Interview with Dr. Chester Zoda

Dr. Chester Zoda teaches other physicians to use online courses to create passive income. He is a young physician entrepreneur from Hong Kong and a former emergency room physician who created his own online business. And now he teaches his methods to other healthcare professionals.

He owns an education company called Digital Doctor where they're helping doctors build passive income with online courses.

During COVID-19, Dr. Zoda was working 80-100 work weeks and feeling burned out and overworked. He decided to spend 2-3 hours on weekends starting an online course business teaching digital marketing using Facebook advertising. His first course made $5,000 in the first month.

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Building Digital Doctor

With the burnout Chester experienced, he desperately started looking at different ways to earn income. He focused on creating a cash flow generating asset that makes money while sleeping. That would enable him to spend more time with his family and do the things that he loves.

He realized that the opportunity was simply packaging the expertise from his medical training and sharing it in a digital course. So, Chester started teaching small e-commerce businesses. He then began helping a small group of doctors. After 2 years, he is now serving over 350 healthcare providers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical providers to use online courses inside his Digital Doctor community.

4 Steps to Teaching Clinicians to Use Online Courses

  1. Getting Started
    Understand that there's a huge market out there that's underserved and desperate for your knowledge. You can help a lot of people, especially in the online world. But you must stop procrastinating.
  2. Selling
    What they do in the Digital Doctor program is to give their students a proven sales process that turns a complete stranger into a paying student within the first 14 days. Notice that “selling” comes before “building.”
  3. Building
    In this step, you package the online course into a consumable format for the customer. For doctors, many already do academic presentations at conferences. So you can use those skills to create your courses.
  4. Automation
    With automation, Chester teaches you how to turn your online course on autopilot. In so doing, it produces cash flow for you, even while you sleep or do what you love. His business provides all the templates for you, and proprietary tech support. 

Words of Encouragement

Look at your life like a GPS. Get clear with where you are, get clear with where you want to go, and then find a vehicle that can get you there in the most predictable way possible. It's not about looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. – Chester Zoda, MD


[Disclaimer:] There is no way to verify the success of Dr. Zoda's methods other than the testimonials on his website. And this interview does NOT constitute an endorsement of his program or methods.

However, if you join his program, COMMENT below about your experiences so they can be shared with the rest of our listening audience.

And let's acknowledge Chester's observations about business and advice for those looking to reach financial freedom because they are right on the money.

NOTE: Look below for a transcript of today's episode.

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Transcription PNC Podcast Episode 239

How Physicians Can Use Online Courses to Boost Income

John: I'm really interested in hearing about what other physicians are doing to overcome burnout and do things outside of clinical medicine, obviously. And I ran into my guest a few weeks ago. I don't know that much about them, but I thought, "Well, why do I do the podcast? I do the podcast so I can learn about other physicians that are doing unique things." I thought, "Well, I'll just learn about Chester today on the podcast." So hello, Dr. Chester Zoda.

Dr. Chester Zoda: Hello, pleasure to be here.

John: I'm glad to have you. We usually follow a usual type of format, and that is to start with you giving us a little bit of your background. You've got a medical degree. That's about all I know. Tell us a little bit about that, what you did after you got your MD, and then tell us what you're doing now, and then we'll fill in the gaps later.

Dr. Chester Zoda: Sure. I'm Chester Zoda. I used to be an emergency physician and especially during the little virus situation going on, I decided I was really burned out working 80-hour workweeks, three-night shifts, you know the drill. People change out of inspiration or desperation. For me, it was definitely desperation. I realized that things had to change. Right now, I'm owning an education company called Digital Doctor where we're helping doctors build passive income with online courses. And so, I'm really excited to be here. It's a pleasure to speak here.

John: Yeah. This will be interesting. I happen to have a few people that come on from time to time and talk about passive income and it's usually real estate. And of course, nothing is really 100% passive, but once you build something, it can be quite automated in some situations, whether it's real estate or online businesses, that would be actually one of the things I'm striving for with my membership and my podcast.

Tell us about how you started? Did you have a background in online business and technology> Did you start creating your own business and then found that maybe it was something it would apply to other doctors?

Dr. Chester Zoda: Yeah. For me, I've always had a strong interest in business. Even back in medical school, I would always hide in the library and read business books in order to "procrastinate." I've always had that edge, but it wasn't until the situation in 2019, 2020, when I was working as an emergency physician serving on the front lines of healthcare and just seeing how burned out a lot of my colleagues were. A lot of my seniors, they would only spend like one night a week with their families, not a lot of time with their children. I realized this is basically the path that I'm walking toward. I realized that things had to change. There has to be a better way.

