From humble beginnings in a two-up, two-down in Birmingham, Saaqib Ali has gone on to create the city’s largest practice with a list of over 52K patients.

In this week’s episode, Saaqib talks about how his upbringing has shaped his definition of success. He reveals how he capitalised on the lull in business during lockdown to pull ahead of the competition and discusses how kindness pays off in practice for team members and patients.  



In This Episode

03.50 – Backstory and upbringing

29.06 – Rishi Sunak

32.32 – University and discovering dentistry

46.29 – Defining success

01.03.26 – Post COVID

01.13.10 – Culture and kindness

01.24.07 – Retaining associates

01.34.50 – Blackbox thinking

01.55.31 – Fantasy dinnerparty


About Saaqib Ali

Saaqib Ali graduated from Guy’s Hospital London in 1999. He is the principal dentist at Sherwood Dental practice—one of the Midlands’ largest mixed practices. 

It was a video that I saw where a chap he puts ping pong balls into a jar and then he puts gravel around the ping pong balls and he’s asking the students, is the jar full? And they keep saying, Yes it is. And then after the gravel he puts sand in and then he pulls two cans of beer into it goes, is it form? I go yes. And it goes. The ping pong balls represent your personal success. And he goes, you know, he goes, The gravel is stuff like your business, your sand are the bits that don’t matter. Because if you put your gravel or sand in first, you’re not going to have room for your personal matters. And I think one of the students puts his hands up and goes, But sir, what what are the two beers about? And he goes, You should always make time to have a couple of beers with your friends. So I think I think people transition. And I think when I first qualified, it was trying to my version of success was to be financially secure, own a business. You know, as I’ve got older, you know, I don’t think money interests me anymore.

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.

Selling cake gives me great pleasure to welcome Dr. Saqib Ali onto the podcast. Saqib is the principal of Sherwood Dental in Hall Green in Birmingham. What can only be described as a behemoth of a practice. 11 surgeries, one of the biggest NHS contracts in the area, and massive private element as well. Actually 70% private apex predator Invisalign. Actually, I should use the right word tonight. What is it? Apex. What I give Tony.

It’s an apex Invisalign provider. So that’s the top 1% in Europe.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I met you Saqib on many small makeover, and we still talk about it in our team. We still talk about that. That MSN when you were there because you just made it so much fun for everyone when you came with your wife, Farrah. And it was it was just a party from beginning to end because you were there. And now that you told me you’ve been on these other courses, I’m going to go ask the others. Was it the same for them as well? It’s a massive pleasure to have you, buddy.

Thank you so much for having me, Payman. It’s a great pleasure to be invited to talk on such an amazing podcast. I feel like a fraud. I think that said to you earlier that some of the guys you interview are heads of industry real leaders. So I feel like a slight fraudster being invited onto your podcast because, you know, it’s just little me in Birmingham doing my own little thing. So but going back to your course, it was one of the best courses that I’ve ever been on. It was so much fun. The social aspect of it was just, you know, out of this world, the people that were on the course, it was such a good vibe. I’ve been on many courses, and I must admit yours just head and shoulders was at the top of my list.

It it was. I think it was you who you who made it fun.

You guys were just amazing. It was just the energy in the room was just phenomenal. The people were just amazing. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

Brilliant. Second man, listen up. We start these things usually with Back Story. Where were you born? Yeah. Why did you become a dentist? What kind of household did you grow up in? That sort of thing?

Well, I’ve got a typical Asian immigrant story. My father was a factory worker. And my mother was a seamstress for co-op, so she used had a small cottage industry where a man would drop off shirts to have collars sewn onto them, and she’d distribute them with the other ladies in the area. And so these collars onto the shirts and my dad would go to Braco, which was a factory, and he’d work sort of almost double shifts just to get some money. And so we all live there are five of us children. I was the youngest, second youngest, and we all lived in a two up to down terraced house. So we were very poor. Growing up. Didn’t have a lot at all. I think as time went on, my father started to have problems with his back. And my mother, who was a very clever woman, she’s the main driving force behind all of my brothers and sisters, attaining educations, quite a high level. So my brothers and sisters, all five of us, either doctors or dentists, and she was a teacher back home in Pakistan. And so she was very driven to educate her children. It was the reserve of the rich in Pakistan and India that only wealthy could afford to educate their children. And so she really pushed to give her credit. She also pushed very hard for my sisters to become educated where most of the men within our community and local vicinity would say, well, no, you don’t send your daughters to university or to go on to higher education. You get them married off fairly young. So she thought, I need to get my husband out of this backbreaking factory work.

And so she saw a shop that was for sale, but it was an off licence. And we’re from a muslim background. But she took the plunge and said, Right, let’s buy this corner shop. We’re going to run this shop that still did some factory work in the background. Still went working at the factory, but didn’t do as many hours as she was doing before. So we moved to an area called Radford. So we lived in Foals, which is a big Asian area in Coventry, and then we moved to this off licence. And that off licence facilitated Mum and Dad paying for us to go on to higher education and studying. And so I had a really happy childhood. You know, we were there up until the age of eight, you know, we’d go out and play on the streets to ten, 11:00 at night. You know, we were running the shop. So, you know, it’s the first time I learnt to work as part of a team, you know, Mum, Dad would come back with a car full of cash and carry stuff and you’d have your brothers and sisters and you’d literally learn to, you know, get the stuff in and you’d have to pull it in the right place ready for it to be put on the shelves. So, you know, at the age of seven or eight, you know, I’d been lifting quite heavy groceries and packages out of the car. So it’s quite at the age of seven or eight was very strong for my age. And in fact, I probably hit puberty at eight. You know, I had a beard and one eyebrow, everything. And part of that was that there was any kind of motivation.

If you weren’t hoping you’d get a slap and it would be, hurry up, you need to pull your weight and get this stuff in. And so, you know, it was a brilliant childhood. I look back and that was the fondest part of my childhood, I would imagine, and we’d go out with play in the streets and, you know, some of the older lads would pair us up and we’d literally do bare knuckle boxing. He’d pair us up the two older kids, Rabbani and Liaquat, and they’d say, Right, you’re fighting him, you’re fighting him. And we’d be fighting each other. And you’d come in and you dare not say anything to your mum and dad because if you said came in crying or upset, you’d get clipped around the ear, you know. But we were tough kids, but we had lots of fun. There was lots of love in our house, even though we didn’t have much. But part of it was also that, you know, Mum and Dad were very strict, very strict. So an example is we were having an extension being done and I jumped off a pile of wood and had a six inch nail go through my foot and there was blood coming out of my foot and I was too scared to tell my mum and dad and I came in and sat down and there’s a pool of blood around my foot. My mother noticed that and instant reaction was clipped me around the ear saying, What have you been doing? And in the end we ended up going to hospital and having a tetanus injection. So. But yeah, very fond memories of my childhood.

Do you feel like you knew you were underprivileged in any way or not? Because as a child you had nothing to compare it with when you’re just there?

No, I think I was oblivious to it. I think I was completely oblivious because we were happy. We didn’t know anything different. So, you know, it was, you know, a warm and loving household. And I think at the age of eight, my mother decided to move us again because a post office and General stores had come for sale. And my mother said, Oh, you know, I really like this. And my father is very risk adverse. You’re saying, No, no, we’re fine with the shop, you know. And mother thought, Well, my children are getting older and we’re Muslim. We shouldn’t really be profiteering from the sale of alcohol. And as the children get older, I don’t want them around alcohol. And so she thought this was a good move. And at the age of eight, we moved to a place called Tall Hill in Coventry. And unfortunately, Tall Hill is a quite socioeconomically deprived area and we moved to this post office in general stores, but we were the first Asian family that had moved to that area and distinctly even to this day. I remember I was eight years old. First night there, all of the shop windows got smashed. There was a group of lads outside the shop shouting because we lived above and behind the shop shouting, Pakis, go home. And my dad had his tyres slashed on his car. So as an eight year old boy, that was very. Traumatic for me because I’d come from, you know, a background where I could go out and play till late at night with my friends.

Everyone knew everyone to know. My mom wouldn’t let us out the house. She can’t go out. And then we were sent also to a Church of England school. So we were the first Asian kids to go to this Church of England school. And on the first day, my brother and I both got suspended because someone had sworn at my brother, made some racial remark and attacked him. And I’d walked into the playground and we were strong lads because we’d been moving, you know, boxes of packs of 20 2kg sugar packs, lifting them. So we were strong and we used to fight a lot when we were younger with the lads. So we were like bare knuckle championship boxers at the age of eight we could handle ourselves, so we sort of battered this kid quite badly. There’s blood everywhere. First day we got suspended, got sent home. And so that was a baptism of fire in that we went from a very stable, loving environment where we felt secure. And then we’d ended up in a school where the children didn’t like us because we were different. We couldn’t go out in the evening, couldn’t play outside the house, and we had this pub opposite the shop, so you’d get drunk people coming into the shop that were very aggressive. And so my childhood stopped at eight, you know, and I look back at it and you are so frightened.

To what tactic? What what tactic did you use?

I think part of it was that, you know, you just internalised that you didn’t want to show weakness. You don’t want to show your sisters that you’re frightened or upset. And as we got older, you know, we started to fit into the community because my father would be in place of issuing gyros to people. So people got snow. My dad people got to know my mum. And part of it, too, I started to work in the shop. I’d be on the till mopping, topping up, going to the cash and carrier before I went to school. And I’d have to put all the groceries out for my mum and dad. People got to know us, so we sort of settled into the community and that sort of aggression and violence settled down. I think, you know, Mum and Dad at that point, my brothers and sisters who were older had all been sent to a very good school in Coventry called Bad Lake. It was a private school. And I remember I didn’t pass the 11 plus. I was the thicker in the family. They were all super bright kids. I think my sister had a scholarship. My other sister had a half scholarship. My brother had got in, passed the 11 plus of flying colours. I think I just failed it or just missed out. And so I was sent to a local comprehensive for about a week. And then my mother said, right.

One evening she goes, You’re coming with me. And I said, Where are we going? She’s going to stop asking questions. You’re coming with me. And she took me to ballet to meet the headmaster there. And this chap called Mr. Barker. Really, really nice guy Wharton, and just said that. Don’t say anything. She sat there and she said to Mr. Barker, she goes, I can’t drop my three kids at your school and him at another school on the other side of the city at the same time. And she goes, Look at him, you know. And she goes, It’s stupid, stupid. Look, I don’t look this, but he’s looking at me. And she goes, I know he didn’t pass the exam, but I brought you a little gift. And would you just please consider whether you can get him in? You know, I don’t mind paying full fees for all the kids. Just please let him in so he can be with his brothers and sisters. And I remember Mr. Barker who took out this bottle of whisky, 20 year old bottle of whisky, and Mr. Barker took the whisky, put it in his top drawer, and said, Mrs. Ali, send him to school on Monday. And that’s how I got into it. So, you know, I hadn’t passed anything. And that’s how I got into bad luck. And again, it may have been a mistake because I was always just bottom of the class.

