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VIDEO - DUwHF #782 - Kathy Kolbe
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AUDIO - DUwHF #782 - Kathy Kolbe
Kathy Kolbe is an entrepreneur who founded and was the CEO of Kolbe Corp, a publishing and consulting company for 30 years, and is now its Chairman and Chief Creativity Officer.
She is the global leader in discovering and accessing the power of human instincts and has done the brain research to prove the relevance of her Kolbe Theory of Conation to individual and organizational success. Kathy was the first person to connect conative behavior to instinctive drives, which she postulated as the source of the patterns of mental energy commonly known as a person’s MO.
Howard Farran: It is just a huge honor for me today to be podcast interviewing Kathy Kolbe, who is an entrepreneur, who founded and was a CEO of Kolbe Corp, a publishing and consulting company for 30 years and is now its chairman and chief creativity officer. She is the global leader in discovering and accessing the power of human instincts and has done the brain research to prove the relevance of her Kolbe Theory of Conation to individual and organizational success. Kathy was the first person to connect cognitive behavior to instincts, drives, which she postulated as the source of the patterns of mental energy commonly known as a person's MO.
You talk a lot about family businesses. You have a book Business is Business: Reality Checks for Family-Owned Companies. When you go into dental schools ... It doesn't matter if you're in North America, Asia, Africa ... it seems like about between a fourth and a third of the class, dentistry is a family business. Their dad or mom is a dentist or their uncle or whatever. A lot of kids are graduating from dental school this week. 6,000 kids are actually graduating dental school this week, and a lot of them are going to go back and work in their mom or dad's dental office. What advice would you have for these kids?
Kathy Kolbe: Oh, well, first of all, have fun. Enjoy the opportunity. Secondly, be sure you separate business from family, and you've got to do that off the bat. You cannot walk in there and say, "Hi, Dad," in front of a client. You always call each other by your first names. You do not get into family names. That's number one. You're not taken seriously if you start in the mom, dad, grandma, pops, that kind of stuff.
Secondly, it's really important to get rid of all those myths about gender, age, birth order, because they're not true, and they really bollocks up the relationships.
Howard Farran: It is tough, and a lot of dentists who aren't practicing with their mom or dad who is a dentist, their spouse may be doing the dry hand work up front while one of them is the dentist in the back. Do you think that's good for a marriage, bad for a marriage, or both?
Kathy Kolbe: It all depends if you're able to separate the business from the personal relationship. We spend a lot of time talking about that in the book, because what we find is if people bring their conflicts from home to work, it won't be successful. If you're arguing about something over breakfast, the moment you walk into the office, it has to be, "We're done with that. We're professionals. We'll pick up where we left off at the end of the day, but we are not going to have our conflict displayed in front of our clients or our staff." If you can't leave the personal at home, then you shouldn't be working together.
Howard Farran: Businessisbusinessbook.com, and very interesting. Business is business: Reality Checks for Family-Owned Companies. Working with family complicates the already daunting task of owning a business, and it's tough not to take work problems home with you. The best approach is to realize that family is family, and business is business. A common sense manual for survival that dispels myths such as the power of teamwork and gender or birth order differences.
I know writing a book is like having a baby. It's at least a nine-month process. Tell us about your journey that made you become an expert in this and go to the great length of writing a book on it.
Kathy Kolbe: Well, I'm passionate about the issue of family business. I started working with my family when my dad had a business that my mom worked in. It was very much his business, but she ran it during the day, because he had another job. He had a day job. The family business was run out of our basement, and it was the Wonderlic Personnel Test. Among our biggest clients were dentists. We had thousands of dentists using the Wonderlic Test. As a 10, 11-year-old, I was invoicing dentists, and I was saying, "Dad, why do so many dentists use the Wonderlic Personnel Test?" He said, "Well, because they have to learn to hire really good people, because they have a small staff, and every single person has to work really well."
I started thinking about this family business as a kid in a family business and how hard it was sometimes that if there was a problem in the business, when we were all working in the basement, we went upstairs to have dinner together. I became aware you could not talk about the business over the dinner table. That was just something I saw did not work. I learned so much just by watching. My older brother and my older sister got in the business. I was the youngest, and the spouses got in the business, and I saw the mistakes. I said, "I am never working in this family business when I get older," and I didn't.
I didn't intend to start a family business, but the business I was in, Kolbe Corp, deals with human factors and how we work together. The more I worked with my theories of human strengths based on human instincts, the more family members wanted to help, because it was a mission. I couldn't leave them out. They wanted to do it, so I'd say, "Okay. Come on board, but we have to not do the things that cause problems."
