The Great Escape with Geoff Stone

“Follow your dreams,” says this week’s guest Geoff Stone – and no one could accuse him of failing to follow his own advice.

In a tale with more twists and turns than the best of Dickens, Geoff tells how he turned his back on a lucrative banking career to make a name as one of dentistry’s best latecomers.

There were highs, lows and more than a few crashes along the way.

Hit play to hear one of our most inspirational conversations yet and find out if it was all worth it for Geoff.

My grandfather always said: “We make our own prison walls. It’s up to us to break out.” I did, and it was hard.” – Geoff Stone

In This Episode

01.12 – Backstory and banking
07.19 – Bonuses and finding life balance
17.38 – From banking to bar work and back to school
22.00 – Dental school and VT
28.07 – Family orthodontics
32.30 – Finding your rhythm
36.27 – Six Sigma and dentistry
40.17 – Two-tier dentistry
42.01 – On teaching and speaking
48.37 – Black box thinking
53.17 – Direct to consumer orthodontics and Turkey teeth
56.24 – Last days and legacy

About Geoff Stone

Geoff Stone gave up a career in investment banking to complete his BDS at the University of Glasgow and went on to gain his MFDS from the Royal College of Surgeons in Glasgow.

He is an associate dentist working in a mixed practice in Stirling in rural Bannockshire. He is also a trainer and mentor with IAS Academy.

[00:00:00] The funny thing is I was six foot four, and for the first month they thought I was a teacher once they noticed that I was queuing outside a classroom and handing in my homework. They’d come up and say, Payman, you must be thick to be back in school and getting bullied by four foot. Nothing was crazy. I felt like Mr. Bean doing his exams in a gym hall and tables that were puny. But I just you just you become. I became humble and in what I was doing, I mean, I recycled to a restaurant and I leave a large tip. It is hard work being a waiter and it’s hard work being a lifeguard, just walking around in that heat and humidity for eight hours. It’s dull. So I do respect for other people have to do to make a living.

[00:00:55] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

[00:01:12] It gives me great pleasure to welcome Jeff Stone to the Dental Leaders podcast. What are you going to hear is an incredibly inspiring story about somebody who’s faced so many adversities, has taken a non-conventional route to dentistry and has gone on to teach, educate a mentor of the people. I’m not going to spoil it because this one is truly one of the most inspirational stories I’ve heard so far. Enjoy. Yes, we usually start these interviews off by just learning a little bit about your backstory where you grew up a little bit of your upbringing, and then how that ended up translating into you moving into the world of dentistry. So, Jeff, do you want to just give us a little bit about your backstory?

[00:01:59] Yes, I am just done, and I was born in Gibraltar and my dad was royal engineers from Disposer and from Manchester. I was posted out to the regiment to Gibraltar, where he met my mum and they got married and relocated back to the UK. My brother was born in Kent. Then we’re on Cyprus, Germany and then my dad decided he’d had enough. The job was too risky with a young family, so he bought himself out the army and moved to Gibraltar. And I grew up there Gibraltar. At the time, the border was closed. So it’s a very small community, three square miles and I did my education there and while I was doing my hires, I did my work experience in the hospital. I was wanting to be an optician, but the optician, the optician at the time had retired, so I got sent to the Dental department and absolutely loved it. And the smells, the acrylic, the interacting with patients and just having that familiarity with people and hands on was was just amazing. I remember one of my neighbours, Rosario, was her name and she was in her 30s and she came in and I said, Well, sorry, your teeth are amazing. And she went, took our dentures and said, Thank you, son, I’m glad you like them. I’d never seen pictures in my life.

[00:03:25] That was a shock to the system, so I did my A-levels in the sciences. But at the time, the government offered no support. My dad was a corporal and a family of six, so the wages were not great, so he couldn’t afford the four thousand six hundred annual university fees. So I decided he wanted me to be an officer in the army, and I’d seen the kitchen table fly too many times in in rage by my dad’s that I just didn’t want that for my life. So I. Went into banking finance, I started as a clerk and worked my way up. I left banking as the assistant vice president of the Bank of an American bank won’t be made redundant. Yeah, we were right into the nineteen ninety to two thousand. We’re right in that intimate bubble where the markets were all thriving. Internet vehicles were coming up left, right and centre. And what was not expected was all markets where markets crashed at the same time and they did Latin America, Russia, Europe will crash at the same time, so the bank made a huge loss and decided to fold. At that time, I decided I wanted to well, it that met Sandra, my wife, who’s from Scotland whilst working at Lloyds Bank, and I decided to relocate to Scotland.

[00:04:49] Where where were you at the time when you were working in the bank in the earlier days? Wherever, wherever you there

[00:04:57] In Gibraltar, a finance centre. So I worked for Lloyds Bank. Could some code switch to queens on bankers? I worked for Springform Bank, which was an American bank and latterly with Morgan Stanley. So I was in Gibraltar in banking for about 16 years and worked my way up the management bank. I mean, did all my banking exams and then relocated to Scotland for two reasons. One, I wanted to play the bagpipes and I used to play the back. That’s a story in itself. But when I was 19, I had a really nasty motorbike accident and I was on life support. Last rites switch off the machine and I survived by my lungs were pretty damaged due to an embolism. And the surgeon was Scottish, and he says, you need to take up a wind instrument. So I said what? And he said the bagpipes and I did those two pipelines in Gibraltar, so my lungs are really good as a result of it. But when when Springfield Bank decided to wind up, I decided to relocate to Scotland. So I joined Morgan Stanley as a senior manager and joined Mel Angove, a pipe band as well. I did it for years with Morgan Stanley, whereby I was a victim of my own success, so I don’t.