I still liked helping other people, but the way I was doing it in the emergency room was very limited, in terms of scope. I was limited to only seeing how many patients I can work with each day. I was limited to how many hours I work, and the impact that I was having. I knew that especially with the digital age, that I could be doing a lot more for a lot less time. And so that's essentially, how I got started.

I eventually looked for a lot of different opportunities out there, like real estate, you mentioned. That requires a lot of starting capital. And at the time, I had zero savings and just a bunch of student loans. So that's real estate off of the list. Stocks, S&P 500, investing in index funds. Those returns may be like 8% to 11% on average, but that's each year. And that's not really something that I own and something that I control. The market can go up, down sideways. And like I said, I also didn't have a lot of starting capital to begin with. And so that was off of my list as well.

What I really needed was a cash flow generating asset that makes money while I sleep, while I'm spending time with my family, doing the things I love. Just like the billionaire investor Warren Buffet says, "If you don't find a way to make money while you sleep, then you'll always work until the day you die." And that doesn't sound like the life that I kind of wanted to live.

I started looking at different ways. What I realized was the opportunity was right under my nose at this entire time, which was simply packaging the expertise that I accumulated in medical school, that I accumulated in my medical training and just share it in a digital course, in an online course so that I can help more people on my own terms without being dependent on my time.

John: Who were you actually serving at that time? Who are you teaching? Were you teaching patients things that they might need to know or other physicians?

Dr. Chester Zoda: Yeah. Back then, I was still venturing off into the digital marketing world, like the online world. I was basically teaching this to small e-commerce businesses. But what I realized after a certain point is that a lot of my colleagues noticed how fast I was growing and they asked me to help them do the same. To be honest, at first, I just ignored them because I was certain that only I could do this. You had to be like a tech wiz, you had to have some sort of business experience. Because of that, I just ignored them for quite a while, but the emails just kept coming in and coming in.

Eventually I started to share this with a small group of doctors, and things really changed when I was working with a mentor of mine that was in the ophthalmology niche. Like a lot of doctors in general, we love teaching. We already teach our patients, but we also present in academic conferences, we're presenting in ward rounds, we're presenting in scientific journals and journal meetings. And so, a lot of the knowledge that we already do, and a lot of the knowledge that we already have, we're already presenting in some way, shape, or form.

What this doctor wanted me to do was simply package the expertise that he was already sharing onto the online world so that he can reach more people without having to rent out a lecture hall, without having to commute, or without having to travel across the country just to present in a conference. He wants to expand his reach so that it's online globally, especially during the pandemic, this was especially important.

And so, that's exactly what I helped them with. I started teaching my methods to a small group of students, and to my surprise, the more I started teaching them my methods, the more my skillsets got better and the more they improved. That's essentially how I also had started working with a small group of doctors. And now we're serving over 350 healthcare providers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other medical providers inside our digital doctor community.

John: Very nice. And you said the program is called Digital Doctor. Is that right?

Dr. Chester Zoda: Yes. There's a branding issue because now other nurses and non-doctors want to work with us as well. And so, we're planning to rebrand that in the future.

John: Interesting. Okay. Well, I saw some of the material about your program and one of the things, some of the marketing and promotion you talk about like kind of the four big steps that you help your clients, your customers to do. I thought, well, we'll pick your brain, learn something in the next 20 minutes. Before we do that, I do want to mention that your website is, correct? That's where they can find out everything that we're talking about today.

Dr. Chester Zoda: Correct.

John: I'll put a link in the show notes and we'll mention again, but I hate to wait till the end because some people don't listen to the end, so why not put it in now? All right. Walk us through at least the four big steps, obviously, we can't get into too much detail, but you break it down. I think the first one is something about just getting started. So, what does that entail in your model?

Dr. Chester Zoda: Yeah. There are four steps inside the program, which was inside the framework that I created, which is number one, step one, getting started. Number two, selling. Number three, building, and number four, automating.

Step one is just getting started. A lot of doctors, we just undervalue our expertise. We're surrounded by our colleagues and where we live, eat, and breathe medicine. And so, we just assume that everybody knows the expertise that's inside our heads, but that's evidently not true. A lot of us, we paid our dues, we went through years of schooling. We went through years of our medical training. And so, there's so much inside our heads that can really serve the market.

The key is number one, to first value the expertise that's inside your head. Number two, realize that there's a huge market out there that's underserved and desperate for your knowledge. That you might not necessarily value it, but you can really help a lot of people, especially in the online world. Back when I was an emergency doctor, I was limited to how many cases I saw each day, but on the online world, like literally, the impact that I'm having, even while I sleep with my team, helping the students achieve results is money way more than what is possible on the local level, in the emergency room. But also, in terms of my time.

