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Dr Jordan Frey On The Morning Routines and Habits Of Highly Successful People

An Interview With Sara Connell

A consistent morning routine is so important for success. When you wake up, you want to find a way to rejuvenate your body and mind in preparation for a successful day. And the beautiful thing is that this will be different for everyone! There is no perfect way. It is whatever works well for you. By keeping this routine consistent, you set yourself up to be your best each day.

Beginnings are a Genesis. That means that not only are they a start, but they are also the origin of all that follows. This means that the way we start something, the way we start our day, for example, creates a trajectory for all that follows. How do highly successful leaders start their day in a way that creates a positive trajectory for a successful, effective, productive, and efficient day? How do you create habits that make these routines permanent? How do you get inspired to develop the discipline necessary for such a lifestyle? In this new series, called Morning Routines and Habits Of Highly Successful People, we are talking to successful leaders who can share the morning routines and habits that have helped them to achieve success.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jordan Frey.

Dr. Jordan Frey is a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY specializing in breast reconstruction as director of the largest breast reconstruction clinic in Western New York. He is also founder of The Prudent Plastic Surgeon, the fastest growing physician blog with a focus on personal finance for physicians. Jordan and his wife, Selenid, also founded and run a multifamily investing business managing 7 figures in local real estate.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thank you for having me! I grew up in a middle-class family in Buffalo, NY. As a child, my focus was really on sports, but I began to take more of an interest in school through middle and high school. I ultimately chose to attend Emory University in Atlanta on a baseball scholarship for undergraduate studies. After 1 year, I decided to transition my major from business to chemistry and forewent my baseball career at that point. Through my studies I found a passion for applied sciences particularly related to healthcare, deciding to pursue medical school at the University of Rochester. From there, I had 7 years of residency and fellowship training in plastic surgery and microsurgery before beginning my current position in Buffalo, NY in 2020.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

My career in plastic surgery was inspired really by all of the patients that I took care of in my medical school and training. Most people think of plastic surgeons as doing all aesthetic surgery. But the reality is that many of us focus on reconstructive surgery and fixing problems that can’t be fixed by traditional methods. Seeing patients needing tehri jaw removed for cancer being able to speak and eat again after reconstruction using a bone from their leg was inspiring beyond measure. I wanted to be someone to help others like that.

My business pursuits outside of medicine actually were inspired by something very different. At the end of my training, I was really burned out. I had lost a bit of my love for medicine. After a lot of reflection, I realized that a big part of this was due to my lack of financial well-being. I was finally about to graduate and make a real salary, but I was also facing $500k in student debt, credit card debt and had no savings or investments. I simply never learned about personal finance. So, I made a goal to take control of my finances and within a year managed to increase my net worth by over $1M. In the process I found that as my financial well-being improved, my overall well-being improved, and I became a better doctor! Now I run a successful and profitable blog teaching other physicians to do the same.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

The person who gave me the most help or encouragement to be who I am today is my maternal grandfather, Samuel Mistretta. He was an Italian immigrant who came with nothing, but through education, he became an engineer and eventually bought and ran his own small business successfully until he passed away when I was in medical school. From a young age he taught me that anything can be achieved through persistence, patience, and education. That’s something I’ll always keep with me.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

The most interesting mistake that occurred in my career was me actually discovering plastic surgery! Like most of us, I just thought of plastic surgery as cosmetic in medical school. I didn’t realize what plastic surgeons actually do. So, I wasn’t really interested. However, the day before I was scheduled to start, I had to change one of my elective rotations. The only other elective available on such short notice was plastic surgery. The next day, I went in and was completely blown away after helping with a cleft lip repair. I never looked back! This experience taught me that we can plan and plan in life, but we always have to be open to what life is trying to show us!

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I would say that three character traits that have been most instrumental to my success are: persistence, patience, and belief.

I put persistence and patience first because I think those are the most important. One of my favorite quotes is from Angela Duckworth who says, “Enthusiasm is common, endurance is rare.” To me that is so true. So many of us have great aspirations and enthusiasm for them. But they fizzle out because success is not immediate, or we get distracted. But being persistent and patient in following through with our plans and ideas is what breeds true success. And the other part of this equation is the belief we have in ourselves. Success will not always feel or be close. So, we need to be the ones that are always unwavering in our self-support.

Medicine is a prime example of this. We undergo years of education and training with little compensation or feedback. It is our self-belief in what we can accomplish and our goals in medicine that get us through!

I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?