[00:06:15] I didn’t have a degree at the time. I had my banking exams and I had graduates with Masters PhDs in economics. The one thing they were lacking was just common sense. I found in a lot of cases, and that’s something I would come in. I dread quite a few books on Six Sigma, which is a system developed by Motorola to look at the workarounds and inefficiencies in systems and roll that out through Morgan Stanley managed to. I mean, the first year we saved about $11 million, just doing away with inefficiencies and slimming down departments, redeploying people. So we moved the operations from Canary Wharf in London, up to Scotland. The problem was the hours and I had a young family and the hours were brutal. Travelling all the time never saw my kids. And I broke my ankle playing basketball, and I had time to reflect what I wanted out of life, and I said to my wife at this pace, I don’t think I’ll see 50. The stress of Monday was four stone heavier. It was having a strain on my marriage and I decided to just call it a day.

[00:07:19] Jeff, can I take you back to those days because I think we can all learn a lot from being in a position of being in the zone where you just don’t see what’s important, right? Whether it’s your career or sport that you’re chasing or whatever that is, you become tunnel vision and you neglect, let’s say, your health, the loved ones around you and so on and so forth. And I’m assuming that the banking, you know, certainly from my friends and colleagues, I was at university where they financially they did really well, right?

[00:07:51] Oh, certainly the bonuses were amazing. I was a director of six emerging market funds and the bonuses while you riding that wave on the market are like six figures. It was amazing, but the hours and the stress takes its toll. But but you do become a victim of your own success, like. And it’s it’s it’s a bit of, I would say, a bit of brainwashing as well the way the management try and drive you to. Always improve on yourself. Always try and seek. The work, the overtime work, the weekends, I mean, I’ve been in a Boxing Day sending trades in the South Korean market, new vehicles. So we were training at my son and with me in the office. The only time I could see him, even on Christmas Day, I would be training and they work you with that vision at the end of the bonus, the bonus at the end of the year. And that’s going to make your life happy as that bonus and that promotion. But it doesn’t. You lose, you lose, you lose perspective on your work life balance.

[00:08:59] Jeff, so you talked about the hours. Just just give me give me an insight into, you know, you’d wake up at this time, have breakfast with the family. What would happen? Give me a day or a week in the life of Jeff, the banker Jeff.

[00:09:13] The banker would get up at 5:00 in the morning check. The markets have a coffee, no breakfast jump in the car, driving to the office. Work all day. Finish like maybe catch lunch between meetings and finish. Work nine 10 o’clock at night. Come home to find you’ve left the house and the kids are asleep and you come home and they’re asleep. The weekends you try and do family time, but you so exhausted that you spend a lot of time sleeping to recover for that Monday morning again. And and it’s it’s it’s a treadmill. It’s yeah, it’s day in, day out and that’s the only way you succeed within the finances. Committing to the the bank’s ethos and mission statement and I was successful at it and I made more money out of it and I did really well in my career. It just it’s a young man’s game and I was finding as the more times you get made redundant, the harder it is because any time the market crashes. Middle management gets thinned out and all the higher, higher wage earners get thinned out. And then it’s harder to find another job. The similar calibre, similar wage and I had enough of missing out on the kids. I left my wife eight months pregnant at the airport, flying to Bahamas to deal with a crisis on one of the funds. I was a director where the market had crashed and we had about $20 million invested in it. So I left my wife crying at the airport pregnant and I landed in London and my boss phoned me and says, Well, we ticket a London Gatwick.

[00:10:53] It was more like a TV show. I landed in Kakuma as you’ve got 60 Minutes to get to Heathrow. Your flight booked. Pay the taxi, anything. So I paid the taxi driver an extra £60 tip to get me to Heathrow in 50 minutes from Gatwick. So you’re breaking the speed limits all the way. Got there to hear my name being called as as gates about to close. Jumped on the British Airways flight business class to JFK limo waiting for me. Sat in the back, heated it, sat in the front who was a guy from Peru, and he is fluent in Spanish and so am I. So we were blaring in Spanish and he gave me a tour of New York, got to Newark and to the Marriott Hotel. Five hours sleep limo back to New York Airport, fly to Nassau, Bahamas, into the Radisson. A cable beach dropped my stuff off. The heat was unbearable. It was August in Bahamas and going to a 12 hour meeting where I survived on a few sandwiches, loads of coffee. Managed to recover $7.5 million because they found. And the thing is, I tend to, I don’t know, I have a knack about finding irregularities or things that just don’t make sense. And I’ll ask the question, and I notice in the prospectus that the investors or the the fund managers had said no investments in Russia. But I recognise the codes as Russian details, so we threatened to sue them or managed to recover eight million of our nice bonus out of that. And my boss says, you need to fly back.

[00:12:30] And I said, I am exhausted. I’ve been on my feet for 48 hours. So he said, stay in Bahamas and relax for two days at our expense, which I did on a jet ski and lot of fun. Just go back to Gibraltar. My daughter was born. And it was it was an amazing journey while every young man, but you lose perspective. I lost perspective on. I was missing out to my family. I spent nine months marketing and I saw my daughter as a baby and then came back and she was walking, but wouldn’t stay in the house on her own with me. So and my wife is my rock and I sat down and that’s when I was in my 30s and I said, You know? There’s only one life, no dress rehearsal. I don’t think a lasting finance this long. I always wanted to do something in medicine. I always wanted to to be a dentist. And she gave me the go ahead to look into it. So it’s funny. I was in the library studying for my securities exams, for the stock exchange, and there was a chap from India called Priyank, a good friend of mine, and he was a doctor from India and he was studying for his medical exams, but he was fidgeting. He’s a very, very nervous guy and the table was rocking at the library and I said, Do you mind I’m getting seasick? I can’t even to read my book. And we started talking and we swapped books because he was fascinated by the stock market.

[00:13:52] I was fighting a need to buy his book in medicine, and I could answer just by reading. I could answer the questions in his exam. And I just got me that just gave me a. The boost to really investigate, so I went to the open day at Dundee. They told me I was told in no uncertain terms. The professor there said, Why would we give a position to you when you probably maybe only give 20 years of service to the NHS when I can give a 20 year old and you’ll do double the time? And I thought that was a bit naive because most dentists retired 50 55, but I went to Glasgow. I was speaking to a chap called David Steele, who is an oral surgeon. And he was a lovely, lovely man. And he said, Yeah, love to have you. You. I think you’ll bring a lot of life experience to to the course, but you need to set your highs again. Your A-levels or your high Scottish highs have to be within two years or on a science degree. So I’m thinking, Wow, how do I do this? There’s no colleges that do the three sciences, so. So I went to the local school and Bray’s high school, spoke to the deputy headmaster and said, You would love to have you. So I quit my job, gave my three months notice on Morgan Stanley. Borrowed the standard grades, physics, biology and chemistry books, because when I did physics, biology, chemistry, elite level, there was no calculators. It was the soccer was tables, no electric boards. It was diodes.

