Being part of the community you are catering to benefits all parties. Over and over again, I find that being an out and proud doctor and understanding the ins and outs of sex, creates fruitful conversations with my clients than then lead to appropriate behavioral changes and surgical corrections that others would never be able to comprehend. It just makes things that much easier in an already difficult subject matter.
The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help provide these services. What does it take to create a highly successful career in the health and wellness industry?
In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry” we are talking to health and wellness professionals who can share insights and stories from their experiences.
In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Evan Goldstein.
Dr. Evan Goldstein is the Founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical and the Co-Founder of Future Method. As an expert and thought leader in the field of sexual health and wellness, Dr. Goldstein is committed to education and awareness — not only bringing important issues surrounding gay sexual health to the forefront, but also eliminating the stigmas attached to it. Relating to a wider audience, Dr. Goldstein leaves the medical jargon behind and communicates in a straight-forward, direct manner, breaking down taboos and allowing for more conversational and open discussions with the aim to educate.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you grew up?
My first 12 years were in Shaolin, otherwise known as Staten Island, until we migrated to Old Bridge, New Jersey. Both of my parents were educators, working for the NYC Board of Education, and the entire family spent the summers at sleep-away camps, away from all the usual hustle and bustle. I don’t have much memory of my childhood, unfortunately, but from the pictures, I seemed quite happy and content in middle-class America. I left for college at age 17 to attend University of Wisconsin-Madison and then came back to NY for my post-graduate training.
Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?
Obviously, I didn’t grow up thinking to myself: I want to be an anal surgeon. Before I came out, I was training to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. But almost immediately, it served as almost a wakeup call. I realized I needed to start living my life honestly and so I broke up with my then wife, I dropped out of the cardiothoracic surgery program at Mount Sinai, I came out and met my now partner of 17 years, Andy, and then figured out how I could use my surgical skills to help my own community. I noticed that most doctors performing anal surgery were treating hemorrhoids or cancer with a very narrow lens — eradicate the pathology at hand. But for many, the anus is used for more than just defecation. It serves a cosmetic and sexually functional purpose, too. I wanted to create a practice that provided medical services to treat hemorrhoids, skin tags, and fissures, as well as cosmetic procedures, like Botox, dilating, and tightening services, in a supportive, non-judgmental environment.
Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?
Mother nature and Peloton. My usual routine focuses on a long walk around my local reservoir, making sure I decompress from the day-to-day stresses. I try not to answer any calls or even listen to music so that I can truly take in the natural surroundings. Most days I succeed. On the exercise front, my Peloton has served me just right. With EDM playing, my HIIT rides keep me moving forward on all fronts.
To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?
Wellness in the medical and surgical space is everywhere. I am definitely not the first (or the last) in that regard. As for the sexual health and wellness space, I saw a very specific lane. A place where no one could see the bigger picture, specifically as it relates to how different communities engage. I also think we were at the right time and place in queer history. HIV/AIDS had become more of a chronic disease, and no one was really focusing on all the other facets of queer life. The aging gay man develops issues and one of the main one, if not the most important, is their sexual wellbeing. It was with this focus in mind that I knew I would provide medical and surgical care to those who were otherwise ignored or overlooked and then layer in an educational role, similar to my parents. That’s when my private practice, Bespoke Surgical, was born. Over the years, it grew increasing more obvious that developing products would be the next step in my journey and that’s when I co-founded Future Method. Every day, I would meet with clients at my practice who shared stories about how they were misguided in not only the best way to engage in anal sex, but also didn’t know where to find the right products to use before, during, and after sex, which then lead to significant complications. It only seemed natural for me to go down this path.
Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Sex is still taboo, especially anal sex. We have definitely come far over the past few years (no pun intended), and I think that’s due in some part to pop culture and Gen Z’s willingness to be more honest and open about their lives. But we still have a lot to accomplish. Medicine, when I started, was generally a referral-based practice. That means you see your primary doctor and discuss your issues, or you have a doctor who asks pertinent questions to make sure you are living life to its fullest potential. Unfortunately, I quickly found out most physicians don’t talk about sex, let alone ask the right questions that encourage clients to open up about their sexual wants, desires, and demons. At the point in my career where I had to answer the question: “How am I going to make a real living?” I quickly had the forethought to pivot. In doing so, I hired an incredible PR firm, mml PR, and my head of brand and marketing, Greg Lam. We set out to reimagine everything in an effort to change the world and allow people to fully enjoy their sexual liberties. When we started, no one wanted to talk to us. Anal sex was off limits. So, we said, let’s create our own platform. The goal was to write about all the issues, through a blog, social media, events, and videos. Eventually, the world started to listen. We slowly and organically built a dedicated following on social media and eventually publications began to realize there was a real need for the work we do and wanted to speak with us. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we continue to destigmatize and normalize conversations around anal sex and anal health each day.
Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
I’d like to think that through my practice, Bespoke Surgical, we are providing critical resources and surgical treatments to those who often experience shame and lack of community-specific care. People from all over the world come to see us because they haven’t been able to find the care they need at home, many of whom come from countries where being gay is a crime. Others thank us for allowing them to enjoy sex for the first time in their lives or for regaining the confidence to enjoy their bodies and to share it with others. At the sexcare company I helped co-found, Future Method, we are providing necessary education and often overlooked and otherwise ignored products that help support positive, healthy, and pleasurable sexual engagements, as well as enhance our sexual health and wellness. Heteronormative sex ed is severely lacking in our school systems, but at least it exists. On the other hand, there is a complete absence of any LGBTQIA+ sex ed, which leads members of our community to turn to porn, internet personalities, and Reddit to learn the proper ways to care for our bodies before, during, and after sex. On a daily basis, strangers email us and DM us giving thanks for covering a topic they previously sought answers to but came back empty.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
At Bespoke Surgical, we’re always listening to our clients and seeing what ancillary services they are looking for that relate to either their sexual health and wellness or the appearance and function of their butt. Last year, we launched a handful of aesthetic services because clients felt uncomfortable going to more traditional med spas that generally cater to women. It wasn’t just about asking for services to treat their butts, but also the fear that the service providers lacked the knowledge and wherewithal to give them exactly what they wanted. We are continuing to explore adding more services that will serve this need.
At Future Method, there is the same kind of continuous innovation driving our product development pipeline. We’re constantly asking ourselves — what exists, but could be better or what doesn’t exist and why not? You’ll find millions of lube, condom, and toy companies out there, but no one is focusing on how we prepare for sex and how we care for our bodies after sex. That’s where we will continue to help fill the hole in the market with products that are not only based in science, but also more appropriate for community-specific sexual practices. One size does not fit all and seeing that firsthand at my surgical practice has allowed me a unique edge in what is needed across all brands.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I have a devoted work ethic, that’s for sure, but what’s been harder for me to adjust to is sharing responsibilities. I don’t need to be the smartest person in the room — and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m often not — but I do have a type-A personality. Fortunately, over years, I have learned to delegate and be open to collaboration. There are many people I can thank for that, especially my current life partner. When you’re going through surgical training, you learn very early on to trust no one and do things yourself. Clearly, that stuck with me. And I think a lot of people go through this. I was always driven in medicine and a doctor’s work ethic is one of the most rigorous. At the end of my surgical training, I saw new leadership come into the hospital system and shake things up (like they normally do). Unfortunately, I witnessed not only the true colors of corporate medicine, but also some amazing and hard-working surgeons be terminated, after devoting years and years of their service to patients. I’ll never forget the time one of my dear mentors, as he was walking out of the hospital on his last day, told me, “Build something of your own. If you rely on the system, they will one day, just like that, take it all away. Build an empire!” From that day on, I had my marching orders. Thankfully, I listened.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?
For the work that I do, wellness is the sum of the parts that create a happy and fulfilled mind and body in and out of the bedroom. Can a client of mine answer the following questions truthfully: am I feeling sexually satisfied and are all my needs being met either by myself or my partner(s)? Do I feel confident in the way my body looks and functions? Are the relationships I am in stimulating my mind, as well as my body? Believe it or not, our sexual health and wellness plays a big part in our overall health and wellness and most doctors don’t see it this way. Further, at my practice, we are trying to connect what are mind wants with what our body does.
As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?
