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325 The Tao of Dentistry with Barry Polansky : Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran

325 The Tao of Dentistry with Barry Polansky : Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran

3/6/2016 3:08:10 AM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 424

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AUDIO - DUwHF #325 - Barry Polansky

This episodes’s discussion:

- The future

- The human side of dentistry

- Well-being

- Career

- Leadership and Communication

- Health and Fitness

 

Dr. Polansky has delivered comprehensive cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, and implant dentistry for more than 35 years. He was born in the Bronx, New York in January 1948. The doctor graduated from Queens College in 1969 and received his DMD degree in 1973 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Following graduation, Dr. Polansky spent two years in the US Army Dental Corps, stationed at Fort. Dix, New Jersey. In 1975, Dr. Polansky entered private practice in Medford Lakes. Three years later, he built his second practice in the town in which he now lives, Cherry Hill.

 

www.taoofdentistry.com


Howard:

It is a huge honor today to be broadcast interviewing Barry Polansky. Barry's bio is, he's practiced general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry since 1973, graduate of the University of Penn, born in the Bronx, visiting faculty at the Pankey Institute, speaker, author of three books: "The Art of the Examination," "The Art of Case Presentation," and the newly released "A Short Guide to a Long Career." Founder and publisher of the dental blog, Tao T-A-O, taoofdentistry.com and academyofdentalleadership.com, and the owner of Niche Dental Studio with his son Josh who's back there in the background. Barry, it is a huge honor, thank you for accepting my invitation to spend an hour with me today. How are you doing?

 

Barry:

I'm doing great, it's my pleasure to be here.

 

Howard:

How do you keep Josh in line? Do you beat him or do you got an electric shock probe, or what is the trick?

 

Barry:

There's no trick with Josh, he's a hard worker and he's done everything on his own and he keeps me in line more than I keep-

 

Howard:

So Josh, he started his own dental lab, or Niche Dental Studio?

 

Barry:

Yep.

 

Howard:

Pretty much, and when did you start that, Josh?

 

Joshua:

It's been about six years, after I graduated UCLA, I came back to work. I always wanted to work in a doctor's office so obviously it's the first choice to come work with your father, and at the time I was just working one-on-one with my dad, and I think I had one other client, Chris [inaudible 00:01:41]. Then over the years, I don't know how, I don't know what happened, now we're working with doctors all around the country and I talked to a new doctor today, and he was calling me "Byron," I don't even know what's happening anymore. I feel like I live in an alternate universe. I have to make veneers while I talk and it just gets crazy after a while.

 

Howard:

So, are you taking new clients?

 

Joshua:

Tricky question, Howard. We take the right clients, I don't want to be hard-nosed or hard-lined about that, but from what I've seen in the growth process is we're really a small lab and we work with doctors throughout the country and we have some clients in Europe. The majority of the work we do is out-of-state, it's shipping work, FedEx. It's tricky because in the beginning I thought it was only about taking on good, technical doctors, doctors that were good with their hands. But now that I own a business, I realize, I don't know if this sounds crazy or not, I only want to work with nice doctors. I mean, assholes don't apply. I don't know how else to say it, because sometimes it gets a little rough with things, so, we have great clients that are the nicest people in the world. Our cases our great, the work is great, and I'm sure you guys, because I hear the patients too, every once in a while you get a bad apple and it can drive you crazy, and we don't want to go crazy.

 

Howard:

Well, you know, humans are crazy monkeys and every lab man I've ever talked to says that some of the dentists are so nice and humble and want to learn, and they'll even come to the lab and look at other impressions, then other ones are just completely insane.

 

Joshua:

It's amazing. He sees the dentists that come here. They come here throughout the week, we have some dentists who fly here from out of state, from Texas, just to see how to ... We really ... Now, dentistry we have, we're doing great dentistry, but they come here to see little things from the lab. Also, it's really nice because the doctors we work with, they don't know each other, but through me as a medium have become friends. So, for instance, Dr. Chad Perry from Texas will come here and he'll see an impression from another doctor who's another doctor we work here, and he'll say, "Wow, who did this?" Then I connect them, and they become friends, and then he improves.

 

 

So those types of doctors, I couldn't ask for anything more. They're sweet, nice people. But then there's some ... Yeah, again, there's some [inaudible 00:04:18] type guys out there who are only about implant sizes and it's ... Dentistry is more of a people ... It's a mix between the two. If it's only about platforms and all that, I'm going to put my head through a wall because it gets crazy. It's analysis paralysis I'll say, they analyze too much.

 

Howard:

I also want to make a prediction on the lab business. I mean, humans always think linear. I mean, I remember when the stock market was going up from '93 to 2000, and you could buy any stock and it would go up, and people thought it would last forever, then it crashed. Same with real estate prices. When we got out of school, there were 15,000 labs, and now there's only half that many. Everyone thinks it's all going to be done by a CAD/CAM, a droid, or whatever, and I think you're starting to see a shift back to labs because people realize they don't want to be a lab man. I mean, they bought a CAD/CAM and now they're a lab man. They want to ... I mean, doing multiple units, mailing them out chair side, is ... How efficient is that as opposed to taking impression and sending it to someone like Josh, where they can take their time to do it? Do you agree with that, Barry, or what are your thoughts?

 

Barry:

So, you're saying the future, that this is the way the future is going to go, that we're going to be back to the future, is that what you're saying?

 

Howard:

Well, I think right now, people are linearly looking at the math, at how much CAD/CAM is taking over the market, and they're just plotting that out so that the labs will just be gone one day. Because mathematically, the line you're on, they'll be completely gone. But I say that it will reach a plateau and it will start swinging back the other way. I know so many people who bought a CAD/CAM machine, including myself, and they were doing all their crowns CAD/CAM, and then after they did that for five or ten years, they realized, "You know what, it would just be a hell of a lot easier to take an impression and send this one to the lab. Maybe I'll do this one in house because she needs it in two days, but this man, I'm just going to take an impression and send it to the lab." It's just so much faster and more efficient.

