Hosts Lilly Zaborowski and Alex Stalberger discuss the beginning of Well Connected Twin Cities. How it was inspired by a little baby eczema, and how it’s grown to become a local resource for holistic wellness. Hear the stories behind how they both got started, and what brought them together, as well as their vision for what this platform can be for the Twin Cities community.
Check out the directory at www.wellconnectedtwincities.com and make sure to subscribe for updates so you don’t miss a beat.
The Well Connected Twin Cities Podcast is sharing the fascinating stories from within the wellness community for health enthusiasts across the metro. Alex Stalberger + Lilly Zaborowski explore the inspirations, insights, and discoveries that make up holistic healing. Discover what’s possible.
Now you can listen whenever, wherever, or however you want! Choose your preferred podcast listening option.
This is the Well Connected Twin Cities podcast. I’m Lilly Zaborowski, and I’m Alex Stalberger. And we’re here to help you feel empowered, to own your wellbeing and discover what’s possible
[00:00:19] Tune in for conversations with local professionals, as they share their inspirations, insights, and discoveries that make holistic healing possible. We’re sharing the fascinating stories from within the wellness industry for health enthusiasts, like you across the metro.
[00:00:41] Lilly: So this is our first podcast. Here we are. We are so excited to share these stories that we’ve been collecting over the last year of building Well Connected Twin Cities. We’ve had incredible conversations with local healers and practitioners, and we figured it’s time that these stories got told, right?
[00:01:02] Alex: Yeah, absolutely. We hear some incredible, incredible things and it just doesn’t feel right to keep them to ourselves.
[00:01:09] Lilly: It doesn’t! So going forward, you’re going to hear interviews with local experts, we’ll help you understand the humans behind the healing. And for this episode, we’re going to start with just our story of how we got started.
[00:01:22] Alex: Also, you’ll be able to catch our Thrive Thursday conversations right here on our podcast. Thrive Thursday is our event that we’ve been hosting for over a year now, where we invite experts to speak on a panel about hot topics from energy healing to gut health, going forward, these events are going to be captured, live and broadcast as a part of this podcast.
[00:01:45] Lilly: I’m so excited about that because every time we’ve had one of those events, it feels like more people need to hear that conversation. They’re usually, you know, smaller, more intimate settings, or we have anywhere from five to 20 people in a room talking about this, but I’m so excited that now we can broadcast these topics because so much great information is shared and now people will be able to search it any time and learn from these amazing local experts.
[00:02:14] Alex: I get so sad when I get an email that says, Oh, does it have to be on that Thursday night? I can’t make that Thursday night happen. I’m really excited to be able to say, even if you can’t make it to the live event, which there are plenty of, it’s so much fun to be at the live event. Don’t get me wrong.
[00:02:33] There are nibbles. There are great people. There are beverages. It’s a really deep and intimate conversation. But the fact that we’re going to be able to invite you back and listen either again, if you were there at the live event or you can share it with your friends and family. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. We don’t want you to have FOMO.
[00:02:53] Let’s be real. No Mo FOMO, FOMO. Okay. Catch it all right here on the Well Connected Twin Cities podcast. So let’s talk about how all this started. Lilly and I met in December of 2018 after we had both begun building what’s now Well Connected Twin Cities. So Lilly, let’s start with your story. What really prompted you to begin building this?
[00:03:17] Lilly: Well, it sounds a little funny, but it all started with a little baby eczema. I was a new mom. I now have a three-year-old and a five-year-old. So this was about five years ago and my baby had really severe case of infant eczema was so bad that it looked like he had chemical burns on his face. It was so, so extreme.
[00:03:39] And of course I went right to my pediatrician and got referred to a dermatologist right away. But what they were telling me was basically that there’s no root cause. That it’s not related to what we’re eating and not food-related. And basically some kids grow out of it, some kids don’t, and the only tools they had for me were ways to care for the skin on the outside.