[00:15:23] Yeah.

[00:15:24] So I had to teach myself standard grades. During the summer, while working three jobs, I decided to move away from finance and I worked as a lifeguard. I worked as a pub manager and I worked as a in a restaurant while my wife did two jobs, two to three jobs as well just to make ends meet. Sold the house on a nice big five bedroom house. I moved into a three bedroom council flat just to reduce the size of my mortgage.

[00:15:49] And I hope you don’t mind me asking, right? So you were sure you were in banking, which I’m assuming, as you mentioned, was incredibly lucrative. Yeah. So in my mind, you sat on the sat on a war chest at this time, right? You’ve given your job up. And now is it because your lifestyle was in line with what you were earning back then? And you just you’re

[00:16:13] You live to your means? I mean, and the thing is, I mean, I was 26 and getting £170000 bonuses every year and you leave live to your means. You know, I’d I’d had had a Porsche and a BMW. I wrote to one car off at a Ducati. I wrote that off, broke both my legs and you had to go to a restaurant and say, We’re talking. In the 90s, I’d spend £400 on a meal with my wife and invite my friends mommy I’d never seen before. I took my kids six times to EuroDisney, so the Three Tenors in Vienna. And it was amazing. When I moved to Scotland, I spent three months looking for work at my level that ate into a lot of my income and I’d saved. Plus, I had some investments where the bank crashed so that my investments as well in Latin America, so I lost a lot of equity. So but you live to your means? Sure. I mean, I change a car every nine months because I got bored of it because you can’t buy another one, because you could, because I was 26 and 27 earning a bundle and I left to those things. I never felt off being a bit more shrewd than my dad would say, Oh, you should invest, and I would, and I did. And then the stock market crashed and I lost it all because as soon as you sell, you realise your losses.

[00:17:38] Jeff, what was it like going from a high powered banking position to then working as a pub manager in a restaurant? How did you make that transition and and how did you feel like came from nothing?

[00:17:52] We were very, very poor. I mean, I used to go to school with cardboard in my shoes, hoping it didn’t rain. Otherwise I’d have soggy socks. My dad was at the time until he became such a major. He was a corporal feeding six males living in a one bedroom flat six of us. So, yeah, coming from nothing, then having a lot. I mean, I had a couple of properties which I sold that I lost because the market crashed in Gibraltar to then going back to going through changing room lockers and picking up pound coins. And that would pay for my lunch at university. And you used to adapt and you lived to your means. The beauty of it was at the time my kids were pretty young and they valued that money doesn’t grow on trees, so they respected the fact that they can’t have Adidas shoes and Primark has just as good. And so it was educational just not only for me, but for my kids as well. We worked really hard and we appreciated everything we had was still managed, and we managed to get to Portugal a couple of times on £200 budget for two weeks, not five star hotel with three staff. But it was great. I had a pool and just left to those and the funny. The strange thing is I went back to a high school and it was a really rough high school and the level of poverty in this day and age was shocking. Kids would come in in the same clothes they’d been wearing for four or five days, and the only hot meal was the one they had in school. The funny thing is I was six foot four, and for the first month they thought I was a teacher once they noticed that I was queuing outside classroom and handing in my homework. They’d come up and say, Payman, you must be thick to be back in school and getting bullied by four foot.

[00:19:42] Nothing was

[00:19:46] Crazy. I felt like Mr Bean doing his exams in a gym hall and tables that were puny. But I just you just you become. I became humble and in what I was doing, I mean, I recycled to a restaurant and I leave a large tip. It is hard work being a waiter and it’s hard work being a lifeguard, just walking around in that heat and humidity for eight hours. It’s dull. So I do respect for other people have to do to make a living.

[00:20:18] Jeff, you must have had a crazy amount of drive to then sort of say, OK, we’re going to meet my wife going to work maybe four or five jobs between us. I’ve got this vision of dentistry. I’m going to go back to school. Yeah. And it takes a certain individual to, especially at that age, to then say, Right, I’m going to go back and go to school. You know,

[00:20:46] I was 35 at the time and I sat down with my wife. My in-laws stop talking to me for two years because they their view was I failed my family by quitting. Mm-hmm. And even the teachers, their physics teacher, Mr Gove, his son was a dentist, and he he told me, there’s over 900 applications. There’s no chance you’ll get in. So I lied to give up my friend. Priyanka, who was a doctor, says it’s very difficult to get in. So I like a lot of hurdles, but I had a lot of self-belief that I could. Mm-hmm. I mean, I had a backup plan. If I didn’t get into dentistry, I would have done an accountancy degree and either got into accountancy or taught. Being a teacher, I enjoyed the year I was in school, but dentistry was was what I wanted, and my grandfather always said, You know, we make our own prison walls. It’s up to us to break out. And I did, and it was hard. I mean, the first year my it was a challenge. First, first year my mum passed away in the January, so I took a couple of weeks out and then fourth year because because we didn’t know we were surviving on £12000 a year to pay a small mortgage.

[00:22:00] So this is now. You’ve done it. You’ve done your, you’ve done your school. You’re in Dental school now, right?

