The Rungs of Learning with Caroline McMorrow, Health & Science Content Strategist
Caroline McMorrow has been a deep thinker since she was 8 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. She turned her curiosity inward and to documentaries to absorb as much as she could about science. A passion to democratize health and wellness information was born and led to her current role as a content strategist and influencer.
I'm sure you'll find her story fascinating and inspiring.
Before we get into the meat of the interview, tell us a little bit about the work you do and why you do it.
I’ve had an autoimmune condition since I was 8 (although it’s in remission now for almost a decade), so that drove me to the health field.
I wanted to be a physician originally and realized that was not the right fit for me when I was shadowing people in college. The medical industry isn’t always set up for health to thrive for providers meaning that the system is designed to break you. I care a lot about health period so that environment wasn’t right for me, but I still wanted to help people in the same way.
I noticed that there’s a disconnect between science and health content, marketing, and communications but not a translator of that. I also love writing so saw this as an opportunity for someone who has a science background, knows how to read a research paper and make it digestible for the everyday consumer.
Plus, the health tech space was really blowing up when I was in college so I thought maybe this could be my “thing”. I always worked in marketing and communications in health technology which merged into content strategy and execution.
My focus now is on health and science content as a freelancer and eventually, I’d like to work with institutions like hospitals and academics where I can help them communicate their science more formally. They all have really valuable information on how our body and systems work and mechanisms for healing that are research based but they’re not always translated for the public to understand and have value in.
And, I have no shortage of ideas which you can see if you follow me on LinkedIn!
Speaking of LinkedIn, it appears to be a valuable platform for you to share your views on health and wellness. How did you get started with this and what key learnings can you share with others?
I started posting on LinkedIn on accident. I was always wanting to explore topics that were going on inside my head and saw a lot of other people posting on LinkedIn too. It seemed to be becoming a mini blog site for people to express their ideas and I wanted to start journaling out loud. I started one-off posting my thoughts as they popped up in my head and continued doing it because I realized I was becoming a better writer.
I do care a lot about simplifying health and my main criticism of consumer health is that they make it seem like you have to buy all these products and that health is exclusive. Health (emotional, spiritual, mental and physical health) is really simple, and we’ve made it so complicated. It’s a human right and we don’t need to buy our way into health.
My main piece of advice for people when they’re getting started on LinkedIn is to not to be hard on yourself. You can end up comparing yourself to others who have a lot more followers, etc., but they are on a different journey, and you are just starting. Be patient in the beginning and remember that it’s okay if no one likes it or comments on it but stay focused on why you are doing it. A lot of people will read your posts and not "like" them but it doesn’t mean it didn’t have an impact.
My last tip is that being simple, straightforward, clear and writing for readability is hard but you need to cut out things if you are making it too complicated to the reader to wrap their head around.
Based on your research and knowledge, what's the biggest problem with American health and wellness that, if solved, would make a dramatic improvement in people's lives and our economy?
It’s a complex problem with a lot of moving parts but I have thought about this topic. I believe it really comes down to disconnection to the self and disconnection to others. As individuals we don’t always know our selves and sometimes that can result in talking down to or bullying yourself and that can bring a lot of shame.
We all know that, if we love ourselves, we will eat healthy, take care of our body and sleep well. So, I think a lot of this malfunction of how we take care of our bodies and minds is a result of not having a connection and relationship to ourselves. I know that sounds kind of meta and woo woo for people, but I’ve observed that for myself too. When I’m not listening to myself and valuing myself as a person, my health suffers.
I also think heath issues are a result of disconnection from others. Screens and the internet are amazing (we met through the internet) and you can meet so many people and have access to more information. But a result from that is that we are more disconnected from people in person.
I used to think food and sleep were the first pillars of health but now I think relationships are the first pillar of health. If you don’t have good relationships with yourself or others, all the other activities can be thrown out the window. The pandemic taught us that.
The theme for this month's newsletter is "fresh start” and overcoming fears to do so. What's a fresh start you've undertaken in recent years and what impact has that had on you?
I took a job after I left Oura Ring and it wasn’t the right fit for me so I had to start over fresh and that led me to freelancing. And that has been a whole new challenge because I didn’t know how to run my mini little business of one. It forced me and challenged me to learn things I didn’t know how to do before like how to manage my financials and get clients which led me to LinkedIn (I’ve gotten all my clients from LinkedIn). It’s instilled more confidence in myself that I can figure things out that I don’t know how to do right away.
On a personal level, I’ve had a fresh start in removing personal habits that didn’t serve me. I was a rower in college and the nature of my sport was dependent on weight and how fit you are and I ended up developing disordered eating habits. I carried a lot of those with me into adulthood and, in the last year, I finally faced that and was honest with myself in how it was impacting my life. It was really about fear of control and change and now it doesn’t take up so much of my head space and I'm not thinking about those topics 24/7 like I used to. It’s been a significant learning process for me.
You seem to have an insatiable appetite for knowledge consumption. How much time do you set aside for this each week and how do you prioritize what you're reading and watching?
It’s true. My family always says this about me too. I’m always the person at the holiday dinner table that wants to take the conversation beyond the surface level.
I do love listening to interviews and podcasts on YouTube and even on TV. I used to love watching 60 Minutes with my parents and loved listening to interviews of the people’s stories. I don’t read as much as people assume (I listen to a lot of audiobooks though) but the content I listen to really inspires me.
People ask me how much time I spend on my LinkedIn posts because they are so detailed. If I have an idea, I can get it out in 10-15 minutes if I execute on the idea right away. One thing I’ve learned to be a better and faster writer, you need to have multiple reps.
I’m probably consuming content about an hour a day, usually a podcast when I’m at the gym in the morning and maybe at night when I’m cooking dinner.
I have to ask, how old are you? You are a deep thinker!
I’m 24 and because of my illness, Dermatomyositis, I was very weak and spent a lot of time in the hospital alone. This caused me to question really deep topics when I was little. I was taken out of school and had to to face a lot of questions most 8-year-olds don’t think about. Writing was a gift of my illness because I was always writing in my journal as a kid and did art when I couldn’t go to school. There are a lot of blessings in disguise for my situation.
Knock on wood, I went into remission and haven’t had a relapse.
What are you focusing your learning on these days?
I’m one of these people that likes to learn about a lot of different things. I love learning about other areas of health right now that don’t have as much attention paid to them. Like spiritual health and religion or like how going to church can be a practice of health. I’m curious as to how those can impact us beyond the physical aspect of health. Emotional health and emotional fitness are of interest to me, especially as how they affect children growing up. If we can teach kids the integral aspects of health, maybe they can help ward off the other factors that might affect their health.