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3 Keys to Building Wealth While Working Less – Episode 67

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How much is an hour of your time worth? In terms of earning potential, it could be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand. You can quantify it with a little bit of math. But salary aside, how much value can you really place on your time? Afterall, once an hour is spent, you can’t ever get it back. In this episode of Dentist Money™, Reese & Ryan explain three core principles dentists can follow to maximize their time so they can build wealth more efficiently. They also describe dentists who have mastered the art of being an “entreprofessional.”

Podcast Transcript:

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-host, Sir Ryan Isaac.

Ryan Isaac: Aw, good morning. Thank you for that unique introduction.

Reese Harper: I thought I would sing you a song again, too. On the road again—driving through potholes on the road again.

Ryan Isaac: We’re talking about infrastructure today?

Reese Harper: I have a problem with my city’s care of my roads. But we do have a balanced budget.

Ryan Isaac: You do. You live in a state with a very balanced budget.

Reese Harper: And they refuse to bury the power lines around our ancient infrastructure because it will disrupt the trees! And the roots! So I thought I would just tell you that because it was a hard drive into the office this morning.

Ryan Isaac: Well I appreciate you being here. And I can speak for thousands of people now that we are all happy you are with us. Today we’re going to talk about something really interesting—we spend a lot of time talking about things dentists can accumulate over their lifetime and try to accumulate enough of. Today we’re going to talk about something that none of us can ever accumulate. In fact, we just constantly run out of it. Every second. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Reese Harper: Food.

Ryan Isaac: Aw dang it. Yep, it’s food. No, it’s time!

Reese Harper: This was something I felt like we really needed to cover. Because how dentists use their time—how entrepreneurs use their time, and in this case I came up with a new word yesterday and then I found out it was a new word: entreprofessional. It means you’re an entrepreneur that’s a professional. You’re a dentist, a doctor, someone who does a craft, but you’re also an entrepreneur. A true entrepreneur doesn’t really want to do any work, and I consider myself someone who likes to do the work. I still like my craft. So here’s the point: this idea of time is probably most applicable to the small business owner that loves his craft; the dentist that just loves what he does but he also has to run a company and wants it to get bigger, and time gets stolen slowly over time. We are going to talk a little bit about this today, and I’m excited about it. And I know you don’t have any lack of time in your life.

Ryan Isaac: Well, it’s a common thing I think in today’s world. We’re going to talk about a few statistics that will back up what most people feel. I think if you asked the average person if they feel like they are spending enough time outside of work or enough time with friends or family or working on hobbies or interests outside of their jobs, I think a lot of people would say, “not as much as I would like.” And if you ask a lot of people if they feel like they are present in their off time, I think a lot of us don’t. How often do you take a call or respond to an email at night or a weekend, or maybe we should get your wife on the phone. How often does Reese Harper take a phone call on vacation? I know I do sometimes you know, and it’s tough not to in today’s world.

Reese Harper: I think it’s a process; I mean for me at least it’s difficult to not have a fire I have to put out at some point during the day, like seventeen times. But I think that I feel a big obligation as part of a good financial planning message to help people find balance and use their time a lot more effectively because I think you and I know how it is to get spread thin and how it feels, and I think there’s some cool statistics and studies and ideas that we’re going to go over today that will help people rethink not just about having to find balance but how to refocus their energy in areas that will make them more productive and can actually result in an earlier retirement. This podcast today is not just about time slipping away from us, and how we can get more back. It’s about the way you use it actually could really affect your retirement. It could have a huge impact on your net worth and the way that your finances develop.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, we were saying how people choose to spend their time could be one of the biggest indicators—because we are big on tracking indicators. It could be one of the biggest indicators of how someone ends up in retirement. A few things we were looking at: we were curious about how much Americans are working now days compared to the past; most people surveyed say they work more than they used to. There was an interesting study that’s been going around that shows 83% of people in this survey are stressed out by their jobs. Now the things I think that are interesting about some of these statistics like when people measure how much more they are working—11% of the people measured said they work between 40-49 hours. Twenty-one percent of the people said they work between 50-59 hours, and 18% of the people said they work more than sixty hours a week. To be fair to this data because we like to be fair, there is another side to these statistics, a little bit of push back where people are saying these are self-reported statistics. A few things we’re going to talk about next play into this. What some of the experts questions are: are we really working more or are we just more distracted during the times when we’re not working, and it makes us feel like we’re working more and we’re not taking quality time away from our jobs and our careers. The second thing, and this is very cut-and-dry, is that Americans are taking much less vacation time than we did compared to the previous forty years. On average we’re taking sixteen days per year off, and it used to be over twenty just ten years ago. We’re taking less and less time; in 2013 Americans left $5 billion on the table in paid benefits that we didn’t take.

