Lessons from a Thriving Power Couple, With Dr David and Dr Alexis May Kimble of The Kimble Center
Communication: The greatest gift as a human is the ability to communicate on a profound cerebral level verbally and non-verbally. It is what separates us as a species from the rest of the Animal Kingdom. Communication with my wife is one of my most cherished connections to her. One of the loveliest sounds in the world is the sound of my wife’s voice. So, it is always a pleasure to hear her verbally communicate with me. She also communicates with her hands and arms, a super endearing quality.
As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Drs. David and Alexis May Kimble.
Renowned board certified urogynecologists and surgeons, Drs. David and Alexis May Kimble, offer the women of Southern California expert care from the inside out, helping them look and feel their best. As co-founders of The Kimble Center for Intimate Cosmetic Surgery in Los Angeles, CA, and co-hosts of the Vagina Talk podcast, doctors Kimble have decades of experience and recognition in the field of vulvovaginal health. They’ve dedicated their careers and lives to treating women, improving their quality of life, and destigmatizing conversations around pelvic wellness.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?
DAVID: Single handedly, it was one of my mentors during my residency who is regarded as a true grandfather of Urogynecology. He told me I “must” continue my career as a Urogynecologist since in his eyes I was one of the best surgeons he has encountered. Women are the most incredible of the genders always seeking health and wellness, rightfully, they are the gatekeepers of healthcare for their families. I have the utmost respect and admiration for women and have dedicated my life’s career to the care of all women.
ALEXIS: My path to medicine was very unexpected and untraditional. I grew up in a seemingly traditional household, being the third of four children to immigrant parents. Culturally, this meant that my birth order relegated me to a position in my own family that was minimizing, invisible really. Being born of female gender was also minimizing in the world I was surrounded by. My maternal grandmother, a matriarch, repeatedly declared that “1,000 girls aren’t worth one boy.” I never truly grasped her meaning, but it left me wondering, questioning and ultimately silent for most of my childhood. Being often the only family of color in my neighborhood surely did not help. I spent most of my time working to be more invisible. The most natural way to do so was to be of service. When I was old enough to choose, I spent most of my breaks and time after school working for charities like the local battered women’s shelters and crisis centers for survivors of domestic violence and assault. However, it was one summer in college where I spent time in Tijuana as a potential contemplative for the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa’s order that led me to pursue a vocation in medicine. There, I helped the sisters feed and nurse the wounds of those who lacked, were without and housed in the charity’s quarters. I quickly learned the disparity among genders, race, class, and borders was expansive, but that health seemed a dignity all deserve. I set my mind to be a woman who advocates for other women to improve another’s life even if only at a most fundamental level. It has always been my belief that these women in these shelters who transiently were a part of my life helped inform who I have become by bolstering me with the courage I needed to believe in myself despite my own fears. Urogynecology, a subspecialty of women’s general health, attracted me because it focuses on optimizing life, health and wellness by improvement of pelvic floor conditions that can have a profound and diminishing impact on an individual’s quality of life. It’s about thriving, not mere surviving.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you two got married?
DAVID: I married a surgeon traditionally trained in Ob/Gyn. One week before the COVID pandemic shelter-in-place order, my daughter, Olympia, was born by an urgent Cesarean section due to potential antepartum concerns. I was in the operating room from the moment my wife entered, present for the spinal anesthetic. I was witness to one of the most courageous acts I have witnessed…an Ob/Gyn surgeon surrendering her body to the hands of some essential stranger to safely deliver our daughter. My wife was my hero, and I was humbled by her bravery and stealth in an emotionally taxing moment.
ALEXIS: When we were first together, I often recalled an old French saying that described relationships such that love in the beginning involves looking at each other. With time, love begins to take the form of looking out in the same direction. David and I have looked at endless sunsets together especially as it pertains to our work as co-surgeons, co-founders, and even sharing in the subspecialty of Urogynecology.
Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
DAVID: I never expressed my true feelings for her in the beginning. Alexis had a powerful spirit about her that I was drawn to, but my mind overpowered my heart and it took far too many months before I told her my true feelings. The lesson to learn is “Carpe Diem” — seize the day, seize the moment and never let time pass, be honest and true to your feelings.
ALEXIS: If I had a nickel for every mistake I’ve made, I would be sitting on a silver mountain overlooking great heights. I spent a lot of time away from my husband and children in pursuit of higher education, specialized surgical skills in rigorous and competitive surgical residency and fellowship post graduate medical educational programs. In my 20s and even in my 30s, my concept of time, ambition and mortality was unending. Today, I recognize that I can’t take back the time separated from my loved ones. So, I hold onto every moment now and work hard to create moments to be with them undivided.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
DAVID: Most medical doctors only practice what they have been taught and stop their education and training once residency is completed. I continued my education adopting very new and innovative technology to provide the very best care for our patients.
The early phase of robotic surgery began in 1999 with a robot termed AESOP. This required hours of my time in “teaching” the robot voice commands and truncated terms so it can respond appropriately in the Operating Room. This proved not to enhance patient care. Fast forward to 2007 when daVinci robot came to the market, I was the earliest adopter and it has revolutionized my surgical care for my patients. However, several of my medical school classmates and colleagues have no interest in adopting new technology. Further, I have continued the pursuit of comprehensive care of women and we are embarking on a Beverly Hills office, opening this Spring, solely to provide intimate cosmetic surgery for individuals that identify as female. The specialized training and knowledge makes our company/practice stand out among all the others.
ALEXIS: Our center stands out because we understand and am grounded in very traditional understanding and approaches to treating a wide breadth of pelvic floor and vulvovaginal conditions. However, our specialty, Urogynecology, affords me to consider new therapies and technologies to provide more efficacious and technologically advanced solutions to age-old problems. I am proud to be a recognized leader in my field to consider new and innovative technologies that can help women improve conditions that prevent her from living her best life.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
DAVID: Always is the answer. We are developing a new product line for intimate skin care. We tirelessly research sourcing the most natural ingredients to formulate the next amazing product that will prove invaluable for the intimate skin care for women, called Sonnet 79 (79 is the position on the Periodic Table for Gold). Clinical research is always on our radar to publish data to prove the efficacy of the aesthetic treatments in which we firmly believe.
ALEXIS: Echoing David’s sentiments, we are always working on new projects beyond managing the daily care of patients seen at our primary practice and center. We are expanding to a second location in Beverly Hills, in addition to our East side address in Pasadena. We are working to curate the best of what we believe will create beautiful, luxurious, and artistic space for our patients. I am very excited about our upcoming intimate skincare line, Sonnet 79, formulated to support, nourish and protect delicate vulvovaginal tissues and poised to launch this Spring. I am also in the process of writing a book aimed at girls, adolescents and teens as a resource for all things related to health, wellness, and beauty as they weather these various stages of becoming.
What advice would you give to other leaders or founders to help their employees to thrive?
DAVID: Know your employees, honestly study their habits and assess strengths and weaknesses/areas of improvement. Give them the tools to succeed both physically and psychologically. Respect is vital. Throughout most of my career, I have been known as the “Harmony Maker,” having the ability to transform most emotionally charged, adversarial situations into calmness and harmony. It is important to always create harmony in the work environment permitting open expression of ideas and feelings. This will invariably be the catalyst to promote your employees to excel and thrive.
ALEXIS: Aim to meet employees at their level. I can’t emphasize this enough. When I first started to be a boss, I believed that if I taught someone how to do something or showed them how to do something, it would get done. I quickly learned that not everyone hears and sees everything presented. Learners need to be ready to learn. It is important to understand every employee at their level and in their context before they can thrive and be supported in the ways they need in the organization’s work culture.
How do you define “Leadership”?
