Dr. Jessica Zucker is swarming in success yet one of the most humble and heart driven business women that I know. The accolades she's receiving from The New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Self, Glamour, PBS and more doesn't seem to have swayed Jessica from the soul of her work in the work as a clinical psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health, with an international public health background. I am so excited to share Dr. Jessica Zucker with you!
What happened or inspired you to start your business?
What is different about my journey than most therapists is that I was specializing in infertility, pregnancy loss, post-partum, and women’s reproductive mental health, before I was personally affected by it. I experienced a miscarriage between my first and second child, and it was such an impactful moment in my life, that I decided to share it publically to model everything I knew as a therapist, but also as a fellow woman having a miscarriage, for other women. That is how #ihadamiscarriage campaign started.
What inspired me to become a therapist was a direct result of my childhood. I grew up around a lot of adults that were working in mental health and I wanted to have the same meaningful experience with my life. I wanted be a citizen of the world, feel passionate about people and help people. After college, I did a one-year fellowship in Israel and worked with all different religions and cultures and became interested in global health versus helping people one-on-one. I went to graduate school and got a public health degree in women’s health. I traveled a lot, to Nigeria, India, Nepal, and when I was not traveling I worked behind a computer. During that time in my life I missed interacting one-on-one with people so I found myself in graduate school again and obtained my PhD in Psychology.
Now I get to do all of the things I love; I work one-on-one with clients, I created a globally recognized public health campaign for women and miscarriages which allows me to reach women that I would never have the opportunity to work with 1:1, and I spend the other third of my time bridging the emotional and intellectual through writing.
How does spirituality impact your business?
Spirituality is a natural part of mental health and journeying through someone’s life experiences with them. Seeking mental health brings people to a new space, especially when someone has lost a baby. My viewpoints and gut intuitions are infused on a daily basis into my work. When a patient comes to me and doesn’t want to have to grieve anymore, I hold space, connect, and take a breath with them. We come up with mantras to help them move through the grief.
I wrote a post in April 2017 before I went to Japan. I wanted to visit Japan to research the culture, because to me it seemed like a culture that has incorporated grief into their daily lives. I found it to be true. They have statues and gardens randomly strewn around the cities representing the life that didn’t come to this human earth. To me, the four walls of my office have become a temple for my patients. To me, the four walls around all most therapy offices have become temples for current day spirituality.
How do you stay motivated through the ups and downs of owning your own business?
I’m genuinely so involved and excited by my work that I don’t feel like I have ups and downs. I’m keenly aware that there are times when I need to work and other times when I need to take a break. I do heavy work and intense work with my patients and there’s nothing else I’d want to be doing. I feel invigorated by working with people that are open and willing to investigate their truth. I feel honored to be able to sit with people who are that brave and courageous. I have found it is important to fill myself up outside of work through exercise, being outside, spending time with my family and writing.
When I went through my own miscarriage, I stopped writing from a clinical perspective of postpartum and started writing about the different angles of pregnancy loss. Miscarriage is when there is a loss up to 20 weeks versus stillbirth is when there is a loss from 20 weeks forward. I started writing about miscarriage, stillbirth and pregnancy termination for medical reasons to connect and bring women together. I also wanted to write about these topics so that I could help women that I wouldn’t be able to help one-on-one in my private practice.
What would you tell the younger you just starting her business?
Interestingly, there is nothing I would do differently. I would tell my younger self that she’s got it and to just go out and do it.
When I left my post doctorate assignment, I left with a large number of patients that I’d already established for an immediate thriving practice but I was called to serve this population of women. I took a huge bet on myself and I am so glad I did.
How do you balance your clients, professional projects and personal commitments, family, self-care?
I’m a very organized person down to the basics of my home and office, calendar, emails, finances, kids. Everything is cleaned out on a daily and weekly basis. I keep a very rigorous schedule. I put objects back in the spot where they belong. I know that I can’t be creative when I have junk, literally and figuratively, clogging my space. So I keep a very organized life and I have clear boundaries around my time.
When I was pregnant with my son I changed my calendar from working five days and week and evening hours, to working only three days a week, and having two days off with my son. Every Tuesday and Thursday was dedicated to him. Eventually my work life started percolating, and he started growing, so I would use three to five hours of Tuesday or Thursday to write, get a haircut, go to the dentist, and then have the rest of the day with my son (and then daughter). Summer months are lighter with work, and I take two weeks off in August and September.
What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome?
First, the biggest challenge I have is being a businesswoman with a focus in pregnancy loss advocate work. I don’t have an interest in making money off of pregnancy loss, so there are times when I do work because it comes from my heart but I don’t think about the business aspect of the work until in retrospect.
Second is also around being a businesswoman with a focus in pregnancy loss advocate work. In retrospect I didn’t plan strategically for the ideas that I had. For instance, in 2015 I launched pregnancy loss cards simply for the clients that I saw on a daily basis. When I launched the cards, there were hundreds of sales in the US within the first 24 hours. I spent a lot of time packing and shipping the cards and it wasn’t a good use of my time.
So, now I am learning to think more strategically in terms of my time and how I can be the most available and effective to the creative aspects of the advocacy work. October is pregnancy loss month and I do a project each year so that I can be a part of the awareness in a downloadable virtual way.
What project are you most excited about right now?
I started my #ihadamiscarriage campaign in 2014 with New York Times and it became really big and I didn’t even expect it. My campaign is still my most exciting project in addition to my private practice. The clients that I see on a daily basis breathe life into my campaign. I’m still so excited about the campaign, about October pregnancy loss awareness month, and the magazine publications about the campaign that are going viral around the world. To learn more visit www.drjessicazucker.com