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Dentistry is Changing. Where Do You Fit? – Episode 169

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Dentistry has more career tracks than ever before. Do you know where your skills fit?

On this episode of Dentist Money™ Reese and Ryan take a closer look at the dental industry and the growing opportunities within it. As the industry evolves, a diverse set of new jobs are becoming available. Reese and Ryan talk about why it’s important to know exactly where your skills fit in today’s marketplace. Should you grow your practice? Focus on lifestyle? Do something non-traditional? Here are a few things to consider as you make your optimal decision.

Podcast Transcript:

Reese Harper: Hi Dentist Money listers, Reese Harper here. Today Ryan and I are going to take a closer look at the dental industry, and the growing opportunities that exist with different practice models and career types. As the industry continues to evolve, there’s a really diverse set of new jobs that are starting to become available and a unique set of entrepreneurial opportunities for each of you. We talk today about why it’s important to know where your life skills fit in today’s marketplace, how you should grow your practice, whether you should focus on a lifestyle business, a second location, adding an associate or two, or expanding to a multi-location enterprise? Should you really grow your practice or should you focus on lifestyle?

Reese Harper: Ultimately this is kind of the decision that each of you have to make and you have to decide which variables are going to impact that decision. We’d like to discuss this with you today and hope that you find it as valuable as we did.

Reese Harper: Make sure and visit us at and check out our education library. You’ll find a lot of videos, podcasts, and new articles that we’re releasing every week. Also, when you go to the website, don’t forget the book a free consultation, clicking the book free consultation button, where you’ll be paired with one of our dental specific financial advisors on a day that works for you. We book appointments on off days, lunches, even on some Saturdays. Just check out the calendar and find a time that’s convenient. Call us anytime at 833-DDS-Plan. You can also text us at the same number. Don’t forget to submit your financial questions on our free Facebook group at We take the questions from the Facebook group and use them in the Podcast. Thanks again for listening and enjoy the show.

Legal: Consult an advisor or conduct your own due diligence when making financial decisions. General principles discussed during this program do not constitute personal advice. This program is furnished by Dentist Advisors, a registered investment advisor.

Announcer: This is Dentist Money. Now here’s your host, Reese Harper.

Reese Harper: Welcome to the Dentist Money Show, where we help dentists make smart financial decisions. I’m your host, Reese Harper, here with my trusty old co-cohost Sir Ryan Issac.

Ryan Isaac: Yes, good morning on this wintry morn.

Reese Harper: It’s a good day. No slipping and falling in our neck of the woods.

Ryan Isaac: That’s what happens when you get old. [crosstalk]

Reese Harper: I have my rustic, Rossignol, red-laced boots on.

Ryan Isaac: I was just looking at these. What’s that little animal on the zipper? Is it an animal?

Reese Harper: It’s a rooster.

Ryan Isaac: The Rossignol rooster?

Reese Harper: Yeah it’s from France. It’s the southern French countryside-

Ryan Isaac: They just run around everywhere?

Reese Harper: Yeah. I was actually curious about that one day so I kind of like-

Ryan Isaac: You called the owner and-

Reese Harper: Just had a-

Ryan Isaac: Like you do.

Reese Harper: Well, Rossignol is a mountain brand. It’s a mountain snowboarding … Well, just skiing and ski boots.

Ryan Isaac: But this is like-

Reese Harper: This is like in Park City summer sales you can go in and find deals and I have some amazing little walking boots.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. I feel like your boots have been the topic of four podcasts so far.

Reese Harper: Really?

Ryan Isaac: Yeah but these you could scale a mountain and then go to the opera later in them.

Reese Harper: They do both. They are versatile, they’re very minimalist. In Europe, they realized that they need to only have one set of boots for all occasions.

Ryan Isaac: I like it. They know what they’re doing over there.

Reese Harper: Can’t believe we talked about these boots every time.

Ryan Isaac: People are going to be like “No more boot talk!” They’ve got to see it.

Reese Harper: Get over your boots!

Ryan Isaac: People have got to see it. Well, today we’re going to start out with two of your favorite topics, which are: cows and business.

Reese Harper: I love both of those topics.

Ryan Isaac: So I want to start with a story. I’m just going to say the headline. The story’s quick but the headline basically tells the story, it’s hilarious. I saw this and I’m like “This has to be on episode one day.” You have maybe lived through this experience sometime. The headline says: “Cow escapes butcher, charges police, takes bullet and leads cops on mile-long chase.”

Reese Harper: No way.

Ryan Isaac: Yes.

Reese Harper: That’s a headline of a story?

Ryan Isaac: That’s the headline. I mean that’s the story. It’s a cow in Kansas, was being delivered to the processing plant, is the nice way to say it. I don’t know what the real way to say it is.[crosstalk 00:04:10]

Reese Harper: Slaughterhouse.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. That just fills me. So he goes to Kansas, he’s like “Nah, I’m not doing this,” and he just takes off down some railroad tracks, and he charges at the police, he takes a bullet, and he runs for a mile. He didn’t die there, they caught up to him and there wasn’t a nice ending because they brought him back to the place.

Reese Harper: The processing plant?

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. I saw this thing and I thought ” Reese and the cow story, it’s got to come on the show.”

Reese Harper: Well, People did a long cow article. If you haven’t read it recently you’re going to want to dial it in.

Ryan Isaac: Where would they find that?

Reese Harper: Go to the and just search for cows. Anything in there. You’ll find an article in there about-

Ryan Isaac: Surprisingly, I think if you type cows in our website, we might be the only financial planning firm in the world where you type in cows and there’s a lot of articles and podcasts.

Reese Harper: It’s there. There’s a lot to learn about stocks and cows. You’re going to have to read the article to find out.

Ryan Isaac: All right.

Reese Harper: But if you don’t know what stocks and cows have in common you’re missing out on some very important financial gains in your life.

Ryan Isaac: And life lessons. Stocks and cows, go check it out,

Reese Harper: I wasn’t expecting to talk about cows again though.

