The Ethics of Aesthetics – A Chat with Cosmetic Surgeon Dr Benji Dhillon
Knowing your ‘why’ always pushes you to be the best that you can be.
Today’s guest knows his why, and that makes him more determined than ever to do what he’s got to do.
In a slight departure for Dental Leaders, this week we chat to a leading light in aesthetics and cosmetic surgeon, Dr Benji Dhillon.
Alongside ep5 guest Mark Hughes, Benji is co-founder of Define Clinic, which is currently leading the way in non-invasive treatments.
Benji talks about his extraordinary sense of purpose and determination and gives us the lowdown on the latest trends in aesthetics.
I’m a big believer that facial aesthetic treatments should be used in a way that no one knows you’ve had it done. And it’s all about being age appropriate. – Benji Dhillon
In this episode:
03:05 – Learned values
23:53 – Benji’s biggest mistake
28:20 – The ethics of aesthetics
34:30 – A confidence shaker
38:01 – Benji’s business partnership
45:24 – The top trend in aesthetics
56:12 – Being the boss – the dos and don’ts of managing
59:30 – Dentistry vs medical doctor
About Benji Dhillon
Benji Dhillon is a cosmetic surgeon, and clinical director and co-founder of Define Clinic, Beaconsfield.
He is a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and has undergone training in some of the UK’s leading hospitals.
Benji has also spent time as medical director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Allergan – the developers of Botox. He led clinical studies into anti-wrinkle injections and Juvederm fillers and implemented an international training program for safer aesthetics delivery.
He regularly speaks at international congresses and has published research in medical journals.
Connect with Benji Dhillon:
Connect with Prav and Payman:
Prav Solanki: Hey guys and welcome to the Dental Leader’s podcast. Thanks for tuning in and today’s interview was with Dr. Benji Dhillon, a cosmetic doctor, plastic surgeon who used to be the clinical director of Allergan. He’s an opinion leader across a range of different cosmetic treatments, not just injectables. And what a super nice guy, family guy, young man, very enthusiastic. But the big thing is that he’s teamed up with Mark Hughes a Harley Street dentist and him being a ex- Hall Street cosmetic practitioner to bring a new concept into Beaconsfield. But what did you take away from that Pay?
Payman: Well you know it’s called Dental Leaders but not every single person on the show’s going to be a dentist. I was super interested in his approach and the idea of combining, having one roof where you’re going to take care of dentistry and facial aesthetics from a very high level.
Prav Solanki: Super high level.
Payman: I’m very interested to go and see the place because I’ve seen some pictures of it now on social media. But both those guys I’m sure are going to do super well.
Prav Solanki: They’ll do really well. I mean I’ve been working quite closely with Benji and he’s taught me so much about the facial industry and the aesthetics industry that it’s opened up a whole new world, in my mind, both about marketing but also about that business and how well it combines with dentistry.
Payman: Yeah combine that with four kids too.
Prav Solanki: Yeah he’s just had a little one.
Payman: Yeah enjoy it guys.
Prav Solanki: Enjoy.
Payman: What are the public into right now?
Benji Dhillon: The public are really into body sculpting.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah.
Payman: Does it work?
Benji Dhillon: It does work yeah. I mean you’ve got to look at the-
Payman: Talk us through what happens.
Payman: Six pack?
Benji Dhillon: Close to. Prav you don’t need it anyway. I know you’re ripped under that shirt..
Speaker 4: This is Dental Leader’s. The podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.
Prav Solanki: Morning guys today we have Dr. Benji Dylan with us who is a facial aesthetics practitioner and Benji thank you for joining us today and thanks for your time.
Benji Dhillon: You’re welcome thanks for having me.
Prav Solanki: Benji I just want to go back to your backstory really. Tell us about your childhood, growing up, what sort of parenting did you have?
Benji Dhillon: So proper Asian upbringing, destined to become account, lawyer, dentist, or doctor at some point in my career. But interestingly I came from a family of no medics or dentists whatsoever. My mom dabbled with a bit of nursing. But always brought up with a strong ethos in studying hard as most Asians probably understand. Or people from ethic backgrounds. But dad was a first generation immigrant. Orphaned from a very young age when he arrived in England, having travelled across the ocean as many Indians did back then. As a result my upbringing was quite a firm one because he went without and he wanted me to understand how hard things came. So looking back it was a very important part of my upbringing and mom was from Malaysia but also an Indian. And actually had a very similar outlook on life. So I had a great childhood. Born and brought up on the south coast in Brighton with my little sister. And we never really went without but we were always made to understand how hard it came if that makes sense.
Prav Solanki: Yeah so my upbringing was kind of tough and I remember the one guiding principle of my father gave to me and my brother was; the reason I’m working so hard and doing what I do is I don’t want you to do what I do. I want to be better than me. And so was that a similar thing in terms of, was there a big emphasis on say, education and you being, was it “I want you to be a doctor?” Was that their dream for you to become a doctor?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I think it was their dream for me to be a doctor but they were always open to me being any type of professional if that makes sense.
Prav Solanki: Like a lawyer?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah a lawyer, an accountant. I was terrible at math so that was out the window. But yes, the upbringing involved me understanding how hard my parents worked. They always made sure I understood that I had to work harder than them. So I think it was a bit different because of my dad’s background and the story he went through that he didn’t necessarily give give give to me. He almost made me understand from day one that I had to earn everything I got. And that’s even to this day. Despite me being a professional and having a family he still treats me the same way. So yes it was always an understanding that hardworking ethos, you get out what you put in. And I was always made to understand that from very early on.
Prav Solanki: So growing up when you say you didn’t go without but you didn’t get everything just give us a bit of concepts on that. So kids in my school had Nike shoe trainers and I got the Knicks from the local market. So what’s your version?
Benji Dhillon: I got the Robucks not the Reeboks. No exactly the same as you Prav. We had to earn what we wanted if that makes sense. So I’ll never forget the story when I was probably about 12 or 13 I went into a sports store with my mom and I saw this Olympus jumper I don’t know if you remember Olympus from back in the day?
Prav Solanki: Yeah yeah.
Benji Dhillon: And I absolutely loved this jumper. I wanted this jumper, nothing like it. And mom said I had to achieve X, Y, Z at school over a period of three months or so and by the time, I achieved those grades and achieved those objectives, the jumper had gone out of stock and out of fashion. But it really involved me having to do things to get something. Probably the best story I ever had is when I started doing my A levels. My parents said if I get three As at A level, they will buy me a Mercedes as my first car. So naturally like any child I was absolutely over the moon. I got the three As, asked for the Mercedes and my dad nearly capital punishment, nearly slapped me around the face. Going, did I ever really expect to get that Mercedes? So they never held true to that promise. But I had to earn what I got.
Payman: Where did you study?
Benji Dhillon: School was Brighton College in Brighton. So mom and dad worked tremendously hard like I’m sure a lot of parents, to pay for private school for my sister and I. And that led onto medical school which was Guy’s Hospital in London-Bridge.
Payman: During the guys and pommies or was it King’s by that time?
Benji Dhillon: It was just after the merger so it was actually King’s but–
Payman: Guys never stay Kings do they?
Benji Dhillon: I associate with guy’s purely because-
Payman: You’re a King’s boy right?
Benji Dhillon: No I don’t like to call myself a King’s boy because I played rugby for King’s hospital. So yes it was part of King’s but we played rugby against King’s Hospital.