 

Barry:

Sure. Well, I saw an ad the other day from a dentist who promotes one of the more popular CAD/CAM units. What he was saying was that, 80% of all dental insurance is now PPO, and in the future, he claims that 90% of all insurance will be PPO, so let me just state that I am an insurance-free practice. So his logic was that if you're going to do work with a PPO, therefore you're going to need to produce a faster, more efficient crown at a lower cost. Well, that knocks out the laboratory right there. So he's promoting CAD/CAM in his practice.

 

 

Well, you know, I'm an older dentist, I'm old school, so I'm not switching. When you're talking about the future, Howard, I'm not going to be here in the future, okay? However, for the younger dentists, the question becomes, where is it going? Not only the lab business, but the dental business. Where is the whole industry going? If the whole industry doesn't ... This is my feeling. If the whole industry doesn't figure out that we're not in the tooth business, we're in the people business, then I don't know where it's going to go, because as long as we believe that this is the tooth business, and this is all about technology, then I can't predict that future.

 

 

This isn't even about feeling, how a dentist feels, because I wish that dentists would feel more. I don't really believe dentists feel too much. I think they just go with the flow. Somewhere along the line they're told what to do. They're told what to do by insurance companies, they're told what to do by politicians. They're told what to do by patients. They just do things. I think that within the dental schools, we need a bigger voice about how to run our work lives. I use work lives as the example rather than to do our dentistry, because there is no industry that's not susceptible to what's happening in our industry, it's happening in law, it's happening in medicine. We're being told how to work. As long as that happens, then we don't own the game anymore. I'm old school, so I don't have a CAD/CAM yet.

 

Joshua:

Yeah we do.

 

Barry:

Well, he has a CAD/CAM, he has a lab CAD/CAM, but I don't have a chair side CAD/CAM.

 

Howard:

So, I could talk to you for forty days and forty nights. Start with visiting faculty at the Pankey Institute, there's a lot of ... I spent five weeks at the Pankey Institute over the last couple of decades. You're talking to a lot of kids. Most of the kids that are fans of this show are probably under thirty. What is the Pankey Institute? What would you tell some kid who just walked out of AT Still University Dental School in Mesa and ... What is the Pankey Institute? Why are you a faculty at Pankey Institute?

 

Barry:

Well you know, I started at the Pankey Institute in the late 80s. The Pankey Institute at that time was a different place. It was filled with people like me, old school. Dr. Pankey himself was very famous for saying, you probably heard it, "I never saw a tooth walk into my office." That kind of expresses, metaphorically, that this is a people industry and it's about getting to know the patient. Through the years I've seen changes, not only ... In all continuing education. I think the role ... The economy has created a situation where it's hard to run those CE programs without getting subsidization from corporate, whatever corporate is. Because of that, we bring in products ... You know, there was one time when Chris Sager was running the Pankey Institute, when they didn't accept any outside funds, none. That's changed. With that, you see more technical dentistry. Even though the Pankey Institute always taught technical dentistry, I see it's taken a little bit away from the human side of dentistry.

 

 

The other part of that is this: When I was at the Pankey Institute, Dr. Pankey himself used to use the word "happiness" which was at the center of cross of dentistry, and I hope I don't offend anybody when I say this, I'm not really sure if anybody knows what happiness is, especially in 1970, but you know, we have social scientists and cognitive psychologists today who have defined well-being, they've defined what it is to be ... To have a subjective sense of well-being, that's what I mean by happiness. Because we know more, scientifically, the data is in, then we should gear ourselves and our teaching toward that, because happiness isn't just some euphoric state, happiness has a lot to do with how we work every day. It has to do with how engaged are you with your work? How much meaning is there in what you do? What gets you up in the morning?

 

 

You know, all of these things were never discussed when I was at the Pankey Institute, these are things that I've learned through the years, and they way young ... Because we're talking to a lot of young students ... The way young students are being taught today is ... They're not being taught how to sustain engagement in your work over twenty, thirty, or forty years of dental practice. The meaning of what we do. We're being dictated to by insurance companies who tell us what the meaning of dentistry is, and that's just wrong.

 

Howard:

We're talking about L.D. Pankey. I love your blog on taoofdentistry.com, where your blog ... One of your first earlier ones was, "Was L.D. Pankey Dentistry's First Positive Psychologist?" What did you mean by that?

 

Barry:

Yeah, that positive psychology. I believe that he was one of dentistry's ... I think he was talking the talk, without a doubt. I don't think he was ... He had all of the knowledge and education as what is available today, but I think if he were alive today ... Because he studied philosophy, Aristotle's philosophy, back in the 40s at Northeastern, and if he were alive today, he'd be over at University of Pennsylvania taking Martin Seligman's courses on positive psychology. But you know, the timing's off. But he studied Aristotle, and Aristotle was talking about happiness back in ancient Greece.

 

 

I thought LD was one of dentistry ... I still ... You rarely hear dentists talking about this subject. They would ... Like Josh says, they'd much rather be talking about platforms. But you know what Howard? Every single day I come into my practice, and I come back into this laboratory, and we listen to the issues of the day, they're never about the technology. They're always about some communication breakdown between doctor and patient, or a technician and a dentist. It's always about that and yet we're not being trained in those areas. We think that we're brought into dental school with those skills, and we're not.

 

Howard:

So explain why do you call your blog the Tao of dentistry? T-A-O. Tao. What is Tao?

 

Barry:

Have you ever heard that expression before?

