Philly Creative Guide

Here's the Thing

Bill Haley

The Curious Case of Dr. Oz
by Bill Haley, 1 Jun 2010

Bill Haley is one of the founders of He is also President, Interactive of Allied Pixel (, an integrated media production firm specializing in the convergence of HD video, web and interactive media. He can be reached at [email protected].

I met Dr. Mehmet Oz in 1998 when I interviewed him for a film about a new device for heart patients. That was before he had become a household name, but in medical circles he already was a rock star. Nervous assistants popped in and out as we rearranged his office at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital for the shoot. His top aid, a woman who looked like she had just stepped out of a Vogue photo shoot, updated us on his schedule. "Dr. Oz is running 11 or 12 minutes behind, he's just wrapping up his meeting." Then a couple minutes later, "Dr. Oz will be another 10 minutes, an emergency popped up." And then, "Dr. Oz is on his way. He'll have a hard stop at 1:20." Finally Dr. Oz whisked into the office. He looked around at how we had moved his furniture, at the camera, and lights, and sound gear, and crew that had overtaken his office. I thought I was going to get an earful. Instead, he just said, "Cool."

He couldn't have been a nicer guy, or easier to work with. During a short break, he asked me what kind of camera we were using, and what each of the guys on the crew did. He seemed to have a real curiosity about the whole thing.

Shortly after that, he made his debut on TV as a medical expert for ABC and CNN. In 2001 he went on Oprah and made 55 appearances over the next five years. Oprah anointed him "America's Doctor" and since then, his career trajectory has been nothing short of astonishing. "The Dr. Oz Show" debuted to phenomenal ratings last September. He's on Sirius XM satellite radio every day. He has authored half a dozen books; about 9 million are in print. He writes monthly columns for Time, AARP Magazine, Esquire and Oprah. And he writes a daily newspaper column.

And amazingly, he still sees patients and performs surgery every Thursday.

Mehmet Oz is the poster child of over achievers. His father, also a cardiothoracic surgeon, pushed him hard. He grew up in Wilmington and remembers standing in line at an ice cream shop when his dad asked a kid ahead of them, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The kid said, "I don't know, I'm 10." When they got back in the car, his father said "I never want you to tell me that if I ask you that question. I never want you tell me you don't know. It's O.K. if you change your mind. But I never want you not to have a vision of what you want to be." That day, young Mehmet decided to become a doctor. He was seven.

He went to Harvard for undergraduate school, then to the University of Pennsylvania Medical School while simultaneously earning an MBA at Wharton.

I have met some driven people over the years, but this guy takes the cake. I am very curious how he manages to maintain the momentum. I suppose to some extent you could say he is a freak of nature, but that's only part of it.

He is obsessed with his own health, fitness, performance. His energy level is ridiculous. He'll run up six flights of stairs rather than wait for the elevator. He starts each day with a seven-minute workout that includes yoga, pushups and situps. He also runs and plays basketball. He avoids big meals and instead snacks every hour or so on things like low fat Greek yogurt, berries, spinach, raw almonds and vegetable juice. In short, he does all the right things to maintain his health, stamina and mental sharpness.

Those of us who weren't born with superhuman genetics can still take something away from Dr. Oz's example. Exercise and diet matter, they matter a lot. Mental discipline matters. Challenging yourself matters. Giving yourself goals and setting the bar high matter.

Maybe you don't aspire to be your own brand name. But I'll bet you do aspire to be better than you are. Me too. What would it mean to your career, or your personal life, if you could up your game by even 10 percent? It would make a tremendous difference. Perhaps we can take a lesson from the good doctor.

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