Listeners to the brilliant A Millenial Mind podcast will be familiar with this week’s Mind Mover, Shivani Pau.

Join us as the podcast host, transformation coach and speaker reveals how she left an unfulfilling career to chase her singular vision.

Like everything worth fighting for, Shivani’s journey to success hasn’t plain sailing. She discusses dealing with others’ expectations, imposter syndrome and the burning question that turned A Millenial Mind viral. 



In This Episode

01.19 – Shivani’s story

05.26 – Culture and calling

08.45 – Envy, ego and ambition

13.55 – Value and workload

18.33 – A Millennial Mind

21.21 – Love, hate and privilege

27.16 – Tenacity

31.51 – Defining success

38.16 – Why aren’t you married?

43.21  – Three steps for well-being

47.25 – Role models

54.43 – What keeps Shivani up at night?


About Shivani Pau

Shivani Pau is a change consultant, public speaker and founder of My Performance Planner. She is also the host of A Millenial Mind Podcast, rated among the top 1.5% of all podcasts globally.

Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of Mind Movers. Today we have the Queen of podcasting and I am so, so excited to have actually my first female guest. I know that we’re not necessarily doing it in chronological order, but I’m going to tell everyone because you are my first choice. You are amazing. Shivani Shivani and I first met at an event, a well-being event, which is very topical for this podcast. So in essence, I explained to Shivani that this podcast is all about talking about mental health but giving actionable points for people to do. And I think that, you know, you’ve mastered that. I know it’s always work in progress, but I really want the audience to take away something from you today and all the guests that we’ve had. So I’m actually going to let you do your introduction, because I think what blew what blew my mind so much is that you were working in a corporate arena. You decided to go in a completely different direction. You stuck to it, and now you are becoming one of the most popular podcasters, especially the most one of the most popular female podcasters, which is really, you know, close to me. Sorry. But, you know, there’s very few women that are paving the way within the podcast industry. So do you want to tell us a little bit about what your job was and how you ended up doing what you’re doing? First of all.

Thank you for having me, Rona. You are, I think, just as equally as highly of you. I think you’re amazing and so lovely to meet you as well. So essentially, I started as a management consultant. And I’ll tell you, my, my, my story. I was a lawyer. I say a lawyer. I studied law at Warwick and I hated it. I never felt good enough. And Warwick was an environment where everyone was so obsessed with education, very by the book, you know, memorise everything. And I was never that kind of person, even in school, studied law and then thought, What the hell am I going to do now? So I applied for a grad scheme at an energy company and there I did one rotation, which was around transformation. And automatically I thought, Wow, this is amazing. This is interesting. I moved to London because that job was in Nottingham and I got into management consulting. And you know, a lot of the time we all want to see change within ourselves and change with other people because I really believe that if you influence someone to change for the better, you you feel amazing because you’ve helped someone. And so that’s what drew me to being a change consultant because I felt like I could help people. And when I was at the energy company, I was helping people every day. And it was such a powerful position to be in because I was like, This is a corporate role and I get to influence and help the way people think around certain things.

And I hated it when I came to London because it was very corporate, surrounded by red tape doing the same thing over and over again. And, you know, I was just telling the story today. My Auntie Reshma Saujani was the is the kind of person who’s paved the way for me because without her, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this. I met her at a lunch that my mom forced me to go to. Yeah, she inspired me so much because we don’t see and especially for me, I didn’t see an Indian woman that was so powerful, inspiring, and owned the room. I hadn’t seen Indian women like that. A lot of people within my community, their housewives or their husbands, are the main breadwinners. And so the women are always overlooked. They don’t pay for things. They’re not the ones who, you know, dominate that room. So when I saw her, I thought, oh, my God, you’re amazing. I would love to be like you. Yeah. And then, coincidentally, that summer, I’ve never been to New York. That summer I was going to New York and she lives there and she was doing a podcast and she was doing an a podcast in a room like this. And every podcast I was watching at the time was Jay Shetty, Tom Bilyeu, Lewis House, massive production teams. Yeah. And in that moment I thought, What? I could do this. Yeah. So why can’t I? And we went for dinner that day and I said I was telling her about all these ideas and I came up with the Indian problem and I thought, That’s a bit negative, isn’t it? And I’m, I get really executed on that and everyone’s going to be like, You hate being Indian, which is not the case.

But what I really wanted to do was bring my personality to it. And as a young girl, I’ve always been someone who’s challenged taboos. I’ve always asked why a million times. I’ve always questioned the way in which we do things. And so what I realised was a common theme was breaking down different stereotypes and taboos is what I wanted to do. And then one day when I was on a run, I kept thinking, Millennial, millennial, and I thought, I don’t know what I want to do. And then I thought, Millennial mind, yeah, just came to me and I started the podcast, just audio. And I would go to people’s houses, take my £50 camera, borrow my £50 microphone, borrow my friend’s camera and record it like an honestly just shambolic yeah, balance it on several books that they had in their house or in a vase or a table or something. And I sat on the episode for six months and any time anyone starts something, there’s always this massive fear that comes about. And that’s what happened to me. Anyway. Fast forward two and a half years later and now you’ve invited me to be on your podcast. So here we are.

Well, this is not quite this is actually Payman podcast. And they have they have lots of subscribers for this. But I think the main thing for me was and Shivani, I’ve been so lucky to now call you a friend because I think we’ve known each other for a while now and I’m like, She’s so great and so inspiring. And you know, with Payman, I said to him again, I like to. Challenge. Taboos and stigmas and dentistry, as you know, has the highest suicide rate of any profession. People are too afraid to talk about it, and dentists are really scared of being vulnerable, and they often suffer in silence and they find it really difficult to talk about the issues. And I said to Payman, Do you know what? Let’s just screw this. Let’s talk about it. Let’s really bring on guests that are inspiring and successful and have had their own struggles and issues. We can talk about it now. A few things about what you said that I want to just delve into further. You obviously said that you come from an Asian background and that’s actually like the majority of dentists.

I’d say about 80 or 90%. Yeah, yeah. Doctors and dentists. Yeah, exactly. And often a lot of them end up in the profession. But the funny thing is that you said is that within your community, a lot of women would have the more kind of subdued careers like being, I don’t know, housewife, etcetera. But interestingly enough, what we see in dentistry is that they choose medicine because their parents want them to become a doctor or a dentist. In fact, even from Middle Eastern background, it was like, that’s all you could do. But a lot of them aren’t happy because they feel that the profession really isn’t their calling. Now, I’m not encouraging people to sort of like just, you know, completely go against their family and so forth. But do you find that a challenge going against your own family saying like, you know, I trained to be a lawyer, but I’m going to become like, do this whole podcast thing. And obviously that generation are like, what on earth is like a podcaster?

Of course, my parents still to this day want me to go back to my corporate role. They’ll tell me till the day I die. Probably. My dad ideally wanted me to be a lawyer. I studied at Warwick. He was so proud of me. And then I come out and I’m like, I’m going to go work at an energy company. Even though it was Ian, he was still like, What are you doing? Despite that, when I got the job in London and I was a consultant when I was working there, I never felt the sense of purpose. Right? I was just, what am I doing all the time? And for him he was saying, but you’re safe. You have a job. No one likes their job. Get on with it. Now, the thing I want to encourage people to do is never to quit and to just not have a plan. You know, it doesn’t work out for a lot of people that way. It’s really important to first figure out what you want to do. So one of the things that I started doing when I was working was modelling, and I thought I would like it because I’m very creative. I thought, you know, it’d be nice to get dressed up. I hated it. And I actually posted about this. If you scroll down on my page, I’ve always talked around mental health and I talked about the time where I’d quit my job, sorry, I’d moved from Ian to to London and I had like a three week, three month off when I took a sabbatical essentially because they gave me voluntary redundancy. So I thought, I want to travel now. In this time I was travelling the world by myself and I was modelling full time.

When I came back to the UK, I was deeply unhappy and I spoke about it. I said, Everyone is looking at my life. I’ve been to Japan, Hong Kong, all of these amazing countries, the Philippines and now I’m modelling full time and everyone thinks I’m really happy. I’ve never felt more low and I’ve always been really transparent about that. And what my point is, is it’s really important to try new things while you’ve got something safe, while you’ve got something safe. Explore. And this is where I think there’s a little bit of this toxic work culture vibe, which I’m not really in tune with if I’m completely honest. In order to do something different, you have to work hard. And in order to want to be successful in something, there are going to be moments and periods in your life where you have to work hard. I’m not saying you have to work 15 hours a day for the rest of your life, but when you want to change something, something has to sacrifice. Now, if that can’t be your salary, if you’re not in a fortunate position where you can just let go of your role or go part time or something, then what you have to do is your evenings and your weekends. You need to explore what you want to try, but how do you do that? What do you enjoy? What are your strengths? Where are you envious? I always tell people to start with that. Where are you feeling? Oh, I wish I could do that. So, course she’s doing that. Well, you can.

Why I love.

That. If you’re looking at someone online and thinking, God, I’m so jealous that she gets to speak in front of all these people, you might not get to speak in front of 300 people right now, but you can. But what can you do? You can go on your Instagram and you can speak to the 400 people you have as your followers, the ten followers you have. Grow, grow, be more confident. Someone’s going to notice you and say, Come on. I had no idea that I could do corporate workshops from my podcast. Tsb, McKinsey and Co, Red Sky. All these companies are reaching out and saying, Can you come and speak at our organisations? But how did I do that from focusing on the thing that I loved?

But do you know what that reminds me of? And I didn’t know if you know this, but I’m one of Stephen Bartlett’s most recent podcast. He actually spoke about Shivani. She’s laughing because she remembers this bit because it was quite a big moment, because he was like he saw the kind of courage and gumption that she embodied. And she literally, you know, had just started out and she was like, Hey, will you come on my podcast? You know, you can go further into the story. And he was like, I just couldn’t believe the confidence she had. And of course, I had to say yes, you know, And she didn’t really have a question.

She asked the question. Yeah, Um, it’s funny, the the reason why we don’t ask the question. For me. I’ve been around lots of super influential people. I’ve got some best friends who I should ask some questions of. Yeah. Billionaire guy could invest invest in this. Known me since I was 11, but I haven’t asked the question. It comes down to I don’t want to be the guy who asks that question sometimes, you know, and it’s and it and it comes over to the final. The final analysis is, is that fear of being judged for being the guy rejection. Well well being the guy who if I if I met Steven Bartlett, I’d like not to be the guy who asked the question. And yet asking that question changed your career. And so it’s a funny balance.

It’s tricky because the only thing that’s stopping you from asking the question is ego, because you’re you feel embarrassed. That’s why you don’t want to ask, right, to your billionaire friend to invest in this. You probably feel I don’t want to ask him cause I don’t want him to think I’m leeching off him or, you know, or I feel a bit nervous of what he’ll say. But that’s our ego. When Steven said that, he said to me, There’s two things that could have happened. You would have been in the exact same position if you didn’t ask the question the exact same right. He said you would have maybe got an ego dent. If I had said no, but you would have remained the same. But by asking, This is where you got. And you know, it’s not as easy to say, just ask your friends for favours. I still struggle to ask my friends for favours, right? Because it’s an ego thing. I feel bad. But what we need to remember is that if we don’t ask, if we don’t ask the question, we’re never going to know the answer. It’s a no. The answer is a no. But whether you ask it or.

Not, my motto in life actually is completely different. I say, you don’t ask, you don’t get. Yes, agree. And I remember ages ago.

You treat these celebrities. Yeah, Yeah. Do you say to them, hey, can I go? Can I do a selfie with you right now?

No, no. But I also do find there’s an element of things being a little bit tacky where I’m like. And I also do believe that, you know, it’s different because when you’ve got that relationship with the doctor, you are also going to them for different reasons. There’s consent, there’s confidentiality. You know, we are accountable for the things that we’re doing. So I’m not like a random person, so they’re trusting me with a part of their body. I don’t feel it’s appropriate. Now. A lot of dentists do, and they’re like, Oh, can I do this? Can I do this? And I actually find it quite cringe. So unless they say to me, Oh, I really want like, would you want to do part collaboration, etcetera, I’ve got some, I’ve got some people on the books that no, I have had to even sign NDAs, you know, to say that I’m treating them. So I think there’s that. But it also reminds me. So one of the things that happened is that when I started looking at Shivani’s page and being I was like, Oh my God, she’s so impressive. And it was the way that she spoke. It’s her confidence. It’s her ability to relate to human beings. It’s the empath that we talked about, and I see that in myself as well. And I remember she saw me post about one of my best friends who’s incredibly influential, inspiring. She was like, Oh, I’d love to have her on the podcast. And I said, No problem at all. Spoke to that best friend, got them linked together, and then a couple of months later, Shivani is like, You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you, will you come on my podcast? And honestly, I was like a little girl. I was like a ten year old girl because I was like, I matter. I was like at that moment.

What’s really important to know is I didn’t know Rhona very well. I met her once. I had met you once. At that point. It’s actually that week. I saw you at the gym. Yeah. Afterwards. Yeah. But I think what’s really key to know is that’s not. I didn’t say to you, Rhona, can you get me on her podcast? I said I would love to have her on my podcast, which is a genuine thing. I said, I would love to have her if maybe I said to Rhona, Please, can you get me on her podcast? Rhona, I don’t even know you. You probably would have helped me. But you know, it’s the way you approach a conversation and a lot of the time what you just touched on before is mutual benefit. Yeah. So if someone comes to you with part collaboration, they’re getting a benefit and therefore you’re getting a benefit by posting them. There’s a mutual benefit. Yeah. Let’s say for your billionaire friend, what is that mutual benefit? You believe in the vision and the mission of this company to grow. And we believe that your expertise and your strengths are going to help us. That’s why I’m coming to you, not as a handout. And it’s all about looking at that value.

I was just about to say the V word. Yeah, it’s value. It’s value. And I was just saying. So just before this, I was in a meeting with Invisalign actually with my reps, you know, Invisalign, the brand. And they said to me, I was talking about lecturing and so forth and like how people are paid different amounts in different countries. And they were like, Oh, but like, is it the money thing for you that would drive you? You know, they want me to do public speaking. I said, It’s not about money, but it’s about value. And I was like, I also am a stage in my dental career that if an influencer approaches me and is like, I want to be treated for free immediately, I say no, regardless of who they are. Because I’m like, You don’t value me and not valuing me annoys me. Does that make sense? You know, and that’s better than the conversation of them being like, Can I book in for a concert? And then being like, That was great. How do you want to do this? Do you want to do? Because then they’re offering me something. And that’s the thing. I think as human beings we like to feel valued and that’s why dentistry is so hard for so many people because people walk into the room and go, No offence, but I hate dentists before you’ve even sat them.

It’s putting a block.

Yeah, it’s a block. So there’s, there’s the real sense, I think, of being undervalued as health care professionals within the medical sector.

Before we go any further, though, I hate dentists means I am very scared of dentists, of.

Course, but they don’t hear that.

They the dentists didn’t hear that. Yeah, you’re right. You’re right. They don’t.

Hear that.

I’m I’m scared is what their patient saying.

Because they haven’t had a good experience so they don’t feel comfortable being in an environment.

Shivani, I’m interested in your move away from your day job. Yeah. And your drive. So, I mean, I, I told you I listened to that episode that you did where you went month by month, what I did that month, and I suddenly realised I’m not working at all.

Um, she made me feel like that. Imagine how hard I work. And then I had her planner, I had her, I had her, you know, I have her planner, and I was writing everything and I was like, oh my gosh, like this girl. I see how her mind works now. You know.

There was there’s a bit in that that she literally just, just just out of tiredness just dies, you know, just. Just out of tiredness. Yeah. Yeah. And it takes three, four days of sleep to to recover. You know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve been there. I’ve been there. But I’ve been there not because of work long. It’s been a he’s a.

Party boy.


I’ve been there because of work. Yeah. Then I thought back and I thought at the beginning when I was doing everything myself and by the way, your story screams out employ, hire. Yes, I need to hire. I need to. I don’t delegate. I don’t know if you’ve got enough money coming in in order to do that or.

Whatever it is. I want to.

Touch on that, that there comes a moment where oh and continuously moments where you need to hire. That’s true. You know, I.

Know I say that every day.

I’m like doing everything yourself is a brilliant thing that you have to learn so that when you hire, you can speak their language, right? Sometimes I’ve hired social media agency to do adverts for me and they they become guzzled me with their words. I mean, if you don’t know what a what a lookalike audience is, they’ll say, Oh, we’ll put a lookalike audience on here. You have no idea what that is. If you don’t know what reach is, if you don’t know what cost per impression is, you know, any of that stuff. So and I didn’t. And I spent thousands, wasted thousands. But now that you’ve been in the trenches and you know every little part of it. Yeah. Hire. And when you hire, you’ll see the quality will go down. Yes. Compared to you doing it yourself.

Scarce and watching her others.

I’ve hired and I’m literally like, What are you doing?

The quality will go down. Yeah. Unless you’re very lucky. Yeah. And then the skill of, you know, why does Stephen Bartlett sell his company for 100 million? The, the skill is to then put that passion into those people. It’s true.

Training them.

Sharing a vision. I think that’s the thing.

It is really difficult. I mean, you know, managing everything yourself comes with a lot of joy because you’re doing it and it’s coming out of pure passion. And I think that’s how I’m able to to drive myself to work really hard. But, you know, I never worked hard when I was younger in school, when I did my law degree, when I was at Ian, when I was at Atos, I wasn’t a hard worker. And finally when I had my podcast, I worked so hard and I was so happy that finally I wanted to do that. And everyone at work used to always say to me, You’re so strategic. You’re never in the detail, you know, at work. I used to I used to do well, but I was never the best. And now I’m like, I can be the best in this. And that’s what pushed me away from my corporate role. I had to make a decision.

But sorry to interrupt, but talking about motivation. Okay. Do you want the best podcast in the world and you enjoy doing this? Yes, I get those two things. Yeah. But what’s the agenda of the podcast? I mean, what’s the motivation? Is there is it that you’re trying to change the narrative around conversations around millennials?

There is no better feeling in the world than feeling inspired. There’s nothing that will drive you, make you smile on your face, make you go on with your day. When you meet someone and you feel, Wow, they inspired me. And what I wanted to do was bring those conversations to light every single day for people. Because the thing is, when you’re going through something, you’re going through a tough time. And mental health runs through the podcast in every single episode. There’s an element of it. And the reason why I’ve got such a broad podcast and it’s there’s not a niche and everyone told me to get a niche. But the reason why there’s not is because we all face different problems and often the people within our circle don’t face those exact same problems. Now when you’re going through a tough time, what’s the number one thing you feel?


There we go. You feel alone, and the only person that’s going to help you feel less alone is someone who’s been through exactly it. And I go through the podcast and I will share. Like with Rona, I struggled in school. I worked my ass off. I became a dentist. After that, I struggled with my application. I persisted. I persisted. I persisted. I saw this revenue. I got my practice Covid hit. Then what did you do? Someone going through that at the moment is going to listen to her and think she did it. I can do it. She did it. I can do it. This is what she did. These were her tactics. They’re not going to work exactly the same. The pandemic isn’t hitting, but I’m getting really low reach. I’m losing loads of staff. What do I do? Okay, reinvent myself. How can I do this, this and this? And they’ve got Rhona’s blueprint. And there’s thousands of conversations like that.

And I totally agree with that. And the thing is, is this is why we have been so inspired to have these conversations, because Payman, up until now has been interviewing dentists. Yet dentists contact me every single day and say, But what helped you? What inspired you? And I’m like listening to non dentists reading books from Jack Canfield. You know, we’ve spoken about this. Tony Robbins. Robbins. Robbins, Yeah, yeah. And like, listening to those people that, you know, came from really difficult backgrounds the gutter, the struggles, the failures. And then they managed to overcome it. And I learned from them because these are life skills and inspiring stories that you can apply to your everyday life.

And not everyone has to come from the gutter. I remember I interviewed this lady from Mumbai. She has her own brand, Papa Don’t Preach, just one of the most famous brands in India. And she said, I had I had privilege. My dad bought me my shot. My dad invested in my company. But she said, What did I do with that privilege? I’ve employed thousands of people. She said, Even though one of my brands is so famous, it’s like I don’t know how to describe it, she said. There’s still months. I don’t make money. People and everyone who listened to that episode was like, You are joking. It’s like Dolce Gabbana coming out and saying, There’s some months we don’t make money. And being vulnerable and sharing those moments with other people allows them to relate with you and it allows them to make a change. And if someone makes a change according to your story or someone else’s story, there’s there’s no greater feeling than that in the world.

Do you know what I want to strip back again to privilege? Because I think that’s also an important point actually. Payman I think you were the one that first said it to me a few years ago because I think I was feeling a little bit bitter and perhaps a bit jealous in hindsight of something or someone. And you said to me, but even if they did have everything handed on the plate, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have the right to be successful. Correct. And that really resonated. I was like, you know what? You’re right. Because we cannot control what circumstances we are born in, right? Like sometimes people have really privileged parents. Some people don’t.

We all have our own level of privilege. By the way, every single person on this planet has some level of privilege, whether that’s you’re living in your parents home, whether that’s your parents sent you to a decent school, whether that’s your parents, helped you with your university, whether that’s your parents gave you food when you came home from school. Thousands of children don’t have school meals. They don’t have the ability to learn the way that some people do. Everyone has their own level of privilege. Yet we’re so quick to judge someone. Exactly. If they if they’ve been brought up with a little bit of money or if their parents have invested. Correct. What are they meant to do? If my dad is a billionaire and let’s say I got a podcast studio, for example, in London, then great, I’ve done something with that privilege. He isn’t. So I have to build. It doesn’t mean I don’t have some level of privilege.


I think the podcast was was very good because he’s the son of the king. Kingfisher. Do you know that brand? The big.

Of course.

Of course. Yeah. And I mean, I hate to say that because. Because the whole podcast was about him. Yeah.

How he lives in his shadows.

Yeah, but. But my billionaire friend is a billionaire son. And I’ve watched him. I’ve same, same struggle.

And it’s hard for them because if your parents are so well off and so successful, anything you do.

It’s because of.

That to say, it’s because of that. But people love to blame your success on something that they cannot achieve. So Rona, you’re only successful because of this. The only person that I get.

That all the time.

Of course you do it. Of course you would. Because once you get one celebrity client, like with Steven Bartlett, everyone will say, I’m only successful because of him. My profile didn’t increase my. The credibility was really important for me. I had 6000 followers when I was in LA. I had 6000 followers when I left. He never posted our podcast on Instagram. The only reason my podcast blew up was in July when I was talking about marriage. But still, I remember that day. Everyone will say everyone forgets April till July is a very long time. Everyone will say, Well, Steven, Steven blew up your blew up your no, no, no. But it’s easy for people to say that because they’re like, What? I’m not going to get Steven so I can’t achieve that. Shravani So what you’ve done is unachievable for me and you have that privilege, but it’s a way for people to justify their actions.

Because both of you are famous enough that every time you put something out, there’s going to be, let’s say, 50 plus good comments and let’s say five bad comments. Yeah, And I understand what happens when you get a bad By the way, I’m not famous enough for that. Right?

He’s really famous.

In the Dental world. I don’t I don’t I don’t get any hate in either direction. I don’t get loads of love either. Yeah, I’ll give you.

I’ll give you love. Yeah, I’ll give you love. We love you. Pay.

I get love I get love face to face love. Some people say I’ve listened to the podcast. Loads of people do that and that’s interesting. It’s interesting. Yeah. Um, but I understand when you get hate, how that feels and how you have to deal with that. Yeah, it’s a complex subject, Yes, but there’s no way around it. Either ignore it or feel sorry for the person.

I’ve just learned to block it out now, have you? I actually don’t care anymore.

I don’t want to talk about hate. I don’t want to talk about hate. Yeah, because we talk about hate too much. No, no, no, no. I want to talk about the love side. When you. When you get loads of love, is that like the driver?

It’s not.

It must be. Because you know what?

You know what? I can. It’s easy for me to say that now. But remember that for two years I barely got love. No one would reshare my post. I used to get maybe 17 likes. That’s me now. 17 likes on my podcast. No one would share. No one would share. But the driver is when I sit down and have these conversations. How I feel after is I was just.

About to say so.

Empowering. I feel so inspired and that other person feels the same so that energy would last me through it. And I used to always say at work I would record one podcast a week, so I’d feel really energetic. Then I would edit it two days later again for all the energy, and then I would feel like, Oh God, this is so difficult. I’d put it out and I’d feel so crap. No one would. No one would like it. No one would share it. And then again I would record it. So it was like an up and down balance. But the podcast kept me going because I knew from a young age I was able to have those conversations because for some reason when I was younger, people always used to open up to me just randomly. I went to get my eye surgery once and the guy took me in the room and said, Just wanted to let you know that, you know, I don’t enjoy working here and told me all the stuff. Two weeks later they went bankrupt and he already told me that two weeks before. And I was thinking, Why have you just told me I’m a random like customer.

But you have that. But you know what’s so funny that you said that? Because exactly how I felt like after I did Shivani’s podcast and even when I did the first one with you and Prav, it’s that energy you feel and I’m sure you get that. And the thing is, it’s that whole bad thing. Like we were talking about another podcast about connection. It’s all about that connection because human beings are all connected and that important importance of that interaction. The other thing is as well is that it it is what fuels you and it is passion because if you came dragging your feet being like, Oh, I got to record another podcast and today I can’t be bothered. And but it’s the same with like dentistry in the sense that like I really love it. Like yesterday, like every single time I finish a smile makeover and the patient’s happy, It’s just, it’s. It’s just priceless. The way you feel really good because you’re giving something to someone they’re receiving. And that energy cycle is just really powerful, I think, you know, and that’s what it’s all about, finding that what you’re passionate about. Question Is, though, so we already discussed that with your family. They were like, No, you’re going to go back to this, but what gave you the strength to listen to your own inner voice? And I think that people find that really difficult, right? Like, they know it’s that gut feeling thing, right? Your gut is your second brain. You’re like, I’m in the wrong job. This isn’t for me. But having the courage to leave that security.

I haven’t told a lot of people this, but I took a sabbatical, so when I had my job, I thought, you know what? I just released the planner and I just thought, let me just take a sabbatical. So for three months, I asked work for a sabbatical. And in that time I achieved nothing, absolutely nothing. I thought I’d start my coaching. I was already so I was coaching. I had the planner, I had the podcast, and I thought, I just need time to figure out what I’m going to do. And I’m being completely honest. I did a course. I tried to do loads of different things. I achieved absolutely nothing. And at the end of that I still thought, I can’t go back, I can’t go back. And I remember my mum and dad, My dad wasn’t really talking to me at this point. And I remember, you know, just thinking, Well, I have to go back because I’m not making any money. I don’t have a bloody plan. I’ve still got 3000 followers. Nothing. Nothing’s happening. I went back and my dad was like, I’m really proud of you. And so he instilled that in me to go back to work. I’m proud of you for going back to your job and making the right decision. So then it was in March when I said to myself, I’m going to give it one more shot and I’m going to just get a studio now with the studio.

What was different about that? It was this more aesthetically pleasing to watch, and I could cut up the clips and put them on the social media. So it was attracting more. So what I was seeing from there was more and more and more attraction. Now, at this point, bear in mind, I had my job I’d used every single day of annual leave to go on my podcast, and I only had six days of annual leave left and we were in August. So I was thinking, what am I going to do now? You know, having the right people around you is the most important thing. And my boyfriend is an entrepreneur himself. He comes from a family of entrepreneurs. And he always said to me, Just quit your job. Quit your job, Quit your job. You’ll find out away. My mum and dad are like, You’re not married. You don’t have a house. What are you going to do? You’re not going to be able to get a mortgage. So I had these conflicting views, but there was a difference. I’d be at my job and I’d be presenting, and then I’d get invited to McKinsey and I would shine and everyone would be clapping and all the comments would be like, amazing. And then I’d go to my job in a room like this and I’d present and everyone would be like.


And I remember thinking, My God, this is so ridiculous that I’m focusing eight hours of my day on this when I actually have different income streams. Now I have my workshop, I have my planner, I have the podcast, and I have my Instagram. So why can I not expand these four revenue streams? I’ve already got proof of concept. How can I expand? And I didn’t quit. I kept going with my with my podcast. And when my video went viral, when I was getting loads and loads of people interested, at that point I realised I have two choices. Do I want to be the number one podcaster or do I want to be a number one consultant and a partner? And I realised I wanted to be a number one podcaster and my mum always said to me. Just do it. It’s only a year. Now, the reason why people are scared is because they don’t have a plan and they don’t have a goal and they’re not specific enough. So I had to tell myself, okay, my privilege is I live at home, right? So my expenses are my studio and my expenses would be other things. But I live a very simple life and I don’t go out that much. I don’t spend a lot of money on things, and I’m going to sacrifice that because I know that every bit of money I get will go into the podcast with the editing, with the studio, whatever. So I had two choices.

I thought, okay, this is what I want to do. So now let me think of a plan. And I thought, okay, I can. As my followers are growing, I can make money from Instagram. These are the sponsors I want to work with. This is how I think the planner is going to grow. And I came up with all of these different solutions and I worked out that actually had different revenue streams like my corporate workshops. I was more confident now bigger corporates were reaching out to me. I can charge a little bit more and that will fill the money. And as long as I was making enough to survive, then I was like, That will be okay. And I gave myself one year. I said to my parents, I’m going to do it for one year. And my dad was very unhappy with me. He didn’t really speak to me. He was like, Do whatever you want and care, whatever. Yeah. But my mum was like, Just do it for a year and see how it goes. I have never worked harder in my whole life and I’ve lost loads of weight. I’m really stressed, but I’ve never been happier. I never have been happier. And I always say to people, taking the risk is the scariest thing, but you know that you’re taking you’re taking an even bigger risk by not focusing on what you love. Yeah, it’s an even bigger risk.

Couple of things. I mean, when I when I was a dentist, full time dentist and then and then it was like four days a week, three days a week, two days, one day a week. So what you were saying and then they came the point of stopping altogether and it was a bit difficult that you sort of define yourself by your job and all of that. But I had this moment of clarity when I realised that if this project fails, I can go back and be a dentist.


And there’s.

Millions of jobs.

In the world if if that project, if your podcast project had failed, you’re to become a management consultant tomorrow. You can and, and earn a good living and an ambitious life and so forth. Yeah. Um, so anyone who’s thinking of making a jump, especially a dentist, especially especially a dentist, because you can you can cut down your days, you can increase your days, you can leave it, you can come back to it. And I think. But sorry, how how are you now defining success?

If I’m if I’m going to be completely honest, I define success, I think, by money. And I think the reason I do that is because growing up as a woman, I was never told that I would be someone who would be a breadwinner. I was never told that I could be someone, that I could earn a lot of money, probably 60, 70 K if I was amazing. That was my cap earning £60,000, £70,000, which is a lot of money, I just want to say. But that was like dream big, ballpark figure. Yeah. And now I don’t have fear about that. I’m very I’m very, I guess, confident that one day I will. But I see myself at the moment as, you know, not as successful. Everyone thinks I’m killing it because I’ve got loads of followers and I’ve got all these false measures of success, but I’m like, Well, I’m not, you know, I haven’t got my own studio and I haven’t got a whole team. And to fuel all those things, you need money. And it’s not like I think that’s the definition of success, by the way. I think that at that point I would think, okay, well, there’s something else that’s probably my next milestone.

I think my definition of success is, I guess actually to reword the question is just being happy every day, doing what I love. And it’s so powerful to wake up every day and think, this is what I get to do. Last week, I interviewed two of my most dream guests, and I did a Ted Talk on Saturday. I mean, I at the start of the week, I was thinking I would have dreamed about this and I quit my job six months ago, and now I get to live my dream week. This is the life. And it’s not about money to to for me to live in a fancy house and for me to push. I really want to just make the podcast the best ever. So if I can get a studio with crazy lights and crazy backgrounds and seven people running the audio and visuals and cutting up the clips, that to me will be amazing because that way we’re reaching millions and billions of people right now. We’re reaching the hundreds of thousands. I want to reach even more.

To be honest with you as well. I always say that money does buy freedom. It may not buy happiness, but it does buy freedom. And it helps with choices. You see the tools. So yeah, like you said, it’s the ability to have a team. It’s the ability to focus on the things that you want to, because I think the money thing is a dangerous slippery slope because if we continuously define that as being the ultimate success, when is enough? You hit a million, then you want 10.


2 years.

In two years.

In, Yeah. I mean, we made massive losses for four years. Yeah.

Everyone says.

Massive losses. Everyone says that houses were on the line. Yeah. Credit cards. Putting credit cards into our own machine. Yeah. To to just stay afloat.

I know.

If you feel if you’re calling it a business, it’s it’s weird because it’s art. Yes, it’s a business.

It’s you can get a university degree now in podcasting. You know that? Of course.

Of course. Yeah. It’s a business because it makes money, right? Yeah. And it’s got.

But you know, for instance, this podcast, we advertise on many podcasts, but we don’t allow advertising on this podcast, right? Yeah, because this, this isn’t our business. This isn’t our primary business. Um, not saying I won’t. Not. Yeah, of course, but, but the, the point, the point I’m trying to make is that you’re very, very early on. Yeah. Everyone always tells me of success in the first two years. I mean, if you saw me two years in, I know it’s a different thing. It’s a product and all of that. Yeah, we were in massive trouble. Like, massive trouble. And, you know, you’ve got to sort of think to yourself of if you do get those staff and you get the cameras and you get the the the most important thing is still the conversations.

Oh, 100%. I think maybe I didn’t wear that in the right way because what I mean by.

It’s just working less.

Hard of this business is that at the moment I have to go to the studio and record and press the buttons and check the lighting and check everything. I have to carry four bags with me.

I’ve seen her in action.

I yeah, she’s seen me. I wear like different clothes to the podcast because I’m sweating because I’m running from one meeting to the other. I then go back and I have to mark every single second of that podcast for TikTok, for YouTube shorts.

For YouTube.

Long form for Instagram, and then for LinkedIn. So if I had the resources to do that, it would make my life a lot easier and I would be able to churn more and more and more. My my vision would be to do this every day. But at the moment, everything is slow because I have to do it all myself because I don’t have those funds and pay.

It’s like you, for example, like imagine cutting the whitening trays, making the gels like. Do you see what I mean? Like.

Well, I was there, right? Yeah, of.

Course, of course. But we all were. We all were, you know, like, you know, we all, we all were when we were building that. But I think success is a funny one because I think ultimately most people, some people massively define it by just finances. But you used a really important work, which she said was happiness and happiness means different things to different people. And I think there’s no shame in saying like, I’ll be happy if I’m financially comfortable and secure, you know what I mean?

So you don’t we don’t all need to have this goal of being a billionaire. That is not my goal. Yeah, it’s absolutely not my goal. I don’t care. But even if.

It if it was, there’s no shame in it.

Even if you want to drive, like work really hard to be a billionaire because you want to provide for loads of different people. Amazing. Or if you want to just sit in a mansion by yourself and enjoy your life. £500 gold coffee every day. Amazing. So happy for you. Yeah. We can all have our own. We can all have our own goals.


And I think that there’s just this. There’s also this thing around, like, money shouldn’t be a goal. I definitely think it should be a goal for people because it gives you the opportunity and the freedom to do things that perhaps you don’t get the opportunity to do because you’re limited by that. And that doesn’t mean you should ever chase the money. When I started this podcast, I didn’t know you could make money. I had no idea I did it as a passion project. Everyone told me, You know, you never make any money from it. Yeah, it’s just a hobby. And I said, Yeah, I know. I’m not trying to make any money from it. I’m just enjoying myself. And even to this day, people say, you know, why haven’t you got a sponsor? I’m just enjoying myself and I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and get three K from a random sponsor I don’t believe in. I’m just not going to do it.

It has to be aligned with your values again.


Shivani the the video that went viral, actually, that was the first time that I came. I mean, I met you at the Salters event, but the video caught my eye. So in short, Payman this video.

Why aren’t you married yet?

Yes. Did you see.

It? No, I.

And this is something that I massively resonate with as well because I think as a strong, empowered females, it’s really difficult because people are so quick to ask that question When are you going to get married? Why aren’t you married? And then when you get married still it’s the thing. It’s the.

Thing. I know people ask the question because, you know, if I’m wearing an orange tie, people will say, Hey, nice tie. It doesn’t mean they like my tie. It’s it’s the elephant. And there’s.

More is what it.

Is. This is what it is. Of course, people are very rare. It’s very rare that if a young man walks in here, the first question you would say is, when are you getting married?

So what? The questions are different for men and women.

So what are what would be the standard question for men, though?

What’s your job? What’s your next job?

But I get asked that all the time. I think. I think the thing is.

I think he likes to challenge.

No, I like it.

I like it. I think I’m open to it. Bring it on. I’m joking.

I think the thing is, is women are are told that their goal in life is to be married. Right. And whether whether you whether you agree with it or not, for a lot of women the first when when I was younger it was you need to learn how to cook and clean. When you get married, you need to be subservient because when you get married, that narrative is fed to several women. And when you’re not married as a woman and you’re a strong like Rona and I, people are like, Bloody hell, what’s.

Wrong, you two? No wonder you’re not married. You know.

It’s that constant narrative and I don’t publicise my relationship with social media. Neither do you. And we don’t feel this justification to do that. And I think that this. Constant question of why you’re asking me when I’m getting married. I even said it’s not coming from a bad place. In the video, what I said was, is when you’re constantly asking someone, When are you getting married and getting married, you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. It’s the same question as when couples get married and they’re trying for kids. You don’t know if they’ve had a miscarriage. And all you’re saying is when you’re having kids. And the reason why we do that is because we all think there’s one particular path to follow in life. When you get go to school, get married, have kids. So when you’re married and you don’t have children, I get there’s no bad intention, but we should be more conscious as a society.

Language to.

Think about. Perhaps someone has just had a miscarriage.