Payman: So you’re a rug bugger?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I was a bit. At least I thought I was. I think I played in the thirds most of the time.
Payman: So you enjoyed university?
Benji Dhillon: Oh I loved university. Coming up from Brighton up to the big smoke in London was incredible.
Payman: Playing rugby in medical school, was it the same in Oxford?
Prav Solanki: More about rowing.
Payman: Yeah in medical school rugby sort of disproportionately gets-
Benji Dhillon: It’s like a religion in and of itself.
Payman: Because I was in Cardiff and there it is a religion in the whole town, let alone in the medical school. But I wasn’t ready for that. My brother was in Guy’s and he said something about rugger buggers. But I got there, I got to Cardiff and I realised rugby boys are royalty and I was like, “What’s going on here?” And the funny thing is it kind of grows on you doesn’t it? We ended up going to a few games and so on. So you enjoyed it. Where you a good student, were you like near the top of the class or were you-?
Benji Dhillon: I was terrible to begin with. My first term I think going to university, being away from home. Probably the stereotypical thing, went to my head. And I remember my tutor at the time calling me in that I had failed the first term’s exams and that if I didn’t buck up he would tell my mom and dad and that was the last thing I wanted. I think it was an empty threat but I was too scared of it actually coming to fruition that I changed the game completely. And yeah I studied hard really for the rest of the six year’s university.
Payman: I remember my brother saying he found it really hard that everyone was really good in medical school compared to school where he was kind of top of his class.
Prav Solanki: It’s a huge shift, right?
Payman: Suddenly you’re surrounded by brilliant people.
Benji Dhillon: You are but how I look at medicine, I don’t know about dentistry, I’m a firm believer I think anyone can do it. In terms of the study and the academic side. I think what it really takes is just the effort. It’s the time commitment at the age of 18 to 23 to really put away that time to read those sorry mundane books on physiology.
Prav Solanki: When your friends are doing history or English.
Benji Dhillon: And they have two sessions a week and then they’re off doing other things. So I think everyone can do it but yeah there were some really bright people but actually the majority were normal like me but just decided to put in the effort.
Payman: And so you said, we were talking before, you said pretty early on you got interested in plastics?
Benji Dhillon: Yes yes so it was within my first year I did something called a special study module. And it was pure luck that I actually got into plastics. And I remember walking through my first operation ever and it was what we call a breast reconstruction with an autologous flap. It was a flap from the stomach. And then they had to basically plummet into some of the thoracic vessels under a massive microscope. And I was blown away by this. I mean to go into your first operation and forgive me if there are general surgeons listening to this but it wasn’t appendisectomy it was real hardcore surgery that was changing a patient’s life. I was blown away by the people they were really intelligent, they were really smart. And at the time I loved anatomy as well so it kind of started me on my journey.
Prav Solanki: In your first year?
Benji Dhillon: My first year yeah.
Prav Solanki: Some people go into plastics because of the glamour of it right? The potential for earning huge amounts of money, doing work that’s aesthetically leasing. But a lot of people don’t have appreciation for what you’ve just described there which is the reconstructive and almost the need based plastic.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I actually I don’t think that’s the case in the UK. It might be in other countries. I know it’s the case in the US because I spent an elective for a month out in New York in plastics. But I don’t think that’s the case in the UK. I think most people go into medicine with an awareness that they’re not going to earn a great deal of money in the NHS. Plastics I think appeals to people academically and technically. It’s taking the level to which you can use your hands practically to a whole different plane. The intricacy of the surgery, the intricacy of the work. So I think that’s actually what appeals to people. And it’s funny when you look at those plastic surgeons I entered into training with then, to them being consultant plastic surgeons now. Some have stayed in the NHS, some have branched into private work but actually still really respect their NHS work. They’re not just chasing the money.
Payman: So you started plastics training after qualifying as a doctor?
Benji Dhillon: Yes.
Payman: How many years of that did you do?
Benji Dhillon: I did, how of the medical school you have to do your rotations, your house jobs, etc. You then decided whether you want to go into, well what type of specialty surgery, general practise or not. Did a couple of years in that and then you enter, I did two years of surgical training within plastic surgery before I decided to leave the NHS all together and pursue new frontiers. That was probably the most interesting part of my life because I had just had my first child.
Payman: How old were you?
Benji Dhillon: I was, I should know this, I was 27 when I had my first daughter. I’ve got three now. And I was realising very quickly, yes there’s a lot of work involved with what you need to do in any specialty but particularly plastics. I wasn’t seeing a great deal of her or my wife. The on-calls, surgical on-calls were really kind of getting me down. But more so it was that I’d gone into surgery because I loved using my hands and a lot of management changes were happening and quotas were having to be met. As a result, the actual amount of surgery I was able to do was being taken down by managers, not by our consultants who were equally as livid. And I got disaffected with the NHS massively. And I just decided I needed to explore the world outside of medicine. Coming from a family of no medics, I realised there was something else. And I very quickly just ended up speaking to someone about pharmaceutical medicine and that’s how I then ended up becoming a medical director of a big pharmaceutical company.
Prav Solanki: Which was?
Benji Dhillon: Allergan.
Payman: Medical director of Allergan.
Benji Dhillon: Yep medical director of Allergan.
Payman: Well go on take me thorough. That was a big jump.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah it was a very big jump and I didn’t know what I was doing at the time if I’m honest.
Payman: How did you see the job advertised?
Benji Dhillon: No it was actually, the burns unit I was working on, because I was doing a burns rotation in plastics. I was doing a night shift and I started speaking with one of the, well the receptionist of the burns unit and I started expressing my discontent with medicine at the time. And she mentioned that her father was a GP, had left medicine, and had gone into pharmaceuticals. Which I knew nothing about. She said, “Look just have a chat with him, see what other things there are out there you could do.” I think it was the day after I gave him a call, lovely guy. And he was the vice president of Allergan at the time for medical affairs. I think couple of weeks after we had a beer and something to eat and he almost offered me a job on the spot having no ex-
Payman: What year was that?
Prav Solanki: So you were 26 when you had your first?
Benji Dhillon: 27 when I had my first child. The year I went into Allergan was, oh god, was about 2010, 2011 yeah around that time. So I’d done a fair bit of work in the NHS–
Payman: So you were pretty established by that time? I mean it’s a bigger thing now than it was then but they were still pretty established at that point.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah within aesthetics because that’s the role I went into. Became the medical director for aesthetics for Africa and Middle East. Yeah I mean they had created the market for what we know as facial aesthetics. They discovered Botox, they developed the whole market around Botox. They brought to market a number of dermal fillers and now a number of devices so yeah they-
Payman: You went straight into that job did you or did you climb into that?
Benji Dhillon: No I pretty much went straight into it yeah.
Prav Solanki: Were you doing much injecting then at all or?
Benji Dhillon: I had done a little bit using Botox for things like facial palsy’s in the NHS which is used, more so now than it was then. But I had no experience with things like dermal fillers and things like that. To be honest I had no idea what they were.
Prav Solanki: Right place, right time, right people.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah exactly. And like you say it was just meeting right people at the right time.
Payman: What gave you the confidence to think you could do that job, you know, as a medic?
Benji Dhillon: I don’t know if it was confidence or ignorance. I’ve always believed I can do something whether I am any good at it or not. I’ve always believed myself and backed myself to a degree. And I’m a big believer that you go into something and learn on the job as quickly as possible. And I think that goes across the board.