[00:22:06] Yeah. Well, I’ll go back to school. I had to get forays and so my my wife would send me to the library and pick me up every every evening and then I’d go to work. And she says, No slacking, no playing Xbox with your son. Otherwise back into finance would be there with a rolling pin mechanism. You know, it’s the five highs was more of a challenge than five years of Dental school. And as soon as I got my grades in August, and it shows forays and a b and that’s what I needed, and I got the B because I was late to my matric maths exam. I sat paper one and I recognised one of the invigilators from the pub. I went, so I went to the staff room, had a coffee with him and we’re chatting away and 20 minutes in, he turns around and says, Geoff, if you’re not people to to sit. I said, John, you know, invigilators know I was only doing paper one. I run like a madman to that Jim Hall to, but I never finished the Part two, so I won’t be for it. But anyway, I needed for and to be. That’s what I did it and I phoned the university and they said, Yep, you’re in. And me and my wife were jumping on the bed like two weekends. I’ve been excitement. Amazing. There’s such a buzz.

[00:23:18] Yeah, it must have been one of the best feelings in the world, right? You have those memorable moments in your life.

[00:23:23] It was just fantastic because there was so many people saying, you’re too old, you’ll not get in. There’s too much competition. I mean, there was 784 people. I remember that I played for 68 70 places and I go in and it was incredible. But then was, how do we finance it? And that was the challenge as well. So my wife had three jobs, I had three jobs. I maxed out my credit cards, used all my savings. I bought a motorbike so that I could get to university and the cheap because it cost me £2000. But then in fifth year, I had a really nasty bike accident. I broke both my legs again and hit diesel on a roundabout, and I got run over by a car. So I had to spend three months away from university and I thought, I’m going to have to quit. We were financially broke, absolutely broke and went to uni because I couldn’t work. I went to university and they tried to help me, but I managed to get maybe £4500 to pay a mortgage and kids when I’m only like. It was only three months into the course, into fifth year. So it was a professor. I called me sitting somewhat sombre in the coffee shop and he was saying, Jeff, you’re OK. And I said, I think I’m going to have to drop out. I’m in a lot pain. I can’t. I can’t work. And he says, Well, what do you need? I said £500 to get me through the month. And. Sorry to talk. Ok, John. So you wrote me a cheque for £5000. Wow. Which to this day still resonates. And it was just such a. Heartfelt thing for somebody to do. And Hillary, you have a lot of faith in humanity when people do stuff like that.

[00:25:21] What was his name, Jess?

[00:25:23] Oh, Roger Stone, Mr Roger Stone, and he passed away with cancer, unfortunately, two years after. But it was a hell of a guy. So I’ve got my flu as well, so I’m a bit emotional, I’m feeling really unwell. And that 5000 just got me through university. I managed to get even though I missed three months of it, I doubled up my time and used to go to all the clinics like I’d be throughout the day, just seeing patients and going to clinics. And I walked away with three BS from university and straight into vet, and that was just amazing. Vti was an absolute challenge, I was suffering from PTSD after the accident, I was rejecting one of the plates in my hip and I ended up with a hospital acquired infection. But my vet trainers were were not very empathetic to my situation, so I ended up back in hospital getting an operation, getting the plates removed back into vet. Feet was a challenge. I mean, the nurse they gave me had the reputation she was called Scary Mary, and she lived up to our reputation. They had all the

[00:26:37] All these and not to work with.

[00:26:39] She was. She was a nightmare. But it was a challenge. I mean, even the practise principal drove his technician to depression. And I’d be standing there watching, observing like making a partial denture. And it got to do a fit and he’d chuck it across the room when it didn’t fit. And I was so unprofessional. So it was a challenge. And I just at one point I thought, I’m going to have to walk away from this as I can’t do this university. The way the analogy I use his university teaches how to drive a car. It’s only when you’re on your own, you know, in a car on the motorway that you actually learn how to drive. Sure, it does. It doesn’t teach you what dentistry general NHS dentistry is from day to day. I mean, I did 15 15 amalgams in the five years I was at university because at the time Glasgow Uni were of the opinion that amalgams were being phased out. The reality of it is the NHS can’t afford anything else but amalgams. Mm-hmm. So coming into practise dealing with patients and their patient load that I was given was patients at the two principles do not want to see so much. So I remember one of the patients, one of the principal told me that patients, they refused to see them because they were worried what they could catch of him because the guy didn’t have any personal hygiene and his mouth was just as bad.

[00:28:07] But that was a challenge, and I got through it and I moved into a practise in Bannockburn, where I’ve been there for the last 10 years. Wow. The principal was an amazing person, is an amazing person. She sold the practise and the new principal is a lovely guy. And and I have loved a lot of my patients, love what I do within the heart. I passed my vet and within the first year of starting as an associate in the practise I had, the inkling orthodontics was the way I wanted to go down. I had a Nanny McPhee tooth. So much so I checked. Actually, when I had my bike accident, I was lying on the ground. After dragging myself from under the car with two broken legs, a police officer comes up and says, Your legs broke and I said, no, both my legs are broken by my bloody tooth. I was concerned about my teeth and my legs, so I wanted to align my legs and my leg, my legs and my teeth and my legs and operations were facing east and west and me and the principal. Patricia did the online course for the Allina, which was TIFF Qureshi. Mm hmm. You introduced the Indian Allina to to the UK and we sat there, each with a glass of wine, and the online course passed the exam online and I was my first patient and I just got the bug for it.

[00:29:33] I just loved it and then went to straighten my own teeth. Couldn’t tolerate in Manilla because talking with patients for eight hours a day was a challenge. So I came in a mouth full of grapes, so I did a couple of courses. I did a German German online, a system which I strained in my own teeth, and I did that Allina System for about six months, then didn’t like how some of the instructions that were coming, they were saying, like, if you’ve got an Ontario by to drill baby, drill down all the posterior teeth, and I thought, now you can’t be damaging teeth like that. And by that time, the Ace Academy had started up. So I did that clear aligner course and it opened more opportunities with patients, but I still found that I was having to refer quite a bit. So I did the fixed braces through Anoop Mani, who was a lovely, lovely man, and I owe him a debt of gratitude for the way the patience and the compassion he showed towards how I. I went down the fixed braces course. I mean, my wife was my first case and I bonded up and I sent a loop through the ear. This my bond up. And he says, Jeff, give me your mobile number. I’m going to phone you, says Jeff. Good effort, Anoop here.

