Dr. Fouad Talic currently serves as Co-Founder and President of the International Academy of Aesthetics in Beverly Hills, California. Dr. Talic obtained his dental undergraduate degree from Riyadh Colleges of Dentistry, Saudi Arabia. After completing his dental degree Dr. Talic pursued his passion in esthetic dentistry and completed his postgraduate degree from UCLA Advanced Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry. He also studied at the USC Advanced Operative and Adhesive Dentistry for a period of time.
Kareem Assassa currently serves as Founder of Pursue Solutions, a business and project management consulting firm, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of International Academy of Aesthetics, Chief Financial Officer of The American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery, owner of The Beverly Hills Photographer, a photography company, creator of Profit or Forfeit and is the co-owner of several other businesses. He offers his expertise in entrepreneurship, project management and organizational leadership to help individuals pursue their dreams by turning their ideas and passions into successful business ventures.
VIDEO - DUwHF #993 - IA Aesthetics
AUDIO - DUwHF #933 - IA Aesthetics
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Howard: It’s just a huge honor for me today to be podcast interviewing Dr. Fouad Talic and Mr. Kareem Assassa. They are right now in Beverly Hills, California. Dr. Fouad Talic currently serves as co-founder and president of the International Academy of Aesthetics in Beverly Hills, California. Dr. Talic obtained his dental undergraduate degree from Rahad Colleges of Dentistry in Saudi Arabia. After completing his dental degree, Dr. Talic pursued his passion in aesthetic dentistry, and completed his post-graduate degree from UCLA Advance Aesthetic and Restorative Dentistry. He also studied at the U of C Advanced Operative and Adhesive dentistry. Kareem Assassa currently serves as founder of Pursue Solutions, a business and project management consulting firm. Co-founder and CEO of International Academy of Aesthetics, Chief Financial Officer of the American Association of Aesthetic medicine and surgery. Owner of the Beverly Hills Photographer, a photography company. Creator of Profit or Forfeit, and is the co-owner of several other businesses. He offers his expertise and entrepreneurship project management and organizational leadership to help individuals pursue their dreams by turning their ideas and passions into successful business ventures. Thanks so much for coming on the show guys!
Fouad: Thank you.
Kareem: Thank you for having us, Howard. It’s an absolute pleasure.
Howard: Walk us through your journey, how did you two meet, how did this all get started?
Fouad: It’s a funny story actually. And, Kareem always says on that aspect, “How did you meet this guy,” and he says, “I saw him falling from the sky.” Everyone starts laughing, “Ha ha ha, falling from the sky,” but that’s actually literally what happened. Seven years ago I came to Los Angeles for vacation, and then I was doing skydiving up in Malibu, and Kareem was a very good friend of my cousin who was studying here back at the time, and he came there and he was shooting me as I was falling from the skydiving, so that was actually the first encounter we had.
Howard: Wow, I actually skydived one time, did you do it a lot or just one time?
Fouad: Initially I wanted to get a licence doing it, but I’ll tell you, it’s not easy, man. I have enough adrenaline, that’s keeping me going for now.
Howard: My CFO, Stacey, been with me twenty years, and it was about five years ago, you didn’t go on that did you? You did? Everybody but what? Me, you, Greg, Zach, so everybody but Eric. She was having a big birthday moment, and it was on her bucket list. She couldn't’ get any of her girlfriends to do it with her, and she asked me. I thought, “She’s never asked me for anything,” and I thought, “I’m not going to deny this.” Me and three of my boys went to, where was it? Down in Eloy, Arizona, which is really famous for it because they have such clear skies, it’s flat, you can jump almost every day of the year guaranteed, and my God, that was crazy! Crazy, crazy, crazy. It’s a hell of adrenaline rush, I think my knees were shaking for two hours.
Kareem: Right? So, here I am with my camera, looking for this little speck in the sky, and all the sudden this parachute opens, and this huge roar of “Agghhhhh!” I was like, I got him, I’ll take pictures. So that was my first… the screaming guy in the parachute.
Howard: Then how did your journey go on to start IAaesthetics.com?
Fouad: That was the first time I met Kareem, and then after that back in the day I was still doing my undergraduate studies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Then, after I graduated and I was very fortunate to get accepted to UCLA to continue my postgraduate studies. When I came back here I wanted to connect again with people I know in LA, and I remembered Kareem. So, I hit him up that day, “Let’s have some dinner, anything.” That night actually it was the first time we connected again, we had dinner, and that’s when we were talking business the first day. The nice thing for me, I’m a dentist and I’m very passionate about education and sharing knowledge and raising the quality of dentistry on a global scale, and Kareem was very involved in aesthetic medicine, cosmetic surgery industry, especially being the CEO of American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery. We were just brainstorming and connecting ideas, and we were very big, both of us, on this whole multi-disciplinary, multi-specialty approach. That’s where it all started really.
Kareem: To take it a step further, my father is in education, he’s the president of the association, so I’ve helped him in forming the business and kind of creating what it is today and then Fouad, his father is naturally in education and he’ll tell you a little bit more about his deep roots in dentistry, but it’s just when you put these two folks together and you just have these conversations, sometimes things fall into place, and the pieces fit, and you just run with it. And, we’ve been running pretty fast with it since then.
