We have the unpleasant smell of the farmyard to thank that Martin Wanendeya didn’t follow his early dream of becoming a vet.

But the animals’ loss is dentistry’s gain: Since graduating from Bristol in 1995, Martin’s gone on to found one of the most recognised brands in dentistry and build a name as one of the most skilled implantologists in practice today.

This week, Martin chats to Payman and Prav about his early days in Uganda, the shift in mindset it takes to become a leader in the field and how he came to set up the legendary Ten Dental with business partner Nikhil Sisodia.



“Of course, there was fear…But sometimes if you have good fear, it’s going to make you work harder, plan better, prepare more, do all that stuff so that at the time you open, you’ve done everything you can. And hopefully, it will then be a success.” – Martin Wanendeya

In This Episode

01.38 – Backstory

16.16 – The dentistry decision

19.15 – Dental school

24.34 – Boarding school

28.01 – Early work, mentors and first implants

31.37 – Into private practice

34.14 – Meeting Nikhil Sisodia

37.00 – Shopfronts and squats

39.14 – Marketing

42.10 – Ownership and mindset shifts

52.22 – Partnerships

01.00.56 – Practice expansion

01.05.12 – Super associates

01.09.16 – Mastering implants

01.11.45 – On race

01.16.00 – Black box thinking

01.25.09 – Reputation and exclusivity

01.31.41 – What it takes to reach the top

01.37.01 – Referrals and relationships

01.41.06 – Last days and legacy

01.43.54 – Fantasy dinner party


About Martin Wanendeya

Martin graduated from Bristol University in 1995. He completed the Royal College of Surgeons’ diploma in implant dentistry at advanced level and was later invited to become a tutor at the college.

He is a member of the Association of Dental Implantology, the International Team in Implantology, the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and the British Dental Association.

He is the co-founder of London’s award-winning Ten Dental + Facial clinic and is widely recognised as one of the UK’s leading implantologists.

[00:00:00] For me, it’s the ability to plan to work out what you’re going to do when you see the patient. Because to me, you’re not going to however good your hands are, have a good just all the other things that are. Unless the person says yes to going ahead, it’s not going to happen. So for me, I think it’s the planning and then the trying to explain it in layman’s terms to the to the patient so that they go ahead, then all the other stuff will come later. You know, all the other stuff will come later. But I think to me it’s the planning part of it is the working out, being able to work out the simple to the moderate, the complex, just the fact that part of it, I think to me is key.

[00:00:47] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman, Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

[00:01:05] It’s my great pleasure to welcome Martin Whalen down to the podcast. Martin I’ve known for years and years and years working with them for years. I know Prav works with them to super cool cat implant ologist teacher principle of a multiple award winning practises and examine them. Is that right?

[00:01:25] In some respects, yes. Yeah.

[00:01:27] Lovely to have you, buddy.

[00:01:29] Pleasure to be here. Finally. Yeah.

[00:01:31] Welcome, Martin. Welcome.

[00:01:33] Thanks, Brian. Thanks. Bye.

[00:01:35] Martin, you grew up in Uganda.

[00:01:36] Yeah.

[00:01:38] Tell me about your childhood. Was it was it was it like a privileged upbringing by Ugandan standards or not?

[00:01:44] I think when I look back at it, it relative to many other people around me, definitely 100% because of where my parents managed to, you know, my parents basically managed to work their way up to be able to educate us. So we had a nice house. We have still my mom still lives there. Most gardened, you know, got to do lots of things. So in general, I’d say yes compared to many other people, but we lived alongside many people who didn’t have as much. So it was made really, really clear. I don’t know if you’ve grown up anywhere in the Third World or in the developing world, but when you grow up, it’s really, really clear the kind of the the haves and have nots. So I was always very aware of it and very pleased that my parents were able to provide that for me and for my brothers and sisters.

[00:02:30] What did your parents do?

[00:02:32] Dad not with us, but he was an MP politician and Mum ran her own businesses for a while or ran businesses with my dad and also worked with things like the World Bank, etc.. So she has a really some really quite, really, quite interesting career actually did lots of very, very interesting things. And I was a woman in the sixties, seventies and eighties and you know, in Uganda at a time when society was, I think, a lot more male dominated, you know, she managed to break through. I think one of the interesting things she did is microfinance. So helping kind of young helping female farmers, kind of rural women get access to money and loans so that they could develop themselves.

[00:03:13] And you must have, as your dad is an MP, with all the political turmoil that Uganda’s been through, you must have seen some things.

[00:03:22] Yes, I.

[00:03:23] Think he must’ve seen something.

[00:03:25] I think everyone that grew up in Uganda at that time, so saw some things because I mean, interesting. We’re part of a generation. If I look at my kind of counterparts, a lot of us have left Uganda and live abroad. If I look at the generation ten years younger, my nieces, nephews, cousins, they’ve all stayed and they’ve all stayed because they enjoyed much more stability than we do. Because at the time, you know, I grew up in Uganda, say I won’t remember it, but, you know, Idi Amin came in and we had to leave. We lived in Kenya as refugees. Parents had to kind of abandon the house, pack everything to a car, drive us across the border, you know, move to a different country. Had to suddenly make a life in Kenya with the help of friends and family. Then a certain age, we packed everything back up and drove back to kind of Uganda, which, you know, it was where we’re from. And suddenly it was kind of we had just been through a civil war. So there was potholes in the road. You couldn’t get basic goods. I remember you couldn’t get margarine, you couldn’t get sugar. Then one week you could get margarine, but you couldn’t get something else. So I just remember growing up with that in and around that time and just, you know, also security was an issue at that time, you know. And so we lived through that bit. And then from that bit, then, you know, there was another, you know, there were some elections where my dad was involved or mum was involved, interestingly, on different parties, which was, you know, you know, at the time my dad carried on with the politics, my mum didn’t and went more into kind of the sort of stuff with the World Bank and, you know, more of a kind of corporate style life in Uganda. And so witnessing.

[00:04:59] What your dad left leaning and your mum right leaning.

[00:05:02] Didn’t really work like that. You know, parties here are left and right parties. There are probably allegiances between different tribal groups or, you know, so, you know, for instance, there was Uganda People’s Congress and the Democratic Party. They I couldn’t tell you what the differences were between their policies, but you could say that this guy is from this tribe and supports this this other guy’s from this tribe and supports that. So it doesn’t really work like that. And so yeah, and I watch my dad kind of deal with politics, which is, I don’t know, it’s not a life for me. It’s not something I would have chosen to do. But, you know, trying to get things done, trying to improve the life of the people around him, coming across issues, political issues, corruption, you know, people with their own agendas, you know. So yeah, and I watch that and I decided I didn’t want to do politics.

[00:05:57] Politics as we. Think of it here, like media attention or is it different?

[00:06:03] Interestingly, he got quite a lot of media attention because he would always he always would write he would always write columns and express his views in that. So he was actually reasonably well known for these columns. Whatever, you know, in there. But there wasn’t the same sort of you. No, not not in the same way as here. So it wasn’t like you were papped or followed around in any way, shape or form. And also because many lots of other people were involved in of our friends and family, were involved in life at that sort of level with politics or with kind of government jobs or base or, you know. So it wasn’t unusual in terms of where we were.

[00:06:42] Reminds me of the stories my dad used to tell me of when he was in Africa as well, and similar sort of thing that they they had to flee and they left with nothing, right? They have nothing, but they left with nothing and came here in the in the late seventies. But back to your margarine and that sort of story, I remember my dad used to say to me that, you know, when my granddad had had a good day at work, he’d bring home some margarine and jam and that would be it, you know, that would be a treat for the whole family. And it’s really interesting to, you know, the I guess the picture he used to paint because my grandfather was a shoemaker, so he used to make shoes, shoes by hand in a place called Tarboro. I don’t know if you if you know where that is, but south of Uganda and Mwanza.

[00:07:32] Yeah.

[00:07:32] And remember, he used to say they used to sit on this step. And, you know, when my granddad came home and he’d sold sold enough shoes that he could he could get a loaf of bread, some margarine and some jam, and they had jam sandwiches and that would be the equivalent of a luxury meal for that. And then and then came over here in the late seventies. So when did you you come over here, Martin?

[00:07:57] I came over in 1985, so I kind of came to to go to school, you know, because I was at school, I was at sort of a boarding school in Kenya, in the highlands of Kenya. And that was a very nice place to be. I really enjoyed my time there. And when I left there, I you know, my parents decided, you know, at the time, where were we, 1985. So there just been a civil war we’re just gone through. And I remember at the time being sat outside our house, which is in Uganda, which is overlooking a valley when you overlook the valley. I remember I sat there with my dad and his neighbour and you know, they were having a beer. And this was the time when Museveni’s troops were taking over, you know, the Civil War was coming to a kind of a conclusion and watching kind of smoke and bombs in a column of troops walking through the middle of the valley and, you know, and then trying to leave the country at the time to go to school, you know, multiple checkpoints at the time where there’s a lot of child soldiers, they are called Dogo. So they’re kind of young kids, you know, ten, 12, 13, holding, you know, AK 47 kind of questioning you and, you know, getting away from that environment and, you know, kind of happy to get to the airport and then onto the plane. And then arriving in somewhere had never been never left East Africa. You know, I’ve been to Uganda and Kenya, never been to the UK and then suddenly, boom, you’re plonked into north London. There you go.

[00:09:22] What was your first impression?

[00:09:25] First impression was just, I think. Slightly confused, and I think they would just seem to be so much stuff. You know, the shops seem to be full of all this stuff and, you know, you couldn’t figure out how society works. You know, you’re just trying to get around your go on the tube. You’d come up here, you know, it hadn’t seen an underground or overground, you know, public bus in those ways. So just getting your head around all of that stuff, you know, for about a week. And then then going to a school which was a boarding school and then, you know, at that point in time that that was the real shock. Suddenly you’re faced with kind of kids your age who come from a completely, you know, completely different background, North London, you know, other people from Greek or Asian backgrounds. And, you know, suddenly you’re trying to get your head around all of this change. So I think it probably took me a good six months to start to understand how things work and to understand how people work. Because I think I grew up probably slightly naive and friendly with everyone that came around and then, you know, people with different agendas and, you know, and ways in which they worked and operated and what was an acceptable joke and not what was funny, what was not, you know, all of that stuff. You’re trying to get to grips with the 30 year old. So. Confused, confused, not understanding. Grateful, I think for the opportunity. Grateful to be away because of what I just left and what I left behind. And I thought, you know, I’ve got to make the most of this, whatever, you know, whatever happens.

[00:10:57] And where did you slot in in your class, so to speak. So. 13 year old new kid. Welcome, Martin, into this class. He’s just come over. Where did you slot in both, let’s say socially and then also curiously academically as well. You’ve come from a different system straight into this system. Like, were you sort of did you did you have to sort of learn that or were you way ahead of the class where you’re just thinking, right, this is.

[00:11:26] This is these high in Kenyan boarding schools? From what I’ve.

[00:11:29] Seen, people I mean, to be honest, I mean, one of the things is I would say that, okay, I’ll start off with the socially I was I was lucky that there was two other boys who were from from Africa. So we immediately kind of one one from Sierra Leone. Okay, fine. Okay. You can understand what I’m talking you understand the jokes and everything else. So that that really helped. And I think. B And so first you kind of like a little group. You’re probably a curiosity to everyone. And I won’t forget you. And I had a very strong African accident. Everyone was always kind of mimicking me, copying me just to kind of say a word, you know, that sort of thing. You know, you had to go through the change of, you know, you learnt to speak differently just because you were, you know, every word you said, everyone in the class would suddenly kind of burst out laughing or whatever. So there was all of that. So you were kind of curious outsider, you know, for a lot of these things. But what really, really hugely help was sport, actually, because I loved playing sports, I was reasonably good at it.

[00:12:32] And, you know, a lot of those barriers were broken down for me once, you know, you started playing an a rugby hockey athletics suddenly like, okay, okay, we’ve got a common thing here now and okay, we can get to grips with you now that, you know, if you’re on our team, you’re okay at the sport, you know, what about academically, academically? I’d say average maybe above slightly above average in that, but always prepared to do the work. You know, that’s one of the things so slightly above average in terms of that. But you know, it’s one of the things where I’d gone from a small school, whereas at the top of that school to come into a bigger school where suddenly, you know, the standards are were higher because there was more kids and more bright kids. And I think what I couldn’t ever really understand was the people who didn’t put the effort and the work in. So from my perspective, I think average to above average, slightly higher than average is where I put myself.

[00:13:32] I feel like with immigration, it kind of takes ten years from when you arrive to feel at home, because in the first five years you definitely don’t feel I mean, like you said, you don’t know the system, you don’t know people, you don’t know anything. Right? Okay. You start to learn that. But also in the first five years, you no longer fit back at home anymore. It’s this sort of weird moment, you know, where you’re half there and half your one foot in each camp sort of thing. I see it with our staff as well. They come from all the different places they come from. But then after ten years, which in your terms would have been the end of dental school? I feel like people people have this feeling of, okay, now this is home, you know, that probably you feel like you belong. Did you were you accelerated in that sense or did you feel like it took that long or.

[00:14:26] I think I think I think you’re really right, because I would agree that I’d agree with you entirely, because one of the things I think I. I realise it’s when you actually got through the first winter without moaning like hell about it. I hated winter. I hated, you know, every time we’d be like, why? Why does this happen? You know, freezing cold, you know, your fingers are cold or thumb. You don’t know how to dress the first winter as well. You’re not being gloves, you’re not putting layers. So all that stuff is going on. So and that was one of the things. But I think there’s always an element I think of you end up being neither, but both is is what I would say. You end up being I’m neither Ugandan nor British, but I’m both Ugandan and British. And you’re kind of a curiosity in you know, you’re slightly different in both places rather than a native of both. But I’d say in terms of it did it did take ten years. And it also, I think, making the real lifelong friends and the people who you’ve attached to and finding the people who kind of understood that you came from a really different background and sometimes you wouldn’t get the joke, that reference a 1960s cartoon that was on TV, you know, that when there were kids, you know, you just sat there going, What? I don’t understand. So it took a little while to get to that point. And I think the other thing was also, when you’re part of a cultural shift, that happens. So when you’re part of, you know, for instance, you know, the eighties or the nineties, when that change happens, you’re part of that. You’re there at the beginning, you’re there in the middle, you’re there. Then you then have a common kind of thing with everyone that you can then link with. And I think that’s probably the time. I think.

[00:16:09] Something like Live Aid or something like the shift in the way people.

[00:16:14] Think. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:16:16] When did you think I want to be a dentist? Was that early or was that, you know, were you one of those didn’t know what you wanted to do?

[00:16:25] Well, it was quite a good story because I always kind of knew because my dad and mum worked in offices and what they would call the office is not, say, an office that you get here in the UK. I remember my dad had the room he was in, he had a secretary, it was in front of him and the same with my mum. She had another office in a different part of town. So whenever you go in you would arrive and they’d say, okay, you speak to the secretary, the secretary put it down, would knock, walk in next door, speak to him, he’d be on the phone, he’d be dictating a letter. And that’s what I thought office work involved. So I thought actually that that seems quite boring. I don’t want to be sat here just, you know, sending the secretary in and out and dictating letters and doing whatever. So I thought, I don’t want an office job. So then it’s also part of that kind of at the time there was, you know, let’s call it five choices. You’re a doctor, a dentist, an engineer, a medick, you know, you know the story. You know, you come from that sort of background. You have to come out. You have to do something. So out of those choices, I thought, right, I’m more interested in the medical staff things. So in the medical setting, I thought, okay, let me have a look at all of these things. So at one point I kind of run around and said to my mum, Oh, look, I’m interested in in anything medical.

[00:17:38] What do you think I might be interested in veterinary science? So they said, okay, alright, if you’re interested in veterinary science, I’ll take you along. So at the time she had a farm, a pig farm, this was maybe an hour outside of Kampala. So I said, okay, I’m interested, I’m going to come along. So I went along to the pig farm and I’ll never forget the day they opened the silo and you kind of walk in and there’s the smell of all of those pigs. It took about five, 9 seconds for me to realise that I didn’t want to work in that environment and I was I was not going to be a vet because the reality of what a vet evolved suddenly dawned on me. So then I thought, okay, maybe I want to be a doctor and do medicine. I went along and I kind of spoke to my sister, my older sister. She, she, she’s a medick and she at the time she was considering it and she kind of said, well, if you’re going to do this, you need to be really dedicated. You need to really want to be a doctor. It needs to be a drive and a passion. Unless you feel that maybe, you know, don’t do it. I thought, no, I don’t really have that passion. I don’t really kind of have this urge when you see people to kind of fix them and make them better, not not in the medical way.

[00:18:46] So I thought, no, no, that’s not what I wanted. And then I thought, okay, let’s have a look at dentistry. And my uncle, Uncle Martin, Alec, who was he’s a dentist and kind of went along to see him at work one day. And when I went along to see him, I thought, I see this. I like this environment environment’s quite nice, you know, he’s doing something that’s not an office that’s kind of medical based and it seemed quite nice. He had quite a nice car as well, quite nice house as well. I thought, okay, out of the three of these, this seems, you know, the one that I’m most interested in. And I talked to him a little bit. I also went and did another bit of work experience in Kampala. At the end of that I thought, okay, now this is it. And this was probably, I think when it wasn’t early, it was probably maybe 15, 16 when you’ve got to make those choices. I was always going to go down the science route, but. When you have to make the choices that are going to then lead to the next thing. So at that point, I’m as I can. I’m quite happy with this. I’m quite happy with dentistry. This looks like a good part. I think I can get into this. And that’s where it began.

[00:19:47] And where’d you study?

[00:19:49] Bristol.

[00:19:50] Oh, yeah, of course. Which year was.

[00:19:53] That? 85. 85 to 90.

[00:19:58] And what’s what sort of a dental student were you, Martin? We were really geeky. Had in the box kind of guy. Or were you a bit of a party animal?

[00:20:06] No, I think I think what I would say is that I realised fairly early in dental school, having talked to people, that whether you got 51% or 99%, you got the same degree. Right. So suddenly, you know, A-levels, it’s ABCD, everything else is graded but here and they explained that one person might get the distinction and there might be a merit somewhere, but the rest of you will get a straight pass. So at this point I thought, well, actually, you know, I’ve worked my way up to here. I’ve worked my way through the A-levels and, you know, secondary school, etc.. And I thought, okay, that’s as long as I get to the point where I pass. That’s the important part and as long as I take the most important thing. So I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly geeky or academic. Bristol at the time was a really good city to be in. There was loads of really interesting kind of music happening. There was loads of really interesting kind of. There was a very interesting art scene going on. I also was working one evening. I had holiday jobs. I was also working one evening at a bar. And at this bar, you know, I ran this bar where people would come down and deejay on a Thursday night, etc. and we met. Tricky massive attack, you know, just Portishead. Okay. So all of that time that was all going on around the time. So amazing. Yeah. So, you know, I think the Friday morning period was probably the one which I think we attended because I used to work every Thursday evening at this bar and it was you’d work, I’d get free food, I’d get some free beer as well. So Friday morning period sessions were probably my worst attended of anything, you know.

[00:21:46] Did you find you were hanging out more with dentists or not? Like, were you more with the townies or were you more with non dentist lawyer types or whatever?

[00:21:55] I think I think it was probably not really with dentists because I had interests. So, you know, interest in all of the other things going on and it was just the people who happened to be there and they happened to be on a variety of different degrees, etc. Lots of people who lived in Bristol who I met through working, you know, because I had a job where people come, Oh yeah, you’re the guy from Cosey. So yeah. So you just met people who lived in Bristol and lived in and around Bristol. So I ended up, I think probably sadly, a lot of my social life wasn’t around a lot of dentists, it was around lots of other people. But everyone who shared a kind of common interest in the things I was into, really.

[00:22:34] Did you not consider staying there? Because once, once you were in that position that you’ve just described, that’s almost like a level of acceptance here that you hadn’t had when you went to boarding school. And, you know, early on and what I was said about the sort of the ten year thing was probably starting to happen. Once you become once you become the guy having a night and people recognise you and all that, I’d imagine you’d start thinking, Well, maybe I should make my life here. Did that cross your mind or not?

[00:23:03] I don’t think it did, because.

[00:23:04] Were you always going to come back?

[00:23:06] My family was all in London, you know. Family was all in London and friends were all in London. You know, when you did a five year degree, everyone sort of three years in, picked up and moved to London. So when they moved to London, you know, there was a whole thing waiting in London. Once in my head, once I got there, it was it was all there. And also so so that probably drove a lot of my decision to kind of leave and move, you know, sister, brother, you know, aunt, uncle, cousin, all in London. So I would have felt slightly at a limb there.

[00:23:40] And have you always been in the same part of London?

[00:23:42] No, no, no. School, North London and Goldsmith School, as it did. Mill Hill. Oh, Mill Hill. Yeah.

[00:23:50] I broke my arm there once to one of those Camp Beaumont things.

[00:23:54] Yeah, that was the Belmont down the road.

[00:23:57] No, no, it was Mill Hill. It was New.

[00:23:58] York. Okay. All right. That patch, after you there.

[00:24:05] It was a nice school. Lots of fields, grounds and all that.

[00:24:08] Yeah. Yeah. Honestly, really? Really. Apart from when it was cold. Very nice school. No.

[00:24:14] You didn’t. You didn’t see it. Did you see him often? He went there?

[00:24:17] No, no, I didn’t.

[00:24:19] Same sort of time as well.

[00:24:21] No, it depends. There was a real distinction in there, boys and boarders. So if there was a day, boy, I probably would have known if it was a boarder because you all hung around in the evenings, the weekends and all the other stuff. Then we would have known one another.

[00:24:34] What’s what’s your view on boarding school in general? Because you’ve spent most of your life in boarding school, your childhood life. What do you think about it? Do you have kids?

[00:24:42] Do you to.

[00:24:44] Persuade them to.

[00:24:45] Go? Younger one goes. Older one doesn’t. Interestingly.

[00:24:50] So what’s your view on it?

[00:24:52] I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it because I remember the first time I went stage seven. Bear in mind, I’m done before of five. So my older sister had gone to this place. Rather had gone to this place. Sister above me had gone to this place. And so suddenly when it says, are you going to go to that place? You know, basically half your family, more than half your family there, most of your families there. So and when you’re there, you know, having the time to spend with your friends the whole time, you know, what you do lose is probably is the time with your parents. But at the time, you know, as I said, Uganda was difficult. So actually being away from that in some way, nice and idyllic, especially the first boarding school, it was the highlands of Kenya. So no mosquitos. The temperature is such that it’s like a warm summer’s day every day. And it just it just it stays in those boundaries. And so, you know, with loads of facilities, you know, lots and lots of space. So I really enjoyed that, you know, playing sport, eating well, having fun. I enjoyed that. Boarding school here was a slightly different thing because I think you then ended up in a different a different headspace. There was a lot more boys growing up. It was a boys and boys in there up until, say, 15, and then girls in sixth form. So very, very different experience. But nonetheless, I still enjoyed the time I spent with the people that I knew from that and also having the time to really spend on on I think on sport as well, which I really enjoyed.

[00:26:25] And so what? Martin What about your kids? You’ve got one in and one not just talk to me about the thought process, decision making process. I mean, it’s it’s 180 degrees from what I would do. And I’m not sort of saying, you know, one way or the other, whatever is it’s just my personal thing. But curious just to learn sort of your your view on that and then also why one in and one not?

[00:26:52] I think why one in one or not? I think it’s because of how they are as people if I’m on it. So the older one wouldn’t like know when we spoke about it, you said, no, you wouldn’t like to go the younger one, particularly because of, you know, the school when we’re looking for schools for and we were looking for a particular type of school that would suit him and suit his needs. And actually, the school that happened to suit his needs was not round the corner from us. It was not in south east London. It was an hour and a half away. And it did have you know, it was a boarding school. So we went along, had a look. He kind of spent a couple of nights there, came back. He said I said, how is it? He said, I had a great time, really enjoyed it. Would you be happy to do that? Yeah. And since then, he really enjoys it. You know, he comes back. How was your week? He goes weekly. So it’s not like you send him off and then see, mine was at the end of term. So every Monday you get dropped, every Friday you get picked up. So every weekend we see one another. So it’s not you know.

[00:27:54] It’s not months on end. So, you know, catching up on the weekends and stuff. Yeah. Having that family time, right.

[00:28:00] Yeah. Yeah.

[00:28:01] Well tell me about your tell me about your early jobs. You’re, you know, your early mentors. When was the first time you saw an implant?

[00:28:10] Oh, my God. An implant would have been. That would have been probably a very. Probably been 1990. So 95. Probably about three or four years in. And it was actually it was first first corporate job. The first time I saw an implant being placed. Yeah, actually I remember once my first job I had was I had this weird pathway where I finished, I finished dental school. I couldn’t go into vet directly because I didn’t have a British passport, so I had to apply for British passport and residency and all these things. So this meant that I missed the kind of vet cycle and I had to spend six months out. I worked as a waiter for those six months, which was with a dental degree, which was always very interesting because when people would say that to you, your fellow waiters, Oh, what do you do? You don’t want to know. You won’t be doing what do you? So that was always quite an interesting conversation. So when I started, I then the only the job I could get was being an assistant and that while I was an assistant I was at a practise in Hays and getting Lane sort of travelling out. And there there was a patient that came in and this patient had had an implant and everyone was like, Oh, they’ve got an implant, they’ve got an implant. Everyone was kind of gathering around it, you know, looking at it with, with great. Oh, and I happen to, they happen to be coming in to see me, you know, just by instant.

[00:29:36] That’s the first time I came across one. But in terms of early mentors, I’d probably say, you know, the first guy who took me on for BT because it was taught here early and that was he was based in Croydon, sort of in Crawley. And when I worked for him it was quite interesting. He took me on when I did the kind of VTE rounds and in doing the vet rounds I thought that after six months of working as an assistant, knowing the game working, you know, I knew what to do. I’d had to kind of self taught. I didn’t have, you know, a vet mentor at that time and I thought I’d be the most valuable vet on earth to anyone because I could hit the ground running and obviously make my train a lot of money. But the the guy who took a punt and I got one offer was was Tiger Ali. But I was very lucky because he was trained in dental practise. So that made him really, really kind of interesting to work alongside. We also worked in a really high needs area, so what I didn’t realise at the time was, you know, with his guidance we’re actually ending up as ending up doing what you call rehabs now, you know, full mouth of crowns and root canals and bridges, you know, with the odd, you know, partial denture attached to it. So that was. Yes, yeah. Yeah. That’s when the prior approval days, you know. Yeah. You could you could.

[00:30:55] Over £200 in my day. It was something ridiculous.

[00:31:00] At the time it was something like £800 and they dropped it. During my time it was, it was a reasonable amount you could do on the NHS and so, you know, working in his practise he obviously helped me with treatment, planning, putting these things together. It wasn’t just, you know, and in some ways I saw what it was like not to be a single tooth dentist, you know, through working alongside him. So that was probably the earliest mental beat and I ended up staying there for probably another sort of 18 months afterwards. So that’s driving from Battersea down to Crawley every day and back, you know, and. But he was one of the earliest.

[00:31:37] When did private dentistry come on the scene for you, Martin? Obviously, the transition from where you were there to to the level at which you operate now. When was it that you first got into sort of what you considered to be a sort of a higher end of private industry?

[00:31:52] It was a little bit of a battle to get into private, private dentistry. So from that job, I kind of worked somewhere else. That was the Waterfall Dental practise, and when I worked there, as I was working there, that was quite an interesting job because at the time it was private if you’re an adult or an NHS, if you’re exempt. And that worked really well. Did that for a bit, but then the whole practise change, it became massively NHS and then I ended up hunting around for different jobs and there always mixed jobs. But the mixed jobs I think in some ways were. I always felt I wanted to do more. And at every point I think you’re hampered by like a list of NHS patients. And I ended up, ended up, you know, at a certain point moving to James Hull. So I was kind of working one day in my practise and this and I got a call saying, Oh, you’ve been headhunted. And this was the promise, the big promise of kind of private dentistry that I’d wanted, because at the time I’d say it was mixed. And I think mixed is very different to what I do now and the sort of work we do now. So when I went along there, you know, that was promised as fully private, etc. and it wasn’t. And it’s, it’s a, it’s a problem. I had I’ve been chasing this private job all the way and I hadn’t been able to, to actually find it.

[00:33:06] So in some ways the private job came when I realised I was going to have to create it for myself really. And that’s when I started, you know, looking for premises, looking to start squat. This was maybe sort of, let’s call it mid 2000 to 2003 to around that sort of time. And then Nick and I hooked up and, you know, started ten dental at the time. I remember us considering taking on an NHS contract, but they were changing the contract at the time to, you know, from fee per item to this other thing which we didn’t know. So we just thought, you know, let’s open and see how we get on privately. And then that’s when that part of it began. And then once I started that, I realised that I was really going to have to level up and scale up a lot. And that’s when I started doing a lot more courses, and that’s probably when BCD came along, when I kind of met you guys at courses and things like that, that was the first time. So I’d say the other time I was doing the work, but not necessarily with the same foundation. And that came by, I think of course with Paul Tipton actually was I did his kind of year long restorative course that worked really well for me.

[00:34:14] Same as Kailash and Martin. How did you and Nick meet? It’s always interesting to learn how business partners got together, you know, were you buddies beforehand? What was the story? And then and then you decided to obviously, you know, settle your business together.

[00:34:30] Nice and easy. First day of dental school.

[00:34:35] Me and Sanjay met. First day of dental school, too.

[00:34:38] First day of dental school, same year, you know, birthday, two weeks apart. He’s two, two weeks older, you know, same year. And I think when we really probably became, I’d say, you know, really kind of bonded was when we did our elective together. When we went to the States, we went to Harvard and spent some time together there. That’s when we really kind of bonded and got it together. So from there we’d known each other and have drifted in and out. But when it came to starting a business, you know, I’ve said, you know, that’s when we hooked back up again and said, actually, we’re probably at a similar stage in life, about to have child wanting to work privately. You know, our current practise is not giving us what we want. So we’re going to have to create the job, the environment, the equipment, all of that. We’re going to have to do this ourselves because it’s what we want is not out there being offered to us or wasn’t being offered to me at least.

[00:35:33] But was it was was like while you were at dental school, was this some kind of dream that you both concocted up together and sort of said one day, or was it that you’d both gone in your separate directions and then you’d you’d stayed in touch, reconnected and said, let’s do this?

[00:35:49] Yeah, we’d completely gone the other way. And the time that I kind of, you know, it wasn’t a plan or a thing that we plan in any way, shape or form. And it’s actually when I was working for James, you know, the job, I told you where we got headhunted and they used to have this big kind of meetings and bashes and whatever. And at one point I bump into Nick and I’m in the practise, which is, you know, which I’m struggling to get a single bit of of whitening out of the patients. And here was in the Soho flagship, you know, so he was in this side of it actually. So that’s when we met up again and had a chat and, you know, rekindled kind of the friendship at that point in time.

[00:36:30] And so was that first practise that you said 2004, 2005, was that what we now know is ten dental?

[00:36:36] Clapham Yes, yeah, it’s, it’s the old premises, so it’s around the corner, it’s on the pavement then the pavement, dental health.

[00:36:43] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so shopfront. That was the shopfront too.

[00:36:46] Yeah it was.

[00:36:47] So that was back then. That was quite quiet. I suppose you’d been in JD and seen shopfronts. Was that was that something to you? Because that was that wasn’t very common to have shot. But was it squat as well?

[00:36:59] Yeah, it was.

[00:37:00] It was a shopfront with a squat. Did you not worry about the risks and the costs?

[00:37:06] Of course. Of course. You know. Yes, we were.

[00:37:11] Sometimes. Sometimes you don’t like. What you don’t know is important, isn’t it? That you can. Just like if you told me what I had to go through with Enlightened, I would definitely wouldn’t have done that. I mean, and that’s a cliche, but definitely not.

[00:37:28] Well, was there an element of that? Sometimes, you know, you’re already swimming. You know, you can’t get out of the water. That’s it. You just have only one way to go. But but I think where that came from, you know, you talk about the shopfront there was I’ve always been really interested in design and graphics and I’ve always I think at around the time there were a few people doing kind of spa type, dental type things, and I had a look at them and I thought, they haven’t done that in the way. And I had friends who were graphic designers and people who did branding and marketing. And I thought, you know, with Nick and I thought, let’s put something together that’s very different so that if you’re walking along the road and, you know, we had leaves and we had kind of a whole kind of the photographs of kind of trees and plants and a whole kind of natural look going on. But with that premise, we just thought if we have something that’s so interesting to look at and doesn’t look like a dentist and feels very different, then we thought it would work and there wasn’t a dentist along that high street. I knew the area really well. I’d worked in around the area. I’d walked up and down there and I just it yes, of course there was the fair and that there always would be the fair. But I think some way, some of the times if you have a good fair, because what that’s going to do, it’s going to make you work harder, plan better, prepare more, you know, do all that stuff so that, you know, at the time you open, you’ve done everything you can. And hopefully it will then be a success. But there weren’t that many shop fronts in that day. You’re right. There weren’t and there weren’t that many designed like that in that at that time. So that’s something that we really, really enjoyed doing and putting together and still do.

[00:39:14] First marketing campaign back in the day. Was it the shop window? Was it was it the fact that it was it was something that sort of piqued people’s curiosity where they just started walking in because of the way it was designed and set up. Or did you have some campaigns set up back in the day to.

[00:39:32] Well, what I remember was the time I looked at the amount of rent, and I had a friend of mine, Neil, who was fortunate. He worked in kind of small business stuff. And when I was looking through stuff, he would talk to me and explain different things when I said, Oh, this is so expensive. He said, Think of this as your marketing budget. Think of your shopfront as your marketing budget. Make sure it looks really nice. And that way people walk in. So that was the that was the first thing was again, having a nice shopfront, having a good receptionist on the front and name was Hayley. She was she was brilliant. Having her on the front then I think around that sort of time is when Google was kicking off. And around that time you could load up with your credit card because Google Pay pay per click was quite simple at the time, wasn’t it? It was Google AdWords. So I remember entering the thing, looking at the area, putting in some keywords. It had some suggestions as to what you could do, put my budget on there and basically put the Google keywords budget and then sat there with the email address and went, Oh, someone’s booked. And I think at the time it was, it was you think about what was then and what is now. What was then was so empty. You just put something up saying, we’re a cosmetic dentist on Google. People are, Oh my God, there is a cosmetic dentist. I’m going to go there. Whereas now it’s a very, very different thing. It’s much more complicated. So was that was.

[00:40:53] That the positioning from the get go cosmetic dentist as opposed to sort of family or general or specialist or.

[00:41:01] I think it started off as Nick and I doing all of the dentistry and, you know, and then gradually after a while, you know, one of our team members are hygienist. Just Oh, look, I know you guys don’t really you know, you don’t love Bender, a friend of mine, and then the dentist would would you be interested in talking to him? So we talked to him then he had a friend who was a periodontist, so we talked to him and then we were getting into doing implants at the time. So we thought, okay, now there’s a periodontist, there’s an end of dentist, there’s a couple of guys doing implants. Oh, we might be called a referral centre. So, you know, we’re a referral centre now and then. So there wasn’t a plan to do that and it didn’t. But it just I think it was more every time you tried to see what the public wanted. At the time it was the age of veneers when everyone wanted us, you know, same day, smile, smile. So there was a lot of people looking for that sort of treatment. You know, after a while that sort of faded and people started looking for another thing. So a lot of it sometimes is driven by trends in the marketplace, especially if what you’re trying to do is keep your kind of young business going, you’re going to do whatever. So that’s how that part evolved.

[00:42:10] How do you take to being a business owner? Compared to a worker and someone who works in a business. And you to take to that naturally. I mean, what kind of what kind of a boss are you? For a start.

[00:42:25] I think it would depend on who you ask. Different people would have different things. I think what I would say is I probably I would like to the type of boss I’d like to be the sort of boss who actually when you come in, you’re going to have a good time at work. We’re going to have a laugh. And if you do your work, you do your bit, actually, you’ll find that in a certain respects I will be happy, happy go lucky joke around with you, you know, talk to be interested in you. But it’s when people cross that boundary and they start trying to they perceive your your friendliness as weakness and try and take advantage of that. That’s it. Then then a different person kind of comes out at that time. But I, you know, I like to prefer to be the first type because that’s much easier in terms of taking to business. I that’s when I learn how to use Excel. I just had to spend the time sat there going through crunching the numbers. It just took a lot of time and you know, you learn different skills at different times. And I remember just going through having to learn that, sit through, learning all this new stuff. I didn’t mind it. And I think at the time I met you guys, I was probably doing a lot more of the the kind of, let’s call it the back office stuff within the practise than I am now. I was doing a lot more of that and of paying the wages, doing this, uploading that, figuring out how to use the software, big change. But I think a lot of it’s funny because it happened so long ago. I’m so used to it. It’s almost like a frog in water. I’ve been in the water so long, whatever the temperature forgotten what it was like before I jumped in. You know, it’s been that long.

[00:44:01] It’s interesting during that transition, Martin, I think I think we all go through it right where you where you’re the bookkeeper or the guy who pays the bills and all the rest of it. And for you, you know, I’ve seen ten Dental go from certainly from the early days of what it what it was to what it is now. Right. And fortunately, you know, we’ve we’ve had the opportunity to sit down and look at your business together. And, you know, I’m privy to information where I can see that it’s a roaring success, you know, from the patients who were coming in and having the type of treatment that you share on social media. That obviously looks incredibly beautiful to all of those referring dentists, trusting you with their work, something had to happen mindset wise or mentally for you to shift from becoming, you know, that, shall we say, that small business mentality to I pay all the bills and I see all the receipts and that. So you just sort of say, right, I’m now running, you know, from where you were then to where you are today, what would you attribute sort of the biggest mindset shift, not like tasks or whatever, but just mentally for you to be able to say, right, okay, I’m going from first to fifth gear or whatever that is. And this is the reason why.

[00:45:22] I think a lot from my point of view, it’s probably been driven a lot by, I think, family and responsibility. So first practise, first child needed to step up, pay the bills, look after the family, do all of that stuff. Second practise, interestingly, you know, second child realising that there’s going to be a lot more needed. And I think at the time it’s one of those things where when you once you make the decision to do it and you make the decision that you’re going to go for it, I’m I’m fairly determined once I start something to kind of complete it and to keep going with it. And it also comes from, I don’t know, seeing parents, seeing family members. So sister, mother, fathers seeing, you know, in general what everyone else has had to do and realising that actually in some ways, you’re just going to have to get on with the work, you’re going to have to put the time in. You’re going to have to make some sacrifices to get there. And it’s, you know, in order to to make those steps and to do it. So I think part of that also comes from, you know, playing sports as well. You know, when you see the benefit of kind of hard work and you see it work for that work, work for it, and you achieve it. So it makes the hard stage of that a little bit easier if you kind of know that there’s an end site. And it also helps when you get the rewards, you know, you get the recognition, you get your first referral, your first kind of happy patient, your first Google review, your first rehab. And, you know, all of those things reinforce it and just give you the energy and the strength to carry on and to keep going.

[00:46:55] But just in terms of the shift in so so for me, for example, the hardest part, the thing I struggle with is the letting go a bit, right? Is I can be a bit of a control freak, but every time I’ve let go in my own businesses, it’s, it’s resulted in, in really positive things happening. Right. In terms of. Performance or team performing better and whatnot, but I struggled to let go and my mindset shift. I think it was a moment where I was, you know, I was being coached by, I think, Dan Sullivan at the time. And it was he said these words which which I’ll never forget is not the how, but it’s the who. Right? And the moment that sort of became clear in my mind, I didn’t really need to know how these things all happen. I just needed to find somebody who could do that thing right, who’s my guy, who can sort the the finances out from from that that side of things. Right. And it’s a bit like I heard a story about Zuckerberg one day who say walked into Facebook’s offices and said, today, guys, we’re going to focus on messaging. It’s all about messaging today. Right. And so for you, there must have been some kind of mindset shift to where you’ve just described that hard graft from your parents, from sports and everything. And I’m not saying the amount of graft has changed, but something must have happened for you to let go of those things.

[00:48:23] I think a part of it comes for I’d say there’s a couple of things. The first is when I, for instance, we talk about paying the bills and understanding how that side of it works. Once I understand how something works and then happy to let it go once I’m sure I’ve gone into it, I’ve looked at it, I’ve gone through the nitty gritty. I spent hours with the Google sheet looking at how this thing works and understood it once. Once I’ve understood it, I’m then happy to kind of happy to step back and let it go. And it also is easier because there’s two partners, because within the two partners what we do is we try and split that. So some parts are Nick does it and in some ways he will let me know he’s done it and that’s fine. Other parts, he will give me the same free rein. So having two partners also helps. And I think the other bit that helps is also having two people check every decision because we’ve done some things that you would look back and go, that wasn’t a great decision. But actually if two of you have made a bad decision, if there’s two of you looking at everything, that makes it a little bit easier in terms of, you know, you hope that someone if you come in with come in with something really dark, Nick is going to go, look, actually, that’s not going to work.

[00:49:34] We’re not going to do that. I’m saying now, you know, I’m pulling my veto on that one. So but it did take a while to let go. And I think a part of it has also been finding the right people. You know, once you find the right people that you can let go to, that makes it easier. And there are certain things which I still struggle to let go because I’m not sure, you know, if I’ve managed to train people in the right way to get them to do it. But once you find the right people and I think that’s very liberating. You know, some people that work in the team that you say, you know, you give them a five line email and it’s done and there’s other people with who need a little bit more guidance. So the right people has been key. And if I could find more, you know, it’s one of those things that you could find more of the right people to take different things then that that would help but. In essence, I think that there’s some things I don’t still let go of, which maybe I should.

[00:50:32] One of those things, Martin.

[00:50:36] Some of the. I think there’s some of the things like, for instance, some of there’s some tasks I do which. For instance, that there’s things I do with to do with my own admin that someone else could quite easily do. You know, there’s the expense out here where I’m really sure if I’ve trained the right person, they could do half of this stuff, you know? So it’s things like that. It’s things like that. And I think that would be one of my aims is to actually kind of slowly, you know, find the who to relieve me of those and give me more time to do the things that I enjoy.

[00:51:12] And what in terms of you and Nick, what’s the balance? Do you both have your own zones of genius where you’re better at one thing than him? Or do you split your responsibilities up in certain directions where you say, All right, I’m going to one marketing, Nick, you’re going to own HR or whatever. How do you work together as a as partners? It’s a little.