DAVID: By strict definition this means the ability to lead/command. However, leadership is quite broad in definition to encompass someone who guides by being an example, someone who sets the pace or tone, and someone who inspires diligence or good in others. Leadership is not an innate quality, but a learned skill requiring self confidence, self awareness, and the ability to critique oneself. No finite set of characteristics define leadership. A walk through history will prove leadership comes in many styles, shapes, and forms.
ALEXIS: Leadership is the unique ability to draw out the strengths in others and inspire them so that they can act and work to their strengths.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
DAVID: It is most challenging to single out one person only. Certain events happen in life that guide your journey in a defined direction, perhaps a course not yet plotted. In today’s world those who were previously called mentors are now called influencers. The most powerful influencer in my personal journey was my mother. It may sound contrite, however, she lead her life with resolve and the strength of an army. She marched with Martin Luther King and burned her bra in downtown Atlanta just to protest for women’s rights. Yes, she alone was my northern star guiding me, sometimes with a powerful nudge, to persevere against all odds and stay true to my course.
ALEXIS: I’ve had the privilege to be mentored by among the most talented surgeons and minds during my training years to whom I will always be grateful and hold in high esteem. Among one is my fellowship director and mentor, who believed in me when many did not, even against the grain of many others. She saw qualities in me that often were not traditional qualities in most candidates for surgical specialties.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
DAVID: My success and recognition as a leader and pioneer in medicine has allowed me to care for tens of thousands of women in my career. The goodness is readily evident in the successful outcomes for these women both surgically and emotionally. In my possession are hundreds of cards, gifts, and awards attesting to the goodness I have given the world. Beyond surgical skills, my bedside manner is my best known attribute touted countless times in reviews and awards. To me, it is a simple honor and privilege to be the surgeon capable of dramatically improving the lives of women.
ALEXIS: I am privileged to spend my day applying all I’ve learned and acquired through 16 years of rigorous discipline and sacrifice to alleviate or correct a condition for a patient who presents to me with a problem. I’ve devoted my career to understanding and solving. I am working to expand the breadth of knowledge and skills by constantly seeking new and improved ways to address old problems. My approach to many of these conditions is to seek new avenues to prevent them. For example, I recognize that many things in women’s health have not changed since the 1940s. I am at the forefront of considering new technologies or new methods to improve how we treat common conditions like prolapse, vaginal laxity, vulvar disorders, and sexual dysfunction. In many respects, my life has emboldened me with the courage to blaze a path where there has not been one. I also find that helping to educate and inspire the next generation of females and girls as it relates to women’s wellness is so incredibly vital to everything I do everyday.
What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Mutual respect: My wife is a fellowship trained urogynecological surgeon. Even from the beginning of our relationship, I was the Chief of Urogynecology who hired her directly out of fellowship, I admired her talent and skill that much. We perform all our surgeries together and to this day I remain in awe of her amazing skills.
- Time: Time is our most precious commodity, what we have the least of. Life did not allow me to meet my wife as early as I would wish. The moment I met her and the palpable spirit around her, it felt as if I had always known her. As the years click by and the sands of time forge rapidly forward, I forever wish I had the power to pause and enjoy my moments with her endlessly.
- Common ground: Bonds are cemented with common ground, true in most all relationships. The bonds of our marriage are forever challenged by the demands of everyday life, be it the kids, busy OR schedule, or finances. We take time to enjoy our common interests such as enjoying the sunset, walking along the boardwalk, reading, enjoying music, etc. My wife has a beautiful command of the English language. I love reading her words anywhere…a published article, a book chapter, or as simple as an email or text. I love to write and read…a wonderful bonding common ground.
- Love and Romance: This is the cornerstone of any marriage, be it heterosexual or otherwise. Without a desire to be with one another, without a passion for the other, and without loving romance, the relationship evolves into roommates which will never stand the test of time. Just remember the TV series The Odd Couple with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon…this is not the relationship a loving couple desires to emulate. My wife is my endless sky, the prettiest sunset, my everything. Virtually every time she catches my eye, my heart skips a beat. I harness this passion in my romantic moments with her to completely and undeniably express my love. I try never to let those moments pass without a wink, smile, or perhaps a kiss.
