I started out as a psychology major in college. Then I got excited about anthropology. Then human ecology. But it took me a whole series of internships and jobs to discover the kind of work I loved and did best: Sales. And marketing.
Lucky for me, I was standing in the right place at the right time when Microsoft Corporation was hiring sales managers. I was offered a position and grabbed it. It was 1990. At that time, people were clamoring to get the brand-new Windows program that changed how everyone used personal computers. People couldn’t wait to get their hands on it!
For the next decade, I rose through the corporate ranks and was asked to manage one of Microsoft’s three largest sales divisions. I led a team that was responsible for bringing in over $2 billion in sales. And I was handed $10 million in marketing funds to make it happen.
My success in this position prepared me for my next step up at the company. I was tasked to design and implement our worldwide sales training strategy and manage the instruction team. We created a multi-dimensional learning program that involved live delivery of classes for onboarding new hires, online programs for selling products and services, and mentoring and coaching by managers to guide the success of their direct reports.
These were big jobs with huge responsibilities.
I attended Bill Gates’ staff meetings with my manager and traveled around the country identifying the secrets behind what made our top sales teams excel. Very few women in high tech at that time had the opportunity to do what I was doing. I was lining up for an amazing future as a leader in a company that was becoming a household name. Its grand vision of “a computer on every desk and in every home” was within our reach.
I was living the dream. I was doing things beyond my wildest imagination.
Then suddenly, without any warning, it felt as if the universe had conspired to bring my world crashing down around me. And everything unraveled right before my eyes.
The Bombshell Dropped
It started when two horrible medical errors abruptly – and unnecessarily – ended my brother’s life.
The saga started when Eric was just 43 years old. He was having chest pains and during an emergency room visit was scheduled for by-pass surgery the very next day.
The first error occurred when doctors connected an artery to a vein during the operation. Eric went into immediate cardiac arrest but, amazingly, he survived. Eighty percent of his heart function was gone, though. Chronically exhausted, his life involved shuffling from the bed, to the kitchen, and back to bed again. Eric would need a new heart to live long-term.
For three years, Eric’s health continued to fail in some very bizarre ways.
First, he contracted shingles. He developed a hole in his esophagus after that. Then he was diagnosed with hepatitis C. He suffered chronic bouts of bronchitis. One miserable problem after another.
Two months before his death, Eric was admitted to the hospital with a brain tumor. As they made him ready for exploratory surgery, his pre-op lab work exposed the second mistake. It was the real killer.
Eric had full-blown AIDS.
The cause was from a blood transfusion he received during his botched heart surgery 3 years prior. We found out that he had received 7 units of blood, 4 of which were tainted with HIV and hep C. New heart or not, my big brother was doomed.
My mom, as you might imagine, was devastated. Her health quickly declined due to the despair over the slow, painful, cruel death of her son. She lasted a few more years, but stopped living the day he died. She was never the same – she was forever gone to me emotionally – and didn’t live much longer.
Within a short time, my father suffered under the knife of his heart surgeon and died.
In the middle of all this loss, my other brother, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, had his final break with reality and was institutionalized. He’s alive. But even to this day, I am legally forbidden to ever see or contact him again.
In what felt like the blink of an eye, my entire family vanished.
The idea of selling computer software just didn’t seem all that important to me anymore.
Grief-stricken and lost, I abandoned my career at Microsoft the day my mom died. All my dreams of making my mark and breaking through the glass ceiling at the world’s largest PC software company slipped right through my fingers.
My Big Shift
These tragedies weighed heavy on me. I was heartbroken. My spirit was crushed.
And I was really pissed off.
I needed answers and began my research in the field of holistic health. One morning I made a huge discovery: that a balanced, whole foods diet could head off things like heart disease, diabetes, even cancer.
I had been blaming hospitals and doctors for my family’s demise. But I started to realize that most of their problems arose from poor lifestyle choices. Poor diet. Heavy smoking. Chronic insomnia. High stress. Zero exercise. Things that, had they been addressed, may have prevented them from relying on conventional medical care in the first place.
My new path was clear. I immediately began my studies in holistic nutrition and opened my practice after graduation. I was determined to help people avoid the “pill for an ill” medical conventions that often made things worse. Instead of selling software updates, I was promoting dietary upgrades. How cool was that?
It fired me up to help people transform their lives through the power of food!