I’m not saying people will ask and you need to just lump it. I’m not. I am saying that. I am saying that for for day to day. Yeah. And I’m sure you understand that. Yeah, I.

Get what you’re saying.

What I’m saying is I’m disappointed that it’s still a thing.

But Payman you’re.

You’re progressing.

It’s such a thing that it’s gone viral. Yes.

Yeah, exactly. But the thing is, I thought it would. But you know what?

I’m certainly not training my daughter in.

Great. Fantastic.

You must have a boyfriend. A husband.

But, you know. But the thing.

Is also, like, you have to like your daughter’s really lucky because also, like Shivani coming from an Asian background and me coming from Middle Eastern background, it is so heavily ingrained in our culture.

It’s not just our parents, it’s a community.

And there’s something that it’s really my father, unfortunately, the most wonderful man in the entire world and I love him so much. Literally sat me down and was like when I was in my 20s and was like, It’s really important that you’re married by 30 and that you consider having children around then or just before then because your fertility will go down. Yeah, exactly. All right. And I get it. And there is like, of course, science on that. But as a result, the pressure that it put on me and now even really sadly Payman, I have conversations with some of my intelligent male friends who are single and almost 40 and they’re like, Oh, I don’t know if I’d date a girl in her mid 30s because, oh, I don’t know, like it’s a bit old and it’s really, it’s quite worrying, right? Because isn’t.

That what she can’t be the mother of my.

Children. Yes. And like it’s a bit old to date a girl in her mid 30s and I’m like, I’m thriving. I am so much happier in my 30s than I was in my 20s. So I still think and this is why so many people resonated with that video because you’ll be so shocked that so many women still feel that by 30, if they’re not married, they’re on the shelf.

Oh, yeah.

Oh, 100%. All of the comments were that and all of the comments were like, how do I tell my parents to back off? How do you how do I have this conversation? It’s still very much prominent and people love to say, Oh, that’s old and ages. No one ever talks about this. Now people do. It’s it’s so relevant for women now.

And it’s the whole risk thing that Shivani was saying is still it applies to relationships. People would rather be in an unhappy relationship or a dead relationship than leave because the risk of leaving is too much. The risk of being single viral. Exactly why you should leave. Yeah.

Yeah, exactly.

Because a lot of the time we don’t. We stay in things because we think there’s never going to be something better. And that isn’t, by the way, me encouraging you when you have an argument with your partner or something goes wrong, just be like, I can get better. Someone else will treat me better. It’s more if you’re in a toxic relationship and you’re unhappy every single day and someone’s putting you down and you feel undervalued and you feel you’re not heard and you can’t communicate. Communication is the most important thing in a relationship. And if you can’t communicate with someone effectively and you’re arguing every day and you’re screaming at each other every day and you’re feeling stuck, don’t be scared that there’s not going to be something else out there because we don’t stay stuck in a job because we think there’s no other jobs in the world.

But also better to be without someone than to be with someone that makes you miserable. That’s my life goal. Now, I want to I know that you have done some incredible things, but I want you to tell us what you think. The three most important things that you did in your life to help your emotional well-being and mental health, especially through your transitional phase where you did something, leave a secure corporate job and so forth. And when you’ve reached those lowest moments, what were the three most important things that you did?

Whenever I reach a low moment now I know this sounds really annoying and consultancy, but I really plan the first thing I do and I tell everyone to do this was just write all your problems down. I just write them all down on a sheet of A4 paper on the left hand side. And once I’ve written every single one of those problems and I draw an arrow and I draw that arrow and I leave it, I leave it, I also get another sheet of paper and I write down the ten things that I’m so lucky to have that’s not great for. I’m grateful for my cup of coffee. It’s not that it’s more I’m so lucky to be able to learn so many things on social media. I’m so lucky that I whatever all these things I write down. Okay, so I write that. Then I get back that list of all the all of my problems. And I say to myself, What if someone else was telling you those things? And I draw an arrow and I say, okay, well, I can’t think of that one. Okay. My friend Vicky, she’s going through this. What would I say to her? Yeah. And I write those things down if I can’t feel anything out. This is one tactic I do.

And I pretend I’m in therapy and I pretend that the event has passed. So whenever I’m going through something I always remember, this is part of my story. And I’m going to make it. And this is going to be so funny. So one time I had an editor and I was working with him and one day he just quit. And I remember thinking, My God, what on earth am I going to do now? Because I had my job. And I remember thinking, I can’t do it. And I just wrote down, This is going to be so funny. I had this amazing editor. Now I have to do it myself. And I just remember pretending I was in therapy. I’m worried about this because. Okay, well, why are you worried? Because I’m not going to be good enough. So it’s your limiting beliefs. So why do you think you’re not good enough? You haven’t done it before. Yes, you have done it before. And I genuinely just talk to myself and not to myself in front of a mirror. I’m in a car. I’m listening to music Ludovico and I just love him. And I just pretend like I’m in therapy and I talk back to myself. And that’s actually a technique that a lot of people use.

Do you know something else I’ve done, actually, which really helps? I wrote a letter to my future self and I wrote about the key events that I thought I couldn’t get through. So it’d be like, Dear Rona, you’ve done so well. Do you remember that time when you were really stressing out that the practice wasn’t going to survive? But then you got through it? You also thought that you’d never find a loving, nourishing relationship. But do you remember? And then I talked about stuff that in the same way, like manifesting works and being like, you’re now together and you have two gorgeous children. It sounds really crazy, but it changes your state of mind. So it’s a writing a letter to your like as if you’re in your future self and.

Telling yourself characteristics like you’re resilient. You know, one of the reasons in the performance plan of the V two I’ve done, I’ve put something that I am proud of today. I am proud of because one of the other things when people are low, I tell them, just write down five things that you’re proud of, whatever they might be, and people will say, Well, nothing. I’m not proud of anything. And I’ll say, Well, I’m really proud of you for sharing how you feel and being vulnerable. And then they’ll say, Yeah, okay, yeah, I guess I am that. And I’m like, Do you help other people? And they say, Yeah, I’m really proud of being so caring. I’m really proud of being empathetic. And slowly, slowly you start to see the strengths that you have. But we shouldn’t wait for those moments. And it’s really important to every day write down some of your strengths and things that you’re proud of because you’re instilling those things within you. And that’s why I don’t really have those days now where I’m at a complete low. But when I do, that exercise is so powerful because there’s always a solution to something. Always. You alone might not be able to figure it out, but someone else will be able to help you, whether that’s a friend, a loved one, a therapist, Google it. I’m struggling with this point. There’ll be thousands of YouTube videos on telling you and how you can solve it.

Guys, You don’t have children, do you? Shivani No. So both of you, do you want children?

Yes, definitely.

So both of you are ambitious. You want children. We’ve got that work life balance thing that everyone has. Have you got examples of women that you look up to who pulled it off in your opinion, as far as ambition kids? But this is.

Can I can I go?

I was going to go I’m going to go like quite big celebrity. But for me, it’s Amal Clooney. Like she’s somebody that I really look up to because, number one, she’s an incredible career woman. She built her own career without George. She’s a humanitarian. They have kids. Do you see what I mean?

So they have kids. So why can’t.

George don’t know, be a.

Role model?

Because both have no idea what her relationship is with her kids.

But why is it that we’re asking about the mother’s relationship and not the father’s?

Because it’s you guys we’re talking to.

But this is a question that is asked a lot, right? How will you balance it as a woman? But that question is never asked to men. You know.

How can it is different, right?


Evolutionary. It. It’s different.

Okay. Why do you think a woman should be different to her kids than a man?


Really? Why?

Well, interesting. My.

My father.

Between a woman and her kid, is different to the relationship between a man and a kid. Why? I mean, do you not accept that or do you?

No, I don’t think that I have a very different relationship to my mom and my dad.

But I think I think I think a maternal instinct is something actually hormonally, there is something that goes on.

Maybe I haven’t.

Had it, so I don’t.


So my father does say that because obviously when you’re growing a baby, things like and because the man’s not growing the baby, there is something that goes on.

A hormonal man who are some men who aren’t.

But yeah, my dad’s very emotional.

He’s very open. Men and women are different.

Men and women are different. But I think in terms of balancing, I think there should be equal responsibility for a man and a woman.

Yeah, totally responsibility wise.

But I think you’re talking more about like, I think what he’s saying is, is that a lot of people and I do agree I’m a Payman I might be wrong a lot of women, their identity is either heavily linked to their career or to their children. And a lot finds it to have both. Do you see what I mean?

Where you see like I’m asking.

Yeah. And I as I said, I just gave unless there’s people within dentistry.

Do you know.

Her? No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

I’m talking about people, you know, because you. You really don’t know, do you? You don’t.

Know. You don’t know? No. No, of course not.

She could be ignoring her kids. She could have. No, no, of course.

Okay, fine. But from. From. From.

From what? You would need.

To, though, I think if you want to have a successful career, just like a man would want to have a successful career, one of you has to decide if you’re going to stay at home. And if you can’t stay at home, you have to have a nanny.

That doesn’t mean nanny.

Nanny nannies a damn good idea.

I had I had nannies.

And and I have an incredible relationship with my parents. And I don’t feel resentful or neglect. But what is interesting and I keep coming back to this is or Masha, you should get him on your podcast. I love amazing.

I listen to.

But he actually he would say that the importance of parental presence, whether it’s the mother or father, starts as early as in the womb that if you are neglected, resentful, anxious, it will affect your child later on. And the way that they come out and it is biologically ingrained and they’ve done loads of studies on rats and so forth and addiction and all this kind of stuff. So actually he would argue that attachment issues are really important as young, you know.

Do you know a woman who’s pulled it off in your opinion, or do you?

Yeah, I know Yosra. Zainab Yeah, these are two Dental I.

Do think it depends on what you define as pull it off. Reshma The lady I was speaking about, my auntie, she’s an amazing mother to both her kids. She did a speech with her baby on her hip. She’s breastfeeding at like the Golden Globes. Do you know what I mean? Like, that’s what she.

She’s my goals. Then that’s exactly what I want to be doing.

Amazing. But, you know, at the same.

Time, she was on her book tour and her son was with her and that is managing it. That’s hard. And it’s you have to make a decision. But, you know, at the end of the day, we are women who want to do the best because we want our children to be like my mum. Well, this is how I see it. I want my kids to be like, My mum did that for me. My mum was able to do it, so I’m going to do it. I don’t want my daughter growing up being like, Well, Mum stayed at home and Dad did all the work. So, you know, I think it’s what role models do we want to be? And when you communicate that with your children as well, to say, I’m doing this for you because you can feel and.

That’s what my parents did with me.

Then there’s not that level of resentment. If you’re out and about and you don’t communicate with your child. And I think a lot of the time we think of children as like infants and therefore, you know, we can’t explain things to them. But often communication is the key.

Look, with.

Your level of ambition for the sake of the argument, if you didn’t pursue your own goals, when you have kids feel.

Resentful of.

That, would that would just end up but.

Payman you know exactly you are you.

Often ask me sometimes about one of my biggest drivers and I’ll tell you one thing is that sometimes I saw for example, I went to university with some girls. Their mums were like avid housewives, gave up everything, did nothing. Kids went to uni, mum went off the rails quite literally. I know that.

Although if, if you can pull that off. Yeah.

Yeah, it’s great too. But there was a lot.

There was a loss of identity because the kids grew.

Up. I see that with my wife.

You know, the kids grew up and it’s like, What do I do now? Yeah, now, Shivani, I know that you’re a very busy woman, but as always, it’s been such a pleasure to speak to you. And, you know, one of the most inspiring people. I’d also really encourage Payman for you to get her planner. It’s changed my life. But that organisation, your mind, we actually had a guest on as well a couple of weeks ago and he talked about systems and how systems really help your mental health because he said goal driven stuff can be detrimental sometimes because when you don’t reach that goal, you beat yourself up. But but systems achieving things within your system. So it could be things like going to the gym, eating well, drinking enough water. And I find that your planner has given me a real structure to my systems because I’m like, I want to do this in my month. It’s not a goal. It’s part of my ecosystem. You know, there’s different things.

There’s outcome based goals, which is the section for your big picture goals, right? Outcome based goals would be I want to go on TikTok by 1 million. My process based goals are I need to post seven times a day. These are the times I’m going to do it. This is who’s going to cut up my videos. This is going to be how I’m going to do my subtitles. This is.

How detailed my planner.

Is. This is how do you write down all of those processes? Now let’s say I finish those processes and I’ve allocated time every day to work an hour on tick tock building at the end of the month. If I haven’t hit 1 million, it doesn’t matter. I’ve hit my process. The process based goal is key. The outcome based goal will always change because what if I hit 2 million? Yeah, right. And then that way I’ll be like, okay, now my next one is 5 million. And so with numbers you’re always chasing, you’re never going.

To get the goal post change.

You have to think about your habits and your systems that help you implement those goals. If I want to lose 20 20kg, for example, my aim is to go to the gym every day. Well, if I go to the gym every day and I’m going to do it for 30 minutes of cardio and ten minutes of strength based strength. What’s it called? Strength. Strength?

Well, I’m saying.

Strength based training, strength based.


Then every day when I’m hitting that, I’m feeling closer and closer. Now, if I don’t hit that goal specifically, I’m feeling stronger, I’m looking better. I’m in that mindset of continuing to push because I’m seeing some level of small change because I’m being consistent. At that point, I can say, well, my outcome was my outcome goal wasn’t what I wanted to hit in the first place. I actually just wanted to feel better. I wanted to feel confident so those outcome goals can change.

Can I ask the final question?

You can call.

You know, I like to do my which I’ve written down, but you can ask the final question. Go on.

What keeps you up at night?

That’s a good one. I actually had that run down a lot.

I think often I think, am I am I ever going to be enough? Because I’m growing so quickly at the moment and it feels that everyone’s praising me for things that I don’t think I should be praised for. And I think will it ever make me feel enough? Like, what am I looking for here? I’m so happy with these conversations, but I’m very uncomfortable with everyone saying like, You’re killing it, You’re so successful. I’m like, Why? Why do you think that? I find it very strange. And when I think about that, sometimes when I go to sleep, I think, what are people seeing? Like, what are they seeing? And what really defines someone killing it? Because I really think that, okay, yes, I’ve grown and yes, I have nice conversations, whatever, but what am I going to do for the rest of my life? Is this what I’m going to do for the rest of my life? And sometimes that scares me. But I think I do have a little bit of a plan. And again, this is where I think it’s so important to dream and just think, who do I envy? Who do I want to be like? But yeah, definitely thinking about five years time, if people ask me, that freaks me out because I think I don’t know. I’m not sure.

Imposter syndrome at its best. You are killing it. Shivani I know. So I’m saying that.

So you.

Must. You must feel the same.

Oh, all the time. Forever. All the time.

I get so shocked.

When people say to me like, You’ve.

Done so much.

But when people are like, You’ve done. So I genuinely don’t believe.

I’m as tangible.

But you’ve got this tangible, what is my tangibility?

But the thing is.

I think yours is so much more tangible and I think in a way, sorry, I know we’re meant to end this. I’m going to round this up in a way. You know, you said I’m really in a fortunate position because I’ve always been passionate about media, right? We’ve spoken about this. I love, love my job. There’s elements of my job that I’m like, Oh my God, I hate this. Like the admin side, the boring bits of dentistry. But I love media, right? I was so good at drama and I was so good at philosophy, English literature, and I really, really, really was so upset that my parents stopped me from pursuing that because literally my English teacher was like, She needs to go to Oxbridge. Like I applied to Oxbridge. Like, she’s so good at English literature. Hundred percent of my Shakespeare, A-level paper. And my dad goes for what? To be a teacher? He goes, She can do this in her spare time. So you can’t say that to teachers. Anyway, the point is, I am glad that I did dentistry because I still wanted to be a dentist. But that doesn’t mean that I still can’t do drama. And this year I was like, I’m going to go back to acting school because I just want to. And she’s coming with me, you know? And you know what? I’m fortunate enough because I can do that because I can still earning at the same time. But as you said, it’s plans.


So thank you very much, Shivani. You’ve been an incredible guest. Thank you. So we’re so honoured to have you here. And we can say that we’re one of the originals when she’s got those 1 million followers. Okay. All right. Okay. Thank you again. Thank you so.

Much. Bye.

Getting through dental school is an experience few dentists would be keen to repeat. 

Spare a thought then for Shima Ghazi, who has qualified in dentistry three times in three countries.

In this episode, Sima recounts her journey from her home country Iran to study in India before making her way to the UK. 

And from a new home in Birmingham, Shima found herself starting over once again as she worked her way up the career ladder from dental therapy to general practice.



In This Episode

02.55 – Choosing dentistry

08.06 – Arriving in India

11.10 – Dental school

17.40 – Women in dentistry

21.32 – Studying in India

26.00 – Qualifying

32.41 – Working in India

40.54 – Moving to the UK

46.49 – Therapy to dentistry

59.52 – Dark moments

01.08.16 – Black box thinking

01.13.26 – Plans

01.17.20 – Culture and etiquette

01.20.59 – Fantasy dinner party

01.23.00 – Last days and legacy

When you come here and you see the situation with with women here, do you still think women are, you know, disadvantaged here or do you think. No.

They are still the word hasn’t still become 50 over 50 yet. And I see that even here even here when I go for an interview. Okay. This is very interesting. I went for an interview. This was a clinic. I really wanted to get in a nice clinic in Birmingham. And I saw my folder like, you know, they were like piles of CDs. And I saw my file in senior section and then it was senior female. And then there was like, you could see that there was like sort of a hierarchy, like, you know, like in a sort of like from what’s the most favoured person? Like it was like senior male and like de de, de, de, de, de, de, de de. Then senior female. Not necessarily.

Not necessarily, though. Not necessarily.

It was, you know how I got to know about it. Okay. When we were talking, the questions were literally the questions were, are you married? Like And then she was like, you’re asking this all these things and like, you know, do you have any children? Do you want any children? And is your husband a dentist? And like sort of like, you know, too many of these questions and like I was putting these things together and when are you trying to have children? So, like, you know, and this is not the first place I have been to where they have asked me these questions.

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.

A lot of us take our Dental career for granted. We do our GCSEs, we do our A-levels. We get into dental school if we’re lucky, and we manage to pass through it. And then someone like me actually gave up dentistry as well. On the other side of it, and sometimes you don’t realise that to get to the same place that we got to so easily. Some people go through all sorts of struggles and it gives me great pleasure to welcome cIma Gardner onto the podcast today. Someone who’s qualified as a dentist in three different countries in order to get here and has worked as a dental nurse and a therapist and now finally has gotten through the system with the system and is about to start working as a general dentist. It’s a massive pleasure to have you on the podcast.

Cima Thank you so much. Hi Payman And hi to everyone who’s listening now, and it’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me here.

Pleasure. So, cIma, tell us, it’s much rather hear it from your own words here. Tell us in your own words, just the story of you even thinking of becoming a dentist back in Iran, Right? How old were you when you first thought of it?

Um, to be honest, in our culture, it’s whether you’re a doctor or you’re not a doctor or a failure. Exactly. But, you know, that’s how it is. And as much as I was a very good mathematician, my mom, my mom’s dream was for me to become a dentist. Not that I didn’t like it. I did remove all of my primary teeth myself. I was a bit of harsh girl. Um, but like, you know, I think it was around my high school when my mom was one day she came to me and said, Look, my father didn’t let me become a doctor because that was her dream. And literally they didn’t let her to go to another city to study because of cultural issues. And she looked at me and said, like, you’re the only child of mine who is actually capable enough to become a dentist or a doctor and don’t expect anything from you. But it would really break my heart if you don’t become one because you simply can’t. And that’s when literally my life got a like received a very sharp bend towards dentistry that became an ultimate goal. So do you want me to go on or should I keep going? So and then I was in a very posh high school, to be honest, not that I’m a posh person, but as I told you before, so I’m always the last person who made it so I think I can class myself as someone who worked hard, even if I wasn’t talented.

I really worked very hard. No vacations, no like, no holidays, no summer, like, you know, enjoyment, like studying 24 over seven, 12 months a year, and then got myself into this school where like everybody were like, super like, you know, they had it all, to be honest. And, um, there was a girl there that she told me about England and how great it is to study in England. But there was a problem. We we made this team together and she said, Let’s go to England and study dentistry and then we can do this and that. And that’s when I started studying English and growing this dream and picturing like, I want to be this person. So this person being from like, you know, have like, you know, girls like me, they don’t dream this big from my past, you know? And then I was like, Yeah, let’s do it. Why not? But before that, I know, like the cost. And then, well, it went ahead. I applied for some sort of scholarship. I had a scholarship, but I still couldn’t afford to come. And that broke my heart, like, big time. I was just 17 and she made it, although she didn’t have a scholarship. And that’s when I first realised I’m just a daughter of a teacher and so many things doesn’t happen to me. Like, you know, like many things, although I work ten times harder, it’s simply not going to happen. And well, I really was depressed for a while.

And then I made a deal with my dad. My cousin, my male cousin was in India and he was studying to be an engineer, an engineer. And then but I went to my dad and I said that like, I know England is really expensive, but I really want to study in English because like, sort of I want to be linked to the world. What about India? Like, you know, cousin blah blah is in India? And he said, Yeah, just figuring out how much it is. So I did the calculation and I said that, you know, with this money and that money, if you do this and that, we can probably send me and my sister to, you know, India. And it was a very difficult decision for my dad being from his background, sort of like, you know, they don’t send their daughters away. So I don’t know how it happened so fast. I don’t know how I convinced him, me and my mom, to send me and my sister away. But then we went to India. I remember when we reached there first month, my dad was like, I’m not I’m not going to leave you guys here. That’s it. You’re just 17. And it’s like reality sort of slapped him in the face and he was like, I’m not going to leave you two here. I can’t, like, literally, like, we never travelled with my parents anywhere from that to being on our own in India. So like, it was so scary.

How did it feel? I mean, the first time when you got off the plane and had you been to India before that, was that your first time?

No, it was my first time. And then it was a scary for me. It was very scary. No.

Did you have your place already in Dental school?

We had made, like, you know, the payment, the first instalment.

So you were going to get you knew you were going to go to dentistry in India. Yeah, but.

We had our interviews when we were in Iran. Like they sort of like they took our marksheets and like we had the interviews because this was a like, okay, like school, like we asked to be enrolled in one of the, like, sort of like, you know, good schools. And then like, they were a bit more picky. Um, well, we went there and still like, you know, you make a payment, but then still it’s not 100%. You have to go there and see and like, you know, have more time spent with deanery and everyone like, you know, to be enrolled to see the they see like you’re even like good enough to be enrolled.

What was your first impression? What was your first impression of India?

Because we landed in Bangalore, you know, and in Bangalore, the airport was really, really like fancy. If you go to Bangalore International Airport, it’s, I think, one of the coolest looking, I would say like modern, really modern. Yeah. International airports I’ve been to. But then as we were driving towards the city, like I was a bit shocked. I didn’t know like what I had in my mind, like from India in the movies. It wasn’t anything like that. And it was simply just sort of like very different to where I used to live. Um, that’s like, you know, as a 17 years old, like I was shocked. Like, I think everything was a bit shocking.

So you were, you were, you were living in Tehran before, right? Yeah. Yeah. As a as a town. How did it compare with, like, bigger, smaller, you know, more modern?

Very big Wrangler is really, really big. I think if not bigger than Tehran. It’s really like the same size as Tehran. And it’s a very populated city. However, like, you know, in the span of time that I lived in Bangalore, it really improved a lot. A lot because of it. It’s like it’s the number one. It like city in the world now.

Yeah, yeah. It’s known as like the Silicon Valley of India, right?

It is beautiful. And like there are many international students there, it’s a multicultural city. So I think it was one of the best choices we could have made. And the weather was beautiful as well. So all the like, you know, I think we were not, let’s say, experienced enough, you know, to make you know, what I’m trying to say is that like, you know, sort of many things should have gone right for this to happen. And a lot of it happened because of, like, you know, sort of coincidences.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You didn’t plan it like.

We didn’t have the knowledge to Payman. We didn’t know what we have to look for. It just happened.

So tell me about Dental school. How many people were in your year?

Uh, in my year, I think we were around 30 people. Uh huh, 30 out of which there were like 4 or 5 Iranians. Oh, really? Yeah, like me, my sister and few more. And it was a bit difficult for us at the beginning because, as you know, we study in our own language in my country.

Yeah. So how was your English? How was your English at that point?

It was good because, you know, I had to study for like Iran’s national examination, and that’s not an easy examination. So if you like, sort of up to that standard, like you are quite good at grammar. De de, de, de, de, de. It’s just a matter of like being in the right place to practice all of that to come up. Yeah, exactly. And like sort of practice. So yeah, it was 30 of us and the.

Dental school itself was, was it like, you know, quite modern or how was it?

It wasn’t modern, but we learned a lot. And I learned ethics in India. Like I learned to be hard working in India. I learned to work hard, expect, have like sort of like realistic expectation of life. Because I think before that I had my head in the clouds. Yeah. And like, you know, sort of expected to work a little bit and be rewarded a lot. But when whereas in India because there’s so much competition.

Yeah, but.

You have to really like stand out if you don’t like literally like I think out of five people like out of 30 people, literally like probably 20 made it to second year and like proceeding like they were not able to keep up. It was difficult. And like each examination at the end of the year, it’s like sort of like a national examination, like state examinations, like, you know, you all go to different universities. Yeah, it wasn’t easy. At least for me.

And what kind of ballpark cost was it? How much did it cost per year? Kind of around in pounds. How much around can you think?

Well, why the figure I’m going to give you is in 2010. Yeah. So in 2010 I think we spent around 50 K each for the university. Yeah. 50 K each for university for the.

Full five years.

Yeah. For five years. But then this is what, what it was just university. So accommodation, cost of living and the sanctions happened so.

Oh Iran’s, Iran’s banking sanctions.

And then that’s when like it heated us hard because what we planned to pay, we ended up actually have to like spend double as much. So like, for example, you sell your. Oh, because.

Because the exchange rate.

Exactly. Exactly. So we like literally had to sell way more than. And we expected.

Yeah. So for people we take we take these things for granted as Iranians. But the currency tumbled. I mean less than half the value. So like less, much less than half. Was it.

You know when in 2010, when I went to India, the dollar price I remember was 900. Okay. Now, how much is it? 900. Okay. Now it is 45,000. I think. 45,000. That’s the difference. We are talking about the conversion. Exactly. Remember the first year me and my sister, literally, we used to go to this shopping malls and then, like, you know, without hesitation, if you needed, like, a t shirt. We never used to look at the price tag. I mean, we wouldn’t go to Burari then, like, you know, sort of we were okay. But then towards the end, we had to sort of like, you know, even be careful how much chicken we want to buy or how much rice we want to buy. Are we going to make it till the end of this month? Or like, it was really difficult. So how did.

How did you manage? I mean, you’d planned for a certain cost and then suddenly that cost is doubled or tripled. What did your parents just keep on giving? What happened?

They sold our house, like, literally like the house living. Yeah. And this is the cost you all have paid. Like, you know, not only me, we are talking about a society like people. And imagine, like, we were like, let’s say middle class, like higher middle class. Maybe. Imagine what happened to those who, like.

Didn’t have anything.

Underneath us. And then, like, it is a sad story. And, you know, it’s confusing for me, although I’ve lost a lot. I look at my friends and like, you know, in that school, like before I go to this fancy school, I was in another school, just a normal people, let’s say school. And then out of like 30 students who were very talented, I must admit, 28 or out of Iran and like literally all 28, they cannot have still they can’t have children. And these are all girls school because like, you know, life just keep on pushing them back. You know, that’s like, as I told you earlier, like I didn’t start from zero. I started from -200. And I competed with rest of the world, literally. And there are people in Iran or like other places, India, like, you know, that they started like mine is like, you know, even more like, you know, like they’re literally there was a lady who every now and then the first year when we could like, you know, life was better. She used to come and help us. Honest to God, it was like her English was better than mine. And she was so talented. She was so smart. Her name was customary. And like the life lessons she gave me, she was so wise. And all through my like for years, she used to come with me and like, sort of help me to find patience and do this for examination and everything. And I don’t think I could have done my course without her. And like, Kasturi stayed in that neighbourhood that she was born in and like, got like she was forced to get married to a guy that she was, you know, she had to get married, forced to have children, Forced, forced first. What about Kasturi? You know, that’s like literally like that’s the area I’m interested in history. But inequality, like, that’s what I don’t understand, Like.

So it’s interesting. So, you know, you told me that you were born the wrong sex in the wrong country, and now you’re calling. Now you’re telling me this, right? When you when you come here and you see the situation with with women here, do you still think women are, you know, disadvantaged here or do you think. No.

They are still the word hasn’t still become 5050 yet. And I see that even here even here when I go for an interview. Okay. This is very interesting. I went for an interview. This was a clinic. I really wanted to get in a nice clinic in Birmingham. And I saw my folder like, you know, they were like piles of CDs. And I saw my file in senior section that really was, like, you know, upsetting for me. And then, like, it was senior and then it was senior female. And then there was like, you could see that there was like sort of a hierarchy, like, you know, like, you know, sort of like from what’s the most favoured person? Like it was like senior male and like de de, de, de, de, de, de, de de. Then senior female.

Not necessarily. Not necessarily, though. Not necessarily.

It was, you know how I got to know about it. Okay. When we were talking, the questions were literally the questions were, are you married like. She was like, You’re liking this, all these things. And like, you know, do you have any children? Do you want any children? And is your husband a dentist? And like, sort of like, you know, too many of these questions and like I was putting these things together and when are you trying to have children? So, like, you know, and this is not the first place I have been to where they have asked me these questions. And I don’t know, like when it happens a few times and you put them together, like you’re like, okay, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong as well. But what I have seen is that me being a woman is not helping me with my God.

You. No, listen, I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m not saying you’re wrong. Yeah, but but at the same time, I mean, some of those questions, I think are illegal to ask in an interview. Well, now, now, now. Just because they’re illegal to ask doesn’t mean people don’t ask them. I even think I might have asked that question myself somewhere. Jeremy, I don’t want to make myself out to be someone who’s 100% right on this, because as a small business owner, you know it’s a factor, isn’t it? How long are you going to stay and all that? It’s real. It’s real. Okay.

But what’s the solution like? Everybody knows the problem. Okay. Yes. Women have to have like, you know, maternity leave. Women have to have this and that. What’s the solution like? We like always like I’ve been thinking about that a lot and I’m like, okay, why don’t we sort of like, you know, at least for NHS, Like, why don’t we have any help? Like a nursery? Yeah. For women, like as a support, like that’s going to be sort of like a big relief for lots of women like me.

Which I mean childcare, childcare is just a gigantic issue all over the world, but but definitely here as well. But, but, you know, I mean, you shouldn’t have been asked, are you married? You shouldn’t have been asked, do you have children and you shouldn’t have been asked, do you want children? Those those those are real. No, no questions in interviews.

But like I think like, you know, at least a very simple enough to ask me those places. I think like they think of it, they just simply can’t ask it. They try to figure it out in a smart way, you know? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So it is still a man’s world, in my opinion, even here. But it’s much better than the rest of the world. That’s what I would say. I think we are going towards the right direction, but whether or not my generation is going to see it, I’m not sure.

Let’s continue with the story in India.

Yeah, sure.

No, because we’ll jump around. We’ll jump around. Yeah. Yeah. So. So tell me about the course itself, because you’ve gotten in and your parents were struggling to pay all this and the exchange, were you studying your your butt off?

Of course we were all doing that. Of course I was making mistakes as well in between just being a young, confused girl because like from a very protected society, like people, I’m not talking about general my country, I’m just talking about me and my society around me and just the whole like, you know, place, but sort of like from that to freedom, like a pure freedom, you get confused. You don’t know where you’re standing, how you should behave. You make 1 or 2 mistakes. But then, yeah, when it is like, you know, sort of when it comes to studying, literally, like we all studied so seriously to just like sort of finish the course.

Expand on that. What what do you mean by that? Did you go berserk A little bit. Did you party too hard? What what.

Happened? Not to be honest. To be honest. 1 or 2 heartbreaks. So I wasn’t really like a person who would party hard or. Yes, I did go to parties like, you know, every now and then. But then, like, you know, nobody taught me in school what I should do. Yeah, like sort of like, you know, when I come across, like, heartbreak. Sure. So that’s the issue. And I think, like, the fact that I wasn’t raised with males around me. Yeah. Sort of like being in a schoolgirl experience. I didn’t know how to behave around men. To this day, I still feel like, you know, like I’m not the best with my male colleagues. I sometimes I’m confused, like how to behave. Yeah, yeah. And it’s an issue, to be honest.

What about socially in India? Did you don’t know the food, the customs? How did all that come across to you? Did you did you did you guys used to stick together, the Iranians in India or what was the story?

I think first we tried to avoid each other, but like a sort of like a, you know, a survival mechanism for a bunch of kids. We gathered together and later on, my brother also joined us. He was only 14. He joined us to study GCSE and A-levels. So my mom came over, ended up coming over and staying with us for a while, but then she had to go back and my young brother also was there. So literally I had the responsibility of like him while I was growing myself as well. It was difficult, literally. Payman There are days that now I’d be talking about it. It comes up and like, I want to cry about it now. But then I had to stay strong. I had no other options. So we stick together and we survived. It was the matter of like survival, but not because, like anything specific, because of like our lack of experience at that young age, you know?

And did you manage to get back to back home a few times in that course or. No, because it was too difficult.

I think first year I did like, you know, first or second year we used to go once in a year. But I think there was a time that I didn’t go back for three years because the course simply was like overwhelming at some places and the food was amazing. We got used to the food quickly and we loved it.

And so basically, you grew up very quickly, right?

We had to. I think it’s not optional. It’s not something to be proud of. I think, you know, when somebody is really sick and comes out of it and everybody say like, oh, well, you know, wow, you’re stronger now, blah, blah, blah. But no, like it doesn’t necessarily have to happen, you know what I mean? Like, there are certain things, like everything is good at its own right age, you know, like you need to enjoy, you need to like at that age, you don’t have to have that responsibility on your shoulders to be so scared to, like, sort of go through lawyer because you thought, you know, you’re like the owner of the house is like, you know, making you to move like two days before your exam or like sort of, you know, like those things are hard to deal with on my own. And the problems with my brother as a teenager like, you know, growing up. So there are lots of details. Yeah. Yeah.

So then you both, you and your sister qualified as dentists in India? Yeah. How did that feel? It must have felt good.

It was good. My sister wasn’t really interested in dentistry at all. I just wanted her as a company because, to be honest, I wanted her to come out of the society around me, and I wanted her to want more from her life. To be honest. That’s why I wanted her to come with me. I don’t know. I was. That. Was that different? Like, you know, that different child. I don’t know why. Like, I don’t know why, but I wanted more. Like when my cousins wanted to get married and have children, I always was looking around the things they of like, you know, dream of. I wanted more. I never from I don’t know. I was wired differently from beginning. I was different. I don’t know if it’s good.

It’s interesting. Sheema You know, I’ve been looking into, like, high achievers. Yeah. And I’d class you as a high achiever. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Because I know how competitive it is in Iran. I know how competitive it is in India. We will get back to the rest of the story where you came top in the exams and the people, people who become high achievers, they’re generally either some things happen to them in childhood. It’s some sort of stress or some sort of I’ll prove you wrong. It’s an amount. It’s a certain amount of it. It’s not too much. If it’s too much, you end up becoming a drug addict or whatever. Yeah, but but also, it’s not that comfortable. You know, a totally comfortable child doesn’t ever become a high achiever. Exactly. So when you think of that, that idea, it’s not a good thing. Does that resonate? Were you running away from something? Running towards something?

Definitely. It was for like, you know, the fact that I’ve told you some about my life and I’m I’m willing to open this not because I don’t have boundaries, because I want others to sort of like see my story and maybe inspire 1 or 2 people that I’m inspiring, but like, sort of like, you know, I don’t know. I feel like some people need to hear this. So like, okay, my grandfather, he had like 6 or 7 daughters, seven, six daughters, three. And my other grandfather also had like 5 or 6 daughters. And one son. So it’s like it wasn’t like they had six daughters. They failed six times to have a son. Literally what I’m saying, like, we should laugh and cry about it at the same time. I know it was old in time, but like, sort of like it is fading away, that culture. But still it’s taking its time. And I am Africa, boy. So like and then remember the year I was born in my cousin, my aunts gave birth to male cousins and they were like receiving gifts. And I was never receiving gifts because I was a girl. And they like my like, as told me, like, even like as a joke.

Now we joke about it because I’m not the same person I was yesterday, six months ago. My dad is not the same person. So we are different people now. But back then he was literally he was resenting me for being a girl as a second child. And I think he sort of like bring this up like you talk about it openly because he won that wound in me to heal as well. When you address an issue, when you have got lots of question marks in your head that you add up things, I think it’s realised that am maybe a little bit smart enough to piece out things to understand and question. So he has to answer me. And that’s, I think, what’s happening in my tattoos. Like I am asking questions, trying to find the root of But why, but why the why this, why that? And like he literally told me like I wasn’t really happy. Like, you know, I was a student, second daughter. Everybody had sons. I had my second daughter. And I was like, you know, my father was treating me like a failure and like and I am the product. I am that failure. The second one, can you feel that after seven Daughters of Grandfather, I’m the ninth failure.

So that’s a lot like sort of like now. Even if you tell this now to them, they might ignore it. But like the impact on me was like and like I was an outgoing person, I wanted to go cycling. I wanted like more. I liked mathematics. I used to like mathematics. And then these are the things that wasn’t designed for me, like my aunt, like when we were having my mom was open to it. But like my aunt, when we sort of like after dining together, they would ask us with other female cousins to go wash the dishes. And I would never do that. They would give me ice. I’d be like, No, I’m going to go play with the boys. Sorry, I’m simply not going to do it. I was that rebellious person. And I remember literally my grandmother called me one day, Don’t like you. She was like, you know that serious. You know what I said back? And my dad always says that. I said, like, don’t care, you know, don’t care. And it was like 3 or 4. I said, like, I don’t care. My mom likes me. My dad.