One of my favorite books is The One Thing by Gary Keller. I read it within the past year, and it changed my life. In life, we are all taught to be multi taskers. But the truth is that mutli tasking just doesn’t work. We end up distracted and underachieve all of our goals in the process. Learning to focus on the “one thing” that is most important in each aspect of my life has brought me more success and leadership ability than I ever imagine. But the most important area that this had a profound impact in was my family. By focusing on my overarching big goal in my family life, I became a much better father and husband.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I have a bunch of very exciting projects that I am working on now.

Clinically, I am continuing to build the biggest breast reconstruction center in Western New York. This was a service that sadly had been lacking in the area so a major goal of mine in moving back home after training was to build this up. It’s been a great success helping hundreds of patients and we’ve even been able to implement new surgeries for lymphedema treatment after cancer that have been very successful.

Through my blog, I just launched a new course for physicians titled, “Graduating to Success.” This is an 8-week course that teaches doctors everything they should have learned about personal finance in medical school but didn’t. Through the course they grow a new healthy mindset, learn to optimize their practice, create a written financial plan, and learn to invest wisely for their future. I truly believe that a nation of financial free healthcare professionals would change healthcare for the better in ways we cannot even yet imagine!

And in real estate, my wife and I continue to build our portfolio with a goal of developing and renovating new low-cost housing in the city of Buffalo as it continues to undergo a massive rejuvenation.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain to our readers why it is important to have a consistent morning routine?

A consistent morning routine is so important for success. When you wake up, you want to find a way to rejuvenate your body and mind in preparation for a successful day. And the beautiful thing is that this will be different for everyone! There is no perfect way. It is whatever works well for you. By keeping this routine consistent, you set yourself up to be your best each day.

Can you please share your optimal morning routine that can create a positive trajectory for a successful, effective, productive, and efficient day. If you can, please share some stories or examples.

My optimal morning routine begins around 5:30 am when I wake up each day. I have a journal that I keep next to my bed. In that journal I then write my 3 BIG goals to accomplish that day. These are overarching goals that will ultimately take me to achieve my one big goal as I mentioned above. These are not a list of menial tasks. Some days, my goals are business or medicine related. Other days they are related to family or self-care. This sets my brain up to focus on what is important. I also write down the 3 things I am more grateful for that morning. As a high achiever, I have a habit of measuring my success forward, against my ideal goals. But this is a recipe for unhappiness. Instead, I work to measure backwards, by reflecting on my successes and what I have. My ideals still guide me forward. But this backward measuring every morning helps put me in the right “gainful” mindset.

Next, I read a few medical and finance blogs. This keeps me current in both my clinical duties and my side businesses. After this, I always eat the same breakfast, a bowl of frosted mini wheats. It may seem silly but staying with a consistent breakfast is a part of the morning routine too! This meal keeps me full throughout the day even when I have long surgeries and keeps my mind sharp.

After that, I get my kids ready and off to school which brings a needed dose of fun and keeps me grounded. Then I am off with my day!

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

Studies have shown it takes about 66 days to create a new habit. So, the best way to build a new habit is just to keep doing it, simple as that sounds. When I start a new habit, I always write it down as a goal. I then put notes with that goal all over the house…on my bathroom mirror, in my office, etc. Every time we take an action, good or bad, we are casting a vote on who we are. These reminders are there to help me make the right choices, developing good habits and breaking bad ones.

Doing something consistently “day in and day out” can be hard. Where did you get your motivation from? What do you use to motivate you now?

My motivation is always intrinsic. That’s the only way this works. If your motivation is based on extrinsic rewards or feedback, it is very difficult to maintain the persistence needed to achieve success. This takes a lot of introspection. You want to identify your passions and what YOU want in life. Then create the milestones and goals needed to reach your final, big goal. This is what keeps me going!

What other resources would you suggest to our readers?

Some of my other favorite books that have helped me a ton are: Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy, The Gap and The Gain by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy, and Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I mentioned above that I truly believe that a nation of financial free healthcare professionals would change healthcare for the better in ways we cannot even yet imagine! So, one movement that I hope to inspire is for all physicians and healthcare professionals to improve their financial and overall well-being. Burnout and moral injury are widespread currently in medicine and the patients suffer as well as the physicians. Financial independence is a path for doctors to take back control of healthcare, expand access, and improve results in a hugely meaningful way.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love to have a morning chat with Gary Keller. His book, The One Thing, has inspired me a great deal as I’ve mentioned. But his other book, The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, has had the greatest impact on my businesses and my financial well-being. In his books he always talks about weekly meetings with his mentor to discuss life and, of course, business. I would be honored to have such a casual meeting with him!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can follow me at my blog, www.prudentplasticsurgeon.com, on Facebook using my name, or Twitter and Instagram using the handle @jordanfreyMD.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you so much for interviewing me!

Dr Jordan Frey On The Morning Routines and Habits Of Highly Successful People was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.