Podcasts

How This Doctor’s Fight Against Obesity Is Revolutionizing Nutrition with Dr. Sherry Zhang

Dr. Sherry Zhang’s passion for genetics was fueled by personal experiences, driving her to explore the complex relationship between our genes and our diet. In this episode, she discusses her groundbreaking research on the FTO gene, known for its role in obesity, and how this research led her to establish a company that leverages genetic information to tailor dietary recommendations.

Listeners will gain insights into Dr. Zhang’s transition from the academic world to entrepreneurship. She shares the challenges of introducing a novel concept to the market and her approach to building a team and company culture that supports innovation and growth.

Dr. Zhang also delves into the importance of understanding our genetic makeup for better health outcomes and how her company’s technology empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their diet and lifestyle based on their unique genetic profiles.

Join us in this episode of Culture Leaders Podcast as Dr. Sherry Zhang takes us through her inspiring journey, the science behind personalized nutrition, and her vision for the future of health and wellness.

Notable quotes

“When something like ‘aha’ moments happen, often times matter for me and for others. You don’t realize their power at the moment.” – Dr. Sherry Zhang

“I will continue feeling I know so much less than what is known there. And I wanted to fill that gap.” – Dr. Sherry Zhang

“I think, you know, we have a few human rights born into this world and one is a house. I think it’s the access to your private information, for example, your genetic code.” – Dr. Sherry Zhang

“I’m really happy to see that happening. That’s our organization’s mission and ambition that everybody should have their personalized nutritional regimen.” – Dr. Sherry Zhang

Useful links

Reach Sherry at:

Website: https://www.genopalate.com/

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/yisherryzhang/

Get more from the Culture Leaders Podcast

Connect with Us on Social Media:

https://www.instagram.com/jess_kriegel/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicakriegel
https://www.linkedin.com/company/culturepartners/

Visit Our Website:

Enjoyed the episode? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave us a review.

Transcript

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: In a bustling lab filled with the hum of computers, Dr. Sherry Zhang is lost in her world of genetic research. Peering intently through a microscope. Sherry’s time in the lab is not just about research. It’s deeply personal.

Sherry Zhang: One the reasons I love being a researcher is you got to know something before the world knows you share a secret with your your experiment.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Years ago, a young sherry would listen to her mother’s laments about gaining weight.

Sherry Zhang: She always complain about that. She’s always suffering from that. Right. So I remember that.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: The pain in her mother’s voice fuels her work, igniting a passion to uncover the genetic secrets of our relationship with food.

Sherry Zhang: In a lab that day, I was studying this gene called FTO turned out to be one of the most wild characterized clinical genetic markers for obesity.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: With her mind brimming with possibilities, Sherry takes the bold leap from researcher to CEO. It’s unchartered territory, filled with the challenges and the need for a diverse skill set.

Sherry Zhang: When something like a how moments happen, often times matter for me and for others. You don’t realize their power at the moment. You just feel there’s something going on.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Dr. Sherry Zhang story is a beautiful tapestry of personal connection, scientific curiosity, and unyielding determination. I’m Dr. Jessica Kriegel and this is Culture Leaders, where we decode the magic behind the masters of movements to unleash the power of culture. This is the story of Dr. Sherry Zhang, master of a movement to revolutionize personalized health through the power of genomics.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Sherry, What is your. Why?

Sherry Zhang: My why? I think it’s. I’m a very curious person. I started as a curious kid. I’m still very curious today. That drives me going and drives me wanting to get up every morning. So I think my wives is just want to know more and want to help. I want to make the, you know, to the world a little bit better.

Sherry Zhang: And it probably sounds a little cliche, but that’s really my. Why?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And Gino, palates. Why? What is the organization’s purpose or mission or what’s the organization’s why? And how do you get to be curious and help by being at this organization at this time?

Sherry Zhang: And how much do you know about my organization? We are a leading Neutrogena image platform that how people personalize their nutrition format about it, how we have a core technology. We run our proprietary algorithm to help you understand your nutritional ancestry, which is very unique, you know, that is shaped by your 2 million years of your ancestors. How did they interact with their food environment and other environmental cues?

Sherry Zhang: And and they really shaped our genetics. And so we have a one of the leading pioneering technology and then everything associated to support our capacity to help people personalize their nutrition, which is so important coming out of COVID, everybody realizing keeping their metabolic health optimal is a key to their overall wellness and longevity. Food is truly medicine. Everybody’s realizing that and then the science and starting to back it up with evidence and which is really great.