[00:51:33] Bit like that where, you know, there’s there’s five or six duties that are in terms of management that we have to do. He’s got two. I’ve got one and a half. And then there’s other things that we have to talk about and work out. So that’s how we try and we try and stay away, not always successfully from each other’s different zones, but, you know, there’s always going to be a bit of overspill that’s that’s worked for us so far. And we’ve had times where what’s interesting, we’ve had times where we’ve done the other jobs, you know. So he’s done one bit and I’ve done the other side of it. And then we’ve come back to a point where, you know, it’s over. Yeah. So you kind of understand what they’re going through. You know, if you’ve done that job and you’ve done that role, you know, you have a lot more sympathy because, you know, you realise what it involves. So that that’s that’s how we do that part.

[00:52:22] You have clashed. Have you ever sort of come to a sort of headway thing? I totally disagree with with what you’re saying and vice versa. And have you dealt with that?

[00:52:32] Yeah, we have. We have. And I think it’s you know, he always said it. And I think that having a partnership is almost like having a marriage. You know, it is. It is. It’s a long term relationship that you’re in and you’re going to be in and you’re committed to. And there’s bits of paper and everything else around it. So the times where it’s been difficult, you know, I think we’ve you know, my partner’s been an apology is needed. I’ve had to give it at times. Maybe he’s he’s had to say that part or it’s part. But we have clashed. And I think there’s times when because we know each other so well, I think when I see that he’s getting to a red line, I’ll back off because I realise, okay, we don’t need to cross that and fight our way and bash and he probably does the same to me and maybe you approach the same subject in a different way or in a common area. You know, if it’s a decision like that you’ll have to provide some kind of, you know, if it’s like, I want to do this, you’ll have to persuade me, not just by your words. You’ll have to go and do a little bit more work around that to demonstrate that actually it is a good idea or it’s not. But generally we’ve been lucky because I think a lot of times we’ve been aligned in terms of our approach and what we’ve wanted and how we’ve wanted to approach things, you know, from when we started. And there are times when, you know, you have you have to lose. Sometimes in a partnership you have to lose, you have to lose some arguments. You have to kind of give in. You know, you have to that’s it. And he feels strongly about something. I disagree. He feels that strongly. You know, I’ll have to say okay on this one. Let’s see how it turns out.

[00:54:11] Prav you’re in loads of partnerships. Yeah. And I’m in I’m in a partnership. And it’s interesting one because you have to have complementary skills, you have to be opposites in many ways. And yet on some base principle things, you have to be fully aligned.

[00:54:29] Yeah. Yeah, I agree with that. Yeah.

[00:54:31] And, and one the one that I find the most important to be aligned on, I think a couple, one is like how, how do you treat people that I think that’s really important because it can really great in a partnership if if the company is treating people differently to the way you as one of the owners would treat people. That’s cool. I think another one’s risk profile. And it’s there’s no right or wrong in risk profile, you know? I mean, one person can want to take big risks for big returns. Another another one could be more measured and some but those that does need to be aligned. Whereas, I mean, it’s really important with partnerships that you’ve got opposing skills. As well. You know, it’s like I was talking to Prav earlier that there are there are things that Sarge takes care of that I would never have a hope in hell of.

[00:55:27] Taking care of.

[00:55:29] Different types of people.

[00:55:31] Yeah. Would you? Vice versa and vice versa. Pay for you, right? You know, there’s stuff that’s. Yeah.

[00:55:36] Yeah. Essentially, like people.

[00:55:38] Yeah.

[00:55:43] What do you think? What do you think about that? I mean.

[00:55:46] To me. I think that’s true. I think, you know, I think you’ve got to have your basic goals aligned. You know, what are we doing? Why are we doing this? What’s our direction? You might have different ways of approaching how you get there, different pathways of doing it. And that’s probably where the difference happens, you know? And in terms of the letting go bit that’s hard is I wouldn’t do it that way, but you are doing it that way and he probably has a ton of stuff in that way. So I would never do it that way. But just just, you know, I’ll ask you how it went at the end. So that’s the part of letting go. But I do think there’s different bits that, that, that and I think in order to keep ourselves in different silos, we try and stay away from the other person things. But interesting I think over the years you end up a little bit more aligned because you learn from each other. You know, some aspects I’ve watched and I’ve said, okay, that’s, that’s interesting that work, that’s interesting that and actually some things are no he’s better at. So I’ll say, look, I know you’re really good at this. This is what I’m trying to do. How would you go about it? Right. So that’s that’s the easy way to do it. And then he’ll say this. If you follow that, generally, it will work out better than if I went into it my way. So that’s where I think you try when you have something that you know, the other person has very good skills at and is very good at, ask them first. So this is what I need to do. How would you go about it and listen and then see how that works out?

[00:57:10] Prav. Kim, you’ve got you’ve got your main businesses, not a partnership. Yeah, but you other ones are partnerships. Correct. What’s your thought?

[00:57:20] So I think I’ll reiterate what Martin said earlier, which is the general direction in the vision in which you’re all going in. Right. And if that isn’t aligned, I think you need to pull everyone in that direction or be pulled in that direction, especially when there’s multiple partners. You know, there’s a business I’m involved in where there’s I think there’s more than five people involved. Right. We are all pulling in in the same direction. We all want the same goal. We’ve got we’ve got the same, shall we say, exit strategy in mind. However, however you put that right, we have definitely got differences of opinion of how we’re going to get there. Without question. Right. But like you said, Payman, I think we’re all very, very much aligned as human beings and not not just how we treat our team members, but what’s really important is how we are with our families. And I think if I was to look at all our partners and how they are all with their their children, their partners and whatnot, we’re very, very much aligned in the way we list and conduct ourselves. And I’m not saying that that’s that’s important for business, but it can help. And then, yeah, in terms of how you treat your staff and whatnot, but I think in terms of having the skill sets, complementary skill sets 100%, otherwise you may be just fighting for the same job, right? Or you may you’re both sort of aces down one thing and perhaps you can just split that duty.

[00:58:55] But every partnership that I’ve been involved with, I’ve definitely had a skill set that’s complementary to the rest of my team. And the rest of the team have definitely had skill sets where I couldn’t touch it, not not in a million years. And and that’s worked really, really well. But the one piece of advice someone comes to me and goes, Hey, I’m thinking of going into business with my best buddy. There’s a book called the Partnership Charter. It is a wonderful book. It’s a really old book and you don’t even need to read the book, flick to the back pages, and there is a contract in the back of that partnership charter. And whether you choose to use that contract or not, it’s up to you. But there are some probing questions in that partnership charter where it explains all the uncomfortable conversations to have with that person before you jump into bed with them. Right. Some examples. It’s really all right. What happens if you and Carla got divorced tomorrow? What’s going to happen to your shares? Okay. What happens if you die tomorrow? Payman, I don’t want to deal with your wife.

[01:00:07] I agree. All of that from the beginning, huh?

[01:00:09] Agree. All of that from the beginning. Right. Because the whole the whole purpose of this contract is it makes us think about the uncomfortable stuff. Hopefully it never happens and we get that stuff out of the way so we can focus on what did we have at the beginning, the vision. Yeah. And so that book, I don’t know how old it is, but the language is old and it is an old book. But, but forget about reading the book, but that contracts at the end. It’s beautiful and it makes for a it makes for a very engaging and probing conversation between partners. And you learn a lot about each other during those conversations as well, like what their responses would be to those those type of questions. So that’s that’s my piece on partnerships.

[01:00:56] Martin Tell me about moving from one practise to multiple practises when you start, for instance. That that’s a good question, isn’t it? When you started out with Nick, was your stated goal to have multiple practises?

[01:01:09] No, no. Our stated goal was my. We did. I suppose we didn’t really. We just wanted somewhere that we could practise dentistry the way that we wanted with the equipment we wanted, with the, you know, with the environment that we wanted. That’s where, you know, that, that’s really where that started. Then I think the second practise came along because we were sat, they were very busy in the one practise as well as being very busy in the one practise. We kept noticing that a lot of our patients would move from Klapa to Ballan, so you’d be, say, a renter in Clapham and you kind of you’d be in your shared household and then at a certain point you would meet boy meets girl, then you’d buy a house in Balham, and then you’d have a family home. So that kept coming from Balam to Clapham and we figured, I think there’s an opportunity there and we kind of went along and found a building and when we found this building we had to kind of do all this stuff very quickly to suddenly decide we’re going to do it. So it happened really quite quickly from us thinking about it to it actually being okay, you have to do it now and huge amount of time to think about that.

[01:02:22] Another squat.

[01:02:23] Another squat. Yep, another squat. And that that was I think in some ways it was a really, really hard build with digging down with basements, with mud, with, you know, all sorts of things like that that made it complex. But on the other hand, it it we kind of peaked out where we were. And I think the other thing that happened is I think it also we were both in the same place, both there at the same time, and actually we could both do more. We’re also doing a lot of you know, you talk about partnerships, you talk about, you know, having different skills. But one of the things that’s probably unusual is we’re both doing the same sort of work. We’re both in Scientologists, both partners are in ontologies, where he was a orthodontist and as an implant ologist, there’d be a lot less clash right here as a cosmetic dentist. So I think we thought, well, we just we need more space. And rather than have more space here, let’s have space down the road in Balham. And so that was the thinking behind behind starting that. And we also had a group of we’re very lucky because we had a group of great young dentists that were working alongside me. Ojo Your hand is badly on, you know, I think Shiraz was Shiraz was a little bit later, but he was about to come along. So we had this group of really talented young dancers. We didn’t have enough space to do all the work, so it helped that we’re able to kind of move somewhere else, open up, have a little bit more space. And also, I think all the mistakes you make building your first practise, you know, you don’t make those mistakes building the second you make different mistakes instead.

[01:03:52] So was it simpler, though, to transplant the systems over that? Much more confident the second time?

[01:03:59] Right. And we had a great practise manager at the time that was really, really, you know, that was really useful in that. So yeah, you know, you talk about letting go, having someone that was able to really, really help with that was really, really handy. So again, once you had everything in place and also it was down the road so it didn’t feel like it was too far, you could get there in 15 minutes and back. So it wasn’t like, you know, I know people who’ve got one practise in Scotland and the other one in Cornwall. It wasn’t anything like that, you know.

[01:04:27] What year was that? Was that four or five years after you started the first one?

[01:04:30] That was that would have been 2008, 2009. So for four or five years. Yeah. Yeah.

[01:04:39] And then the third one was then.

[01:04:41] One was a purchase. Someone who was a basically was a referring dentist. They wanted to sell. We had just bought then it just started the second and they said, actually, you guys are looking like you are going to expand. And at the time we’re thinking about expanding and multiples and doing more practises and it just it’s probably an opportunity that arrived rather than we went looking for. So that was quite a that that was how the third practise came along.

[01:05:12] I mean, tell me. So you mentioned a few of the names of the people who’d worked there. And, you know, there’s quite a lot of associate super associates, people who’ve gone on to do greater things who’ve come out of that little camp of yours. And I’m sure you know, in the future there will be. Actually, I know one of your Jessica who who who started became an Army bomb maker, but she was a dental student and already putting out wonderful work. You know, do you guys have like a formal way that you’re training the associates or is it just that you love teaching? We love how sharing knowledge. Why is it your associates all go on to do such wonderful things?

[01:05:57] I. I would say ask them. One of the nicest things, I think when Shiraz left, he kind of gave a very nice speech on social media about what had happened. But I think what it comes down to in some ways is, you know, I’m Maya’s my own worst critic when it comes to what something looks like. Is it right? Is it good enough? Nick’s also his own worst critic. So when, you know, once you get past that, I think what we try and do is try and instil a sense of, you know, what it looks like to do work like that. And, you know, one of the things is in going to conferences, going things like BCD for years, going to barge, you know, travelling abroad and seeing some of the work that people do. You see things and once you see something at a certain standard, when someone comes up to you said, Oh, look, this is the work I’ve done today, what do you think? And that’s really the moment where I think the change starts and the people who are able to kind of gain from it, the most of the people who are able to listen to what you say, take on board the hopefully constructive kind of criticism and feedback you give them. What helps sometimes is you’ll have maybe a case that you’ve treated in the past that’s like that. So you can show them saying that This is what I did, this is what you do, this is how this works. And then the next time you have that, before you start on the day, come in and see me. Let’s talk through it before you start. When you’ve got the professionals on really important, come and talk to me with the provisionals on and I’ll say No, you need a bit more there or a bit less there or a bit more there. And that’s it’s just a gradual process, a gradual, iterative process of continually, I think, learning to show your work to other people and accepting the feedback when it comes and then changing it and then doing it again and then doing it again.

[01:07:39] Instilling that culture. I mean, I speak to associates. They say, my, my boss doesn’t ever say one word to me. Susie, it’s very I’ve been I’ve worked in a practise myself where, you know, literally we just like we happen to be in the same building.

[01:07:55] But, but.

[01:07:56] But there was no discussion on cases, nothing. I mean, just like, you know, that culture of of of teaching. Within a practise, you know, unless you’re telling me, you know, it just comes. So it just just came naturally and it just it just evolved by itself.

[01:08:12] Yeah, because we we both, you know, we both did study clubs. We both have taught and trained. And and I think you probably pick certain things up. And I think one of the things that’s probably been the thing that’s helped is understanding different people’s learning styles. You know, some people, they just, you know, you have to be really gentle and talk around it and kind of get to the point, gradually show loads of evidence around that go online. Other people don’t get it that way and you have to be really quite forceful to get the point across. And then they’ll go, Oh, okay, fine. But as long as you get to that point where something clicks in their head, then it helps. And I think it’s also a lot of people, you need to see it to understand what you’re trying to do. Unless you’ve seen it and you can see it, then it’s really hard to get up to that level. So that’s where I think there’s been a huge advantage of travelling, seeing, you know, courses and also, you know, it’s, it’s, you know, we’ve been doing this a little while so, you know, picking up hints and tips from different people at different times.

[01:09:16] I seen some of your presentations, Martin. You know, you’ve got a definite style, you know, very beautiful sort of looking slides and things that you make. And this question of teaching and I guess it kind of goes hand in hand with the question of sort of super excelling at something in order to be considered a teacher at it. I mean, some people will not touch implants, others will restore them, others will start placing them. Others will do loads of them. Others will do grafts, others will do sinuses. You’ve taken implant ology, you know all the way. You do continue to take it pushing further and further and further. What is it in you that makes you that cat?

[01:10:02] It’s very kind of you to say, first of all, pay. Well, now, that’s much appreciated because you’ve seen this, you know, for many, many years. I think a part of it comes from I would say. You know, before I left. So age 13, leaving Uganda. Last talk with my mum, you know, she was sending me off to a foreign land and she kind of said, look, you’re just going to have to be much, much better in order to get the same place. You know, you just have to accept it. You’re going to have to be much better. You’re going to have to work harder. You’re going to be much better that that’s just the truth because you’re going to look different. You’re going to talk different. You know, that’s not you know, it’s not your country. You’re going to so you have to if you accept that as the baseline, that you’re going to have to be better, that sets the tone for what you have to do. And I think that that’s probably the driver. It’s that understanding that actually you’re just going to have to work a little bit harder. And what you get out of that at the end is actually the stuff that you talk about, you know, that that comes through the iteration, the process. I’ve talked about iterating better and better and better. You know, keep going, keep going, keep going. And within that, you see someone else who’s very good and you think, I want to get to that. That was an awesome case. And and so it as much as you see that there’s still things I look at and I think, how did he do that? How do I get to that point where I’m doing that regularly, you know, and achieving those results regularly? So there’s still the drive in there to do more and to get better. But it does come from from that. I think that acceptance that you’re just going to have to do more. You know, you’re going to have to do more. You’re going to look different to many other people you meet.

[01:11:45] Well around that subject of race, I guess. Do you think we’re now past that? I mean, we just had the Black Lives Matter thing recently. It wasn’t long ago. And for me, it was that whole moment in in social history, if you like. It was almost like I feel like, you know, these days things are a lot better and so forth. But in that moment, the polarisation of different people’s thoughts kind of came out that things that I thought that were gone then came out in that moment. Well, tell me your views on the evolution of what it’s what it is to be a black man in Britain. I mean, when you first walked in, when he first came compared to now, you know, highly respected surgeon. And do you do you still feel it now? And and, you know, your thoughts around this was okay.

[01:12:40] I mean, I’d say the what I remember first coming and, you know, people would shout kind of insults at you, things out of cars, vans, you know, just randomly, randomly. And also, you know, when you’re playing sports, people would call you names and do things like that. That part of it I don’t experience anymore. But what in some ways what sometimes feels like I don’t know my experience of it. It’s probably been very different to most. It’s been very different to most black men because I’ve come from a privileged background, I’ve got an education, I have a degree. You know, I talk in a way that will be very different to many people that they may have met. So within all of that, my experience is probably slightly different. But I think, you know, when Black Lives Matter and everything with George Floyd kicked off, what you realise is, you know, you may have succeeded or have got to a certain point or have got beyond a certain point, but there’s still many other people underneath you. And as part of it we did this quite interesting kind of webinar and talk with the at the time it was the HDCP What’s now the CG. They started the whole project and as part of that, different people submitted what had happened to them and talked about that. And you talk about things like for instance, if as an example, if I’m walking along the road, people will still sometimes be wary that there’s a large black man walking beside. They won’t think of this as the implant. That’s what they’ll see.

[01:14:15] They won’t think that way. I don’t think. Or aren’t you the implant ologist who did this? That and they. Aren’t you the guy who was on that website and I’m paying Prav. You know, you just said so. You know, people’s perceptions until they know you are always probably going to be in some ways slightly negative. Having said that, you always have an opportunity when you meet people and you talk to them and you engage with them and you break down their barriers and you show them nice work. And you, you know, they might have perceptions that you you’ve always got a chance to get in there and break those up and really challenge their thought process by not behaving or being what they thought you might be. And that means that if they can broaden their view of what a black man is like by you being very different to other people you’ve met or being in places I haven’t met, then that will make them think twice. The next time a large black man is walking beside him, we might just. Just be going home, you know, to his family, you know, to do whatever. So breaking those things down, I think, is a constant battle. And in some ways, it’s it’s something that I noticed probably a lot of a lot more people have become aware of it. And there’s still things that happen to do with it. But I think I’m fortunate in terms of my position is fairly privileged, but it will obviously still affect me in certain ways.

[01:15:36] You get dental students, younger dentists. Of colour kind of contacting you and saying, you know, you’ve you’ve been an inspiration to me. Does that happen? That must happen.

[01:15:48] That and that’s that’s very kind when people do that. And I always you know, if anyone’s listening, I always you know, I always reply. I always reply.

[01:15:57] And thus.

[01:16:00] Martin Just sort of during this whole journey of, say, building your business, getting to where you are today from where you started. We talked about earlier on what have been your. Darkest moments where things really hit rock bottom. Whether it was a combination of sort of family work and everything all coming tumbling down at once. You know, nothing ever happens at the right time, does it? When when stuff goes wrong but never is a right. Can you think of a of a time where where you were you had hit rock bottom in all of this. And and what was that?

[01:16:38] Yeah. Yeah. No, I mean. Oh, the one I’ll pick is, there was, there was a time where financially it was difficult not not necessarily because of what was going on at work, but because of decisions I’d taken outside of work. And when you are really kind of properly watching the pennies at home and then you’ve got people at work who may not be, you know, it’s not their business, it’s not. And during those times I was going through, I think, quite a hard kind of personal financial time because of decisions not related to work. Work was going fine. It wasn’t to do with that, but that that was and it’s not something that I wanted to share at the time because then, you know, it’s not anyone’s business. But that that was that was quite hard. And I think during that time losing it was around that time that I lost my dad. So, you know, there’s certain times when, you know, there’s no joy in the world and there’s, you know, there’s nothing to look forward to. So the darkest times have come when work is in. And interestingly, around that time, it’s the work that probably kept me sane, you know, just the going in doing that something to occupy because you kind of knew it would pass, but you just had to go through this. You had to go through this six month period where it was just going to be hard. It was just going to be tight, it’s just going to be tough. But actually having you know, that was one of the things that was probably just kind of kept things level for a while.

[01:18:11] We’re in the we’re in the dark zone of the podcast now, so I’ll continue. What would you say of your biggest mistakes? Well, you know, some of some mistakes that you’ve made. I want I want to hear both from a business perspective and definitely from a clinical perspective in a mistake someone else can learn from.

[01:18:32] From a business perspective, I think there are times when we’ve probably tried too much at the same time without the right team in place. And there was a time we were trying to start a facial aesthetics practise and keep the dental practise going with just built this this fantastic new practise that we had in Clapham and there was just too much going on that was just too much. And I just at that time it was, it was just, just difficult. It was just difficult at work, difficult on all sorts of things you built in your practise, all the stuff to do with that. You’re trying to start a business in an area that we didn’t know at the time, I didn’t know very much about. And that was I would say when we look back at that and how, you know, I think Nick Nick was instrumental in extricating us from that, how we got out of that. That was important, you know, at the time. Clinically. I would say the one the one that I think still kind of haunts me today is I went on I went on a kind of course where there was an observation element to someone working. And when they did that, they used a type of a type of kind of synthetic block graft, which was, you know, I’d done BLOCK Cross before I’d done them, where you take part of someone’s jaw, you know, and you kind of trim it up and you put it themselves very comfortable with that part of it. But sometimes it’s this great synthetic. You know, there’s this great synthetic block. And I thought, okay, I had a guy who came in, he was petrified of the procedure. And I said, okay, tell you what, instead of doing it the way I’m used to, I’ll use this this other way of doing it.

[01:20:13] And it was like, okay, fine. And I did the procedure. It all went really well. And I was thinking, Oh, this is great. That’s a really nice, easy way to do it. But the issue happened because, you know, what I didn’t fully appreciate was when you use the material, the material behaved very, very differently to what I was used to. So instead of going back to try and put the implant in, in normally three or four months, you’re supposed to go back in in about six or nine months. And I was very just routine implant placement. Put the implant in. I thought, Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s all worked out nice and easy. You know, I’m the donor and everything else. And then it just started to fall apart, you know, because the material wasn’t ready. I lifted a flap, it wasn’t fully integrated. And over the course of a few months, gradually bits of this just came apart and came out. And he was the guy was incredibly patient with me. I’ll be forever grateful to him, but literally just picked it apart and in the end had to take the implant out and just do it again and start again and do it properly. And not. Not properly, but but do it with that conventionally. Yeah, but it was an understanding that, you know, if you’ve got a thing that you know, works, you know, you have to think very carefully before changing it and you have to understand what you’re changing. And at the time, I don’t think I gave enough consideration to what I was changing and.

[01:21:41] So was was there any form of complaint or.

[01:21:44] Incredibly, fortunately, no. I think that with all of these things, the first thing was, you know, and again, I’ve got to thank someone called Nigel Jones. You know what? If I you know well, as you talk about influences, I’ve got to thank him for this. Just take money off the table. We’re going to fix it. Don’t worry about the cost. Everything’s going to be fixed. Everything’s taken care of. Just, you know, that’s it. So that was the first thing to happen. I think once you take that off and you fix it, that that deals with a lot of it, you know, because someone’s going to have to fix it. And these and in some ways, if it said at the time, I don’t want you to do it, I want someone else to do it. I would have happily paid someone else to do it and said, Right, there you go, go see them. So it’s ready to take the money off the table so that the person gets the treatment they deserve.

[01:22:29] The level of work you’re doing. There must be complications. I mean, there must be there must be a case where, you know, you feel like. Not not, not, not. I’m not saying that you let the patient down, but where the patient felt that, you know, something wasn’t done right. And how you handle that situation.

[01:22:51] I would say that.

[01:22:52] Because the last example you gave, obviously, from a management perspective, that was a massive success.

[01:22:59] Well, no, but it’s double the amount of time, loads of procedures.

[01:23:03] You managed the guy and you managed the situation well. But can you think of one where you didn’t manage the situation quite as optimally as. This one.

[01:23:15] I think interestingly, it’s probably it’s been the ones where it’s most of those things have come where generally at a certain level you reach the point where you can can you when you get a complication, you can manage it. You know, I’ll get complications. Everyone will get complications, but you know what they are and you can manage it and you can get around that and you can do it again or do something else. And you’ve got a way around it when you know you to extricate yourself. But I’ve found that the times when people haven’t wanted to be managed and potentially when there’s money involved and they feel that, you know, it costs too much, why I’ve had to come so many times. So generally those times have been when it’s been about, you know, no money, really what it’s come down to people wanting money and that’s that I think that’s a sad thing. But in terms of. I think. I think you’re making me worried now. I’m knocking on wood over here at the moment, but I think a part of it comes down to, I think, the conversations you have with the patients and we’re a lot more of the issues come is not necessarily in the patient complaining. It’s the patient having an unrealistic expectation of what you can do and you not realising at the beginning that you’re dealing with someone who you’re never going to 100% get it right. Whatever you do in their mouth and you realise this once you’ve done, you know, removed tears, removed implants, rebuilt bone, rebuilt soft tissue, you go, Da, it looks fantastic. I go, I don’t like that little bit. So the majority of what I’m trying to do now is trying to find those people. And when I do just really, you know, in some ways saying no, saying no.

[01:25:09] When when you get referred to patient, in a way, the referring dentist has presold your expertise and your level of knowledge and skills. But when you see a patient who hasn’t been referred to as the patient, a person. How’d you get over to him? You know, you’re you and you’re not. You know what I mean? I bet you charge more than the average. Do you charge more than the average implant? I hope so.

[01:25:39] I should put the fees up after that.

[01:25:41] Well, you’ve got you’ve got I mean, I was having the same chat with Basil Mizrahi and he was saying he takes it takes him three examinations. Before he works the patient out in the patient, works him out and so forth. But, you know, if I sent someone to Basil or I’ll tell them a massive story about how he’s one of the best in the world and all of this. Whereas if a patient walks off the street or a word of mouth referral comes in. These ought to know your Martin weren’t there is just you’re the dentist. Do you have a way of confidence about you or do you tell a story or do you showcases or what you do?

[01:26:16] I think it’s a combination of all of those things. The first thing I think is sometimes your body language and the language you use with someone, and if someone walks in and you go, Oh my God, this is really complicated, everything’s going to go wrong. I’m going to tell you about 15 different complications before I talk. Whereas if you say, of course I can sort you out, this is no problem. I’ve done this before and you begin the conversation with that because that comes from having done it many times, having spotted the issues. If you begin like that, that’s the first thing that people are reading your language the whole time. You know, they’re reading your body language. They’re reading how you’re talking to your nurse. How, how how does your nurse know what you’re doing when you say, I want an X, x, x and Y? Does she spring up and immediately get it or look at you confused? All of that stuff that’s going on is, I think, hugely important. And I think the other thing is, you know, if they really I’ll generally showcases and I’ve generally got a case like you very similar to you. Sometimes I’ll have a case like you with a video from the person stating, you know how happy they are and everything else. So that actually you’ve not only got the teeth, you’ve got the person who’s happy to give a little video to say how happy they are and what happened and how it how it went through. And I think the other thing is, you know, the other part of that is I think the team around you and I say that because if when they answer the phone so I’d like to get an implant, please, I go, oh, you know, you’re going to see Nick or Martin are. They’re really good at what they do once they start the team, build you up, you know, when they’re then the treatment coordinator on the way out, you know, they, they, they help with all of those things. So making sure you’ve got that team around that believe in you and are prepared to kind of help.

[01:27:56] And training them to say those things. Right.

[01:27:59] Well, I hope they come naturally in some way, shape or form, but part of it is you do talk to them and a part of it, you know, probably the most important thing is in some ways when you when I started this is making sure the team had confidence that I could deliver. And once the team have confidence that you can deliver it, they can then do that other part that maybe the referring this dentist was going to do for you by saying authenticity. They’re right. Yeah. You really want this guy to your implant?

[01:28:24] Honestly, I have teachers teaches this to receptionists all the time, but I do. Regarding whitening, you know, it’s almost like that vanilla ice cream in Marks and Spencers and vanilla ice cream as it’s madagascan vanilla.

[01:28:42] You know.

[01:28:44] Do you do white.

[01:28:45] With the little with the little black vanilla flakes like little.

[01:28:51] Little pods make. Yeah.

[01:28:53] Do you do whitening. We’re a regional centre of excellence for whitening. You know that, that, that, that thing. So yes we do or no we do.

[01:29:03] Followed by a price.

[01:29:05] Yeah. Yeah.

[01:29:07] It’s it’s interesting that that whole topic. Right, because you know Martin, you’ve been doing this for years, so it comes naturally to you and you talk about how you present yourself your body language, you know, a lot of. Telling everyone I am. Martin And this is who I am and this is my experience comes from the confidence that you project and the way you speak and that that comes with time. But when when you’ve got other people doing your job for you, I TCO or you receptionist you always believe that whatever they say to a patient needs to be memorable. And that is the most important part of any training that I give or anything that I say to a CEO or someone on the phone. Right. Make that conversation memorable. And what do I mean by that? That patient was probably going to ring another three or four practises. And my goal is if they ring my practise, I want my conversation to be memorable and memorable for the right things. Do you do dental implants? Yes, of course we do. They’re £3,000 and we use a stromal implant called. Do you do dental implants? Yes, of course we do. And you’ll be glad to know you’ve arrived in the safest possible hands, because Martin not only teaches other dentists how to do and place dental implants, he’s got decades of experience doing this. And it’d be like, and I’d be delighted to invite you into the practise to come in and meet Martin to see what he can do for you, give you an idea of the cost, and we’ll be able to spread you, blah, blah, blah, blah.

[01:30:46] Right. About how much you charge for reception. Well.

[01:30:53] I say to Prav, where did you learn this stuff? Like in the corner shop, mate.

[01:31:00] But honestly, the only thing is. The only thing is I just digress, right? It just has to be memorable, right? And it has to be one element better than the guy they’re ringing next door. Right. And the beauty about your practise, Martin, is you’ve got lots of memorable stuff to share, right? You’ve got the USP, you’ve got you’ve served the time, you’ve got the credentials, you produce the beautiful work. You can invite them to read your Google reviews and see your Instagram before and afters and all the rest of it use it. And I think I think that’s where a lot of practises let themselves down.

[01:31:41] Martin If you had to distil and it’s a ridiculous question, but just humour me. If you had to distil the skill of what it takes to be a top implant ologist. What would you say? So I asked this question of Andrew Dawood and he said, spatial awareness. I asked him for a hand. He said, Access. Access. Make sure you’ve got plenty of access. Niklas said something about suturing.

[01:32:15] I would say with me, it’s. To me, it’s the ability to plan, you know, to to kind of to work out what you’re going to do when you see the patient and then try to. Because to me, you’re not going to however good your hands are, have a good just all the other things that are. Unless the person says yes to going ahead, it’s not going to happen. So for me, I think it’s the planning and then the trying to explain it in layman’s terms to the to the patient so that they go ahead, then all the other stuff will come later, you know, all the other stuff will come later. But I think to me it’s the planning part of it is the working out, being able to work out the simple to the moderate, the complex. Just that part of it, I think to me is key. Or it’s maybe it’s the part I focus on in the part I enjoy more, you know?

[01:33:09] Yeah. I mean, talking to so many implants, just, you know, I’ve never put an implant in myself, but the planning seems like it’s the key. Key part of the thing. What’s what’s the most complex one you’ve done? I mean, do you do the schematics and things as well?

[01:33:25] I wouldn’t. That happens. I call Guy McClellan and he comes in and he puts them in the cheek. The most the most complex ones then end up probably there was a lady who I’ve treated and she ends up, you know, featuring on on some of my presentations where she hadn’t had teeth for so long. The top and bottom teeth had completely collapsed in and out. And she had just very poor access, no bone anywhere. But I think with her it was it was because, again, through just breaking down her case step by step. And also she was very fortunate because I saw her pre lockdown. So all the way through lockdown when I had nothing to do, I got to sit here, you know, and you know, one of the things that was work out.

[01:34:12] Exactly.

[01:34:14] How I was going to get how I was going to do this. And that’s the way I realised actually if you do this, that and the other, you can do this. And then suddenly there’s a way. There was certainly a way to do this case. There was a way and I thought, right, bang, okay, we can do this. And then once you’ve figured that out and you’ve kind of gone through the steps and stages, but what was nice was being able to take it from that to something that is I don’t know if, you know, it’s called an PFP one restorations where the teeth are coming out of the gums everywhere. And you know, when she bites from having nothing to bite on, everything collapsed to everything kind of interdigital ing nicely. That was probably, I think, the most complex, complicated one that that was a really tough day in the office, you know, because it was top and bottom, both complex in different ways, lots of things up in the air. And I had one shot because she’s so nervous. It was like I had one shot to get it right.

[01:35:02] So did you do course on that as well? Right.

[01:35:05] Yeah, we do. We do. Which has been that’s that that came about because I called online actually and called Paolo Cavallo and we realised that we’re doing very similar treatment, which is this thing whereby you get people when you do full arches rather than doing them with the pink and white, which I do do and is appropriate in some cases. It’s not anything against that. But you could do an all white solution. So we figured out, you know, after figured out how a way in which I could do this consistently and started doing it consistently and came across him and he was doing that. And so when we met he came across to the UK when I was doing a course and at the end of the course I said, I think we should start to teach this and train this. So we’re him. And with Nick we then do this course over two days and it’s quite it’s quite good because we’re now getting to the point where we get people coming in from from the States, from Vietnam, from Romania, as well as from the UK. You know, to come and learn this and you know, it’s.

[01:36:01] Something who’s a candidate for that course, someone who’s already very experienced?

[01:36:04] No, no, not necessarily very expensive. If you’re doing some sort of immediate loading of implants of one or two implants, that’s probably the entry level that will take you. If you come in and you just start an implant ology, then I would say to you, there’s many other places you should go first rather than than coming on this because you need to learn some other stuff. Because if we start with you, after the first 2 hours of the first day, you’re going to really be struggling to take on everything that’s there. So if you’re an implant ologist that’s doing immediate implants and you want to find a different way of doing full arches, that’s one type of person. If on the other hand, you’re doing full arches and you want to find a different way of doing it, that doesn’t involve removing bone, because sometimes you feel that actually there’s a niggling doubt that you could have done this another way rather than pick up a big bear and chop all the bone away, then, then we’ve got a way of showing you how to do it consistently. That’s what the course involves.

[01:37:01] And what about referral practise? What would you say the sort of the cornerstones of a successful referral practise? Because I remember when I was a dentist, there were some people referring to them as an absolute pleasure, and they would sort of do the work, of course, but build you up back and stay in touch and you could call them any time and all of this. And I imagine as as your referral business grows and you’ve got large number of referrals, it’s much harder to keep that number of people happy. I mean, you’re known for being one of the sort of major sort of referral centre. Did you win a prise for it.

[01:37:42] I can’t remember the prise for that practise. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[01:37:46] So give us some. If someone wants to go shift their practise a bit more in that direction, where do they start getting the first referral and then how do they sort of we call it in marketing, we call it farm. How do they how do they keep those people happy?

[01:38:02] I’d say, you know, you know, there’s that I’ve forgotten what the book is, where they talk about your first follower being the most important person they come across. So there’s always, you know, I’ve still still got mine. I still remember him daily and I’m still in touch with him. And but the first person he said, right, I’m going to trust you, I’m going to refer to you. But it once you’ve got that in that person, you learn. I think it’s about relationships with the different people. You’ve got to be prepared to give as much as you take. And I think sometimes it involves people want different things, so some people want you just to do everything. You know, there’s the patient, you do everything. Other people want to restore the implant. So fine, that’s brilliant. We can help you with that. We’ve got a course. We’ve got a way in which we’re going to take you through that other people want to do some simple surgery, but for you to do the complex surgery, so you’ll do the sinus graft or the block graft for them and they’ll put in the implant and restore it. And other people want you to help them as they begin their journey and, you know, doing implants or slightly more complicated implants. So I think it’s about making sure with each of the people you work with, certainly from the implant side, that they’re getting something from the relationship and you’re prepared to give it if they want it.

[01:39:12] So it’s having that it’s a two way thing because as I say to people when we meet them, it’s a referral is a referral relationship. You’re going to have my number, you’re going to call me on WhatsApp, you’re going to sometimes say, Can you help me? This has happened. And you’ll find that. I’ll say, Right, fine, send your patient along, we’ll put them in. But it’s, it’s, it’s, it is the relationship is the individual relationships you have with people. And, you know, I know it’s, you know, there’s many people that are referring to ten Dental some of them really enjoy referring to, for instance, our and the dentist or our periodontist or some people work with just neck. Some people work because just maybe some people don’t mind who the patient goes to. But what we try and do is very regularly and pandemic has stopped that have referred evenings very regularly have I think you you you’re supposed to come ten does TED pay you’re supposed to you’ve done what you’ve done you’ve done you’ve done one of our ten does Ted haven’t you.

[01:40:04] You have a Ted one. I’ve been before but I.

[01:40:06] Haven’t Ted one. I think those sort of things really are useful because actually, you know, you’re, you’re a name on a sheet, you’re a voice on a on a podcast, but actually you’re a person as well. And, you know, you have good days, bad days, good things, bad things. And then really understanding that it, you know, you’re really there to help and support them in whatever way they choose to use your referral services.

[01:40:32] By the way, I hope you I hope you’re paying your money to the TED Foundation. We’ll cut that one.

[01:40:45] Out slightly differently. Ted? You know, this is the Irish spelling.

[01:40:57] We’ve got to take it to an end now so we could end it with our usual questions. Shall I start privately with you?

[01:41:06] I’ll start yours are happier questions pay. Usually, usually happy questions. Let’s end on a positive. Well, it’s all positive. But hey, Martin, imagine it was your your your last day on the planet and you’re surrounded by your loved ones and children, and you had to give them three pieces of wisdom for life. What would they be?

[01:41:32] I think the first would be to be kind and to treat other people the way that you would want to be treated. Because I think if you just if you follow that thought process and that doctrine and you use that with some of your interactions with people, that that really helps you in lots of ways. I’d say just be kind and treat people the way you would want to be treated yourself in all sorts of circumstances. The other part is, I’d say to be a combination because I heard this iteration, this really, really struck a note to be humble but be confident, to be understand where you’ve come from, understand your luck in life. Understand your privilege. Understand your benefit. And be humble enough to appreciate that. And when you meet people and they help you to recognise that actually there’s a few people I should name checked on this podcast, but I will do it when I put a little political thing on it. And you know, I do appreciate those people, but also be confident in your own ability so that you know that that will give you enough drive to get through some of the tougher and harder time. So that combination of things I think is quite important. And I think the other part is enjoy the ride, enjoy your time at work, enjoy your time with friends, you know, enjoy it, enjoy it. You know, just someone who tends to, I think, worry less and kind of I’m an eternal I’m an optimist. I’m not sure an optimist. So I think just just try and enjoy wherever you are. Enjoy is not always going to be amazing. It’s not always going to be good. But just try and enjoy your life and enjoy the ride. Beautiful.

[01:43:15] Martin How would you like to be remembered? Martin was and then complete the sentence.

[01:43:19] No. That’s a hard one. I thought about this because I knew this was coming, but.

[01:43:33] The lovely ontology.

[01:43:36] That. I think someone who gave to others and made the most of his opportunities at the same time.

[01:43:47] Lovely. Beautiful.

[01:43:50] And my final question.

[01:43:52] Mm hmm.

[01:43:53] You might not have you might not have heard this one if you haven’t heard the latest episode. That fantasy dinner party.

[01:44:00] Oh, okay.

[01:44:02] Three guests. Three dead or alive?

[01:44:05] Only three. Yeah. I’m gonna fuck you. I’d have to go with Martin Luther King. Namesake. Lots. You know, just too much to talk about. But he would be in there. The other person probably put it in place so he would, you know, lots of political discourse. Interesting conversation. Fela Kuti, you know who Fela Kuti was? Fela Kuti was an African musician who put African music on the map, Afrobeat. He invented a type of music. He was absolutely fearless in terms of his approach to life in front of just massive intimidation with the Nigerian government. Just, you know, just once once you read I mean, his funeral was a state occasion that was not a state occasion. So just just he was unconventional. He married 29 wives at the same it just just when you read about it is just I.

[01:45:05] Just Fela Kuti with.

[01:45:05] Ak Kuti. Fela Kuti. He would he would be in there. So I’d put him in. Then the other person I put in, because I’m always very interested in that would be a guy called Chris Ofili is he’s an he’s an artist. I came across him when he did the paintings, which were kind of a combination of blaxploitation with elephant dung and everything else. So I’d put him in because I think that would be a very, very interesting evening with those interesting party.

[01:45:37] Amazing man. Thank you so much for doing this. But it’s been a wonderful conversation, so much to learn from that. And, you know, I’m really glad we got this down. They’d be chasing you for such a long time for this.

[01:45:49] Really, really.

[01:45:50] Happy. We had this conversation.

[01:45:52] Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. I know it’s been a while to kind of get this nailed down. It’s been a pleasure talking to you guys. And yeah, you know, you’re doing great work with this podcast. I really enjoy listening and hopefully people will pick something up and, you know, enjoy this one in some way, shape for sure.

[01:46:09] Thanks a lot. Thanks, Martin.

[01:46:11] Thank you.

[01:46:13] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman, Langroudi and Prav. Solanki.

[01:46:29] Thanks for listening, guys. If you got this file, you must have listened to the whole thing and just a huge thank you both from me and pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we had to say and what our guest has had to say, because I’m assuming you got some value out of it.

[01:46:43] If you did get some value out of it, think about subscribing. And if you would share this with a friend who you think might get some value out of it, too. Thank you so, so, so much for listening. Thanks.

[01:46:54] And don’t forget our six star rating.


Last time we spoke with Dev Patel in February 2021, he let us in on big ambitions to change UK dentistry through M&As and modernising old practices with the growing Beauty Partners group. 

So how’s it going?

In this week’s episode, Dev reveals what he’s been up to since his last chat with Payman. He talks about Beauty Partners’ first big M&A venture north of the capital, talks about the challenges of scaling for practices and corporates and tells payman what keeps him up at night.



“I want to change the whole model of corporate in the UK to make it dentist-led, patient-led and focus on getting stuff done like an entrepreneur.” – Dev Patel

In This Episode

02.00 – Catching up

05.55 – The Kiss plan

07.54 – The funding model

10.07 – Unexpected challenges

17.44 – Culture, pay and scale

28.24 – Expanding the team

32.48 – Timescales, focus and frustrations

39.20 – Money Vs missions

43.03 – Growing grey hairs and recruiting from outside dental

49.03 – Internal, external marketing and targets

53.23 – What makes a successful partner practice?

58.18 – Buying blind and rebranding

01.05.06 – Mistakes, weaknesses and things that go bump in the night 

01.13.15 – Thoughts on the future

01.16.51 – Fantasy dinner party


About Dev Patel

Dev Patel is the CEO and founder of Beauty Partners, now one of the UK’s fastest-growing dental groups.

He also founded the Brushlink smart toothbrush tech company and Dental Circle networking platform.

He was named 38th on a list of the UK’s most influential dentists. Dev lectures and mentors with the NHS’ Clinical Entrepreneur scheme and is also a member of the editorial board for Young Dentist magazine.


