, we will look back at this time as the most defining for our industry unlike anything else we have ever experienced.

I’d love to engage with the global community on this and see what you all think as this will take a unified front and more sharing than ever before. But like I said, if doctors can do it, why can’t we?