[00:04:06] And some steroid cream to use. If it got really bad. But of course they said, you know, don’t use too much of this steroid cream because it has some pretty serious side effects if you use it too often. So as someone who knew there was more out there, I had dabbled in holistic health and wellbeing for years.
[00:04:25] And had become kind of a health enthusiast, I would say, but still had a lot that I did not know.I knew there was more, so something told me to look a little bit deeper. So I started researching on my own because I didn’t really know who to work with and didn’t have a great local resource to go to.
[00:04:46] But I learned a lot during that first year of researching on my own, around the ties to diet and internal triggers that can be related to skin disorders like eczema. And so we made some progress, made some improvement, but we were still dealing with some nagging eczema that came back and in and out.
[00:05:06] So at about one year old, my son was diagnosed with severe food allergies. We gave him eggs for the first time and he had a reaction. We ended up in the ER. So looking back, it seems like the eczema had some food triggers. And in hindsight, I was able to see certain times of the year when we would, um, have certain foods and his eczema would get worse.
[00:05:30] So his food allergies were milk, eggs, nuts. At the time it was also wheat and soy. So it was a lot to handle. I started figuring out, you know, how we need to navigate this new world. And then I heard from a friend of mine about a man in Rogers, a practitioner who had helped cure her son’s peanut allergy, like legitimately.
[00:05:56] I mean, we look at this, like, that’s just crazy, right? You just never hear of a kid getting cured from peanut allergy. It seems like something that’s just a life sentence. You deal with it. There’s new things coming out from the Western medicine perspective, but they’re not a cure. So of course I was like, well, who is this guy?
[00:06:14] I need to go see him. And so I got on the wait list and we ended up starting to work with him a few months after I heard about him, but he practiced out of Rogers, Minnesota, and I live in South Minneapolis. So my friend that had referred me to him, lived a lot closer. So it was more convenient for her, but for us it meant driving an hour each way every three weeks for appointments.
[00:06:40] I was about to have another baby at this point and I was working full-time downtown. My husband worked in the opposite direction, so he was no help in terms of like schlepping the kid. So it wasn’t a great fit for us. We continued to work with him for a few months and saw some great improvements and learned a lot from him around the internal triggers, the importance of specific nutrition protocol and healing, some of this stuff. And then the importance of gut health and the microbiome.
[00:07:12] And I could go off on a tangent here, but I’m going to just stick with the story. So we learned a lot, but we realized there’s gotta be someone closer to us. That’s doing something like this that can help support our family in a more convenient way that’s gonna fit with our lifestyle.
[00:07:30] So we stopped seeing him took a little break, saw someone else, and then finally got connected with Newbridge clinic, shout out to Newbridge Clinic in Edina. We’ve been working with them for about a year now, and they’re much closer to us. They’re only 15 minutes away.
[00:07:47] And, um, we just found that it’s, it’s such a better fit. And of course, in hindsight, I was thinking, okay, so they’ve been around for years. They were around when I first needed help. How is it that I didn’t know they existed. And how did I not know that they could help us with this specific issue of infant eczema?
[00:08:08] And the answer is you can’t Google, something like that and get anything relevant. If you don’t know what type of practitioner you’re looking for, you don’t know how to connect with them. And most of us don’t know, right? We don’t know that a naturopathic doctor exists. Maybe, maybe we don’t know that a naturopathic doctor could help infants.
[00:08:27] Yeah, maybe we don’t know that homeopathy could help eczema. There’s so many tools at our disposal. And as I started discovering more and more of them, I just wanted to make it available and easy for the community to connect with these people. Just take the time and energy and research out of it because we don’t all have that time to, to spend figuring this out on our own.
[00:08:53] And then also along the way, I started making lifestyle changes and was discovering all of these great local businesses that supported those. So whether it was a gluten-free bakery or a salon that used safer products, because I was starting to change the types of products we used in our house.
