Werner Marksfeld was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. He went to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where he received his undergraduate degree. He then moved to Portland, OR, where he earned his postgrad from the University of Western States.

After graduation, Marksfeld opened a practice in Everett, WA. After his father passed away, he decided to transition into functional medicine to work with people who have autoimmune diseases, focusing primarily on the thyroid. He created his weight loss clinic, Spokane Weight Loss, to help his clients lose weight using his system and products specially designed for people with autoimmune diseases.

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

Number one that there is a tremendous need for what we do in helping people lose unhealthy fat and to get well without the use of drugs or medications, and number two, that we’re really making a difference in people’s lives. It takes time, especially when you’re dealing with very sick people like autoimmune patients. It takes time to get them well. You put them through something like this, and in nine weeks, they lose 40 pounds and the quality of their life improves so much because of it. Their whole system starts to work more efficiently. I think that’s a big thing that makes it exciting. You can do a lot in a short time.

 What keeps you motivated?

It’s rewarding when you make a difference in people’s lives when you know what you’re doing is ethical. You can go to bed at night knowing that you’re really making a difference in the world. I don’t even realize to what level of a difference I make until somebody comes to me at a seminar and just tells me their whole life story. I think that’s the big takeaway for me is that I work from home, so I’m not touching these people on a regular basis. Still, when I do meet with them, and they tell me about what’s happened in their life, I feel very accomplished by having developed the firm and being able to make a difference in these people’s lives.

 How has your company grown from its early days to now?

I think one way to answer that is when I came to the market, there was a bit of a black cloud over the subject of weight loss. In the past, there had been clinics that committed fraud by taking advantage of people. They then closed their business, declared bankruptcy, and ran with their money. There was a lot of negativity around weight loss. We were a nobody in a market that was already tainted, and in a very short period, we’ve turned it into the most respected and probably the largest weight loss office in the greater Spokane market.

What traits do you possess that make a successful leader?

The first thing is that I listen to my team. I take concise action when decisions need to be made. I empower my team to be self-sufficient; I don’t micromanage my team. As a result of that, we all feel very rewarded in what we are doing in our market.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?

First and foremost, know what you’re doing. Really learn the subject. Number two, make sure you have enough startup capital to sustain you during the growth stages because it takes time. I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s the most competitive industry in healthcare. I’ve coached doctors all over the country, and one of the biggest takeaways is that they just don’t have the resources. They don’t have the financial resources. They’re already desperate. They need something else because they’re struggling in their particular healthcare vertical focus, and they’re trying to reinvent themselves, but they’ve left it to the last minute and don’t have all the resources. I think that’s probably the biggest prevalence. Make sure that you have the capital and the mental endurance to allow yourself to succeed.

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

I would say that there’s been two. The first thing, my dad’s death, and then the second being a really horrible divorce.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

“Be your own boss.” It’s the way that I am and the way that I operate. I was always told as a kid that I would best off doing my own thing and never working for anyone else. I took that advice, and I have been self-employed ever since.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment was when I was able to climb Kilimanjaro back in 2015. Before that, I’d had two back surgeries and never thought I would ever be able to get out of bed. I was told that I was going to have issues, and I would never be able to do anything like that. As a result of that, I worked through it and went through a lot of rehab for my back. I had the fortitude when the opportunity to climb Kilimanjaro came along, and I told myself I was going to do it. And I did.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?

I think there are two things. One, the world has become so digital, and people are losing this idea of learning how to connect with people. So never give up on connecting with people. Put your phone down when you’re with someone and be present. I think that’s the biggest piece of advice. There’s no replacement for that. People think by having everything online and being connected socially, that that’s having a bunch of friends, but I think more and more people are becoming lonely. This is definitely not business-related advice, but for me, I think it’s the biggest concern I see with having kids, seeing how they’re building relationships. It’s very virtually based, and it’s not authentic.

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

I always put others ahead of myself. I am very much a people pleaser. I always want to take care of everyone and make sure they’re doing okay. It’s a fault, of course, as well, as it reflects on my life, but my heart is always a servant to take care of people.