You think, what do you think is the reason? What do you think is the reason that one person accepts that situation and another person rebels against that situation?

Lots of things like I think, yes, genes play in it, but then environmental factors like lots of things change.

I mean, clearly, clearly your mum, your mum was on your side in all of this. Yeah, of course. She wanted you to be a dentist. She was happy for you to leave the country. And all of.

That was rebellious as well. Yeah.


She was. She was like me. I was like her. But it’s funny. You know why? And I’ve asked that question for myself many times. What happened? Why was I like this? And then I see some of like a little bit of my grandfather in me, a little bit of my uncle in me. Like it’s like a genes or like a cocktail, like, you know, sort of like you get like sort of everyone and to be like, you know, sort of sitting the way it has to sit for you to become you, it’s a miracle. And I have no explanation for that, you know, and life is not fair. The reason why my sister, for example, wasn’t good enough, why I was good, why she was good in art, why I’m not in good as good in art. I don’t know. Like these things are just. They happen, you know?

Sure, sure. So then you then qualified. Then you started working in India?

I did. I qualified. I started working in the hospital at the internship that we had to do.

What kind of density was that? Was that particular type or general?

And to be honest, I was a bit like disappointed. I always used to think like, you know, dentistry in India is a bit backwards, but I must admit all the pressure they gave us and all that pain on the dentures, especially like, you know, we had to make like 10,000, like, you know, pairs of dentures. And it was so annoying. We had to do all the things like improvisation, everything, the blah, blah, blah, like.

The lab. The lab work as well.

Even the lab work we had to do. Yeah. And like, now I understand. Like, why I feel like, you know, for example, NHS dentistry is quite easy. It’s not easy. It’s just that I have so much time on the basics. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because once your foundation is okay, you can build on top of that. Yeah, yeah. It’s like one thing that actually I’m, I think like, we struggled was endodontics simply because that year when I had my endodontics, like sort of they started taking master students on Endodontics So they were giving our patients to them. Okay, yeah. And it’s funny how like I always thought like, that’s a negative part of me.

Yeah. And there’s a funny one, you know, I’ve had so many people on here who say one situation in Endo put them off Endo forever, and they never, ever did Endo again and referred everything out.

Yeah, exactly.

It’s one of those. It’s one of those. So then, okay, you did the job there and then decided to go back to Iran?

Well, I didn’t decide to again. I had no other option financially. Exactly. I had a actually I applied for Rutgers University in New Jersey and I got through a master’s course. Oh, well, yeah.

But super expensive.

Exactly. And to be honest, the head of the department actually reach out at me and said after the interview and after I said, okay, now I’m remembering. It’s interesting. This is a good story. So I remember when I had interview with them, they really liked me. They were like 5 or 6, like, you know, this heads of department sitting. And I was so excited. I was like, yes, finally. Like, it’s working. Like, you know, what I wanted is happening. And then as we were talking, it’s all sorted. Like they emailed me. I got through like and again the finances came again. My mum had to sell their house for me to go and my mum was like, I have to do this for you. I didn’t do it. I regret it. And like I remember it was the dollars went to 4000 that time. I think it was 4000. So from nine.

Exchange rate.

To 4000. Yeah. Then the day I got my admission, it became 4200, something like that. And then tomorrow, day after that, it became 4900. And as it was going up and it was like beginning of a new era. So I emailed them and I said, as you can see in the news, that like, you know, it’s all about Iran. So I’m not sure if I can afford because this had happened to me before. So I was scared that if I go and if it goes higher, I cannot do it.

But do they do they not give loans to people who are going to be do a master’s program?

Not necessarily.

And did you look into that?

I did. But for the program that I wanted to go for, like, you know, and to be honest, like you need to spend some good time to get that master’s or that loan. Yeah. And I couldn’t afford that time. I needed to earn money. I needed to, like, sort of, you know, work a lot. And, you know, it’s really challenging. It’s easy to talk about it. But when you’re in that point where, like, you know, you put all the facts together.

So I don’t know, maybe they don’t give loans to people who are not American, American residents or whatever.

I think it was such like, you know, I think had a look at the loans and I don’t remember exactly what happened. And I asked for it.

It wasn’t an option.

It wasn’t an option or it was something like, you know, I had to spend a year on, you know, and I was like, you know what? I spend a year and I don’t know if I’m going to get it or not. Just like, let’s be realistic. Let’s just like sort of settle in. Leave it as it is. Yeah.

Okay. So then you knew you had to go back to Iran, were you not? Was there a new idea of like staying in India, like living and working there a bit longer?

I think I looked into it, but I knew like I have to go back eventually, so there was no point. So I went back And so.

Did the Indian degree count in Iran?

So India is a Yeah. And Iran does accept India’s, you know, degree. But I think in our field, any country that as you change countries other than few countries, they don’t really accept each other’s like you know there’s going to be exempted of examination and well I had to do set of examinations by this set of examination for deeds and I had to do a thesis like a doctorate thesis. And this by this exam is set of examination. I mean, like, you know, sort of four sets of examination and one set is like 13 exams, 13 practical exams in of university, like each department you go and in each department, they make sure you know yourself like they won’t let go, like know easy.

Yeah. Because dentistry is super super. I know that it’s super competitive in Iran. It is.

In Iran. And that’s when I ranked first in that national examination.

You came first in the whole country.


You have to study.

You did study a lot for that exam. I did study a lot. And it was, you know why I studied a lot? Because sort of like, I mean, in India, I think I was an average student. Not because I wasn’t. I wasn’t capable simply because I had too much to deal with. Yeah, a lot to deal with as just living wise. And I think once that load was lifted from my shoulders, Yeah. I think suddenly, like I shined like, you know, and that was sort of a very good opening. After that I had sort of like an okay job, a breakthrough, like a small breakthrough. Nice sort of started working and I was trying to find my fit. And then next chapter happened.

But you could you could you could have stayed in Iran. I mean, dentists do very well in Iran, though.

It is very well. And although, again, remember Payman I am the first dentist in the family and fortunately, unfortunately, I don’t know, like in India, in Iran and in England, what I have seen is that like sort of now dentistry is like a little bit of a mini like sort of I don’t know, it’s in control of, you know, a group. And this is what I’ve seen in all three countries. Yes. If you’re really good, you can shine and you can come up. But if you’re just an average person, unless you have got good contacts, you can’t break through. That’s what I felt in all three countries. I don’t know why it’s happening.

That’s a that’s a universal truth, right? You know who you know sometimes is more important than what you know. Exactly. But what my point is that, you know, you knew more people in Iran than, you know here.

Yeah. Yeah. No, to be honest, like I had gone back from India to Iran and I had like, you know, gone back like after 6 or 7 years. And all of my friends already had left the country, had all moved out, came back, and like, I literally had no friends. And I started making friends. And I’m not saying I started working in good clinics, like, okay, not like not uptown Tehran. They won’t let like you to get there easily. Yes. But then sort of as much as I could.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, okay, you decided, I guess. I guess the dream was to, you know, you know, to move out anyway, you’d gone through that struggle in the first place. So tell me about coming to the UK. What was the story there like? How did it how did it pan out?

All right. So when I was in India, there was this guy that, like, as a result of my heartbreak outside with my friend for her birthday, and I was feeling really, really down. And I remember I was sitting at the corner of her birthday party and I was like, I just wanted to leave. And then someone came to me and said, Can I have a dance, please, with a very cute accent. And then, like, I looked up and I said, Sorry, no, because I was feeling really bad and my sister really pushed me to have a dance with him. She was like, Go on. Like, you know, you miserable, blah blah blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, well, I went and started dancing with him, and then he started dancing crazy and I topped with myself. Well, foreigners are meant to be reasonable. Why is this one broken? And I think that’s why our feeling was broken. Well, and yeah, now it’s 11 years later, and that’s how I ended up here.

That’s your husband now?

It is my husband now. And it’s interesting how the world works because I ended up in Birmingham, although he’s not even from Birmingham. So the city I wanted to come to, he found a job there and out of nowhere we ended up. In Birmingham, and that wasn’t even planned. We wanted to like, you know, wanted to go to Canada. We had broken up when I went back to Iran and I was doing my dentistry. He reached out to me. And to be honest, when I was in Iran, I started dating again and it wasn’t going very well. And I knew like, you know, I wasn’t sleeping in the society anymore. You know, like my everything had changed and I was trying to sort of gain steps backwards.

Five years is a funny time. You know, I meet a lot of people, you know, all the way from dentists to, you know, the guy who fitted my aircon or whatever. And he says he’s five years out of Romania or whatever it is. It’s a funny thing. In five years, you know, you don’t you definitely don’t fit in in the country. You’ve moved into whichever country that is. But then you also don’t fit in in the country you’ve left anymore. Yeah, because it’s five years, you know, it’s been a long time you’ve been away. It’s interesting. So. Okay, so so Birmingham. So some sort of you felt like that was some sort of, as we say, grace. Yeah. Kismet. Kismet. Destiny. Yeah. Yeah.

That’s it. Like, you know, to be honest, when I first and it’s very interesting because as I said, Ollie’s is not even from Birmingham, and we had no idea, like, sort of when we were.

Is he in it? Is that why he was in Bangalore?

No, not really. His dad had a company that wanted to open a company there with like a colleague. And and it was all like sort of actually yesterday we were walking in a park together and I was we were talking together and we were like, What were the odds like when we first met? Like when you ask me, where are you from? I said, like Iran, he had no idea where Iran is. And I said, Persia. And he said, Oh, I played Prince of Persia the game. That’s how much he knew from my background. And we were the perfect match. Like we tried both, like, you know, we broke up, we tried dating other people. It didn’t work out. And then like we sort of like, it’s as if like we were each other’s the end of the world thing, you know, when, like, that safe place, that, like, home. Yeah. You know, that’s how we felt. Always together.

So you got to England. Had you been to England before?


How did that feel? Tell me how that felt. Like, what did it like? I mean, I’m not talking about, you know, exciting, scary, scary, scary.

Yeah, It was a scary to come here on my own again. Immigration. So I’ve immigrated to India. I’ve immigrated back to Iran. Now I’m immigrating again to a new country. And believe me, I’ve lived out of my luggage for so long in my life that I don’t even have lost the concept of home. So like when I was coming here, I was hoping that this would be home. And then as we were like, sort of as my plane was coming towards England, first impression was that why is it so green? Like from.

The sky?

Yeah, yeah. Like green dots. And it’s like, where is that green place? And everybody’s like, Oh, that’s England. And I thought it would be more modern, to be honest. I thought it would be much more modern because like, I’m from Tehran and Tehran is a very modern city. Yeah, I expected in England to be much more modern, but it wasn’t. And like I remember, like I didn’t felt home for a long time because simply they’re not, you know, long, you know, at the towers there are no towers around, like at least not in Birmingham, not as many as you would see in, well, like skyscrapers.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

And Toba is like, that’s where home is for me.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So it was a bit confusing. Like, it took me a long time.

And so what about, like, did it feel cold suddenly?

Oh, gosh, don’t make me start on that. I hated.

It. Did you arrive in winter?

Yeah. April. No, no, it wasn’t winter, but I was freezing. Literally. I was freezing my toes, like, you know, I hated the weather. And then I used to wear, like, lots of layers. And because it was Covid, I only could bring 20kg with me.

Oh, is that when you came in? 19. Yeah, it.

Was at the end of. No, no. I came in 2021. Oh 21 sort of like as soon as it opened literally. And I only could bring 20kg and I didn’t even have enough clothes to wear and Payman neither me or Oli had big money. We started with writing like sort of 5 or 6 K together and we had nothing we had to work out like work our way up. And that’s why like sort of had to do nursing, had to like, you know, lots of different jobs. He had to like get the first job he was offered and was in Birmingham. And we never dreamt that, like, you know, one day in two years time we would be where we are today. Although like, human beings always want more and more and. More.

You know? Yeah. Well, listeners to this podcast have heard the Sandeep Kumar story and you know, he first thing he did was a nursing job. Actually, he cleaned a supermarket and then and then he did a nursing job and didn’t even speak English. Yeah. And now he’s one of the most successful dentists in the in Europe. Like so so, you know, it could go any direction for me, but. Okay, let’s tell me about nursing. Tell me about nursing. Like having been a dentist.

Yeah, I wasn’t I wasn’t the best nurse at the beginning simply because, like, I never was in the other side of the chair. And we think it’s an easy job. It’s not.

It’s a hard job.

It is a job. It’s a hard job. I always heard like, you know, why is my nurse in the room not in the room or why this and that. And and then I realised, oh, my gosh, all that is stress that the dentist feels literally the nurse is the punching bag. And that’s like really hard. And like for me it was like because I couldn’t understand the accent, especially at the beginning, few of the practices I worked like, you know, they were super not very nice to me, not at all. And they, like, I was the one who had to clean the dishes. I was the one who had to like, sort of like clean the floor, even bathroom, all the like. Maybe nobody else had to do it, but they knew, like, I have no other option. Yeah, sort of. I was a stuck. And had to do it. Not the Dental nursing part. You know, dealing with inequality. Again, my problem wasn’t washing the dishes. It was that Why should I be the only one who has to do the dishes, you know, deliberately? And that was sad. You know, remember, there was a day that I was cleaning the bathroom and I was crying. I was really upset. And then I was like, I was talking to my God, and I was like, God, this cannot be it. I have really worked so hard in my life. I deserve something. And then and then I remember all this like, you know what? I don’t know. I talked to myself and I said, Look, all day hasn’t been a success story that you’ve had. And they didn’t say that. There was a time that I used to clean bathrooms. I was like, Maybe this is a sign of success for people who have clean bathrooms. So I was like, okay, it’s all right. Come on, Sheema, you can do this. You’re a strong girl. This is nothing compared to, you know, other things you have been through. And I think that pushed me to work even harder. Like staying awake till 4 a.m.. Working.

Coming back from studying?

Yeah. Studying, like, till 4.

A.m. for the for the. For the Dental exam.

Of course, because like, I wrote the exam on April 2021 and they announced the exam 20 days or 21 days, I think before the exam, a month to 20 days before the exam. And this was after two years of waiting. So literally they like two years of my life was vanished on the earth. And so suddenly they said there’s an exam. And I had to, like sort of stay away. And it is not the first time in my life I have stayed like stayed awake till 4 a.m.. But remember when I was in middle school to getting that like, sort of good school in Iran in high school, my dad used to wake up like 2.

Or 3 a.m. to turn off the light for me and push me to sleep like he literally used to, like sit down. Like I could see the frustration in his face. Like, come on, girl. Like, just good, good. It’s okay. You don’t need to, like, do it. But I want to. I wanted to bring that change to my family. I wanted to be that regular person and be like, Look, the things you guys think or look like is bigger than this. Like, yeah, like more than this. Like, I knew there is more, but I don’t know how. I don’t know how I knew more, but I knew there is more out there. Not a bird who is in a cage has no idea how freedom is or like sort of what’s outside world. But I had a vision of outside world. Like I wasn’t like, you know, we didn’t have social media like growing up, like it wasn’t a thing, Facebook or Instagram. Like, yes, I used to watch movies and things like that, but.

It was never like. I don’t know. It was never enough. The things that was around me they should have been was like, life cannot be this much, this meaningless. Like, you know? Yeah, it has to be something at the end of it.

So. All right. So then you did that and some hygiene therapy type roles.

Yeah. So I did hygiene job and I did therapist job, and I was told that I cannot do hygiene job. They literally a person said, No, no, no, no, no. A person standing in front of me. This person sat in front of me, looked me in the eye after knowing me for a while and is like a professional person and told me that you cannot be a genius in this country. You’re not good enough. Like, you know, maybe you were something in your country, literally something like this. And you cannot be like, you’re not good enough to work in this country. These were like her words. And then I looked at her in the eyes and I said, You have no idea how far I have come for you to just sort of like leave this comment. Like whether you’re stupid to not see my potential or you don’t know your job. Like literally like you don’t know what I can be. And like one month or two months down when I started my hygiene, the second month, I had more Google reviews than, like, you know, the other place combined.

Yeah, I saw your Google reviews. I saw them. I even I read some of your Google reviews, lots of lots of glowing reviews about their new hygienists. I know.

And that was like, you know, the first, the first patient I did in England, my hands were shaking because this was like after like a year or two that I was touching. Yeah. And then I remember my hands were shaking and then Saneto shout out to Sunil and he’s a lovely, lovely dentist in Birmingham College Road Dental Practice. Then I went and like sort of started like he arranged that case for me. And when I started I touched the of hand and I was freezing. My hands were freezing, as is Sonya. I’m really, really stressed. It’s been a while since I’ve touched a patient. And he looked at me and said like, Look, it’s okay. I’m in the room just clean. And so it’s just a clean. That’s how I express. It was like blacking out, like, you know, it’s not the job. Like it’s the financial struggle, the exam. Like, it’s not just a job. For me, it’s like everything. There’s a lot of pressure. So I did it. And then as I entered to college road practice, I looked at this practice, which is very fancy, very. And the first thought I had was like, Oh, they’re not going to give me a job. Why am I even here? Like. Like they’re not take it like a girl with her accent and that. And then like, I did it. And actually, apparently the patient review was very good. And then they after that, they called me and they gave me the job. And I was so happy I was over the moon, especially when I was told I’m not good enough. And then I smashed that job. Like last week I said goodbye to College Road and actually we won a few awards for College World last year of dentistry. Sure. And yeah, it was it’s a journey. Like you never know if you don’t risk if you stay in your comfort zone, if you believe whatever comes out of people’s mouths, you’re never going to make it.

So true. So true. So you’ve left that job now because you’ve passed your and now you want to get a Dental dentist job?

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And I’ve done like therapist job now and for dentistry bit like, you know, I did pass like the exam in January, but then it takes time and I just do the paperwork back and forth and now I am going for interviews. So if you’re listening to this and you’re looking for a new girl.

You know, look, I understand why they gave you that job because I saw you in the what was it, dentistry show or something? Yeah. And and I could just see the passion in you. Like, I don’t know, you were just spilling over with with what you’ve done. And also, you worked at his place, and he had nothing but good things to say about you.

He’s amazing. Like he and his team. That’s where I saw good dentistry. Like, that’s where like, you know, sort of they, they’re very kind to me like, you know, they did gave me like, you know, when I was near my exam, like out of the blue, I was like, oh, I just have to disappear. Sorry for like, you know, a week before my exam, for example. And then, like, they were like, they’re really cooperative. And they did like, you know, I saw literally good dentistry there.

Yeah. Both of the manager and the pitcher both. I mean, they are I knew I knew the person, you know, I’m working with Depeche but but manage also brilliant dentists. Brilliant below the radar, both of them.

Both discipline good skills. And like, you know, there’s another person who works for them. Rajshahi. I know.

Raj. I know Raj. Raj is good, good.

Good, good. Amazing. All of them are so amazing and like it was my honour. I think like that widened, like sort of my horizon in regards to what can be achieved in dentistry, because I used to think like every dentistry fails, but not if you’re one of Palmer brothers.

Deficient stuff doesn’t feel just mean.

It was like he would like do it in 40 minutes. Like. Like how? What? How? No, this doesn’t make sense. It makes me feel bad about myself. But they were very, like, sort of helpful and, like, even, like my job, they offered me jobs. And like, even for dentistry, they owned me and they were like, What are your plans? And like, like they were like. So like, I was very lucky. Like, these people came across, you know, my hat. And literally, like, I think I was lucky. And probably my life is picking up. Yes.

Yeah. You know, whatever whatever situation you’re in, whatever rat race you’re in, it just another rat race comes up and becomes a, you know, struggle again. You know, it’s a nature. It’s a nature of achievement. And you’re the kind of person who wants to achieve. Yeah. And, you know, like we mentioned, Sandeep before, who was cleaning the the supermarket, the the guys got like, you know, 14 practices and a network of Invisalign, the biggest network of Invisalign users in Europe. And so and that’s that doesn’t come stress free you know that there’s loads of stress and I think they’ve got 200 employees or something. Yeah. So I mean at the same time it would be good. It would be good wouldn’t it, if you could, you could be in the comfort zone for a while. Oh yeah, yeah.

But I don’t know, like, you know, when you are used to that adrenaline rush.


And that’s not something optional. I was raised with that adrenaline rush every second of my life. So literally, like, I think I’m sort of addicted to it now. And another reason is that, you know, Payman the problem is that if you don’t succeed a person like me, if I don’t succeed or if Sandeep doesn’t succeed, it’s just simply a sad story. Yeah. You know, to me, like if, if we don’t like, if you just almost make it, it’s like sort of.

What’s the closest you’ve been to sort of giving up and dropping out as that, as that even been on the horizon, What was the worst situation you were in?

Well, I can’t really like sort of share my voice situation. There has been very dark moments in my life. Very, very dark, like with family issues and everything. Like with my country, like sort of like, you know, the pressures of sanctions and everything. Um, it’s been very rough. Like, literally, like, you see, your loved ones are struggling to the darkest bits. And it’s not fun, believe me, it’s not fun. Or you see your friends, like, sort of disappearing, you know, out of sort of taking their own lives. And it hasn’t been 1 or 2. Like you deal with like a lot. You go through a lot that sort of you realise like you become a realistic person. Like you’re like, okay, this is, this is what I can do, you know, this is how much I have control over. And then you make peace with gradually, you know, other sort of, you know, option than making peace with what you were born into. And then once you accept that, then the next step is that, okay, what can I do if I don’t want this to happen again? Or like what you do to just go one step ahead, even one step ahead. And there has been like, you know, I never thought that giving up is an option for me. I never thought like not in my wildest dreams. But then a few months ago, my aunt, there’s a very I have a very bright Aunt Netta, who’s like, she’s in she’s a university, she’s a professor at the University of San Francisco, and she’s a very, very intelligent girl, very intelligent.

She’s only 40. She’s one of like sort of few like professors. And then a few months ago, in November last year, she called me and she said she, like, I need to tell you something. And this is just between me and you. And I just don’t think I can share it with anybody else yet. Um, I’ve got. She doesn’t smoke, she doesn’t drink, she exercises. She’s like my goddess. And she now has got stage four cancer and we don’t know how long. And you make it, you make it hardcore. And this happened, you know, and then after November, I have changed a lot. The, you know, before I was just a hotheaded I want it all. But now after November, I’m like, okay, what if I put it on and this happens? So I take it a bit easy on myself. I’m like, Don’t be too harsh on yourself as well. Like, you know, you never know. You never know. And at the end of the day, this is just like, this is what it is like, you know, and just feel. I just wish people were like a bit kinder to each other, especially in our industry. Like, sometimes I feel people are too competitive.

Yeah, sometimes, you know, based on the the best thing for the patient. Yeah. We feel like we can shout at each other and be rude to each other because we’re doing it for the patient. It’s almost like the patient is this sort of cover for being horrible to each other. And, and then there are egos. And I think the other thing is, you know, some of the stuff you said about working in practice and I bet you when one day you’re going to have this super clinic and you’re you’re you will, of course. But your experience with being on the other side, being on the nursing side, on the staff side, the washing, the toilet, whatever, that that will help you loads here. But I think in our industry we’re we’re undermanned. There’s not enough humans, we don’t have enough people running. When you when you think about what’s actually going on in a in a dental practice, you know that I always thought the nurses job was harder than the dentists because it doesn’t end when the treatment ends. You keep going. Yeah, dealing with.

Dentists is hard, to be honest. The worst the worst part is like, you know, and I see it now because we are in our own headspace. When we are treating the patient, all we are thinking about is patient. We don’t we don’t think about the nurse in the room, right? Like when you’re doing the treatment plan, when you are opening the cavity, you don’t think about how my nurse is feeling. I haven’t even talked to my nurse like in hours. She’s a human being sitting there with her thoughts, you know, And that’s the worst bit. And then there are times that I didn’t know this about myself until I was a nurse. Like the times that, like, for example, you take the suction from them to get an idea that like, she doesn’t see. And she. Actually feels bad because.

She feels like she’s not doing her job properly. You know, the way you take it or the hand or what a nuance. And then I talked to a few of the other nurses when I was with them, and they said like, Yeah, like it really hurts. Like, what a nuance. I would never have thought like and I was thinking like, yeah, like, you know what? Like they are, right? Or like when, for example, like in my practice when I was practising like, you know, Birmingham, like whenever we ran out of water. The water bottle, like every now and then I’d be like, okay, you stay with it. Like patient, I’m going to get the water this time. Or at the end of the day, like now I ask them, like when I was a nurse and I was like sort of bagging the olegovich at the end of the day, you know, And I would see all the dentists just walking outside. I would just wish like, one of them would ask, just literally, just ask. I didn’t expect it, but just ask like, Do you need help?

You know what I mean? Simply just because. Because I’m human. Like, you know, just me, you know? And then, like, I always do this with my nurses, I’m like, you know, when you signed up today, I asked him, do you need help? And then just like, wipe it once or like, you know, I go get that water bottle. Like if they go ten times, once I got, you know, like these things, small things like it’s good to like, you know, acknowledge people around us for sure.

How many different dentists did you work with?

And I have worked with loads two, three, four, five, six, I guess six, seven, seven different dentists. I think I’ve worked and this is a common issue. Each dentist has its own, you know, sort of like, you know, negative part with nurses and probably I’m not the best as well, like now that I’m working. But I try now I try because I understand it’s a difficult job. It’s difficult to deal with dentists. Honestly, all seven dentists I’ve worked with, not even one has been easy to work with really. We all have our own, like, you know, that kick that I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s funny when you’re the third person in the room and you see all and think that’s the reason why there is a lot of nurse like, you know, leaving the practice because like, be honest, I don’t think many, many nurses like sort of feel appreciated in their job. Like they don’t feel like, you know, they, they’re not rewarded, you know, emotionally or not rewarded. They’re not acknowledged. And then there is broken communication in lots of practices to the point that like, you know, the nurses are like, you know, what’s the point?

Yeah. Mean and there’s no there isn’t much career progression, right? Yeah, there isn’t many places for the nurse to go in some practice. Of course some practice there is. But in many practices there isn’t anywhere like career wise. That’s correct. Yeah, it’s very correct. So look, on this podcast, we like to talk about mistakes because basically we don’t talk about our mistakes enough in the industry. Yeah. And is it possible that someone can learn from one of your clinical mistakes? What comes to mind when I say clinical mistake?


Did you perforate?

Okay. Okay. We’re going there. Let me tell you.

If we’re going.

Let me know. It was when I was in Iran. There was this clinic that I used to work one of the first clinics I went to. This was in a very deprived area. Okay. So like we’re talking about. Okay, so because of sanctions already, the quality of the materials are really, really low If you’re working in deprived areas. And then the clinic owners, they provide you files, but then you have to keep on using the files until they break down. That’s the policy. So you use until they break, until they break down. So you use so you have to learn how to retrieve a file that’s like something you have to master. So like, literally, like, you know, a file would be used on 2025 different patients. Okay. So what I’m saying.

Are we talking hand file or rotary? Both. Uh huh.

Okay. And so the one I’m going to share, like I gave you some background so you don’t judge me based on like I didn’t have good, like, you know, source of materials. Yeah. You know, and there was this case where literally there was, like, this beautiful lawyer, like seven. And I have to admit, this is the part I had done wrong, is that I was too confident that I can do it, you know, and like and now, like, I believe that there’s no heroic dentistry. Shima Know your boundaries. So like, sort of when it says seven, think twice. And then I started like sort of doing it. And as soon as I entered, like, the file Rotary 25 did the hand filing, 25 it broke down and it broke down past, you know, past.

The apex.

Past the apex. And then like, literally it was as if like, you know, have taken like, cold shower. It’s like I was sweating. I was it was a nightmare. But I referred the patient and I took care of the cost and everything, like, you know, and I explained to the patient, to an endodontist. Yeah, but the patient literally didn’t go to the dentist because she didn’t care. And she was like, Can you please instead remove my tooth and give me money? So she ended up actually taking money.


It was sad, but like, you know, I begged her to go to an endodontist and she was like, No, I don’t have the time. I don’t have like, you know, I’m like, this and that. It’s just one tooth. I don’t care about it. Just I didn’t even want the root canal at the first place. Just take it out. And if you give me some money, I’m happy. And that’s how it was solved. But I think like.

So the mistake you’re saying the mistake was overconfidence, as in you pushed it too hard or something?

Yeah, exactly. I knew that I don’t have good equipment. Yeah. And I knew that, like, seven is going to be challenging. This patient cannot open her mouth, like, fully. So why would you do it? I was too confident.

I get it. I get it.

Anymore. Well, I have good luck, you know. I have regretted, like, you know, sort of giving patients treatment that they don’t own the problem. I think that’s one of the most thing that is helping me now because I worked in deprived areas, specifically working for NHS. I think I am I am one of the only confident dentists in the practice I’m working today that can actually look at the patient and says like, you know, I’m not going to do it because sort of like, you know, I have a feeling like this and that indirectly, you know what I mean? So like if a patient is coming to me and has got five root canal treatments and eight fillings to do, and they come to me and they demand that root canal treatment to be done right there, right then. And like they sort of have the attitude of like, it’s my problem, I have to guarantee it. Or they want to put me in that awkward situation that I tell them what they want to hear. I don’t give it to them.

It’s very true. It’s very true. You know, the problem is there’s we’re here to help. Yeah, absolutely. And you’re right that that boundary does get broken sometimes and people treat it like a clutch of a car or something. Exactly. You know.

There’s a lot here, and I’m glad, like, I’ve done enough mistakes by over promising people or like even simply promising anything in dentistry. Maybe like the patient manager can promise. I can’t. Like, I know I can’t. I don’t think like many dentists can. But even like them, I’ve worked with them. They always like go according to statistics. And that’s why I love, you know, working with them. Realistic.

What do you reckon about the future? Like if if I could wave a magic wand and give you I don’t know if I could be your some, some some billionaire said, I really trust you. I really believe in you. What would be your dream outcome? Like what would you like to do? Would you like to specialise? Would you like to be a businesswoman? Like which one? What would you like to end up being? You know, look, I left. I left dentistry. I know you’re not going to do that with the struggles you the struggles you went through. I don’t think you’re going to do that. But. But there’s so many different directions you could go.

Then I would work on kids, like literally like not in dentistry. Kids like I would work on like, the potential kids can have. Like if someone like me as a kid, if somebody like, like people around me didn’t know Payman If somebody who knew would have given me some direction, some direction or would have been like way ahead of my life, I had potential. I, I was simply like I was in problems. I had to that potential had to go for problems a lot. Like, I feel like as much as like I would say I would like to like, you know, charities, this and that. But I feel like if we sort of support those with potentials, they actually can help those like, you know what I mean? Like, I’m investing in investments and those investments can actually like have a more impact than like, you know, going and trying to cover like a charity. So yes, you can really help a charity or you can train two teachers to go teach in the charity, two different charities, and you cover like more number of people. So my ultimate dream is like to be able to sort of encourage science simply because it’s the free free thing which is available and be available.

And it’s a funny thing because if you want maximum impact. The best thing is for you not to be involved with any of that stuff. Go make loads of money and pay pay pay loads of other people to do it. But but, but, you know, I’m. I’m talking passion. Yeah. Like, okay, you’re saying if someone had helped you, then it could be. It could be that you become a teacher in dentistry. Right. And just teaching a young dentist gives you you know, I’ve heard that story many times, right? People say, I didn’t get it when I was a student. But you can in dentistry, where do you think you’re going to go in dentistry specifically?

Well, I do love perio simply because my dad had it and I had to witness him struggling with it. And I love perio and I love being a teacher. In fact, I love because my parents were teachers and I always had that soft spot, like for, you know, teaching. And I think I have like, you know, that gift of being able to word things like, you know, a little bit like a story. Yeah. After my parents. But yeah, I think that would be a good area like in general you know area to talk about like perio and teaching. But if I had like a position, let’s say that magical magic wand. Yeah, a magic wand, I think I would have sort of made dentists to be like less competitive, you know, and more forgiving, more like sort of kind, you know, because as a person who has come from two different countries, like being in two different countries, people are more open in India and Iran to help each other here is like everybody wants to like, you know, sort of like lock their knowledge and hide every bit of their knowledge. That’s why I felt it’s a bit I’m.

Surprised you say that. Although although listen listen to this yet that let me give you an example. I remember I mean, I left Iran when I was six here, but I remember my mom’s car broke down or something and 40 people came and helped like one guy, you know, he took petrol out of another car with a thing and whatever it was. And then and then over here, your car breaks and no one helps. Yeah, but then. But then. Yeah, yeah, but the reason is over here you’ve got like you push a button on your phone, you know, you’ve got the AA and that’s, that’s how it works because that’s how it works. There isn’t that community spirit thing that you’re alluding to. Yeah, but I mean, but by the same token, I’m sure like if you end up in hospital, yeah. In India or Iran, you need your family to look after you. Yeah. Yeah. Because they haven’t got the manpower to look. So you could say, oh it’s the families are better there or so but, but it’s not the it’s you know culturally things come around because of these different things and, and and you know, the question of dentistry is actually much more people much more willing to help than than you might imagine. Yeah but but you’re right as well. I’m not saying you’re wrong. Yeah you’re right as well in that people do get very competitive. We see it all the time.

Yeah. So I think I need some more time here to, like, you know, make that call.

Over here, You know, people. People don’t say what they mean as much as back home. Yeah, and that’s a weird thing. You have to get used to that. Yeah.

I think so. I think, like, you know, it’s a bit difficult. Like, I think etiquette is sort of like, you know, to the point that it covers how people really, like, feel or look.

Remember this, Remember this. Here you are. If you think back to India. Yeah, you’re in your second year of dental school. Yeah. When you where you didn’t know people, you didn’t know the system. That’s where you are right now in the UK. Yeah, you’re right. It’s tough. It’s tough because you’ve moved so many times, right? Yeah. Yeah.

Hate like to make like, you know, these statements that, like, I like, you know, and everybody does, but like, you know, sort of wanted to say this at the beginning, but I forgot I wanted to talk about this. Like, you know, probably this like, you know, voice of mine is going to be available in a few years time. I’m going to just listen to it and laugh and probably like, be like, What the hell? Like sort of like, you know, thought about making such a confident statement about life changes and big change. And I’m sure like, you know, that sort of I’m not going to be where I am mentally and like, you know, sort of like, you know, life wise, few even weeks down the line.

Of course. Of course. So where do you think you’re going to be next? So you think you told me you’re thinking of moving to London.

Is that simply because it feels like home to me a little bit? It’s more like Tehran, to be honest.

As a big city, you mean?

Yeah, I am used to crowds, crowded people. Funny when I go to underground. Yeah, but feel like I’m in Tehran, literally. Like, you know, that’s people everywhere. Exactly. That’s craziness. That chaotic life. Like I am a city girl. At the end of the day, I can’t. I’m not used to like leafy green suburbs. I can’t.

Yeah, I get it. I get it. Well, it’s been a massive pleasure. You’re a massive inspiration. You really are.

Thank you so much.

Thank you so much for having me. I’m going to look forward to to see exactly where you go and what you do next. And and that determination of yours will get you through 100%. Thanks so much. Listen, without with our usual questions, okay. Fantasy dinner party.

Okay. It’s going to be three guests. Gianluigi Buffon.

Who? Oh, the Who’s Gianluigi?

Buffon. He was the. He’s the former goalkeeper before. Yeah, I loved him. He was my first crush in life. And I loved him so much. I named my hamster after him. And for a long time, my name on Facebook was cIma, Buffon. And like, everybody knew me as cIma.

Buffon, the Italian. The Italian one, right? Oh, my.

Gosh. Yeah, I loved him. Yeah, he’s Italian.

But did you were you were you a football fan or was it just his face?

I am a massive football fan.

Are you. Are you. Are you? Yeah.

Yeah, I love football, but yeah. So it’s going to be Here.

Is the last person I would have imagined. You’re going to say no.

Buffon Like this guy love to spend a dinner.

He is cool, gone.

And then next is going to be my grandfather who is not in this world anymore. And I couldn’t say goodbye to him because I was here and I couldn’t go back. And so him. And it’s going to be. Can I take two more? Sure. One. Sure. Okay. So it’s going to be my mom and it’s going to be my husband. They have to be there.

This is much of a fantasy man. But I get it. I get it. It is a it is a fantasy time.

With Buffon and my grandfather. It was impossible for them to see those two people again.

That’s nice, man. That’s nice. Okay. Let me let’s go to the final, final question. You’re on your death bed. You’ve got your friends, family, children, closest, dearest, nearest, the six aunties all around you. Give three pieces of advice that you would give to the world to give to them. To the world.

You know what Payman like. To be honest, I don’t think I would give any piece of advice to them. Is that an option?

Not really.

Because you know why? Because we all live different lives and like, you know, like, I probably would make a joke. I don’t want them to be upset after I’m dead, you know? So it’s like, you know, I would make the silliest joke that they always laugh. Like, you know, whenever they remember me. Like.

You’ve got to give three pieces of advice. You gave loads of advice in this podcast already know if.

If I’m dying and it’s like, this is a scene of a movie. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I would say be kind. Like that’s the most important thing. Just be kind. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. And you know, this too shall pass. This trip thing has taken me like, you know, that has made me put on because life is not always, you know, happy hours. It’s like down parts and like, I think life is more about making it through those down parts, the celebrations, you know? So I think those would be the things that I would tell them.



Thank you. I really look forward to seeing you on the lecture circuit. Bcd, Mini Smile Makeover, all of those things. So I really look forward to seeing you. Like, you know, I just get the feeling that, you know, someone like you is going to be like going out there getting better and better and better and better. And I’m sure having talked to you now, I’m sure you’re brilliant with patience as well. Thank you.

So much. Thank you.

You know, I’m very, very, very proud of what you’ve done. Amazing. Thank you so much for doing so much.

Take care, Payman. Thank you. Bye.

