Welcome back, Healthpreneurs! Today on the Healthpreneur Podcast, we’re chatting with Andrea Nakayama, creator of the Functional Nutrition Alliance and Functional Nutrition Lab. Through her business and school, she provides functional solutions for patients and practitioners alike.

Andrea is a Functional Nutritionist, educator, and speaker who is pioneering the movement to transform healthcare into a system that works. In a world where the sick are getting sicker, Andrea believes the answer is personalized, integrated, and functional medicine that empowers both the client and practitioner to be proactive, connected, and dedicated to optimal health.

Building a multifaceted business wasn’t easy – especially when Andrea wanted to scale but remained the face of the brand. It was in this moment that she realized the importance of having systems and processes in place so she could confidently step away and trust her team. Tune in to hear how Andrea did it, why she’s so passionate about revolutionizing healthcare, and what she thinks about quick-start energy

In this episode Andrea and I discuss:

  • How she trains thousands of health practitioners around the globe.
  • Her passion and inspiration for doing what she does.
  • The different facets of her business and how she manages it all.
  • The science and art of the functional nutrition practice.
  • Scaling a business when you’re the face of the brand.
  • The importance of having processes in place.


3:00 – 9:00 – How Andrea found her true calling and is filling gaps in the market

9:00 – 15:00 – Opportunities for new practitioners in the field today

15:00 – 19:00 – Struggles and vulnerabilities when building a business

19:00 – 24:00 – The downfalls of having quick-start energy and the need for systems

24:00 – 29:30 – Passion as the driving force for success

29:30 – 31:30 – The Rapid Five


Hey guys, Yuri here and welcome back to the show. Today, we’ve got a special guest named Andrea Nakayama. If you are in the world of endocrine or thyroid health, you’ve probably heard that name. She’s been around the block and she’s doing some big things in this world.

She’s become a notable name in the world of functional medicine as a nutritionist who can help chronically ill people get better when no one else can. Her clinical skills have won her the attention of many world-renowned doctors who consult with her on their own difficult cases and she trains hundreds of practitioners every year to have the clinical success like she’s had in her practice.

Through her work at the Functional Nutrition Alliance and Holistic Nutritional Lab, she’s training an army of change-makers in the field of healthcare. She’s doing some pretty big stuff. If you want to learn how to create better outcomes for your clients, especially if you’re working in a coaching modality, where you’ve got people with different health issues, what Andrea will share is going to be extremely valuable for you.

Without any further ado, let’s welcome Andrea Nakayama to the show. Hey Andrea, welcome to the Healthpreneur Podcast, how are you?

Andrea:                                I’m good, thanks for having me, I’m excited to be here.

Yuri:                      You are very welcome, it’s great to have you here. It’s always a pleasure to connect. I love doing this podcast because it gives me a very selfish reason to connect with amazing entrepreneurs like yourself who are doing such great things serving our industry. It’s a lot of fun.

I’ve given a bit of context to our listeners as to what you do in the bio leading up to the interview, but can you give our listeners a better sense of what your business looks like? What is the business model and how did you come about building the business you built?


How Andrea found her true calling and is filling gaps in the market

Andrea:                                It’s complicated and multi-tiered. I’m a functional medicine nutritionist and I started very humbly. This is, as it is for many of us, a second career. I worked in book publishing for 15 years and after I lost my husband – he died of a brain tumor – I took stock of my life and realized that I had a different calling.

I put myself back through many years of school and started, like I said, very humbly. I first saw clients at my dining room table. I taught classes in my living room for the parents in my son’s class on sugar and on fat – good fats, bad fats – and it grew quickly, much more quickly than I expected.

I would go to health conferences and other health coaches would approach me, ask me how I was building things so quickly, and how I did what I was doing. They loved my newsletter and would savor it and read it. They begged me to start training them what I was doing in practice.

I thought I would start a little support group for health coaches wanting to learn more about nutrition and that grew into a seven-figure business and a school. I now train thousands of practitioners around the globe.

I think we have practitioners in 58 countries now; everybody from health coaches to MDs, nutritionists, RDs, and nurses. All sorts of practitioners in the science and the art of the functional nutrition practice.

The school is the biggest arm of the business. I have a virtual clinic with several nutritionists. I consider that our R&D; it keeps my toe in the water.

