Rising Through Resilience: “First, get in touch with your purpose or passion in life with” With Dr. Ed Barry

Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine
Published in
12 min readMar 4, 2020

First, get in touch with your purpose or passion in life. Oftentimes this can happen early on — kids gravitate to things that they really enjoy doing. But I think the problem for many kids is that they don’t stick with it long enough to really appreciate what their skills are in that particular enterprise and then they move too quickly on to something else. The more confidence you build in your abilities, the more the more success you will achieve early on in life.

In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases, it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Ed Barry, a board-certified chiropractic orthopedist and certified laser pain management physician with over 35 years specializing in lower back and lumbar spinal problems.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

I was born and raised in New Jersey. I went to undergraduate school in New York, graduated with a degree in English and taught for three years after graduation. However, during my teaching years I became very interested in science, so I took science courses, including biology and chemistry, as part of my postgraduate coursework. Even though I was originally an English major, science was always an interest of mine.

At this time, I was also doing a lot of running. And, of course, like most runners I suffered many injuries. I received treatment from a physical therapist who was very innovative and off the beaten track in terms of his techniques. I was fascinated by the way he was able to resolve a lot of the injuries without medication or any invasive techniques. This made me want to learn more, so I met some chiropractors to look into what they actually did. I was fascinated by the focus of their work, which was basically the structure of the human body — the muscles and the joints that govern the motion of the body. It was a very natural approach.

So, after three years of teaching I decided to make a change. I applied for chiropractic college to satisfy that interest and the desire for another challenge. I attended the National College of Chiropractic which, at the time, was considered to be one of the best colleges in the field. After graduating, I started a local practice in South Jersey and developed it over the years.

As time went on, I started looking for a new challenge. I’m always looking for a new challenge. That’s when I became very interested in the science of laser treatment — using high intensity lasers to treat the same problems that I treated chiropractic, but only much more effectively. And so, I made a critical decision to withdraw from that practice, sell it and open up a new practice, devoted entirely to the practice of lasers. I used high intensity lasers to treat these very challenging conditions. I was learning an entirely new science. It was very innovative, and my practice became very successful.

During that period of time, I specialized in lower back problems, lumbar spine disc problems and degenerative arthritis. I was fascinated by the active exercises that were given to patients who were treated with specific protocols I used in the practice. This was a technique that involved active and passive flexion and traction of the lower back. In my office, I used special tables to treat patients with these conditions, but there wasn’t anything on the market to duplicate that for patients receiving treatment at home.

For years, I thought about a solution to this problem. I came up with some ideas that I took to engineers, but we never were able to create a design that was practical. Then, several years ago, I met a local engineering team in Philadelphia. They were able to come up with a workable design that met all of my criteria, a design that would be safe and easy to use in the comfort of your home. And that design is what became known as the Lift.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

It was the transition from the traditional practice of chiropractic into the laser practice. It was a leap, and it was challenging because not too many practitioners really understood laser. Most discouraged me from going down this path.

Also, you’re not going to get reimbursed for laser by insurance carriers. But I felt that laser was so unique and effective that if patients were properly educated, they would gravitate to it. So, I developed a patient education program and did presentations on a monthly basis. I talked to patients and presented them with an essential understanding of lasers and testimonials from patients I treated.

It was very effective, and patients were responsive. This was probably one of the most rewarding aspects of that practice — treating patients to get them better faster and give them the relief they were looking for without drugs or medication. I felt like I made a meaningful contribution to shifting this treatment paradigm.

For me, the biggest lesson was overcoming the fear of the unknown. If you believe strongly in your principles, you can pretty much overcome all of the obstacles thrown in your way.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The Lift is a truly unique device, in the sense that is the first device to combine the two movements, flexion and traction, which are proven to be most therapeutic for people suffering from common lower back problems. A specialized table allows patients to duplicate those movements comfortably in a supine or lying down position. They can do repetitions and reproduce these movements, which are very dynamic. The purpose of this is to get more blood supply into the disc to heal faster and separate the joints to alleviate pressure from degenerative changes and disc problems.

The only device that I’ve seen on the market, probably in the last 30 years, is the gravity inversion swing where people hang upside down. And while traction can be effective for older patients, it’s really impractical for them to be hanging upside down because of various conditions like high blood pressure, heart problems or vertigo. The Lift is a device that is much easier to use, and it’s more dynamic in terms of movement.

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?

I always think of my dad who was a successful builder and developer in the 50s. He was a second generation entrepreneur after his dad, also a builder and developer.

My dad was very independent and even with very little education, he had tremendous ideas in terms of development. He was in the process of creating a unique development here in South Jersey around an area of freshwater lakes. He bought the property, but since he was unable to get financing the entire enterprise collapsed.

However, since he had the property — a small home situated on the lake — we moved and lived there for three years while he was trying to reconstitute some business. Watching him go through that transition and build up a business was probably one of the best examples of resilience I’ve ever witnessed. Before he retired and passed away, he developed apartment homes and several nursing homes.

My dad didn’t have anything going for him except his own experience and his own knowledge gained from that experience, to continue in his pursuit.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is a willingness to fail and to expose yourself to failure. In my experience, you learn more from failure than you do from success. And once you transition it makes you much stronger.

