Michael Ventura


CEO & Creative Director


Alternative Medicine Practitioner

Murmur Advisor

Tell us about a recent time you felt cared for?

Sometimes you find support in the most unlikely of situations. On a recent trip to San Francisco I was at a lovely dinner with some friends. A few hours later, I was in crippling pain lying on my hotel bathroom floor with a terrible case of food poisoning. The next day, the SF Chronicle’s website front page detailed a norovirus outbreak in the oyster beds of Tomales Bay. I was essentially patient zero.

I was completely debilitated with fever and all the not so fun things that come with food poisoning. But what was amazing was that in my effort to cancel my plans for that day (and subsequently the following day) my friends who I canceled with rallied and offered to bring soup, juice, and a cornucopia of herbal remedies to help quell my illness. Getting sick like this is tough enough when you’re at home, but when you’re on the other side of the country, going through this alone in a strange hotel room, it can feel doubly difficult. It was wonderful to feel held by my friends in San Francisco who made it abundantly clear that they were there for me for whatever I needed. 

How do you provide care for others?

For the past decade, I have been a practitioner of alternative medicine. In my private practice I see people with all sorts of ailments – from physical to emotional to spiritual troubles. Doing this work is more than a job, it is a calling and a passion that I do proudly. In addition, for the past 17 years I’ve run a strategy and design consultancy of roughly 50 employees. At this organization we work with leaders of large companies to help work through difficult challenges and chart a course for their future. In both of these roles, I find my job to be primarily focused on providing care.  

Last year, I wrote a book about this. Applied Empathy is focused on telling the story of both of these professions that I balance and how the application of empathy is core to each of them. 

What would you like to see more of in wellness?

“Stick-to-itivness”. Many people’s wellness journey begins (appropriately) on what I call the spiritual buffet line. We sample. We try different things and see what agrees with us. The problem I see often is that this behavior can, if not checked, turn into perpetual sampling and a resistance to commit and go deeper with one or a few practices. These modalities have not stood the test of time because of dabbling. They have lasted, and worked for so many, because of an individual’s willingness to go deep and to put in the work necessary to unlock deeper, more powerful healing. As we travel on our path, it’s important to remember the importance of commitment.

Favorite self-care ritual of yours?

Oh man, I need to pick just one? Here are my top three:

1) Morning qigong and prayer. I do it every day. It is a perfect way to greet a new dawn and open my body, mind, and spirit for the day ahead. 

2) Vacations. I know that sounds trite, but in this era of overwork, it’s critical to take time for a break. My wife and I are adamant about stepping away and disconnecting ourselves from everything a few times a year to get a full reboot.

3) Warm water with lemon. Every day. Simple. 

Any guilty pleasure wellness products that you use?

Nope. Nothing to feel guilty about if it’s providing wellness and pleasure. 

You're a practitioner that works 1-on-1 with people. What are the most common issues you treat?

These days, I’d say infertility (in men and women), anxiety, depression, low back pain, gastrointestinal issues, and fear. The world is a complicated place for many of us and the stresses we encounter pile up and become challenging. Sometimes it’s the simple touch of another person that can help jump start your system and put you back on the path to recovery. I’m honored to provide that to those who seek me out.


All of my teachers: My wife, my dog (Darryl), my indigenous medicine teacher, my qigong master, our indigenous wisdom keepers, and my ancestors. All of them would laugh to be considered heroes, and I don’t know if I would want to call them that myself, but I would say that it is their bravery to be themselves and to support me that feels truly heroic.

Catherine Spence