Reese Harper: I think if you think about it this way, we’re taking roughly 25% less time off and we’re leaving a lot of money on the table in PTO. That’s interesting that people would do that. I think there’s another survey that we gathered up that showed that 61% of people are still working on vacation, which is interesting. So big picture: studies are showing that people are more stressed out; we’re reporting much longer workweeks.

Ryan Isaac: We say we’re working more, which could be true, but it also could be true that we’re not relaxing and we’re not doing anything outside of work that’s meaningful or focused.

Reese Harper: I think a lot of that goes to our third point—we’re working more than ever, we’re taking less vacation time, but we’re also spending a ton of time on our phones. And even during our free time, we’re spending a lot of time on our phones. You and I have talked a lot about how this probably just adds more stress. I mean it statistically for sure adds more stress, and we have less perceived time available because we’re always connected. We feel like we’re busier than we have ever been, and we probably are busier than we realize just because we’re always connected and we feel almost uncomfortable when we’re not connected.

Ryan Isaac: There was a study that was done—they installed these things on people’s phones to track this, and on the low end these people were touching their phones like a tap, click or scroll, 2,100 times per day. On the high end it was about 4,000. And like you said though, more time spent on phones especially during what’s supposed to be our leisure time, is leading to more stress, higher anxiety, worse sleep—that’s being studied a lot now: when we look at our phones right before we go to sleep it’s leading to sleep problems. And there’s attention span, memory problems, cognitive errors. With all this time that we think we’re working more, we’re not taking away from work, we’re not vacationing and we’re spending more time on our phones being connected—let’s talk about how dentists should think about maximizing their time and the value of their time, and a few things they can do about it.

Reese Harper: Yeah we’re going to cover three core principles that we think will help maximize your efficiency. The first one is really clarifying and believing that your time is worth a certain amount of money and identifying that and really believing it. So if you take an average practice that’s doing a million dollars in collections working four days a week, and you give that person four weeks of vacations–that doctor’s production time is worth about $700 an hour. Now some of that includes hygiene production but they wouldn’t exist without you in the practice doing what you do, so I think it’s a fair rational to say your time is worth north of $500 an hour for most people. And if you were on the same schedule making a million and a half, that would put you closer to $1,000 an hour of production time. If your practice is doing more than that it just continues to escalate. The pressure gets even more the larger the practice gets for most people to be accessible to spend time to focus on it. In my experience, the bigger the practice the more dialed in people are twenty-four seven into their operation.

Ryan Isaac: When I look at statistics like this, you just kind of think about the numbers. I wonder: Reese, why do you think dentists don’t know this or don’t believe this? I think a lot of people I talk to are surprised to think about their time being worth $500, $700, $1,000 an hour. What do you think it is that makes them maybe not value or like this or under value the numbers?

Reese Harper: I was meeting with a client a few weeks ago and when I talked about this idea, he told me, “so I don’t think my time really is worth $700 an hour. I’ve got some down time, and I feel like I can fit in a lot of little stuff still. There are holes in my schedule. I have people cancel; sometimes I have time during lunch that I don’t need my whole break. There’s time I can get away and do small tasks.” The reason it came up is because I saw this person doing a lot of little things I felt like they could outsource and have someone else help them with. But as we talked about it, it became clear that there was this paradigm that: I can do all of this stuff; I have the time to do it and my time is not worth that much. This person was collecting almost two million dollars, but they were still doing tasks that were worth a lot more than their time was. As I talked to them, it was clear they did have some time available and they were using it to spend on certain activities, but I was able to talk through it with him and we were able to identify things like—marketing activities, networking with other referral partners, client-appreciation events, mostly growth-related activities that were getting completely left in the dust or they weren’t touching those. At best, they were incomplete—the things they knew they wanted to do for marketing but weren’t getting to. Sometimes I think it can be easy to stay busy doing the things we know how to do and neglect the harder stuff that we don’t know how to do yet. And sometimes that’s hard to go focus on things we don’t really know how to tackle, and a lot of times that’s how to grow or how to market and increase our new patient flow and get a little bit larger and improve our profitability and efficiency; those things are hard to figure out and they take a lot of time.