[00:00:00] And then I think the third thing as well was probably thinking about putting yourself in their shoes because I think a lot of times dentists have got this lifestyle in their head of how, you know, why they’re so upset that they get paid on time. Nurses live off £5 extra in the month to live off. They get paid on time. They just can’t even survive. So you need to put yourself in their shoes and bring yourself down a level. I think some associates even get too big for their boots and start like, you know, treat the nurses as if they’re just some sort of like just person in the corner, but they don’t realise how important that person is for them to actually get their job done.

[00:00:37] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman, Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

[00:00:54] It is my great pleasure to welcome a previous guest back for a second time, Dev Patel, who our regular listeners will remember from episode 68 where he went through his upbringing and his various businesses. I mean, a definite serial entrepreneur Dental circle, his adventures and misadventures with Brush Link and in the US. And then finally his Dental Beauty Partners Group, the DSO group that he set up. And I think last time we spoke, Dev, you had just gone up to, I know, 14 practises or was it more was it 20 something about a year ago? And the reason I would say the reason why, why Dave is back on is because so much has moved on for him in this one year. And I like that idea of someone moving so quickly that in a year he’s got a lot of news for us. So it’s lovely to have you, buddy. How are you?

[00:01:54] Yeah, thanks for having me again. And all. Good, man. Exciting to be back again.

[00:02:00] So recently Dental Beauty Partners invested in Leicester Solanki Extraordinary Kiss Dental. And obviously we know Kailash Kennish is perhaps brother. You can hear Kailash his whole story on episode 55. So tell us, Matt, what’s what’s been going on since since since we last spoke.

[00:02:19] Yeah. I mean, as I said, a lot’s gone on. We’ve taken dental beauty partners from 14 sites originally with the first probably 600 partners to over 15 partners now and 30 plus practises so doubled in size and practises. And as a result of that just growing really fast from our head office point of view and also just support networks and some of the things we’re bringing to the group. So yeah, really exciting times. As you mentioned, you’ve recently invested into KISS Dental work as a partner. I’m looking to take their brand across the Northwest. So I think his dream has always been how do I take this amazing, you know, many group of practises of 2 to 3 practises to other cities where he’s got patients travelling hours and hours to come see him. And I just expand that and scale it up because I think a lot of questions I have to do one, two, three slides. You can still go between all of them clinically, between all three of them have a physical hold and management over all three of them. But when you start getting to four or five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten plus sites, then you start really thinking about delegation management structures, back office structures, so that you don’t fall flat on your face. And yeah, he’s just obviously one of a couple of actually other many platforms that we’ve recently invested in who are just looking to take next step now and to start growing more.

[00:03:40] So this is a new model for you basically. I mean, the last time we spoke, we were talking about sort of practises that weren’t doing the best or weren’t weren’t weren’t managed optimally. And then you coming in with your very energetic associates are into new treatments and cosmetic treatments, implants, whitening, whatever, bonding and doubling the turnover of these practises that had potential. But Kailash is practise I mean it’s a whole different story isn’t its full potential is it. So so this thing about growing and I guess a funding story, right?

[00:04:18] Yeah. Look, I think the fundamentals of our model. Yes, obviously one of the parts of the model which is bread and butter, is buying those undervalued practises that have got potential to double triple with a small contract nse around the suburbs of M 25. That’s been our core model, but I think the fundamentals have actually been investing in partners and people. And that’s no different to Kailash, right? I mean, all we’re doing here is rather than buying a new pattern of buying into existing ones and then buying more with him afterwards. So it’s about investing in people, investing in the right partners, the right ambitious partners who want to do bigger and better things and have the right entrepreneurial spirit, really. And there’s no one else, I think, who can say Kailash is not character enough and got the spirit to take it to the next level really. So I think it’s really important where the right partners and typically you’re right we never would look at pacts like this one where it’s probably nowhere near anywhere we can ever get to it in our lifetime because it’s just so well, well run. And, you know, it’s the best the best in the country in terms of how much it does per chair. So it’s typically one that you can’t really grow much more on the existing chairs, existing sites. But actually when we’re talking about getting from 3 to 10 sites in a year, then actually becomes a lot more interesting for us. And, you know, it’s a different market. We’re not looking at a mixed practise model, which is like family based around suburbs, talking about that high end brand, bringing the really high end restorative dentistry, multidisciplinary care in one place and just bringing that to other parts of the country which haven’t got that yet and having that huge follow. On social media and just that brand, really. So yeah, we invested in him and the brand and we believe in him and we think that will take us to.

[00:05:55] So what? Walk me through it, but walk me through it. You guys want to open one in every town in the northwest, let’s say.

[00:06:03] Yeah.

[00:06:04] So who’s going to be responsible for, you know, that Kiss Dental brand? I guess you have both of you. Right. But what are you going to do and what’s he going to do going forward when you open one in Liverpool?

[00:06:17] Yeah.

[00:06:17] What’s going to be the story? You’re going to have other partners in there?

[00:06:20] Yes. So basically if you think of Kiss as a subbrand of its partners, it’s basically its own brand, its own CEO, which is technically going to be closed and obviously he’ll have his own partners and he will essentially manage the his own organisation, his own really company within our company. But from his point of view, you know, trying to develop a back office, head office where you have to start doing those functions like HR, recruitment, contracts, wages, payroll, finance, even funding, all these things. You need a lot of time and effort to do it. And I literally went through that whole process myself, like a good two years when we first went from 2 to 10 sites. And you can spend probably half your time just doing that, maybe even free all the time, just doing that side of the business. I’m actually focussing on getting the patient journey right, getting those conditions right, do the training of clinicians. So I think it’s a bigger version of our current model now, which is just doing one or two or three sites with each partner. But it’s just thinking about does he have the right partners, does it have the right conditions, the academy and it has all that already. So it’s not like it’s going to be a difficult scalability point of view from the, you know, the locations and the dentists and more about how do we get the back office right for him, which you already have in place anyway, so you can do it very quickly. But I’m doing that over the next 2 to 3 years and get it himself. So it is about speed because we can get to ten sites in a year rather than him do over the next ten years, you’ll investments be much better for everyone. So that’s basically the kind of underlying.

[00:07:54] Who’s your funding model changed since we last spoke?

[00:07:57] No, not really. No, it’s it’s still pretty much the same same as last time. I think the key thing is it’s pretty much 51% for 9% or sometimes a bit more or less depending on obviously the partner and how much they want to invest with us. But it’s the same thing. You know, we we want to make sure that we are adequately able to fund our partners to get their dreams of buying the first practise, the second practise or third practise, doing what clinicians do and kind of keep growing. And I think our private equity partners have been really positive on that. They’ve seen our journey. We still do when we said first time round and still doubling turnover all batches since we first did the deal with in January last year. So the numbers are good and the model is working well right now. It’s now just taking that next level from going. You know, I personally was literally speaking to all the partners, 1 to 1 every single week and having weekly meetings them. And now it’s taken to bring in another management team below me who have now gone out to speak to those partners and manage them to make sure they can still support them as much as I was doing for the first seven or eight sites. So that’s the next challenge really with the growth part of it.

[00:09:02] But explain to me the relationship with the private equity. Is it is it that it’s the same people doing the investment all the time or are you taking it out to different groups?

[00:09:12] Yes. So the private equity firm called Nordic Capital is based in the way they fund the group. We’re part of the European Dental Group, which is second biggest group in Europe. And we just literally it’s like you call them up and they money comes next day. It’s when the size of their group it doesn’t make a difference of what we do in the UK is like a very small.

[00:09:33] Small part of a big organisation.

[00:09:35] Yeah, exactly. They’ve got I think revenues of like 70 million right now, so they’re probably bigger than 98 in terms of size. So yeah, they’re really good from that point of view because they all said everyone’s a dentist CEO and the group is dentists as well. And we all understand the same language about patient care and really growing patient journey to make sure that that’s the focus rather than worrying about life saving costs here and there and how we can cut costs in other areas, which is not actually best for patients. So it’s all about investing in our dentists and clinical journey, really.

[00:10:07] So tell me about you must have run through some problems as you grow in this beast. Yeah, you know, there must be. Talk to me about the thing that you sort of least expect it. Something that hit you out of the blue that you didn’t understand would happen. It happened.

[00:10:25] I don’t think we’ve had like a scientific aspect. I mean, I think if I was looking back on where we are now two years ago and said did I think would be here at this pace of where we are now and obviously that it all worked. Exactly the plan. Obviously not. Nothing happens a plan if it’s gotten better than plan for the growth. But you know, I think the thing that I learnt the most and the thing that I would say that shocked me the most is just how different people feel, the different types of companies, right? So as an example, you could have three practises and have a great person running the three practises like, you know, like a manager or manager and you can have 12 practises to have someone who needs to be a bit more obviously, you know, on the ball and bit more kind of like commercial and obviously start to think a bit more about bigger and bigger picture. And then we get to 20, 30 sites. You need someone completely different. You need someone who’s got an MBA like not an MBA, but that can an experience of understanding culture, understanding operations on a much bigger level where you can’t do it for yourself. I think that’s something that I’ve had to personally learn myself, but also have to shape my team around me as well on that basis.

[00:11:41] Because, you know, as much as I would love to have the first five people that we have hired for my first practise with me for the rest of my life, but actually they would fit within the right organisation of our size we want to get to. And I think it’s also one of those things where if you don’t do that soon. You end up having to have this negative growth from the team point of view with the practise growth. So practises might be growing really quickly and you might be getting all the acquisitions going in over a team are thinking ahead of the next two, three, six, ten months, you’re not going to be able to grow as fast and actually think ahead the curve. And I think that’s really important and I still am not perfect, but it’s really hard to get that right because you’re growing so fast. Hockey stick, right? So in advance of that, with the people that like mindset before you even get there and it only lasts for six months for it to get someone else is even bigger and better as well. So it is hard.

[00:12:34] I think it’s one of the maybe the hardest thing in business is having that conversation with someone who really has worked their butt off for you and is no longer in the right position. Like you said, you got an ops manager for ten practises. It’s totally different to an office manager for 50 practises. It’s a different skill. If you had to have those sort of uncomfortable conversations with with your core, you know, your existing, your first team. And say to someone that, you know, you don’t fit anymore even though you laid your life down for me.

[00:13:06] Not not yet. But I think it’s moving people in that position of where they originally were, in one position that made sense at time and then moving to another position where actually it’s a lot less responsibility, but a different department where actually they’re probably better suited. That’s what we have done because I don’t like to get with anyone unless they literally don’t want to be with us anymore, which is another story I think we naturally I know my first business partner, but father in law step back as it was doing a bit and then we’ve had a few members of staff leave. It’s normal, so you know you’re going to get that. But I don’t think that there’s ever a scenario where as long as they understand that I fit that role and I don’t fit the needs of the business, it’s okay. The issue is when they think they can still do what they’re doing two years ago or five years ago or ten years ago in that same role and think that that’s still okay when it’s not. That’s the issue. I think people, as long as they understand that actually you’re not fit, you’re not fit for purpose for the role anymore. Basically saying else, that’s fine. So I think that’s the kind of way that I see it, like rejigging the team, but constantly every quarter thinking, Oh, I need to redo the team now because these guys are actually better at this, just that and actually want to move around. It’s like having a football team, you know, having different players and moving around all the time and just working out who’s the best position. I mean, you get Ronaldo sometimes playing in midfield or fighting or whatever, but they can be placed in the right positions and they might like it, but actually it’s best for the company. So it’s just about moving jigsaw puzzle round really.

[00:14:40] But not always possible, right?

[00:14:42] Not always possible.

[00:14:44] If it’s obvious with I know where you’re coming from, with with operations, with practises, with practise managers and all that, they can be moved around right when you’ve got, I don’t know, a head of marketing, where’s that person going to go? There’s still for that person to go.

[00:14:59] Yeah. And I think it’s the thing, I think it’s sometimes it’s not like a complete change of Oh, it’s more like we’re bringing someone above you or we’re that kind of thing. So I think so far touchwood, it’s been good. I do think that our current size, we are we’re in a good place, but I do think that might change again, you know, and it probably won’t just be me, but, you know, the company will actually demand to have like, you know, other people with C-level positions or other really experienced and build guys have done other industries and bring them in. So, you know, it’s a constant change. But then obviously it’s hard because you’re constantly thinking about what do I need to bring in for the next two quarters of growth and you grow that quickly. We’re going to be at 50 sites by the end of the year. You went from 1240 boxes to 15 factors in a year. Like, you know, you’ve got to think, what do you need in advance? And then that takes a few months to hire them and then trained up and they’re like, you know, I think it’s unlimited ongoing problem for any company. I don’t think anyone’s ever solved it because it’s a hockey stick. You get the growth, which is great, but then you get a higher above the curve of spending too much money too quickly and make sure that gets right in the right timing. So it’s it’s tough.

[00:16:13] And, you know, the big challenge I always find the big challenge is do you hire someone super experienced and pay them loads knowing that.

[00:16:20] They’ve got.

[00:16:22] Or do you develop. Yeah. And that’s even a combination isn’t it. You’ve got to you’ve got to do both things, you know.

[00:16:29] Yeah. And I think it’s also like getting the right person because I mean, you know, the recruitment market right now, there’s no like magic wand up there. I mean, I don’t know if it was easier 20 years ago or I was just now, but it was like literally you hire people, they say on paper, they’re great, great interviews. And then they come in and you think you should lie about all your stuff, like you got no idea we’re talking about and you’re not, as you said on an interview, I think that’s another challenge right now, just getting good talent because our industry is very niche. Right. We don’t have I always say this to our team right now, I’m like, why have we not got this Goldman Sachs effect where we have nurses lined up once to work for us? You know, why is that for interview stages? For someone who works for Goldman Sachs and for us we have to like cut the big nurses come work. I mean, you know, it doesn’t mean I mean, I know there’s a shortage, but I don’t understand why our industry is so, so niche. I think we need to disrupt that and actually change the way that nurses, receptionists, admin staff feel about working for our companies in dentistry. Because there’s actually I think you can have a really good career in it, but they don’t see it as a career. They just think of it as like two or three years and and change profession, do something else afterwards. So sometimes I think maybe long time ago it’s different, you know, 20 years from what I remember. So yeah, I think we just need to really flip it. On terms of the recruitment piece.

[00:17:44] I think you’re right, I think you’re right. I think culture has a lot to do with it, but it’s difficult to maintain culture as the thing grows because you know, Kunal Patel, good friend of mine, he made a superb culture in his first practise. Now he’s going from 1 to 7. And and I told the first thing I told him was, look, be careful. You have to keep the culture because it’s not easy to go from 1 to 7 and keep the culture. A big part of the culture is the boss on site, spreading his enthusiasm or whatever. And for your group, I mean, you’re growing at such a rate that it’s going to be hard for you. Have you thought about how to do that? How do you make working at Dental Beauty Partners a branded experience? You know, is it is it fun to work at Dental Beauty Partners? Is there more money? Is there progression? What do you want it to be and how do you make it happen?

[00:18:42] I think that the answer to that question, which is a very good question, by the way, it’s not just put out by like every group in the country, same problem. Like they grow too quickly, they just grow too big. They don’t have that local level of support. Right. That’s the whole point of our model. We have a partner with equity on the ground in the business every day or most of the week at least. So they actually get to physically speak to someone. So that enthusiasm, leadership, which should in theory happen on each practise. Now practically that won’t happen every single time to send as my first practise because different people have different levels of leadership skills. But we’re now trying to create a programme where we have some of our good partners who have already shown their skills of leadership and management and obviously growth to help the newer partners get trained up on something that they’ve done to learn from them. And hopefully they can then copy that same level of leadership in practise. So you still have that culture being kept high, but it is really, really important for me to keep that because you’re right, if you don’t have the right culture, you lose talent, you lose talent. You’re back to where you were before. We’ve never known there. So it’s really, really important to keep that. And so far so good. We had our Christmas party in December. We had like four new people come. It was a great big fire, you know, I know a good way. Got a bit messy in the end as always. But yeah, look, I think it’s one of those things where that kind of level of engagement and on that evening must have like 100 would say like love working for you guys.

[00:20:08] It’s the best thing ever. I don’t think if you read a book review you probably get like 50 people in a whole organisation even, you know. So it is I think we’ve got a great culture because the partners are there, their teams get on with them really well mentored, they get hands on training and you don’t get that these days in terms of like principles and they actually get given cases from a principle given to associate to do some of the work and actually go, Oh, right, this is your first visit. I’ll walk you through it with you. And I think that’s the key thing. As long as we’ve got good partners with good clinical skills to help expand that training and mentorship in practise, I think we’ll be okay. But it is hard for like, how do we make our our practise? The nurse the nurse place to go like the best for nurses or the best receptionists. What do you say? I mean, there’s only so much you can pay them bonuses, so much of health care insurance. It’s like, what more can you give perks wise for them? And it is hard. You know, there’s only so much you can do. And hopefully they feel valued enough and supported enough that they enjoy working the practises. And I can see some cool treatments not just for NHS, so I think there’s enough there for them, but I think the problem is, is that they come in, I don’t think as a career it’s like a do a few years and I just like I was afterwards. Yeah. And mindset which is the problem of the Gen Z.

[00:21:20] But if it is possible. Yeah. I mean famously Virgin pays less than the going rate. Yeah. People don’t leave. People want to, people want that job and you know, he’s got 45,000 employees and he’s I mean, it’s nice talking about the winners, right? Talking about Goldman Sachs and and Virgin, the absolute.

[00:21:43] Winning.

[00:21:45] And you’re right about the industry and I’ve said this for a long time about career progression for for non dentists in dentistry it’s always and it’s strange dude because it’s not like we’re low margin business particularly. Yeah. It’s, it’s not like we have to pay minimum wage, you know, it’s possible to get people but it’s just, it’s just the way it’s worked out. Dentistry is so dentist centric. Yeah. You know, it’s a funny one.

[00:22:14] Yeah. No, I agree. I think we are I think we are above market in terms of what we pay our staff. I think the issue we have is just the whole investment piece. Right. You buy a practise where the guy’s been paying his staff like less than minimum wage or whatever for like last 20 years, really tight margins. And he wants eight times he would die for it. Are you just buying that and then put the wages up by 20% the month after it? That’s it. That’s the issue. I think it’s getting worse and worse with more and more of these like older principals who are now retiring, running a really tight ship for many years and then trying to flog if the highest amount possible in the market, because then it becomes even more unfeasible financially to buy business. Or that, you know, I wouldn’t mind it if we had a no kind of huge cost. They won. But you do unless they’re doing a squat. So it’s a tough one.

[00:23:07] Do you have an element of performance related pay for down to that level, or is it only managers that get that or not even that?

[00:23:15] Yeah, I mean, this is actually a good question. I don’t really believe in bonuses.

[00:23:19] Because I.

[00:23:20] Just think about it logically. Right. If you if I paid you £1,000 more than the year for doing my job, why don’t do the job first in the first place? And I think the thing is right is everyone who’s focussed on bonuses is basically saying to the employer, I will do what you want me to. If you pay me a bonus, otherwise I won’t do it. But my way of saying it is actually doing really well. I’ll give you a pay rise, which is a fixed thing. Not going to just be a one off thing. I’ll give you a pay rise for doing a great job. And actually, that would be a lot more valuable to you for many reasons if you just do your job. But I don’t I don’t think a bonus is a solution to performance. I think if you do well, you’ll get paid just because you’re doing well. And that will actually be more net net over the year and for your future. And actually in our company, because we’re obviously quite a fast growing company, you can move up as much as you want to in the chain because it’s like opportunities in head office and managers and operation managers and other areas in operations like stuff. So it’s not like you’re limited to only one practise if you’re doing really well and you show the potential. So I think, you know, any nurse even can eventually become someone at work in head office if he wants to work hard and they show they’re really good. But yeah, I’m not a big fan of bonuses, to be fair, because I sort of feel like you should be doing that anyway if that’s your job.

[00:24:37] I take your point. But what about. What about? I know when you were an associate.

[00:24:40] Yeah.

[00:24:42] If you were paid an hourly rate compared to a percentage of you, you can see the you know, the motivation.

[00:24:51] Yeah. But if you’re an associate, you work for yourself, you’re self employed. So the more you work, the more you get paid.

[00:24:57] But one of the things you understand the motivation for an associate. But but when it comes to others, you don’t understand the motivation.

[00:25:04] I do and I don’t. Because I think if you’re getting a fixed salary where you’re in one day, if you’re getting paid a salary to do a job, you should get a job done. And that has certain performance targets linked to the job. Then it is what it is. If you do better than that and you outperform, there’s no reason why I wouldn’t give a bonus. I’m just saying that it shouldn’t be the reason why you do well, if you want to do.

[00:25:26] Well, I get that. Yeah.

[00:25:28] If you want to do better and do well, then we’ll give you a pay rise. And therefore it’ll be reflected in the fact that you done well. And we’ll pass on some of the fruits of our success with our key people in the company. I think associates, you know, is a different level of mindset because when you’re self-employed, you only get paid for what you do. And, you know, it reflects and obviously level of training, the amount of money and time it’s putting to themselves. It’s not I wouldn’t compare like you wouldn’t say to a nurse, you do really well, give you double your salary like they do in the banks. Right. Because just physically can’t justify that. So I do I do think it comes into how much time and effort you put into your own training yourself and the costs of your you know, it’s been thousands and thousands of pounds of courses and all that other stuff. Right.

[00:26:14] Yeah, I get that. But what about hygienist, for instance?

[00:26:17] Yeah. I mean, look, I did the same thing. I think if you think about hygienist who gets paid an hourly rate, if they do really well and they’re performing really well and they’ve shown that they can be efficient, they can go quite patient with pull. You know, they’re doing great clinical work. There’s no reason why would increase hourly rate by 28%. 40% if we need to.

[00:26:37] Yeah, but look, the reason I’m asking you is this. Yeah, that dentists come to me and say, come and train my hygienist to sell more whitening. Yeah. And we can yeah. We’ve got, we’ve got ways of for hygienist to do that and what’s the best way for hygiene is to bring up shade with every patient and all that. Yeah. But to expect your hygienist to bring up shade with every patient when most dentists don’t bring up shade with enough patients. Yeah. And the hygienist is generally busy cleaning up. And, you know, some of them have nurses, but I haven’t met hygienist who’s got time to expect that to happen without an incentive.

[00:27:17] Is fantasy, not fantasy.

[00:27:19] As far as I’m concerned.

[00:27:20] 100%. But I think the difference between that is that that’s not part of their job. In terms of their job. Yeah, the core job. I think that in that scenario, you definitely get the percentage of any sales they make because it’s like outside their job. If I told like for example, we incentivise our receptionist, if they can get more people on hygiene plans, like the ones where you get you pay monthly for them, they get literally like I think 10% of that yearly plan given to them. So that’s how.

[00:27:51] They do that sort of thing.

[00:27:52] Yeah, that’s kind of different. I think we’re talking about outside of your core job of what you’re doing. I’m not saying that if you’re a manager managing the practise, you’re hitting your target as a manager. You get paid for that. And if you do really well, you get paid more next year. I’m talking about like if you talk about hygienists directly, you give them a percentage of that 100%. I would actually give them like 30, 40% of any of the sales they make because then they. You’ve created work that wasn’t there before.

[00:28:17] Yeah. So I could.

[00:28:20] Tell you what we’re trying to talk about in terms of.

[00:28:24] How is your head office changed since we last spoke? Because I remember from the last podcast you started out with four people looking after something like eight or ten, ten practises. And then last time we spoke, you just taken an office? Yes. Yeah. And you expanded the team in London Bridge, was it?

[00:28:43] Yeah, it was London Bridge originally for like about four, six months. And then we moved it because we got too big again the station because we have a really big office now. We’ve got around 30 people in that office total. Some are scattered around on the road. Some are based in Bristol, some based on other parts of the world. But I think generally we’ve got a pretty big team, which is good. We’re not the biggest team, I would say, compared to other groups of our size. Some people have. I mean, some groups I know we’ve got like 50 people for our size, but I think we’re at the right size. What we need because of the model of partnership, where the partners can actually have the.

[00:29:22] Influence.

[00:29:22] Level but need to have like ten managers running one practise, one more practise, kind of giving support. So yeah, I think we’re, we’re at a good size right now. We’ll probably keep growing.

[00:29:33] What’s the structure? What’s like the org chart?

[00:29:36] Yes. So we’ve got a marketing team which is comprised of two different sections. One of them is the sales team who are on the phone all the time talking to new leads that we get coming in for head office. So we get loads of new clients, patient needs. Yes, exactly. So that all goes through Salesforce or gets tracked. And we have all these we’re about for about four girls now working non-stop on the phone, just literally taking calls all day long, booking tons of patients followed by clinics. So those are all the new leads. And we’ve got another four girls to do social media, SEO, Google ads, advertising, marketing in terms of actual marketing. And then we got a head of marketing above that. So that’s the marketing team and growth. Then we’ve got our UPS, HR recruitment team that sits on the head of ops and that’s basically comprised of the HR team who do all the kind of contract variations, know payroll with finance and all the documents and the compliance and bits and bobs that you need for each staff members, which obviously is something that most clinics like what we’re doing, because I just think it’s not normal. But then actually you do need to have that secrecy and just it can be a headache. We also have a recruitment team who’s doing recruitment and make sure that we have bums on seats for interviews, ready for any vacancy we’ve got in the group pretty much within a few days. And then we have ops team which have central ops team that there’s a lot of kind of day to day, you know, really important core stuff in practise like tracking leads and making sure that all the systems are working. Okay, make sure that we’ve got finance companies being set up for new practises. Make sure that we’ve got pretty much any system you can think of that tracking how many phone calls per day, how like how well we’re tracking in terms of performance for clinics that just kind of central ops team to kind of keep the kind of the heart of the operations team kind of running. But more how many.

[00:31:25] People is up how many people.

[00:31:27] How many to I think tend to ops. Then we have two operation managers who go on the road looking at managing 15 clinics each and go go to church every Sunday on site to help them. And that’s more operation against up on the ground and above that head of UPS and we have also just put on so that’s pretty much it. Yeah. For the ops team. And then we’ve got our finance team which has got most of its back office in India. We’ve got ten guys there, work full time for us and then we’ve got in the UK too more people full time and our CFO, we have a M&A team who is based out like three people from doing kind of execution acquisitions and conversions for the point of us going to practise viewing and actually getting it over line. And then we also have a head of M&A because of that. And then we also have. Team. So whenever we find new practise in choice manager, go in there for like 6 to 8 weeks, hold the hand for the, for the new principal, the partner we have. And literally like we’ve got plan of adding in four chairs with averaging the whole thing that the whole thing through plan the whole thing out, get whole thing done and it’s like hassle free for the manager, for the partner basically because it should be done by that team and that’s a team of four people as well. So that’s kind of the structure, but it’s kind of like you think from when you looked at practise, actually the whole the whole journey, it should be covered by that different teams.

[00:32:48] And how long does it take from from the moment of practise comes on on your radar to the moment it becomes a dental beauty partners branded operation.

[00:32:59] It depends.

[00:33:00] So it depends on the sale, right?

[00:33:02] Yeah, it depends on the style, depends on the practise type. So if it’s fully private, we can probably do a deal with three months. If it’s mixed, could be 4 to 5 months. So it’s typically pretty efficient. But the good thing is that we see all parties before pretty much anyone else in market because as you can imagine, all the brokers do love a group that’s got lot money. So before anyone else could actually see it, like the bonds or the gold, people like whatever they get different memberships is, we’ll see them first typically. So it does make it easier to get the deals done for us to start doing auctions and other stuff. And yeah, I mean we’ve got a great relationship with the brokers. They all really appreciate the fact that we are pretty much assistant in, if we want to say, offering, offering. We like it when we agree on it. It’s a done deal. It’s not like we’re going to mess around and tip prices at the end like other groups do and try and mess some of the vendors around. We kind of do what we say. I think that’s really important because in the M&A world and with brokers, only five brokers out there, you’ve got reputations, okay, that that they can kind of tell the vendors and the practise of the last 20 years is there a lot baby that is why the buying in these guys mostly around you know there’s other groups out there who’ve got reputation for like plus shipping last minute just so they can get deal done and you kind get your hands tied about it. We spent five months doing a deal when he just pulls through last minute. So we are kind of, I would say like pretty much straight guys when it comes to getting deals done. And we’re pretty efficient because we have a good team. You can get stuff done really good. That takes time.

[00:34:24] What are you most focussed on when a practise comes in front of you? I mean, okay, so you’re saying you’re not going to have penny and dime the thing.

[00:34:29] Because.

[00:34:30] You focus on speed more than focussed on those pennies, right.

[00:34:35] It’s about potential. So like, you know if we say the difference is if you’ve got practise payment and your one’s in great practise and have such an example, you’ve got practise and both for other people look at it three groups and and us right that were groups you’ve got one model I buy a practise keep it as it is and make it tick along for next five, ten years hoping that you’ll be tied for five years at least and you’re going to go anywhere. So it’s just quite straightforward model we buy. If we look obviously like that one on the potential, we’re going to add three or four chairs and grow it and bring a partner in so we can say, buy my payment. See late on day one, if you want to go tied in like a like a prisoner, you can say you want to say, great, we love your state, but we’re not.

[00:35:19] Would you rather I stayed and become on it?

[00:35:22] Depends on how how important you are. Now, once again, if we’re looking at practise thinking this is not that great, we can do a lot better, then surely you probably haven’t done what you should be doing in the first place as a principal or partner, because I wouldn’t look in the first place and potential’s there. So it’s probably more likely than not. You’ve done a great job clinically. You’ve got great patient base there, no marketing, no branding. You don’t really know how to really maximise capacity, etc., etc. from the growth. Therefore, happy days you can retire, take the money, go home or good and we’ll bring in a partner who’s got the right mentality and entrepreneurial spirit to actually practise and deliver the it should be. And that’s what it is. So, you know, if we like a part like hey, for example, we bought one recently in Colchester, great partners both in the forties or 40. Yeah. And they’ve still got a lot of energy left to keep kind of growing and developing, but most time it is displacing the old principle and bringing the new one in. So that’s why we don’t worry about the pennies, because actually if I can see it being doubling in a year, who really cares about eight times? We’re looking at four times net net. So it’s fine.

[00:36:31] Yeah. And so what have you got a shortage of? What? Like what’s your biggest frustration? I mean, if you were God for the day, what would you change? What would you tweak? Have you got more, more partners waiting than practises or.

[00:36:45] Yeah, yes. I think you know what it is, it’s we’ve got a really long part in the pipeline which is great. Obviously it starts to spread more and more as we’ve got more partners of great experience of us. They tend to friends join us as well, which is really nice to see because that means that something is going right. At least the bad thing is, is just is very, very linked to location of where they are and when particular market at that exact time. That’s the right practise you see. So I don’t want to buy a patch because Payman lives in in north. And therefore perhaps on the market and it’s rubbish. I would buy it. I’m not doing that. I’m not going to buy the right ones where I know that they’re going to get the most value out of that for growth and that we’re going get more growth. That could take time. It could take one month, it could take six months, could take a year. So that’s the frustration from having these really excited people who like, yeah, going to do this. But to go for all the details of you, we love it.

[00:37:37] We want to buy back together and not having them exact perhaps I wish I could go from here have a fact is potential price but the market is a factor as well like you might have a really prompt release, you might have an issue the landlord like all these things can can block a deal from happening in the first place. So, you know, trying to get all those things aligned is difficult. And then the shortage, I guess, is just some nurses. And, you know, I mean, it wasn’t that bad before, but since then it’s been a nightmare. And I just wish that we could have I mean, it’s not stopping our growth in any way. It’s not stopping us doing what we’re doing. We’re still getting by and making sure we can make it work. But that is annoying because it means that you just don’t have that peace of mind, that you can just buy a practise and add four chairs tomorrow and get four nurses. That isn’t a problem. That’s a problem. Which is annoying, right?

[00:38:20] Yeah. The squat model that I suspect some of these you’re going to do with cartilage are going to be squats.

[00:38:26] Yes, yes. Yeah, definitely.

[00:38:27] So are you interested in that model more now so you can tell this guy you’re in Hampstead? I’ll sit up in Hampstead with you.

[00:38:33] Yes. So I think you know what it is. It’s there’s two different ways of looking at it. A squat is more risky. Yeah, of obvious reasons. But with the right brand and the right model, it can work. Our model has always been about acquiring under-utilised sites and making them better and then doubling it and making it a kind of we know what we’re doing in that model, but that’s what it’s doing with a squat model. It’s done a few times already. He knows his model work well, so I think he knows model. That’s what we invested in really. And I think that’s an area that we wanted to get into rather than finishing ourself, trying to do it ourselves and trying to build our own brand of getting leads from day one and spend a lot of money on that, it made more sense. Someone who knows what it’s doing and just make fun of it, really. So yeah, we’re going to do some squats on that and see how it goes to, but exciting time for that because I think that’s gonna be a big opportunity for us.

[00:39:20] You last time we spoke, I remember you saying something that really sort of impressed me. I wasn’t I wasn’t expecting you to say it because sometimes when when you talk to someone like you, such a sort of business guy, that the sort of the the patient side of it kind of gets lost. But you said something like, you know, I’m not as interested in the money as you might think. I’m more interested in having impact impact on dentist lives and and on all those thousands of patients lives.

[00:39:53] Yeah. Yeah.

[00:39:54] That’s that sort of mission centred approach and I don’t know exactly, you know, we all have little stories we tell ourselves, right? Yeah. You know, the ego side that says, you know, Dev Patel, you were always going to be like an entrepreneur from the moment, you know, I’ve met you the first time. But the motivation remember the last the last podcast was actually called What’s Driving Dev?

[00:40:20] Yeah.

[00:40:21] And not just the motivation, but also how your role must change so much since a year ago. And then since three years ago. And it’s going to change again going forward. And that sort of that that chameleon that the CEO has to be. Talk to me about all of this.

[00:40:41] Yes. So I think that the mission of us being able to transform the UK patient journey hasn’t changed. I’m still bamboozled. Why no one? If I look at other practises and some ones that actually go viewing, we go to viewings like regularly and we see what they’re doing. I just don’t understand why they haven’t thought about what make this practise the best, practise possible patient journey. And that’s really, really key because we live in a consumer environment and I maybe I don’t know what my passions I’ve had dentistry since I first graduated, but after going all the courses and thinking it’s a huge opportunity in the UK where 90% the country are still thinking about, I’ve got a contract of unlimited patience. Why do any marketing, why do anything? I practise differently. I can make it run and just keep living off the days because I can do it. That’s changed and COVID has accelerated that more now, which is great, but I want to see hopefully us having 100 practises by the end of next year. That could be a target for us to be able to treat, you know, potentially 200,000 patients and have that amazing journey for them, not whether they’re private NHS, except I don’t really care. I want to feel like, you know what, this is a clean, good practise. They treat it properly. I don’t get told that amalgams are better for me than doing the right thing for that for their mouth.

[00:42:02] They’re actually helping them out and give them all the options they could possibly get within a practise rather than just saying, sit down, 10 minutes in and out. That’s it, three days done. So I want to I want that’s our aim and our group as a European and a group treats 1.1 million people a year. So it’s great. I’m really glad that we’re part of that, a good organisation and I want to just keep that going really because I think there’s millions of people out there who’s being literally abused by the NHS system where people just doing things to make targets done but I think is a criminal really. And yeah, my job is always constantly changing and you know, is hard because I didn’t do an MBA, I didn’t get taught how to run a group, let alone a group of our size now with like 1000 employees or something that way. So you need to constantly evolve. But I’m learning a lot always will doing and keep hopefully humble enough to know when I’m wrong and when to, you know, bring the right people in to do a bit. That I’m not good at. So yeah, it’s hard. I’m not saying I had to get paid, but I’ll let you know if I worked out.

[00:43:04] I mean, you have, you haven’t got any great grey hairs to see, but tell me about some of the grey hairs, man. A thousand employees is 1000 issues, isn’t it. I mean, per week.

[00:43:17] Yeah, but I think that the good thing is that it’s not just like my problem. I think our partners are fully aligned, our teams are fairly lines that everyone takes on as if it was their own practise. So I think we’ve got a good model. It’s not like we’re a 100 owned by one person. That’s it. So I think our model works well from that point of view. And locally, the partners do manage their teams really well and lead our teams really well. But it’s just about the strategic thoughts of how do we, as you mentioned, become the place to go to for work. How do we make that difference for a nurse or for receptionist or for managers say, I love them, a beauty, and we’re constantly reinventing ourselves to think, what more can we do? What more can we offer? Do do more courses, do more training, do we do more socials? What is it that that kind of gives them that culture and keeps them happy? And that’s something I don’t think any companies are, but some of the virgins of the world and as you mentioned, you know, some of the Goldman Sachs have done really well. But I think the good thing is that we’ve got I would say 70% of that already worked out now, which is like extra to take us to the next level to make that curve as we get bigger and bigger, keep that going. Because I think any group can be great up until practise. I think the next step is the really important step from 50 to 100. You can keep the quality going and keep everyone happy even though what they should really.

[00:44:39] And what are your responsibilities compared to your brother in laws?

[00:44:43] My brother in law is sold out. Sorry.

[00:44:46] He’s not involved.

[00:44:48] Obviously more so. He’s in last round. He’s kind of doing family stuff, but yeah. No. So it’s just myself.

[00:44:57] It’s just. Yeah.

[00:44:58] Yeah, yeah. I mean, obviously we’ve got some really key managers in the group. We’ve got a head of M&A and CFO, head of operations.

[00:45:06] And you have you got these people from other corporates?

[00:45:09] No. Well, one. One of them, yes. I’m not big fan of of hiring people on corporates, not saying anything bad about it. But if I just said to you, go back a step, I said to you, I want to change the whole model of corporate in the UK to make it a dentist led, patient led and focus on getting stuff done like a. Entrepreneur and none of the other groups do that yet. So therefore if you hire for them, you’re bringing the wrong people anyway because I was be in the first place. So you need to actually find people, get them trained up or get them other industries to bring them in to hopefully deliver that kind of mission. It’s very hard to try and change someone. It’s been at my dentist’s for 20 years doing needs to start saying how I patient how do I help day care centre like are you saying this is the wrong person, the wrong fit so you need to make it. I think everyone’s pretty much come up from come from other industries apart from maybe like a couple of people within our head office who have come from other kind of groups, but generally we try not to take up.

[00:46:08] What do you find that challenge though, with people from other industries to sort of train them up into dental think or you don’t want them to be into dental think? Is that what you’re saying?

[00:46:16] No, because you know what? There’s not really much dental related things from a senior management point of view for head office, there are certain nuances for sure. But like finance, for example, finance is finance. You know, you get someone for any industry, they do numbers, they do panels, they balance sheets, they do any of your accounts. Right. It’s the same thing. Yes. See what that is? Pay. Yes. You got to work out differences between, you know, paying some of implants or not. But you learn that within a few days. It’s not rocket science. Hey, chart very similar. Not much difference in it. Yes, you might learn a few things about nuances of different roles. Otherwise, same thing marketing, same principles. Really. What’s different between doing what we’re doing and doing veterinary or doing other health care? It’s the same thing. You just try and track patients to come in in your practise. So a lot of the different I like people think dentistry is very specifically ask me, but actually I would rather have an expert from like a great brand that everyone loves and knows that great marketer to bring them in and let them do what are doing in that company into our company and try to break the mould. I might try to have disrupters and people doing different things, so I’ve been doing the same thing over and over that it’s not working because I look to other groups in marketing, they don’t bring patients in.

[00:47:25] The market is basically putting a brand in the door. That’s it. So I actually bring in leads and basically tracking them to the point of every single part of that journey and they’ve been booked in yet. What was opposed, what was accepted, what was the conversions, what was paid hasn’t been booked in half of that for the final treatment. That’s how level of detail are marketing. It’s not like, Oh yeah, we did some branding this month and I know personally because I work not the companies in industry that I’ll circle and they sponsor us and I’m thinking, you guys find money, no idea what you’re doing and you never know what returns you get afterwards. But they do it because they think, Oh, like, you know, we can do it. So I think it’s really important to be fully engaged to the level of like actually what is the result of the marketing and how is it work? And that comes from really good other industries out there that can be able to do the same things.

[00:48:10] That’s Dental circle sponsorship messed up. Well.

[00:48:15] Maybe. I’ll tell you what. The ones who really do engage and understand what they actually are doing. It’s fine.

[00:48:24] I’m joking, buddy. A lot of times.

[00:48:26] A lot of times who don’t actually know about doing.

[00:48:28] A lot of times, though, these sort of things happen because relationships, you know. Like, if you could ask me to sponsor something, whatever it is. Yeah. And I do it because we know each other. Not necessarily because of the cold, hard facts of the return on investment I’m going to get from that particular sponsorship. There’s plenty of times I’ve done that, you know, because because somewhere along the line I felt like, oh, this. I really like this guy. Or somewhere along the line, you’ve done me a favour or something like that, you know? So. So I. I hear what you’re saying, though. It’s an interesting question, because last time I spoke to you, you said that external marketing wasn’t really at all your focus. You were really focussed on internal marketing, but now you’re telling me you’ve got a four man team on the phones taking calls from leads. So is that something you’ve changed since we last spoke?

[00:49:20] No. You know what? I wouldn’t say we’ve changed. I think it’s the next phase of growth, because once you maximise your internal marketing from when you buy a practise, you have maybe your backpacks are three chairs. It’s got 2000 patients in the books, right? Three or whatever you go first. Those patients, you bring them in again. You get the new journey, a new patient experience that’s been done. How would you then take that to the next level of adding more and more every year? You have to do marketing eventually, but I think for the first year or two it’s not a really big focus because you’ve got so many patients to see anyway. They’ve already paid for that goodwill. Then it’s the next level of the marketing. And as we’re growing at a certain pace, the first 15 chapters need more marketing than the next 15 years, kind of integrating and still kind of find their feet, find the teams and maximise their own practise with their own patient base already. So it’s a different phase of when you need the marketing for you. And I think from our point of view as well, we are looking at how do we get that growth journey for maybe two years doubling to like 12 months or six months. So the more you can do, the more you can grow faster. But it will be so good to try and make things more efficient, more secure every single year, and just trying to make that whole machine even more, more better.

[00:50:33] And have you got targets from above, from the Nordic group that you have to meet?

[00:50:38] Which is really good, I think. Yeah, yeah. No, no. The answer because the good thing is because we’re a small part of a really big group. And I mean, obviously, the more we do, the better. But they don’t have like a fixed target. And I think what they originally said that it would be good to have we doubled that anyway in the first year. They’re like, Really? Well, don’t worry about it. It’s all good. So we have fixed targets of growth and I think that’s really important because we’re not pressured. I think a lot of other priority groups who are small platforms, I’ve got one priority backer on that, only on that one group only in the UK means I have to hit targets. They’ve got a three year timeline and then the flip, right? So they have to pressure themselves constantly to grow and then get a big pipe exit. And then it’s like, as you probably know, they’re selling right now and they go to the market in the next few weeks. They’ve been smashing the M&A and buying into perhaps in the market recently. Just I can get stuff in the pipeline.

