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Zoe Fields of Community Wellness: “Empowerment is a multifaceted goal”

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is this: always ask questions! Especially in my role as a leader, asking questions is the most important thing I can do to ensure I have a full picture of the issue we seek to solve or the tactics to play that solution out. And it’s […]

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One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is this: always ask questions! Especially in my role as a leader, asking questions is the most important thing I can do to ensure I have a full picture of the issue we seek to solve or the tactics to play that solution out. And it’s important to know that no question is a bad question. You never know what you’ll uncover when you leave your ego at the door to find solutions and creative ideas with your team. It even benefits my team because questions allow them to feel confident and own their area of expertise.


As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Zoe Fields.

Zoe Fields is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Community Wellness, a digital health company dedicated to empowering people to achieve better health outcomes with services like at-home health monitoring, and Cleo, a women’s wellness offering. Zoe is an experienced consumer marketing leader in the online education and digital health markets. Prior to co-founding Community Wellness, she was the founder/CEO of Ambassador Technologies, a social media driven referral marketing startup based in San Francisco.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My interests have always been at the intersection of health & wellness and entrepreneurship. I have a deep family connection to medicine, with my late grandfather who wrote the textbook on virology and microbiology. On the entrepreneurial side, I was inspired by my dad, who is a serial entrepreneur himself.

I started Community Wellness in October 2019 after spending six years in the education space. The idea for my women’s wellness brand, Cleo, was born out of my experiences growing up, watching many women close to me struggling to manage their conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis. They were always in pain, always going to or coming from the doctor. I saw their struggle firsthand and grew motivated by the question of how to create a system that provides complete support, relief and peace of mind, and reward them with more time to enjoy doing the things they love. On top of this, I wanted to make women’s periods easier to go through. I intended Cleo to help other women manage these uncomfortable mood swings and pains — things that sound insignificant, but greatly affect the ease with which they exist as a functioning person in a modern world. These ideas were the spark that turned into Cleo.

Then, as the pandemic grew in impact, I saw the opportunity to support more people beyond the women’s wellness space. It was very natural for us to then see where these systems were needed most, with one of them being for older adults, who stand to gain the most from the empowerment provided by our holistic, interactive and on-demand form of healthcare.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Community Wellness is disrupting the way we deliver healthcare — we think of it as healthcare in the cloud. As a digital health company, we want to empower people to achieve better health outcomes from the comfort of their home. Take for example, the older adult population: 87 percent of seniors want to age-in-place, but many are forced to move into long-term care facilities or with families because they can’t afford regular doctor’s visits or can’t drive. These barriers are further compounded by the accessibility difficulties seniors face when attempting to simultaneously navigate the healthcare landscape while also juggling their own complex health needs and modern technology. Healthcare is complicated. The complexity of the system can lead to avoidance, which only serves to allow chronic problems to grow and become harder to manage.

The services we provide are primarily preventative because they allow adults age 65 and older to monitor and manage chronic health conditions such as prediabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, COPD, asthma, or obesity with the support of a digital platform. Older adults can then be empowered by personal data trends to take control themselves. Especially now during COVID, adults 65 and older are struggling to access quality, personalized care without putting themselves at risk. We aim to provide them with the necessary remote monitoring tools, expert support and educational materials to ensure they receive appropriate care when and where they need it.

It’s so disruptive because it exists within an industry that is not traditionally built on prevention.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I can’t think of a recent funny mistake, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my ability to recognize where I’m most challenged in order to improve. One quirky example is this: I used to be known for losing my keys, phone, wallet, etc. EVERYWHERE, and especially at work. However, I quickly learned that having a system and a process for even the small things helps me focus on what matters most. In a startup, those systems and processes help our team work more efficiently and effectively amidst everything going on, and we can always go back to them when something goes bump in the night or improve on them.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I’ve had many fantastic mentors. They impacted me by showing me what strong female leadership looks like. As a female CEO at the age of 30, I’ve already tackled two massive industries — education and now healthcare. I’m grateful for those who took a stake in me and my career because they provided me with the guidance and wisdom needed to dive into these complex industries with an informed confidence. One of them is Kim Fulcher, who I worked closely with at HotChalk. She also was an advisor and mentor at my last business as well.