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

Thanks for listening, guys. If you got this far, you must have listened to the whole thing. And just a huge thank you both from me and pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we’ve 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.

What are the foundations of well-being and mental health? It’s a subject to which this week’s mind mover, Loui Blake, has given plenty of thought.

In this week’s episode, the entrepreneur shares thoughts on using plant medicine to heal trauma, the value of adversity and why there is only one person who really matters. 

Loui also challenges listeners to ask: “What would happen if I lost everything today?”

Search deep, and the answer might just surprise you… 


In This Episode

01.09 – Meeting Loui

03.38 – Retreats, trauma and healing

13.52 – Systems Vs goals

18.39 – Systems, goals and purpose

27.27 – Challenge and adversity

38.44 – Entrepreneurship

43.54 – Foundations and solutions

54.58 – Veganism and the man in the arena

01.03.15 – Proudest moments


About Loui Blake

Loui Blake is an entrepreneur, investor and public speaker.

He is the founder of the award-winning Erpingham House vegan restaurant and several casual restaurant concepts.

In 2020, Lui co-founded Gamechangers Investments for the hospitality industry and, in 20022, became CEO of Miami Foods.      

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another episode of Mind Movers. So as you all may remember, we’re doing a special mental health series to help dentists across the board that may be suffering over a lot of topics. And today I have an amazing guest, Louis Blake. Louis is a very good friend of mine and he is somebody that really helped me massively in what I would call my healing journey. He’s a plant based entrepreneur and he’s a speaker and an angel investor. He started out in football and then in nightlife and then switched to a plant based diet in 2015. And this whole change caused Louis to refocus attention on businesses that make positive impact on the world through food. He’s also a founder and an award winning entrepreneur. And in 2020, Louis and partners set up game changers investments designed to provide opportunities to the hospitality industry. With a portfolio of brands operating across the UK, USA and the UAE. So he’s a very impressive individual, but also very open and just amazing. So I’m very excited to have him here today.

Welcome, Louis. Thank you. How did you guys meet?

So it’s a bit of an interesting one. I think that just shortly after lockdown, something within me told me that I needed to make some changes in my life to help my mental health. And it’s funny because when people look at me, they’re often like, Well, there’s nothing wrong with you, Rona. As in like, you don’t have any addictions, as it were. You know, like we just talked about me being teetotal, didn’t we? And they thought, What’s wrong with your mental health? And I just knew that I always found myself in a really anxious state or I had a real sense of imposter syndrome or this sense of impending doom. Now. Once. That’s once I could have hit rock bottom. I didn’t really know how to navigate it. And I’d met two guys that own a company called Dirty, and they’re like the mushroom coffee, I think. Yeah. Did you buy it? What do you.

Think? Yeah, Like it? Tasty. He’s an.

Investor. That’s why he’s asking. Yeah.

So brilliant. Yeah, I bought it twice now.

Yeah, because you were like, My God, my brains again. My brains.

Getting better. I bought the brain, the brain health one and the other time I bought the immune system one.

Yeah, yeah. You know, the marketing works. Yeah. Yeah. So anyway, I had reached out to one of them because they were developing the product at the time, like developing the kind of marketing around it. Talk to me a lot about how good mushrooms were for your mind, etcetera, talking about their products, etcetera. And I said, You know what? I really want to find a community that can help me. And I always said that I really wanted to do the work, but I didn’t really know what doing the work meant. And I was like chasing this thing. And I think as a dentist, because we’re academics, we’re like, Right. We know if we revise this for the exam, we can put this input, we get this output. And I was like, I want to input the work to be better, to feel healthier, to have my mind in a space where I don’t feel like I’m going crazy, essentially. So they got me in touch with another guy called Alex, and Alex runs a retreat and he runs the retreat with Louis, and another guy called Luana and I decided to go on the retreat and that’s where I met Louis, and I found him to be one of the coolest kids. I can’t remember Peter Pan in some way. Visually. I was like, He looks so cool. And I learned a lot from Louis. And I think what’s been interesting is because we’ve been friends now for just over a year, I think, and he’s watched me grow, as it were. And I think that, like, I attribute a lot of my healing to things that he’s put into place for me and help me. And I think that’s because he’s been through his own journey and that’s why I really wanted him to come on this podcast so he could help people in the same way he’s helped me.

Amazing. Thank you. So this retreat, was it a business as well?

No, it was entirely accidental. It was born out of, I guess, my own journey. Um, and reaching a point where, you know, like probably many people can relate to reaching a point where it was probably in my mid 20s. On the surface it achieved a lot of the things that I thought I was you were supposed to do to be happy, right? I followed the societal narrative of what happiness was, had a nice car, had a nice house, had a business, was going out and partying and all of the things that, you know, you were kind of told to aim for, shall we say. And I was just grossly unhappy and unfulfilled. And at the time I was probably overindulging in alcohol, in drugs, in partying and spending money and and not finding any kind of solace or any kind of feeling in any of those things. And I just got to the point where I was just completely numb and I went on quite an extreme retreat, shall we say, uh, with plant medicine. And I spent a week.

Was that ayahuasca?

Did ayahuasca? Yeah.

In Peru?

No, I did it in the UK and the first day was the week itself was really the first time I’d sat with myself and held a mirror up to who I really was. And I think I believe you can get there without the the the aid of plant medicine. But in the state I was in, I wasn’t I didn’t feel I was able to do that. And the first day, I was absolutely disgusted with what I saw. I was really able to take a look at myself and the way that I’d been behaving, the the way that I treated myself, the way I treated other people. And I saw that it came from a place of just not liking myself. And that energy was then reflected in the way that I treated treated others. The next day was just pure compassion for myself and other people. And some of the the tools that I was given on that retreat, I was able to then implement back into my life. And I knew that I needed to make a change. And it coincided with some other lifestyle changes that I’d made. I’d recently adopted a plant based diet. I’d recognised that perhaps the the work I was doing wasn’t the most beneficial to my physical or mental health, and I’d made a lot of changes and that had been the catalyst. Um, and a friend of mine who Ronan mentioned Alex had been on a similar journey. Um, but ayahuasca is quite extreme. You know, I, I don’t think it’s for everyone.

And it’s the second time we’ve heard it actually on this podcast. Yeah, it’s, that’s why Payman is like.

Wow it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s extreme, right? And I wanted to be able to help, continue to help myself but also help other people around me that I saw were in a similar position to me. I had a number of friends that were, you know, making great money that had businesses that, you know, on the surface looked like they were doing really well. But I knew from the private conversations that we’d had or I could see in them the same things I saw in myself. And I wanted to find a way to to help them, but perhaps not as extreme as I as ayahuasca. So Alex and I started just going away ourselves on a weekend would go out to the countryside for two days. We’d get an Airbnb loads of nutritious food, you know, we’d go on long hikes. And then one of our friends came that was a meditation teacher then, and a yoga teacher came. And then all of these kind of accidentally turned into this very organic thing that was never monetised, but was purely a coming together of people that were all had a similar intention for, for, for for healing themselves and each other. And six years or so later, it’s now become more a thing. But still the the the kind of the the the DNA of it is still very much in how do we and what modalities can we bring to people that can help them heal. And different people are going to resonate with different practices. But it’s about making these practices available and and giving people a start on on their on their healing journey. And that’s kind of what it’s it’s become about. And we still go on it ourselves to help ourselves in the same way that we did. So we say.

You said it before that healing word and you’re saying heal. Are we saying that everyone needs healing? Is that is that the the way. That’s a deep.


Yeah. I don’t think I think that the for many of us and and when I say many of us I, I think about the the world that we live in. We live in London in a busy urban environment. And what we’ve experienced over the last 3 or 4 years, um, as a result of a lot of those experiences and the way that we’ve been, we’ve lived, I believe, yeah, there is a lot of healing that needs to be done. And when I say healing, you know, we and these words are thrown around a lot, healing, trauma, etcetera. And I think it’s important that we, we have a clear understanding of what exactly we’re talking about. And trauma can be something as simple as your five years old. You form a bond with with your favourite teacher. And at the end of the school year, that teacher leaves. When you look back, when you reflect on that as an adult, it’s always just a teacher. And she left whatever. As a five year old, that’s your first experience of abandonment. There’s there’s confusion. There’s uncertainty. There’s a a bond that’s been broken unexpectedly. Your response to that situation could be to protect yourself.

Could be. For example, you don’t form tight bonds with adults anymore. Right. And then over time that is compounded. It’s a behaviour that’s learned. It becomes a subconscious behaviour and it becomes part of your personality. And so when you enter your adult life, this is a behaviour that may have served you as a child but now is no longer serve you as an adult. But it happened so long ago that you’ve forgotten about it. And until we can reflect on our trauma, right, free from the the, um, I guess the, the connotations of the word and the confusion around the word. When we can reflect on our experiences, we can start to understand sometimes why we behave the way that we behave. And this is what comes up a lot of the time when we go into these kind of retreats or work with plant medicines, we’re able to revisit traumatic experiences that happened in the past, understand our response and look upon them from a different perspective and form a new response. Um, and I think being in London, even the time for reflection in these busy urban lives that we live just, just isn’t there.

I think that’s really important. And I think that, you know, it’s what I found such a disconnect in dentistry for me is that people, the behaviours that are learned, as you said, are very much in an environment that is very strict. Like a lot of the dentists that I met were felt that pressure to become dentists or pressure to do medicine and they don’t necessarily want to do it. And there’s a lot of like as you describe, learnt behaviours. Now the problem is as well is that when I try to like, as I’ve been speaking more and more about my journey, people like, Oh my God, this is so relatable, this is so great. But as you talk about trauma, as you said, it could be a little trauma that behaves makes you behave in a certain way. An interesting thing that someone said to me yesterday and I’m going to put it out there is that he asked me, he said, we have the luxury to have mental health in our modern world because someone.

That’s mental health problems.

Mental health problems, he said, Because actually, if you’re in India and you’re on the road and you’re like, you don’t even know when you’re going to eat next, you don’t have the luxury to be depressed in the same way you do. And I was like, No, I don’t agree with you, but I want to know what you make of that as well, somebody that has explored the notion of trauma.

I think it’s, uh. We live in an overly we live in overly complicated existence from that which the existence that people live maybe a hundred years ago, 200 years ago. Right. It it’s overly complicated. I think we we have a poverty of choice as it relates to almost everything in our lives. You know, people were very happy with four TV channels 30 years ago, and now we can’t find anything to watch. And we’ve got Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, etcetera. Right. So this poverty of choice actually prevents us from being able to choose anything. And there’s an anxiety that goes with that or a perceived choice. Let’s say you see it reflected in relationships. We’ve got a dating app with thousands of people, Instagram of thousands of people. So I think there’s a luxury in the sense of perceived choice which can bring on feelings of anxiety, etcetera as well. And as it as you speak about maybe someone on a road in India, there’s not the same degree of choice that goes with that. You are in the situation you’re in. I also think it’s a lot to do with challenge and discomfort. We have a society that, you know, quite rightly is has evolved to be incredibly safe, incredibly convenient. But with that, when we lose, when we lose challenge and opposition, we become very comfortable. And then when challenge and opposition meets us, we find ourselves unprepared to meet it. Unless we opt in to those challenges. And we we choose situations where we can contest ourselves. So I, I, I think it’s an interesting, uh, theory. The there has to be there’s, there has to be a, um, a reason that we’re experiencing such high rates of suicide, depression, anxiety in this modern culture, despite the degree of comfort and convenience and choice that we have.

But also, I think the thing is and following on from that, I think there’s a degree of guilt because when people do have mental health issues, because we still have those labels and stigmas to say, Well, you have everything, you have the perfect life, you have a social life, you have a good job, you have parents that love you. You can’t have mental, you have everything going for you. And I think that’s the problem. And that’s what leads to.

That’s a problem. Yeah.

And you don’t have the conversations and then that can lead to problems like suicide, you know, where people feel like I don’t have a way out. I feel guilty living in the fire of my mind. Do you see what I mean?

It’s contextual, right? Yeah, it’s. It’s it’s contextual. Uh, our, our baseline is, is independent to us. And the way that we’ve grown up and evolved, you can say that one person has it better than the other, but it’s relative to that person.

Yeah. So this is I was gonna actually ask you this, Louie. You’re. You’re definitely a very ambitious person, right? I mean, you were just telling me you’ve got 14 brands that you franchise amongst all the other things you do. Maybe I’m seeing it now with dentists too. To become a dentist these days, you have to be straight. A top of your class that starts at 12 years old. Yeah. Yeah, it really does. Because you’re not going to become that straight-A guy overnight, you know? And then I see these younger dentists now who are really stressed out about something, whether it’s we’ve got problems with people suing us or time management or burnout or all these different things. And I think to myself sometimes that it’s like your perceived position of where you thought you would be compared to where you’re at. And that disconnect between those two. So if you thought you were going to be a Nobel Prize scientist, it doesn’t matter. You could achieve a hundred times more than me and Rona. But if you didn’t get your Nobel Prize, you could be depressed. And this is what kind of what you’re saying, the context of of where we are. Where did you think you would be?

Context is important. Yeah. For me, one of the things that I’ve learned recently and, you know, I’m I’m not saying that I’m someone that enjoys perfect mental health. I, I don’t think anyone does. Right. I, I, I would say that I’m certainly in a in a in a better position today than I was last year and the year before that and the year before that. So it’s been a progressive thing. And I, I, I feel happy most of the time, if I’m completely honest. Um, that being said, one of the things that I’ve learned and that’s helped me the most in the last two years is to prioritise systems over goals. Because when we set goals and aspirations as ambitious people, we attach all of this meaning to this future thing that we’re going to achieve takes us out of the present. We work towards this goal, we actualise it and we’re like, Ah, it doesn’t feel how I thought it was going to feel.

Yeah, so true. And dentists are all the time.

And it pulls us out of the experience of where we’re currently living and that’s all there is. We only have this present moment. There’s nothing outside of that, that the future, the past, they don’t exist. We are where we are, right? So what I’ve learned to do more recently is what are the and I actually physically write a list for this. What are the things that if I could have the perfect day. What would go into that day. And how can I systemise it? So for me, it’s like I really enjoy meditation in the morning because it keeps me still first part of the day and it allows for me to be present and wake up nicely. Okay. I love going for a sauna in the morning. I love having breakfast with with my friend. I love reading for 15. Just little things that I love doing that if I’ve done them in a day, I can feel happy about it, right? And then you start to think, well, okay, let’s remove any kind of restriction on that. What does it look like? I want to see my parents every day. I want to have lunch with my friends every day. I want to work on a creative project every day. Okay. What is a perfect week look like? Because I can’t do everything in a day. I maybe I want to go every week. I want to take two days to go for a weekend away somewhere or I want to go swimming once a week or whatever it might be. It’s going to be specific to the individual, right? And then you say, Well, every month I’d like to go on holiday once, wherever it might be, and I map this out.

And then what are the system? How can I systemise this so that this shows up every day, week and month, and then each day when I go to bed and I journal, I reflect on the day and how many of those things are shown up in my day. And invariably, if if 80% of those things have shown up in my day, that’s a pretty good day, right? As opposed to here’s this goal in six months time or 12 months time, let me work towards it. And it’s very difficult to refocus on that goal every day. I’d be attached to that goal because what you’re doing day to day doesn’t necessarily always relate to it. But creating these systems has been the kind of cornerstone of me being in a good mental space because I’m doing things that move me in the right direction and not not backward from that. And I think you have to do some playing around to understand what that’s going to be for you. Journaling isn’t something that I’ve ever done until this year. I tried to do it in the mornings. I tried 3 or 4 times, did a day, two days, didn’t get anything from it. This year I bought a guided journal for the evenings. Game changer. Before I go to bed, I pour out all of the stuff I’m carrying around onto a page.

And that was actually something I did. So when I, Louis told me that and I actually wrote down, I don’t know if you remember me telling him the first retreat. He said, What would your perfect day look like? Would your perfect week look like? Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera. And then you don’t see as goal driven because it’s like it’s not about what I want. It’s what I already have in a way, but need to spend more time doing because the things that I enjoy and I think that takes the pressure off things as well. It makes it more.

The the journey rather than the destination or whatever that, you know, that sort of cliché in the end. But, but, but there’s a good reason that you talk about that. And you’re also right insomuch as. The destination often isn’t what you think it’s going to be. What you have. You do you think that, you know, you’re in this sort of purpose led. Businesses that, you know, around veganism and all of that. Would you say that that that’s part of the reason why you spend time on it, that that you want that purpose and that whole world to grow? And, you know, when I think about it, okay, I’m in the world of making people’s teeth whiter. Does it inspire me as much as getting rid of plastic inspires you or getting the world to become vegetarian or vegan inspired? Is it an important part of.


Spending your day like not everyone’s in the purpose. Some people build this. Yeah.

I think that when you say purpose, it doesn’t necessarily have to be related to the outcome of what you’re doing, right? It could be you love making furniture because your purpose, the purpose of you making furniture, is to do something where you’re present for long periods of time for you. Doesn’t have to be for anyone else in the moment. In the moment. Right. The purpose is and and and equally, I think there’s a lot of pressure at the moment for us all to make impact, especially among young people. And whenever I do, um, do talks and there’s a young audience, it’s all about I want to make an impact, I want to make an impact. But I encourage people and this is one of the, I think the important things of self, self introspection and self reflection is why, Yeah, why do you want to make an impact?

And that’s exactly.

One of the things I realised early on was it’s just the ego shifting, right? I wanted to I my, when I first started in business, I just wanted to do something that I loved. It was like, What do I love doing? What can I get paid for that’s fun? Rather than having to sit in an office or anything. And I used to love football and I found a way to get paid from from football. And I was like, Well, I’m not really making enough money. What else do I like doing where I can make more money? And then it became about the money and. It wasn’t that. It wasn’t that. Um. I didn’t enjoy it, so to speak, but it became very money driven. And there that lack of purpose for me. There needed to be something there where I could find a value beyond just me getting something from from the exchange. So but then when I went into the, the whole like the vegan thing for, for a while I didn’t recognise it, but it was just my ego shifting. It wasn’t that I wanted to make an impact, particularly as I wanted to be seen to make an impact by the people.

And did your plant medicine journey? Sort of. It showed.

Me that you can’t hide from that kind of.

Separates your ego from you.

Of course it’s ego, dissolution and you have to and this is where I say it’s it’s one of the most challenging things you can do because you can lie. You think you can lie to other people and you think you can lie to yourself because you don’t sit with yourself. If you’re distracted 24 over seven, you can lie to yourself. You know, you wake up, you’re straight on the phone, you go downstairs, you’re having a conversation, you walk to work, your headphones are in, you go to work, you’re talking to people all day. You come home, you watch TV, you’re talking, you go to sleep. You haven’t had a moment of introspection at all. But the minute you spend time by yourself or you’re forced to. And especially when it’s assisted by something that’s really showing you yourself. That’s when you can’t lie and that’s when when it comes up and you and you and you’re forced to face it. And it’s why a lot of people have a difficult time with it. It’s because it’s showing you who you who you, who you really are.

I think one of the other things that just came up whilst you were speaking is that people also what I find really difficult, and particularly like in the Dental arena, but not even just in the Dental arena in general, and I hate to generalise, but particularly with Gen Z is like they say, I want to make an impact, I want to be at the top, but they don’t want to do the stuff in between or recognise how there’s sometimes a struggle. And I think you guys saw me recently talk on a podcast about how people try tend to avoid struggle. One of the big things I learned from Louie as well as to lean into discomfort. It’s very difficult in dentistry to do that because you’re used to being the number one. You are conditioned to be number one. And actually if you show weakness, it’s not something that’s celebrated at all. It’s something like, well, this has been flagged up. Work on it to be better next time. And that’s where I think the shift in my own mind, because of the things that you’re showing me, is that sometimes the struggle, sometimes you’re weak. And actually now when I go through those struggles, I’m like, It’s not great. It’s uncomfortable, but sit with it and sit with it alone. Like carrying on from what you said, just be okay about sitting with it, you know? And I think that when you change that and don’t go into panic mode straight away, it’s a really powerful thing. It’s difficult, but it’s self-regulation.

Yeah, right. It’s like when something comes up and you can you observe the response rather than being the response. So if something happens and you need like your heart starts beating and you tense up, you can you witness that the space between. Exactly. And there’s ways that you can train that again systems can train you for that. I know that, for example, if I get up early and I do my meditation and I walk to the gym and I do my session, I do my sauna before I do my first call, that person on the call is getting the best version of me because I’ve been present, I’ve exercised, I’ve put myself in a very uncomfortable position in a sauna where I’m fighting, I’m resisting, resisting, and I’ve started my day in that way. So I’m primed. If I wake up late and I’ve eaten before, I’ve gone to sleep and I’ve had a bad night’s sleep and I get on the phone, it kills me. This person is getting a different version of me, right? So it’s creating systems where you know that you’re going to be the the best version of you is going to show up for that, for that experience. And, and when you’re not recognising that as well, right? It’s like we’re not all perfect all the time. I’ve certainly like even today I got a message from someone that works for me and I snapped and I caught myself and I was like, Oh, interesting. I didn’t hate myself for it. I didn’t say, That’s now who I am. I’m like, so took the I apologised, so I’m sorry, that was me. It wasn’t you. How can I help? What can I do? You know, catching yourself. We’re all going to do. We’re all going to do it. Yes.

I’m catching behaviours has also been something, you know, like literally just two minutes before Louie came on, I got a message from one of my colleagues and it triggers me when I’m triggered. I’m really reactive. I’ve been and I get really defensive. You’ve probably seen it with me as well. But now and you even commented recently, I’m like, Oh, this person wrote this because of their own issues. And I’m projecting because I still have to work on some of mine. So actually don’t respond for 5 to 10 minutes. I never used to be able to do that, but it’s about creating that awareness. However, the way that you’re speaking now is incredibly empowering, incredibly inspiring. But there are some people I still believe that just cannot make those changes. They cannot create those systems, like you said, because for them it’s too difficult.

Just it’s this and this is the thing. It hasn’t got to be in it. It’s so funny where we where we go as a culture, isn’t it? Like you look at people, we talk about the need to to to improve mental health and then you have a wave of people putting out content that that’s supposed to be helpful. That’s helpful and it’s empowering. And then you get people that put out content that mocks that content. It’s like I wake up, I ice bath and then and it mocks it and it and it moves people away from it. But actually, it’s not about doing everything or about being perfect. And and it’s also not about comparing yourself to other people. It’s can you compare yourself to what you were doing? So if you’re not doing anything at the moment at all and tomorrow you can say, do you know what, I can spend one minute and I’m going to write down ten things that I’m really grateful for, and I’m just going to reflect on that for a minute. That’s better than yesterday. Sure. Okay. If you can do that for a week, you’ve you’ve done that for a for a whole week.

See how it feels. Does it feel? Of course it feels good. Yeah. Can you then think about. Okay, each day one of my systems is going to be I’m going to find an opportunity to do something nice for someone today. Yeah. Yeah. If you’ve got fear over, let’s say you’ve got finance, you’ve got financial fear. Yep. You’re worried about never having money. Having enough money. Actually, the solution to that is give money away. Yeah. Energetically. You’re sending out a signal. I have enough, right? That feeling of doing something, even if it’s a pound to someone on the street. That feeling of doing nights, of doing something nice for someone, it feels good. Reflecting on what you’re grateful for, it feels good. When stuff feels good, we’re more inclined to do it again and repeat it. But it’s habit stacking. It’s doing one thing at a time. So we’re starting with one thing finding the things that you find beneficial right now. Everyone’s going to enjoy doing ice baths or get anything from it. Now everyone’s going to enjoy doing it.

Payman I.

Know cold showers, cold.

Showers are great, absolutely great. But there’s a feeling with that. If I’ve done nothing else today. Yeah, I’ve had a cold shower and I didn’t want to do it, but I did it. Yeah. And there’s a feeling of achievement that goes with that. And step doing stepping into discomfort is an antidote to reacting when uncomfortable things come up because you meet it prepared as opposed to stuff happening to you. And we talked about victimhood before, right? Stuff happens, happens to us. We’re the victim. We’re not ready. Whereas if you’ve actively sought the discomfort in your day already and discomfort comes, you’re like, I’m prepared for this.

Do you know what else it reminds me of? Do you remember the sunscreen song with Baz Luhrmann? Have you guys heard it? You must know it. And then and I’m not going to sing it, mate. I’m not going to sing it anymore. One of you. So I will. You would have heard it before. But he basically talks through it and he does do one thing every day. That scares you. Yeah. Yeah. Do you know the song? Right. So I think that that is true. And I think that relating it back to dentists again, thinking about that, they always think they might see the shiny image on Instagram and they’re like, She’s done it through. Just doing it fell out of the sky. She got lucky. She got lucky, you know, and I’ve talked about this where I’m not into luck, I guess last week was like, I do believe in luck us. I don’t I really don’t believe in luck. Luck. I will stand by this when preparation meets opportunity. And like you said, it’s doing those small changes every single day, being prepared and then something will happen. But for me, I, I just put in so much hard work because all I knew is that I did not want the life that I was living at that time. I didn’t enjoy the practice I was working with. I wasn’t making good money. I wasn’t giving patients the best care. I did not like my life. No one would give me a job. I used to apply for jobs I’d drop. No one would because they were like, Who is this like absolute joker in these clothes? Like thinking she’s going to be a dentist? So I changed it like you said, because I was like, okay, so no one wants to do it, what can I do? And it was by looking at people who had achieved things through adversity and struggle.

Is it fair to say that that’s a catalyst then, and that without coming to that bottom point, you would not be where you are now? There’s a, there’s a book I, I bought for a few people recently, um, called Courage is Calling. It’s one of the where is my copy. Ryan Holiday Ryan holiday writer series. But it’s fantastic but it’s a collection of historical examples of people that have achieved amazing things but the consistent theme is they’ve achieved them as a as a result of incredibly challenging things and that nothing essentially it shows that through numerous examples throughout history that nothing is achieved without struggle and suffering. And often, very often the extent of the struggle depicts the extent of the achievement that that follows it. And so it’s been able to train ourselves that when we’re in uncomfortable situations or challenging situations, that this is what we actually need to then go out and and get what we want. And just to just to extend that is that very often when we think about what we’d like, the first thing that happens is things that are seemingly things that we don’t want to happen. But often that’s clearing the way for that stuff to come in, right? It’s like, I really want this, and then you lose your job. You’re like, Oh, I’ve lost my job. But you said you wanted that. You have to lose the job to create space to go and go and get that. And it’s training ourselves to step into the unknown, step into the fear without having to have everything figured out. But there’s a trust that needs to be built in, in, um, in the process, in the process. In the, in the process. Which is, which is. I know how scary that is. Right.

What, what things have you gone through that, that are like that. And I mean you must have been through so much through business and all that.

Oh I’ve got some good ones.

Yeah, go on. Nothing’s off limits.

Tell us some of your darkest days and what you learned from them.

Okay, I’ve got. Okay, so, um, I, I’ve, I can use. I can use a few examples. So I opened a restaurant. And when I opened the restaurant, I had enough money to pay the rent deposit. The first three quarters rent. And that was it. I needed another 270,000 to actually build the restaurant and open it, which I didn’t have, but I signed a 15 year lease anyway because I thought energy and tension momentum. I’m gonna figure it out. And I did figure it out. But a lot of that investment came from extra work that I went off and did family, friends, etcetera. So I’ve put all the money I have in the world in. I’ve put friends and family’s money in. I’ve moved back home at the age of 26, and I’ve built this restaurant. And went really, really well. Super busy all over Instagram, press, whatever. 12 weeks in I thought, This is great. I’m going. I’m going on holiday for a week because I’ve worked 12 weeks every day straight, get to LA, get a phone call. I get the chefs quit, the sous chefs quit, and in the middle of service, people are walking out. What do we do? Fly back. Haven’t got a chef. You try finding a specialist vegan chef six years ago.

Very difficult. Um, and so for three months, we barely traded, and the cashflow just went like this. Ran out of money. I was in there every day, morning, lunch and evening. I had another business that I was working in, so I was going between the two businesses. I wasn’t paying myself. Couldn’t find anyone. And I got to the point six months later where we’d gone through a few different chefs and my accountant said to me, You need to think about winding this business up. You’re in a huge hole of debt. Um, and, you know, it’s getting to the point where you need to think about liquidating. But I had 30 odd staff, friends and family’s money on the line, all of my money on the line. And I’d put this thing everywhere and on the surface, on Instagram, on everything. It looked like it was killing it. And, uh, I just remember just thinking. If this wasn’t such a mess, if I wouldn’t leave such a mess, I don’t want to be here because it’s such a mess. And it’s I. I don’t know what I’m going to do after this. And at that point, you know, I’d I’d had different companies and it was like I felt like I had all this potential but never actually realised it.

And this was the thing that was going to make me realise it. And it was, it was dead. And so I had a week about feeling sorry for myself and moping around. And then I was like, you know what? If I if it’s going to fail, it’s going to fail with me. Like. Go in for it. Right. So let me see how far What is the worst that can happen? He’s already told me I have to liquidate. Like, what’s the worst they can turn up? Take the debt. Collectors are going to take stuff like, fine, I’ll get it to that point. So basically I coincided with I found a chef. I took a chance on a really young chef. Um, I promoted some of the other guys. We got in, we got super creative, just brought a new energy to it, and it started working, but we couldn’t catch the money up quick enough to the debt. And I think I’ve ever said this on a podcast before. So operationally, we were then trading in profit, so we were profitable each week, but the backlog was we couldn’t pay it down quick enough. So I say I’m going to open another one.



Cause I know it works. I’ve got the model. I figured it out. I knew how to what days to open, how the the shifts would work, how to run it efficiently enough for it to make money and be profitable. Um, and I had the, I simplified the menus to the degree that I could have a wider, uh, spectrum of potential staff that could work. It wasn’t as specialist. And when I dialled down the menu slightly, I’d dial down the labour cost, I’d improve the food cost, I had more staff that were available. We got busier. So I had a good model, but I just had this backlog. So I announced the second opening. I went out to the market, I raised the capital to open another site. I used part of that capital to pay down the debt to the first site and ended up with two. Private investors.

Friends and family.

Again. Private investors Wasn’t friends. Angels? Angels? Yeah. And I. I made a case for. I said, look, this is how we’re trading.

Specifically, tell me if someone wants to raise some money from an angel. Where did you go? Did you go to. To a place where these guys, like an incubator type place where they get together? Or.

So we started with a crowdfunding campaign. It didn’t really work because you have to bring with crowdfunding, you actually have to bring 60% of the investors on board before it goes live on the platform. So if you raise in 300 grand, you need to raise 180 or so by yourself. So I just went went out on LinkedIn, I went out to investors that I knew I had a fairly good network. So I went out to people that I knew and I just started out.

At Chelsea gyms and dodgy saunas. No joking. Yeah, but at.

This time you were what, 28 or something?

27. 28?

Yeah. Yeah. It’s amazing. Oh, my God.

And but the, the point being that when you said about being in those dark positions, it’s like you’re sat there and like everything that you’ve built and worked for, you see, is about to crumble. And then the same thing happened with Covid, right? I opened a restaurant. Two days before. Two days after. No, Sorry. Two days before the first lockdown. Oh, my God. I’d just signed a 15 year lease on a warehouse to build an indoor football centre. So I had two commercial leases that I’d underwritten as the personal guarantor. With all of these star like people that were working in the businesses and again, investors money which I feel responsible for and which, you know, I feel responsible for to the degree that I underwrote the lease, which I’m now still paying for years later, because I because I felt so bad about anyone else taking a risk on my my idea. Right. And so so yeah, I’ve those positions you you get yourself in and it’s tough.

It’s really tough in the time between. We all felt it in the time.

Well, the lockdown.

In between lockdown and.

I signed my practice. I bought a completed a week before national lockdown. I can and honest to God like the loan had gone through and all of a sudden I had all these responsibilities and the practice shut down. And the thing is, is Louis said. But then you pivot and you’re like, okay, cool. I’m in this situation now. What do I do? And by the way, there is no shame in packing things up either because sometimes you’ve got to do things for you. So when it’s reached the end of the line, it’s reaching the light. In my case, I was like, I’ve just bought this practice. I’ve built it up for five years. I’ve just bought it, so I’m ready to go. And I pivoted. And then when we could open, I’d been the busiest I’d ever been. Didn’t dentistry boomed during lockdown? You know what I mean? Who would have thought that? Because if you were the kind of person that was doing things out of love and purpose and love and purpose for me is always my patients. Always, always, always. I was like, okay, give them the free advice, Help them do the consultations. They wanted to come to me. So I actually had ability to build rapport with them on digital platforms like Zoom, you know what I mean? Before they came into the chair.

Look, from my perspective, right? I look at I look at you, Louis, and you’re clearly a pure bred entrepreneur. You really are. You know, the just your attitude on risk and optimism and multiple businesses. You maybe. I don’t know whether you you class yourself as one or not, but you definitely are really? 100%. 100%? Well, I don’t. It doesn’t have to be a thanks thing, does it?

It’s it’s also to that point, if I can just add, entrepreneurship has been glamorised in our culture in recent years, right? It wasn’t. It wasn’t before. But it’s this. It’s this. It’s this glamorised. There’s. And I think the the problem with that is that it’s put on a pedestal. You think, oh, what an aspirational thing to be an entrepreneur. It’s cool. But but I would probably have a much more peaceful life if I didn’t have that. If I didn’t want to be that. Yeah, probably would. Right? It’s you have to understand, it’s so clear that it’s so you have to understand.

In different places. Yeah.

Which but that, that in itself can be a problem right. Because you know, you end up not having a social life, a personal life. You end up putting that stuff in front of other things which maybe you shouldn’t. It goes in front of your health if you’re not careful and so the, the the outcome is very often that you’re the last person to get paid. Yeah. You carry all of the risk. You carry all of the weight of responsibility.

The attitude to risk, you know, how do.

You feel about risk? Do you feel like high risk, high return kind of guy?

Yeah, but.

But I think the reason I feel like that and I guess the reason I feel like that is because I’m young enough and I’m free enough of responsibilities for it to not matter. And this is one of the things I can honestly say that I’ve got from psychedelics and from using psychedelics in, in, in an in a therapeutic setting. And I don’t want this to come across a wrong way. And it may be unrelatable, but nothing matters. Nothing matters.

At all.

Nothing actually matters. So let’s say, for example, everything that I currently have and I’m doing fails tomorrow. I lose everything. I’m bankrupt. I’m on zero. It’s never that far away, let’s be honest. Right? Cause that’s the game that I play. I’m high risk, high reward. Let’s say that is. It doesn’t matter. In fact, there’s a sick part of me that kind of wants it to happen just to see if I could come back and just for how much I’d get from it, of the humility of going to nothing, because I do genuinely believe that I would build up again even better than where I am now. And very quickly, because all of the things you learn on the way you don’t unlearn them, you don’t lose network, you don’t even really lose any kind of kudos or um, or reputation really, because if you look again through history, you look around. The best entrepreneurs I know have had massive failures, massive, massive failures. It’s part of the process. It’s part of the way of learning. When I when I invest in companies, I very often like to see the founders background. Have they failed? When have they struggled? When have they had their backs against the wall and how have they reacted to it? And if they’re failed. But out of that, they’ve started another company that’s been brilliant. That’s someone that I can back because when it gets difficult, they keep going. And I think that’s an important attribute when it comes to mental health, not even as an entrepreneur as anyone. Can you put yourself in positions to fail and when you do fail, which you invariably will, how do you come back from it? Can you use that as an opportunity, as a lesson and as a way to learn about yourself and come back up? Because we’re all going to go through it whether you like it or not. You’re better off choosing it than having it happen to you.

And you know, dentistry is a career where we’re literally every single thing we do, even if you’re at the top of the top, will fail As And that’s the guarantee we can make, you know, because patients come in and one of the things they think is like they expect a filling to last a lifetime. They expect the root canal to last. They expect everything. And dentists, they get such strong anxiety because the thought of failure is so soul destroying to them on every aspect, the academic level, the patient level, the clinical level, everything. But actually, like you said, the one thing that we can guarantee, especially in dentistry, is going to fail. It’s going to fail at some point. So you have to learn to flip that narrative in your mind. Can you can.

You get comfortable with the worst outcome? And this is this is I do this during Covid. You know, I do this during Covid, Right? It was like.

I was thinking when you were talking about it, you’re obviously not paying school fees.

This is the thing. Challenge him, but challenge him.

I’m saying, can you get comfortable? But I said that I have the luxury of not having not having dependables. Right. I do have dependables because I have commercial leases that I’m personally guaranteed on that I have to pay, right? Or, you know, you know, which is probably the equivalent. That being said, can you get uncomfortable when things are particularly on top? And I had this drink during Covid when I was looking at everything and I’m like. You know, in in your head, you start to think about what what could happen. And I’m like, well, what if I just ride it out? What is the worst thing that could happen? I could lose that. I could owe this money on that because of guarantees I could own that owe that because of loans that have guaranteed these people could hate me. When you actually look at it. It’s not that bad.

Is it?

Is it that bad? Really? Is it that bad? I’ve got an eye again. I’m. I’m currently. I’ve not mentioned this yet. You and I talk about this a lot. Foundational to mental health. My belief. Foundational to mental health is is is spiritual physical health physical health in in the sense that if you are eating bad foods so foods far removed from their original state. Heavily processed foods not exercising. You are not, um, you are not assessing your health. And this could be through, you know, testing, whatever, not getting enough sleep, which is probably the biggest one. I love my sleep. Probably the biggest. The biggest one. Not managing stress, etcetera. If you are not in a state of physical health, it is very, very, very, very, very likely that you will suffer poor mental health because it’s it’s near impossible to have good mental health in a poor physical form. Near impossible when you’re ill. I was I was ill for the first time in about ten years, uh, the other week coming back from Mexico. There’s nothing that I wanted more in that moment of being nailed than just to feel better again. I would have given anything. I felt horrific. I didn’t care. I don’t care about anything else. And I really thought in that moment I was like, wow, I take my health. I put a lot of effort into my into my health and well-being. And in fact, it it supersedes anything I do in business, my own physical health. But for, wow, I would give anything that I have to feel healthy right now. This is horrible.

