I’m Dr. Gina Dorfman. Aside from being the co-founder of YAPI, I’m a dentist and practice owner of “Dentistry for Kids and Adults” in Santa Clarita, CA. I am also a published author, motivational speaker, host of the podcast, Behind The Smiles, as well as a wife and mom to my two kids and our goldendoodle puppy. In this article, I share my top six business books with you. These books helped me to create a clear vision for my practice and my life and turn that vision into my reality. It is smart to read, reflect, and plan on how to take action in your practice, especially now of all times. In this article I have provided descriptions of these books from Amazon’s website and I have outlined why I believe they are essential reads for any practice owner. I have also written real examples of how I have implemented this advice into my own practice to help it reach its full potential.
Without further ado, here they are!
1. Double Double by Cameron Herold
According to Amazon, Double Double is described as “a step-by-step guide to enjoying the roller-coaster ride of growth — while getting the most out of life as an entrepreneur. A growth-focused approach: The book is divided into three sections, which cover planning for fast growth, building a company for fast growth, and leading for fast growth.”
Dr. Gina’s Takeaways:
I use Cameron’s concepts in my presentations a lot. Cameron Herold is a true entrepreneur and COO of the company 1-800-Got-Junk. He also created the COO alliance, which is a coaching program for COOs. How I look at it is, the CEO is the visionary. For example, Steve Jobs of Apple and Jeff Bezos of Amazon are CEO’s. The COO is someone who is closer to operations. What the COO does is he takes the CEO’s vision and makes it happen. A lot of the time, I am both the CEO and COO, but I enjoy operations even more. As a dental practice owner, you are often both the CEO and COO of your practice. You have a vision for your practice, but you don’t know how to convert this vision into reality. Double Double introduces the concept of “vivid vision,” which is not a typical vision or mission statement. A vision is usually too broad. For instance, when starting a dental practice someone might say, “My goal is to have a good practice and take good care of people.” …Well, what does this exactly look like? We need to get specific.
In my practice, Dentistry for Kids and Adults, our mission statement is, “At DFKA we treat our patients as guests. We have a comfortable and caring delivery and our doctors and team care for people. We are there to make everything convenient.” Usually, a mission statement includes a lot of “C” words, like Care, Convenience, Comfort, and Community. But we want to get even more specific on what you’d like to accomplish.
Alas, the vivid vision comes into play! A vivid vision is a three to four page document that describes what your business is going to look like in great detail. Imagine you get in a time machine and transport yourself to three years after your practice opens. You can describe it so vividly that you know exactly what you’re building. You can clearly communicate this to your employees, instead of saying, “I don’t know, I’d like to be a good dentist and take good care of people.” A vivid vision is specific, clear, and actionable.
I have found as a dentist, people are constantly coming up to me to ask questions. We can help to avoid this by giving people a clear vivid vision of our values, what’s important versus what’s not important, and why we have certain workflows. This allows your practice to run smoothly.
What I love about this book is it is an easy-to-read primer for how to start your business. I like actionable books and Double Double is one of them.
2. Clockwork: Design Your Business To Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz
According to Amazon, “Mike Michalowicz offers a straightforward step-by-step path out of this dilemma. In Clockwork, he draws on more than six years of research and real-life examples to explain his simple approach to making your business ultra-efficient.”
Dr. Gina’s Takeaways:
This book highlights the importance of creating an SOP for important tasks.
Imagine your boss gave you a detailed guide of exactly what is expected of you and the details of accomplishing this. How much easier would your learning curve be?!
Right now at YAPI, we have two employees who create the process of onboarding people. When we onboard customer support employees, we give them an exact SOP, which makes the onboarding process so much easier. But more importantly, it ensures everyone is communicating to customers in the same ways. There is nothing more embarrassing for a practice than someone calling that dental office being told one thing, to then call back an hour later, speak to a different employee, and be told a completely different thing. Both employees probably had the best intentions, which means it all comes down to you needing to give them a clear SOP to follow.
In this book, Mike outlines a very simple way to systematize your business or practice. He creates freedom for the entrepreneur. I read this book after a family vacation on our flight back from Maui one year. I needed a book, so I chose this one, and I’m happy that I did! One of my biggest takeaways is that committing to a 30 day vacation a year ahead of time will force you to implement systems that make your business run without you being there, because there is no other choice.
The book also talks about figuring out what your biggest strengths are. Figure out your biggest strengths and then become a true leader rather than becoming a worker in your own practice. You need to truly own your leadership role as a practice owner. As business owners, we often don’t know how to delegate tasks effectively, but we can learn how to.