[00:09:11] So I just found that I wanted a place to hub to find all of these great places in, in one spot. So I see Well Connected Twin Cities as being this local hub for holistic wellness resources, whether it’s a practitioner. Or a restaurant or a lifestyle type business, like a salon or a cleaning company that uses safer products.
[00:09:36] I want people that are interested in this to have one place, to go, to find it all and to get inspired and learn about what else is out there. Because I found that once you’re on this path, you are curious and you want to learn more. Um, and it’s just a. Consistent change that you’re going through on this path.
[00:09:56] It’s not like you go from one end to the other and, and you’re like, okay, now I’m right. The switch. Is it switched? You can turn off forever gradient. I mean, I think about the changes my family has made over the last five years. And. It’s so important to think, you know, it’s not an all or nothing thing you don’t learn about this stuff and then say, okay, suddenly we’re just going to change everything about what we’re doing, because it’s just not sustainable.
[00:10:24] It doesn’t feel good. Your family is going to be like, what the heck? You know? So everyone has to go at their own pace. And what I love about Well Connected Twn Cities, is we’re making these resources available. We’re not pressuring you. It’s not something that you feel like you have to go all or nothing.
[00:10:42] You can start to explore and dabble, and we’ve created these events where you can come and learn a little bit and maybe experience something and decide if it’s right for you at the time. Or if you, or saying no, or you want to, we, I we’ve had this conversation so often too, about how nice is it to know that what you’re hearing, what you’re seeing.
[00:11:03] Is local. Yeah, exactly. You know, I got so frustrated when I was doing my research for that year, that year, like that first year when I did not have any local support, I would be listening to podcasts and reading blog posts and reading books and all of these experts I was hearing from lived in different states.
[00:11:22] And so it was amazing because I would learn so much, but then I would say, okay, I really wish I could go see that person. But they live in, you know, Oklahoma or Florida or California. A lot of them are from California, but yeah, it was amazing. Once I started learning about the local community, there’s so much here and we don’t need to go.
[00:11:46] I mean, outside voices are great and those kind of health and wellness celebrities are wonderful and there’s a lot to learn there, but there’s a lot we can learn here too. Right. And how nice is it to be able to meet someone in real life to be able to go to them and work with them. One-on-one versus, you know, just reading a book and then trying to figure it out on your own.
[00:12:08] Yeah. And, and that is for meeting those practitioners. I even think on the flip side, how often, you know, I’ve gone to some sort of Facebook group for just to find the community of people that share my values, but to be able to have, if I go to that event, well, they’re there, they’re in the flesh and I can actually be friends with them.
[00:12:26] Like we can go get a cup of coffee and create a really meaningful local. Community here. Um, absolutely. That’s powerful. And it’s powerful when you’re looking to create real sustainable change. Totally. Yeah. I agree. Because when I started making these changes, I found that a lot of my friends and family.
[00:12:44] Weren’t really on the bus yet, you know? And so it wasn’t necessarily my job to convince them and get them on the bus. I was just looking for other people that were on a similar path as me, that I could relate to, that we could, you know, share tips and tricks with and resources. And it’s fun when you get connected with that type of community.
[00:13:06] It feels good. You don’t feel like a freak, like you’re on your own, you know? Right. Can we get an amen over here? We are all together. Yeah. You don’t feel like you’re trying to convince somebody that there is a bus, right? Yeah. And that’s not necessarily our job. We don’t need to do that. You know, I think, um, And this goes back to just like everyone is on their own path and they’ll find the resources when they need them.
[00:13:34] We’re just here to make it easier for them. We know psychologically speaking that if you find your community, if you have a group of people who have similar values and are making similar steps forward, not that they’re all at the same level, right? You don’t have. To be on the same level, but you’re all interested in getting to know more and coming together and sharing those experiences.
[00:13:52] Powerful stuff could happen because you are not alone. So Lilly, tell us a little bit, you know, about what it’s, what it’s like to come to a Well Connected Twin Cities event. So I, just to your point, I’ve seen so many connections being made and people talking. About health and wellbeing in a very empowered way at our events.