Ryan Isaac: Where do you start? Where do you begin? What do you do? Versus some of the other little task-related things.

Reese Harper: Yeah, like jumping in and working on your books a little bit, or maybe some people are still doing their own payroll or they like to be involved a little bit more in some of the basic operational stuff or they will do shopping runs just because they like to maintain control of the corporate credit card. They will be doing their own 401K management and doing their own trading—buying their own mutual funds online and they will be tackling their own personal financial planning. There’s just a list of thirty things that they aren’t perfectly qualified to tackle, but because they have a little bit of extra time, those things seem to fill up their extra few hours a week. Then things that are more important like these marketing and growth-related activities just get left behind and it gets neglected. Do you see that in our business?

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, I see that in our company; I see that in dental practices. One of the hardest things to do in any company is market and sell and grow. It’s one of the hardest things to think about, and it’s probably the most important thing to do in any company. But it’s much easier to just get back to work on a certain task you already know how to do. You know how to value what it’s worth. Let’s say in your example you have the dentist that’s got an hour free that day. He could tackle the marketing problem he knows is there: maybe there’s a weak spot in the digital marketing that their practice is doing, or maybe he knows that there’s some community outreach that needs to be done, but that’s a hard task to define or to put a price on. And to know if it’s going to pay off compared to something like bookkeeping. Outsourcing bookkeeping costs a few hundred bucks a month—that’s an easy thing to put a cost associated with. And I know what I gotta go do, I just need to enter some data, and I saved myself a few hundred bucks. That feels like it’s more worthy of your time, and I can see how that happens. It happens in every company. So, point number two: don’t do the work that you can outsource to a competent and trusted partner. Competent and trusted are two key words.

Reese Harper: Don’t just have people do things that say they do it. “I do that.” “Okay, I’ll hire you.” Be careful about this. We had a podcast we recorded probably close to a year ago, but it was called “9 People Dentists Need to Know,” and those are some of the most core-outsourced partners that we think are essential. You should listen to that podcast if you haven’t already, but today we want to focus more on the principles of: don’t do work that you can outsource to someone you trust. Don’t do it forever; there’s plenty of times in the early years when it’s just not possible. I remember my first year in my practice, I think I did $170,000 in collections, and I was broke and I mowed my own lawn that year, and I got my own lunch and I drove a really old car and changed my own oil. I cleaned my own office.

Ryan Isaac: You did actually. And answered your own phone and sent out your own email newsletters. So the point is, we get it. There’s always someone that will give pushback when we say not to do everything yourself and they will say they don’t have any money because they are just starting and broke. But ok, we get that. We understand how that goes.

Reese Harper: I’m talking to the person that’s doing 1.1 to 3 million in collections and is still tinkering around with certain projects just because of habit maybe. Or maybe lack of finding someone they can trust. As an entrepreneur or entreprofessional—I need to keep working on that word; I like it. Here’s the thing: there’s no shortage of things you can define and have someone else do. If you examine your day every day, you’re going to find things that you are doing that you could have someone else do. And eventually they become really big things—they become things like doing a full-mouth restoration, and you can train someone to do that as well as you can. It takes a long time. It takes years, but there is not a limit to the things you can train other people to do. You have to get in the habit of depending on the size of organization you want and the scope of what you’re trying to accomplish, the more you outsource, the more balanced your life can be. And the more you delegate and the more you train and the more you teach your team, the more opportunity you’re going to have to not be as overwhelmed and as buried with things. It’s a really hard process, but I think we’re talking to the person that is maybe not right out of the gate here. Because we know there’s a point in time where you will have to do a lot of the work on your own, but you need to be able to just identify things along the way consistently and be constantly thinking about what can I delegate and what can I have someone else do for me that I can do at a lower cost than what I’m currently doing with my most product hours. My most productive hours are the hours I’m trying to fill my life with, and so what can I have someone else handle that isn’t up to that hourly rate?