[00:51:28] So when I sell they look like they’ve got really big deals. They can get a good price and everyone just goes off in the mood right afterwards. So, you know, it’s different type of backing for private equity, which is really good for us because I personally love that because it means that I’m not having to worry about targets and deliver exactly what’s right for the company. If it’s good opportunity or do it. If it’s not, we’ll pass it. I think a lot of groups get caught up with that whole pressure, having to buy stuff to hit targets and then just by ship, which the problem you have and then you realise half the portfolio is rubbish, half of them are good and the bad ones and then the whole thing down after 5 to 10 years because they start losing staff, the locations aren’t great and you have that same issue that you have with people. So it’s really important to have a very relaxed kind of approach to M&A, not being pressured to buy stuff because they are being hired. It’s just put on paper.

[00:52:18] Yeah. I mean, it’s one of the biggest issues, isn’t it, because the, you know, this question of sort of multiple of orbit, it actually applies to massive groups as well, isn’t it? I mean, the and that pressure that you’ve you’ve just been talking about has meant that massive groups have kind of inflated prices. And and like you say, I’ve been I’ve been going to some corporates recently and actually quite, quite pleasantly surprised with some of the morale that I saw, because I saw some terrible morale at corporates as well. I mean, maybe they’re sending me into their sort of key branches and, and all of that. And, and I was talking to the management and asking them, you know, what do they think is the reason that some of them have got such high morale and then. Some of them don’t. And they they were putting it down to the practise manager and the treatment coordinator, but then they don’t have partners in place like you do, you know, like dentists who are proper clinical directors, if you will, in place. Have you identified what makes a successful partner partnership or practise and what doesn’t? What are the what are the warning signs? What are the red flags?

[00:53:33] I think if I was a manager of myself in the reception issues or a nurse, I think the four things I would really want to have to be in a happy practise and be, you know, have good memories, someone to go to, open door policy, like physically, like, you know, the principles out there don’t talk to their staff. Ever go to work, go home. And I’m like, Don’t even talk to your team. They’ve got problems by leaving. You don’t care. And that’s just their mentality. I have an open door policy which is communicate properly is number one. Listening to our problems, finding out about them, like knowing your team is important. Number two is just being a good person. I think there’s lots of old school dentists, even some young ones who just got this very weird mentality that they can basically be a dick and get away with it in the practise and accept people. Just be like, I’m the boss and therefore it’s my way or the highway. I think you have to be pretty complex. Yeah. Yeah. And I think you can’t work and hit your targets in good practise or even get good in it without a good team. So you’re in the same boat, whether you’re principal, dentist or associate or nurse. You can’t work about each other. It’s like it’s a it’s a mutual relationship. So I think you need to be a nice person generally and actually be approachable because a lot of staff are going to like the guy, don’t want to talk to him like why do you go them for your principal? Like you pay the bills like you should be able to talk to the guy and have a chat with them and a woman just they’re not going to buy.

[00:54:56] And then I think the third thing as well is probably thinking about putting yourself in their shoes because I think a lot of times dentists have got this lifestyle in their head of how, you know, why they’re so upset that they get paid on time. Nurses live off £5 extra in the month to live off. They get paid on time. They just can’t even survive. So you need to put yourself in their shoes and bring yourself down a level. I think some associates even get too big for their boots and start like, you know, treat the nurses like if they’re just some sort of like just person in the corner, but they don’t realise how important that person is for them to actually get their job done. And yes, they’re making those money, they’re doing really well. But actually that nurse, they couldn’t do that. So I think you’ve got to put yourself in their shoes and think how they would think too. And sometimes they don’t get enough. First time round must repeat yourself ten times the nurse to get the one job done. But remember then these guys aren’t working. You know, they come out of school, probably they got A-levels and they’ve just come to nurse review. They’re not, you know, triple A A-level. People have gone to university for five years and learnt stuff. They’re not going that same mindset. So you’ve got to take a step, step back a bit and just work out how do you communicate that person properly and put yourself in their shoes? And I think lastly, just, you know, pay your staff, right? Be a market leading kind of practise owner where all group where you are actually thinking about the values of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it for as in clinically, but also paying your staff.

[00:56:19] Right. I think I’ve seen a lot of practises over the years where they get the whole team to leave every six months. It’s a great practise on the front of it on Instagram. Looks amazing. Everyone thinks is the best practise in the country. When you go there, you look at their things going to term. It’s so high. What’s going on here. They think that’s too good for the rest of the team and therefore they can just pay what they want to pay and it is what it is. I think that’s a really bad way of thinking. I think you should be thinking more about how do you retain the staff? If it costs more, do it and make more afterwards. Don’t keep losing staff just to keep bottom line small as very old school way of thinking and many opinions. But just generally it’s very old way of thinking about like, you know, how do I keep my costs really tight and don’t worry about anything else. Like think about culture and team. It’s not easy to recruit talent these days, right? And I think if you get those things right, you can be a good partner. And then if you’re good partner, you can make lots of money to so or principle. Not just to principle.

[00:57:11] Yeah, I agree with you. There’s got to be some sort of focus on earning more by making people happy than trying to always cut costs. You know, you know you’re in business, but in business both are important, aren’t they? But it’s just that sort of people don’t realise how quickly they can ruin a relationship with a human does taken years and years and years to build up. And it reminds me something Zeba Sheikh said that just simple body language, you know, acknowledging people waive all of that, all of that means something, you know, when you when you’re the boss and we forget that sometimes, then we I’ve seen that as enlightened, grown, and we’ve got more and more people that getting to getting to know people has become a harder thing. And now you’ve got 1000 to think about.

[00:58:09] Well, not mine. Father’s death certificate. I mean, I’m not I don’t get to know all the members, the staff members themselves, but I try.

[00:58:18] Tell me about the practise in your group that you’ve got least knowledge of. Is there one is there one that you bought without? You didn’t see it. Someone else handled everything.

[00:58:29] Yeah.

[00:58:29] Because that’s going to happen du jour. If you go to 100 by next year, that’s going to happen a lot.

[00:58:34] There’s been a few. There was one that we bought. I don’t know the names of it, but it.

[00:58:40] Was absolutely.

[00:58:41] It was in Hertfordshire. I didn’t get to view it. I just bought it. I went there the first time after it was completed, after a few weeks when I did the refurb a team. But I think it gets to a certain point where I’m actually going back to it anymore, because if you’re going to if you’re going to buy a practise, take out the principal, the numbers of numbers, premises, the premises. The rest of it comes down to the right partner coming in and keep them out of work. And if it’s not all the normal kind of bits that we might like in terms of a small contract, blah blah is what it is, man. It could be any practise anyway. I don’t make a difference to me. As long as it’s not million miles from London, I can make it work. So yeah, we are know because it takes sometimes 2 hours, two viewings and then 2 hours to come back and just waste half a day to do a viewing, whereas our team does anyway. So it’s nice though to meet dentists and stuff because I do like to get a face to face like see something that and say like what you’re selling to us because you get a lot of stuff from inspectors and don’t look in the prospectus and it looks amazing when you go there, you think this guy is dodgy. I don’t want to the fact that it’s got like a ticking time bomb here, but I think our team knows now what’s kind of some red flags to hear when they’re saying that they’re just doing £500 a month. I’m like, Hmm, that sounds interesting. It must be working a lot of days. Oh, but one day a week. That sounds really good. Yeah, really, really good. So, yeah, I think, you know, a few red flags, but yeah, I think we kind of know what’s right, what’s wrong. Our partners go there as well. So the dentists, they kind of know what’s right, what’s wrong as well.

[01:00:11] And are you still doing this thing where you’re just ripping the place apart and rebranding straight away?

[01:00:17] Pretty much, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

[01:00:19] Is that part of do you think that’s actually important to sort of rip the soul out of the old place and, you know, like.

[01:00:26] Yeah, I mean, I think if it’s a good perhaps of a good soul, it’s fine. But once again, we’re buying patches that just don’t these guys don’t care. Like most of the time they just like, I don’t work here working 2 hours a week. I let it run itself down for last five years ago and down every year. My turnover is cut contract by doing it by it not having and they have no marketing and branding. It’s like the dentist in Hampstead. It’s got no actual brand behind it, no website. These are ones that haven’t got anything anyway in the first place. It’s got a great band like Kiss, for example. That one bought recently in Colchester, North West. What’s that.

[01:01:00] One called?

[01:01:01] North Hill Dental North. Yeah. So what would impact is that great brand locally? People know it. Make good reviews on Google. You wouldn’t get with the brand, you keep it. So it’s just about working out if it’s the right brand to keep or lose and like at ten times to lose because they haven’t got anything in the first place. So why buying it right as potential.

[01:01:22] I remember payment, the other beautiful payment saying things. Somebody saying that some of the some of the staff felt like they were mourning the loss of their their building because like where it is now, the toilet or something. Yeah.

[01:01:43] I mean, I think there’s there’s two of things, right? There’s the actual physical premises where you’re updating it and making it look nice. And there’s the brand of like, you know, if you had a generally a great brand and it was really good and it worked well, we never lose it. We would keep it. But I don’t think anyone now after tours are buying that many Baptists can say it wasn’t the right thing for the parts because actually they’re all doing great now from 3 to 6 chairs that were really busy. You know, I think it takes some time for change and it will be a big initial kind of like jerk reaction. But after seeing it and the where everyone involved, for example, we bought one in Beau, that was for 70, 80 years old. And literally it was, you know, the physical premises wasn’t up to scratch of what it should be for three factors in both. We did a refurb that took six months, found asbestos in there. Like, you know, you never see that stuff in advance. You find these problems. We do refurbish and is what it is and the team like there’s dust everywhere, there’s mess everywhere. Like builders are making noise all the time that it and off they saw the refurb finished so I went in there when they’re all grumbling about how annoying it is with the refurb happening and there I went there afterwards actually last week and they were like, you’re right. Like you guys were fully on point with what you’re doing. It makes sense now. I love it here. I can see the vision of it now, but at the beginning we couldn’t see it. We just thought, you guys just coming in here doing X, Y and Z. So like. Is hard to show a practise of a team for 20 years the same team they’re what’s going to look like never end until I see it and they be in it. That’s pretty different.

[01:03:19] It’s very different, man, because I constantly give advice to people by and practises to not do this. Yeah. To evolve not not revolution. Evolution makes sure the team and the patients don’t think anything’s happened when you first buy it and and you’ve taken that and put it on his head and just destroy. Which it’s interesting. It’s working for you. If it’s working for you, it’s working.

[01:03:40] Yeah. No, I mean, I did the same thing as well, to be honest, if you like my first practise and same thing, I didn’t change anything at the same team, the same team, the same everything apart from a rebrand. And it was a worse I could have done because actually I could have easily understood quicker by bringing the right team and the right conditions and the way everything I wanted to do, they won. And actually it is a bit more ballsy to do it, but if you do it and you’ll see that patient go back a step by your potential and your patient going in there, if you can see it being rebranded with a nice brand, you know, a nice new paint on the walls, new flooring, new desk, the reception area, new patient flow scanners. You would probably want to spend more money there. It’s quite straightforward. You’re not going to get much growth out. Perhaps if you don’t change the team, you haven’t changed your practise. And if it’s not great from day one, how are you going to grow it? What you do differently? You’re not going to do anything differently apart from the price itself. I think it’s hard to then tell patients, Oh, what’s a double now? But we have a lot of different objectives, so you have to do one or the other. And I think it’s either you do it later or you do it slowly or you’re doing one go. And the whole plan depends on how bad it is in first place. If it’s a nice practise, you’re right. Keep it as it is, evolve it slowly and do it a bit. But if it’s not a great practise from day one, then you need to just crack on. Man, I have a.

[01:04:56] Question. I want to ask you some darker questions now. We’re known for our dark questions. All right, well, I’ve got three. I’ve got three for you.

[01:05:05] Okay.

[01:05:06] What’s been your biggest mistake in this venture?

[01:05:11] Biggest mistake would be sometime. Well, I’m not to name names or what happened, but bringing on. The wrong people in the business. For the sake of convenience. Yeah. So what I mean by that is, you know, I haven I’m going to bring you in for X, Y and Z job in the organisation. And because you’re the first one I’ve seen in the market or because it’s easy, you’re there an opportunity is there or the jobs are available. I need someone now. I just bring you in to make it easier for myself. That’s been a bigger problem because mistakes, I say, because by doing that one person in it has a negative effect on the rest of the nation, either from head office or perhaps level or whatever. And then that to fix that takes a lot longer than it was just to wait for a few weeks to find the right person. So I think it’s important to wait for the right person and the right fit for the company rather than rushing it because it’s convenient and easy.

[01:06:21] Except when you’re growing quickly. Sometimes you have to. Right. That’s that’s the way it is.

[01:06:27] I mean.

[01:06:28] You want to expand on that for us a little bit?

[01:06:30] No, I think.

[01:06:34] All right. Let’s move on to my next one. What’s your biggest weakness, your own personal, biggest weakness? It’s like an interview question.

[01:06:41] And sometimes sometimes I’m too quick to jump the gun. You know, when you move as fast as we move and I fast, my mind moves. My gut instinct is probably what I always go off. Every single time just comes out of my mouth. Don’t even think it’s just no filter.

[01:06:58] But when you say something inappropriate.

[01:07:02] No, no, no. It’s not saying it’s not decisions. So if you say what I do because my job now is making decisions, all I do I do is go to work, make decisions every day. That’s it. Go home and actually physically do anything to make the right decision and think I’m like a little couple in my head thinking through every scenario of what the decision is and say yes or no to it or whatever. Right. And I play chess when I was younger. And I don’t know if you ever play chess before, but you can get timers of chess. You can do 50 minute chess games. Right. And in that game, you play a game blitz chess. So you have to make decision, do it and hit the clock and move on to next one. I ain’t got time to think. You got to do what you think is why. Quickly and bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. So that’s how I literally run the business right now. Like, I’m literally thinking my head off. I think I’ve only got like 12,000 days to work or 50 hours a day to do work. I need to get all the stuff done in 15 hours. Bah bah bah bah, boom. And sometimes I will rush into it, but actually take a step back and think about it and give a decision to that and not actually think, you know, I should taken about another day to think about that properly before I did my decision on it. And I wouldn’t say that I’m wrong all the time, but I am wrong. Obviously, no one’s perfect, so I think I should just take a deep breath sometime. Just take a step back and think once I can, I’ll tell you 5 minutes me right now, because that hot potato mindset, it’s hard to think about some straight away, think about it first and then do it because then I’ll change position afterwards and oh shit, I should have said that the first time around.

[01:08:25] I find a partner is very good for that, for for balancing. At the same time with a partner, sometimes you have to it slows you down as well. Right, because you can’t make every decision you want to make.

[01:08:36] Yeah. Yeah.

[01:08:37] My final nasty question. What keeps you up at night regarding this business?

[01:08:47] I’ll tell you what it is. The honest truth is keeping the quality of what we had in the first practise the same. Every time I want to deliver that 100% patient journey, 100% partnership to our partners, 100% to our team, the staff morale, culture, the award winning kind of mentality and doing that without becoming the next honestly, because that’s the biggest fear you’re going to have, right? Getting so big that you lose that quality. And in theory, it shouldn’t be happening because you’ve got partners there. The things we mentioned over this whole call, but it is a fear because I don’t want to be the next massive quote, but that’s just got a shitty reputation for having a high staff turnover and churn rate. I want to be like the same as what we had the first time around. Like a virgin at the next 2000 employees that come on board, I want to all feel that same level of support and emotion for the job and love working for the company.

[01:09:47] Yeah, but what else keeps you up at night? I like that, but.

[01:09:51] I didn’t really know anything.

[01:09:53] What keeps you up at night? What you said there was kind of more, like, aspirational, which I like. Yeah, but.

[01:10:01] I mean, it.

[01:10:01] Worries the hell out of you.

[01:10:06] Seem pretty good these days, man. I mean, look, I think I think look, I mean, the obvious thing is obviously hitting targets in terms of like.

[01:10:14] With the grid is what keeps what keeps some dental associate up at night, GDC hearing whatever. Something like.

[01:10:21] That will.

[01:10:22] Keep him up at night. What keeps you Dev Patel up at night? Like what would be a bad case scenario that you’re worried about? You want to talk about it honestly? Right. Well.

[01:10:32] I tell you what it is like. If you ask me, it’s two years ago. I’ll have 25 things and I’ll tell you what they were like. It was like, well, the bank has financing for the next part or will we be able to hire the associates for that? Perhaps because we’ve got bums on seats we haven’t got ready to go? Well, we’re in a position now, when I say we, I mean myself personally, where I’m really comfortable. I’m not stressed out anymore, like generally because like personally or good families or good health or good. That’s number three. Three things. Then off that comes the business. And I mean, we haven’t got any major red flags, but I’m like, Oh shit, this is going to be a complete shit show tomorrow. I’m stressed out. But because we’ve got great teams, we’ve got great people in practises, I’m not just saying I’m being very honest now, like I don’t actually think I’m a huge one because in the end day everything’s aligned. Like if I was on my own with no partners, I’ll be stressed out like, Oh my God, how am I going to make sure that was employed happy all the time. But we’ve got great partners on the ground level doing their job, we’ve got great teams are back and doing their bit and managers now doing bits for me before I was doing myself where I was stressed out.

[01:11:36] Now that I’ve got people below me doing all the different department heads who are reporting to me, then it’s actually a lot easier to run an organisation. And both there we think we’re double our targets, what we’re meant to be doing from our backers because that could be stressful as well. I guess if you weren’t hit a target as an equity backing group, then you’d be stressed out. You think I’m totally going to buy 10,000? You have only bought five. I’m stressed out because we are ahead of a curve, both on our point of view, growth point of view and M&A point of view. It’s not stressful. So I think it’s stressful for new for the first time and worrying about your team makes you happy. There’s always a stress for me because I’m like, I want everyone’s happy in my team and I do that job, but it comes down to that quality level. I want everyone to be happy, so I don’t actually have like a general fear. Like if tomorrow everything went to shit and I had to retire, I wouldn’t really care. Like, is what it is like. Be upset. I’ll be upset by what.

[01:12:31] Seems like you’re in a good place right now. Seems like it’s all going to get disturbed when you add another 50 practise, but well done, buddy. That’s nice. Nice to hear that, because I remember last time you were a bit like running, trying to change the tire in a racing car, as you were myself.

[01:12:46] Yeah. That’s the difference when you when I was actually on my own doing everything on my own, I was doing it by myself. I was doing everything myself. And it was a one man team. Now I get to around me, it’s a lot easier and I think that’s like a really blessed position to be in because you’re not having to do everything yourself anymore and you can delegate to other people who can do the well the job better. You can actually and have more time to do it properly rather than try and do 120 1010 things in one day. And actually I can do more shooting things now, which I think is, is really nice to be able to do.

[01:13:15] Let’s finish it with what you think the future’s going to hold both for dentistry and your group. I mean, how do you see the macro economy? Does that help.

[01:13:24] Keep. Yeah, yeah. Once again, I think it’s I’m not saying that, you know, there’s obviously things that can affect dentistry, but we are quite a niche industry where we’re not affected as much by the macro economy. It’s like you train more like you think, Oh, that’s going to have a huge impact on many things on the world. But actually dentistry is not affected in any way, most likely in the UK. So there’s like, you know, big things in the world going on. It’s actually going to happen for sure. But will that affect us that much? Probably a bit here and there, but not a huge amount, because once again, if you’ve got a great service, people need to get the teeth done. They’ll come to us. It happened during the last recession, too. So I do think that there are factors that would affect a practise owner now in the industry because of macro economy. So like for example, interest rates are going up for sure. That’s going to affect people’s loans. That’s going to mean that’s many more repayments, less profits, less cash flow. So, you know, these things will happen. But for us on our side as a group, I won’t affect us in any way. We’re like we’re just like in our bubble with terms of our financing and stuff. So, you know, will there be any have a major effect on the industry? Yes, I think we’ll start seeing our wave of dentists go out of NHS and go into private a lot more than we’ve recently seen over the last five years. We’ll be like ten, ten times more prominent in the next 26 months to a year. I think we’re going to start seeing perhaps is not hitting targets anymore and given that the is just don’t wanna do it anymore which would be a big shift generally for contracts and how could they happen over the years?

[01:14:54] I think you see the private market turning into like the super high end private market, like dental and then middle and then like. Do you see that?

[01:15:03] Yeah. Yeah. I think we’re going to start seeing a major shift in the mid-market of a general practise. That’s mid-market. No more associate. Sorry, no more patches around the M 25 belt or just suburbs of cities going from 50%, 5% NHS to maybe 80%, five, 20% NHS. And if they don’t hit target like oh well guys and I don’t really care anymore kind of thing I think we’ll see associate. Applying for jobs only mainly private and not heavy on. So rather than that 6000 per year per chair, it might be 4000, 3000 now. So that’s gonna be the new norm. And I think we’ll, we’ll start seeing a lot more squats being built up, greenfields where people are taking the punch of it’s been great for the last two years of private let’s kind of give it a go. Risky that would be most likely to be some failures there, too. But I think it’s definitely another big push right now. And then finally, I think it’s gonna be a big change of recruitment have to happen from either India or Australia or somewhere around the world. It’s gonna be an influx of them coming over once we eventually jettison standards out, actually allow them to over quicker because there’s not enough dentists right now and nurses and staff to actually accommodate for these perhaps that need the help in expanding rural areas around the country. And so I think those are a bit of bigger changes but we that everyone knows WEDI and for us I think it was just going to be keep doing what we’re doing. We might look to strategically buy some other kind of platforms in other cities where we’re not in right now. So we can keep growing in other areas that we’re not in, but staying to the core of big cities, good affluent areas that we know we can do good part of industry. And it’s kind of cool of what people really buy. There’s so many good things out there who could be partners for us as scientists and to meet them and speak to them and see if that could work and we can work together.

[01:16:51] Really amazing. Since last time we’ve changed one of our final questions. So you answered the ones before, but there’s a new one. Guess it’s about fancy dinner party.

[01:17:06] Okay.

[01:17:06] Three guests, dead or alive.

[01:17:11] Am. Okay. Elon Musk.

[01:17:17] Jay-z Yeah.

[01:17:21] And. It’s tough on them. Probably my uncle.

[01:17:31] Your uncle?

[01:17:32] Yeah. It was quite a close part of how many people I passed away, and it was like kind of the reason why it’s in the first place. So. Yeah.

[01:17:41] When did he passed away?

[01:17:43] When our second study at uni.

[01:17:47] Who’s that? Your dad’s brother.

[01:17:48] That’s brother. Yeah. Similar kind of a typical Indian story came from East Africa, came over here sort of business and did loads of material things. And yeah, I kind of work on entrepreneur flair in the first place, so.

[01:18:03] If you think he was the one who maybe put the seed in you. I mean, look.

[01:18:10] We’re one of the ones that I know as well. But not as an entrepreneur. But like, you know, when we were kids, we weren’t, you know, playing Xbox and stuff we’re doing doing the accounts for our company. Some of that, like we’ve been looking for that when I was five or six years old. You learn these things by doing this stuff with these guys and going to meetings and you know, back then it was weird, like, you should be sitting there, we’ll have a business meeting and you’d be like told to sit there and talk and about these things in a way that you probably should be learning. But, you know, it’s a good way of doing things.

[01:18:42] Yeah, you got some by osmosis, man. Lovely to have you, buddy, for the second time. And really good luck with this. And I’m sure I’m sure you’re going to flourish, but it’s been really, again, really nice having you.

[01:18:56] Thanks for having me back again.

[01:18:57] Buddy. Thanks, man.

[01:19:00] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman, Langroudi and Prav. Solanki.

[01:19:16] Thanks for listening, guys. If you got this file, you must have listened to the whole thing and just a huge thank you both from me and pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we had to say and what our guest has had to say, because I’m assuming you got some value out of it. If you did get some value out of it, think about subscribing. And if you would share this with a friend who you think might get some value out of it, too. Thank you so, so, so much for listening. Thanks. And don’t forget our six star rating.


You wouldn’t know from chatting with Zain Rizvi that he used to be an average kid. 

While studying at King’s, Zain took top awards, was invited to advise government policymakers and started a side hustle giving dental hopefuls a taster of life in the profession.

And he also found time to write and publish a book on what it takes to succeed at dental school.

In this episode, Zain reflects on his achievements so far and reveals what’s next for one of dentistry’s brightest young things.   


“I want to be the best dentist in the world. I know it sounds ridiculous, but clinically, I want to be excellent and in that one per cent of dentists. That’s where my passion and my ambition is at the moment”. – Zain Rizvi

In This Episode

02.17 – Backstory

07.04 – University

11.46 – Politics

17.30 – Into dentistry and social media

23.03 – Downsides

26.33 – BACD

32.50 – Know the Drill: How to Succeed at Dental School

39.15 – Number 10

45.52 – Dental politics and impact

49.52 – Entrepreneurialism and future plans

59.53 – Blackbox thinking

01.08.39 – Last days and legacy

01.11.44 – On Islam

01.19.52 – Fantasy dinner party


About Zain Rizvi

Zain graduated from King’s College London, where he was named Dental Student of the Year and earned the Rising Star scholarship from the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

Zain now practices at Greenwich-based Merivale Dental Practice. His book Know the Drill — How to Succeed at Dental School is available on Amazon.

Outside of dentistry, Zain is a keen cricketer and footballer with an interest in politics and current affairs. 


[00:00:00] The moment I graduated, I knew that the moment I graduate people would be like, You know what? He’s just come out of Dental school. He needs to just kind of go into any old job and just he needs to spend five years just upskilling. And I knew that would be the argument because it’s the argument in other sectors as well. Like, you come out of doing an economics degree and people are like, Oh, you’re only a year out, like just, you know, grind or work hard for a bit. And I think for me, it was not. It wasn’t that, oh yeah, I’m going to get a private job straight out Dental School, but it was more just I want to be that or knowing as that person who works really, really hard on their dentistry and wants to get better and better and better. And I think that was the priority for that was, first of all, to prove that to myself that like I’m putting in this work and to feel good about myself that, you know, I’m putting in those 10000 hours that you hear about sort of thing. And then I think, yeah, my hope was that at some point somebody would come along and be like, You know what? That Zane, he’s been doing this since Dental School. Like he he’s got his head screwed on. And I know that if I take a punt on him, he might not be the finished project project product yet. But eventually he will get there because he’s got the right attitude and that’s the most I can offer when I’m one year out of Dental school. There’s not anything else that I can guarantee.

[00:01:11] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

[00:01:28] It’s my great pleasure to welcome Zain Risky onto the podcast. Zain first came on on my radar when I randomly watched a YouTube interview with him. I think I think you were just a Dental student at the time saying, Yeah, I remember thinking this kid’s got his head screwed on. And then later on, I saw you win some prise as I don’t know what it was like. Top Dental student in the world twice and then again at BCD wins some prise. And then by that time it was I was paying attention. And so I do see your feed. And, you know, just as so many things that you’ve done in such a short period of time. So it’s it’s it’s a massive pleasure to have you on the show. Thanks for doing this. But how are you?

[00:02:14] Thank you for having me. You know, I’m good. Thank you.

[00:02:17] So then you said you listen to this podcast. We usually start with the back story. Yeah, kind of kid. Were you?

[00:02:25] I was critical, cripplingly shy, to be honest. I was like the kind of kid where someone, you know, when I was like five, six years old, someone would come up and say, hi to me and I just hide behind my mum and like, grip her very tightly because I was just very, very shy. Always quite kind of cautious, well-behaved, never really got in. Much trouble growing up. Yeah, quite quite quiet. Kept myself to myself. I would describe myself as introverted, whereas I feel like when I tell that to my friends now, they’re just like, No, that’s not true at all. You do so much kind of in the in the public domain and with people and that sort of thing. But I would say, yeah, quite a shy child and grew up in a very kind of loving, well supported sort of family environment. My parents, both very dedicated to their kids, kind of weak.

[00:03:09] What do they do?

[00:03:10] So my dad qualified as a chartered accountant, but he’s he’s got a very interesting career pathway because it’s a little bit like me where he kind of I don’t know if it’s kind of impatience and boredom, or if he just likes to do lots of different things. But he actually quite early. Early on, he left chartered accountancy to basically start running his own businesses. So part of the reason I actually grew up in Leicestershire, I was born in London, but when we were seven, we moved to Leicester. And the reason for that was because my dad took over a failing hotel, which is kind of so outside of what his comfort zone was. And he took on this hotel and he ran it for a couple of years, and that’s why we were based in Leicester. And then because we were quite settled, we stayed there because of our schooling. And he moved on to different things. So like nursing home restaurant and they weren’t all at the same time. It was kind of periods of five to six years, but in a way I kind of got exposure to like lots of different industries and businesses and how they run, you know, good and bad and the kind of life involved. So a lot of that kind of location and relocation revolved around my dad’s work. My mum kind of she’s she didn’t go to university. She kind of left school after A-levels, and she was very good with people. So she took up a lot of jobs in kind of in banking as a cashier. She used to work at Heathrow Airport with Singapore Airlines as well. So she’s always been quite customer facing. Currently she works. She’s still at NatWest, so she’s a cashier there at the moment.

[00:04:34] So as a student, as a child, I mean, as a as a school person, we always like top of your class and all of that.

[00:04:42] And I wasn’t ever top. I was in that kind of really frustrating zone where I was good and I never really was kind of bottom of the class or there was never any concern about me failing exams and stuff. But I was always in that kind of good, but not amazing or not perfect. And whereas my sister was in that kind of top of the class perfect type child, so I was kind of that middle ground. But yeah, never really any concerns. My mum and dad never really had a problem with me at school. Neither the teachers they just used to say he needs to come out of his shell a bit, which was always kind of on the report card.

[00:05:12] So do you do you remember a moment where you came out of your shell because you’re definitely out of your shell right now? So yeah. What was the inflexion point?

[00:05:20] It was really distinctive, and it was really interesting because my parents had such different views on my kind of lack of confidence. So my mum was always really worried that, oh, like, what if he never comes out of his shell? Like, it’s going to impact him a lot. He’s so shy, and my dad was like, He’ll grow out of it. Like, Don’t give him space, let him develop, let him explore, you know, just protect him, basically and support him. And then when I was, I think in year six in my primary school, I got appointed head boy just out of the blue because again, you wouldn’t think this shy child would be the one that would be appointed head boy because he doesn’t have any kind of speaking skills. Or, you know, he doesn’t seem like the guy that would volunteer to do a speech at speech day or whatever. But I don’t know if it was the teacher that I had at the time or what, but they saw something clearly and that year that I had as head boy, I was doing every kind of couple of weeks. I was giving a speech on a lectern in a cathedral or a church to a bunch of parents and students and stuff.

[00:06:14] And I remember being so terrified, but again, like my dad, you know, it sounds kind of a little bit lame now that I think. Actually, it was so important as growing up, like my dad and I would kind of rehearse at home for the speeches that would be coming up and he would, you know, if I mumbled or stumbled or wasn’t speaking loud enough, he’d be like, Right, start again. And we kind of practised and kind of almost moulded me into someone who was quite comfortable, public speaking. And I know for a lot of like my friends, for example, public speaking is like one of their biggest fears, whereas for me, it’s just like, Yeah, I’ll go, I’ll go do it. I’ll go say it. Or, you know, if someone needs to be a spokesman for something, I’ll do it like, I have no problem with it. Just kind of water off a duck’s back now. Whereas I think at that time it was like, Oh my god, I can’t do this. My knees are shaking. Voices kind of trembling, that sort of thing.

[00:07:04] So then tell me about university, you’re a grad, so you did a degree before dentistry.

[00:07:10] Yeah. So at school, I was again had like a couple of options available to me. I was really into politics, kind of English literature. I was really strong at probably my best subject. I really wanted to do. Journalism really followed a lot of journalists as well at the time, and I think combination of kind of like gentle advice and counselling from my parents about kind of like, right, what are your career prospects going to be if you did something like English or history? Like, do you have an actual plan or a route? We’re happy to support you to do it, but do you know what you’re going to do? And I was like, No, to be fair, I don’t. I just know that I’d enjoy studying the subject, and then I guess I’d just go from there. But I was also really strong in science and biology, chemistry, that usual sort of thing, and I could see quite a tangible pathway into dentistry. Medicine was on the cards, but I think I was more keen towards dentistry and I knew we had family, friends who were dentists. And so I kind of from a complete picture and I’m not really shy of saying it. But like in terms of kind of financially work life balance, I was someone a bit like my dad were like, I have a lot of interests outside of my immediate career, and I knew that medicine was never going to cater to that. I was going to have to be all in. So dentistry was kind of that, that balance where I could, you know, pay the bills, enjoy it. But then also, I could do so much more outside of it if I wanted to.

[00:08:22] So that was always on the cards. The reason I went and did Biomet Imperial actually was not because I applied, didn’t get into dentistry. I had the grades at A-level. It was mainly because I was playing cricket to a really high standard at school, and I actually my dream was to go and become a professional cricketer and play for England. So the way I saw it, I was like my kind of peak where I can enter into the professional set up would be about 21 years old, so I need a degree that will just get me out of uni at twenty one and maybe whilst I’m at uni, if I got into Oxbridge, for example, they have a set up at certain unis where you can actually study but but play full time as a professional as part of the university set up. So it’s kind of like a pathway that England have created so that you can actually get a degree and become professional and you don’t have to sacrifice one over the other like they used to in, like the 80s and 90s. So that was what I was aiming towards, ideally at Oxford, but in the end I ended up going to London. Imperial was great and I really did explore that kind of non-clinical side of things, the interest I had politically and all of that stuff. So I think when I got to the end of that, I was like, Right, I think, you know, cricket’s not going to go where I want it to go.

[00:09:32] So now when was the moment when you realised cricket wasn’t going to be the thing?

[00:09:36] I think I always there was a part of me that knew, deep down that look like I’m I am good relative to your average club cricketers like amateur amateur players. But when I would on the occasions that I’d be playing against boys that were playing for England under 15s in England, under 16s, there was like a big gulf between me and them. And I was like, OK, maybe if I work hard, if I keep training, I will get to that point. And it kind of just never came. And it was always that kind of hope inside me that, OK, I’ll trial with this academy or with this county, and I was still doing that at university. I was trialling with Surrey, and it just never would get past that point where I’d always be on the fringe, but I’d never be someone who’d be the first name on the team sheet. So my dad always used to say something to me. He’d be like saying, like, as much as you love cricket, I’m here to support you. There’s only 11 people that get on the teamsheet. No one cares about the 12th person. So you know you might well be that 12th person, so you should have a backup for being that 12th person if that comes, if it comes to that, and that is kind of where it was at. So I think when I got to the end of Imperial, I was like, Look, I’ve spent three years in London. London’s got a big cricket scene. I’ve been playing for my club. I’ve been in contact with certain counties and it’s not really gone anywhere. I think now at 21, you know, I’m young enough to still do a career and thrive within it. So let me turn my attention to dentistry.

[00:10:55] And so what is it? What does it involve if you’re if you’ve got a degree in biomedical? Does that mean you don’t do the first year of dentistry?

[00:11:02] Yes, they drop you into two straight away if you get onto a grad programme. So I was fortunate that I got into a four year grad programme at King’s, so I just got really hard to get on to. Yes, so I can’t remember the ratio. It was something crazy and I didn’t actually. I didn’t even know that that was how competitive it was until we got there. And it was kind of like we had a talk by the dean and it was kind of like a back scratching exercise, although like you’ve done really well to get here. And, you know, don’t don’t mess it up, basically because you’re one of 20, you know, who have gotten in. And there were, however, many I don’t know the actual figures, so I’d be talking, but there were a lot of it was very, very competitive. And then I think once I got in, I was actually very grateful and thankful that I don’t know how I kind of managed to get into this, but I better make the most of it now

[00:11:46] And in university and imperial. Your political. Sort of mindset. I mean, it’s funny, isn’t it, when you go from school to university that there’s this sort of you’re not quite a man? Yeah, you’re certainly not a boy anymore. Yeah. And you sort of have the opportunity to redefine yourself that you just sort of there’s this moment where they’ve got all new people. Yeah. And so did you. You defined yourself as a sort of political guy. It’s a guy who’s going to be on beyond boards of things.

[00:12:17] No, it wasn’t specific to political, but I agree with you. I think I got because I was also living out. I was my family home was in Leicester and I’d come to London to live out and study. It was like a big city. First time I’ve lived out in London, all I knew of London was like when my cousins were in Hounslow and it was just like, That wasn’t really London. So living out, yeah, like I remember Freshers really distinctly. I was so far out of my comfort zone, but I was like my parents. My dad is very kind of growth mindset orientated, so he would almost be like, You’re not coming home or like, he discouraged me from kind of coming home in the weekends like some of my friends used to. They just used to go home after on Friday night. But I know, like, live out, make friends, do you know? And the temptation is when you’re outside of your comfort zone, I just want to go home because I just feel a bit, you know, shy. I don’t really know anyone here, but I think within three months to kind of just forcing myself to stay there and kind of embrace the change. I then just started thriving and just I joined so many different clubs and societies, even ones that I thought I could never see myself doing this long term.

[00:13:16] Like, I started playing hockey as a sport, and I got really good at it because I don’t know if it’s hand-eye coordination or whatever, but I got involved with like a really large, large type hockey crowd, which I never would have associated with before, you know, going to sports night and doing tables and all this sort of stuff. And and I was just like, This is so not me. Like, I don’t drink. I don’t I don’t really go out and do all this stuff, but I can still thrive in these types of environments. I can still make friends with these types of guys, and I still kept in touch with a lot of these guys and I still play well. I used to play hockey a lot more than I do now, but it was like it just gave so many different strings to my bow. If that makes sense and politics just became one of those things I explored and it went somewhere. So yeah, I think that’s what Imperial was grateful for. It was just kind of exploring,

[00:14:00] Where did it go? What did you do?

[00:14:02] So at Imperial I in my second year, I ran like a really big campaign where there was there was a position of open for student trustee of the student union. So it’s basically an elected student who sits on the board of trustees that governs the whole of the student union. Most of those people on there are like the union president and then there’s like appointed board of trustees who are usually, you know, people in their forties and fifties managerial roles who kind of govern governance the way the union works. So I ran a campaign against, I think it was ten other people. And I guess like in the context of a whole university, nobody really knew who I was. I ran. I remember the campaign. It was quite it was like a very kind of tongue in cheek, quite kind of social media savvy, quite visual type campaign with a bit of kind of seriousness to it in terms of promises and all that sort of stuff. But I think I kind of read the room quite well in that most students, they they are interested a little bit in student politics, but not too much the kind of vote for the guy that’s quite quite funny, quite entertaining. Yeah, you know, makes them laugh. And they kind of like, that’s the kind of person that actually gets voted in, rather than maybe the person who is the most clued up on political issues. Yeah. But I think for me, I always knew that I could deliver in terms of being clued up and I could always go, do my research and make serious arguments and that sort stuff. But I didn’t think the campaigning and the election was the place to be doing that, necessarily because the larger proportion of the population just wanted like memes and, you know, funny quips and quotes and that sort of thing. So, yeah, I got like,

[00:15:31] You calculate you calculated all of that, did you?

[00:15:34] I didn’t calculate it. I think similar to the way, like I run my Instagram. I think I just know exactly what people who follow me are looking for naturally. Yeah. And I think I just use my brain. I’m like, OK, what do I? What would I like or what would I vote for realistically? And I’m quite realistic. I’m not like idealistic or, you know, this is who I want to be, and it just kind of completely far removed from what most people think is normal. So, yeah, I think I just kind of thought, OK, this is the way to approach it. And you know what? You have fun doing that kind of thing, like making funny posters, posting them on your social media, people liking it, commenting on it, sharing it. You’re kind of it makes you feel good and you enjoy the process and kind of just kind of snowballed from there. And then I actually ended up winning, which I didn’t. Obviously, I wanted to win and I believed I could win. But, you know, to run against 10 people in the whole university, you never think that it’s actually going to be you at the end of the day

[00:16:22] Because it gives you sort of I would never be that cat. Yeah, I would never go and try and do something. But it must give you some sort of experience in sort of running stuff, right?

[00:16:34] Yeah, I think at that stage, it was like the biggest thing that I’d done from a like an election or political scale. I was just like, I almost took myself aback when I thought when I think about it in terms of I just kind of jumped into it, and I’m someone who generally to most opportunities, I would just kind of say yes without kind of. Thinking and then afterwards, I oh, that was a bad idea, or that was quite a good idea. So I’m never I’m always open to an idea or like a proposal if someone comes to me with it and then I’ll think about it and go, whatever. So yeah, I think it gave a lot of skills that I didn’t realise it would at the time. And in retrospect, all of this stuff kind of makes sense. And you know, I got this and that from it. But at the time, I was just like, Oh yeah, I really want to do this and see what it’s like to be on a student union and be elected and to run a campaign and it be really cool if I win it. That was probably the most thought I gave it, really.

[00:17:25] So then, OK, you finished biomedical. Did you already know you were going to go to dentistry after that?

[00:17:30] Yeah. So so I knew, like when I in my freshers at Imperial, I was like telling people that, you know, people would ask, like, What are you gonna do with biomed? Like, you know, you can do medicine or did you want to do medicine? I’d be like, No, I’m going to do dentistry. I’m going to apply for a grad course and also to TA. I went into dentistry straight after finishing at eight p.m. There was no break between the two unis, so in order to do that, I had to apply in my second year of Imperial’s so pretty much a year after my first, you know, a year into my degree, I had to start getting UCAS references, all my applications, ready interviews, all of that sort stuff was happening in second year to start in September, finishing after finishing my third year. So I always had that plan and that was always my plan. And people always used to be like, Wow, like, you really know what you want and what you want to do. And I was like, Yeah, like, like I said, I always wanted to do dentistry. It’s just that because of the cricket thing. And I did buy it because I wanted to juggle a couple of other things just to see where it goes. So I was pretty kind of, you know, head screwed on in terms of looking towards dentistry.

[00:18:30] I mean, someone’s looking at your Instagram and the first post on your Instagram is as your fourth year dental student. Yeah, yeah. On this on this account, anyway. Yeah, yeah. And it’s like a phantom head post. Yeah, well, the first few are phantom head posts. Yeah. And it got me thinking, you know, there’s so many dentists out there who would never. Yes. And yet there you were in the fourth year posting your phantom head. Yeah. Is that because because you’d had the experience in Imperial that you were so comfortable?

[00:19:06] No, I actually don’t

[00:19:07] Think you should be wearing.