I see a few clients and then I have a team that sees clients. We also have online programs for the B to C audience; for the consumer audience. There are different areas of the business and lots to manage. We have a team of about 17 at this point and they are always busy, moving, and excited by what I’m doing.


Opportunities for new practitioners in the field today

Yuri:                      That’s awesome. It’s great to build something out of necessity and demand based on what people are asking for. What are you seeing as these health coaches and practitioners come to you for additional education and support? What are you finding are some of the big gaps in their own education or practice?

Andrea:                                Oh, huge. I teach a lot on this. I call it the gaps and the traps in functional medicine and functional nutrition. If we’re looking at the medical side of the equation, the gap in functional medicine is that we are putting the functional medicine physician on a pedestal and asking them to pay attention to everything.

They know that diet and lifestyle modification matters, but they haven’t been trained in diet and lifestyle modification. As those of us who work in that arena know, it takes a lot of time to get into the nuances, not just the behavioral change from a coaching perspective, of what diet works for an individual and when and how we must move the needle.

In the functional medicine model, there’s a gap in a missing practitioner. I call that practitioner the allied functional medicine practitioner. If you think of a pyramid, the physician may be at the top of the pyramid, not because they’re better or know more; but because they can see that diet and lifestyle modification matters. They don’t necessarily know that it’s going to take more than a handout to get somebody to make diet and lifestyle modifications.

The patient is in the weeds. They can’t break apart their signs, symptoms, diagnosis, or what they’re supposed to do. They’re overwhelmed with the information online these days. So, that person works almost like a manager of the whole case to say, “Hey doc, this is what I’m seeing here. This person can’t eat this diet because…” So, that’s one piece of the equation.

On the coaching side of the equation, there isn’t enough that goes beyond theory. So, a lot of coaches learn how to be advocates and work with behavioral change, but they don’t necessarily understand the science behind the diets or what’s going on physiologically in the body. So, “Oh yes, this doctor said that you need to take methylated folate, but why is that causing you to be dizzy and not get out of bed?”

Coaches need more of the physiology training to understand what these clues mean and where diet and lifestyle modification matter. An infection treatment might be too aggressive for a person who can’t tolerate it, and we need to understand that and know why.

What I’m teaching is the science and the art of the functional nutrition practice. It’s asking “How do we become clinicians versus coaches and learn how to think on our feet so every sign, symptom, and everything a client says gives us more information about what’s going on in the body?” Does that make sense?

Yuri:                      Totally. What do you see as one of the big opportunities now for these practitioners and coaches moving forward into 2018 and beyond, within the medical space in terms of getting their message out there? From a legal perspective, functional medicine doctors can practice virtually, correct? Alternatively, medical doctors need a license in the different states that they’re practicing in, right?

Andrea:                                It depends on the model they’re using and whether they’re using insurance. If they’re a medical doctor, they still might need to see that patient for the first time in-person and then go to a telemedicine model.

Functional Medicine is a big catch-all, in a lot of ways. But, in terms of the practice management way, some docs are still trying to work in the insurance model; but bring that understanding to what they do. Others have gone to a cash pay model. It depends.

As far as the allied functional medicine practitioner goes, and this, again, can be a health coach who has gone through additional training from our school or a nurse, a physician’s assistant. I think they can be the future of medicine.

Nurse practitioners and all the other practitioners that are touching a patient or a client have a huge opportunity and there is a necessity for the work we do, because the population of patients that are sick and not getting better is on the rise.

There’s so much information out there through summits and books, and people are trying all those things and they aren’t working for them or they’re skipping and hopping from doctor to doctor looking for the quick fix from any one of those resources.

They’re not finding them. We talk about the clients that we see in our clinic as the “big bigs” or the “huge bigs”. That means they have a big health issue and they’ve already made a big effort and they’re still suffering. That population is on the rise. People are sicker and sicker and they’re not getting better.

Yuri:                      It’s a sad reality but it opens a massive opportunity for everyone in our space that’s doing this.

As you’ve said, and I’m a firm proponent of this, the summits and the books and the blog posts, they’re all good and everything; but it’s not putting a dent in anyone’s life in a positive way.

 It’s not impactful enough. It overwhelms and confuses people more than anything.

Andrea:                                Well, and it’s not individualized care. It’s not functional because it’s not considering the whole of the person’s reality, which includes their history, their physiology and what they’ve done to date.

So, when people are watching a tele-summit and they hear that if you have Pyroluria, you should take magnesium, B-6, and zinc, they self-diagnose as having that condition and start taking nutrients, that may not be appropriate for their system.