Sherry Zhang: I’m really happy to see that happening. That’s our organizations and Mission Ambition and that everybody should have their personalized nutritional regimen, you know, equip them with the information, knowledge, tools, products, services to to be healthy every day and all the time.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So is the movement that you are spearheading a movement of creating health? I’ve heard you say in the past that health is a right. Can you talk more about that?

Sherry Zhang: Yeah, I think, you know, we have a few human rights born into this world with and one is is a house. I think it’s the access to your private information, for example, your genetic code. We deal with privacy issues and concerns and those are protected such that you could access it and utilize it. Right. So and that’s the privilege.

Sherry Zhang: If you give people access to to other people such as a provider like ourselves, I always say it’s a privilege to have. And then for that a person to own that information and, you know, own that knowledge, I think it’s a right. And once you utilize the right, I think you will be much in control of your trajectory as a person.

Sherry Zhang: And you could really, you know, change your fate for better and optimal. So that’s why I’m I’m calling that as a right. Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And so can you tell me I mean there was a probably a moment, right? And I’m imagining a moment in the lab, and that may be completely made up, but I’m imagining that there’s this moment of insight where you realize that there’s a way that you can help transform the world with this information, this research you’ve done, or the solution that you’ve invented.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: How did you know that you had tapped into something that was going to change the world? And what was that like in that moment?

Sherry Zhang: Yeah, and in my situation there is such a moment as for real. So I was many years ago, I was studying. You know, we have this capacity to screen your whole genome for certain mutations is called the nucleotide single nucleotide polymorphisms or snips. It’s easier to to, to, to remember that everyone has those. You have that I have that usually it’s when you compare to genomes, you see the differences as what, you know, potent polymorphic.

Sherry Zhang: Some happen. And my lab is one of the pioneers nearing the Pioneer Lab in in the field of obesity genetics. So we study obesity, we study metabolic syndrome using the gene genetic epigenetic genomics, information technology to to find the causality underneath obesity and other traits. So I remember one day, you know, one of the reasons I love being a researcher is you got to know something before the world knows, if that makes sense.

Sherry Zhang: It’s almost like you share a secret with your your experiment, right? And it’s a lot of hard work. It goes into it and, you know, a lot of our noise, but there are a lot of true signals when you capture it, when you replicate it, it’s real and it’s a knowledge and a you want to share it with publish and so on, so forth.

Sherry Zhang: Eventually, hopefully will apply it to bettering the bettering medicine. And this is how we look at it. So that’s also part of the reasons, the while for my wife, so that they I remember that and vividly even today that my mom was also a personal story here. She’s a wonderful, beautiful lady all the time. And I remember her when she was, you know, I was little and she was younger.

Sherry Zhang: She always complain about how easy to put a few pounds on her body. And I was like, Mom, you’re just great and you’re perfect. You don’t need to worry about it. But she does. That’s what matters. And she always complain about that. She’s always suffering from that. Right? So I remember that and I troubles me because I love her going fast forward in the lab that day I was studying this gene called FTO is one of the later turn out to be one of the most replicated and while characterized clinical genetic marker for obesity.

Sherry Zhang: So every single nationality or ethnic or background or the age groups are we men and women we tested it for. There is a very strong and robust signal where if you have one, a letter from your mom or Wiley or from your dad is 80 colds, so to speak. If you remember, you know, your high school biology or genetics, if you have two of you have the a two copies of the earliest, I should say, you will have much better chance of expressing obesity or overweight even you eat the same food compared to the people.

Sherry Zhang: Have the other two different gene or you’ll following me. So it’s a powerful tool because everybody has that, everybody has a genome and we have a way to type that all of sudden at a time, this is very expensive, but it’s it’s it’s hidden in the research lab. So we’re we’re the pioneer are accessing this this capability. I just I just I remember I told myself I was like, this is really interesting.

Sherry Zhang: I really wish I can type. Went for it, you know, And then I saw, okay, what about me? What about everybody that I was studying? You know, I have this wonderful cohort, all the donors, they suffering from obesity for a long time. And I what about, you know, my family and others and friends? Because obese is such a rising epidemic and still rising today.

