A series of challenging experiences almost led Alex Sharp to call it a day early in his dental career.

But adversity turned to triumph when his experiences inspired him to set up an online support platform for associate dentists.

In this episode, Alex discusses the challenges faced by new associates and shares thoughts on the importance of fairness, openness and honesty.

Alex also reveals plans to step into a principal’s shoes with tentative plans for a potential practice purchase.



In This Episode

02.10 – Dental Disruptors

07.46 – Horror stories

31.25 – Backstory and podcast

36.57 – Contracts and negotiations

47.30 – Practice ownership

58.24 – Black box thinking

01.06.43 – Favourite things

01.16.10 – Advice for associates and principals

01.26.02 – Fantasy dinner party

01.29.06 – Last days and legacy


About Alex Sharp

Alex Sharp is the founder of Dental Disruptors, a digital platform set up to support associate dentists and promote open communication between self-employed dental professionals and practice owners.

He is the host of the Dental Disruptors podcast.

Definitely. I think that lack of confidence is something that is probably not uncommon, but I definitely think that that happens a lot less now. And it’s not because I’m a fantastic dentist. I think it’s because of how I communicate with patients and how if something goes wrong, I’ll manage it much better. I think you just learn as you get older, going through general life experiences, dealing with conflict with patients or anybody. I think you generally just get better at dealing with it and reading people and knowing where to draw the line, how to communicate. So it’s very, very rare now that I’ll have a patient that doesn’t want to see me. It’s a hell of a lot more common. I’ve got a patient that I don’t want to see. You know, I’m desperately hoping that they’re going to go and see somebody else.

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.

Gives me great pleasure to welcome Alex Sharp onto the podcast. Alex is a young dentist who’s founded a platform called Dental Disruptors, which is kind of a platform and a podcast as well called Dental Disruptors, which is set up to support young dentists in trying to find their perfect job, I guess, or jobs where they’re supported and they feel happy and growing. I’ve listened to several of your episodes, Alex, and a lot of it is around sort of difficult stories of associate jobs and so on. And I’d like to unpack all of that. And I think the reason I had you on is because I definitely think associates need a voice. And this feeling in dentistry that, you know, you kind of do your time as an associate and get sort of abused and then one day you’ll be an associate, a principal, and then you can abuse associates yourself, sort of. So I know it’s not exactly like that, but there is this kind of feeling and and listening to to some of the stories of the associates on on your pod. I felt that definitely we they do need a platform. So it’s a massive pleasure to have you, buddy.

Oh, well, thank you very much for having me. Yeah. I mean, I, you know, Dental disruptors. I would like to think that it will get to the stage where it kind of becomes the the go to hub, if you like, for associate dentists. And, you know, we recently opened it up to hygienists and therapists as well, because I’ve been speaking to a lot of people in that world and realised that realistically a lot of the problems are transferable that they have and we can help them as well just as much as we can help associate dentists. So yeah, I definitely think that there’s an underrepresentation of associates right now from particularly from a legal perspective. And I think that that’s something that, you know, I want to address really because it is a big problem that I don’t think we always fully I don’t think it gets the media coverage, if you like, within the social media world from how much of an impact this has on not just the industry and our patients, but but on the individuals in their lives. You know, this entire Facebook group set up for people exiting dentistry or finding side gigs in dentistry and sometimes it’s just not a good match and people go into the industry and find out further down the line it’s not for them, but other times it’s because of how they’ve been trapped by other people within the industry that lead them to want to leave. And that was essentially my story. You know, after three years.

I mean, one thing I would say, though, dude, I mean, you kindly accepted me onto your Facebook group. But one thing I would say is it’s kind of it makes sense to have principles read what goes on on that group as well. You know, in the same way as, you know, I’m on the hygienist group and to listen to some of the stories that’s happened to them, I’m not a hygienist, but if they made a strong rule that said, no, no dentists allowed, then I would never hear some of these stories. So is that a strong rule on your on your platform that it’s only for associates and not for not for principles?

No, not really. So we do have principles in there and there’s a few principles in there who I know personally or who have been in the group who have become principles as well. You know, I’m currently going through a buying process myself, so I’d have to kick myself out of my own group. You know.

Rules have changed. Yeah.

Yeah. I’ll be the spy in my own camp. Yeah. So, um. So, yeah, I think you’re right. And this. This brings me to a good point, which is when I planned all of Dental disruptors, you know, way back when Dental disruptors is if you kind of zoom out a little bit and look at some bigger picture stuff. Dental disruptors is is one part of a bigger vision. And and the bigger vision is called care. Full health care and Dental Disruptors is the branch of care full health care that deals with supporting associates and self-employed clinicians. But in the future, when I own a practice and I’ve gone through that experience, I fully plan on setting up a sister group for practice owners. And the idea in my head is if I can share my knowledge and my experiences and the stories that I’ve had with practice owners as well, we can kind of get everybody on the same page. And then I want to build a system that will that will align the associate with the practice owner based upon a shared value system so we can address this issue of trying to find harmony between both parties, because I understand it works both ways.

The sun doesn’t shine out of the back side of every associate as well, and there’s two sides to every story. And I can speak personally that there were a lot of conflicts I had where either it was completely my fault or I misunderstood the situation or I didn’t handle it properly. And I think that I’m more than happy to admit that. And I think that happens a lot in the industry. So I want to make it clear that it’s not excluding practice owners. The bigger picture is to include practice owners. But right now Dental disruptors is predominantly for non practice owners. But we do have some in there because people have found incredible value from the insight of some of the people that we have in there, myself included. You know, because I do think it’s important to get a balanced argument. And not a let’s bash practice owners group. Know that’s absolutely the antithesis of what we’re going for. We’re going for collaboration. That’s that’s the key thing.

Yeah, but I mean, inevitably your group ends up being a place where people tell their sort of stories of problematic jobs. And I mean, let’s start let’s start from the beginning, the sort of the PhD jobs. What are some of the stories? What was your story?

I had a great time in PhD. I mean, I failed. Yeah, I failed my finals first time round and I didn’t like going through national recruitment again. But, you know, and having to basically skip a year. So whilst I graduated in 2015 and the November, I didn’t start my foundation till September 2016, so I kind of graduated a year early but was a year behind. But so my story was fine. My PhD, I had a great time. You know, the tutor I got was somebody who was one of the clinicians at the hospital and I had a good relationship with him, so I had a great time and I learned a lot. I had a lot of support. It was a fantastic place to be. And no, no, nothing negative to say about that at all, really. But I don’t know. I’ve very recently released a podcast with a friend called Rachel and she spoke about her experiences in PhD and that was like the polar opposite. So she never even made it as an associate because she had such a crap time with how she was trapped by her trainers and how unsupported she felt by the deanery. She had a totally opposite experience where she never even bothered to become an associate because in her head it was like, Well, if this is my experience of primary care, then I don’t want to do this sort of thing. And I found more and more extreme examples of that. As I’ve dug deeper and had phone calls with people and video calls of young people in tears. And it’s it’s heavy stuff. It’s really heavy stuff. Some of the things people go through. And, you know, in a weird way, it kind of makes me feel very grateful for my experiences. There weren’t, you know, they were horrible, but I definitely didn’t have it as bad as some other people.

Yeah, because it’s funny because you’re. I’m going to call it vet. Dude, I’m too old as your job kind of sets the sort of your first year, as you say, the initial thing that you see, but also kind of your trajectory, your launch pad. And so I remember my partner in Enlightened saying she had an awful experience and I had an extraordinary one. But what are some of the stories? I mean, I listened to the Rachel one and there was this event where she had a panic attack and she she couldn’t work at the practice that day. And she said, look, can I just come in and see everyone? And they kind of didn’t even see her and kind of blamed her for it and so on. And I think what you said before, we do need to emphasise as well that you know that what the principal was thinking. We weren’t in their heads at that point. Right. And you know, for me, the sort of balance between, you know, what is it? It’s, it’s a teaching thing, an education thing, but it is also a moneymaking thing for the principal and, you know, primarily for the principal, it’s a moneymaking thing. And and unfortunately, now the way the NHS is, it’s a place where you throw all the crap that you don’t want to treat yourself sort of thing, right? Yeah. What are some of the other terrible stories you’ve heard.

This thing, if you were to look at the running theme, the golden thread that underpins it all, mostly it comes down to a lack of support. So there’s a lot of people who have been left where they’re told that if they’ve got a problem, they’ll have that advice. And so they go and seek out that advice. And the principles. The principles, sorry the trainer isn’t there or doesn’t care or doesn’t want to get involved. And so the associates start panicking and they start doing stuff and they run into problems and it really affects their confidence. And then when they get their reviews from the deanery, they get failed. So one of my friends who failed his PhD post, the person who won the practice that wasn’t even his trainer, sent his wife in undercover as a fake patient for the PhD. And then at the end of it, the owner’s wife said, Oh, I’m the owner’s wife. And what you should be doing is selling these and talking about private options and referring people to the treatment coordinator and talking about this. And and he’s kind of like, what’s a treatment coordinator, you know, because you’re just starting out. And I think that, again, the cynic within me would say that there probably is a huge financial incentive.

But I also think that the reality of the situation is beggars can’t be choosers and there’s dentists graduating. There’s not enough trainers, from what I hear for the deaneries. So they don’t have the luxury of picking people where perhaps teaching is a is a skill or a high priority that they have because you could be the best implantologists or best oral surgeon in the world. But if you don’t have the capacity to teach and you’re not patient, then don’t be an FD trainer, for instance. And I think that because there is such a shortage, the deanery is like, Look, we’ve just got to get anybody in, you know, no matter how many years of experience you’ve got, within reason, you know, I think my. Was three years and he was a trainer. And I thought, God, I wouldn’t want to be trained by somebody who was only three years. I know what I was like after three years, you know. But I mean, I think that’s just a I don’t want to blame the deanery, but, you know, because this is obviously very, very multifaceted issue. But I definitely think that there are steps that need to be taken and.

To train the trainers, you mean? Yeah.

Yeah. I think there should be some sort of requirement for them to go undergo some sort of teaching, maybe a little course or a little weekend thing or something. There is.

Something. There is something.

Is there? Yeah. I don’t know enough about the process, I’ll be honest. But the another example, and I guess this is probably a bit unfair because this is exclusive to Covid, but there was a big cohort of, of dentists who who again, never worked as associates after their PhD because of their lack of experience and clinical exposure through the fifth year or the FDA. And they were just left on the phones and reception triaging patients antibiotics and stuff. And so they technically passed their FDA, but they had no experience at all. And these people had like crushing anxiety that all of a sudden they’re graduating. They’re at the same level of risk from an indemnity perspective as me and you. But yet they said like, done one crown in their whole like career. And and it’s kind of like, well you know realistically at the universities at fault for for turning out safe beginners whatever that means and the deanery is not at fault for saying, well we need to reset this whole cohort. But then how do either of those two facilities have the capacity for an extra year or an extra two year of students? It’s a it’s a really complex issue, but ultimately one they don’t care about because the risk is on the individual dentist. It’s my risk, for example, not not their risk. And there’s a degree of apathy, in my opinion. And but you know that that issue is not what dental disruptors is about. That’s beyond my influence and knowledge, really. But I think it is if we think about it, it is a massive contributing factor to perhaps why some associates get themselves in these positions.