I always think of a quote by Deepak Chopra. He says that to the unskilled surfer every wave is stressful, but to the skilled surfer every wave is an exhilaration. I think that’s very true about exposing yourself to stress. You don’t really learn anything by not exposing yourself to stress. And if you’re willing to do that in a new enterprise or a new endeavor, you’re going to get to that point of exhilaration, which really equates to success.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

The professional golfer Lee Trevino always struck me as someone who is very resilient. When you think of a professional golfer, you think of somebody who has been born and raised in Country Club environments and played golf in college, but Lee Trevino was different.

He is Mexican American, raised in a broken home, by his mother and his grandfather. One day Lee’s grandfather gave him a couple of balls and he started hitting them. Then, he started working as a caddy in golf clubs. Every day when he was done caddying, he would go out to the driving range and hit 300 balls. Lee developed his swing without any professional golf instruction, and even though it’s the most awkward unorthodox swing that any professional golfer has ever exhibited, he was able to win six major championships. Throughout his career, he beat Jack Nicklaus in a major championship and had a very successful career. It was all on his own — just his own personal determination to excel at something that he loved to do.

I would say Lee is a very good example of resilience. There was no reason for him to pursue this type of career, and yet, that’s what he chose to do. He was determined and even though the path was unorthodox, it was the right path for him.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

When I started talking to people about this company, they would tell me the odds of succeeding are very slim. After working on this for so many years and coming up with failed prototypes, they asked me, “why don’t you just retire and enjoy life?”

I really believed it had potential, and it was through that persistence that I was able to find the engineers who made it happen. The electrical engineer who looked at this concept got it instantly. He understood the principle and within a week he came back to me with a rudimentary design that I knew would work. If I had let the idea go, we never would have gotten to that point.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

I had a cousin who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer several years ago. Throughout the first year of his treatment, it seemed like he was starting to recover. And since he’d never flown in a plane before, I decided to take him for a trip to Cape May. I was an experienced licensed pilot at the time, and they have a Naval Air Museum there so I thought it would be a great experience for us to fly there together.

As we took off, I had what they call an alternator outage, which means you have no power, and I had to land the plane. Everybody was alright, but it really shook me up. He insisted up until the day that he died, that it was the greatest adventure of his life.

But I felt I had let him down. It took me a long time to get the plane repaired and then regain confidence in my skills as a pilot. I was able to recover and now I’m flying on a regular basis and doing volunteer work for an organization called Pilots and Paws. We rescue animals from kill shelters in the South and bring them up to permanent homes in the Northeast.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

When I was growing up at our house by the lake, I was able to swim, fish. hike and sail every day. It was like being in Boy Scout Camp, and during that period of time I developed a real sense of independence and self-reliance that really helped me later on in life. It gave me skills that I would later be able to use in my practices and also now in developing this equipment. I learned that you have to rely on your talents and have confidence in yourself.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

First, get in touch with your purpose or passion in life. Oftentimes this can happen early on — kids gravitate to things that they really enjoy doing. But I think the problem for many kids is that they don’t stick with it long enough to really appreciate what their skills are in that particular enterprise and then they move too quickly on to something else. The more confidence you build in your abilities, the more the more success you will achieve early on in life.

But that’s not to discourage any individual from developing something or discovering something later on in life. I didn’t start surfing until I was in my 40s, and I didn’t start flying until I was in my late 40s. These are two things that I’ve developed over the years and have been the most rewarding experiences. I remember wanting to fly when I was younger, but I just either never had the time or the resources to pursue it.

On that note, another step would be to remember, it’s never too late and you’re never too old. If you’re just willing to do it, just take the first step. There was an interesting book review in the Wall Street Journal, in which the author, after speaking with people in nursing homes, found one of the biggest regrets was not taking the time to do something they always wanted to do in life. And now they feel it’s too late.

So, don’t be afraid to try something. The sooner you try, the sooner you’re going to be able to make that discovery. Then, you have to stick with it. If you’re really focused and it gives you joy, you’re going to stick with it regardless of the obstacles that are thrown in your way.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

In the field of medicine, I would like to see a refocus from pharmaceutical intervention and surgical intervention to natural and conservative methods like physical therapy and chiropractic.

I believe those methods have tremendous benefits for people, but the world of medicine always seems to be directed in the other direction. I’d like to see that refocus, and I’d like to see more methods that can be used effectively — backed up by research — that will allow patients to take their health and recovery into their own hands. And I believe the Lift offers patients a good method of achieving that, at least in the realm of lower back pain.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders 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, especially if we tag them :-)

Yes, Dan Pederson. He’s a retired Admiral and founder of the Top Gun program for the Navy. There’s a book about him, Topgun: An American Story, and it’s an incredible story about resilience.

When he was commissioned to start the program, he didn’t receive any funding, just an air base in California. Working with very little resources, he managed to become a tremendous success. He built innovative procedures that were taught to naval aviators, making them some of the most successful pilots on the planet.

Another individual I would like to sit down with is Kelly Slater. He’s in his 40s now and still competing for World Championships in surfing. He’s won the World Championship more than any individual and keeps himself in excellent physical condition. Kelly has really set the bar for the modern era of surfing.

I also wouldn’t mind sitting down with Lee Trevino. I think that would be a very interesting conversation, learning about his background, what he’s encountered and how he’s succeeded.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ed-barry-dc-faco-6403a853/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!



Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Passionate about bringing emerging technologies to the market