I couldn’t keep up with these kids. They were really bright. They were very clever. And I remember I felt bad because my dad and mum and dad would work really hard to send us there. And I remember one of the parents evenings, and I think part of it, you know, people meet me and say, I’ve got a great sense of humour and I’m a bit of a comedian. And I think part of that stemmed from fact. I was trying to hide the difficulty I was having academically, so it’d be a bit of a joker, you know, and. I remember one parent’s evening, the teacher, my form tutor, Mr. Long, who just hated my Latin tutor and form tutor. And he didn’t like me because always messing around. Sat me down and he’d invite my mum in and big parents in there about 1520 desks in the hall. All the teachers and the parents were there and they were inviting parents up in pairs to talk to them. Mr. Long sits down with my mum, who’d come in and she goes, Oh, your son is more interested in making people laugh than he is studying. He’s a bit of a joker. At which point my mum glared at me. Just Joker. You’re a joker. And then she stood up, took her slipper off and started to beat me.

And right there in front of the teacher.

Yeah, the whole sign. All parents teacher, turn around going, What the hell is going on? Mr. Long had to physically restrain my mother, pull her off me, and then I ran. The next day I went to school. I was so embarrassed. And Mr. Long after that, he was so nice to me because I think he thought I came from an abused home. And he was saying, Sir, are you okay? Is there anything I can do? And it sort of switched. And at that point I sort of knuckled down a bit and I was just worried my mom would batter me again in front of everyone. So I just knuckled down, studied past my GCSEs. I got okay grades, and then I went on to do my A-levels. But again, I was slightly dyslexic. And the other thing I was very poor compared to the other kids. I remember my dad had a 20 year old Volvo estate with rusty wheel arches roof rack that we’d use for the cash and carry. And also Dad dropped me down the road. Drop me down the road, Don’t drop me outside the school because everyone had really nice cars and know it all stopped me at the door saying, No, sir, you need to be proud of who you are. And yeah, drop us at the door in it. And everyone had very nice suits next. Everyone had next suits. And I remember I had a tuxedo blazer. I couldn’t afford a proper suit, so I used to wear a tuxedo blazer with silk lapels. But the thing is, no one would take the mickey because I play a lot rugby. And I was quite sort of tough, mentally tough. And, you know, my reaction was just to punch people if they took the mickey. I just had a short fuse. And I think partly that was perhaps some of the aggression I’d been exposed to as a younger child moving to where we’d moved to.

I’m interested in a few things in what you’ve said there. Number one, your mum seems like a real entrepreneur, like pure bred entrepreneur type.

Oh sheesh. She would have.

Fully. Do you think you got elders crying? You got that from her as well?

Definitely. Definitely. You know, working, you know, I think for a.

Muslim woman in the seventies or whenever that was here to do the things that you’re saying quite, quite, quite, quite unusual, right. Oh, quite.

Unusual. Phenomenal woman, Phenomenal woman. You know, the stuff that she should should be the mother is only about four foot two and should be wearing a shivakumar who’s driving a Volvo estate that was just packed to the rafters, plus the roof rack full of shop stuff. You’ve been to the cash and carry, you know, and we’d be sat in the back with your face pressed against the back window because the car was full of so much stuff, you know, no seat belts, none of that, you know, And she could barely see over the steering wheel of this car and she’d drive it, you know, to the centre of town. You know, there are lots of flyovers in Coventry and she’d just get it still is a very remarkable shop woman. She’s had a couple of strokes now, but she’s still a sharp still. Now she’ll say to me, Saqib, grow your hands, my mum, but she will grow it on one side. Come over and say, Mum, I’m not going to do that and you need to lose some weight. And you know, you sing, Mum, I’m a married man, I’ve got children, you know, Stop telling me off. In our corner and she’ll spend the first half hour. You never call just telling me off. She still does it now, you know. But even if you don’t, you know.

You know, the sort of the the stick and carrot sort of approach to parenting. And I speak to quite a lot of Asian guys on this show and the people of our generation, mine and yours, it seems like it was all stick and no carrot.

Big stick and a just as well about a slipper. Yeah, but that’s on paper.

That sounds like quite a harsh upbringing, but nonetheless, no one ever thinks back and says I was abused or you know, that’s just not in the vocabulary. Is that not is it is it that there was it came the slipper came with a bunch of love Is that the.

Yeah I think there was some in there somewhere but my brother went to Leicester University, studied medicine, so did my two older sisters and they did a course or a module on physical abuse and signs of physical abuse and harm and this, that and the other. And I remember my brother came home and said to my dad, Dad, I think you used to hit us too much when we were kids. It was abuse. And my dad dad was drinking a cup of tea and he stopped and he looked across and I was sitting there. He says, Son, I wish my dad beat me twice as much as I ever beat you. If I could be a doctor today, you know? And I thought, Go on, Dad. Yeah, as one. You can’t argue with that. So But yeah, I think it was sort of at school. I really struggled academically. I was quite good at rugby, So I remember I got into the school team and then I played for Coventry under 18 and I got sent to Warwick County trials as well. But I remember Mum and Dad never came to watch. Not once did they come to watch me, whereas I, you know, my daughter the other day I booked off the day to good Afternoon to go and watch play netball and she was the reserve, she was standing on the sidelines but I was there every match she has hockey, netball.

I go to it because I know my mum and dad never came and they were busy, they were working, they were paying for those school fees. And so, you know, there’s a debt to them that I cry when I pay my school’s school fees and I’ve only got two kids, you know, And I think, well, they had four kids at that time at a private school, you know, on the salary of a postmaster and a greengrocers shop. So we didn’t have holidays, We didn’t go to the cinema, we didn’t have takeaways. You know, the first time I actually went to a cinema was when I went to university. The first time I ate in a restaurant was when I went to university. And I remember, you know, I was, you know, I’d be the sort of guy that would be going, Can you warm up my gazpacho soup? It’s cold. You know, I’d be the guy that ordered fish in and there was a fish knife, and I didn’t know how to use the fish knife to take the bones out of the fish. It was it was just a very.

Very feel it. Did you then feel it? I mean, let’s let’s go into the the sort of the strengths and weaknesses of of that upbringing, right. Where let’s say you guys didn’t have as much money as your as your peers. Your peers tends to be sort of the thing we measure it on, isn’t it? So there are definite there are definite advantages to that. Yeah. That where you know, I was very aware maybe it’s a cliche you value money more or whatever. Well, you.


But then, but then, but.

Then is there anything that.

Anything that you sort of left over.

In what sense?

As in as okay, we know like being brought up like that. Yeah. You value you value money, you value the nice things you have in your life and so forth. Yeah, but do you feel like that there was there was also it was a weakness as well. Now, coming from that background, do you wish you’d come from a different background or what aspects of it not advantages. What aspects of it cause a weakness now? Anything.

I think it’s not. A weakness now, I think. It’s a strength because I think you end up being sensible with money so far. My wife came to, came from a very different background, talked to me. She both her parents were teachers. Her mother went to university in this country. And so she grew up in an environment where she had holidays and she could do all of these nice things. And, you know, her parents were very well educated. And so she moved in different circles to what I did. So it’s only when FA and I got married, you know, for example, we went on a honeymoon. I’d never been on a boat until I married four and we went on honeymoon together and she couldn’t catch her breath. And she goes, Have you ever been to the beach before? And I went, Well, no, I haven’t. I’ve never been to the beach and I’ve never been on a boat. And she goes, Well, you might feel a bit sick. And it was great because we got on this boat and went to look at some dolphins, and I was like a kid in a candy store. I’d never done anything like this before. I was chatting to the captain, the passengers. I was trying to touch the dolphins far, far. It was just violently sick for the entire journey. She was pregnant at the time as well, but she was just very, very unwell. Yeah, I think it was ten months into our marriage.

We hadn’t gone anywhere on holiday and she kept saying, Let’s go on honeymoon. You’ve not taken me on honeymoon. And my waste of money could be at work earning. You know, these are things you can do later, you know. And I think Farrugia said to me, If you don’t take me on honeymoon, I’m going to leave you. You’re just going. You have to take me somewhere nice. And and I was scared of flying. I hadn’t been on a plane. I’d been on a plane once prior to that. And I remember she booked a flight to St Lucia. That’s where we went on our honeymoon. And for 9 hours I just clung on to the seat in front of me, you know, just frozen with fear. And I got off the plane and I just remember kissing the ground. I literally knelt down. I couldn’t understand how something so big could go in the air and not crash or, you know, And yeah, so I think it taught me to value the money I earn. And it also taught me to offer value for money to patients I treat. I don’t even if it’s £50 or £100 patient spending with me or 15 or £20,000, I value the £50,050 just as much as the 15 or 20. And the people get the same level of attention, love and care, regardless of what they spend with me. So I think there was a positive that came from that poverty that I experienced.

Yeah, I get that. But what was the negative? So, I mean, my point is far it didn’t have that poverty or your kids don’t have that poverty. Yeah. So what is it that your kids do have that you don’t.

I don’t necessarily think there was a negative aspect because that was life. You know, I can’t change what happened at that time. I can’t change the wealth that we had or what we experienced. But I think it shaped me. I think I always look at things or try to look at things from a positive viewpoint. You know, I don’t think there’s a negative. I think perhaps if there was one negative, you know, I only learnt to relax much later on in life. I’d always work hard, you know, to hard. Yeah. And, but I think that’s a positive to have that grit and determination. I don’t see it as a negative necessarily.

We’re going to move on. We’re going to move on. We’re going to move on to your to your university journey. But before we do that, how did it feel when you saw Rishi Sunak I know he’s not Muslim, but an Asian becoming prime minister. And then you’ve got people like Sadiq Khan, you’ve got people like I know Sajid Javid. You know the difference between that situation and the situation where your dad had his tyres sliced or, you know, windows broken. Did you did you feel it? Did you think, Wow.

I think what was interesting at that time I was chatting to Farah. His brother is a councillor in Leicester. And I remember chatting to him and a few other guys who knows when Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak were competing for the post of Prime Minister. One of the guys I remember, we were sitting, chatting and he said, They’re not going to hand the chai wallah the keys to ten Downing Street.

Yeah, I didn’t think I would.

