Dr. Donald Liss

“Almost everyone wants to put in a true day’s work; they just need to feel valued.”


Dr. Donald Liss is an experienced medical professional specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Based in New York City, New York, Dr. Liss serves as an attending physician for the Rehabilitation Medicine Department at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. He has helped the center uphold its mission of providing patients the best possible care for sports, spine, orthopedic, and neuromuscular conditions.

Donald Liss’s passion for helping patients is made evident through his consistent, holistic approach to medical care. He considers his career a blessing thanks to the numerous partners, medical colleagues, and talented therapists and medical assistants with whom he has had the privilege to work with on a daily basis.

Where did the idea for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation come from?

My specialty is officially called ‘Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,’ and we thought naming our P.A. that name would convey our allegiance, commitment, and comprehensive approach in that regard.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Patients, patients, patients … we have five offices, and I go to three of them. In healthcare, it’s all about seeing and trying to help the patient. All the doctors these days have a medical assistant to ‘extend’ their efficiency.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Primarily with lots of discussions. Sometimes it’s tricky because the person who can helping brainstorm may not have the time, skill, or power to bring the idea to fruition. That often leads to more discussions and tactics. The better one is at fleshing out a ‘game plan’ for implementing the idea, the more likely that plan will actually come to life.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The fact that millennials can do a lot of the brainstorming, researching, and motivating for themselves if you just get them on the right path.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m willing to listen to absolutely anyone. I don’t really believe in race, class, or privilege; everyone has ideas. Everyone wants to go home at the end of the day proud of their day’s work. Everyone has observations and suggestions.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Keep your cards closer to your chest. Not everyone is your friend.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

Almost everyone wants to put in a true day’s work; they just need to feel valued.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Treat each patient of the day as if they are the first, the last…the only patient. Get into the room as soon as you can, apologize if you are late, truly care about their ‘non-medical’ lives, don’t rush out of the room, and leave the patient with a clear plan and a clear timetable for a follow-up. Walk the patient to the front desk and make sure the front knows what you want, and make sure the patient schedules what you have advised. In a word: over-communicate.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Caring about each and every patient and about the condition that brought them to you — how they are coping and the conditions’s effect on their lives.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I undersold my own value to at least one of my own partners, thereby reducing my own effectiveness. I have tried lately to either work around or reassure my own sense of value. It doesn’t help if people think your opinion or ideas don’t matter.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Don’t diversify. If you do ‘rehab,’ don’t try to also be ‘massage,’ “meditation,’ or ‘fitness’ unless those offerings are part of your rehab plan. Know what you are good at, do it, and promote it.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

‘Too Heavy for Your Pocket,’ Roundabout Theater Company, Underground, a play about a young African-American in 1961 — the first college student in his family — who gives up college to be a Freedom Rider and fight for civil rights for the black community. I purchased 4 tickets for $25 each. My wife and I went with our daughter and her boyfriend. The show was an inexpensive, provocative, and excellent production, and it was a quality time with good company and a great trigger for discussion.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I frequently use Google to search for topics, explanations, equipment, and supplies to share with my patients when discussing their condition and what needs to be done.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“My favorite books are the Torah, the Bridge of San Luis Rey, and almost anything by Mark Twain or Ernest Hemingway.”

What is your favorite quote?

A quote from Hillel the Elder in Ethics of the Fathers, chapter 1: ‘If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? But when I am for myself, then what am “I”?’ And ‘if not now, when?’

Key Learnings:

  • It’s a valuable exercise to take stock not only of data but of ‘processes and beliefs
  • Medicine is indeed less of a ‘business’ than other businesses
  • This interview can make interviewees think out of their element; it nudges them into thinking in a new kind of way


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