Howard: It’s all amazing technology, you guys gotta remember; I graduated thirty years ago, I got out of school and didn't have computers. In fact, a lot of times when kids are asking me about how I did my demographics, back then, I had a six foot by four foot map, I had index cards with a number two pencil. And now the whole world’s gone digital, and I also think it’s changing in continuing education because why do you need to go to a brick building to learn? What’s really weird is, all the schools seems to be the last adopters of online education. I look at these schools all around me Arizona, it’s like, God, couldn’t they at least have the kids stay home one day a week and do it online? Think how much smaller the class sizes would be if every day 20% of the kids weren’t there and doing it online. I also think of online education would be so much better because that teacher is talking to twenty-eight students, and I can totally vouch for how many boys are daydreaming about fishing in the Arkansas River. I can remember so many times just sitting there thinking about my limlines that I set in the Arkansas River before school. I had no idea what the teacher was talking about, so then you don’t even know what you missed.
Fouad: You had a very important point Howard, and we believe in this so much. Because most of the technology and information that people for, attend conferences, you really don’t need to be in a physical building, as you said. Also as human beings, we have our own mind capacity when we are ready to learn, and we are ready to observe information. The vision was a lot of this basic divathic knowledge and information; why isn’t it centralized in a platform where even for the lecturers, they have this lecturer where they lecture the same presentation over and over and over again. Why don’t you just record it and have it somewhere centralized where professionals from all over the world can tune in, have their own time, own pace, and really make the maximum out of it? That’s actually one of our biggest motives in pushing online education, is we really believe it increases the quality of education.
Howard: And, it’s flattening the curve. Thirty years ago there was a drastic difference in the quality of dentistry in some countries versus other countries, and now you go to all those countries and you meet dentists in some of the poorest places on earth that are sitting there watching YouTube videos on dentistry. I can vouch for, you can get amazing dentistry in any country on earth just because of the Samsung and YouTube.
Fouad: Absolutely, and you know about that is, I come from another part of the world, and like you said, the quality of dentistry is not standardized globally; we have parts of the world where they are still doing a lot of not-so-good dentistry, or maybe older dentistry, and they’re not really up to par with all the technological breakthroughs in terms of materials and techniques and all of that. One of my passions is really to try to, and I was inspired since I came to LA and I saw all of these great educators that are gathered in one local zip code. We have Dr. Ed. McLair, and Dr. Pasqual Menien, and so many others. Just the dentistry they do is so beautiful, like why can’t we share this to as many people as we can? Really it can inspire a lot of people to achieve excellence in their practice. We strive for that really; just reach people all corners of the world where not a lot of people have the privilege to travel and come to the United states or go to Europe, but what they do have is an internet connection. Give them an internet connection and you can show them the world.
Howard: How many dentists do you think are on the planet earth?
Kareem: How many dentists are on the earth?
Howard: I always ask every CEO of every major international company, and there’s two things about the definition; a lot of dentists in some countries only have nine months training; some have two years. It’s considered very good training if it’s five or six years, but it’s probably about two million. I always wonder, of those two million dentists, what percent of them can understand English do you think?
Fouad: That’s very true, not a lot. To be quite honest with you, that’s one of the biggest questions that we get because we’re an international platform, is understanding how do you sere the market which would be the globe where a lot of actual dentists don’t speak English. What we’ve done is, it’s an ambitious and but a long-term goal, our platform already seres five languages where they menus can be changed to those languages, but it’s our goal, it’s our vision to really solidify this understanding where English is just one language, and then what we’re doing is we’re translating to other languages. For example, we have a wonderful program, a facial master’s program that is now being transferred to botox fillers course, it teaches really over thirteen hours of content of anatomy, botox, fillers, you name it. It’s great for dentists as well. But, that’s actually in the transition right now to being dubbed into Spanish as the Latin American market is huge, and Spanish is a big language. We also have Dr. McLaren who's on board doing a program, the master dental aesthetics program that is a significant program that covers tremendous topics. That as well is now being dubbed into Spanish, as well as certified by one of the greatest universities in South America right now. It’s definitely a mission, and it has to be done to solidify the gaps, and that’s something I don't’ think anyone has taken the bull by the horn yet, so we’re going for that.
Howard: What are your five languages?
Fouad: You’ve got it in Spanish, Portuguese, you have it in Japanese, you have it in Portuguese and English at the moment.
Howard: Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, English…
Fouad: And French.
Howard: French. They call it the rule of fifty million; if you’re born on the planet and you have fifty million people to talk to you in your language, you don’t really have a need to learn another language. When you get to small countries, say ten million, in Denmark or Norway or Sweden, those guys know five languages, because they’ve got to deal with the Germans, the French, the Italians, England. You go to a country like Brazil, and there’s two hundred million people, they don’t speak another language; you’ve got two hundred million people to talk to. Japan is actually, I think, the least English speaking country I’ve ever been to in my life. They’ve got a hundred and fifty million people, and it was hard to find anybody that could speak English.
Kareem: You know Howard, this is something that’s going to really change very soon, because now we have this technology where you have applications that do instant translation, so I believe very soon in a few years you’re going to find it not an issue at all for people to travel anywhere, and with just a small device you can have an instant conversation with any human being that speaks any language, so that's really amazing. Imagine the potential with that, when language is not a barrier anymore.
Howard: What was that quote on Star Wars, I think it was C3PO, was that the tall one? What was his quote? He goes, “I speak two hundred million languages.” You’re from Saudi Arabia, they’re what, twenty eight million people, is that the population? How many dentists are in Saudi Arabia, and what percent of them could take your courses in English?
Kareem: Actually in Saudi Arabia like you said, we have around twenty seven, twenty eight million in population. What happened recently in Saudi is a lot of private colleges opened up in the past ten to fifteen years, because we had a big shortage of dentists, so what happened now is, we have a lot of general practitioners in Saudi that are graduating, and there’s a huge need for continuing education in Saudi. Now, the good thing is, in Saudi Arabia, the main language that students study dentistry or medicine is actually English, so language is not really a barrier. This is actually the case in a lot of other countries where a lot of students, dental students study dentistry in English, so that actually helps us a lot.