 

Howard:

The Tao of dentistry?

 

Barry:

No, the Dao.

 

Howard:

The [Dao]? It's pronounce [Dao]?

 

Barry:

It's pronounced [dao], yeah, it's pronounced with a D, but it's T-A-O.

 

Howard:

But it's pronounced D-O, like D-O-W?

 

Barry:

Yeah. It's actually a philosophy written by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu back in around 2500 BC, and basically what it meant was, the way. The path. You see? That was his philosophy, and so one day, I was sitting at a lecture at the institute, and we were talk- ... You've been through the institute, right?

 

Howard:

Yes, I have.

 

Barry:

We were talking about the line, you know about the Line? Above the line and below the line? I heard Irwin mention-

 

Howard:

Irwin Becker?

 

Barry:

Yeah. I heard Irwin say, well, above the line are patients with trust and appreciation, and they take responsibility for their own problems. So I look at those and say, "well look at that. T, Trust. Appreciation, A. Ownership. That's the Tao." So, trust, appreciation, and ownership. I made that kind of a motto of my own practice and I began to identify patients according to the Tao. I realized I had to work towards building trust, gaining a level of appreciation from the kind of work we were doing, and making sure that my patients take ownership of their problems.

 

 

I knew that if I had that kind of patient in front of me, that it was okay to present any kind of dentistry that I needed to do. If I didn't have those things in place, then I kind of backed off and gave it a little bit more time, because if there's no trust, there's no acceptance; if there's no appreciation, what did LD used to say? You should know. Pearls before swine. Ownership? That's another leadership issue. You've got to be the model of ownership.

 

 

In other words in your practice as a dentist, you're not taking responsibility for the problems that are around you, don't expect other people to take responsibility. Kouzes and Poser, the leadership gurus? James Kouzes and Barry Poser, who write a lot about leadership, their first tenet is, "Model the way." Be the role model for what you're trying to achieve.

 

Howard:

I want you to, if you don't mind, I want you to talk about your three books. I mean, you have a lot of passion and intensity. I mean, I've written books and they're-

 

Barry:

I saw! By the way, congratulations, your book is in Barnes and Noble's!

 

Howard:

Yes!

 

Barry:

Awesome!

 

Howard:

Oh, thank you. Thank you

 

Barry:

That's great!

 

Howard:

Writing a book's like having a baby, I mean, it takes a lot longer. Will you go through your three books?

 

Barry:

How many words, Howard?

 

Howard:

How many words was my book?

 

Barry:

Yeah.

 

Howard:

You know, I don't even know.

 

Barry:

You don't know?

 

Howard:

No, I don't. I should know, it's on a word document.

 

Barry:

I'll tell you why in a second.

 

Howard:

Okay tell me why.

 

Barry:

Because my first book was self-published.

 

Howard:

Your first book was "The Art of Examination". What year did you come out with that? Is it available on Amazon or Barnesandnoble.com? Tell us about that book.

 

Barry:

Okay. That book is probably one of my better ... Yeah, it's my best book to date. It's based on the examination process. That word, process, is the key thing, because the examination is part of a whole process from beginning to end, and it's a philosophical book, yet it describes exactly what we bring the patient through, even before they call your office, right until the case acceptance and doing the case. I think the most important thing for people to understand is that what we do every day is a process, and so that was the first book. That book was ... That book sold over 5000 copies. It was promoted by Dr. Dawson and it was promoted by the Pankey Institute, and the book is out of print right now, but it's still available on Amazon, on Kindle, or it's also available on my blog, thetaoofdentistry.com.

 

Howard:

The whole book?

 

Barry:

The whole book.

 

Howard:

Hey, you know, our goal for 2016 at DentalTown is, we came out with the app and like 40,000 dentists around the world downloaded it, and this year the app is going to ... We made our online CE course available on the phone app now, but we're going to add ... Bye, Josh!

 

Joshua:

I'll see you man, I'm still the delivery guy too.

 

Howard:

Right on buddy. We're going to add the classified ads and the new audio book section. So your book, it'll be available on Kindle, or sound, if you ever want to talk into a recorder and get a digital file of this book, we can put that on Dentaltown. You can put it up there for free, or you can actually sell on DentalTown. With 40,000 dentists in 135 countries, it'd be a great distribution of your message.

 

Barry:

I definitely would want to do that.

 

Howard:

I can tell you, something about the difference between old guys like us and the young kids, we read books. I still ... In fact I could pan ... I like a book, but the kids, they do audio books. If you don't make it audio, you're going to lose the thirty-and-under crowd.

 

Barry:

I hear you. Let me get to my second book, "The Art of Case Presentation". That is available both in hard copy and in digital, on Amazon and Kindle and also on the Tao of dentistry. That book was basically the extension of "The Art of Examination", and it explains communication and [inaudible 00:20:51]. Very helpful. The third book is called "A Short Guide to a Long Career." That's an e-book that is published, I have it, and it's about to be released, and it's for free distribution because that's how important I think it is. I think it's really important for young dentists to be able to sustain their level of practice over a long period of time.

 

 

I think that's a big problem with young dentists today, I think dentist burnout has always been a big issue, even when I was practicing full-time. I think it's much worse today, I think it's much more difficult. How do you feel about the future of ... Are you optimistic about the future of dentistry, or are you pessimistic about the future of dentistry?

 

Howard:

I think the mouth has consistently been about 5% of the healthcare budget. It's a huge, massive body part, it's not going anywhere, and I see about half of Americans will buy that treatment based on price, PPO, what have you; and the other half want a relationship with someone they trust and respect. I think there will always be an upper half of the market who values a particular product or service, and a lower half of the market ... I don't care if it's something as crazy as vodka, some people just want the cheap Smirnoff and other people want Chopin for a gazillion dollars. I don't think dentistry is going anywhere as long as there's a mouth body part.