Sherry Zhang: Yeah. So that’s really the moment I hope I described that, the curious moment. It’s when something like moments happen often times better for me and for others. It’s not. You don’t realize their power at the moment. You just feel there’s something going on and then you pursue that and you pursue that and then for now is when they become something real.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I so appreciate that story and I love how you described. It’s like getting a secret and you need to tell everyone what the secret is. I had that moment too, when I was researching in my doctoral program. I was studying generational dynamics. It wasn’t in the lab. It was with people in that setting, in the corporate setting. And I had a theory that each generation had unique needs and preferences and values, and I was going to figure out what those were so that companies could figure out how to treat millennials differently from Gen Xers, differently from baby boomers in order to drive results and attraction and retention of talent, yadda yadda, yadda.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And what I found out was that that was completely false. It was a fabricated imaginary label that we were placing on people oversimplifying the complexity of human experience and essentially applying our biases to a story that was made up. And when my data showed that suddenly I thought, Everybody’s got to know this, I got to get everyone to know this.

Sherry Zhang: Because.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: They’re going to be better if they know this, how can I? So then you you transition. There’s this moment where you’re a researcher and you have a secret to the moment where now I’m almost like a marketer, I’m an advocate, I’m a social change spearhead, right? There’s something different in research versus getting the word out. So then you became you’re CEO of the organization or you were at the time, right?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So how did you transition from research to running a business to trying to spread the word? And how challenging was that or not for you?

Sherry Zhang: Yeah, thank you for sharing your story so you know it. You know exactly how I feel as well. It’s a loaded question. So I guess you’re you wanted to add. I wanted to know how how did I transition, hopefully successfully from a scientist to.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, you went from researcher with insight to CEO and really an advocate for this new approach to obesity that requires all sorts of different skill sets way beyond curiosity. Right? Was that transition hard?

Sherry Zhang: My God. It’s it’s a grinding process, right? It’s a keep. I mean, for me, I don’t have an MBA from Harvard, so to speak. Right. And then I work with people with those degrees and or or exposed to people with those. It’s it’s great to have it, but I didn’t think I needed it in order to succeed in my quest.

Sherry Zhang: And then somehow you just it’s all about how much you wanted it sometimes. And and I think being curious, being cordial to your heart and to people and being more actively seeking out for help, for mentorship, there are a lot of good people out there who want to help you. If we are cordial, if you’re honest, if you tell them what you need, tell them what you don’t have, they will jump in to help you if they see that, and especially when you have a very good cause, which I do right now, helping a lot of people to be healthier, you know, innovative and, you know, merging this two amazing powers together.

Sherry Zhang: One is genomics, one is food. It’s medicine. So it’s a it’s not hard to convince people to be to listen to me, so to speak. But in order to find a feel, you just need a feel. Sometimes you just need a one person will believe in you, but will complement you or teach you to breed you so that you could break that gap just enough that you could succeed.

Sherry Zhang: You know, a lot of times it’s not about you have to learn everything, but you need to realize what are you missing and who will have those skills and knowledge, experiences and hearts and lies to complement you to get the job done. And I think over time of people always say, one of the things about one of my superpowers is never shy of asking for help and never are very good at spotting a talent to to work with me.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So at the risk of getting too vulnerable, I’m thinking about all the men listening to this podcast right now, listening to two women chatting like I am on the verge of tears listening to you speak because I talked to a lot of people, I interview a lot of people, and they all have the answers. They all have the answers.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: They just want to explain how it’s supposed to look, what leadership looks like or what they did to win. You know, And your response is, I didn’t have all the answers. I asked for help. It’s like real humility, not the kind of humility that people lecture about you needing to have it all, but it’s like actual humility and it comes across.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And I can see why people would want to help you, you know, because you have this really sincere way of communicating and it feels like you. I mean, the story about your mother, everyone has a story about their mother in some ways, You know, everyone’s thing is spurned by some childhood thing. And so you have that, too. But it also just feels like you really want to make a difference in the world and not in the way that gets attention, but really actually impacts the world.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So I just appreciate you. Thank you for being a role model.

Sherry Zhang: No, not now. I know you make my face read.

Speaker 3: But no, I know.

Sherry Zhang: I just don’t think Well well, I’ll figuring it out. Right. And yeah, so we all think about your life and you know, we know how to manage this and that. And I don’t think your audience needs to do need to necessarily know that from me. But I think the attitude is something is hard to learn. And I believe you always have that attitude of learning.

Sherry Zhang: You will never stop to grow. Right? And I know that people that are super capable, very highly experienced and accomplished and successful in in their definitions, but they stop growing because they don’t have that right attitude. And and that’s a personal choice. It’s nothing wrong with it. So but that’s not me. I will continue feeling I know so much less than what is known there.