Howard: Ryan just sent me the quote; C3PO said, “I am fluent in over six million forms of communication.” I had a Russian dental assistant at one time, and her language was so bizarre. She was born in Russia, but one parent was from another country, the other parent was from another country, and then she studied abroad and she always used to say the funniest quotes. She’d say, “I speak five languages, none of them well.” Because for her, it was really strange. SHe’s the only person I’ve met in my life where you said, “What is your mother tongue?” She goes, “I don’t really have a mother tongue, because I spoke this to mom, this to dad, these to my classmates, travelled abroad,” and she was dead serious that she spoke five languages, none of them well.
Kareem: At least she can communicate, right?
Howard: Yeah, that was amazing. Tell us what happens, my homies go to IAaesthetics.com? So, you spell aesthetics A-E-S-T-H, now, is that the French? Is it English E-S-T-H, and then French if it’s A-E-S-T-H?
Fouad: You know what it is? This western, European thing. We call it aesthetics; A-E-S and then on that side of the world it’s E-S-T, it’s kind of like grey, so in Canada it’s gray, sometimes it’s grey, so it’s the same, it’s just a preference.
Kareem: I just think it’s fancier.
Howard: Well, congratulations on your site, I see you just posted, you had your nine hundredth member, that’s amazing growth.
Kareem: Yeah, thank you. It’s been since April, officially less than two years, April we launched. We launched with our passion and our heart, that’s truly what it was because we didn’t know what to expect. All we knew is we had a strong vision, and we had a mission. That vision essentially was to bring the level of quality and care across the world to a higher level through this central platform where folks can be a part of this community in a sense of learning and educating while networking, so that was really the vision.
Fouad: And Howard, now in a couple of minutes if you don’t mind, it would just make it easier for you and our audience to kind of get a feel of what we are doing, Kareem will show us a demonstration on the--
Kareem: Do you mind if we dive in?
Howard: Of course, knock yourself out. It’s your show, do whatever you want.
Kareem: I’m going to start with telling you something Howard, when you talk about online education, the current concept when people hear online education, they think I’m watching a YouTube video maybe, or I'm just watching a video online. But really, what our approach and what we’re trying to do is completely different and it’s more engaging, meaning that the whole vision we have is to have this interactive platform when if you’re purchasing any of the course with IA, you’re not really purchasing a video; what you are doing is purchasing a learning experience from the educator. So, when you buy a course with Dr. Edward McLaren, you’re actually with Dr. Edward McLaren in this online school where you can watch his content and at the same time ask him questions, share your cases, get his feedback. The interactivity part is something very huge, and that’s what we’re trying to push is this online social learning system approach, will I think will kick off massively, and especially with the age groups you mentioned, which is millennials because millenials spend a lot of time on their smartphones, on their computers, they live online. So, they really relate to this kind of interactivity, talking to someone behind the screen or saying something behind the screen, even maybe more than seeing them in person, it's their comfort zone.
Howard: So, you’ve got a powerpoint?
Kareem: Actually Howard, while we’re doing this let me tell you a little bit of my background. I’m originally from Bosnia actually, and my grandfather immigrated from Yugoslavia back in 1940’s and he was the first dentist in Saudi Arabia, he worked for King of Del Aziz, which was the first king and unifier of the kingdom. Every since then my father was born, raised in Saudi, he’s second generation dentist and I was also born and raised in Saudi, I’m a third-generation dentist in our family. Our family is kind of known for dentistry in Saudi Arabia, we have a long history with dentistry over there, so that’s very exciting.
Howard: What year was he the first dentist in Saudi?
Kareem: It was around 1948, ‘49.
Howard: Wow, so what did the people do before ‘48?
Kareem: Actually Saudi is a pretty new country, and back then being as the nature of the country was more a tribal country, there was not much education going on there, so what King of Del Aziz did was, he was attracting a lot of doctors, engineers, educated people and establishing this system of health care, education, so there were a lot of foreigners or internationals that were immigrating to Saudi or moving to Saudi and starting a new life or a new career there.
Howard: Wow, what a journey. Man, they’ve come so far in so short a period of time.
Howard: Was it hard for you to move the country you were born into and move to another country? I’ve read on a paper that only 1% of earth’s seven and a half billion people actually live in a country they weren’t born in.
Kareem: For me I wouldn’t say it was hard because Saudi for me was home, that’s where I was born, I was raised, I have never been to Bosnia, so I can’t really tell you I relate a lot.
Howard: No, mean was it hard to come to the United States?
Kareem: Oh, okay, no, not at all actually. What I like about Los Angeles, I’m a very, I would say I’m a workaholic and I like to really expand, always try to find new avenues, opportunities. I started my first business when I was ten years old, so I’ve always had this mindset and I really loved how this mindset controls LA, that there’s a lot opportunity and there’s a lot of chances for someone to make it hear. You just need the right mindset, and the right hustle, and you can get anywhere you want. Another thing is, LA and Beverly Hills is the center of the world nowadays. Everyone looks at the words L.A., and especially with the Hollywood effect on the global culture, so it’s a prime location to be in and start a business. I would say we are very lucky to be in Beverly Hills.
Kareem: There was an old saying, “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.” I beg to differ; if you make it in Beverly Hills, you’ve made it everywhere so that’s the idea; to start at the mecca of where it all started. Cosmetic surgery, dental aesthetics, aesthetic medicine. And really influence from our core, with a little bit of Beverly Hills flair and Los Angeles flair.
