Surviving LIfe's BIG Challenges — with Kristina Zakhary, MD

Surviving Life’s BIG Challenges — with Kristina Zakhary, MD

Hello, and welcome to Beauty and the Biz where we talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery, and how Dr. Zakhary overcame adversity by surviving life’s big challenges.

I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of Your Aesthetic Practice – What your patients are saying, as well as consultant to plastic surgeons, to get them more patients and more profits. Now, today’s episode is called “Surviving LIfe’s BIG Challenges — with Kristina Zakhary, MD”.

Life throws you curve balls. It’s not IF, but when. The curveball becomes that rude awakening that derails us from our plan and sends us into fear, uncertainty, and doubt. 

It becomes your sink or swim moment. As they say, “It’s not what happens to you but how you react to what happens to you.”

Dr. Kristina Zakhary, a facial plastic & reconstructive surgeon in private practice in Alberta, Canada, experienced this firsthand. 

Just as she was putting the finishing touches on her new office and preparing to move in, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a double mastectomy. Then her father passed away.

⬇️ Click below to watch “Surviving LIfe’s BIG Challenges — with Kristina Zakhary, MD”

Dr. Zakhary had to go deep within to keep things moving and money coming in to cover all her new office and staff expenses. 

This week’s video is an interview with Dr. Zakhary explaining how she kept on going and how she feels about life now that she is on the other side of recovery and doing well in the midst of surviving life’s big challenges.

How would you react if you got that kind of curveball thrown at you?

Surviving LIfe's BIG Challenges & Practicing in Canada — with Kristina Zakhary, MD


Surviving Life’s BIG Challenges — with Kristina Zakhary, MD

Catherine Maley, MBA: Hello and welcome to Beauty in the Biz where we talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery and surviving life’s big challenges. I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of Your Aesthetic Practice — What your patients are saying, as well as consultant to plastic surgeons to get them more patients and profits.

Now, today’s special guest is Dr. Kristina Zakhary. She’s a facial and reconstructive surgeon in private practice in Alberta, Canada. Now she specializes in rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, facelifts, as well as a variety of nonsurgical solutions.

Now, Dr. Zakhary is also an associate staff member at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary, and she did a fellowship in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Toronto that is accredited by both the Canadian and American Boards of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Now, Dr. Zakhary is often a guest speaker at conferences and has authored and co-authored several published research papers about plastic surgery. Of course.

So, Dr. Zakhary, who will be discussing surviving life’s big challenges, welcome to Beauty and the Biz.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: Thank you for having me.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Absolutely. Can you just quickly tell us your road to private practice and surviving life’s big challenges? And I know Canada’s a little different than we are. Do most surgeons stay in the academic world or do they go on private practice? And how big of a deal was that for you?

Kristina Zakhary, MD: So, as you know, I’m an otolaryngology head and neck surgeon, and my, my focus is facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. Most, to answer your question, most surgeons complete their residency and maybe fellowship and then go back into academic practice. Private practice is extremely rare in Canada because we do have socialized healthcare.

And so a lot of Doctors go straight back into, you know, the, the academic route. Or even if they are not in the academic system, they will go into still a public practice, but rural. So how did I go into private practice? I still have a hybrid practice, so I still do work for Alberta Healthcare. , I do on call rotations and I do operate at the hospital once a month, on average once a month.

And I, then I have, the majority of my practice is my private facial plastic and reconstructive surgery practice where I do exclusively, you know, cosmetic surgeries and procedures in the office. How did I get started? Right out of fellowship, I moved to Calgary, Alberta because they were starting up a new residency training program here and they needed somebody from each sub-specialty for that otolaryngology head neck surgery residency training program.

And I never thought I would end up out west. I’m from Montreal originally and everybody who’s from Montreal wants to stay in Montreal. It’s kind of the most European city in Canada and it’s lovely and the weather is beautiful. And so nobody really wants to leave and I didn’t really want to leave, but I had to for work.

And boy am I glad that I did because I love Calgary. It’s really beautiful here. I started off working in a room out of a spa. And that’s because in Montreal when you graduate, they automatically offer you a, a po If you’re, if you’re hired at the hospital, you, they automatically offer you your office.