Sherry Zhang: And I wanted to fill that gap. And I think I’ll probably just grow until the day I die or something, you know? Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So let me let me throw you a curve ball here. I mean, if I were to look at this without knowing you, without learning about your story, without doing the research, and I just see an advertisement for this, my reaction is, yeah, right. Does that really work? You know, I mean, it feels like another gimmick. It could be right.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I mean, you’ve got Ozempic now, which I mean, I saw Sharon Osborne took Ozempic and she looks wildly different. That clearly works, right? This drug, there’s all sorts of things that I’m being sold, though, all the time, and there’s a certain skepticism that I bring to everything. So I don’t even know how it works to know that it does work by having spoken to you.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: But for the people who don’t get to see you and talk to you. Right, and see this authenticity just dripping out of you, how do you communicate in a marketing capacity, authentic solutions that aren’t just a way to get people’s money? Because I think people are always wondering, am I getting sold snake oil right now?

Sherry Zhang: Yeah, it’s it’s a very valid and insightful question. Well, we deal with that every hour all the time, every day from day one till today, because it’s nutritional, genetic, it’s a new field. You know, we in medical school back back up a little bit. Genomics is a new field for medicine, right? The the most experienced doctors to they’re good doctors at they they didn’t get enough education or sometimes no education in genetics which is completely missing.

Sherry Zhang: Right. It’s everybody has a genome that is the code determines your user’s manual for health when you’re born to this world. How could we not understand it and apply that to your health care? And it just doesn’t make sense. And then the world started realizing we have a lot of new curriculum at the medical school to to to amend it.

Sherry Zhang: But at the same time, there’s again, all the experience doctors, which we rely on for our health care, don’t have that knowledge and tools. Right? So that’s one thing that’s I’m talking about fundamental genetics for cancer, genetics for Alzheimer’s, for prenatal planning and all that. And then now next, let’s narrow down to nutritional genomics. One, metabolism, that’s metabolic health.

Sherry Zhang: And that’s what I’ve been devoting my whole career life. And I mean until today’s endeavors at genome powerful and we know your genetic code is black and white, whether as a shared early or not after your moment genetic you know finding story I can tell probably a thousand of those stories at the time. But as in speaks is is black and white.

Sherry Zhang: You inherit one chromosome a little four any locations you have 3.2 billion of those 11.6 from your your mother and one or one points need to that make my math right yeah 3.2 total so the other half is from father and then that’s how we are so diversified. Right. And then your mother comes with her two copies of Father Reminder and, and they, you know, they.

Sherry Zhang: Marian and they have you. And that’s why we’re so beautiful. A unique that’s really how humans evolved is evolving through the passing along generational transmission of your genetic code, mostly the mutations that makes you stronger. Right? They vary in the first place. If they precipitate meaning, they stay in, some of them just deluded obviously doesn’t make any difference.

Sherry Zhang: But for something like, for example, I’m lactose intolerant because of my Asian ancestry, for their nutritional loci and for Eastern African northern Europeans, or we call Caucasian populations, they develop that mutation so they can digest of sugar and milk that gives them advantage for survival. Right? And then their genes are so smart. And over several generations, we’re talking about hundreds of years, they will have stronger babies and babies grow up and and make even stronger babies.

Sherry Zhang: And then that’s how the mutations stay. So that’s when as a scientist and as a geneticist, it’s overwhelmingly real, right. And powerful. So once you know that you just like to your point, you’ll know this tool, you know, that can potentially help a lot of people. And how could you not to want to give it to people. So that’s my positioning.

Sherry Zhang: That’s the positioning of of truly science, evidence based science, technology platforms like Genome Pilot is in. So we stay true to evidence, we stay true to our observation. We’re still learning how we have tens of thousands, tens of thousand study participants. I would never have such a big study cohort if I stayed in medical school because it takes forever to enroll and it’s a very expensive to enroll.

Sherry Zhang: But our customers with we sponsor the research we pay to maintain the research. We don’t ask them to do anything. Just say yes. So then we can have access to their DNA and divide the information, create new knowledge for the world to know. We’ll publish or go through the peer to peer review system like we did as a, you know, researcher in a in a in a medical school.

Sherry Zhang: And people jump in to say, yes, you know, lots of people participate in that way. So I think once you see the face of truth, you have the confidence in you and then you are empowered.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: That’s beautiful. I heard you a couple of years ago talking about one of the greatest challenges that you experienced in running the business. And you talked about culture being a challenge. Can you talk about what culture challenge in particular you were struggling with and how, if at all, you overcame it?

Sherry Zhang: Yeah, I think culture is an ever growing problem or topic for leaders, for, you know, for entrepreneurs to to deal with and and we should embrace it. We should never say, I figure it out. Maybe I just it sounds like my attitude is never figure it out. I’ll always ever striving. Right? So so I think I hope you resonate with this note because you know cover hits everybody well.

