In this second Community Spotlight, I had the honor of interviewing Monica Chaudhari, Founder and CEO of AdirA, a revolutionary wellness company committed to helping the Chief Wellness Officers (CWOs) of the world.
Chaudhari has championed healthcare and wellness throughout her illustrious career. Prior to launching AdirA, she worked for a well-known pharmaceutical company for 27 years in 17 different positions, a clear indication of her dedication and versatility. In this current chapter of her career, Chaudhari leads AdirA to serve clientele by creating tools for personalized decision making in health, concierging pertinent services, and providing talking points to facilitate communication with healthcare professionals. Chaudhari is also intentional in sharing how her role as the Chief Wellness Officer for multiple generations of her own family continues to inspire and shape her work. I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with her and glean from her wisdom and insight. So without further ado…
Ms. Chaudhari, how do you prioritize wellness in your life?
The ways I prioritize wellness have evolved over the course of my life because my understanding of wellness changed in different stages. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I primarily associated wellness with physical health and fitness, medicines and workouts. But as time went on, though the physical components of wellness are still very important to me, wellness overall gained more dimensions, becoming more holistic. When I was in my 40s, I started to be more intentional in thinking about mental health as part of my own wellness. I began an introspective journey of evaluating my well-being and becoming fully comfortable in my own skin. This was a very significant period for me that shaped many facets of my life for the better. Now, I am in my 50s, and as of late, I think I have been able to understand wellness as the pursuit of inner happiness through positive impact on the world around me. This has a somewhat spiritual resonance for me. Knowing when I am well physically and mentally empowers me to better serve and lead in the ways I can. Again, these physical, mental, and spiritual elements of wellness are far from mutually exclusive. In fact, in my own journey toward inner happiness, I’ve found that I have embraced physical wellness more than ever before. For example, I very recently climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (pre-coronavirus, of course), and that experience encapsulated physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. This holistic understanding of wellness still continues to benefit my day-to-day life.
A huge part of AdirA’s mission is providing necessary support to the Chief Wellness Officers (CWOs) of families. What does being a CWO mean to you and how does that understanding inspire your work?
To me, being a CWO means functioning as the primary caretaker of one’s family members, especially as it pertains to their health and well-being. I am the CWO for my two grown children, my mother, who is still a practicing physician, and my husband. At different points, being cognizant of their needs and bearing the mental load of making core health decisions with them or on their behalf would become exhausting. I know I’m not alone in this and the CWO responsibility seems to be particularly bestowed upon women. In fact, 80% of CWOs in US households are women. In launching AdirA, I wanted to create a place that served that personalized, consolidated, and directed relevant health information and resources to women like me. The name “AdirA” actually comes from a word that translates to “strong, noble, and powerful woman.” I worked to shape Adira with all three of those core attributes in mind.
On AdirA’s website, you mention how you launched this start-up after spending much of your career working for a pharmaceutical company. What has been the best part of your AdirA journey so far?
I will answer that question in two ways. First, it is very difficult to choose one specific moment of my AdirA experience so far. I am extremely grateful for what we have been able to accomplish and the progress we have been able to make in such a short time. Since its inception, AdirA has already worked with a State Department and received a high-profile investment from an independent company. It has been amazing working toward all of this coming into fruition.
Second, to touch on what you mentioned about spending much of my career working for a pharmaceutical company, my final title before deciding to pursue AdirA was as the Associate Vice President, Global Marketing. My hard work and commitment to the company enabled me to reach this role, but I soon realized that I was often far removed from the day-to-day logistics of operations. AdirA became an opportunity for me to fully immerse myself in the details of breathing life into a goal. I had to know more about the minutiae so that I could effectively lead each step of the development process. With AdirA, I’m constantly learning and learning keeps you young.
AdirA, like LILAS, is a company dedicated to wellness for women by women. How do you hope to see the field of women’s wellness diversify and grow?
I would like to see the women’s wellness field diversify and grow in three main ways.
- Similarly to the way my understanding of wellness changed over time, I hope that the field will continue to evolve and embrace wellness as holistically as possible. Right now, the emphasis seems to be primarily on physical fitness and increasingly on mental health. The women’s wellness industry and the women it serves will benefit from focusing on physical, mental, and spiritual wellness explicitly and collectively,
- I think that the field would gain a lot from working on a woman’s entire ecosystem. We can’t afford to look at a woman in isolation. It’s unrealistic and undermines the effectiveness of our work. We need to bear social context in mind. Too many Chief Wellness Officers aren’t able to take care of themselves because they are too busy trying to manage their ecosystems. If we as wellness companies can also address the ecosystem, we provide more well-rounded support to women.
- It is important that the women’s wellness field emphasizes that women’s health is foundational to societal health in so many ways. When resources are allocated to women, entire communities are transformed for the better. For example, studies have indicated that when wealth is rightfully placed in women’s hands, it is more likely to help children and families in general. When we share this with the world, we encourage more entities to invest in women’s wellness which will in turn grow and diversify our field.
I really love what you all are doing at LILAS. You started with an all-natural menstrual pain relief patch, but it is clear that your concerns are not merely commercial. You all are also working to start much needed dialogues around women’s wellness and many societal factors that influence it. I hope that more women-led wellness companies will join LILAS and AdirA in meeting women’s needs and exploring the relevant contextual nuances to make their products and services even better.
Do you have any content recommendations (books, TV shows, podcasts, etc.)?
Instead of a usual content recommendation, I’d like to provide an experience recommendation. I would encourage every woman to start a small gig of some sort and to do research of bringing every logistical aspect of the gig into fruition. Speaking from my own experience with AdirA, building something from scratch pushes you to be resourceful, flexible, and resilient. To be clear, knowing about every aspect of your gig is not the same as doing everything yourself. There is no shame in asking for help or gleaning insight from others. However, in doing your own research, you can make more informed decisions and be more confident overall. Having this small gig or project or event that you primarily orchestrate will also be fun, especially if it is in an area that you are passionate about.
Furthermore, if the coronavirus pandemic has shown us anything, it is that the world around us, our ecosystems, can be very easily thrown into chaos and ambiguity. Our small gigs can be areas in our lives we can control in the midst of uncertainty, which will serve our overall wellness. We learn so much about ourselves and our passions through the process of making these gigs a reality.
A huge part of the LILAS mission is recognizing incredible women making major contributions to the advancement of women's health. Their hard work and dedication enable all of us to strive for progress and be optimistic for a future in which women’s health concerns are prioritized.
Great interview and an excellent “experience recommendation”. 👍