[00:31:01] Good, good effort on the braces. There’s a slight problem, though the brackets should sit in the centre of the teeth, not on the incisal edges. Whoops. And he says, take them on off you’ll be. It’ll be an amazing experience for you and learning how to take him off before you’ve even aligned them, and we’ll send you a whole new set for free. And so I learnt to properly. He was such a lovely man. Lazy Anoop was amazing. Excuse me? Absolutely. And so I straightened my wife’s and my daughter wanted our teeth straightened and she knew want breaks at the front. So I went on. The lingual course did her hard teeth, which I submitted as a case for the IRS to 19, 20 18 awards ceremony symposium in London. And I remember as case. Um, and then had to do the advance once I got enough cases of fixed braces under my belt, I applied to do the advance and spent 14 months with the under the watchful eye of Ross. Ross Hobson, Professor Ross Hobson. And that’s changed my practise on my outlook all together. I’m a mentor. I asked if I could, what would be the route in order to be a mentor because I wanted to impart the knowledge had gained. And TEF says, would love to have you on the Abby line bleach and bond. And I’ve been doing that ever since. I just love it.

[00:32:30] Jeff, if we just if we just step back a little bit and then we’ll we’ll. I want to. I want to ask you a lot more about the teaching and your practise philosophy. At what point during that whole journey did life get easier? Because it seems to me from the moment you left banking to go into school and then the struggle through university and you know your wife being your number one fan, your rock and your motivator, right? That some somebody who pushed you through that process made sure you went straight to the library didn’t give you time to play with the kids and whatnot because, you know, she had the same vision as you. Right? And then and then during that initial vote, you’ve obviously suffered during that time. And you know, the degree of suffering is all relative, right? At what point during that journey did life get? Easy.

[00:33:28] So, Patricia, the initial the the original principle to the practise told me it will take you five years to get your feet under the table and have enough experience for a patient walking through the door with a problem, and you’ll be able to say, I know how to deal with that. I know who to ask to be able to deal with that. And it took me about five years to gain enough experience, enough strings in my boat to feel comfortable in my own skin as a dentist. And as I became more comfortable and more relaxed, so did the patients and the referrals. And with that came revenue as well, because you were more comfortable in not selling because I don’t sell to my patient, I give them options. This is private. This is this is NHS. These are the benefit. These are the risks. This is a choice. And I saw the seat. So even with orthodontics, I get patients that I sought that seats six seven years ago, having their teeth strengthened now. And it took me about five years to be comfortable in that particular environment of being able because dentistry is quite lonely. It’s you, your nurse and your surgery. And it’s it’s tough.

[00:34:44] It’s tough to have that rapport. Find a common ground with your nurse as well. And it’s a stressful environment. It’s you’re not just the dentist, you’re a psychologist, you’re you’re a medick, you’re a mechanic of teeth. And patients come in with a whole host of problems to sit in your chair and they just dump it on you. And it’s been able to be empathetic to deal with and try and advise and sympathise with them. But get to the root cause of what is your Dental problem and how can we help you in that respect? And that takes time, takes takes time to to be true to to do that. Fortunately, a lot of my banking experience dealing with the public helped me because there’s a lot of my colleagues that came out of university and ended up in an academic situation because they couldn’t deal with the general public. They just did not know very good at passing exams. Very good at the skill set, but not very good at dealing with with the public. And that comes with experience, with age, I would say. So it took me about five years. I would say OK to be comfortable in my skin as a dentist.

[00:35:58] And you alluded earlier to, you know, doing Six Sigma and following the Motorola methodology, right? Efficiency and that whole. I think you can get different belts in Six Sigma as well, and I’m aware of. And so how do the principles of Motorola apply to dentistry? And have you applied them in your own practise?

[00:36:27] I’m I’m still an associate. Yeah, and I do offer help. I’m going back about five or six years. Patricia, the principal at the time, says, Jeff, can you help me? The cost of supplies per month was running into six £7000 a month. The practise was just barely breaking even. And she asked, Can you help me? So I literally did a spreadsheet of all the materials we did, and we used and looked and shopped around and started playing companies against each other for the best deals. I managed to bring that bill down to sixteen hundred pounds a month. Wow. And looking at efficiencies and we still use those materials, the materials are the same. It’s it’s I can use a top quality material. I can use an equivalent material. And all you’re paying for sometimes is a label. Because GI glass is glossy, onomah bibs are bibs. You know, disposables are disposable, so you manage to shop around. And if we found that bill creeping up, I’d go back and negotiate prices, and that’s in itself. And since then, I pass that on to their lead nurse and she’s she’s taken it over and we keep that philosophy going. The price, if we monthly bills creep up, we shop around and negotiate between the companies and say, Well, we’re getting a 25 percent discount from this company. What can you offer and take it from there? I mean, so NHS fees haven’t gone up by much since 2006, but cost of materials have gone up by 25 30 percent and more now since COVID. So you have to. But there is still some. Colleagues that are reluctant to move away from your labelled trade name materials, and it’s nuts, it’s getting that balance. They’ve been able to negotiate that. But at the end of the day, the practises are businesses. You know, you don’t make money, you can’t keep the lights on.

[00:38:40] Sure, sure. Not many are so sorry.

[00:38:44] You know, I was going to say, I’m having a bit of a battle at the moment with a few of my colleagues because at the moment we’re handed the Scottish COVID restrictions where we’re operating at maybe 20 percent. My colleagues are wanting to open the books up and the Scottish Government have given no indication as to when things are going to open or improve while in the near future. But our books? I mean, we’re working two or three days. I work three days a week instead of my usual five. Mm hmm. And it’s all on a on a Tuesday just to NHS Wednesday, Thursday do private, mostly orthodontics and restorative generated through the orthodontics. But my colleagues are wanting to open up the NHS book further. But we’re not getting paid anymore. And the more patients you see for exams, the more cost comes from materials, wages and stuff without reading. I just don’t see how the practise can, not under the funding the NHS is currently limiting practises to and that’s my business mind. We had a brief conversation about him. I focus I tend to move, and I know it’s a two tier system and it’s out of my hands, but I’m moving a lot of my patients to the private side of the business, better materials, quicker turnaround times and it’s keeping the lights on and paying wages, especially with with a fellow finishing at the end of this month, I believe.