[00:19:09] I think it’s is. It was so much easier at that point than it is now, because now there’s like an expectation or, you know, and also because I’m now in the actual Dental world, I’ve got something to kind of lose if I’m posting rubbish stuff. But back then I was like, No one knows who I am. I’m I think I don’t know how I started following Dental stuff on Instagram because it’s not. You don’t really know how you get into it, but you just start following pages. And then I made a separate Dental Instagram, not with the intention to make it my Dr Zain Rizvi account. At some point it was more just okay. I want to pick up tips and tricks that I’m not learning it. Dental School Bad was actually the kind of entry into that, but that’s kind of a separate, separate sort of story. But off the back of going to a couple of those events and the young dentist sort of days, I started following a lot of these people and it start off by being like, OK, how can you improve your rubber dam stuff like really simple stuff that we were already doing at Dental School, but we’re just struggling with and we had so much time to practise it. And then I think aside from that, I got into this mentality a bit like I do with sport where I was like, right, in order to be good at dentistry and get better at dentistry, I need to put in more hours and work harder than anyone else to get to a level before anyone else. So what I started doing was in dental school, it’s a bit of a joke. You see so few patients because people don’t show up or someone’s not booked in because the admin staff didn’t book them in whatever you’re, I think 50 percent of the time you rock up to clinic, your patients are not coming.

[00:20:33] And most people will just go home, have an early kind of afternoon off, or they will go to the go out with their friends or whatever. I still used to do that stuff. I still had friends and I’d still be going out and doing those things. But during the nine to five, if my patient didn’t come in the morning or didn’t come in the afternoon, I’d be like, Well, this is the time for me to be working and practising. And so I kind of almost got known to be that guy in my year who just be carrying a phantom head up and down the lifts in Guy’s hospital, because more often than not, these patients wouldn’t be showing up. And I’d just be prepping teeth like I’ve been doing rehabs, full house rehabs on these phantom teeth like like almost every week, to be honest, because at some one or two of my patients wouldn’t show up on it, even if it was a Perrier clinic, I’d still be prepping and doing composite work, and I think I just used to post it to keep myself accountable, to get some feedback, that sort of thing. And also, to be honest, to show people that I was doing this in dental school so that I’m actually I’ve been putting in this work since day one. I think knowing that I am working on my dentistry rather than just kind of cruising at dental school, I think that was also something that I did consider at that point. I remember when I was when I was posting. But yeah, at that point,

[00:21:39] People, which people were you hoping to potential employers?

[00:21:44] Yeah, potential employers, to be honest, because I knew back then, yeah, because I knew what would happen, but I’m not. Yeah, the moment I graduated, I knew that the moment I graduate people would be like, You know what? He’s just a dental school. He needs to just kind of go into any old job and just need to spend five years just upskilling. And I knew that would be the argument because it’s the argument in other sectors as well. Like, you come out of doing an economics degree and people are like, Oh, you’re only a year out, like just, you know, grind or work hard for a bit. And I think for me, it was not. It wasn’t that, oh yeah, I’m going to get a private job straight out Dental School, but it was more just I want to be that or knowing as that person who works really, really hard on their dentistry and wants to get better and better and better. And I think that was the priority for that was, first of all, to prove that to myself that like I’m putting in this work and to feel good about myself that, you know, I’m putting in those 10000 hours that you hear about sort of thing. And then I think, yeah, my hope was that at some point somebody would come along and be like, You know what? That Zane, he’s been doing this since Dental School. Like he he’s got his head screwed on, and I know that if I take a punt on him, he might not be the finished project project product yet. But eventually he will get there because he’s got the right attitude and that’s the most I can offer when I’m one year out of Dental School, there’s not anything else that I can guarantee. So I think for me that that was what the attitude was and that came from seeing

[00:23:03] My questions a bit. My question is a bit rubbish. Yeah, because in these situations, you get the sort of the hard benefits of that sort of behaviour. But the soft benefits of it is where it’s really at. You know, the things you don’t even realise, you know, I mean, for all we know, you’re you’re sitting here in this podcast right now because, you know, because of some of that work that you put in. Yeah, now there’s no way that you were sitting back then thinking, I want to be on the know some podcasts, right? But the soft benefits and it’s not only like this sort of benefits that going to push you forward benefits of people, you talk to things you learn. Yeah, I’m quite interested, though, saying it’s kind of obvious what what the upside is of this sort of thing. You know, competitiveness. Yeah. What’s the downside of it? Did you suffer with the down? Right on this as well.

[00:23:54] Yeah, I think I feel like most dentists say this, but I’m quite hard on myself more than like when things have gone wrong and obviously they have gone wrong in the past with patients or whatever. I’m actually harsher on myself than the patients ever been, to be honest. Like, like the patient can say, OK, I’m not happy, whatever. And yeah, that will get me down and I’ll be like, really apologetic and I’ll manage the patient fine and you’ll make me feel bad for a little bit of time. But I think the lingering feeling of disappointment, humiliation, frustration that comes from me. And the only way I can kind of compare it or express it is like when I’ve been playing cricket, for example, and I’ve made a mistake in the match and it’s made us lose the game or it’s a team member down. And the thing in sport is, is that people let you know quite directly that you’ve you’ve messed up. It’s not kind of like patting each other on the back and being like, You know what? Don’t worry, it’s better. You’ll get someone literally shouting and swearing at you and being like, Why did you do that? And obviously it’s just a game at the end of the day, but no one says that in the moment, in the moment, it’s like the worst thing that could have happened, and you kind of just have to face that humiliation. That’s shame and also make a promise to yourself that, OK, that won’t happen next time. And then, yeah, at the end of the game, you’re like, OK, fine relief. It’s not. It’s not anything that actually matters. And I think those are the soft skills that I’ve taken forward, not just into dentistry, but just into any area of my life where as soon as you have any kind of upset, you kind of just manage to absorb it.

[00:25:22] Yeah, but I’m talking about, you know, the downside of it. So, you know, are you are you over competitive? Yeah, we worry about other other people’s achievements, that sort of thing. I’m not saying it’s necessarily going to be that right? Yes. The best way of being good at something is not to worry about other people’s achievements.

[00:25:40] Yeah, yeah. I think I think I I wouldn’t be being honest if I didn’t say that. Yeah, I think there’s I’ve trained myself and I counsel myself a lot better now than I used to. But there’s definitely a part of me that’s like, I want to be the best at amongst my peers sort of thing. And there’s that’s never going to be something that I will like necessarily always be content with, and that will never have only an upside that will have inevitable downsides. And I think part of part of making it a healthier dynamic is to be like trying to kind of be happy for other people’s success, but also using it as motivation to push yourself on rather than resenting or being jealous. At the same time,

[00:26:19] At the same at the same time, yes.

[00:26:21] And so I would say that definitely is a downside. But like, like you’re saying, there’s never really only an upside to any kind of personality trait. There’s always anything. Yeah, it’s always a double edged sword.

[00:26:33] Very interesting, man. So tell me about the seed, how that affected you.

[00:26:40] So this was a really interesting one. So in third year of Dental School, we had a consultant called Rupert Austin, quite a young consultant at King’s really forward thinking, and he organised like a careers day and Dental school. And I remember when we got the email about it, it was kind of compulsory for everyone to attend, but it was a bit like lectures where some people rock up and some people don’t. So I went to that and I was like, OK, let’s see what this is about. And it was all about kind of alternative careers with your Dental degree, which was really cool to me because I was like, Yeah, that’s what I’m about, you know, politics, cricket, whatever. And there were people who came from like, I think, GDC, some defence organisations just kind of talking about that kind of stuff. And then Samir Patel from eleven, he rocked up and he gave a talk on the business of dentistry. So it was nothing clinical and

[00:27:26] That crickets are two

[00:27:27] Massive crickets are obviously straight away. When he mentioned his cricket like he like he always does, my ears kind of perked up and I was like, Right, I’m missing out. And he gave such a good lecture at such a good talk. There was so many takeaways he gave, like a reading list that I remember reading every book on that list that he recommended rich dad, poor dad, financial freedom type stuff got really into investing into stocks and shares off the back of it. Obviously, at the end of the lecture, I was like, I really cringe with networking in the concept of networking. I’m just do want to ask anyone for anything. I want to be my own. I want to achieve stuff on my own merit. I hate kind of the concept, but because his talk actually really spoke to me, I was like, I need to say hello to this guy because it was actually such a good talk. And I just introduced myself and I was like, Hi, I’m Zane. Got talking about cricket, obviously. And then he was like, Oh, why don’t you come down to 11 sometime and we’ll just spend like a day together. He’s really generous with his time, and I know he does it with lots of young, young dentists. So we went I went to that. It was amazing Clinic’s beautiful event

[00:28:27] That blew

[00:28:27] You away. It’s so nice. And I was like, Wow, like, this is high end stuff like like

[00:28:31] Surgery of his upstairs.

[00:28:34] And he’s so casual as well. And I’m like, He’s so, you know, if you go into that kind of surgery and you’re met with someone who’s quite pompous and like, you know, I am the best dentist in London, that type of personality puts you off a little bit, whereas he’s so laid back, so chilled out, so calming and so good with his patients that I was just like, Wow, like, if he can do it like, so can I sort of think it was like properly inspiring and off the back of that, he was like saying, You need to get into the back, like get involved with them and kind of the way things work timing wise. They just launched their young dentist day for the first time ever because it used to just be kind of conferences and kind of study clubs. So they launched like a young dentist day that I went to, and I remember Richard Field getting up. And obviously he’s he’s a phenomenal dentist. And the lecture that he gave like full of tips and tricks like stuff that I was like, right on Monday morning, this is going, you know, I’m putting my rubber down on this way. This is how I’m doing this. This is I’m doing my composites. And that really gave me the bug because I think prior to that point, I was just like, Oh yeah, dentistry is going to give me a chilled out life, and I can just kind of do whatever I want with it. I wasn’t really that into the clinical stuff. Obviously, in the third year, you barely have had any clinical exposure anyway, but I think it just everything just timed itself really well. That backdoor educational stuff tied in with my first couple of patients or clinic. And then I started really like right, I need to get better and better and better and better. And my focus became really clinical and becoming the best clinical dentist I could be.

[00:30:01] For what? So you started attending Bhakti as a student?

[00:30:05] Yeah, I mean, I mean, to be honest, there was that young dentistry and then that was kind of it for the kind of short to term. And then I started applying for that kind of some of the awards that they put out for students. And I won the essay competition, which then meant that I went to the conference and again, that blew my mind like. I saw, you know, Maurice Semenza, the guy who perhaps like his hands, are like a milling machine, like, it’s crazy how nice his work is and you just see so much quality dentistry that you are just like so inspired by the time you leave there. And obviously, coming back to a Dental school environment, that kind of stuff, only a very small percentage of people are kind of interested in it or aware of it exposed to it. And so you already feel like in that kind of elite sort of group. I wasn’t in an elite sort of group, but I just felt my mentality was such that, Oh, I’m going to be that kind of dentist, like, I’m going to be in that top one percent in the UK, in the world, whatever. So it kind of sets your sights quite early doors more than any. Very good

[00:31:02] Point. Yeah, it’s a very good point. I mean, if I was going to give advice to a student, it would be to go to a proper conference and see, you know, the kinds of presentations that are out there. And I mean, it’s not not to say that in Dental school, you don’t have great teachers. You do, you’ve got some of the top people, right? But it’s just a different sort of way of presenting. Yeah. And because in Dental school, you’ve seen it, you’ve seen that. You’ve seen that one side, the the other side. I know, you know, Dipesh Palmer, who I work with a lot. One of the reasons why he was so good, so early is that his mentor, Louis McKenzie in Birmingham, put put some of them through nine days of hands on composite. Yeah, during Dental school, you know, and then you think, you know how many dentists have had nine days of hands on composite? And I remember when I met him, I was giving him a prise for best composite and he was in VTi. And I looked up at the case and I just couldn’t believe a vet had done that. He remembered what I was doing a vet. So you’re right, early on, being exposed to high level stuff for the right person at least is going to is going to inspire them.

[00:32:20] I remember I remember sitting in on a Tony Rotunda hands on. I don’t know who the hell Tony Rotondo was. I remember sitting in the room going, I think he’s pretty good. Like his composites look pretty good. And I remember like trying to note down tips and stuff, but I was just like, Oh, this is just one of those little workshops. He’s just a dentist like from the UK or something, just kind of quite good. And then later on, I was like, Oh my God, I was setting this workshop with him, and I just didn’t pay enough attention, like it was just so good. And it’s that kind of stuff where you just don’t realise how, how much exposure you’re getting.

[00:32:50] So then I noticed you wrote a book. And published it the day you qualified.

[00:32:56] Yeah, right. That was a lockdown project. When I say it like that, it sounds it sounds very like presumptuous, but honestly, it was it was just it was again like a timing thing. We were gearing up to sit our finals when COVID hit in March, and we got an email like a week or two after lockdown being like, Yeah, your finals have been pushed back to like the end of May. And I was like, Well, what am I meant to do now because I was like, are gearing? We were all in full revision mode and we were ready to set it, to be honest. And then I was like, Right, I’ve got like two, two and a bit months just sitting around. And the way the first lockdown was, it was just like, you could do whatever you want with your time. I was like on the PlayStation. I was watching webinars like it just felt a little bit unproductive. And I think that’s a negative trait that I have, which is that I have this like urge or constant need to kind of somehow feel like I’m being productive, which really does hinder me because you can’t always be productive. And sometimes it’s downtime is good. But I think in that first lockdown, it was always going to exacerbate that tendency that I have, which is that, oh god, I’m not really doing much here am I? I’m just wasting wasting hours in a day, and it just felt like Groundhog Day, like every single day.

[00:34:03] And then I thought, Oh, a little bit like a lot of stuff that I do on social media is that I was like, Oh, like, there’s a lot of people that I’m speaking to younger than me, my age that, you know, they’re asking for help on this specific topic here or there. And I just thought, Oh man, like, I’ve really always been into English and writing, I really love writing, why don’t I publish a book like that? Be such a cool thing to do to, like, actually publish a book and be an author? Because that’s like a dream of mine that I probably won’t achieve being a dentist because, you know, I’ll be doing Dental stuff. So I was like, OK, I’ve literally got two and a half to three months. I can write every day like five hundred words, maybe a thousand words every day. That’s not a big deal like for me to do because I enjoy writing. And also, when you’re writing about a topic that you’re passionate about, i.e. you’re giving advice to people, you know you can you can write for ages and ages and ages. Whereas if it was like a literature review or something like boring, you struggled to get to the word count.

[00:34:56] But so I kind of just set myself this goal, which was more for me than anything else. And I was like, Write, I want to write at least 500 to 600 words a day. I’m going to keep doing it until I cover all these topics that I’d kind of outlined very briefly. And then it became like, you know, like one hundred and something page book. And I was like, Oh, I’ve actually got something quite special here. And even if I hadn’t published it, I would have been quite proud of what I’d put together. And then Amazon is amazing. Like, I self-published it via Amazon, and the process could not have been easier. They have like a publishing self-publishing house, and I did it and I also had lost my uncle like very recently. So I actually made it into like a charitable project, which also really meant a lot to me. So, yeah, it kind of tied up really nicely, and I actually coincidentally finished it shortly before I got my results. So I thought, why not just publish it on results day? Because it will. It will. It will break up the kind of monotony of, you know, doctor’s own reality. You know, I graduated, I

[00:35:56] Think, did you get that confidence from year to think that you could write a book and put it out there? I mean, like, did you have had you already won the prises? I never said that you. I never said it was a good one when you did. Yeah, but then but then but then like, if it was me, I’d be even if I was as good as you, which I definitely wasn’t. Yeah, but even if I was as good as you, I’d worry that, you know, maybe I don’t know enough about this. And yeah, what will people think? And yeah, how come you haven’t got that voice in your head?

[00:36:26] Yeah, my other half is very similar to you in that sense. Like she always she’s so good at her job. She’s she’s a medick, but she’s always got kind of this imposter syndrome, which a lot of friends that I have also suffered from. I think for me, I don’t think I’m perfect. I don’t think that what I’m doing is is amazing or special. I think for me, I’m just like, You know what? Let me just push it out rather than get paralysed by this perfection. Someone recently when I published this online course was like to me, Oh, you know, you’re a really good example of this concept that I’ve read in this book called Show Me Your Work. And the point was, it’s just to put stuff out there, even if it’s not the finished product, because it eventually will become the finished product through refinements, through feedback and all this sort of stuff. I’m sure running a course is a bit like that as well. You kind of just get it out there first. The first cohort is not going to be, you know, the most benefit like the best one or the most perfect one, but slowly you just refine it over time. And I think everything that I do is like that. Like, I know my Dental work, even the stuff that I post now, people my age might be like, Oh, that’s great. But I know dentists who are like five, 10, 20 years older than me are thinking, Wow, that is rubbish. Or, like, you know, he’s missed a spot there or he’s missed this. And I know that people are thinking that it just doesn’t bother me because I’m like, I’m not going to learn or improve if I don’t push this out there. So I don’t have that fear of failure because the way I see it, it’s more of a failing to not get it out there in the first place, because then you’ve definitely failed, whereas at least putting something out there, you know, you’re definitely right about that.

[00:37:48] You’re definitely right about that. That paralysed by perfection is one of the worst things in the world. And, you know, looking at your output, the idea that when you say when you say I qualified during. It just makes me laugh. It’s a it’s a it’s just unbelievable. You know, someone who’s qualified then is producing this stuff now. It’s kind of beautiful, dude. I mean, I kind of love that stuff, you know, because back in my day, man, there was no way there was no way this could have happened in that time frame. I mean, you know, do you agree with me about social that we learn a lot

[00:38:21] From that 100 percent hundred percent. I I remember at uni we used to get people like professors, lecturers being like, Oh, like, don’t don’t, don’t do Facebook dentistry, don’t do Instagram dentistry. And I’m like, I’ve learnt half of my content from these places. And it sounds trivial because it’s like, Oh God, what is a professional health care professional doing learning from YouTube or Instagram or Facebook? But actually, it’s just we’re so connected that I’m learning from people in Australia. You know, there’s just so much sharing and stuff that you pick up. And to be honest, I view the onus to be on me, the student to like but verify if this works or look up the evidence behind it. You know, I’m not dumb enough to just look at something on Instagram. I think, you know what? This is going to work perfectly in my hands tomorrow. Like, I’ll look into it, but I plan around it. But you’ve got to try at the end of the day as well. Like, I’m not afraid to try things. It won’t always go to plan, but sometimes it will. And you’ll be like, Wow, I’ve just figured out an easier way to do something.

[00:39:15] Tell me about number ten.

[00:39:17] Yeah, this is. This was probably the most surreal experience I’ve ever had, to be honest. Like, probably meant the most to me from a career point of view as well. Long story short, I did another thing that I just applied for, and I thought, why not in my first year of dental school? I came across this programme called this young Muslim leadership programme. I posted about it recently and basically initially I was like, Oh God, I don’t want to go on this. It sounds like a faith based retreat and like, I am practising and I do believe in practising faith, but I just didn’t think that I wanted to go on this sort of cap for two weeks. But then I looked into it further, and it was actually not really much to do with Islam, apart from the fact that they were looking to get people into public sectors like politics, like journalism, traditionally underrepresented sectors. They wanted more Muslims to be involved in these sectors, and they were happy to facilitate that. And I was like, That’s right up my street, like, that’s what I want to do. I’m going to do politics. I want to harbour political ambitions. So I went to that for two weeks. It was amazing. I don’t know why this has happened, but someone from number 10 came on one of those days and she kind of said, Oh, I worked for the Cabinet Office didn’t really specify exactly where in government she worked, but made it out. She was for civil service and we had like these little small breakout rooms of discussions around health care, infrastructure, housing, education and what our opinions and views on these things are.

[00:40:44] And I remember just again, like not afraid to speak up. Just thought, you know what? Let me get my opinion out there because I’m in this room for a reason. I’m not going to sit quiet and not say anything, because what’s the point? So said a couple of things. Not by not. I wasn’t dictating the conversation by any means, but I just said a couple of things that I thought were true, in my opinion. And then she came up to me and she was like saying, Do you have an email address or something like that? And I was like, Yeah, like. And that that whole two weeks was so it was all networking, like my worst nightmare, but I was OK. Another person that probably just wants to send some sort of something over to me gave her my email and got an email a week after finishing the programme being like, Zane, can you send a CV? Because I’m based in number 10 and we we’ve got some policy making roundtables that we might want you to get involved in. And I was like, Right, that’s cool. So obviously put loads of work into that CV that I sent over and had nothing to do with dentistry on that CV as well. So obviously, try and tailor it towards politics. And then she was like, Why don’t you come to number 10 and we’ll just have a coffee? And I was like, Oh, that’s so cool that I’m going to number 10.

[00:41:46] And that first that first meeting was just unbelievable. I was just like, we discussed nothing to do with the actual job at hand. It was just like a tour around number 10, and I was like, This is even real. Like, I was just kind of blinking, you know, I couldn’t even believe my eyes and had a coffee in the canteen downstairs, got a picture by the door. You know, all the kind of stuff that you think as a tourist, I’m going to do when I go to number 10. And then then had radio silence for like two months. And I was like, Well, that was fun whilst it lasted. And then I got another email being like Zane were meeting on December. Whatever, whatever, twenty seventeen you and a couple of others we’ve picked out to basically have some discussions around Theresa May and her policymaking unit, some of their decision making and policies around young people, especially at university. Also, like young Muslims and that sort of thing, as well as component of that to it. And we’d like to be involved and I was like, Great. Yeah, and we kind of had six or seven of these types of meetings throughout the year. So there would be times where I’d be at Dental School and I’d have to leave clinic like a couple of hours early because I had a meeting at Downing Street at four or whatever. It was crazy.

[00:42:51] But what do they want? What do they want with you? I mean, what was it? Yeah.

[00:42:54] So I mean, technically, technically, I’m not meant to go into specifics, but I didn’t sign anything either. So it’s not necessarily completely forbidden. But it was effectively they just wanted. It was like a focus group. They had some ideas and they wanted to know what young Muslims and students in healthcare and other sectors, depending on what the policy was, what they thought of it and what other people in their demographic might think of it. Objections, arguments against arguments for I think it was more of like reaching out to people that were trying to target with our policies and get some feedback before we introduce this policy. So that was basically the job description. And then eventually, I think that contact that was facilitating it, she had to rotate into a different part of the civil service, so she actually had to leave the policymaking group. And also, I think there was a change of government. So I think Theresa May left and Boris Johnson came in or whatever. So obviously with the new new prime minister comes new staff and infrastructure, and so the whole thing just changed around. So that’s kind of where it kind of tailed off. But I still got an invite to their like ed reception or whatever that they have once a year. So that’s where I got that picture with Theresa May and, you know, talking to her and stuff like that because that was quite cool.

[00:44:03] And what are what are these people like in in government? I mean, are they like, vastly impressive? And we, you know, on on on the outside, you just get the sort of salacious headlines. Yeah. Or is it the opposite? They’re not as impressive as you might imagine.

[00:44:18] I imagine. Yeah, I think I think they’re quite ordinary in terms of like when you speak to them, it’s just like speaking to any other person, even Theresa reason. Just like very I always said that she she reminded me of like a secondary school teacher, like that’s the vibe I got from her. She was just so yeah, it was just like non non intimidating it, which is like I’ve been speaking to like one of my history teachers or something. And yeah, super normal. Super nice. I think they do definitely have this sort of bubble mentality. So like I remember in a couple of discussions, I was like, Do you guys not see this? Because it’s like really obvious on the outside. And for them, I don’t think they do, because they they’re obviously I think the diversity of thought isn’t always there. Sometimes a lot of these people are from the same sort of backgrounds, and so they think in very similar ways. On that note, there’s actually I actually once did an internship at the Bank of England in like a finance capacity. And one thing that they were really big on in their hiring process was to employ people from different unis, different backgrounds, different ethnicities. And the whole point of that was to try and avoid a financial crash again, where all the economists are just thinking like each other because they’re all Oxbridge educated, think exactly to avoid groupthink. So I think sometimes in that specific situation, there was a little bit of that which was like, Yeah, this must be a great idea or a great policy, because for all of us who have been working on it for six months to a year, it makes sense and we’ve covered all bases and I’ll be like, No, you didn’t cover this. Like, how are you going to address that? So I guess that was the point of us being there.

[00:45:45] That’s the reason you were there.

[00:45:46] Yeah, exactly. So so they were addressing it. But as to whether they took our feedback on board or not is another story.

[00:45:52] You don’t sometimes get the feeling that you want to get involved in dentistry, politics,

[00:45:58] To be honest, not really. Of recent. I think most of the stuff that I see about dentistry politics is like on Facebook forums and CDO did this and this statement by the BDA or whatever. And I think it’s like, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s like dentists have kind of I don’t think they’re apathetic about Dental politics, but I think they’re very cynical and they have good reason to be. And also, I think they just have given up on elected representatives actually having their back. And so I think that kind of also just makes you lose interest as as a young dentist because you’re just like, well, a lot of these people aren’t very interested in being political and the ones that are kind of again in that sort of bubble mindset where like, I think I’m important, but actually in the grand scheme of things, I’m not making much difference at all. And the people that are having a say are usually not within dentistry, and they actually view dentistry as a very small proportion of the NHS. So, you know, I think I get frustrated when I see people making a lot of effort and there’s very little impact. And whenever you’re in politics, bureaucracy is something that you will obviously red tape and that sort of stuff. You struggle with a lot whenever you’re in any kind of like leadership role. And I think that really turns me off quite quickly, which probably isn’t the best trait if I wanted to go into politics. But I’m quite impatient as well. And I think right now, when I look at dentistry and dental politics, I’m a bit like, Oh, this is really frustrating because it feels like people are banging their heads against a brick wall. Having said that, though, I think if I see an opportunity where I feel like I can actually make a tangible difference, I would 100 percent get involved with it. It’s just that at this point in time, I haven’t really seen that sort of opening or that opportunity. I would I would see it as more token, which I don’t particularly feel like I want to do.

[00:47:48] Indeed, you’re right about apathy because, you know, we’ve done a couple of episodes where it’s been, you know, the elections or something, and that the episodes that are least listened to. Yeah. So you’re right that a lot of dentists aren’t interested, but at the same time. We need people who, you know, have got that sort of experience and the energy and that sort of ideas, fresh ideas to get involved and have a go. Yeah, it’s all well and good for me saying teeth whitening company, why am I getting involved, ED? You know what I mean? I get it. I totally get it right. You’ve got you’ve got a whole lot of stuff going on, but something needs to happen in the industry, man. And and you’re right. You’re right, you’re right. The impact question is a very important one. Mm-hmm. Would you say impact is a big factor in your life? You want to leave a legacy, leave an impact, have an impact or change things?

[00:48:49] Yeah, I haven’t thought too much about legacy, to be honest. I think it comes into the question when you think when you talk about impact, I think I think just in general in my life, I think I want to only kind of commit my time and effort to something if it’s going to have an impact and it doesn’t have to be like, I have to change the whole world’s thinking or actions, even if it’s just one person I help out. But if I help them out in a useful way and actually a way that’s made a difference, I’m happy and it’s really satisfying. And that that is the kind of stuff that daily on my Instagram, I’ll get a DM on a story that I posted, and it will be it’ll be a Dental student. It’ll be a dentist in my year or whatever, and they’ll be like, Oh, how do you do that? Or like, what do you mean by that? And I just do this, this and that, and they’ll be like, Oh, thanks, that’s really helpful. And I’m like, That is satisfying. It’s a buzz. Yeah, it’s a buzz. And sometimes with less people, you get more fulfilment from it. Whereas if you’re trying to, like, put out a generic message to hundreds and thousands of people, there’s less of that kind of tangible impact that you have sometimes. So, yeah, I think for me, that’s the buzz, just helping someone actually properly.

[00:49:52] Yeah, but when I say impact as well, you know, going forward, it feels to me like you’re going to be the kind of guy who’s going to choose career paths that have some sort of I don’t want to make it sound like, you know, in a way, like you said, look, I thought it wouldn’t be a good idea to be an author. Yeah, because I’ve always want to be an author, so I’m going to write a book. Yeah, so so career wise, you know, what are the things that are you think are going to be a good idea? I mean, because, you know, from where I’m sitting, it would be great idea of saying, got involved in politics, you know? Yeah, it really would in Dental politics. Yeah, but but but I hear what you said about that. So where do you see yourself going in the next, you know, short, medium and long term? As far as you know, you seem like a guy who wants to make impact.

[00:50:44] Yeah, someone someone asked me recently on my Instagram like an old dentist actually said, Where do you see yourself in 10 years? And I was like, to be honest, like at the moment, my focus is very clinical orientated. Like for me, as loftier goal as it is, I want to be the best dentist in the world. Like, I know it sounds ridiculous, but like that’s when I say best. It’s it’s a very generic term and whatever. But clinically, I want to be excellent and in that kind of one percent like that top sort of dentist. And that’s like where my passion and my ambition is at the moment. And I think when people start talking about like Dental politics or, for example, buying a practise and becoming a practise owner, all of those to me at the moment just seem like distractions which may not always be the case. Like, I also don’t see myself necessarily being a dentist at 60. I don’t see myself retiring in dentistry, necessarily. But at this point in time, I see myself as like, OK, I want to be the best clinical dentist I can be. The people that I look up to right now.

[00:51:39] I like the basil Mizrahi is like, you know, those kind of elite dentists that even dentists think, Wow, like, that’s someone who I would I would have my teeth done by like, that’s kind of where I want to head towards, at least in the mid-term long term. I don’t know what happens. Like, I remember listening to your podcast with Tom Youngs, and he kind of talked about like, when you get there, there’s just like that come down where you’re like, what now? And I really agree with that. And and that’s something again that I’ve experienced through sport, which is like, you work towards this goal and the journey is actually the satisfying part. And when you get there, just like this is this actually isn’t that great of feeling. And so I don’t know, like if I ever get to that point where I’m happy with my clinical skill and my clinical ability, then I guess I’ll just turn my attention to the next thing that interests me. But at this point in time, that’s kind of what I’m heading towards. I may never get there, but that’s kind of makes a lot of sense.

[00:52:29] It makes a lot of sense at this early stage in your career to be thinking that, yeah, for sure. But you know, you’ve got so many strings to your bow. I mean, there’s definitely I feel an entrepreneurial side to you as well. And in so much as you know the impact you want to have impact, you want it, you want to talk to people, you want to organise things. That’s that’s that’s that’s running a business, you know? Yeah. And it’s so and you know, you said your dad had this sort of, I guess, entrepreneurial journey as well, and he seems to be a big influence on you. Have you done anything entrepreneurship before? Yeah.

[00:53:07] So have you. So, yeah, I mean, a couple of things I did because I’m more out of desperation. So being a grad, your finances are so limited because you do get student finance and it’s just bursary stuff. But it’s not enough to be like putting yourself through four more years of Dental school, like you’re always living kind of penny penny. And I didn’t really want my parents to help me out, even though they they they would happily, but I was like, Come on, I’m twenty four. Like, Come on, I need to, like, support myself a little bit here. I can’t just be asking mum and dad for money. So I was like, Right, how am I going to make money? I need to basically launch some sort of business that gets me some passive income whilst I’m spending my day at Dental School. And it sounds great. It sounds cute, but execution of that kind of thing is obviously really difficult. So I started off doing what most Dental didn’t seem to do nowadays, which is just sell loops from from eBay or Amazon, did you? Yeah. And I made and to be honest, that taught me how to build a website. It told me how to, like, put an online store via a website, take transactions, taught me how to import stuff and dropship it, that sort of thing. So I started doing that and that was decent, but it was never going to, you know, sustain me in terms of it was kind of margins of like a hundred pounds here or a hundred pounds there.

[00:54:17] So I thought, right, I need to do two things. One, I can’t do this all by myself because like even website designing and launching a website takes so much time up. And I was like, Even I don’t have this time and I’m a student, so I was like, Right, let’s do something teaching orientated because I really like teaching, tutoring a lot of my friends used to tutor, and it’s quite lucrative in terms of your hourly rate. As a student, you can charge, you know, 20, 30, 40 quid an hour in London quite comfortably and you’re even A-level kids. Yeah, I didn’t do this, but that was my thinking of going into a business to do a teaching. So I spoke to a friend at uni who was my age and I was like, Right, why don’t we launch a taste? Of course, for people thinking of studying dentistry at Dental School because you’ve got loads of these kind of CV, apply UCAS type courses for school students where like, you know, we’ll make your we’ll check through your personal statement, we’ll interview you whatever. And I was like, That’s a saturated market. So why don’t we do effectively like a two day work experience, but in like a hotel room or a conference room, and we’ll bring like a study models will bring to waxing. Equipment will bring composite, you know, stuff like that and just show them a good time like this is what the industry is, because when you’re applying as a student, you just think, Oh, dentistry, yeah.

[00:55:23] Good money, good work life balance like I did and you go into it. And then maybe in third year, if you’re lucky, you’re still there and you’re still interested and you’re like, Oh, actually, this is what dentistry is hands on and patients and all that. So I was like, why don’t we just do that for these 16 year olds? And it was really popular. It took off really well. I don’t know how we managed to do this, but we hired out the University of East London, one of their rooms, and they never charged us a room fee for it. And then overcovered, they kind of went bust, so they never really got back to us. So we basically didn’t have any overheads apart from equipment, which was like from eBay. So and really the biggest struggle was just marketing it. And we would me and my friend Tariq, who launched it with me. We’d go we made T-shirts which literally had like, ask me a question on and we stood outside the universities on their open days. And obviously people would ask us thinking, Oh, they’re from Barts or they’re from kings, whereas this building? And we were like, It’s over there. But have you heard of our course like blah blah blah? We’re doing it for people are replying and thinking of studying of dentistry dentistry at university, but we’re not affiliated with the uni. So like, we made it clear that we aren’t affiliated with them.

[00:56:29] So you knew you knew it was the open day for dentistry.

[00:56:31] Yeah, we found out. We looked at up

[00:56:33] And you go and stand outside and say and talk,

[00:56:37] Yeah, leaflet, talk to people. We’d have these big, bright blue T-shirts with a question mark on it.

[00:56:41] So audacious. Yeah, audacious.

[00:56:44] Yeah, we needed the money. So.

[00:56:47] So then you filled the course up doing that.

[00:56:49] So we did one course in the first January, so within three months of setting the website up, we had a full course of twenty five kids, although admittedly the last sign up came the day before the course. So we were very much, you know, full just about before the first course.

[00:57:03] And then were you charging? What are we charging for it?

[00:57:05] So we started charging something ridiculously cheap, like 60 quid for two days, something something really cheap. And then anyways, we then that. Then we did too. We did it the course as well, which was in March and that filled up within a month of finishing the January within a week of finishing the January course. So we were like, Wow, this demand here. And then what we did was we started, we increased the price to £120 per kid and then it kept on filling up. And so we ran two courses on in Easter. We ran, I think, a two more in summer and it just kept going and we were actually making really good money because, like I said, there were very little overheads. And if you got like 30 kids each paying, you know, wherever you can, you can do the maths. It’s not a bad take home for two students, basically. And yeah, and like that, actually you. I bought my loops with that money, to be honest.

[00:57:50] Well, did you not continue with this business?

[00:57:52] So we did. And then COVID really screwed us over a little bit because obviously couldn’t run anything over COVID. It meant that also the traction that we were getting, which was like a snowball effect of people recommending to the year below them and people showing interest that kind of stopped for a good year and a half to two years. And then we recently did another course, I think, last January and the summer before, and they did fill out, but it was really a lot. There was clearly a lot more effort that we needed to do in marketing to get them full, and we’d also both start jobs at this point. So there was definitely less time in our hands. And then also the money started becoming less lucrative and attractive because actually working as a dentist for a day, you probably make more than you would doing this weekend, Saturday, Sunday, and there was a lot of organisation and stuff. So really, what I was looking for was someone to do the marketing and also so much the logistics. And we did actually get some Dental students to help out and we pay them a carton and that sort of thing. But I think because of COVID, it just kind of backtracked everything quite a lot.

[00:58:50] I wish it still exist in my notes and my 15 year old, because he’s saying, he’s saying I’ll do anything but dentistry.

[00:58:57] Oh, well, we’re still we’re gauging interest. We’ve got a couple of people on a waiting list. We might do something in Easter, but we’ll see what.

[00:59:03] You’re not charging enough, dude. That’s your problem. Yeah, it’s the positioning. Yeah, yeah. You need to charge for this course. You need to charge £250.

[00:59:12] Yeah, we had there was like a competitor who used to charge about two hundred, but they definitely had they had like a ten year track record compared to us. So. But yeah, because,

[00:59:20] You know, if I want to get my kid into Dental School, £250000, nothing, right?

[00:59:25] Yeah, I get what you’re saying. I get what you’re saying. To be fair, though, we would. We had a big we had a lot of kids coming from low income backgrounds as well. So we actually introduced a bursary scheme and that sort of thing. But yeah, it’s about kind of catering for everyone at the same time. Like, there’s a lot of widening participation arguments I actually agree with to a certain extent to get kids from low income backgrounds into Dental school and not unfairly disadvantage them. But yeah, you know, it’s a point. It’s a point because it doesn’t make it worth it, in our opinion, if we’re not charging enough,

[00:59:53] Just, you know, stuff has a price, right? Yeah. Yeah, the correct price. Let’s move on to darker days. Yeah. Tell me about your dark, stained industry.

[01:00:04] Oh, there’s been so many, but when I say dark days, I mean, I don’t mean like like, really, really ugly. But I mean like mistakes like humiliation, frustration, like the kind of stuff that everyone goes through. And especially when you’re young and you’re a student, you’re still learning, so you make so many mistakes. But one example that I really remember was. And so I was in final year and we did like we do outreach firms and final year. So you actually just go to a clinic and you actually have your own room, you have your own nurse and you’re very minimally supervised. And I remember this guy came in and he just had Kerry’s everywhere and I was like, great, like composites everywhere. And I’ve got like my whole year sort of doing composites on this guy. And I was like, Right, let’s start with the worst tooth, which was like his low left seven or something. And I was like, look, you know, steep filling and might turn into a root canal. But you know, I’ll try my best setting all those expectations, doing everything that we talk to. And he was like, Yeah, cool, really chilled that guy. So started put rubber down on drills basically found it was so deep that it was it was an exposure. And so it was going to become an endo. So I was like, All right, let me just temporise this.

[01:01:06] I extirpated put some ihrem in and as I took the rubber dam off, so I released the clamp from from the tooth. I heard this massive crack. The whole tooth just basically collapsed because it was so undermined with caries. And so we went from a situation where and this was dead on lunchtime, so I had no time to rectify the situation. Everything that was going wrong could have gone wrong. And he was like, What was that? And I was like, Oh, like, basically your tooth is, you know, how I said that it might be deep and you might need a root canal. Yeah. Well, right now it looks like the tooth is actually split in half, so we actually really need to take it out. And at this point, I was already feeling like really humiliated because I was like, Wow, like, I didn’t even tell him about an extraction. And for a lot of people, including myself, taking a tooth out is a big deal. Losing your tooth is a big deal, and he came in for a filling and he’s losing his teeth. Yeah, so started on the extraction in lunchtime. So I’m running over. I know I’m not going get a lunch break, my tutor or we’re also understaffed at this point. So we usually have two tutors between like 10 or 15 students. At this point. One of them’s sick today, so we’ve only got one tutor.

[01:02:05] He’s busy with someone’s endo, so he’s not even in the room. Start trying to take the tooth out. Obviously, the tooth doesn’t move at all. I’m just like crumbling and crumbling and crumbling. It’s breaking everywhere, and I’m just sweating and sweating and sweating. Tutor comes in. He tries to take it out, tries to section it, and he’s like, Right, Zane, it’s pretty much the end of lunch time. I’ve got other students to go to. We’re going to just have to send him to Denmark Hill, and he’s going to have to go to oral surgery there, and they’re going to have to take it out. So I literally left this guy with like a mess of a tooth crumbling everywhere. He was still in pain and I was like, I’m going to have to basically ring up oral surgery at another site and be like, Can you please see him today and not make him wait the weekend? It was a Friday. Can you please see him? He was. The patient was so chilled out, so calm was really not bothered. And I was like, I don’t know why he’s not more bothered, but whatever. Like, I got away with one here because if this was like someone who was really agitated and really nervous, I’d be in a lot of trouble. But anyways, yeah, he he went on his way and I think they took it out and he was fine in the end.

[01:03:04] But he obviously cancelled his next appointment with me, which was also a bit of a like punch and punch in the gut. But I remember after that, after that day, I went home and I actually bawled my eyes out. I was so upset. I was like, It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve cried and I was I was really, really upset. And it was nothing to do with the patient and their reaction because like I said, he was so chilled out and he really didn’t. He wasn’t even bothered. He didn’t. He didn’t mind. He was like as long as it comes out at some point. But it was more just how much I messed up and I was just so humiliated that I was so close to graduation and I couldn’t even tell if a tooth needed to be extracted or if it just needed a filling. And I was like, What would have happened if I was on my own here in practise? And I remember just thinking those thoughts being like, I’m going to be on my own next year. What is going to happen then? And I’m protected right now because I’m in dental school. But what if I was in practise? This person would have sued me if they were like, you know, all these thoughts to start running through your head? And I was just in a really bad way.

[01:04:01] And I remember like thinking that, wow, this kind of thing. I think my dad said this to me to be on. I don’t think I should cancel myself. I think he was like, This sort of thing could put you off doing this procedure for life because you’re so you’ve had such a bad experience the first time you’ve done it. So. And he was like, The thing is, though, you shouldn’t be, you shouldn’t be scared of failure and you shouldn’t be afraid of failing. And the only way to get better is to go back outside your comfort zone and put yourself in this kind of situation again and just try not to make the same mistake twice. But but don’t be scared of the procedure or the actual situation. And that was really good advice because even now, when I mess up and I’ve done stuff even in the last like even recent history, I’ve done stuff where I’ve made mistakes and I’ve just been like, All right, saying it’s annoying that you messed up, but just don’t make that mistake again. Learn from it, and then that’s an acceptable failure for me if I’ve made that mistake once. Ok, fine, I’m learning. But as long as I don’t make it again or I approach it differently next time, then I’m happy. Well, yeah, that was.

[01:05:03] Well, first, the first of your dad sounds like a very cool dude, man, because everything you’re saying about him. He seems like a really good, good dad. Good, good guy to know. But when you reflected on this situation, was there something you did wrong? Because, you know, all of this could have just happened?