Payman: What’s involved in the job? Was it managing people?
Benji Dhillon: Actually a larger part of it was working with the marketing team who wanted to make claims and obviously sell more product.
Payman: They needed the money.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah and it was more about justifying some of those claims, are they saying the right thing, are they misleading people? But actually the best part of the job was two things. One, developing more data so setting up clinical studies, postmarketing studies around the products. And then meeting and talking to physicians and surgeons worldwide that are using these products and learning how we could make them better. Or even how we could make new products.
Payman: Were you involved in product development?
Benji Dhillon: Yep, yeah as the medical director you get involved in product development. Working with R and D. So I mean multi-faceted. Then I ended up managing what we call Amicells. Medical science liaisons across Europe, Africa, Middle East. There’s about ten at one point. And then you’re learning people management which I’d never done before.
Payman: What was the experience that must have-?
Benji Dhillon: Oh it was amazing, great company.
Payman: Were you travelling a lot?
Benji Dhillon: Travelled a lot yeah. And at first it was really exciting, really glamorous. But it soon gets to you, the amount of travelling you have to do.
Payman: Yeah but I bet your contemporaries who are still in NHS hospitals were thinking-
Benji Dhillon: Oh god yes. I’ll never forget this good story. I remember the first flight I had to go on to Denver. And I’ll be honest I’d never flown business class before then. And I remember getting and the secretary at the office had booked my flight. Turned up and they said I’m in business class. And I honestly thought there was a mistake. Expecting to go economy. I remember sitting in the lounge that day how my life maybe six months prior, where I struggled to get a digestive on an NHS ward and all of a sudden I was sitting in the lounge at Heathrow. And I can drink a glass of champagne and how my life had come full circle.
Payman: It’s funny because I’ve had the opposite problem with the speaker before where I booked him a business class ticket and he was expecting a first.
Benji Dhillon: Oh god. Well this is the problem. Expectations rise.
Payman: But go on.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah and I remember telling more of my buddies that were still in the NHS and still are today that wow here I am and I think at that time you lose perspective a bit. You think, “Wow this is really amazing this is really glamorous.” In hindsight could I have more respect for my friends who are in the NHS, doing what they do, not because I feel sorry for them it’s the opposite, but because they’ve stayed true to what they love, what they believe in and are trying to be really good at it at the same time. So yeah it was an incredible experience but I’m kind of done with that, the whole travelling side.
Payman: So how many years were you with Allergan?
Benji Dhillon: I was there just under four years. Three and a half to four years. And the last sort of six months was a very interesting time because Allergan was in the process of being acquired by a larger company. It was firstly Valeant Pharmaceuticals, in fact there’s a Netflix documentary on them, who tried to buy them which failed. And then subsequently Activist who’s a very big generics company who came and took over. So whilst that was going on I felt I learnt as much as I could, I’d met some great people but I really wanted to get back into using my hands. And during my years that I’d started injecting and started doing all the fillers, Botox and I’d learnt from the incredible people around me, and I just thought it was the right time to get out. And I met a doctor that who had his own clinic and very quickly we agreed to start working together.
Payman: Who was that?
Benji Dhillon: That was a chap called Tapin Patel. He’s an aesthetic doctor in London. He has his own clinic on Holly Street. And I spent close to three years with him. It was an incredible experience, he’s one of the best there is and he taught me, I mean my learning curve would have probably been a lot slower and he taught me things a lot quicker. So yeah it was a great time.
Prav Solanki: As a medic whose doing this, injecting and so forth, and you see dentists doing it, have they put a stop to nurses and non-medics?
Benji Dhillon: No no. As it stands if you look from the dermal filler side practically anyone can inject it.
Payman: Really still?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah yeah absolutely. So pharmacists are open to it, I think paramedic drivers, dental hygienists, dental nurses. On the Botox side which is obviously a prescription medicine it’s only really doctors dentists with prescribing rights as well as now nurse prescribers that can prescribe and inject as well. I think underneath your question is do I have a problem with everyone else injecting it? I don’t. The most important thing is people do it right. As it stands within the UK, legally all these different people can inject and do these treatments. I think people like myself that teach and the other educators out there have a responsibility to educate everyone and not say, “I’m not going to teach a paramedic or a dental hygienists.” But really try to raise the bar because if quality’s improved and outcome’s improved it only benefits the whole industry which already has a stigma attached to it which we want to take away.
Payman: So if you ruled the world, what would you say regarding whose allowed to do this and whose not?
Benji Dhillon: That’s a double edged sword question isn’t it?
Payman: No it isn’t because you could be training a dental hygienists tomorrow whose paying you but you’re working within the regulatory environment we’re in.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I am. It would be, so all healthcare professionals I’m open to that. Whether it’s a dental hygienists, a paramedic. However I think what is required is people have a sound knowledge and foundation in anatomy. And I think there almost has to be some legal requirement for everyone to go through some anatomical training and examination process which they’re actually trying to implement now, which allow them to go into that next stage of injecting.
Prav Solanki: And do you think that can be learnt in a one day course?
Benji Dhillon: Absolutely not. No. Anatomy is, it’s life-long learning. There are anatomists that are constantly learning, so to think you can go in, and there are one day courses that te-. In fact in a one day course there’s probably only 20 minutes that’s focused on anatomy. There’s no way people can understand unless they’re currently learning themselves.
Payman: So if I wanted to, look I’ve never ever given a Botox or a filler, let’s say I want to get into this. What would you say is my minimum education level I should not legally or morally but what would you advise me as your brother let’s say whose trying to get into this, what should be my minimum amount of education that I get…if I’m trying to get into this?
Benji Dhillon: What should be or what is?
Payman: What should be.
Benji Dhillon: What should be. So I think what should be.
Payman: What would you advise me if I want to get into this field?
Benji Dhillon: I think there are two options. So say you were my brother and you wanted to get into it I’d be like, and you’ve got a background in medicine.
Payman: I’m a dentist as it happens.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah you know your anatomy. I hope, I’m sure you do. I would say, “Look just come and spend a day with me, observe me, let’s talk through things.” That’s kind of the minimum really that’s required for you to enter this space.
Payman: What would you advise me to do?
Benji Dhillon: What I would advise you is go on a course. There are a number of really good courses that have level seven certification now that you have to sit a number of exams. Some of them have coursework, projects that really try and solidify your understanding of anatomy, some degree of physiology, the products, safe injecting, managing complications.
Payman: So I guess you’d advise more than a one day course? How many would be minimum number of days?
Benji Dhillon: Absolutely. I think it’s a minimum time period. I think really it’s a six month time period where you have ongoing learning on a course. You have ongoing supervision with an experienced injector and ongoing treatment feedback. So it’s about seeing you inject or treat someone with someone standing over your shoulder. Because anyone can go, and in the most simple way, go an treat a frown line with Botox. But if you want to get really nice results even with something people think is simple like Botox, if you want to make it really sort of high level, it takes time to develop those skills. It isn’t as simple as people make out I think.
Payman: Sure sure.
Prav Solanki: Benji have you ever made a mistake when injecting? Clinical error, mistake?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah yeah yeah absolutely.
Prav Solanki: What was the biggest mistake that you’ve made?