I totally agree. And I feel exactly the same way in terms of health. But one thing that I want to carry on from is, like you said, we have the luxury to be able to invest in certain things, but there may be some people that think, I’m a single mom, I’ve got three kids, I’m really depressed and I can barely make it through the day. And she’s on minimum wage. Right. And it’s a different circumstance. I appreciate I appreciate. But there have people been in those situations. What do you think they can do? Or do you think that this is a completely different conversation for people, a different conversation?

It’s like most of the things that. So let let’s look at lockdown, for example. Yeah, we are all in that position during lockdown. You couldn’t go and use fancy gyms, couldn’t go and use fancy saunas, couldn’t go and do whatever. It’s grass roots. We have to look at what are the what are the thing, what are the resources that we all have time probably in that situation isn’t the isn’t the most available resource because you’re taking care of somebody else for long periods, but can you get out for a run or a walk? Can you, uh, get yourself into cold exposure? Can you spend ten minutes focusing on your breath? You know, can you exercise at home all of these things? Can you get eight hours sleep? All of these things which are foundational from a health perspective are are free. You can enjoy free of charge. Can you journal.

Plus plus write some of the happiest people I’ve met or seen in my life or people with no finances at all. I mean, could just go to the third world and look at the smile on people’s faces. You haven’t got anything. And then some of the unhappiest people.

I know have everything. They got.


Multi-millionaires, but.

You got loads of money were born into millions of pounds of. And that thing you said about leaning into discomfort and discomfort, immunising you sort of against life’s challenges. I don’t think, you know, these foundational things that you’re talking about, the number of hours you sleep. Good and bad food is an element of when you know you can’t afford to buy fresh food. I get that.

But have you ever been to Aldi? I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never been. I went to my I used to.

Go all the time.

I went to I.

Went living in Kent. It was my local.

I went to my, um. I went to my my parents live in Norfolk. I go to go to Aldi. The quality of the fruits and vegetables is incredibly high. Serious, Seriously. And I know a bit of vegan, a lot of veg, very, very high quality fruit and veg I bought. I had to go and get I had a I had a, um, I had a, uh, was, I needed like a gin. I have ginger every day. Most mornings I was like, I need to get ginger and lemon.

I got, like sprigs of.

Ginger and a bag of lemons for, like, £0.90.

What is.

This? It’s a it’s amazing, right? So, like you to to your point, you could eat and people I get to hit with this with the vegan argument all the time. I’ll be in vegan vegans. Really expensive. Yes. If you go and buy beyond meat burgers or you go to whole food or whatever. But if you’re buying Whole foods, which natural foods, it’s not expensive.

But also the other thing is I think it goes back to the same thing over and over again. There is a huge system problem because all the things that you’ve talked about, which are basic and free to help people and their mental health is not really given as part of education. Do you know what I mean? Like not even you think like, wouldn’t everyone know? No, they don’t know. I didn’t know Breathwork could help you. I did not know. Breathwork and breathing could literally help you with anxiety.

You two are in that world much more than I am.

But this is what I’m saying.

It’s interesting how. But today.

Today I had. I had it today. Really. I had really stressed. I had a stressful moment earlier. Like, you know, we just get a little bit overwhelmed sometimes. Like I had two calls happening back to back. That invite hadn’t been sent to that person for that call. They missed it. The next call, the notes had said so. And I just when that happens to inhales through the nose and a long inhale through the mouth a couple of times and I’ve just reset.

Wim Hof style.

I just I just downregulate the.

System and it’s amazing how quickly that it works. And this is something that, again, you think, you know, it’s free, it’s there. And if I knew that knew about this earlier, I could have responded it in a different way. But I think it’s about spreading awareness of these tools. And this is where the this is the kind of the DNA of the retreats. It was like, wow, I’ve learned these four things and I know these people that would love it, who don’t know about it. Can we bring them together and maybe we can share some different reactions to it. Maybe they’ve got things to share and you kind of create this co-created space, which is why what you guys do on the podcast is great because you can have people reach out and say, Well, that really resonated with me, that bit. And what do you think about this? And it starts conversations. It gets people sharing things and through different experiences we discover different, uh, different tools. And if we can share those tools, everyone gets the benefit.

The reason why we did it, or particularly you came to me, but the reason why I did it was because it’s become quite fashionable to talk about mental health.

But, you know, a Payman can vouch for me in the fact that I’ve been trying to say this for like a few years, but there was still such a stigma. People were like, Well, we don’t really talk about it. Do you know, I, I.

Feel like the stigma we’ve almost gotten over these days, but that still leaves me in a position where I’m just talking about it and I haven’t got actual solutions. And you’re talking about solutions.

That’s what I’m.

Saying. This is this is the this is the this.

Is the problem, right? It’s like it’s become fashionable to talk about people want it. And I, I and again, whatever the reason people talk about it because it’s it’s fashionable. It gets them views, it gets them likes but it’s the the narrative tends to be let’s talk it’s good to talk talk to someone. I’m sorry but when I am in a position where I’m at the on the brink of losing everything, I can’t tell my girlfriend because that’s going to put her in into into a dark place. I can’t tell my parents because you can put them in a dark place. I can’t tell the people that work with me. Who do I speak to? Am I going to call some random person? And there isn’t. So for me personally, the talking thing has never worked. It hasn’t. And I think we’re guilty of having this one, too. If you if you’ve got mental health problems, talk, talk to someone. It doesn’t doesn’t work for me, but it doesn’t work for me. But I found things that do. And these are the tools that I have used that have worked for me. And I think if we all were able to say when I’ve suffered, these are the things that I’ve I’ve helped one, some of them may work for you, some some won’t. That’s where we start moving the conversation forward. It’s actionable steps, not, Oh, let’s talk about mental health. I had this. I had that. It doesn’t.

But you know what the thing is like when we when we went to the global collective thing, do you remember there were so many conversations and people were like, This is all great, but help. And some of them like went as far the dentist, they were like, Can you not talk to the governing bodies that cause us stress? Because like one big thing, for example, the worst thing that a dentist fears is either like being under the scrutiny of a patient and having some kind of like, litigious claim, or they’re worried about the the sort of the, the the regulator like coming down on them and their public image being tainted. But like you said, if you become comfortable with the worst outcome, which I’m not saying you have to be happy about it, but if you somehow come to terms that a possibility in your career. Yeah.

Let’s say let’s say you get yourself sued and you get a GDC situation and you can’t work as a dentist then. Have you gone through that?

Yeah, I. You know, I think most dentists what’s know I think most dentists have gone through that sort of thing. But one thing that I’ve always thought to myself, you will, even in the worst case situation, you will somehow get through it. Now, I am the kind of person to completely lose it in the moment. Like as in like I will break down on my hands and knees. I will scream and cry and be like, I can’t get through it. That happened during lockdown. I had a practice. Here’s your loan, pay, here’s your rent, pay here’s furlough, sort this out, here’s this. And I was like, I’m not going to get through this. My practice is going to go bankrupt. But I did get through it. Do you see what I mean? And I think like there is something in, in the whole like the worst thing for me that holds me back is still like, But what are people going to think? What are people going to what’s everyone going to think of this if it becomes public? Does that make sense? You know, you’re.

Very, very, very high profile now in in the world of dentistry. Right? So it’s almost like you’ve got more to lose. How do you feel about that? I mean, you said you’re up for high risk, high reward. What about when you start a new business?

Do you feel at this point? I don’t care.

At this point.

I don’t care.

So so. But, you know, but there’s in your industry, there’s people who think of you as as a, you know, like a player.

Maybe, maybe.

Not. But at this point, I, I honestly don’t care because I’ve proved in, in my mind, I think the, the value. It used to be, and I think it often is for people when they start, they have something to prove to everyone else. Yeah. And they’re so concerned with proving to other people they neglect to prove anything to themselves. And no one else can make us feel any way about ourselves other than how we feel about ourselves. Right? So for me, I’m like, if I told myself at 22 I’d be doing what I’m doing now at 32, would I be happy? Yes, I’m happy if the next thing I do fails terribly and everyone gets to see it. But look, look at all this stuff that I’ve done.

I love that.

I don’t care like I could. I could fail the next five things that I do. I mean, have you have you seen the have you read The Man in the Arena? Quote? No. So I’ve got a I’ve got a football, uh, centre up in Norfolk called the Arena and we’ve got four football pitches, boxing gym, a 20,000 square foot warehouse, built it during lockdown. Really cool space. The quote on the wall as you go in is it’s, uh, I think it’s a Theodore Roosevelt quote. The man in the arena and the the I I’m not going to read it out, but, uh, and people can go and go and look it up. But effectively, it’s the man in the arena that counts, not the ones that are watching, not the ones talking, not anyone else comment on it. Only the man in the arena knows. So if you’ve put yourself out there, if you’ve birthed an idea and put it out for the scrutiny of the world, no one can look on on that and say anything. I’ve put it out there. I’ve taken action. That is an achievement in itself, whether it works or it doesn’t. And if you can then keep doing that after a failure, it’s an even bigger achievement. And what is what’s what’s something working or not working if it works for two years, did it work? If it if it doesn’t, if it struggles for ten years and then closes, did it work? If it’s there for a month and it burns down, then does it work? Like what’s the definition? Right? For me, it’s like you have to set a definition yourself. If I can bring an idea to life, put it out to the world, people get value from it. I can actualise the purpose of what I was intending to do while staying true to my values. And I’m in it doing it. It’s succeeding. And if there’s a point where at some point where I decide for it not to or I want to do something else, then it’s not.

One of your core values obviously is being a vegan. Well, is that even a core value? But you know part of your identity. Talk us.

Through. I’m going to challenge that.

Okay. All right. Right. Right. It’s not part of his identity.

I just don’t I just don’t like I just.

Don’t I just don’t think labels are particularly helpful.

Don’t know.

Fair enough. I don’t subscribe. I don’t think anyone can subscribe and say that they do. Everything they do doesn’t harm animals at all. Somewhere along the line, there is some crop that’s getting sprayed. The ivy in that’s killed the beaver, for example. Right. At some point, however, I seek to live a life that is. F that, um, essentially does no harm to animals or humans as as much as I possibly consciously can. So I don’t eat animals, I don’t eat animal by-products. I don’t buy animal products as much as I physically can. I don’t, um, hold myself to a ridiculous high standard. Like if I accidentally eat something or buy something, you know, I I’m also comfortable enough that I’m making a conscious effort to not to if it happens. No, it’s not the it’s not the end of the world for me, but I try to and I think that value system has been really helpful to me in how I conduct myself in other in business and in other situations. I, I just try not to cause any harm to anyone else.

It’s unfair the way vegans get judged. Sometimes it’s almost like you’ve got to be 100% perfect as a vegan. But but if you’re not a vegan, then.

Because it’s a because.

It’s a mirror for people. It’s a mirror for people. They see someone else taking an action that they probably know in their heart is probably the right action to take. And it highlights to them that they’re not doing it. So the easiest response to that is to make a make a joke or say something, right.

The thing is, I’m I’m in no, everyone thinks I’m vegan, by the way. Do you think so? You look healthy. No. Um. I said it lol babe. Lol. So basically the thing is with the whole veganism thing, I completely I’m the sort of person and genuinely I say this with all my heart. I am the kind of person that respects anybody’s decision and anything that they want to do for themselves. I respect even the whole like vaccine argument. Whoever wanted to take it could. Whoever didn’t, could. There was no judgement. I don’t judge people. And the same is with veganism. I tried it. It personally did not work for me for for health reasons. Maybe I wasn’t doing it correctly. I always make a conscious effort to do things correctly. My body didn’t respond that well. I’m Mediterranean. I’ve been brought up on a mediterranean diet. Am I still conscious about where my animal sources come from? Absolutely. Do you see what I mean? So but for me, I’m like, okay. I just feel like my body didn’t feel it as best, you know. And I tried it for long enough and that’s fine. That’s okay, you know, because I believe everybody is different. So that’s kind of my stance on it. But I think, you know, Louis is also Louis is not a preacher, by the way, like he’s never preached to me about not. And he’s been like, you know, in our sort of group, you know, there’s people that are non vegans as well. And I’ve never seen, you know, you sort of challenge anybody on their views.

Again, it’s like we’re.

All on our own journey in our own path, right? So everyone makes their own choice. You can if you want to. I’m not going to tell you something you don’t want to know. So if someone says to me, Oh, why, Why what? What makes you think that’s a good, good thing? I’ll have a conversation, but I’m never going to be like, You should do this because this isn’t this because I don’t have context. I don’t know your body type, your background, your age, all that stuff. Right? I, I just don’t know. So I can say that this is what’s worked for me, same as the stuff we’re talking about. As it relates to mental health, I can only share personal direct experience. I can’t prescribe anything to anyone. I wouldn’t do that. I can only say this is what I’ve been. This is what’s benefited me. This is what I’ve done. Maybe there’s going to be bits of it you can take that will also work for you. And nothing’s really original, is it? Like everything that I do, I’ve taken from someone else at some point and put it together and made it my own thing. So yeah, that’s kind of how I how I how I look at it. But it’s been amazing for me. I’ve been I’ve been on a plant based diet for eight years. Um, I get my bloods done regularly.

Uh, supplement with all the things.

That, um, no, not any more. I supplement Omega three, six and nine, but most people should do that anyway. B12 No, I don’t supplement B12 because it’s in your.

Parlour, babe.

There we go.

He’s a parlour for subscriber. Um.

And no, I just eat a varied whole food plant based diet. And like everyone, I have a treat every now and again. But when I say a treat, I mean like still vegan. But not, not, um, not super healthy. But for the most part, it’s healthy food. And the reason I do it is because it makes me feel great and it makes me feel optimal and it makes me feel that I can show up for for myself and other people as the best version of me. Because what I’m putting into my body is enabling my body to, to, um, to, to have the most energy.

I love that.

Do you. Do you crave meat or not?

Not at all.

I did it overnight, by the way. It was like overnight.

Why do you crave.

Meat at the beginning?

Uh, no.


So how did that work?

Did I just.

A complete realisation like.

And what was the catalyst? Did you watch a movie or.

Uh, yeah, I watched.

Uh, do you know what I at the time I was, I had a recruitment company and I was working in. I know, uh, the, I don’t know.

For your age, it’s ridiculous.

I know. So I had a recruitment company. I was working in nightlife, so I was doing recruitment in the daytime and night nightlife every evening, like six days a week. I was knackered constantly, and I was just eating on the go all the time. I’d have. I would eat in a restaurant three times a day, breakfast, lunch, dinner. And I was eating meat with every meal. And I was just I was just feeling sluggish. I was just like I just wasn’t feeling good. And I, I started looking online about diets to, like, like, feel better or whatever. And it kept coming up. Plant based, plant based, plant based. So I watched a, someone did a talk for an audience and everything he said just made complete sense. So I thought, okay, I need to try something and I’m quite a drastic person. I’ll go, if I do something, I’m all in, so let me try it for a month. So went off to Whole Foods, bought loads of tofu and stuff, didn’t really know what I was doing with tofu. And, um. Yeah, after a month I just felt great skin cleared up with sleeping better, recovering faster in the gym. Um, just felt really good. I was enjoying discovering new foods. I’d never eaten quinoa before. Typekit. Amazing, right?

Actually, I would say I’m 80% actually like plant based and like.

Yeah, because we went for that steak once and you didn’t even go anywhere near it. You just like.

Veggies I ordered, didn’t.



See, so I’d say it’s 80%, but I mean, I’m still like kind of into my seafood, so. Yeah, I. Think that this has been one of the best talks that we’ve done, because I really think we’ve had such an incredible amount of information and action points for people. And I think these are action points that every everybody could do. It’s not just in dentistry, but across the board, but particularly because I said dentists find it really uncomfortable. You obviously have achieved so much. And as always, yeah, we only scratch the surface. And, you know, Louie’s the kind of person I think we need to invite back for. Also like a.

Refreshing to have you, you know, answer the questions in such a sort of simple, clear, open way. You know, it’s, it’s refreshing to see that.

But I always like to end these podcasts with a question that I haven’t prepared you with. I haven’t prepared anything anyway, as Louie would never let me do that. But I want to ask you, what are you most proud of?

Good question.

Do you know what I did? A, um.


It’s a lot for me. It won’t be a lot for some people. But again, we talk about it’s how we compare ourselves to ourselves, not to other people. During lockdown, I saw. Groups of friends go in one of two directions. Some of them. Went into partying, drinking like that way, and others went into sports and exercise. And it seems it was a real like polarising time. Right. But and I. When the health direction and I started running. I’d never been a runner. Never really ran that much. Um, and I ran a ran a marathon, then did an ultra marathon. And then my friend said to me, What could we do that would be scary? And we said, a hundred K without any training. Oh, my God. And I got to about 60 K into it and my knee was like twice the size I was done and I still had it over a marathon to go.


100 kilometre run.


And I got to a point where in that hundred K. I wanted to quit so badly. I’d had enough. My body was battered. I was. It was the most uncomfortable, probably the most physically uncomfortable I’ve ever been.

How long does it take?

About 13 hours.

13 hours. And?

And I managed to.

He’s fast.

Keep going and get to the end. And I’m able to look back on that and pull so much strength from it when things get hard because I know I’ve been to like the darkest place I could go and then gone beyond it. And so now when really challenging stuff comes up, I’m able to lean into it and that happens. I can call on it all the time.

Do you think it’s transferable?

Yes, 100% transferable.

You can transfer that.

Absolutely to me. No, no, no, no.

Not to you.

You can transfer.

It, but you can transfer it from different things. So if you’ve gone into like a this is why, for example, if you look at Ironman competitors, the average income of an Ironman competitor amateur in the US, I believe is quarter of £1 million a year salary. And there’s a reason, because the mindset that you need to complete an Ironman is consistent with the the mindset that you need to be a high performer in work. And what you’ll find is that the mentality that you need when you’re in these incredibly hard physical challenges is the same mindset. You need to excel in all areas of life. So what I got from that, being in that very, very uncomfortable physical position was. We’ve got so much more in the tank than we think we have. We can endure so much more than we think we can endure. And I’ve got friends that run a hundred miles, 120 miles. So a hundred K is not a world record by any stretch of the imagination. People do them every weekend. But for me, I’d never ran further than 50 K. I was broken. I was ready to quit and I pushed through it. And I can look back on that and think I did it when when hard stuff comes up, I’ve got that to reflect on and that’s why I would recommend to people again, not s not saying this is what you should do, but I’ve got benefit from it. Try and pick stuff that’s really hard, but that doesn’t require that doesn’t require any skill. There’s no, there’s no real skill in run a hundred K, you just need to be willing to go through it.

Go out and push.

Yourself in that respect because it will cross over to other things.

Um, I’m starting drama school again on that note.

Exactly. Yeah.

Stuff That’s scary stuff.

But you know why? Because I love drama. And I was like, straight A’s and English lit and drama, and I loved it. And you know what? I was like. It’s going to be scary to go back to drama school. And it’s no pressure because you know what? If I can’t fail anything, you know, like it’s I’m doing it for me and I’m challenging myself. So I think that is that’s a really important message for people to really estimate. And also reflecting on what you said now, you just said as well, it’s about that mental. Well, the I man analogy, it’s the same with Dental school, by the way, because the stuff they make you do, it’s part of it. It’s actually testing your resilience and how you how you perform under pressure. It’s not like you have to know the whole textbook because they literally like make you learn medicine in like two years as well as doing a million things. It’s about your resilience, how you work under pressure and your response. And that’s the key thing that they’re testing.

So the the.

Question about is it transferable? What was the name of that guy, Spencer, that you went.

The sober rave?

Spencer Matthews Yeah, so I heard him on. Was it diversity or someone on a podcast? Maybe it was on maybe it was on dance.

Dance pop.

Yeah. And he said something about a marathon in the ice like a for me, it sounded like a nightmare. Total nightmare. And he got Covid in the middle of it and he carried on through it. But but my point is, I then ended up in some train station, half an hour walk to where I had to go to, and it was raining. I would have hated my life. Uber wasn’t working in Peterborough wherever I was, and I thought of him and I thought, What’s this? I could do this.


I’ve got another.

Hundred K coming up.

In in.

Eight weeks, actually.

Oh, man.

Many people.

Who do it every.


Uh, there’s, there’s events on regularly. I’ve got one in, I’ve got one in March in, uh, in Tuscany. But it’s a trail, so this one’s going to be harder because it’s, uh. Because it’s elevation. Yeah, but, uh, but the reason I chose Tuscany was at least if you, if you, if you, if it’s really horrible, the scenery is beautiful. And afterwards the pasta is going to be incredible. So.

So such a pleasure to have you.

Thank you. Such a pleasure, Louis. It’s been amazing. Thank you so, so much.

In episode 86, Prav and Payman discovered how young dentist Rupert Monkhouse is making dentures sexy again.

Rupert returns the invitation this week, hosting Payman on the first edition of his ImpressionClub Xtra podcast.

The line between interviewer and interviewee blurs as the seasoned podcasters take on entrepreneurialism and the art of the hustle.

Payman also gives the lowdown on Evo4—the latest evolution of Enlighten whitening, the trials and tribulations of starting a laboratory and explains why the next generation of Enlighten will be the quietest ever.



In This Episode

01.02 – The Enlighten story

11.34 – Mini Smile Makeover

23.33 – Evo4

38.58 – The future

41.50 – Podcasting and content marketing 

51.07 – The economic landscape

56.40 – MClinDent

01.05.17 – Teaching

01.14.14 – Dream outcomes

01.20.28 – Entrepreneurialism


About Rupert Monkhouse

Rupert Monkhouse qualified from King’s College and has since established a reputation online as ‘The Denture Guy’. He is the host of the ImpressionClub podcast. 


But I thought we’d talk a little bit about side hustles in dentistry. Obviously being on this podcast right now, that’s one of my side hustles. It’s not that useful because it doesn’t do that much for me, but I enjoy it. But for anyone that lives under a rock, who are you?

Pay Oh, are we really going to do that?

Oh yeah, we’re really going to do that.

So I’m Payman. I’m a clinical director. Enlighten. I’m a course coordinator at Mini Smile Makeover, which is the composite hands on course I do with Dipesh Palmer, and I’m the co-host of the Dental Leaders podcast.

Lots of Side.

Hustle. Solanki Solanki. Ki ki ki.

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.

So lots of side hustles there. Obviously started off as a dentist. Yeah. Where did this? And Enlightened was the first of these non-clinical things that you did. Yeah. So what was the driving force for that? Because a lot of people now are looking at doing non-clinical things as part of their dentistry portfolio career portfolio, whether that’s right or wrong. So what was the driving force for you to start that? Was it a side project? Was it an interest? When did it end or was it I don’t want to do dentistry.

No, no, no. That wasn’t the the initial thought. Initially we were going to open a practice and we thought a teeth whitening centre and then there was four of us. So my, my two partners, my wife now and we said we’re going to open a teeth whitening centre. And you know what it was? It was childish really. We were, we were doing a lot of buying and selling shares at the time, dot com boom. And we said, Joke about this in dental school. We say, Yeah, yeah. We’ll be sitting there looking at our stock portfolio while these nurses go around, you know, just checking on the patients that, you know, do one thing very well. And I remember, you know, the entourage at the steak place. And so we used to go to we used to go skiing in Switzerland, and we used to, on purpose, fly to Geneva, as I was when I was a kid, only to go to Entourage in Geneva to have a steak and then go to Val D’isere or Verbier or wherever we were going. And the notion that they just did one thing on the menu and they did it really, really well, that that was the initial thought. I also had a boss in Vet who’d managed to get the press really interested in his thing that he was doing. So the idea of the press was quite interesting to me and I thought, I just thought we want to do something different. So do it. Do a practice that’s different.

And what year are we talking here? 2001. So, so whitening. Whitening landscape was very, very different in the UK at that time to what.

Just about started, you know what happened? I had a patient who in vet who came in and said I want veneers on my teeth NHS exempt patient and three Yeah, that didn’t exist at the time, but you could back then you could ask for prior approval, you could ask for, you send off the case and they would either approve it or not. And you know, it was a young, young girl. And my boss, Nick, he said, look, you’re not going to cut her teeth up. And he’d seen something. He’d he’d seen the Occident lecture or something. He said, There’s this company up to them. They do this thing bleaching. Let’s just buy one of their kits and see, see what happens there. And I treated her and it was such a magical experience for me. The idea of you could just change someone’s tooth colour. And you know, when we’re in it for a long time, we forget that the colour of teeth for patients is right up there. It’s right up there near number one most important thing for a patient. And so back then I was just a vet, so that was very clear in my head that, you know, tooth colour was a big deal. And I was thinking, I want to be involved in this whitening thing in one way or the other.

At the time we were thinking of practice, but then when we went to find the, you know, the technique, the machine, the product, the people we met, they said, Look, we don’t have distributors in Europe so we can’t sell you the machine. So then we went back and said, Oh, maybe we can be the distributor. And this idea of not owning a practice and selling things to practices, it started at at that point. But you’re right in so much of saying, you know, a side hustle because we lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in the first four years and crowns and fillings paid for that, not always my crowns and fillings because it was four of us. So I stopped completely for the first five years being a dentist. And in my head I thought, look, you can you can come at women have kids, they stop for five years and they come back. So I was giving myself five years. The others continued being dentists funded this whole project. And, you know, dentistry is very good in that respect, isn’t it? You you can you can choose to take any few days off you want and do a variety of things. It could be teaching. It could be something totally different, right? Some people go into property developing or whatever it is.

And perhaps that’s why it’s such a common thing to have these sort of side hustles, whether it’s following a passion or sounds like there was a sort of a gap in the market kind of thing and you wanted to get involved with more of this kind of stuff. And it does facilitate you doing that. And at what point then after that, five years out? Did you decide that this is solely what I want to be doing now and not going back to the crowns and fillings?

Well, we were just in so deep.

So it was never the plan? No, the plan was always to go back in five years.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, you define yourself as a dentist. You think I still do? Someone asked me. What do you do? First thing I’d say is I’m a dentist. Maybe because it sounds a bit more impressive than saying I supply dentists. I supply syringes. People don’t understand what you mean when you say questionable. Yeah. Yeah. Um, but yeah, we were very we got in deep in debt, and so there was no choice. We couldn’t get out of this. We could go bankrupt, of course, but I didn’t want to do that and got very close a few times. But then, you know, then we got busy. We got busy. And, you know, someone had to head the thing.

And what was the what was the turning point for that? About is that having more on the line, more skin in the game or. Yeah.

Yeah. But the.

Environment change.

At the beginning I was working from my kids bedroom. I became later my kids bedroom and.

Then later your podcast studio.

Yeah, this was a whole different, whole different house. But. But my kids, my kids bedroom and you know, it was one room. Enlighten was one room. And we used to we used to sell machines, these gigantic teeth whitening machines much bigger than a Zoom machine. And they used to ship from the US sort of 12 at a time. And basically the whole of my flat would get filled with these machines. And Sanj, my partner now, who also doesn’t practice, he he used to come in one day a week and do the books and, you know, the payments, the financial side, he was, he was quite strong on that side. And I’d be on the road going visiting dentists and you know, you didn’t know how to do it at the time. A dentist would phone up from any town name the town. I remember the first one was Lincoln. Send your rep and you know everyone else is sending reps. I’d have to get in the car. There was no satnav. There was no Internet really, to speak of. I mean, there was there was a crappy Internet print off the maps. I remember Lincoln.

Pages of Directions.

Yeah. Lincoln. I actually went to the town, went to a petrol station, bought a Lincoln Z, found the place. And I just remember thinking, is this how it’s done? You’re making it up on the spot, aren’t you? Yeah, but side hustles as a as a general thing. It’s become very fashionable thing to do. And I think the really nice thing about it is people can do one job to pay the bills and then follow their passion with their side hustle. And your passion could be something related to dentistry or education or whatever, but it could be something totally different. And in today’s world, what’s beautiful about today’s world is that if you’re good at anything, you could be good at flute, you could be good at country music, you could be good at drawing. If you’re really good at something, you can get that in front of people’s eyes. Definitely wasn’t the case before. Yeah, it really wasn’t. That’s what democratisation of talent. You know, it means there’s a lot more competition.

Yeah, but more opportunity as well.

If you’re good at something. Much more opportunity to get good at something.

And you mentioned education there. Second one, you said MSM. What was the story behind that? Obviously you’ve met De Peche and is that facilitating something or how did that.

Excuse me? Yeah. So what it was we we were doing light activated whitening right at the beginning and you know, the Flowable Dam composite that people used to use, we couldn’t find good Flowable dam. So some of them, as they cured, they get very hot and they’d hurt the patient. Some of them would leak all the time. And the product we were using at the time was this sort of very runny liquid and the very runny liquid would just get under the the dam and the protective dam and it would would burn the patient. And so I used to go to the midwinter in Chicago and to because now I was a Dental supplier. Right. So inverted commas. And on one of those trips I met the people from Cosmo Dent in only to buy their their Flowable Dam. They had a thing called Ginger Guard, which was the best flowable dam I’d come across. So I bought a bunch of that and then we became the world’s biggest buyer of that product because it wasn’t exactly a big product, but we were buying it for every single kit. We were putting one of those in, and that’s how I got introduced to Cosmo Dental body Mopper and their line of composites, which is the enamel range. And so then later on, maybe 2008, 2009, we they had a distributor in the UK already myosin, who you all know because of the denture teeth and they weren’t really pushing it hard at all. And we said to them, Look, we’re doing well with education, online education with Enlighten. We’ll do a similar thing and we’ll push enamel. And they’ve got loads of products. I mean, it’s not just composites, but we will push those products with some form of education. And I’d been on a hands on course in New Orleans at RCD, where I produced my first beautiful composite that I’d ever produced with Enamel. It’s just a really easy material to get right. You know, the optical properties are good, the Polish ability is very easy to get it right. Even even I could do it.

And Matisse told me all about the different types of composite on has he has he via Facebook?

Yeah so so you know I suddenly I remember Sanjay and I were on that on this hands on course in Aacd and I turned around to Sandra, showed him the tooth. I said, Dude, I did that, you know, and, and I just couldn’t. Once I’d seen that, I couldn’t unsee. I just, you know, I wanted to have something to do with that product. So we hassle them and hassle them, made them, made promises we should, we shouldn’t have made, made a gigantic order until it got to the point where they decided to switch distributor. So now we were distributing this, this composite. And one thing about Renamo, all of the different distributors all over the world obviously are in touch with a lot of them now. Everyone does it slightly differently, but education is part of everyone’s process. Different types of some do it online, some do big classes, some do small classes, some do two days, some do one week, some do one hour type polishing exercises. But education is definitely part of it. So we started out by getting the Americans to come over here and do the training. And then I met Jason Smithson. He was the head of the Cornwall Group, one of the best groups, private practitioners groups.

And he he’d been on, I think he’d been seated here or something like he was a very talented young dentist, but he was a young dentist, like I, a young dentist. He was, he was kind of new in composite. And he you could tell this guy had something special. So, you know, we gave him some of the materials and we started with courses with Jason. Um, but then Jason ended up becoming a global superstar. Yeah. Sort of. Sort of outgrew us. And, you know, he’s. I think he’s probably one of the best exports UK Dentistry’s ever produced. You know, there aren’t many UK guys teaching in Speir or constantly on the plane. I mean, if you, if you follow his, his, his progress, what he’s doing every week, he has to come from Cornwall. It’s ridiculous. But, but you know, he’s he is extraordinary insomuch as, you know, he’s like one of the Brazilians or the or the Italians. You know, he’s globally respected teacher in that area. Um, so then I did bump into Depeche at an awards ceremony and he was picking up the prize for Best composite.

Seemed like a good fit then.

Yeah, but he was, he was a vet, just finished his vet and all the other finalists were like famous dentists. And then there was this Depeche Palmer, and it was like, The winner is Depeche Palmer. And I was like, Who’s who the hell is that? And this little child stood up and came and I remember the thing I remember the most is, you know, how they project the case on the on the projector. I looked up to the case and I thought, wow, how did that child do that? Just I him during the party bit. I said to him, did you do that in vet? He was like, Yeah. And I remembered the crap I was putting out in vet and I just thought, there’s something going on here. So I gave him a bunch of materials and six months later he came back with this amazing presentation. He’d used the materials on a bunch of stuff, and about a year after that he said, I want to teach. And it was a bit challenging because he was maybe three, four years out of university and people didn’t want to be taught by someone that young. And I get it. I get it now. It’s funny now if a kid one year out of university tries, you know, does something, even Depeche himself will be like, What does this guy know? He’s one year out of university, you know, But but, you know, he was exceptional.

Really, really exceptional. Dentist. Um, and then, you know, I remember the first case he sent me. I sent straight to Cosmo Dental, and I said, you know, like that sort of idea of, you know, like the Ramachandran, the genius mathematician from India. Like some something, some, some story like that. I just thought, this guy’s a genius. Because the contralateral, the angulations, everything was just exactly copied. Um, later on, I found out he’s got a technique for that. You know that his own technique, his own idea, where he takes a photo of the two, the crops, the image, the contralateral crops, the image flips the image, turns it upside down. And so that then puts it on the screen nice and big. And so he’s directly copying what’s on the screen. He doesn’t have to mentally have to flip it or turn it upside down. And that’s what he’s done. That’s why he you know, and obviously he teaches that. But exceptional, really exceptional with teeth. It really is. And so I thought we got the best composite, the best teacher got a got a really go for it on every every other aspect, you know.

And you’re bringing in with that there’s elements of what you do well with Enlightened in sort of the marketing side of things. And so they’re still sort of fairly separate entities, but there’s there’s a lot of overlap in those. So was it was it sort of you saw that as an opportunity to utilise skills that you had to then facilitate someone like Jason first and then and then Depeche Yeah.

And look, the goal I’m not I can’t pretend the goal wasn’t to sell materials. The goal was to sell materials. That was definitely what we were doing it for, you know, because we’d made these massive, massive promises that we were trying to to fulfil. But the way it’s turned out is that the we really, really enjoy doing the courses once a month. Certainly Renamo sales have gone through the roof, I mean compared to from a very small base, right. So it still doesn’t form a massive part of our business. The overall I think it’s 15% of our business. But the nice thing is, as you say, there’s synergy in so much as we’re kind of in that little parking space that is minimally invasive dentistry. I’ve I’ve resisted bringing Aligners on. And even though it’s become much easier to do that, you know, I know how to I could bring out enlighten aligners. Not not the day after tomorrow, but I could bring out enlighten Aligners. I’m in touch with the labs I’m in touch with. The software could look good. All of that stuff could be right. But the reason I’ve resisted doing it is because I don’t like putting stuff out. That’s me too. Um, and not, not from any pride perspective, but because I always think we’re not big enough.

To do me to. If you’re dense, you can do me too. You can. I’m not saying they only do me too, but. But they can. Yeah. You know, and by the way, talking about Aligners, every massive player has put out an aligner system. I mean, we were counting every single big name is now going to do some sort of aligner including Philips now is doing one. So dense splice got their Suresmile Aramco’s got Sparc and many others. Right. The reason is that Invisalign valuation is just so gigantic that people are thinking, if I can get 1/20 of that valuation, I’m doing all right. Doing all right. Now, we’ve resisted. If I see something or if I come up with an idea for is better than what’s currently there. But to tell you truth, it’s difficult. I find that difficult because, you know, if Invisalign doesn’t manage it, how the hell am I? You know, there’s things like you can put your old aligner into this machine and it can spit out your new aligner and not not have so much plastic waste and all that. I don’t think dentists will go for it only because of the plastic argument. I think there needs to be a step forward for a dentist to choose, enlighten aligners over someone else’s aligners.

But then you’ll have the perfect course, won’t you?

Yeah. So then the thing about teaching is we’re becoming more agnostic in the teaching because, you know, the person who comes on the course needs to be able to use some of the stuff on their in their surgery and not be forced to buy the composite from me and so on. Although there isn’t a comparable conversation. People will people might argue about that, but there isn’t one that so many people can use so well so easily.

Yeah, I think that’s and that’s part of teaching as well. I mean, that’s what we’re doing with our primary impressions course, is that you can use compound, you can use putty, we can teach you how to use both. Actually, it doesn’t really matter. The main thing is, you know, the principle of why you’re using a certain thing in a certain way. The property of it doesn’t matter if it’s this brand, this brand or this material, this material. They’ve both got a similar property, therefore you can use it. And I think that is more valuable as an education perspective. Maybe not if you’re the sole supplier of enamel, but you know, from a from a delegates perspective, it is you don’t want to necessarily be locked into a system because then there’s all sorts of practice politics and corporates and suppliers and all that kind of stuff. So there is a, a degree of using different, using different things, teaching different methods. Absolutely.

Well, you’ll find if once your teaching career kicks off a bit more, you’ll find that there will be a major sponsor. And then not not only because the major sponsor is paying you, it’s not only that, it’s the access that that sponsor gives you to what they’re doing when they’re doing it. Early access to stuff will mean that you’ll get inspired by that just for the sake of the argument. If Ivoclar are giving you early access to that printed denture thing, you will then start making techniques, teaching techniques that are that are specific to that and then you end up funnelling into if if the sponsor is smart enough or recognises you as a good enough teacher, you end up funnelling into that. And I see that with, you know, all the other composite courses, you know, some of the other manufacturers are very good at that and they’ve got, you know, the other the other composite teachers are using them. And I don’t think they they, you know, are doing it only because they’re being paid. I think what happens is you end up learning the system that you’re learning and doing good things with that.

