…developing grit requires accepting the unexpected. Everything cannot go perfectly, no matter how well you plan. Therefore, we all need to expect the unexpected and learn how to be flexible and deal with adapting situations in order to overcome challenges that we will face along the way. When “curveballs” are thrown my way, I am not shocked, I expected the surprise, and therefore I am prepared to handle it better than those who sit there in shock.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Janelle Luk, Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist and the Co Founder and Medical Director of Generation Next Fertility. She was born in Hong Kong, China and moved to America around the age of 11 where she continued her education and attended Cornell for undergraduate studies, Yale for medical school and Boston Brigham and Women’s Hospital Residency Program for women’s health training. During this time, she educated Harvard medical students on women’s health issues and started a student organization for integrative medicine and women’s health.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path?
In China, my mother was given away by her parents when she was very young because she was female; she wanted me to have a different life. At 11 years old, my mother brought me to America. I was old enough to be shaped by my life experiences in Hong Kong, yet I was young enough to still be influenced by my upbringing in America. My Eastern and Western experiences define me equally. I attribute a lot of my strengths to these two distinctive worlds and ways of thinking. I have always felt empowered by my mother’s support as well as the education I have received. Therefore, I do what I can to empower and educate today’s women on reproductive health.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
When I first moved to America, I was facing two challenges: learning how to be disciplined as school work became more challenging, which was shared among my peers, and being immersed in a starkly different environment with a new language and a disparate culture, which was an obstacle I had to face semi alone. I felt considerably isolated from my peers and desperate to create an identity and express myself. Along the way, I found myself struggling with language and cultural barriers, which I was determined to overcome. Through hard work and tireless efforts, I began to “fit in” more, but this is still something I am improving. My journey began with an innate desire to help people. I decided to pursue a career in female reproductive medicine, where I am able to advocate for what I believe in and help women start families.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I have always had a competitive spirit. I felt pressure to succeed because my mom gave up so much for me to come to America and we had a mission to accomplish. I was on a mission to show that women are just as capable as men and I wouldn’t let anything get in my way of showing that.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
I have always associated grit with hustle and tireless effort. Grit is an expression of drive and it is how people are able to obtain what they want, no matter what obstacles might arise. I have always been disciplined and starting at an early age, I never took no for an answer. I never backed down from a challenge and because of my perseverance, I am able to be where I am today.
So, how are things going today? :-)
Things are going great! I am the medical director and co-founder at Generation Next Fertility and I love what I do. At Generation Next, our mission statement is redefining fertility care for today’s women and this is something that me, and my partner, Dr. Edward Nejat, wholeheartedly believe in. We love empowering and helping women and giving them every possible opportunity to create a family. I love teaching and am able to do that daily where I work. At home, I have a wonderful husband and two children who all teach me new things every day.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)
The first step to developing grit is figuring out what one is passionate about. There is no point in trying to pursue something that you are not passionate about because true drive is what helps us in developing grit and resilience. Example: medical school. Things get tough in life and medical school makes it even tougher. Passion is what pulls you back up, passion gives you purpose and purpose propels you forward. Be passionate and persevere.
Next, one has to build his or her support system. As strong as we all like to believe we are, we are unable to tackle life’s challenges alone. Grit requires a ton of perseverance and sometimes a word of encouragement from a friend or a loved one is what you need to keep on going.
Once you know what is important to you and you have a solid support foundation, then you have to learn to understand people and your environment. Understanding people will save anyone a ton of time and stress. I spend hours getting to know my patients.
Then, it is important to figure out how to balance yourself. Maybe it is meditation, yoga, sports, acupuncture, or whatever works for you. Everyone needs to figure out what works for them to relax and get through challenging periods. I practice the piano, play basketball, and spend time with my family.
Finally, developing grit requires accepting the unexpected. Everything cannot go perfectly, no matter how well you plan. Therefore, we all need to expect the unexpected and learn how to be flexible and deal with adapting situations in order to overcome challenges that we will face along the way. When “curveballs” are thrown my way, I am not shocked, I expected the surprise, and therefore I am prepared to handle it better than those who sit there in shock.
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 you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
I am grateful for my mother, who gave up everything to give me a chance to succeed and pursue the career of my dreams. I am also grateful for my family who are my support system when things are tough.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
At Generation Next, we believe it is our duty to offer accessible options to all of our patients. We offer lower cost IVF protocols to our patients because we understand that fertility treatment can be burdensome and unfortunately, is often not covered by insurance. Additionally, we are starting an affordable donor egg program to offer patients the option to buy smaller quantity of donor eggs at a face-value cost. We believe that all women should have the option to start a family whenever it is right for them and do not want the high cost of donor eggs to get in the way for our patients.
I love to teach my patients, students, and anyone who will listen about women’s health. At any chance I get, I love to go on panels and educate the world about what we do at Generation Next and how we can help. I love to spread awareness because education is key in empowering women to make decisions about their bodies. I also began a journal club for my staff so I can educate them on new topics in the field both so they can learn and also so we can offer our patients the best possible care.
What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
It all comes back to my original message — passion is key. When you believe in the cause, hard work is not only more enjoyable but the quality of the work is also greater. Helping employees find purpose in their work will allow them the most success.
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. :-)
I would make sure everyone has access to a quality education. I believe that education is the key to future success.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Give a man [or woman] a fish and you feed him [or her] for a day. Teach a man [or woman] to fish and you feed him [or her] for a lifetime.” This has always been one of my favorite proverbs because it emphasizes education and empowerment, which are two of my top priorities. I always teach my staff by requiring them to answer their own questions. This forces them to think outside the box and prepares them for future, unknown scenarios. I teach this every day.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.