My husband works in the business I founded and two of our kids, two of our five kids. We've made it work. I have now turned the business over to the kids, and I've started my own development company, a new one. I know that we can make it work. We did make it work, and I am passionate about helping other people make it work, because when you can make it work to work together, it's such a joy. It's so fabulous. When it doesn't work, it's awful, so that's why I wrote the book, with my daughter, by the way.
Howard Farran: Is that right? Your daughter helped you?
Kathy Kolbe: It's interesting, because we're a blended family, and actually my stepdaughter helped me write the book. Now, how strange is that? But it worked.
Howard Farran: Yeah.
Kathy Kolbe: We loved it.
Howard Farran: So you either become the stepmother or the step-monster, right?
Kathy Kolbe: Yes. It's always worked for us, and I think it's because we trust our own instincts. We've learned the differences in how we all work, and we value those differences as strengths. That's the number one thing, I would say, is if you use what we know about the strengths of individual people, and they're not genetic. Your Kolbe strengths are tied to unique instincts. Even identical twins don't have the same modus operand. Your MO or modus operandi comes from your instincts.
I found a way to measure that. My dad measured cognitive abilities. I decided there was something more important, and I measured the MO, how we naturally get things done. So if you're the dad and you're the dentist, and you need everything to be done in a very follow-through way, which is one of the modes identified, and everything is orderly and systematic, and then in comes the wife, who just loves to talk and forgets what she's doing and isn't orderly but the clients all love her, what do you do about that? You don't try to change her. It won't work. We are who we are. Our instincts are there. So what you do is celebrate that, oh, yeah. You can greet them. You can even be here. If I'm doing a root canal, I want that other person chattering away with me and distracting me from what's happening as the patient. So build on those differences. Don't try to change each other.
Howard Farran: I like that. Build on the differences. To people who have never heard of the Wonderlic Personality Test, where did that come out of, and is that still in use today? Talk about the history of the Wonderlic Personality Test.
Kathy Kolbe: The Wonderlic test is actually cognitive. It's an IQ-based test, and the NFL uses it in picking draft choices. It's interesting. A lot of corporations use it in selection. I found that that wasn't enough. I would argue with dad about it. How smart you are doesn't really tell me how well you work together or how well you'll do a certain job. I don't think quarterbacks need to necessarily be smarter. I think they need to be more flexible and faster. They need to pick up on it right away. Play breaks down, go for something else.
I find the quarterback's a lot like the dentist who has to keep ... A big office with a lot of activity, you need some quick start, and somebody in the office needs quick start so that they can keep things moving, keep it rolling, keep the energy flowing. But then you need follow through, which are the people who are going to give order and structure. It's not bad if you have some fact finder in there. The fact finder mode are the strategists, and they go out and do the marketing, and they do the financials. The hands-on implementer, the fourth of the Kolbe Instincts, are the ones that tie to the actual hands-on work. Dentists have far more implementer than any other category of professional.
The Wonderlic was just cognitive. The Kolbe gets into these instincts and takes it a whole step further. I'm the next generation of assessment, where we're looking beyond how smart, but how do you get the job done.
Howard Farran: Will you go through what are those four again?
Kathy Kolbe: Fact finder is how you seek information, how you research, how you deal with strategies. Follow through is the degree of structure you have. In each of these, there's a scale of one to 10. The more fact finder you have, the more detail-oriented you are, and the less fact finder, the more generalist. In follow through, the more you have, the more structured and organized. The less, then the more flexible and the more multi-tasking.
Quick start has to do with the spoken word, how fluent you are in talking, how risk-oriented you are or not. If you have a little bit of quick start, you stabilize. Implementer deals with physical space and the use of tools and equipment. The more implementer you have, the more likely you'll be a professional as a dentist rather than a lawyer or accountant. Those with a little bit of implementer don't do well with hands-on three-dimensional issues.
That's one of the key decisive things. If you're going to bring a kid into the dental business with you, if they resist in the implementer, they're going to have a problem being a professional dentist. It doesn't mean they couldn't be in the finance side, marketing side, other aspects, but there's a certain lack of sense of dexterity or that tangibleness that you need to be a good dentist. I find way too often, people say, "I want my son to be a dentist or my daughter to be a dentist." Yeah, but if you haven't given them the Kolbe index, you don't know whether they have what it takes to be good at it. Again, that doesn't mean they couldn't be in the business, but just not as the functional dental work. Dental assistants also need a lot of implementer.
The uniqueness of the Kolbe approach to selection in putting together a team, a staff, family or not, is very critical to success in dentistry. That's why we have so many dentists as clients. About half the people listening to me right now have used the Kolbe Index.
Howard Farran: Your Twitter is @Kolbe_Corp. I always retweet my guest's last Twitter.
Kathy Kolbe: Yeah, that's not my personal Twitter. My personal Twitter is just Kathy Kolbe. For information, people should go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Howard Farran: You know a lot of dentists ... If you ask 100 dentists, "What keeps you up at night? What's the biggest problem that takes the wind out of your sails?" they always say staff ...
