July 3rd, International Day of the Independent Dentist

indepedent dentist day

For US readers, the 4th of July is nearly upon us. It’s one of MY personal favorite holidays.

Each year, I declare July 3rd a day of responsibility for personal dental independence and in that spirit July 3rd is officially hereby known as the International Day of the Independent Dentist.

This is hands-down my most lengthy message of each year. Probably the most important of the year as well from a “philosophical” standpoint with how one thinks and operates from a foundational understanding of what we’re born with and what we can choose to do with it. Being an outrageously successful independent dentist starts with mindset.

For those with the most excuses about why life is the way it is, how they have little choice with their results, how practice and the world is so “unfair” ……I’ll save you some trouble……while ALL of the below applies to you, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll “get” any of this…..nor every truly be an independent dentist. Please hit delete and then divert your attention back to not taking personal responsibility. If you’re serious about actually addressing what’s ‘unfair’ about being in practice and obtaining a primer on being an independent dentist, I suggest grabbing my new book (#1 dentist book of its kind) at Amazon ‘The Dentists Unfair Advantage’ to get you going—you can get a copy of it from us for a small discount here.

For Mature Citizens Only….

Regardless of waving flags, little lapel pins, drone/jet fly-overs, 21 gun salutes, parades with veterans sporting shiny carbon-fiber limb replacements, patriotic speeches, etc. there is no doubt that the U.S. empire is in a state of “transition.” Empires come and go. They rise, peak, and diminish. No politician who wants to keep their paycheck admits so as such things are very bad for vote getting. To make matters worse, the efficiency gains in technology forcing much of our current “transition” continue to diminish the value of almost all workers except the most specialized and skilled. Those workers with diminished economic worth are your patients. The average employee no longer sees the kinds of gain that fed a lot of demand for basic dental services. On top of the economic reality, thanks to preventive knowledge plus fluoride, in the US if a patient is under 45 they need a hygienist and a bleach tray and that bleach tray will either be free or picked up at the local drug store or ordered online. Add it all up and the traditional model for generic traditional dental practice has been turned on its head. It’s also one of the reasons our specialized trainings in finding niche cases and selling them are the lynchpin for the independent dentist and for those that desire to become such.

The good news is that change and/or declines don’t happen overnight, they are long drawn-out affairs. The change wild card in the current age is the fact that technology based speed curves are no longer linear and as a result it’s unlikely we have the same leisurely pace of “change” that earlier empires enjoyed. In 1922, the British ‘Empire’ controlled 22.43% of the planet’s land mass but it had already peaked and was rapidly declining. By 1955, the “colonial office” had the most staff in its entire history but NO colonies to administer. The perfect example of bureaucracy run amok and where “Parkinson’s Law” came from—work always expands to fill the time allotted. In that case, a horde of bureaucrats with no colonies to administer!

As empires slip and slide, the savviest of business owners can and still do very well. Some change industries entirely and start selling where a new empire is forming, others change what they sell within their industry (THAT being your best bet as a dentist to deal with decline and changes in need for services….by focusing in on niche procedures that have value and that you can differentiate yourself from Dr. Generic)  Yes, it takes more work under more difficult conditions, but individual decision plays a big role in YOUR world being one that looks very different from others around you.

This makes my fifth July 4th in the city that is one of the least “American” in character thanks to a massive number of immigrants who arrive annually from South America as well as other parts of the world. In many ways, “immigrant” somehow has become a dirty word so it’s a good time to remind everyone (Trump!) that immigrants have always been the backbone (especially for back breaking labor) of the U.S. and have provided the human capital of “what’s next” in our brief history as a country.

We are in dire need of immigrants with IDEAS, INTELLECT and INVENTIONS. The right idea and invention in just one category (Energy at the very top of the list) could be the entire solution to creating the next big thing for us, for the planet/environment, and that keeps the party going for the next century.

My personal 4th……

As my mom lives less than 2 miles away and her birthday is July 3rd, there’s always a birthday bonus in addition to the country’s; mostly likely spent by her condo pool with some take-out from ‘Shack Shake.’ On the 4th, we’ll hoist the flag, BBQ, and then go see a few hours of a favorite or new and upcoming DJ artist and celebrate independence with really loud music (yes mother we’ll wear ear plugs). Eventually a pretty decent firework show for a village of 90,000 will appear courtesy of hotel tax deposits into the city coffers.

On the 5th, we’ll continue the fun at home with some annoying patriotic marches blaring (alternating with Latin party tunes) and after a bike ride or swim definitely some additional pursuit of happiness in the backyard and pool.

America as a concept….

One’s idea of being American migrates and changes over time. Personally, I’ve had transformations in my thinking from my earliest real memories of the 4th during the bicentennial year, to having been a Boy Scout, having had family members in the Army and Navy, to a stint as an NCO in the public health service, and of course as a mature, thinking adult both cognizant of history and observant of trends.

These days, the holiday serves firstly as a reminder me of how grateful I am to have been lucky, as Warren Buffet says, in the great “ovarian lottery.” Call me sentimental but tears are easily created when I think about the opportunities that I was born with automatically compared to 99% of the rest of the planet AND 99% of everyone who ever lived.  I got lucky in the dice-roll and then because of a few good choices (and my share of bad ones) have had and continue to have an amazing life……

I’m also very grateful to wake up every morning and for the most part go about my business as I please without worry of revolution, retribution from authorities ‘just because’ or of getting shot (at least by the government) because you don’t subscribe to a particular religious or political idea.