[01:05:20] Yeah, I think I think for me, it was like stuff like not treatment planning properly. So first of all, like if he’s got carries everywhere. Why am I going in and just drilling and filling everything? First of all, let’s get his carries. Let’s get his diet under control. Let’s get his gums under control. Let’s stabilise the guy because his that was anything. Don’t own your patients problems like he’s come in in this situation. I’m here to help. But his problem is not necessarily my problem at this point. And so I shouldn’t I shouldn’t make it my problem. I shouldn’t be more invested in his teeth than he is. So that was the first thing. Second thing was stuff like reading radiograph like, you know, assessing the fact that this tooth is hopeless prognosis. It’s not set. It’s not salvageable in the first place. So don’t say to him it’s fulfilling. Be like, Look, this needs to come out. And that should be the starting point, really. But those things do happen even now. You know, you look at something and you think, Oh, I might be able to save this and you

[01:06:06] Can’t, but you’re also so inexperienced to that point. Yeah, yeah, yeah. How many times did you even seen a tooth that needed to come out? Yeah, yeah. Nice. Yeah, it’s better, isn’t it?

[01:06:17] Because because when you speak to someone older, they’re just like, Oh, that’s just water off a duck’s back. It’s not a problem, but when you’re in that situation, you’re like, Oh man, like, I thought I was getting better. I thought I was on that trajectory going up, actually. It’s that kind of slope that you see, like a line going up and then you go down, then you go up and then you go down. So I think it was just coming to terms with the fact that like, I’m not as good as I think I am. And even now, that rings more true than ever because on on Instagram, no one ever dislikes your stuff, even if they think it’s crap, they never really messaged you being like, that was awful work. They just they just like it, or they just scroll past it. And so you get this positive reinforcement. So I never like get lulled into this false sense of security. Well, yeah, I’m so good because I’m one year out and I’m doing on and overlays everywhere, and it’s like, it’s looking great because I know it’s not. And I also know that I have failures. I just don’t share them at this point in time because I’m so young because, you know, you don’t want to build a reputation or whatever. But yeah, that was an important take home, which is that you’re not you’re not as good as you think you are, and you probably never will be because there’s older dentists I speak to who are amazing, but they even think, God, I’m not as good as I could be. Like, You know, I’ve had a failure after 15 years. What am I doing? Sort of thing?

[01:07:20] I mean, listening to you, talking about that case, I stopped practising 10 years ago, and it just brought back a PTSD sort of moment for me there. But when we did dentistry, when it goes wrong, it goes wrong. Some know the time pressures. Yeah, keeping your cool. You know, it’s a big thing when it when it goes or your dad’s advice is absolutely right. It’s a bit this thing you said about, you know, not as good as you think you are. It reminds me a bit about, you know, like driving. Apparently, everyone thinks they’re better than average driver. Yeah, 100 percent. They think they’re in the top 50 percent. And and then she probably suffers with that. And you know, you don’t know what you don’t know. Famous cliche. And and and definitely the thing that TIFF talks about, you know, failures, seeing your own failures, learning from those because you know exactly what you did on that patient and then watching it fail. Yeah, I remember I remember smoke, you know, staining on composites and, you know, seeing how early it can come on if you don’t do it right? Yeah. On A.. All right. Well, that’s all good stuff. I think we’re coming near to the end of our time. We tend to finish these with the same sort of questions, which I’m sure you’ve heard before. Let’s start with perhaps death bed. I know it’s a bit unfair for someone your age. Yeah. Friends and family all around you. Yeah. Three pieces of advice.

[01:09:09] And so I have thought about this, obviously, because I listen to the podcast, so I’ve got I’ve got three that I thought about, I think. And these are things that I think I try and live my life by. So like one thing for me is I always I always try. I always try to do the right thing, and I always think that’s a really good bear. It’s always a really good rule to keep in mind when you’re confronted with the situation where you’re not quite sure what to do. There’s a lot of grey. I always I always say to myself like, OK, what is the right thing to do here? It’s not. It might not be the easiest thing. It might be really difficult. It might be self-sabotaging. But like, what is the right thing to do? And nine times out of 10, choosing that option means that there’s less repercussion for myself more often than not, and you generally kind of are better off for choosing that option. So that would be my first piece of advice. I think my second piece of advice comes back to that kind of thing that we talked about, like with impact, which was kind of being the change that you want to see in the world. And it sounds cliche and it’s like a very common thing. But I think a lot of people and sometimes myself included, I think we’re quite happy to kind of sit back and just complain and criticise and just be like moaning, moaning, moaning about X, Y or Z.

[01:10:20] But I think very few people actually just get up and do something about their situation. It’s all very well complaining about the state of the practise that you work in or the NHS or whatever. But it’s like, Well, OK, if you’re unhappy, then you know, try your best to do something about it. It’s not always possible, but, you know, try and be the change that you want for yourself. So that’s that’s the second. And then finally, this is it’s a really famous saying in Islam, it basically translates to from Arabic, it translates to be like the flower that gives its fragrance even to the hand that crushes it, which it sounds very elaborate and very poetic. But basically what to me, what that means is that there will inevitably come times where other people try and drag you down, or you get into a situation where you know you’ve not come out of it very favourably, but a lot of the time the way that you react in the way that you respond to a situation that’s often most reflective of your character. And so if you can try and react as you know, politely manfully respectfully in these sorts of difficult situations, I think that goes a long way in terms of the reflection that other people have of yourself and your character. So I think that would be my third sort of piece of advice, which is, you know, be like the flower that gives us fragrance even to the hand that crushes it.

[01:11:44] It’s a beautiful thing. Yeah. Do you mind talking about religion? Yeah. So a two questions for you. Ok. Number one, where do you see, you know, it looks to me like you’re at the sort of the evolution end of Islam here, where it’s Islam, by its nature, isn’t supposed to evolve. It’s it’s the word of God. So, you know, it’s a bit stuck in in those in those words. How do you I mean, it’s clear that you’re on the evolution end of it. You know, you’re trying to see different ways for how do you how do you square that circle and where is it going to go with a religion? And when is it going to go to another place, in your opinion?

[01:12:30] I think the biggest problem or misconception with faith generally is that obviously the faith is the thing that we’re told to follow and the lessons that we’re taught to take from it. I think unfortunately and understandably, the followers of the religion don’t always do justice to the actual faith itself. And that’s the same not just with faith, but with any kind of concept that you’re trying to adhere to. No one ever follows it perfectly. And so what the outside world sees is kind of these followers of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, whatever you want to call it. And so that’s one portrayal of the religion, but actually distilling and taking the time out to kind of learn about the religion itself to me anyways, the way I understand Islam is that in a society and that is always changing, it’s very fluid. Things are always going out of fashion and coming into fashion for me. Faith provides that kind of anchor that you can hold onto, even when everything around you is changing day on day on day. And that doesn’t always have to be controversial issues. It can be non-controversial issues, but it gives you a little bit of a blueprint. My dad always talks about blueprints when it comes to faith. He’s like, Faith is a blueprint. It’s not a script that you need to go, you know, line by line to adhere to necessarily. There are things that you know, you should your advice to practise. But the beauty to me about my faith is that it’s it’s it’s very logical to me and the way that I understand it, and it’s very a lot of the rulings and decisions that are in place. They are quite understandable and there’s very, very specific nuances and context to them. It’s not as simple as do this, don’t do this, it’s not.

[01:14:09] It’s never black and white. If there’s something that someone’s situation, whatever, I can give you a good example, I think it will make it more tangible. We’re told to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, for example, in your lifetime, you need to do the Hajj now that’s prescribed on every Muslim. And initially you might think, right, well, I haven’t got the money to go to Mecca. Like, you know what, if you’re really poor, you’re from a really low income background. You can’t afford the plane ticket and the journey and the cost associated with flying to Saudi Arabia doing your pilgrimage, which is really, really expensive. But Islam has nuances to that. That ruling where it will say, Well, obviously, if you’re someone from a poor background, then it’s you’re exempt from this, this condition that’s been imposed upon you. It’s not that you know someone’s going to be waiting for you at the gates of heaven, cracking a whip on you because you did do this or you didn’t do this. It’s a blueprint by which to live your life. And obviously, there’s nuances to around it, and no one is perfect. But forgiveness is a big part of religion as well at the same time and compassion and love. So without trying to give you too wishy washy an answer for me, the way I summarise it is that for me, religion is a blueprint. Obviously, everyone takes it in a different direction and people agree and disagree. But that isn’t the central central tenet of of the faith. The faith is there to guide you and guide your life and add meaning and purpose to your life. It’s not there to be like a script that you just kind of stick to and don’t deviate from at all.

[01:15:35] I get it from a personal perspective, but, you know, from a macro macro, you know, I don’t know, you get you get some, some places where or where is it Turkey, where Islam is translated in one way and then you get the the hardcore somewhere in Saudi, some Wahhabi guy, which it’s not. But. So they’re right. There is two different versions. Yeah. And and you know, it takes it takes these little changes for things to move along. Yeah, but but with Islam, you’ve got we’ve got this basic tenet. You know, it’s evolving within the book, you know, and it’s a super interesting thing because the second question I was going to ask you, how do you feel? You know when? How old? How old are you at nine 11?

[01:16:25] I was six, 21 six.

[01:16:28] Ok, fair enough. I remember this is before before. Yeah. Well, yeah, of course you were. But, you know, since since 9-11, the way the way Muslims have been portrayed. Yeah, maybe the whole reason why you were invited to number 10. Yeah. To make this thing to square that circle. You know, the pendulum swung a bit too far one way and they were trying to bring it the other way.

[01:16:52] No, I actually think that that was a big component to it as well.

[01:16:56] Yeah. And, you know, some of the stuff we’re seeing about Ukraine today, and people have been pointing out, you know, why, why, why weren’t you outraged when, when bombs were dropping? Yeah. Tell me some of your tell me some of your thoughts around that.

[01:17:12] Um, yeah, I think I think double standards exist everywhere. I. I these sorts of arguments about kind of Ukraine versus, you know, Syria versus Palestine-Israel or whatever. I view them very much through like a political and geopolitical sort of lens rather than a religious one, but there are overlapping things. If, for example, the whole argument about Muslim terrorists versus like extremist or right wing extremist, for example. But yeah, yeah. Lone wolf. Yeah, Lone Wolf. And you know, you see that Family Guy graphic where they’ve got different shades of skin colour and determines, you know, who’s going to be a Muslim terrorist versus just an extremist or a lone wolf. But no, there’s a valid arguments, and I actually do I agree with them. I definitely have personally. I do think there’s a time and a place in which to raise these things. Personally speaking, I’ve always, for some reason, I felt uncomfortable that, you know, if there’s been a really big atrocity in Ukraine, for example, for me in the acute period, my priority is like empathising, supporting the actual people affected in that specific conflict.

[01:18:20] I don’t. I don’t know. I don’t know why, but I just feel uncomfortable with like using that as an opportunity to point score about my own agenda elsewhere. That doesn’t mean that Syria, Palestine, all these places aren’t important. But I just think maybe I know what the rebuttal is, which is people will be like, Well, if this isn’t, this is a good time to discuss that kind of thing because it’s prominent in in topical news and stuff. And I get that. I do empathise with that. Personally, just my own opinion is that I don’t find that that’s the right opportunity to show what my agenda is. I prefer just to show through my own kind of human kindness that this is what my faith truly is, that I am capable of showing kindness, support, love towards these people. And I want people to be like, Oh, you know what? Zayn’s a really good guy. Zayn is really supportive. He’s really loving Dental also Muslim, and he’s really normal. So I think that’s how I try and spread faith rather than,

[01:19:12] Like, actually be detached. Like you said, Yeah.

[01:19:15] Be the change rather than I think a lot of these things are implicit. You know, people looking at you and how you behave and then drawing comparisons to your face from that.

[01:19:26] I mean, do you have a Twitter and you. You know, I say what you think

[01:19:29] About this stuff. I was more I was more vocal on Twitter at school and stuff. I do have a Twitter, but now it’s just looking at memes following cricket, following current affairs. I don’t actually, I don’t actually use it how it’s meant to be used. Like most people my age, I just use it for like a newsfeed and finding funny content like Tik Tok. That’s kind of what Twitter’s like at the moment. So. So yeah.

[01:19:52] Let’s get back to a final question, yes. Diversion pace, final question. Fantasy Dinner Party three guests dead or alive?

[01:20:00] Yeah, I know everyone really struggles with this. I did, too, but I’m going to keep it topical because this is in my acute period of time. This is what I think is my my choice. So I’ve recently finished Will Smith’s book his autobiography, and it’s really, really good. And also from reading it and also knowing and having watched Will Smith growing up like he would be a great dinner guest. So Will Smith be my first one second one? I don’t know if you’ve come across him, but Imran Khan, he’s the current prime minister of Pakistan Cricket X cricketer. So currently Prime Minister, a big hero of mine and my dad’s growing up, literally, to be honest, my passport growing up was like, I want to be like him, you know, do do biomed at Oxford, become a cricketer and then go into politics. You know, that was my do philanthropy that was like my goal. And I’m not shy of admitting that because I think we all have role models in our life that we look towards to kind of emulate. So he would be great, I think, because I follow followed him so much over the years, and the third would be obviously Muhammad Ali. I think just kind of loads of people would say that he’d be a great great then, I guess. And I think also those three would interact really well with each other, which I think is important. So that would be a cool dinner party. I’m also excluding family members from this because there’s so many relatives that I would love to have there, but this is non non-family.

[01:21:20] So, well, it’s been it’s been a wonderful conversation, and, you know, I’m particularly impressed with how frank you are, thanks open, you know, with yourself, honest with yourself. It’s a it’s a trait a lot of people don’t have, or even if they have it, they don’t say it. You know that that takes a degree of confidence, right? To say, if I’m being honest and it’s absolute pleasure to talk to you, and I’m sure we’re going to be seeing a lot more of same people, whether you become the best dentist in the world or whichever way you end up spinning it. Yeah, I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of you. So thanks. Thanks a lot for doing this, buddy.

[01:22:03] Thanks so much for having me.

[01:22:06] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

[01:22:22] 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’ve got some value out of it.

[01:22:36] If you did get some value out of it, think about subscribing and if you would share this with a friend who you think might get some value out of it too. Thank you so, so, so much for listening. Thanks. And don’t forget our six star rating.


Ashkan Pitchforth jokes that he’d like to be remembered as the biggest dentist in the UK — but he’s already well on his way to achieving the title in more than one sense.

Since 2015, Ashkan’s established a dental empire incorporating more than 20 clinics and counting while still finding time to build the biggest biceps in the business.

Ashkan discusses how physical training instils a focused business mindset, reveals the source of his interminable drive and fills Prav in on plans for the future. 


“Don’t buy small and medium t-shirts because they make you look big. You have to train for a year or two, and when your arms are bristling through an extra-large triple extra-large, you’ll know you’ve got size. It’s the same thing with dentistry. Don’t jump into it. You’ve got to learn this is not a race. Life isn’t a race, so don’t treat it as one”. – Ashkan Pitchforth

In This Episode

01.09 – Backstory

10.05 – Dental school

14.55 – Bodybuilding, mindset and discipline

23.46 – Building the empire

30.51 – Clinical to business

35.50 – Business and clinical black box thinking

42.23 – Business structure

47.25 – Training,  intuition and mistakes

51.45 – Audacious goals

55.01 – Responsibilities

57.21 – Advice to young Ashkan

58.52 – Last days and legacy


About Ashkan Pitchforth

Ashkan qualified in 2009 and set up South Cliff Dental Group in 2015. The group now consists of 23 practices across the South. In 2020, South Cliff was ranked 33rd in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list of UK private companies with the fastest-growing sales. 

[00:00:00] And my parents and sitting me down and saying you will fail in life unless you achieve and you have to. Anyone can achieve. You just got to work hard. Talent doesn’t exist. Talent doesn’t exist. It’s hard. Work exists. So go in your bedroom every night and study. And I did it. I went and studied and studied and studied, and I saw I’m moving up the sets. And but I did that because I saw my parents struggle. So I saw how hard they grafted, and I didn’t want that for my life. I didn’t want to. I was happy to graft, but I could see they were grafting really for nothing. And they would say, Look, we have to work so hard, but then we can only afford X, Y and Z, so go and study food. Your brain becomes something of yourself. And then when you do work hard, at least you’ll be able to afford things that we can never afford.

[00:00:51] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

[00:01:09] It gives me great pleasure to welcome Dr. Ashcan Hitch forth to the Dental Leaders podcast. He’s the owner and CEO of the South Dental Group, which started off in 2015 as a single Dental practise and today comprises of 23 practises across the south of England, with over 300 employees and clinicians working for him. Ashcombe, welcome to the podcast and legislator, as we always do in these podcasts and just learn a little bit about your backstory where you grew up, what what your upbringing was like, and then how you eventually found your path into dentistry.

[00:01:49] Well, my father’s English mother’s Persian. And as with a lot of the cultural backgrounds, they gave me only three options either to become a lawyer, a doctor or a dentist. And in our culture, you have to do what they say. So I’m not very good when it comes to literacy. Reading wise, I can’t read for more than a few minutes without getting bored to the lower options out of it. For the doctor option, I was a bit concerned of being a GP and what could be presented in front of me. So by default I had to fall into dentistry and when I’ve done my A-level duties, A-levels and managed to secure a place at Guys Kings and St Thomas’s then studied the the full five years and in year four met Dr Lalami, who co-owns the whole group with myself and we then qualified. Both worked as associates in various practises across the south while we were learning and trying to see if we were business owners and providers and principals, how would we change things and how would we do things? I kept on going to various practises trying to buy one thinking I really wanted to go into this whole vision of just owning a practise. I didn’t want to own a group. We just wanted to own one. But we kept getting rejected because we were first time buyers either or we didn’t have the funds or we couldn’t go in there and say, Look, we can do this quickly.

[00:03:16] So it was just one hit after the other. And then in 2014, we got an opportunity where I was able to buy half of a practise in Crawley, which we still own, is outside the group. It’s got a huge NHS contract. I think the largest in the south coast of England, we managed to purchase half of that, which had various issues going through that in terms of obtaining finance. And then in 2015, after we’d own that for a period of about four months, we then purchased our first practise ourselves. So not co owning it, just just myself and Dr. Lalami. And then we then grew the group from 2015, and it was a we didn’t expect it to hit the number of practises that we have now. It was more of a organic growth where if the opportunity was right, we purchase the practise. If the opportunity wasn’t right, then we we walked away. And because we are the only two owners, albeit Dr Lalami, allows me to make a majority of the decisions on my own. We don’t there’s no ulterior motive or objective. We don’t have to go to a private equity or anything like this and hit certain targets, hit a number of practises per year. So if we expand, we expand. If we don’t, we don’t. But the key is to keep going after.

[00:04:34] I mean, you know, you sent me a summary of what you’ve achieved in that time and, you know, the number of practises. Three hundred employees and clinicians and turnover figures, et cetera, et cetera. Right? And just the summary of what you’ve told me that it must have been a hell of a journey. But before we dig into that and I’m sure there’s there’s loads of questions I’ve got for you just digging into, you know, how you got there when you went from practise one to three to four and and how you visualised from saying, Hey, I own half the practise to now fast forward and then you’ve got 300 people under your belt. It’s it’s it’s phenomenal looking back, but just digging a little bit more into your childhood. What was your upbringing like you mentioned, you know, your traditional sort of cultural background where you given three choices as a career? Yeah. What was it like going to school? Were you a high achiever? We always top of your class.

[00:05:34] Yeah, I was. I was very in school. I was very artistic and I did like sports. But I mean, I’m only five foot eight basketball, believe it or not. But no, I was very much into doing art and graphics, and I really remember coming back in year nine and saying to my mum and dad, I really want to be an artist, the graphic designer. I want to maybe become an architect. And and then I did a mock GCSE in year nine and four science and. The classic things you need coming back with CS and DS and BS and my parents and sitting me down and saying, you will fail in life unless you achieve and you have to. Anyone can achieve. You just got to work hard. Talent doesn’t exist. Talent doesn’t exist. It’s hard. Work exists. So go in your bedroom every night and study. And I did it. I went and studied and studied and studied, and I saw I’m moving up the sets. And but I did that because I saw my parents struggle. My parents were both nurses. They hospital nurses. They will work, and they never used to see each other. They’re retired now, but they throughout their 40 year marriage. I don’t know how long how it lasted, but they never see each other when one was at work. One was then coming back and their working night shifts Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s. They were constantly working and then they were. My dad at the time as well was if he wasn’t working in the hospital, he was also then buying properties and going himself and doing them up, installing kitchens and bathrooms himself. So I saw how hard they grafted, and I didn’t want that for my life. I didn’t want to. I was happy to graft, but I could see they were grafting really for nothing. And they would say, Look, we have to work so hard, but then we can only afford X, Y and Z, so go and study food. Your brain becomes something of yourself. And then when you do work hard, at least you’ll be able to afford things that we can never afford

[00:07:28] And just want to put myself in. Just sort of picture myself as you as a kid growing up, seeing both parents work in sort of passion, passing ships, so to speak, and working incredibly hard and siblings.

[00:07:45] I have an older brother who is 13 years older, and he again did dentistry. He focuses now on the Botox filler side of the business, so he hasn’t gone into the routine. Dentistry hasn’t gone into the business side, he just completely does that. But he he is very he was completely different to me. He was academic and academic genius. He wouldn’t study and he came out with eight stars and A’s and everything like that, and I would have to study everything. So he was very he was highly intelligent.

[00:08:16] So, so, you know, I’m just picturing myself and my brother growing up. We didn’t have much growing up. My dad worked in factories, was a taxi driver, ran a corner shop and you know, me and my brother saw him graft and in the same respects, as you’ll say, for very little. And the overriding message from my dad when we were growing up was along the lines of I’m working this hard so that you don’t have to. I do not want you to do. I do not want you to do what I do. I want you to have a better life than me, right? And that was always a constant message in the background that motivated both me and my brother. And then finally, funnily enough, what you should say, I was the equivalent of your brother. So I was naturally, I just did very well at exams and talented. I worked hard, but academically, I was. I was far more talented and my brother would say the same. He scraped through his exams and all the rest of it. What made it through? But we’ve both got a very, very similar work ethic. What about your parents? Were there ever any any messages or overriding pieces of advice from your parents in terms of, you know, seeing what they’re doing and what they wanted for you as a vision?

[00:09:30] Exactly to say I was very similar to what you said. I mean, I remember my my mum always said to me, no one has ever drowned in sweat before. You’ve just got to keep going and keep working. And if you get knocked down, just keep standing back up and eventually you just stand around your feet. You can always there’s nothing you cannot achieve. She kept on saying, If you want something, go for it. The door to success says Push and just keep pushing, pushing and pushing. And if you keep pushing, you’ll eventually get there.

[00:10:05] And so moving on from there, Ashleigh, obviously you you sort of got your grades. You did your exams, you got your A-levels, got into Dental school. What? What sort of a student were you? Let’s talk about your university life and what that was like.

[00:10:21] Well, I’m well, unfortunately, unfortunately. But I was I was just in the library all the time when I first started, because the thing is, is that I came from a state school. Yes, I got 10 hours to eight foot seas and three days at A-level. And when you get to kings, everyone’s from a private school or a lot of people are, you know, like, I’ve got six days at A-level, and I just thought, Wow, I’m going to have to compete with these people. And so you’re that whole kind of instinct of competition came in. So I thought, you know what? I’m going to just study. So I did. I just literally spent all my time in the 24 hour library that we had at the AIS and studied and studied and studied. And I study so much so in the first year achieved the highest score out of all the students, which I was really pleased with. I was fantastic. I’ve proven now to myself that I didn’t have to go to a private school or state school was find a more intelligent and therefore surely I’m superior than everyone here. And then I remember going into the second year and the first day of second year, they introduced 30 graduates postgraduates into theme and I thought, Oh, do you have to compete with these guys now? I have to prove to myself that I’m better than graduates.

[00:11:33] So then again, I just went and studied and studied and studied and again in the year to achieve the highest mark in the whole of the year again, so won the award for that. And again, that proved to myself fantastic went into third year. Thankfully, there was no there was no more entries. No where do you need to compete with? So I didn’t do it. And that’s when I started getting involved in going to the gym training and things like this third year and fourth year of university. But no, I was very much dedicated to my studies. I didn’t really party. I didn’t really go out and I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t do anything like that. Even now, when I come back from work, it’s it’s come back home that I don’t. After I’ve been to the gym, I can just sit down and watch a episode of Jonathan Creek or Midsummer Murders or Last of the summer wine only fools and horses. Something so simple, just very humble and very like, I don’t. I’m not. I’m not out clubbing, I’m not out drinking, I’m not out socialising too much.

[00:12:34] You were through and through sort of student and geek, and look, I remember that and funnily enough, I’m going to ask you about pressure. When I went to med school, a very similar thing happened to me in my first year, and I spoke to Payman about this a few times. Don’t know if you got it, but we got this. We got this sheet, a photograph with all the students on it right in our year, right? And I would literally see every single one of them as my competition. Yes, and and I would argue, got yeah, I I’m better than these people in and after me, I can I’m better in pharmacology than these. That one’s really got to do, you know what I mean? And I got really competitive. And similarly, I did really well came top of the year right at the beginning and then did that twice. But I’ll tell you what. It created a lot of pressure for me because almost like when you’re there and you almost feel like that, you have to perform right. There’s a certain standard. There’s expectations not of just your tutors, your parents, your fellow students and create a lot of stress for me that what about you? Did it? Did it create a lot of pressure for you when you’d sort of hit that score and then you thought, along come the graduate now and have got knocked them off their peg?

[00:13:49] Yeah, it does a bit. But then once I’ve achieved it, I’m of the mindset where I then achieve something. Close the book and move on. Yes. You know, you’ve got your three things. You’ve got the past, the present. You’ve got the future. I never look at the past. Why worry about something that’s already happened? I never also worry about the future, because why worry about something that might never happen? I just look at what’s happening around here right now. So, yes, I was able to say I achieved it, done it. Move on. And then a third year, if I didn’t come the highest and I didn’t in third year, I was able to justify to myself I did it and I can do it again if I wanted to. But now I choose not to because I’m going to focus my efforts on something else. It’s like, essentially when we left university, I could have gone and become an academic, become a professor of cardiology or being the best implant ologist there is in the UK. But I didn’t want to do that. That’s something I don’t want to do. But without sounding arrogant, I think I would have been able to do that if I wanted to. I would have put my efforts and your mind to it. But my mindset to you and anyone can achieve that, not just me, anyone

[00:14:55] Going to just dig a little bit more into mindset Ashton and just bring the conversation to bodybuilding. Those of you who are listening to this podcast obviously can’t see what I can see on my screen, but Ashkan has got biceps the size of my head and and when when we connected and I looked at his Instagram, I could see that. Obviously, he puts a lot of time and dedication into into bodybuilding, something that I was really passionate about sort of back in 2005 when I when I was really involved in it. And it requires a certain mindset, dedication and commitment to train as hard as you do eat as well as you do, I assume. So talk us through that journey. When when did that start and what impact do you think weight training or bodybuilding as you practise now and did previously has on your mindset as a business person?

[00:15:48] Well, it had I mean, it started in third year of university where I was living in Camberwell and everyone was. It was, it was. It was like the Bronx. It really was a it was difficult, you know, walking back from university at 10:00, 11:00 at night from the library. It was scary. It really was. So I decided, you know what? I need to maybe look a bit more menacing, look a bit more puffed up so that I can detract people coming and thinking I’ll mug him. So that’s where it started.

[00:16:19] Did anything ever happen? Did you did you ever witness anything or see anything? Or was it just you were surrounded by sort of people or situation where you felt threatened?

[00:16:27] Or it was just one time when I was walking back as I used to live in Evesham, walk in London, and there’s this alleyway you had to walk through to get to eat and walk. Would love walk completely pitch black. It wasn’t lit up, so I was walking through this alleyway again. It must be 11 o’clock at night and I just had footsteps coming up from behind me and getting faster and faster and faster and faster. And I looked around and is this guy who looked like he was going to attack me running towards me and I just closed my eyes. I just shut my eyes and thought, If this is going to be it, let it happen. And then he ran past me. I thought, Oh, thank God for that. He’s just obviously

[00:17:03] He just needs to go.

[00:17:05] But then the next day I I stopped off on the number 40 bus, which took me from Camberwell to London Bridge. I stopped off at fitness first in London and I signed up and then I started reading about how to weight train, how to go, about pinning on some sizes and muscle, and did that for two years. But then, because fifth year was so intense and I really wanted to make sure that I passed my finals. I stopped in fifth, so I did it for two years, grew to phenomenal size, but stopped it. And then I didn’t do it for about 13 years and I’ve only in the last 18 months picked it up again. But what bodybuilding teaches you is it teaches you discipline. It also teaches you that every day you put yourself in an awkward position. You put, you put yourself, you take yourself outside the comfort zone in order to build muscle, build it successfully and shape your muscles. You have to be. Able to lift things that you couldn’t lift, you can’t lift, you have to. It’s that fear of I’m lifting something that potentially will rip my bicep, my tendon from its bone. You just have to do it, so you have to continuously push yourself. And then that’s what’s happening in what happens in business that continued day to day thought of not being satisfied, continually pushing yourself, continually working hard, taking yourself outside your comfort zone, putting yourself in positions or areas where you where you don’t know anything, but you just learn.

[00:18:35] And if you fail, you fail again. You keep on standing up, you keep on going through a big thing. As well as that, a lot of people in the business side or in dentistry, they say, well, in any walks of life, it’s all about the wind. It’s all about the taking part that counts. Don’t worry if if you don’t win, don’t worry if your second best to be humble, don’t be a monster. But the thing that bodybuilding teaches you to be is it teaches you to be a monster. But then learning how to control it. And that’s the difference. So you go there and you’re an animal in the gym and you’re. I walk into the gym and forty five minutes, I’m I’m grunting, I’m sweating profusely. I’m on the floor. And then I crawl out of the gym. I’m literally dying. But then you learn to control that outside of the gym, and then you’re humble outside of the gym and you make good decisions and things like this. So, so, so yeah, it does. Bodybuilding has a huge impact into the business side, and again, it always relates back also to the discipline of being able to make sure you’re sleeping for a certain amount of time. You’re not over sleeping, making sure that you’re eating and certain amounts of the day you’re eating the right things. So, yeah, huge, huge impact.

[00:19:45] Do you like, for example, you know, it sounds like we mentioned just before this call, you follow quite an intense methodology of training where it’s, you know, just short, sharp bursts of was what you referred to as Dorian. This style of training going in, doing it forty five minutes, hitting it really hard and then crawling back out, as you say. Does anything change from the moment before you step into the gym to the point where you get in there? Do you change as a as a person or a mindset? Is there a is there a switch that goes off where Ash, before he steps into the gym, is a different person to the guy in there? And does that ever translate into work?

[00:20:27] Yes. I mean, what I do is I drive to the gym, I’ll set my car and then I don’t just get up my car and then walk into the gym and then chat to people, Hey, how are you? Fist bump people and then crack on. I sit in my car and just almost as if you turn a switch, you turn your switch from being who you are before. Whether it’s that, whether that was because you’re playing with your kids at the time or just before, whether that was because you just stepped out of an NHS meeting and you were saying to NHS England how you’re caring for patients and you’re thinking about all this and etcetera, etcetera and improvements you can do for patient care and quality. You just home any turn of switch to almost as if you’re focussing, pinning your mind into the muscle. And that’s really important as well, because a lot of people will. We’ve all done it. You will bend over, lift something really light or just twist and then you pull your muscle. And that’s because you’re not thinking about your muscle that point in time. So you’ve got to be able to put your mind into the muscle that you plan on training that day. And then I put my headphones in my music in and I walk in. I don’t say hello to anyone. Most of them get a nod from me, and then I then train and focus training and everyone knows don’t come and talk to me because I literally just nod and I’ll crack on. If you want to chat to me and chat to me after the gym, after I’m asking for help

[00:21:47] To walk again.

[00:21:49] In terms of work day, that’s the same thing with work. So I tend to write the office between 7:30 eight o’clock every morning and then I have two or three minutes where I just it’s almost like meditation, almost well. I’m just thinking about what I’m planning on doing that day. I have a list of things that have to do in front of me and again, putting myself into that mindset because the mindsets are different to whether you’re going to be chatting to an associate, whether you’re going to be chatting to a supplier, to whether you’re going to be chatting to a bank, to whether you’re going be looking at figures that day to whether you’re going to be looking at architectural plans for a new practise, you have to have a different mindset in all of those aspects. So then you’re essentially just changing what you’re thinking about. And then after you’ve changed that, then you just crack on.

[00:22:31] Really, I find it fascinating that the parallels between training, bodybuilding and business, if you’ve not been there, especially that may be the level that you’re involved or, you know, many years ago, I used to remember stepping into the gym and the guy I used to train with it. He used to call it flicking the switch. And when you step in there, you were talking about a monster, you literally turn yourself into a monster and you’re not interested in talking to anyone. In fact, you turn on a level of aggression that is channelled into making that mind muscle connexion that you were talking about. And it just becomes about that. And nothing else matters. It’s like you’ve got tunnel vision and the rest of the rooms are blurred. And then how that translate into business for me is that you can take those lessons and and focus with with a great deal of intensity on the task at hand, whatever that is, whether it’s H.R. recruitment point, systems and processes together and so on and so forth. And I think there’s a there’s a lot of parallel parallels there and it’s interesting to talk to someone who’s been or currently in that position and seeing those parallels, but moving on from there.

[00:23:46] So you bought your first half a practise, which you still which you still have. Do you still own half of that or have you, you know, you still own half of that? Yeah. And and then you went onto just what I want to get my head around is how you went from half to your first one. Then she second, then your third. And all of a sudden today you start twenty three with 300 people under your belt. And how your role has changed. You’re in that whole process of want you to slowly talk me through that journey and I might interrupt you along the way just because I’m curious and want to know, you know, what happened here and there. So talk me through practise number one. You acquired it with how you went about finding it. What was your vision at that time of? We just want to buy one practise and this is going to be our baby and we’re going to grow it and it’s going to do really well. How many days a week dentistry were you doing? Just talk me through that whole process.

[00:24:42] So when we bought our first practise, myself and the other co-founder, we were doing well, seven days to be there. We were working round the clock just as associates as much as we could. So we would start at eight o’clock in the morning, worked through to six p.m. and would be myself or the other co-founder would end up doing an emergency dental service shift at the local hospital till 10 o’clock, and we would take it in turns. We pretty much said that five days a week and then also did that in the evening weekends as well. We did that. Yes, we did love dentistry. We also did that as a means to an end because we needed to raise cash in order to invest when we bought half of the first practise. Soon realised that it’s great, but you have to. In business is fast. It needs to be quick. So we realised that because the other owner spent a lot of time in Manchester up north, we couldn’t make decisions very quickly. If I if I want to appoint a hygienist, I had to wait for the next time he was down. So myself and the other co-founder, we thought, you know, let’s just do it ourselves. Let’s get another practise ourselves again. As a safety net, we’ll just have one. So we bought the practise, which was just a two stage practise in hand cross in 2015 and April, and that was all great. We bought it for four hundred and eighty six thousand pounds. We had to because we already borrowed a million, one point one million only about five months before. I then had to try and raise finance for that, which was raising it off of rate setter JD.com, which was an internet platform that gave money to dentists. So each took out 200000 topped maxed out and we were literally up to up to our eyeballs in debt at that point in time. It was scary, but again, that’s where you take the risk and it’s a calculated risk as well.

[00:26:28] At what point was this in your careers? You’d qualified from Dental School, you did an associate job. How far after qualifying was this? How long after qualified

[00:26:38] Qualified in 2009? So 2014 was when we bought half of the practise in November of that year and then 2015. So we’re looking at five to six years later, right?

[00:26:47] Ok, which

[00:26:48] I always say to associates my own associates. You have to wait five to six years. Don’t go and buy your first practise a year afterwards because you need to learn. You need to learn your graft. It’s like going back to the gym you start training for. I hate it. I hate it. Honestly, it really irritates me when a guy’s trained for like two months, and then all of a sudden they’re wearing tight shirts. No, you know, don’t don’t buy small and medium because they’re small and medium, so they make you look big. You know, you have to train for a year or two. And then when your arms are bristling through an extra extra large triple extra large, then you know you’ve got size. It’s the same

[00:27:26] Thing

[00:27:27] And it’s the same thing with dentistry. Don’t, don’t jump into. You’ve got to learn if this is not a race. Life isn’t a race. So don’t treat it as one. Be consistent. Anyway, so here we said. We brought that one in April 2015 and we did everything we could to it, you know, push the private rope. In his six days a week, we installed an extra extra chair in there, so we maxed it out. We couldn’t take it any further than what we take in it. And then in December of that year, a colleague of mine that knew my mother approached me and said, Look, I’m looking to sell my practise to shall we do it off of the record? So it doesn’t, you know, doesn’t go on line because it was a private guy and this was an east born. And I came here, I look at it, and then we agreed on a deal. And that was practise number two. And then again, we did the same thing. We maxed that out with promoting the private and turning it from just, say, 100 percent in its practise to a 60 percent NHS, 40 percent private. Is the same sort of business model. And then a third person approached me because they knew the second person and said, Look, you sold to that person. And because that went well and for the for the first two to three years, it was word of mouth.

[00:28:41] That’s what we did. We didn’t buy practises on the market as it were. It didn’t enable us to get a good deal from them because we always would say, even now I say to the people that approach me and say, Would you buy my practise? I say, We’re going get it valued first. Yeah, not by Christine Co. or the former valuations, but just by like Dental Elite or Frank Taylor. And then come to me if what you want for it. I’m not. I’m not trying to get the cheapest price from you, but it just enabled us to actually have the opportunity to buy these and what we used to do in order to raise capital because we were able to take on a practise to like the first practise in handcuffs that we bought. We bought it for four hundred eighty six thousand. But by the end of the year, because we promoted and improved so much when we revalued it, it was worth seven hundred and fifty thousand. So the equity enabled us to borrow more to then buy the second one and the second one because we did that again, the same model, the equity enabled us to buy the third one and then we bought the third one. They were able to lump it all together, move from Metrobank at the time and then we moved it to another bank and then so we kept on.

[00:29:42] That’s how the business model worked by creating more equity in the business and also switching between banks. So he moved from Wesleyan to Metrobank to Santander. We able to then almost create more. We able to the loans were better. There were points in time when I would view a practise and I would go to the bank and I would say, Look, I would like to buy this practise. I don’t have the cash to buy it. And they would decline. They would say, You know, you don’t want to make yourself out, you don’t want to overstretch yourself. This one’s not quite fitting into your business model. The NHS may be a bit too high or you’ve never done that before. It’s in an out area. So I would then go and just borrow much money as I can from online platforms, whether it be rate setter or things like this, because I knew it would work. And then when I did that, I let that particular practise run for about a year. Go back to the bank and say, Look, I did it by ACH. Done it, a successful refi. Can you refinance me? And they were like, Okay, that’s fine. Then they will approach their underwriters and say, Yes, this this man, this is these guys. They know what they’re doing, and they won’t then refinance.

[00:30:51] How did you role change in the you went from you doing your six to seven days a week of hands in patients mouths? Are you are you all wet fingered dentists now or purely businessmen running the practise in the group?

[00:31:06] So I stopped clinical dentistry in 2019 marks April 1st of 2019. So for the last two years, two or three years, I haven’t done clinical dentistry, but in the beginning again, we’re working again seven days a week. But then as we grew, it cut down and it cut down to three days clinical and then the rest running the business. And that’s when we had 15 practises. I was still doing three days a week and then I said, You know what? This is too much because as I was treating patients, I remember, you know, doing an amalgam or doing a wax bite or taking out a tooth. I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing. It was second nature, but I was just thinking about cashflow forecasts and I was thinking about this employee that was bugging, bugging us or something like this or thinking about this thing and this thing. So, yeah, there came a point in time I said, You know what? I just need to, I think, walk away from the clinical side now and just focus purely on the business side.

[00:32:06] And what did that feel like? Just giving up dentistry all of a sudden and just just sort of, you know, Payman doesn’t practise dentistry anymore. Neither do neither do his business partners. Just just your process of I’m assuming at some point you were doing a fair bit of NHS dentistry yourself. Maybe you then pivoted towards more private, I’m guessing. Yeah. And then to nothing, then just sorting through that was a difficult decision to make. Or was it? Was it quite straight? All of it.

[00:32:32] I mean, it was because you get you get that it’s the run of the mill when you’re doing something every day, the same thing for 10 years, you think, Well, what if I stop? Will I do skill? Do I need to keep doing this? But then I mean, my accountant turned around and said to both of us, both of the founders had said, guys, because what I said to our thinking about stopping, but I’m not so sure it was like the amount of clinical work you’ve done because you’ve done so much. You’ve actually had a 30 year career, so you find to stop, you need to stop. You have to stop because you get to become ill from it. So when he said that, I thought, You know what? That does make valid sense because we didn’t, we didn’t. We never did. Just four days a week. We never just did the bits. And then plus as well. As well as doing that and the business, I was then taking on extra hours by being an NHS clinical adviser, you know, PhD trainer working for the LDC in West Sussex. So it wasn’t just it wasn’t just just just just a practise in the business, it was then everything else. So walking away was and also it was tough because I stayed in the same practise for all that period of time towards the end. And you get to know the patients and they get to know you. And they also kept on saying, every time you’re not going to go private, are you or you’re not going to give up, are you? And you kept them kept alive through my teeth and saying, Yeah, of course not want to be here today. I’m like 60. Then back and I’m thinking, I’m going, I’m going next week.

[00:33:54] But yeah, when you stopped clinical, how many practises were you at? And then what happened after that? And I’m guessing you were then able to 100 percent fully focus on whatever the mission or the growth plan was there?

[00:34:07] Yeah. So we got to 11 when I decided to stop and then as soon as I stopped, we then jumped because we took on four practises in one hit, so we got them to 15. Then when we went from 15 to 23, was when I was when I was not practising at all. We won also that process, as well as buying practises. We’ve won six of them through tenders, so two in Wiltshire and then four in Kent, Sussex, which was hard. It was hard bidding for them and writing the responses and going through the processes and then building things. So that was quite tough. And then we’ve also bought some practises from Corporates Coliseum and ones that were failing. They just wanted to give the NHS contracts back now Coliseum headquarters opposite our head office in Crawley. So their builder came over to do some work for us, their contractor. And he said, I’ve just stepped out of a meeting down. I overheard they’re talking about closing the practises. So as soon as you said that to me, I just walked over the road and said, Look, I need to speak to someone and they’ll talk about what. And I just said, just can I just speak to someone that’s involved in making decisions here? And then I just said, Look, don’t give them back, don’t give them back to NHS England. We’ll buy them from you. At least it gives you money for them. Don’t close them. I know you can’t recruit for them, but we will get to do. We’ll do brand you. And then we did. Wow. So we saw the opportunities and then we we just went for them.