Kathy Kolbe: Absolutely.
Howard Farran: ... and if they don't say staff, it's the patient. What would you recommend to them? Would you recommend that they get this book and get the personality of every existing employee working together right now?
Kathy Kolbe: This is the book. If you have a family business, absolutely read this book, because this is going to change your world. It's going to simplify so much for you, because it's not about hiring smart people. It's about hiring the people who are best suited for the roles. With family, once they're in the business, they better understand some of these guidelines.
By the way, we have a chapter here on preparing the next generation to work in the business. There's a whole lot in here that's just common sense. How to do it right from the get-go. When they're young, you start bringing them in, and there are specific ways to do it. I learned the family business when it was the Wonderlic family business by typing invoices and looking at who was buying our stuff and asking questions. When people would call in, I had to use my big girl voice. I couldn't sound like a kid. I needed to sound as grown up as I could. It was hilarious, because my friends would call, and when we answered the house phone, it was a business phone, and it was always, "Hello. Wonderlics. May I help you?" It was always very professional, and then it was one of my friends, "Hi. Hey. How are you?" and it was my own voice.
I think the more kids learn to respect that there's a business tone, and then we also always have to learn, and we emphasize this in the book. You build on your differences, and you respect the family members and other employees for what they bring to the table. You don't try to change them. You don't criticize them for being who they are. You find a way to build on each person's strengths. When you do that in a dental office, you are creating a family with every employee, not just the actual family members.
Howard Farran: Is it online, or do you ...
Kathy Kolbe: It is online. You can go to kolbe.com. Just K-O-L-B-E.com/A, and right there, you can just purchase the Kolbe Index and take it and have your result within seconds. It's very quick to take, about 12 minutes. What it tells you is what your four conitive strengths are that make up your modus operandi, and it gives you 14, 15 pages of do this, don't do that. Very, very specific information on how to be your best. I wrote every word of all of the variations. It took me years to develop this and write it, but it's so thorough, and the results are just amazing. It's insight into who you are and who your wife or husband or daughter or son. It tells you what's best about each one of you.
Howard Farran: Why do you think you guys have always had so many dentists as clients?
Kathy Kolbe: I think because we care what happens. We're so determined to help. We can imagine, and as I write this, I write this to people who run small businesses, family businesses, people who work together and care about their patients or clients. I don't think there's any group of human beings who care more about their customers than dentists. We help you help them, not only by working together well, but a lot of our dentists offer this to their patients. One dentist teases me, because he says, "I make every patient let me take x-rays and let me get their Kolbe result, because then I know how to talk to them and how to deal with them." We love that, that so many dentists are using the Kolbe Index so creatively and to help build a bond with their patients.
Howard Farran: You live right here in Scottsdale, Arizona, and we have a dental school in Mesa and a dental school in Glendale. Do you think they should take personality tests like this for when they're trying to select the incoming class?
Kathy Kolbe: First of all, let me just correct you. It's not a personality test. It's not whether an introvert or extrovert, which is personality. It's the test of your conitive or instinctive ... Conitive is a word most people don't know. It's your instinct-based modes of action, so it's how you act, react, and interact, not how you feel about that. Not whether you're socially out there or shy. It has nothing to do with that.
Do I think this should be used in dental school? I think it should be used in the selection process for dental school. I have known so many people who thought they wanted to be dentists. They got in the middle of the program, a lot of time, a lot of money, and then they found out when they started doing the work, it was not suited to them. Too much hands on. Too much using tools and equipment. It's a shame to wait that long to find out it's not right. We can tell you that before you ever sign up for the program. That's true with any major.
It also is a matter of do you really want to do it. We have a career program. You can go to aptcareers, A-P-T careers.com, and you can take this instrument and find out whether it's even a good career for you, let alone is doing it going to be the right thing for you. But we will be able to help you with that. Kids 12, 15 years old can start with it. Adults can use it. Any age can use aptcareers, so it's a very good way before you go spend the money to become a dentist. If I were running a dental school, I'd want everybody I taught to succeed, so yeah. I'd have them all take it.
Howard Farran: I looked up conation on Wikipedia. It's "Conation (from the Latin conatus) is any natural tendency, impulse, striving, or directed effort. The conitive is one of three parts of the mind along with the affective and cognitive." Very interesting. Yeah. I don't think it's a very ... It's a new word to me.
Kathy Kolbe: When I first started writing about it, which was back in the '80s, it had just been taken out of the dictionary, because they decided it was an obscure word. It was listed in one of the 10 most obscure words in the English language, so I nevertheless decided it was critically important, and I thought using the right word did matter, although I don't go around saying, "Oh, find out who you are conitively." I say, "Find out how to trust your instincts. Find out your MO."