 

Barry:

Yeah, there'll always be a market, and I think that ... My thing is, I'm optimistic from that point of view just like you are. I have a little pessimism unless we as a community start focusing more on the health of the dentist, because if we don't do that ... I'm talking about the psychological health of the dentist. That's what this book, "A Short Guide to a Long Career," deals with. It deals with how to sustain yourself over a long period of time and be happy at work. That's what that book's about, and it's free.

 

Howard:

It's already released, or it's about to be released?

 

Barry:

It's about to be released, if my people at my website, if you're listening here guys, get it up there. That's the main thing.

 

Howard:

Which website? Taoofdentistry.com?

 

Barry:

Yes, and then it's going to push it over to my new website which is called "theacademyofdentalleadership.com". Now theacademyofdentalleadership.com is kind of my dream. It is an online site for people who are serious about bringing leadership and communication skills to dentistry. I know that's not every dentists, I know there are some dentists who want to get up, pick up their [inaudible 00:23:49] and go to work, get their check, and leave. I think at some point, when you understand that a lot of this is about the human side of dentistry, it's trying to bring that component together. That's what that website is about.

 

 

Let me tell you about the book I'm working on right now, because I work on this one every single day, and if you've written a book you know what I mean by working on it every single day. I signed a contract with a publisher, Wiley as a matter of fact-

 

Howard:

Wiley? Good one.

 

Barry:

Yep, and it's-

 

Howard:

Where are they out of?

 

Barry:

They have offices all over, they're in New York and they're in San Diego. Their major office is in New York.

 

Howard:

Is that their headquarters?

 

Barry:

Yes.

 

Howard:

What percent of their business is dental?

 

Barry:

You know, it's significant. It's significant, medical and dental lab, a significant dental division.

 

Howard:

Do you know the CEO there, or the head of the dental division?

 

Barry:

Yeah, she just emailed me.

 

Howard:

Reply back and tell her to meet Howard at dentaltown.com. I've always wanted to meet the director there.

 

Barry:

Yeah, she just emailed me, I'll send her an email. Anyway, the ... That's interesting, how that happened, I was sent a review of a book by a friend of mine ... Three authors wrote a book on prosth[etics 00:25:13] and the neutral zone in dentistry, and what was interesting is ... I read the original book on the neutral zone in dentistry, back in the 70s, by Victor Beresin from Temple University. So, when I heard that they were reinventing the neutral zone, I said, "Yeah, someone needs to write about that!" I really liked the book, so I reviewed it, and as an aside I said, "Are you people interested in a book on leadership and communication in dentistry?" They said yes. What they said was that they had had offers from people in the leadership industry, and in the communication industry to write a book for dentists, but they always turned them down because they felt that a dentist needed to write that book.

 

 

They chose me, I felt honored to do that, and that's what I'm doing right now. I contracted with them to write 140,000 words, that's why I asked you before about how many words your book was.

 

Howard:

Now are you using any technology when you do a book? Do you rant into your iPhone and then have someone transcribe that, or do you just sit there and type at a word processor?

 

Barry:

I keep notes all over the place, I keep a tape recorder or I use apps, an app called Evernote, are you familiar with Evernote?

 

Howard:

No, I'm not.

 

Barry:

Evernote's a great app for taking notes, and it goes across all of your devices so if you're in a bookstore and you come up with an idea, you can go ahead and take it and then it's on your computer, it's on your iPhone, it's on your iPad. That's what I use, but the best tool that I use is a tool called Scrivener. Have you ever heard of Scrivener?

 

Howard:

No.

 

Barry:

Scrivener is a writer's tool, and it's really hard to describe here on a podcast, but if you're a serious writer I recommend that you use Scrivener. If you're a blogger I would use Scrivener, but if you're writing books, for sure, Scrivener is a great tool. It breaks everything down into little containers. You know how, when you're writing, it's one script, one flow and you have to search for what you did? This is little containers and you can actually put tags on things so if you wrote something a month ago, you can tag it and go back to it and change it.

 

Howard:

I want to ask you a question that's so ... I was born in a barn in Kansas and this is so beneath someone of your wisdom to ask, but I want to take it all the way back down to my homies, the young kids. You wrote a book called "The Art of Examination" and their question to me and on DentalTown all the time is, "Do you do new patient cleanings?" They just opened up a dental office, someone calls up and says, "Hey, my name is Barry Polansky and I just want to come in and get my teeth cleaned." They kind of hear in the back of their mind that some guys won't do that, and they say no, but the patient wants a new patient cleaning ... Talk to a 30-year-old kid that just opened up their own dental office and a patient wants a new patient cleaning.

 

Barry:

Okay, tomorrow is my birthday Howard.

 

Howard:

Happy birthday, buddy! How old you going to be?

 

Barry:

68.

 

Howard:

Well you look awesome, man, you look amazing.

 

Barry:

I feel good. So here's the thing: When I was your age, 30, I was very dogmatic about things. I'm very hard-wired, my way or the highway. When you reach my age ... By the way, if Mitch Albom and his interviews with Morrie Schwartz in "Tuesdays with Morrie" tells you anything, listen to your elders sometimes. Here's the point: I'm not as dogmatic about anything as I used to be. That being said, I would prefer not to do a cleaning at the first appointment. However, if the patient insists, we do it. However, also, the people who work for me, and this is the key, are very skilled at persuasion. If you can persuade somebody to do it the way we like to do it, we would prefer. Our rate of doing cleanings at the first appointment is very low. Not because patients want or don't want that ... Let me put it to you in a different way.

 

Howard:

How low? Just a percentage.

 

Barry:

Less than one percent, I'd say.