[00:35:30] And so during this whole process, there must have been I mean, obviously there have been successful days and growing these practises and increasing the turnover and all the rest of it. What’s been your darkest days, your darkest moments whilst building this empire? You know, I always say that the most complicated part of growing any business is people, and you’ve got a lot of you’ve got a lot of people. You know, what have been your darkest moments during ruling this whole thing? I look at it and you know, the numbers scare me in terms of how you leverage yourself upon this war and then you get the other one, you get another million quid and you do this and you do this and you do this. And obviously, the only reason you do in that is because you’ve got confidence in yourself and what, what, what you’re capable of doing. There’s a lot of pressure on you as well, I’m guessing. What have been the the sort of darkest moments of business during the last few years?

[00:36:27] I think it’s been it’s been tough dealing with personalities from people. I’ve realised in business that it’s everyone’s got the ability to do what you want them to do, but you’ve got to be able to draw it out of them and try and deal with that. Deal with that personality. And eventually, somewhere deep inside that person, there will be the ability for them to do that and to give you that product that you want to give them or to do what you need them to do for the business. But it’s it’s trying to work around round dealing with those individuals. Some individuals could can be very tricky and you’ve got to kind of just shake hands and say goodbye. But thankfully, touch wood, we’ve never had anything horrific happen to us. We’ve just tried to just run with it and just just be as good as good as we can in terms of other dark, dark kind of moments. I mean, COVID was quite tough when everything just seemed to collapse in the end of March and patients appointments were being cancelled and just thinking how unless I can, because I didn’t at that point announced that they were going to pay, you guaranteed pay. So I’m thinking, what about if no one gets paid anything and how am I going to service these loans? And thankfully, the NHS came, came through and came forward.

[00:37:41] That helped us as an organisation. That was pretty tough. There’s been moments as well because as a as a provider, I get sent anything from the GDC and anything from the GDC just comes. There’s a there’s attached file or most of the time it’s 99 percent. At the time it’s about an associate. You think, Oh, thank God for that, but then your heart sinks when you think I was just one for me, is this about me? Because it’s just it’s just a hassle dealing with process as it were. So that’s that can be tough. And but I mean, it’s just it’s just there’s not been horrific dark times. I mean, most of it is sacrifice, really, which as I get older, I kind of regret slightly sacrifice family. There’s been many times where I’ve missed out on birthdays, events, Christmases. I remember, you know, it’d been Christmas Day and I’ll be in another room making a business plan, talking to a broker. Things like this. So so missing out on things and those sacrifices is a bit tough. And when I look back at it, because you can’t get that time back. I try not to look back at it, but it is what it is, is, is reality.

[00:38:54] And what about clinically? Have you ever made any one? We always ask this question is, you know, what’s your biggest clinical mistake? And it could be anything from communication right through to yanking the wrong tooth out and realising what I’ve just done. Have you made any sort of major what is your biggest clinical mistake and how could you learn from it?

[00:39:13] I say to my associates, any mistake you’ve made, I’ve done it and I’ve probably done it tenfold, better. I’ve I’ve I’ve made every single mistake you can possibly think of drilled drilled out the wrong side of the tooth, put a pin in and it has come out the other way. You know, you’re working on the floor of the mouth and the patient then swallows and the tongue comes up and the bird gets wrapped around in the floor and then you. You then try and pull the bear out, and half the patient’s tongue comes with it, taking out an upright and then all the tube porosity, plus all the soft palate coming away with it. And you’re looking at it and thinking, Great, this is great big hole I can see and then thinking, I’ve got a suit to this thing and trying to remember how you would talk to do suturing back the university and thinking, How the hell am I going to do this? So, I mean, the most memorable thing for me was and I didn’t have it wasn’t me causing the mistake. But a patient of mine came in and he had a full on cardiac arrest in the surgery. He just came for a denture stage and his dentures, so we didn’t give him anything, but he just arrived at the door and then just collapsed.

[00:40:17] His head smacked the floor. I ran over thinking and it was like a five o’clock ended. The day I was thinking, Oh Jesus, here we go. We’re all going to be late now. But I just thought it was a feint. And then I went down and I tried to say. To him, you know, hello. Everything, all right. Don’t worry about it, and my nurse knows I’m going to get the glucose, and I remember looking at my nurse and saying he is dead because there was nothing. He wasn’t breathing. There was no pulse. There was nothing there. And we then pulled him into the waiting room. And again, I thought, No, no, no, this can’t be happening because again, you double check. And he was you could hear a pin drop. There was nothing, no breath coming out of his mouth and then just thinking, Right, here we go. So you go into the chest compressions. Everyone started running around, you know, bringing the oxygen, the d fib. We had a trainee nurse that started that day. She’s sitting in the corner, crying her eyes out. You had conditions that are like 10 years experience. It’s just sitting there not knowing what to do. So it’s just me and my nurse and we just literally just cracking on cutting people’s clothing and cutting this guy’s clothing and everything.

[00:41:21] And then we put the DFB on, and then it shocked. And then again, we restarted the compressions and it shocked again. By the time the ambulance turned up, we just revived him, which was good. He was then taken to hospital and he survived. He lived two years and then passed away, but enabled him in that two years. So obviously make arrangements and say goodbye to his family. But I remember when I was doing his chest compressions, my basic life support had run out a week before I was thinking, If this guy dies, you know this patient dies. The coroner might say, You know what? You know you are. Maybe your basic life support was out of date. You know, you should have redone it and you know, you just you just all these things go through, as well as the fact that obviously this is a life as well. Of course, it was worrying. It was worrying and it was horrific as well. You know, there was there was vomit everywhere, phlegm. You know, it’s not a pretty sight. It’s not what they teach you. It’s it’s pretty bad. Well, that was a I was a bat bow, wow, wow.

[00:42:23] And so on the on the brighter side of things in the more positive side is obviously you’re running a successful business now. You’ve got, you know, you’ve got a lot of people working for you and I’m assuming you’ve got managers in place now. What’s the structure of your business? And with the 23 practises, every I’m calling it, every corporate and adult, whether you class yourself as a corporate or a mini group or whatever is then must have their own values or their own vision or what they’re trying to achieve or how they operate. Do you have is every practise almost like an independent or do they feel like they’re part of the group and you all operate in the same way? Have you got some practises that are fully NHS and some that are fully private and some that are sort of halfway down the line? What’s the overall

[00:43:08] Structure? So we we like to refer to ourselves as a community of practises. We’re not big enough to be I don’t think we’d be enough to be a corporate, even though we do get referred to as a corporate. Mm. Hopefully, by the end of this year, we might hopefully get up to about 40 practises that might change things. But we like to have a personal touch. So we do have a head office team which is based in Crawley and Gatwick Airport. So that’s obviously you’ve got myself as the CEO. Then you’ve got we have clinical directors, we have HR managers, assistants, finance managers and their assistants, clinical governance team that does all the clinical compliance. And then we have area managers and then individual practise managers in each of the sites. And then from there, then the dentists, receptionists and nurses. And we try to appoint lead clinicians in practises as well, which is kind of easy if we’ve taken over a practise where the principal stays on because they by default like to actually take that and to take that role. Yeah, most of the practises function as a community, as a group, we we like to do things together, have a consistent approach throughout every where we like to have quarterly management meetings where we call the managers up. So we like it to be uniform and structured rather than each practise operating completely different policies and models. And things like this is much easier from a compliance point of view to do it all in one in terms of the the way individual practises are structured.

[00:44:37] We have some that are 90 percent NHS and they tend to be in the in the places like Margate. In some places, Southampton, where it’s pretty damn the demographic is pretty poor. We have some practises that are 50 50 where we have big NHS contracts, but then a huge demand contracts and huge private pay. As you go ones, we do like to promote private. We don’t own any fully private practises because it doesn’t fit into our business model, our business model, such that we have to have guaranteed income coming in in order to service our loans and debts and in order to have that peace of mind that we’re not going to have income of how many million per year, one year. And then all of a sudden it drops down because we have had issues with maybe some private dentists moving on, moving somewhere else. So that’s where how kind of we structured attractive things we’re at the moment buying a freehold premises in in Crawley, which we’re going to. So we’re going to renovate for our own head office and we’re going to have there a training facility, phantom head rooms in order to be able to put on courses for our associates. And because it’s right next to Gatwick Airport, it’s really easy to to get to. So it’s going to be huge. It’s going to be like a university school. So sort of thing is going to be conference rooms and things like this.

[00:45:58] And at what level are you involved in with your team? So obviously, with such a large team assuming you can’t have a connexion with every one of them, right? It just wouldn’t be practical. So if we look at the look of the structure, is it you working with, I guess, the higher level people in the head office plus you meet in the managers on a quarterly basis? How how does that work in terms of you as a business owner and your input at what level

[00:46:27] Where all the associates and the hygienists know that they have clinical directors to go to, but they can always come to me, so my phone is always there for them. So I chat to some in an evening, we talk about cases. I deal with their contracts and I do their own appraisals and things and peer reviews and things like that. Like, obviously, we need to renegotiate rates

[00:46:46] With all your clinicians,

[00:46:47] With all our clinicians. If they’re happy to talk to the clinical directors, that’s fine. The clinicians do that, but a lot of them don’t. They like to talk to me. Yes, they do with the clinical directors when it comes to complaints and governance and things like that, because for me, I find it very tedious and boring, but the exciting things I do with them. So there is that direct kind of line they all have with me, the associates which they enjoy and I like as well. I then communicate, like you said, with the the head office team and most of the managers, but then I just don’t have the time and effort. You need to communicate directly with like receptionists and nurses, albeit they’re they’re an integral part of the team. But I just couldn’t do it. So they tend not to contact me themselves. They tend to go through managers and their gets passed on to H.R. and that all gets usually dealt with. And I only get involved if there’s a huge decision to make like a significant pay rise that needs to be made or or a change of contract or relocating someone or various things like that

[00:47:45] In terms of just transitioning from one to two to five to 11 to twenty three and then soon to be maybe 30 or 40. Have you had any formal training in business or have you just figured this out as you’ve gone along that OK, right? I’ll need a head office now. I need a HR team, I need a compliance team. How to structure that, where to put the how to sell the management structure. Where did that come from?

[00:48:14] Just because when you have one or two or three practises, even up to 10, you’re doing yourself, you’re doing it yourself. Pretty much you’re sleeping in your car. I remember once I went down to practise in Southampton because I was doing my own, you know, had, you know, up up of frames myself and it got to like 2:00 in the morning, I thought, I can’t drive back from Southampton to Crawley now, so I just slept on the floor in the surgery. And then at six o’clock, got my car and then went home. So it comes to a point where you can’t physically do it and then you think, Right, I need someone else now. So it came to a point where I needed someone to do with H.R. because I couldn’t physically do it myself. So then you then just researchers think, OK, what’s an HR manager? What’s their role involved? What was their pay structure like? How how are we going to do this? How are we going to do that and do this? So whenever I come to a point where I physically can’t do it anymore, I then make a role and then obviously do that. So now I’ve had no formal training. The only thing I’ve done is read books or maybe some management and business, but otherwise it’s just it’s just learning from your mistakes. That’s the best thing. Just failing cocking things up and then thinking, You know what, in order to me not to cock up again, I’ve got to do X, Y and Z. That’s the best way to learn. The best way to learn is to make mistakes, because you’d never do it again.

[00:49:28] What’s your biggest business mistake you’ve ever made? Oh, absolute absolute clanger, where you thought shit, I wish I hadn’t done that. And if I could do that again that I could have fixed a whole load of problems that that maybe would have helped me grow quicker or whatever that is. I did because I

[00:49:51] Fail every day. I think a huge mistake we did is, as you might not might know and listeners might know, there is three lists. These are GDC lists, your performers list and actually a list on the BSA. Now, a lot of people, in order to in order to check if they’ve got an NHS, perform a number of you check to see if they own the GDC, register a dentist and then you just check on the BSA if your name comes up on campus. When you’re entering onto the entering that petition onto your card form, you think, Oh, great. So one year I did that. Check the GDC, the guy who said he’s been working in the NHS for 15 years, Paul Grey, pin him on the contract, and he’s working away for nine nine months. And I’ve got a phone call from the NHS and said, You do realise that guy that’s working on the NHS who’s transmitting claims and claiming for you isn’t on the performers list. I said, no, I mean, I checked that I checked the BSA list and the dude here. Right now, the performance is different. You can actually hear it. He was actually removed from the performers list like five years ago because he left the country and then didn’t do many years.

[00:50:59] But we just didn’t. You just forgot to remove him from the BSA list. Thankfully, though, because I was able to prove to NHS England that genuinely I didn’t know that they accepted all of his claims. They put him on the list. They said, Look, just don’t do it again. I said, I’m really sorry, but that was tough because he’d done all those udas. They paid him for them as well. So I could and say to him, Can I have the money back? Yeah, you know, because I need to give back to the NHS. Things were very good to me at the time and said, Don’t worry because we understand and you’re not the only person that’s done this. And yes, we need to provide more clarity. But that was a huge thing because I was sitting there thinking and I might have to end up giving back about one hundred and fifty thousand pounds to NHS England. Wow. Plus the fact they’ve already paid out. So yeah, that was that was a pretty big clanger.

[00:51:45] Where’s your business going? What’s the big, hairy, audacious goal that you’ve got in mind because, you know, looking at it now, you’re already incredibly successful. I’m assuming you could sell it and retire tomorrow if you want it to, right? And there’d be plenty there. You’ve already we’ve already spoke about perhaps taking it to 30 or 40 clinics, perhaps this year. What was the ceiling for you? What where are you taking this?

[00:52:14] I don’t think. I don’t think there is any ceiling. Oh, you’re right. Yes, we could sell it tomorrow to a private equity or something like this and live on a yacht. You know, both the co-founders would be well looked after, but the the thing is, is that it’s never been about money. We haven’t done this for money because if we if we were doing it for money, we wouldn’t. We wouldn’t have. We wouldn’t have a chain of Dental practises. We would do something without so much red tape. And so it’s much more profitable, you know, maybe a chain of restaurants or nightclubs or God knows what you know or investing in like stocks and shares and all this kind of stuff. So it’s not it’s never been about funds and money. It’s more just about a vision of just trying to be a really good group of community practises. We I would like to grow to get to 100. That’s a that’s a nice number for me. It’s very even it sounds good.

[00:53:12] It’s a nice round number.

[00:53:14] Exactly. But then, as with again, going back to bodybuilding, it never stops. You know, when is when is too big or big enough, where there isn’t any. So if we ever got to 100, maybe would then say we’re about 110 120. I think the best I think the for us is I just keep doing this until I until I’m dead. I think that’s the point for me. If I’m not around, then it can’t be done.

[00:53:44] So there’s no there’s no big vision in your mind at the moment to say, you know, when the business gets to this magic number that I’m going to walk away, walk away from this thing and, you know, sail off into the sunset and I’d consider it done. You just see yourself doing this all the time.

[00:54:05] Yeah, at the moment, yes, unless things change. But also as well as that, we’ve developed incredible relationships, friendships with head office team members that I don’t regard and managers and dentists and associates. I don’t regard them as employees colleagues. I regard them as friends and not say it family as well. I don’t think I’d be ever be in a position where I could turn around and say, You know what? I’m tracking this in. And whoever takes you over will so be it. If you’re then out of a job, you’re out of a job. If they decide to take the company in this way and relocate the office to here and it causes you trouble, then Serbia. I don’t think I could ever do that to these people that have been putting not only they put in blood, sweat and tears into into this vision, that is our vision, the co-founders vision. But they’ve they’re running with this as well.

[00:55:01] She feels like you’ve almost got a sense of responsibility to your to your team. Stroke, should we say family? Yeah. That you’re almost there sort of providing for them, right? That yeah, through your creek, through your ecosystem. And I look I look at my business like this actually, is that through the ecosystem, you know, when I sit down and, you know, sometimes I’ll say to my wife, she’ll say, Well, why are you working so hard? You don’t have to do this and you have to do this? I’m putting food on the table for a lot of families. Yeah. And that comes with a great deal and sense of responsibility, not only my family, but those of my my colleagues, right, and friends and other families, so to speak. And is that how you feel about your organisation, that there is this overwhelming sort of sense of responsibility that actually this is your family now and you would never hand your family over to someone else?

[00:56:02] Exactly. Yeah, you just can’t. And I mean, when I wake up in the morning, what I mean, you know, when we will wake up and we’ve we’ve rotting a cold or we’ve got a mild fever. I drag myself into work through the responsibility of knowing that it’s not my mortgage. The to you paid. It’s three hundred mortgages need to be paid because I know that if I don’t go in for a day and make sure that this business is successful and I know if if I take a month off, it’s truly successful, but it’s just that it’s that thought, then it terrifies me to think that it’s going to affect someone else. And you just you just can’t do that as a morally, as an individual, you can’t. And I think you learn that over a period of time of growing a business and building it from scratch, if you put into a position of responsibility, you might not appreciate that. But because you’ve you’ve grown that and you’ve worked with these people and you know, and you hear their frustrations every day in their hardships and you know them coming to you and saying, I’m struggling with paying for this and you know, my cars, you know, you look at their bump hanging off their car and you’re thinking, Oh, God, you know, that’s that’s horrific. And you know, that’s that’s bad. It’s, you know, it’s it’s that it’s that level of responsibility that you you just take and you have to honour almost.

[00:57:21] It’s amazing you talked about obviously, the impact of working so hard and what it’s had on, you know, missing out on, say, Christmases, you know, maybe there were kids parties and things like that that you couldn’t attend and whatnot if you had the chance to do it all over again. Looking back, what would you change or what would you advise your younger self?

[00:57:43] To make sure I always attend because you still achieve what you think, you’re going to achieve, what you want to achieve by attending those things because you will get it done. And you have to put family first and friendships first. And you still get to where you going to get to. I did see it as a race at the start. I’ve learnt over the years and I’ve changed as a person changed. My values have changed and and those type of things. But I would I would make more time for the people that I’ve had to almost dissociate myself. And it goes back. I remember watching that pumping iron via an assault snigger. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. Documentary where he said, You know, I think his father died and he got a phone call and he was like, I’m not coming to the funeral, I’m going to. I’ve got my limpia coming up and then, that’s it. And that was the frame I had in business. It was, I mean, yeah, I missed. I’ve missed funerals before and I just I regret that. I feel ashamed. I’ve missed very important events that I can never take back. If I were able to do it again, I would put that first.

[00:58:52] Definitely. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:58:55] And there’s a few questions we usually ask towards the end of this obituary. Listen to a few episodes. If it was your last day on the planet and you were surrounded by your little ones, your loved ones, those important people in your life and you to give them three pieces of advice or wisdom. What would they be?

[00:59:24] Number one, don’t. Don’t die with dreams, die with memories. And whatever you want to achieve, make sure you achieve it. Don’t dream about it. I’d always say work hard. And work hard, stay focussed. And then the third thing is always take care of the people that take care of you because then you’ll be forever taken care of. So you always give back. Mm hmm. So those are the three things I would try to try to. My pearls of wisdom were lovely.

[01:00:04] And how would you like to be remembered? So Ashkan was. Dot, dot dot. Finish the sentence.

[01:00:17] The biggest, the biggest dentist in the UK. Oh, it’s a tough one. Just just a just a successful businessman that the patients first, but also put the employees and the the workers are contractors and the same level as well. Mm hmm.

[01:00:46] Locally, and then this question comes from Payman, which is this fantasy dinner party question, so imagine you could have a fantasy dinner party, three guests dead or alive. Who would they be and why?

[01:01:06] Well, it has to relate back to. My passion, which is training, so it would be Mike Mintzer, who was a nineteen eighties, nineteen seventies eighties bodybuilder who started the whole high intensity training concept, I love to have dinner with him and talk about the concepts that he is now ingrained in in training. Mm hmm. I’d also like to chat to some high profile business CEOs. I look up to Warren Buffett. I remember him saying once that any, every every business that he takes over is essentially like a cigarette butt that’s only got one puff left in it. And that’s all we’ve done. You know, we’ve taken over those kind of seen ones that no one would give a chance to. But there’s always one drag that you can you can smoke and we’ve picked it up and had a good puff and turned it around. So that would be the second. And the third one? Oh, that one’s a tricky one. Oh, that’s a tough one. Third one. I was going to probably say. My father in law, but I didn’t want to start crying. Yeah. Yeah. No longer with us, not. I didn’t know you’re going to make me cry in this Prav.

[01:02:48] I didn’t know we were both, you know, we were both going to be crying at the end of this, Oh, we’re

[01:02:52] Supposed to be strong men, we’re supposed to be immortal, you know, soldiers, warriors and we’re both we’re both bored to tears. Yeah, no. Yeah.

[01:03:04] Yeah. Cool. Well, on that note, thank you. Thank you so much for your time today. It’s been inspiring. Just listening to your story of coming where you have from today and the story of your parents. You know, it’s always inspiring to hear where you’ve come from. And you know, we can we can sit here and make our parents proud, right? Yes. Not not having to do what what they were doing right is. It’s it’s a huge thing. And even so present day, you know, those words from my father resonate with me today. Yeah. And drive me and inspire me to do what I do. You know? So yeah.

[01:03:49] Yeah. Thank you so much for having me on. Thank you. Really appreciate it. Yeah, it’s been great.

[01:03:56] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry.

[01:04:07] 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’ve got some value out of it

[01:04:26] If you did get some value out of it. Think about subscribing and if you would share this with a friend who you think might get some value out of it too. Thank you so, so, so much for listening. Thanks.

[01:04:37] And don’t forget our six star rating.


Farhan Ahmed says growing up in a Glasgow cornershop instilled an unstoppable work ethic.

He’s come a long way since filling sacks of potatoes for dad. Farhan’s earned a name as one of the go-to clinicians for complex implant cases and is now one of the field’s most sought-after trainers and mentors.

In this episode, Farhan reveals what motivates his restless drive, discusses the mindset required to be an outstanding clinician and tells why he now feels more unstoppable than ever.   



“I’m an individual that looks back and says. ‘I’ve done that. What’s next?’ I did dentistry school. What’s next? I did medicine and worked as a doctor. What’s next? Then oral surgery. What’s next? Implants. What’s next? More complex implants. Great. What’s next? Start teaching this stuff…And now it’s what’s next? What’s next?”  – Ferhan Ahmed

In This Episode

01.30 – Backstory

09.03 – Dentistry and medicine

13.35 – Scratching the itch

17.06 – What kids want

21.33 – Into implants

24.41 – Teaching and complex cases

32,22 – Self-development

33.51 – Ideal course candidates

40.18 – Promotion and cooperation

45.16 – Blackbox thinking

57.40 – Mentoring, encouragement and mini-mes

01.06.00 – Scottish identity

01.07.59 – Being Unstoppable — The Mindset of a Great Clinician

01.10.38 – Drive and purpose

01.22.23 – Fantasy dinner party

01.23.40 – Last days and legacy


About Ferhan Ahmed

Ferhan Ahmed qualified from Glasgow University with a BDS in 2005 and went on to earn an MBChB at the University of Liverpool in 2012.

He has focused on training and research in oral and maxillofacial surgery and now carried out complex bone grafting, extra-maxillary implants, pterygoids and zygomatics.

He now teaches and mentors on dental implants and surgery.

In 2021, Ferhan published Being Unstoppable — The Mindset of a Great Clinician. The book is available on Amazon. The proceeds will help the Dental Aid Network build a dental clinic in Kashmir.

[00:00:00] I prefer the dentists being able to work independently as much as I love patients and being able to change lives. For me, ultimately, if I’m able to pass on a skill that I have onto another clinician and they are then able to do what I do, get the results that I get, that’s the best feeling in the world and people appreciate that I help them. That’s great. But I don’t want that. I’m not looking for that. It’s great that they see. Thank you, sir, and thank you. Messages are grateful. But it’s like an internal thing for me that I helped you. I passed on a skill job done next. It’s a really nice feeling.

[00:00:40] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki

[00:00:58] Gives me great pleasure to welcome Dr. Friend Ahmed onto the podcast first carved himself a nice little niche in immediate loading situations where there’s not much bone. And I was looking through some of his talks and my goodness me, not not not the kind of industry I would ever venture into, but hopefully he’ll tell us his story on how he got there. Absolute pleasure to have you for him.

[00:01:26] Thank you so much, Payman. Thank you so much, Prav.

[00:01:29] Yeah. Great to have you.

[00:01:30] Prav Welcome. It’s good to be back. It’s good to be back as the dynamic duo and our first guest back in the new year hand. We know we’ve spoken in the past and. Just before we get into that. Just give us a little bit of info about your back story.

[00:01:47] So I suppose the back story really starts with my dad. He came over from Pakistan when he was nine years old and he came over with his uncle. And life was tough. He was at school away from his parents. Can imagine which he had, you know, scary moving away from your country, from your family, from your siblings, from your parents. Yeah. With a family member. But coming to somewhere new and really the man that he is has really shaped the person that I’ve become in good ways. And I suppose there are negatives to that as well. So my dad came over to the UK when he was nine and he didn’t get a bit of an education but came out and he was a shopkeeper and he’s a shopkeeper today, and so he has a newsagent in the south side of Glasgow. And growing up, I was one of five children and growing up in an Asian background, but the Scottish culture was there in Glasgow. I was very lucky to have a diversity at home. It was quite traditional outside. I wasn’t restricted in any way. I embraced Scottish culture. I feel Scottish. I am Scottish and I like any child we buy for our parents attention. As one of five, I had two ways of doing that. I could have been an arse and got into trouble, or I could have been like the golden child. And for me, I was the golden child. I was someone that really tried to get my parents attention through academic success, always being the child that did his best, you know, sort of teachers, type of person. And so that was me. I’d go to the shop with my dad, helping me do the best I could

[00:03:37] Be the oldest firm.

[00:03:38] I’m the second oldest. I have an older sister and so I really kind of, you know, really studied hard at school trying to appease my parents, specifically my dad. He didn’t get an education and knew that that’s what he wanted. He wanted us not to go through what he went through a working in the shop. He wanted us to have the best life possible and that was through an education. So I worked hard. I did well. And like any typical Asian family, you’ve got three choices really when it comes to deciding on a career, you’re a doctor or lawyer or a failure. And I always wanted to kind of stand out. Stick out, do something different. So I did dentistry. And it’s as simple as that. I did dentistry because it wasn’t medicine, and I went to dental school and there was a quite a few of us in my class. At school, we all went to classical dental school and dentistry was fun. It was really good fun.

[00:04:37] Yeah. What was it like growing up? Did you grow up in the shop? Did you live near the shop at the back of the shop above the shop? Were you in there? Do you do cash and carry the stock with serving customers? Talk to me about the shopkeeper life.

[00:04:51] So my dad owned the shop with another gentleman to my uncle and to develop partnerships with the demand and the family wasn’t as high. Mm-hmm. But the profound memories are Friday. I’d finished school and my dad had come home for a lunch break. The shop was about half an hour, 40 minutes away, and then we drive to Airdrie, Coatbridge and Lanarkshire, just outside Glasgow. And I remember getting stuck in traffic on the Kingston Bridge. I remember going to the shop. It’d be cold and my job on a Friday afternoon evening was to pack. Potatoes into bags into £3, £5, £7 bags, and we used to pack washed and dirty potatoes, and I remember growing up I couldn’t lift the bag of potatoes, I think maybe 20 kilos. Then as I got older, I could start to lift and go into the store room next door and bring these bags of potatoes. So that’s my strongest memory. And my dad never told me we’re going to make 10 10 big bags and I’m going to put them into packs. I just they just kept coming. They just kept coming. And that’s my memory of that early life working in the shop. And then the other really strong memory I have is Christmas time. It was an off licence, packing the van with tenants we couldn’t export Buckfast and hooch. All these alcopops were coming in to Kreis and then unloading them into the store warehouse, packing them up. I mean, I brewed our national drink is just piling them up, taking them from one side of the shop to the other delivering leaflets. That’s my memories of growing up.

[00:06:30] The shop found it so, so sorry to interrupt you, mate. But you know, obviously that probably taught you consistency and hard work and all that. But talking to Prav and Kailash, whose dad also owned a shop, both of them put most of their success down to that shop and the relationships that, you know, they had to be able to talk to different types of people. And both of them are amazing speakers. Now when you when you talk to them and you know, it’s surprised me that a bit, did you did you have that experience too? Do you feel like, you know, you can connect with people more because you have to connect with the whole public?

[00:07:08] Absolutely. From a young age eight, nine, you’re behind the counter, you’re you’re talking to people and then naturally, people come in and customers come in and they want to speak to you. Who are you? Whose son are you? And you start to build a rapport and its regular customers. One thing leads to another, and absolutely, it’s probably the earliest experience to sort of communication relationship building that I had. But then growing up, I had that connexion and still working in the shop. To this day, I still have to cover my dad at the shop and I do it reluctantly, but I have to cover him at the shop. Sometimes it’s life, it’s just the way it is, and he appreciates it. And so I absolutely have no problem doing that. But then sort of in an early age, I always had a job. So not just the sharp end of people around. I worked at next. I worked at TJ Hughes, I worked at the bank, I worked at KFC and it’s working in teams with people from different environments that exposes you to building that confidence and building relationships and getting on with people. And I’ve always felt that one of my strongest qualities as being a people person and being able to adapt and get on with people. And it’s fortunate. It’s just my experience and my environment has allowed me to do that. But then I would say, Yeah, I’ve got a foundation there. But dentistry was good and it was fine. But it was really in medical school where I really learnt more about psychology and empathy through the training through medical school, which changed everything. And that allowed me to really take my communication skills and understanding and listening ability to another level

[00:09:01] And double qualify.

[00:09:03] Yeah. So I did dentistry and qualified in 2005 and then did medicine in Liverpool 2008 to 2012. So I really do my grind of an education, but it was like I finished dental school and I went into hospital. Max Max and I saw these like individuals that I aspire to be like, and I was like, I want to be like them what I need to do. And I was always like continuous pushing myself, What can I do next? What’s next? So the next natural course was medicine. So I went to Liverpool, moved away for years in Liverpool, and then I came back up to Scotland to do host jobs. And then at that point I had to make a decision. They go and follow the route as an exemplary surgeon or do I come out and go into practise and develop as a surgical dentist or surgery sedation implant industry and an opportunity arose? I was able to invest and get involved in a Dental group and a partnership that were growing, and that’s what I did and the best decision I ever made.

[00:10:06] How did the two compare medicine? Dentistry is courses.

[00:10:10] I don’t have a mate. I’m not a fan of medicine, as in I just it’s just tough. It’s just tough. It’s just chews you up and throws you out and a wee. But it’s different because, you know, I was 30 year old as a junior doctor and an environment is challenging. I think for me, it’s hard to really give an opinion on medicine. It’s just I was glad to get out and the thought of because during this pandemic, I got my registration back. So I’ve got like partly registered on the GMC. I’ve never come off the register. And then during the pandemic, I was allowed to go back on and if I was required, I would have. I would have gone in. No problem. However, if I was basically to put it, if I couldn’t work as a dentist, I wouldn’t go back to medicine the way it’s it’s just it’s just tough.

[00:11:05] Would you would you rather buy got fifty five pound sacks of potatoes into five pound bags?

[00:11:12] I I wouldn’t do that, but I would rather open a coffee shop. Yeah, yeah. I’d like to see our people coffee. I like the smell. I like the taste. And I like the conversation, background, music and just smile.

[00:11:29] Were you actually you actually considering staying on as a hospital max fac?

[00:11:34] I did medicine because I want I wanted to improve, and I want I had this ambition for more knowledge. I didn’t do medicine to become a maxillofacial surgeon. I just wanted that degree and part of me, probably from early childhood and the environment and the culture I grew up obviously had an influence that there was something attached to being a doctor or qualifying as a medick. And I was like, Well, I’ve done that cool on my two years as a junior doctor. Yeah, cool. I’ve got that. Got that badge. What’s next? And that’s what I’ve discovered about myself because I’ve been on a journey of self-awareness is that I’m an individual that looks good, right? Cool. I’ve done that. What’s next? So did dentistry cool? What’s next? I did medicine to the doctor. What’s next? Then oral surgery? That’s cool. What’s next? The implants? Cool. What’s next? Then more complex implants. Cool. Great. What’s next? Start teaching this stuff OK. Yeah. Cool. And now it’s like, What’s next? What’s next? And so I really look at my life, and I think we should look at life as chapters.

[00:12:40] I don’t believe in retirement and it’s like it’s chapters, and I’m always looking for the next chapter in my life. What am I going to do and lay off off? We were chatting about. I’d hate to go to get sixty six, five seven think go, yeah, I was a dentist for 40 years. I’d like to look back in my life and go, Yeah, I was in. I did dentistry and I loved it and I did that and I did the best and then I did medicine, and I did that for a while and and I still use my medical training, so I’m so glad that I’ve done it. There’s no regrets. And then now, presently, most of my work is training and education mentoring. Amazing. I love it. I see myself as a teacher, as an educator. It’s so satisfying. But I can’t be doing this for the next 10 to 20 years. I have to see what’s next. And I’m just always looking to discover what that next step will be. And I’m open. I’m really open to trying things, seeing what happens.

[00:13:35] I find that it’s kind of the the the advantages of that mindset are kind of clear, right, because you’re constantly improving. I’m quite interested in what’s the disadvantages of that mindset. I mean, are you someone who gets bored easily?

[00:13:51] You, it’s not bored. It’s like, like, I don’t feel like I’ve achieved anything. You don’t feel like this is enough. It’s not. Yes.

[00:14:01] You didn’t find peace and contentment.

[00:14:04] No. Like, I’m content. I’m very fortunate. And you know, I’m a big believer in practising gratitude that I am content. I’m happy. But inside there’s a niche. There’s a coin like, do something else, what next? And this is not enough. Like, I can’t. I can’t be satisfied to the point where I was in a partnership and Dental Dental practises. But I’ve never been like an entrepreneur by myself, so I was like, Well, OK, I’ll buy my partner and practise. I would write in Edinburgh right till now. My job is, can I turn it into that one two million pound business turnover business within the next twenty four months? And I want to push myself, set targets and go, Can I do this? And I’ve done it. Yeah, I did it right. What’s next? And it’s like looking back to I don’t know if you follow Tim Grover when he talks about Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, the all time greats of basketball. They were never satisfied. They got the rank and then they were like, OK, next, next. They were never satisfied. And I don’t know if I just because I’m around this environment and I’m fortunate. But for me, it’s like, Cool, what’s next? You had a good year. What’s next?

[00:15:19] Yeah, but but you know, when I said this advance is like, I know a bunch of super successful people who don’t see their families at all. And so, you know, that obsession mindset that you’re kind of putting out. There’s always a negative to to to to these positives. Just just the example that we were talking off air and you were saying your wife’s very understanding and all that, which is amazing. Someone who, you know, lets you get on and do all the things you dream of doing. But did you find another like a competitive mindset that sometimes hurts, you know, something like that? Because I love it. It’s beautiful. And as a positive person, you probably not very confident, comfortable talking about negatives the way I’m framing it.

[00:16:04] How do you balance everything and you don’t you? It’s impossible. You never balance it. It’s going one way or the other, and something has to give. And naturally, it’s family life. But then you also have to remember I didn’t see my dad much. Yeah, I didn’t see my dad. You know, he got up five o’clock in the morning and he’d come home at 10:00 at night. Young kids, we didn’t see my dad much. And so that feels normal. It feels normal. It really does feel normal. And I’m like, I try to do the best for my children, give them like as my dad worked hard for us to give us everything that we know, never wanting for anything. He sacrificed his well-being and everything in his life to give us the best. I’m like, Well, I’m just being the team. And we turned out OK. I’m one of five. There’s two teachers, two teachers, a lawyer and another dentist. And we’re not we’re not perfect like a lot of we’re not far from it, but we’re OK. We’re OK.

[00:17:06] I’ve got I’ve got a question for you, Fran. What do you think? Is that your children want?

[00:17:14] So my kids naturally want my time. Yeah, but so this this is and I’m open, I to talk about it, but I also have to think about who I am as a person and we need to be the person I am. I need to be allowed to do the things that I need to do for my own sanity, my own well-being, like I need to get up early, I need to run. And that’s I don’t. I need to do it like my wife got. She was unwell recently and she was in hospital and she was like, You calling me and you’re out for a run? I was like, Yeah, but for me to be the father, for me, to be the husband that you need, I need to be in the right place to. I need to be able to push myself in this work and do this and do this and be able to travel abroad, abroad to teach to do these courses, get on Zoom and chat to this. I need to be able to do this. If I don’t do these things or restrict myself, then I’m I’m going to hurt myself. So, yeah, we’re not perfect.

[00:18:15] But no, no, no, I I’ve been in that situation where, you know, I’ve done the last, what, 15 years, 12 to 18 hours a day, six to seven days a week. And the story or the narrative I’ve been telling myself is, I’m doing it for them, OK, I’m doing it to give them a better life. I’m doing it to give them a better future. But actually, if I look inwards, yeah, it’s mostly for me.

[00:18:44] So I completely agree. Prav Yes, I’m doing it for them, for them, but ultimately I’m doing it for myself. I am completely honest with myself. This is for me. I need to run and I need to do all this.

[00:18:57] Yeah. And so I asked, I asked my daughter because we always talk about birthdays that come up now. My birthday was on Christmas Eve, and I’ve just had an intense sort of three or four months of work where I’ve withdrawn from family life, right? And so it was just my my birthday and then my my youngest daughter is on Valentine’s Day, right? So she’s now giddy because daddy’s birthday is over and her birthday comes next. So we’ll have these conversations and I say, So how many? What do you want for your birthday? What would you dream up your your dream day? What do you want for your birthday? I said, Dream anything you want. And she goes, Daddy, all I want for my birthday is loss of daddy time. That was it. No toys. No presents nothing. Lots of daddy. So, yeah. And that kind of hits home that, you know, sometimes you do have this self-talk right where you kind of convince yourself you try and justify to your partner, your wife, whatever. I’m doing it for you guys. Yeah, we’re in fact of this part of it. You’re doing it for your own self progression, your own ego, whatever it is. Yeah, that the benefit is that you give those people who’ve allowed you to sacrifice that a better life.

[00:20:16] I think I think there’s teaching in it as well, though. Yeah, there’s certainly an example, you know, of course. Of course, it’s not just, you know, let’s say you do your next big deal and the million dollars drops in your lap. Okay? You can give that to your kids and and they can split it between them, and they might be able to do something they couldn’t do before or whatever. Yeah. But I think watching dad make some sacrifices to be the best is a great lesson to learn for a kid in the same way as and watched his dad make sacrifices. Absolutely. In his own way right back in the day to make that shot work, you know, he learnt lessons that have now got him sticking implants through the sinus. You said, you said trans sinus. I was like, Sure, that just music comes near the sinus. And then I watch the thing and it goes through the sinus and comes out in the nose. Yeah. Blew me away, man. I didn’t realise that was a thing. Let’s let’s move on, buddy. So you did your medicine, did your dentistry, did you the other way around? What was the first job you did? Were you thinking straight away? I’m going to be doing implants. Was that was that the plan?

[00:21:33] So, so after after medicine or finishing as a junior doctor? Naturally, all my work and training had been around surgical dentistry. So taking the first step and you just don’t start and implants. So it was very much surgical dentistry along with surgical dentistry. It’s a very symbiotic relationship. Naturally, a lot of sedation because that’s when I was very comfortable. So I was looking after the oral surgery services for the practise group. And then I did a lot of kind of visiting sedation work, really built up a network because I was visiting so many different practises as a visiting sedation doctor. And then naturally. I suppose the progression as you look to improve, improve and try new things and improve your financial situation, financial situation is you start to get into dental implants or from single multiple, more complex implant work bone grafting. It was a natural progression over years, over a different mentors, different courses and a lot of travel. And sort of if I look back, I left medical training in 2000 2014. It’s been a seven year journey to get to where I am now, but I would say that it’s been pretty rapid. I to you know, I’m very fortunate I’m doing a high level of implant dentistry, and it’s really thanks to the environment I’ve been around and the people that have helped me. I’m here because of them and the exposure I’ve been there.

[00:23:07] So who are some of those mentors

[00:23:09] Who were the mentors? Yeah. Oh, so first of all, my business partner is Abbott Fakir, and he’s well known implant dentist, former ADA president. So I was very fortunate. It was his interest in his interest to treat me as an implant Dental. So that was great. So I got that first exposure and then on a on a random and life, you know, it just just shows you it’s important to go out there, put yourself out there, meet people who chat. So I was in this implant course in South Africa, and I’m a colleague called George and we hit it off. And when we came back, he allowed me to come and visit him. He put a lot of time. Effort to treat me really allowed me to develop my skills as an adult, don’t a complex implant surgeons who are doing a lot of the work. And he spent a lot of time, effort, no charge, which I’m forever grateful for, and that those two individuals are bad initially and then George have been instrumental. And then obviously, there are so many other people that have directly or indirectly influenced my implant career. And to this day, I feel I’m influenced by the clinicians I teach and mentor and hopefully vice versa, because we’re always learning. It’s always a journey. I never feel that it’s complete. It’s it’s great. It’s not. It’s always constantly learning, trying to get better or perfect the art.

[00:24:41] And then how did you get into teach him first, and I think it was around the sort of lockdown COVID time that you you definitely broke out into the social scene and I didn’t know who you were before then, but then all of a sudden you were on every feed that I was seeing and doing these, you know, webinars and little snippets of content and stuff like that. So talk us about how that came about.

[00:25:05] So I suppose. I remember when the pandemic or lockdown happened, I remember being in my surgery in Edinburgh and being scared for my family, for the business. The patients we had to close up and one mentor told me there’s a gift in every situation and it’s our job to find that gift. And for me, I thought I sat at home just where I am now because I turned my morphed into an office. What can I do now? You know, this is my time to shine, or I can just sort of recluse into a ball and just do nothing. And for me? Covid was the biggest gift because it allowed me to. Connect with so many people and make that decision, I’m going to put what I know and help try to help as many people as I can, and really, I sort of developed a real ambition and target to educate and make an impact. And I knew that it doesn’t matter how good an implant surgeon I am or how many fill arches are limited by my two hands and if I want to have a bigger impact as possible. Well, there has to be education, so there’s only so many people I can rehabilitate with by myself. Only so many cases I can do a year. But if I can teach one hundred dentists a year to predictably reproduce good quality for large implant treatment, then my impact is bigger. And so starting the journey to for me to just this drive this obsession with impact, and that’s where there is now, where I want to have a big a bigger impact as possible, and that can only happen through education, training and mentoring.

[00:26:55] Tell me about how you got to doing this complex stuff, I mean, was it because of those, those mentors that you had?

[00:27:02] I suppose it is. It absolutely directly related to the mentors. It’s also my background and experience in maxillofacial. My natural environment was the first open job in U.S. it opened out tone being cut free flaps. So I was very comfortable with big surgery and also, I suppose that inner drive to just keep pushing, pushing to the pinnacle or to the extreme of the of the speciality to it. All these three things combined then drives you into a certain area. And yeah, I’ve been very fortunate to. I do. Yeah, conventional implants and then ekstrom implants are put in implants in less conventional areas because it’s just from an anatomical point of view. I’m very comfortable exposing those areas and certainly implants into them because I’ve had that exposure from early on.

