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Welcome to episode #39 of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. In this week’s episode I spoke with Dr. Iscovich, a doctor, speaker and author of The Art of Routine. His hobbies include flying airplanes, making wine, and playing tennis.

Top Talking Points

  • Even in the worst situations, creating routine will give you meaning.
  • Your body will perform different types of actions better at different times of the day.
  • The key to happiness is having regularity in your life.

Resources & Links

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Connect With Dr. Iscovich at angeliscovich.com.

Find his book, The Art of Routine, here.

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Episode Transcript

Ryan 

Hey guys, it’s Ryan real quick. So my mission with the morning upgrade blog and podcast is to raise the awareness of morning routines and personal development. And I now have two products that have also helped me with this mission. The first product helps you start a 20 minute morning routine. And the second product is a book that outlines how to use personal development, upgrade your life and business. You can get full details on both products over at morning upgrade.com. Thanks for letting me share. And now on to the show.

Announcer  

Welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote where we feature casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan  

Hey, doctor, welcome to the Morning upgrade podcast. How are you?

Dr. Angel 

Good, thank you. Great pleasure being on.

Ryan  

Absolutely. I’m excited to talk to you. Morning. A pre podcast is a personal development podcast, we talk about morning routines, personal development, entrepreneurship, I know you’ve got a book coming out on routines. So of course, I want to talk to you about that. Let’s start off by you telling everyone who you are, what you do for a living, and then maybe a few few of your hobbies.

Dr. Angel 

Oh, great. Yeah, my name is actually Angel Iscovich and they call me Doctor AI for short, because sometimes people have a little hard time. In the work that I’ve done. Over the years, I was an emergency physician and who trained originally in psychiatry, and there was an emergency medicine for many years. And then got involved in the world of physician management and then into the corporate world of healthcare management. And now, I’ve decided to take my time to write a book in the book is called The Art of routine that’s coming out on May 18. And I’m also an advisor and doing more leadership related things on a number of different for profit and nonprofit boards that I help assist with. So it’s a bit of a transitional time for me as well.

Ryan  

Excellent. What do you do for hobbies? What are some of your activities do for fun?

Dr. Angel  

Along the way had learned a couple interesting things. One of them is flying airplanes, you know, I, I learned to fly back in 1996. And at that time, I flew really more for business because it was convenient to get across different regional areas. And then I learned to kind of love really what flying was about more so than just the practicality of being able to fly yourself or with someone else to certain venues for business. And so I’m Private Pilot, and I really enjoy it more for sport today. And then I’m active with other things that I’ve done, including tennis. And we’ve been involved in a little bit in the wine world and learning a bit about winemaking wine, learning how to plant vineyards and swords. So I’ve had a pretty broad, eclectic group of interests that I have done.

Ryan 

Do you get nervous before you fly? Or is that you’re used to it now.

Dr. Angel  

I’m used to it now. But that’s partly it is a little bit related to the book because you know, flying and doing safe flying is about having a really good routine, a good pre-flight routine. And so you learn to do that pre-flight routine. And then you become you know, really comfortable in that environment. That’s an environment that processes organization structure routines really kind of important and probably a little bit of my makeup and, and thinking about making a lot of this thinking in regard to why routine and stable environments are important to perform well.

Ryan  

Let’s talk about routines. But I first want to start off with your morning, what is your morning routine look like? And then we’ll go into some of your habits and your advice around routines. What is your morning look like?

Dr. Angel 

Well, you know, I found early on, but starting organized with some structure and completing a task made me feel good if I did it every day. So it kind of starts with making my bed. So and I no one’s heard of these kinds of things, like how to get yourself going in the morning. So I may make my bed and make coffee. And then I have something that I like to do that kind of organizes my thinking for the day in a positive way. And I call that a daily affirmation. And so you might have heard about affirmations in the past, like some of the shows like Stuart Smalley where you know, I’m, I’m smart enough, I’m good enough and gosh darn it people like me. That was the old original affirmation. But the affirmation can be whatever you’d like it to be, it could be a review like I’m going to have a great day today. We’ve got some great things planned for the family, some great work planned. And it could be that or it can be repetitive. For me a lot of the concepts of how one can actually feel equilibrium and balanced by repeating and doing things on a regular basis.

Ryan  

What do you think you get out of making your bed? A few of my guests I’ve mentioned that what do you get from that? You personally?

Dr. Angel  

I think what is happening, and we can even talk about scientifically what’s happening, in the brain. It’s interesting about how we are as humans because in this case, it helps organize and structure. A lot of people aren’t quite totally awake, but they’re almost automated and kind of doing what they do and making the bed or whatever they’re doing early as they’re awake as they’re eating Making up, what you get out of it is you actually accomplish a task. And when you begin something and do it over and over again, and you look into the science of how our brains work, and even how dopamine gives you a good feeling, that’s really what you get out of it, not just that you had a kind of a clean bed to come back into at the end of the day. It’s accomplishing something when you wake up. This is the thing about humans, and important for us to understand that these things are what give us our meaning and our purpose. And they can also give us even in the worst situations, as I talked about, in my book, Charlie Plum, who was interned in Vietnam for eight years, my mother who was in Auschwitz, even in the worst situations, finding something that you can do regularly and organizing and structure gives you meaning and purpose. 