Sherry Zhang: So go home, right? And then everybody wants to stay home and I benefit. And I’m home today. I’m working and productive this way. And now we become hybrid and now we miss each other. And until you culture changes because the environment changes and people changes, talent pool changes. So I think for me it’s really finding what is the core values that you you are organizing.

Sherry Zhang: Passion has to protect and maintain and grow over time. You almost like your belief, almost like your organizational religion. Right? And then cultural.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Beliefs. Yeah.

Sherry Zhang: Well, to believe and stay true to that and be flexible, be agile so that you could adapt to the changing environment and changing personnel, which is almost a constant. Right? It’s not almost yeah, the changing is always a constant. And I think I’m figuring out a few of things now that all but I love it. I think culture is most powerful thing.

Sherry Zhang: You know, I think the, you know, and your audiences are great people is so key right from you to your people to your to the talent you recruit it to. For for us, they’re our investors. They believe in us. They believe in the mission and in customers. We have so many lives we’re servicing today, it’s overwhelmingly flattering. You know, it’s for me and as a founder and for our team, well, absolutely loving that.

Sherry Zhang: At the same time, they have a lot of lots of problems. Every single story is a personal is different and this is our business. So how do we deal with that? Right. So there’s a lot of change coverage there. But I think if you stick to the value of your organization, whatever that is, and as sick to your talent pool and people who you care about, your servicing you work with, make sure you always enjoy doing having fun, working for those people with those people.

Sherry Zhang: And that’s your culture, right? The culture will kind of people alike will find each other. I always believe that is also true for full work and the culture war will find you almost and then you need to maintain that. You need to have a structure and to have incentives. You need to have, you know, rewarding system so people thrive in and and feel good about it.

Sherry Zhang: But I think, yeah, the thing to just stay true to the value and be flexible.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So what’s really interesting is we talk about culture being the way that people think and act to get results and at the core of the challenge of culture transformation is how to create sustained behavioral change. Because I can have a team building and change behavior for a short period of time pretty easily. I can give a speech and change people’s behavior for a short period of time, no problem.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: But sustained behavioral change that does not require micromanagement but is authentic to the person who is changing their own behavior is really hard to do. And this is something that I would imagine you’re grappling with with your product as well. I mean, you’re trying to get people’s behavior around eating to change. And I’ve heard data doesn’t change. Behavior, experiences and beliefs change behavior.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So how do you lean into the experience or the belief that your customers are having to change their behavior around food? Because just telling them can’t do it right? I mean, I kind of know I’m not supposed to eat a bunch of sugar. I should eat a bunch of vegetables. It doesn’t make me do that. How do you get them to change their behavior?

Sherry Zhang: Yeah, it’s a key problem we’re trying to solve as a industry as a whole, right? This is how we call a consumer. How self-care. Right now we’re trying to disrupt traditional health care, which is really a sick care system. We want to be proactive and self aware and working with clinicians, which I absolutely love working with, done back when I was in the biomedical system.

Sherry Zhang: They’re brilliant and capable and, you know, really want to help their patients. But the system is now working, you know, to to facilitate health care because of which is you need to be preventative. Right. But our the business model doesn’t support that yet, but it will. So behavior change is hard. But we learned a few ways to help our customers for as a case study here.

Sherry Zhang: One is back to the power of your ancestry. Your ancestry is so powerful to that person that people I mean, our customers started using our our technology platform products and everything in the first place because they not only they believe in science that Bolivian we are natural scientists in the field. That’s after you have to read about us.

Sherry Zhang: You read about me, read my papers. If you do that, they do a lot of research, right? But we’re strangers to them. Or, you know, brand new or unknown. We’re startup at a time especially. But they are familiar with themselves, right? They’re familiar with the notion that this trait, whether it’s overweight and whether it’s a, you know, easy to get stressed and get stressed and overcome with eating and all this behavior in there runs in the family.

Sherry Zhang: Right. That is genetics. So I think they already have that notion. What we provide is scientifically demonstrated and showed this is your genetic code for that particular gene. Particular mechanism, this ester gene story around it. And as we talked about earlier, so it’s a validation. First, it’s much easier to validate what you already believe than changing the system to believe something else.

Sherry Zhang: Right. But, you know, if it needs to be converted and we do that, if that’s better for them, if we know for sure. And so we do we we do all kinds of habit forming, habit changing, you know, facilitation. But so back to that point, I think that genetic and personalization, personalized nutrition, personalized health is already having its own, you know, a foundation.