Yeah, I mean, listening to you as a host, you’re a very good host. I’ve got quite light listening to you as a host. Thank you. But you sort of feel it. You can tell you feel the pain of the person talking. And you told me you had nine jobs in four years yourself. Yeah, I mean, I get it, right? You’re kind of looking for your perfect job or whatever it is. But isn’t there an element of you didn’t sort of stick around long enough to make make the place work for you in those nine jobs? I mean, tell me some of the stories. So tell me some of the worst bits of those nine jobs that got you, because I feel your pain when you’re when you’re when you’re listening to someone’s story tell, you’re just so into it. And then you you sort of reflect back what happened to you, man, What happened in that nine job period?

Yeah, well, I mean.

It’s the highlights.

Yeah, I’ll give you the highlights, but I’ve been asked that a lot. I’ve been asked that a lot. Well, you know, Alex, are you not the problem, mate? Is there not a common factor running through you?

I’ve got to be honest. That’s what I thought when I first heard that. I thought this kid. Come on. But. But then you listen to a few more of your episodes and you showed a lot of insight and maturity. Right? So tell me. Go on, explain it to me. Yeah.

So this would say I left a lot of them. They’re all very quite different reasons. So it could be as simple as the dyer is quiet. So one really quick example. The dyer is really quiet. I was working five days a week on the Nash and I probably could have got down to three clinical days doing the same number of days. So I approached a practice owner said, Look, I’ve been here for however many nine, ten months now. The dyer is really quiet. I’ve tried doing all these things to improve my day list. On your recommendation. It’s too quiet. How about this? I maintain the same number of contractual days. We condense the three days I work somewhere else. Two days. And they said it’s full time on no time. I’ll never forget that. So I said, Well, here’s my notice because my trainer said to me, It doesn’t matter whether it’s private, whether it’s on the doorstep, whether it’s fancy stuff. If it’s quiet, it’s not worth it. So I really held on to that. So that’s a simple example. Others is just to do with how the businesses have been managed and led so, you know, really poorly, poorly led practices, poorly managed practices and the way in which patients are double booked and squeezed in and forced appointment times are being shortened in reception, just doing whatever they want. And there’s kind of no order or structure or leadership within the business. But I think I left one that I loved.

There’s only one practice I’ve worked in where I would go back and work there again and that was fully NHS and I drove an hour there and an hour back every day because the team were amazing. The practice owners were amazing, the manager was incredible. Everybody had a great time. There was loads of socials, great atmosphere. Everybody got on. There was no bitchiness, no backstabbing. It was well led, well run. It was efficient. I earned the most money I ever earned there. And I and I worked no harder and actually slowed down because of how well it was run. And that was a massive eye opener to me. But I left there because I was ready to transition away from the NHS. So that’s the only practice where I left, where I. Didn’t have any negative. In fact, I cried when I left. I was so kind of disappointed and I felt so guilty. I took the practice going out for a beer and and as much as I wanted to try and keep it soft, I think I blindsided him. And he was really blown away because he’d supported me through, you know, other issues. So, for example, I had a practice I worked in where I raised concerns with NHS England because this guy took no notes, there was no BP’s, there was no radiographs. He was fitting temporary crowns claiming a band. Three We had patients with with, you know, caries and teeth.

I then had to take out and there’s these little old women coming in with dementia going, What do you mean get my teeth out? We had people coming in with letters, complaints, threats, all sorts of stuff, and I was the only one there. He bought a new practice, so that was I took over his old list. He moved to the new baby. So I was single handed and we eventually got a therapist in and I was talking to the therapist and basically said, you know, this is what I’ve seen. And I’m really worried because it wasn’t an isolated case. You know, the standard BP’s of 000 0 to 0 and it’s four, four, four, four, three, four. And you think, okay, we all make mistakes, right? We’ve all been there. But I was getting nervous because I was having all these conversations with patients. There was loads of complaints I was having to send to my indemnity and in the end we agreed to speak to well, we I should say, actually what I tried to do on several occasions was meet with the practice owner. I sent him emails, I sent them text messages, and he kept promising he’d meet me and he never did. And in the end, I spoke to my indemnity, who said, Look, Alex, you’ve tried all these things. If this isn’t isolated and is not making any effort, you have to report it to NHS England. Because if you don’t and something happens, you’ll be equally as liable as him by not raising concerns in the GDC could get blah blah, blah.

So I was like, Right. So I had to raise concerns. I had to go to a meeting, provide evidence and that practitioner and that NHS practice I loved, you know, I just started with him there one day a week. He came to that meeting with me. He supported me through that. He helped me with all of this stuff. You know, he was he was incredible. You know, two more examples. One, I worked in a practice one day a week, and when I joined the practice not long after I joined the practice, I got told that we’re going to have a meeting. And I was like, oh, okay. You know, thinking I didn’t know what it was about. Went into the staff meeting. There was the manager, another dentist, and I think the owner was there. Maybe he came on another meeting and basically they just sat down and told me why I’m a dentist, you know, why I’m incompetent, why I can’t, why I need to be retrained by the deanery and how I need to pay for that myself. I’m a financially driven, negligent, unethical, fraudulently claiming dentist. And, you know, I cried every morning when I went to work there because. Because I had this, like, crushing doubt of like, oh, my God, I’m this, like, terrible dentist and this terrible person. I thought I was doing all right.

And I believed what they were saying because this guy was like super experienced, you know? Yeah, he was really senior and I was young, I was fresh, and I was like, Oh, my God, you know? So it just crushed my confidence. And also going into an environment where everybody in that business thinks you’re this person. Yeah, horrible. It’s awful. It’s awful. And so I, um, he said to me, Look, you need to self-refer to the deanery. I have reported you to the deanery, but I can’t force you to go. If you don’t go, however, I will report you to the GDC. So. So I sat down and I said I went away, thought about it, came back, and I said, Right, I want evidence. I want loads of evidence. So they give me loads of evidence. And without going into loads of detail, a lot of it was crap. They just misinterpreted things. They didn’t check the relevant parts of the software for Radiograph reports. I had actually done, and I would say 75% of the cases there was nothing. Anyway, I wrote like a 25 000 word report with all the evidence that they’d given. I submitted it to the deanery before I even attended. And I went there. I sat down and the guy said, Look, I’ve read three document. I understand the situation. We don’t need to take any further. I don’t think there’s any issues at all. This practice owner is known to me.

He’s done this before. So I was like, okay. And he said, But you know, let’s jump through some hoops just in case. Do a communication course, do a claims course, Just something silly, just in case anything happens, you can prove to the GDC that you’ve done some CPD on it, you’ve shown reflective learning and all that stuff. So that’s what I did and it went away and there was no other communication. And then the last and most extreme example was just before Covid. This was the practice that was the nail in the coffin for me. And I could probably do an entire podcast on what happened. But I mean, it’s really hard to express the severity of the situation because when you say things like poorly led and poorly managed, it’s really hard to fully articulate that. But it was Dental practice owned by a therapist. And the the therapist had her her manager friend there. And there was it was just very nepotistic. And the therapist was doing all this cosmetic. I say cosmetic bonding, right? And I walked in picking up a departed dentists workload. And essentially, I would say nearly every patient in there was pretty much neglected. Like the composites were sealed together. There was ledges, there was caries, there was peril. And I remembered I was like opening up contacts like with either burrs or little strips, trying to make it cleanse able for the patient. And then the patient would come back and say, Well, now I’ve got gaps between my teeth.

I don’t like the gaps. So then the practice owner charged me to fix her crappy work, and I was I was involved in writing letters back to patients to comment. As an expert witness on other dentists work. She got she liquidated her old limited company. She was banned from Companies House. So she had a year where she couldn’t be registered. So she asked me to register as one of the practice owners of one of the directors of the company for the Dental practice for a year while her like Ban was in effect. And I spoke to my uncle, who’s a criminal solicitor and various of the people, and they said, absolutely not. You know, if anything goes wrong in that year, you’re liable if anything goes wrong. And this woman’s liquidated multiple companies. And I’ve got text messages and screenshots of conversations where she’s liquidated companies and raised £50,000, £100,000 of debt to various labs. And we had debt collectors coming in from the council of chest cameras threatening us all. We had debt collectors coming in from Dental Labs, threatening us all. It was one of those practices where it was so beautiful on the outside. It was amazing. We had heated lavender neck wraps in a coffee machine in the waiting room, but it was like rotten to the core, you know? And essentially I was just thrown under the bus all the time.

She kept saying to patients, You don’t pay me, you pay the dentist. He takes all the money. And then she’d say, Alex’s ran away with your money. He’s stolen your money. You need to speak to him. She was giving patients my email address. She was giving patients all these details. Is about me. I was. She was deducting all this money from me. I ended up losing about £11,000 when I left. She kept six and a half. Yeah, 6500 pounds in my retainer. Saying that within. Within, I think it was three months. Apparently 6500 pounds of my dentistry failed, bearing in mind. Historically I think the most was like £250. So six and a half grand failed in three months and then by six months it was something like £10,000. So then she was trying to sue me for this extra money with interest above Bank of England and blah blah blah. And there was threats and and I was trying to get my retainer money back and she didn’t pay my Invisalign lab bills. So for those people listening who don’t know your lab bills, your legally speaking, in most cases, especially with Invisalign, you’re contracted to pay them as the clinician, not the practice. So the practice took the 45% split, kept that money, but then didn’t pay Invisalign, so Invisalign was threatening me. So then I had to pay that again, but 100%. So I paid 145% of my Invisalign bills.

Did you have to pay again? You didn’t?

Yeah, I had to pay again because the practice didn’t actually transfer that money across. They just took the 45. So when I left after all of this, I mean, I had so many complaints coming out of my ears, so many letters, litigation notes. It was a mess. I was like, this was in nine months, nine months. And in the end I got a commercial solicitor involved and I was going to take him to court for so much stuff, for defamation, for slander, for unlawful deduction, for all this stuff. And we ended up finding out that she’d liquidated that company as well. So the limited company I had my contract with, she liquidated, set up a new company on a new site, and the commercial solicitor basically said, if you want to chase this, we’re going to have to prove that when she liquidated, the assets that she sold were bought by her new business and we chased those assets, he said. But that’s going to cost you tens of thousands of pounds. And for 11 or 12 grand or whatever it was, it’s not worth it. So I had to walk away from that situation. And that was when Covid hit. So Covid hit. And then even during Covid, she was getting patients to email me and she was saying, like, I have to come back to the practice and do all this Invisalign stuff for patients who were still in treatment. But I said, Well, I’m up in the Northeast. She was in she was in a different part of the country. And when we had the ban, there was regional like alert levels where you couldn’t travel.

I said it’s legally impossible for me to travel to see these patients. You know, I can’t do anything about it. So I had patients emailing me and oh, it was just it was just awful. And that was the nail in the coffin for me where I said, I’m done, you know, fuck it. I’m absolutely done. If this is how I’m going to be trapped, if this is how the industry is, if this is my general experience and I won’t go into it in too much detail. But, you know, you asked about my short, you know, periods of time. Well, my normal journey is three months, honeymoon period, three months trying to make a difference and improve things within the business. Realise that I can’t get anywhere, then have my notice in three months notice and then leave Now. Every single practice I’ve worked in except for that one I loved. I’d always tried to make differences, improve the business, improve communication, work with the team, work with the owners to develop things. And I didn’t get anywhere. And so I’ve learned that you cannot change the values of somebody who owns a business. It’s impossible. It’s too difficult a task. So I thought in my head there is no hope of anything changing. And it was the loss of hope was what made me think, this isn’t for me. I refuse to be unhappy. I refuse to be taken advantage of. I will find another life that isn’t in dentistry.