Be taken aback by that statement. I thought, okay. And then ultimately Liz Truss came in, even though I think Rishi Sunak was a stronger candidate on paper with his background and the things that he’d done throughout COVID. But Liz Truss spectacularly failed and Rishi Sunak came in. So I think when he did come in, I think the sort of. It was nice to see an Asian chap in charge, but I think ultimately, you know, you had President Obama already had almost beaten to the punch in America. So someone from an ethnic minority running a country is great to see. But I think ultimately, you know, his legacy will be based on what he actually delivers as opposed to the colour of his skin.

Of course, of course that, of course that. But, you know, I think you’ve got to remember America is very different place to the UK. I don’t think the Conservatives would be up to it, to tell you the truth myself. And they didn’t, as you say, they didn’t vote him in. It was kind of a boot. But, you know, I just I’m interested in the idea of someone who watched what happened to your family under those circumstances and then to watch in Asia, you know, did you feel that whether or not you support him or his politics or anything? Did you feel a sort of sentiment of achievement? I felt pride about it.

Well, I must admit I was, you know, pleased that he got in. And it’s nice to see an Asian chap, you know, that at the pinnacle. But even then, it’s a job that nobody wanted. So, so so ultimately, it’s a very strange it’s a very it’s almost a poison chalice. Who would want the job in their right mind in with the current state of the economy and, you know, after what happened with this trust. So ultimately, it’ll be interesting if he stays in power and moving forward. You know, he’s challenged by somebody else later down the road. But we’ll see. We’ll see. But yeah, So.

Tell me about tell me about university. Tell me about your college. You said you went to guys.

Yeah. Yeah. So? So I think when I did my A-levels, I actually failed them. I got I didn’t get the grades, get into dental school, and then I think my career master at the time had said that you won’t make it into dentistry, you’re not bright enough to do it. And I ended up going to retake college in Toll Hill. That was up the road from my mom shop and I did my economics retake at one College Hill College, and then there was Heroine College next door, which was a college for people with disabilities. So they’d run A-level courses alongside. They had one person that had a disability within the class. And so I was doing my A-level retakes and erm the lady in the class that had the disability had polio as a child, she was a mature student and halfway through the course she wanted to give up, she didn’t want to do it anymore. And our tutor Trevor at the time said, look guys, if she leaves the course is going to shut down. So from that day on, like we were there buying her cakes at lunchtime, bringing a cup of tea, Can I carry your bag for you? And she, she, she stayed. Thankfully she stayed and we all passed around. But I went from a very posh private school to this retail college where basically anyone that failed their A-levels or dropped out, they’d get sent to this school. And there are a lot of Asian kids that their parents would drop them off. The girls would come out wearing traditional kameez, they’d go into the toilets, get changed into mini skirts and lippy, and they’d go out to go to the pub opposite, get hammered, come back and they’d be sobering up on the lawn.

And I remember when we did my economics A-level, they were kicking a football off the window constantly, and I remember putting my hand up saying, You need to tell the people marking these papers. This is the environment in which we were taking exam papers because this isn’t fair. They’re smashing a football repeatedly for the best part of half an hour, and they knew we were doing an exam. It was that sort of place. But I just wanted to get out there. I tried to pass my A-levels and so I worked really and I think I got a D in an E in my economics and biology, and then I got straight A’s six months later. So and I am getting my results with my dad and he was really pissed off. I said, Dad, I got two A’s. And he goes, Well, you’ve gone to a college where I’ve not had to pay anything yet. I spent thousands on your education and you came out with a D and a NI. What have you got to be happy about? And I think that’s something that even now I say to my dad, I joke with him now and say, Dad, you never tell me you’re proud of me or you’re happy about what I’ve achieved. And he goes, You’ll get big headed. You don’t need me to tell you that.

But sometimes you do. I’ve seen this pattern. I’ve seen this pattern as well with with the parent will brag about you when you’re not around. But not. Not to your face.

Right? Never. Never. I think to this day, my dad, dad, I think I did an Instagram video with him once saying, Dad, I’ve got one of the biggest practice in Birmingham, and you’ve never told me you’re proud of me. And he didn’t say what that was yet.

So do you now do you overcompensate now with your own kids and tell them you’re proud of them all the time, every day, that sort of thing.

Oh, yeah. My kids will, you know, they’ll get two out of ten on the spelling test, and I’ll go. Well done, son, for trying. That’s awesome. And in my head, I’m thinking I’d get nine out of ten, and it would be, Well, what did so-and-so son get? You know? And why didn’t you get the same, you know, as him? And if you’re thinking you can’t win for love nor money, you know. But I think, you know, I think when I got my grades, I was so happy because my friends a year prior to me had all gone off to university and I felt like I’d been left behind. And so and I thought, great, I get to start my life. And then I was offered a place to do medicine at Leicester and with my brothers and sisters, because the dean knew my brothers and sisters quite well. And he said, Well, we’re offering unconditional place to do medicine. And I turned it down because I’d shadowed the dentist and I shadowed a GP as well. And the dentist, you know, 16, 17 chap Stuart Neville, and he used to stop at my mum’s shop to post letters, which were probably the appointment record card in a bright red Porsche 911. And I loved cars. I used to be sitting there reading car magazines, you know, so even to this day I’m mad about cars.

And, and he came into the shop one day and I was there doing my biology homework and they said, Know what you studying? I said, Biology goes, Oh, what do you want to be when you grow up? And I said, Oh, I don’t know. And he goes, Well, I go, What do you do? Because you’ve got a really nice car. And you know, I see you every day stopping to post letters because I’m a dentist, because you can work, shadow me and I’m an okay, well, I remember I went to shadow him and this guy, like he looked like Robert Redford. He was tanned, very handsome man. And he was wearing a Rolex. You surrounded by the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. His nurses and, you know, and six year old school kid. That’s very aspirational. And that stuck with me. The GP drove a battered golf. He looked miserable. He’s wearing the tweed jacket. He wasn’t surrounded by beautiful women. He didn’t have a tan. And and I thought, I want to be like this dentist. This guy is, you know, a legend. He looked like Hercules to me. I thought, Wow, you know, I’d love to be so, so, so. So I said, Right, I’m doing dentistry. And my mum cried and cried. In Pakistan, the dentist are the people that fix your shoes at railway stations.

They’re the guys that do your teeth. How am I going to tell my relatives in Pakistan? My son’s a cobbler? I say, Mom, no, it’s a better paid job. No, no, no. I don’t want you going to London. It’s too far. This, that and the other. And so reluctantly, she let me go to London and I got to guys and I was my mum was very strict growing up. I wasn’t allowed to go to parties and, you know, girls weren’t allowed to call the house. You know, she was just very, very controlling, you know, And at university, it’s the same thing. She managed to get my telephone number in the halls of residence, so she’d call me in the evening, 9:00. She called me at 930, 10:00 to check I was in. So and then I’d come back to my room. I could have gone to the toilet. Oh, your mum called. She said you need to call her back straight away. So I’d have to go downstairs to the ground floor. Mum, what’s the matter? Nothing. I’d just like to hear your voice. That’s fine. And you’d call again half an hour later. So even though it was 100 miles away, I was still grounded. I couldn’t get away. And then I remember I moved out and I wouldn’t give her the telephone landline number of place I moved into, so she’d stopped calling me.

But again, it was just her. She had very great difficulty letting go and just trusting me to go off and, you know, and rightfully so. I must admit I went mental when I got to university. I couldn’t handle the freedom. You know, I was out partying. I think I failed my first year, had to do retakes in my first I think second year I do retake exams. So when everyone else went on hold, they state university to redo the exams again. Third and fourth year I think I passed my final exams and then my finals. I actually failed. And again, you know, the guy like now I look at some of the graduates from guys that were in my year. They’re all amazing people. They’ve done so well. Some of them have got clinics, you know, on High Street. Some of them I qualified in 99. So it’s the year of 99 that came out, you know, So some of them, you know, are, you know, perio consultant implant dudes. You know, they’re they’re sort of rock stars in dentistry. So but they were exceptional people. And the thing psychologically show surrounded by I think they did a psychological experiment where they stuck loaded people in a room and they jumbled up some words and the people on the left had very difficult, complex words to try and put back together was the people on the right had much easier words, and then they gave them the same test afterwards, a different test.

But both sides had the same questions, and the first group that had the really complex words did quite badly in the second test. And I think psychologically, when you’re in an environment where you’re not top of the class and you’re at the bottom constantly, it starts to impact on your esteem. You almost don’t try as hard as you can. But I remember when I did my A-level retakes, I was top of the class and I worked even harder to maintain that level of academic success. So I think, you know, the finals were difficult for me and I failed on something really daft. I passed all of my exams except a case presentation. No one’s ever fail the case presentation at Guy’s and my patient. I’ve done some anterior composite work on his teeth and some gum gardening, some period work, and I’ve done a crown forward, and the morning of the exam, his grandson had hit him in the face with the rattle, knocking off my composites, and then he pitched up to the exam. If he hadn’t had turned up, the photos were lovely, I think I would have passed. But when he turned up, you know, they said, Well, these are broken. And then it was oh, it also included no VD.

There was some VD work. I changed the VD and the guy that was our external examiner was a guy called Prof. Wolf. He was an expert on occlusal vertical dimension. And it was confusing in that when, when I go into to clinic, one consultant would say, Well, you need to have a formative approach and then another consultant, you go on a week later and the next consultant will say, Well, no, you need to pop open the bite and allow some over eruption. And so there were sort of conflicting views and I sort of had got quite. Fuse. I didn’t quite know what I was doing, and rightfully so. They failed me. So I had to retake, I think, three of my subjects or something. But then my peers, some of my peers qualified and were the house officers on clinic. So I was having to go to some of my colleagues to get my work signed off. And some of them were, you know, really kind and considerate about it. Like I had a good friend, Bhavesh Patel. He’s still a friend of mine. Now there’s a guy called Steve Elias, and there was a huge call, Mark Phillips, that, you know, I was broken, I failed my finals. All my friends had gone off. They were earning money. I think I’d split up with my girlfriend aswell and, you know, it was like my world had just ended.

Yeah, but ultimately that that sort of stress and pressure that I felt actually made me a stronger person, you know, when I look back at it. Subsequently, when I’ve come across adversity or difficult times, I look back at that time and that time it was the end of my world. I just felt so broken at that time. But I look back at that time now almost as a reference point that it was such a catastrophic event to me that anything now very rarely does anything shake or bother me. And it made me stronger. It made me much stronger. And now I can look back at it and laugh about it. But at the time, I was very, very I was mentally very fragile at that time. But it also put a rocket, you know, up my bum to say, Right, I need to qualify and I need to prove myself. And, you know, it pushed me to go as soon as I qualified, very soon after my foundation. Yes. Six months after I set up my first practice as a squat. And I think I was the first person in my year to set up a practice, even though I’d qualified six months after all of them. So, yeah, it was a difficult time. That was a very difficult time.