After a short while, I built a thriving nutrition practice for myself. I was lucky, though. I had nearly 25 years of sales and marketing experience under my belt. I simply needed to re-tool the marketing principles and strategies I used in corporate America for promoting a solo nutrition enterprise.
Yet, after a few years in practice, a dreadful problem popped up. Something I had not expected at all.
The Danger That Threatened Everything
Most of my new practitioner friends in holistic and integrative health were struggling to make ends meet.
They were looking for “safe” jobs outside of health care and were putting their passions on hold so they could pay the rent. Most disconcerting was that they were leaving their practices in record numbers.
When I asked why, they told me that they didn’t like dealing with the “business” side of medicine.
They believed that sales and marketing tactics were unethical and at odds with their higher calling.
They assumed that once they opened their practices people would flock to them. But that didn’t happen.
This whole situation terrified me. Losing brilliant, passionate natural healers meant that people who were suffering weren’t going to find the health solutions that could turn their lives around. Fewer successful natural healers in the world meant more reliance on prescriptions, on surgery, on disease management interventions.
Not only that, my friends were returning to jobs that didn’t bring them joy. The “why” of their life’s work was being suspended – possibly forever.
It was a serious problem.
With increasingly more natural health practitioners abandoning their work, the sick were going to get sicker.
No way in the world I was going to sit by and watch it happen.
That’s When It All Clicked
It wasn’t their fault. Practitioners were never taught how to succeed in business.
Some learned how to complete a one-size-fits-all business plan during their studies. They were sometimes offered helpful suggestions about ways to market their practices.
But few were taught how to implement the day-to-day marketing tactics that work in the real world for attracting patients and clients. And hardly any schools invested in instructors who could teach these things to them.
No one showed them how to market a natural health practice in a way that is congruent with their core purpose. A successful go-to-market strategy that doesn’t involve sacrificing personal ethics or beliefs.
I knew this approach existed because I was using it myself. And it worked spectacularly.
Once again, I found myself standing in the right place at the right time. My skills in sales and marketing, my nutrition education, and experience setting up 3 successful enterprises post-Microsoft had magically converged, preparing me for this exact moment.
That’s when it hit me.
I realized that by teaching practitioners how to confidently bring their holistic health solutions out into the world I would have an even greater impact on health care. Instead of helping individuals one at a time in my own practice, I would create an army of healers to reach and heal many, many more people… and financially thrive in the process.
To be honest, once I made this discovery, NOT bringing my sales and marketing talents to the natural health industry would have been unconscionable.
I immediately switched gears and codified the strategies I had used to grow my own nutrition practice. This was the genesis of my marketing method, The PEACE Process, that I teach in schools, workshops, conferences, and in consulting with individual clients of all scale and scope.
It’s been so effective that my book, The PEACE Process, is used in several natural health schools today as their marketing “bible.”
Helping practitioners, and the companies who serve them, confidently promote their services and products means that larger numbers of people can live long, joyful, and productive lives and reverse the dreadful march toward disease they might otherwise follow.
This is the work I was put on earth to do.
To say that I am excited about my mission is an understatement.
I’ve delivered some amazing results for my clients and believe I can do the same for you.
More About Me
You probably want to know my credentials. You know, all those initials and positions I’ve held? Here they are.
- M.S. in Human Ecology, The Ohio State University
- Nutritional Therapy Consultant, Nutritional Therapy Association
- Professional Coach and Certified Coaching Clinic Facilitator, Corporate Coach University
- Lead Instructor, Career Development Course, Nutritional Therapy Association
- Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition, Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board
- President, National Association of Nutrition Professionals
- Chief Nutrition Officer, TriathlonExperts.com
My Bio in a Nutshell
Miriam G. Zacharias, MS, NTC, BCHNTM
Miriam is dedicated to helping natural health enterprises achieve unparalleled success.
She is author of the definitive marketing text for natural health entrepreneurs, The PEACE Process, and teaches marketing, leadership, and other practice management topics at health industry conferences and schools throughout the country. Miriam also strategizes with wellness industry leaders to help them realize remarkable levels of performance and joy in their work.
Following nearly two decades as a sales and marketing executive at high-tech giants Microsoft and Oracle Corporation, Miriam obtained credentials in holistic nutrition, sports nutrition and executive coaching and ran a thriving nutrition practice in southern California. She holds an M.S. in Human Ecology from the Ohio State University, is a certified Nutritional Therapy Consultant and is Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition.
Miriam has been an active board member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals for more than 8 years. She is honored to now serve its members as President.