And once you’re not necessarily like ownership of it, but being able to drive that forwards, as you say, like getting involved. And I do like that idea and I’ve started like what we’re doing at the BCD with the digital stuff and beautiful wheels. The wheels have been turning. Thank you, man. The wheels have been turning on that. And how can we how can we do it for partials? How can we do sort of, you know, innovative additions with this? How can we facilitate this this more? And I think that is an exciting bit. I mean, speaking of developments, you’ve already talked there about looking at other products, and that’s clearly just your mind sort of ticking over on whether it’s looking at other holes in the market or facilitating bits. I mean, obviously we plan this for a while and we’ve been struggling to get a date because you’ve been a busy man doing a world tour, even.

Though we live five minutes away from each other.

Even though you’ve ambled down the road.

Today I actually took a lime bike. There was one right outside my door. I just thought it must be it must be fate. Too easy.

But, you know, we struggled that because you’ve been on your world tour talking all things Evo four and it’s been a long time, a long time coming. We know because that lovely video that you got of me and Tilly has been finally shared. You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful. It’s finally been shared after that. So. Talk us through Evo four. What’s the driving force with that? What? Why? Why the changes? Well, firstly, what are the changes for people that maybe haven’t seen it yet?

Okay, so Evo three was two weeks of homework. It was taken impression start the toothpaste, the hydroxy appetite toothpaste, two weeks of home whitening and then 40 minutes in the chair and then the whitening toothpaste. So that’s what Evo three was. Evo four is three weeks of home whitening, so no in-office part. And the concentration of the first two weeks is the same as before. But the third week is daytime whitening instead of Night-Time whitening. And there’s also attachments on the trays on the sixes, like just like Invisalign, which we can go into. And then the final piece is the, you know, we’ve always been focussed on the freshness of the gel, not always. Since Evo two, we’ve been focussed on the freshness of the gel. How long ago was it made? Where was it made? You know, what was it? What was the formula? And then how long ago was it made? How was it stored? How was it shipped? How long was it kept by the dentist before it got into the patient’s mouth because of the gel breakdown becomes as it breaks down, the concentration goes down and the PH goes down. So it becomes acidic and weaker at the same time. So with Evo four, there was a few of these things that needed to be addressed.

There’s a lot of factors that the general dentists in the street won’t necessarily be thinking about. Yeah, and obviously all of those things are going to affect the result. Yeah. Which is part of the marketing of what you hang your hang your hat on as well as the result that you’re going to get. So was this driven to improve that guarantee? Essentially, yeah.

So look, the evolution system’s always been about results and people get it wrong. Sometimes they because they don’t know that or they haven’t tried it, they think it’s to do with the packaging and we try hard on packaging. We do.

I do love the new tray, the new tray case or beautiful.

If you only knew what I’ve been through to get there, you’d be amazed How many.

Drawings of that have you got?

Amazed. What a nightmare. So. So at one point I spoke to Simon’s wife, Megan, and Simon Chard’s wife, Megan. And she was. She was telling me that every time she throws a bit of plastic in the bin, she she gets palpitations for her, for her kids. And that’s just something in my head clicked that, okay. Oh, right. But I really didn’t think that it was that that visceral for for for those guys. So I thought it’s a business thing. Green is kind of cool these days, so they’re going with that. But. But when when she said that, it’s something, something clicked in my head. And so we we were determined by the way, we were getting quite a lot of dentists contacting us saying, why is there so much plastic in your kit? And they were made of plastic, right? Even the outside. Yeah. So then something clicked in my head that said every element that is possible to to swap switch needs to be switched. And so, I mean, we’ll find out if there’s such a thing as a metal or a wooden syringe or something, but haven’t been able to find an alternative for the syringe. Yeah, we still use toothpaste tubes. We still use toothpaste tubes. And I’ll explain the reason for that.

No collab with Parler coming soon?

No. Um, I’ll explain the reason for that in a moment. So we do still use those and then some of the thermally stable elements so that the envelope that everything goes in need to be plastic too. And. And. And we’re removing twice as much plastic from the environment as we’re putting in. So we can call the thing plastic negative. But everything else we change to either paper or card. Then we come to the tray case and the tray case. There are manufacturers in the world who make trade cases. That’s all they do. And we looked at all of them and no one was doing a metal one. And so it came to actually, you know, making our own. And I’ve learned this lesson when you make your own, it’s always much, much more painful than you think it’s going to be. And to someone who doesn’t, who’s never done this before, the idea that it’s painful making a little tin, you know, it seems ridiculous, but it is, you know, like the two sides of the tin, you know, should it be a hinge because dentists want to flip the thing open. Dramatic reveal. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, why should it why should you need two hands? Right.

So it’s too much effort. Yeah. But a hinge on metal, it’s it makes things much more complicated. Much, much more complicated. Um, then, you know, it’s a two part thing. Just making this ridiculous noise. It still is. Actually, the next version is going to make less noise. Um, the, the imprinting, the logo into the metal so that it’s correct. You understand so many different iterations we’ve been and cost we’ve been through just to make that one thing metal. Yeah. So that’s, that’s the story of that. But yeah, it’s about it is about predictability. And what we wanted is to have the maximum number of patients get to delighted within the simple three week treatment. And because bruxism and para function for me is definitely the biggest issue. The attachments help a lot with that, so they keep the tray much more stable. It’s the back that tends to move. So, you know, keeping the back in the same place, the daytime element is again about that. So because bruxas obviously don’t grind as much when they’re awake. Um, doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be any cases that are longer, but we’re trying to minimise the number of cases that take longer.

Mhm. Mhm. Mhm. Mhm.

That’s and you mentioned about the packaging and what’s being sent and things like that now. Is that has there been a shift in that as well, that it’s purely you know, your order comes in and you get a single pack straight through rather than a big batch of stuff turning up.

So what we found was dentists. We were always measuring the time from factory to dentist. We’d be measuring that since to the maximum time. So obviously sometimes it’s very quick, isn’t it? If you’re lucky and the thing arrives, the syringes arrive from the factory yesterday. You order today and your patients the day after tomorrow. You could be super lucky and have it very quickly. And by the way, the reason we’re doing all this is because those treatments are so beautiful, so low sensitivity. The ones that are fresh, fresh, fresh. Yeah. But the longest time is you’re getting the last syringe in the batch. You buy it, you then keep it. And the last one of the ones that you use in your practice, some guys buy 24 kits or whatever and they want them all. So the 24th kit has been sitting in the fridge for a long time. It could be six, eight months sometimes. Yeah. Sometimes it’s been sitting enlightened for, for well it doesn’t anymore. But back then sitting in an enlightened for, for a few months. And so it’s broken down. It’s broken down. So now what we do is if you buy three kits from us, we don’t send you the kits at all. We just send you everything you need for the first visit, which is impression materials and the hydroxy appetite toothpaste.

You send us the impression or sends the scan and then the lab work and the kits all come back together. So at least we’ve got total control over the freshness of the gel that goes into the patient’s mouth. So it’s only in the practice for 2 or 3 days before the patient takes it. And then what we’ve said is we’re going to work to a much shorter shelf life than the manufacturer is saying. So I’m saying that now the goal we’re aiming for is one month, the oldest syringe, so one month from factory to mouth. But we’re not there right now. It’s two months from factory to mouth, the oldest syringe. And unfortunately, what that means is we do end up sometimes we happen in Covid where we run out of gel or we end up having to throw gel away. And, you know, we’re measuring every bit of plastic now that we throw away. And so it’s a difficulty. But I’d rather throw gel away than than not have the best result because, you know, at the end of the day, we have nothing if we don’t have brilliant results. It’s a results. It’s all about results. Yeah.

And you said about the change in tray design and things like that. Obviously the Enlightened only lab has come up in that time as well. Was that in the transition from 3 to 4 or earlier?

Did it just before Covid? Just before Covid, the real the real push for that was because of digital. So the lab that we were using wasn’t able to do digital. They were outsourcing it to another lab themselves. And within that the Chinese whispers the cost and the quality both. It was high cost, low quality, even though these were some of the most famous labs in the country. You know, it’s just it was just they weren’t invested in it or whatever. Know. It turns out, though, that making trays on printed models is much harder than making trays on stone models. And so because there were two other labs involved trying to tweak what’s going on in these two other labs when all they want to do and I get it, all they want to do is get on get on with the job was proving too difficult where we it was a very sort of difficult decision because running a lab is totally different to running a, you know, syringe business.

But the whole new experience.

Whole the whole new experience hiring people and then, you know, 3D printers, you know the area, you’re more involved. We’re on our third type of 3D printer now. The resins, I don’t think I still don’t think we’re there. I mean, if you compared an impression and a scan of the same patient and we’ve done this all the time, right? We we do it for our team. So take a scan, take an impression, make trays, two sets of trays. You do it with your denture thing, two sets of trays, and then put them into 4 or 5 of our staff, including myself, to feel what’s the difference? The impressions produce tighter fitting trays so that, you know, even though it’s very improved, I still don’t think we’re there.

But for the dentures, the opposite. They prefer the digitally manufactured but that’s that’s a.

Patients do.

But that’s a manufactured thing rather than a sort of production thing. So I mean with that and that’s clearly having that lab there. I mean that’s one of the things I like to say to patients when I’m discussing, sorry, various windings that we offer is that it’s all controlled in house and patients really actually appreciate that they really like that. That angle is it’s really interesting.

Having different dentists say to their patients is really interesting because you know, you’re kind of a technical person, so that resonates for you and you’re the way it works out. Is when you’ve been somewhere for a certain number of years, you attract the kind of patient that likes the kind of dentist that you are. You know the word of mouth piece, right? And so let’s just for the sake of let’s say your patients are more technically aware minded than the average, and because you’re more technically minded than the average, then when you come to discuss the difference between enlightened and boutique, you talk about it in a technical way. And for you, this in-house control thing is what’s resonating and working. But I bet you if we sat down with ten enlightened users, you’d be the only one who was saying that. Yeah. And then I get this call all the time, right? All the time. Sometimes my biggest users call me up. When we went to 3 to 4, I had 3 or 4 very, very difficult conversations with some of our biggest users in the country. So you’re making a gigantic mistake because the way I sell it is I sell the in-office part, and patients love that. And that’s what And you don’t know because I’m seeing patients. You’re not. Yeah. Lucky for us, this is Evo four. And so we’ve been through this three times before. And, you know, sometimes I want to try to explain to the guy, listen, you joined the Evo three here. If you if you joined the Evo two, you would have found Evo three. A big change because Enlightened used to be the first version used to be to in-office treatments with three weeks of home in between and painkillers throughout the whole thing because it was so much sensitivity. None of the toothpastes, none of the Desensitises Then it became, you know, home followed by office, then home followed by office with the desensitises and now finally home on its own. The the nice thing is lots and lots and lots of people weren’t using Enlightened because of the office part. So maybe we’ve opened that.

You gained more than you’ve annoyed. He will still probably stick with it anyway. I mean with that third week that’s hydrogen peroxide now.

Yeah. One hour a day.

So because what’s been the what’s allowed that to happen? Because my thinking was that it had to be all carbamide these days and patients can’t take that home with them, is it? No, no.

The reason we hadn’t done it up to now is because hydrogen peroxide is much more unstable. So much harder to keep that PH neutral. But because we’re instituting this much quicker from factory to patient, it’s possible to do that now with hydrogen peroxide.

So actually the products.

It’s legal.

But it’s not it’s not drastically different to what it could have been before. It’s just purely the the systems you’ve put in place allowing that to be more.

Well, it’s a different hydrogen peroxide to the hydrogen peroxide. That’s different that from a totally different manufacturer. It’s a different, totally different formula. But we tried lots of them and this is the best one that we tried. So we try it and split arch. And the big problem with hydrogen peroxide gels is they tend to cause a lot more white spots than carbamide peroxide gels. And it’s a bit of a worry because we’ve treated maybe a thousand patients with.


Before putting it on the market. And I think we’ve ironed out the problems and all that. But in the first week of Evo4 we treated more than 1000 patients and you don’t really know until you know. So, you know, in fact the treatments haven’t yet come through yet because it takes three weeks for the treatment to two weeks for the trays, three weeks for the treatment. And we only launched it about six weeks ago. So we’ll see soon. We’ll find out.

We’ll find out with the icon sales going through the roof. But so is it is it purely the only kit you can take home? Peroxide, Hydrogen peroxide? Sorry. Is it the only kit that lets you take away hydrogen peroxide? No, no.

I think de white is hydrogen peroxide. Polar de is hydrogen peroxide. So, no, it’s fine. You can take it. One thing we tried to stay away from now, though, is the chemical names. Particularly for the patient. Yeah. Patient doesn’t need to know. Carbamide hydrogen. One, two, three. None of that. None of that. And we’ve got as as an industry, we’ve got so addicted to these things. But you don’t tell your patient any other thing that you put in their mouth what the composition is. Yeah, right. The other part of it is I feel like from a from a communication perspective, it does commoditize it somewhat because as soon as you say 10% carbamide peroxide, yeah, people think, well, that’s ten.

Different systems that.

Do that. That’s all there is. It’s 10% carbamide peroxide. There’s no appreciation of the difference between different 10% carbamide peroxide. So for that reason too.

And what’s obviously, as you said, we’re six weeks in.


Aside from the enlightened aligner system, which I’m very excited for, what’s the where do you see this progressing to for yourself as it’s, it’s no longer the side hustle, it’s the majority thing that you’re doing. Yeah. What’s the is there still the same passion for developing this new product and improving this system? What?


What’s that future looking like?

I think. I think you change as a person as you get older. Right. So how old are you?



Yeah, I was. I was 28 when we started.

Enlightened. Yeah.

And at your age, there’s an excitement and an energy.


You can happily think about a problem for a week. And because you’re so excited by it, you know, you can really do that. As you get to my age, your brain slows down a little bit, and what ends up happening is experience makes up for that, but your brain hasn’t got quite the sort of immediacy to it. But, but nonetheless, you know, enlightened is all about how good it is, right? So that’s that’s what we that’s the only thing we’re good at. So, so that’s what we have to be really strong on. And where do I see it going? We’ve still got a tiny percentage of the market. I mean, you know, the nice thing when you talk to these corporate finance people, they get quite excited until they say how many dentists are using it. It’s a tiny percentage. I mean, we could triple, quadruple, enlightened easily because there aren’t that many dentists using it. The ones who are using it are using it quite a lot. The reorder rates. Brilliant that people don’t leave us very often. The ones who leave us tend to come back to us. Those metrics that the bankers like a lot. But so for now would be about growing it through through Evo4. I am very focussed on over-the-counter as well. Okay. Because number one, I don’t think crest strips are as good as.

In some enlightened strips are we?

I don’t think strips are the right way. But, but, but I don’t think crest strips are as good as they could be as far as making teeth white. And they’re definitely not as good as they could be from the marketing perspective. And there’s others that high smiles and people who are much stronger from a marketing perspective. Not not that I think I can do much better than them financially, but I think there’s some unfinished business. For instance, I think that over the counter there’s much more potential for improvement than in professional.

And it’s widening the net. It’s an entry level.

Difficult, though. Difficult business. That’s not the business we’re in. It’s a very cash intensive business. A lot of it is Ecom based and e-commerce become much more expensive since Apple’s giving people the option of not having ads specific to them. Do you know about that?

I’ve I’ve heard yeah that’s that was one of the things with your other other other hustle what you do with Prav with the with the Dental Leaders and that that was part of was that the ambition for that was sort of having, getting some data. Was it a passion project? Where did that side of it?

I’d be lying. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was to do with content and marketing to start with. Yeah, it definitely was. And we decided about seven.


Seven years ago to go down a content marketing approach as opposed to just ads. So I was very into podcasts and I thought, I want to do a podcast, perhaps that he wants to do a podcast with good friends. I said, Let’s do one together, simple as that. But now I see it much more as a hobby. It’s the closest thing I’ve got to a hobby. I mean, I know lots of people have got lots of hobbies, right? People play golf and scuba dive and, you know, people do a lot of fun things in their lives. Yeah, but what is a hobby? Like if you class a hobby as something you enjoy doing and also something you’re trying to be better at, you know, whether it’s golf or whatever, it’s it’s it’s almost the closest thing I’ve got to a hobby.

Well, we know because you’ve gone through my microphone settings very well for me today, but I think it’s.

Do you enjoy it.

I do. I’m I’m waning a little and I’m going to take a little break from from the lives.


And the lives from the lives. From the.

Lives. Yeah.

So you’re going to do more of these?


Yeah, a little bit more of this. I’ve got a few people lined up. Those months have been warmer. Celine, Rhona, Simon, just. Just pop in. I wanted to be more. More behind the scenes thing a little bit less or cover a bit more about social media pitfalls of that because I think it’s very prominent and partly with the lives very well. It’s going to be episode 100 in 2 weeks time, so it feels like a nice time to take a little hiatus there, but just a little. I’m a just a little bit sort of fatigued and and burnt with it a little bit. And whether that’s partly Instagram and algorithms and Google and Apple and all that. That’s I enjoy I still enjoy doing it. But it’s the it’s the getting behind of sorting out all the guests and organising it all that I’m just a little bit burnt with when I’m actually on the on the session or sat here now I love it. It’s great. And it’s it’s helped me a lot. It’s helped me meet a lot of great people. It’s gonna be.

That hard getting guests, though. Can it?

No, it’s not hard getting guests. It’s just finding the time to sit there and message people. Oh, everyone. Everyone loves to do it. Everyone wants to do it. It’s. Yeah, it’s just that side of it. I’ve got a bit.

I mean, yours is a bit different to, to mine because yours each, each episode is about a subject. Yeah. Whereas ours is, there’s no subject. The subject is the person. Yeah. So you don’t have to think about anything before actually doing the podcast. I do try and do a bit of research about the person because I find it makes for a better podcast, but at the same time, sometimes I like going in completely cold and finding out live and delving deep. Yeah, yeah. But I hear what you’re saying about the hassle. I don’t know. Is it that you haven’t got enough people working for you to, to zero. Yeah. Yeah. But is that it. Is that, is there, is there an editing thing and uploading piece. Is that the problem. Because. Because I don’t do any of that. So if I had to do that, I mean I just have to post on social once a week and I’ve chosen to do I don’t have to do that. I’ve chosen to do that. And even that I find quite hassle. Yeah.

I mean, they’re.

Two separate entities, you know, it’s like the live, the live itself that lives on Instagram. Yeah, yeah. I’m a, I’m a year behind in turning that into an actual podcast and that’s relatively heavy because I’ve got to, you know, download the video. Yeah, move it over onto there, strip off the audio, enhance the audio, move it into.

Do you just go straight into YouTube?

Because it’s fun. Youtube does nothing. I put them all on. Admittedly, I don’t know enough about YouTube as a platform to like do it, but you know, I’ll stick them on it. I’ll do bugger all so I can’t be asked to do that. It takes too long and it’s not doing anything. So I’m like, and that’s it. It’s like, I don’t. The bit that I enjoy is the bit of the conversation and the live element of it and chatting. And I love I love that people enjoy it and they want it to be a podcast and stuff. And that’s what I’ve tried to get on with it and that’s great. Um, but yeah, it’s all that other side of it I don’t enjoy because they’re not the hobby. It’s a, it’s a job that doesn’t actually do do that much for me from a job perspective, from a Yeah, from a meeting loads of people. And obviously because it’s very clinical, mostly getting stuck in and learning from some of the best people now around the world. I’ve got international guests on it and getting to deep dive with them on their chosen topic is great for me from a clinical perspective as well. Yeah, so that side of it I enjoy. It’s the other, the other bits around it that aren’t so fun. So something like this where I can just do it and put it on is, is good. But yeah, I want to say I want to cover the other side of. So the social media side of it and that’s where, you know, the plan was to do the first one of these with Celine. But we we missed each other at the end of work.

Because they cover the social media side. You want to talk about the social media side? Yeah.

Or talk more about the mental health side of everything. Yeah, because BCD, as always, lots of good chat happens at two in the morning at the BCD. Yeah, but I was talking with with an Instagram friend who were talking about mental health and the struggles I was having in my early, early days in, in my practice in the NHS practices. And, and he sort of turned around and went, Well, how you present yourself, I never would assume that you were having such a tough time and I needed quit dentistry after a year and that kind of stuff. And he’s. Because it’s you know, social media is the it’s the swan right on the top. It’s all blissful and lovely and serene, and then underneath the legs are going like nuts and things like that and. And I think everyone needs to appreciate that everyone’s like that and everyone has those issues. And I think I think that would be a really valuable thing to to put out there because that’s part of I want to do is with this is give value. But also, you know, with the clinical clinical stuff, it’s facilitating other people. And so what the newsletters meant to be about I’ve got newsletters.


Gigantic pieces of work, but you could turn those newsletters into a book. You really could.

Maybe that’s a lot.

Of work goes into that. I remember contacting you once and saying, Dude, you’re doing this all yourself, or Yeah, because they’re so big and.

New one coming out tomorrow, guys. Actually, by the time we’ve released this, it’ll be out. Um, but yeah, even, even that, you know, that started off as I want to. Yeah. I’ve been given this sort of little bit of a platform on, on social media and I want to facilitate other, you know, great clinicians that want to or not other great. I want to facilitate great clinicians and not put myself in that bracket, but I want to facilitate great people that want to put their stuff out there but you know, and utilise this platform, the impression club platform or whatever. And that’s what, that’s what it started like. And yeah, as, as with, you know, as you say with the podcast, yes, there’s a degree of, there’s a mail list involved, so there’s a little bit of benefit there somewhere potentially if you want to leverage on that. But it was I enjoyed putting it together. But it is it is a lot of work. But now that I’ve stopped chasing people for it and I don’t get much stuff, it’s easier than when it’s 60 pages or something like some of them are. Um, but yeah, it’s, yeah, it’s a lot of, it’s a lot of work.

How many days a.

Week do you drill for?

Yeah. So, I mean, you know, one thing I noticed was during lockdown, the amount of new content that came out of dentistry, if you remember. Oh, it’s Monique Clive with Christian Coachman, and you realise that, you know, dentists are busy being dentists and to pull off. Both content and dentistry is quite a lot of work. And now you’re doing this content thing.

Well, that’s it. When does.

That start? September.


Yeah. So that’s it. So the minute we’re on the Thursday right now because that’s my, my admin day. Yeah. But yeah. From September it’s going to be, I’m going to be back to five days it’s going to be and, and I think that’s maybe partly why I’ve got this little bit of a block with it at the minute is that I’ve got in the back of my mind going, I can’t do four lives a week from September.

I need. Are you doing four a week?

So for four I’m doing one a week or one a week.

For a month. For a month, Yeah.

I’m not going to be able to do that from September, so maybe I need to trim it back a little bit. Yeah. And then I’ve sort of going, What am I doing to then I can’t really be that, you know, it’s not that pressing to be like, I need to find 4 or 5 people in a month to do so. I think, I think that is part of it, that I’m sort of almost weaning myself off it before I get forced to. Yeah, yeah. But I still want to do it because I, I enjoy, I enjoy doing it and it’s, it’s allowed me a lot of, a lot of things. Um, but yeah, it’s going to be a different change of pace in September for sure. But yeah, a new challenge, an interesting challenge.

And you’re going to be working as a dentist as.

Well. Yeah.

So it’s three days at uni, two days in practice at Nick. Yeah, yeah.

So tell me this. Now that we’re in the, you know, this year we were very worried about this year, about recessionary type pressures, cost of living, all of that, which by the way, I mean people are suffering, there’s no doubt about that. But from the patient perspective and I guess Nick Fahey’s practice is higher end, right? It’s a well-to-do kind of patient group. But with your patients, have you noticed people not going for bigger treatment plans? Because I’m hearing that from some of the very cosmetic dentists.

Yeah, I think.

You’re not a very cosmetic dentist. I’m not.

A very cosmetic.

Dentist. Have you felt it or not? Have you felt people have you felt your conversion rate going down?

I think a little bit, but not as not as much as it could have been. I think I think our our overall, you know, in Berkshire, it’s a relatively sort of recession proof area. Um, but yeah, I think.

From from the.

More cosmetic dentists that are in there, They I think they are seeing that when it’s a purely cosmetic thing, that there is a little bit of pushback, there’s a little bit of waiting and maybe six months time and that kind of stuff. The majority of what I do is just, you know, needs must restorative kind of thing. So I don’t think that side of it is has been affected too much. But I can imagine I mean, what what are your numbers?

We’re down about.

10% from this time last year. Enlightened wise. Yeah. But that said, this time last year was a bonanza.

Okay. End of the zoom boom stuff.

Yeah. Yeah.

But I’ve never been down before, and that hurts. You know, it’s a horrible feeling. Know not not only for me, but for the team. We incentivise our team on growth. And so, you know, our team didn’t receive a bonus, which hurts them, you know, and then that the knock on effect that has on us and you know the worry. Right The worry to tell you the truth, if I’m being very honest with you, I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s only 10% because I was expecting a proper I mean, how old were you in 2008? Gcses.

15? Yeah.

2008. When Lehman went down, it was it would be the equivalent of someone saying to you, Amazon’s gone down. Yeah or no, Google’s gone down. Because Lehman It wasn’t just any old bank. It was it was like one of the banks. People used to boast about banking with Lehman’s or working at Lehman’s or whatever. When that Lehman’s went down, it was such a big shock that the phone didn’t ring for three days at a lighter. I remember on day two thinking it’s all over the whole thing that all the work we’ve done, it’s all over, you know, because you didn’t know when the phone was going to ring here. Yeah. And I don’t think we really came out of it until 2017, 18, really, in sentiment wise. Yeah.

Well, I mean, there wasn’t sitting there in the back of the mind like this could all be over tomorrow kind of thing. No, no.

But just sentiment like. Like people wanting to buy things.


Easily. Yeah. By the way, it gives rise to a bunch of new businesses like Aldi and, you know, discounters, Prem, that kind of thing that, you know, discounters suddenly become the businesses. Right? The businesses at the moment. So there’s opportunity in it. Of course there’s always opportunity in any sort of big movement. Right. But what my point is, it was such a massive shock that I thought we’d be in that again. And by the way, we could be right. We don’t know which bank is going to go down the day after tomorrow. We don’t know.


But if it doesn’t, I mean, I wasn’t expecting to get to May. Things are only down 10% for Enlightened. I think if Air Force had something to do with it, you know the razzmatazz of Evo four and and people, you know, the excitement of it and all of that, maybe that’s part of it. I would have been seeing a much bigger drop. Yeah. But still, that’s that’s that’s right. But talking to people, I had dinner with Matty in Liverpool.

Nice little tie. Yeah. Well, he was saying.

He was saying he was six months booked ahead before. Yeah. Now he’s four months booked ahead.

Oh, poor guy. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Yeah, But you know what? The thing that it sort of made me think in my head was if Matty has gone from six months to four months, he’s 30% down. Someone else has gone from six weeks to four weeks. Someone else has gone from six days to four days. Yeah. And there’s plenty of people. I was one of them as a very private dentist and a very expensive practice in central London. I was booked six days ahead. You know, no more than that.

Yeah, we definitely had an initial, I don’t know, maybe two months ago, an initial bit where things suddenly looked a bit gappy. Yeah, but it’s been. But then as soon as we saw that it went right. What are we doing about the, you know, how on it are we with the recalls and that kind of stuff. And then as soon as we went, oh, we’ve been a bit lazy on that actually. And we started up, started up the, you know, the wheels of everything, everyone getting the message and then it fell back up again. So yeah, it wasn’t, it was once they were nudged about it, patients like, oh yeah, no I need to go and book my check up. Yeah. But when they weren’t being nudged about it, it was, it wasn’t a priority. And then, but then as soon as it was they’re like, oh yeah, no that’s, that’s what, that’s what I do every six months and hygienist and did it. I need to get back into it. So once they were nudged about it they, they did come back to it and but yeah, maybe the maybe the more cosmetic side is going to be different.

Yeah, maybe. Now, tell me this. Your course, you’re doing so fixed and removable props. 18 grand a.

Year for three years. For now, four.


Four years, four.

Years. And it can go up every year.

It’s very interesting, man, because, I mean, you must have had the thought that I could take that 18 grand and do. Let’s just stick to education. You could just spend it on education. Every year, you know, you could do choice one year, spear the other year, panky the other year if you could, if you wanted to do that, or let’s not stick to education, you could take that 18 grand and hire a I don’t know.

Some somebody said you could.

But you know what I mean. Yeah. You could have deployed it in so many different ways. What was the thing that in the end that the final sort of key thing that said, all right, now I’m going to I am going to do this and then.

Honestly, the bit that really switched it around for me was when Honey said, Oh, you realise if you do it this year. We’ll finish it exactly the same time because she’s got two years. She’ll have two years left in September of a ortho and two years of consultant. After that, four years will both be done. But that’s a good sign.

But why is that? Why is that? Wasn’t there. Wasn’t there an element of while she’s busy not making much money, you should be busy making money and.

Yeah, but if it’s. Well, I was on the flip. I was like, if it’s a bit naff that she’s not making money, it may as well be NAFTA. Neither of us are making money, and then we’re both good rather than elongating that time with one of us isn’t and one of us is. So that was I was I was really toing and froing with it until and I was leaning on looking at doing it for sure because Nick was very supportive of it for a start as well.

But Nick thought it was a really good idea. Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah.


I think for him it was it was such a game changer for him.

Oh, he’s done it.

Yeah. Yeah, he did it in 2020, 25 years ago.

Eastman Because before, before off air, I was saying to you, you might as well just sit for four years and watch. Nick. Yeah. And that would be more of an education than I.

Mean, that was.

That was part of my thing. Yeah, because. Because realistically, that I’m still waiting on the episode of Nick and Sarah, by the way, and Dental Leaders. Yeah.

Prav look.



Think they might need to do separate ones, but there’ll be two part to it as there will be. But I was, I was looking at that going, my, I don’t have an ambition to be at any of the practice to work anywhere else you know that that practice there it’s phenomenal And there I’ve got two fantastic mentors there and sort of, you know, owe a lot to that. But I just sit there and go, Well, once I’ve finished, I want to go and restore a lot of Nicks surgery that he doesn’t necessarily want to be restoring much anymore. He wants to be surgery inking. So I said that I was like, That’s what I want to do. So I was like, Well, actually, if why, why don’t I drop a day a week for a year and you teach me everything and then get on with it rather than. Yeah. And, and I yeah, there’s, but there’s more to it than I think the balance with doing the course is that you’ve then got lots of mentors whether, whether Nick is my main mentor and I hope he will be throughout that process. There’s, there’s lots of other people to then learn from rather than just being indoctrinated is the wrong word. But, you know, having that one perspective all the time, even if it’s of a phenomenal clinician, it’s still, I think, good to have those that different, different sort of outlook, different skill set as well. And I love the subject as well. And I’m really looking forward to going back and actually learning some stuff in a conventional way. Yeah, I’ve thought about doing the sort of distance one that doesn’t really get you on the specialist list but have an indent, and I’d still learn from that, but I’m no good at doing distance learning. I need to be sat down and made to work.

Yeah, I’m the same.

I’m the same. I think you’re right to highlight the human contact piece. Yeah, because, you know, I’ve got a friend about to jump into an MBA, and I said to him, Look, the education, surely you can get it all online, right? But the contacts, you know, having people on the end of a phone. Yeah. High level people on the end of a phone that you you probably will have by the end of this process. That’s probably the biggest part of it. But I go back to the 18 grand a year just if we’re just talking finance. Yeah. Because you know, you’ll still end up being poorer by spending the money my way. Yeah, but if you had.

Not taken the financial hit of not working three days a week.

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. But it’s a double whammy.

But so let’s just, for the sake of the argument, say, okay, yeah. You spent the first year in spear finishing the whole of spear. Is that about 18 grand? Probably, yeah. Yeah. And then the second year you went and did the whole. Of course, for the sake of the argument, you’d be stupid to do both. Right? But let’s imagine. Yeah. You’d get a bunch of like mentors out of those two processes to um, I think there is, there’s something about, you know, the letters after your name kind of thing. There’s, there’s no doubt about that. There’s something about being on the specialist list and. Kind of diminishing, kind of diminishing, I think. But as a as a thing that, you know, I think ten years ago maybe that, you know, that made more sense than it does now. Because, you know, when you look at the people you look up to. The fact that Jason isn’t on a specialist list doesn’t make me think he can’t do the work or anything like that.

Yeah, and.

I think that’s very much a. It was waiting around to the social media side of things again, isn’t it? Yeah, there’s lots of, you know, Emmy. Yeah. Fantastic GDP that’s doing this incredible high level stuff. Or, you know, there’s what you had Millie on the podcast last week. Yeah. And it was, funnily enough, we were at the dinner and yeah, honey just started author and whatever, and she’s going, Oh, I really think I might go back and, and do try and do national recruitment and do ortho. And that’s why you’re doing you’re doing it at such a high level already, like and I sort of defeating my own argument about why I’m going to go and do really. But it was it was interesting, but when it was someone else, I was like, but why would you want to do that? But when I look at it and go, Well, say, well, it would be good to go and learn it properly, you’re right.

Look, I think even if, let’s say Millie went into them mouth, she would bring to their mouth everything that she’s got now. Yeah. And then would use them all to make her new version of her. Yes. So. So it’s not black and white, but I’m just interested in your thought process, is it that is it that you want to keep up with, Honey? Is that part of it?

No, not at all. Not at all. She can do.

That. That’s fine. Um. No.

Does she listen to these?

She doesn’t know she wants this. She won’t listen to this.

My wife doesn’t listen to Dental Leaders either.

She. She.

She checks in when, like, her consultant was on the other week.

And she she had to be.

There intently for that one. Um, no, I think a bit like what you said there for, for Millie like. I feel I can get maybe more out of the course by being in the environment that I’m in, because I can.

Take it back.

In the practice where I can already be practising it. I’m not in my previous practice or whatever it is where you’re learning all this stuff and you can’t really put it into practice because you’ve got 6000 days to do or whatever. So I think that’s a big a big part of it too, is I look at it as a really good opportunity. To to do this, but also get so much from it because I’ve got this sort of privileged position in this practice rather than using it as a way of escaping another practice or a level or anything like that. Um, but yeah, I’m looking forward to it. But there’s a lot of yeah. Extra work to do, so yeah.

So have you looked.

At it at King’s, What is the, you know, the process, what are you going to be doing every day? Are you going to be doing lab work and stuff?

Oh yeah.

There’s some lab work going on, which is good. It’s going to be interesting not being able to send your lab work off to the best people in the country. Yeah, because that’s, that’s. That’s the. That’s the only secret, guys, is just pay someone who’s good at their job to do what.

They’re good at.

That’s, that’s, that’s that’s all I do. It’s not that. It’s not that it’s not that deep, but it’s, it’s going to be I think that’s an interesting side of it as well, because that’s what we end up talking about or, you know, teaching on the on our first course we actually had.

Did you enjoy the course?

I think so.

I think so. Well, you mean the impression cause. Oh, yeah. Loved it. Loved it. We got the next one next weekend. How many.


18. 18 per course.

How many teachers? Two.

Two. So it’s. That’s a.

Good ratio.

It was great. It was great. It was really. It’s really, really hands on. It’s really intensive. But I just love. I love teaching. I love teaching. And, um, luckily, I’m slightly older than Dipesh was when he started, so he can’t shout at me. But I’ve always I’ve always enjoyed it from a, you know, we talked on Leaders about the swim coaching and all of that. Of course, it’s always been a big sort of element of what I enjoy doing and that’s where the sort of social media stuff came from. Eventually I was like, Oh, I’ve got a little something to share and I enjoy doing that. But I’m loving, loving the the course and I want to, you know, facilitate other, other avenues. You know, we sort of joked at the start of the course being like, welcome to, you know, course one of the seven part removable diploma and everyone went well that’d be really good actually when secondary impressions then we’re like we were thinking about doing like digitals and immediates and implant dentures but hadn’t thought about secondaries. And they’re like, Yeah, that’d be really good. And you, your daughter. And I was like, Oh, geez, we’ve accidentally, like, created a monster here. Um, but I’m enjoying it. I want to see where that, where that goes alongside. It’s going to be a bit, a bit interesting going on a going on a course like the end and being like, Oh, I’m off teaching this weekend. I’m not sure how that will fly, but yeah, that could be quite interesting.

Yeah, I think that’d be good.

I think the two things go well together. Yeah. Um, but you know, your progress has been rapid. You know, I told you that at BCD. The funny part about that is, what do you think it was about you that made them want you to teach? Abcd. And you made denture sexy. Was your original the original? I think there was this one video where there was a suction. Yeah, like a pop thing. But I’d go as far as to venture the lives.

Yeah. Yeah.

So. So. So this thing about, you know, stopping the lives, maybe they were what got you here?

100%. 100%. You know, there’s people.

That’s I think part of it is seeing. How I or you can sort of see my thought process as I’m asking questions. You can see how I’m going to communicate anyway. I think. I think there is a big a big part of it absolutely is, is because of the whole nature of the sort of platform that we’re putting together. I mean, the other thing with it, as you say, with making dentures sexy, etcetera, is that it’s relatively unique topic as well. You know, the course itself, hands on, hands on primary impressions for a whole day sounds insane. But actually, you know, we were running out of time kind of thing. There’s so much stuff that you can pack in in just that one little bit, you know? And there’s nothing, as far as I can see like that out there as well. So I think.

And who are the delegates? What was the sort of the age and, you know, what were they up to? Who were they?

We had we.

Had two clinical technicians, which is very cool because we could sort of bounce off each other in that way. We had, um, some. Most were.

Young dentists.

Yeah, sort of first five years. So my sort of age, really. And then we had a few older guys as well, which were actually, you know, there’s one chap per Bryn who probably will be listening to this because he’s a, he’s a keen bean. But you know, he came on and he’s don’t want to get it wrong, but know 20 odd years graduate or something like that. And he actually came from a family of Prosthodontists. His dad was you know, he found his dad’s old gold. Gold leaf kit and whatever up in his up in the loft and things like that. And he came out with being like, I’ve been in such a slump for ten years. And something so simple as this has just completely reinvigorated all aspects of my practice and just got me excited again. And that’s like, that’s mega to be able to like have that sort of opportunity to be able to do that for someone. So it’s a real range. And the next course is. Similar, but I think it’s more sort of first ten years practitioners mostly, and the core ones, we’ve got a couple of associates and principals coming and things like that. But I’d like to keep up the having some technicians there as well. I mean, it worked out great for for one, she’s picked up five new clients who all your needs are after the course, which is quite good.