A secretary and a wait list of patients and I moved here and it was a wild, wild west. I had to find my own office. I had to find my own secretary, and I had to build up my patient list. So I had been to several. Lectures at the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Annual Meetings.

And I had listened to you a number of times, so I had a background of how to get started already by listening to experts such as yourself. And the one takeaway that I had from that is start small. And then build large. So it’s not like the field of dreams. If you build it, they shall come, start small, start within your means, and then grow.

And that’s exactly what I did. So I started in humble beginnings. I don’t have any connections in my family. Nobody’s a doctor except for me. And so I started in a room out of a spa and grew from there. Eventually I had got my own. And then I got a bigger office and now I’m just very happy where I am. I wouldn’t be opposed to growing more, but I’m very content and I think along the route I have been content where, where I am and that has really helped me to be happy and grow.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Nice. I do know there’s a big challenge when you’re trying toggle between recon and cosmetic. In other words, surviving life’s big challenges. The recon will often take all of your time and focus, and the cosmetic suffers from that or the other way around. Have you found

that to be true? Yes and no. I have been very careful to even focus my public practice on public healthcare practice, on facial plastic and reconstructive surgery cases.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: So I don’t do a lot of recon. I’ll do functional rhinoplasties and I’ll do functional blepharoplasties OPLs on children because here in Canada or here on Alberta at least, it’s, the procedure is covered by Alberta Healthcare until 19 years old. So, Focus my, even my public healthcare practice on facial plastic and reconstruction surgery.

And the reason I do that is because that’s really what I enjoy doing. And I firmly believe that in if you enjoy doing something, you do it well. And I don’t want to, you know, try to do surgeries that I’m not used to doing or that I’m not, you know, because I haven’t done them in so long that I’m not really that qualified to.

So I know that what I do, I do well and I focus on that. Even if it’s not a private case, even it’s a public case, I will still perform it as though it is a private case because that’s my reputation on the line.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. Well, excuse my ignorance in regards to surviving life’s big challenges, but the last I heard, you could actually have the system pay for your facelift, but you could be in line for five years waiting. Is that true?

Kristina Zakhary, MD: It’s true and it’s not true. I think it’s a gray line. I don’t like gray zones. I like to be black and white, so I never want in a, in an instance where, you know, maybe the system will audit me. I never be want to be found at fault. So I draw a very strict line between cosmetic and non-cause, you know, and public healthcare cases.

So for example, it’s very common as you probably already know, for patients to say, Well, since I’m having my septoplasty done, can you shave a little off the bridge? And. You know, I, I always draw a hard line at that. If there’s anything cosmetic that you want to do, that’s automatically considered a private case.

If it’s majority breathing problems and like legitimately the person came to me with a breathing issue and their nose happens to be crooked, then I will suggest, you know, if you want to straighten it, we could do it at the same time. But if it’s a majority cosmetic case and then they throw in, Oh, well I also have trouble breathing.

Can you do that? And will it be covered? The answer’s. No to that because number one the cosmetic surgery might actually reduce the breathing space. You know, especially if you’re doing a reduction rhinoplasty making no smaller, and which I explained to them. And number two, the main concern is a cosmetic concern is not a breathing concern.

So I don’t like to scam the system and ultimately somebody’s paying for it and it’s a taxpayers and it’s not.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Right. And that reminds me, I think you do a very good job qualifying your callers because don’t they always call and say, Is this going to be covered?

So do you have your, about how do you qualify callers and make sure you have the right people in your office that you actually want to help you in surviving life’s big challenges?

Kristina Zakhary, MD: Well, I actually have you to think for that, Ms. Catherine, because you train my staff. So I do qualify my colors according to your suggestions. So whenever a color calls in we get their history. You know, the, My assistance will get their history, what they would like to change about their nose or face, or.

Eyes or whatever it is they’re concerned about what, what timeline they would like to have the procedure performed in. We always give them straight off the bat the cost of the surgery or an approximate cost so that there’s no surprises. We like to be fully transparent and so also people can budget or you.