Howard: Nice. You’re going to do your presentation now?
Kareem: Yeah, let’s dig it in. To go to your question in regard to when someone visits our website, essentially they’re able to become familiar with who we are and what we are doing, and ultimately they’re going to view our programs. We have programs in three specialities of aesthetics; aesthetic medicine, dental aesthetics and cosmetic surgery. They’ll be browsing the programs and getting familiar with what we have to offer. In this case we’ll look at Dr. McLarens, certified master dental aesthetics program. Here they’d be able to become familiar with the program, learn about it, watch the video, and ultimately what they're going to do is they’re going to apply for this program and become a member. They apply, we receive their information, we grant them access, we give them a login and they click on the member login to have access. In this case, we’re going to be looking at the American Association of Aesthetic medicine and surgery, the triple AMS profile just for the sake of this demonstration, but really we want to take you through the process, let me make that a little bit bigger here, we want to take you through the process of seeing what the platform is. We are very proud of this idea of social learning management system, so as you can see, the first think you’re accessing is a news feed, and a news feed is quite familiar to a lot of folks, but getting to know who are these individuals in the platform. This is something that's more appropriate where you can post cases, where you can post information about our industry, and it’s very receptive because all the folks who are in here are licensed professional within our industry. So, not that I don’t like cats, but I don’t think you’re going to see crazy cat pictures in the platform, which we like it that way because again, this is a very specialized platform. The news feed is where you’re going to be starting with, let’s go and take a look at what a course looks like. I’m going to show you the facial aesthetics masters program. The program we mentioned for the botox and fillers, botulinum toxin and fillers, and as you can see, this program is structured in a way where Dr. was saying, “Hey, it’s systemized learning, it’s self-paced.” Imagine you are anywhere in the world, you could be in your pajamas, but essentially you’ll have access to this program in a self-paced manner, so you can tap in and tap out as much as you need to throughout the deal, but essentially you’re systematically going through chapter by chapter, and again to emphasise on the point we made about this is not just videos, but the actual videos that are in here are presented in a way where you have to watch them in systematic chronological order. So, chapter one, before you could watch chapter two. That’s how we control the online learning environment; you have to have a system in place. After you watch your videos, we have these abilities to share, what are your goals in learning about facial aesthetics? People are going to be posting what it is they want to learn about, what are their goals, what it is it something that can benefit their practice? As I mentioned, you see dentists and nurses and physicians, and physicians assistants all coming together on this topic, but also getting to know each other, and as you can see the interactiveness of the post, where one of the members will post and others will follow-up. So, the most important thing is essentially the interactiveness, just like Dr. Talic my partner here was saying, is the interactiveness to bond. Not only to the materials, but also to bond with colleagues. Because all we know at the end of the day is your connections really make all the opportunities matter for you in the world when it comes to business, and sometimes one connection can open the doors for endless possibilities, so that’s very important. That’s essentially what you’re looking at there from the course perspective. Also, I want to show you another one here, this is pretty cool--
Fouad: I want to show you another thing Howard, so what Kareem was showing now, that’s the learner’s perspective. Another nice thing is from the educator’s perspective, so what we do is educators, so the system we do is kind of like an uber for education, where if you’re an educator on our platform and you’ve created an online program, you keep majority of the percentage of sales, so the educator is actually profiting from their courses, and it only makes sense because educators are usually very busy, they spent a lot of time and money to acquire the knowledge they acquired, so it would be very fair to compensate them for sharing their knowledge and the time they’re going to put in this. I want to show you something very cool, if you’re an educator on the platform, you have full analytics under your members, so you can see for example yoru members, how many people registered for the course, and then you can actually have full analytics behind it, so you see user to user, when was the last time the user logged in, how much course access they had, and also total time in course. You can see for example here, Kareem spent more than fourteen hours in this course. This is very important because we work with a lot of universities, and we wanted to make sure that we’re on a very academic level. We do offer certification, but we’re not in the business of selling certificates, so what we do is the courses are fully customizable and the students have to go through either an assignment, NCQ exam, or some medic case or so to actually get certified. That’s very important on an academic level working with the universities. That’s from the educator's perspective, and then of course you can create online conferences, you can really do a lot. I want to show you something else now for the platform, and that’s where the interactivity comes, is every member in the platform, so this is the triple A account for example, but every member in the platform has their own customizable profile page. Meaning that you can post any cases, any files, voice notes, links, videos, you can also--this tab here is very important, this is for every member in the platform, you can see what courses each member has signed up for, what groups he’s affiliated with and that’s an advantage because if you’re an educator and you’re offering some topics in the platform, then you run into some of the members that may be interested in some of the topics you’re offering. You can introduce your program, sell it to them, so it helps with the interactivity big time. Then you have the badges here, so this shows what every member is in the platform, so there is a badge for what kind of membership level they are, a badge for each course completion, so it really shows you what everyone is doing in the platform. Then going back to it, you have this link here; people, so when you hit on people, everyone has access to everyone in the platform so you can add them as friends, you can send them messages, here you have some of the companies we have with us, all the members. You can see everyone who is in the platform, add them, here for example Dr. Alvaka, add him as a friend, and then you can send messages. It’s very important what we’re focusing on is the interactivity. The thing is, I see on Facebook for example there’s a lot of medical or dental posts that happen and the problem with Facebook is it’s not a professional platform for medicine or dentistry, and what happens a lot of time is someone maybe posts a case that’s not very well done or scientifically done, and then you find a lot of other people complimenting them, “Wow, this is amazing, this is beautiful.” Only because there’s lack of knowledge and it’s uncontrolled. What we are trying to do is transform this social platform into a professional private platform where you can control everyone being here as a medical or dental licensed professional.