How long did it take you or are you still at it? How long did it take you to prove yourself?

I think in all honesty. It was a long time. Long time. Because I think we grow into our skin. You know, I found personally I’ve probably grown into my skin probably in the last five or ten years, so probably since I’ve got married and had a family. I think prior to that I went to a very interesting lecture by Raj Ratan once and a really, really clever guy, and he talked about people that people have academic, financial and personal success or professional success, and there’s a trade off that you can financially be doing very well in your practice, you know, But the trade-off might be you don’t spend time with your family so personally you’re not very successful or you might be devoted to academia, but you’re not going to be financially very well off and personally again, you might fail, you know, and I think part of that plagiarising that slightly, I think if you when you go through life, I think, for example, I see a lot of young dentists and they’re desperate to be financially successful. So they come out the traps and they want to earn money, They want the flash car, they want the nice house, they want, you know, to buy a practice. And then often what happens is if they’re married personally, they start failing. So, you know, lots of guys, there’s some really famous dentists know that I’ve come across and I’ve met they’re not married or they’ve ended up divorced, but they’ve got an amazing practice.

You know, I’ve met guys that, you know, written papers, but they’ve got autism, severe autism. When you put them in front of a patient, they can’t communicate with the patient properly, you know? But often the sort of people that are personally successful, they’re not very often celebrated. You don’t necessarily see a happy family man with his kids. And I think there was a very interesting psychological it was a video that I saw where a chap, he puts ping pong balls into a jar and then he puts gravel around the ping pong balls and he’s asking the students, is the jar full? And they keep saying, Yes it is. And then after the gravel he puts sand in and then he pulls two cans of beer into it goes, Is it me. Yes. And he goes, The ping pong balls represent your personal success. And he goes, you know, he goes, The gravel is stuff like your business, your sand are the bits that don’t matter. If you put your gravel or sand in first, you’re not going to have room for your personal matters. And I think one of the students puts his hands up and goes, But sir, what what are the two beers about? And he goes, You should always make time to have a couple of beers with your friends. So I think I think people transition. And I think when I first qualified, it was trying to my version of success was to be financially secure, own a business.

You know, as I’ve got older, you know, I don’t think money interests me anymore. I’m more interested in personal success that do I get to see my daughter playing netball? Do I get to spend time with my son? You know, do I get to take my wife out to dinner? So. So the money is nice, but it’s secondary. So I think I’ve transitioned more towards personal, you know, And so I think professionally I’m relatively successful. You know, we’ve got a very good clinic, we’ve got some great dentists, some great patients, I’ve got a great team around me and so I can take that off. But I think, you know, I’ve transitioned from being financially successful, professionally successful to financially successful. And now I’m trying to concentrate on my personal success now, which is to look after my own health and maybe start going to the gym, try and stop smoking, you know, and spending more time with my parents who are getting older and my family and cultivating friendships, which is something I didn’t really do, you know, when I was younger, because my mum would be saying, Oh, you don’t need friends, your family or your friends, which I don’t think is true. You need your friends. And I think it’s important you seek to cultivate those relationships early on in life.

I think, you know, the getting to places, getting success, whichever way you define it, does end. Having an element of sacrifice in it. And I think what you’re discussing now is that you sometimes reject your sacrifices or your what you call success. I get that, you know, being that you’re the fourth child, four or five is all right.

I’m the fourth of five children. So after me, my parents had my sister about eight years later. And I think my mother had been told she couldn’t have any more children. And so my little sister, well, she was an accident, basically, which if you like.

The idea she was. But she was. Have you heard the idea? I’ve heard this thing, but like a billionaires or or really like super crazy, successful types of people often are fourth and fifth children. Because what happens is, you know, how we script our kids. So number one comes along and you say, Oh, she clever, clever kid, clever called you label clever on that kid. And then the kid, the positive feedback loop happens, right? So the kid sees, well, that worked more cleverness, read the book, whatever gets the pleasure pleasure of that. Number two comes along and you say, Oh, I don’t know. Sporty kicks a ball. Positive feedback. Number three comes in and say, all right, whatever it is funny. And then it ends up with number four and five. They’ve got to be super innovative to stand out. Because all the other things are taken and because they’ve got to be super innovative to stand out that that that internalises them into them. And then at work and in their careers, they’re super innovative. And, you know, sometimes I see you standing on that sofa with your Instagram doing something totally mad, Man is totally crazy. And I think about how successful that practice is, right? That, you know, some people who had a practice of that size and scale and it would be a very serious tight ship operation. And yet yours looks like a bundle of laughs all the time. Do you feel like you’ve carved you’ve carved you’ve carved a niche, carved your own personal niche? Because, you know, forgive me for saying, but you’re not your average sort of 45 year old Muslim guy, just not.

I think part of it, it goes back to maybe it’s this sort of comedic. Need. I dislike making people laugh and I think it stemmed from being a kid where in order to try and fit in with everyone else, they’d all go out and they were allowed to go out together. It’s just, you know, just a bit crazy and a bit cray cray and but, but, you know, with the practice, one of the things with our team is we have a great laugh at work. We enjoy ourselves and we do do daft and crazy things and we do Instagram videos together where we’re doing daft things, we’re jumping off sofas, we’re skidding across the floor on it, heroes and stuff. And I think part of.

It, the account, the account called what? Designer. Dentist.

Yeah, designer dentist. Design a dentist. So everyone should check that. I think I fell into that purely by accident. It wasn’t really in my wife started doing it with. She was always on her phone in the evening and I’d be sitting there, you know, candlelit dinner dressed as Papa Smurf with a spanking board ready. And she’d be ignored. She’d be on the phone Now, what are you doing? Why are you always on your phone? Oh, Instagram, Instagram. And I was thinking, well, what is this Instagram stuff? You know? And then I start started. She showed me a few things, and then I picked up a few things, but I don’t have a serious account. A lot of these Instagram accounts are very similar. They’ve got sort of photographs and, you know, they’re forced almost awkward testimonials. Yes, I came here because it was lovely, but whereas with us, we’re just a bit more relaxed. It’s sort of, you know, I don’t really care how many followers I have or how many likes I get, and I’ll post something in 5 minutes. I’ll do the work there and there, snap it, you know, we’ll do a video then, then you know, how is your journey gone, this, that and the other and bang, I’ll just post it there and then it takes me about two or 3 minutes to a post. But then I think I went to Shaz Maimane’s Instagram course and I remember sharing, showed him my Instagram account.

He says, Your Instagram account is very genuine. It doesn’t feel contrived or forced. It’s got a natural flow to it. I don’t think it will win any awards. And in a strange way, I don’t need the patients. We’ve got 52,000 patients in our practice. A lot of people come to us through personal recommendation. I don’t need to tout for business, which I’m blessed and I’m not saying that in an arrogant way, so I don’t have to take my Instagram that seriously. And I think it shows if you look at it, you know, some of my friends and colleagues, it was my birthday on Sunday, and I was amazed that, you know, when we talk about personal growth and development, when I married Father, I didn’t have many friends. I didn’t know who to invite to my wedding. And my wife was scratching their heads. How come you got no friends? I said, Well, I’ve just worked all my life, gone to work, and I’ve come home. I’ve never really gone out. I’ve gone out and partied with friends and stuff, but I’ve never cultivated deep, meaningful relationships. And over the last ten years I have done that where, you know, just for Christmas, I went away with seven of my friends and their partners and children. We stayed at a lovely luxury villa in Marrakesh and it was a lovely week together.

And, you know, their bonds and friendships that I have now that ten years ago I didn’t have. And I said to her, she said, Oh, what you want to do for your birthday? And I said, I just want to spend time with the kids and you. That’s all I want. You know, I don’t want to go to a fancy restaurant. I don’t want you to book anything. Let’s just spend time together. I had my parents join me as well, and then I had two or 300 different people messaged me to wish me happy birthday. And I sat there and I thought ten years ago, I don’t think even one person messaged me to say Happy birthday or How are you, my friend? You know, So, so. So that moved me because I thought, well, maybe I feel much more enriched and fulfilled than I did working and earn loads of money. You know, this means more to me than that did. So, you know. But yeah, but I think with the Instagram as well, because Farrah is ten years younger than I am, you know, if it wasn’t for Farrah, I don’t think I would have discovered Instagram. And it brings me much joy, makes me laugh. Some of the stuff that we do, it’s just jokes, you know, And because the whole team is involved. Yeah.

Yeah. I think it’s really good for team morale. So if you’re doing something like like we did a video where we did a video where I walk through a door, some nurses rip my gown off me and I put. Shades on. And then we start playing this rap music. And, you know, I’ve got the girls behind me waving their phones with their lights on. Seriously, if I was a patient, I think I’m not going to this guy. This guy is nuts, you know? But it’s all the girls are involved in that video. They love it because they know no one else has got their got that in their practice. They don’t necessarily have that bond. You know, my team have been with me, most of them, since the initial inception. And they won’t leave because they love it here. And, you know, people talk about, you know, inflation rates. People are talking about 10% increases in wages to beat inflation. You know, I try and look after my team as much as I can. You know, like when COVID hit, for example, you know, I. You know, topped up their wages. We had a meeting, I said, and I’ll be honest, I was frightened. I didn’t know what was going to happen. And I said, Your wages, you’re all going to get paid in full. You know, even with the furlough, I topped up their wages because I said, all this is going to die out.

But off the back of that, I remember sitting with my wife and saying, for a look, we might lose the house because I don’t know how long this is going to go on for. I remember I sold all of my cars. I had a Bentley, I had a mercedes SL 55, I had a Porsche, and I sold them and I bought a ten year old Volvo estate and I smiled. So remember, there’s a ten year old your said 100,000 miles. And I sat there and thought my dad used to drive a 20 year old Volvo estate. And your car doesn’t define who you are. I think a lot of these youngsters go, I need to buy a Porsche. I need to buy a merc or this motion, buy it on finance, or if they’ve got wealthy parents. And that sort of projection of, oh, look, I’m successful, you know, often stems from insecurity. The people that are mentally insecure, a lot of it perhaps is driven by social media where they think, do you know what? I need to show people that I’m a success, even though they finance the car to the hilt, they’re better off buying a two or three grand car that they can afford and concentrating on some of these other things, such as personal success, you know, or academic prowess, you know.

So but you’ve been there yourself. You’ve been there yourself.

Yeah. Yeah.

You know what I mean? In order to get the Bentley and the Porsche and all that, you why, why did you bother with the Bentley and the Porsche and all that, If you hadn’t had an element of that in yourself.