Seek another surgeon if the budget doesn’t fit them. And I just want everybody to be very prepared. We also ask for pH photos. So we ask them to send us photos with a description of what they would like to address in the body of the email. And then that way I can see if I can meet their expectations.

If it is a good fit, then we will Patient and organize video consultation, just kind of like what we’re doing now by Zoom or FaceTime or another video app. And during the consultation, I’ll go through how I do the surgery for them. So it’s always individualized and personalized, what the recovery time is like, what the risks are, what the benefits are and show them before and after pictures of my work so that they can.

Fully prepared and ready to make a decision. We allow them about two weeks to think about it and credit scheduling fee, the consultation fee towards the surgical fee. So I feel like we are very thorough in assessing expectations and assessing you know, mental and physical health. And in, you know, just trying to get the patient ready for the procedure if it’s something they want to.

Catherine Maley, MBA: It’s so funny in regards to surviving life’s big challenges, so many practices try to play the quantity game versus quality. They just say, Forget all this qualifying on the phone. I’ll take care of them when they get here, and that is one way to do it. But you’ll wear yourself out. You’ll also wear out the staff, and I just, I love that you’re going for quality versus quantity and you see less people, but they’re so darn qualified that your conversion rate.

Like five times what it normally would be when you’re just trying to get anybody in there. I love that you appreciate your time when surviving life’s big challenges. You know?

Kristina Zakhary, MD: I agree. And I, I, and, and to be honest, you taught me that, so I thank you. Good. Yeah.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. I’m so glad you heard that because in today’s world it’s just getting, I don’t know another word, in respect to surviving life’s big challenges, other than flaky.

It’s getting so flaky that why are you going to waste your time talking to some silly person, especially rhinoplasties, that they, they don’t have money or they have no clue of how for certified you are, or how experienced you are and all they care about is get this bump off my nose and let the insurance company pay for it, you know?

Yeah, you’ve structured it enough where you just, you’re getting good qualified people in there to help in surviving life’s big challenges, so congratulations.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: And the more, the more educated the person is, the more ready they are, and I think the better patient they’re going to be. So I’ve had very good experiences thanks to that system.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Oh, that’s fantastic.

By the way the biggest issue typically, in reference to surviving life’s big challenges, well, let me ask you, what’s your biggest challenge of running a private.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: Oh, it’s got to be the HR . Yeah. I’m a micromanager and I don’t like being a micromanager, but just by virtue of being a perfectionist and wanting to control every little thing I find it very hard to relinquish control.

I know I have to, I’m very aware of that, but I find it very difficult. So I find myself a lot of the time holding myself back and apologizing a lot to the staff because I do have to trust them. I, they have been handpicked. They have been loyal and they’re excellent staff and they are really supportive of me in all the ups and downs of this, you know practice, we have grown together.

And so I think it’s been a learning curve for me of how to let go a little bit of control of that part of the practice. And I would say that that’s the hardest part for.

Catherine Maley, MBA: You know what? I go, so I go back and forth with this and I don’t want to stay gender related. However we have, we are women and women bosses and are surviving life’s big challenges.

It’s a different challenge I would say, than oftentimes our counterparts. And you are looked at as you know, you know? Right. And, and it’s so, but you’re the one taking the risk. It’s your practice, your name. And I, you know, I like that. I like that you’re a perfectionist, Although, I must say when it comes to staff, They don’t think like you do and on surviving life’s big challenges.

You know, And that’s why it’s so challenging because they think this is good enough. You know, what’s the big deal? And that’s why this is so challenging. You’re just trying to work with people who are on a different plane than you are. Different mindset on surviving life’s big challenges.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: Not as much Skin in the game. Will never have, I would agree with the skin in the game.

Comment. They, you know, the. As the surgeon and as the practice owner, I have a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. I have to make sure that the surgeries go well, that the experience is good. It’s not just about a good result, but it’s about the good experience as well. It’s about the keeping the lights on in this place, you know, so paying all the bills.