Ryan Isaac: I know, here we are. Well, there were two things I wanted to talk about, to kind of kick this off today, because today we’re going to talk about running and growing your practice. How to know how hard to push, how to invest, what to invest in.

Reese Harper: Yeah. Today we’re going to talk about making the best decisions you can for who you are. Making the optimal decisions for your personality and who you are.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. Using your profitability, your leftover profits the business to do what is best for you in your situation.

Ryan Isaac: But the cow thing reminded me, I mean, it’s just a life lesson. I just saw the article and, I thought, “Sometimes you just have to fight for your path. You got to just charge down your path, you got to take a bullet, you got to lead cops on a mile long chase down some railroad tracks.”

Reese Harper: Sometimes you got to get going and make it happen.

Ryan Isaac: Yes. So I read that but then I was thinking about this other article I read. Do you know what StoryCorps is? Do you guys know what StoryCorps is?

Speaker 3: No, I’ve never heard of that.

Ryan Isaac: It gets featured on NPR lot. StoryCorps is this thing that started a decade ago from this guy, I’m not going to say his name right, Dave Isay, I think is his name. He basically set up these microphone booths around the country and he just has people tell their life stories. It’s the most fascinating thing ever.

Speaker 3: Is there any prompting in there or do they just go in and-

Ryan Isaac: They have some questions sometimes. They’ll have a grandparent and a grandchild go in and they’ll have back and forth questions. He’s been doing this for 10 years, I mean, it’s really, really cool. He wrote this book … He took a lot of stories out of there about people finding kind of their path and career and finding how they found their calling. How they really found like-

Reese Harper: Who they are.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. Who they are in their career and he wrote this book called Callings: A Purpose and Passion of Work. I’m just going to tell you there were the seven most common threads that he pulled from a decade of stories about people and their work. So I was going to read these to you and then we’re going to talk about a few things and growing a practice and how do you know who you are and how far do you push and the kind of stuff. But here’s the seven things he said, I thought were really interesting, about your calling and your purpose and your passion for work.

Ryan Isaac: He said “Number one, finding the right thing for yourself, he says, it’s the intersection of three things: You find something you’re good at, feeling appreciated, and believing your work is making people’s lives better.” What are those kinds of thing, they call them a Venn diagram, you know?

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: little bubbles, where those things overlap. So something you’re good at, feeling appreciated and believing that your work is making the world a better place, right?

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: Number two thing he pointed out from all the stories was that; Your calling, your passion for work often comes out of difficult experiences. Number three was that the calling often takes courage and ruffles some feathers.

Reese Harper: Interesting.

Ryan Isaac: The cow in Kansas took little courage, ruffled a few feathers along his mile long run. Number four was; Other people often nudge you towards your calling. Number five was what comes after identifying your calling is what really matters. So once you find that purpose and that passion, as you continue down the path. Number six was; Age is irrelevant. Which, I thought, that was kind of interesting. A couple months ago we had a company … We did the end-of-year company thing, and one of our team members, who’s on the developer side with you working on some of the technology, he said something, I mean, how old is Dave? 40? In his 40s?

Reese Harper: Yeah, maybe, yeah, early 40s.

Ryan Isaac: He said he’s now in his dream job and he’s in his 40s. I felt like “That’s really cool.” I think there’s a lot of pressure sometimes when you’re in your 20s. You got to find that dream job and sometimes it doesn’t happen. So anyway age is irrelevant. Number seven was; Your calling often doesn’t come with a big paycheck.” So kind of with these in mind and the cow from Kansas-

Reese Harper: So I got to repeat this because you lost me in a few people with your list there. You get a long list.

Ryan Isaac: It’s a long list. It’s a book! This is a book.

Reese Harper: So we have this kind of intersection of something that you’re good at … You’re basically saying the right career path for someone is something that they’re good at, something that they feel appreciated doing, and something that makes the world kind of a better place?

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, this guy found in 10 years of stories. That was a theme.

Reese Harper: Those are kind of of the any good careers can have those three things.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: Then he had seven things that-

Ryan Isaac: Six others.

Reese Harper: There were six other … Oh, six other-

Ryan Isaac: Seven total.

Reese Harper: So that was one out of seven.

Ryan Isaac: That was number one.

Reese Harper: So the other six-

Ryan Isaac: Difficult experiences, you’ll ruffle feathers, other people help nudge you towards that, age is irrelevant, sometimes doesn’t come with a big paycheck. He told this story of this lady who was, I think, in her 50s and she just had this urge to go work in one of these bridge tollbooth boxes. It was in a really pretty place and she just tells the story about how that that just made her feel really relevant and she saw sunsets and sunrises and she just felt like her calling. He was saying “Look sometimes it doesn’t pay you all the money in the world, doesn’t matter how old you are but, you kind of know it when you find it. You know?

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: So, anyway.

Reese Harper: A lot of dentists will be listening to this and be going like, “Well, how does that apply to me?”

Ryan Isaac: We’ve chosen dentistry.

Reese Harper: “Because I’m already in my career. I don’t get to explore that”

Ryan Isaac: “I’m 10 years in half a million dollars into this thing.”

Reese Harper: Yeah. So how do you kind of bridge that gap? Because I know you want to go beyond that basic fundamental idea.

Ryan Isaac: I kind of just wanted to set the stage for these are in someone’s experience who’s heard a lot of people stories. These are common threads for people found their calling in the passion that work. But here’s where I’m going to lead this; the first thing I want to ask you is well maybe we can talk about just real quick what are the different options dentist can pursue. They come out of school and there’s a handful of things you could do. Today were in an environment where people are building very large organizations, a lot of locations and it’s getting really, really big.

Reese Harper: Yeah. Well, and I think a lot of people if they really … There’s a lot of people that aren’t listening to this, not a lot but probably a portion of people that went through dental school are not listening to this podcast anymore as a practicing dentist because they’re just like, “Dude, I’m out. I’m done.” And there out because this list that you just gave us it filtered some people essentially out of dentistry. So I don’t think we need to spend time talking to those people, but there might be a few people listening to this podcast that are just like, “Every day is an absolute grind.”