One of the greatest pieces of advice I heard echoed across my mentors was to trust my gut instinct. I think as women we’re often raised from an early age to second guess our instincts, or to always bring a complete rationale and plan to the table in order for an idea to be taken seriously. My mentors urged me to trust that I could pursue a course of action directed not by a clear, well planned path forward, but instead by my own inner knowledge that an idea is worthwhile and necessary. The plans, the support and the logistics can fall into place after.

I am also grateful for my dad’s mentorship. It was a very organic thing for me to go into business with him when building Community Wellness. Together, we came up with the idea to evolve Community Wellness to offer remote patient monitoring — a space we truly believe will help improve lives through greater access to care. He’s always empowered me to follow a path directed by what I believe in. He has always told me that I can achieve anything.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I don’t know that maintaining the status quo is good for even most things. Every industry serves to benefit from evolution and disruption — there’s always a better way to do something more efficiently. This is especially true in the healthcare space, where disruption means we’re finding better ways to care for people. In our case at Community Wellness, we’re upending a system which reactively cares for health concerns by providing frequent, easy to use initial points of health management to older adults. This disruption can only make the traditional healthcare system more efficient by easing the burden of chronic conditions which come to a head and require emergency medical treatment.

When people think of the negatives of disruption, it’s most often in the context of job loss where human roles are replaced by automation. This isn’t the case for our product. We provide new ways to more efficiently connect with physicians — we don’t want to replace this necessary human guidance! In general, I firmly believe disruption is a good thing.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is this: always ask questions! Especially in my role as a leader, asking questions is the most important thing I can do to ensure I have a full picture of the issue we seek to solve or the tactics to play that solution out. And it’s important to know that no question is a bad question. You never know what you’ll uncover when you leave your ego at the door to find solutions and creative ideas with your team. It even benefits my team because questions allow them to feel confident and own their area of expertise.

Reiterating my mentors’ point, another piece of advice is to trust your instincts. I can certainly say I’ve never regretted listening to my instinct, but I have regretted not listening to one. Intuition is important.

It’s also important to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. As a leader, as a CEO, you never want to be the smartest person in the room.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I know for sure that I’ll continue shaking up the healthcare industry. Right now though, my main mission is to help people live longer, happier, better lives through the empowerment of digital health technology. How that evolves, I’m not sure yet. But empowerment is a multifaceted goal, and I trust this mission will lead to a future of increased access to healthcare.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

The last book I read was Becoming by Michelle Obama. I loved her story so much — it’s such a great example for girls and women in this country to witness such a strong female leader coming out of adversity. It especially resonated with me because she’s a strong leader who doesn’t care what others think of her, and she stands by her values. I greatly admire that in her.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

When I was a kid, my dad would wake my brother and I up in the mornings and he’d start our days with this: “What do we say every day? Commitment counts. Perseverance pays. And if you hesitate, you’re late.”

That has stayed with me all my life; I’ll never forget it. It instilled something in me and my siblings at a very young age. Committing to what you’ve set out to do, persevering through thick and thin and feeling confident in acting on your gut instinct can really lead to greatness.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

That’s so easy — healthcare! If everyone had access to healthcare, that would be the best thing that could bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people. My vision for the future of healthcare access is one where on-demand “healthcare in the cloud” systems can be seamlessly integrated into the lives of those who need healthcare (all of us!). If we succeed in making that basic human right of healthcare more understandable, accessible and scalable, then people would have so much more time, resources, freedom (and more!) to pursue their dreams.

How can our readers follow you online?

I don’t have a Twitter (yet!), so LinkedIn.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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