I brought a posh I was too embarrassed to drive. It was too flash. So if you went out to a restaurant, I said, I don’t know where I’m going to park this Porsche. I’ll be worried about it over dinner. So I’ll take one of my other cars that was older and knackered. And so I remembered the Porsche in a whole year. It did 200 miles. It was just a waste of money. It just sat there. To be fair, it went up in value. So rare it went up in value. The Bentley dropped like a lead balloon. And I remember I took it to a wedding. One of our dentists got married and I said to all the grooms, Might you all sit on the back seat on the hood? And we’ll put the bride and groom in the front and set them all down. And then the hood got broken. So when I got home, I couldn’t put the hood back on and it went back into Bentley and they picked the car up and they said, Oh, the hood’s knackered, you need a new hood. It’s 28 grand. And I saw I can’t afford this car. And then the car had depreciated ten grand on top of that in literally six months. And at that point I got the hood fixed by an independent specialist. And then at that point I thought, Oh, and COVID happened. And at that point I just got shot of it. And I said to my wife, No more fancy, if I go to buy a fancy car, just stop me. I’m just not going to do it.

But then after COVID, you had the wonderful COVID bump and we all did the whole the whole profession did very well. But you did particularly well after COVID. First of all, tell me, did you do better than the next man? I mean, did you what did you do that made it so successful? And secondly, I’m interested in did you go and buy another car or what did you then do with the money? Did you did you not.

Buy a car? I did. I did buy another car. I think I bought a g-wagon. And then father nicked it. I drove it for two weeks, then foreign nicked it. And so, yeah. So I think when COVID struck, I was worried. Three months like everyone else was. No one really knew what was going on. And then we were acquiring PPE, you know, paying extortionate rates for PPE. And at that time the government weren’t helping them. So she had to acquire her own PPE.

And so before you go before you go on, before you go on, before you go on the three months off, did you sort of take stock? I mean, outside of the worry for the business, we all had that. But did you take stock and say, well, I don’t have to work my butt off? I mean, I can I can also barbecue. I can also chill, you know, like.

No, I actually instructed my builders to start making out house and they started doing an extension on the practice. In my head, I thought COVID is going to burn out. Yeah, if I want to refurbish and remodel the practice while we’re running at full capacity, I’ll have to shut the practice down to do what I want to do. So I may as well take advantage of it being shut down. The builders can get on with their work. We did some training with our staff that I want stuff that, you know, you read about that you know, you get around to doing, you know, working more efficiently in surgery, this, that and the other. We had a whole load of notes we needed to sort out. I think at some point some of the nurses were repainting some of the surgeries and people wanted to get out, you know, and we were still manning our phones as well to give advice. So we dropped in to more surgeries. We moved our kitchen into our loft and built an academy teaching area. We built two big outhouses, remodel the garden. We had a new driveway put in. We had electric doors put in sliding doors, you know, So we were quite busy. And then when we reopened, I think prior to us reopening, I sold all my cars and then I borrowed half a million quid off the bank against my house because, you know, a friend of mine had gone bust a few years earlier. And I remember he said he said a very interesting thing.

He said to me, he said, oh, a bank are fairweather friends. They will lend you an umbrella when the sun is shining. But at the first sign of a cloud, they’re going to ask for that umbrella back. And this poor guy, he went busted a telecommunications company building phone maps. Basically they they pull the rug from under him. It was at a time where banks would make more money from stripping the assets from a company than actually waiting for you to repay the loan because they’d get their money back, sell the assets, and it was jobs for the boys and this is what happened to him. And so at the time, I had the choice of either borrowing 250 grand or half a million quid. And I thought, if this is going to go sideways, let’s just borrow half a million quid, let’s just go for it. And the thing is, since I’ve had a family, I’ve been quite risk averse. You know, I don’t want to buy the practice, I don’t do this, I don’t want to do that. But at that time. I just thought, you know what? Fuck it. If it’s gonna go, let’s just go big. Let’s go large. And I took the money and sunk it into the business. And then when COVID slowly subsided, the extra surgeries, the things that would implement it to make, you know, the flow of patients through the practice quicker and more efficient. You know, we had new computers, phone systems.

It’s very counter-intuitive move the counterintuitive move because people were scared.

They were scared. But I think at the back of my mind, I was looking at what was going on in China. I was part of a couple of study groups as well. So I think Coach Barrow had a study group going and, you know.

Daily briefings.

Yeah. And then there were I know a lot of dentists know a lot of people within the field. So I was chatting, you know, every day. I was in my office for three or 4 hours and I’d be chatting to people, you know, I’ve got some really good friends in London that have got practices, people in Birmingham, Coventry, you know, So so I was speaking to probably five or six dentists a day, you know, different fields. What are you doing? People that work for corporates, work for Portland Boots, what are they doing? What are they implemented? You know, organising the book. So, you know, so even with the team, we sat down and said, look guys, you know, we’ve got these one hour fallow times, what can we do? And then we’d source these industrial fans that could clear out a room in 15 minutes so that one hour father time was cut right down. So I think the private practices led the way in that when that happened, the private practices and the corporate big corporate side had jumped on it and they’d put protocols into place that had been adopted from America that had come over here that could negate that one hour fallow time. And so we’d set up a clever system where we had, you know, some practices, had four surgeries, then only had two dentists in working in between, one in between two surgeries, which I’d set it up. So we had two dentists working three surgeries. They do an AGP do a non AGP in the empty room. So we had a non a GP room that they’d alternate going in and out of.

So then we extended opening times from we would work from nine in the morning to ten at night. Rotating the staff through. So so that we were pulling 12 hour days in some days. But we had a 30%. We were seeing 30% normally see 200 to 250 patients a day through the clinic, and that was down to about 20 or 30. So it was a scary time. Slowly it came back, but it also helped us to become a lot more efficient. It was a blessing in disguise that we discovered things like Zoom and doing online consultations. And also when we were treating patients, you know, I brought we had 11 itero scanners in the practice. So I think we’re the only practice in the country, perhaps even Europe, to have 11 scanners for every single room has got an itinerary. And so again, we can scan infected to work. That fits immediately fits beautifully, you know, and you’re not waiting for a driver to come pick up impressions and stuff. It’s at the lab while the patient is still in the chair. And when the work comes back two or three days later, it fits straightaway, but also bumped up what the dentists were doing. So because of the exposure to an AGP, instead of just doing a filling and then come back for your crown. And it was all being done in one hit. And then when you look at the efficiency of doing all that in one hit, your underlying fixed costs actually go down, you know, because you’re not having to clean down and get your instruments out again.

Sterilise and change, you know, your scanner tips and this that you’re doing everything in one hit in one go, and then you can close the room down. So yeah, I think our revenues increase pre-COVID to now by 30%, 30 to 40% increase in turnover. But I think what was interesting was that I remember I sat down with my associate, I remember one of my I said, Look, guys, I’m going to have to reduce the percentages you’re on. We can’t pay 50% on private work If I’m a box of glove has gone up from £2 50 to 30 quid, it’s just not financially viable. And I remember my dentist and this is the test of a team that during adversity did they step up and go, Boss will support you and we trust you. And all of my team stepped up. They all said, we trust your boss, you know, and you know what you’re doing. We’ll trust you. And I am one of my said Dr.. If you show. Don’t pay me because I live with my parents. I’ve got some money in the bank. I don’t need any money. And I remember it touched me. I thought, Jesus Christ, this guy. And even to this day, you know, I remember him saying those words to me. But then I had friends that had practices. Some of their associates were saying, Oh, well, no, we’re not we’re not going to accept a low percentage and you need to pay pay me. And and it filled me with sadness that.

It’s like, what do you think? What are some of the difference between what’s the difference between your practice culturally and that other practice culturally? Is it that you respected these people for years before? Listen to.

Them. I think part of it is if you care about the people that you know, like my staff, just a draft example. One of my nurses, she sang, Oh, we were having some new computers. And she goes, Oh, do you mind if I have one of your old computers for my son? And I said, You know, and I said, Well, they’re being sent off to be destroyed in this, that and the other. And and what I did was because we had ordered about 30, 40 computers, I said to the guy, put one more on. And when we had our computers installed, I said, so we’ve got a computer left over and it’s a brand new computer. And I bought it for her son. And I gave it to him. She goes, Well, what do I for? I said, No, you can have it. Take it, you know, use it if it helps your son. You know, I didn’t have a computer and I’m going to university. I was one of the only kids that couldn’t word processor or use computer to, you know, and that felt filled me with joy and happiness to give something. And I didn’t want recognition money for it, but it made me happy in the same way that, you know. If one of my dentists gets into trouble, I’m the clinical lead, and if anything goes sideways, it gets sent to me to sort out.

So a lot of my dentists, over 20 years, they would have had two or three complaints I’ve made go away or I’ve dealt with or, you know, if they’ve needed a crown or sorted out or whatever. You know, I think people sense when you’re fair and honest with them and that they sense when you genuinely care about how they are and how they’re doing. So my staff, you know, the cleaner, the junior nurses, senior receptionists, I always stop and talk to everyone, you know. And I’ll know, for example, when my dad just come out of hospital, you know, following pneumonia and I’ll stop and check with how she died doing. Is he all right? Even if I’ve got patients waiting. How are you getting on? You know? You know, if someone’s had problems and one of my nurses had an issue with a credit card bill, they send you a thing saying, Oh, you need to deduct a source. And I said, What’s going on? She’d split it with a partner and find out she was struggling. And I said, Why don’t you said anything? Because I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to discuss it. So I paid off a credit card bill for her. And it wasn’t a lot, you know. But ultimately, that same nurse now, whenever I work with her, I come into a doctor.

That’s a particular day. Can I get you some biscuits? You know? She. There’s almost a love for them people. This were like family. I genuinely I think my staff, we treat each other like family and with care. And because we have a strong work ethic that’s come, you know, from 20 years ago and 20 years ago, I was much harsher, you know, as a boss that I wasn’t particularly compassionate. If someone was ill because their child was unwell, that bollocking, why weren’t you here? We’re trying to run a business. Whereas now I have my own children. I know what it’s like that you know, or if someone’s unwell, I’ll pay them their wages, you know, because if they’ve got mortgages and bills to pay, you know, if I lose 500 quid, 600 quid, that’s the difference between someone paying their rent. I’m not going to miss 500 quid out my wallet, you know, in a hurry. It’s still money and I do value it, but it has greater value to someone that’s in greater need. So, you know, I’m not like Jesus. I don’t walk on water and stuff like that, you know? And some of my staff will say, I can be a tough taskmaster, but. But there’s love there.

Yes, I was going to say so. I was going to say when, when, when, when push comes to shove. And you have to discipline someone or fire someone. Do you find the transition from that family love thing to the boss and disciplinarian? Quite smooth. You find you find it easy flipping?