Ryan

Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. Let’s talk about routines. Let’s set the foundation wire routines important. And then can you share two or three habits or routines that you recommend everyone implements into their daily life?

Dr. Angel  

Yeah, so obviously, kind of being a physician, sometimes you have to look at people individually. So it’s hard to have one. One thing works across all, but the key thing that I talk about is that art is what you decide to do. And the routine is what you do regularly, it’s the timeliness of it, repeating it in the sword. And learning how to really find it kind of balanced with this. Now, there are a couple of things that I like to talk about, that people need to understand about how our bodies are regarding our circadian rhythms. So our body has a circadian rhythm that gets us up in the morning back to sleep. And so I like to talk about that a little bit for just a moment. Well, you’d start to notice as you awake, these are great times to be able to exercise, for example, that’s one great time to do exercise early in the morning, our blood pressures come up, we become more alert. And then also, the next thing that happens in the morning is that it’s great what we call cognitive time, a time to do very diligent, very, very specific work, whether it’s spreadsheets, writing, things that you have to really focus on. So in my morning routines, in addition to doing an affirmation or beginning with making my bed, I’ll do some form of exercise. In my case, it may be a short walk, or it could be some form of stretching, it could be more vigorous as it has been in other times, then move into kind of that work moment. Sometimes people have to do this at work that you get very diligent, about 10 o’clock to about noon is a great time for engaging with people. Ryan and this is a time that you’re most alert, most awake all the way through lunch is a great time for people engagement. And that could be in many different ways, particularly in businesses in the store. But by about three o’clock or so this is when your cortisol drops, your sugar drops. And this is where you see the English having tea, high tea, where you see the Spaniards going to sleep, where some people in the French and other cultures have sex all controlled by the part of your brain. And then after that period of time, in the United States, of course, we go after Starbucks or coffee of some sort. And this is not a great time to be engaging or doing diligent work, it’s a good time for innovation. The body picks up then, later on, it’s very common to have sports and athletics often exercise between four, five or six o’clock dinner, and then people can become very productive afterward at about seven to nine o’clock. So that’s a little bit about how I try to balance my day using circadian rhythms.

Ryan 

So would you say most of the important work should be done before three because, after three, your body’s starting to wind down a little bit and that may be alright?

Dr. Angel  

Surely, at three o’clock, the ability to keep attention. I’ve done a number of consultations for companies that are trying to have a meeting to say nobody’s paying attention, I can’t get good works. In the meeting. I said it’s not a great time to have a very diligent meeting, I used to just have an innovation meeting at around three o’clock and feed people a little bit with food and something to drink. And I think in general, for most people, that’s exactly true effects. Some companies, Ryan, have learned to say we’re especially now during the virtual post-COVID moments or pre-COVID moments. They’ve actually said you’re off at three o’clock, but I want you back on doing some work at seven o’clock tonight.

Ryan 

That’s interesting. You’re also making me think that if I’m just kind of running this through my lens with my family’s marketing agency Ballantine, if we schedule sales calls, now through screen share video, we should try to do them between like nine and 11 Because I feel like the people that we’re presenting to are going to be more alert at that time and more receptive too.

Dr. Angel  

Absolutely, absolutely. And I think that’s really important and you got to take timezones into effect. But that’s exactly the kind of consultations I’ve done for I did a podcast on recruiting I, in having a physician staffing company, you know, when do the recruiters recruit when do people best engage? So that totally makes sense, doing engagement or interviews for people later in the afternoon, or yourself doing them? You know, you’ll see it, you’ll see people at three o’clock Eonni. So, obviously, depends on how they’ve been doing in their sleep side. But I’m just trying to point out that the example you just gave for sales, recruiting engagement is correct to learn how your body works best, and when it’s most alert.

Ryan  

How did you get into this, like the routines and personal growth? What is it about personal growth that interests you?

Dr. Angel  

First of all, as a caregiver, and as an individual, we all you know, go through our lives in it in a way that we want to better ourselves or try to improve ourselves do better. I look at it mainly as a better way to survive how to live a good life in the store. And this kind of concept, although it’s been building over many years, began when I studied the longevity, and I studied people that were over 100 years of age. And what I noticed was these people that live long lives, two things they had in common, a stable environment, both physical and people around them. And they did things regularly, and routine. But what they did varied, what some of the things they did wouldn’t be healthy. For example, they might have said, every day, at four o’clock, I had a Scotch or I had a scotch, you know, our I had my meet on Wednesdays and Thursday. So what I noticed was that routine in that regularity. And it got me thinking about high performers. In my book, The Art of routine, I talk about Rolling Stones, and other artists, people that you would think we’re not really organized, structured, having regularity, totally not true, not the case, and also how we care for our young. And also businesses that have good organization and structured rhythms, and how routines can become rituals for companies and how rituals, which we have all over are part of how we can socialize and how we bring stability to our lives and remove uncertainty. So I became interested in all of that, and then how is it that it connects to our bodies, seeing that our bodies have the circadian rhythms in our heartbeat very regularly, in the world, we perceive as the sun come up and come down, and we know the seasons. And so our whole life is about structure, organization, and regularity. And that today’s world, we’re not paying enough attention to it. While we’re being really overly distracted, interrupted. In an age of what I call infinite distractions.