But that didn’t happen. You came out the other end, right?

Yeah. Basically I said to my partner, Look, there’s this other job. Um, you know, a different part of the country, and we both agreed I’d give it one more shot. And at this time of my life, practice, ownership wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t want to be a practice owner. I’d heard so many horror stories and how stressful and difficult and financially punishing it is. So I’d kind of stuck that off at the time. So I said to my partner, one more shot. And so that’s what we did. We relocated, moved. She gave up her life, career, family, friends, you know, we rented our house out, moved down here, rented where we are now. And, and, you know, I’ve been here for a while now for a couple of years. And during that time was when I met my business coach because I planned on getting out of dentistry by getting into property because that’s what everybody does. It’s really sexy. Apparently realised that actually property is really boring for me. Like I tried it and I thought, God, it’s really boring. So I sacked that off. And then I thought, well, how about owning a practice? So I started finding out about business was in these different networks and communities and eventually found my business coach. My business coach introduced me to his business coach and that’s when we started having conversations about, Well, why do you want to own a practice? Why don’t you actually make a difference? Why don’t you make a change? Why don’t you create the vision that you have for dentistry? Why don’t you be the one to do that instead of walking away from it and letting more and more people go through the process? And I thought, actually, yeah, that that is that sounds something that I could get behind. And, you know, we planned it for about a year before we even started working on it tangibly.

Who’s your business coach?

A man called Richard Perry. He’s not Dental. I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about people, about business. Cultures within the Dental industry, but we can unpack that on another day.

It’s interesting what you say, man. I mean, what comes to mind. You said when you talk about leadership and business skills, you’re right. I mean, I think you probably find this in all professions, right? We’re just not trained in it at all. And I remember, you know, I went back to a road that I’d lived on 25 years ago, and I noticed that every single shop was changed except for the two dentists. And the thought in my head was that, you know, it’s an easy business. I know, I know. It’s a difficult business. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a difficult business. It breaks your back and you have to stress and all of that. But somehow you can be mediocre and still survive. Yeah. And you can’t be mediocre as a restaurant and survive. Not not in Britain anyway. I mean, other other economies where that’s possible. And so, you know, and this thing you say about changing the practice from within, you’re right. There are certain basic principles that can’t change. You know, people people are a certain way. But I think the biggest challenge in dentistry is that there isn’t any time even to work on the business. I mean, what are we talking in the half hour meeting that you can have in a week or something? Nothing’s going to change in that time. Yeah, and most practices are busy, you know, producing, working in the business and not on the business. So it’ll be interesting to see, to see your practice when that comes. Are you in the process right now?

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So we’re early stages, but yeah, I totally agree with you. And you know, there’s a, there’s a great book, I’ll paraphrase it a quote where he says, you know, what you don’t want to do is basically, you know, when you buy a practice, you don’t want to be wearing your associate hat and then take it off and hang it up and then go and buy a practice and put on another associate hat and the practice owner hat and potentially a manager hat and potentially a trainer hat. And my PhD trainer wore all four hats, right? And he was ultimately the one that made me think, God, this isn’t for me. And I think that’s a trap that not just in dentistry everybody falls into. You get so absorbed in your own business and you work on it and you work in it, not on it, and you don’t trust people that they’re going to be able to do it properly and all this sort of stuff. And I agree with you. I think that dentistry is with my limited experience and understanding of business, it’s an easy business because and I say this a lot because the demand in dentistry is typically infinite and it’s typically automatic. So as long as humans exist and have teeth, we will always be needed, right? Until technology or a meteorite prevents that from being important, right? So I think that I think that it is kind of easy to make it work. And I’ve also said in a similar way to you that if you pick these people up with the skills and knowledge they have and drop them in a different industry with comparable levels of knowledge and skill, the business would probably fail if it was in retail or catering or whatever. They probably fail. And so we are quite lucky. But the negative by-product of that is that you do have a lot of businesses that aren’t running very well. Um, that’s right.

But you can get.

Away with it. Yeah, you get away with it and it doesn’t mean these businesses are bad. I think this is a really important point. Some of the businesses I’ve worked in haven’t been like that last one I described. Right. That I don’t think that’s suitable for anybody. Some of them are just not aligned with me and who I am. And I think that’s important to say that it’s not working. You know, the tagline for Dental disruptors is a better life, the right practice. And that word right is really important because what’s right for me might not be right for you. And as we transition through our careers, that right practice will change. You know, that practice was right for me until it wasn’t. And then I was ready to move on to the next stage of my career. And where I work now as an associate is the right practice because it’s a stepping stone towards the next stage of my career, which is practice ownership, and I’m sure there’ll be more steps after that. So I definitely think that’s a really important point for people to understand, is that, you know, it is a very personal and unique thing, you know, working in the right practice for you.

On this pod. We tend to start with the where were you born? When did you first decide to become a dentist? So let’s go to that.

So I was born in Middlesbrough for my sins, consistently voted the worst place in the country to live.

And I’ve been to Middlesbrough.

Yeah, and wanted to be a dentist when I was four. Apparently my parents, you know, patted me on the head and said, Yes, yes, of course you do. You know, and before then wanted to be a hairdresser, you know, because I’m from a very working class family, You know, none of my family went to uni. Well, my uncle did later on. And, you know, none of my family really went to uni. There’s no dentist or doctors or engineers or lawyers in the family. So for me to be like, I want to be a dentist, people were like, Yes, yes, you know, But then I just kind of tailored my life towards it. And as I got older, people were saying, You know, you need to work hard, you need to work hard, you need to work hard. And then, you know, you get two GCSEs where you need to think about your GCSEs, you need to think about your A-levels and you think about uni. And it just kind of happened. And I only just got in, you know, I nearly didn’t get in and I’m very grateful I did. Then I failed my finals. So, you know, I feel that my journey, I’m not a naturally smart person. I’ve never have been I’m not a bookworm that can just recite stuff, you know, So I have to put the time in and the effort in. But I definitely feel that it’s made me much more appreciative of where am I feel very grateful for where I am now, both from the perspective of my upbringing and and you know, how I had that weird level of focus as a four year old.

What did your parents do?

My mum’s a librarian and my stepdad is a well, he was he’s retired now. He’s a turkey farmer for Bernard Matthews. So we lived on a turkey farm and my dad works for like different councils doing like stuff for tenants who are complaining about damp and mould and stuff.

So but there was an element of pride that you did go and study dentistry and become a dentist finally after you failed.

Embarrassing. My mum was embarrassing. You know everybody. Oh, this is my son, Alex. Oh, he’s a dentist. Or, you know, people that knew me from when I was a kid or, you know, it’s nice. It’s cute. It’s cute. I definitely think that as I’ve got older, I’ve. I appreciate it more. It’s more endearing. But yeah, as a, you know, as a, as a, as a younger man, you’re like, oh, mum, don’t stop, you know, please. You know.

So, okay, going, going, going forward. I mean you’re on what, episode 10 or 11 of the pod.


We’ve just released a letter.

Just started.

Sorry. Ten. Yeah. Just on ten. So we the thing is I’m so I work four days clinically, so Mondays are my non clinical day, so I’m incredibly time poor. So for me I’ve got so many people I want to speak to. I want to do all this stuff, but I just don’t have enough time. So I can only do one podcast a month. So it’s a bit of a slow burn, especially with the editing.

You should take my take my advice and outsource some of that work. You know, the it’s for someone who’s about to open a practice as well. Yeah, there is no need for you to be the editor or for you to be the person who uploads it. You know, there’s people all over the world up for that job. Yeah, but for not much money. It’s a thing of it makes sense to do it at the beginning so you understand it. But in the long run, you know, you’re being that guy again, right? You’re being the guy who’s doing everything yourself. Yeah. And if you’re going to if you’re going to be successful as a practice owner, you want to put systems in place. And by the way, I’m not great at it myself. Prav is very good at this sort of thing. But but, you know, are you doing the practice by yourself or are you doing it with a partner?

I’m doing it with my my partner. Yeah. So she’s going to do kind of managerial roles and help with the some of the non-clinical stuff. But not she’s not she’s not a she’s not a dentist. No, no, no, no, no, no. I stay very clear. I couldn’t think of anything worse.

She’s a nurse, I heard on the last podcast.

Yeah, she’s a medical nurse.


Burns. Medical nurse.

Burn specialist. Yeah, but no, I agree. I think one of the things my business coach always bangs on about is as a part of the bangs on in a disrespectful way, but I mean it in an endearing way is he says, you know that you always have to think about replacing yourself. You know, there’s only so much you can do. You need to plan the systems and processes at the beginning for how do you step out of that zone. And I think for me, because the podcast editing, you can imagine the topics of conversation we have can get emotional. They can also get confidential. And so it’s hard for me to explain to somebody how to edit out bits that really shouldn’t be in there. And there’s an element of me kind of I think I need to find somebody who probably really understands Dental disruptors, not just somebody who is just outsourcing. So but it is on my it is on my list of many things to outsource and my partner has helped me with with a hell of a lot of the marketing and the social media stuff because I am useless that I am not a marketing person.

Well, you.

Know, I’ll tell you what, you’ve been amazing at community building when I look at the Facebook page. Thank you. People interact on there. How long has that been going? Not long, right?

Yeah, maybe a year, actually. You know, it’s a good question. I don’t know. Maybe over a year now.

Yeah. But, you know, there’s there’s people interacting on it. There’s people obviously benefiting from it. And, you know, my, my advice to you would be to. Just keep on keeping on for now and it will work itself out. An engaged audience in the end will work itself out. There’s there’s no need to worry about where’s this going and what can I do with it and so forth. Because I can see I can see that there is sort of products on the on the way. I saw that legal thing that you’re putting together is that with your uncle is is he helping you with that?

Well, basically, because I’m not a solicitor, I have to be very careful about, you know, what I say.

But because quite a lot of legal advice on that side. Yeah. I mean, a contract negotiations is a big part of that, that side. Take me through some of that dude. Yeah. That when as a young associate, you’re going for a for an interview, a love kind of that idea that, you know don’t forget you’re interviewing the practice as much as the practice is interviewing you. You know, that’s very true. And something associates don’t, don’t realise so much here. But from the contract negotiation perspective, what are the common mistakes and what should associates look out for more?

