Learning Paths Podcast
Angie Sørensen didn’t always plan on a career in health, but her passion for helping others and her interest in the human body led her to pursue an unexpected path. Angie took time out from her work as a health coach and podcast host to share her professional journey and explain how taking on new educational challenges has benefited her career.
Ben Rubenstein: Welcome, Angie, to the Learning Paths podcast. I really want to thank you for joining me today.
Angie Sørensen: Thank you, Ben. I’m excited. Thank you so much for asking me.
Ben: So as I understand it, you are a health and wellness expert. You are a podcaster yourself. Maybe we can start just by you telling me a little bit about what ‘health and wellness expert’ really means – what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Angie Sørensen: Yeah, so what I do is I basically help individuals, especially those who are time-strapped, a really busy individual, you know, who wants to feel and look better just without depriving themselves, without shooting needles in their face. So we look into what they eat, put on their skin and do to feel their best. And my podcast is basically sort of a funny, outspoken podcast on health. And it includes relationships – it’s sort of a broader aspect of health and wellbeing where I actually include health, whether it’s emotional, physical, mental health relationships and, and just people with incredible stories. So it’s interview-based with anything from experts to, I mean, all kinds of [people] really. So yeah, that’s what I do.
Ben: Okay. And did you always think you were going to do this? What was your preparation for going into this field?
Angie Sørensen: The university of life? No, kidding aside, I never thought this was what I was going to be doing today. I was always interested in health, I’ve always loved medicine. I was always the kid, you know, from a very young age, we had to learn about the body. I learned all the bones, like super quick, like I just knew all the bones in the whole body. Every time I’d go to the doctor I’d ask all the questions, I would say, ‘why, but why, what does that mean? What does that mean? Can I see, can I look?’ You know, I was always very, very curious and inquisitive around health and medicine. So I guess in a way, yes, there were clues along the way. But no, I didn’t think I was going to be doing this. Like my path was quite different up until today.
Ben: So what did you end up studying in university?
Angie Sørensen: So at university, I studied television, television production, so it was everything that was like behind the camera. And I did a lot of video editing, special effects or that technology. And I did that because I used to be a performer and I thought, let me just get something extra. You know, I was a waitress at the time and I didn’t want to carry on being a waitress. I thought, let me just study something, you know, we’re just going to do auditions, typical actress at the time. So I did that and it was great, it was obviously a great learning curve and I love to do very practical stuff. Which it was, it was very practical.
Ben: But at some point something just kind of, that interest in the body kind of came back in, and that was something you wanted to pursue?
Angie Sørensen: Yeah. So basically because once I finished that degree, I went back into performance and so I did acting and and then I ended up doing standup, but during the whole, my acting, and I’m going to say ‘career,’ like, this is, it’s an overstatement. But you know, during that time there was a lot of pressure on, you know, your looks. I mean, I used to be told, you know, when I had acne, bad skin, they said, ‘you can’t get any jobs’…my coaches, management, all of that, they were always saying, ‘looks, looks, looks, wait, wait, wait.’
And so I sort of automatically…I was already interested in it, but I kind of had to as well. And from there, there was a couple of more steps before I got to where I am today with health and wellness. But I went into the corporate world. I then decided to have my own business and that was something completely different. It was a social enterprise. I kept getting a lot of queries and I’d been having it for years and I never really noticed it. I’d never really paid attention to it, but everyone would always come and ask me advice about health and skin and things like that. And then eventually people kept pushing. They said, ‘you should be doing this. You’re so passionate. You’re so passionate.’ And I was like, ‘yeah, that’s true.’ I do this all day every day.
And it’s kind of how we went along, and I resisted it for a long time. So I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know who would want, who would be interested.’ But then I started to do a lot of writing around what I knew and all the hacks I could help people, you know how you say in finance, [get a] return on investment. For me, it was more like a return on investment on time, on how to access a better health without having to waste tons of money on things that were not essential and, you know, keeping your focus on what mattered, what was important, what was going to give you the biggest change. And so yeah, during that time so when I set that up I then start getting more and more queries for like private coaching. And I only gave like group coaching, very general, you know, because I’m not a doctor in any way at all. So I was just in a general knowledge, that’s all I thought I was giving. And then as I kept getting more and more inquiries and more complicated cases coming my way, I was like, this is getting a bit out of hand, I need to learn more. I didn’t feel like it was getting out of hand, but I felt like I had such a keen interest and I kind of, so I want to learn more.
And so I went there, I just Googled ‘learn medicine part-time,’ or ‘online.’ I can’t remember which one I Googled – and Harvard came up and I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ it was like the dream. And that’s how I got into HMX really. And I’m really glad I did because it helped me gain a much better understanding of where my lane is, which, you know, I always knew I had like a lane I had to respect but also gave me confidence in what it was that I did know and a respect for all of the things. The questions that they raised…especially when you study biochemistry and genetics, and immunology, there’s so many questions raised in it. It was so interesting and the course was so amazing. You know how much I value that, those courses have been absolutely outstanding.