 

Howard:

Oh my god.

 

Barry:

Oh yeah, less than one percent. Here's the thing for the young people: I know that young people went into dentistry because they didn't want to get into things like sales and things like this, and they didn't know that they were choosing a profession that was so dependent on their ability to persuade and sell ideas to people. Isn't that amazing, Howard? You ever notice that? They went in to work with their hands, and they end up becoming sales people. They are. Everything they try to avoid in life, selling things, they have to do.

 

 

If you don't like the word sell, that's okay, but dentistry probably, of every single profession I know of, you're faced with resistance all the time. Your job is to remove the resistance. Call that what you want: persuasion, sales. Communication at that level is so difficult. Why do people resist? They don't like us because they fear us, we're costly, they don't trust us. These are all resistances that we need to overcome. If it's not me who has to overcome it as a dentist, my staff has got to overcome it. How do you do that? You build trust, appreciation, and ownership. It's all connected, you see? This is all possible ... These are the keys, these are human issues.

 

 

When I was dogmatic about it, and before I even had that level of skill, it created a lot more arguments. We don't get arguments anymore either.

 

Howard:

Do you like this quote or not? When a dentist tells me they don't like to sell dentistry, I think, that's sad that you don't do any dentistry that you're passionate about?

 

Barry:

Say that again?

 

Howard:

When a dentist says, "I do not like to sell dentistry," is it fair to say, "Wow, I'm sorry that you don't feel passionate about dentistry"?

 

Barry:

I don't think I would put it like that.

 

Howard:

How would you put it? ... The point being, say, you don't want to try to sell a mother that she needs sealants on her kid's baby teeth, and you don't want to sell the mom. The flip side of that would be, well, if you were really passionate about sealants-

 

Barry:

I wouldn't go there.

 

Howard:

Okay, you wouldn't go there? Take it away.

 

Barry:

I'll tell you why in a second, but, you asked me what I would say to that person?

 

Howard:

Yeah, what do you say to the ... They're always saying, "I don't want to sell dentistry, I didn't go to school eight years to be a used-car salesman, I don't want to sell any dentistry." Very common sentiment that I here.

 

Barry:

Yeah. I wouldn't make the comparison to a used-car salesman. I would more make the comparison to an elementary school teacher. I would take money out of the equation. I would say, when a teacher needs to persuade a student to do something for their own good, they use different techniques. The last thing people do is compare a teacher to a used car salesman. Teachers understand the importance of persuasion and influence, and the concept of selling is always compared to the used-car salesman, and it's just not right. Sales is a much more noble activity, because you're selling ideas. It's not always about money, and I think that used-car salesmen gave sales a bad name. Yet, we fall back on it.

 

 

Going back to what you had asked about passion, that's a sensitive term for me, because I'm speaking to a hundred dental students at the University of Pennsylvania Saturday morning, and one of the questions I ask is, "How many of you here are passionate about dentistry?" I look for the show of hands. How many do you think would raise their hands, dental students? "Are you passionate about dentistry?"

 

Howard:

All of them?

 

Barry:

All of them. It has to be all of them. Why? Because even if they're not, they're not not going to raise their hand. They've got too much [inaudible 00:34:00]. They've got eight years and a ton of money, and you're not ... Your father's not ... Is going to say, "What do you mean you're not passionate?" Every hand in that audience is going to go up, but my next statement is that, "if you don't get this right over the next five years, that passion, that burning desire, those flames, are going to turn into a dying ember." So, passion's a funny thing, Howard. I have a term that I use, I say, "Passion is the by-product of mastery." If you don't take on the responsibility to master your profession, you can forget about passion. It's not going to be part of your profession. I can talk about that for a long time.

 

Howard:

You and I have a lot in common. You're writing this book, and it's going to be free, right?

 

Barry:

That book is free, it's already written, yes. "Sort Guide-" Yeah.

 

Howard:

"Short Guide to a Long Career," and they can get this free at Tao, T-A-O ofdentistry.com, or your next website, academyofdentalleadership.com. People always ask me ... I release a free podcast every day, and every day I find some guy like you who wants to share knowledge for free. A lot of people say, "What's the honorarium for this?" The honorarium is zero. It's all free, and it's trying to stoke these embers and keep the flame and passion going. I just have always thought that the people who listen to the most information about dentistry always have the most passion and the most mast- You know, they'll get more mastery.

 

Barry:

Yeah. Here's the thing, Howard. In my first book, I said this, and I mean it more. Today, I do things for dentistry ... I don't get paid for a lot of this stuff. You wrote a book, you know ... I had this discussion with Pete Dawson once, about people who write books. You know, Pete wrote a pretty good book.

 

Howard:

Pete Dawson?

 

Barry:

Yes. When people write books, that's a commitment. That comes from a passion. You just can't sit down one night and write a book. You've got to devote a year, two years, three years to writing that. I do that today because of a passion, but I also used an expression years ago, I said, "all saints were sinners." How I look today, and what I do for dentistry, is because of what I didn't do and old mistakes I made thirty years ago. I think that's important. I think it's important to make a lot of mistakes, but at least know you're making them. Feel the pain, because that's who can really help dentistry.

 

Howard:

I think that's one of the reasons older dentists are better than the younger kids, because we did a lot of dentistry and then got to see what it looked like ten years later, and all these young kids think, "That was a masterpiece!" They have no idea what that's going to look like in ten years, or twenty, or thirty.

 

Barry:

Happens every day. I'm still working, I see it every day.

 

Howard:

I'll never forget, it was about five years ago, this patient ... I took a PA and it was this root canal, and I said to my assistant Jan, who's been with me since day one, twenty-eight years ... I said, "Oh my god, look at that root canal. Who the hell would do that root canal?" She said, "Howard, you did that, September of 1987." I said, "No way!" I was looking at that root canal and thinking, I did that in 1987? It was like I ... Then, to make it worse, the root canal was still there. It worked! The worst root canal I ever did in my life, and it worked. Worst looking.

