We had the good fortune of connecting with Jesse Berry and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jesse, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
I am a 100% believer that hardwork is the foundation for all success. There is opportunity and serendipity and chance — but to take advantage of any of these you need to be strong and poised for it. The only way that happens is to put the work in. The best way to work — show up. People who show up, ask questions, are present and engaged find themselves faced with opportunity again and again.

When I was in college I was talking to my best friend’s father and I referred to myself as a worker bee. What is a worker bee? A member of the team. willing to show up and work hard for the greater good. Take some pain to be part of something bigger than themselves. He was surprised and said, but you’re the Queen Bee. This was, of course, not even slightly my perception of myself. Years later I think, the most successful people, know when to be both the Worker Bee and the Queen Bee. Everyone needs a little of both.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an ocular oncologist — which means I treat cancer in and around the eye in adults and children. These are rare cancers (thank goodness) so we are a rare breed. There are maybe 300 or so full time ocular oncologists in the world. It is challenging but really fulfilling to make a difficult diagnosis, of a rare thing, and work with your patients (and parents of pediatric patients) at each step through the treatment.

Nothing in my life has been particularly easy — but I figure most things worth doing aren’t easy anyways. I was the first person in my family to attend college and the first person in my high school to attend Harvard College. I think one of my unique talents is the willingness to create new paths to attain a goal. A lot of people want to find the path and walk it — but there are lots of times when that path not only isn’t clear, it might not be the right one. I really encourage people to not be afraid to build bridges and new roads and heck, an aqueduct if you need to — to attain your goals. Part of finding the courage to build new paths is

1) being willing to put the work in. A new path is likely harder, but oh so fulfilling. For me, I needed to do that at multiple points in my life, including for my ocular oncology training. There aren’t many training programs for this so I needed to do the hard work of building a curriculum and convincing the teachers that it was a worthwhile thing to do!

2) being willing to fail. sometimes a new path runs into too many obstacles. sometimes that new bridge absolutely collapses. accepting that failure is part of the process makes it seem less terrible — and it shouldn’t be terrible. Failure should be expected and accepted — it is a normal part of the process.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
so, I am by nature, a super organized planner. So of course I have a note on my phone with some of my favorite places in Pasadena and Los Angeles. When I first moved out here I felt like the city was so spread out and amorphous, and a little secretive (like some of the best restaurants hiding in strip malls) but now I love the variety and the adventure that is LA. Also thinking about this makes me a little sad — between covid and having two babies in 2.5 years — it’s been so long since we have done these things!

To do
go to a show at Disney hall or the hollywood bowl.
kayak or paddle board in marina del rey
go to the getty villa
El Matador beach in malibu
walk descanso gardens
drive up to the observatory and see the hollywood sign
if you have kids (of if you’re a kid at heart) go to the Aquarium of the Pacific (bonus for parents: The RH outlet is across the street)

To eat
Bestia remains my fave in LA. Followed by sister restaurant Bavel. Amazing, innovative spaces and menus
Little Sister is insane
Red Bird
Sugarfish (we love sugarfish sushi)
Nobu in Malibu if you plan ahead (and it’s worth planning ahead — and getting a babysitter — go for lunch so you can appreciate the view)
SQRL in Los Feliz
Nightmarket Thai and jitlada thai — ‘tied’ for our favorite thai

in Pasadena we love The Raymond, Bone Kettle, Maestro, The luggage room… there are so many good restaurants close by!

we love wine and driving the coast so for someone staying a little longer we would venture to Santa Barbara and north — stop by Liquid Farm and Demetria for a tasting and lunch. Stay the night at Bacara.

Once a year we go up to Monterrey for the aquarium (my husband I got engaged there) and stay at Bernardus which is a delightful treat for us and one of our faves. If you have time you can drive back through Big Sur and get lunch at Nepenthe (for the view mostly!). That drive is 100% worth it.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Leading a successful career in medicine while raising a family, takes courage and takes a village. I owe thanks to a lot of people, but my Grandmother Jeannette taught me that I mattered, and my opinion mattered. I needed that as a child. My career mentor Dr. Linn Murphree taught me to show up on the good days and the bad days, and learn from both. Even when the disease we treat is hard, showing up makes the process better. And to my husband, Paul Comas, who lifts me up, and never bats an eye when I have a last minute early morning meeting or an emergency patient that has to go to the operating room late. He makes me feel like what I do at work and at home is worthy and worthwhile and I am so grateful to him for that support.

Website: https://eye.keckmedicine.org/doctors/dr-jesse-berry/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/_moda_md

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesse-berry-83604860

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themodamd/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg5BBOHeYos

Other: usedto blog at www.modamd.com — it is up but its been a long while. mostly on Ig now.

Image Credits
Valerie Tabor Smith

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.