[00:40:17] Yeah, that’s the wages, Jeff. Just touching on the two tiered system as a clinician, how do you switch between the two one day operating as an NHS dentist and then the following day providing private dentistry? I’m assuming different levels of service, different materials, different amount of time with the patient. How do you switch your philosophy between the two?

[00:40:42] It’s a work in progress, and my nurse is a good counsel. She’s ageless with what? She’s a bit older than me, very wise for age as well. We’re like brother, sister. The patients come in and they say, you’re like husband and wife because we bicker like like brothers and sisters, but they laugh at us as well. And we just discuss, you know, there are times that I will treat NHS patients like if there were private, if if I feel they physically cannot or financially cannot afford the treatment. But as a battle, I was getting very, very stressed about it about six months ago, and my principal and my nurse were saying, it’s out of my hands, it’s the Scottish Government. So I try with my patients to do the best I can under the difficult, very difficult situation we’re in at the moment. We’re then using NHS materials. I will do the best root canal I can. I’ll make the best venture that I can within the budgets we’ve been given. Find the NHS wants us to offer a a marks and Spencers service on an on an Aldi budget. It just doesn’t work. No, no. But it’s difficult and it’s a moral battle. It’s an emotional battle from day to day.

[00:42:01] Yeah. Geoff, moving onto your your teaching. So, you know, it seems to me that you got engrossed in the in the IRS academy system, so to speak,

[00:42:12] Totally Solanki

[00:42:14] So so-called recall states, and then went full circle in becoming a mentor. And you teach them some of the courses as well. Instruct, I guess I’ve definitely seen some social media posts where you’re at least teaching alongside TIFF, for sure. Just tell us about that and how you got into the teaching side of things and actually standing up in front of people and teaching is that does that come naturally to you?

[00:42:42] No, I’m super nervous for a couple of days to the build up to it. I mean, I used to stand in front of a board of directors and throw up before I used to have to walk in and discuss. Mm hmm. With with with teaching within the is the you’ve got big, big shoes to fill with the likes of TIFF and Andy Wallace. Amazing, amazing wealth of knowledge behind them. And I feel very, very privileged to be alongside them, and every day is a school day. My vote, my knowledge from day to day I spend in their presence is vertical. It’s the learning experiences vertical, the the wealth of knowledge, and it’s incredible. And I just do my best to have myself fully prepared. There’s over 2000 slides for the AB weekend course and I’ve learnt them all off, by heart, by rote, and I’ve done background research on the Dow principle on the edge bonding that TIFF developed called a reverse triangle technique. And I just make myself the best I can be and be able to impart that knowledge without. Feeling that I’m watering down what Jeff and Andy have developed as a teaching principle. I hate to do do it. No service. That would be for me. It would be a failure and I, to be honest, if they turn their answers. Jeff, unfortunately, you know, good enough, I would put my hand and walk away. Thankfully, they haven’t said that yet.

[00:44:22] No, I think certainly the feedback I get from, you know, people who’ve been mentored by you, certainly on the board and the platform and stuff is that they tend to comment on on your speed of getting back to people and also the quality of information they receive. So, you know, passing on your knowledge and teaching and stuff like that, is that something you’re going to explore more in terms of progression of your career? Is that something you want to do more of it?

[00:44:52] Definitely. I’m 53 now, and dentistry takes a huge toll on your back and your ability. I, as I get older, I don’t know if I could do five days a week, and teaching just offers that opportunity to give you another career pathway to be able to learn from be able to pass on the knowledge you’ve gained and the tips and pitfalls of like from my own mistakes. Being able to educate and impart that knowledge to other other upcoming coming dentist for me is an amazing journey to be able to, to offer and to be part of. I feel very privileged, very honoured to have been given the opportunity. Being quite young in my Dental career myself, I’m 10 11 years out of university and it has just been. There’s been an amazing journey.

[00:45:55] Jeff, you talk about being absolutely petrified of getting up in front of people and speaking and think it’s something we all face. Certainly for me, when I’ve had to stand up on the stage and speak to people, the, you know, the adrenaline kicks in, the heart rate goes through the roof. And for many of us, it’s a normal feeling right. And for some people who do it day in, day out, like this, it’s just like another day in the office.

[00:46:21] Well, after after COVID and you had to do his first one, he needed a few beta blockers to calm him down. So just don’t tell him, well, actually, he’ll find out.

[00:46:31] We all know that now a secret is out, but yeah, it’s it’s one of those feelings that you go through. And I think anyone who thinks about teaching getting up in front of people, it’s not easy. You know, it’s it’s incredibly tough and I find personally the first five to seven minutes. And then once you’re in the flow, you’re like, What the hell was I worrying about? Did you experience something similar, Jeff?

[00:47:01] Exactly as soon as I, I’m worrying for two days. I’m reading through those presentations and all the notes that go through it weeks ahead. I’m on the I’m at the gate, at the airport, still going through the presentations. And as soon as I stand there, I’m thinking, I’m going, Am I going to forget? Am I going to forget as soon as you start talking? It just rolls off the tongue? Yeah, it’s I mean, I think the nervousness comes as well from the fact that you teaching a group of very well-educated, very knowledgeable individuals from different walks of life from different aspects of dentistry. I mean, the last one I was in Birmingham, we had an implant surgeon from Scotland who was very academically high in our skill set with a wealth of knowledge beyond what I have, certainly in implants. But the beauty of it is myself, Andy and Kelly Jackson, who was on the course what we imparted. She managed to take some value out of it. That and I and I got a nice message from her saying it’s it’s actually hasn’t answered a whole lot of questions that I didn’t have before on why a screw screws snap on an implant on the abutment. And it’s to do with occlusion and stuff, you know, and it’s things you don’t know what you don’t know. And that for me, it was amazing. But however smart you think you are or however knowledge you accumulate, you never stop learning throughout life.