Benji Dhillon: I would say the biggest mistake, it’s really aesthetic, I think the biggest mistake will come down to aesthetic outcomes. And it was very early on, putting the wrong amount or the wrong type of product in someone’s mid-face. That lead to a slightly unnatural result. And the patient was unhappy. It was an unnatural result and at the time I realised and I looked back, it was a very unnatural result. But it’s something you can rectify, with things like dermal fillers you can break them down, they’re reversible. But yeah everyone goes through that. Anyone who says they haven’t had any bad outcomes or complications-
Payman: What’s a common error that not so experienced practitioners make?
Benji Dhillon: Aesthetic results. So it’s again wrong product or wrong placement of the product in any part of the face that lend to unnatural results. And actually a lot of that doesn’t come down to your technique, it comes down to your assessment. And that’s what takes time. It’s looking at someone’s face, understanding what could do with improving, what could do with addressing and how you do it. And that’s very much a theoretical kind of thing in your mind that has to be developed over time before you implement that. Because every relatively confident person can hold a needle and syringe. And pierce the dermas and deposit product. But what takes time is what way you’re doing it. It’s the planning exactly. And I’m sure that’s the same in dentistry.
Payman: So many things yeah.
Prav Solanki: You see a lot of these girls with huge lips. Like people talk trout pout and things like that. Can you reverse that?
Benji Dhillon: Yes depending on what products. So if a hyaluronic acid based filler has been used you can use a product called hyaluronidase which is the enzyme which breaks down HA. Yes it’s reversible. But there are some permanent or semi-permanent fillers that aren’t HA based which you can’t reverse.
Prav Solanki: Ok, so do you see many patients like that?
Benji Dhillon: Thankfully not in my practise. But yes you do yeah yeah absolutely. You see them at a particular aesthetic congresses. So yeah you do see a lot of people with that.
Prav Solanki: Do patients come to you and say, “Can you fix this?”
Benji Dhillon: Yeah absolutely I think there’s two groups of people right? There are people that want that look. So they’re not going to come to you and say, “Can you fix this?” There are some people where they’re not happy with the outcome and that’s- either they’re bigger than they expected or products moved into the wrong position and yes you see those patients.
Prav Solanki: So patient out there whose had a result they’re not happy with and they want to come and see you. How quickly can you break that down?
Benji Dhillon: Pretty much straight away. Yeah you can, they come in same day you can use hyaluronidase and break it down.
Prav Solanki: Immediate results?
Benji Dhillon: You do get some degree of immediate results. I always say leave it for about two weeks before we look at it again to take down the swelling and see the real result.
Payman: I’ve got a question. Look, sometimes I’m sitting in I don’t know Marbella somewhere and there’s a particular look that I put down to someone that’s sort of got too much for too long. Is that a thing or am I just seeing bad results and there’s plenty of other people walking around who I don’t realise have had it done? Is there a long term effect on overdoing it or whatever?
Benji Dhillon: Yes and no to your answer. Yeah there’s kind of a few different responses to that question. I think there is a particular look and you’ve almost got to look at the United States as a case example. You’ve got very much a west Coast East Coast look and that often the more artificial looking outcomes where again, too much product or wrong type of product in the wrong place. And it does lend to that unnatural result. Full cheeks, smaller eyes, full lips that you can tell that someone’s had something done. Over time if more and more is put it, skin has something called creep, yes you’re going to distort the soft tissues and you’re going to have to almost maintain that to a degree. I’m a big believer that facial aesthetic treatment should be used in a way that no one knows you’ve had it done. And it’s all about being age appropriate. I do not believe that say a 50 year old should be made to look like a 30 year old. Because it will look obvious. 50 year old should just be made to look really well refreshed, less tired, less angry, less sad. Taking away all those negative emotional attributes but making age appropriate.
Payman: There is a definite down ageing going on in terms of people asking treatment to the younger age these days.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah absolutely.
Payman: I was a dentist and she was 27 something, I’m getting my Botox done. And people see it as a preventative.
Prav Solanki: We’ve got nurses who are getting it done at age 19-20.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah absolutely. Listen the younger market, I’d say 25 and below is really expanded in recent years due to social media influencing.
Payman: Is it a good idea?
Benji Dhillon: I don’t traditionally like to treat people under the age of 25. It makes me uncomfortable. I always go back to my moral compass. I have three girls and I don’t want them, when they’re 19, 20, without me knowing, going to someone else. So I see it as a responsibility. However there are some people at that age that have things that could be corrected that negatively affect them. A really good example is dark eye circles. Under eye hollows. For some people it’s genetic. And it gets people down, they have these really sunken eyes. They look tired. They’re only 21, 22 but people keep on saying they’re tired. They’re not. You can address those but the most important thing with this group of people is they understand what they’re having done. Have they explored all the options? Even at the age of 21 22 I always say, “Have you discussed this with your parents?” It could be really patronising.
Payman: That’s the Asian in you coming out.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I do I do because, it’s the Asian in me. Some people don’t talk to their parents at that age but I always try to explore those. And it takes time to really elicit, informed consent but also are they understanding everything around the procedure?
Payman: What do you do for someone’s whose got dark like me?
Benji Dhillon: So I mean if there’s volume loss under the eyes, dermal fillers can be used to really restore what we call that lid to cheek contour. A lot of people are worried about pigmentation under the eyes, that’s a really hard thing to treat. That’s very very challenging. Sometimes if there’s hollowness with pigmentation, it can improve the look of the pigmentation but sometimes it doesn’t. So it really depends on the individual.
Payman: Do you ever think in the future like in 100 year’s time they’re going to look back on this period and say, “Those guys are crazy they were sticking poison into their faces for aesthetics.” And the long term possibility of that being an issue. They must have done a whole field of research into this right?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I mean-
Payman: Do we know? How long has it been going.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I’ll say from the medical side but in probably 100 years they may go, “oh my god why did people stick poison on their teeth to make their smiles better?” So I think what it comes down to, okay so Botox for example do we understand it 100%. Yeah we know but Botox has been around for a very long time. And lot of it has been used in the medical side so to treat children with cerebral palsy with contractures, people with migraines, osteoarthritis is now being investigated for use in, urinary incontinence, after strokes. There is literally an arsenal of medical uses that is used in much much much higher doses that really well conducted clinical studies have been done that show that there’s no real, it’s safe inverted commas.
Benji Dhillon: So within the cosmetic field, I personally don’t have any concerns based on the data that there’s going to be any long term issues but again it comes back to, it’s the aesthetic look. If we are creating frozen faces all around and then communities lose expressions then yes it does have a negative social effect.
Payman: Changes society.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah it changes society.
Prav Solanki: Benji let’s go away from injecting and certainly for me also you Payman, we have a moment in our life when we hit rock bottom. For me one of them was when my grandfather passed away when I was younger. Have you got any moments in your life that you sort of hit absolute rock bottom and what were they? Could you share them with us?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I would say probably the first one is, well actually I say they’re three. One is my grandfather I lost him when I was about 17 just like yours, very close to him, incredible man, influenced me growing up. And it was very sudden, it was a heart attack. So that really hit me early on and I think at that age really introduced me to the concept of death.
Prav Solanki: Where were you?
Benji Dhillon: I was actually away on a Model United Nations trip with school. And I wasn’t told the news by my parents whilst I was away and I got back home, mom, my sister weren’t there, dad broke the news to me then and we shot straight up to London where my grandfather was. That was difficult time losing someone you love.