God, this is a great question. I mean, I could I’m writing a full course to basically answer this question. Yeah. But, you know, the essence I think, comes down to more of a mindset thing, if I’m honest with you. I think I think we this is from practice owners and and self-employed clinicians perspectives is we kind of understand that we’re self-employed, but we don’t really understand what it means. And we definitely don’t behave like we’re self-employed. We allow ourselves to be treated in a certain way. And a lot of the contracts are written in a way that a really bad because they conflict with being employed and being self-employed. So really simple example, it says at the start of the contract for the purpose of this contract, blah blah blah. The associate is self-employed, but then further down the line the practice will say This is how many holidays you can take and how much notice you have to give. Well, that’s a contradiction. Then. You can’t be told how many days holiday you have to take. And I think that I know HMRC threatens periodically to do investigations and reclassify people, but the day that does eventually happen, there is potentially and this is this is from a practice owners perspective, way more of a risk, way more of a risk, as you will no doubt know from a tax and pension perspective. For a practice owner, if an associate gets reclassified as an employee, they can backdate it for to six years as high as 20.

If they think it’s like malicious, that could that could end a business. You know, it’s it’s it’s really, really important but I think it’s just about I think generally speaking, there’s a lot of apathy in the industry with regards to contracts. It’s very it’s dismissed. Here’s your contract. Sign it. Oh, yeah, I’ll sign it. Boom. Done. But I think we need to get into the mindset of we are both separate parties, businesses, commercial entities, whatever you want to call it. And as such, we should have our own individual understanding of our contracts and our own terms. And my kind of ideal outcome with Dental disruptors is to get to a stage in the industry where the norm is an associate writes their own contract with a solicitor. They set out all of the terms that they want In their ideal scenario, the practice owner already has theirs and they set that out. And then both parties bring that contract to the table and they sit down and now both parties understand what they want. And now true negotiations can happen and now both parties can be aware. And then you start to find out where the boundaries overlap and within the point where they overlap is where a deal can be made. But I think in order for us to get to that stage, we have to first even understand what a contract is, why it’s important. I get some people saying I don’t have a contract, I don’t really need one.

I have a good friend. And I said, Mate, why have you not got a contract? Are you stupid? Like, have you not listened to anything I say? You and the practice are incredibly vulnerable, you know. And so I think that, one, we need to appreciate and respect contracts. We then need to understand them and they then need to be written in a way that we agree with and that is commercially viable for both parties. And that, you know, ultimately is there to help serve the patients but also has to fulfil, you know, HMRC. S requirement of being self-employed, GDC, NHS, England, all these other bodies that also have some say a little bit on things that have to be captured in that agreement. And I think that we don’t do that. So we sign contracts and we land ourselves in problems. And if I was to distil it all away, it comes down to money every time. Everything is money, whether it’s people getting ripped off on their retainer, whether it’s not being paid at all or on time or false deductions or, you know, I had somebody you know, they they took money out of the retainer to pay for the patient’s petrol to get to the practice, to replace the filling. It’s like, well, where is that in the contract, you know, and people just take the mick. So I think that tons of it comes down to money and a big issue is training fees. So. I’ve seen overseas dentists with their training fees sometimes be tied in for five years post training, and if they leave, they have to pay locum fees and training fees and recruitment fees.

And it was something like, I think this young woman, I think it was something like £36,000 of practice was suing her for. And the practice owner’s wife was the solicitor that was writing the letters. So it was a lovely little tag team of abuse. And it’s things like that that I think. But this woman signed it because one, she she was an overseas dentist, so she didn’t really understand what was going on. She probably didn’t have the best grasp of English. She trusted that these people had her best interest at heart and she got absolutely shafted for it. And there are some practice owners that have bad contracts and don’t know. And there are some that have bad contracts and really do know. And it’s those ones that are the danger. Don’t get me wrong, the contract should. I’d love to live in a world where we don’t need it, where we can all trust each other and we just have a lovely gentleman’s agreement. If that’s not a politically correct term anymore, I apologise, you know, between between two people to say this is what we agree. But unfortunately the contract comes out when we run into problems and if you haven’t read it, understood it or you’ve agreed to dodgy terms, it’s going to get tricky. It’s going to get tricky.

And a couple of things, man. I mean, you’re right. There’s there’s the malicious contract, the one that you’re talking about. And by the way, I don’t know about you, man. You must have done it as well. I just signed away with with my associate contracts when I was an associate for sure, because I don’t know what else to do. But but that’s one thing. The other thing is, most of the BDA contracts and the ones from code. Do you know code? Code? No. Well, that was the thing. Confederation of Dental employers or something? Yeah. Most of those contracts are weighted towards the principal. And in a way, it’s like, Oh, I’m using a BDA contract. It assumes BDA means all dentists. You know, it’s not it’s not weighted one way or the other. Whereas a BDA contracts pretty much weighted towards the principal as well, in my opinion, from what I’ve seen. And I think it’s super important. Man So. So go on, let’s talk about it. You go for a job, you kind of like the place. You like the look of the guy. It comes down to, do you want to get this job or not? We look at the contract, okay? It’s money. It’s percentages, I guess, right? Bearing in mind sometimes you can earn more on a lower percentage and you know that that old thing that you shouldn’t you shouldn’t only be looking at the percentages. What else? The money that’s kept over, kept kept back. The retainer. Now, when I was a dentist, that didn’t really exist. Explain about that a little bit.

Yeah, I mean.

There’s terrible stories on that. Yeah.


Well, my.

Story is your story.

Yeah, I had a dentist who. It’s actually on the website. So on the website I put like loads of quotes from, from dentists who actually, you know, real life like things I’ve put in writing to me. And I think the I think this guy started his first associate job in the August and by September he left because of his experiences and the practice kept 12,500 pounds. And I thought, now imagine. No, sorry. He said he owed them 12,500 pounds. So imagine a situation where you’ve just graduated, you’ve just got your first job and somebody’s telling you you earn 12,500 pounds within what, what’s that six months or months of starting like. And he’s like, I don’t know if I’m in it anymore. I don’t know if I’m done, you know? And it’s kind of like it’s crazy. But the thing is, I mean, I know also associates who have gotten a small claims to get it back. And I know of some horrific stories where basically associates have gone, you owe me this money because you can’t legally pay, take it away because you haven’t given me evidence or whatever. So I want my money back. Practice owner says no. Associate says, okay, well, I’ll take you to small claims for it. Back practice owner says if you do that I’ll report it to the GDC. Associate says okay. So then the associate takes the practice owner to court practice Owner reports associate to the GDC uses an I won’t name the company but uses the legal firm which I genuinely believe are incredibly biased in favour of practice owners and write some dodgy contracts and gets all staff in the business to write, you know, allegations.

True or false? I don’t know. It’s all hearsay to me. And there’s this huge hearing and loads of people come in and there’s all this evidence and then there’s corruption with, you know, there’s a conflict of interest with the expert witness who says, I don’t know, 30 of the cases are bad, but actually, you know, there’s an appeal and then another somebody else comes in, another expert witness. And actually only two of them are bad. And this guy has gone through the mill for three years, been suspended temporarily, basically hates dentistry, is super depressed. He feels like he’s been completely abused and taken advantage of. And he is like. Why am I bothering? What’s the point? You know. Okay. Like I say, I don’t know all the facts, but maybe somebody’s made a mistake. Maybe he made a mistake. We’ve all made mistakes. But you don’t throw somebody under the bus for an amount of money because, unfortunately, I think that I’ve seen I’ve heard more and more cases, but that was the most severe one. And I think that the next logical step, in my opinion, which I’m very scared of, is that associates will say, okay, well, if I want to get my money back and I might not, and if I fight for it back, they’re going to report me to the GDC.

Well, I’ll report them to the GDC. So I’m going to start keeping a little logbook on my phone. Of all of the patients at the practice on the scene, of all of the mistakes they’ve made or the other associates have made, or all these things. And it’s just like, Why are we doing this? Why, why on earth are we doing this to each other? Our job, as you said before, is bloody stressful. It’s hard now back. It’s hard in our brain. It’s hard in our eyes and our hands. And we’ve got all these other organisations and associations out to get us. Or at least that’s how it would seem. And we’ve got no support, no cohesion, no collaboration. And then we cannibalise each other for what? For what? Ten grand? 15 grand. I mean, we know how much dentists are making, like what got to work for a month and on that back in most cases, you know, so to me, that scenario is really terrifying because if that’s if that’s the attitude that we have with each other, we’ve got a long way to go until we build collaboration. You know, it’s a very, very scary prospect to me.

Although I think, you know, with I don’t know who your audience are, but I’m expecting the younger dentists, right? There’s got to be some sort of balance as well to say that you are now hearing the worst of it. Right? You’re hearing the bad things. Yeah. And you know, we’ve we’ve got we’ve got to counterbalance everything we’re saying right now with there’s plenty of great practices and great relationships.

Of course.

Of course. You know, it’s important to keep saying that because. Because, you know, I’m sitting here juicily asking you, tell me some of the worst stories, you know, And then and then you’re telling me and it sounds awful. That said, I think a lot of it comes down to the professionalisation of of the business side, you know, just not it’s not professional. It’s not professionally run practices generally aren’t professionally run. I mean, I’ve interacted with thousands of practices. I’d say I had Chris Barrow on a couple of weeks ago. He was saying 20% are great and 80% aren’t. I’d say it’s slightly more than that. I’d say slightly, slightly more than that. It’s like a 5050 sort of split between practices that are at least going in the right direction and the ones who aren’t, you know. But so going forward, your practice, what’s it going to be? Is it like a private place?

Yeah, it’s fully private.

Yeah. I kind of just don’t want the hassle of the NHS for all the obvious reasons everybody’s aware of. But I think, you know, me owning a practice, I’m excited for it because I can’t wait to test my theories and I can’t wait to work out if I’m wrong or if I’m right because everybody’s like, Oh, it won’t be so easy when you’re on a practice. I’m like, I don’t expect it to be easy. I expect it to be a challenge. And I have no doubt that there will be certain things that I’ll be like, Ah, that’s why this was this, or that’s why. Or I’ll be bitten by an associate, perhaps, You know, I totally get it. And I think again, I know, I know the question was loaded at the extreme examples, but like I say, for me to zoom out again from Dental disruptors, this is about collaboration. And so, you know, I want to take those terrible, extreme, hopefully quite rare examples and say, look, this is what can go on, but there can be harmony and there can be great stories. You know, I’ve had I try and get people to share their positive stories on the group as well. When something good happens, you know, where they get their money back or the practice owner says, Oh, I’m really sorry about that. I didn’t realise. Here you go. You know, please forgive me. And it’s like, great, you know, just an honest mistake. It’s not always malicious.

I’d say most of the time it’s just poor communication. So for me, I’m a big believer in vision and values and purpose and goals. Like I’m all about elevated thinking and strategic thinking. That’s just what I really enjoy doing. So for me, my business is all going to be focussed around values. It’s going to be about having the right people who understand what we’re trying to do. And I know that it’s really hard to say these things because without sounding different, because everybody says, I just want to do it my way and I’ve got my way of doing dentistry and that’s fine. But, you know, there’s I kind of want an environment. I want to create the Dental practice environment that I wanted that I never found. And then I want to be able to give that to everybody else across the whole country in every dental practice, you know, almost like a franchise model of my own business to say, look, if you if you believe in these values, if you believe in operating in dentistry this way and perhaps you’re an associate and now you’re on a your own business, well, go and buy a business. And then the model is there if you want it to go and turn that business into, you know, this vision. So when I met my business coach, his business coach, he said to me, There’s two ways of spreading your vision. You can spread it like a.