Yeah, I think part of it goes back to being very poor, valuing people’s time. You know, people that have worked with me for a long time, I don’t suffer fools gladly. Were there, you know, were there to work and provide a professional, high quality service. And I you know, someone said to me, you offer a champagne service for lemonade money, and that stuck with me. And, you know, you know, if you’re delivering exceptional service, exceptional work. And you’re having fun along the way. I don’t mind that. If you’re messing around and not delivering. I do mind that because that to me is costing us money, you know, and it’s costing us our reputation. So. So I think my team know that I expect them to work when they’re at work. They’re there to, you know, first and foremost, they’re there to work. If friendships and fun develop out of doing that hard work, that’s great, you know, and it’s good. But I think if your team a well guided they’re happier so so people still recognise you know you know on their boss first and foremost and then you know I’m their friend second but I am their friend and one of my nurses, when we refer to move to our kitchens, she goes, Oh, what are you doing with your range cooker? There’s a brand new range cook that we had, and I said, Do you want it? And she goes, Oh yeah, but I don’t know how to get it to the house. I dropped it personally to a house with my builder, put it on my pickup, dropped it around and we fitted it for her. And whenever she says she goes, Ali, we had a lovely roast and thank you for my cook. And the thing is, you don’t do these things that they’re not to me, they’re not big things. It’s just being kind to your fellow man, you know? And that makes me happy. I don’t know why it fills me. It’s like giving to charity. It makes me happy, you know?

It’s not. It’s not. It’s like. It’s like giving a present is more pleasurable than getting a present, isn’t it?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, it’s. Yeah, it’s on paper.

It shouldn’t be that. It is.

Yeah, I think. Again, talk about people on a life journey as you transition. Money becomes less and less important to a person and your personal and mental well-being becomes more and more important.

I do a thing where I read people’s Google reviews.

And yours. I wrote.

All morning.

I that’s why my mom wrote some of them so stunning.

So the way almost I think of life, I think of different things in terms of sort of frequency and amplitude, you know, the and the frequency and amplitude of these of these comments. It’s just so beautiful, so slow. And then when you look at the key words, the words that people often mentioned the most, there’s, you know, the ones you’d expect, like Invisalign, you know. But family reception is 16 times when you read through them. My goodness me, people are over the moon. It’s not just like a five star they’ve been told to write. Sort of. It’s a genuine, genuine, beautiful things that people have said. What’s the do you train your team on that or is it that you go very high level? We respect people, we love people, we do a great job and then leave it to them? Or do you literally train them?

No, there’s no training at reception Reception. Don’t you know? That’s amazing. Say here we leave this a Google review. What tends to happen is when we treat patients, I often take photographs on my phone and I WhatsApp them to the patient and say, This is your teeth before this is what they look like after. Thank you for choosing us. I hope you’re okay. So I usually touch base with them a day later, you know, and I usually review them a week down the road to see how they’re getting on or if they’ve had bonding. I usually fit a retainer a week later. And at that point, you know, usually we’ll just send them a WhatsApp message. There’s no pressure. I don’t think it’s fair to say to them, Will you leave me a Google review to their face? You know, while you’re holding a drill in your hand, It’s not really fair. You know, it’s very you know, hey, let me help you write it, you know, or here’s an iPad. Leave a review while you’re sitting in front.

But, you know, I have my co hosts, My my co-host has a whole process for getting brilliant Google reviews that he trains the teams on. And it’s a beautiful process. But these don’t look like they’re they’re like that. They just there’s love in these.

Let’s see we’ll send a WhatsApp and it will say something like, you know, I hope you enjoy your smile. If you do get a chance, please leave. A Google review would mean a great deal to me. Regards Allie. So it’s not from the practice, it’s from me. If I’ve treated them and then some people do. I get a lot of people that are trying to join my practice as NHS patients, and we’ve not accepted patients for NHS patients for about seven eight years and then they can’t register and you’ll get to a 4.8 star review and then someone will leave a one star review saying, I can’t register with this practice and they wouldn’t see me unless it was privately. And they’re really greedy. And I think one of my reviews, I responded to him saying, Well, for the £23, you pay me half, it goes to the dentist. Because you wrote always greedy dentists, they wouldn’t see me. I said, half of it goes to the dentist. So that leaves me about £11.50. I’ve got a pay a receptionist nurse Sterilise your instruments pay for my PPE plus treat you so. So I can’t really be accused of being greedy because it probably costs me money to treat you, you know?

What about what about associates? Associates, buddy? What’s your view on you? Obviously, having to attract and retain high quality associates for many years. What’s your view? I mean, let’s start with what do you do if your associates been on them? And he comes back and says, I want to buy this, that and the other, What do you do about that? Do you buy it for him? Do you make it make a case? What happens?

Open ordering policy. If they’re going to generate revenue and it’s relatively sensible, I say order it. I worked in a couple of practices before setting up my squat, so and what motivated me to set up my squad. So six months post 50, I worked in a practice, I did my PhD training in Leamington, went to Erdington and worked for a chat, and then I also worked evening and Saturdays for an emergency clinic and both of these clinics that I worked in, in Erdington and Sally Oak, they were a masterclass in how not to run a practice. You know, the the staff were poorly motivated. The boss would sit there bitching about staff behind their backs. The boss in one wouldn’t order material, so he was ordering the cheapest off. He was just wring every penny out of the practice that he could. And then they sold the practice to a corporate. And I just remember. At this woman, vile woman walking in and she goes, We’ve taken over. These are your new contracts. You need to sign them now. And she threw a contract at me. And I remember it landed on the floor in front of me, and I just stood up and walked out. I thought, you know, and I thought, I’m not working for people like this. I don’t care who they are. And then I think their area manager came to speak to me because I was generating more revenue than the principal and the other associate put together. But I’d worked through my lunch to do Domiciliary and they said, What does it take for you to stay? And I said and I said, If she’s the manager, I don’t want to work for you.

Said, You don’t throw contracts at people. We’re not Dogs were people. And, you know, ultimately, I can’t sign a contract because I’m leaving. I just want to hand in my notice. And at that stage, I sort of look to move away. And I was looking for an associate position, but I couldn’t find anything that I liked. And then I saw a chair for sale in the bdg and I thought, Well, I want to set up a practice at some parts. Go and have a look at this chair. Got there and it was a practice that had shut down. The guy had got struck off. He was an alcoholic. The dentist was the landlord was selling off the equipment from the surgery. And I said, Well, what are you doing with the building? You know? And he goes, Well, we were going to just sell the equipment and convert it back into a shop. And I said, Well, can I can I rent it off you? So. And he goes, Well, yeah. And so the rent was, I think, three grand for the year to rent. And these two second-hand chairs Panix machine set. So that’s six months post me and I set up my own practice and then I spent two years running up this squat, and then I put enough money together to put a deposit on the practice I’ve got now.

But I was self-made. My parents weren’t wealthy, you know. So that was two years of learning how to run a practice. And then and then I had to shut it down because the landlord wouldn’t transfer the lease to any buyer found. So I think, you know, I think going back to your question, that sort of retaining associate, you know, I was I would stay there as an associate if I’d been looked after. And I think what you tend to find is my associates at my practice don’t really leave. One of my associates is leaving now after ten years. He was my PhD, but he’s setting he’s taking over from his wife who’s got a practice and she’s going on maternity, so he’s going over to run the practice there. It’s very rare, my staff, because, for example, I’ll give them their own itinerary, I’ll pay the submissions for them, they can order what they want to. We spend a shed load on marketing, so they’ve got a gluttony of private patients coming into them wanting treatment. We spread the patients evenly. Everyone gets a fair crack of the whip. You know, I’m there to facilitate any complaints or tricky cases they want. So. So I think part of it you often find is if an associate, you sometimes get associates saying, well, are you getting 50% at the practice up the road? But if the principals creaming off all the private patients or they don’t have any private patients coming in or they don’t have an online presence.

Or a.

Good social media, you know, 50% of nothing is nothing. 45% of a lot is a lot. It’s the same thing with UDA values. We were interviewing some associates recently, and increasingly we get associates coming in. They’ve done courses like the mini Small Maker course and, you know, or some of some other course that they’ve done a weekend course. They come in and they come in and maybe they’ve got it right, maybe I’ve got it wrong. They come in saying, We only want to work three days a week. The rest of the time I need for personal development and stuff. And I only want to do private work. And the problem is my practice is a mixed practice. I can’t let a newbie come in. So we’re going to send you all of our private patients or some of them that come in. So you have an entirely private list. When everyone else is doing mixed lists, it’s not fair, you know, and for us to do that, it’s not just, you know, and, you know.

Your practice isn’t isn’t right for that person, though. That’s that’s it.

I think part usually we say to our business model tends to be based on the fact that, you know, you often find part time dentists that are running a clinic or surgery. You’ve got two part timers. They won’t generate as much revenue as a full time dentist. The full time dentist will be used to as nurse, whereas materials are, and they will generate probably on average, 15 to 20% more than if you put two associates in that room because stuff will get moved. The nurses aren’t quite used to working with each other or if dentist A treats a patient and they come back three days later. Dentist BE And most people are ethical, but some dentists will say, well, on the NHS I’m not paid a penny to repair what’s broken to go back to your treating dentist. So I think the quality of care can in some instances diminish as well. So we prefer to take on full time dentists that are there most of the time. So if any of their problems come back and sometimes even with the best one I can pop a filling in and it might come off or a veneer hasn’t stuck down properly and they’re back a couple of days later. But for that continuity of treatment, my preference is to have full time guys with us and full time guys that are willing. Like the ironies in our practice, we have a stable list of niche patients that want to access NHS Check-ups but nine times out of ten they’ll opt for private fillings, be that bleaching, white fillings, private zirconia crowns, etc.

So yes, they might be having a check-up, you know, for for their £22 a day or whatever it is, but they’re having a £700 crown hand in hand with it. So, so that sort of nonsense where people come and say, well I can get £23 a year up the road and you’re thinking, well go on and take it, you’re welcome to. And I think in our practice we’re blessed in that our guys, you know, I’ve got guys that have done postgraduate training implants and far as amazing at Invisalign, I’m lucky enough to have, you know, trained under Dipesh Palmer himself. And so, you know, we’re good at bonding, you know, So we’ve got a massive range of experience. So if anyone joining us like, well, want to learn about endo and how to do not endo to the sound of a normal GP, but an exceptionally well trained endo guide, that all he does is endo you know, all specialises in it. It’s a fantastic learning, you know, learn about. We were PhD trains for about ten, 15 years as well. And so we’re set up, we’re geared up to teach people how to learn stuff. And that’s part of the reason we put an academy in the practice as well, because we wanted to share that knowledge.