Prav Solanki: First time you’d lost someone?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah first time I’d lost someone. That was really tough but we have a great big family and the network helped heal that. I think probably the second thing is when my dad became quite ill. He’s, again I call it the Asian curse, it’s cardiovascular disease, it’s diabetes, etc. etc. He basically died on a table in the lead up to having a cardiac bypass and I was by his bedside when it happened. That was challenging because you’re helpless number one. You’ve got a medical team around you that, there’s nothing you can really do or add.
Prav Solanki: How long ago was that?
Benji Dhillon: That was just before my first daughter was born.
Prav Solanki: So you were a qualified medic?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I was qualified. I think it was 2009. It was really difficult because I’ve got my mom and my sister are going hysterical around me. I’d been exposed to death and illness in medicine and it was very funny because at that moment I expected myself to react like my family but I almost became a medic in that moment and just looked at things objectively. But I think the realisation came that what happened to my dad that all of a sudden the responsibility falls to me for my mom and my sister. And I was just married at the time as well. So a lot of emotional thoughts going through my head then.
Prav Solanki: And you feel like you’re the rock in your family, that you would be the person that would hold everyone together if say your mom and your sister if the worst was to happen?
Benji Dhillon: I’d like to think so. I think I’m probably, they’re going to kill me if they hear this, a bit emotionally more stable than them. Not in a negative way that they’re emotional but I think I just look at things more objectively. So I’d like to think that I’m probably the rock. To be honest I actually think the rock now in our family is my wife because she’s a lot more [inaudible] and she can deal with things a lot better than anyone around me.
Payman: What was your professional low point?
Benji Dhillon: It was actually this year when I realised I wanted to set up my own clinic and for various reasons where I was and the clinic I spoke about earlier, I think communication errors occurred between myself and the clinic as to when and how I was going to leave to set up my own business occurred. And I think, we didn’t leave on bad terms but it left me in a space where I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. I didn’t have a new business to go to, I was leaving that business and foolishly we’d bought a new house earlier on. Because I didn’t know I was going to set up a new business. I did all the things you shouldn’t do at the same time. Buy a new house, set a new business, and there’s no money left in the bank. And I think that was the first time in my career where I was investing in something, didn’t have anything tangible yet to hold onto and had no money in the bank. And with three little kids, overheads through the roof I was scared.
Prav Solanki: What was going through your head at that time because you go from this point of you’ve never been a business owner before am I right?
Benji Dhillon: No, no.
Prav Solanki: So you go from this point of being wither employee or associate to then saying, “Hey I want to run me own business.” What was the defining moment where you said, “Do you know what this is what I need to do.”
Benji Dhillon: Yeah. I think it was a number of things. I’ve always had that kind of entrepreneurial spirit built into me because of what my dad did. He ran his own business. So there’s always been this thing, always be your own boss was at the back of, was this little voice singing to me at the back. And I think as I got into aesthetics there were things that I just wanted to do in my vision and in my way. And I think as I get a bit older and my kids got a bit older and then all of a sudden I thought, “Actually I want my own security for my family and I want to develop something that I’m in control of.” But making that jump from thinking it to doing it I think it’s just like jumping off a cliff almost.
Prav Solanki: And you’re on that journey now right?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I’m currently in the middle of it.
Payman: When did you open it?
Benji Dhillon: We’re not open yet.
Payman: Oh you’re not open yet?
Benji Dhillon: No no so we are hoping to open the end of January so refurbing a rather large building.
Prav Solanki: In the West End?
Benji Dhillon: No no this is out in Buckingsfield in Buckinghamshire. So I made a conscious decision to go out of London.
Prav Solanki: Do you live there as well.
Benji Dhillon: I live in Beckinsville. I live 40 minute walk from the proposed new clinic. And I’ve done it for lifestyle choices as well.
Prav Solanki: I can already see the yummy mummys of Beaconsfield.
Benji Dhillon: Be fantastic good yeah.
Prav Solanki: And are you scared?
Benji Dhillon: Oh I’m terrified yeah I think everyday something new scares me.
Prav Solanki: If you were to imagine the biggest possible disaster for this business, what would it be?
Benji Dhillon: It doesn’t work.
Prav Solanki: What does that mean?
Payman: Running out of money.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah yeah running out, no patients coming through the door, no one believes in the vision I’ve had in my head so they just think it’s a farce. No one coming through the door, overhead’s through the roof, basically we have to sell our house to pay the debt.
Prav Solanki: So tell us more about this concept because it is a fairly new concept type clinic that you’re setting up so just give everyone a little bit of background in terms of what you’re doing, who you’re doing it with.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah of course. I mean over the last year or so I’ve been exposed to the dental world more so than I ever have done in my past. Really really luckily so because at the school my children go to, in the same class is a cosmetic dentist based on Harley street Mark Hughs and we just got talking at a birthday I’ll never forget it was in a hut. And we just-
Benji Dhillon: No no it was like this yurt. I mean kid’s birthday parties are done in the most, to be honest I would have preferred a Pizza Hut this place was freezing. So we go talking and realised we were on the same page, I knew nothing about cosmetic dentistry. To be honest dentistry to me was fillings. I had no idea of the options such as veneers or whiting etc. despite where I am now. And I actually began a journey with him undergoing a small makeover for myself. I realised very quickly that there was an analogy or sorry a similarity between what we did. We were dealing with the same real estate which is the face. And soon after Mark and I this is when I was at Harley Street we started referring other patients and there was some patients as I understood more about teeth and what it does to the face. I actually started referring patients to go see him first before they had any soft tissue work with me. Because I though it’s optimise their result and actually they’ll get more almost ROI on doing their teeth than they would on soft tissues. And actually he did vice versa. And we actually ended up getting really good outcomes associated with that. And happier patients because we were honest.
Benji Dhillon: We started speaking about doing something together and when the idea came up for me opening my own place I thought, “Why don’t we do it under one roof?” Have under one roof the offering of facial aesthetics and body aesthetics with myself as well as cosmetic dentistry. So again we’re offering a 360 service for the face. I think one of the things we’ve really tried to expand on is that, and I know there are lots of dentists that do facial aesthetics but this is Mark coming in not doing facial aesthetics. So we’re really specialised in what we deliver and how we deliver it because yes the consultations are relatively similar but there are some nuances between a cosmetic dental consultation.
Payman: It’s in the nuances where excellence really comes out.
Benji Dhillon: Precisely yeah.
Payman: And so he lives there as well does he?
Benji Dhillon: He lives just outside of Beaconsfield but not too far. He’s basically going to head up the team out there as I am as well.
Prav Solanki: When are you looking to launch?
Benji Dhillon: Hoping early February to launch. It’s going to be, I mean it’s a very old grey two listed building. We’ve got over 4,000 square feet to fit out. We’re going to have three to four dental chairs, about four to five medical rooms, we have a laser room. We’ve got a training studio where we’re going to, a custom built training suite as well.
Payman: Starting small then?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah. As I said early on I believe in myself and I don’t know if it’s ignorance or not.
Payman: That’s a big risk you’re taking.
Benji Dhillon: It’s a massive risk but I’ve always had this vision in my head of a patient experience.
Payman: Go on.
Benji Dhillon: Our patients are our gold dust to what we do. And we’ve really got to treat them amazingly. I want my patients, and Mark’s patients, I want them to walk in somewhere that feels like an experience. They are almost walking somewhere that they would attribute with a top end spa. You’ve got to marry that with a clinical excellence and the clinical service and the clinical feel. But as a result it’s taken time to find the right space that can lend itself to that kind of patient experience.