Reese Harper: I think just briefly to those people like I don’t think there’s a possibility that maybe you should be in this career, that’s a possibility. There’s also a pragmatic side of me that just says did the guy … Let’s say the person in our company who you just mentioned at 42 like was it a drag to clear up until now?

Ryan Isaac: Not at all.

Reese Harper: No, I mean he didn’t maybe … He had good experiences along the way that finally led him to a better place, but he didn’t change industries. But I know he had some really bad jobs along the way, but that didn’t make him pivot industries entirely. I think that’s kind of the millennial temptation today is like, “Well I’m not happy and so I need to like bounce to another career entirely, and I’m never going to actually build what I’m good at.” Yeah, right?

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: You said something you’re good, it’s like, well you won’t get good at something until … according to Malcolm Gladwell for 10,000 hours. So when are you going to spend long enough and accrue to get something that you’re good at? So I just caution people to feeling like just because-

Ryan Isaac: You’re not feeling it-

Reese Harper: … you’re unhappy it doesn’t mean like you need to bounce.

Ryan Isaac: Maybe you need a partner, maybe you need an associate, maybe-

Reese Harper: Yeah. Let’s just talk about the options with in your industry, that’s what we’re going to spend our time on. I wanted the least talk about that topic of … Because I think it’s affecting a lot of people in their 20s and 30s right now, that are like, I’m not happy and every six months it’s a different thing. Dude there is some societal issues happening right now through like how technology is influencing us, and how content is influencing us, and television and movies and-

Ryan Isaac: What we perceive as reality.

Reese Harper: Yeah. And variations. Like my kids love change, they love change more than I think I love to change. I’m seeing like … I don’t know that that’s going to be like a persistent topic due to like how things have changed since the year 2000, but it seems to me like people are less able to stay focused for a longer period of time. I know that’s been the case with a lot of new hires that we had here. I’ve been able to see you like it’s a bigger struggle. You know?

Ryan Isaac: Sure.

Reese Harper: I’m not saying that people shouldn’t feel that way around the old man, like doesn’t love the young millennial’s and I don’t hear you, and I’m not like an empathetic.

Ryan Isaac: Classical guy versus millennial conversation.

Reese Harper: Yeah. I’m just saying like ultimately part of your happiness is getting good at something and I can’t make you get good at it, you got to get good at it.

Ryan Isaac: Well, in these things you said that, it’s not often your calling comes out of difficult experiences it is not like a bad day, you’re talking like bad years, hard years, maybe not bad.

Reese Harper: Yeah. But how is this relevant to dentistry though? There’s a very diverse set of career paths that are evolving right now. A lot. I was just in Southern California this weekend, and I saw in one practice, I saw four different possible career paths-

Ryan Isaac: For the dentist?

Reese Harper: For the dentist, based on the responsibility they want to take on, the type of role they would want. Like how much marketing emphasis do they want to put it, how much HR and employee development emphasis do they want, how much clinical expertise do they want, and how much enterprising and expansion they want, how much documentation and process-

Ryan Isaac: And system building.

Reese Harper: … and system building that they want. Like there’s a lot of ways within this industry to take your background and innovate in an incredibly diverse set of opportunities.

Ryan Isaac: Would you say maybe now more than ever-

Reese Harper: Way more now than ever. Way more now than ever.

Ryan Isaac: Which is opportunities. So the person is just like, “Gosh, I thought I loved clinical, and I don’t love clinical.” It does mean you get out of dentistry, it means you’ve got a lot of options.

Reese Harper: Yeah, that’s why little critical sometimes of these overly simplistic … So you and I both know we have plenty of debates about peoples of like overly simplistic advice. You got-

Ryan Isaac: Well, if doesn’t fit on an Instagram quote [inaudible 00:16:28].

Reese Harper: Yeah. Dude. I’m just saying like the choice of industry that you’re in-

Ryan Isaac: There’s an advice.

Reese Harper: Industry is a completely different question from job. Like just because you’re in dentistry does not mean you have the same job as everyone else. There’s a massive amount of diversity within that. Even with our clientele, even within all of our listeners here, like there are people that are sitting on boards of dental practices exclusively, there are people that on one spectrum end, and there are people that are building dental products, there are people who are building service operations and patient treatment, CE. There are people that are determining like how to advance certain clinical procedures in a way that’s innovative.

Reese Harper: There are people that are just fulfilling a necessary and important rank-and-file role of production and getting in there and just getting stuff done and then tuning out and not having anything to do with the business. None of these like job options are bad and none of them are good. There are just different people are better at them than others. And then I think it’s really important to explore that for yourself and get happy in the industry that you’re in.

Ryan Isaac: Okay. So let’s talk about some of the things that something … We’re on the subject. Some of things that often discourage people, emotion people experience as they grow that can stop them in their tracks. As you talking about like making someone want to just quit or pivot or just get out of something. So I’ll go down a list of some these things.

Reese Harper: Yeah. I want to like throw some at you and let you think of it too. I think one of them that comes to mind you probably got a written list, I just got my one in my head, so I want like-

Ryan Isaac: [inaudible] list.

Reese Harper: You keep us on … Your list is more comprehensive than mine.

Ryan Isaac: Very.

Reese Harper: But the one event I struggled with personally if I go back to my own story of like I was a … will call myself like a practicing … I was a practicing dentist one location with no associates and-

Ryan Isaac: Doing your own hygiene.

Reese Harper: Doing my own hygiene, [crosstalk] right?

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: And there’s a long period of time I wasn’t quite doing my own hygiene but close, right?

Ryan Isaac: You were.

Reese Harper: As a part time hygienist.

Ryan Isaac: You did. You were part-time. You’d come in every once in a while.