Fouad: Have any questions?
Howard: It actually has the same look and feel of Facebook though.
Fouad:Yeah, so it’s that familiar feel. You don’t want to recreate the wheel, you just want to tweak it, put a little oil on it and dust it. That’s what we’ve done here; we want it to feel familiar, we want folks to adapt to it really well, and at the same time it should feel like something they’ve been through before. That way you decrease the learning curve of the platform while increasing the capabilities of learning.
Howard: Are you guys programmers too or did you hire a programmer? How did you create all this?
Fouad: I’m the technical guy that’s really involved in putting things together. One of my things is resources, so I’m not a coder by any means, I’m not a coder, I didn’t create this. What I do have the capability of is finding the right resources to help create the infrastructure, so this is a provider that’s helped us with their existing platform, but taking what we’re doing as a concept and as a theme, and really tying it into exactly what you see here today. We always use the tools that are available, like I said, why recreate the wheel if those resources are available? It’s really getting your vision and your idea tied in to this particular resource that can help you accomplish what you want.
Howard: You said you wanted to be the uber of dental continuing education and I think Uber is an interesting word, Uber means denoting and outstanding or supreme example of a particular kind of person or thing. The example they give is an uber-babe, so I guess if you’ve got a really amazing lover, it’s your uber-babe, which she would be an outstanding or supreme example of a particular kind of person or thing. That’s an audacious goal to be the Uber of dental continuing education, I think that’s an amazing goal.
Fouad: I appreciate that.
Howard: Of your nine hundred original members, how many countries are you in now?
Fouad: We’re in over fifty countries, and it’s continuing to grow. The spread of our actual members, a majority of them are dentists and others are physicians, next in line are our nurses, and then our physician’s assistants as well as the last but not the least our dental technicians. As you know, the relationship between, adn I’m sure Dr. Talic can emphasize the relationship between dentists and technicians is also changing, and so we also want to prepare for that and provide a platform in that regard.
Howard: Do you think you can do Beverly Hills cosmetic dentistry with chair-side milling, or do you think that really requires a lab technician?
Kareem: It’s a very interesting point you mentioned. You know, digital dentistry is growing a lot, and for the past years the technology is really getting so much better. From the available scanners we have in the market, oral scanners to the milling machines. You mentioned a very interesting point which is chair-side. As you know, the digital dentistry is already happening in terms of labs and big labs and production labs; they’re utilizing a lot of technology, and the quality is really good, it’s not bad. But, for chair-side, and what I really think is the biggest challenge is going to be the learning curve. The problem we have now Howard, is that most schools around the world are teaching conventional dentistry and what’s happening now is most of the companies, the leading companies in the world in dentistry are pushing hard towards digital dentistry. I think the biggest gap is students graduating and not having enough understanding or knowledge in terms of how to go digital, because it’s a little bit different; you need to understand the concept behind the machinery, even the materials, we have a lot of new materials, machinable materials that are coming in the market now, all these hybrid materials. They’re doing a great job, so I think there’s a big gap between education and educating people in digital dentistry and what dental schools are providing for their students now. I think there has to be a bigger focus from the dental schools to prepare their students to tackle this digital world they’re going to graduate to, because that’s what’s happening now big time, and I see it. I was in the Chicago dental society meeting a few weeks ago, and it’s just amazing how much the digital influence in our industries is becoming bigger and bigger, and you can see it. But, at the same time, I feel like the education is lacking behind it and that’s something we’re very much focusing on now is trying to provide more courses and more education in the digital field. But you know what? For chair-side, I wouldn’t say you can do 100% of all your cases, but a lot of cases where it’s a single crown or an onlay or an inlay, and especially single crown, that’s around 90% of what offices do, right? It could be done with chairside digital dentistry, and this same day dentistry is an amazing concept for me, and I’m sure you agree with me, even the patient experience is beautiful. Who would have thought you can come in the dental office and a few hours later you can have a crown, a new crown in your mouth. That’s a very interesting concept.
Howard: I think it was interesting in Hong Kong they have one dental school, and their dental laboratory class is twice as big as their dentist class. They graduate twice as many dental lab techs as they do dentists, and then everybody wondered why China was so successful creating so many laboratories, it’s because they had the infrastructure training, and it seems like the only other country that still takes serious training of lab techs is Germany, and the greatest lab techs you’ll ever meet in your life came from Germany, it’s just like becoming a doctor.
Kareem: Yes, and you know Howard, it’s very sad for me to see something that around the world dental technicians don’t get enough credit or appreciation for the work they do. That’s something I saw when I came to the states and especially in LA, a lot of the high end practices or surround us, what they do, the patient actually goes to the technician first, and then the technician assesses the case and sends him to the dentist he works with. So they start with the technician and it makes sense because the final result that you see or everyone sees in the patient’s mouth is the dentist, the technician’s work, it’s not really the dentist preparation that you see. So, technicians are the ones that make us look like superstars, and I feel like they don’t have enough credit. But, not only that, what I’m really trying hard to push on is to bridge the gaps between the dentist and technicians and have them rub shoulders more often and talk more often and discuss more often. This will definitely elevate the end result and the final quality of the treatment. If there’s no communication then a lot of things can go wrong, so I believe we need a lot more communication between technicians and dentists. Just a matter of pull up a slip, send it to the lab, and then nobody knows nobody, nobody knows what’s happening, so I think this definitely needs to change and it’s ultimately it only improves the final outcome.