[00:14:13] And we’ve heard feedback that they feel, um, really open and inclusive. It feels relatable. You get to mix and mingle and always meet someone that you didn’t know before. And there’s such power in coming together over that shared interest. We’ve heard people say, you know, I just feel so good. I found my people.
[00:14:35] I found people that get it and are interested in that just it increases their energy level. You can see it in their eyes when, when they’re talking about their experience at the events. Um, so that feels really good. And like I mentioned to a lot of our events have. A very interactive feel to them. So you might sit down and catch a panel discussion for a little bit.
[00:15:02] You might wander off and go get, you know, a Reiki session. Like I mentioned, and try something new, um, or a chair massage. You might stay a little bit longer and mingle and enjoy some healthier food and drinks as part of our events and meet someone new. So a lot of times we have wellness professionals mingling with people in the community.
[00:15:23] So you might meet a new practitioner that you’re interested in seeing. If you’re both practitioners, you might meet each other and say, Ooh, we should spark a collaboration. And so just bringing people together in real life has been so powerful. I think every single event that we’ve done, we’ve seen.
[00:15:41] Really cool spinoffs happened from them within the community. We’re both smiling so hard because we just love to see that, like we are, we’re here to just be the platform and connect people and we love seeing what comes out of it. Yeah. And that’s really what, this is just an opportunity. I mean, you can really view Well Connected Twin Cities as an opportunity.
[00:16:02] It’s a gateway it’s um, you know, your next step lies behind. Yes, absolutely. So speaking of events, we should pivot a little bit and talk about how. You got started with our Thrive Thursday events. Right. Um, so what inspired you to start gathering people together over a year ago? So before we met, where did you start in this year?
[00:16:26] Alex: Yeah. I mean, ultimately when you talk about what, what, what inspired it, it was that feeling of not being plugged in, honestly. Yeah. So I, you know, rewind, I had just started my health coaching practice. And while I was super excited to take that next step, I felt really alone. I had not done that. I’ve not done that before.
[00:16:47] I’ve never started my own practice before I always worked for somebody else. So that was a whole, like the business side of things was a whole thing. And then, you know, just taking that step and saying, Hey, I have this skill, and I I’m ready to provide it to the world. I mean, that’s exciting and also incredibly nerve wracking.
[00:17:03] So I, I knew I needed a referral network because I wanted to do my due diligence and make sure that if I met somebody that maybe wasn’t a good fit for whatever reason, or maybe they were seeking something that I couldn’t provide, I want it to be really seamless. And, uh, and being able to pass them along.
[00:17:20] I didn’t want them to, I didn’t want to do them a disservice and say, Nope, Sorry, good luck. You know, thumbs up. Um, I really wanted to make sure that I could see them to, to their next step and support them. I felt like that was my duty as a coach to really support them in making that next choice. That’s best for them.
[00:17:37] So kind of, not really sure how to start looking for people. I just started reaching out cold and saying, Hey, would you want to get coffee? You know? So I started booking these one-on-one coffee chats, super powerful, really inefficient as far as time goes, you know? Um, but each, each conversation, I mean, gosh, you sit down for half hour to 45 minutes.
[00:17:58] Conversation. It can easily, if you have the schedule for a turn into 90 minute conversation, you know, really in depth talking about like what we’re doing, what we’re really wanting to do, you know, how we’re wanting to communicate our value to the, to the community and, um, really share in powerful ways it was a great way to grow super quickly.
[00:18:16] You know, we were able to ask questions of each other. Business insights pass along referrals. Hey, do you know somebody that does this? Yeah, I know that person. Here’s their name? There’s their contact information. So all in all it, that was a way to feel immediately plugged in. But I started asking myself, you know, this was me in the beginning.