I call this the epi-genetics of the online tele-summit, because I think patients may be making themselves worse by adopting everything they hear instead of having a trained clinician bring in the appropriate nutrients and modifications for their signs, symptoms, and diagnosis given who they are.

Yuri:                      Absolutely. We’ve completely shifted with Healthpreneur. The old model we taught to help other practitioners and coaches grow their businesses of just putting together some summits, challenges, and e-books wasn’t helping people. I don’t believe so, and I believe the future, as you’ve said, is more personalized attention.

There’s a big opportunity and people are hurting for solutions. So guys, if you’re listening to this, this is big news.

Andrea, before we go any further, I’m sure there’s a lot of people wondering how to find out about your awesome program. Can you give us the best place for people to learn more about how to pursue their own studies and education with you guys?

Andrea:                                Yeah, absolutely. I also have gift for everyone here. It is, speaking of epi-genetics, my Three Tiers to Epi-genetic Mastery. It’s the system that I teach in, too. It isn’t don’t eat gluten, then remove sugar. Those things are important, yes, but this is a system that allows us to think.

People can get their hands on that e-book at fxnutrition.com/yuri. FX is for functional.

You can always learn more about us and the work we do at the Functional Nutrition Lab – that’s the school – and then the whole business is the Functional Nutrition Alliance where we have those different audiences that we speak to as I noted.


Struggles and vulnerabilities when building a business

Yuri:                      What I love about this is, for everyone listening; between what Andrea’s doing with the physiology of the coaching side and what we’re doing to help you guys grow your business, it’s a beautiful marriage. So, take advantage of both.

So, talk to me about the journey of your business. What’s one big lesson? What was a pivotal moment over the past decade or so of building this bad boy up where you were against the wall and you thought to yourself, “How am I going to make this happen?” What was the lesson you learned from that and how did you move forward from that experience?

Andrea:                                I’m smirking, because it happens all the time. It’s so funny, when I’m speaking to my students – who are great people to tune into what you’re teaching, Yuri because they’re also trying to start their businesses – they’ll say things to me like, “You don’t understand. This feels vulnerable.”

I respond, “No, you don’t understand, it always feels vulnerable. You’re always at a new level of pushing yourself out there and having to go into a new terrain with things.”

So, I would say one of the biggest challenges I faced was when I tried to grow my practice beyond me is seeing the clients directly, because people still come to our clinic to see me. They’re not coming to see Jen or Caroline or Sandra who work on my team, but that’s who they get.

The bridge is that they still get me on the back end. I look at everybody’s labs and my team has client review meetings with me. But the transition from being the personality of the brand and getting to touch me directly, to now knowing and feeling comfortable as a customer working with someone who’s been trained by me and gives that comfort, was a huge hurdle for me to cross.

So, it took time. There were some mistakes made and I learned a lot. But, I must say, in all the hurdles I’ve experienced, what it takes is being flexible, adaptable, and listening to your audience. Listening to their concerns and wins.

We use Slack on our team and we have an Outside In channel. Outside in means we post anything that is a win or a concern that we hear from a customer or client. It’s a very active channel and it allows everybody to know our wins and all the love we get, but also problems or frustrations so we can all problem-solve it.

Yuri:                      That’s great. I know a lot of experts are the face of their brand, and a lot of cases are at their clinic. If they want to scale or want more freedom in their life, they must step away from doing all the patient visits themselves.

What advice do you give to a practitioner or coach who has been helping people and can’t scale beyond their current capacity unless they step back and start creating some systems that enable other people to do what they do? How does someone approach that? What’s a mistake to avoid, and what’s a better direction?


The downfalls of having quick-start energy and the need for systems

Andrea:                                One of the benefits I have in that arena is that I teach, so I get to pick from the cream of the crop. I get to see who is showing up and if I want to take them further.

Some of the mistakes that I see occur are that practitioners tend to fall in love too quickly. Those of us who are oriented towards building a business have a lot of quick start energy in us. We might see that a person’s great to bring on as a partner or apprentice, and it takes more time like any relationship to build a relationship that is going to be sustainable.

That’s one bit of advice: To take it slow, get to know each other, know who is in charge, and what you want the relationship to be. I like to talk about agreements versus expectations.

