5 things NDBC taught us in the last one year

Just a passion project in September 2019, the New Dentist Business Club, a study group focused on building leadership and business skills for new dentists and dental students, turned one in 2020. We grew from 3 to 50 members in under a year and are now in 5 states!

Our progress, despite of being virtual, has left me feeling grateful and blessed. Especially, as I notice other Study Clubs in the area, including some I was a part of, close their doors.

What have a bunch of 20-year old graduates from the UW learned this crazy year? Here are a few answers from our small leadership team at the Board of the NDBC.

Importance of getting the right people on the bus- Jim Collins

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Getting a Vice President like Isabella Amar DDS and a Secretary like Gurpreet Kaur DDS gave our Club the traction that it needed.

Before, when it was all on me, I couldn’t focus on any big picture thinking related to the Club. I was only able to keep it afloat and work on upcoming presentations one week at a time. Had it continued that way we would have still been small. While that may have been satisfying for me, I would have never known the excitement that was to follow. I would’ve never known new friends from California, Utah and Virginia. Moreover, I would have not experienced the joy of working with two bright and driven colleagues on the Board and getting systems in place to ensure scalability.

Between the three of us, we have a clear description of responsibilities, and adequate time dedicated to vision planning. All of us are personally invested in the success of our Club and are motivated to see it grow. We are united by a common goal: a belief in the gift of education. This essentially makes bi-weekly Club meetings, Sunday 9 AM board meetings, and a barrage of emails and calls in between, fun.

Building authentic relationships

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

We all know some people who go out of their way to get to know you. They will work on establishing a relationship with you before trying to win your business. What we often forget is that those conversations come from a place of care. This is the goal of any authentic relationship- whether it is mentorship, a business partnership or the all familiar, doctor-patient trust. We need to continue building those real relationships wherever we go.

Together, Isabella and I have been able to build important partnerships with companies in our industry. Some are local- such as NW Dental Supply, CARR Real Estate, Lendeavor and Practice Management Associates. Others cross the WA state border, such as the Dental A Team and Brian Hanks Accounting. We are excited to be working with these companies, many of whom are small businesses like ourselves, because all of them showed an interested in what we were doing. At the size that we are, many people and companies would choose to overlook us, so we appreciate it all the more when people take a pause and ask us what we are doing.

A crucial partner and mentor we are grateful for is our Seattle King County Dental Society led by Randy Ogata DDS and Sandra Anderson. They have been supportive of our work from the beginning, and even involved us in the New Dentist Committee so we can work together at building better resources for dentists in the Seattle area.

Becoming customer obsessed- Amazon

This has turned out to be one of our most important value statements. Whenever the Board has questions about strategy, budget or even marketing, we turn to each other. As new dentists, we are our first customer. Had it only been me making decisions, I would have done something completely different, and many times, unnecessary.

Involving the membership in key decisions has been empowering. After asking our members, we realized people were not as interested in getting CE. All members really cared about first was the ‘non-salesy’ content and the timing of the meeting every other week. When we began to focus on only those two things, our viewership increased. Getting AGD PACE certified, which to me was a bigger priority at first, became a tertiary concern.

Our Club is focused on new dentists and dental students, many of whom having working spouses and young children at home. So naturally, we have a lot of new moms and dads in our group. A common concern we were hearing was, ‘is it possible to get the recording each time?’ That’s when we invested in a recording platform and are now able to send out recordings to every member who requests it. This has become appealing even to members who are on the East Coast, thereby increasing our membership across the border.

Unless you ask for it, the answer will always be no

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

When you show your vulnerabilities to others and are honest with them about your intentions, people will be more inclined to help you. They get excited about helping you develop into a better person, leader and clinician.

When we considered expanding our Club to more states, we took an unconventional approach, and asked our members for help. Many of them advocated for us directly to their alma maters. Others contacted their study groups and teachers to rally support and arrange presentations on our behalf. It is because of our members that we are now in talks with the California Dental Association and San Antonio Dental Society. It would have been almost impossible to get there without anyone’s help! We are grateful for our amazing members.

Staying positive

I will not be the first to say that this has been a very difficult time for new dentists. We are still in the midst of the pandemic and do not know when widespread vaccination will become readily available. Staying positive and consistent has been key to all of us Club members in remaining hopeful for the future.

Photo by Tanya Santos on Unsplash

For me, personally, it means

  1. Creating purposeful business and leadership content for the Club,
  2. Helping Isabella and Gurpreet build partnerships with key dental players, and
  3. Positively impacting new dentists and dental students throughout the United States.

Continuing to dream big, surrounding myself with positive energy, and making a small pivot each day towards our long-term vision, has been crucial.

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