Howard: Yeah, and within our specialty too, I mean, physicians have fifty-eight specialites, dentistry has nine and some dentists work very, very well with many specialists, and then others are a lone cat trying to do everything from A to Z, and I don’t know. I think in a world that is so high tech, I wouldn’t want to go, if I had a disease with one organ, I wouldn’t want to go to a physician who treated every organ in the body; I’d want to find the guy who just did that organ.
Fouad: Absolutely, yes.
Kareem: Very valid point, and I think as multi-specialty becomes more common, that’s the wave that we’re riding now with these aesthetics, you’ll see a lot more dentists pairing up with facial plastic surgeons, because ultimately whatever the well-being of the treatment plan that’s presented for that particular patient may only fit within the scope of your specialty, but that shouldn’t discount the patient on getting the best result, so seeing these partnerships more often I think is going to be the trend that we also ride as well.
Fouad: Yes, and then when we talk about aesthetics Howard, especially dental aesthetics or facial aesthetics, you can’t really be a dental aesthetics dentist and not understand facial aesthetics, or facial proportions and vice versa; you can’t be a complete facial plastic surgeon and not understand the smile line and the incisor position and just a nice smile because they compliment each other. If you have a beautiful face with bad teeth, it will never be attractive and it goes the other way around. No one person can learn everything, so we are really big on collaboration and we’re seeing that a lot happen in Beverly Hills now like Kareem said, teams of facial plastic surgeons and dentists working closely together to make this complete makeover for the patient, and I think this is crucial.
Howard: I think the easiest thing on facial aesthetics is what I do, when I’m on a date, I just turn out the light and it works well. If you go to a restaurant, you call in advance and make sure it’s really dark and the waiter unscrews the light bulb by your table. What is your most popular course? If my homies joined IA aesthetics.com, what do you think should be their first course, what’s your most popular?
Fouad: In terms of dentistry, the most complete program we have in dental aesthetics is the master dental aesthetics program by Dr. Edward McLaren. He talks about most of what he does in aesthetic dentistry, starting with photography to photoshop smile design to preparations, prototypes, provisionals, and then adhesives and indentation. I think this is a very great program for any dentist that’s interested in learning more about aesthetic dentistry, adhesive dentistry, and just the new ways of doing things. That’s on the dental part, and then also on the facial aesthetics part we have the facial aesthetics program by Dr. Sham from the American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery, and this is also really a very complete, comprehensive program on facial aesthetics and injectables. The nice thing is they actually go along very well together, so if any dentist is interested in learning more about facial aesthetics, injectables and botox and fillers, enhance or affect the facial features and outcomes, it’s a great course to have. I would say these two course are main courses right now, they’re just the most complete courses we offer.
Howard: Ed, was he your teacher when you were at UCLA?
Fouad: Absolutely, Dr. McLaren was actually my mentor, and he’s a very good friend, he’s a partner, and I have a lot of respect for that guy. I’ve really never seen anyone that’s so passionate about education and just sharing knowledge this guy, I respect that a lot about him.
Howard: And he moved to Birmingham, Birmingham Alabama?
Fouad: Yes, correct. He moved there.
Howard: How long ago was that?
Fouad: That was around a year, a year and a half ago.
Howard: Man, what a coup d'etat for Alabama, I wonder how they were able to recruit the hottest guy from UCLA to move to Birmingham Alabama?
Fouad: I think they wanted to spice things up there.
Howard: I figured it must have been money or love. Did he go do a course out there and meet a new woman? How do you move from UCLA to Birmingham Alabama?
Fouad: Actually what Dr. McLaren is working on now, it’s going to be very exciting, he’s opening up his new private institute in Utah, and he just teamed up with a group, they’re actually one of the biggest dental technician groups called DTG and they’ve collaborated together with [unintelligible - 00:44:41] if you know him, and they’re opening up a new private education facility that’s going to be top notch in Utah. They’re going to be training teams of dentists and technicians, there’s going to be a lot of digital dentistry going on, a lot of conventional dentistry going on. I think that’s something really to look forward to because I believe it’s going to be a great opportunity for getting some great education.
Kareem: Absolutely, and just to further emphasize, that’s what I like to call the crossover happens, where you have people in a hands-on industry doing online learning, but at some point they want to cross over to the hands-on, that’s going to be a great institute to do that crossover, similarly to other partners we have in the area. Hands-on as well supporting the online is going to be at the luxury of clinics and institutes and advanced things like that.
Fouad: Absolutely, and Kareem mentioned something very important, I forgot to say, is the blended or hybrid way of learning, so that’s something we’re very big on as well, a lot of these workshops that people attend all over the world, when you sign up for the workshop you have to wait four, six months until you actually start the course. What we believe in is, all of that technology that the students are going to get in that course, why don’t you have it in this online platform, where the student can actually start learning your concepts, learning your theory before they arrive to the hands-on workshop. Then what happens is out there the students go through this tacit knowledge, and then they come to your facility to do the actual course; it’s just their level of understanding and knowledge is increased so high that it just takes the whole experience to a much higher level.
Howard: [unintelligible - 00:46:35] is setting that up?
Fouad: Say that again?
Howard: [unintelligible - 00:46:36] the dental technician, DTG?
Fouad: Yes, exactly, Von Grow.
Howard: It’s pronounced Grow?
Fouad: Gro, yeah, Von Grow.
Howard: I thought it was G-O-W? Or is it G-O-W and...oh, it’s Grow, okay, sorry my walnut brain is misfiring again. Von Grow. Yeah, Utah is just a hotbed, we did a whole issue of Dental Town magazine, an article, I’ll do a search on Dental Town for Utah, my gosh, they call it Silicon Valley for the IT, and they call it Silicon Slopes in Utah, and it’s just crazy the number of dental companies there. Anyway, there’s just a dozen. Where is Von Grow situated?