So we’ve set up a camera above the chair that fires up to two big screens in the loft, and we can have 15, 20 delegates there, you know, viewing it. So, you know, I think ultimately when associates, retaining associates, anyone that works for us doesn’t want to leave because there’s a great team, there’s good solid management, if something breaks, we’ll fix it. You know, and often in corporate practices, it’s got to go up the chain before anything gets done or. If one of my dentists says, I want to try this, it’s okay, fine. Let’s do it. We’ll support you. You know. But Fara. She’s my wife. But even if she was an associate and she said, Well, I want to try Invisalign, can I have a scanner? And that’s a 50 grand outlay, you know. So. Oh, 45 whatever it was, and it’s fine. Let’s do it. Let’s try some marketing, you know? But then at that point, we rolled scanners out to all the associates. So let’s all use them, because, you know, the work, the fits of work is superb on the restorative. And it’s a fantastic product for Invisalign. You don’t be hanging around. If someone’s interested in Invisalign, it’s worth four grand. You don’t be waiting 20 minutes or half an hour to grab hold of a scanner that’s free.

Okay, let’s move on to darker questions. I’m really interested in times where you think you’ve made mistakes. Things you could have done better, both from a clinical perspective and from a business perspective, because a lot of times we don’t talk about our mistakes in medicine and you know, we don’t get to learn from each other’s mistakes. What comes to mind when I when I say that.

I remember as an f d treating an elderly lady. And I was taking out her upper eight. And I heard a crack carried on taking out this eight. And her mouth filled with blood and was pulse 60. And this poor woman was probably 85 years old. And I remember going next door to my boss, Go, Boss, can you please come and have a look at this? Yes, I’ll be there in a minute. And I kicked him. I said no. Bill, can you please come and have a look at it immediately, please? And he could see the terror in my face because I thought, she’s going to die. And he came in. I remember his. He was a great oral surgeon, great set of hands. His pupils just dilated. And he died. So to all. And then this woman, bless her, came in a week later, and the whole right side of the face was bruised and black. And I was close to tears. And I was saying, I’m so sorry. How are you? She goes, I’m fine, my love. Don’t worry. We’ve all got to learn somehow. And and I remember I went home thinking I shouldn’t be a dentist. And, you know, but I think at that time, early on, you know, your I’ve been in training myself for ten years, and we’ve had about ten pairs of trainees come through the practice.

And, you know, as time went on, you know, I think the support that you had 20 years ago was quite poor. It was just get on with it. I know my boss would say, Right, you’re doing the emergencies on Saturday here, the practice case. And I think another time he phoned me up, say there’s a patient with toothache, 7:00 in the evening, open up the practice, take a tooth out and drop the keys round back around to the house. And I went to his house, dropped the keys off and he handed me a silver tray with drinks on it goes Right. You’re serving drinks. He was having a soiree and you did it. You were BFD, you were the dogsbody in the practice. And I remember serving drinks. Now, if I look at my last PhD, if I said, right, your serving drinks at my practice or go to serving drinks at a soiree I’m holding there, just say piss off, I’m not doing it and I’m reporting you to the deanery advisor. Or if I said go to the practice and treat a patient by yourself.

It was unheard of. It’s unheard of now. But back then it was just I remember I spent one Wednesday afternoon, all the dentists had gone off for games, one had gone to play golf, one had gone to play tennis, and I spent 4 hours trying to take out it was a guy. He was a footballer. I spent 4 hours trying to take out a seven. It kept factoring and I still didn’t get it all out. And after 4 hours my arms were ready to fall off, so I had to call him back and to do it. But you were just left to fend for yourself. So I think clinically. Touch wood. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a complaint or issue. You know, we all have difficulties. Dentures might not go right or a feeling might not be perfect or the odd piece of lab. But. But nothing catastrophic is that I can recall that’s happened. I think I’ve also learned as I’ve got older. Things that can go wrong or have gone wrong are, I think, are based on my own vanity where, you know, a patient has come in, they want something. They’ve just got unrealistic expectations. And, you know, you sort of think, oh, well, I’m.


Underpants, I can deliver. Get in the chair, let’s do this. Yeah, but you end up just with me. I have no quibble. Refund if a patient says I’m not happy. Yeah, I won’t just say, hey, I have a partner, I will say, have all of your money back. I’m sorry. I’ve not met your expectations. So at that point, you kill any complaint debt Because as long as they’re in a better position than they were, than when you started, which they generally will be, and you’ve given them full refund, you can just get on with something else and earn your money elsewhere. I think where some dentists might fail, they get so wrapped. Well, you know, it’s almost an admission of guilt. Well, I’ve given them a refund. You know, I’ve been known. I think we had a complaint six months ago with one of our associates. It was over a filling that had been done. There was a slight overhang. The patient sort of had discomfort with it, and the patient’s brother was a dentist and this guy was just going mental that shouldn’t have been left and this, that and the other. And the guy had a mouth full of supervised neglect and then in the end sort of was booked in with me to sort out. And then I said, Look, you might need a root filling with this tooth if I redo the filling, you know, well I’m not paying for the I’m not paying for the crown.

I need on it either. You know, my brother’s a dentist and they said dentist roll over easily and you should do it free of charge. And at that point I said, look, you know, we’re not liable to provide a crown for you and we’re not liable to you. I’m happy to replace the filling, but technically, I have to warn you, you might need a root canal treatment, which you may have needed anyway, because it was a very deep feeling, really unhappy kicking off. And I said, Well, I’ll tell you. What is it you want? He goes, Well, I want my money back. And I said, Well, fine, we’ll refund you. And he goes, Well, I can’t afford to have the treatment because guy I want to do it is more expensive than you are. I said, Well, I’ll tell you what, we’ll give you all of your money back that you spent on your course of treatment with this. So you’ve had some other bits and bobs done. And so we ended up giving him 600 quid back. I think the filling had been charged 180 quid for. He still came back and went after the dentist saying, you know, I want more money, I want compensation, this, that. And it went all the way to the GDC and it got kicked out. But the dentist went through a year of just hell with it. But I think those are an overhang. Sorry.

Over an overhang.

Over and over how it was ridiculous, the fact that it even got to the GDC and wasn’t thrown out but the guy went through. There was a visual change in his demeanour while he was dealing with this complaint and, you know, and it was important to support him and say, Look, you’ve not done anything wrong. It could have happened to any of us. You’ve got to just let it go, get on with, you know. And, you know, if someone ends up having to pay out for it, the insurance will cover it. So you’ve not done anything wrong. You know, so I think a lot of dentists are left. I think I think I listen to a podcast with Neil Palmer and he was saying that, you know, there is a mental price that’s paid by dentists and you’re often on your own when there’s a complaint, and often we’re too ashamed, like you say, to admit that you’ve got something wrong and we’re all human and you’re dealing with biological tissues and you can do 100 fillings the same. Nine. If four might work, ten of them might end up with irreversible politesse and the feeling might not be any different than the other 90. You just don’t know. But I think ultimately most patients are generally quite sensible. But you’ll get the odd, crazy patient that no matter what you do, they’re just not happy. And I think I’ve learnt as a leader, I’ve learnt how to say no. So in terms of and that reduces your risk of a clinical failing because all that ends up happening.

I had another case that we did, we replaced some crowns, I think 4 to 4. We redid them. They were a mess to begin with. She looked lovely when they were done. She went away six months. I came back. I’m not quite happy. My husband doesn’t like them. People stopped me in the street and say to me, What’s happened to your teeth, strangers? And I said, Well, let’s look at the photographs. As soon as the patient says that, you just think you’re lying because they look okay, they look lovely, but okay. I said, Well, these are the photographs of what you look like before you go. Oh, my God, I don’t remember them being that bad. They they were like that. This is what they look like now. So. So what exactly are strangers and your husband saying to you? So I don’t quite understand because I think you look better. No, no, I’m not happy. I want them redone. I want the colour slightly different. I want the shape slightly different. This, that and the other. I want them to look like this. And at that point, she pulls out a picture of Angelina Jolie. This is probably 65 and you’re thinking Right, I can’t make you look like Angelina Jolie. Even with the best will in the world, I might be able to get your teeth close, but I can’t change your face. And at that point, I said, all right, we’ll redo them for you if you’re that unhappy.

We’ll do a new mock-up. We’ll do a stent. We’ll show it all to you again, you know. And then we went and I think I did them again. And she went away. She came back a year later. I’m still not happy. At which point I just gave her a full riff and I said, Have all of your money back. I cannot help you. You know, I can’t improve what I’ve done for you and good luck. Hopefully there’ll be done so that it can meet your expectations. I think two years later, she came back to me again. Please, will Dr. Ali see me? Please. Will you do my teeth for me? I’ve been to two or three other places and no one wants to touch it. They probably looked at it and thought, You’ve got a bit of dysmorphia and there might be a psychological element to her needing treatment. But it’s cases like that now that come in. I think I’m better at picking up at the beginning if I can meet someone’s expectations, you know, and often what you find with, I think the advent of social media now, people’s expectations are actually higher than they used to be. So before you could almost get away with doing something that would just improve the situation. Now it’s got to match, you know, some of these brilliant dentist work that you see on Instagram. It’s got to come close to it. Otherwise you can have an unhappy punter on your hands.

What about what about a business mistake? What comes to mind?

I think. One of the things I regretted the most was when I was married to my second wife. I was offered a practice over in Kenilworth and at that time I negotiated a loan. So everyone was after this private practice.

Second wife are your first wife?

Second wife. So I think my first wife was when I first bought my share. With my first practice? No. I’d set up my spot and I’d got married then. And then literally, we were married for four months. And unfortunately, she. She was very upset and almost suicidal that she didn’t want to get married and father a lot of pressure and to get married. I think we’d met four times before. You know, her parents and my parents decided that we were getting married. And so after four months, unfortunately, we went our separate ways. And I think she was relieved, as was I. And then I think I think my mom caught me probably between girlfriends probably six years later saying, you look, you’re older, you’ve had your fun time to settle down. And then I was introduced to my second wife and again, there wasn’t much of a spark there at all, but our family seemed to get on very well. Being a good sort of Muslim boy, my mom and dad saying, Look, this family’s nice, they’re good for you and you’ll be a good match. And you know, your old days are behind you and married and unfortunately, just very unhappy. We had nothing in common. There was no spark. There was no real love there. And after ten months, she left and then we got divorced. And that was it. That was sort of arranged marriage number two. But at the time when I was married to her, I was offered a practice over in Canada.