Ryan Isaac: That’s a good point, too. At some point in time someone can do it cheaper than you can because of what you’re worth per hour, but the other side of that is someone can probably do it better too. Better for less money.

Reese Harper: That’s the whole point of outsourcing. That’s why trade exists in the world. This is not political, this is just economics, but that’s why people can put a lot of items together in other countries and manufacture things cheaper than we can in the United States. And that’s why companies choose to have them do it—because they can do it better for less. It’s not because it’s just less; if it was just less, then no one would buy their product.

Ryan Isaac: It sounds like a food store: Reese’s high quality farm groceries—Better for Less. Yeah it’s true, at some point somebody can do a lot of those jobs better.

Reese Harper: Because they’ve done it more than you. They’ve repeated it more and have more experience doing it. You can trust that they have gone through the hurdles of getting efficiencies and figuring out what doesn’t work because they have done that same project a hundred times. Never hire someone who you are the first person they are learning on, or even the fifth time they have done it. Anytime you hire someone whether it’s marketing or technology or accounting or legal or tax or financial planning or investment managing or dental consulting—even if it’s an office manager. It’s difficult when you’re the first time that someone has done this job, because you’re going to have a learning curve and you don’t know how to train them on that job. You need them to have some experience. A general rule.

Ryan Isaac: Well I was just thinking too, the flip side to efficient outsourcing—someone that does it for less or maybe even the same but just better; the flip side to that is that forces the entreprofessional to focus on the things that people cannot do that only you can do. If you get those things off of your plate, then you really are left with more time to do the things that you cannot outsource or that you are uniquely suited and qualified to only be doing at that time. I think that’s cool too because that just gives you a chance to improve your own skill set, not plateau and get better and better at things that are even harder to do. And eventually those things might be outsourced too, but it helps you focus.

Reese Harper: I think that’s the biggest misconception about outsourcing. I think everyone is kind of scared that at some point if they train someone else to do what they know how to do that they won’t have a job anymore—that they won’t be as important or offer as much value. But ultimately if you don’t train other people to do things, you won’t be able to move on to improving your skills in even more challenging areas that you haven’t been able to focus on. Until we hired a media manager here, I spent a lot of time with content edits and podcast issues and images and design and video and content. I learned that stuff, and I got fairly capable at it, but I wasn’t able to get to where I could articulate an outline better for our content or find the right places to have content featured, and in a dental practice I feel like just because you bring on a really competent associate, it does not mean that you’re going to be out of work. And it doesn’t mean you’re going to be displacing yourself. You can continue to grow and expand your operation without having to put your job in jeopardy and it just creates more jobs for more people and it gives you better balance. You don’t have to have an associate in your practice to get more leverage, but you can choose to be doing your own hygiene if you want to and still have a great life and a great living. We will kind of get on to that here in a minute. Bigger is not always better, it’s just taking steps for yourself that help you constantly move in the right direction for where your skill set is at is the important principle. The last thing I want to say about this is I don’t want people to just hire anyone, because what will happen if you just start hiring people and outsourcing things and they are not competent, capable and worth what you’re paying them—what’s going to happen to that job? It’s just going to end up right back on your plate. Give it a couple weeks, month or year, and it’s back on your plate again. Just because someone says they do something doesn’t mean they do it as well as someone else does. Compare providers, spend time understanding the differences and features and benefits of working with different people, and make sure you don’t just hire someone—or the cheapest someone. It will just come back on your plate and there’s a ton of opportunity cost from that.

Ryan Isaac: I’m glad we talked about that to tie this second point to everything we’re talking about on today’s show. Sometimes when you outsource, it’s not monetary in value. Maybe it is the same cost as what you could do it for yourself, and maybe it’s the same quality. But a lot of what we’re talking about and the way we feel and a lot of the way our clients feel is there’s other things in life; there’s other things besides the practice. And sometimes outsourcing might be the way that you get a little bit more time with your family, or it might be the way that you get to train for the crazy ultra marathon in the back woods of Middle America somewhere. It might just be the thing that lets you go focus on a hobby. You know how sometimes when a client brings on an associate, and the income dips for a little bit? They will recognize that it freed up time.

Reese Harper: It gave their life a lot more balance.