Number three would be to stop procrastinating. It's a belief issue. A lot of doctors would procrastinate. Each year, year after year that, hey, things are going to get better. If I continue down this path in my current medical career, then things would get better. Maybe I'll get a promotion, maybe I'll get a 10%, 20% boost, and things will get better. But they use that as an excuse almost to procrastinate on the financial goals and the freedom goals that they might actually have.

And so, I would say those three things are the biggest things that we tackle inside step one. Simply getting crystal clear on who you want to serve and what you want to teach with the expertise that you already have, that patients are already paying you money for and simply packaging it and positioning you in a market to create a course that people actually need and want.

The second issue that we tackle is more so the mindset and the limiting beliefs that people tend to have when it comes to starting anything new, and starting anything outside of their comfort zone. We spend a whole week in just step one, just going through that in order to make sure that everyone is primed to get the best success that they possibly can. Because without those foundations in place, then it doesn't matter whether you create an awesome online course that people love. Your mindset wouldn't be there to really make it work.

John: This is a hard stuff to get past for some people. It's like, okay, I know all this stuff, but how do I pick what I'm going to teach? People sometimes just have an aha moment. "Oh, I know I love this thing. I know this. I'm going to do this." Do you have exercises you do? Or how do you pull that out of somebody if they can't spontaneously kind of just say, "Oh, this is what I want to do?"

Dr. Chester Zoda: First of all, the realization that I had after working with 350 health providers is that any person is just one online course away from living their dream life. And the expertise that you already have is right under the nose. Typically, that's the thing that you're the best at. And so, an analogy that I typically use is let's imagine that Dr. Jurica, you want to start an online course on teaching English. That would be crazy. We might be thinking like, "Oh, this is stupid. In the United States, why would anyone buy a course on English? Or I could just get someone from Harvard or just some random, local school that didn't even pass their SATs and have him teach English. Who would even buy a course on that?"

But then what they don't realize is that, hey, if I just popped that kid in the middle of a local college that can just speak English colloquially, and I just popped him in the middle of China, suddenly there's a giant underserved market where people need and want your knowledge. You could change lives just by putting this expertise into the hands of an underserved market. You could literally create jobs. You could literally create a new future, families, for people that are in the middle of China, that don't even speak English.

It's really about the way you position yourself. And as doctors, like I said, there are so many of us, we're surrounded by nurses and colleagues and our families. Most of us are even in the healthcare industry that we sometimes forget that the knowledge that we already have can really serve people. And it's only when we're taken out of that bubble, like a fish out of the pond that we realize that, "Oh my God". Let's say, you're at a family meeting. That's when people come to you and ask about their knee pains and their rashes and their itches, and that's when you realize that, "Hey, this expertise that I went to years of schooling for, it can actually help a lot of people." It's not actually normal and it can really serve a market that needs and wants your knowledge. And so, that's what we help our students with. Getting crystal clear on what that is and how to position them for success.

John: It makes sense too, since we're talking about online, there's really no limits in terms of who you can reach out to. But that does get you into step two, right?

Dr. Chester Zoda: Yes. Step two would be selling your online course. And even selling sounds like the wrong connotation because as doctors, we don't try to sell our services. We're just there to help people. But the best way to look at it is almost like you're preparing for an interview. It's how you package yourself for the online world. Let's say you're in the medical school interview, you have to kind of sell yourself. You have to kind of present yourselves in the most positive light.

What we basically do in the Digital Doctor program is that we just give our students a proven sales process that turns a complete stranger into a paying student within the first 14 days. That way in step two, they're already cash flow positive and already generating income from their first students without even investing in any capital, to begin with the online course. This is a really efficient way to generate more students that need and want an online course. It also does a very interesting thing, which is that it decouples you from trading your time. So that's what we cover inside step two.

John: Okay. And then the next step is?

Dr. Chester Zoda: The next step would be building out your online course. This is actually the fun part where we just package the online course into a consumable format for our students. And so, as doctors, a lot of us already do academic presentations at conferences and so on and so forth. We already have some PowerPoint slides. Some of the students that I work with, they start off from complete scratch. And in fact, that's even better because then we can start off on really strong foundations.

On the other hand, some of them have already published books. They might have started an online course, but they're charging a really low amount. They might have presented at an academic conference and they have some PowerPoint slides that they would just want to brush up and publish onto the internet. And so, this would be the building out the online course process.