 

Barry:

I just did a four-unit bridge, re-did a four-unit bridge this morning, it's about twenty years old, and the patient says to me, "Are your eyes any better now than they were back then?" I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well you put these two white gloves in my mouth back then." I said, "No, my eyes aren't any better, but I've got Josh here, he'll come in and take a shade for you."

 

Howard:

That's even another thing, we sat there and did all this crazy stuff to get this perfect match and then watch the stain wear away the next five years, and you found out that an acidic diet Coke had more to do with washing all that stain away than your shade guide. It would have been better to have a crown that didn't match and the patient didn't do acid every day.

 

Barry:

I will tell you one thing, having Josh here and having the laboratory here is an amazing advantage. The level ... The materials that we have ... Talk about being optimistic about the future of dentistry? The materials and technology in the laboratory is so much better than it was ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. The things that they do in this lab are amazing to me. The quality of the work, I don't have to show you these wax-ups we do, all this staff is hanging around our lab. The amazing people who work with Josh, just amazing technicians. You went to UCLA, and I'll plug Ed McLaren for you, because you studied with Ed McLaren for three years. Ed does an amazing job at UCLA.

 

Howard:

Can you score me a podcast with him and Peter Dawson?

 

Barry:

I don't know about Pete.

 

Howard:

You think he Skypes?

 

Barry:

I don't know, you've got to talk to Joan about that one.

 

Howard:

Talk to Joan Dawson?

 

Barry:

Joan, no, Joan Forrest.

 

Howard:

Oh, Joan Forrest. That's his ... Is that his daughter?

 

Barry:

No, that's Anne. Anne's his daughter.

 

Howard:

Oh, Anne Dawson's his daughter.

 

Barry:

Yeah. Joan is ... Joan runs the Dawson Group.

 

Howard:

You ever talk to her, or email her?

 

Barry:

I do! Sometimes, occasionally.

 

Howard:

Would you mind sending her an email, asking Joan if she could get Pete to do it?

 

Barry:

I can.

 

Howard:

I've sent her emails.

 

Barry:

McLaren, you have a shot with McLaren. You know him?

 

Howard:

No I don't.

 

Barry:

Oh, you don't know him? Yeah he's ... He might, also. I can have Josh send him an email.

 

Howard:

What advice would you give the 30-year-old kid who's starting to ... You know, they come out of school, they're trying to set up, you want them to preserve their passion, you want them to achieve that by self mastery. What are you going to be telling these kids on Saturday morning? I assume, since you're lecturing Saturday morning, that those are the kids in remedial that have to come in on Saturday morning, are they in detention? No, I'm just kidding. What is your message going to be to these kids?

 

Barry:

The message would have been a lot easier to give when I was in that class, because times were different. I appreciate the difficult conditions that these young dentists are graduating into. When I graduated, when you graduated, I think the number was ... Well over 90% of the people I graduated with went into private practice. I don't know what the number was for you, but-

 

Howard:

Same.

 

Barry:

Yeah. Today, that's not happening. Today, because of the cost of going into private practice, corporate ... Hope they're not listening here, but the big bad wolf is waiting at their door to basically give them a job, and a lot of them are taking that job.

 

Howard:

What percent are you hearing graduate and go to work for big-box corporate dentistry?

 

Barry:

I've heard numbers of 75% or more.

 

Howard:

Yeah.

 

Barry:

That's what I've heard. Without mentioning any particular ones, depending upon what state you're in also. I'm here in New Jersey, this is a good example. New Jersey, the corporates are not allowed ... New Jersey, North Carolina and I think it's Alabama. You have to have ... You have to be a dentist to own a practice, and yet, practices are being bought up here in New Jersey by corporate offices, because they have dentists on their board of directors. This trend is continuing over and over again, so it's very difficult ...

 

 

Here's the thing. What advice I would give them is, I understand the survival component of you having to work, pay back your loans, [inaudible 00:42:33]. "They're huge," as somebody we know would say, but those ... You've got to pay them back, and so I would say go ahead and work for corporate, but understand that everything you do is related to your general well-being. If you're told to do something that is against your mission, against your values, against who you want to be, who you really are, don't do it. Don't do it, at the risk of losing your job. I would do that, because that's the first step towards leadership, to understand who you are and live to that ideal.

 

 

One of the first questions I ask anybody is who are you? Who are you? Ten years of doing dentistry in a corporate environment for somebody else, to feed somebody else, you're going to lose sense of who you are, who you started out being.

 

Howard:

Good words of wisdom. What else do you want to talk about?

 

Barry:

I want to talk ...

 

Howard:

I love listening to those loud noises. I know some people in the podcast would be thinking, "What are those loud noises back there," but I'm ... I'm actually looking at you and it's [crosstalk 00:44:03] in a lab. I can't think of how many thousands of hours I've spent in a dental lab.

 

Barry:

This is Iffet.

 

Iffet:

I'm a big fan.

 

Barry:

Over here, she's ... Oh, you are a fan! She watches ... Get into the camera and show him.

 

Iffet:

Hello.

 

Barry:

This is Iffet. She watches you all the time.

 

Howard:

On what? YouTube or online CE, where do you watch?

 

Iffet:

YouTube, the videos.

 

Howard:

Oh, thank you!

 

Iffet:

The technicians and I, now I see they are [inaudible 00:44:38], and I watch, and I like what you do.

 

Howard:

Oh, thank you, and just remember when you see me in person I look even worse.

 

Barry:

You know what I want to talk about?