Fouad: He’s in Utah also.
Howard: In Salt Lake?
Fouad: Yeah, I think so if I’m not mistaken.
Howard: How much is it, that’s the million dollar question, how much does it cost to join iaeasthetics.com?
Kareem: It’s a good question, there’s different ranges of pricing, starting as low as $99 dollars for a program, that’s more a style of a lecture with a powerpoint or keynote with vocals, and it goes all the way up from there, the example we talked about with the master dental aesthetics program, that’s a $650 dollar course, but it is over eleven hours of content. The topics are tremendous, the interactiveness is great, you’ve got a lot of assignments, you’re really involved. Obviously learning from Dr. McLaren is definitely a unique experience to say the least. The range of courses in our arsenal has to be affordable; we are an international platform, so the dollar here in the US is not going to be the same as elsewhere, so we really want to make it profitable for our educators, at the same time make it affordable for our learners, so we find that balance point that works for everybody.
Howard: Nice, nice, nice. I also like the social learning thing. I think it’s never fun to be in a career where you have professional isolation. Some careers are very isolated versus others, it’s just a big thing. I always tell dentists, “Go across, and take the dentist across the street for lunch.” Half of them will think it’s weird because you’re a competitor and they don’t want to have anything to do with you, and they live in fear in scarcity, and the other half will sit there and be your buddy. I’d say here for thirty years, the ones that were thought in abundance and let’s go watch the ball game, and let’s have a beer, I think they all did tremendously better than the ones that all lived in fear and scarcity.
Fouad: Absolutely, and I think the technology is here, we have the technology, we have the innovation, but the problem is, and you mention this earlier when we first started this interview, is that the problem is this technology and innovation is not being very much implemented in education, in the education world. So, I think there is a huge potential, it’s very exciting times we live in, and I’m going to give you also a little bit of a sneak peek, we’ve never launched this before, but we’ll have an exclusive for you and your show. We’re actually working on a lot of new technology that are related to virtual reality, augmented reality, holograms, so soon we are going to be able to create a lot of hands-on experiences virtually, so this is something that’s going to also elevate the whole industry, I believe firmly in this. It’s amazing when you can get a classroom, and have in that classroom twenty, thirty, or even fifty people from all over the world literally sitting together in this virtual world where they’re talking to each other, they’re learning from each other, and they’re communicating with each other. This just breaks a lot of barriers that’s unheard of, so it’s very exciting times to be in, and we’re trying so hard to push on this technology and innovation and try to influence the education world as much as we can.
Howard: Are you working close with any sponsors?
Kareem: Yeah, we have several sponsors in the platform at the moment. Sponsors who are working with us, they see a lot of benefit not just in the networking side, but we’ve actually shown them how to become more efficient, more successful, and more systemized with their sales process. Especially companies that have a high training, like a protocol, high training retention for their clients, where they have to train them, where they have to teach them. Guess what? You only have so many reps who can physically go to these locations, so we’ve shown them how to take that system of training that they do so well, but put it in a platform. Any one of their clients, acquisition period, they can put them in this online platform and they can teach them systematically, consistently every single time, which ultimately gives them much more of a higher return on their investment as product providers and service providers as well.
Howard: Nice. You know, one of my very good friends was John Miles, I think he was the--I don’t know if he was the original person who took Dense Fly public, the trading deals, x-ray, but he used to say that what he loved the most about dentistry was how brand-loyal the dentists were. If he could get a dentist to like a product, he said they’ll use it for ten, twenty, thirty years. The first impression drum I ever used was Impergum, guess what I’m using thirty years later? It was perfect then, it’s perfect now, my lab man loves it, so every time anybody talks about impression drum, if it’s not broke, don't’ fix it. These dental companies really understand. It’s like a lab, if a lab gets your business, what’s the size of the average lab bill, what would you guess?
Five thousand a month? So, if I got you as a lab client, that’s sixty thousand a year. If you stay with that lab ten years, that’s six hundred thousand dollars. Dentists are just amazingly brand loyal.
Kareem: Any dental companies out there that are listening, you’ve really got to get in touch with us; we have the educators, we have the education and we have this hungry ambitious crowd for you, and I’m not saying this in any other regard, but because we can make it work as a collaboration, you can see the tremendous results in our learning platform that you may have not, so you’ve got to reach out to us.
Fouad: You’re very right Howard, because companies know this, they invest hard in universities because whatever the students learn during their school years, that’s what they’re going to use and implement for the rest of their lives. For companies, it goes hand in hand with education; whatever your mentor or your teacher shows yout eh kind of material they use or teach you using, that’s what you're going to stick with, and that’s for the majority of dentists. Unfortunately I say this, but the number of dentists that actually after graduating school go and try to explore new ways, new techniques, new materials, are more of a minority. The majority of graduating dentists just want to really learn something that works, I’m just going to stick to it all my life and I’m going to do it all my life. That’s also what’s going to be a challenge for going digital for this industry, is that I firmly believe if you don’t implement a system in undergraduate education where the students would learn how to implement digital dentistry in their practices, there’s going to be a huge gap between pushing this industry towards digital, and still trying to do the old conventional way of dentistry. I’m not saying which is wrong and which is right, but it’s just smart because technology is here and it’s proved that it can save a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of unwanted circumstances, so you just have to know how to utilize it right, and there’s huge potential for it, but we have to focus more on undergraduate students, I think that would be a huge transformation in our industry.