Reese Harper: And there was a lot of times during those early years where I remember telling myself things that are objectively so not true. And I told myself those things over-

Ryan Isaac: Do you remember like-

Reese Harper: … and over again. Like if I get any bigger I’m going to lose quality control in a massive way. If I get any bigger the quality is going to go down and then my reputation is going to be in jeopardy and no one’s going to trust me anymore because we’re bigger. I got to stay involved in the art of financial planning.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. I you don’t it’s all-

Reese Harper: The financial of dentistry and if I don’t do that that will actually-

Ryan Isaac: If it’s an associate or partner working and is just like-

Reese Harper: They might not be the same. I’ll never be able to train them like the way I would do it.

Ryan Isaac: Do it exactly right. And that’s true though. It is true.

Reese Harper: I’ve had five or six appointments the last week with dentists who have said that same thing to me. They’ve said the way I practice dentistry though is just-

Ryan Isaac: It’s just no way.

Reese Harper: If a consultant comes in here and they try to get me to change this, like the way I do it, it’s the right way essentially. Like I’m not going to change because the way I do it is-

Ryan Isaac: That’s it.

Reese Harper: They’re not arrogant about it. There’s a fundamental underlying belief that like I practice in a way though that no one else does, and it’s very difficult to train someone else to do it this way. I’ve tried it doesn’t work. I hear that from ortho, I hear that from endo, I hear that from GP, from implantologist we’ll call them. I hear that from every specialty, and I’ve told myself that all the time.

Ryan Isaac: There is truth in it because a person is a person and everyone’s going to have their own really unique … They could be very nuance small things because so you just have to get over it because it’s not-

Reese Harper: You don’t have to get over it, you could continue to tell yourself that, but you won’t influence as many patients. Here’s my bet, my bet is that … and I just know this like if you talking about quality, quality has more to do with the process that someone is following, than it does the person themselves. A person given enough coaching and enough repetitions and enough at-bats and enough process detail that will beat … that does more good in the world than a bunch of smart people with no process. Because those smart people like it takes 10,000 20,000, 30,000 hours to become like epically good at something and then if you have a great processing, great training and a great system, you can help more people.

Reese Harper: I’m not saying you’re doing this because you’re making money, I’m talking about the fundamental belief of wanting to do better stuff in the world. Like if you really want to impact the world you have to be able to duplicate who you are to some degree, you don’t have to copy yourself.

Ryan Isaac: So I was just going to ask the-

Reese Harper: I don’t like that terminology. I’ll copy myself, you can’t.

Ryan Isaac: You can’t. So I was just going to ask you-

Reese Harper: You can’t copy yourself.

Ryan Isaac: Are you saying that’s fine to just say, “Look it’s better that someone is 90% of me doing more work for the people and impacting people in a bigger Way than like nobody?”

Reese Harper: Well, even 50% of you, even 60% of you-

Ryan Isaac: Okay. Just don’t go below 50.

Reese Harper: Yeah I mean once you got 10%

Ryan Isaac: You got to have like half my jeans.

Reese Harper: But if-

Ryan Isaac: 10%.

Reese Harper: I almost don’t really like that framing of it. Like I hear that a lot, that 80% means better and [inaudible] 70. I kind of like the idea of; Are we following the same process? Because you’ll never be the same person and I don’t … You pat yourself on the back too much when you say though with 80% of me, it’s like you’re not that big of a deal.

Ryan Isaac: Maybe there 120% of you because they’re better.

Reese Harper: Yeah. That’s how I feel like, I feel like they can, because like all of us have unique … Some of us are process builders and some of us are relationship specialist, some of us are like Justin I was talking about yesterday, he’s an MBA that joined us a few years ago[crosstalk 00:23:21]. He’s Q. He was-

Ryan Isaac: He was on Q in the studio, he used to be used with us.[crosstalk 00:23:27]

Reese Harper: Yeah. He told me yesterday, he said you know the day that I can really just work on employee development, just sitting down with people and making sure that reaching their goals and making sure that they’re happy with their job and that’s when I’ll be in my optimal role.

Ryan Isaac: So cool. It’s cool, yeah.

Reese Harper: Yeah. And he loves that. The people listening I know there’s a bunch of you that are going, “I hate that part about my job.” I literally don’t come close in physical proximity to people because I’m worried about the possibility-

Ryan Isaac: Of a conversation.

Reese Harper: …. of having to engage. And that’s okay. I know that there’s a lot of dentists that feel that way. And so if you’re not wired to be the type of person who loves seeing other people develop, then you’re going to have a real hard time bringing on an associate, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t bring on associate-

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, or ever be a practice with a lot of people or-

Reese Harper: It just means like you might have to do that for a while until you can find someone whose passion that is or you need to find what your strengths are and leverage those as much as possible until you can get to a point we can bring people into to really own the things that you’re not maybe the best at. I think every entrepreneurs path, every dentist path to that next step of growth is being able to say I have these strengths, these are my strengths and I’m getting really, really leverage those as much as I possibly can, I’m going to focus on those and just get to that next level of growth knowing that my strengths will take me to this point, but then I’ve got to get help in the areas that are not my strength.

Ryan Isaac: To put a timeframe to this though because I think there’s got 29-year-old dentist out there, like, “I’ll do that in the next six months,” and they’d be frustrated that they didn’t get to that point in a short period of time. Were talking like … I’ve seen this thing develop over more than a decade, clients go through the same thing where you just there is some[crosstalk 00:25:32] too.

Reese Harper: So what are you saying? Like a 29-year-old-

Ryan Isaac: I’m saying don’t assume that process of self-discovery and then finding the right person to fill in the holes where you’re not the best is not a 12-month process.

Reese Harper: Yeah. I think that-

Ryan Isaac: Give it time. Let it be-

Reese Harper: At least be organic. Be organic. I think it takes time to know the what your strengths are.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. It takes a while.

Reese Harper: Yeah. I don’t think you can kind of identify. I didn’t know those in myself for a long time.

Ryan Isaac: And if you figure them out a 40, right.