Or you can spread it like a mirror and a candle would be, in this context, have one massive candle, one massive practice with a huge light that just shines across the whole country on multiple candles across the whole country. Or you could have a flagship candle and then you reflect the light off everybody else by turning everybody else into mirrors. So you just reflect your vision off everybody else. And that’s a much faster, much more efficient way of doing it. And that’s basically the ultimate the, I guess, the the strategic way of getting to that ultimate goal of creating a national collaboration between all clinicians and practice owners. Because ultimately we’re doing I’m doing this from a perspective of personal pain and to help the to help other to help the industry. But also I think sometimes we forget that it’s there for patients. These dentists who are suffering are these practices that don’t have dentists in the chairs. Patients are suffering as a result of this. So, you know, I think we have to also look look through that lens as well and say, well, this benefits all of us. Why? Why aren’t we honest and open with each other? Why aren’t we collaborating? Because we can all be better people, be better dentists, earn more money, serve our patients as best we can, elevate the industry and move forward as a as a true profession. But that’s that’s why it’s called a vision and not a reality.

So are you buying an existing practice or are you doing a squat?

Oh, I know squat.

Squat takes too long. I’m buying an existing one.

So then you’re going to you’re going to inherit staff from the previous guy. Correct. And, you know, my piece of advice on that is, you know, don’t don’t. It’s very exciting, isn’t it, When you when you’re buying a practice, you’ve got all these plans. Don’t go in bull in a China shop and start trying to change stuff. Yeah, definitely. Don’t do that. I’d wait six months before doing anything. You know, just. Just make sure. Make everyone comfortable. Patients and staff. Yeah. That nothing’s changed at all. Just. Just find out what’s going on. Who’s who, what’s what. And then the biggest mistake people make is they get excited and then go straight in and start trying to change everything. Although there is there is one model which is that smash it all down and start again. You know, build it, build it up again. But in most cases, I think you need to, you know, I buy my fruit and veg from this like very high end fruit and veg place opposite my my kids school in South Kensington in London, you know, and it got sold and all the guy did was move the till to the other side. He had the new guy. But I drew all sorts of what ifs from that. Yeah, that and for the first time understood what, you know, this advice I’ve been giving and people give this advice, right. Of what it really meant because that till moved and I started worrying about my fennel.

You know.

It’s it’s human, right? You think what else has changed, right? The tools changed. What else has changed here? And then, you know, eventually I figured it out. The fennel was still the fennel. But. But it’s something as simple as that. Yeah, something as simple as that. The question comes into people’s heads. Something’s changed. Yeah, And people don’t mind change. People want change as well. But small evolutionary change rather than revolutionary change.


And I think I think have a there’s a great book I read called Principles by a guy called Ray Dalio, and he has this like business and he he’s a great guy. Honestly, the book is fantastic. And I’m a massive believer that my core value is honesty, right? So I’m a true believer that honesty is is the cornerstone of any relationship. So I think that a big thing for me, you know, whether I’m working with my nurse and I’m the quote unquote leader of that small team in that surgery, or whether it’s my own business, you know, I’m a big believer in that radical truth, radical transparency, you know, be open and honest, because then you can never, in my opinion, there’s never any issues of that. Me and my not so honest with each other all of the time. If there’s an issue, she tells me, if I find an issue, I tell her, obviously communicate it in a certain way. But I think that because of that, we get on so well. We have such a good connection, we’re so efficient and that kind of close relationship we have from a business perspective is beneficial to everybody. She enjoys working. I enjoy working. The patients come in. It’s not coming to see Alex, a dentist. It’s coming to see Alex and the nurse. I won’t name her because she probably won’t like that, but you know, it’s like we’re a team, we’re a unit, and the patients see that. And I think that it’s really important.

A big a big thing, just to basically echo what you’re saying is when I go in as to say, Hey, this is who we are, you know, this is our story. We really believe in this open and honest sort of stuff. Come and have a chat with us. Let’s find out. This is, you know, what we our vision, you know, our values and, you know, ultimately just be completely transparent with them from the beginning. And I think that, yeah, you don’t want to go rock the boat, right? When you’ve got a stable team, stable list, stable everything with a with owners that have been there for, you know, a number of years, it takes time to nurture those relationships. And if you start messing around with things, you’re going to you’re going to rub people the wrong way. And I don’t have the knowledge or the skills to know how to use an autoclave, you know, or I haven’t done a scale and polish for donkey’s years. If I annoy the hygienist, you know, so or recruiting somebody these days is a nightmare. So yeah, I think more so than ever, you know, just going in, keeping things as they are, you’ve got a business plan and you trickle it, you drip feed. You know, you don’t say, we’re not going to change anything, but you just there’s a way of communicating that. Right. And it has to be planned, has to be very carefully.

Although I would I would sort of caution that your relationship with your nurse is not the same as your relationship with your staff much as you want it. You think it will be. It’s you’re not paying your nurse’s salary. Yeah, it’s just not the same. I know exactly what you mean. You are a little leader as an associate. Yeah. You’re leading your patients, you’re leading your nurse, and so on. Yeah, but when you’re not the actual boss, it’s different, man. You know, it’s different now. I still think at Enlightened. I feel like I’ve got a very happy, honest relationship with my team as well. Yeah, I do think that. But I’ve got a business partner. Yeah. And you know, if any time I’m too sort of soft, he hardens. And there’s an element of when you’re paying someone’s salary. I mean, this this, you know, wage pressure. Wage pressure. Yeah. Oh, let’s all be open and honest. All right. Pay me more now. Yeah. In that moment. Yeah, in that moment. The happy situation of you and your nurse isn’t the same. It’s. It’s a, you know, it’s a different, different dynamic here, But, like, what you’re saying, I like what you’re saying. What you’re saying is lovely. All I’m saying is, you know, the associate nurse relationship really should be a very happy one unless there’s a there’s a culture clash between, you know, the individuals. But it’s slightly different when you can both moan at the boss, can’t you, when your associate. Absolutely. That’s sort of the pressure. Let’s get to the darker part of the podcast. I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to this podcast before, have you?

No, I haven’t, actually. My partner is thing you should listen. And I was like, you know, actually I looked at my car and I was like, Shit, I’ve got that podcast.

So disrespectful, so I apologise.

That’s all right. Of course. Of course. There’s a dark part to this podcast. It’s around. It’s around errors. Okay, so, so around the book, have you read Black Box Thinking?

No, I haven’t.

It’s about the black box. Thinking is about plane crashes. And it says, look, when a plane crashes, what they do is they they get all the information and they don’t want to blame any human, any individual. They want to they want to just make sure it never happens again. The thing never happens again. So they get all the information out and they put it out through the whole community and they get the lessons from it. And all the pilots and whatever the air traffic people, they all learn from that mistake. And hopefully that mistake never happens again. And then it actually it does segway into medical and it says in medicine, we tend to blame one person and blame is where it’s at. So what ends up happening is we end up hiding our mistakes as much as possible. And so what ends up happening is we don’t learn from each other’s mistakes enough. So in the spirit of going against that, we ask all our guests, What’s your biggest clinical mistake?

Biggest clinical.


I would say there’s probably two of equal weight in my head anyway. One was I injected, I did an ADB and I was partially through the injection. And the patient goes, Isn’t it the other side? And I thought, Oh, shit. And you know, there’s so many times you have a lot of near misses. I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible with my left and right. I said to the nurse, Oh, it’s upper right five. And then I say, Let’s have a composite for upper left five. And she’s like, upper left, right.

I’m like, it’s like a dyslexic.

It’s like a it’s like a dyslexic spectrum thing. It’s really.

Dangerous. It’s really dangerous. My notes are so haphazard. So that’s one. The other one is I nearly prepped and I was doing a veneer prep on one front tooth when I was in FD and I nearly prepped the wrong tooth and I fractured a file. I was trying to I found what I thought was MM2, the elusive MM2 that’s shrouded in mysticism. Right? And I was like, Oh, this is great. I’ve got patency, I’ve got a little file in there. Click. And I thought, Oh, that’s a really short canal. Look at the file, touch the tip. It’s blunt as hell. So there is a file in the palatal bone. So then I had to refer the patient for a specialist. Endo But that’s it, really. In my head, I don’t think I’ve really had too many blunders. I’ve probably had a lot of near-misses. But in terms of clinical mistakes, I think that’s probably those are kind of the worst things. I’m probably the worst. Endo Don’t come and see me for any endo.


Canal and another one I’ll probably somehow perforate. It’s just not worth seeing me for an Endo.

The funny thing about Endo is it only takes one error like that for you to just say, That’s it, I’m out of endo, you know? Yeah. I’ve spoken to a couple of people on this board who cited an endo mistake and never went back to it after that.

I think especially when you leave the NHS, I mean, I’ve become I have definitely de-skilled an endo, you know, because I just refer everybody to a specialist because I’m like, Well, he’s going to charge £100 more. He’s down the road. I would say, I don’t know how many referrals I’ve made, probably well over 100 for malls and stuff. The amount of times this man finds an MTU is unbelievable, and I think I’ve probably found it twice in my life. So I think how many teeth have I not properly root filled? How many teeth are we Not all properly root filling. So for me, I’m like, Well, is it really in the best interests for me to do it, you know, for the patient? So I just have that conversation. I say, Look, I can, but you can go and see this guy for £100 more. That’s probably got a 90% better success rate than me. Take your pick.

Although, Alex, you know what happened to me once? I stopped practising for five years when we started Enlightened. And then I came back to it. And then the second time when I came back to it, I said, I’m. I’m going to refer out anything that there’s someone better than me to do. And guess what? Something wasn’t right when I was doing the bleaching your bonding. So you know what I mean. It’s a funny line, isn’t it? Because there’s always someone better than you.

Yeah, for sure.

But, Endo, you’ve drawn that line full adventures.

Full dentures are a dark art as well.

So I’m a.

Big believer in, um, I think it was maybe two years ago I kind of had this realisation of I used to be I used to chastise myself all the time, clinically speaking, right? So my composites aren’t good enough, my margins are crap, my dentures don’t fit, my ends are short. Whatever it is, I’d sit there and take photographs and compare myself to everybody and get into this really bad mindset. And I used to I did all the courses and tried to improve and there was some stuff I was just really crap at and had consistently bad experiences with really knocked my confidence. And I eventually kind of reached the conclusion that and are doing a lot of reading was that I shouldn’t bother trying to strengthen my weaknesses. I should focus on my strengths and outsource my weaknesses. And when I say weaknesses, I mean things I’m not good at or I don’t enjoy. I was putting myself through a lot of stress and a lot of hardship, trying to do things I just wasn’t good at, naturally speaking, like I’m not good at marketing, so I outsource that to somebody else. I’m not good at copywriting. I have all these crazy ideas, but I can’t capture them. In a beautiful statement. I just pay somebody else to do it because these are skills I don’t have. And like we were saying before, I think it’s admirable. I find any, to me, a specialist in any skill in any field of dentistry is impressive. To be good at every aspect of dentistry is more impressive because I think it’s so hard to be good enough in all the different fields of dentistry to be able to provide your patients with a good level of care. I think that is almost like a specialism of itself, you know, generalism. And so, you know, for me, that’s something that I’ve never been able to achieve. But equally, I don’t think there’s anything in dentistry I could say I would ever want to specialise in. You know, I like the variation of dentistry, but yeah.

