Be true to who you are and you will find happiness.
Dr. Mark Zukowski grew up in Central New York in a family with several doctors on his mother’s side. While he was always intrigued by the profession, he didn’t always know which specialty would be his passion.
Dr. Mark Zukowski began his education with a biochemistry degree from Union College in Schenectady, NY. Dr. Zukowski then attended Northwestern University medical school in Chicago on a U.S. Navy scholarship, where he earned his medical degree. At Northwestern Memorial Hospital, one of the top medical institutions in the world, he completed his prerequisite three years of training in General Surgery, followed by three years of training in Plastic Surgery. He then completed his military scholarship obligation to the Navy, achieving the rank of Commander(05). For four and a half years Dr. Zukowski served as Plastic Surgery Department Head at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia.
Dr. Zukowski wanted a career that allowed him to have the biggest impact and found that opportunity in the transgender community. For twenty-three years, he has been focusing on male to female cosmetic feminization surgery. His Center of Gender Excellence provides face, breast, and body feminization to patients transitioning from male to female. This niche allows patients to reach the dream of their outside self being in sync with who they really are on the inside.
Recognized internationally as the premier American Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in the world for facial bone and soft tissue feminization and breast and body feminization procedures, Dr. Mark Zukowski has been working with the international gender community for 23 years. For his expertise in cosmetic surgery of the face and body, he has been highlighted on Chicago NBC Channel 5 News, Chicago CLTV News, Chicago Fox News, in Playboy Magazine, and on Los Angeles KRLA 1110AM talk show.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I have always had a focus on cosmetic surgery. The concept for my practice came from a desire to bring 21st century advanced endoscopic minimal scar techniques to cosmetic surgery in order to achieve beautiful and more natural results with less complications. The niche I have found in the transgender community was born from the need for those experiencing body dysmorphia to have an International Center of Excellence where they could go that will allow them to change their outer appearance. My patients have spent a lifetime feeling one way and looking another. My surgery changes that for them. I build beauty! They can now show themselves to the world exactly how they have always felt they should be. It is amazing the transformations I see, and I don’t mean just the physical. The emotional turmoil they may have experienced presurgical is relieved when they are finally able to look in the mirror and see themselves as they have always felt they should look.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I perform surgeries three days per week averaging twelve-hour days, taking into consideration the preoperative setup with anesthesia and postoperative recovery. Those are my busiest days. On the days I am not doing surgery, I am meeting with patients in the office. Those are new patient consultations or post-operative visits to make sure the patient is doing well. One day a week I talk to patients all over the world both in consultation and follow-up. Each day is rigidly scheduled so I know what my day will look like.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Surgery allows me to be able to take one’s physical looks and translate them into how they see themselves from the outside. Often family will be jealous that their “new sister” looks better than them. To be able to give people the comfort of knowing they have achieved the most beautiful natural look they feel they should have is very gratifying work. We meet in the office ahead of any surgery and have a complete discussion about how they want to look and how we can achieve it. I make myself available both before and after surgery and give out my cell phone and e-mail should a patient need to reach me after hours.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am really excited that society today has become more accepting overall of the transgender community. More and more people are becoming comfortable with the LGBTQ community and it’s at a younger age these days. This acceptance allows people to really be more themselves, and while not everyone has attained this acceptance, it certainly is more than previous years. I am hopeful that we are close to getting rid of more biases as a whole and that more people will learn to accept others as who they really are.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think a couple of traits I have that make me more productive are persistence and attention to detail. Especially with what I do, I need to make sure that I am at the top of my game always. That attention to detail is what makes the difference for my patients. These traits were reinforced with my military background.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Honestly, my career has been something that all along I had confidence in. I knew I chose the right path and I worked to achieve being the best at what I do. The best advice I would give my younger self would definitely be to not get married the first time.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Well, I have been working on my memoir when I retire in the next decade. The title I have chosen is “Everyone Is Gay But Me.” I think not everyone would agree with that statement – but we will see.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Find your inner self. Don’t be so caught up in what the world expects you to be. Be true to who you are and you will find happiness. If you need help achieving the outside of your body to look like how you feel on the inside, you can come to see me. I do not build passability – I build BEAUTY! I think there are a lot of people out there who are working in a field they don’t really want to be in or living a life because that’s what is expected from them. As humans, we are constantly learning and ever-changing. Follow where your passion takes you and you will be successful.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being honest with people and working as hard as you can to help fulfill their dreams. In this particular niche, a lot of new clients come to me because they have heard about what good work I do. I listen to my patients and make sure that we are going to successfully make them who they really are. The great thing about this community is that they will share with others who has helped them in their journey.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I don’t consider it really a failure, but I don’t have a great focus on marketing, as we are so darn busy. I much prefer to be in the operating room. Again, a lot of my new patients are there because they have heard through the community that I am a great cosmetic plastic surgeon who can bring their dreams into reality. We are in the process of updating our website right now, but still, the majority of my clients are through word of mouth and great results.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have actually been working on an all-natural mosquito repellant. You can learn more about this spray which we have been selling since 2015 at www.buggawfinc.com. We now have a liquid, candle, and soap products that are 100% essential oils and last up to 5.5 hours on the mosquitoes that transmit Zika, West Nile, and other diseases.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The last $100 I’ve spent was on a men’s purse. I was visiting an outdoor themed store and they had a really cool purse with fish all over it. I think it was money well spent.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I am just at the point of using my new phone for all the state-of-the-art things you can use it for these days. I am so busy operating and communicating personally with my patients that I delegate handling the technological details of my practice to my staff.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Rogue Warrior by Richard Marcinko. He’s the original commanding officer of Seal Team Six and it’s an excellent book. He is also a personal friend I met in the Navy. I also helped to transition the first Navy Seal Team Six member, Kristen Beck.
What is your favorite quote?
“Proceed until apprehended. It’s better to be forgiven than to be told no beforehand and break the rules.” I learned that while in the Navy and still believe it’s a great concept.
- To be able to give people the comfort of knowing they have achieved the look they feel they should have, it is very gratifying work.
- More people should learn to accept others for who they are.
- Be true to who you are and you will find happiness.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.