In our family, we have so much fun. Kids will say ... My husband will say, "Kathy, are you hungry for dinnertime?" and I'll say, "Yeah. Are you?" "Yeah." I say, "Okay. Are you going to get conitive and make dinner?" Because it's that getting conitive thing that's so much fun that you might want to do it, you might know you should do it. You might feel hungry, but until you get conitive, there's no dinner on the table.
Howard Farran: Everyone listening to you right now is on a commute to work. What would be ... You don't know what you don't know. What would be red flags or signs in your daily life at work where you think this would be a great solution? What problems do you think they're encountering that this is going to solve?
Kathy Kolbe: Great question. If you are procrastinating, you are probably working against your conitive brain at that moment. If you don't want to do the books and you're procrastinating to keep from filling out all the forms, you're probably not a follow through, and it's a follow through task. We will always try very hard not to do the things we're not good at naturally. It's a waste of our time and energy. If you need to make that phone call and make a sale, bring somebody in as a new customer, but you are resistant to the quick start, you will procrastinate making that call. So procrastinating is a tip that there's a conitive issue.
Another thing that happens with our MOs is if we're in conflict with someone else ... You've got a staff person. You really like them. You hired them because you liked them. They were great in the interview. Their resume was perfect, but they get in there, and it's always an argument. "Where'd you put that? What did you do with this? How come it's not there? Why didn't you finish this? Why didn't you do that before you left?" It's often because there's a conflict between the two of you conitively, and you didn't realize that was the case.
The other thing that can happen is you had a false expectation. Because this person was dressed neatly, because this person answered your questions appropriately, you really thought you could depend upon them to be orderly and support you in a way that was also appropriate. But they don't have the instinct to do that. They can posture that way in an interview, but that's not who they really are. You would have known that if you'd used the Kolbe in selection. Now, you know you have a conitive problem because there's stress with a person you like a lot, but they're not doing the job the right way. All of those things are predictable. Those kinds of problems are predictable and avoidable.
Howard Farran: Usually, a dental office has a front desk, assistant, a hygienist, and a dentist. Would you want different ones of these, fact finder, follow through, quick start, implementer, at each different position? Would you want them all to be the same? You talked about a quarterback. If you were going to draft a dental office, which conitive behaviors would you put at each one of those positions?
Kathy Kolbe: It all depends on the dentist herself or himself. You start with the key person and then the support that person needs. If you have two or three dentists, you have a bigger staff, you need more of a variety of people around them. Let's say it's a dental office with two dentists. Let's say it's a husband and a wife, and let's say he's a real quick start. He loves to talk to people, he brings in the business. He's very much a person who will switch gears quickly. He moves fast. The wife is more methodical, more structured, more strategic in the way she practices. The person who is strategic and the person who is quick start are the two partners, and they're both dentists. Now it's very critical that the person who is running the front office provides a different talent, a different conitive perspective, and that's the follow through. You would be seeking someone to fill in a gap and to meet a need that neither of those two people are filling.
Once you have those three there, you've got to look at do the dentists, one or the other, have the implementer? They probably at least accommodate implementer or they wouldn't be good dentists. Maybe there's someone who needs to keep the equipment running better and in shipshape, and so your next hire after the follow through might be an implementer who accommodates the other modes, so is in the mid-range in them.
What we help you with is a system for identifying that. We have technology and software where you just very simply put in ... You, the dentist, both take the Kolbe Index. A few minutes, bang, you're done. Now you say, "We need these other roles," and you fill in another index that completes very quickly what you're looking for, and the computer tells you the match, gives you the parameters for your new hires. Then as you interview people, even before you interview them, so you're not wasting your time, you have the candidates with the right res- ... Our right fit selection program is perfect, and we even have a special form that we recommend for dentists, because we have so many dentists that we put this right fit express into a package that works beautifully for dental offices.
Howard Farran: Is it one fee for each test, or is it a fee for the whole office? How does the fee work?
Kathy Kolbe: The fee works ... With the right fit express, it's one fee for one job, and so it's a very inexpensive and total package. When you're doing a seminar for your office, if you already have your staff put together, we do a very quick program where you can either just buy the indexes and review the information or we can do a Skype message. You can get a Skype just like you and I are, and we'll talk with all of you and give you feedback on how to work best with each other. That's a very inexpensive team. We can do a team seminar for you. If you're interested in that, just do email@example.com and ask for the dental office seminar.
Howard Farran: Nice. If a dental school dean said, "Which one would be the best dentist?" what would you say to the dean of Midwestern over in Glendale or A.T. Still over in Mesa? What would you say to that? How would you answer that?