And I think technicians, we’ve ignored technicians a bit in education and I know your your audience is a large part of it is technicians. Yeah. I even think Dipesh is teaching a lot of the time he’s referring to hit.

Yeah, yeah.

He’s talking about this is what the this is the way the technicians lay a porcelain so and so he translates that into composite and, and they’re the experts, let’s face it. Right. As far as shape and colour and primary and secondary anatomy, you know, they’ve known things for years that we’re only just now learning. Yeah. But the integration of technicians in education, I think I think in guys they’re on to that, right? That’s in. King So, so so you know doing your own lab work and all that is part of that.

It’s appreciating it, isn’t it? Yeah. I mean, that’s that’s an element that I’m really keen to be pushing more. I mean, we’re just well. Mike So on the Impressions course, Mike is a dentist now, but he started as a technician, so he has got both both sides of it, which is amazing.

All the top, all the top dentists, all the top, but a lot of the top dentists have come down that route.

Yeah. And you know, it’s that.


I think of.


And so it’s a really good way of doing it. And you know, some of the other ones that we’re talking, we’re talking BCD in the digital one that’s, you know, that’s almost there already as a course to launch because we essentially did a half day course. And I know what two exercises we can do to make it a full day course in the afternoon and that doing that with my technician Ricardo, side by side bouncing off each other is, I think over half the battle is just how you talk to that person on the other end of the parcel that gets sent halfway across the country or whatever it is. That’s half the battle in terms of actually getting the results. So I think teaching from that perspective is is really useful.

I think I don’t mean to bang on about it here, but you’re in a way you’re missing a trick. If I have no doubt that you can produce great courses, I think you have no doubt that you can produce great courses. Even today. I’m sure after the next three years you’ll be even better courses. But.

It. You know, the.

The thing that is important is that if we’re talking courses, people turn up.

The courses.

Yeah. Yeah. Or, you know, Jazzy. He does the long distance, you know the E courses. Yeah. People have to want to, to consume your content. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that that piece for you is, it’s almost like you’re throwing something that most people would love to have. Down the down the drain. And. I’d be careful of that. I’d be careful in terms.

Of what’s stopping the.

Content. Yeah, the content side, you know that most people would love to have some sort of engaged audience.

It’s taken it’s taken a breather and not stopping it. Just taking a breather.

Taking a breather. But be careful. Be careful.

Be careful. I don’t know if you listen to podcasts and you know those podcasts where they say season one. Season two. And then there’s a big break.

Yeah. Yeah.

They basically drop off your radar. Yeah. And so maybe you’re lucky and then it comes back. Yeah, but the ones that take a break often never come back. Number one. And number two, you know the rhythm. If you’re listening every Tuesday afternoon or whatever it is, suddenly that rhythm is broken. Now you’ve got to listen to something else on Tuesday afternoon. And, you know, those eyes and ears are away. I’m just saying.

Caution, caution. I mean, that was.

It was one of my worries with doing the course as well, because by doing the dynamic from that, because that was it, I was looking at going, oh, well, I’m enjoying the lecturing. I’m enjoying. It’s exciting. We’ve sold out these first two courses, all of that, and and that’s been facilitated by doing those. So if I go, oh, if I haven’t got time to do that. And you know, I looked at it and went in four years time, forget the, you know, spending the money on course or whatever, it’s in four years time. Where is the what’s the trajectory of, of the education side of impression club. Yeah. And where is it going to be if I’m not able to keep doing the amount that I am right now? Is it worth that? If that’s what I want to do in the.

Let’s get let’s.

Get down to this then. Dream a dream in four years time when both you and Haniya have finished your education. Yeah. Just for the sake of the argument, what would be your dream outcome of your life in six years time? Professionally?

I’d want to be. I want to be clinical.

Three days.

Rest. The time spent inside for the practice.


You don’t need you two are going to open a practice or with your friends. No, it’s not. You decided against that, is she? Is she going into hospital? She decided that.

She’s coming around to a bit of practice. Coming around to a bit of practice.

Okay. So three days.

Clinical and the rest.

Teaching the rest. Yeah.

Free to be doing teaching and and well. And family and stuff. But yeah, that’s, that would be the sort of pattern that I’d want to be looking at. So that’s where I’d say, am I going to be able to keep growing everything else to be able to facilitate that whilst doing this other side of it as well. And that’s the that’s the challenge, I think.

I think you will I.

Think you’ll be okay. But, but you know, my my previous point is that keep that audience engaged people like you and you’ve put out a lot already. You don’t realise you’ve made a massive step in that or call it sacrifice. I sacrifice is the wrong word because you enjoy it, right?

But has its moments. Yeah.

You’ve made a massive sacrifice already in that in that direction. And you know, I wish you well regarding that. So. Okay let’s let’s project forward. I don’t know. Ten.

You’re on your.

Deathbed. What’s.

I haven’t.

Prepared. Those ones Pay.

No, no, no.

Like you say, three days. Clinical. Yeah. Why should it be three days clinical? Like, why can’t you be Crystal?

What was he doing these days? Oh, is that one day clinical?

Clinical? Too much.

It’s more than teaching.


No, I love teaching. I love teaching. I don’t think I don’t think there’s scope for me to be teaching four days a week. We’re not doing totally dentures, man. I can’t be doing.

No, it doesn’t have to be. But look, dude, you.

Can turn impressions of dentures into impressions of fixed products and then that can turn into the whole digital workflow. In four years time, dentistry will look very different to what it looks like today. Imagine, dude, the eye thing comes into play. Some player will be the eye vertical on dentistry, you know, like, I don’t know, who knows? I haven’t even thought about it properly yet. But you know, like you’ll take the scan, The eye will say, this patient is suitable for that treatment in your hands. And it would come back loop back to reception, call him or something. Yeah, something like that. Um, then she would look very different in four years time. It always does anyway. It always does. I don’t think the snapshot that you’ve got today is going to be.

Yeah, yeah.

No, I think, I think I enjoyed the clinical too much to do, too little of it. As you said, things priorities might change and things like that. But I think as well, if you are into the education side of it, then you’ve got to be keeping.

Some clinical, you’ve.

Got to be keeping yourself up to date as well. Yeah. And keeping stuff. Yeah. Fresh.

Fresh as well.

I agree with that.

That’s my side Hustles developing though isn’t it?


It’s funny. I’ve done two days a week clinical and I’ve done three days. I’ve done all of them. But talking about two days and three days. Three days feels like a job. It feels like a proper job. Like that’s your main thing? Yeah. So this is what I mean by deciding which is the side hustle and which is the which is the main job. If we’re talking five days a week and it’s three of one and two of the other two days, dentistry feels more like a hobby. And then your main thing is you’re a teacher or researcher or whatever else it is. You are like me.


I’m going to get a four year trial of it during the course.


Can I do two days a week?

That’s true.

That’s true. I’ll find.

Out. I might just carry on.

Yeah. I’ll find out if that’s enough work and enough. Uh, yeah, enough sort of attention on that side of it. So, yeah, maybe. Maybe that’s. I’ve got to look at it. It’s a forced. A forced trial period of doing that. Yeah. Yeah, it’s it’s going to be very interesting. But yeah, I hope I’m able to keep everything up because I do enjoy it. Um, but it’s just when there’s all that else on the line, you’ve got to prioritise that, right? That’s the, that’s the thing when you’re putting it out there. I’m sure it’s no different to maybe that’s why you’re, you know, you’re five years of just focusing on Enlighten. That’s what, that’s what you felt you had to do to. Yeah. While the others were balancing it. You and I’m going to. I’m going to commit to this deep dive and. Have that have that expression on it.

But that really wasn’t planned out in the same way. It was just like had to do it, you know? Had to. There was no other choice. We were just so in trouble. Yeah. And now that you’ve got the opportunity, I mean, you’re a bit more stable than I was back then. Yeah. We almost ran out of money on day one. It was almost like that. So just scraping. Scraping by.

So it was.

This full page newspaper ads on.

That? Yeah. Yeah, we did.

We did double page ads and all the. All the mags, all the magazines and spent it all.


I know. I do. You know. No idea. On, on on anything like that. I remember having conversations with other Dental sales people and not even understanding a word of what they were talking about because, you know, like a professional salesman, you know, who’s responsible for this bit of the country. And I was just a dentist.

Right. You’ve got.

Your. Your side hustle has gone very like mini smile. Makeover makes almost more sense. Even though it’s a dental product, it makes more sense than going into being a distributor as they didn’t even know what that was because it’s a very different, you know. Would you consider yourself overly sort of business minded, entrepreneurial like? No, it just sort of it it started from that more familiar thing of running a practice and then just sort of morphed.

There was.

I’ll tell you something, there was an element in school, my best friends, their dads. Big conglomerate businesses like manufacturing businesses. And so there was an element of watching that that made me think, oh, business. Yeah, but just as an idea, not not any sort of, you know, by, by the pen and sell it to my best friend. Like I’m definitely not good at any of that sort of thing. Just that basic idea of there’s another way, because my dad was a professional, you know, an accountant and knew professionals. My brother became a medical student. I was going to Dental going down that sort of professional route. But my influences at school, my my two best friends. Three best friends, they the conversations they were having was a whole other thing about factories and production lines and and employees and all of that. And I it must have had an effect on me. It must have.

Yeah. Because that’s even from a I don’t think the majority of dentists are particularly business minded just maybe naturally how.

A lot.

Of those multiple practice type business minded right Yeah I remember Julian Perry do you know have you come across him So he’s now probably clinical director at one of the corporates but he did he he did a intraoral camera. I went for an interview at his practice for associate or something and he said, Yeah, I’m manufacturing these intraoral cameras. I said, What? And he said, Yeah, yeah. He showed me. And Intraoral camera itself was an unknown thing, but the fact he was making them and selling them, you know, blew me away. And then I said, How, how did this happen? And he said, Oh yeah, I did an MBA straight after, you know, whatever, something like that. And I remember being very impressed with that man.

You said your.

Friends do it. Yeah. Is that not something you’ve considered?

My friends would, you know, they were selling auto parts.

You, your friend. You said you had a friend. Now, who’s doing them doing MBA?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Is that not.

Something you’ve thought of? No.

I thought.

About it. I thought about it. When you. When you fully understand what an MBA is, then you want to do it less in my in my world. So the people who do MBAs, they they tend to go join massive corporates. And that’s kind of what it prepares you for that or maybe sometimes. Start-up But mainly massive corporates. It’s just, you know, the skills you need to run a business that I’m sure there are courses on it. But this idea that we need to go on a course to learn everything, yeah, it’s very Dental mindset.

It’s good if you’ve run courses.

Yeah, yeah, it’s true. Yeah.

Perfect, man, I think.

The side hustles.

Let’s see. Let’s see if they keep up.

But both of them. Both of us.

Mine and yours. I’m hoping yours do. Because they’re not they’re not side hustles, but great to pop on down, man. Thank you so much. And I’ll see you soon at some glamorous event, no doubt.

Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so.

Much, man. Really enjoyed it.

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

Thanks for listening, guys. Hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Make sure you tune in for future episodes. Hit subscribe in iTunes or Google Play or whatever platform it is. And you know, we really, really appreciate it. If you would give us a.

Six star rating.

Six star rating. That’s what always leave my Uber driver.

Thanks a lot, guys. Bye.

Brain health is one of the most overlooked aspects of well-being, says this week’s Mind Movers guest, Dan Murray.

Dan talks candidly about the failure of his first ecommerce startup and how a subsequent bout of insomnia inspired the success of his latest venture. 

Dan also discusses the importance of connectedness, the pitfalls of ego and the value of purpose and failure as a driver for success.



In This Episode

01.42 – Dentistry and stress

07.04 – Early businesses

09.38 – Imposter syndrome and burnout

15.28 – Grable

19.28 – Entrepreneurship and mental health

25.18 – Spirituality 

34.02 – Ayahuasca, connectedness, ego and self

44.48 – Nutrition and the Heights story

59.56 – Purpose and failure

01.04.52 – Secret Leaders, podcasting

01.11.53 – Delegating and letting go

01.16.13 – Legacy

About Dan Murray

Dan Murray is a mental health advocate, podcaster, entrepreneur and angel investor. He is the founder of the  Heights brain care supplement brand.  

I am very excited here today. I have got Daniel Murray, Serta. Am I saying Serta right, by the way, saying it correctly. Okay, great. So Daniel and I have actually known each other since we were 14 years old. Payman was asking me earlier how I knew him, and Daniel was a very inspirational person in my life at 14. Was still is, still is. And one of the big things was, is that Daniel was a really hard working young boy. You might probably not remember that because you always say to me, I was an academic, but you were academic because you got four A’s in your A-levels.

Oh, I was hardworking.


Academic. I went to an academic school and everyone was smarter than me. But you can’t outwork me.

This is exactly it. And actually, that was the same as me. I went to a non academic school. Queen’s College. Definitely not academic, but what I knew from a very young age was that I wanted to be a dentist and so wanting to be a dentist since I was 12 years old, can you please vouch for me?

She really, really did. She’s the only person. I just like to say Rona was the only person I ever met at 14 who knew what they wanted to do, let alone the only person who wanted to be a dentist, which was so random. But she always wanted to be a dentist. It was remarkable.


Really suitable. It was remarkable.

So I remember that lots of the teachers didn’t believe in me. They told me that I wasn’t smart enough. They would constantly tell my parents the only good thing that I was at was drama. And when I started hanging out with you and recognising the opportunities that good grades could give you, particularly if you want to go into a profession like dentistry, I thought, okay, I need to hang out with Dan, and that’s when we started revising together. But you don’t remember us revising for Othello together?

Not specific, no, but it’s probably because, like I said, hard worker. So I was revising for everything all the time because nothing was staying in my head.

Yeah, that was me too. So I’m just going to give everyone a little bit of background on Dan. He is an avid mental health advocate, so this series really is about opening up conversations about mental health and removing that stigma. Dentistry has one of the highest suicide rates of any profession. I didn’t know if you know that. Yeah, exactly. And Payman and I already have had conversations about why that’s the case. And there’s really a plethora of reasons he’s been trying to pinpoint it down to one reason. And I said, Well, that’s the whole thing about mental health. You can’t pinpoint it down to one reason. But why is it specifically that dentistry has this problem and things are like it’s very isolated. You know, you’re in a room in a very confined space all day with pretty much your nurse and the patient. You’re working in a very small field. You know, the mouth is where you’ve constantly got patients telling you that they hate you, you’re trying to remove pain but then end up inflicting pain at times. And also there’s this big problem of litigation complaints, you know, and somewhat your profession being out of your hands, you know, because you’re always under the eyes of governing bodies and so forth. So there’s a number of reasons. But really the problem is, is that they’re afraid to have conversations and there’s really a taboo. You cannot talk about your mental health. And I think the more conversations we have, the more hopefully we can guide people to the right resources and tools to help them with their mental health. And for me, I think what better person than to do that than you, who’s been a great inspiration in my life.

I have a question. I know you’re doing the introduction. Sure. So I shouldn’t ask a question, but there are no rules. So are those are those stats global or UK? And I guess I’m also asking because I imagine in America the litigation stuff must make the mental health problems Ten-x.

Uk is worse than America through.

Litigation. It turns out the UK is now worse than America. Yeah, the only place that’s worse than the UK. Israel. New Zealand. Oh really?

Israel was up there at one point?

Yes, I was up there. Yeah. Um, although this statistic about dentists and suicide, it’s actually a 100 year old statistic. And we were talking about this saying that, you know, other than today’s problems, what is it about the job itself that causes this issue? And, you know, I’ve heard you speak about entrepreneurship and the stresses of that. And, you know, they kind of clear. But at the same time, there are jobs. We were saying jobs more stressful than dentistry, many, much more stressful.

Jobs, more stressful than entrepreneurship. When people talk about entrepreneurship, I’m like, mean guys. I’ve spent like a day in the Army. Exactly, exactly. Or hospitals.

But but then we come down to what is it about entrepreneurship? Is it to do with who you thought you were and who you actually end up being? Or, you know, the distance, the time between the hard work and the success, the few number of people who actually make it or whatever it is. And your story around heights and brain.

We’re going to come on to that.

Yeah, we will. But brain, brain nutrition.

I ruined the intro, didn’t I? I’m so.

Sorry. He’s my friend. I’m joking. I’m joking. Go ahead.

Play nutrition as as as a thing that isn’t, you know, even thought about isn’t isn’t something that’s considered, you know, that’s something that we want. We want to at least have dentists not only talking about it, because these days the stigma of mental health is much less than it was even five years ago. But okay, now we’re talking about it. What can we do about it? What are simple things that can be done is what this this series is about.

This is exactly what the series is about because I’m like, Well, we can all sit here and talk about our mental health, but what tools have we got available to us? And I think that, you know, particularly as well, I think that male suicide is something that hasn’t been spoken about enough. And, you know, I think that there’s a huge stigma still attached to that. That’s very much to do with men feeling unable to talk about things. And as well, there’s a lot of men in dentistry I know it’s dominated by females, but males in particular find it incredibly difficult. We were just talking about Twitch, you know, recently with his suicide and how everything seemed great. And I was just telling Payman that people were so shocked because they were like, Well, he had such an amazing family and he had such an amazing wife and how could he? It was so selfish. And I was like, That’s just the most unhelpful narrative because people that are going through such immense pain and mental health are not being selfish and actually labelling with that makes the stigma worse. So really we’re going to explore different ways.

And I think for dentists in particular, I have found that being outside of the dental arena, because I’ve never associated myself so heavily within the medical world, has really helped me because I’ve learnt about different parts of myself who I am, different tools to really. And whereas I feel like in dentistry we don’t get really get taught about mental health and how to cope. So whilst I’m continuing my introduction, Dan, you are one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs I know. You also were the winner of UK’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. You That was when you were under 30? No. So you’re over 30. So we can’t claim that anymore. But you also are one of the UK’s top, top angel investors with over 50 investments, predominantly in health and wellness and sustainability as well, which obviously, you know, is a massive sphere that I’m in with Parler. And you have over 100,000 followers combined over your social media channels. You were very much hitting it on clubhouse. He became a huge thing during clubhouse, still going, by the way.

I don’t know, but it’s more like 150 if we count clubhouse.

Okay. If we count clubhouse, great clubhouse. So with that little introduction, I’ve already explained how we met, but I want you to tell me a bit about your first business because we’ll go on to heights, which is your current business. But I love talking about every aspect of what makes you you and how it led on to heights. So do you want to tell us a little bit about that? Yes.

So I won’t tell you about my first business because we’ll be here too long. Um, but I will tell you about my first proper call it. Start-up Um, and I’m defining that as the, you know, crazy rocket ship ride of let’s do something different and exciting. So that was called gravel, and I remember it, yeah. And the reason it was called gravel, although obviously, you know, on retrospect, quite a rapey name, probably shouldn’t have called it that. But you know, other than it was kind of, you know, at the time seemed smart because you would basically have a bookmark like on Pinterest. Yeah, but it would be a grab button and you’d be able to grab products from all over the Internet track when they went on sale, um, buy them like through a web browser. And basically that went absolutely nowhere.

So we’re there because I’d love to have like a little basket where I could just put everything.

Everyone said it was a great idea, but it was very hard to get traction and it was quite technical. And then we were running out of money and had about a week left and we had a conversation with the people we were working. It was only five of us at the time. We had a conversation with them being like, Look, we’ve got a week left. We’ve kind of got to do something crazy. And we decided to basically make this super basic app copying Tinder. And so the idea was you’d swipe your products, you’d get a feed of shopping products that we were using from our web browser anyway, and you could swipe through them for inspiration and curation, swipe right things you like. They go into your basket, your save list. When they go on sale, you get a notification. Anyway, long story short, it blew up. It went viral. Um, we got up to the number one in the app store. Amazing. Overnight investors throwing money at us, which we gladly took and and went on a really exciting ride. And you know, I did. There’s many, many, many highlights in that journey. Um, none, none really of which I would replace. Like it was, uh, you know, we grew the team to over 50 people. We raised millions of pounds, won awards. You know that young UK Start-Up entrepreneur thing was, you know, because I was building that company, um, we got invited to things all the time that. You know, definitely contributed to imposter syndrome. Like I was invited to Buckingham Palace just to interject.

There as well. So for anyone in the audience, understand what is imposter syndrome?

Um, it is the feeling that you don’t belong. Yeah. Or that what other people are saying about you doesn’t register in your own understanding of your identity in any kind of way. And so a very good place to get that is at Buckingham Palace. So I was invited to entrepreneurship events regularly, I’d say once every couple of months for a couple of years. Don’t know that these things happen at Buckingham Palace until one day you’re invited and you do. And then you’re invited back and back and back. And I met so many incredible people, lots of amazing stories. I once asked the you know, had a guy, lots of people talking to him. And I was like, oh, what is this guy do? What do you do? And he’s like, Oh, my name is Tim. And I’m like, Oh, okay, Tim, what did you do? And he’s like, You know, I invented the Internet.

It’s like, Oh.

So Tim Berners Lee.

Oh my God.

I see. Cool. And he’s like, What do you do? I was like, doesn’t, doesn’t matter.

That’s amazing.

I mean so many, so many stories like that. But you do get imposter syndrome in those scenarios. A 26 year old getting a meeting, people like that and that was norm. Um, but underlying it all, you know, you’re trying to work out how to run a business, how to grow a business and didn’t understand anything really about that kind of business. Um, and so a lot of pressure, you know, I think there were multiple different things happening at the same time. Um, one was the underlying imposter syndrome that I didn’t quite belong in these circles that I was being invited to. Yeah. Playing alongside the fact that I have a growth mindset and I was like, I need to rise to the occasion. So these are limiting Self-beliefs you know, I’m good at like the self-awareness piece in terms of like helicopter view on my thoughts and actions and behaviours. But, you know, I slipped back inside my mind by accident all the time, even though I slip out and can do that. So I guess my point being, whilst I know rationally it’s imposter syndrome and I know that I have to rise to the occasion, I then still will get the same mental chatter. I don’t belong. I don’t belong. I don’t belong. And I’m like, Oh, we just discussed this, Daniel. We just said that you belong so that you can rise to the occasion. So I’d, I’d go in that, like, cycle over and over again, and then, you know, this can’t outwork me thing. I ended up getting burnt out, which, you know, was totally my own fault.

So was this like sort of in the middle of the success of towards.

The middle of the journey? And it was my own fault. And basically, you know, like I say, a lot of, um, contributing issues. One of the issues is which I wouldn’t change, but I like to help people and I think it’s really important to help people. And one of the mistakes I think I made was, is boundaries really? So when that’s happening to you, everyone wants your help all the time. Yeah. Um, which is fine, but most sensible people say no and they don’t say no because they’re unkind or whatever. It’s like I kind of got to focus. I’ve got a team, I’ve got people that need my help and they’re basically the people I’m employing. And so that’s the cycle.

But I just I just need to sorry to interject there, but I think it’s really important. So for those that are listening, Daniel has really helped me along the way. It was funny because we actually reconnected after several years of losing contact and then he actually mentored me for Dragon’s Den, Simon and I. So it was unbelievable because he just jumped at the chance and really took time out of his day, which I remember. But one of the most important words that I think you use, which are really important for mental health take away is the word boundaries. And I know that a lot of dentists struggle with that. I don’t know if you remember this pay, but they find it really difficult when people ask help even like the ones you work with personally, they feel like they have to answer everyone, help everyone do this. Whereas actually saying no is an act of self love and self care in some way because you have got you’ve only got certain number of hours in the day. So I think it’s really, really important that you learn to say it’s tricky, but also you’ve got it’s it’s that guilt. And I think it’s that conditioning because you were saying, why do we end up the way that we do end up? And I think conditioning is such a big part of it because when we’re growing up as children, we get told you have to do this, you shouldn’t not do that. So I think it’s some conditioning is some kind of way. So we’ve got to rewrite it. I think if.

You’re in the health profession as well, you have awful boundaries around that. Like you’ve literally chosen to serve people for your career path. And I find that I’ve got lots of friends who work in the health sector. You know, it’s tricky because, you know, you’re running you’re running a business, right? You’re running a practice and then people criticise you for making money. And it’s like I literally could probably not be criticised for like making guns because everyone expects me to not have a soul or whatever. But if I make money for helping people. People criticise me, which is mostly immature, genuinely, but also just completely irrational. We have this very backwards attitude. You know, I have this thing the whole time with heights, like the amount of people that give me shit and then will like, you know, celebrate the latest brewdog advert. And I’m like, They’re selling alcohol. Yeah, like, I love Brewdog adverts too, but like, why are you having like, a go at me? They’re literally going to make you unhealthy and feel bad. And alcohol is poison. I’m not pious. I drink. Yeah, not a lot, but I drink occasionally. But like, I’m not pious about alcohol at all. But it’s like we have this weird thing in society where we will celebrate poison and criticise health or anyone that’s actually trying to support and.

Yeah, go on in, in that sort of nootropic world where there’s a lot of crap, a lot of snake oil, right? And it’s, I think your superpower having followed you for for a long time, is communication and, and sort of packaging ideas, packaging things into nice ideas for for, for your market, I guess. And so I can’t think of anyone better than you to take on something like that. And but it comes with the territory doesn’t it, With supplements. Yeah. There’s so much snake.

Well this is the thing. We’re going to go, we want to go into the supplements. So tell us then what happened with gravel. Yeah. So before we go on to heights.

Yeah. I mean, look very quickly, um, with gravel, um, went really well until it didn’t is kind of the best answer. The business had really bad margin, but very great growth. So at some point our growth exceeded our ability to fund the team, the business, etcetera, and we imploded it. So I was always aware that the business wasn’t healthy, but the brand was smashing it and the product was smashing it. You know, we had a million monthly active users. We were growing at 30,000 new users per week. Wow. It was exponential explosive growth, but we never fundamentally fixed the business model. And so at some point, very layman’s terms, our costs exceeded our revenue and ability to actually support the business. And the only way of solving that problem was going out and getting a massive whopping funding round and we failed to do it happened exactly the same time as Brexit, like the same couple of weeks. So that was such a surprise to people that everyone just pulled out of the market. And, you know, I think there’s I’ve learned so many interesting lessons. But one of the things about success, you know, is a fine line. You do need luck to have success. You know, luck can work for you or against you if your market timing happens around Brexit or around Covid. Right? Let’s say you are the world’s best travel business and you literally couldn’t possibly, on any kind of level, do anything better as a business. Your margins are perfect, your brand’s perfect, your customers love you, etcetera. Covid happens, you’ve got no business. It was all irrelevant.

It’s really interesting that you say that because I always say I actually always say there’s no such thing as luck because luck when preparation meets opportunity.

Yeah, totally. But but, but what you need I, I what I think is you need, like, you know, hard work. Yeah. You need, like, obviously good ideas, good energy. Et cetera. But you do need luck because. And I say you need luck, but you need you also need to not have bad luck. So environmental factors. You know, I remember doing marketing exams like years ago when everyone would talk about all these different factors and environmental would pop up and I’m like, Oh, fucking boring environmental factors. When does that happen? I mean, the 2008 financial crash, you know, environmental factor, Brexit, environmental factor, Covid and now obviously recession. Those are environmental factors. Ukraine, you know, these are real things that impact lots of the world’s best businesses.

Had you already identified the business model as the problem back then? Yeah. Oh yeah. Was that in retrospect?

No, no, no. It was so obvious. Oh, so.

So do you think if Brexit hadn’t have happened, you would have had the appetite to know?

I mean, look, the thing is, I’m not big on excuses. Like, what happened was, um, in a business like that, you have investors when you’re my age, which was 26, 27 at the time, and looking for advice and looking for help and looking for support from people that know the stuff better than you, you ask, you listen and you do. Unless you have the courage of conviction to be different. And I didn’t have that right. I should have, you know, I literally could see that our business didn’t work. But lots of businesses don’t work in this space. Like Amazon didn’t work for many years as million businesses that don’t work until they work. So this is a very common model for venture capital backed businesses, which is what? We were, um, you know, so going to my investors and saying, you know, we’re not making profit, we’re not getting anywhere close and our costs are way outstripping demand. They’re like, it doesn’t matter because you’re growing so fast. We’ll just give you more money to keep up that growth because that was the model. That is how you make those really big companies. So keep going down. And if I had the courage to say, that’s not what I want to do and I know that’s not right, I would have been in control of the business and I’d have been able to make the right calls and turn it into a better business. But I didn’t. I listened to them. I carried on as I was. Brexit happened and then everyone was like, Yeah, sorry.

Question What effect did it have on your mental health at that time?

Answer Uh, shit, really? Um, I mean, yes and no. Like the honest answer is, uh, I started that business, you know, I think of you like, for example, you’re someone with a lot of purpose. Um, and again, I’ve just never met a 14 year old with such purpose. To be a dentist is so niche.

But there you go. You heard it from him. Yeah.

I mean, it was amazing, but it’s super inspiring. And everyone that met Rhona when they were younger knew she wanted to be a dentist because that’s how much you talked about it as fascinating. So but most of us are like finding a purpose, trying to find a purpose. It took me a long time to find some semblance of purpose. Um, gravel was not it? But I wanted to try being an entrepreneur and I wanted to try and challenge myself to learn loads of lessons super quickly in my youth, which is what I did, right? That’s what that opportunity gave me. But in the cold light of day, running that business, whether things were going well or badly, I wasn’t enjoying it and I didn’t care. I don’t particularly care about fashion. It doesn’t do a lot for me. I was having to, you know, the thing that I always remember and I say this every day, this is how different it is for heights for me and why I got so excited about heights. Um, every day I had to basically research and read the latest technology trends, mobile, mobile e-commerce trends and fashion trends to be great at my job. Don’t give a shit, don’t give a shit and don’t give a shit. Um, every day I’m having to purposefully fill up my head. You know, I’m very much a believer, you know, I believe in neuroplasticity and I understand how the brain works now, but even then it’s kind of obvious input in output out.

So fill up your brain with information. Doesn’t matter what space you’re in, you fill up your brain with that information. You start to become that person and you can change that at any point, slowly but surely, by changing the information that you put in. For example, you want to become an entrepreneur. At some point you’ll start listening to Secret Leaders Diary. Vizio. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera. You want to become a health professional? You’ll listen to, you know, feel better, live more, and you start listening to different podcasts and different audiobooks. And before you know it, you know a lot about health or you know a lot about entrepreneurship. It doesn’t happen overnight. It just happens over a period of time because your brain is changing to the information you’re choosing to put into your head. So becoming an expert in fashion, e-commerce technology, I just did not care. And I was just becoming a sector expert. I was going invited to speak around the world at these events and I was doing these talks and I was like, This is just so boring to me. I don’t see how this serves my life. And I wanted an out. And I felt actually, you know, how was it for my mental health? It’s horrible to have to fire a whole team. It’s horrible to go through a lot of public humiliation, which I definitely did.

Was an element of shame. Yeah, so much shame because you were so, so much shame out there.

So much shame. Yeah, I dealt with that. Um, I think I dealt with the shame well, because I owned it, but it was.

Talk about it. Yeah.

Yeah, yeah. And actually, the thing that I’ve done with heights, which I think people have really appreciated, is what’s called build in public. So that journey started from when my last company failed. I wrote a LinkedIn post which went viral, and the LinkedIn article, which was a picture of all of our awards, of which there were a lot best, best mobile tech, best mobile start up in Europe. Like all this stuff from, from TechCrunch, from like all these like reputable Vogue award, like all this stuff, big table of awards headline. We failed. And this is why. And you know, since then I’ve never entered heights into a single award. They’re all bullshit anyway. But like, I guess my point is it’s less about anger towards awards or people that go for awards. I associate my immaturity in the last business as someone who lapped up the recognition and the clout and the awards and the schmoozing, which is a big distraction from. Are you building an actually good business? Yeah. And people do get distracted by ego and attention and not enough focus on actually doing the work.

Totally. And I think a lot of dentists listening to this as well, or even non dentists will resonate with that so much. And you Payman knows that because they base so much of their value and success on awards that we have a huge award industry. And I actually was gutted because last year I hadn’t. Entered for many years and won lots previously, but I hadn’t entered and non entering was actually the fear that I wouldn’t get anything. And the fear was people regard me so high and my clinic, if I don’t win it, it devalues what I’ve done, which is so ridiculous. So anyways, we entered like lots, we got shortlisted and we didn’t win a single award and I literally bawled my eyes out. I cried so much the next day and everyone was like, You’re so ridiculous as And like my friends and family, they’re like, You have a practice. It’s fully booked. Your patients love you, you’ve won awards. And I was like, I’m so embarrassed that people are going to think I’m a failure because.

You have a fragile ego. Yeah, we all do. Yeah, we all do. And the only way that you can work on becoming less of a egotistical human being, which we all are naturally, is to go through those experiences and say, All right, okay, that was a bit of an over-the-top reaction. Why do I really feel like that? What’s really going on here? And those questions are great for your mental health. I mean, sometimes they can take a mental health and a spiral, of course, as well. But in my experience, um, and you do this as well a lot, I think you’re fantastic because and you were kind of alluded to this earlier, but you know, you are interested in personal growth. You do a lot of personal growth, you do a lot of stuff that people would probably find very esoteric and weird, but actually woo woo.

I say they find it woo.

Woo woo, yeah, yeah, woo woo. But Payman.

Thinks I’m a bit woo.

Woo. Sometimes that stuff is the work. The stuff is the work. And there’s a lot of that that really does uncover proper deep insights. And actually, at the time of doing gravel, I was anti-religious. So when I say that, I mean like I grew up Jewish, but like a genuinely pitied anyone that believed in any semblance of religion, including Judaism, because I feel like religion just destroys the world. It’s just my God is better than your God. And back and forth over and over and over again without being everyone sitting around and being like, Wait, it’s all it’s all the same. God. Yeah. No. So anyway, it is getting to a horrible arguments and the world’s ruined, so what’s the point? So why totally remove myself from it And like atheist. But interestingly, you know, at some point had a very spiritual experience and. If you if you grow up Jewish. It’s an unusual one because it’s your race and your religion. So your spirituality is very tied to your religion and you can’t really separate those things. So I wouldn’t be able to consider myself spiritual. So I suddenly had this spiritual experience which was separate from religion, had nothing to do with being Jewish or any kind of religion.

It was just spiritual connection, feeling connected to the Earth and other people. And ever since then, um, the way that I’ve tried to the, the biggest breakthroughs I’ve had for my mental health have been thinking about it from terms of spirituality, which I know sounds again, woo woo. But the reason is because a lot of mental health problems, this is super basic statement everyone will be able to relate to. This isn’t woo woo all mental health problems really. They stem from your mind and from your basic obsession with yourself. I am this. I’m not good enough. I’m too good. This person likes me, this person doesn’t like me. Blah, blah, blah. Wow. Wow. You, you, you. You’re not the fucking centre of the universe. That’s basically the most important lesson that you can learn. But the problem is, almost all of us, myself included, up until this spiritual experience, are unable to see that you are not like, worth anything in the grand context of the entire planet.

And the thing is, we think everybody is constantly thinking about us, what we’re doing. No one’s judging us, but no one is. No, they’re thinking about themselves.

Yeah. So the reality.

Tell us what the spiritual experience was. Yeah.

So I did a, I did an ayahuasca experience. Peru, Uh, it wasn’t, it was actually in the UK, which was surprising. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Um, it was with, it was with a couple of shamans who flew over from, um, from California, but they had trained in Hawaii and Peru for ten years, so they’re legit. Um, but it was a really meaningful experience and it was very surprising to me. And I went because I was depressed. I had been I’d had depression for six months. So my best friend Rob was like, I was at dinner with him. Someone mentioned this ayahuasca thing. I’d never heard of it. He was basically being a good friend. He was like, You know, you haven’t been you. You haven’t been you for ages.

Dan Was there a specific trigger? Because I think I remember that there was quite a pivotal thing that happened in your life.

Yeah, my dad passed away, so I had depression for I always talk about depression, you know, in my terms as many different ways you can get depression. My way of getting depression was probably a very rational and reasonable like excuse for it, so to speak. You know, it’s worth saying I’ve never I do get sad. I do get like seasonal depression, but it’s not proper chronic depression. I got depression when my dad died, and I think that’s pretty normal, very common for people. I haven’t had generalised depression, which is a very different thing. And so obviously, you know, mental health and mental wellbeing and mental illness is a big spectrum include depression is at the far end of that spectrum right. And depression, the spectrum on depression is very different as well. The feeling is the same, but the trigger is different. So you want to remove depression from your life. There are multiple ways that you might have to approach that and it might be change your environment. It might be get over trauma and face trauma. It might be time. You know, lots of depression just passes with time. You know, there’s a it might be nutrition and hydration. It might be your health. There’s so many different things.

So but it’s Payman challenge me earlier and actually, it seems a good time to ask you this because he says, well, what’s that point? Because he asked me about my own journey. And I said, Well, I knew I needed to get help. And, you know, I had sources and people and stuff. He says, Well, what about the people that can’t even get help because they’re in such a bad spiral in a dark hole that they’re not sitting there thinking, I’m going to change my nutrition, I’m going to change my environment, I’m going to look up to all these people, he says. So where does that shift happen? Where it becomes like a black hole and they feel like there’s nothing to help them. And then there’s the people, like you said, where they’re on the lesser spectrum. Arguably you and I that are like, okay, what can I do? And then they change their daily habits and environment.

Is is a great question. And this is honestly the challenge because in my case, I probably would have just carried on with the Depression until I didn’t have it anymore if that was going to happen, I don’t know. Um, but I had a great friend and the great friend was like, We’ve got to do something about you. Like snap out of it, you know? And I was like, I don’t know, I can’t be fucked. And I also don’t really want to do psychedelics for a weekend right now where I’m at in my life. And he’s like, You’ve you’ve got to do something.