Make sure you know what you want as a practitioner and write those agreements out with whoever you’re bringing on to help you do the work. Then, educate them in your ways, your systems, and in the way you think. That is a huge opportunity for growth because it makes you strip off what you do naturally – that you might not even think about – and teach somebody.

I can guarantee you that nobody will do it like you’re going to do it.

For me, that’s been the huge benefit of teaching so many people. I’ve had to strip off my skin and ask, “How do I do this? How am I thinking? What’s my brain doing here?” so I could create those systems.

I look to personality testing a lot. I do a lot of personality profiling to better understand myself so that I can teach how to do what it is that I do, not just to my students, but to my own clinicians. They’re my first stop for understanding what they are not getting.

It’s not their fault if they’re not getting something, it’s mine, because I didn’t teach it right. So, I’m constantly in this feedback loop of figuring out how to talk about things, because if I’ve talked about it now three times, and they’re still not getting that piece, what is it?

Yuri:                      It’s a great process. I’m very much on the same page as you with this, because I’m always looking at building to sell. Even if I have no intention of selling the business, I ask how I build so it’s not dependent upon me. It’s built upon intellectual property or a framework of the way we do things.

Edwards Deming said, “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Andrea:                                Exactly.

 Yuri:                      We become so unconsciously competent that we can no longer even describe how we do what we do. But as you’ve said, when you strip away those layers and you think of the steps of what you do, it becomes clarifying for you but then you can also hand it off to someone else.

Andrea:                                You can hand it off to someone else and you can educate your client or customer. That becomes a part of the language that you use to sell or articulate what you do.

Yuri:                      A hundred percent. That’s a big question, because a lot of people will want to ask how you do it; how you help achieve the outcome. You could say you have a five-step process. We do this, this, and this. It gives the potential client a lot more confidence because they can see the end of the tunnel.

This is a good practice for anyone listening.

When we look back at this journey and where you are right now, what was the defining moment in your business? Was there a pivotal moment or inflection point, or was it steady growth for you?


Passion as the driving force for success

Andrea:                                There were ways in which it was steady growth. Every year was growth.

It takes getting yourself out there and not being fearful of putting yourself where you see you can make the biggest difference. One thing that I don’t think we’ve touched on that is a huge ingredient in the recipe for success is a passion that moves beyond making the money or making a difference.

It is something that fuels you and encourages you to get up every day and do the hard work that’s necessary, trip and fall, and get back up again.

For me, that passion is what I experienced with my husband who was so young when he was diagnosed. I was pregnant when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was given six months to live, and was not expected to see our child’s birth. He lived just under two and a half years.

I saw him in his early 30s, treated like a dead man. We traveled around the country to see all sorts of specialists and did all sorts of adjunct work, but I felt that it wasn’t okay for sick people to be treated like their diagnosis. He was treated like a dead man walking because he had a fatal brain tumor.

That fueled me. I think it’s unjust. We have a great medical system in certain ways that deals with acute care really well, and we have a faulty medical system that’s overlooking the needs of the chronically ill patient and that patient population, like I said, is on the rise because of a number of factors that are true in our world and environment.

That passion keeps me motivated and it keeps my goals on the top of the list. That’s a key ingredient that gets you through any of those pitfalls and they will come in every shape and size.

Yuri:                      They don’t go away. They only get bigger.

You just level up to become a better version of yourself to handle it. We’ve got three boys, and every stage has its challenges. The challenges don’t ever go away, they just become different. You evolve and become better so you can handle them. The same happens in business.

Andrea:                                You know, parenting is such a good example, Yuri. We don’t know what we need to learn until our kids show up and tell us what they need us to learn by manifesting some behavior, symptom, question, or whatever it might be.

Parenting must be adaptable and flexible like business. There’s some stuff you can anticipate and learn, and some of it is just responding. “Okay, this is in front of me now, how do I want to respond to this? What do I need to learn? How do I need to grow up and change?”

Yuri:                      Yep. Absolutely. So speaking of this, when you feel overwhelmed, unfocused, or off-track, what questions do you ask yourself to get back on track and focused?

Andrea:                                Good question, Yuri. It depends on the question, but I try to feel where I’m feeling things in my body and come into the place of quiet in some way, whether it’s through my yoga or walking out in nature. I try to take care of myself and walk my talk so that I can sit with the discomfort and take it apart.