Kathy Kolbe: I'd say you could do it with any mode of initiation as long as there's accommodation in implementer, so that accommodating implementer mode is critical for dentistry, but then they can be fact finder, quick start, or follow through. It doesn't matter which one of those. Any of them can work. It's building the team around that person that becomes critical to success.
Howard Farran: You also mentioned a quarterback analogy. Does that mean you're an NFL fan?
Kathy Kolbe: I'm a sports nut. I love all sports.
Howard Farran: Who's your favorite quarterback?
Kathy Kolbe: Oh, I don't have a favorite quarterback, but I've tested many, many very, very well-known quarterbacks, and what do you think is the MO of a quarterback?
Howard Farran: Quick start.
Kathy Kolbe: Yep. Every one of the famous quarterbacks that I have tested has led with quick start. Absolutely. Who's the quick start in baseball, do you think?
Howard Farran: You know, who?
Kathy Kolbe: That's a tough one.
Howard Farran: Who would you go with?
Kathy Kolbe: It will be your shortstop, because they have to be able to move left, right. They have to make the quick play, third or first. Luis Aparicio ... Now I'm showing my age, but he used to be the White Sox's best quick stop shortstop I've ever seen in my life. Who's the quarterback of a basketball team?
Howard Farran: Michael Jordan.
Kathy Kolbe: It's interesting. It's the point guard. It's always the point guard needs to be the quarterback for the same reason, I mean needs to be the quick start for the same reason as the quarterback. They're the play maker, and they have to have a play ready when the play breaks down. I've helped a lot of major league teams pick players, draft basketball players, and that's my favorite professional sport, because it's a quick start game. It goes fast, and I'm a quick start.
Here's the interesting thing. Dan Marley, of all the basketball players I've ever worked with, would be the best dentist.
Howard Farran: Because he's an implementer?
Kathy Kolbe: He's an implementer quick start, and he's got a lot of implementer. Now, the way Dan played the game, he was not pretty. The plays would break down, and Cotton Fitzsimmons was always on his case because he was so good when there was a crunch, but his coach was a guy who wanted everybody to stay with the game plan, whether it was working or not. Dan would go with that last minute break, and he'd come up with amazing moves. You're in Arizona, so you know him probably as well as I do. Incredibly great player. Now a good coach.
Howard Farran: Yeah. My favorite shortstop was on the St. Louis Cardinals. Was it Ozzie?
Kathy Kolbe: Oh, yes. Now, there's another quick start. No question about it. That's [crosstalk 00:30:02].
Howard Farran: I used to love it. It was so romantic, on the first game of the season when he'd walk out there with his little son, and they'd both do a standing backflip.
Kathy Kolbe: So cute.
Howard Farran: Do you remember that?
Kathy Kolbe: Yeah. So great. I think of every dental office as, in a way, being a basketball team, and baseball it works too. I don't see football so much, but you need the people who back up others. You need the people who you can count on to pick it up if you drop it. You need the people who will absolutely be steady at ease. You look at all those characteristics. In a big dental office, you've got to have all that moving and moving together fast and quickly, but calm and always appearing like nothing went wrong, nothing's going to go wrong. It has to have a lot of sense of serenity in the place. I think you get that sense of peace when you have the right combination of MOs.
In a family business, that also means you don't bring any of the snarkiness you might have at the moment with a sibling or a spouse. I've seen a lot of cases where dentists go to work furious with a family staff member, but you'll never know it by watching the way they work. I think that's what our book keeps trying to impress on the reader is family is family and business is business. Family always comes first, but when you're in the office, nobody knows what the family issues are. It's all professional.
Howard Farran: Do you think the dental school requirements creates a natural selection of who shows up to go to dental school? You have to get As in calculus, geometry, physics, biochemistry or you're not even going to be at the party. Do you think the undergraduate school requirements weeds out a lot of other types and you're getting a more homogenous bunch of people?
Kathy Kolbe: I think the whole educational system stinks. There are just so many problems and so many misperceptions and so many ... Fact finders love other fact finders because they do the research. They read a book and write a report, and they get an A. Dentistry has very little to do with reading a book and writing a report. It has to do with dealing with human beings and tools and equipment, fast-moving stuff, being accurate, having quality orientation, being able to understand each patient for who they are. That's not seen in an SAT score. That's not seen in As in calculus. That's not seen in GPAs. We have a foolish way that weeds out some of the very best people. I know a whole lot of carpenters who would be wonderful dentists, but they didn't qualify because academic standards, phony baloney misguided stuff.
Howard Farran: Yeah. I remember some of my friends in grade school and high school, that they believed they were stupid because they got bad grades in algebra and geometry. Then you'd be out there, spend a night with them, and the combine would break down, and they could pull any tool out of the shed, and they'd work on that thing all night long. I would say, "Well, how did you learn how to do this?" and he goes, "Dude, I'm learning it right now. We've got to get this thing running by sun up."