Ryan Isaac: And I’ve had clients say, “yeah I’m making less money now than I used to, but I actually have time to do X,Y, and Z and I’m not going to go back. I’m just going to keep them in the practice; I like them, and it’s helping out a lot. I don’t care about the extra money that I’m not making.” Be aware that outsourcing might not be monetary but it can give your life more value than more money can.

Reese Harper: Yeah, that’s a really good point. For me at least, I don’t have this endless ambition to be the biggest company in the world or try to get to be bigger than someone else. I’m just trying to get bigger for my own goals because I know that next year if we can help more dentists I’ll feel better about the work we’re doing. But there’s a point where I started making good enough money to where more money didn’t change how I felt about my day, or it didn’t make me feel better. And most of it just goes to pay taxes anyway. And so by hiring and expanding and outsourcing even at a small amount—let’s say you’re doing $500,000 in collections and you’re doing three tasks on your own right now that you could outsource for five or ten grand a year—just some part time stuff to some specialists, and one person is going to help tackle some of the IT stuff that you’ve been tinkering around with, and someone else is going to do your bookkeeping. And then you’re going to have someone else do a little bit of staff training. You’ve got three people, and it’s a total of ten grand a year you’re going to spend. You might make ten grand less, but that’s not really going to cost you ten grand because you’re paying 30-40% of your income to taxes, so really it’s going to cost you five to six grand. At the end of the day, is that worth the three hours a week you bought back? Was that worth it to you? And in my case, it probably would be. I know that my life today is way better today than it was in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 when I was doing most everything. It’s way better and I have a lot more flexibility. I’m able to see my kids a lot more and enjoy the weekends more and spend more time with my wife and enjoy time off. Without having people do specific jobs and me being willing to take an income hit over a short period of time, you just don’t get there. I was talking to a client recently—this is a story that I think is kind of interesting. I was talking to a client about hiring a new CPA, and they were frustrated about the taxes they had from their current CPA and the surprise they were having during tax time. They were really frustrated with it. This client that had been working with their CPA for almost five years and had invested a lot of time into the relationship, and after investing close to hundreds of hours into the relationship, you the dentist are investing into the relationships of your outsourced partners, the client was going to start over with a new CPA. And later in the afternoon I was talking to a different client whose tax return was nearly all compete. Their year-end financials are done; their tax estimates are already accounted for; they’ve been clearly communicated to the dentist and he knows what he’s going to owe and what he’s not going to owe. This client is really happy with all the planning they have done with their CPA and they told me they are really grateful for having a good advisory team, and everyone’s communicating well and making their life much easier. It’s just ironic to me, because both of these people outsourced and picked service providers to send stuff to, but one person felt like after five years of work, and the other person just felt great about things. And they have both been working for their CPAs for the same period of time, and I just asked myself, “what’s the difference?” Is it just their perspective? Is it really that different? Does one guy just have a great attitude? Or is it really something about their experience that’s different? As I looked at it from my perspective, there are huge differences between these two service providers, and it was really important to be able to identify those differences in advance before you hired that person in the first place. One was a little bit cheaper than the other. It kind of boiled down to that unfortunately; it’s dumb to say that—I know no one would want to say, “I picked the cheaper one and that’s why it ended up not working out.” But I’ve had that happen a lot where people are like, “it was just less money,” and then later on they realized how important these features are in the service they wanted or just the ability of someone to pick up their phone and answer it and get back to you in like a twenty-four hour period of time. It starts to get to be unusual for some people. Of the most basic thing, is it worth paying 20% more so someone calls you back on a timely basis? Of course it is! It’s super inefficient to have outsourced providers that are supposed to be saving you time, but they are not because you are micromanaging them and having to follow up with them all the time. So it’s not always a lower fee that gets you the right outsourcing, but if you have to switch—the momentum and opportunity cost you can lose from all of that investment can be much greater than the differences in fees over the short time, and I don’t like to see people have to go through that. Whether it’s a consultant in office training; if it’s ocean compliance; marketing outsourcing; if it’s a financial advisor; a lawyer; a CPA. Whoever it is that you need help from—a new associate, a hygienist, an office manager, these are all people and decisions you’re making to leverage your entreprofessional life. These are the people that dentists have to make choices on who they are going to bring into their life and outsource to. If you don’t get the right people and you have turnover, the cost is hard to recover from that. Turnover is one of the number one things that large companies look at in order to maintain profitability because they know that turnover is going to have huge inefficiencies. And everyone out there knows how hard it is to retrain an associate, or how hard it is to recycle through a front-office manager again. It’s just so hard, and it sets you back a lot. Maybe it isn’t the end of the world and some people are listening to this going: it didn’t hurt at all. It was fine, and I got over it quickly. We found someone better. There’s still an opportunity cost of having the wrong person there for the last five or six years. There’s huge opportunity cost to having the wrong people in place.