Ben: I know the course is, it’s not an insignificant time commitment, right? You really have to be serious about them. So, especially as someone who’s, you’re running your own business, where does that kind of stuff fit? I could imagine where, if you’ve got a lot of other things going on, an online course might fall to the bottom of the list a lot, right? So how did you kind of keep that in your schedule?
Angie Sørensen: Okay. So when I actually joined, I didn’t realize how much more of a time commitment it would be. Because I think the time they say on those are probably for those who already are studying, you know, there may be pre-med or something. So knowing the things, maybe they sort of can hit the ground running a lot faster. So it was definitely a bigger chunk of commitment, but then what helped me to balance it all was that I’d set aside, I think it was like three days a week for the study, because I was doing four of the courses at the same time. So I set aside like three or four days. I can’t remember now, but I would say as much as I could, where I was just only studied that day.
That was all I did. So I did like a whole day or as much as I could have on one subject and then onto the next and just, just focus, laser focus. And then the other days where I was working, that’s all I did – just working. I mean, I think I know that even though when we’ve spoken before, like even when I had the days where I was just working, I’d still dream about the course, I’d have, like, biochemistry problems coming up and I’d have to solve them in my dreams, it’s so strange. So I was really, it was, I was completely consumed with it in a really fun way. Like I really enjoyed it, but I think the trick was to, if I had a whole day, just do that and just have breaks for snacks and go for a walk and food.
And if I just had maybe two hours in the evening then that’s all I would do. But effectively when I did those four courses, I definitely had like a few days set aside for it. Because it was definitely if you want to do it, I mean, I wanted to do it really well. I wanted to learn as much as I could, so I could ask as many questions as I could in the [discussion] forum. I was making sure that I was utilizing this time as much as I could. So yeah, that’s what I’d say, just focus, set aside the time.
Ben: It sounds like definitely the courses – even if with some of the topics maybe there might not have been a direct application to what you were doing in your work at the time – but it kind of sparked some more curiosity in you. What do you think, either for your work that you’re doing now or kind of beyond that, how do you think it changed your outlook on your career and what you do?
Angie Sørensen: Okay. So the first part is it actually applied to everything I do. So even to this day, I’m still using that knowledge that I learned. So it has been invaluable. Obviously there’s always an understanding that medicine will evolve. You know, the knowledge will evolve and things may change, but that applies to everything I do.
In terms of how it impacts my career, my life, what I’ve found that I’ve really taken away from taking part in those HMX courses was it really helped me increase and then have more of a capacity for critical thinking and looking at stats differently, figures differently, statements differently. I can’t even imagine what, how someone even, how that capacity evolves if they had, you know, 34 years of biochemistry. I mean, it would just be amazing. Because the thing with HMX is all the questions they raise, which I love that it’s never finished. So it helps us – for me, it’s been more like a brain exercise of mindset. Some things just like popped open in my mind as to, okay, there’s a lot more discernment to be had.
And the third thing I would say about that is the biggest shock, and at the same time not the biggest shock, is that when I studied with HMX, I realized how little Google knew and how false…like you can’t, just because it’s so specialized and it’s so…you know, this is Harvard we’re talking about, they really know their stuff. And when you go on Google to try and assist your kid, what does that mean? And you know, and it’s like, you can’t – that is rubbish. Absolute rubbish. There are places in Google, you have to know where to go. It’s just that discernment, that critical thinking that you have to do. It helps you develop it.
Ben: And having that kind of structure around it, so you understand – you can read something, but if you don’t understand where it fits in in the larger topic, it’s not that useful. Yeah, that makes sense.
Angie Sorensen: Yeah, exactly.
Ben: So did it make you want to take other courses, go back to school in any way? Is that in the plans?
Angie Sørensen: It did. I think at the time, like I caught the bug and you know, I mean I’m 42 now, so it’s…obviously like if I could afford it and if I got in – it’s one thing to afford it, but you also have to be able to get into medical school and, you know, have the time. Yes, of course I’d love to do that, but I’ve been thinking maybe I would love to one day do a master’s in biochemistry, when there’s actual university, maybe in Denmark or maybe Harvard who knows, nowadays the travel restrictions are a little bit different, but yeah. But I did go back to HMX, I studied pharmacology. So just one course that time. And oh, I had so much more time when I was just in that one instead of four. Yeah. I went back to the pharmacology and that was really good too. So yes, I think I am keeping an eye out on the courses HMX has. So I’ve seen there’s a few more, so you know, I’m considering it.
Ben: You said that it’s definitely been helpful to you in your work now, too. Is that more like you’re going back to your notes from the courses and referring to that when you’re maybe working with a client or writing an article or something, or how does that kind of come into play?