Loads. People were after it. It was a freehold practice. I think there were six surgeries. It had a good NHS contract and I just won the dentistry awards Best Dentist in the Midlands. So this was 2008. And you know, I met the guy he saw, he came over to my practice, looked at the awards that we’d won the best team in the Midlands, best practice, I’d won the best young dentist. And he said, I really like your practice. I like what you’re about and your team and I want my practice to go to someone that’s going to look after my patients and you fit the bill. And so even though I wasn’t offering because it turned into a bidding war, people were offering way over the asking price. And I got it for the asking price. I think it was 1.2 mil. I had a loan, which I think 0.75 above base rate, which was what they were prepared to lend to me at the bank were. And the deal was sewn up, ready to sign off. And then my wife at the time said, If you work too hard as it is, if you buy this practice, I’m leaving you. I’m going back to my mum and dad. And at the time my parents were putting pressure on me saying, Look, you need to make your marriage work.

It’s your second marriage and you know you can only one chapatti and one bowl of daal a night. You don’t need any more. Don’t you know? Don’t put your family first, put your personal. And so against my gut instinct, I pulled out of the deal at the 11th hour. I said, look to the guy, I’m so sorry. My wife’s not being supportive. And then about three months later, she left anyway. And it took me. These practices come up on the market so rarely. Even now, 20 years later, I’ve never seen another practice that ticked all the boxes, you know? And for about two years, it took me a long, long time to get over it because because the lending rate was so it was like free money. I was being handed a practice that I could add value to very easily because it was, you know, it wasn’t being run particularly well. And when she left and I ended up getting divorced anyway, I just literally I was so upset about it. And, you know, and I think it impacted on me for a long time. But then having said that, I met my wife Sara, that I have two lovely children with now. And, you know, it’s probably the happiest I’ve been in my life, you know, So it happens. It all happens for a reason. So again, that goes back to that personal success. That was.

An element. Was there an element? Was there an element of of I’m not going to listen to my parents anymore at that point?

Yeah, well, after this practice fell through, I wrote a check to my mother and we had a bit of a falling out in that I think there was a wedding we were going to. And she goes, I don’t want you to come because people ask where your wife is and this, that and the other. And you know, and I remember saying someone, Well, tell people your son’s dead then if that’s how you feel, if you can’t support me as your son, tell them. And dead And I walked out the house and then for about two years my mum, I didn’t speak to my mum for about two years. I was so angry and especially with the divorce. And then suddenly you realise that on the one hand you’re you have this pressure put on by Asian parents, that family honour and all of this crap, which frankly I don’t care for, you know. But on the flip side, under British law, if you marry someone, they don’t care if you met someone seven times or six times and you don’t really know them, they’ll go after your assets, they’ll go after your business, your home, your vehicle, your money.

And, you know, ultimately, more often than not at that time, I was doing my second marriage financially, it was very successful, had a big house, had a big practice. You know, I had a nice car. And you’ve married someone that hasn’t contributed to anything at all during your marriage, financially or otherwise, that suddenly they’ve got free rein on potentially taking half of your assets off you. So in that sense, I think, you know, it made me angry that I’d been that stupid to put myself at that sort of risk. And even when I met Father, I said, I don’t want to get married. And she was upset saying, Well, look, we can’t just live together. We have to get married. My dad won’t let me just live with you. We have to get married. And I remember I met her father to explain to her that, Look, I’ve been married before. I don’t want to get married again. I want to just live with your daughter. And he.

Looked at me.

Crazy, man, you know, like he was sort of, you know, a sort of blood vessel on his temple was pulsating like he was going to murder me. And and I said, I just want to spend a year getting to know your daughter. And I remember he looked at me because, look, son, he goes, Marry her. And you can spend your entire life getting to know her. Yes. You’re not just living with her. It’s not going to happen. So and so. So we did get married. And thankfully, you know, she stayed with me. And we’ve got two lovely children. And whenever we fight, she does throw in my face. Or the other two cows left you. I’m going to leave you now, too. So, you know, so she generally wins most arguments with me.

So you never you never know from the outside. Right. But you guys do look very, very, very happy, man. You just like making. Each other, laugh the whole time is a great recipe.

Yeah, I think we have quite we’re lucky in the sense that ten years on, I must admit I’m still not bored nor ashamed. She keeps me on my toes. An example will be I can walk in and go, Oh, can you make a cup of tea and sort of do it yourself in front of the builder? And so you learn. You learn where those sorts of parameters are. And so, you know, and you know, we argue like cat and dog sometimes, but then equally there’s a lot of love there and care there. And sort of ten years down the road, we’ve found a groove where we just rub along, you know. So there’s an Asian saying where you throw two rough rocks into a stream and they rub off each other and they become smooth like pebbles. So we’re slowly becoming pebbles, slowly but surely.

Nice, but perhaps going to do me in for keeps telling me your podcast for too long. One want 50 minutes in I think we need to we need to bring it to close but it’s been lovely talking to you. I’m going to close it with the usual questions that we always ask. Fancy dinner party. Three guests. Dead or alive. Are you going to have?

Well, I think my first guess would be slightly controversial. It’d be Andrew Tate.

I find you like a bit of an educator.

Yeah. I find some of the statements he makes quite controversial. But equally, I think he’s a very interesting person to listen to. I think the second person would be there’s an American lifestyle coach called Tony Robbins. Yeah. And I think he’s listening to some of his seminars. You know, mentally, I think it’s very uplifting listening to him. And he has a very positive mindset in terms of looking after yourself physically and mentally.

Have you been to one of his seminars?

I haven’t. I’ve got his books. He’s done a couple of books recently.

You know, money that won.

It was I forget the title. So I’ve got. I’ve got a terrible habit of buying books and I never get around to reading them. So I’ve got books like sort of Seven Habits, Habits of highly Effective People and, you know, books by Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People. And you have to stop worrying and start living.

So Anthony Robbins, Tony Robbins. Well, years ago, 20 years ago, I wrote Awakened Giant Within an Unlimited Power. Recently, recently, he’s written this one called Money that People Keep banging on About. I haven’t I haven’t read that one, but apparently not read that.

I think the two books that I’ve got on my bookshelf, I forget the names of them, but yeah, Tony Robbins, I think some of his on line stuff, you know, if you look it up, look up some of his online lectures and stuff, that they’re just fascinating. The energy that he comes across with it is just, you know, who’s.

The who’s the third guess because it’s getting quite testosterone. You go on, who’s the third guest? Who’s the third guest? Because we’re getting kind of testosterone so far.

Third guess. I think it would be Jordan Peterson. He’s a Canadian. Jordan Peterson is a Canadian philosopher and professor, isn’t he? And I find him very interesting as well. But, you know, and some of the things they come out with are slightly controversial. But then equally, I just find them fascinating to listen to. Oh, another one would be. There’s a guy called Mitchinson. He’s passed away. He’s an atheist, and he’s do lectures at Oxford University.

Christopher Hitchens. Yeah. Hitchens. Hitchens.

Hitchens. Hitchens. Hitchens Yeah. Hitchens Yeah. Yeah, he. I found some of his lectures were quite interesting as well. So yeah, probably, probably one of these guys.

Interesting list of people, man. Interestingly, see, people I don’t know if you heard Jordan Peterson, he was on Joe Rogan this week. Brilliant. Three hour conversation. He just didn’t stop talking. But it was constantly brilliant.

Now he is something that’s really interesting about, you know, something that Andrew Tate and John Peterson both have in common. Maybe something that’s left over from my divorces is that they look at men’s mental health. And that’s something that perhaps we don’t talk about that, particularly with the MeToo movement. And this that I remember there was their Gillette advert that came out where it was men behaving quite appallingly, and then suddenly that’s not okay. And then suddenly, you know, the world’s all sunshine and roses again. And a lot of people boycotted Gillette products saying, Well, most men don’t behave in that abhorrent manner towards women and sort of tarring everyone with the same brush. And I think the voice of men to an extent, be that with domestic violence against men and in particular mental health. I think that’s something I know. I was very lonely when I got divorced. You know, and particularly within the Asian culture where you felt you couldn’t go to people’s houses and you couldn’t go out and it was something to be ashamed of. But I look back at it and, you know, I look at my ex-wives and think there are no winners there. And I feel sorry that they were pressured into marriages.

I feel sorry for me that I didn’t have a voice to say, Well, no, I don’t want to do this and I’m not doing this. And I think that that whole. Issue about men not talking to one another. I think it’s something that’s so important. So I talked to a lot of my male friends regularly. I make time to chat to them. How are you getting on how you’re doing and or go out, you know, as a bite to eat, You know, just have a one on one chat, you know, And it might be that you might go and say, My wife’s terrible. She did this, that and the other, and you feel better, You mentally feel better. Historically, men don’t really do that. My wife is always checking to a friend and, you know, and I’ve started to do that more. I check to my friends now and say, Oh, you know, how’s your week been? How you been? Or if someone says they’re down, I will make an effort to check in on them. Say, What’s going on? Let’s go out, let’s, you know, go for a blast in a fun car or something, you know, And, you know.

I know also, when you lay over the stresses of dentistry. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, dentistry has been a stressful job for 100 years. It’s not it’s not just the GDC and the Dental Law Partnership and the NHS. And, you know, dentists have had a high suicide rate in countries where, you know, in the US or in many countries, Right. Yeah. Yeah. Where, where these problems haven’t been there. So the job itself has some sort of inherent stress. Well I guess the stuff Nilesh was talking about, you take on, you take on the patient stress when it goes wrong, it can go very wrong sometimes. Yeah. And then, and then you’ve got the sort of the isolation of being in one room with one nurse. And sometimes, you know, you’ve got a great relationship with your nurse, but I’m sure if you haven’t got a great relationship with your nurse, it’s a total nightmare. Man. Yeah. Like, come to that room and spend a whole day with someone you hate or someone who hates you, you know, or whatever it is. And then you lay over on top of that, this thing you’re saying about men, which is real because men don’t discuss their feelings. And it’s not very it hasn’t been very fashionable for men to be talked about, everyone else to be talked to. So it’s real. It’s real that, you know. Lovely to talk to you, man.

Yeah. Yeah, Likewise. Pam. Thank you so much for having me. You know, it’s been lovely chatting to you and hope I’m not said anything too untoward or offensive to your audience or yourself.

The the you say say your truth. That’s that’s the most important thing, isn’t it? That’s. That’s why this medium is working so well now. Yeah. Because people have had enough of, of inauthentic stuff. And I can’t think of anyone more authentic than you, buddy. So it’s.

Very easy.

Very lovely to have had you. Thank you. And I miss you, buddy. I miss you. You look out for me, man. I miss you. Come and see us again.

Did you.

Working too.

Hard? I must say. I’m going to give you a big cuddle. I won’t.

Working too hard crazily. I even put a Birmingham date in today. I put a Birmingham date in thinking of you and thinking of Depeche as well. Not having to travel, but he likes to travel. But I put a Birmingham date in October or something like that, so come see us.

Definitely, for sure. Lovely to see you, man. Thank you once again. Give my love to everyone. Love you, man. Take care.

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.

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