Payman: Is it a spa look you’re going for?
Benji Dhillon: In terms the waiting room area yes, I question myself whether we should be spending the money on that area.
Payman: You should.
Benji Dhillon: You waver don’t you when it comes to money, should I shouldn’t I? But it’s something I firmly believe in I want it to look and feel amazing.
Prav Solanki: First impressions right?
Benji Dhillon: Correct yeah.
Payman: I told this story sometimes. I must have been to five hundred more dental practises and I’m dentist and so I know everything about what’s going on in the main room and the difference between a good dentist and a bad dentist and so on and so forth. And yet I still now even today after everything’s that happened I draw all sorts of conclusions about the practise based on the quality of the coffee they give, the quality of the waiting room. Whether there’s blue tack everywhere saying if you miss your appointment. Private clinics. And fully aware that you can bring in brilliant coffee and have terrible dentistry. I’m fully aware of that and yet I still draw conclusions.
Benji Dhillon: Of course you do it’s human nature.
Payman: The patients though, the man on the street hasn’t got all that insight that I’ve got so of course he’s going to be drawing similar conclusions.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah precisely. I’m a firm believer in we’ve got to make people, what we do within cosmetic dentistry or cosmetic medicine, we’re making people feel good about themselves. I had my teeth done. Honestly speaking, yes it made my smile better but it made me feel really good about myself. I was just more confident smiling in photos and stuff. So that experience has to start obviously on the phone bu the moment they walk in and I’m so pedantic about little things like you’re saying blue tack, it’s go to feel special. They’ve got to feel special. How they’re greeted, how they’re looked after, to the time and effort we’ve put in to how we’re designing it. Down to the materials.
Payman: So you’re going to use white tack right?
Benji Dhillon: We’re going to hide everything. Yeah pushed under the sofa as well.
Payman: Concierge style service that you’re going to provide. A big part of that is whose going to be there, the people.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah of course. Do you mean staff-wise?
Payman: Yeah yeah yeah.
Benji Dhillon: I mean I’m in that journey now I’m in recruitment. I don’t know how, we’re going to try and find the best people we can as I’m sure anywhere will.
Payman: Experienced with hiring people. You’re obviously in a good situation because he’s made so many open, so many different practises. It’s interesting this question of the experience of the person who comes in and exactly what they’re going to feel as well as of course getting the medical side right but have you got any insight into what’s going to be your USP over the next medical aesthetic clinic?
Benji Dhillon: I think one is very much you’re coming there with the option to be assessed, the whole face to be assessed. So we’re always about doing right by you and making sure you spend your money to our patients in the best possible way that’s going to improve your aesthetic. Whether that means you coming in firstly because you don’t like your frown lines, actually we can say, “No your frown lines aren’t the right thing to do we’ll do a free dental assessment. You may consider doing your teeth instead.” And spending your money and potentially not spending your money on facial aesthetics. So I think, and that’s a matter of walking across a hallway rather than going down the road so I think we’re there to deliver the best outcome for you that you may not know about. It’s the same, I’ve got to look at facial aesthetics. People will come in always for these nose to mouth lines what we call nasolabial lines. I hate treating those because sometimes they may have really dark circles. You need those treated. I would assume the equivalent is in teeth. People think they want this done on their teeth and actually as a dentist you’re looking at the best aesthetics outcome is going to be doing that instead.
Payman: They want veneers but whitening’s the right.
Benji Dhillon: Correct so we’re effectively cross-selling that expertise to each other.
Payman: Are you also going to go down the laser hair removal and fat sculpting thing?
Benji Dhillon: No to laser hair removal, yes to fat sculpting.
Benji Dhillon: No no it’s all right. Fat freezing, fat warming. Laser hair removal is very much a beauty salon treatment. There are some amazing clinics that do it but you just can’t compare with the cost that beauty salons are charging for it. Yes body sculpting, non-invasive body sculpting. We’re all about effectively non-surgical, non-invasive options.
Payman: So what’s currently hot is that the thing? What are the public into right now?
Benji Dhillon: The public are really into body sculpting.
Payman: Does it work?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah it does work. You’ve got to look at the-
Payman: Talk us through, what happens?
Prav Solanki: Six pack?
Benji Dhillon: Close to. Prav you don’t need it anyway I know you’re ripped under that shirt. It’s non-invasive body sculpting or fat reduction is what it says on the tin. It’s no cuts, no blood nothing like that and with very differing technologies we effectively break down the adiposities through apoptosis. So it’s controlled cell death, it’s not starting off a necrotic chain reaction. And the one we’re going to have called cool scoped which is something called cryolipolysis. You suck the tissue into these freezing plates, it cools in right down to where the fat cell dies and your body eliminates it. On average you look at about 25% reduction for an area. So it’s not complete reduction. The caveat is, it isn’t for everyone. You’ve got to basically be to a good shape, you’ve got to be going to the gym, eating well and it’s really for those stubborn pockets of fat.
Payman: There I was thinking I didn’t have to go to the gym.
Prav Solanki: What I would have thought is if it’s 25%, the bigger you are, the better the result.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah you’d think that right. But if there’s a larger percentage taken down by that percentage you can’t always see that percentage change.
Payman: How long do you have to do it, how long does it last?
Benji Dhillon: It’s a one off treatment. Yeah I mean you may need two treatments for an area depending on the size of it. But technically speaking you don’t need to retreat that area.
Prav Solanki: What’s the level of investment involved in something like that?
Benji Dhillon: It varies.
Prav Solanki: Approximately.
Benji Dhillon: I mean if you were to say look at love handles is one area, you’re probably looking about 2,000 pounds. Under the chin, so we can break down double chins now, you’re probably looking at about 1,500 pounds. If you want to do your whole stomach, love handles, your underarms, it could go up to like 5, 6,000 pounds.
Prav Solanki: Got you. Let’s talk about relationships so you’re got three kids?
Benji Dhillon: Three kids yeah yeah.
Prav Solanki: Tell me about your family.
Benji Dhillon: So I’ve been married for eleven years just gone. We’ve been together about 16, 17 years. First, second year of university I should remember. Yeah we’ve got three girls together, nine, seven and five and yeah they’re fantastic.
Prav Solanki: So you met at uni, is your wife a medic?
Benji Dhillon: No she’s a lawyer. So she was a solicitor, went to law school. We weren’t at the same university together. We were introduced by a friend of her older brother’s.
Prav Solanki: Is this like the modern day arranged marriage?
Benji Dhillon: Not really no.
Payman: The second year university.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah it was exactly. Funny because I came from Brighton so I didn’t really go out with anyone back in Brighton. I was kind of the kid that no one wanted to go out with. Still to this day that’s why I got married so early.
Prav Solanki: I don’t believe that for a second.
Benji Dhillon: And we got introduced by a mutual friends just because we had told them we had similar interests. And actually my wife came from a relatively traditional background. Parents didn’t want her to go out with someone but she took the risk. We met each other’s parents within two months we made that kind of commitment early on. So out a couple of years, I wanted to finish medical school before we actually got married.
Prav Solanki: Yeah so my brother was introduced to a girl and it wasn’t what you would call an arranged marriage but it was almost like, here’s this one similar backgrounds whatever. And then-
Benji Dhillon: No our parents had no idea.
Prav Solanki: No idea.
Benji Dhillon: No idea. And then I remember actually going to tell, ringing my mom saying I met someone I really like her.