Kathy Kolbe: There you go.
Howard Farran: I'd be looking at this kid. My impression of him is like this is my smartest friend. And then you go to school, and the teachers are making him feel like he's dumb because he didn't get a good grade in algebra.
Kathy Kolbe: I'm having the joy of working with some educational leaders who get that and are beginning to realize we're way, way, way in the weeds with thinking fact finders are the smartest, best at everything. They're very, very good at strategies. They're very good at having specific details, remembering facts. They are not necessarily good with patients. They are not necessarily good with tools and equipment, and we've got to differentiate instinct, conitive-based abilities from just mere IQ. I think until we do that, we're misguiding a whole lot of people.
The oldest son is not necessarily the best dentist. The baby of the family may become the CEO, because that's the best person to do that job, but we don't realize that. The whole birth order stuff is cockamamie. It has no valid research behind it. The oldest child is not the greatest leader. The baby can be the best leader. The middle child is not necessarily messed up or torn apart or isn't able to be an initiator of solutions. We have to get rid of those myths, and especially in families, we owe it to each family member to not stereotype. I think you're hitting on some key points and some that I spend a lot of time trying to correct people's bad judgment based on those myths.
Howard Farran: You said you're starting a new company. What are you working on now? What's your next play?
Kathy Kolbe: I've actually been doing this for a while. I turned Kolbe Corp over to my kids who are doing a fabulous job of running it. The company I have called Dynamynd ... A word I made up and misspell on purpose ... is a development company. I developed the Apt Careers program through it. I've developed very recently a self-efficacy assessment that is important in guiding your family. I'm working on health-related issues, dentistry and other health-related issues. I'm looking at-
Howard Farran: It's called ... What's the name of the company?
Kathy Kolbe: Dynamynd. D-Y-N-A-M-Y-N-D. It's dynamynd.com. We're just putting together a little spiffier website right now. We're really developing programs and not ... I don't know. I don't like to sell. I like to develop, and in the process of developing, it seems I'm always selling. I can't wait to share with you in about a year another new program that I'm developing that's going to help educators a great deal and then one that's going to help the public evaluate dentists and doctors.
Howard Farran: What is the website of Dynamynd?
Kathy Kolbe: It's just dynamynd.com. The Dynamynd product right now that is going to help people the most is Apt Careers, and that's just apt, A-P-T, careers.com. Everyone of any age who has any doubt about am I doing the right thing with my life ought to take Apt Careers, because it combines your interests with your aptitude. Do you have the right conitive or instinctive aptitude and are you looking at interest areas wisely in terms of not just do I want to be in medicine, but what role? Maybe you want to work in a dental office, but you don't have to be the dentist. You could be the world's best customer-oriented front desk person. Boy, when you have the right person there, does it make a difference. Huge.
Howard Farran: I love your statistics on aptcareers.com. A-P-T careers.com. 70% of people hate their job. 80% of workers feel stressed on the job. 70% of low-performing employees are working against their instincts. Just 8% of US high school graduates complete curriculum that prepares them for the workplace. College students change majors three times on average. I guarantee you, if you surveyed all 211,000 Americans who have a license to practice dentistry, I think you would find those same statistics.
Like on Dentaltown, a lot of time when people say they love dentistry, the next five comments are going to be, "God, I wish I could say that. I wish I could say that." Then when you drill down and you say, "Well, what's wrong?" a lot of them became dentists because their dad was and their uncle was and their cousin Eddie. Then they get to work, and they want to do a root canal, but the assistant's mad at the hygienist, and the front office lady has attitude. It's just tough. What would you say to a dentist who doesn't really know what's going on, but he just says, "I'm burned out. I hate driving to work"?
Kathy Kolbe: First I would say to-
Howard Farran: I know dentists who say that if their 4:00 patient canceled and they get to go home an hour early, that it's the only sign that they think there really is a God, because they get to go home an hour early. They're just like, "Thank you, Jesus," and run for the car. What would you say to that person who is fighting burnout?
Kathy Kolbe: I would say, "Life is too short. You ought not to be spending it doing something that you hate that makes you stressed out. It's going to affect your personal relationships. It's going to affect your health." We do find that the World Health Organization says, "Work-related stress is the number one cause of heart attacks," and it is, they now say, a major health crisis. Work-related stress is now an epidemic, and the World Health Organization is warning people that it's life-threatening. Why on earth are you doing something that causes you this much stress? Go immediately online to aptcareers.com and find out what would work for you, what you can do that you love and that you have the right instincts for. It will also tell you what to stay away from, so it tells you the worst jobs you could have. Maybe the worst job for you is dentistry, and you're stuck or you feel stuck, but you're not stuck. You're never stuck. If it's a health crisis for you, it is affecting your loved ones.