[00:18:34] I didn’t have a lot of appointments at the time. Didn’t have a lot of clients, but as I continued to grow, I’d have less and less time to. Book these one or more coffee chats. I’m like, this is not sustainable. How do we, like, where is the community? Where are we all going? You know, there’s this incredible group of people that are clearly connected because they’re able to say, yeah, talk to this person, talk to that person, but where do they gather?
[00:18:55] Um, and I asked that question and I got like deer in the headlights eyes. Like we don’t, like, I don’t know where we all gather. I had dabbled in some, um, current standing network, like professional networking events. And while they served a purpose, it really wasn’t what I was looking for. Like, I was looking for a place that we could have those.
[00:19:14] Coffee, chat style conversations like that, that level that says, I see you, you see me, I understand where you are. And like, let’s really put our heads together to think about what would be productive going forward. And I wasn’t finding that. So we decided to build one. And I say, we, because it wouldn’t have been a network gathering of people if people didn’t say yes.
[00:19:36] So I just started asking the question, you know, Would you come to a, be a meeting if it was, you know, full of powerful people, collaborative in nature and really focused on how do we, how do we. Support integrative care of how do we support an integrative model? Um, and people, people said, yes, emphatically said, yeah, I’ll be there.
[00:19:57] And it was incredible. I mean, the first meetings were small and mighty. We’ve had, um, you know, big when I say huge, but big, big for these networking meetings, you think, you know, from eight people, we grew to 20, 25 people. Um, and we found, we found sweet spots of 10 to 15, where we really all able to share.
[00:20:15] And, but really at the core of everything, um, We’re able to be plugged in. We’re able to, um, really have a powerful network because if we don’t know something, we know somebody who does, and that’s an empowering feeling as a, as a healthcare professional. I love that. Yeah. Um, so I was so excited to meet you as I was building this platform.
[00:20:39] I remember a few people told me to reach out to you and I think you heard the same. I did. And we’re like, you guys need to meet up. Everybody’s connected. So just to give you guys the. The story, we met for a coffee and we were both just like, Ooh, we have similar interests. And yeah, we’re very much collaborative people.
[00:21:02] And we chose collaboration over competition at that time. And just really said, let’s. Work in tandem, we just met, so let’s not rush into anything. Right, right. But, but I think secretly, we were both like, this could be big. It’s like when you meet your future spouse on the first day, and you’re like, Ooh, literally I know the word rush where it crushed.
[00:21:21] I go home. I call my family friends. I’m like, Oh my gosh, look, I just met this person the same thing. And so great. Um, so as we came together, um, How did you see this professional network piece fitting in with the well connected platform? Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, first of all, there’s the very obvious plugin at the time you had built this beautiful directory.
[00:21:49] And, you know, you had a handful of people on the directory. And I thought of all of the people I’ve spoken to and connected with, they would all definitely like rally behind this effort and it would be listed on the directory. So that was step one. It was connecting people with something. They also value it’s like connecting people with similar values, but then.
[00:22:09] Also when we think about moving forward, the twin cities is so ready for, um, an integrative approach to health, a collaborative approach to health. And we can’t have a community seeking professionals without the professionals being able to be easily found. So if their stories aren’t heard. If their businesses are like somewhat quote under the I’m going to use quotes because like under the radar, because we were in that, we feel like we’re shouting on the mountain tops.
[00:22:41] Right. But when in reality what’s getting transmitted, like what’s getting received, you know, I think there’s a gap there. Yeah. There’s a gap in what we know as possible. There’s a gap in what the community is searching for, as you mentioned. Right. We don’t know what we don’t know. So we see this as a really.
[00:22:58] Symbiotic relationship. If we’re able to support this professional network in making sure that their businesses are healthy, that they’re communicating strongly and clearly with the community, then they’re more able to be found. You know, we’re connecting people who are seeking healing with those that are seeking.
[00:23:18] Um, people to heal people to heal, right? Like they’re looking for each other and this is the, this is a bridge. And I honestly can’t imagine now, now having worked together, I can’t imagine these two things remaining separate because they are just so interrelated. Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about how the SU the way we support our professionals has evolved over the last year.