Prav Solanki: What was that phone call like?
Benji Dhillon: Oh it was really uncomfortable because my mom was like I haven’t introduced you to her. I’ve got to introduce you to someone. The traditional Indian thing to do. And the same for her.
Prav Solanki: What was the first question your mom asked about her? Is she Indian?
Benji Dhillon: Is she Indian? Yeah yeah is she Indian was probably the first. Where does she come from? Where do her parents live? Yeah those were actually the first questions my mom asked. Which came basically from her grandma.
Payman: You’ve got three daughters, I’ve got one daughter that must be interesting so you’re the only testosterone in the house?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I’m the only man yeah. I love it. Oh god I think I was born to be a father to daughters. I absolutely love having my girls. I mean yes I don’t get to.
Payman: I’m sure you do but go on tell us some of the nuances that come, a bit emotional?
Benji Dhillon: No I mean they’re still young.
Payman: How old are they?
Benji Dhillon: Nine, seven and five. So they’re still little. The older ones start to get into more, understanding more about herself, the world, etc. But girls want to play spa days, they want to pretend they’re in a spa giving massages and getting benefits from that. Dad gets a massage. Saves me a couple of bob. So yeah no I love it.
Prav Solanki: How do you feel about them having phones?
Benji Dhillon: Mobile phones, oh I’m dead set against it. At this point in their life, this age, we actually don’t, we barely let them watch TV at home. They don’t use I pads, they barely use the phone because I want their mind to develop in other ways. I want them to read because our generations we didn’t have it back then, we kept ourselves occupied. I want them using their imagination because I think this is when their mind is so malleable and I want them to think creatively. So they make up their own games, we insist upon it. They read and they do things like that.
Payman: I find it really interesting if my son was sitting there writing a letter, he’s get all sorts of praise but if he’s sitting there writing a text message he’d get all sorts of. But if you’re saying exactly the same thing in those two. It’s kind of this questions of reading, reading off a Kindle is that worse than?
Benji Dhillon: No so reading off a Kindle I have no problem with.
Payman: Reading off an I pad.
Benji Dhillon: I think there’s a few different things. It’s almost like an entry level right? You start using your I phone or I pad for things that are acceptable like reading, soon that becomes I don’t know going on Instagram. It’s a gateway drug. And also for the eyes, the hand-eye coordination I want them to learn to write and stuff like that.
Payman: Right I mean who writes? I had a massive argument with my kids.
Benji Dhillon: Listen they may want to be a dentist or a surgeon in the future.
Payman: Yeah but I mean writing, writing’s so 1997 isn’t it? My kid goes to a French school and they have to write three different types of writing. Italic thing. And yet no computer classes. And let’s face it, our kids won’t even be looking at computers, they’ll have some sort of.
Benji Dhillon: Absolutely Google Glass or something.
Payman: And yet writing away.
Benji Dhillon: I completely agree with you. My kids are fortunate they do have computer classes but I think all those things do is teach hand eye coordination is developing–
Prav Solanki: Motor skills.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah it’s developing multi-skills. So I want them to do those kind of things. But I don’t want them having a phone yet.
Prav Solanki: What’s the right age?
Benji Dhillon: That’s a good question.
Payman: It’s when all their friends get one.
Benji Dhillon: I have in my head 30 years old. In reality I don’t, I think once they get to 15, 16.
Payman: No no but at 11 all of her best friends will have phones.
Benji Dhillon: Oh they have them now. Nine years old my daughter’s year. Not all of them there’s probably a handful that do. And listen, that’s the parent’s decision, I would never say it’s wrong, I just don’t want it for my daughter just yet. It may happen at 13. I think it’s hard to know until you get to that time.
Prav Solanki: Protective fathers, boyfriends.
Benji Dhillon: Don’t get me on that. Me and my wife argue about that.
Prav Solanki: Let’s do it.
Benji Dhillon: Oh god now I feel uncomfortable.
Prav Solanki: What age?
Benji Dhillon: Oh god.
Prav Solanki: What’s the process?
Benji Dhillon: The process that’s a really good question. Listen it could happen without me knowing, I’m open to that all right.
Prav Solanki: Of course it is.
Benji Dhillon: I think it’s down to them, I don’t think there’s, in my head I don’t have a right age for them to have a boyfriend. Clearly you don’t want it too young right? But I want to equip them to make those decisions when the time is right.
Prav Solanki: Your daughter comes home, 14 years old from school and says, “Daddy I’ve got a boyfriend.” How’d you deal with that?
Benji Dhillon: I think my wife would probably scream at her before I do. How do I deal with it? Sit her down, I’ll understand who, what, why, when. I would in my eyes at 14 I don’t.
Prav Solanki: My hormones are racing Daddy.
Benji Dhillon: Oh god don’t, honestly I’m sweating thinking about it right now. Really difficult. I honestly don’t know how I’d deal with it until the time.
Prav Solanki: The reason I’m asking is my daughter came home at that age and said, “What do you think about boyfriends, what’s the right age?” 35. I said absolutely right?
Prav Solanki: If ever happen, I don’t want you to hide it I want you to feel like you can come and talk to me about it. And the next day she came and told me about her boyfriend Jasper.
Payman: And the day after that Jasper was gone.
Benji Dhillon: He wasn’t around anymore. I know he has a dark side to him.
Prav Solanki: But I think in these situations certainly as a father of three daughters myself it’s one of those things that’s always in the back of your mind, you discuss it with your wife, but you can never prepare for it until it actually happens.
Benji Dhillon: No you can’t. I think you hit the nail on the head. You’ve got to have a relationship where they feel comfortable talking to you about anything and everything. I have to admit one of my, I think I sometimes scare my girls a little bit, where I think one of them put a bit of nail polish on and they actually hid their hands from me. I’ve had to address that. It’s just because of the way I was brought up. I have a little sister, my dad was very much like that. But I’ve got to change. Yeah you don’t know how to deal with it.
Benji Dhillon: We were driving back from my daughter’s birthday the other night, the nine year old, four girls in the car, we’re driving back home, all talking in the car and I was listening to the radio and then all of a sudden I heard about kiss boy in the same sentence so I know these kids, I know their parents I was like, “Oh my god.” Getting nervous. And they started talking about kiss, one of the girls asked who’s kissed a boy? Bless them three of the girls go, “Oh the only boy I’ve kissed are my daddy or my brother.” I was like oh thank god. One of the girls she said, “Oh there was this boy I like, he wanted to kiss me and it didn’t happen.” But it was a conversation happening at that age already. Yeah I hope I can be as good as you dealing with that.
Payman: How about as a boss I mean you’ve never been a boss I guess I don’t know you’ve had people-
Benji Dhillon: I’ve had to manage people yeah but never been a true boss.
Payman: What kind of boss do you think you’re going to be?
Benji Dhillon: I’m actually really looking forward to that. I think I’ll be fair. I want to be fair. I want to be inspiring and I want to help people achieve their goals in work and outside of work. One of the nicest things I’ve heard within my industry is a clinic owner whoever comes in, whoever she takes on, one of the first things she asks is what is it you would like to achieve outside of work? A girl came in and said, “I want to buy my own house.” She goes okay we’re going to work towards that, I’m going to help you. And she did, she helped to achieve her dream by helping her structure things financially. That’s the kind of direction I want to go in.
Payman: Firm boss?