Talking about mistakes, did you not have any management mistakes where the patient sort of lost confidence or.

Oh yeah, definitely. Yeah. I mean, it could be things like the LA just doesn’t work. So you know them up again and it doesn’t work and it doesn’t work and it doesn’t work. And you’re thinking, why is this not working? And then you get somebody else in or you can’t take a tooth out and you get somebody else in and then there’s a pop up on, you know, the desk and patient wants to see the dentist next time. And you’re like, okay, great.

You know.

But also conflicts of personality. You know, I think I’m a very extroverted person. I’m very chatty, and I’ve sometimes asked just general questions to patients and they just haven’t liked it. You know, I made and also making dentures for people. I used to make full dentures and just couldn’t get it right. And patients just say, Well, you know, I want to see somebody else now because you’ve been trying Alex for months. This is my third set. They’re still shit, you know. So yeah, definitely. I think that lack of confidence is something that is probably not uncommon, but I definitely think that that happens a lot less now. And it’s not because I’m a fantastic dentist. I think it’s because of how I communicate with patients and how if something goes wrong, I’ll manage it much better. I think you just learn as you get older, going through general life experiences, dealing with conflict with patients or anybody. I think you generally just get better at dealing with it and reading people and knowing where to draw the line, how to communicate. So it’s very, very rare now that I’ll have a patient that doesn’t want to see me. It’s a hell of a lot more common. I’ve got a patient that I don’t want to see. You know, I’m desperately hoping that they’re going to go and see somebody else.

I think being chatty is actually is super useful in private dentistry. You know, it may be the difference between a private dentist and an NHS dentist. Right. That you got time to talk, you know, But I hear what you’re saying. I mean, they say after a while you just end up attracting the kind of patient who likes you, you know, that’s the the way it ends up happening. But also, you know, the thing that worried me about your moving around so much was, you know, you must have heard this thing about, you know, seeing your own failures. You do need to be somewhere long enough to see your own failures as well.

Well, you’ll be glad to hear that in August this year. I’ve been at this practice for three years.

Wow. No, literally impressive. So I’ve seen.

I’ve seen my plethora of zirconia onlays fail spectacularly.

And now remains.

At least the other works lasting three years.

Exactly. Yeah.

I have no idea how my work added in my three month practice lasted.

What’s your favourite bit of dentistry?

Oh, I don’t want to be predictable and say the relationship with the patient. I think I’m going to stay away from that. And I’m going to say the relationship with the team, I’m I get so much pleasure and so much enjoyment out of being in an environment where people get on and they chat and it’s just light hearted and easy going. And I think that having that type of.


See, I’ll be honest to you, this is a weakness of mine. And this is something that I think I’m personally going to really struggle with in general practice is I’m far too friendly. And I don’t mean that in a flattering way. I mean overly friendly. Right? And I’m far too open. I say things I shouldn’t say. I have conversations that would not be the most professional in the eyes of the GDC, right? With sometimes with patients. Right. And sometimes with with members of the team. And I think that having that boundary between I am a dentist slash leader or business owner versus you are somebody I work with, who I enjoy, who I like as a friend who I might go out for drinks with, but I also pay your wages or but we’ve still got to have a professional relationship is a really difficult line to tread. And for me personally, you know, me and my partner have had so many conversations about this. She’s always telling me off for conversations I’m having at work. And she’s right because I do put myself at risk. And I think that that is a weakness I never thought would be a problem. I guess I never thought that aspect of my personality would be a problem.

And so I am worried about how I’m going to navigate that when I own a business, how I’m going to separate that relationship, because I have to be very careful what I say. Let me say the practices where I’ve worked, I’ve known situations where the practice owner has tried to be like really friendly and pally and maybe have like sexual banter, for example, with the girls in one breath and then tell them off instantly in the same afternoon because they didn’t put something through the autoclave properly. And the nurses are like, You can’t have it both ways. You can’t be the boss and tell me how to do things, but then also have these conversations with us. And I think that there is lots of leadership styles that exist. And my experience is that most people tend to have quite an autocratic leadership style in dentistry. But my leadership style, the kind of friendly I’m your pal, first boss, second sort of thing is, is I need to rein that in. And that’s something that, you know, I’m working on and I think that yeah, that’s a it’s a really it’s a really interesting dilemma and I’m not sure how to navigate that at the moment.

I’m in a similar situation, man. I’m in a similar situation. But the way it’s going to have to end up being with you is that you’re going to be the good cop and your partner is going to be the bad cop. That’s the the because, you know, like going along the same lines as your work on your strength thing. You know, you’ll end up being the kind of guy that if you’re looking out for that all day, you’ll lose an element of yourself. You know, you’ll lose the best part of you as well as the worst part of you. But whether it’s your partner or a manager who handles that, the terrible thing about business is sometimes you have to lose people. You know, and when it comes to firing someone, suddenly all this stuff can come out that you need to look out for, that you do need to look out for. Yeah.

I mean, I’ve read.

A lot of reports where, you know, nurses have made various accusations three years down the line, you know, where Report eventually gets, you know, in the air. And then people say, oh, well, he said this, he touched my bum. He followed me into the toilet. He said, sexy. He said he you know.

That happened.

I’m sure you’ve read a lot of the reports, some of the things people say. I think, God, you know, part of me chuckles, part of me is terrified. And part of me is going, you know, I need to be careful because you just don’t know who is your friend slash employee now and who could be your arch nemesis. You have screenshots in WhatsApp group chats where you’ve been slagging somebody off. You have to be so careful.

Yeah. And you know, it goes along with that. When I said before we were talking about professionalisation, yeah, you know, at the end of the day this is professionalisation too, right? So yeah, be careful. Be careful with what you say.

Absolutely. Yeah.

But, you know, it’s a new challenge and it’s something I’m always one for, for challenges. And I like to push myself and it’s something that I know I’m going to struggle with and I know I’m going to make a mistake. And I think that for me, I’m happy to accept that. I’m not scared of making a mistake. I know I will. But I think it’s how I deal with that is what I consider to be more important than the mistake itself. You know, my partner saying, well, what if this happens? What if this happens? What if you say this or act this way? And then somebody and I say, Well, I can’t control it and I don’t want to be a miserable person. I don’t want to take over a practice like you say, lose the best part of me, which is, yeah, a bit playful, a bit immature, a bit inappropriate, a bit crude, you know. But yeah. Is that. Is that perfect? No, of course it’s not perfect, but I almost feel like I don’t think I could live a life as a practice owner where I don’t take risk. If that was the case where I wasn’t allowed to take risk, I wouldn’t want to be a practice owner or I would just be a silent partner and I would just manage the business and never work in it and they’d never see me. Alex Who you know, but I enjoy people. I enjoy that.


Yeah, but it’s a bit like, you know, that thing they say about patients who, like you, don’t sue you. It’s a bit like that. Yeah. If. If people can see your basic principles are correct, you’ll never end up in this problematic zone. And I feel like as an employee, you will be that guy. I’m looking forward to like, you know, you coming back in a year’s time and saying, Shit, man. It was. It’s a much harder job than I thought, being a principal and all this stuff I used to say about associates, you know, there will be things like that, right? There’ll be, they’ll be there’ll be a whole lot of costs you never knew about, you know, things breaking down and just stuff. Right? And you see it all the time. You see people go from associate to principal and suddenly they wake up to what it is to be a principal. So I’m looking forward to seeing what those things are for. For a guy like you. Yeah.

Me too.

And I look forward to, you know, like I say, a big part of it is then sharing that side of the story. Right. With the social. Yeah. Yeah. Because then I’ve got a balanced view. Then I can say, Hey, I had all these problems as an associate. I’ve got all these problems as a practice owner, you know, you guys know me, you trust me, You know what I’m like, I’m never going to change. I am who I am. And now I can tell you what it’s like from I don’t see the other side of the fence because again, it instils this attitude of a divide.

But us and them. Yeah, I.

Think I think that, you know, it’s important for me to understand both sides because that’s how I’m going to then build that system that promotes that collaboration. I can’t build it on one side. I have to build it from both sides. So, you know, buying a practice gives me a lot of personal pleasure and will give me a lot of financial freedom. I hope everything but more importantly, it’s going to it factors in in a big way to my bigger vision. So it’s like multifaceted and, you know, ultimately I’d like to maybe drop my clinical days too, too so that I can focus more on Dental disruptors and on this vision. You know, I don’t want to I don’t think I want to leave clinical completely, at least not not now. But I, I definitely want to have more time to focus on Dental disruptors and also just my life. You know, it’s, you know, what it’s like owning or running a business. It’s very time consuming. And even though the business is small, it’s so time consuming. You know, I’m always on phone calls with people or zoom meetings or making connections or, you know, today I spent all day doing the legal course, you know, just all day in front of a computer screen. And and it takes its toll. And then now, like we’re having a podcast and then tomorrow I’ve got a meeting and then Wednesday I’ve got a podcast and Thursday I’ve got a podcast and then I’m on holiday and it’s like, you just don’t have any time. My partner’s like, Well, who are you? You know? And I think that’s another thing. I mean, the whole mental health wellbeing. Is a is a huge conversation. But I think that know finding the time is really, really important. And I think that’s a key. A key goal for me is making sure that I’m limiting the number of clinical hours that I do. I know where that sweet spot is for me now, where I’m happy I can do four days a week, not five. Any more than that. No, I’m not doing any more than that.

83 days is perfect, you know.


I’ve done all of it. I’ve done one, two, three, four and five. I’ve never done six. But 2 or 3 to me makes makes a lot of sense. Three if it’s your main job, two if it’s kind of like a side job, you know?

Yeah, yeah.

I think I want to because my view is two days clinical in the business. One day on the business, one day on Dental disruptors. That’s kind of my thing. And then one day off a week. But I know it won’t be like that. I’ll end up working, but I’d like to think that I would have a day off. A week?

Yeah. I mean.

The thing is, dude, at the beginning, you’re going to. You’re going to be so overwhelmed that you’ll be working seven days a week at the beginning because it’s so much new stuff. And then then you start making changes again. A lot of new stuff. So, so, so I’d give it a five years before any of this is going to happen. I know five years sounds like a long time to you, but it isn’t. It just flies by. But yeah, I like the long term kind of thinking of it. And Dental disruptors. It’s been a it’s been a brilliant start, right? It’s been a brilliant start. Don’t worry, man. As long as people are engaged with it, it will be fine and people are already engaged with it. So, you know, Well done. Well done for for doing that. Thank you. Let’s finish with this. Give me a couple of things that you wish associates knew that most don’t. And a couple of things that you wish principals knew about, associates that most.


I think if I could highlight to people the importance of having a contract that they understand and that they agree to. I think that would go a long way because if you don’t agree to these dodgy terms, you’re not going to land yourself in sticky situations, so you’re much less likely to write. It’s all about prevention, isn’t it? It’s all about prevention. The second thing, although really this should probably be first, is I think that we need to understand ourselves more. You know, when you say the same thing so many times, you end up like making your own phrase. I feel like I’ve said this so much. My genuine belief is that we, all of us, every single human being, must understand their own internal world first before they can understand the external world. And what I mean by that is you need to understand your vision, your values, your goals. You need to know who you are as a person, what you care about, where you want your life to be, how are you going to get there? What are the steps? What’s the strategy? Once you know that now you can start using that information as a filter to understand your external world And in the context of Dental disruptors, once you know what you care about and what you need as a dentist, you can start finding a practice that aligns with that.

