HCI CEO, Eric Neuner, interviewed by HCI Copywriter, Shani Raviv:  

SR: What does it mean to you to be a CEO with heart?

EN: That I am in service to my open heart. That is the person that I’m choosing to be. It’s a role. It doesn’t mean I always have my heart open but I will only act from an open heart. My heart contracts like everyone else’s; I have judgements like everyone else but I will not act from it. My only job is to bring an open heart.

Up until now there hasn’t been enough attention on our heart and that is the only starting place. There’s an inherent trust I have when my heart is open.  I don’t have to worry about much else.  If my heart is open, then I’m doing the work. It’s like my on-off switch. I am not in conversation with you unless my heart is open.

SR: On the subject of having heart, you said “people want heart” when it comes to Health Coaching, can you explain what you meant and why this is important?

EN: Because we live in a nuclear society where everyone is independent, we’re not getting the level of human support we need. Everyone is overwhelmed, for the most part, by the current lives that we’ve landed in. And that’s partially because of how expensive it is to live, and a hyperfocus on making money, and it doesn’t leave a lot of attention to support other people. So we’re taking care of ourselves and immediate family and yet our support systems are not there.

There was a time when elders were around and were able to put more attention on the children and allowed for the parents to create a healthier ecosystem for themselves. So structurally, our society is lacking human support and that translates to care and heart. It’s like: “Hey, how are you? Whats going on?” But if you want to hear the answer to that you have to make the time to ask it. But most people are just trying to make it through and decompress, and the amount of time to sink in and connect is more and more infrequent. So coaches will help fill the gaps until our ecosystems can evolve.

In the future, maybe that type of support can happen within our ecosystems. Until then, coaches are an essential ingredient to the world. An essential nutrient. Health coaches are an essential nutrient to improve our current ecosystems. How do you uplevel? Since it’s hard to recreate our ecosystems overnight, my recommendation is through coaching. I have hired coaches, into my life, at different phases of my journey. I created a different life for myself because I had a coach who asked me what I wanted and am I moving toward it and am I on track?

SR: You said: “We’re on a precipice of massive change in health care”—can you describe this and tell us what you see happening in the near future?

EN: The current healthcare system is oriented toward volume where your physicians spend little time with patients and are paid based on how many patients they see. So it’s volume-based compensation. And to address that, the fastest thing you can do is write a prescription. So ~75% of physician appointments lead to a prescription. We built health care for efficiency but haven’t been paying attention to outcomes.

Because of the inflating cost of health care, and increasing obesity and chronic disease rates, there’s an incentive to move towards an outcome-based health care system. We are on the precipice of change because health care can bankrupt this country if we don’t change it.  It’s not sustainable financially, and it’s not working, and everyone knows it. We’re on the precipice because we need to be on the precipice. We’re pushing this to its limits in allowing something to sustain that is unsustainable. So we need to move from pharmaceuticals as medicine to habit change and lifestyle design as medicine.

SR: You said: “We’ve focused on pharmaceutical drugs as medicine instead of food and lifestyle design as medicine”—what changes will this shift in health consciousness bring about?

EN: A movement for people to get off their pharmaceutical drugs. We are waking up to the fact that we’re overusing prescription drugs.  Over 60% of Americans are using prescription drugs.  The US represents 5% of the world’s population and 75% of prescription drug consumption. And since that’s not working, I believe people are re-developing a stronger faith in what’s natural.

Our bodies are incredible healing machines if you give it the right nutrients. And our bodies will figure out ways of healing itself. I love western medicine, but it shouldn’t be the first and only approach; it should be when your life and your food are in alignment and you’re still getting sick. Best for acute conditions, but not best for heart disease, and diabetes treatment—these are things we need to prevent through our nutrition and habits.

SR: How are Health Coaches contributing to the prevention and eradication of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes?

EN: Immersion. Health coaches can provide immersion. You’ve got someone on your team giving you the time you need to make the shifts you want to make for yourself. The illusion of your doctor saying you’ve got to change how you’re eating and see you in six months…it’s not enough time…we’ve been treating ourselves as robots and not as people and we’ve mistaken information for implementation. This stuff is cultural and ingrained. Like diet—it’s hard to change your diet. That’s why you need people invested in your success.

SR: You said: “Masters of habit change need to be added to the health care system to change the game.” Can you expand on this?

EN: What I love about habit change is that when you really focus there, getting healthier feels easier because you’re starting at the root.  It creates momentum. [Habit change creates momentum]. That’s why it works so well as an area for coaching.  People can do something with their habits. It has them feel empowered. It’s not a big, scary thing; it’s like: ‘This is where I’m starting. I’m going to this recommended yoga class near me.’
You start with micro habits, make it easy and prove to yourself and your body that you can do this. As opposed to a fixed, prescribed diet. These are the habits I want to create for myself versus ‘you need to be on a Paleo Diet and do CrossFit.’ Personalized versus prescribed. I’m a product of everything we are living and teaching so I’m learning the nuances between when something is prescribed versus proactively creating the life I want based on what is right for me.

SR: Is there anything else you want to add about the responsibilities and excitement of being a leader in this new health paradigm?

EN: I aim to be an example of doing “human” well and repairing quickly if i’m not doing it well. As a parent, I’ve really been humbled by learning how to do repair.  So when I lose patience etc, learning that I can say, “Daddy was unfair there.” I aim to be the same type of leader with people. I say let’s do this! Let’s create the life we all wish for! And I trust that I’m creating an environment where people will steer me in the right direction or let me know if I’m off-course.  I also aim to be self-aware enough and have standards for who I want to be. So I am approaching all of this humbly, and I believe that’s the right approach.

At HCI, I am really committed to bridging our students with exactly what this world needs now. We are not a one-trick pony; we’re a circus unicorn. When I look at the master plan for HCI, it has us educating on the latest technologies around diagnostic testing and functional nutrition, supporting Health Coaches to grow in functional and integrative medicine.

I also see us further integrating with self-insured corporations that are very motivated to decrease their health care expenses.  And I want to be the place that’s bringing it all together so our students have a road map. Finally, how do we get this education in front of our children? The difference between HCI education and what our kids are taught in public school. And why can’t we bridge that? How can we bridge that? I always want feedback and ideas on doing more and better, and there’s a big road ahead of us.  So much opportunity.  I want other ideas too. Please give me your idea on how we shift the paradigm.

Please go ahead and share your idea on how to shift the health paradigm right here in the comments below! Guaranteed that HCI CEO, Eric Neuner will read every one of them!

This interview was inspired by HCI CEO, Eric Neuner’s, recent interview on Cheddar below:

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