And I also have responsibility to pay the staff so that they can have a livelihood. So there’s a lot of responsibility. On the shoulders of the practice owner and the practice, you know, the surgeon. And so I don’t think a lot of people realize that. They say, Oh, you’re, you know, a plastic surgeon or a facial plastic surgeon, you’re rich.

You know, it doesn’t, and it, they don’t see all the hard work that goes into building a practice, maintaining a practice. And if they did, I think they would have a lot more respect for the surgeon or the practice.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, that’s why I like to have staff meetings and actually show them how, Show them the recipe, show them what goes on behind the scenes.

And while they’re all out having fun on the weekends, you’re trying to figure out how are we going to bring in more money to make sure everybody gets paid, you know? And. About them, but in a nice way. Like, I like to have a kitchen mission statement and it, and literally this statement would say, you know, we love our patients, we love taking care of them, but we also love taking care of ourselves in surviving life’s big challenges.

Yeah. Because we all do, you know, we all want to experience a nice life.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: You know, we’re all interconnected. I mean, if, if somebody’s happy, then the whole group is happy. If somebody’s upset, then it tilts the, the mood in the office and then that affects. Relationships and patient care as well that day, for example.

So you’re right, it’s all interconnected and we all have to be supportive of each other, right?

Catherine Maley, MBA: Gosh, yeah. Higher. Well, that’s for sure. Fire fast, hire slow. All of that is so true in regards to surviving life’s big challenges.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: It’s cliche. So true. True. Yeah. Yeah. It’s cliche because it’s true.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Exactly. So let’s talk about surgical versus nonsurgical in the realm of surviving life’s big challenges. How big of a deal is nonsurgical in your practice and do you have a philosophy of like a one stop kind of shop, or are you more surgery and you could like pass away, pass off on the nonsurgical?

What’s your feeling on that, in reference to surviving life’s big challenges?

Kristina Zakhary, MD: I think for me, I like to do both. I like to build relationships in the non-surgical aspect, and I like to do the surgeries, so I do it all myself. I do not have a nurse injector, and that’s because I really value the relationship and I value my reputation. So if I’m doing it, it just comes down to the micro-manage.

Aspect of my personality. If I’m doing it, I know what I’m doing. I know, I know where I’m placing product. I know where I’m putting a suture, I know where I’m putting, you know, So I’m responsible for everything and I’m also responsible for the results. So the good results or the bad result, the call comes down to me.

And I also am not interested in training someone out of. So, you know, I see a lot of places where they have hired a nurse injector or a nurse practitioner, and then that person gains a following and then that person leaves and who’s. Out of luck. It’s the doctor that’s out of luck and it’s the doctor that has grown this person’s practice for them.

So I just don’t think that’s fair and I don’t feel like going through that disappointment and, you know, so I like to do the procedures myself. Mostly because I like to maintain control over as much as I can maintain control over. And then secondly, because this really is my practice and I want my name stamped on everything that happens.

Catherine Maley, MBA: There’s always a fork in the road when surviving life’s big challenges, eventually, typically where you, you feel like that right now because you’re young and, and vibrant and as you get older you start looking at this and saying, Wait a second. Or, or not, Maybe not, maybe you’ll always keep it, keep it boutique it. However, it’s difficult to grow when you are it, when you’re the revenue generator.

Period. So you just, but there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you know yourself and, you know, you’re more comfortable handling surviving life’s big challenges. Mm-hmm. . But it doesn’t it’s difficult to grow, but if you do want to grow, then you have to relinquish some of that control. And just like what’s less painful is really the decision, you know?

Kristina Zakhary, MD: Mm-hmm. , so That’s right. That’s, Absolutely, Absolutely. There’s going to be a time where you don’t want to do it all.

Catherine Maley, MBA: As you get older in surviving life’s big challenges, you start looking at, especially when you’re thinking about exiting someday, you’re trying to think, Wait a second, what would somebody buy this for? Like, what are they buying? You know?

Because if you are it. And you know, how do you transfer that it to some other surgeon? And that’s when down the road you might start looking at that and going, Hmm, wait a second. Let me, let me re recap in surviving life’s big challenges.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: Calibrate, I, I thought about this to be honest, and I think down the road when I’m ready to relinquish the practice and, you know, transition out, I would probably look at taking on a junior staff member and, you know, incorporating them into the practice and then they can grow and then I can slow down and then make an exit that way.