[00:48:37] Yeah. So and learning, you know, I’m a big believer in learning from your own mistakes, Jeff, and something that we ask a lot of the guests on this show is about clinical mistakes. If you could sit back and reflect over the last decade or so that you’ve been a practising dentist 10 11 years, what would you consider to? Your biggest clinical mistake? Am.

[00:49:06] Trying to please everyone, trying to please principals, trying to please colleagues, trying to be my please. All the nurses you can’t, trying to please patients you can’t. It’s it’s impossible. You just got to do the best you can listen to to yourself and yourself and work to the best of your abilities. You can’t please everybody every day. And that’s for the in that first five years of trying to be comfortable in my abilities as a dentist. That was a big challenge because you listen to different people on how they operate. User Topham use users equivalent. Report this to child services. Don’t report this. You can’t use go to find what works for you, what works for your patients ethically, morally and as as long as you get to bed at night and sleep with a clean conscience. You’ve done your day’s work the best as you can. I think that that was the biggest struggle I had initially.

[00:50:10] So that Jeff, that’s almost like a philosophy, isn’t it, that you sort of mature? And then you begin to understand that when dealing with the general public or multiple different people, you can’t keep everyone happy.

[00:50:23] And if you do make a mistake, yeah, own up to it. I mean, you just because we’re all humans, and if you’ve got a nice report like a really good, I treat patients like I would be treating a member of family. So I’ve got a good rapport. I had a patient about four or five years ago. I was supposed to extract the upper left to and make a denture. In addition to the I was supposed to make a partial denture for the upper left to the lab came back. I never checked a partial denture, took the upper left to out, went to fit it in. The denture was for the upper right, too. I held my hand up to that patient, said I do apologise. Labs sent me the tooth on the wrong side. I should have checked it before taking your tooth out. You’re going to spend the next week with a tooth missing at the front. Is there anything I can do? I’ll do this. I’ll put it this way. I’ll make this tension for free and not charge you. How you feel. And she was super appreciative and said laughed about the fact that she’d be spitting peace through that gap for a week and it caught on up and be there. Our patients wouldn’t and take it to the cleaners. But if you’re honest and and admit to your mistakes and make make recompense for it, that’s the best you can do. And to this day, I think I’ve had one complaint in my whole career, and I think it’s down to how I treat patients and how I communicate with them.

[00:51:49] And that was what I was getting at. When I ask you the question, what was your biggest clinical mistake? It was something like that, right? And what we often tried to learn from when we speak to people about this is not really what the mistake was, but how you handled it. And what’s clear is that the world revolves around the communication, owning up honesty and doing whatever you can to put it, right?

[00:52:15] Yeah, totally. I mean, you went, it’s like you win some or you lose some. There’s there’s there’s a patient. I aligned their teeth about a year ago. He’s they’re not happy about their bites and I’m not going to quibble about it. The bite looks fine, and all I’m going to do is bond up again, back into elastics and try and get that back to socking better. Mm hmm. And you take the hit. I’d much rather that then he goes through a lawyer and looks six recompense at all. It’s going to cost the set of metal brackets three £540 and my time to have a happy patient who I’ve been dealing with and seeing for the last six, seven years. So that’s that’s my philosophy. I just have to always find a common ground with the patient. I can’t just say that’s it. We can’t do any better. You have to accept it. That’s just a recipe for disaster.

[00:53:17] You’re in terms of you doing a lot of orthodontics. Do you have any patients to come and speak to you or you have conversations with patients around direct to consumer orthodontic, so you order your aligners online or whatever, and then off you go treat yourself sort of thing. You ever had any of those sort of conversations with patients who said, Actually, I can get it cheaper by doing this, that and the other. Do you ever have any of those?

[00:53:41] I do, and I do a lot with Turkey veneers. And it seems to be the fad now. I have honest, honest conversation with patients who are actually treating two patients that have had direct to consumer aligners and ended up with the material combines in one case and the other one. It’s still as crowded as when they started, and they’ve spent £4500. Which is still a lot of money. I mean, I would charge as much as an orthodontist for four orthodontics. I try and keep it. I mean, I work in a village in rural Scotland, so I keep it competitive to my market. So I’m not much more expensive than what direct to consumer aligners are offering. And I do have these conversations saying to the fact that you wouldn’t have your appendix taken out by a surgeon who’s reading a book or by by somebody who’s not even a surgeon. Just by reading a book. Why would you have your teeth straightened by somebody who’s not no dentist as a technician? If things go wrong, if no, come back. And the same with direct consumer like turkey veneers. Yeah, turkey teeth. You go out there and if you get them done, I won’t touch because if I touch those crowns or those veneers, they you end up owning them.

[00:55:02] And I show them photos of the damage, the prep’s heavy preps on crowded teeth. I also show them the before and after photos of a particular celebrity, which will remain anonymous, where she had all our teeth crowned within a week, a couple of the crowns fell out and had to go back and they just pointy stumps. So I keep those quotas in insurgencies. This is what they’ll do to your teeth. You’ll not get much change. What I would be charging and you don’t get there’s not much difference from what. Yeah, and what they’ll charge you and what they’ll charge you. Why would you do that? Why would you? And sometimes they hear. Sometimes they don’t. But at the end of the day, you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Mm-hmm. And the fat. Now I’m finding in his hedge bonding. I get tons of teenagers and early 20s coming in asking for hedge bonding on severely crowded teeth with the restricted envelope of functions. And I’ll say, yeah, I can age bond, but there’s no warranty on it because he’ll break with a bite you have. So we end up lining whitening and maybe, maybe, sometimes it doesn’t even age bonding. It’s their own natural teeth, and they’re happier that way.

[00:56:20] Sure.

[00:56:21] So how did that conversation?

[00:56:24] Sure. And just moving away from dentistry, Jeff. Definitely, I’m getting the feeling you’re a very wise man and you’ve been through a lot in your life, so tell us a little bit about your family and I’d like some advice. Tell us a bit about your kids.

