2024 updates

The start of the year has been busy, as it has been for many of you. January is usually for goal setting and vision boarding. Many of us get back to practice at full swing having taken off a few weeks off for Christmas and New Years. 

It was the same in my household. After 2 weeks of fun and relaxation, we were back at work full speed. Here is what I’ve been up to so far. It will also help explain why the frequency of blog posts has gone down considerably in the last few months. 

American College of Dentists NorCal Chapter 

having lunch with 4 of my mentees from UCSF and Pcaific

I was elected to the Board of this wonderful association in 2022. Shortly after getting elected to the Board, I was asked to become the SPEA liaison coordinating SPEA events across three schools in Northern California; UCSF, Pacific and our newly opened neighbor in the far north, CNSU. Late last year, I was also asked to become Treasurer. All of this has put a lot on my plate. While I am very passionate about the future of ACD, and our students’ involvement, these activities definitely cut into time I would’ve ordinarily used to write, read and relax. 

Holding these positions may sound prestigious to an outsider but require a lot of work to keep going, especially since they are all voluntary. Still, I am very grateful for the guidance and mentorship I receive from other Board members in this. Particularly, Dr. Charmaine Ng and Dr. LaJuan Hall, who have taken me under their wing and continue to lift me up. Before the ACD, I didn’t feel like I had a community here in NorCal. Now I feel like I am starting to build one. 

Special Care Dentistry book 

As many of you know, I am putting together the final touches to my second book. This second book will be different from the first because it is a lot more academic. This is why the book is also taking me longer to write. If it were not for the help I was getting from my trusted mentee. Dr. Vijaya Bharathi, who is also a current IDDS student at UW, this manuscript would have taken another year to complete. Vijaya has been instrumental in conducting interviews, writing out interview transcripts and will soon begin sending out speaker packets to associations, schools and hospital systems to arrange presentations. 

My practice search

Searching for a space in the area has taken us over a year and a half. I’d like to grumble about it and say it’s been a waste of time, but my overarching entrepreneur-like optimism won’t let me say that. The truth is that it has been a learning process. We began searching in earnest while I was mid-way through residency. I would take whatever time I’d get, lunch breaks etc to go see spaces with my realtor. There was also a time when I was initially looking for spaces for sale rather than lease. This was before I realized that the only places affordable for buying were at least 30 mins away from my home. Bay Area’s real estate market is interesting at the very least. 

After many months, we found a place I liked and began the lease negotiation process. The back and forth took us close to 3-6 months. You would think it would take us just a month, but it took much longer than that. This tends to happen if the landlord is a family trust and is on vacation, or does not live in the same city as the property. The space had a lot of potential, and was previously built out as a dental space, so chances were that the negotiations would go through successfully. Unfortunately that did not happen. They didn’t approve the last bit of our negotiations, and the deal went south. 

After that I wondered to myself. Was I being too picky and waiting for perfect conditions to take place? It’s something I’ve often thought about as the daughter of two successful entrepreneurs. The fear of failing does lurk in the shadows. However, after some reflection, I realized it’s not the fear of failing. It’s just me not wanting to be a pushover!

Even though I enjoy working with many different professionals in the search for a space and understand how tight our dental network is, I also realize that everyone is in it for their own benefit. Nobody is in there to solely advocate for you, except for yourself! Except for one professional, nobody pointed out to me that a 2000 sq foot space is too much for 4 dental operatories. I’d be spending unnecessarily on rent and construction for a very large space. Should that have been obvious to me from the get go? Perhaps. However, I respected the opinion when it came from someone else. Things like this wore me down in the last few months, and added unnecessary stress to the process. 

What have I learned from this all? Where do we stand now? Couple of things.

Take your time

Sometimes the analysis paralysis kicks in and the time wastage associated with that is much worse than the actual issue. It keeps you from being productive. It’s important to think carefully, make decisions with caution, and then just do it. Burn the boats after that and don’t look back. It’s okay to take your time when you’re making a big financial decision. And most people around you will laugh at you or judge you for taking a lot of time, but remember it is okay. Ultimately it is your money, time and reputation on the line so take as long as you want. Michael Bloomberg started his business at the age of 40 with 2 little kids! 

Prioritize relentlessly

This can be hard if you are someone like me. When you become known as a productive and helpful person, you are pulled in all different directions for your time and services. I am constantly approached by lots of people and dental associations to get more involved. However I also know that I have only 24 hours in the day and there’s a limit to what I can achieve in that time frame, and achieve well! My only commitment this year is ACD and will likely remain the same for the next few years. I’ve even gone so far as to unsubscribe from emails from other associations so that I am not tempted.

Have a positive outlook

Know deep down that things will turn out in a positive way in the future, and have self belief. Never let your faith in yourself diminish because that is the beginning of failure. What you tell yourself is very important. If you tell yourself you are incapable and that you have failed or will fail, you are likely to achieve that! If you tell yourself you are capable of achieving something truly impactful, you will achieve that too! I learned this from listening to a podcast called the Founders, which summarizes the greatest founder written or inspired books of all times. Self belief and relentless optimism are key features that separate successful founders from those that fail. 

Writing out this little blog helped me walk through some of the problems in my head. I hope you have a similar outlet and that this post in some way would have served you too. All the best! Let us crush 2024!

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