Hello! It’s been months since I uploaded my last blog. Why? It’s been busy and I’ve been playing hard to just catch up. And breathe.
One of the biggest benefits of blogging is to the blogger themselves. We get a chance to reflect on past experiences and gain new wisdom. This leads us to blog more often. So, I am setting a new goal. Blog daily, and upload a blog on this website, weekly. Hold me to this, please!!
Anyhoo. Back to the content of this article!
I’m currently in Philadelphia, still reeling from the after effects of the Super Dentist Boost Camp put together by Dental Nachos this year. This was my first time attending a Nachos event and I came away pleasantly surprised! Here are some things I enjoyed the most about this 3 day business-focused conference.
Engagement with Sponsors
I’ve sponsored an event in the past, as Product Manager of SamsoSmile. And, I’ve attended tons and tons of events over the past 5-6 years as a dentist. This time, I was an attendee only and chose not to sponsor the event. I wanted to attend the event to find out more about what it was like!
In the past, I’ve only ever met sponsors that I knew of, that had fun giveaways, or when sales people called me over. In big conferences with 100s of booths, it is impossible to meet every single sponsor. At more intimate events like Dental Nachos, there is time to exchange information, learn about their products and engage with the sales team one on one.
Importance of Sponsors
Unlike other conferences, sponsors were provided with a seating assignment with attendees at lunch tables. A HUGE WIN! In the past, I’ve always seen sponsors eat alone at their booths. No wonder interest amongst sponsors, who pay significantly to participate at our events, is depleting at other conferences. They receive barely any engagement from attendees, thereby reducing their ROI on the event. Attendees often tend to forget that sponsorships help reduce the cost of attending these courses by a HUGE margin. None of the Dental Nachos attendees paid a single penny towards hotel stay at this event, because of sponsorship fees. Imagine if that were to go away?
We also had several ‘sip and stroll’ and networking breaks throughout the day wherein we were encouraged to meet sponsors and participate in a bingo. The bingo had big prizes! The gunner that I am, I won a prize! A fantastic way to encourage engagement with sponsors. I felt like this was probably the best conference to be a sponsor at. You actually get facetime with each of the attendees!
Always Be Connecting
The above is a slogan of Dental Nachos. They just really want us to connect with new people. They did this by providing seat assignments at the conference. This way you’re forced to meet new people sitting by your side. I met practice owners from Arizona, Pennsylvania and Nevada sitting all around me.
If we weren’t given seat assignments, I was planning on sitting next to two of my friends. At the end of the 2nd day I did get a little annoyed at how little time I was able to spend with my friends, especially one of whom I was seeing after 5 years. However, we made up for it by having dinner together! So it all worked out!!
Meeting some of my closest friends in dentistry was the cherry on this cake. Sonia Chopra, Parul Dua Makkar, Laura Brenner and Kanika Sabhlok- meeting you all after so many years of just talking on the phone or connecting virtually, felt good for my soul. We spent many evenings just laughing, dreaming and sharing.
There were a lot of interesting topics and I simply can’t list them all. I’ll share three that stood out to me. These topics were unique and had important lessons to share.
Lewis Chen: ‘to scale or not to scale’
As an aspiring practice owner myself, the thought of one day having multiple locations has come to my mind several times. Lewis has implemented this model successfully in NY state and talked about its advantages as well as challenges. It was interesting to note how he had to keep going back to the drawing board and redo systems when growing from 1-3, and then from 3-10 offices. Once you’re beyond 10 practices, the process of re configuring and cleaning up systems continues. Having the mindset of a problem solver, and being drawn to innovation and new technology, can be a key driver of success.
Maggie Augustyn: ‘going from $100 to generational wealth in 3 years’
This was the first lecture of the conference and hit the nail on the head. I personally felt it was genius to let Maggie go first because it started the conference on a really high note. It is hard to imagine a ‘successful practice owner on paper’ to have just $100/- in the bank. To have high credit card debt and quite literally living paycheck to paycheck. It is scary and yet very real. This is reality for many small business owners.
The lecture was on how Maggie, utilizing a coach and lots of support from mentors, clawed her way out of almost-bankruptcy to achieving, what her accountant called, ‘generational wealth’. A lot of this was attributable to her dropping certain insurance plans and becoming ‘fee for service’.
Alan Stern: ‘five of my biggest failures and the one decision that changed my life’
I almost teared up after his talk. He was the only one who talked about the devil of comparison and the importance of self care. I wish there was someone like Stern who shared this wisdom with dental students. One of the failures Stern mentioned was his need to impress other people, or fit into a ‘big boy dentist’ stereotype and buy a large house, drive a fancy car. With high mortgage payments that were slowly crushing his lifestyle, he was on a very destructive path. He had also received lots of poor financial advice from people who were not qualified to help him. Luckily, he was able to pivot his life in a big way, when he sold the damn house!
Selling his large house, that impressed others but did nothing for him, was one of the saddest moments of his life. He said he cried for months because of how hard it was. Ultimately, with the money he received after selling the house, he was able to acquire the services of a full time nutritionist and fitness coach for both himself and his wife. High mortgage payments and the stress that comes with it, had wreaked havoc on his health. This decision helped him regain his strength, both mentally and physically. Alan Stern is 70+, yet looks like he is in early 50’s. Fit as a fox! This story inspired me tremendously.
Living in the Bay Area, California, and being surrounded by friends and colleagues who drive the latest cars and buy expensive homes in excellent school districts, it is VERY easy to feel inferior. It is commonplace to look at someone who bought a Rivian, Lucid or Tesla, and ask yourself, why you cannot do the same. I’ve often wondered why I am still driving my 5 year old completely paid off Hyundai.
However, in the grand scheme of things, reducing/eliminating your debt and living far below your means is important. It allows you freedom and opportunity to spend on things you want- such as travel, education or experiences with loved ones. This is what Alan’s talk was all about. I loved every second of it.
Paul Goodman has created a very special place for fostering long term connections in Philadelphia. If you have the chance to attend one of his events, you absolutely should!