I tell all my clients: sex always wins. Innately, with all of our hormones and instincts, nearly all of us are sexual beings and to deny our wants and desires is a travesty. The primary limitations we see in our community are access to general queer-affirming care and, even more so, sexual healthcare. We should not be beholden to society’s limitations, along with the failing medical systems. Sexual health and wellness need to be included as a top priority for all medical professionals.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?
Having access to really great human resources and a strong company culture are key. Nowadays, and depending on the size of the company, more and more are outsourcing their payroll and HR. We’ve been working with JustWorks and have found they prioritize mental and physical wellness for employees. Clearly, we know when someone is mindful of their wellness and has the appropriate access to the right resources, everyone benefits — both the employee and the employer. This style of delivering enhanced mental and physical wellness, though fairly new, should be standard across the board. We only have one life to live and now, even more so, with the lines of work life and home life being blurred (not to mention our 24/7 access to technology), it’s imperative to optimize our well-being. We hope everyone takes advantage of these resources and if they aren’t currently accessible, be vocal in demanding your company makes them available.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
- Being part of the community you are catering to benefits all parties. Over and over again, I find that being an out and proud doctor and understanding the ins and outs of sex, creates fruitful conversations with my clients than then lead to appropriate behavioral changes and surgical corrections that others would never be able to comprehend. It just makes things that much easier in an already difficult subject matter.
- When you are coming from a place of empathy, as well as sympathy, I believe you can provide better care. Having had my own surgical issues allows me to empathize in a way that other surgeons cannot. When you have first-hand experience, you’re able to connect with your clients in a way that doesn’t come off as preachy. When it comes to sex, this, too, changes dramatically when someone has experienced both sides.
- You need to create a safe space for your clients or customers, one that’s free of any judgement or shame. That has always been a goal of ours at Bespoke Surgical. It was important for me to design our office to be a place of comfort and calm, with an elevated aesthetic to match the high quality of care. And this should start from when their experience begins. We pride ourselves on meeting our clients where they are, from the moment they discover us on social media or on our website, through to the registration process, and allowing direct and frequent communication with our staff (all clients get my personal contact info). For us, it’s a bespoke experience from top to bottom (excuse the pun). Far too often, the medical experience is cold and clinical, and it doesn’t have to be. We all deserve better.
- You need to be willing to share your wisdom with others. One of my good friends and I were talking years ago about what I kept seeing in the office and trying to figure out why none of my colleagues were seeing the same things. He told me to just start writing it down. If I started a blog, the world would listen. And that’s exactly what I did. It has been our mission to make sure everyone has access to the sexual education I never had, and we keep pushing the envelope to help normalize the conversation around anal sex and our bodies.
- You need to take care of yourself. Without your own health, others cannot benefit. It has taken me 45 years to get to this place, in both my personal and professional life, and what I do know, now more than ever, is that you need to create a balance in your own world to be successful. Thankfully, that balance has afforded me my partner of 17 years and two 9-year-old identical twin boys, all of whom show me what is truly important in life. We have one go at this and I am reminded every day how blessed I am to have found the equilibrium that drives my world. When I experience this balance, I am able to help my clients find balance, too.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would find a way to standardize and publish health and wellness resources and education for everyone to have access to. There are too many disparities in the types of education out there and who can access it, but if we all had access to the same information that was vetted by trusted experts, I think this would be incredibly beneficial to the world at large.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Any VC that gets and understands the huge impact we are making at both Bespoke Surgical and Future Method. The goal for me and my brands is to scale them globally and that obviously requires not only the proper funding, but also VCs who align with the intersection of science and sexual wellness. We want to change the narrative and implore people to care about what they’re putting in their bodies even when it comes to sexcare. Innovation doesn’t just come from better branding — it comes from years of research. Everything we do comes with some sort of risk, but as a medical professional, it is my job to help mitigate any negative consequences.
If I had to choose a specific person, I’d say Anderson Cooper, Lil Nas X, or Troye Sivan. To have someone with as big of a platform as any of these three have talking about sexual health and wellness in a meaningful way would be revolutionary. I think it would help move the needle further and further towards normalizing the conversation around anal sex and helping create meaningful change within the community.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Readers can follow me personally @drevangoldstein, as well as my two companies @bespokesurgical and @thefuturemethod on Instagram and Twitter.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!