Reese Harper: The main point of this is, I think there are things that we tell ourselves that are not true and I want to keep going on that theme. One of them being that things are going to be as high of quality if I don’t do every bit of the technical work. If I don’t do the technical work, the quality will not be there. I don’t think that’s true. I think that the true part of that is quality will go down if there is no process for people to follow, to do things the way that you’ve done them. That-

Ryan Isaac: You didn’t believe that eight years ago, nine years ago.

Reese Harper: I didn’t think that you could process the type of business that I was in. And that’s what I think dentists [crosstalk 00:26:52].

Ryan Isaac: Fill the process and then train employee [crosstalk 00:26:54].

Reese Harper: You can’t build a process around the way I do this thing.

Ryan Isaac: This is custom, man, this is in my brain.

Reese Harper: I would say dentistry is … At least the patient knows what to expect when they come to the practice, I’m getting-

Ryan Isaac: Pretty general set of[crosstalk 00:27:10]

Reese Harper: … hygiene, I’m getting some kind of treatment plan-

Ryan Isaac: My gums might bleed a little bit, couple of [inaudible 00:27:15], some gas.

Reese Harper: I do think you have the opportunity to differentiate your process in a really unique way because it’s becoming more commoditized, and it does not have to be that way. Like the evidence of this for me is like how little relationship building is actually occurring on average not speaking to all of you, but on average in dentistry there’s very little relationship building of the people listening. I’m just telling you I know your customers because we talk to them as well and I know you know your customers.

Reese Harper: I hope you know them as well as you think you know them because that’s that’s it’s really important you got to get to know your patients. My question is how many of them actually feel like they have a relationship with you in your office. Or are you just a place to get their teeth cleaned, like do they have … and if they don’t have a relationship with you, if that’s just not beyond the treatment or the cleaning how do you get to that point like what does it take to get the a relationship going.

Ryan Isaac: And what’s crazy about that too is not everyone will build that relationship in the same way because, one dentist will be like it’ll just be all … It’ll be some of the huge personality, just be like big personality. Someone else it’ll be a killer front desk team, someone else it’ll be a beautiful building and a great[crosstalk 00:28:36]

Reese Harper: Yeah. You’re going to attract the patients. You got to find some way to get … Anyway, that first fear of like losing quality I think you have to say, yeah that will happen if you don’t have a process to actually-

Ryan Isaac: Okay. On the same line of getting big then and losing quality is the argument that, well if this gets big I’m going to lose quality of life, family, relationship, time.

Reese Harper: I think those are different.

Ryan Isaac: Okay. Let’s split them up then. I’m going to lose quality of life, if I built something big beyond me, my quality of life will go down because I’ll just lose my time. What’s the fear? I’ll lose my lifestyle if I have a big business.

Reese Harper: I think time becomes the fear there, well that’s one of many, but let’s talk about the time fear like the bigger I get-

Ryan Isaac: I remember these conversations with you 10 years ago like what does happen when you’ve got dozens of employees and this is beyond us and it’s not sitting here hands on like-

Reese Harper: When you look at like this is the fear is when you have a small critical … Let’s say you’re the only director … in business they call it you’re the direct report-

Ryan Isaac: Okay. Sounds lie a Tom Cruise film.

Reese Harper: … that means is you are the primary person that people talk to about everything.

Ryan Isaac: Buck stops here. Everything.

Reese Harper: There’s a certain size of practice where you are the direct report for almost everything.

Ryan Isaac: Like I’ll clogged toilet, marketing problem, billing.

Reese Harper: You don’t quite have even one direct report that handles the bulk of your-

Ryan Isaac: I see what you’re saying.

Reese Harper: And the more direct reports you have in your business, the more peace of mind you have as an entrepreneur because you finally have a little bit of breathing room. So when I was it like maybe seven to nine to 10 kind of that kind of size of a company-

Ryan Isaac: People you’re saying?

Reese Harper: Yeah. People. I’m the direct report everyone yet and that’s the most busy, stressful possible time that I’ve ever had-

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. That’s true.

Reese Harper: …. in that moment when I’m the technician, I am the direct report and I’m over all the departments. I think what most dentist don’t realize is that there is a stage past that where it actually you think it’s going to get worse but it actually gets better. But if you build those direct reports, and you can invest in those roles you have to have a good front desk manager. You have to have a good front office manager that person can’t be underpaid, they have to be able to own the departments, they have to be human that people want to report to them, they have to like them, they have to be like a decent person.

Ryan Isaac: But now you’re talking though here’s the other side of this … Now you’re talking about … You have to keep driving the Toyota, you don’t get the Tesla if you want another direct report in your business you got to wait for the Tesla.

Reese Harper: Before we jump into that-

Ryan Isaac: I know. I’m just like on my mind like, what’s the cost of that.

Reese Harper: I think the point of this one was you’re losing time.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. And you’re scared to death.

Reese Harper: I don’t think you actually lose time the bigger you get as long as you’re bringing on the right teammates and focusing on getting this direct reports in areas that matter.

Ryan Isaac: So what you were just saying this so what’s the difference in about being scared that your lifestyle, your time’s going to get taken away, versus like I’m going to have a bad relationship with like family, friends, kids, spouse. Like the bigger I get my relationships are going to suffer.

Reese Harper: Because the times thing affects I would say the vacations, the relaxing-

Ryan Isaac: Is just your literal amount of time that you’ve got. Like has run out of time. The other side is like my emotion and stress level so it’s affecting-

Reese Harper: Are my kids getting to know who I am? Relationship management probably has less to do with the business and it probably just has more to do with whether like you’re actually spending the appropriate amount of-

Ryan Isaac: Do you shut it down, are you connected, are you present are you like-

Reese Harper: That’s really hard to do. I don’t want to judge like it’s really hard to do at certain phases of your businesses. Some people are great at it, some people are just really good at being present and investing in relationships around them. Some people just don’t … they don’t like the family thing, like it bothers them. Like they get annoyed by their kids.

Ryan Isaac: You know, it feels like a double-edged sword to me too is the deeper you get into finding work you have a passion for that you could say, “Oh, this my calling.” It’s not work when you’re up at midnight working on something.

Reese Harper: Like you like it.