I think that’s the, the way I would do it, rather than, you know, hire somebody because ultimately that person has no obligation to stay with you. But if it’s a junior associate who stands to inherit the entire practice or buy the entire practice from you, then they have more skin in that game.

Catherine Maley, MBA: For sure.

And you have to take your time getting to know them, you know? Mm-hmm. , it’s a marriage boy. It’s, it’s so serious. So I, Yes, I would take, I tread lightly. Yes. . Absolutely. So, let’s talk about, let’s talk about marketing because, and you and I have talked about this, I have spoken in Canada several times, and my talks are a joke in regards to surviving life’s big challenges.

Every time I, I have a strategy, they say, Oh, we can’t do that here. We can’t do that here. We can’t do that here. And. There, Lord. I mean, yeah. Still so many rules. And I’m a marketer. I don’t like lawyers or rules. Mm-hmm. . And so how do you market yourself there with all those limitations on surviving life’s big challenges?

Kristina Zakhary, MD: You play within the, you play within the rules.

So, for example I have to state by law that I am an otolaryngology head and neck surgeon with a special focus in facial plastic and reconstructive. That’s the law. I know it’s a mouthful.

Catherine Maley, MBA: That’s so funny and how it relates to surviving life’s big challenges. Do you know why I, I was on your website and made a big deal. Your headline was otolaryngology.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: But there’s a big turf four, you know, and the plastic surgeons raised a big fuss not just where I live, not just in my province, but in several other provinces. So that is one of the main standards of advertising that I have to abide by. And that’s fine. I don’t mind abiding within the rules. I’m not embarrassed.

I don’t feel less than, I think they feel like if I say that, that people might think that I’m less than a plastic surgeon and that’s fine. Like that’s, that’s their opinion. I don’t feel that way. In fact, I think that gives me a leg up. If somebody wants to have a nose, Surgery or a, you know, a face tightening or a neck lift, Who are you going to go to?

Are you going to go to somebody who does breast implants and you know, hand surgery and tummy tucks all day? Are you going to go to somebody who’s been trained and specifically focused on surgery of the head and neck and noses? I mean, obviously you’re going to go to the person who has the most experience and the most training.

So I wear it as a badge of honor. Like it was supposed to be as a mm, you’re less than us. So you have to mention that somewhere that you’re less than. I don’t see it. I’m very proud. I’m very proud of my training. I’m very proud of my experience. I’m very proud to advertise it. Another thing that we’re not allowed to do is put testimonials.

So I had a website page that was just dedicated to testimonials for my patients, but then I had to, you know, delete that because p. Local plastic surgeon took me to the college and made a, you know, complaint about my website, so I had to take that off. I also had to remove the part of my website pertaining to Botox injections because in Canada you are not allowed to advertise a drug that’s offered under Alberta Health.

Canada. I don’t know, some sort of, you’re not allowed to advertise that Botox reduces wrinkles. You’re not allowed to do that, so you’re only allowed to say that you perform Botox injections. So those are just some of the limitations that, But I, I play within the rules. I do not like to get in trouble.

I’m a rule follower. And so if somebody points out something that I’m, you know, straying outside the lines, then I quickly correct my path. And I’ve always been a role follower. I think I will always be a role follow.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, especially up there, your competitors will keep you, you know, hold you to the fire, you know your piece of the fire and in surviving life’s big challenges.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: But I have confidence in myself and I have confidence in my training. So you, they can throw whatever they want to throw my way. I will come out on top because I have confidence in what I do and how I do it. I go by the book.

Catherine Maley, MBA: And you have integrity and, and they can’t play with that, you know, that you keep, you’re doing, I also remember in Canada, all of the me spas or the doctors had a, a practice, but then they had like a me spa type building next door because it, they couldn’t sell skin care products only.

The Met Bomb Park COO or something. I just thought you, you got some rules up there in regards to surviving life’s big challenges.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: There are some hard rules to follow, but yeah, in the end of the day there, there are ways how to still do business. There still ways how to market and so we make it work.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, I did notice when I, you know, I looked at your social media.