Ryan Isaac: You had a recent experience that I think you shared on a recent episode with another client that had gone through the same thing but just with a financial advisor. He had hired someone a little bit less expensive years ago after weighing his options and didn’t have the experience that he probably wished he had after the years had gone by, and then you look back and wonder what’s the worst regret? Is the worst regret that I had to pay top dollar for a quality person? Or is the worst regret I made mistakes or I lost out on opportunities along the way because I didn’t have the best partner in something.

Reese Harper: Well yeah I mean and in that case, over the last 6-8 years or maybe even ten, it’s millions of dollars in net worth difference just because they made dumb decisions with their money, and you can’t recoup from that. In the service provider comparison, it’s never one is three times the cost than the other one; it’s usually that one is 40% more or even 10-20% more. It’s a minor cost, but for me personally just to have someone I trust is worth more money, because if I just know I trust that person and I know that they will call me and I can trust them. When it comes to tax, financial planning, legal, consulting—especially my intimate team members; if I can trust someone, it’s worth a magnitude of percent to me. It could be 50% more than I’m willing to pay just for deep trust, competency and communication that they get back to me regularly. I just know that I will be more efficient with that type of a person than someone who is less expensive. If I can’t really read very well because they’re not communicating real well and it’s kind of a black box.

Ryan Isaac: Let’s finish with the last point that might be a little more philosophical in nature and not as data-driven.

Reese Harper: This one is about not regretting things. We don’t want you to have regrets about not spending enough time in the right places. This is a lifestyle discussion.

Ryan Isaac: It’s a pretty personal thing too and from personal experience it’s easier in the younger years of your career if your family is younger and you’re not permanent where you’re going to live yet—it’s easy to feel like there’s so much ahead and so much time in the future to worry about that stuff. It’s easy to get imbalanced with work in life; it’s easy to work a ton. For me personally, it’s when I start seeing certain milestones in my kids’ lives or in my own life and I think: I don’t want to miss that. Now I can start looking at that and going—I think I’m willing to have less income to be able to enjoy this piece of my life than I would have maybe 5-10 years ago.

Reese Harper: Isn’t that interesting how that happens? I can remember what first and second grade felt like, and it’s been twenty-five or thirty years. I can remember the emotions of some of these big milestones when I was little—life moved slow then. It was like man, one day I will be sixteen and have my driver’s license. And you think about those kinds of things, and you remember them. And I swear age 25-35 just flew by. And I’m like, I don’t know what milestones were there besides having my kids. What cool things did I do? There’s not as many milestones, because work starts to happen and it gets real really quick. And all the sudden you have to get into your routine and you’re supposed to just do all this stuff. I’m bringing that up because I think it’s interesting to see how fast life moves as you start to age, but how slow it moves when you’re a kid. And I think as an adult it starts to get to a point where I get a little bit nostalgic about wanting life to slow down again. I want to feel like I’m hitting milestones that are real that I can enjoy and celebrate and remember. But I just don’t remember milestones as an adult; things are just flying by. I don’t know if I’m the only person that feels that way.