Ryan Isaac: If you like it, it’s like this is stimulating and it’s fun and it’s interesting, it’s challenging and it’s something I would choose to do in my spare time anyway not just like on the clock in a grind so that’s kind of the double-edged sword too with how you shut it off and have some kind of balance sometimes. Because if you love it, it’s not a burden to pick up the phone and work on something. Let me bring one up then that I relate to, that I remember from our early days too, which is this fear that if we … What we have now … I remember this all the time. We’re small, little place, little shop, it’s almost the fear of big vision like dude what we have is working. This is working what if we try to build this bigger and we could blow up everything and then what we have it’s working now doesn’t even work anymore. What if we ruin a good thing that we’ve already got in our hands for the pursuit of something that we don’t have?”

Reese Harper: Yeah. I remember you telling me that a few times, and really feeling that too.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. I relate to that. But it’s good now, it’s like fine let’s not screw this up.

Reese Harper: And I think there’s-

Ryan Isaac: And I think that holds a lot of people back because you’re like, “It’s good yeah.”

Reese Harper: Yeah. When you’ve got that lifestyle business and it’s all dialed in, and it’s like-

Ryan Isaac: I would have ruined this.

Reese Harper: I had someone on Friday asked me that question because they were like kind of surprised like, “Dude everything was going really well for you.” This person has a small practice with a couple I think one or two employees and it’s a really dialed in, high profitability lifestyle business. And he asked me the question, like, “I just don’t get it, man like, why put all that it risk For what? You’re just going to make more money, what’s your motivation?”

Ryan Isaac: What’s the point? I don’t get it. More money won’t drive that.

Reese Harper: It’s not money that’s like-

Ryan Isaac: That’s not sustainable.

Reese Harper: It’s not money that’s driving a lot of people that continue to push that direction.

Ryan Isaac: No, it can’t.

Reese Harper: It has more to do with this underlying philosophy of ethical behavior or-

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. Building leaving your mark, purpose, yeah.

Reese Harper: … purpose, that’s what’s driving most people. Not everyone some people really they’re[crosstalk 00:35:30]

Ryan Isaac: Do you think a lot of people get stuck with that, like feeling scared that they’ll ruin the thing that burned their hand.

Reese Harper: I know I did that. That was something I struggled with for a long time and to say I wasn’t affected by that would be true. I was definitely affected by that, and one of the reasons why I think there could have been a balance for how like long I waited to do anything versus when I started. I look back and go, “What kind of feedback was I getting with the people that I was talking to, were they encouraging me to follow these fears?” A lot of them were-

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, me. I was like, “Hey, look, Reese this is-

Reese Harper: Let’s not break this thing.

Ryan Isaac: … great.”

Reese Harper: Let’s not break it.

Ryan Isaac: This is incrementally a little bigger.

Reese Harper: Yeah but you’re also one of the biggest champions of growth now that you have seen the other side of that coin.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. Maybe that is it. Maybe it’s exposure maybe it’s just like a limited … maybe you just need a bigger network of people that are different than you, to see like-

Reese Harper: I think that’s really critical. I think it’s critical to not surround yourself with people agree with you because you end up just hearing what you want to hear, that you already have heard.

Ryan Isaac: You’re already shaped to opinion.

Reese Harper: It’s just confirmation bias. We seek people that kind of make us all feel safe and comfortable like yeah that’s the way I’ve always thought it was.

Ryan Isaac: I knew it.

Reese Harper: I knew I was right.

Ryan Isaac: I knew it.

Reese Harper: It just feels good. When you know you’re really getting good advice is when the person that you’re getting advice from almost never agrees with you and you’re like, “I don’t know. I don’t want to do that.”

Ryan Isaac: Best friend relationships are built on hating the same things together though.

Reese Harper: That’s true. That’s the thing, your best friends are just going to … That’s comfortable.

Ryan Isaac: Just feels you’re going to hate the same things.

Reese Harper: I’m just saying that’s different than an advisor maybe. I don’t think that’s a bad. … that’s the thing that does hold people back but not always something you should discount either. I think it’s okay to say, you know what though, like one person’s … This is really critical, one person’s stretch might be another person saddle.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. For sure.

Reese Harper: And so I just don’t think you need to assume that just because like one person’s I’m a dental associate full-time for my entire career might have been a massive stretch goal for them, I just don’t think if it doesn’t feel like, … and within being dental associate, you can still stretch to impact your organization, impact your community, grow the process [inaudible 00:37:57].

Ryan Isaac: Grow a team.

Reese Harper: Grow the processes, grow the procedural documentation, help them prove that your role. I just don’t think anyone should stop growing, but one person’s stretch could be another persons saddle.

Ryan Isaac: That’s really good. It’s not an absolute measure, it’s really relative, it’s contextual.

Reese Harper: The other thing I remember thinking was … and I hear this from a lot of dentists is like, “Yeah, Reese well that works for. Like I don’t have anything unique, like I don’t have anything different about me, or my business or the way I practice that would make me any different.”

Ryan Isaac: We build a business and financial planning which literally isn’t even a term with the definition, so I think everything can find something unique.

Reese Harper: Well, I think looking at any industry as an outsider it looks like they’ve just … how was that possible like, “Oh my gosh you know I can’t believe it accomplished that or built that, how did they do that?” And someone on the inside-

Ryan Isaac: It’s must be super amazing how unique like is just special.

Reese Harper: You’re usually frustrated internally of going what’s different about us. Like what makes us different, what makes us unique. If we try to get bigger, do we just look dumb like there’s nothing different about us.

Ryan Isaac: Well, and I think this is a really interesting time in dentistry too because I was just having this conversation yesterday with someone who’s grown their a dozen plus locations now. And there’s this old mentality is still little bit around of corporate dentistry is bad and evil and the owners of corporate are just greedy, and the quality of service is terrible, employee … It’s not good for patients. There’s still this mindset you have to kind of get through. I think that persists today with people who are now … There’s these opportunities to build a lot of locations and if you have 10 locations, it doesn’t mean you’re the “Corporate dentist” anymore you still have like very unique boutique kind of patient experience feel and practice and there’s a huge fear.