Sherry Zhang: So we just build upon that’s a helpful but is also take a lot of education take a lot of convincing. And I think I don’t know if you read into Dr. Vijay Fox in study, there are several gurus in behavioral science in today’s world, and I met Dr. Fogg and it’s a wonderful person and he helps small and big groups to to do exactly what we talking about.

Sherry Zhang: Happy changing, habit forming. What is the science behind that behavioral pattern? You know, a lot of times what people think the right thing to do has nothing to do with what they are truly doing right. And we constantly recalibrate our beliefs or our our reality. And we know like to your point, you no added sugar is bad. I’m not I’m not suggesting you are doing that for yourself.

Sherry Zhang: I don’t know your story, but but people will well lie to themselves. And then what? What will take sugar on spot because they need it at the moment. Right. So how do we help them to make it easier? Change is the question, I think. Dr. PJ Fox Theory one is called Tiny Habits, so it doesn’t have to be big and huge, tremendous, big deal.

Sherry Zhang: It’s really a combination of tiny habits every day, every week, little things. A lot of times I found this very helpful. Is something called habits stacking. What it is, is you stack a new habit which you want or change which you wine or has healthier. For example, Juniper has a supplement, right? You want to introduce this supplement to your lifestyle.

Sherry Zhang: How do you do that so that you don’t forget and you feel it’s super easy? You’ll find that existing habits of yours and stack your new habit into that. For example, this might be awkward, but if you want to take pills right after you brush your teeth every morning so you start the new habits into your existing. I found that model you can apply to all sorts of stories.

Sherry Zhang: It’s very effective. It’s easy to do once you and there are studies for that. Once you repeat that for a certain number and certain period of time, you don’t you it becomes a subconscious thing. Then it becomes a habit. You don’t have to use your mind, power or brainpower to drive that action anymore. So that become autopilot, you know, that’s one way other.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: There’s a great phrase that I constantly remind myself of, which is that we act our way into right thinking. We don’t think our way into right acting. And so just doing these tiny action changes eventually becomes second nature, right?

Sherry Zhang: Yeah. Now a lot of times they just trial and error. So what we do, how this such a thing as history is humongous in large customers so it can once they are on the car with us they can stop talking. It’s a wonderful move but it’s it’s it’s it’s life is a chaotic it’s it’s there’s no there’s no order you know.

Sherry Zhang: Yeah. Very into it It’s it’s not going to work for most people so so we stop trying doing that you know we just try to fit into their existing life and make it a little bit better and equip them and facilitate so that they feel a little bit better and more empowered and and happy. So.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Well, I love what you said about we’re just validating something that they already know. I had that moment on this in this conversation when you were talking about ancestry and you said, well, your mother had this behavior. And so you two that’s genetics, that’s ancestry. And my mom was a completely disordered eater. She I remember when I was a little kid, she would pick one food and that would be all She ate for three meals a day for six months at a time until she got sick of that food.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And then she’d move on to something else. At one point it was the big A.C. at McDonald’s. At one point it was too fruity. At one point it was spaghetti meatballs. At one point it was oatmeal. But whatever it was, that was all she ate. And I remember thinking, Man, that woman is insane. You know, as a kid these days, I have not that I have a lot of variety in what I eat, but I either have what I call on or off.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I’m either on and I’m eating sugar all day long or I’m off. And I’m not eating any sugar, but I can’t find the balance. I can’t do just a little bit of sugar every once in a while. That’s not I’m either on or off. You know, And that is a form of disordered thinking around food, too. And when you said that’s genetics, I thought, wait, that validates something.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I guess I intuitively knew without actually realizing, you know, it’s it’s true.

Sherry Zhang: It’s fascinating studies. Yeah. Yeah. So to that point, it’s interesting. I was in a lot of small kitchen groups and they make smart, you know, equipments and smart refrigerator allergies and that sort of thing. Super cool. And so we talk about recipes for that, right? There’s a lot of millions and millions of good recipes out there. We also provide recipes to our customers using their, you know, personalized information, which is really neat.

Sherry Zhang: But I was I was reading some that shared knowledge in our industry meetings, and I was surprised to know and it makes sense that the average numbers of food people will always go back to is about seven, no matter how many recipes or how many new things, and throw at them. That average is really less than ten. You know I think speaks to the like the you know, your mom’s behavior what’s it’s reflecting and what you’re reflecting.