You only have Facebook or I, I actually couldn’t find your Facebook. It kept going back to mine, so that might have been my problem in surviving life’s big challenges. Instagram. It was Twitter. Are you not doing Instagram?

Kristina Zakhary, MD: No, I have Instagram. I have Instagram Facebook and Twitter, but I do not have TikTok. And you know this, maybe I’m just too old, but.

I don’t like social media. I don’t like it. I’m not a social media marketer. I’m not savvy on social media, although I think I should be, but I just feel it’s a double edge sword. You have to have it to market. But it’s also a gateway to all sorts of problems. It’s a gateway to unrealistic expectations.

It’s a gateway to comparing yourself to other people’s, you know, results, you know, results to other people’s results and the what they’re, you know, advertising may not be the truth. You know, there’s a lot of Photoshop involved in, in what’s put online. It’s a gateway to unfair criticism. I just have a, I have a hard time with social media.

I don’t like it, but I have to do it.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Especially if you want that rhino patient they’re on TikTok and my, my advice would be the next hire you have, especially with your phone receptionist, if she’s also really good on social media, you might change your mind because when you get somebody who knows how to video edit and has some creative, fun ideas it could open up the world for you to help you in surviving life’s big challenges.

But yeah, I hear you. Social media, we did not grow up with it, and I think it’s the biggest waste of time on, on the planet. I can’t believe how much my teenage nieces and nephews spend on it, but it’s not for me.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: I just, I, I have a hard time with it because I just feel like it takes, first of all, a lot of unrealistic expectations out there, and it’s promoted by social media.

And like the one, the biggest trend. So to date that has been sort of like a pain in my side has been the nose job. What is it called? Nose job check. Oh, what’s that? Yeah. Have you heard of that one on TikTok? No. Where somebody says NOS job check and then they put a picture of themselves before surgery, after surgery and then, and the final product, and it looks like no time has passed, so people aren’t really coming in with realistic.

Realistic expectations about healing, about results, about, you know, any of that. It’s just, you know, they, they imagine it’s going to be a very quick recovery, just like what they saw on TikTok, but I just don’t think that that’s realistic. And I think that it’s fueled by not just TikTok, but all social media outlets are fueling on unrealistic expectations.

But of course I know you, you know, in order to reach a certain demographic, you have to be involved in in social media market.

Catherine Maley, MBA: You just have to be where they are and if they’re not Googling you or Googling something, because I think you have to have both. I do think you need SEO to help you in surviving life’s big challenges. Your website’s got to have content that drives people to it.

But then for those people, like I have a 16 year old niece who’s never even heard of email or. Googling. Like she just, she just spends time on Snapchat and all of her news . But that’s where that Rhino group is. So do you do a lot of rhino or do you prefer like the aging face, or how are, how is that?

Kristina Zakhary, MD: I think now it’s about, it started off I was doing 80% rhinoplasty and 20% everything. I mean in head and neck cosmetic surgery now it’s about 50 50 rhinoplasty and, and aging face. So, you know, face lifts, neck lifts blepharoplasty for head lifts. And so I really have a big variety of demographic in terms of my patient base.

How do I reach. Yeah, I do have social media presence. I have a group that runs my social media accounts. So that’s really good. I really have to think about it very little. I give them content, they come up with their own content, and it works well for me. The other thing I do is I of course I have SEO and a website.

That I’ve been taken care of and had changed it over the years. And then I have a lot of, you know, presence in still, I know a lot of people say it’s not very useful, but I think it is for brand recognition. So on television and on newspapers and online, on newspapers, like if you’re reading something pertaining to plastic surgery or cosmetic or beautification, I’ll have a banner that’ll show up.

So I, I try to have a presence. Everywhere so that when somebody thinks of facial cosmetic surgery or facial cosmetic surgery procedures, they think of my name and I’m trying to really build a brand. And I think that I have reached that and I just maintain it now.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Oh, good for you. The easiest way to tell is just, you know, always asking that patient, How did you hear about us?