Reese Harper: Yeah. I don’t think that’s a valid fear, because I think that the issue we talked about is, it’s not the size of the business that creates the patient experience being bad or good it’s the lack of process.

Ryan Isaac: Process as in systems.

Reese Harper: It’s the lack of direct reports, it’s a lack of good employees, human capital, the wrong dentist like people that don’t have good relationship management skills, people that are making it awkward for patients. Like those are the things that make a big company not a good company and we all know those. Shut out to Comcast, it’s probably one of the worst customer service departments in the history of mankind.

Ryan Isaac: Great. We just lost them as a sponsor.

Reese Harper: Like okay lets us change our name to XFINITY and see if our problems go away. Oh, wait away we still have the same employees, still sucks. Anyway ultimately if you have bad customer service, if you have bad culture, if you have bad direct reports, if you have bad human capital, you’re going to have a bad big company just like you had a bad small one. You need quality people and unfortunately like the majority of … Although the majority of dentists are good and the majority of employees are good and the majority of businesses-

Ryan Isaac: Culture persists.

Reese Harper: [crosstalk] you’ve got to really be careful as you grow with the people that you have.

Ryan Isaac: Okay. Here’s a question for you. How … and I know you’ve you’ve hit these points in your own life too. How do you know when you have reached a limit where you’re like okay, I’m pushed to a point where like this isn’t me anymore. Because I think I’ve been around you for a long time but I think someone might see you from the outside looking in be like, “Oh, you just like keep going, keep pushing.” There’s limits you probably hit where you’re like, “Okay, that part is not me. I can’t go down that road.” How do you know when to stop basically?

Reese Harper: That’s a great question I think for dentists to contemplate. I think for me-

Ryan Isaac: Have you hit those points where you personally like … Yeah.

Reese Harper: I think the way that maybe I would encourage people to think about this and maybe this is where I shift maybe the … I don’t know how you frame it up in your own mind either but it’s an interesting thing to think how you really think about that. I think there are paths that you go down that are requiring certain parts, certain skills that you don’t have. And that becomes evident. But there’s never a point that you have to stop growing.

Ryan Isaac: Because you can find someone else to help you with it.

Reese Harper: Well, even it … Let’s just take the case of someone who … This is probably the most relevant case you got a dentist who’s tried to grow but it’s just not working. They’re not getting an associate to stay.

Ryan Isaac: They’ve gone through a couple-

Reese Harper: They’re not flowing new patients.

Ryan Isaac: They’ve got two satellite locations but there’s no profit.

Reese Harper: Yeah. they’re just not able to bring in office manager like the problem isn’t necessarily that you can’t do it grow the problem is, there’s some attributes about your personality that are probably not optimal for the bringing on an associate or identifying talent or holding some people to some goals or-

Ryan Isaac: Building process.

Reese Harper: … human capital. There’s something about it. I think what’s more important isn’t like I think people will sometimes hit … I think there definitely people that should pivot a little bit and make a shift in and who they think they are or what they think they should be, but I don’t think that you should ever stop growing. I don’t think you should ever stop improving your income, improving your career, improving your-

Ryan Isaac: Growing revenue.

Reese Harper: If you’re an owner regarding collections and continuing to expand. I just think there’s a continual awareness that you have to develop of what things you’re not as good at as someone else might be. Those are really hard things to learn like I just feel like I’m still learning that for myself, and there’s things I think I might be good at and then I wake up the next day and I’m like, “I have always thought I was good that, I don’t think I really am”

Ryan Isaac: Why would I think that.

Reese Harper: Why did I ever think that was something that I was doing well. I see there’s-

Ryan Isaac: So it feels when I go rock climbing.

Reese Harper: If there’s too much that like obsolete thinking this way words like, I fail or succeed or I’m like meant to be an owner or not.

Ryan Isaac: Like amazing at it or I’m not.

Reese Harper: I meant to be a seven practice, a 10 location or I can’t grow a second one. It’s like really isn’t about that, you can use your opportunity as an entrepreneur, as a dentist, to bring all kinds of talent into your business. You can share ownership, you can borrow to expand, you can use the money of your profitability to hire incredible talent. I just think the biggest challenge that dentistry has is that they there’s not a lot of successful entrepreneurs influencing all of these business owners. And so the business owners, the dentist get advice from other dentists that sometimes haven’t had as much experience in business and so I think there’s a lot of-

Ryan Isaac: Or already determine for themselves like I’m not that guy, I can’t do that.

Reese Harper: I’m not that guy. Well, there’s not all nothing thinking, it’s like, I have to have a 50% associate or zero, or I have to have like a second location where we go 50-50 with this partner or nothing.

Ryan Isaac: Or not do it.

Reese Harper: Or it’s like my office manager doesn’t have equity well why not? Why don’t you bring in a manager, like why would you have a professional manager instead of just selling to a DSO? Why wouldn’t you just assume … why can’t you have an opportunity for the associate to … why did you ask him if he would be, even though he wants 50% ownership what about cash bonusing on production and profitability what about 5% ownership instead of 50 with that work for someone that you can continue to bring on multiple partners in that location.

Reese Harper: There’s just a lot of like it’s an industry that’s maturing right now in terms of … You have these overly maybe institutional DSOs that are attacking it from a very academic kind of business perspective. You have any of people that are like hyper traditional lifestyle practice driven on one end, but there’s not a lot in between. I think that’s a sign of them an industry that needs to mature. And I think most owners instead of telling themselves I’m not something or I am something-

Ryan Isaac: Or do it like I am one location, or I’m 30 and I’m going to sellout to DSO.

Reese Harper: Yeah. I mean you might-

Ryan Isaac: There is in between.

Reese Harper: Yeah. I wouldn’t focus on the way you want the business to look, that will screw you up. Don’t think about how big it’s going to be how small it’s get to be what it’s going to look like it doesn’t matter. What matters is, are you being financially responsible today, is the business today in a financially like viable state. If it’s not we got to like[crosstalk 00:47:15]

Ryan Isaac: Do you have growth? Do you have profit?