Howard Farran: I know what they're going to say. They're going to say, "I went to eight years of school. I've got this big student loan debt. I've got a practice. I graduated with $350,000 in student loans. I bought a practice for 750. Kathy, I'm a million dollars in debt, and I'm only 30. I won't even be debt-free until I'm 40." What would you say to them?
Kathy Kolbe: I sit across the table from a number of very senior executives and people in the medical world, and I talk to them, and just what you're saying. I know their Kolbe result, and I look at them and say, "Is it worth dying younger? Is it worth losing your spouse and kids? Look at what you're sacrificing." Their eyes well up with tears, and they say, "I feel so stuck with debt." The one thing I can tell them is there's something about them that's perfect, and that's those conitive talents they have. They need to turn to that which is their strength and help it find a workaround, a workout. They need to get with a financial advisor. First of all, they need to talk with their loved ones about the fact, "I need to quit. I need to find an alternative." They need to get the support of those that they love and care about. Do not stay if you are in that position. Do not continue doing what you're doing. I have seen too many people die younger because of it and live longer with pain. It's not worth it.
Howard Farran: I'm in Phoenix, and you're in Scottsdale. I've been practicing dentistry here 30 years. Every single year, between one and three dentists in the valley here kill themselves.
Kathy Kolbe: Well, you do know that dentistry is one of the highest suicide rates of any profession. We're sitting here talking to a bunch of dentists, and I don't want to become morbid, but folks, if you're unhappy and hate it, get out, get out, get out. Now. We can help you. You know what? Do Apt Careers, and if it's telling you to get out and here's some place to go ... And it will always tell you a solution. It will say, "Here's what you could be doing." If you want to, we'll set up a seminar for dentists who want to get out, and we'll actually do a seminar and have talk sessions and work with you with professional financial advisors. Maybe this is something that we ought to figure out a way to sponsor, a Skype seminar for your listeners who want to know specifically about this, because folks, I cannot emphasize enough. There is joy in the world, and you're missing out on it. It's not worth it to keep doing it. You've got to find a way out.
Howard Farran: Well, you know, Dentaltown is here in Phoenix, and we have a division that puts on seminars. We've had an annual meeting every year for 15 years. We could even put on a course, physically in Phoenix, if that's something you're interested in.
I want to switch gears completely. Dentistry is a trust business. When I go buy a new iPhone, I know exactly what I'm getting. When I go to a dentist and they tell me I have four cavities, I have to trust you, just like when I take my car in and they say, "You need a whole new transmission." How do I back seat drive that decision?
Then this young dentist goes and buys this old man selling his practice, and he buys it for $750,000, and one of the first things they do is they realize they don't like the staff that's been there 10, 20, 30 years and knows the names and relationships with all the patients, and they fire them. I'm just like, that was the trust you bought. When the retiring dentist retired and now you're working with these people who have known these patients for five, 10, 15, 20, sometimes 30 years, you find that was all the blue value and the trust. What would you say to a young dentist who is 28. She just bought this practice, and she's 28, and she's constantly reminded by the team that she's the new girl, and they've all been here 20, 30 years, and she's thinking about just firing them all and starting fresh. What would you say to her?
Kathy Kolbe: I'd say, first of all, trust your instincts. Not your emotions, your instincts. Watch what people do. See who helps you. See who's loyal to you. See who makes a difference so that your life is easier, because that's what staff is supposed to do for you. See who the patients like and respond to, and take your time to evaluate each person individually and separately. Don't look at them as a group. Don't say, "I'm going to get rid of everybody and start over," because that's stupid. What you do want to do is realize, yes, you're in charge now, but being in charge means be sensible. Be wise and take your time to be sure you're right before you lose somebody that may cost you your clients. It may also cost you sleepless nights because you didn't realize it's not so easy to hire good people.
I think it's very important that a new person trust their own instincts, and they don't say, "I'm just going to keep them here because they've been here." But don't get rid of them right away. Watch the interactions. Watch your interactions with them, watch their interactions with each other, and watch their interactions with your clients.
Howard Farran: When these young kids come out of school and they start reading all the dental journals, whenever there's a practice management article, they always talk about how you need to become a great leader. You need to develop your leadership skills. If she was asking right now, "How can I become a better leader? How do I jumpstart being a leader? I'm 25 years old," how would you-
Kathy Kolbe: You don't jumpstart it. You become a better leader by becoming a leader, by becoming a better person, by becoming a person who others want to follow. You don't become a leader because you went to an MBA program or because you read a book or an article. You become a leader by solving problems and figuring out how to solve problems wisely, figuring out not how to be arrogant, but to be compassionate. So many people say, "Oh, the key to success is be passionate about what you're doing." Yeah, you've got to be passionate, but you've got to go beyond that and have compassion for your coworkers, for your staff, for your patients. You're not a leader until you've solved enough problems and proven that you can be at the level of having a vision, a mission, and compassion.