Ryan  

Everyone’s so busy now that we were talking before we start recording, it’s hard to create routines when you’re just so busy between the kids’ activities and work and this and that. And that’s why the morning routine, at least having that getting up early and establishing you’re starting your day off with that routine makes you have that time because everyone’s still asleep. And you can get your personal development working.

Dr. Angel  

Right. And I think for individuals who are more entrepreneurial, doing a lot of their own thing not engaged, let’s say in a corporation or managing those are really, really important things that you just mentioned. Also, we’re having a tremendous amount of distraction and content being constantly thrown at us, from social media, whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, whatever it might be LinkedIn, television, streaming, and channels. And I think a lot of this has really been brought to the forefront during what I call the collateral damage, it’s happened, not just the health damage that has happened because of the pandemic and COVID. But you have seen some collateral value, you’ve seen people learn exactly what you’re talking about when they suddenly are confined more to an environment. And suddenly their lives became a little more contained, not as chaotic, not as much. And they began to develop new values. And I’m seeing some real good collateral value from understanding how important the family might be, or your one home environment might be. Now there’s a lot going on with home furnishings and where we live and things you never noticed before. So there’s a lot of good collateral value happening,

Ryan  

I think us having to have shelter in place, so to speak. Well, that’s actually a great kind of transition into my last question for us. I got one more question for you. And then I’d like to wrap up with you telling everyone how they can learn more about you get more information on the book. That’s coming out soon. So my last question for you caught your eye is we’re kind of talking about this a little bit but happiness and fulfillment, what’s your definition of happiness and fulfillment and what’s your approach to achieving both?

Dr. Angel  

Well, you know, obviously, happiness is a really complicated subject matter, they actually teach a course at Yale, on happiness. And the science of well-being, it’s become the most popular course, taken by over 2 million people, which show you a little bit about how maybe unhappy people might be trying to find what it is that can make for a happy life. And when you kind of connect about our bodies, our how our brain, our brain works in the store, having those feelings of well being and happiness is also a little is having more of those types of feelings, happiness, which makes for a really happy life, which is to be content, and the good life to live a moral, a good moral life, I think those are the elements that can make for happiness, but to nail but in order to get into that mode, you have to be able to experience things with some form of regularity, and things that don’t just leave you immediately. In fact, they talk about savoring, you know, certain moments, whatever it might be a great meal, or a shower, or things of that nature, we sometimes are moving through things too quickly, they experienced too quickly. So we need to savor these things that give us those feelings of happiness for a little bit longer than we would other otherwise. Whereas there are certain things that we think oftentimes material goods, that the joy we get out of a new car, or maybe a new home, or a new toy, or anything and you close, some of sometimes those pieces, the way the brain works kind of come and then you adapt to them, you get used to them, and they no longer give you that that sensibility of happiness in the store. So that’s a little bit. I think it’s a very broad subject. I hope that helps a little bit about least the concept of savoring those things that make you feel good.

Ryan 

And one thing you mentioned before about your, your hobbies, and your professional career, I think my one thought when you’re talking was it sounds like you live a very fulfilling life. Because you’ve, you have achieved a lot in business, that you’re transitioning to a whole new career, you got a book coming out, you’ve made wine, you fly, you’re experiencing a lot of things, and you’ve achieved a lot and you just sound like my thought and back my head was that it sounds like a very, very fulfilling life. So maybe there’s a lesson, a lesson in there as well.

Dr. Angel  

I just want to say, you know, I’ve been kind of blessed and hadn’t had the opportunities. But you know, I came to the United States as an immigrant with 107 years of age with $100.02. And my best pieces that you look at this, these things don’t come immediately to someone if that’s what they want to do. But the idea of starting small, whether it’s with a routine or a habit that makes you happy and good. And building upon it, and sticking with it is I think very important to accomplish things that give you meaning and purpose in life.

Ryan  

I couldn’t agree more. It’s a perfect way to end this conversation. I really enjoyed speaking with you, Dr. AI. How can people learn more about you and your book?

Dr. Angel  

Well, thank you. Yeah, the book comes out on May 18. And it’s in pre-order right now. The book is on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Skyhorse Publishing, and Simon and Schuster. It’s going to have a rule-wide distribution, which I’m pleased with. I have a number of handles, AngelEscovitch.com has a little bit about all that. And I have the handles on all of these different formats. And we’ve been trying to tell people a little bit about the concepts and the theory and the hopes that they’ll get an opportunity to get the book and read some interesting stories of how routine and environment are really important in how we live.

Ryan  

Right. Yep, we’ll link everything up in the show notes. Thanks again. Great talking with you. And thanks, everyone for listening. 

Dr. Angel

Thank you.

Unknown Speaker  

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