Another huge takeaway is that If we are going to delegate things to our employees, we need to realize that DONE is better than PERFECT. We have to be able to release control and trust our employees.
Quick side note: If nothing else, I highly suggest that you read “Double Double” and “Clockwork.”
3. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
According to Amazon, “In this updated edition of the blockbuster best-selling leadership book, Extreme Ownership, which took America and the world by storm, two US Navy SEAL officers who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War demonstrate how to apply powerful leadership principles from the battlefield to business and life.”
Dr. Gina’s Takeaways:
This book is not as actionable as the first two, but is definitely required reading for everyone, especially for business owners. It’s written by two Navy SEALs, who have a reputation for getting things done and by having major discipline.
Now, how does this relate to running your practice? When I’m on Dentaltown or when I’m reading posts from dentists on Facebook, I often hear, “Well, I hired this person and she didn’t do the job well.” I also hear, “I hate to manage people and I don’t know how to motivate employees.” The harsh truth is that no one wants to work for a leader looking to allocate blame.
If your employees constantly disappoint you, it’s on you. You didn’t set your expectations, didn’t train your team correctly, didn’t bring in the right people, or you are holding on to the wrong people. Yes, sometimes you hire someone and it just doesn’t work out. However, if people are a struggle for you then it is probably you. A true leader will take responsibility for everything that goes wrong and will give credit for everything that goes right. Once you adopt this line of thinking, managing people and your business will become so much easier. You will find solutions much more easily.
A lot of employers assume that their employees are like children. They assume that employees come to work looking to do the least amount of work possible. If you’re assuming people are going to do their least, then you’re probably right. But it’s human nature that people want to do well! We need to make our expectations very clear with our employees. A definition of what a good job is might be different for everyone. So, when an employee doesn’t do a good job in my eyes, my first question is, “Was I not clear?” If you start changing the way you see people, they will rise to the occasion.
As a leader, it’s best to identify and utilize your employees natural talents. For instance, some people are very detail-oriented. I’m not detail-oriented, which is crazy for a dentist. I learned early on that details are a weakness for me, and I had to learn how to be more detail-oriented. Thankfully, I work with people who are detail-oriented and help me in this way.
In a dental practice we often say, “I want to have a productive office.” Well, is it a certain dollar amount, amount of appointments each week, etc. that you want to accomplish? Figure out how exactly you determine a productive office and then communicate that to your team.
4. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
According to Amazon, “Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people–at work, at school, at home. It’s wrong. As Daniel H. Pink explains in his new and paradigm-shattering book, Drive, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world is the deep human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”
Dr. Gina’s Takeaways:
In dentistry, a lot of the time we try to motivate people to perform better by offering them more money. However, motivation goes deeper than throwing money at someone. I’m not saying that we should pay people less, but I’m saying people are motivated for other reasons besides money.
I’m about to get very psychological…We all have our basic needs, right? But after those basic needs are met, we also want to feel safe. This is called the Maslow Theory of Motivation.
If you say (verbally and/or non-verbally with your energy) that you don’t want your employees to come to you with questions, then this can make them feel unsafe. You don’t want to be a leader that people are scared of. When employees are scared, they aren’t going to perform their best. If they don’t feel safe, if they’re afraid to speak up, or they don’t know if they’ll be fired, all of the sudden, they’re doing the least work possible. You had someone who was motivated, but you demotivated them and paralyzed them in a way. Fear might work to motivate people in the short term, but it’s not sustainable if you’re not feeding their internal motivation as employees, which is unique to each of them as people.
I’ve said before, the only reason we do things is to feel good. If I help someone then I feel good. If my practice is doing well financially, that makes me feel good. So you have all of these ways where your ego gets stroked, and the more you feel good, the more motivated you are to have that feeling. Figure out what makes your employees feel good.
One of your employees might love to travel and want to do that more. Whereas another employee wants to have her dog at work. If you say, “Okay, I’m going to give everyone the same bonus,” then that assumes that every employee has the same goals. Daniel Pink explains this so brilliantly in this book.
5. Uncomplicate Business: All It Takes Is People, Time, and Money by Howard Farran
According to Amazon, “In Uncomplicate Business, Dr. Howard Farran shows that running a business isn’t all that complicated, if you’re focusing on the right three areas:
People: maximizing the potential of employees, customers, and yourself.
Time: mastering the efficiency that helps a business turn the biggest profit possible.
Money: learning to love the numbers that function as the business’s scorecard.
With simplicity, good humor, and plenty of stories Dr. Farran reveals the actions that can lead anyone to bigger profits, happier people, and a more fulfilling life.”