But ask them again. I find that when you ask them initially on the phone, they’ll just have some flipping answer typically. Mm-hmm. and they’ll, they get to know you better. Then you get the real answer. Well, I was talking to a girlfriend and she mentioned you, so then I check you out. Instagram, then I.

So I’m learning that that answer is very fluid in respect to surviving life’s big challenges.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: Yeah, it is. It really is. But I have to say the. The best. Marketing is word of mouth and it doesn’t Yeah. And that’s the best because you know that they are coming from a positive experience or somebody who knows they had a positive experience and they know your work intimately.

So I love word of mouth mar marketing, but of course you can’t rely on that. You have to, especially when you’re starting, have a presence in. In the community, that’s not just word of mouth.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Right. So we talked about the business and the marketing and surviving life’s big challenges, and I want to talk about the mindset because you, I mean you like everyone else have had challenges, but tell me about some of, any of the adversity that you have experienced.

How did you get through it? What, what did you learn from it?

Kristina Zakhary, MD: That kind of thing. I have had a lot of adversity in, in every single stage of my practice and. Never feel discouraged by it, because I know that there is something to learn from every experience, even if it’s a bad experience. So the first bad experience that I had was when I was starting out in practice.

I was just coming out of my fellowship and starting my practice, and I fell in the hands of a scam artist. It, she fit the bill of a scam artist. She befriended me. I worked with her. She had a. Spa that I was working with her out of and she, you know, she. Flatter me and say things like, You’re like my daughter.

I’ll take good care of you, and you’re the doctor. You don’t have to worry about the business aspect of things. I’ll take care of that. And then she quickly was, you know, siphoning money and hiding money and. So she, in, in the end of the day, after I discovered all of this was happening, it was about three years after I had started working together with this person.

And I found that she had stolen upwards of $200,000 from me over the course of three years. And this is when you’re first starting out, you know, you don’t really have much, you don’t have that kind of money to, to lose. So how’d you that? I went to do my taxes and I asked for the books and I found out that it was, she had put on the books that I was her employee, not the other way around.

And so I was very close to losing my business, but I very lucky to have a good support system. My accountant, my lawyer both discovered this and they quickly told me like, Do this, do that so that I can salvage my business and keep it under my name. She had weeks, she literally had weeks to be able to claim the businesses for own.

So they got me on the right track. I went out on my own. I was very nervous. Because I didn’t know anything about business, and I was led to believe that I didn’t need to know anything about the business, which was the biggest mistake ever, Which is why I think that I became hyper involved in every single aspect of the business and micromanaged because I lost a certain amount of trust, right?

That I, I had given away all my trust, deservedly, and then after that experience, I said, I’m going to take care of everything. I mean, right down to taking the photos. Taken, you know, out the garbage can. At the end of the day, I became everything in my business and that made me grow. You know, a lot of people would say, Oh, woe was me, and oh, you know, I am not going to do this again.

But I learned from it. I picked up my, you know, socks and I, you know, got back in the saddle and I learned about how to do business. I learned how to hire people and fire people, and I learned how to do inventory and all the business aspect that we don’t learn. It was baptism by fire. That was a first adversity, and it really helped jumpstart my business sense, because before that, Had in the faintest clue.

The second adversity was when I was moving from my first office to my bigger office, and I got diagnosed with breast cancer right in the same month that I was supposed to move. So that was a shock. That was a big shock. All of a sudden everything had to come to screeching halt. I had to go through surgeries.

Chemotherapy. And the whole time I didn’t want to feel like a victim, so I kept on working. I didn’t do surgeries because I heard of chemo brain and I didn’t want to make any mistakes. So I was doing consultations and in office procedures and my staff was instrumental by that time they had been with me with for almost four.

Very loyal to me and very supportive. So they got me through that initial period where I couldn’t do surgeries and I was still able to run the business. And what did I learn from that? I learned that I can make it through adversities and I really relied on my faith. I have a strong faith background and you know, I feel like if you ask God for, I mean, if you’re, if you have a faith background like I do, I ask God for help.

