At the age of five years old, while many children are just learning to ride bikes and mastering how to read, Ralph A. Highshaw dreamed of becoming a medical professional, and as his life progressed, that’s precisely what he did. Ralph attended medical school in Southern California at USC. After graduating, he studied at MD Anderson for several years in an advanced program where he completed a surgical residency in urology and oncology.
After practicing in California for over nine years, he eventually landed in Florida, staying in private practice in the Sunshine State for an additional 18 years. During this time, Ralph A. Highshaw, M.D. developed an interest in wellness and integrative medicine, coming to realize that this branch of medicine was incredibly beneficial, under-utilized, and quickly becoming popular with a certain segment of the population. His interest was piqued further by participating in verified clinical trials, the findings of which indicated that wellness and integrative medicine were far more effective than many medical professionals had suspected. It was then that Ralph A. Highshaw, M.D. began writing articles on the positive aspects of preventative care and optimizing one’s body to function well.
Around this time, he also started adopting a more integrative approach to medicine in order to help some of his patients with issues such as diabetes. In many cases, the treatments he developed for these patients did not include standard medical practices, such as prescribing pharmaceuticals, but rather advocating for better nutrition, exercise, and other fundamental aspects of wellness. As a doctor for over 18 years, Ralph A. Highshaw, M.D. has successfully integrated standard medical treatments like prescribing drugs and providing surgeries with practicing preventive and integrative medicine.
In his off hours, he enjoys tennis, spending time with his children, and pampering his wife.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
By the time I was five years old, I knew that becoming a doctor was what I wanted to do with my life. In time, it came to fruition. My parents were working class people. I was the first to go to college in my family, and they were always extremely supportive throughout the process. So, becoming a doctor was always my ultimate goal, and something I had planned for and worked hard for since my youth. It came from an innate desire to help people, and that irrepressible internal motivation made the push to become a doctor much easier because I never once considered deviating from my goal.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day involves waking up early and going over what I intend to accomplish. Then I check myself over and make sure I’m feeling okay—especially mentally. If I’m not in a certain mindset, then I make the mental adjustment to be in the proper mindset for work. Once I’ve achieved the proper mindset, I leave home to see patients in the hospital and my office throughout the day. When I am needed in surgery, it may change the time of day I check on some patients. The days when I am managing patients in the office are a little more structured. When the office is closed for the day, I make it a priority to make time for my family; my beloved children and wonderful wife. I like to engage in activities such as tennis when possible, as well. I really enjoy tennis.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The postulate is just a manifestation of what’s in your mind and bringing it into the physical universe. It begins as a thought and becomes reality, once you’ve taken action. In my case, I write out how I plan to take something from the idea stage into reality. I find it’s useful to work backwards from the end goal through to the starting steps. In life, there may be obstacles and plans may go sideways, but ultimately I almost always achieve what I set out to do. I’ve always found this manner of approach to be effective, and I’ve applied it to every aspect of my life for decades, at this point.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited we’re moving towards wellness in medicine. I’m proud to say that I have promoted preventative medicine for many years now. In my experience, many patients have expressed a desire for an alternative to traditional medicine and its usual approaches. Wellness and preventative medicine is something more medical professionals should be inculcating into our regular treatment plans. For example, educating our patients on coronary artery options, such as clarifications, scores, and calcification tests (CACs) empowers our patients. It leads them to making informed and healthy decisions. These days, many primary care physicians and cardiologists are better equipping their patients to learn and classify their risks for heart attacks or other coronary conditions, and providing them options to prevent such issues. This progression in medicine combines wellness with standardized medicine and improves end results. It helps to ensure that patients are healthier in the longer term.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Setting goals that expand through the week, month, or even further out ensures consistent productivity. Sometimes setting goals two to five years ahead of time provides a clearer path to take to achieve specific targets. Beyond that, more important than running my business, this habit helps me to be a better husband and father. Also, by setting goals in this manner I become a better physician.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Slow down. Be a little more patient. Take the time to smell the roses. Life is happening all around you, and it’s exciting. Enjoy it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think everyone has the ability to improve, even criminals, and everybody should be given an opportunity to improve. Now, I’m not suggesting that criminals necessarily want to improve, and I’m not suggesting that they should not have to make amends for their transgressions. I’m just suggesting that everybody should be given an opportunity.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Reassess your business on a consistent basis. Check your statistics. When something looks like it’s going the wrong way, review the information and track down the issue. Ask the questions: “What is causing this problem? Who is working with my patients? Who is working for me? What is the impact of these people and these components?” If something is lacking or needs to be adjusted, make the adjustments. If you do this regularly, you’ll find improvement in no time.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The best strategy I have is listening—genuinely listening. Listening attentively to my patients means I am able to get a better understanding of what they need, what kind of medical issues they are handling, and how they are truly feeling about their treatment, among other things. This skill equips me to better assist them in their concerns. Happy, healthy patients share their happiness by word of mouth, and then growth of the practice is inevitable once news of that style of care spreads.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early in my career, my work-life balance was very one-sided. I worked all the time. This is when I started in California. It was just me in the practice, and I covered so much of a geographic area that I was always busy. I believe if I had applied the principle of working with others back then, as I have now, I would have had an easier time of it. More time with family and to relax is important for everyone, and that includes me and my patients, as well. I am grateful to my wife for standing by me through those tough times. We were newly married, and I was out of the house working so much that I did not see her very often. Today, she helps me stay on track and continue to build a better work life balance.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Something that helps a doctor improve communication with their patients would be a great place to start. As medical professionals, we are in a business where we need to be able to focus on one person at a time so we can think clearly, without distraction, and resolve their issues. As all doctors will tell you, if you see patients, you can only do so effectively by addressing one at a time, even though there may be fifteen people waiting in the outside office to see you and many more trying to make appointments on the phone. So, having a tool to better facilitate one-on-one communication between a physician and their patients would prove beneficial for all parties concerned. That would be my suggestion.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My wife and I bought a shirt for my best friend a week ago. He really liked it, and wore it outside right after we gave it to him. It felt good to see that he loved it as he did. That brought me so much joy.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I think it’s an understanding of SEO, or search engine optimization. This allows information about your practice and positive patient feedback to be easily found online.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I wholeheartedly recommend Atomic Habits by James Clear. The book is about building habits in a positive and consistent way. If you apply that knowledge to your health and wellness, you’ll see good results over the long run. You can also apply that philosophy to exercising both body and mind, and the physical and mental health benefits will be lasting. It’s a good book. Everyone should read it.
What is your favorite quote?
Can I give two?
“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live in imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The first quote is from the Bhagavad Gita, and the second is something Maya Angelou once said. Both ring true, both in life and business. The lasting impact you leave in a person’s life is how you make them feel and how you treat them throughout the course of your relationship.
- • Focus on the person, problem, or patient in front of you.
- • Treat your patients like family—from the heart.
- • Give your all to all you do and you’ll see everything come together as you first envisioned it.
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.