I’m a problem solver, that’s why I’m able to do the deep physiological work. I know how to take a problem and dismantle it. Sometimes you just sit with the problem and know you’re not going to know the answer yet. There is no quick fix to that.

It’s less about asking myself a question then sitting with what’s coming up or what I’m not seeing.

Yuri:                      That’s good. give the advice, “Introspect instead of compare.”

Don’t compare yourself to other people. Don’t even have social media for all I care. Just stay in your lane and do your thing. Your ultimate answer is going to be you. Intuitively, how your body is feeling? If you have a deep pit in your stomach, maybe that’s a sense of fear or you’re worried about something. Be in tune with that.

It’s tough to do that when you’re always busy and going, going, going. It’s very tough to check in, so that’s great advice.

Andrea:                                Yeah, we must take the time.

Yuri:                      The other thing too is, as practitioners and health experts, it’s incongruent not to practice the message we’re trying to teach others, right? It keeps us accountable in that regard.


The Rapid Five

Andrea, this has been a lot of fun. This has been insightful for myself as well as our listeners. Are you ready for The Rapid Five?

Andrea:                                I am ready.

Yuri:                      Alright, here we go. She has no idea what these questions are but you guys probably do. Number one, what is your biggest weakness?

Andrea:                                I can be overly forgiving of others and hard on myself at the same time.

Yuri:                      What is your biggest strength?

Andrea:                                Compassion. So many things popping up, but I’m going to say compassion.

Yuri:                      That’s great. Number three, what’s one skill you’ve become dangerously good at to grow your business?

Andrea:                                Introspection. Always taking time to look back and learn.

Yuri:                      Nice. Number four, what do you do first thing in the morning?

Andrea:                                First thing in the morning, I take my compound thyroid medication for my Hashimoto’s. Then I walk and do a little meditation in the morning after feeding the cats.

Yuri:                      Awesome. Finally, complete this sentence: I know I’m being successful when…

Andrea:                                I know I’m being successful when I see my students having great successes in their life.

Yuri:                      Boom, there we go. Andrea that’s awesome, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. It’s been exciting to catch up, because it’s been a couple of years since we’ve spoken. Once again, you’ve got that awesome free gift.

Andrea:                                Yes. It’s fxnutrition.com/yuri and I think that’ll be a fun inspiration for everyone.

Yuri:                      Guys, go get it. Do it now. Andrea, thank you so much for being on the show, for everything you do, for helping elevate practitioners and coaches and equipping them with the tools to better and more effectively serve the people that they serve. Thank you so much for all you do. I do appreciate that.

Andrea:                                Thank you, Yuri, and thanks for having me.

 Yuri:                      You’re very welcome.

Yuri’s Take

So, there you have it, guys. I hope you enjoyed that one. I know I did. Andrea’s a great person; I’ve known her for several years and she’s doing some great stuff in our space to elevate the level of practitioners and health coaches to impact our clients at a deeper level.

Now, if you want to impact your biz and take things to the next level in what you’re doing, we can certainly help if you would like.

We offer a free 45-minute result accelerator call to help you get clearer on how to attract your perfect clients more predictably, convert them into paying clients without feeling salesy, and honestly deliver an amazing result for them on the backend without one on one coaching, which can drain you and take a lot of time. It’s not scalable and, quite frankly, it doesn’t produce as good a result as a group coaching or a leveraged model can provide.

So, if you want help navigating how to scale your business, how to get more simplicity and clarity so you can multiply without overwhelming yourself; we can certainly help you with that.

Head on over to healthpreneurgroup.com/book and grab a slot today. Grab a time to chat with us and we will jump on the phone with you. It’s not a sales pitch in disguise. It’s simply servicing you and helping you get from where you are to closer to where you want to be.

If you want help in helping you get there, then we can certainly talk more about that at the end of the call. But, at the very minimum, you’re going to leave our call with good insights and a lot more clarity.

So, that is what we are currently offering for the right people. If you want to see if you qualify for that, head on over to healthpreneurgroup.com/book. In the meantime, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast.

I appreciate your loyalty and attention. It means a lot. More great stuff is coming our way in the coming days and weeks. Don’t go anywhere, I’ll see you soon. Continue to go out there, be great, do great and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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The strategies she teaches are designed to offer pain relief, clarity, and higher consciousness instantly by unveiling strength that is already within.

Tune in to hear how Marnie has built her online coaching business to turn weaknesses into strengths, and how her own life was saved with the very method she teaches.