At age 20, I was totally derailed from my plans and hopes of becoming a pilot in the Air Force. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and was medically released from the Air Force Academy before I even started my training. I had every plan of being a pilot and now my life dream was no longer a reality.
After spending a lot of time in hospitals and doctor offices, I began to consider pursuing healthcare. I spoke with family friends of mine who were medical doctors, and I also had a family friend who was a practicing dentist. I shadowed these doctors and began to spend time with them.
I remember this one dentist who invited me in to shadow his practice for a few hours.
I saw him sitting down with patients, shooting the breeze with each one for five to ten minutes, doing some work on them, then going in the back to his office to jam on his electric guitar in-between seeing patients! So, I thought to myself, “Hey this is a pretty good gig!” This doctor was getting to hang out with all kinds of people, he was low stressed, and the work he got to do was very cool.
I knew at that point that I could enjoy dentistry as a career.
So I went for it.
I took dental school very seriously. I went to Marquette University in Milwaukee and ended up being class president.
In the beginning, I went through what a lot of first-year dental school students go through, this sort of overachiever mentality. I figured I needed to pick my specialty and pursue specialty residency training. I had planned on being an Endodontist and shadowed many throughout my schooling. When I did part one of my boards, I got this dismal score and that plan sort of went out the window!
At the time it was a little disappointing, but it was ok. It became a blessing to head in another direction. I ended up in general dentistry and that allowed me a lot of flexibility and eventually the ability to create and design my own practice.
When I was a freshman in dental school I was introduced to Dentaltown.
That’s where I first encountered Mopsy (Dr. Gina Dorfman) and a whole bunch of other townies. I got inspired by a lot of them to do a startup right after graduation. So, that’s what I ended up doing!
I had my loan ready to go before I even graduated. I had my startup in Albuquerque. I followed a blueprint that was popular on Dentaltown at the time for running a startup. I accepted lots of different insurance plans, had expanded hours, an efficient floor plan, and very sound marketing. Basically, I wanted to be as convenient for as many patients as possible.
The plan also called for the ability to grow, have associates, and expand to other locations. I was able to accomplish all of that. I ended up with two offices in New Mexico and a third office in Wisconsin. I even had the opportunity to start a practice management company.
It was all going well. Then everything changed for me.
My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My wife and I made the decision to move out to be with her. Our home and our practices were sold and we packed up and moved back to my hometown by Santa Cruz, California. This all happened just five years after graduating dental school.
Around this time I became involved with Practice On Fire.
Practice On Fire (POF) Started when a group of dentists got together and were sharing best practices. It was a really diverse group of dentists, to begin with, from corporate to small practice owners. Eventually, we realized we’d like to meet together at least once or twice a year, share our best practices, and invite anyone who wants to hear them to come and join us. Our goal ended up being to format POF similar to TED Talks. We designed POF as a weekend-long event where we would host many speakers and cover a wide range of topics. This has become unique in the world of dental seminars and continuing education.
I had the ability with POF to give my first lecture. I talked about building a practice using high-value procedures to bolster your bottom line and to stand out from the crowd. This was opposed to the original model I followed when I had my first startup, which was the idea to be the white bread and to offer everything to everyone. In this lecture, I refocused concentration on one’s own professional aspirations and being good at a few things, instead of trying to grind out as much volume as possible.
Eventually, I bought a small practice in Hollister, California, and started implementing some of these strategies into my own practice.
I am known in the area particularly for dental implants and cosmetic orthodontics. This has been going very well for me.