What I did was go and find a practice that I thought was aligned with me, and I didn’t really run it by a filter because I didn’t take the time to understand myself. Right? So once I did that, if I’d have done that process three years ago, I would have known that practice ownership was the only option for me three years ago. But I didn’t know that because I didn’t give myself the chance to do that. So I think, you know, whilst at the moment working on a legal course, you know, we’ve got I’m looking at my little wall full of bits of paper now, you know, we’ve got, we’ve got to finding the right practice course on there as well. And I think that that’s going to be more about this sort of stuff. It’s going to be more, I guess you could call it the fluff or the woo. But the bit that I think is the cornerstone of understanding who we are.

And Alex, let’s let’s say let’s.

Say you think about that and you come out with, look, I want to be in a practice which is, I don’t know, caring and considerate and respectful of each other, respectful of our patients, and has the latest equipment and X and Y and Z. How do we know? I mean, you go for an interview. How do you know that that’s what you’re getting?

Yeah, massive.

Question. It’s a massive question. And this is ultimately the biggest single dilemma that Dental disruptors is going to help achieve. So so to answer your question, we don’t know. But all we can do is do as much due diligence as possible to mitigate that risk. So there’s loads of things you could do. I mean, the interview is probably the biggest thing. When I got an interview, I literally don’t care about the practice at that stage. I want to go back for a second viewing of the practice. That interview is about getting to know the person. I did the same thing when I was viewing practices. I said to the seller, I said to the agent, I don’t want to see the business. I want to see the person. I want to go out for a coffee. I want to go out for lunch, and then I’ll come back and we’ll look at the practice. I don’t want to be distracted by the noise. Let me get to know you, what you care about, what you resonate with, why you’re selling your practice. And then we can take it from there. If we connect on that level, then I’m more interested in your business. That’s my priority anyway. So I would say that that we need to do our due diligence and understanding the person and understanding what they care about because I believe that the practice owner, their vision, their values ultimately just gets projected on the business in terms of the team, the systems, the processes, the culture, everything else pretty much.

So you need to know that person and if you don’t get on with the person, nothing else matters. Nothing else matters. The contract doesn’t matter, the scanner doesn’t matter. The licence fee split doesn’t matter. It’s all irrelevant. So I think that. But, but again, you need to understand yourself first to know what you actually care about and what you want and what you value in a person to understand that. Now it’s again, to sort of zoom out and look at the bigger picture. You know, the idea here is that Dental disruptors with the sister practice owner group, you know, we will be creating a values based assessment that says, I’m an associate who believes in these values. I’m a practice owner that believes in these values, you know, and with some degree of assessment or accreditation or whatever you want to call it, too. So it’s not just people arbitrarily agreeing. Then you can start aligning people and then the system can do the due diligence and the system can reduce that risk as much as possible. But people will always be people. People will cheat the system, people will lie, People will get it wrong. People, you know, will make mistakes. And and I think it’s really important to know that it’s never perfect.

People will lie to themselves, right?

Absolutely. Absolutely. And people people are not perfect and there’s no perfect practice. Everything is about compromise. Finding the right practice is a negotiation. A negotiation is about not having a fixed position. It’s about being willing to compromise on certain things. We all have our non-negotiables, things that there’s no chance we’re budging on. Right? But a lot of this stuff is kind of up for up for negotiation. And so, again, we need to think about what really do we care about that we that are non-negotiables for us and capture that in a conversation with somebody so that you’re clear and open and honest and communicating from the start. When I went to the practice interview where I am now, I had my CV, I wrote a covering letter, and one of the first conversations I said was, Look, there’s going to address the elephant in the room. I’ve had a thousand practice. Says. Right. And you’re sat there thinking, you know, Alex is the common factor. I will talk you through every single practice and all the reasons why I’ve left. If you want me to, here’s who I am, here’s what I care about. Here’s what I need. Here’s what I want. Can you give me that? If you can. What do you want in return? And if I can give you that, let’s go. But if we can’t, then we just walk away. And it’s no hard feelings. And I think that being open and honest about what you need as an associate is really important. Give me some.

Examples. What is it that you need?

Alex I think that maybe not so much now, but I would say most people need support. People say support, right? And that is such a washy term. I think we need to be more specific about what we need. You know, I need a dedicated nurse. I need the same nurse every day. I do not want a different nurse every day of the week or on a two monthly or three monthly rota. I just don’t want that. It does not work for me, you know, I want complete freedom of materials, equipment, labs. I’m happy to buy my own kit. That’s not a problem. I want complete freedom of my diary. I want to be able to book when I want, where I want, however long I want for whatever treatments, Right? These are the sorts of freedoms that I want because those are the things that make me happy. Those are the things that make me the best dentist, which is ultimately going to benefit your business. And I think this is the key thing is to communicate to people in a negotiation what is the benefit for them If I do everything I want, you don’t care what I want, You care what’s in it for you. So I have to make it clear to people that the reason why I want these things is because I can serve my patients to the best of my ability, be more productive, earn more money, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I think that when we start having those types of conversations, we start to get good outcomes and we reduce risk. It’s when we don’t have communication, when we’re not honest, when we don’t understand the practice or the owner or the contract, that’s when you’re going to run into problems. You need to have that clarity at the very beginning before you can make any progress.

And where do you draw the line on what bit of kit you’re buying and what bit of kit they’ll have to supply?

I think it just depends really. So I’m personally I’m not that fussed about buying my own kit. I know some people are like, Oh my God, the practice has to buy everything. I think if it’s, say, for example, if the practice has already got Venus and I want Empress, I would expect to have to pay Empress. I wouldn’t expect the practice to pay for that if that was my choice because I loved it. I wouldn’t expect the practice to pay for that. I would ask. I’d negotiate. Okay, well, why don’t you buy the first kit, the first batch? And if I haven’t used it all and it goes out of date, I’ll cover the full price or whatever, you know, because that’s a worry for a lot of practice owners to buy all this kit. It never gets used. But if it’s something relatively cheap or relatively insignificant or something that I use regularly that you know is going to make a big difference, like, you know, rubber dam clamps, I have a very specific set of rubber dam clamps and, you know, the practice bought them and they bought me some other, you know, I went on Sunny’s course the greater curve, you know, fantastic. And they bought the matrices. I mean it was it was like, you know, £100. It wasn’t much, but the practice doesn’t have to. And I think that’s really important for associates to know that the practice doesn’t have to buy this stuff. They’ve got what they’ve got. And if you want to bring your own stuff, you bring your own stuff.

Yeah, because it breaks down. You know, we do a composite course here and there’s materials on that composite course. And when I look at delegates, it does break down sort of 50, 50, half half of them are ready and willing. I’m talking about associates ready and willing to buy. And then there’s the other half who they expect their boss to buy. And it’s interesting, when I was an associate, I used to buy stuff as well. Insomuch as I see a lot of times being an associate is as much about education as it is about earning, right?


You know, you have to you have to think about that if you plan to. I mean, I was never a principal, Right? But but if you plan to be a principal, one way to think about it is the whole of your associate years. How many years that is, is training for becoming a principal. Although one of the reasons why I was really attracted to your group was because there are people, people. My wife will never be a principal. She’s a dentist. She’ll never be a principal. She doesn’t want to be a principal. She wants to be an associate. So there are people who never become principals at quite a large number of people. And so if if associates are going to be, you know, shat on the whole time because one day you will be the one doing that, you know, some people never get to that point of of owning a practice. You know, it’s been lovely having you, man. So I’m going to finish it with our usual two final questions. Number one. Fantasy dinner party. Three guests, dead or alive? He going to have.

To think about this? My initial gut feeling was to. Go of the think of it more on the business road like, you know, business wise, career wise. But then I thought, no, actually, if this is my fantasy dinner party, I want it to be people, actually, you know? Yeah. So I’ve got three. I’ve got Stephen Fry. Stephen Fry is my celebrity man crush. He has the he’s so intelligent. It’s unbelievable. And I’m so amazed by his intelligence. I love his story. He’s had such a colourful life, and I love how passionate he is about language. I think language is really, really important. It really betrays our mindset about things and our behaviour, our attitude. So yeah. Stephen Fry Fantastic man.

Like him.

Number two. Robin Williams. Absolutely. Mental, Crazy, hilarious. I just love his wild, wacky sense of humour. Just runs a hundred miles an hour all the time. Can’t keep up with him. He’s just brilliant, you know? You know? Bless him, you know, Fantastic guy. And you know, Aladdin was one of my favourite Disney films growing up as a kid and him voicing the Genie was just amazing. Absolutely amazing. So yeah, definitely have Robin Williams.

There although.

Although Committed suicide, right?

Yeah he did yeah he when he found out he had it was Lewy body. He hung himself I think.


Think he had you know like for me this Anthony Bourdain. You know him? Sorry. Tony Bourdain. Tony Bourdain.

Oh, no, no.

So my hero, my absolute hero committed suicide a couple of years ago. And it’s a weird thing, isn’t it, that someone you look up to, you think is the luckiest person in the world? And it’s actually quite sad.


I mean, I was going to pick Chester from Linkin Park, you know, because I grew up with Linkin Park. I absolutely loved the music. And again, you know, you think to yourself, he’s a fantastic singer. He’s a good looking guy. He must be absolutely minted. And he killed himself. And you think Jesus. And then you go back and listen to the music and you think, God, how did I not really listen? I heard I didn’t listen. It’s kind of scary. The last guest I’d have is Ronnie James Dio, one of my favourite singers of all time. I don’t know if you’re into heavy metal or your or your rock music, but no. Ronnie James.

Which band was.

He in?

Quite a number. He was in. He sang in Rainbow. He sang in Black Sabbath. He sang in his own band. He was the guy that invented the kind of heavy metal, you know, the horns thing. Just a fantastic guy, really nice bloke, down to earth, you know, for kind of like a rock and roll sort of star. He he wasn’t really the sort of person that was, you know, really into all the drugs and the women. He was just like a normal guy. That was just a fantastic singer, really enjoyed music, really passionate and love music. So to me, yeah, I’d definitely have Ronnie there. Good luck.

Amazing. Amazing. And the final, final question.

It’s a bit weird.

At your age. Deathbed. Surrounded by your friends and family, everyone who is dear to you. Three pieces of advice you’d give them.

And the world had to write these down because I had to think so. I’m going to look off screen to read them. So the first one is. I cannot touch on this. Not that long ago. We all I’m an unbelievably strong believer that we all need to have a very, very, very clear purpose for our lives and our purpose being broken down into our vision, our values and our goals. And I think that we all need to understand that. We need to understand ourselves, have a direction for our lives. Without that, you’re just heading in any given direction, with no frame of reference as to whether you’re achieving your goals, what you’re doing, why you’re doing it. You literally have no purpose and you’ll be unhappy no matter how much of whatever it is you’ve got that you’ve got. See it a lot with people who are unhappy and they don’t know why, and it’s because they haven’t got a purpose for their life. They’re just going through the motions, accumulating things they don’t need. So I think that’s definitely top of the list. Second is to understand it’s kind of similar really, but to understand who you are first and to go through that first process.