[00:23:43] So as we officially came together under the well-connected name, um, we. We have two arms. So we have well-connected twin cities, and then we have a well connected professional network. And so, um, let’s just tell people a little bit about what we’re doing there and why that’s helping to fuel. I think you’ve already mentioned why that’s helping to fuel the directory, but.
[00:24:04] What are we offering through well-connected professional right now? Well, the biggest, the biggest thing is our professional membership that just launched that super exciting. So, um, you know, we are really looking to make sure that our professionals are connected with those supportive partners that can take their business to the next level or offer those, those, you know, things that you can do to take things to the next level.
[00:24:25] So wherever you are, wherever you’re at, right, we want to make sure that they’re connected with what they need when they need it. To up-level and taking it to the next level is really just about letting people know that they’re here. Right? Like letting more people find them. So I just love that we’re helping to facilitate that because so many of these people are just passionate about what they do as they should be.
[00:24:48] And they’re great at that. Um, whatever their niche is. Um, but a lot of them have to be solo, preneurs and small business owners just because that’s the nature of this industry right now. And so they’re facing all of these. You know, business things that they need to do in marketing. And I love that we’re able to support them in that, through the membership and just connect them.
[00:25:08] So they feel like, you know, they have a group of peers that they can bounce ideas off of. And it’s almost like that’s our theme connect and then activity because absolutely. If you see a marketing effort by somebody that you follow, chances are, it was highly encouraged by their peers. Like they talk to somebody else about it, bounce back up feedback and launch something that is incredibly exciting.
[00:25:34] And they shared that. And like, that’s what we get to help facilitate. Yeah. It’s like them taking that next step to make sure that you get. The supports that you need. Yeah. And as far as your health goes, absolutely. Well, let’s just take a step back for a moment. Lily, how would you describe how to use the well-connected twin cities directory?
[00:25:52] So you can use it in a variety of ways. We have a keyword rich directory. So you could search thinking back to myself, four years ago, I could search eczema and find, um, people who have indicated that they can help with that. So even if you don’t know what type of practitioner you’re looking for, you can search by symptom and start to discover what’s possible.
[00:26:15] Um, and then you can also take that location into account, because like I said, I didn’t want to be driving an hour away. Some people are okay with that, but it just wasn’t right for our lifestyle at the time. Um, so the directory is a great way to use our resource. We also have a blog where we’re featuring local, um, voices.
[00:26:34] And so you can get to know the people behind the businesses, the practitioners learn something. Um, and often we’re featuring these people on our live events as well. So we’ve, um, we’ve hosted several live events like Alex mentioned or thrive Thursdays. Or kind of what started it all about a year ago, we really see these events as a way to meet people in real life sample, what they have to offer.
[00:26:58] So for example, we’ve had, you know, mini Reiki sessions. So if you’ve never tried Reiki before you could. Get a little taste of what it’s like, and then maybe you decide you want to go deeper and book a session, but we’re really trying to be that stepping stone because we understand that it’s a big leap.
[00:27:15] A lot of the time, if you are used to just dealing with Western medicine and you’re trying to explore something outside of that. Um, going just from, you know, nothing to a long one-on-one appointment can be expensive and it can be time consuming. And so we’re trying to deliver some of these opportunities to help people experience a little bit of it and feel more confident in that decision to take the next step.
[00:27:41] And maybe you decide you don’t want to take the next step. And that’s great. Now you’ve learned a little bit more and you know, it’s not right for you at this time.
[00:32:03] Thanks for listening to our first podcast episode. We’re so excited to be bringing this to you on a semi-regular basis. We’ll be interviewing local experts and digging into hot topics around health and wellness. And we’re turning our thrive Thursday events into live podcast recordings. So we’ll have a panel of local experts at those events discussing a specific topic, and you can join us live on the third Thursday of the month, always in the evening.