 

Iffet:

Nice meeting you.

 

Howard:

Nice meeting you, and what is that accent? Let me guess, I've lectured all around the world, she's Russian.

 

Barry:

Guess again. You'll never guess.

 

Iffet:

You have been there. No, you were there two months ago. Albania.

 

Howard:

Oh, you're from Albania! Oh my gosh, that was an amazing ... In Tirana? Is that where you're from, Tirana?

 

Iffet:

Yes, but I'm from Macedonia. I'm Albanian, but from Macedonia.

 

Howard:

That's where Mother Theresa's from.

 

Iffet:

Yes, also.

 

Howard:

I went to Macedonia and I stood where they chalked out where her house was at the ... That is some of the most beautiful country on earth.

 

Iffet:

Yes, it's nice, it's beautiful.

 

[00:45:27]

Barry:

 

do you want to say hello?

 

Howard:

I'll tell you one thing, do you still have family over there?

 

Iffet:

Yes, all my family.

 

Howard:

I just want to tell you that when you cross Albania over to Italy, the land on the Mediterranean over in Italy is million dollar a square acre, and then you cross that sea and you go to Albania and it is literally almost nothing. The cost of it is nothing. I walked along those beaches and I just want to tell you, you're a young kid. When you're as old as me and Barry, every square acre of Albania touching the Mediterranean is going to be a million dollar bill. So, if I was you, I would figure out how to buy an acre, any size plot, touching that water, and then everything you do the rest of your life at a job will be nothing, and one day when you're as old as me and Barry, someone's going to say "I will give you a million dollars cash for that."

 

Iffet:

Okay, I'll try. Sounds beautiful. We have beautiful sea and some beautiful place.

 

Howard:

Would you agree that that land is very low cost?

 

Iffet:

It is, and I see that the prices are going higher every day now, so it's time to buy.

 

Howard:

Just remember, the other side of that is Italy. Just go look at what they built on the other side of that ocean and then come back and realize it's going to look just like that in twenty, thirty years.

 

Iffet:

Yeah. I hope so.

 

Barry:

So, Iffet is an A+ technician, ceramist, unbelievable work. Everything fits perfectly.

 

Iffet:

Thank you.

 

Howard:

Amazing. So you can send your work to Iffet- How do you spell Iffet? E ...

 

Barry:

I F F E T.

 

Howard:

I F F E T? Her website is Nichedentalstudio.com?

 

Barry:

Correct.

 

Howard:

Well, good luck and thank you for choosing dentistry as your career.

 

Iffet:

Thank you. Nice to meet you.

 

Barry:

Here's Yolanda.

 

Howard:

Hello, Yolanda.

 

Yolanda:

Hi, how are you?

 

Howard:

Where are you from?

 

Yolanda:

I'm from Spain.

 

Howard:

Wow! This is a-

 

Yolanda:

Have you been? Have you ever been to Spain?

 

Howard:

Absolutely!

 

Yolanda:

Yeah, where?

 

Howard:

Where did they hold the Olympics? Down by the Mediterranean.

 

Yolanda:

Barcelona.

 

Barry:

Barcelona.

 

Howard:

Barcelona, and then of course Madrid.

 

Yolanda:

Yeah?

 

Howard:

Yeah, that is just gorgeous country.

 

Yolanda:

Nice. Nice pool, nice country, nice people, all nice.

 

Howard:

Yeah, and it touches Portugal, When I was 16, the Church flew us to Lisbon to go spend a couple weeks in Fatima, and then we drove into Spain and went to Lourdes. Have you ever been there?

 

Yolanda:

I've been in Lisbon, yeah. It's an old city and it's very nice, too.

 

Howard:

I like Spain the most because, I would say when you're on the Mediterranean, the Spaniards are the most laid back, the most relaxed, the most [crosstalk 00:48:30]. It is just ...

 

Yolanda:

We are pretty ... We enjoy life, let's say that.

 

Howard:

Most tolerant of relaxation and fun and good food and ...

 

Yolanda:

Good food, couple beers, couple wines, olives, all that stuff.

 

Howard:

Yeah, living anywhere on the Mediterranean is a good life, I don't care where you are around that bath tub, it's all good.

 

Yolanda:

Italy's almost same, Greek, is all same culture. It's same.

 

Barry:

Barcelona dreaming.

 

Yolanda:

It's pretty similar.

 

Howard:

You need to tell your friend Iffawn how much land costs on Spain where it touches the Mediterranean, and tell her how much it costs, because when I was in Albania, my mind kept saying to myself, "Howard, if you had a brain in your head, you'd sell everything you have in the United States and come here and just buy everything you can in Albania and start developing there because that is just going to be a gold mine." It's one of the most virgin parts of the Mediterranean.

 

Iffet:

I can tell you a price for two bedroom apartment by the sea, very nice new place, you can buy for $50,000 US.

 

Barry:

Really?

 

Iffet:

That's cheap.

 

Yolanda:

That is cheap.

 

Howard:

That will be a five million dollar condo in two decades. Barry, I've got you for nine more minutes. What did you want to talk about the last ten minutes?

 

Barry:

You know, there's something that I think is very important. Yolanda, you should be listening to this, now. That is this: I know that you run triathlons. The importance of staying fit for dentists is probably the one piece of advice ... Because, to stay mentally, physically, and emotionally strong is very difficult. I don't think dentists understand the complexity of their job. I used the word mastery before. One of the things I keep on hearing dentists talk about, practice management, money management, time management; I think it's all overrated. I think the one thing to manage more than any of that is attention and energy. I think if you pay attention to the energy levels, and your attention, you'll get a lot more than practice management.