Howard: Another thing that I look back at the diplomats and fellowships, diplomas I got over the years, and I look back at all those experiences, not only did you meet an amazing mentor, but I thought was was also even more amazing is your’’e a summary of the five people you hang around the most with. When you would go to these courses, you would meet like minded dentists, because you always had all those dentists in dental school who thought the sky was falling, and they hated it, and they wished they’d been a plumber like their brother, and you don’t need that in your life; you don’t need to have your five best dental friends hating dentistry. If you hangout with five people who hate dentistry, and always complaining about the insurance and Medicaid, and just Negative Nellies, it becomes toxic and you start acting that way. But when you go to those courses and you're sitting with some guy and you feel like, Oh my God, I’ve got feet sewn to my wrists; look at this guy. It’s just amazing, it’s like watching Beethoven play. YOu know you're not Beethoven, but you're’ trying to get closer to Beethoven as opposed to sitting there at a bar and some drunk guy on the piano who is missing all the keys, so I think the best thing about everything you're doing is just finding other like minded people like you.
Fouad: Since you’re mentioning a lot of your viewers are the younger population, I’d like to address something. In our industry, it’s a massive industry, and there’s a lot of different avenues that one can expand do; you have your clinical dentistry, you have the research, the materials, the companies, you have the management aspect, so what I would really suggest for all these young dentists is try to figure out what your strength is and what really you like or don’t like earlier in life so you can try to focus on learning something you need that you will eventually enjoy doing, and at the same time make a living. What I see is a lot of us, and I’m also one of those dentists where we graduate, it’s hard to know what you like, what you don’t like, because they don’t teach us enough in school, they don’t teach you a lot about the real world or what avenues to expand to or to do or not to do. It’s just very focused on the dentistry, on the restorations, on the treatment. But a big part of it, it’s very important for everyone to be happy, and if you’re going to live a life where you’re miserable doing something you hate, I really recommend that you snap on and do something about it because the next thing you know, life is going to end and…
Kareem: You become one of those five people.
Howard: For happiness in general, for anybody in any career, loving your career, loving your job. You sleep eight hours a day, you’re going to work eight hours a day. You almost spend more time with your coworkers than you do your family members sometimes, and my gosh, just to work in a profession that you didn’t love, and so much of it is just an attitude. A lot of people that don’t like dentistry, they just decided they didn’t like dentistry, and they could decide today that they love it more than anything in the world; it’s simply an attitude. We already went over an hour, that was the fastest hour ever. But, California just opened up another dental school, so you now have six; you have University of UCLA, you have University of California San Francisco, the Herman Austro School of Dentistry which is USC, you’ve got University of Pacific Art Degoney, you’ve got Low Melinda, but they just opened up Western University of Health Science college of dental medicine in Pomona California, what’s it like in LA? You’re down there with three dental schools, or actually no, four in the south end, there’s two up in San Fran, and four down by LA, do you think it’s getting harder and harder and harder? Do you think there’s enough room for four dental schools?
Fouad: The nice thing about California is it’s always growing and expanding and there’s always a lot more people moving in and I see a lot of potential for the future here, so I’m pretty sure it’s a good avenue to be here, to be a dentist in California. California as you know is very spread out, so there are a lot of opportunities and a lot of different places. When you talk about LA specifically, I mean, even LA is spread out, but that’s the nice thing about it; it’s a huge location where there’s room for a lot of people to be.
Howard: You tell everybody you went to UCLA and you know why you tell everybody that? Because on the mean GPA, admit it, UCLA, their class size mean GPA admit is 3.66, number two is UC of San Francisco, 3.48, then USC is 3.5, University of Pacific, 3.6, Low Melinda, 3.4 and this Western University is 3.31, so you’re just bragging you went to the one that’s the hardest to get into.
Fouad: I can’t lie, being accepted to UCLA and studying at UCLA has been just one of my biggest pleasures in life, I love the school, I owe a lot to UCLA and how many doors it opened for me, and you just can’t beat the location so I can’t complain I guess.
Kareem: And you’ve got to also keep in mind being that Dr. McLaren being his mentor, think blue is something that a lot more people are thinking about.
Howard: Were they sad when he left?
Fouad: Yes, absolutely. He is a big loss. When a guy like Dr. McLaren leaves any place, it has to have some kind of an affect. Another special thing about him is, not only is he a complete dentist, but he’s also a complete technician, and I’ve never seen this in anyone I’ve met in my life. Usually it takes two people or even more to do the work that Dr. McLaren does, so he put a lot of work--this guy works 24/7.
Kareem: For all listeners that don’t know him, please do go to the website and get to know him, and Howard you could probably attest to this, you had a great interview with him, but is he not a character or what?
Howard: He’s an amazing man, just an amazing man, a legend. I was taking his courses back in ‘87, I mean, just an amazing man. He’s just always more amazing every year he just becomes more amazing. On that note, I want to thank you guys for coming on the show. I contacted you, you didn’t contact me, and I’m so excited for what you're doing for our sovereign profession of dentistry, it was just an honor to podcast interview you both, and I wish you both the best of luck, and I hope you have a rocking hot day in Beverly Hills today.
Kareem: Thank you Howard.
Fouad: Actually it’s a very rainy day.
Howard: It’s funny, I live in Arizona where it’s something like three hundred and fifty days a year of sunshine, and whenever it rains, it’s like Disneyland. People are literally all looking out the window, so I love rainy days. Sometimes I’ll be lecturing, “It’s going to rain all day,” and I’m like, “Yay!” It’s boring when the sky has nothing in it but blue every single day. So weather makes you live on a living planet. Okay, have a rocking hot day!