[00:27:55] So talk us through. I mean, I watched I watched a video, but talk, talk, talk us through as well as you can without showing it the process of, I mean, I saw one where you’d printed off the maxilla, but then you weren’t using a guide. A surgical guide for the for the drill was, is that because you could see perfectly because you opened everything up so much?

[00:28:16] Yeah, absolutely. So I’m a big believer in access. Good visualisation. The whole process starts at, you know, pre-planning to when I’m working with clinicians, it’s about trying to get them to really visualise the whole process in their head. And so we print out 3D models so they can do a rehearsal of the surgery beforehand. It’s very much like because one of your guests on a previous podcast and I really resonated with it was the Samson sisters talked about The Queen’s Gambit and how I’ve gotten slides in the band, and she just sees things before and the chess pieces is moving in the sky. Honestly, that’s what I try to do in front of me. I see the jaw. It opens up in front of me and I can see every single step that I’m trying to make, and I want to try to give that to another clinician. And because that’s just the easiest way to do it, you’ve got to try to get the picture in your head and see everything in front of you. And so that’s that’s a process. You’ve got to have the knowledge the skill comes, but you’ve got to have the knowledge and the theory behind a specific technique. Then you have to have the radiographic imaging to start to begin the visualisation process and then a 3D model and surgical rehearsal really works. And it’s that and then it’s practise like anything is practise, practise, practise and knowing that you may feel and it’s not unusual to feel and have problems and failures, you just need to overcome them. And it’s that ability to overcome failure when you’re doing this type of work, which allows you to push on. And it’s the resilience.

[00:30:01] I think something you said on on on one of those things was, you said it’s simple surgery in a complicated area. Yeah. And it’s very true. It kind of resonated with me because in the end, what is an implant? You drill a hole and stick the implant, right? But in your particular field, you know, with the terrible territory and the just the longer ones that you’re using, it’s all about the angulation. There’s no second chance.

[00:30:26] But is there a lot at the time? There’s not a second chance. Absolutely. And it’s a really good observation, but it is. It’s simple surgery in a complex territory, but it’s important to for me, especially as someone that’s educating. I got, I got I have to be able to transfer that simplicity or break it down to the essence of a process and give it to someone I can’t put put it to them in a complex manner, although they won’t get it or they’ll be put off by it. But it’s my responsibility and my duty to simplify the whole treatment process. And if I can’t simplify it, that’s my that’s a deficiency in my knowledge. And so I always start off when I’m teaching people, this is simple. If I can do it, you can do it. Never think you can’t do this because ultimately surgical dentistry, and that’s all I can talk about. It comes down to self-confidence and the belief in yourself. That’s what fundamentals is belief and confidence and mindset. That’s finding your footing, having to do.

[00:31:32] You’re finding actually having to teach that as much as you’re having to teach the clinical side.

[00:31:37] Yeah. And hence I wrote the book. Well, it’s course, I genuinely believe that. A lot of what we do comes down to how we think of ourselves, our belief, our confidence, our mindset, so it can be any, any part of clinical medicine, dentistry, cosmetic implants, whatever. We’ve got to have the belief in ourselves. We’ve got to have the confidence. We’ve got to have a growth mindset. And you will you’ll always win if you keep at it, you’ll always win. I don’t think that’s what sad is. I had to discover that for myself. I guess I wasn’t taught about this at Dental School. Yeah.

[00:32:22] Yes, I was going to ask that question. Was there a time where you weren’t so driven and did you start on this path of sort of you’re going to have to call it self-development sort of path.

[00:32:31] I’ve always been driven and then I’ve met certain people that have supercharged me a lot, something in me that’s that’s phenomenal. And then, you know, it’s no one sees you the average of the five people around you. I’m very conscious of surrounding myself with the best possible people that left me up. I try to stay away from negativity or people are just going to bring me down, and I’m in a fortunate position at this moment in time. And so, yeah, the drive is greater than ever. And sometimes it’s like, Wow, you know why you’re not you’re not driven in your article. Why are you still driving? No, why? Like, you’re financially better now, but your drive greater? And I suppose I don’t know if you’ve read Napoleon Hill think and grow rich. Something happens in the fourth decade of your life. I’m not there. I’m just about to enter the fourth decade of my life. But something happens in the fourth decade of life. Don’t know what it is, chemically what. But I’m more driven and hungry than ever before, so I’m just embracing that and I’m not resisting it. I’m going with the flow. I’m trying to balance it all, obviously with family life, personal everything. Two things don’t get carried away naturally, but I’m riding the wave.

[00:33:51] For him, if I’m an average implant dentist who just sticks the ones and twos in here and there, and I want to start doing the full act stuff, how do I go about like, you know, turn up to a one day to day six month course? I mean, I’ve I’ve seen what you’ve done with one of my clients. So I know that when he started with you, he placed his first full match with you. Well, I think he assisted you and then almost like you, you took your unchained him right and let him loose on his own progressively. Is that a standard pathway for someone to go under when they want to go for him and increase their confidence to go from place in a single? You know, doing them confidently to then say, Right, OK, now we’re going to go full out. We’re going to go immediate. Whatever delayed loading or longer implants? Yeah. Is that the standard approach where you’ve got someone who is sort of steering them in that direction because I don’t see too many mentors and training trainers bouncing it up and down the motorway one day and leaves next day in Northwich, next day in Glasgow, next day in Edinburgh, the next day in Manchester. Do you know what I mean? Literally all over the place? Is that quite unique in the way you operate in terms of the way you hand off and train dentists to progress to the next level?

[00:35:13] I suppose it’s it’s probably two things that coincide with each other. One is I’ll just work as hard as I need to outwork anybody. I love work. It’s everything to me. The work to be nimble. When someone trusts me with their education, it’s a huge responsibility. It means the world to me that someone’s actually paid me to go right and me signed up to my programme and say, Yep, fair hand, I trust you to teach me for large. It’s humbling. So it doesn’t matter what it takes. You know, after fly, you have to stay two nights, whatever. So I travel a lot, and that’s just a journey that I’m in in terms of the training side of things. When anybody comes to join the programme, it’s quite a I feel it’s unique. You can’t just join the programme. Now I need the right people, because it’s the community that makes it what it is. And so when they want to join the programme, I have a Zoom call with them. And if we’re an hour, an hour and a half, I need to get to know them. I need to know what their background is, where they are, where do they want to get to because they may not be the right person and I refuse people entry into my programme. And it’s not because it’s exclusive. It’s not. It’s just not for them. Maybe at this moment in time and I give them the advice that this is what they should be doing.

[00:36:30] So the question is, who’s the ideal candidate or the individual to join a programme to really excel in a specific area with an implant industry? I want people that have experience in implant dentistry and they see themselves niching into just implant dentistry. You know, I I don’t have any kind of ownership over. And then or a guardian or any, yeah, people on me think, Oh yeah, I do a lot of it fine, but I’m just giving my opinion and I feel that when you’re doing this level of work, you have to devote the time and effort and give it the respect. And that’s all I ask what I I devote all my time to this. So I want people that respect it. And what I look for is people that see themselves developing into an implant dentist, a surgical dentist with a with a a career that is focussed in that aspect of dentistry. And that’s all. And so I want individuals that are saying to me, if I’ve started implants have done a basic course and I’m ready to take it to the next level. I’m in the right place. I’m in the environment where the work is going to come in and I’m willing to do whatever it takes. Then you can join my programme. Because like I said, you know, I want to be around people that are motivated and hungry, and because I both of them, it forces me to be better.

[00:37:58] Can you spot talent? So, you know, when when they come on your course or whatever? Can you just sort of pick someone out and say they’re going to be a great implant surgeon? They’re going to be middle? Is that something you can just pick up?

[00:38:13] I think what you can pick up is the is the mindset, the hunger. Your client. I mean, as you know what he’s done with his business, he’s hungry. He’s got he’s just switched on. He’s got the right mindset, the skill that can be learnt. You know, maybe it takes five cases to to to start developing any kind of competency, but someone who maybe takes 10. But I’m very clear it’s we’re all on our own journey. Stay in your lane. Forget the outside noise. You might need five pieces you might need. 10 is irrelevant, but I’m here to support you. That’s it. And it might be two or three. And when I let them go and start doing cases independently, it’s in a very structured manner. So we’ll do virtual planning and we’ll go through it. And it’s a very specific case that they would be allowed to do independently. And then we start building from that. And it’s just a very step wise process and there’s a lot of trust. They have to trust me and I have to trust them. And I’ve had situations where commissions have independently done a case and I’m like, What the like? I’m you’re, you know, you’re on the programme. There’s no charge. Call me would get on Zoom or plan the case. We’ll discuss it. We’ll discuss if it’s appropriate. We’ll discuss the planning. But you’ve just went rogue. I say that’s not on. That’s not acceptable. There is like what was going through your head for you to think or just. The mind it’s mind boggling, because I’m here to help you support your day to you and you’ve not asked, do you think you don’t need help? We all need help. I look to the people that I work with in my community to get reinforcement that what I’m doing is right, that they agree with what I’m suggesting or treatment plans. I don’t think I’m right all the time, far from it. Nobody is beyond having some sort of check in terms of what we’re doing. But you know, it’s a process and we make mistakes and it’s important to learn from them.

[00:40:18] Brandon, what about the mindset of switching from regular dentistry to this sort of high ticket dentistry? Because, you know, at the end of the day, I bet there’s plenty of people thinking, you know, in my practise, there aren’t the patients for this kind of dentistry. Is that is that a thing?

[00:40:39] So I don’t I don’t believe that’s true. I think the patients are everywhere. There’s an abundance of patients. It’s if you mark it correctly. If you’re in the right environment, the practise supports your development, then there’s an abundance of patients so that that doesn’t exist in terms of the sort of high ticket. I’ve never looked at it as high ticket law Typekit. I don’t know. For me, I do this work because it’s impactful. It changes lives. I do believe

[00:41:06] You touched on marketing, you touched on marketing. So you know, you’ve got you’ve got to get the patients. So give us some hints on that subject.

[00:41:15] I suppose I mean, I’m no, I’m no Martin, but I suppose it’s sort of building your brand. I suppose it starts with, you know, if you’re a practise principle, it’s a lot easier because you’ve got so much more control. You can control the marketing, you can control the team, you can adjust the prices to get the patient to do a number of cases at cost price. You’ve got relationships with patients, etcetera. Apart from that, it’s a big part of it because so often the discussion with clinicians as they joined the programme is Are you in in an environment that’s going to support your development and growth and implant dentistry? If you’re not, you need to move. If you’re don’t one place, it’s going to be hard. Look, I I worked in my group for practises. I worked all over. I travelled, did clinics in in Yorkshire everywhere to build them my experience because ultimately developing is all about practise. And as a practise comes the self-belief, the confidence comes and everything grows with doing more and more numbers. And you need to be in a place where you’re doing this work on a regular basis. Otherwise, it’s a skill that you just will not be able to refine. And I mean, my implant dentistry has gone to a whole different level in the last sort of two years. It’s because I am doing so much. The only reason I’m doing this volume of work is I’m prepared to travel, and I have over a hundred clinicians on my training programme that need mentoring from me. And so I do a lot of this work. But would I get this level of work being a practitioner in Glasgow? Not a chance. Not a chance.

[00:42:51] Yeah. So, I mean, the and this this hundred people, if they only come around in the last since since COVID,

[00:42:58] Yes, I’ve got I’ve got about 100 conditions on my theological training programme and then I’ve got about 40 on my starter and flight training programme. But yeah, Olsen’s since the pandemic.

[00:43:08] That’s beautiful, man. And where did they come from? To talk us through that sort of model,

[00:43:13] I suppose how, however, to initially you have to get yourself out there so you can’t be scared being on social media, trying to build your brand. And I don’t appeal to everybody, but I appeal to some people and those people reach out to you. And I was fortunate. Obviously, I had some exposure to teaching and a network prior to COVID. And so I had some people that obviously knew about me. And then it’s just word of mouth, word of mouth. When you sort of overdeliver on a promise, word of mouth is an amazing thing. And then it’s clear when I go around and I help people and then they get the results and it’s just like complete devotion to their development. That’s all I care about. You know, when people come onto my programme, my whole focus is about them doing this work independently. That’s all I care about. That’s the goal. It’s not. I want them to do this. No, it’s like, how can I get you working independently? Because it’s like, next, because I’m one person, there’s only so many people I can help. And I’ve got a lot of people that I want to help, so I need people on. The programme switched on good getting through the programme, listening to the advice, get in the cases, upskilling, practising and working independently, and then trying to build a network of mentors and build a real community where we’re supporting each other to growth. Because, you know, for the real benefit of this whole community for me has been when you teach people you get better, you’re forced to get better, for sure. That’s why I love teaching because it forces me to be better. But we also learn better in a community. So we’ve got a WhatsApp group and we we’ve we’ve got each other’s back. That’s so important to me. We have to be able to drop everything and help the help. The next person doesn’t matter. We’re the community. We’re a family. We have to look after each other, whatever we need. And and that’s the kind of ethos of the group.

[00:45:16] I think the lovely part about that is that dentistry has always been that way. Historically, you know, we were we were apprentices originally and, you know, learning from each other, such an undervalued sort of thing these days. I think people want to just get letters after their name, don’t they? Let’s move on to darker days. You know, this is high risk work, which is, I guess, a lot of people don’t do it because it’s high risk work. Can you think of a situation where things went badly wrong or patient management went wrong? Or some, some some situation that someone else can can learn from? Let’s start clinically and then secondary. Ever think about something in mentoring where it went wrong?

[00:46:03] So it’s was from clinical. Every important dentist has been there where you’ve tried and tried and it’s not worked and things have not gone to plan and and the communication hasn’t been there with the patient. And there’s just been a mismatch of what you were hoping to deliver and what the patient was expecting. And I think the key for me is I don’t want to be in those situations because they really do affect me. They keep me up at night and I want to. So I suppose looking at two situations once I used to. When I started off, I used to do a lot of orthodontic oral surgery and I used to do canine exposures and I left little cotton wool all under the pallet. And the patient came back and four weeks later there was a swelling and I was like, Well, and I don’t know what’s going on. Give antibiotics and stuff. And then maybe a couple of weeks later, the mom came back and this was in Edinburgh, and she’s like, This came out and I’ve been to the orthodontist. And they said to me, that’s a cotton wool rule, and that should be left behind. Did your heart sink? Yeah. Heart sank, and I was younger, much younger then, and the experience wasn’t there. And I don’t know how I reacted, but it affected me, everything actually affects me a lot. I get really affected by failure or whatnot.

[00:47:30] But what did you do?

[00:47:33] I just say sorry, that was. It couldn’t do anything else. It was done. And she did, did she? No, nothing. Nothing. She just was unhappy. And that was it. No, nothing came of it. Thank God. Then more recently, three or four years ago, I had another gentleman. He just wasn’t happy. I had a number of them. Platinum repeated failures of implants. I just said, you know, I can’t give him his money back. But he was just a real difficult patient. Grumpy, never happy. But I’m always open. I don’t. I don’t fight. I don’t resist. I’m like, Sorry, my hands up money back. That’s it. And I don’t. I just try to move on because these failures or difficulties are far few between. And what I would say and what I implore with clinicians wanting to join and start implant dentistry, it’s really flipping. Forgiving implant dentistry is really flipping, forgiving. Implant work and the work, the majority of time, and if you stick to some basic principles, it’s really relatively easy.

[00:48:36] Look, looking back on those two situations, like the first one. There’s not much you can, I guess, learn from that because it went OK. But the second one, when you reflect on it, is there something you could have done differently from the management side? I mean, you know, there are cases where implants don’t don’t integrate right in patients.

[00:48:54] This this particular gentleman kind of elderly people disease. It was an over Dental case. So I took out the teeth and moved the ball a little bit, putting implants and then give the patient a danger. What I should have done in hindsight is stage the treatment. I’m a big believer as soon as there are any degree of complexity, maybe psychologically from a patient point of view or a patient’s medical history or a challenging case, I love to stage my treatment. So in an ideal world for a lot of the patients that I manage and rehabilitate will take out the teeth adjustable and put the implant to give teeth an idea. Great works, the vast majority of time and the vast majority of patients. It’s appropriate and this is what we do. But it’s the real skill is knowing the patients to slow down treatment, take out the teeth, give them a denture, take them back psychologically. See how the heal, how they respond. It gives you time to build up that relationship with them. And often these patients are often new. Patients are referred patients and you don’t know them. You don’t have that relationship, hence the pretenders historically. And so they’re just presenting any defects and you’re like, Cool. So you don’t want to just jump in and it’s having that experience to know when to slow things down and when you can charge on ahead. And that’s what I’ve really been able to hone over time. And so that’s what I then try to pass on to the clinicians I teach. Sometimes it’s cool to charge on a head. Sometimes you go, Whoa, let’s stop. Let’s take everything step by step and see how the patient responds psychologically and clinically to each step. And so I’d encourage that to anybody and more.

[00:50:37] It’s an excellent point. It’s an excellent point, isn’t it? Because if the patient has no teeth, historically, he hasn’t been looking after his teeth, and now you’re going to put this massively complicated thing in his mouth that he’s got to look after really, really well and differently. And that mindset shift is going to you’ve got to you’ve got to know that that’s there right before going ahead.

[00:51:00] Absolutely. And a lot of especially for large rehabilitation, immediate lord is making the patient aware of exactly what they’re having done. Patients have no idea. And you can explain and explain, but ultimately they have no idea. They don’t unless they’ve seen it in a video on YouTube. And yet some of them do do that. But really, they do. They don’t know what’s going to happen, and they don’t know what to expect. They can’t really relate to what, what’s going to happen, what, what, what they’re going to feel in their mouth. So taking some time to really make sure that they understand that they’re going to have something that can feel different, the speech is going to change. They’re all going be able to eat what they want to eat. Trying to give them the best idea. But for some patients, you can explain all you want them. Just navigate it. And that’s just life. We’re not. We have to accept that things can’t be perfect. We have to do our best. And that’s I go to sleep knowing that I tried my best. And that’s I think that’s ultimately the most important thing that I will always, always try my best. And I’m happy to hold my hands up and say, sometimes I feel, and sometimes I don’t meet the patient’s expectations, but that’s life.

[00:52:12] What about what about mentoring fail? Maybe in your early days when you were mentoring? So I don’t know something. Let me you mentioned the guy who went ahead and did it without calling you.

[00:52:23] And the only reason you showed me the case was because it wasn’t great. So I wouldn’t class that as a mentoring field that was just someone being so broke. I had nothing to do with that, and I said, this is nothing to do with me because there’s a big responsibility on my part when people join the programme and say, Oh yeah, I’m being taught by Farhan and he’s mentoring me. I like, right? But there’s a lot of responsibility and a way it’s good because the what they’re doing is a reflection of my teaching and my ability. But also what they’re doing, if it’s not great quality is a reflection of my ability, my training and me as a clinician. And if there’s anything that I really give a shit about is my reputation. I’ve worked over 20 years to be where I am, and I’m very evident that it can be brought down like a house of cards instantly. So I take a lot of pride and ownership on what I’m putting across there and home, helping other clinicians. Any particular mentoring? No, I’ve not, because I’m very, very careful. I don’t sit in the coffee room, I’m right by their side. I hold their hand and

[00:53:33] Today they today go on to place. Do they, you know, you know what I mean? I’ve see it as a failure on many small make over course that a good chunk of them don’t go on to become composite bonding people. You know, and I see that as a big fail on our part. So does that happen? Do you get people to come on the course, do the one case and then never do case too.

[00:53:56] So I don’t see that’s a feeling a failure because they learn they become more aware of a treatment protocol if they decide it’s not for them, that’s cool. It’s not for them. And maybe sometimes they feel it’s going to be for them. They want to get to that level. When they get exposed to it, they realise, no, it’s not for them or they’re not going to get the the case volume to really upskill. So I wouldn’t see that as as a failure. Yeah. So I would encourage. I think it’s important to be aware of the treatment modality. Maybe you don’t need to be on an extensive year long programme with me and having mentoring, etc. Maybe you can do the more bite size programme now that I have available. But no, no, I would really feel it if there was an issue because I’m right by their side. I don’t let them, you know, just do whatever they want. I’m very conscious. I’m aware, you know, I’m on edge, but I never let them see that I’m on edge when I’m doing a mental case because it’s an amazing feeling, actually. And to be in that position, you’re by someone and you’ve got the knife and you’re like, and you’re like, and they’re know who you are or you’re like, Oh my God, you removed this much more. No, no, no, no, no, no. And the patients they are. So you get the patients aware of that.

[00:55:10] They get mentored, but sometimes they’re sedated. Sometimes they’re not sedated. So, you know, it makes you better. I’m a I’m a much better clinician. It’s took me to a whole different level and like the self-belief that I have in myself to give you an idea. I’ve done about a hundred celebrities mentored over the last year and a bit, and that’s a good number. And when you’ve been able to and immediate lord, a lot of these and someone else has done it and you’ve stood there holding their hand or just directing them, it gives you a lot of confidence. So I’m very confident in my training and and ultimately thankful for the people that taught me this treatment protocol. Then I’m now able to pass it on to other people. It’s a nice feeling. It’s a nice place to be. It’s very fulfilling. You know, I sleep all thinking and then I get messages from people when they’re doing cases independently. You know, thanks, Farhan. I did this case and I feel on top of the world. And one of the best feelings that I experience is that look and that sense of euphoria when the clinician does his first launch. Yeah, I tell you what a great feeling that is for me to see them so happy because I remember the first time I did a full. I still get pretty euphoric when I do surgery now, I get pretty excited. It’s interesting.

[00:56:31] It’s interesting because, you know, people will call that the light bulb moment or whatever. And when you speak to lecturer’s, a lot of them are driven by that light light bulb moment. And you know, why is that? Why is that? Is humanity just goes to prove that humans are corporative animals, you know, at the end of the day?

[00:56:51] Absolutely. I think we want to be able to feel loved. It’s one of our human needs. We feel loved, appreciated, feel that we’re actually making an impact. We’re contributing to a couple of the human needs contribution growth. It takes a lot of these things education does, and that’s what it’s what I’ve been able to haul into. So, yeah, and I encourage anybody, you know, to get better or teach other people. And so when people are on my training programme and I’m lecturing, I want them to engage the process of learning as if they were to teach. And that deepens our emotional attachment to the whole process. It really does. So when you listen to a lecture, put yourself in the frame of mind, right? I’ve got to teach this to three people tomorrow. It changes everything.

[00:57:40] Ok, let’s let’s let’s talk about mentoring and outside of clinical mentoring, so the way the way I saw post who was it was saying, Oh, I called my my mentor friend had a conversation, changed my career. So, you know, that’s very interesting because it’s palpable. You’re you’re sort of enthusiasm for surgical dentistry, you know, that just comes out, but you’ve got

[00:58:05] This other side. Yeah. So that’s a particular clinician who’s who’s a cosmetic clinician. Yeah. Early on, not that I spoke to this clinician. I said, Why are you limiting to yourself? You know, one thing I’m really driven by or obsessed with is I speak to dentists and they limit themselves to earnings and what they do. And they’re like, Oh, and I speak to a lot of Dental, but no and not satisfied. I flippen love dentistry. I love and I’m honoured and privilege that I am a clinician, that I help people and change their lives. And it’s given me such an amazing life and hopefully another 30 40 years. And when I see people not like excited about dentistry or being able to help people, it makes me sad. And I’m like, Why can’t you do that? Why are you not doing that? Why are you not pushing yourself? You could be this. You can be that. How much are you earning? I’m really open. I love asking how much you earn, what, what you want to earn. So what’s stopping you? Why are you not doing that? Why are you not putting yourself out there? You know, why don’t you have these ambitions? Why are you working for someone? Why are you not owning your own practise? So I love that. Why do you want to work for someone? What you can do for yourself, working for someone in the process, you want to get to the point where you work for yourself?

[00:59:22] Well, at the end of those questions, you get to a core situation, a core sort of lack of confidence that you then address that one thing after asking all these questions.

[00:59:33] Ultimately, it comes down to self-belief, competence and a self-awareness of who you are, what makes you the person you are. And when you go on a journey of discovery and trying to really understand who you are and what drives you, it changes everything and that’s being around the right people and consuming the right content constantly. And it’s like exercise. If you if you’re not doing it all the time, you’ll you’ll jump off the wagon. And so I listen to podcasts constantly. I like I’m addicted to self personal development podcasts. I’m addicted to reading books. Learning from other giants in leadership and business. And personal development like obsessed. And that makes me the way I am. I have to be charged and then like, I’m involved in business transformational life coaching circles as as a coach. And if I’m not energetic, enthusiastic and pumped, then what impact am I going to have the people that I’m going to be coaching? That’s not good. So I have to be like, hyped up, ready. Let’s go.

[01:00:45] You said you said you don’t want to be known as just the dentist. And it’s as interesting for someone who’s so in it to say that because I remember asking Andrew Dharwad, you know, like if if I gave him a billion, would he would he would he keep on putting implants in? And so when you say that, what do you mean? What do you mean by that? What do you want to be known as?

[01:01:07] I feel I feel that ultimately again comes down to impact. I don’t think my impact is as big as it could have been. I wouldn’t have reached my potential if I stayed or a stay as a dentist. Ultimately, it’s for me, it’s about trying to achieve my potential. And that’s not. There’s no end point. It’s constantly pushing and being a dentist. I don’t think I’ve fulfilled my potential. I feel there’s so much more to me than just being a clinician. And so in this chapter in my life, it’s education, training and mentoring, and I’m excited to know or learn what the next chapter will be. I’m excited by a lot of things business, entrepreneurship, writing, the corporate world investing. I don’t know what it will be, but I’m open and I’m open to try things. Maybe Prav will give me a job in his marketing agency.

[01:02:02] So when you you talked about two things that really fire you work on, one of them is those light bulb moments or those moments when your mentees do their first full large case and send you those words of gratitude or picture of the case. And then those times when those patients that you treat can bite into an apple for the first time or, you know, function or just go and socialise for the first time in, you know, a decade or two, which is which do you prefer?

[01:02:35] I prefer the dentists being able to work independently as much as I love patients and being able to change lives for me, ultimately, if I’m able to pass on a skill that I have onto another clinician and they are then able to do what I do, get the results that I get, that’s the best feeling in the world and people appreciate that I help them. That’s great. But I don’t want that. I’m not looking for that. It’s great that they say thank you and thank you messages. I’m grateful. But it’s like an internal thing for me that I helped you. I passed on a skill job done next. It’s a really nice feeling. I can’t describe the feeling. It’s just immense.

[01:03:19] And then you touched upon them, which kind of got from the earlier conversations is that you’re are you in the process or want to create mini mes so other mentors within your circle so that you can scale because obviously you’re supporting a hundred now, right? And then what happens when the next hundred come along or so on and so forth? So how how do you scale that?

[01:03:41] So there’s about a hundred in the community, but actively supporting them at this moment in time? That’s far too many. So that’s not how many are actively supporting, but nobody gets. They’re not chopped off the community, it’s a family. But altogether, and more people join such ever growing. But I suppose if like anything, if it’s to be upskilled, there needs to be people that are sort of approved mentors through through through the programme. That’s one aspect. But then I think that’s always challenging and a difficult aspect to develop the programme. Ultimately, what I’d like to do is bring more people in the bottom level, give them the, you know, some of the enthusiasm, the energy I have, but the large and the balls that you can get from doing this type of work. And if you ask me, what would I like to do this year, it’s it’s reach out with the borders of the UK, try to pass the message on a wider field Europe and America and get people really energised around for large and doing that and getting the results that I’ve been able to get. That would be ideal if I sort of just try to focus and try to build a network of clinicians that are mentoring other people.

[01:04:53] Yeah, that’s cool, and I probably will do that. But my focus is to grow another way on a sort of lower level and communicate virtually with them and with the development of AI and VR. I think that’s going to become a much easier as we move forward. We are maybe in virtual worlds we’ll be able to be much closer to each other and engaging with each other to give the best educational experience. The real, yeah, you know, mentoring one on one. That’s that’s that’s the ultimate. But if I just focus on that, that’s limiting my impact. And so there’s only one of me. I also appreciate the young family and the sacrifice that my wife has to make and the children in terms of time. So I can’t continue driving up and down London to the north of Scotland trying to help people. I need to be able to scale the whole process but not have such a. For that to have such an impact on my time. But that’s that’s a big challenge going forward.

[01:06:00] And you talk about your Scottish identity. What does it mean to you? I mean, there’s now all this debate about Scottish nationalism. It’s weird, man, because I every Scot I ever talked to was was probably a bit of a nationalist. And then when it came to the vote, they decided not to break away. What does I mean? You don’t have to get into that, but what is your Scottish identity mean? What is being a Mancunian mean to you?

[01:06:31] So being Scottish and being identifying as being Scottish means everything to me. I mean, if you think about my wife is from Yorkshire and I remember, you know, Typekit coming to a time when the kids were nearly coming out. I was like, You’re not leaving. My kids need to be born in Scotland. And I think the biggest thing is that although I’m from an Asian background, I’ve never, ever felt that I’m not Scottish or different. I’ve always identified as being Scottish first and then Pakistani background origin second. So it means the absolute world world to me that I am Scottish. And I think the other thing is it’s it’s had such an influence on my life, the fact that I’m Asian and Scottish, and it makes me stand out and different when I’m out and about in England, working or further afield, communicating with people. And that accent, the sort of culture that I’m familiar with and associate with in terms of Scottishness and me has always helped me. So it’s just everything about it is positive seeing that I wasn’t in favour of independence and I’m all for United, all the United Nations team together, so I wouldn’t be voting for independence if and when it comes up a for another vote.

[01:07:59] I have to try and be completely silent during this conversation for him, because the questions are so it’s a bit odd for me because I can’t interject, but that was good. That was good. So tell us about the name of your book. What is about? Where can we get it?

[01:08:17] So the book is called Being Unstoppable The Mindset of a Great Clinician. And there’s that old saying that that when you’re ready, the teacher appears and who it was that time for me where I failed, I had time to sit down and write and someone just randomly came about and helped me do that. It’s a book that I’ve been able to put together. It’s a good three or four months to sort of bring it all together, but a year for me to sort of edit and and get it self-published. Or it’s sort of looking back 20 years of my professional experience in dentistry and medicine and this generation of what I think constitutes a great commission beyond titles, formal education and technical skills. I’ve sort of looked at through through the book mindset, confidence, leadership and other things, which I feel are sometimes overlooked, but I feel are really important stepping stones that we need as clinicians to really progress and further ourselves. So the whole purpose of the book was maybe it would have an impact. Maybe I could inspire people in some way that, you know, sort of reflecting on my career, and I only really became aware of a lot of this stuff in the last sort of five years, although I was progressing well and I thought I was quite driven.

[01:09:39] But when I really delved into the personal development side of things and mindset, I’ve certainly been able to supercharge my career a lot more. And so if I just put that that into writing and I can get it out there, then you know, I’m sort of impacting as many people as possible. And so that’s what the book’s about. You can buy on Amazon and download it on Kindle. So it’s available now from Amazon. Not not all good bookstores, just Amazon and Kindle and all the profits of the book go to charity. And the purpose there is that I’m hoping to build a Dental clinic in Kashmir. I’m fortunate I’m a trustee of Dental Aid Network and we are looking to build a Dental clinic in Kashmir and I’m hoping to raise £50000. It means I have to sail around nine or ten thousand copies of the book and I’m up to about a thousand. So I’ve got a bit to go, but I’m determined

[01:10:38] Just just 10 times. Obviously, this isn’t going to make it through, but it’s like doing a doing a 10 mile run and you’re a mile in May. You just got nine miles to go. You’ll get that body. And where did you drive come from? And I don’t know why always put this or where does your drive come from? And do you have more over time?

[01:11:01] So really, I feel my drive comes from my father and constantly him pushing me growing up to study hard, work hard, not end up like him working in the shop 18 hours a day. And it was constant daily reminders. You don’t want to end up working in the shop. It was cold. It’s horrible. My hands, it’s a hard graft. And then after a while, he I remember when I got to, I got my higher grades and I got into Dental school. He never said it again, and I was and it didn’t dawn on me for a while. My parents are pushing me any more. They just let me go. But because it was so ingrained in me growing up, it’s it’s just continued. It’s become a ritual. It’s a habit now that I just keep pushing myself, pushing myself. And I think a lot of that is also that I know this is what my dad wants me to do. Just keep pushing myself to be better. And I like to achieve things and then tell them about their achievements. And that’s from, you know, sort of getting the degrees, getting a publication, writing a book, getting myself into a magazine. Even what I’m earning my earnings are going up. The fact that I’ve got a practise, all these little things that I do go to my dad and because I really feel that maybe, you know, he he would have loved the opportunity of an education and a life as a as a doctor, as a clinician, helping people. And he never really had that opportunity.

[01:12:38] And so maybe he can gain a little bit of that joy satisfaction through what I’m doing for myself. And so that does really push me, and the drive is quite interesting. You know, you ask, is that drive getting greater? So I’m 40 this year and I feel in the in the last two to three years, my drive has really notched up a number of levels, not one level, but a number of levels. I don’t know exactly why that’s happened to me or why I feel that way, but I feel more driven than I’ve ever driven. I mean, there’s the book Napoleon Hill thinking grow rich and it talks about our fourth decade of life where we really do come of age. And is that something significant and significant about being 40? Probably not. It’s just you’ve developed. You’ve got that experience and practise and you start to think halfway through life, potentially. And what have I done? And you start to question a lot of things. So maybe that definitely has a part to play in it, but I’m more driven than ever and more focussed on being as productive. I value my own time more than I’ve ever valued my time and and I really do think it’s important where I’m spending my time and and trying to be as productive with it as possible. So, yeah, the drive is greater than ever before, and I feel I’ve got a lot to tick over the next 10 years. A lot more to do.

[01:14:14] I think the reason why you’re your dad stops giving you grief when you got your qualification or got into university was you knew you wouldn’t have to be bagging those twenty two fifty five pound bags of spuds again.

[01:14:30] Yeah, yeah. But I didn’t tell you to say no. But since then, three weeks ago, my dad got knocked down walking in a park and he’s got tibial plateau fracture until he’s in a brace. Not have to have an operation, but he’s sat at home and it’s tough psychologically. This guy walks 10000 steps a day. He’s not the fittest guy in the world, but walks a lot and walks in the shop, still standing all day. And now he’s at home and it’s tough. Psychologically, it’s tough. You know, I think I often think about Shawshank Redemption and my dad or or one of our elders in the shop, poldi and that whole lifetime in a shop. My dad doesn’t know anything else. He I don’t think he he would cope if he wasn’t in the shop. It’s like a jail to him.

[01:15:24] Let me tell you a story, right? It’s a sentence. Let me tell you a story, mate, because that was my dad for I don’t know how many years, right? And there came a time where we, as in me and my brother, were earning enough. That he wouldn’t need to work in the shop again, right? And they came up where my dad kept saying to us, Son, I just don’t want you to do what I do, right? Whatever happens, you’re not going to be a shock, you’re not going to be a taxi driver. I want you to be better than me, right? So when the time came where we both knew that actually we’ve done it now, we’ve made it in whatever, whatever, whatever that means, right? But we made it to the point where we could look after dad now, right? So we said to that. She’ll shop. Stop working, and we’re going to fund your lifestyle now. So till the end. Right. You don’t need to work another day in your life. And so he found somebody to lease the shop. I bought the premises of my dad, so gave him a gate, gave him a, you know, a chunk of money for what what the premises was worth. So I own the shop now. And you know what? The one thing I will say about him being lost because you mentioned that. Is that now he does a lot of admin for me in my own business. And if he didn’t have that, he’d be lost. Yeah, he needs that drives that work, that purpose to keep him active.

[01:17:07] So it’s just my dad is I don’t know about your dad in terms of literacy and things. He just, you know, because I’m like, you know, come and get in the back something you have to do something. Yeah, he’s in a partnership in a shop. And until someone else is running it, running it, it’s very passive. My dad, he’s never stood up for himself. He’s never been. He’s always been in the back seat. Got, Yeah. And he’s just, yeah, I feel I feel I’m a bit worried that with this situation, how it’s affecting him psychologically, that he really needs to go there and be in the shop or do stuff.

[01:17:46] And he’s still that age. My father in law during COVID, his business just went pop. Ok. And one of the things I’ll say about him is that he’s a different person to what he who he was prior to when he was running the business, right? And so he can’t go back down that route. And now he spends his entire day watching Netflix or, you know, going for walks and all the rest of it. And I can see it in him. He just looks lost. Yeah, he’s got to that age in his life where he’s been used to wheeling and dealing all his life since he left school. And now he’s just stopped. And his sense of purpose as a sort of disappeared and you can see that’s drained out of him. Yeah. So it’s a tricky one, but you know, something to keep him occupied, keeping him engaged interesting. But he needs to feel like he’s providing value. Not not. Ok, I’ll just give my dad something to do because I can. Yeah. But it’s not there is that there’s value for him. I think they really need to feel that they’re making a difference. It’s a tough situation. And so is he at home at the moment?

[01:19:04] Yeah, yeah.

[01:19:07] Leaders cross he gets gets better soon.

[01:19:11] Yeah. Mobilises and then sort of gets back to things. But for the poverty forum? Yeah. But it just shows you, you know, walking in a in a big park. There was some work van that just boom reversed into all these kind of really damaged his the shoulder ligaments, but not broken anything there. But yeah, really shaken up. Wow. Yeah. Got to keep his spirits up. But yeah, that is. It can really resonate with you when you see that about your father and

[01:19:44] I’m a father in law. Yeah, yeah. I think it’s a lesson for us when we get older, right? We’ll always need that sense of purpose.

[01:19:54] Yeah, it’s interesting because I talk about this and I spoke to someone by Van Vicario. Do you know him above?

[01:20:03] And Victoria Baltazar big time implant surgeon, right?

[01:20:07] Yeah, yeah. Yeah, he right character, right? And a great way to. I met one, of course, and I went running with them and I lectured them and I said, Don’t you ever let anybody tell you to retire? You’re not retiring. You’re you’re just going to another chapter in your life. And I think it’s good that you probably want to leave dentistry at sixty three, but you don’t need to think, you know, he’s a multiple multi-millionaire. When I say, don’t alright.

[01:20:34] Yeah, yeah, yeah,

[01:20:35] He’s done all right. Yeah, but I said, Don’t ever let anybody. You buy all your fucking your wife, your kids, you’re not retiring. You’re on to the next chapter of your life because I’m telling you this will kill you off when the people start talking to retire. No such thing, but we’ll want to see at sixty five. No, no next chapter. Then the next chapter is just another chapter in your life. And whatever it is, you’ve got to keep your mind active. I said, Look at you what you’ve done through your life. You’ve achieved so much you can’t just stop now. That’s it. You need to find something next. Chapter is like, You know what? I’m going to write that book because I started writing a book. I’m going to write that book because I was talking about my book. I said, Really write this, but it’s really important we can’t retire. We’ve we’ve got to just find other things to do.

[01:21:25] And yeah, you’ve hit the nail on the head there. You know, my wife always says to me, Look, if you didn’t have work, I don’t know what purpose you’d have, right? And with the greatest respect, it’s where I get my drive. It’s where I get my passion from. Yes, I’d spend time with the wife and the kids and whatnot, right? But I need another sense of delivering value and purpose in my life, right? And what I’m doing in 10 years time. It definitely won’t be what I’m doing today without question. Yeah, it won’t be what I’m doing today, but it would be, like you said, a different chapter. Take the next junction on the motorway and we go in down a different path, you know, and it’ll it’ll involve less stress. Maybe, you know, there’ll be different motivators. Maybe finance will be way low down on the on the priority list, right? Who knows? We need that. Yeah, I digress. I digress. Fantasy dinner party, three guests. Dead or alive, who would they be and why?

[01:22:31] So I listen to your podcast, and I know that the questions at the end, so I prepared, I’m not going to deny it. First one. Nelson Mandela someone I’ve always looked up to from school age when I was learning about what he’d been through and I’d love to pick his brains, what where did that drive that resilience? How did he keep motivated fixing everything? How did he come through at all and inspire our nation and the world? And then Elon Musk, someone that exists now innovating, creating his fingers in so many different ways and always, you know, one man that’s taken a company and made it so influential. And when he can tweet, he can really rock the stock market and cryptocurrency in an instant. How did someone become so influential? I’d love to have him on a table, and I’ve read his autobiography and he’s quite the character. And then Kevin Hart, just to add some humour to to to the dinner party, I find the guy hilarious. So that would be my theory.

[01:23:40] Brilliant, brilliant, if it was your last day on the planet for one hand and you had your loved ones around you. What would the three pieces of wisdom be that you would leave to them?

[01:23:54] Firstly, I’d see. It’s so important to have belief and confidence in yourself. I think fundamentally, that is essential. You have to believe in yourself and you have to have the confidence in what you do and how you present yourself. And if you don’t have that in yourself, then how can you then expect others to have it in you and often working? I’m always bringing this up with clinicians as they’re speaking to patients that you’ve got to believe in yourself, and it’s clear that you don’t. You don’t have confidence in the treatment and you do believe that you’re the right person to do it. So we have to take a step back and really work on that. So that’s what I would see now. Yeah, it’s taken. You know, it’s a journey of 20 years. I have super duper strong self belief and confidence and who I am and what I’m able to achieve. So that’s the first thing. Then the second thing is, you know, always look to help other people in general. And that said, you’ll get everything you want in life if you help enough people get what they want. And I’m a foreign firm believer in not do just go out there and help give give give. And the way the world works, they’ll all come back to you in abundance. And then the last thing I would say is don’t be scared to feel failure has certainly been one of the biggest lessons in my life, being able to experience failure to overcome it. And I see the positives in the failures and then learning. And from that, I’ve only become stronger and stronger and better at what I do. So, yeah, they would be. The three have self confidence and belief. Go out there and help people and don’t be scared to feel.

[01:25:34] So I’m finally. How would you like to be remembered? So fair hand was finish the sentence.

[01:25:44] Farhan was happy. To simply happy. For hand in Arabic means happy. And it’s really important to me that constantly I’m looking to do things that make me happy and. More importantly, to be actually good idea and make trying to make other people happy through. My training programmes through my mentoring, through the work I do and the treatments I’m able to offer patients and then hopefully now and in the future, maybe by contributing through charitable endeavours, whatever it is, I love to be able to to see other people smile and be the the reason that other people smile. That’s really, really important.

[01:26:31] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

[01:26:46] Thanks for listening, guys. If you got this file, you must have listened to the whole thing and just a huge thank you both from me and pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we had to say and what our guest has had to say, because I’m assuming you’ve got some value out of it

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