These days, it’s not difficult to find discussions regarding the burden of student loans or the hope of loan forgiveness. In fact, the topic is one of the most popular on the Orthotown message boards.
Sometimes, the conversation centers on outright debt and loans, and other times loans are just the foundation to a question regarding the value of an orthodontic education. Either way, dealing with loans is not unique to our profession, because they affect nearly everyone who attends an institution of higher learning.
Years ago, a group of my friends and I gathered in Las Vegas to act like—you know, guys in Vegas. But we also had a discussion about our chosen professions and reflected the diversity of our group. We were dentists, educators, lawyers and artists, all trying to figure out the “secret sauce” that allowed for individuals of varying backgrounds and educations to succeed. Of course, there were a lot of personal digs and references to family, ethnic backgrounds (you could do that back then), personality traits and moral compasses.
However, the key ingredient to success was a concept brought up by the person who had the most credits in undergraduate school but still lacked a degree. Somehow, Ted was proud of that! You see, he had started from nothing and now, at this stage in life, had pretty much everything and basically never used his own money.
He always said what he liked about his career was that it did not depend on a one-to-one relationship with time and money; it was leverage. Or, put another way: using money (or anything else, for that matter) to its maximum advantage.
That’s what many of you think I’m going to write about. Leverage goes deeper than the infomercial offering to show you how to own beachfront property and a Bentley, all by flipping, bottom-fishing and tearing the hearts out of widows and orphans. Some of you are proudly pointing to your low debt-to-equity ratio, your paid-off mortgage and 10-year-old BMWs. The concept or word that permeates success in life, finances and other endeavors is leverage.
But I don’t just mean financial leverage.
The leverage equation
In his 2018 book The Leverage Equation, author Todd Tresidder itemizes many aspects of life that require and beg the topic of leverage. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers and practice everything Tresidder says in his book, but the basics are pretty easy to grasp and he does it in a method I can appreciate. Namely, he makes lists—lists worth memorizing. Kind of like all of the bones of the face and skull with their articulations.
Why I think this is important is because for the practicing orthodontist heavily saddled with debt, getting your mind around some of these concepts may open your eyes to a way out of the situation without taking on more debt or feeling defeated.
Many dentists and health care professionals think in a one-to-one relationship with their education: spending X amount of money, owing X amount for loans, needing to make X amount per month or year, saving X amount to pay off their loans. In other words, thinking of their education as a single-use item. In reality, there may be many opportunities to use that degree to accelerate that repayment.
Tresidder organizes his thoughts into three parts: the principles of leverage, the strategies to utilize leverage and ways to implement these strategies.
These concepts are not just financial. Although “retiring early” is a phrase he catches your eye with, hoping you’ll read more, the book summarizes how leverage of other people’s time, money and skills are used by all of us on a daily basis. Think of all of the things you do that are the result of other people using leverage to achieve their fortune and make your life easier: Public utilities, automobiles, technology?... all utilize principles of leverage to grow and expand. The term these days is scale.
The principles of leverage can accelerate financial results, multiply wealth, improve quality of life and allow you to focus on what you enjoy and are skilled at.
Some key points:
• It’s not just you.
• Time is limited.
• Expand your horizons.
• Create value for others.
Tresidder outlines and details strategies to achieve results using:
• Knowledge and experience.
Implementation tips are detailed, and it’s pretty much up to the reader to take the steps and get started.
For those of you wondering how this can affect your life, think of the new orthodontic meetings popping up with opportunities for continuing education. Most of these meetings are the result of young, entrepreneurial orthodontists who use their personal social media to become influential and gain a group of patients or followers so, ultimately, a CE meeting can materialize out of the effort.
Some of these same orthodontists are creating followers that lead to the introduction of products and other opportunities, which in turn leverages their education into an additional income stream.
Another example: My business relationship with a pediatric dentist utilizes leverage by me using my skill as an orthodontist to bring value to his underutilized office space and creating an income stream that never existed. Kind of like McDonald’s deciding to serve all three meals when they started out only serving one or two. Hey, if you’re paying for the real estate, you might as well have it working all day long—because, you see, their fixed cost was leveraged.
In the past, the only way to leverage our education was to hire more auxiliaries or open more offices. Now, with digitization, we’re able to leverage our education to see patients from around the area—and around the world!—with remote monitoring and other methods of staying connected.
Lastly, the author hopes that some of the misconceptions of leverage forever be forgotten.
Included would be that you don’t need to:
• Tolerate risk.
• Selfishly use other people.
• Spend a lot of money.
• Or proceed with unlimited loss potential.
The book is an interesting read and should get most of us thinking.