Reese Harper: Yeah. What does a prophet look like, do you have liquidity, do you have the ability to even take a risk or you’re like mastering some fundamentals that like so that are more-

Ryan Isaac: You’ve no idea.

Reese Harper: … CE driven. Like you’re still just not producing a fast enough’s pace. I think that it’s more important to know what that next incremental step you’re going to take in growth. Like I would ask you that, I would ask Jenny that, I would ask McKenzie that, I’d ask myself that. What’s the next incremental step you can take to get to a better place in your career? Whether you’re an associate, whether you’re an employee at a front office, whether you’re a multi-location owner or single location lifestyle practice. You just need to focus on the next incremental step that takes you to a place where you have a little bit more impact, a little bit more time.

Reese Harper: I like that kind of thinking because I don’t think that ever stops people from continuing to progress. And when you think about in terms of what it’s going to look like and exactly how it’s going to be I think we start like risk constraining ourselves in the unnatural way.

Ryan Isaac: Well, what’s funny is, things usually don’t end up exactly how you think they’re going to end up. Even when you think you know it perfectly, and given enough years. I guess here’s the one last question I would ask you then, from your experience and it reminds me of a quote from a really wise man name Ron Swanson.

Reese Harper: Oh yeah.

Ryan Isaac: He was giving advice to a dear friend Leslie Nope in roller-

Reese Harper: Roller hunting.

Ryan Isaac: They were sitting on a park bench, I think this had to do with their career and Washington DC politics.

Reese Harper: For those you don’t know Ryan is referencing-

Ryan Isaac: Parks and Rec.

Reese Harper: An all time classic, Parks and Rec.

Ryan Isaac: Look I came onto the Parks and Recs really kind of like I had my heels dug in.

Reese Harper: Late to the scene.

Ryan Isaac: I was late to the scene but it’s because Ron tells her[inaudible 00:49:07] she he just says, “That way lies madness.” And I was thinking about this quote when we was preparing this podcast thinking some people are in this process right now and they’re trying to incrementally build things, they’re trying to put in systems and processes get better people around them, but they just looked on the road they think, “Doesn’t ever get better or is this thing always just going to hurt forever?” What advice would you give to that person when it’s like there in the beginning of a long path does that lie really way … that way lies madness, what did he say? That way lies madness. Is it madness in the future or does it ever get better?

Reese Harper: Well I think it should be, if it’s really, really, really painful you don’t have the right advisors and you’re probably not making the right decisions. This should be a tolerable amount of pain-

Ryan Isaac: Not excruciating like-

Reese Harper: It should be a tolerable amount of pain and you shouldn’t be scared. Okay?

Ryan Isaac: Okay. That’s interesting.

Reese Harper: If you’re scared, if you’re really worried like the truth is you probably just don’t have the right advisors around you, not just financial advisors, you definitely need a good financial advisor, you definitely need a good CPA, I think you need a coach or two or to incrementally add value. You need some peers. I’m working right now the practice to bring on a couple of advisors for their multilocation practice that are also dentists who have done it. So you take a dentist who’s done it, been there and done exactly what you’re trying to do, and you just say, “Will you serve on my board for a small amount of equity?” They love it and it’s like you don’t really need to own 100% like 99 is fine.

Ryan Isaac: 95 will work too, because you’re two good people working.

Reese Harper: You could do like 97, and you’d be great, and it’ll just save you all kinds of pain. But if you’re feeling that kind of thing that you’re describing, I’m like, something was wrong, the way you’re describing, I’m like that, if there is fear, if there’s anxiety and you don’t know where to turn, you just don’t have the right-

Ryan Isaac: Debilitating.

Reese Harper: … people. You’re just not talking to the right people and you don’t have the right strategy.

Ryan Isaac: Well that was a great … That was very deep, very philosophical but I think very practical too, so thanks for [crosstalk]

Reese Harper: Well, hopefully it helped for everyone to kind of think through some[crosstalk 00:51:30]

Ryan Isaac: And just be the Kansas cow. Like run away from the meatpacking plant, take a few bullets head down the tracks, see where it leads you. Join our Facebook group we have actually right now really great discussion on this topic about what advice you would give your younger self starting a business and growing practice. Go to join the free Facebook group post questions.

Reese Harper: Going viral, love that.

Ryan Isaac: It’s going viral.

Reese Harper: I love that post.

Ryan Isaac: It’s a good post. Join us in there, there’s a lot of good stuff we pull, good content for the show in there too, so dentist If you like to talk to us, there’s two ways you can do it; if you go to website dentists click on book free consultation, we have a lot of availability put something on your calendar that works for you.

Reese Harper: We do have a lot of availability.

Ryan Isaac: Well, we’ve got like-

Speaker 3: Wide open.

Ryan Isaac: Sunday night at 11 PM we got it, no we don’t.

Reese Harper: I like that though.

Ryan Isaac: Sounds optimistic.

Reese Harper: Yeah. We do have … We’ve made our calendar available for people who have awkward schedules.

Ryan Isaac: That seems like a lot of availability. It is so real.

Reese Harper: There’s some employees that[crosstalk 00:52:40]

Ryan Isaac: We’re just going to bring it down to earth.

Reese Harper: We’re very grateful to take those time slots but they also don’t level because some of them are awkward so like Saturday-

Ryan Isaac: Saturday at two.

Reese Harper: Saturday morning slot that like everyone keeps taking.

Ryan Isaac: 7 AM.

Reese Harper: We’re doing it because we love you people, that’s why they’re there.

Ryan Isaac: Is a lot of availability on our calendars folks click on book free consultation or call us at 833-DDS plan, you can also text us, we would love to hear from you. Thanks for joining us.

Reese Harper: Carry-on.

Ryan Isaac: Thanks again for listening guys I really hope that you enjoyed the show.

Practice Transitions, Work Life Balance

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