 

 

There are no techniques to manage a practice, you know that, after so many years. But if you come in every day with a positive attitude, with a good outlook, energetic, through about six, seven, eight hours a day. I go back to the modeling: Modeling the way. People then begin to follow you. So, physical fitness, to me, which is very easy. Physical fitness was a lot easier than reading all the books that I've read on positive psychology. It's pretty easy, after work, to go over to the gym or to do some yoga, or to go outside and run. Just do it, make it a priority, because it pays off in spades. I think at the end of the day, just keeping yourself fit, in every way, and the first place to stat is physical. I know you appreciate that. I see so many dentists who don't. They don't.

 

Howard:

You know, I think it was Jennifer George that taught me in the very beginning that rocks, sand, water. That when you go into practice management or dentistry, start the day with your biggest problem, your biggest case. Don't run out of gas, then at that five o'clock have to do the hardest case of the day. I've always ... Before I go to bed, I always take out my iPhone and and ... Okay, what is the most important thing? If you can just get one thing done tomorrow ... Then work back from the list.

 

 

That's why, at five am ... This morning, I went out and the first thing I did is ran eight miles, because, I think to myself, when you're 53 years old, and you're fat, the biggest problem you have is you're at the end of the line and you're going to die. I always do the workout first, just because of Jennifer's "rocks, sand, water." I figure, at 53, my biggest problem is, I'm going to die. So my first thing I do is work out. Then I work backward to my second biggest when I get back, then I do my next most important thing. By the time I'm running out of gas, I'm down to little sand and pebbles and water, things that I don't care if I get done.

 

Barry:

You know, Covey popularized the "rocks, sand, water" in his book, "First Things First," which is-

 

Howard:

Who did?

 

Barry:

Stephen Covey.

 

Howard:

Did Jennifer get that from Stephen Covey?

 

Barry:

The point was, Covey never invented anything on his own, so I always wondered where Covey got that from. He got it from Eisenhower, Dwight Eisenhower actually developed that first principle about rocks, sand, and water in his decision making process. In dentistry it's easy to do the big rocks first, do your big cases in the morning and that's obvious. Today, the new books on time management are not even talking about time anymore, they're talking about focus and your energy, and ... Let me give you an example of that. I'll go back to writing, because writing is a real big priority of mine.

 

 

I do yoga. You ever do yoga, Howard?

 

Howard:

I do hot Bikram yoga three times a week for the last ... Since I turned 50.

 

Barry:

Okay. I do hot Bikram yoga, three times a week. Are we soul brothers or something?

 

Howard:

I hope so, because you're one hell of a cool guy.

 

Barry:

I do hot yoga three times a week. Maybe you'll understand what I'm going to say. I'm 68 and I don't miss postures. I don't do them like the young girls, but I don't miss the postures. I do everything, 90 minutes, I don't miss them; but when I leave there, I feel great. An hour later, I feel very tired. I don't know if you get that or not. Writing is my priority; I used to do Bikram yoga at 8 o'clock in the morning, and then I'd come home and try to write. I started getting something called "yoga brain," where I couldn't think, so I switched it up. Now I'm doing my writing first thing in the morning and I'm doing yoga in the afternoon.

 

Howard:

When I go to yoga, I just take a lawn chair and sit in the back of the room and drink a beer and watch all those girls do their poses. I don't actually do the yoga, I just watch. No, I think the neat thing about yoga is ... I think it's the same thing as some meditation or whatever. I just think when you take your mind off of everything that's occupying your mind, and there's no phones, faxes, children, workers, patients, and you just focus on trying to do the pose, I think for some reason it just mentally decompresses the brain. I would say I do yoga for the brain, not my bone and muscles and ligaments and tendons, which all feel massively better afterwards, but I feel more relaxed after yoga mentally, than anything I can do.

 

Barry:

Right, but I'll end up falling asleep sometimes. It gets you to focus, which is what it's supposed to do, and gets you out of the world for 90 minutes.

 

Howard:

I've only got you for two minutes so I'm going to hold your feet to the fire. What advice would you give to the kids walking out of school? This is what they're saying to me, they're saying, "Barry, I'm walking out $350,000 dollars in debt, you and Howard were lucky, you graduated during the golden years, and here now it's big box dentistry. It's corporate America, I've got more debt than you guys ever dreamed of." They're walking out of school. Two minutes, what's your advice to them?

 

Barry:

I would tell them a story, because I love telling stories. I'd tell them the story about the six blind men and the elephant. You know the story?

 

Howard:

No.

 

Barry:

Six blind men each had their hand on a part of an elephant, and they were asked to describe, what is an elephant? The man who was holding the tail said, "The elephant is like a rope." One was holding a leg and said, "The elephant is like a pillar." They went around, but nobody could describe what the whole elephant was, because they were only touching a piece of the elephant. My advice would be, don't look at dentistry as if it's just a tooth. Look at dentistry as a whole profession that encompasses so many things, from the technical to the human side. If you do that, if you take a wholism, not holistic, but a wholism approach to dentistry, your whole career is going to be a lot better. If you reduce dentistry to one component, that's a problem. That would be my advice.

 

Howard:

You're an awesome man and I ... When you have any book or whatever, you can post that on DentalTown, you could email it to me and I'll show you how you can put it on DentalTown. When we launch our audio book it's going to have digital like Kindle, it can be image or whatever. Email that to me, howard@dentaltown.com and I'll help you push it out any way I can, because I think everybody should get to know Barry.

 

Barry:

I appreciate that, Howard.

 

Howard:

Thank you, Barry, for all that you've done for dentistry, and your illustrious career. Congratulations that your son Josh followed dad into dentistry, it's a sacred, sovereign profession to me. I know it is to you. I can already tell that Josh feels the same way.

 

Barry:

He does, yep. Thank you Howard.

 

Howard:

All right, have a good day, buddy.

 

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