[00:56:40] My kids, they’re amazing. Cameron’s 26, and he’s an accountant. He he wanted to be a dentist, but he preferred zbox to studying and going back to my own childhood. My dad was a sergeant major in the army. Very, very strict. Yeah, quite violent and a lot of times, and I didn’t want that for my kids. So that’s why I didn’t join the army. And I never I never forced my kids to do anything. I would just offer my advice. So my son learnt to lesson in himself when he didn’t get his great like his colleagues did his friends. His friends became dentists. He didn’t. His friends are now driving like Porsches and A3s and stuff. He he he can’t because he didn’t get the grades. So many hunkered down in his accountancy and did a masters as well because he didn’t do very well in his accountancy degree in either. But he got a first in his master’s, and it’s just about having the charts with them and saying, you know, it’s up to you. You can mess about now, but then you won’t have the wage all the job that you want. You won’t have the security for the house that you want. And the the one thing is when they were at university. The one thing I did is rather than pay rent, I thankfully dentistry gave me that opportunity to buy a flat and rather than pay rent, I paid their mortgage.

[00:58:09] And what I did as like with Cameron and I did with Rhona was, I say, spend the summer saving up what you save up a match and as a deposit on the flat at the end of university, you keep that flat and that’s your starting life. You sell it. Whatever equity you make from it, it’s your profit. And I did the same for my daughter as well. My daughter is a lawyer and she did really well, but she struggled. She wanted to be a vet and did all the sciences, but then went to the open day and spent time with a vet. Local vet and the local vet gave my daughter, who’s a young, impressionable, tall blonde, blue eyed girl, and gave the book about vasectomies on dogs. And they gave the I actually laughed my head off. I said to my, well, actually castrated the dog and gave my daughter his crown jewels and a pair of blunt scissors and told her to dissect the testicles and look in the book and see what anatomy features. You can see a division of adult looking back and say,

[00:59:15] I pulled back

[00:59:20] Myself laughing, but I put her off there being a poor soul. So then she decided she wants to be a lawyer. So trying to do a personal statement with sciences because she got five A’s in her sciences, maths and another advanced higher to to a law degree was a challenge. And then she struggled. She went to Glasgow Uni, and she struggled the first two years to the point she was thinking, Oh, I want to quit, and tomorrow I sat down with her. So if you want to quit, what would you want to do? Of course. Would you want to swap into or do you want to go to work? And she didn’t know. So I said, Well, stick it out. And she she stuck it out and got a two one in her degree and got a first in in the bar. She passed the bar. Currently works as a paralegal because due to COVID, there’s no very few law graduate jobs. The beauty about working as a paralegal is she’s learning from the other side of the table how hard paralegals work for lawyers to pursue. You do find lawyers don’t respect paralegals as much as they should because they they’re looked upon as the lesser of the academics or worker that they like the worker bees. Yeah. So she’s learning from the other side that it’s hard work being a paralegal. So when she does get her law graduate job, she’ll be able to understand more and respect and value more paralegals do so. So yeah, that’s that’s my kids. Rona is 22 and Cummins, 26. They’re both working from home, so we’re always competing for bandwidth. It’s a bit of a challenge, but yeah, it’s good. There are lovely kids, right?

[01:01:07] I’m Jeff. So we always end these interviews with you, putting on a little bit of a bit of advice for your loved ones. So, Jeff, imagine it was your last day on the planet, okay? And you had your loved ones around. You naturally, family kids. What’s three pieces of wisdom for life would you leave them with?

[01:01:33] I have no regrets. Follow your dreams. And treat everybody like you would be wants, like you would want people to treat you with respect. I think those those are the three things I live by.

[01:01:48] Yeah, totally. And if? I’ll rephrase this in a different way. How would you like to be remembered? So finish the sentence Jeff was.

[01:02:06] I don’t know, I’ve never thought of that. Jeff was. Nuts. People would say it was nuts. The things I’ve done and increase, I know nothing.

[01:02:23] I think what you’ve shared today, maybe a little bit and not, but for me, incredibly inspiring me. Having listened to your journey right from the beginning, from from childhood, right through to every single adversity that you challenged and the story that really hit my heart. I must admit, is the journey that you and your wife have been on together to for you to be who you want to be, right? I think that’s that’s really powerful and a really positive message for us all.

[01:02:58] Yeah. If you find your soulmate and just respect each other, support each other and and we’ve done that to see how it was our 30th wedding anniversary and where’s 30 years gone? I was a couple of months ago, and that’s. That’s just I mean, my wife’s been my rock, and she supported me throughout, and so are my kids. Yeah, and it’s been an amazing journey and life still goes on and I look forward to what life throws ahead of us.

[01:03:29] Yeah, it’s been great, Jeff. And one more question. Sure. You have 30 days left. Yeah, yeah. How would you spend it?

[01:03:38] Wow. I’d say golf and my wife would have other ideas. 30 days. I would spend it with my wife and kids

[01:03:50] With you, wife and kids. Yeah, definitely. No NHS crowns.

[01:03:55] No, no, no. No wife and kids. I just spend every moment with my wife and kids, and I try as much now because I know both of them have their own homes. That’s my son’s getting a house built. My daughter’s refurbishing an old or getting an old house. So they’ll be moving, moving out soon, and it’ll just be me and my wife again. And so I’m I spend as much time with him as I can now because I know they’ll have their own lives to deal with. So 30 days, yeah, I’d spend them with them. Beautiful. That’s a lot of whisky. Yeah.

[01:04:33] Jeff, thank you so much for your time today and absolute pleasure. I just thank you so much for your openness and sharing everything that you’ve been through, because certainly for me, I found it incredibly inspirational and I’m sure others will too.

[01:04:46] Thank you very much, and thanks for inviting me onto your show. I appreciate it.

[01:04:51] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

[01:05:07] Thanks for listening, guys. If you got this file, you must have listened to the whole thing and just a huge thank you both from me and pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we had to say and what our guest has had to say, because I’m assuming you’ve got some value out of it if you did get some value out of it. Think about subscribing and if you would share this with a friend who you think might get some value out of it too. Thank you so, so, so much for listening. Thanks. And don’t forget our six star rating.


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