Benji Dhillon: When it’s needed. Yeah I think coming back to that patient experience, if there’s any compromise on the quality of delivery of anything to do with the clinic, I think that’s when I’ll be firm.
Payman: About this, me and Prav we’re talking about the differences between the way he runs his people and the way I run my people and I think actually when I really come down to it, I’m probably better employee than I am as a boss.
Prav Solanki: I agree. It’s like stepping into a community centre.
Payman: As an employee no it’s kind of having someone to report to. By the way, I love being my own boss. But having someone to report to, having external, someone checking up on me is actually good for me. And I’m very close with my team but at the same time when you’re very close with your team it’s hard to tell them off. And we’re talking about hiring and firing, very difficult thing. But it’s interesting because it’s very different working with people when you’re all working for someone else and you think you’re great even though it might be your nurse. And at the same time you’re not the boss and actually being their boss.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I could totally see that. It’s stepping into new water for me. I’m fully aware how I like to think about it in my head is I do want to be a bit like you, I want to friendly and inspiring form for my employees. I think the one thing I want to be is.
Prav Solanki: Sorry I just have to laugh there when you said inspiring.
Benji Dhillon: So inspiring.
Prav Solanki: I came here from Manchester this morning. I was at Haymen’s office before he was. He lives 20 minutes away.
Payman: But I went to bed before you woke up. Just before.
Benji Dhillon: Well I tell you what I walked in and saw the tennis table, that’s great stuff to have for your employees right? But I guess both of you have got your own businesses. I see there’s fledgling businesses as another child. I think when anyone messes with that I think that really bug the hell out of me and I’ll protect that little child as much as I can.
Payman: But you know how your kid does something silly and you start making excuses for your kid.
Benji Dhillon: See I don’t do that.
Payman: It’s that friend. You end up making excuses for your business as well.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah that’s true.
Payman: I catch myself doing it all the time. Have you got a longer term plan than this one clinic are you thinking lots of them? Or are you not.
Benji Dhillon: No no that’s the ambition, I’d love to you know if the brand works, if the patient journey works, yeah I’d love to take this to other sites 100%, that would be the dream but I want to make the first one work.
Prav Solanki: If your 20 year old self knowing what you know today.
Benji Dhillon: I’ll be honest, I would go back to 18, I’d go study dentistry.
Prav Solanki: Seriously?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah yeah. Honestly speaking.
Prav Solanki: Why?
Benji Dhillon: I would go back and do dentistry, not because I think there’s anything wrong with my career but I think dentistry rather than medicine allows a fusion between clinical work and being an entrepreneur a lot more than medicine does. And it’s actually getting into what I’m doing now that I’m really enjoying the business side of it. It really, it gets me excited. I love the clinical side, that’s my passion but it’s adding this extra element. And I wish I could have done that years ago. And I think dentists have that exposure.
Payman: Earlier on.
Benji Dhillon: Earlier on. And actually some of the stuff dentists can do, it’s incredible. It’s life changing as well. It could have been I would have become dual trained but yeah I would have probably considered dentistry more than I did. For me, dentists were, I hate to admit this, but dentists were failed medics when I was that age. But actually…yeah typical medic right? But actually dentists have an incredible career.
Prav Solanki: The anatomy class of the neck.
Benji Dhillon: That led to it’s own problems.
Payman: I really didn’t expect you to say that. But how about your brand as a cosmetic doctor. Do you play on the doctor?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah yeah absolutely. Being doctor-led with my background and experience, absolutely make a play on that. It’s years of experience, knowledge within the field that is important to the field that is important to the patient at the end of the day.
Payman: By the way are you handling their marketing? So we’ll see how quickly how patients come. Obviously you’ve got all of the best working on your marketing. But at the beginning, this is one bit of advice I’d give you for first time you go into business, the first year expect complete carnage, expect to lose all the money. If you don’t great.
Benji Dhillon: I can imagine.
Prav Solanki: It’s a bonus right?
Benji Dhillon: Yeah I’m well prepared.
Payman: Carnage. In fact first two three years. One of my friends he started a nuclear power station.
Benji Dhillon: Okay so he hasn’t gone small either.
Payman: No big player but he told me it’s going to take four years before that thing works. And in medicine sometimes we expect things to work straight away. And it’s not just that you’ve got to take a lot, some people don’t. But it takes a few years before you get into the rhythm of what you’re actually, your actual USP and that actual community. And when you find the right person. Now you’ve got craft and carry, patients will be coming in day one but expect it.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah no absolutely.
Prav Solanki: The thing is with business my biggest struggle is people right. Always right. So you may find this superstar employee and then for some reason they relocate.
Payman: My buddy with the nuclear power station, I said, “How the hell do you go about opening a nuclear power station?” And he said, “Believe me nowhere near as hard as if I had lots of employees.” And apparently it doesn’t take many employees.
Benji Dhillon: It’s all computers and automated.
Payman: Machines yeah. People are the hardest.
Benji Dhillon: Mom and dad had their own business years ago.
Payman: What did they do?
Benji Dhillon: They ran nursing homes, nursing and rest homes. And one thing that kept them up at night was people. And it’s sort of like saying someone leaves who’s amazing and all of a sudden you’ve got a massive hole.
Prav Solanki: Benji it’s your last day on this planet, and you can’t take anything with you and you’re going to leave behind one thing which is a note, and what do you want people to remember you by in that note? Benji was…
Benji Dhillon: That’s a good question. You love these difficult questions don’t you? That really revolve, reveal a person’s character. What would I leave?
Prav Solanki: How would you like somebody to remember you?
Benji Dhillon: I think first and foremost as a family man. Benji loved his family, his best.
Prav Solanki: Love that.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah they’re the two things that I would like to stand for.
Payman: Desert island type questions. So house on fire, you’ve saved your family, what’s the one thing you pick up on your way out?
Benji Dhillon: That’s a really good questions as well, things I’ve never considered. The one thing I’d take from home.
Prav Solanki: Olympus sweatshirt of course.
Benji Dhillon: No I never got that. My god that’s a really good question. I’d probably take kill us, I mean contrary to what we said earlier, I’d probably take my phone. It’s got all pictures of all my family on it. Memories. Because we don’t have photo albums anymore do we?
Payman: Of course we don’t.
Benji Dhillon: It can’t be the memories.
Payman: You’re not on the Cloud then?
Benji Dhillon: Some of it is on the Cloud yeah. It’s the memories right which you can’t replace. One thing I’d take.
Payman: Totally. Been lovely having you.
Prav Solanki: Been a pleasure.
Benji Dhillon: It’s been fun, been a lot of fun.
Payman: It really has and meeting you today for the first time today for me it’s been a real pleasure.
Benji Dhillon: Thanks for having me.
Prav Solanki: Appreciate it.
Payman: Thanks so much for coming.
Benji Dhillon: Thanks for difficult questions. Cheers.
Payman: Big big big luck with the project. What’s it going to be called by the way?
Benji Dhillon: Define.
Payman: Oh nice.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah Define.
Payman: I was going to call a product define.
Benji Dhillon: Oh were you?
Payman: Five years ago. I’ve got a really nice logo for it if you want.
Benji Dhillon: Oh really I might need it.
Prav Solanki: [crosstalk]
Payman: Excellent. Prav’s just taking a selfie.
Benji Dhillon: Yeah he’s going to edit us out.
Benji Dhillon: No lovely cheers.
Speaker 4: This is Dental Leaders. The podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Paymon Langroudi and Prav Solanki.