Dr. Gina’s Takeaways:
I love Howard Farran, he’s so entertaining and has a great sense of humor that shines in this book. You can sit down with a glass of wine and read this book. He distills business concepts into a simple way from the biggest thought leaders in the world. His concept is this: it all comes down to managing people, time, and money. How do we manage time in our business? We must become excellent at this as in the dental industry, we get paid based on managing money, people, and time.
So…how do you manage your team?
In any business you have your A players, B players, and C players as employees. Someone who is an A player is already working as hard as they can. Our B’s and C’s could improve. As a business owner, if you offer a bonus to your employees on the condition that EVERYONE improves, then the A players are going to feel less valued and unmotivated. This is because they are already working as hard as they can. They are going to feel like the B and C players have been riding their coat tales, and they are asked to do the impossible while those other players are basically getting a bonus for doing their job.
The difficult employees are the C players. In fact, Howard Farran mentions that they are killing your company. These employees are not bad enough to fire. They do an OK job, they don’t get into fights, they show up, and they do what they’re asked. They’re neither here nor there. In dentistry we are hesitant to let those employees go for a number of reasons. We don’t want to hurt their feelings and we might be scared that the next hire is going to be even worse.
However, if you don’t let these employees go, you might be stuck with them for the next 20 years, but you can’t grow with them. Other people also can’t grow while they are around them and they repel the A players from your company. It is also not good for those C players to be working in roles that they don’t do well in. We all want to be good at our jobs. For the most part, if you’re not doing well at your job, it’s because this job isn’t for you. A lot of times the C players don’t want to leave, so you have to give them an opportunity to find something that’s a better fit for them instead of committing them to a long career of not being motivated or excited.
What I love about this book is that Howard Farran does not sugar coat anything. He is clear and to the point, and gives you actionable concepts. This book makes you think.
6. If Disney Ran Your Hospital by Fred Lee
According to Amazon, “This captivating book, If Disney Ran Your Hospital, is filled with stories and examples, will leave its readers inspired with fresh insights and energized with hope. It needs to be in every hospital manager’s library and required reading in every health care leadership curriculum. If you have wondered why so much of what is done in the name of service excellence in health care has not lived up to its promise, this book is for you.”
Dr. Gina’s Takeaways:
This book is about building a better practice. I have had many takeaways from this book.
Have you stayed in hotels in which the cleaning staff have already put little touches in your hotel room to communicate that they have cleaned the room? Maybe it is a little towel in the bathroom, toiletries on the towel, the towel has been folded in the shape of a dove. This is very intentional. The hotel is communicating with you that the room is clean.
You may be wondering what my point is. My point is that if Disney ran your practice, they would run it like a hospitality service. A lot of us talk about treating our patients like guests not like patients. There are certain things that we can do to make the invisible visible (“Making the Invisible Visible” by Harry Beck is another great book you can read). We can highlight how cleanly we are in our practices.
For instance, usually when you drop something on the floor, you pick it up. You may not use it again, but you might pick it up. At my practice, Dentistry For Kids and Adults, We don’t pick it up until the patient is done and out the door. In fact I make a whole production out of the situation. If I drop a tool I say to the patient, “Oh my God! Look at that, I dropped it! Good thing I don’t need it anymore!” and I will even kick it. You want to draw the patient’s attention to the fact that you are NOT using that instrument ever again. Let it stay on the floor. Other things I do to communicate how cleanly our office is is that I will rustle paper intentionally loudly for the patient to know that I am opening a new, clean pack of instruments. I have a sign on my door for the patient to see that we have all of these rules of how we clean rooms between patients.
Walt Disney had the idea of creating and running an amusement park that is clean, safe, and happy.
I remember I took my daughter to Disney World for her birthday when she turned three. She was sitting in her stroller, and towards the end of day, she just threw herself back in her stroller and said, “I’m so happy right now.” And THAT is why they call it the happiest place on earth. I noticed it the second time we went, every single person called her a princess in the park. That is a part of their WOW factor. Every single person from the employee selling pretzels to the employees operating rides called her a princess. If Disney ran our hospital or our dental office for that matter, we would create a lot of policies and workflows that let our patients know that we care about them. They would know that we put their wellbeing above anything else. This book shares how we can improve what we do in our practices to show people that we care about more than just their teeth, but that we care about them as people.
Maya Angelou has a famous quote. She says, “People will forget what you said, but remember how you made them feel.” Disney theme parks are designed to make parents feel safe and kids feel happy. That day at Disney World I never once wondered, “Am I safe on this ride?” With all of that said, what can we build into our practices to make people feel more safe and comfortable?
There you are my friends. Those are my top six books that I highly recommend. I hope you found this information helpful. Happy reading!