You can dream, set goals, become and stay an independent dentist, pursue what excites you (hint – that’s the real secret of perpetual happiness) and then go about your daily business to make those things happen instead of worrying about a laundry list of other factors that are serious limiters to such pursuits.

In the internet age, it’s impossible not to see examples of how lucky one is on a weekly basis as stories from afar populate news feeds. Now and here is oh so much better than most other’s now and there.


For those outside the U.S.:

For any dentist lucky enough to be born into a free society (particularly those with common law histories), you have the same privileges to be grateful for and you have the same ability to be an independent dentist. Yes, we give a common thanks to William the Conqueror, who in 1066 started the chain of events putting an end to arbitrary whim applied to the average citizen. While certain classes of citizens still aren’t equal in every western country, most of the populations residing in dictatorships (especially religious oil dictatorships) still live under rules far beneath the standard for our day. Fortunately, in these environments, freer ideas are circulating thanks to communication being more available. As MLK said, “the arc of the moral universe is long but bends toward justice” and in the age of free ideas easily distributed, these repressive systems will find it impossible to push the “freedom genie” back into the bottle forever.  Thanks to 24/7 online access you too have access to the same benefit in our Programs as your American and Canadian colleagues.

The alternatives are not pretty:

As much as I hate lawyers, I love the rule of law. It is a far better than previous methods of guilt or innocence determination based on healing time after grabbing red hot pokers or after pulling rocks out of a boiling cauldron of oil. The good ole’ days shall never be pined for by these lips.

Capitalism is great BUT corporatism, which dear micro-small business owner, is the current state of affairs and is proving to be a disaster for the middle classes who are still your main customer. If they aren’t living with basic needs and wants met, they have no time or money for YOU. By championing the middle classes, you champion yourself.

We put up with our share of hassles as dentists and in a bigger sense as business owners fighting against wider trends that encourage sloth and entitlement. There is little doubt that these trends are ever encroaching on all who willingly choose a life of the creation of actual things and services of real value—independent dentists falling into the category of being creating real value.

The “no work = get stuff” or “no real product/service of value dispensed results in immense personal gains” mantras continues to grow wider across larger segments of the population. When one looks at the slice of the western world’s population pulling their weight and paying basic societal debts that keep the entire system stable, it is a shrinking group of individuals especially with the top top top earners paying lower marginal rates than anyone in the middle.   It could be worse, you could be in that lower middle class struggling to make ends meet much less pursuing big goals or dreams.

The problems of the independent dentist are no different:

Periodically, I have lunch with other national based business owners….people also in the top 5% of earners. Guess what? The exact same frustrations many of our Member Dentists (yes independent dentists) report with running their business (staffing issues, that marketing and selling systems must always be attended to, certain administrative crud always repeats, etc.). They have the exact same stories with different names.   And…..it’s like that in EVERY industry. You, dear colleague, are not special in this regard.

We routinely tolerate inept people around us which perpetuate our problems and frustrations. Outside the practice doors, we are forced to put up with inept even when it impacts our livelihoods (e.g. dental boards and other regulatory authorities).  If inept lives inside your practice in members of your staff or inside yourself with your own behaviors, then the toleration of such is your choice. Independent dentists refuse to tolerate inept in themselves and in those aspects of their life they have control over.

To understand how good you have it, think about the following:

Would you trade your life’s hassles and freedom and instead wish to wake up as a native of Darfur, Congo, North Korea, Syria, etc. on the 5th? Hoping that somehow you might immigrate to Australia, the US, Canada, France, the UK, etc. but very likely never seeing that hope fulfilled?

Appreciate and celebrate the freedom you have to make your dental practice and life as successful as you CHOOSE for it to be. You have the opportunity on a daily basis to make both small and large choices that create incredible long term effects that translate into becoming or staying an independent dentist.  Buying into the fact that “you are the problem and you are the solution” for every goal and challenge means that every day you are in control of what you do to achieve goals or to confront practice challenges.

I can guarantee where you’ll be in 12 months:

Where you will be next year, at this same time, is a direct consequence of choices you make today, what books you read, which groups you belong to, with how you sell and promote your services, and with those you associate with. Show many any of these things and I and can tell you what your state of affairs will be this time next year. Pick carefully.

In free societies, it is literally no ones’ fault but yours if you aren’t getting what you want beyond your basic luck of birth and that includes joining the ranks of the independent dentist.

Yes, the revolution celebrated on the 4th in the US started out with angry tax scofflaws, but all things considered, the experiment continues to be a good one to have initiated and one we can still be proud to be part of.

When it boils down to it, right now, dentists everywhere are choosing (whether they know it or not) on a daily basis whether they stay independent in their business. Most are choosing the path of least resistance which is a gradual decline.

If you refuse to “go quietly into that good night,” then you belong with us using one or more of our tools and trainings designed for increased and keeping you in the category of an independent dentist. My team and I are committed to getting you there and keeping you there.

We’re on holiday this week, but mark your calendar to call us for a program application next week at 206-905-1874 or schedule a personal discussion time.

For the US docs, have a great 4th of July! For those in Canada, Happy Canada Day!