Sherry Zhang: And I and I can resonate with is people need to be pretty simple. And when it comes down to eating and because you can only remember it on many foods to cook that you like I it’s it’s not that it can be complicated anyway so.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah I mean I’ve got a lot to think about and remember and do every day. And if food can be one less thing, then my life feels a lot easier. I probably have five recipes, you know, that I go back to consistently. That’s why I love going to dinner at other people’s houses, because I want to say, what are your kind of core recipes?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: It’s one of my party questions is what’s your favorite thing to cook? Because I’m looking for inspiration. And despite all the inspiration, I always end up going to the five things I kind of know how to cook. You know, lasagna is one of my go tos I learned when I was in college, I’ll always cook. Lasagna is one of my go to dishes, you know.

Sherry Zhang: Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So a question for you is what’s next? What’s on the frontier of what you’re thinking about or that you’re curious about that we can look forward to if we continue to follow your journey?

Sherry Zhang: Thank you. I really want to know whether with General Palate or beyond research or, you know, business, I wanted to understand longevity, aging well, better. I mean, it’s a huge field, right? There’s huge movement going on right now. A lot of really interesting advancements from science. And, you know, biological understanding, put perspective and information technology, you know, sequencing and everything, you name it is all part of it.

Sherry Zhang: Computational power, you know, algorithm recognition, recognition. I know. But I think the reason is what really drives me to do what I have been doing, I found out myself is for myself is really I’m attracted to bigger problem, so to speak. You know, before was obesity. I was still trying to solve that. And then and I think that it’s related to to the health care our society is going to face this reality hard is aging population not enough next generation or working for workforce generation to support the.

Sherry Zhang: And then we’re going to have a lot of not productive years but just along the years to deal with that makes sense. Okay. So this house then versus a life span and ideally you want that to be almost the same. So I you know, we would be thriving, thriving, thriving on one day we die, right? That’s my ideal path, but not forever that the current situation is are we happy, happy, happy.

Sherry Zhang: And then and then not happy and how It’s not healthy for a longer time. Thanks to medicine, I I’ll just keep going and now dying is a wonderful thing. It’s a blessing. But I think the next question that we could do a not from today is I, I, myself and my my son. I have a wonderful son. I want him to be able to have very productive, long life until, you know, until the term is here.

Sherry Zhang: So longevity is definitely my next colony is.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So if you could change one thing about our culture, society at large by giving people one suggestion, what would that suggestion be?

Sherry Zhang: Work less and be happier.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Do you work less? I mean, how much do you work?

Sherry Zhang: I, I don’t work. I just having fun.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Am living the dream.

Sherry Zhang: I’m not trying to be, you know which cheesy here but I try to. I always say my job is to be the best and love for my son. And then when I do and work is a hobby. At least that’s my attitude. And then because go to till high degree. That’s why I’m doing what I did and started the company.

Sherry Zhang: So this is something I can really having fun. Most of the times there’s always things you don’t like to deal with, right? That’s why I, I really think I think Americans, I travel a lot and I also came from another culture where Chinese are really hard working, too. I think that’s not is not not necessarily better, but other places in the world, they don’t work so much like we do.

Sherry Zhang: And then they’re so up here, you know, now they’re talking about longevity. Other centenarians, you know, the blue zones, right? They’re not necessarily living like we do. And social is such a big deal. I see that a lot of them are just stay connected with their family, living with their family and friends and and yeah. Anyway, so we’ll get there was beautiful.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So I know we have a couple of callers who want to ask you a question, so let’s do that now.

Speaker 3: Hi, my name’s Christina. I’m calling in from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am a founder of luxury, which is a eco-friendly bamboo toilet tissue brand. And I also specialize in growth and customer acquisition. I used to work with cherry and palate on that.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. Beautiful. Wonderful. What is your question?

Speaker 3: So my question is for Sherry, which is that I have always been so impressed by how dedicated and loyal your team has always been to you. And so my question is, what do you think contributed to that? How do you have such a motivated and dedicated.

Sherry Zhang: Well, thank you, Christine. Since I happen to know her style, her work and I think it’s back to share mission, right. So everybody on my team, I can’t even tell you how much they wanted to help our people help each other. You know, we try we use our own products and we’ll have have fun building it and make it better.

Sherry Zhang: We laugh at the mistakes we make, but at the end of the day, we managed to supply the world with something really neat and and with high quality and, you know, servicing our people. And that’s really rewarding. I think once you have a mission like that, it can be many, many versions of it, but it’s not hard to find people think alike and be multi self-motivated.