And I feel like he answered my prayers and visualize what you want, you know, manifest according to his will, what you want. And, you know, I have not been let down to date. So it really, I think, made me stronger emotionally, spiritually, and I have a lot of compassion now for patients who have been through things like this before.

I didn’t have compassion like you do after you’ve been through something like this. Wow. So I learned a lot are, how do you feel now? I feel better, but then I recently lost my beloved dad. And that taught me, that taught me a lot too because you know, when I have patients who said, I lost a brother, or a sister, or a mother, a father, and you say, Oh, I’m so sorry.

You don’t know how it feels until you’ve been through it. And I’ve been through it and I know how it feels. And even though my dad has passed, I still feel his presence with me. I remember, sorry, I get emotional when I talk about him, but I remember what he taught me. He really set me up for business and really think that, you know, he’s still with me, so, So I think every adversity teaches you something.

Every adversity has something to learn from it, and you can’t feel sorry for yourself. You have to keep on going. And it’s true what they say when they say that, what doesn’t kill you, make you do stronger. It really does make you stronger. So I say thank God for all the good things, and thank God for all the bad things too, because they teach you something.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Wow, I had no idea. You look fantastic and you’ve been surviving life’s big challenges. I’m, Thank you. Sorry. Yeah,

Kristina Zakhary, MD: No I believe it because it taught me a lot and one of the littlest things that it taught me that I use in my practice is anti-medication. I now have a good knowledge of anti-medications because I know it worked for me and I know what works for my patients.

So that’s one of the little things, but just an example.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, I’ll tell you, you know what got conspiring because like I, I am healthy and I sweat the small stuff like that little book says, Don’t, and I have to remember, I love hearing stories like that. I have to remember, be quiet. Be grateful for everything you have in the midst of surviving life’s big challenges.

Enjoy the moments, the good ones of the bad ones. They’re not bad. They’re just not good yet. You know, I’m, I’m really trying to Exactly.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: To get there, you know. Exactly. And don’t sweat the small stuff because it doesn’t matter in the end.

Catherine Maley, MBA: I love to sweat the small stuff when surviving life’s big challenges. Dear Lord. So well I was going to say, tell us something interesting.

We don’t know about you, but I think we just got an earful there.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: That is something I think, I think you got a. Oh, I’m so sorry.

Catherine Maley, MBA: I, I’m so glad for you that you’re okay now, but Oh, yeah. Yeah. You, you have to be super strong at this point. You’re full of compassion and empathy for others, even while surviving life’s big challenges.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: Like, don’t, don’t be sorry. I think it turned me into Superwoman.

You can’t knock me out. Not yet anyways.

Catherine Maley, MBA: All right. Well we’re going to wrap it up now on this great talk on surviving life’s big challenges, but I want to your website in case anyone wants to get ahold of you for a multitude of reasons. It’s

Kristina Zakhary, MD: Yeah. And my Instagram is @DrFacialPlastics.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, you know what tell your social media people they have to put or tell your website people the logo wasn’t on your website to help you in surviving life’s big challenges.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: Yeah, Uh oh. I better call them immediately and do that. I’ll get them on that.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Anyway, it’s so nice to catch up with you and chatting on surviving life’s big challenges. I really appreciate it. Hopefully I will see you at a meeting someday.

Kristina Zakhary, MD: Yep, I sure will. Thank you. It was so nice to catch up with you. Ms. Catherine. Thank you for interviewing me.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Absolutely, and everybody that’s going to wrap it up for us today, a Beauty and the Biz and this episode on surviving life’s big challenges.

A big thanks to Dr. Zakhary for sharing her experiences on surviving life’s big challenges.

And if you have any questions or feedback for me, you can go ahead and leave them at my website at, or you can certainly DM me on Instagram @CatherineMaleyMBA.

If you’ve enjoyed this episode on Beauty and the Biz, please head over to Apple Podcasts and give me a review and subscribe to Beauty and the Biz so you don’t miss any episodes. And of course, please share this with your staff and colleagues.

And we will talk to you again soon. Take care.

-End transcript for the “Surviving Life’s BIG Challenges — with Kristina Zakhary, MD.”


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