Angie Sørensen: Yeah. So I still have my notes, so I use them. Because if, for example, sometimes it’s also just to understand the language that certain clients have. So I have someone with CF and so I’ll just know the language. I understand what she meant by, you know, which genetic variant she had. So it doesn’t mean that, I’m not there curing it, but like I understood her language. And I think that was something that, you know, so I was just helping her with her meals, because she has to eat a certain amount of calories every day and then different things.
So there are sometimes people who come and they know I’m not a doctor. They know I’m just there to assist them in understanding their language. If someone who doesn’t understand that they’ve been on steroids for years because, you know, they have a brain vasculitis, and they don’t understand why they keep getting their blood sugar levels taken, and then I explain why, I only knew this because of HMX and I can understand. It doesn’t mean, I’m not diagnosing anyone, but I can understand their language. And I think that has an importance. So yes, I still have my notes. And sometimes when I write an article or do an episode and I’m like, let me talk about this and then just go back into my notes, just checking, you know? So yeah, it’s been extremely valuable.
Ben: Well, that’s great. And I guess now that you’ve had this experience and gone through these courses and found them useful, do you think it’s something, something like this or it doesn’t even have to be HMX, it could be something else. If you could go back in time in your career, how do you think you would kind of approach things, knowing where you are now and where you want to be, what do you think you might do differently? If anything – I mean, maybe it’s worked out exactly as you planned.
Angie Sørensen: So like, if I was to go back in time, how would I do things differently? Do you know what, actually that answer hasn’t changed. I think if I was to go back, I would have taken my education a lot more seriously at 18 and I would have definitely worked myself towards going to medical school. That’s what I would have done, going back, yes. So yes, there’s been a few tears shed when I realized that that’s what I should’ve done, but at the same time, hindsight is 20/20 they say, right? So like at the time I wouldn’t have had the appetite. I wouldn’t have had the discipline to do it because it takes a lot of discipline and hard work even to enter medical school and then to get to the end, and then even then it’s not the end after that. So would I have been able to, if I could go back in time and keep the knowledge of how I feel today, yes. But you know, that’s not how life is made.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah. You recognize that you have more of that perspective and wisdom now, it doesn’t mean you’d be able to do the same thing then. That makes sense. Well, I know that now you’ve got all these different things going on. And I imagine that keeps you busy enough that you may not be thinking, ‘what else could I be doing?’ but do you have thoughts about what else might be nice? I know you mentioned the potential master’s program in your future. Anything else you’ve been thinking about? What else is next on your path?
Angie Sørensen: Yeah, do you know what? I was just, I was thinking about this earlier, but effectively I just want to, my goal for the near and mid future is basically just to keep doing what I do. I love doing the podcast. I love having these experts on, these guests on, and just explore the way of health and wellbeing and empower others. Because that’s basically, that’s the only reason why I do any of those things is to help empower others to be more informed and also motivated to have, to look after themselves. But I think you’re motivated once you understand what is it you’re doing and that, you know, that you’re doing something that actually is sustainable and you’re getting a return on it. So, just keep doing the podcast and keep doing the health and wellness.
My goal is to take it to the next level. So being better, helping more people, that’s basically, that’s the next thing. Whether I’ll ever go and do a master’s or anything like that, who knows – at the moment it’s not feasible. I think I just, I’m quite content with what I’m doing now and quite happy with what I’m doing now. So I want to just keep doing that before I sort of think and jump to the next thing. I think I need to just dive into this a bit more and explore it a bit longer.
Ben: I think once you found the thing that you feel is the right fit for you, it makes sense to explore that as far as you can. So yeah, I think that’s great. And I think a lot of our listeners are going to recognize, maybe not exactly what you’re doing, but the path that they’re pursuing is they kind of feel the same way. So I think that’s really valuable to hear. And yeah, I really appreciate you sharing this journey that you’ve had and the different twists and turns along the way. And I think it’s great that you’ve ended up in a place that definitely seems to be adding value to a lot of people’s lives in different ways.
Angie Sørensen: Oh, thank you. I just want to say,I just really appreciate that you’re inviting different types of people. So I’ve listened to the other episodes that are out and we’re all quite different, and I think that’s brilliant. And I think that’s the really interesting part of HMX, you know, further education, adult education in any way. You just never know where it leads you to. And I think if you want to do it, just do it. And I think it’s really laudable from you guys too, to have different people on, because education, Harvard doesn’t have to look in that one particular way. It can look in many different ways, you know, who comes to it and how you leave. So, yeah. Thank you so much for having me on, really.
Ben: Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you for being here. And I don’t think I could sum it up any better myself. So I think we should leave it there. But yes, thank you so much for joining me and I look forward to learning more about what you do next.
Angie Sørensen: My pleasure. Thank you, Ben.