You don't even need any fancy equipment. For example, right now, Dr. Jurica and I are just on a Zoom chat. It's completely free. We're using our webcam. That's also free. You look like you're having a really professional microphone, but honestly, that is optional. You can even use your laptop or your phone. The starting cost of this, it's basically $0. If you have an internet connection, that would be necessary, but if you don't, you can just go to your local Starbucks. Building out your online course, it's actually very simple. I feel like a lot of people overcomplicate it and they try to buy fancy equipment, fancy tech, fancy lights, and they try to conduct some James camera or Steven Spielberg production, but it doesn't have to be the case. We teach you inside our program, how to start and build an online course using all of our prebuilt plug and play templates so that all you have to do is just fill in the blanks with your expertise and get your course launched in the shortest time possible.

John: Something I just noticed, and I want to make sure it's clear. I've heard this elsewhere, a lot of entrepreneurs do this, but you chose your niche and you actually started to sell it, but you started selling it before you actually built it. Is that correct?

Dr. Chester Zoda: Yeah.

John: Okay. That's what I was like. All of a sudden, it's an aha moment. Look, you don't even have the course yet, but you're going to build it as soon as you see that there's some chance of selling it, correct?

Dr. Chester Zoda: Yeah. That's the magical thing that most people tend to get wrong, is that they think if you build it, they will come. These customers and students would come. But if you look at how companies like Tesla are doing it, Elon Musk, they announce that the Tesla is in pre-production first. And this is very important because number one, they can gauge their idea on whether this is actually going to resonate with the market or not. Number two, they can gauge the demand. The market is going to tell them, oh, I like this. I don't like that. I like A, B, C, but I don't like X, Y, Z.

And so, because of that, it's good marketing feedback for them to make a product that can actually serve their customers best. Without this "sell before build" philosophy, the most common reason businesses fail is that they build a product that nobody needs. And that is the worst thing that you want to do. We cover a case study inside our program, we'll go more into that. But that is the worst thing that you can do, when you spend months and months of your hard-earned time or your hard time, building something that nobody wants. It can be discouraging. A lot of people, they just give up on their dreams of passive income or financial freedom just because they've been discouraged when they build something that nobody wanted. And so, we avoid that completely.

John: Well, it's true. A lot of people go out and buy a platform or lease it, whatever. They get a platform and they spend four or five, six months on building a course. 15 lectures, all kinds of sub lessons. They really haven't tried it on anybody. And when they go to sell it, it's like crickets. There might be a few people buying it, but it's like, well, maybe I shouldn't have spent all my time, maybe make the first or second lesson okay. But let's not spend a whole half of our life doing something and then find out that it's not really that in either need or people don't want it, or it's hard to sell. We got to that part where we're building. And then automation could be tough for everybody because we tend to do a whole lot of things on our own. We might get a VA or someone to help us, but unless you can automate it, you really can't scale it.

Dr. Chester Zoda: Yeah. That's exactly true. Because the whole point of even this, "Why should we even start an online course in the first place?" it's to remove ourselves and decouple time from money. It solves the problem that most people working from 9:00 to 5:00, most healthcare providers have, which is that in order to improve my patient outcomes, I must work more. Or in order to generate more income, I must work more hours, more shifts.

The whole point of building an asset, like an online course to create cash flow for you, even while you sleep, spending time with your family, doing whatever you want is because it decouples your relationship between time and money. And so, all of this is leading us to step four, which is automating your online course.And with the digital world these days, it's crazy because I remember some of my seniors telling me about a time when medical school didn't even have computers. The technology that we have on our fingertips these days is more powerful than what the president of the United States had access to just 10, 15 years ago.

The amount of leverage that we can have using technology is so powerful. And that's why with automation, step four, we teach you how to just basically turn your online course on autopilot so that it produces that cash flow for you, even while you sleep, spending time with your family, doing what you love. And that's all in the tech. We provide all the templates for you. We provide proprietary tech. And so that literally, even while you're sleeping, you have students coming in that need and want your online course, paying you money, while they're also getting amazing results from the course that you previously created. And so, you're creating an asset that works for you even while you sleep.

John: You say you've had at least a few hundred people that have gone through this process, which is good to hear. You've boiled down, but of course, the devil is in the details. We can't get into 16 hours of learning exactly what you do. So, where do we go if we want to find out more or just learn more about it and consider learning from you?

Dr. Chester Zoda: Sure. You can find all of my work at You can see my student successes, which my team is very proud of because we work really closely with our students. I also provide a lot of free resources in case this is just something you're interested in and trying to see if this might work for you, like free resources. What course you want to teach, or how to even get started. There's a really in-depth training on my website that you can watch. It's just 15 minutes that covers all about this business opportunity.