Ryan Isaac: I think a lot of people feel that way. And you don’t want that regret of looking back and being like: there had to have been something more. There was an article that went around 3-4 years ago that made its way into a lot of speeches and public talks. It was an article written by an Australian nurse—her name was Bronnie. She spent her time as a nurse with people who were in the last weeks and months of their life with terminal illnesses. There was an article called “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” Basically she just spent years of her life compiling stories and had categorized the top five regrets of her patients that they expressed before they passed away. The first one is they wished they had the courage to live life to their true selves and not the lives others expected of me. So living a life not worried so much about other people’s expectations. The second one was they wish they hadn’t worked so hard; the third one was they said they wished they had the courage to express their feelings; the fourth was they wished they had stayed in touch with their friends more; the fifth one was that they wished they had let themselves be happier. It made its rounds because I think that one of those is going to strike all of us in some way or another. Maybe a little bit differently. Maybe the person who is working really hard on the business at the expense of a lot of other things might go, “yeah I don’t want to feel like number two; I wish I didn’t work so hard.” Or maybe someone who didn’t get to express themselves the way they wish they would fears that regret: dying one day and they never got to express themselves and their feelings.

Reese Harper: I guess for me, I felt like I resonated those and they are good things to think about as you consider work and the pursuit of growth. I used to feel like it was either one or the other: you could either have a really successful business or you would have life balance. It was this black-or-white way of viewing entrepreneurship, and I think you can constantly be growing if you take advantage of what Ryan was saying earlier—not be so concerned about current income being higher and higher every year. It doesn’t feel good to have your numbers go down, and unless you’re tracking your actual wealth and net worth, you won’t feel like your numbers are going up because you measure yourself based on your income. But really sometimes as your income goes down, the value of your practice goes up. So even though you make less money, sometimes your practice might double in size or grow by 30%. And that’s a great thing to do, and it’s the right approach to take. It doesn’t even necessarily mean you have to go get an associate; some of the happiest people I know are single location, really successful doctors that just really enjoy their craft, and they don’t continue to expand. But I do think that those people I know—they continue to grow and grow. They just find people on a part-time basis or more employees to help them produce more and then instead of just producing more of the same, they produce more of different types of cases and they improve the revenue per patient that they have. They can continue to grow their net worth, and other people choose to grow their personal life. They choose to grow their personal experiences and have more time off and continue to do other things that bring them more fulfillment. There’s always room for growth, and it happens for everyone in different ways. You had a quote you really liked that I want to let you share.

Ryan Isaac: There was a quote from an author and a speaker: her name is Anna Quindlen—she said, “don’t ever confuse the two: your life and your work. The second is only part of the first.” We hear this all the time—this is as much advice for ourselves as anyone listening. Be intentional about the time you have away from the office. The reason we put the statistics in the beginning about the cell phone stuff is we are just so connected. We are so connected to our social networks and our jobs, and it sounds dumb but you have to be conscious about setting the phone aside, setting work aside, and setting the online relationships aside so you can be present for what’s right in front of your face in that moment, so you actually do have a memory from 25-35.

Reese Harper: Well I think I do have a little bit, but I don’t know that it’s that good unfortunately. This isn’t about me working out my issues. My therapy. But one quote that I really like and I’ve had to learn, is I’ve had to learn how to be patient with growth, and I think for me the hardest part about being a professional entrepreneur is that you’re doing all this work that you love to do, but you’re also trying to grow a company. You want to pursue a better business, and you want to have better finances and a better life; you want to have your relationships be intact, and you want to make sure that people around you know you care. You want to stay in touch with friends, and you want to make sure that your life is an enjoyable place and you’re happy all the time. It’s hard sometimes to be patient—it’s really a slow path, and sometimes it feels slower than you want it to feel, and every day requires you to take a deep breath and realize that any action is progress, and anything you do is making things move forward even if it’s not exactly the way you want it. One of my favorite Warren Buffett quotes goes something like this: no matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant. It’s like my favorite quote—so never forget that. I think that’s a great way to wrap up Ryan.

Ryan Isaac: I’m going to repeat that: you can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant. That’s beautiful poetry. Thanks for listening. Please take a second to “Like” the Dentist Money Show. You can go to where you can see all of our episodes and leave comments. If you want to talk to us, you can book a free consultation with one of our advisors by clicking at the link at the top of the page. There’s a link to our calendar, you can schedule something yourself. We’re always happy to talk to you. And for those of you who maybe have missed the last two weeks of episodes or haven’t done this yet: we’ve given the listeners a cool opportunity that you can still take advantage of. You can go to and complete a short survey. We promise it’s really easy. You’ll get a custom report so you can see how your finances actually compare to other dentists. Thanks again for listening and thank you Reese.

Reese Harper: Carry on.

Income, Practice Management

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