Howard Farran: It seems like every baby boomer you talk to ... I'm 54. It seems like everybody my age is convinced that the millennials are all different, even though I'm pretty sure it's the same species. Our generation, the baby boomers, everybody 50 to 75 practicing, they own their own business, and a lot of them believe that the millennials, they don't ever want to own a business. They just want to be an employee. Do you think the millennials are that different than the baby boomer, or do you think it's just some weird stereotype? Do you think that owning a dental office is going to be less likely because the millennials would rather just have an eight to five job and clock out at five?
Kathy Kolbe: I think humankind and human nature hasn't changed, and so we have the same mixture of a bell-shaped curve in each of the four action modes that I've mentioned. That's the basic nature of human beings, and that has been for as many decades ... I'm 77. I've seen it over seven decades. It hasn't changed. What has changed are values, and I think millennials were taught it's not their fault. It's their parents' fault. Their parents kept telling them, "Good job," every time they did anything, and so they're used to being praised inappropriately. They're used to a bit of thinking they're better than anybody else, but that's not all of them. It's kind of a veneer.
It's not who they are. Who they are is the same as human beings have always been, this mixture of different abilities and different attitudes, but the attitude part of it is superficial and it is that they think they know it all. Well, millennials are now old enough to know they don't know it all. The rest of us have to get over stereotyping them. They've already been confronted with the real world. We're on to the next group. I think it's very wrong to stereotype people coming in for a job by the decade they're in or by what social media has said about them. I have nine grandkids, and most of them are millennials. I try to recruit them all the time. "Okay. You have some time this summer. Won't you come work for me?" They're incredibly wonderful, hard-working young people, and so are their friends. So yeah, there are some people who meet the stereotype, but there were in my generation and yours, too.
Howard Farran: Yeah. I thought the most bizarre thing growing up is I grew up with five sisters, and I had two older and three younger, and I can't tell you how many times we'd be sitting at the dining room table or sitting in the front room, and I'd be looking at my five sisters and say, "Okay. They couldn't have the same parents." They were the most five diverse people. You could have made a movie out of it. I used to say to myself all the time, "The only thing my five sisters have in common is the same mom and dad." Then when you started, you talked about the identical twins. I actually went all the way through school with two identical twins to where nobody could tell them apart looking at them, and they were completely different people. It was amazing.
Kathy Kolbe: My husband is an identical twin. My father was a twin, and I have identical twin granddaughters. I can assure you, identical twins are not the same conitively. Their instincts are totally independent from one another. Yeah. This whole stereotyping of people in these massive sweeps of, "Oh, all the millennials, the people born here are like this," it's just nonsense. The people who do that are being superficial, and I think when it comes right down to it, we need to respect each other. I can walk into a room of any age, any type, with any education level, and tell every single one of them, "You got a perfect score on the Kolbe Index," because they will have. That's because they're perfectly capable human beings, and we've found what they're capable of doing. That's one of my personal joys in life is being able to say to you and everybody else I talk to, "You're perfect. Something about you is actually perfect, and it's an important something, because it's what drives you to do what you do." You're perfectly wonderful and terrific at interviewing people.
Howard Farran: Aww, thank you. You're too kind. I can't believe that. That was the fastest hour I think I ever remember doing a podcast. I think that these young kids that graduated and there are so many of them on Dentaltown, and they think they just graduated from dental school, and then now they're a doctor, and they don't have any idea that they just got out of dental kindergarten class and the journey has just begun. Right now, they think that all their books that they learned is all the secrets to success, and now they're going to find out that it's all the people stuff and everything that they read in a textbook will not apply. They'll never use algebra, calculus, physics. Almost everything they learned does not apply, and now they start waking up to the fact that I have to deal with people, whether it's patients, whether it's assistants, hygienists.
In my 30 years of watching dentists become successful, the ones that crushed it with the people skills, that is called the soft fluffy stuff, they just crush it. The people who are just not aware of how people navigate, how people work, how to motivate, lead, whatever, they're miserable for so long until they figure that out.
Kathy Kolbe: Yeah. You're so right.
Howard Farran: I want to thank you so much for coming on the show today and talking to all my homies. This is the important stuff. We do a lot of podcasts on root canals, fillings, and crowns, and I'm always trying to drag them back to practice management, people, leadership, understanding the people side of the equation, because that is the most important side. I thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed talking to you today.
Kathy Kolbe: It's been my pleasure. Thank you.
Howard Farran: All right. Well, you have a great day.
Kathy Kolbe: You too.