And learn how to control that. So I think it’s all well and good understanding who you are, but I think you need to be able to control that and improve that. So I have my weaknesses. You know, I’ve had a therapist, I’ve had mindfulness coaches, I’ve got my business coach. And there’s so much about those individuals that and I also put a pet, a personal trainer, in the same realm as these individuals who take you through a journey from where you are now to where you want to be, who have done it before, who can help you and reduce the risk, reduce the time, reduce the stress of improving yourself. And I think that doing that process and harnessing who you are and controlling who you are will make you so much better at then assessing the external world and then controlling the external world and things around you. And I don’t think there’s anything that you couldn’t do. If you can do that. I genuinely like the concept of the impossible, I think is just a challenge to me. And that’s only because I just strongly believe that there’s nothing that we can’t do once you understand yourself enough.

Um. Like that.

Like that. Do you think we’re over the sort of the stigma of talking about mental health?

Yeah, I think so. I mean, I still think that there’s I think on a surface level, we are I think the deeper stuff we’re not. So, you know, in Rachel’s podcast, she spoke about, as you would have heard, she reached this corner every time she was in a car on the way to work and wanted to crash a car. You know, one of my mates nearly died because he had a massive breakdown, like a, um, like a bipolar breakdown, but on the manic end. And he didn’t remember anything. And he ended up getting sectioned. And he he did something before that happened that nearly killed him that he doesn’t remember. And stories like that that are like really hard hitting that I think are very severe, that are very strong manifestations of a mind that really is struggling. I don’t think we’re comfortable talking about that.

It’s it’s funny timing because we’re doing a little mini series called Mind Movers. It’s coming out next. After this After this episode, we’ll be in we’ll be the first mind movers that we’ve done. And the question with that was we’re all good to talk about it now. But is it is you know, what are the conversations good for? Are they are they are they good for just sharing or is there some something somewhere that it can go from from that? You know, and it’s it’s I’ve done it with non dentists with Romanesque and and non dentists to start with. But your generation seems to suffer more with mental health questions. Is it that or is it that you guys talk about it more. I’ve never really figured it out.

Good question. I think there’s probably a generational element of stiff upper lip. You know, don’t talk about it. You know, for example, you know, if I was ever feeling whatever depression technically feels like to me, I would never tell my parents and my partner would never tell her parents because it would just be swept under the carpet or, you know, get a grip of yourself, you know, grow up.

And the Yorkshire people. Yeah, yeah. You know.

But yeah, so there’s, there’s definitely an element of that, I think a generational mindset. I think there’s an awareness issue, an education issue, and I think that people are generally more sensitive. Like I’m pretty thick skinned as far as people go and I’m 31 and I some, you know, for example, you’ll know when you get the trainees in. Yeah, they cry at random stuff. And I’m like, Oh my God. Like, I only said something really innocuous and it upset them. And I think that people are generally more fragile and there’s probably many reasons for that. But for me, the burning issue is social media. I think people are so insecure for a whole host of reasons because of social media in terms of their looks or their money or their success or how good their composite veneers are, you know, whatever it is. And I think that people are generally way more susceptible to it.

But, you know, social media is social media. It’s not going anywhere. It’s it’s only going to get more it’s not going to get less. I thought maybe it had to do with, you know, I don’t know about your actually probably in your time as well. You had to be like top of your class three A’s at A-level to get into dentistry. And the sort of perfectionist types are getting in now. In my day, it wasn’t that. It was like it was like BC was, it was what you needed to get into dentistry, right? And so we were failures to start with, didn’t have to have to stress about being failures afterwards. I don’t know. So All right, let’s get on to your third piece. We didn’t have your third piece of advice.

So the third piece was just work smarter, not harder. And I think I know a lot of people who have quote unquote, successful, who have, you know, who I admire, who are really good people. But, you know, they talk about the hours they work and the graph they put in as like a kind of metric of their success or their commitment or their effort. And I just think. But you don’t. A badge.

Of honour. Yeah.

And it’s almost like. But the number of hours you work doesn’t impress me. In fact, if you achieved if you achieved less but, but work just, you know, half the hours I’d be more impressed. You know, everything is about leveraging. Everything is about outsourcing. Everything is about scheduling and goal setting and prioritisation of tasks. It’s all really boring shit. I bet this is probably the three most boring fucking answers you’ve had.

On this podcast. No.

Honestly, because that talk to people about this to kind of glaze over. But I’m like, this is literally like to me, going through that process, it’s the most important thing. It’s not sexy, it’s not glamorous, and it’s definitely not easy and it’s not taught in any way in any education system. But I think that you have to get these fundamental things right. And if you do, then perfect. So I definitely, definitely am a strong believer in working smarter, not harder. And and I achieve more and I’m happy with what I achieve and I, you know, manage.

Alex When did.

You become when did you become this sort of go getter? Kind of. Self improvement? Sort of. Kind of. When did you become that? Were you always that or did did did a switch flip when you failed your finals or something?

You know, I’ve kind of thought about this in the past, and the only thing I can think of is when I was a kid, me and my best mate, a guy called Ryan when I used to go and visit him when I was like a teenager, I’d stay at his house and we’d always crash in the same bed and we’d just stay up at night chatting just about anything. And as we got older, we’d chat more about things like relationships and what makes us happy and about our attitudes to money and about understanding people. And I think we were both just completely open and honest about all of our flaws and insecurities and weaknesses. And we kind of learned. I think I genuinely learned some skills then without realising about about understanding me, myself and understanding other people and finding ways to communicate. And and I think that probably from from a sort of late teenager, I probably started to do that without realising and then when I had some issues in my fourth year, I had a big like relationship breakdown with my mum and that threw me into therapy for a while and that was my first experience of therapy, you know, And I think since I was a kid when my parents divorced, that had a massive knock on effect.

So I explored a lot of that in that therapy session. I was like, Holy shit. I actually found it fascinating to learn about myself from somebody else that knew nothing about me, really. You know, she really made me just look in the mirror and she she said to me, I’ve got a massive guilt complex, for example. And she said to me, You know, Alex, what does guilt feel like to you? And I was like, Huh? And I was talking and talking and talking. And then she gave me a piece of paper and she wrote everything down that I’d said. And I read it and I thought, Holy shit, this emotion is dominating who I am, you know? And I’m not a very mindful person. I’m not an in the moment person. My mind is always drifting. I’m operating at 100 miles an hour. I struggle with giving myself permission to do things, to relax, to switch off. I always feel like if I should be working all of the time and these are all things that have come out over the years of speaking to people, whether it’s professionals or friends or just a lot of self-reflection.

How old were.

You when they split up?

I was eight.

So is there an element of, you know, people say of people feel like if you don’t make make something for yourself, it’s not going to come, you know, like independence came to you at that point where you felt like your world had fallen apart and that it was up to you.

Something like that? No, not.

Really. No, I wouldn’t say I felt that. I think I was.

So the guilt you felt guilty for their Break-Up, Is that what you’re saying?

Yeah, essentially. So there was a lot of without without this becoming a therapy session. There was a lot of. There was a lot of lies and poison and venom that was given to me from one side about the other side. And so eight year old me, all eight year old me wanted to do was know the truth. I just wanted to know what happened. And all I got was toxic, toxic and and comments and stories that really just started to cloud my judgement about both of my parents. And in the end, five years later, after loads of conflict between them, I eventually realised I actually don’t give a shit and I don’t care. You guys sort it out, do not dare get me involved in it anymore. And I just basically put it to rest when I was 13 and ever since then I’ve just I just said to them, I don’t want to know. I don’t know. But it definitely wasn’t the kind of, Oh, it’s me against the world and I’ve got much to prove. I never really felt that. I kind of just I always felt a degree of jealousy for other families that appeared normal, you know? But as you get older, you realise all families are screwed up. But, you know, as a kid, you think to yourself, Why can’t my family read together? Why can’t my family get on? Why can’t my family go around to other family members for Sunday dinners, you know, or whatever it is? And I think I carried that.

But the guilt was, yeah, there was a lot of kind of emotional blackmail. There was a lot of, you know, buying gifts for favours of love. And so things had connotations. So I went through a number of years not accepting gifts from people, you know, get you a drink. I’d be like, No, you do not get me a drink. I get myself a drink and I’ll get you one. But you don’t get me one because in my head there was a negative connotation associated with the gift. So yeah, there was loads of shit, man. Loads of shit to unpack with a therapist. And yeah. So I definitely think that I never became that person. I don’t think there’s a single event. I think it’s just happened. And then my business coach, who’s all into flow and high performance, he’s really just turbocharged that aspect of my development really. And I love it. I love it, and I could probably talk about it all day because I think it’s made such a difference to me and the people around me. But also I think it can genuinely make a difference to every human being on the planet if you just take the time to learn and understand and love yourself and accept yourself.

Yeah, I think the comparison you do with personal trainer at the gym, it’s very true, isn’t it? I mean, why can’t you have a personal trainer in business? A personal trainer mentally? And it’s really lovely to see. Lovely to see you. You seem like you’re together now. And I know you can never tell. Right. But what’s really going on? I thought Anthony Bourdain was together. He’s. But you know, it’s nice to see that you’re making moves and doing stuff. It’s nice to see that, man. I was half expecting you to say you’re going to go down this Dental disruptors line and never open a practice. And it’s kind of it’s kind of nice to hear you’re opening a practice and how good you feel about that. It’s been a real pleasure to have you on, buddy. A real pleasure. And I watch your progress with with interest because it’s been a brilliant start. And I’ve spent the last couple of weeks sort of watching every video you’ve done.

Oh, really?

Yeah, it’s quite good. You contradict yourself a few times, but. But actually, it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. It’s the content’s good and you really believe in it. And I love that. I love the authenticity of that.

Well, thank you.

It’s been a real pleasure having you, man.

Now, thanks so much for your time. You know, it’s been lovely speaking to you. And obviously, you know, I’d never, never really heard of I’d heard Dental podcast, but I didn’t know who the people were that were doing it, you know? So you’ve been a lovely host. I appreciate, you know, I’ve had a good chat and yeah, I think we’ve unpacked a lot of stuff. I think we’ve put a lot of put the world to right in a lot of ways. And, and I hope that, you know, whoever listens gets value out of what we’ve been talking about and connects to things and resonates. And you know, for anybody listening who, you know, practice owners or associates, reach out, happy to chat, you know, obviously people are always welcome in the group and that yeah, listen to the podcast, go on the website, see what see what we’re doing. Because, you know, this is a it’s a fledgling thing. It’s all not for profit. So this is not about lining my pockets. You know, every penny is reinvested back into what we’re doing. So, you know, I like to think it’s a good cause. And, you know, we’re trying really hard. So thanks for giving me the opportunity to share on your platform.

Yeah. So Dental disruptors on all platforms, right?

Yeah, I believe so. Yeah. As far as I’ve tried to connect it. Yeah.

Perfect, man. Thank you very much, buddy.

All right. Cheers. Take care. Payman.

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.

Thanks for listening, guys. If you got this far, you must have listened to the whole thing. And just a huge thank you both from me and pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we had to say and what our guest has had to say, because I’m assuming you got some value out of it.

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