Sherry Zhang: It took a little while to work, go to work and fight for the success of your project themselves. It was you don’t have to be there all the time to motivate them, so help hope that answers it.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Man. It just feels like you cannot manufacture this, you know? And there’s so many people manufacturing this. They’re trying to figure out what’s the secret sauce to get something to go big, you know, and what you exude is this authentic desire to help. And there’s a lot of people out there saying, my purpose is to serve. Right. And it doesn’t feel like it.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: It’s real it just feels like the thing to say. And the answer is you just can’t manufacture it. You know, when you find the thing you want to do, if it really moves you, it’s going to come across and it’s going to be almost, as you said, easy. So I’m just so excited. I don’t know why. I just love this interview.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay. Let’s take another caller and see what other magical question we can get ready.

Speaker 3: Eminem’s Kobe Scott heard from ideas in Milwaukee.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hello. What is your question?

Speaker 3: My question really centers around how you cultivate culture at a startup. So often you’re a small team and over time got folks coming and going and really would just love some insight on best practices or what you’ve done to help build culture and a positive work culture at a startup.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, and you talked about this briefly earlier about those cultural beliefs or values. Is there something specific you can tell a leader to do something you’ve done where you saw a difference in terms of action around that?

Sherry Zhang: Yeah. What I have learned is you just have to I mean, I ran a small team, right? And we have 20, 30 lies the peak time. But there’s still I, I know every single person’s names and their spouse names, their family structure. When you run 300 people, that might be a challenge. So just qualify for it when you run a startup.

Sherry Zhang: I think I found it just me liking to do that and eventually become a good system where you you wanted to care for your your team individuals. You care enough to know everything about them and you sit down with them over coffee, over beer. Where are you in Wisconsin. And you know, when you care, they know and they well, it’s about trust.

Sherry Zhang: You develop their trust. Trust is everything you want to have, capable people. That’s why we interview them. You want to make sure they have the right experience and then you come work it with each other. Right. But the job interview will take care of it. Once you don’t know it is what you can. How much, whether it’s not, how much, whether can trust that person, and more importantly, they can trust you.

Sherry Zhang: I always think every day as a startup, you are going out into the battlefield. You cannot leave your life in someone’s hand without trusting that person. Right. So just wouldn’t do that. And if you are a soldier and vice versa. So working on establishing that trust show you truly care. And I think you will have a great team.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Amazing. All right. And my last question for you and I can’t wait to hear the answer is what’s one question that no one really asks you on these interviews or or in podcasts you’ve done before that you really wish someone would?

Sherry Zhang: Okay, you gave me this. This is Gavin with this one. Well, how about this? You I think one question I there’s many questions. If you haven’t asked, one will be what do I want to do but I cannot do right now.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay. What is one thing you want to do? What can I do right now?

Sherry Zhang: I really want to travel the world with my my mother. wow. Is there is a here and and she loves traveling and I couldn’t see her because covered our you know, our locations. It’s it’s been really hard. So I really want to do that and I hope I can make it happen soon.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: It’s so beautiful. You know, a thought that occurred to me while we were talking this experience you had with your mother created this entire movement that you have been helping so many people with. And my negative experience, when I was in a really toxic culture was what created my passion for workplace culture and finding that solution that created my whole career.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And I have a daughter, you know, a little six year old girl, and I’ve been whenever she’s in pain or hurt, it just breaks my heart. And I feel like I’ve failed somehow. And I just want to do everything I can to protect her. And in the course of this conversation, I had the thought, you know, maybe like I’m divorced.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And so my daughter is a child of divorce, which is really hard. And I have a lot of guilt about that. But maybe she’s going to be the premier, you know, co-parenting therapist. And in the future, because of this negative experience, I mean, that’s the resilience thing that everyone is always talking about, these negative experiences that we have or these hard moments that we go through.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: You know, maybe there is a reason. I mean, we have to get beyond the kind of bad feelings that we want to avoid. I mean, that’s the thing I’m always working on because I hate bad feelings. It’s why I drink a lot, you know? So I just feel so moved by this conversation and it’s touched me in so many different ways.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I’m so grateful that you came and chatted with us. So thank you so much.

Sherry Zhang: Thank you. I really enjoyed that. Thank you, Jessica.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Thank you so much.

Related Stories

Learn More

Daniel Lamarre of Cirque du Soleil: Making Creativity Your Strategic Advantage

Learn More

How Can Small Businesses Grow? Colette Moore, Director of SBDC, Reveals Winning Tactics

Learn More

How Neuroscience and Psychology Impact Your Leadership – Jean Gomes

What Can We Help You Find?