- Communication: The greatest gift as a human is the ability to communicate on a profound cerebral level verbally and non-verbally. It is what separates us as a species from the rest of the Animal Kingdom. Communication with my wife is one of my most cherished connections to her. One of the loveliest sounds in the world is the sound of my wife’s voice. So, it is always a pleasure to hear her verbally communicate with me. She also communicates with her hands and arms, a super endearing quality.
In sum, it is the profound love between a couple that transcends every aspect of their relationship making it grand and stalwart against all the stresses of the world.
- The ability to choose each other every day. I think it is important to be reminded that being with each other is an active choice. To be able to stand on one’s own allows us to be positioned to choose to be with the other every day. I also find this makes things new, fresh and I am reminded how honored I am to be married to David.
- Mutual respect. The most challenging part of a personal relationship is deciding who does the most and who does things to a capacity the other cannot. I find it is so critical to find things in the other one admires and to celebrate it and honor this in all interactions.
- Innate attraction. It is important for me to be attracted to my partner in an instinctive way. This goes far especially during disagreements. David has the unfair advantage that I find him breathtaking!
- Good hygiene. I can’t emphasize this enough. I absolutely require and believe that good hygiene demonstrates care of oneself and regard for one’s partner.
- Rose champagne most days. Need I say more?
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
DAVID: The use of the term vagina has been normal language to me for decades. However, the word is still considered taboo to most of society. Our new podcast Vagina Talk is designed to demystify the word vagina and openly discuss all that surrounds the vagina and vulva (the face of the vagina). My life’s mission is to be a vocal advocate for women, to enhance women’s lives by improving the function and appearance of the vulva and vagina itself. All women need to feel confident and beautiful, respected and admired. Consider the term hysterectomy, which literally means the removal of hysteria which dates back to the 16th century. Hysterectomy terminology has persisted through time even though it is demeaning to women. Removal of any other organ in the female body is called by its medical term. Women need to be empowered to demand their right to equality and respect and the Vagina Talk is designed to provide that platform. Beyond just equality and respect, strength comes from within which requires confidence, self esteem, and the ability to love oneself. Vagina Talk is the catalyst for women’s rights, discussing topics translatable to all who identify as a female.
ALEXIS: I think as women, we need to be the women we needed and didn’t have as a young girl. If we did that, perhaps, we could provide the nurturing, support, strength and modeling for the younger generation of females behind us so that we can have a future of capable, competent, beautifully strong women who are fearless, realized, empowered, and loved.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
DAVID: “Never Accept a Wooden Nickel” was a quote my maternal grandfather told me at every visit to their home. As a child, I thought he was just old and the quote had no meaning. As youth ascended into adulthood, I finally understood. It meant do not accept something less than what it is or could be or should be. Accept only the best in life and yourself. It made me strive to always be that shiny nickel, not a dull wooden nickel. This applies to me as a surgeon, as a husband, and as a father. I will never accept myself as a wooden nickel.
ALEXIS: “Everything is energy and that is all there is. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. IT can be no other way. This is not philosophy, this is physics.” — Albert Einstein
I think that life is delicate and our thoughts and intention hold the power to transform. I spent my life believing in the power of thinking to effect change in myself, in the world around me. This stands true today.
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 with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
DAVID: Elon Musk, hands down. He is a visionary, an entrepreneur, a missionary, and a stand alone man. He created an emission free vehicle that has revolutionized the industry and will contribute tremendously to solving the climate crisis. He accomplished this in the face of constant adversity, disbelief, even outright defamation. Einstein was considered strange, eccentric, even weird. However, he contributed so many things that the world could not live without. This is the same trajectory for Elon Musk, the Einstein of the 21st century.
ALEXIS: Elie Weisel is someone who I have admired as a thinkinger, writer and activist. He was able to cultivate light when all he was given was a suffocating darkness. His story is something that inspired me throughout the years.
How can our readers follow your work online?
@drskimbleandkimble on Instagram
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.