In 2022, the e-learning economy is estimated to hit $350 billion. And so just like how Amazon is replacing Walmart in commerce, just like how Netflix is replacing blockbusters in entertainment, we're already seeing traditional education institutions like Harvard Medical School slowly disintegrating and moving online.

Part of generating income is just about catching trends. I've been lucky to be the pioneer in this trend and lead the future generation of doctors to put their back expertise onto the online world. If you're just remotely interested in this, check out my website,

John: I had to smile when you said put in the Harvard's out of business in that, because I think classical universities, we could replace them tomorrow. We all hear the same lecture, whatever school we go to. We got a diploma, that's great. But we spend a ton of money on things that really are virtually already available. And so, it's kind of a shame. We'll see. That part should really start to shift, I think, in the next few years.

Dr. Chester Zoda: Yeah. I'd like to see that.

John: It'd be a lot easier for our kids to go to school if they didn't have to spend $100,000 just to get through a year of a high-class school like that. Anyway, there are always options, but this is another one for earning money for physicians and helping people because you're teaching them, they need to learn these things anyway. And so, they just need to hook up with you, if you're teaching what they need.

Any other advice here? My audience is physicians. Some are struggling, some are unhappy, some are burned out and some are just worn out. If you practice medicine intensely for 20, 25 years, I know docs that go for 30, 40 years, but really it's a hard, intense demand on your thinking and intensity and focus. Sometimes you got to slow down and it sounds like at least one option. So, what advice do you have for physicians that are in that situation that are not really sure what they should do?

Dr. Chester Zoda: I think you should always have a plan. That sounds so simple. And you would expect like a doctor, a highly educated individual would have a plan. Where literally every single day we're giving people management plans and prescriptions. And so, you would expect that you would have a plan for your financial future, but I'm so surprised that a lot of doctors just don't have a financial plan for themselves and their family. This is dangerous, especially during the pandemic.In 2021 alone, there were 44,000 jobless doctors. These are highly educated individuals. They're just spat out of the economy and the medical field, which is so crazy to me. And so, if you don't have a plan, you'll always be a part of someone else's plan. Just like the billionaire Warren Buffet says, "If you don't find a way to make money, you'll always work until the date you die."

Whether you're in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, whether you're looking for some side income to potentially cut back on your clinical hours and just supplement your income, or perhaps you're looking to walk away completely from medicine and replace your income entirely so that you can spend time with your children, not miss out on their golden years, spend more time with the family, have the time freedom, location freedom, and the financial freedom, then you got to have a plan. You got to have a vehicle to get you to where you want to go.

One thing that we teach our students is creating a plan. I'll give you something very valuable for the people that are listening. Imagine your life was like a GPS. Everyone's familiar with the GPS. In order for a GPS to work, you must be very clear with where you are and where you want to go. Now, a lot of us aren't even honest with ourselves about where we are, and a lot of us don't even know where we want to go. So how would you expect the GPS to work? We would just be like a leaf blowing in the wind with no direction, not knowing where we're going. As a result, our financial situation is terrible. We haven't paid off our student loans yet. We don't have generational wealth. And that is a very dangerous position to be in, especially in today's economy, 2022, moving into this current decade. That is a very dangerous position to be in. And so, I will not wish that upon my worst enemy.

Look at your life like a GPS. Get clear with where you are, get clear with where you want to go and then find a vehicle that can get you there in the most predictable way possible. It's just not about looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. I don't work with anybody that's looking for a get-rich-quick scheme, but this is looking for a get-rich-certain scheme.

You want to look at opportunities that are certain for return on investment, and that are certain to help you get to the financial situation that you deserve. And so, whether it's an online course or not, whether it's something else completely entirely, that is up to you, but at least get clear with where you are and where you want to go, because that's going to make life a lot easier and make your decision making a lot easier. It's funny, but there's this thing where if you don't have a target, you'll miss every time. So just set yourself a target just by the end of this podcast, spend 5 to 10 minutes, set yourself a target and make sure you hit it.

John: Sounds like a good advice. I like that. I like the GPS analogy. It's a good one. All right, Chester, this has been fun. I think I've learned a lot today, just in our short time together here. I appreciate you taking the time and explaining all this to us. It's been great. We'll not forget that we want to go to if we want to learn more. I'll put links in the show notes and we'll go from there. So, with that, I'll just have to say goodbye.

Dr. Chester Zoda: All right, goodbye. I appreciate it. It was a pleasure speaking here.

John: All right. Take care.


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The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life, or business.

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