Shake it up.

Yeah. And so, you know, really interesting because, you know, I had a friend and the problem is in society, loneliness is such a trend, especially post Covid, especially with social media. You know, lots of people obviously don’t have that friend. And so, you know, the thing is, if you’re still even listening to this podcast right now, you’ve got to have quite a niche interest, right? You’re probably in the Dental profession. You probably are interested in mental health and maybe you or someone that you know is going through an experience. Us right now. And the first door that you can ever open here is curiosity. So if you’re curious enough to meet it halfway through a podcast on dentistry and mental health, which is amazing, by the way, to be so niche, but it’s so important to be niche because you find exactly the people you want to help. Um, go to broad, you’ll never find them. Um, so if you’re there, the first step is curiosity. And if you’re listening to information like this is such a good place to start, you don’t have to start and spring into action. You just have to have something, something, anything. Click in your mind that opens some light of possibility. And that’s why I needed, you know, I knew I wouldn’t feel like that forever.

Um, certainly with depression anyway, because again, for me, I was able to rationally connect it back to my dad. So I’m like, everyone dies, so but not everyone in the world is depressed. So I’m like, quite rational, right? I’m like, so what I’m going through is normal. He was my best friend. Um, at some point I won’t be depressed anymore. Time will pass. You know, it was ten years since my dad passed. I still think about him every day, but I don’t get depressed. I get joyous. So it’s a very different experience now. And that’s probably very common for people. So, you know, I think that there’s a, um, a journey that people go on. And when you’re at your lowest low, you’re totally right. You’re not suddenly like, let’s spring into action mode. I’m going to do my breathwork and a nice bath tomorrow morning. It’s like, No, I’m going to drag my ass out of bed, look outside, realise it’s fucking grim again. Why isn’t the sun up? But if all you do is take like one small step in the right direction, it makes a massive difference. And that can be listening to a podcast, reading a book, or going for a walk.

Yeah, I think also as well, there’s been way too much pressure now to have a perfect life, and I think that it’s also about being perfect every day. Like I get up, I’m happy I’m going to have my mushroom coffee, I’m going to do my breathwork, I’m going to do yoga, then I’m going to go to work and everything’s going to be fine. And the analogy that you were saying reminds me there’s a guy called Ben Carpenter. Carpenter. I don’t know if you’ve come across him. He’s actually pretty good and he’s basically like a fitness guy, the sort of debunks any of the BS online and he did the spoon analogy. I don’t know if you’ve seen it and he’s basically like everyone has a number of spoons and basically your spoon is like an expenditure of energy in your day. And sometimes somebody they will be like, I have one spoon to just get out of bed and shower. And sometimes when people are going through deep depression, as he described that he did at one point, he’s like, I couldn’t even shower. And people were like, You’re so disgusting and so lazy. He was like, But the energy literally wasn’t there and I just couldn’t do it. And I think it’s likening it to that, that you should even celebrate small steps and not achieving a million things in a day.

Recovery is recovery.


You look at physical health and you understand recovery, and that’s like very slow progress. I found that when my depression for sure, like there were definitely some days I wouldn’t get out of bed to shower. Definitely. Yeah.

That was the trigger that towards your recovery. So what happened after that?

Um, so the ayahuasca experience really just changed my perspective. Um, fundamental difference. Like I say, the fundamental difference was, you know, and this is very terrifying for people, I talk to them about, you know, they ask me about my experience and I’m like, ego death. And they’re like, That sounds like the worst thing ever. Why would I ever want to do it? I’m like, It is the worst thing ever. The actual ayahuasca experience is pretty much the worst experience you can ever have in your life. It’s pretty much like 5 to 6 hours of pure hell. It’s like, Did you vomit? And I actually didn’t. I didn’t. I’ve done ayahuasca now 12 times and wow.

Didn’t know you could even do it 12 times.

And I’ve only I’ve only vomited once. Um, but it, it actually feels very good to vomit, so it’s not a bad thing to vomit because you’re technically vomiting out like a trauma or something. Um, but, you know, they call it healing. And once you’ve done it, once you totally associate, you know, they call it medicine and healing. And once you’ve done it, it is absolutely the right language for it because what you do essentially is you become the observer of you. Almost like you’re floating out of your body and your ego is absolutely separated. So your sense of self is totally separated from the observer in your mind. And if this sounds a bit weird for people, um, you know, I, I like to liken it back to I always had a thing on my fridge which I bought at the Camden Gallery down there, actually a little, a little Post-it thing which says there’s a little voice inside your head reading this. That’s all it says. And I think that’s always been the best reminder of like, wait, there is there is a other person in here, isn’t there? What the hell is going on? So for anyone that can’t actually understand the difference between ego and self and stuff, you know, there’s a guy called Michael Singer who’s a great author, and he talks about, you know, you basically have a noisy roommate in your head whenever you have the loud chatter, the noise, the self deprecation, whatever the thing is that’s limiting you from doing something that’s giving you a like a hard time, the question is, who is that and who am I listening? Who’s the person listening? And once you realise there’s someone listening to a voice, you suddenly realise that there are basically two of you in there. So there’s like the chimp paradox. Yeah, it is like the chimp paradox. Yeah. And so, um, all of this is to say you separate for the first time completely from that sense.

And had you tried meditation before.

That or Yeah, I or.

Breathwork meditation.

I don’t think I tried it properly before that. After that I did meditation every day for years. I don’t haven’t done since my daughter was born. I’ve changed my mindfulness practice to reading to her because I was trying to do too much of that. I was trying to do too much. So it was like I was trying to still meditate and she’s fucking crying and ruining my time and my mind’s going off and all this shit. So I was like, You know what? The reason I meditate is as a mindfulness practice, I will change it to reading to her every day. And then I’m still doing a mindfulness practice to myself, but it’s something with her. So that’s been my switch since she’s been born. Um, but yeah, so back to the point, like the, you know, the experience separating myself from my ego made me realise that the world doesn’t revolve around me, that I am a tiny part of a huge cosmos. And, you know, the thing that both scientists and spiritualists can totally agree on is everything is energy. Everything in the universe is an atom, is an energy. You know, is some some form of it, right? So once you understand that basic principle, you essentially become in your experience like a speck of energy and feel connected to, you know, literally a tree, a human, a polar bear, a bee, you name it, you feel connected to it. And after you’ve experienced that sort of connection and you come back into your body. Your problems don’t seem so self centred anymore. And that was the big shift for me. You know, after I came back from that experience and I’ve had many more of like very like different experiences, but I did a complete 180 and, you know, it wasn’t like, I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in the afterlife. I was like, I believe in Mother Nature. That’s my version of God I believe in. Uh, us. I mean, I don’t have a word for it, but I just believe that we’re all connected.

You know, spirituality is such a funny thing because.


Word by its very nature. There aren’t words to describe how you feel when you feel that way. I mean, it reminds me it’s.

About connectedness, though, as well. Like everything that.

That I mean, you’re right.

You’re right. Everything dances. And again it’s like things that people would say is woo woo. But when you’ve had these and I again I’m gonna use another woo woo word when you use like the word epiphany as well, when you’ve had that epiphany where you’re like, Oh my God, this all makes sense. And we’re actually all connected. And, you know, you were asking me earlier, you were like, Well, how did you develop so much empathy for people and so much compassion? I think, again, it’s certain experiences that make you feel that way and realising that we are all one. And it’s really funny because and I’m sure you resonate somewhat with this, even when I meet like really angry people or people that you describe having bad energy. I have a degree of compassion inquiry because I’m like, people are the way they are because of something. It could be trauma, it could have been bad experiences, it could have been death. And the reason why they’re behaving that way in whatever arena you’re thinking in is for a reason. So having that compassion inquiry, which Gab or Matei talks about as well, is so important because there is something that just brings us all together as human beings. As cheesy as it.

Sounds, I feel like the ridiculous thing that’s happened in humanity again, very ego driven. People will go to war for Allah. People will go to war for Jesus Christ. You know, people go to war for Moses. These are men, basically. So we’re basically saying I base my whole entire faith in existence to something greater to this man, that man or that man. When it comes to spirituality, there’s no man. There’s no there’s no leader. There’s no person. What you’re basically saying is, I believe we’re all connected to everything, but because there’s no figurehead for that, it’s very hard to rally a group around. So spirituality is like not a religion and therefore doesn’t get cult like following. And so people literally would rather believe that a man walked on water than believe that you’re connected to birds and bees.

So do you think you would have found it if it wasn’t for the the chemical experience?

Because not personally.

There’s huge there’s a huge thing around psilocybin at the moment. So what you’re talking about as well And um, Dan led me to a book which was really interesting called How to Change Your Mind. And it talks about the whole movement. They did a Netflix series on it recently, but the whole movement around medicine essentially, and psilocybin is being used, assisted by doctors to help deal with traumas and so forth. I mean, if you watch the second episode, even on Netflix, if you don’t want to read the book, they’re literally showing how people I think in Switzerland so fearful of death, old people, they’re dying of cancer, but accepting it, you know, with the psilocybin. So what you’re saying, I mean, you’re crazy. And I wouldn’t necessarily call it a medicinal experience, but it’s probably it’s probably what people are, you know, going through because when these plant medicines are used, um, you know, it helps people.

I’ll put it this way, you know, like the number one cause of, um, well, I mean, I won’t, I won’t go that extreme. So certainly one of the main causes of mental health problems is loneliness. Yeah. What is the opposite of loneliness? Connection. Connection. So when you feel connected to everything and anyone, no matter what they’ve done, who they are, or even if they’re a human or not. Race, religion, hate. This doesn’t factor in. You just feel connected. So you don’t feel lonely. And there’s a massive difference between being, you know, to solitude and loneliness. You know, you can have 100 people in a room with you and feel lonely, and similarly, you can be on your own and feel connected. So this is the massive difference. And like my view and actually religion does a great job of connecting people within those communities. The problem is, as the group is separates, so the group separates from other groups. So whilst you do get the sense of connection and community, which I think is super powerful and valuable, no matter what religion you are, it’s broadly a challenge, as is proven by every bloody war over the last few hundred years. That doesn’t really help on a global scale. Whereas, you know, obviously the benefit of spirituality and trying to seek connection to something greater than yourself as an unlock to most of the mental health problems, again, I find self-obsession, ego and. Loneliness. You know, these are all victims and symptoms of just being completely self-obsessed and thinking about yourself all the time and becoming smaller and smaller and more insular as opposed to, you know, letting all of that shit go.

Do you think you lost something?

In what sense?

Well, we see what you gain, something which is this sort of where you’re much more sort of centred after this experience. But did you lose something as well? Because, you know, we were talking.

He lost his.

Ego. We were talking. Well, but.

I’d love to think so. But that fucker always comes back.

You know, you be before you had this experience, you were was your ego the driver for your success, and did you lose some drive?

That’s a good question. I don’t think so. I that was my big fear, though. Yeah. So I said this to my business partner. I was running gravel at the time. Things were like actually really starting to take off. I just wasn’t happy. But they were starting to take off. And I said to him the Friday before, I was like, I’ve got to come clean with you. I’m doing this thing on the weekend. I don’t know how it’s going to go. But like, my fear is I come back on Monday and this is actually what I said. It was ridiculous. Like, my fear is I come back on Monday. I don’t care about gravel, I don’t care about Arsenal, and I don’t care about my cats. That’s like literally.

Did that happen?

That’s my gravel. No, I still cared about gravel. I still cared about Arsenal and I still cared about my cats. And I was like, Oh, okay. So it’s not quite like that. It’s not like you just give up all attachment to everything. It’s just that you have a new appreciation for more. So it’s a great question, but I actually don’t feel like, you know, it’s like when people people talk about when they have children, like you don’t lose things, your heart grows bigger. Well, it’s sort of like that with spirituality. You don’t really are losing stuff. You’re just aware there’s so much more. And frankly, for anyone that’s like on a growth mindset journey and learning more is very similar to the point of view where the more you learn the realise, the less you know. You know the people who think they’re the smartest people in the world are the people who are the people who actually don’t know very much. They have quite small worldviews, very political, one sided, etcetera. Extremely sure that they’re right.

Question for you though, now, so we know the gravel journey. We we understood that you went through and the emotions, particularly the shame. So let’s talk a little bit about your current business, which I’m a massive fan and a paying subscriber for. Anyone wondering, Um, two years now. Yeah, exactly. So talk to me about how that business was born and where you’re at so born.

Because I was, um, I’ve been going through a different mental health experience, so you can tell I’ve been through the wringer on on a variety of them. This one was worse than depression. It’s worth saying in my in my personal experience, this was the worst thing I ever went through, which was insomnia. So I couldn’t sleep for six months. This was at the point of things going really well in the business, really well. And I was getting married soon and all this stuff. And then one day I just couldn’t sleep. Okay, that happens next night. Next night anyway. Starts to become a pattern. A few days turns into a week. Turns into a month. Turns into six months. So. Really just a totally debilitating experience which caused, you know, I have generalised anxiety occasionally because I’m a human being, but I mean I think it’s worse than entrepreneurship. I’m sure it’s pretty bad in medical professions as well. But like anywhere where you sort of have to, you know, have responsibility for other people on you, it’s a pressure. You know, I think it’s a very reasonable thing, therefore, to feel anxiety and something like that. But this gave me chronic anxiety, which is very different, which caused panic attacks, which, you know, again, is a very weird thing to experience because. You’re basically having a completely normal day and then you have a panic attack out of nowhere and you’re like, What the fuck is that? Nothing has triggered me.

Nothing that I’m aware of has triggered me anyway. So these were lots of things that I think were caused by not sleeping for so long. And yeah, I tried all of the things I was where I got into meditation. I tried sleepio, calm, CBT, sleep therapy, normal therapy, of course, went to the doctor. He gave me sleeping pills. No one suggested nutrition at any point, but at some point I went for dinner with a friend and she said, Sounds like you’ve got a mental health problem. And I was like, I definitely don’t because. You know, I’ve literally been to every one and no one said I’ve got a mental health problem, which is like, well, I mean, you’re describing insomnia. If you haven’t slept in six months, that is a mental health problem. And I was like, If you say so if it helps. My attitude at the time was kind of like, if it helps you to have a label for me, that’s fine. I’m not ashamed of having one. And then suddenly, as I was saying it, I was like, Oh, I mean, maybe I am ashamed of having one. Maybe I’m not actually like aware of the fact that I’m not dealing with this thing properly. And she’s like, Actually, based on what you’ve said and what you’ve tried, it sounds like you’ve got a brain health problem. And then I was like, Definitely not. I’m not an old man.

There’s like, you know, I was 29 or something at the time, right? I was like, There’s definitely not a brain health problem. And she’s like, Well, what do you think a brain health problem is? It’s like Alzheimer’s. And she she’s like, Yeah, I mean, no, you’ve got a brain as an organ. There’s loads of things that could be going on there. You really should go see someone, go see a dietician. And I was like, What is going on in this conversation? Like, how are you going from mental health to brain health to dietitian? Also, she’s not in the medical field, so even then I was a bit like got no credibility here. But she was like, Listen, I’ll put it a different way then for you. What’s worked? And I was like, None of the above. What haven’t you done? Dietitian? Do you want to solve this? Yes. Well, then fucking go. And I was like, That’s a much better way of speaking to me. Fair play. Because she’s basically eliminated my rational choices out. So I went and the dietitian very quickly literally saw me and said, because I was able to say to her, it’s worth saying. I’m not saying that nutrition is the answer to these problems. What I’m saying is, once you’ve easily eliminated everything else you’ve tried and still suffering was really easy for the dietitian to say. Yeah, definitely. Sounds like your brain is basically giving you an alarm signal to say it’s not getting fed properly.

You need these supplements Omega three, DHA, DHA and EPA, omega three seconds, B-vitamin complex and blueberry extract. That’s what I recommend to you. The reasons being omega three seconds are like your brain is basically made of them. So 60% of your brain is fat and 90% of it is DHA. So she’s like, This is like the main building block of your brain. Something could be up there. Go take them blueberry extract because they’re antioxidants. So she’s like, You can’t sleep. They will clean out your glymphatic system by giving it a car wash overnight was how she dumbed it down for me and B-vitamins because they’ll regulate your energy and you’re having spikes at like 2 a.m. and you’re unable to sleep. You need to regulate your energy flow. Like these three things should really help and I reckon they’ll help quite quickly. So anyway, I was like, Sure, whatever you say. Anyway, went to Boots to buy them, took photos, send them to her. She was like, Oh no, you can’t buy them, they’re crap. And I’m like, They can’t be crap. They’re sold in boots. And she’s like, You can’t buy anything that you need from Boots or Holland and Barrett. Like, you have to go to Planet Organic and this is the potency you need. And then I was like, Right, sounds a bit bougie, but I mean, this was on the NHS.

The bougie. I buy into all that stuff all the time, but I.

Just didn’t I didn’t understand that there was any difference between these things whatsoever. But I did what she said. I went to Planet Organic. I spent £120 on these three supplements, which I was like, I literally had no idea supplements cost this much. What is going on? This was like £15 in boots a minute ago and now I’m following your advice and I £120 what has happened? But I took them.

What was the difference? Was it dose or potency dose?

There’s an enormous discrepancy between basically all of the above can make the same marketing claims. So the ones in Planet Organic can’t make any more marketing claim than the one in boots. But the difference is there’s a an ocean of difference between the minimum amount you can put into a product and make the claim versus the scientific dose that actually does what you think it’s doing. So you need.

A bit like whitening. Yeah.

Yes. You need the efficacious claim, right? You need the amount that’s going to make the difference. That’s what you’re reading on the claim and the difference is huge. You’re not talking about like a bit talking about like a fifth, right? So you go and spend five times as much on the supplements and Planet Organic. Well, you’re actually paying pound for pound exactly the same. It’s just you’re getting the thing that you need.

Did you luck out with this particular dietician or no. Is that general knowledge amongst dietitians?

Very general knowledge against all nutritionists and dietitians know this stuff. Really? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, they all know. That’s why if you go to them, they’re not going to say go to Boots or Holland and Barrett. They literally give you brands that they recommend, you know the.

Whole brain nutrition. Yeah.

Oh yeah. Oh yeah, yeah. Especially dietitians. Um, because dietitians basically deal with sick people. Nutritionists will deal with like the the worried well more.

Um worried well.

But but but dietitians I mean absolutely yeah. Um and that’s the thing right who knew. I don’t know. And so, and so what I learned from this person is, you know, a lot of the people that come to see her, including on the NHS, but they never get referred by their doctors stupidly. Um, but a lot of their referrals are for mental health and there’s so many mental health problems, so mental health illnesses that can be supported and cured by nutrition supplements and diet. So. Obviously, the first place you go is is diet. You don’t obviously supplements clue’s in the name so I was actually quite good now but I’ve been practising all the last year but I was a shite cook so you know, I was like, go, go cook all of this. And I look at that, I’m like, Absolutely not. I’m busy. So what else have I got? Well, supplements, you could just take these. I’m like, I mean, definitely doing that. I’m going to take two capsules of something you told me rather than spend an hour and a half cooking and fucking up a meal. So, um, I add.

Nutrition. Sorry to there. Like, I know loads of dentists really, sadly, because they’re so busy working after as well. Yeah. Like looking after patients that will literally like their diet sometimes in the day, like chocolate bars and fizzy drinks even. They should be drinking fizzy drinks. But, you know, I mean, for energy, like I know some people that work on the NHS think 30 patients back to back to back to back and they’re literally like, just shove it in your mouth. And they don’t realise that that one change could actually make a massive impact.

A really large interestingly, a really large part of our customer base is medical professionals.


Me Yeah, dance. Yeah. Um, well, there’s a lot of nurses, a lot of doctors, which is interesting because doctors don’t get trained in nutrition. They get seven hours over seven years. So there is no it’s not criticism of them, but there is no awareness. So as an educational thing, that’s why they don’t you know, that’s why I go to the guy. I went to my doctor with insomnia and he’s like, take these sleeping pills, not go see this dietitian. Did you to NHS? But he never referred me.

Did you have a particularly bad or unbalanced diet?

Um, it’s a good question. I was plant based, so it is much more common in people that are plant.

Based for the Omega and.

B12. A lot of them are B12 deficient and omega threes.

But I was taking B12 because the one thing that people tell you if you’re vegan is take B12. So what’s really interesting is you do you know, do you know why B12?

But the vegans being B12? No.

But do you know why it’s really important to take B12 supplement if you’re vegan, but otherwise just have B12 in your diet? This is the ridiculous connect that I think is hilarious. So no one thinks about nutrition or mental health, right? Really, broadly speaking, just do not make the connect. The reason that you take B12 is because if you don’t have B12, you will have psychosis, full blown psychosis, which will then the only cure for it will be B12 supplementation treatment, not an opinion. That is a scientific fact. Interesting. Yet the details. Take B12. Why does it matter? You’re vegan. Just take it. That’s basically what happens. So no one’s actually connecting the fact that, okay, here’s a real obvious use case that the nutrient deficiency of that will cause you a proper mental health problem that you can then overcome by taking that nutrient again. So it’s like it’s literally science and fact. And if you study it, that’s why you ask that question about nutritionist and dietitians. They’ll know this. Of course they know this is literally day one stuff for them, but it just never factors in the medical profession. And where do people go when they’re sick? The doctor, the GP. So the why.

They just don’t know you identified was the fact that no one knew about out there. People don’t connect mental health.

So my my opportunistic entrepreneur like idea, so to speak, was I think there’s a really interesting communication gap between us. So there’s not many spaces in the world where you can say, okay, science actually says this is true, not opinion, this is true. There’s endless science papers all available on PubMed for pretty much every single nutrient and all the different types of mental health, from psychosis to Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s to moods to depression to sad. All of them, you know, different things and different nutrients for different things. But science papers proving how supplementation of or ingesting the natural version of this nutrient will impact this mental health condition. And so given there’s a plethora of evidence already is very rare to find a space as an entrepreneur where you’re like the evidence exists but no one knows about it. Here’s an opportunity that our job is to communicate it. And that’s how we started. We started as a newsletter, basically just trying to communicate what science says you can do to take care of your brain. And obviously I was aware how soon.

After you grapple ended did you start?

Um, so three months. Um, and it wasn’t like quite a perfect line, but we finished, we, we officially closed it down in July. Um, Joel, my business partner, and I took a couple of weeks off and actually just drove around the UK, did a little.

Known Joel since 14, but I haven’t seen him since I was 14.

Actually. You know, um, Nick Jenkins from Dragons Den who did your mentoring for Dragons Den. Like he offered us to come stay with him for like a few days, which was super nice. Yeah. Um, obviously as an entrepreneur, I was aware of, like, the things you start.

Heights with Joel as well. Yeah. Oh, excellent.

And grapple. So yeah.

They offer them. Yeah. So we, we spent a couple of weeks just going around the UK decompressing like seeing friends, like trying, but you know, starting to tinker and think about things. And we got back and we basically started writing this newsletter in November. Um, and the idea with the newsletter is we don’t know what we’re going to make. Just know that this is an interesting area to explore together. And we have different skills and basically almost in a weird way, our superpower was neither of us knew anything about the profession, which means that we can’t just make snake oil and we can’t just cut corners and we can’t do the things that everyone else does because we’re not willing to, because we wanted to make a great product and do it in a great way. So we had to literally start from scratch. And it was super interesting because we still get this now, but like most people don’t want to work with us because we don’t really cut corners then like, that’s not how this works, guys. And now we.

Have that challenge with Parler as well.

It’s really interesting.

Yeah, it’s like we just very.

Much, uh, this is how it’s always been done.


This is how you do it. Yeah. And you’re like, that’s literally not how you make the future, though. So that’s not how we’re going to do it. Yeah.

Um, it’s like I’m a challenger brand for a reason, you know?

So we got really lucky because in this newsletter, so amazing strategy, turns out because in this newsletter I found stuff from Sophie Medlin, I found stuff from Dr. Tara Swart. You know, these are people I was finding papers, I was finding really interesting research, and I was tagging them all on Twitter. So every week you have this thing and I’m tagging like tagging this person, tagging that person. Then they read it and they’re like, Oh, this is quite interesting and cool and end up getting in a conversation on Twitter and going to meet them in person. And that’s how I ended up meeting both Sophie and Tara was essentially from featuring them in my newsletter, from tagging them, from going to meet, and they.

Formulated the.

And they’re the ones who formulated our product. So that stuff is all happening in the background of like, we don’t know what we want to make, but let’s just go meet people that work in the space and talk about the problems. Um, and it was actually Tara, in fairness, that really identified the problem. So Tara, who’s our chief Science officer, she had a PhD in Neuropharmacology, so very much this space and she’s been a medical doctor, a child psychiatrist, neuroscientist, has this PhD and then was a coach for ten years. So but a coach to like CEOs, like global CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. And the thing that she’d noticed is how much when she was doing the coaching because she’d had her PhD in Neuropharmacology, she made nutrition and supplementation part of everyone’s program, which is the one thing no one did because everyone’s always like, It’s about the mind, it’s about asking great questions. She was like, I always started from hydration and nutrition because it is literally the biggest thing that’s going to make the impact for them. It’s what’s going to help them sleep better and get more energy. When they sleep better and have more energy, they’re going to be more creative, have better ideas, and then we can do the work. So I was like, Oh, so interesting. So she she started saying, The problem I always had though, is like basically have to get them ten supplements. Um, that you know habitually that’s hard. You go from not taking anything to taking ten you know take this vitamin D, take this omega three, take these vitamin C, take these B vitamins. And she was like, that was kind of the problem. So that’s when we started working on like, how do you combine all of this into like. An actual daily habit that’s really focussed around this problem idea of the brain. And it’s so.

Beautiful. It’s the most beautiful. I love taking it. It’s like a supplement you have.

Aesthetically, you mean, Oh.

My God, stunning. I’ve seen it. You know me. It has to match, you know, joking.

But a question for both of you. Yeah, because both of you have got this sort of purpose led business if we’re talking parlour. Yeah. Um, and I asked Simon the same the same question in a purpose led business in a way, if a competitor comes along and does what you’re doing, it should in a way make you happy because it’s making it’s fulfilling that purpose.

We say this, we say it depends who they are. I mean, if they’re cunts, then yeah.

But, um, but in their world, if Colgate suddenly goes.

Plastic, they’re not going to want Colgate necessarily.

Exactly. But this. No, this is the thing. No, totally. No. No. So do you know what I think? And Daniel probably agree. First of all, if you have a huge conglomerate company doing what you’re doing, it actually affirms that you’re doing something right in a way because they’re like, okay, cool, we need to do this too. But also there’s definitely not that worry. And I get that people are like, Oh my God, my God. Like, these people have so much money because I’m like, It’s a bit like, you know, when Razor Dollar Club came along and then Gillette tried to do the same. Gillette failed. Why? Because there was authenticity and the purpose was completely different that when someone else who’d been doing it been a completely different way for so many years, then tries to copy, you know, the little guys, it doesn’t necessarily bode well for them, you know, more often than not. So that’s what that’s kind of my view on it. It’s definitely.

True. I mean, in your.

World it would be.


Seven seas, whatever that thing is.

Yeah. I mean, yeah, I mean.

He’s trying to be diplomatic.


We’ll edit it out. I’m joking.

It would just be a bit inauthentic. I mean, the thing is, Seven Seas, though, is the brand that people grow up with. So it’s good, right? Because it is good that people like parents give it to their kids and all that stuff. So I don’t have a massive problem with it. I think it’s more for me, you know, brands talking about and trying to enter the space of brain care, which is what the category we’ve essentially defined. That’s good. More people, including big brands, talking about brain care. Very good. That’s an excellent thing. So we always talk about this as a mission led company. Like you just said, our goal is to grow brain care awareness. And if heights is at the centre of the brain care movement, we win. If heights isn’t at the centre of the brain care movement, it means that someone else came along, took our idea, made it better, but we still made a change in the world. So that’s pretty cool. So it’s one of those things I think category definition and and building a category is a really interesting approach because in many ways you can’t lose you. You might not. It’s one of those you might not win the war, but you can win your own battles. Yeah. And so there’s absolutely the chance that someone out executes you and outdoes you, but.

Not a good thing. Often when you’re the first.

First mover advantage, well, you.

End up losing. Yeah, you.

End up losing. Yeah. Because people come up and watch your mistakes and do it better than you. And it’s very common.

Yeah. Do you have a fear of failure? Be honest.

Not any more. Not after 12.

I don’t like I’m pretty. I’m like, I’m pretty determined.

To ego death 12 times. Yeah, Yeah.

I’m pretty determined to win. But I wouldn’t say I’m scared of failure or death. Those are not things that, you know, I rationally am scared of any more.

Than you know how in a way you you’re kind of defining the London entrepreneur scene, you know, the UK entrepreneur scene. And you could have I mean, you live in London, but you could have done it in Silicon Valley or whatever. And over there, failure’s kind of much more accepted than here. Yeah, big time. And is that does that changing here now in the in entrepreneur land and with investors and all that.

And because we know as well that you support young founders you know we were just talking about that as well.

So I think more so you know it’s interesting actually, because I because I do a lot of angel investing and I speak to a lot of young founders and like some of them have had a tough time over the last few months. I’ve just spoke to a girl a couple of days ago. Um, she’s shut down within about four months of me investing, which is pretty bad. And I just emailed her being like, you know, Yeah, like, are you okay? I know how shit it is to go through what you’re going through and like, do you need me to speak to any of your. There was someone else as well. They’re doing more of a pivot, so it’s slightly different. But I was like, Let me know if there’s any of your investors that are being horrible to you and like, just intro me on WhatsApp or whatever works for you and I’ll arrange a time to speak to them and like, you know, calm them down and make sure they don’t do that, because that’s what I’ve experienced a lot. And you know, these last two that I spoke to and this is in the last two weeks, both companies, they’re both of them were like, actually, people are being pretty nice. They’ve actually been pretty understanding. And I’m like, wow, that’s a real I feel that’s a good marker to to realise because that’s not normal. You know, If I’d have done that a couple of years ago, they’d have been like, Yeah, I’ve got about ten people I’d need you to speak to for me. And I’d have done it because it’s important.

And yeah, but um.

It was, I was really impressed on both of them. They were like, No, actually we’ll let you know if we do. But so far people have been very kind. Yeah.

And I think again, it’s about those conversations. So I think we can talk forever and ever and ever.

I still want to talk about Secret Leaders because.

Do you talk about secret Leaders go.

It. It was marvellous. Marvellous.

Thank you. I was. I told you his hero. I didn’t actually know that. Why didn’t you tell me that when I was like, I’m bringing Daniel Murray?

I was going to tell you, but, you know, I. I ended up. I ended up in Amsterdam one weekend by myself. I end up listening to every single episode. Really? Oh, my God.

That’s dedication. It was just so good.

The guests were so.

So was Steven on that then?

Yeah. He’s the second or third guest.

Did you listen to that one?

You’d have you’d have had to go back through the backlog. I think Nick Jenkins was number one. Steven is in the first five for sure.

Steven Bartlett Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, so many good ones. But but then now, now I see it says kindling media. Is that your company?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So basically we started off as secret Leaders and it was just me and a microphone, etcetera.

Is that what Joel as well?

No, I’ve got a different business partner for Secret Leaders called Rich. Yeah. Um, and Rich was originally, like producing and editing and I was doing the interviewing and, you know, writing interviews and producing sorry, writing interviews, doing them and marketing it. Um, but, you know, it started off as like a nice little side hustle and good interviews and stuff, but at some point it, you know, was growing too big and it.

Became the number one podcast business.

Podcast and business podcast. Yeah. And so it became big. And so it was like, it’s really.

Interesting. How did that.

Feel? I mean, that was amazing.

Um, amazing dance. Always had chat, by the way, in case you’re wondering, always sends you like 14. Always because he was fat.

So you.

Grow up fat, you get.

Great banter.

Um, so I think the, uh, but, but the reality is it’s, you know, I actually say this to people, it’s really interesting. You expect failure when you start, and it’s important too. But like, some people plan for failure, you don’t really plan for success. And so I didn’t plan for this side hustle to go, Well, I was doing it because I basically was wanted free mentorship from experts all the time. So it was a great way to do it.

Well, that’s people often say, right, the podcasts are that because you learn so much from the people that you’re interviewing totally.

And so, you know, that was basically it for me. Um, and that was enough. But basically it was, it was, it started to do really well. So we ended up having to hire someone and then, you know, learning about management and ego and stuff as a bootstrapped company as well as we’ve never taken any funding in, um. I was very this is at right at the start of the pandemic. Heights were starting to take off. Heights launched at the start of the pandemic, launched January the 6th, 2020. At that time, secret Leaders had just started to take off, too. So I was like, Oh God, this is actually going to get bad quickly. So I spoke to Rich and I was like, We need to actually hire someone full time for secret Leaders Now, the good news is we’d never taken any money out of the business, so we had quite a lot of money in it because we’d had advertising and it had grown and all this stuff. So there’s just cash sitting in the in the bank not doing anything with it. So fortunately we were able to immediately say, we can hire someone, we have a budget to hire someone, we can give them a budget to run it as a company. And so I think what’s been really interesting with that is, you know, we we we thought deeply about the type of role we wanted to create, the kind of autonomy that person actually had to have because of how little time we were willing to invest personally, because Rich has his own.

Start-up I had my own Start-Up. That’s just starting. At some point you have to basically say, Am I going to be, you know, pretend I’m Jack Dorsey and I can be full time CEO of two massive businesses? Or am I going to say, you know what, I think my best chances of success and where my purpose really feels aligned right now is heights. So I want to put 90% of my time in heights and 10% in secret Leaders. But I can’t make secret Leaders a success with 10% of my energy. So where does the 10% go? Interviewing. That’s it. So I like mapped out my ideal is in the next year. I’m like, I’m just turning up to interviews. I’m doing the interviews, I’m fucking off. Like I don’t do anything else. Literally anything else. Boundaries. Boundaries. And so it was really clear and we did this interview process, found a great guy. But part of this is you’ve got to give that person then the creative freedom to say, This is what I think we should do in the company. Trust them. Trust. Yeah. And so I think we got lucky with Will, who runs it because he’s, um, you know, he’d been an entrepreneur, he’d failed, he’d been a journalist, he’d really interested in media.

And long story short, he has grown secret Leaders really? Well, we’ve now hired a second person about to her, a third person. So it’ll be basically five of us in the company. Um, you know, talk about boundaries and stuff. I’ve got got to do interviews this Sunday for final round candidates for that company. Um, but the point being, um, as part of the process, he then was like, I’ve got this idea for this totally different podcast, but so I don’t think we should be secret Leaders I think we need to be kindling media. I think we need to be a media company and we should make podcasts, which would make great podcasts. This is my idea, this is how much it’ll cost. Anyway, a bit of a batshit crazy idea and I was actually quite anti it, I have to say. I was like, I don’t think we should do this a terrible idea. But that idea was called Bad Money, which is a show basically about the intersection of business and crime. And the idea is it’s like journalistically researched narrative stories season by season. And so the first episode, first series is about one called a gangster called Big Spender. And it’s because he’d grown up in he spent some time living in Hong Kong.

This was he’s a big guy in Hong Kong, basically responsible for the biggest kidnappings of all time. And it’s an amazing crime story. And so what we’ll did whilst running Secret Leaders is script this find journalists in Australia and Hong Kong. And I found the original police officers that like like jailed this guy like all of this stuff and like put together this podcast. Anyway, long story short is, um, we just hit 100,000 downloads on that. It’s been in the top three in crime in the UK for weeks now. We’ve had three offers from major Hollywood studios to option the rights to turn it into like a show. It’s like it’s really amazing to see what someone else I have nothing to do with that at all. But it’s amazing to see if you give someone some creative freedom, like where their ideas can take things and what they can do. And now he’s actually working on a personal finance show. So personal finance is a big problem in the UK. None of us really understand money. It’s a problem I personally really associate with as well. Um, so we’re actually, to your point, you know, you asked about videos and stuff. This will be our first foray into a video podcast setup. I won’t be. I might be a guest one time, but I’m not involved.

Um, but also, I just think as well, like, I’m smiling at that story because I think it’s so important that you have the right people putting in the skills because I’m like you. I’m like, I have ideas. I like rocking up, I like talking, I like the media. But I was just saying to Payman as well before you came, like, I hate admin side of stuff. Like I also like editing, like the thought of spending hours editing. I’m like, Not for me, you know, but knowing that you’ve got the right people and the right team, you know, like, it’s amazing how things can take a long time. It takes a long time. It takes a long time.

Run a 50 man company, right? So that that takes a bunch of trust and delegation.

Yeah, but I got letting go. Got it all wrong as well.

I got that all wrong. So, I mean, the thing is you learn. Yeah. And letting go is a constant.

Letting go is.

But letting but letting go is also, you know, I got to say, a lot of people will let go and learn the wrong lesson, as in learn the lesson, actually, that they shouldn’t have done that. And so letting go, I think I just had this conversation with someone at lunch, actually. Letting go isn’t the answer. Annoyingly, delegation isn’t the answer. And being totally in control of everything isn’t the answer. The answer is to do the work to find out where your zone of genius lies in the way that fulfils you. And maybe you’re a delegator and maybe you’re a control freak. That’s actually okay. I feel like both of those things have their place, and I feel like I’m still trying to find mine. But, you know, in this example with Will, you know, he could have been a charlatan, he could have been crap and the business could have torpedoed. So, yeah, there’s a lot of risk involved in it. It’s gone well. It could have gone badly and I’d be sitting here with a very different lesson.

So you’ve always had a co-founder and everything you’ve done, Always. You’ve got co-founders and Parlour, but not. Not in the practice, No. Yeah. Which do you prefer? Do you prefer being a partner or.

Do you prefer being interesting one? Right. Because I really enjoy. So the reason why I built the business model that I did at Chelsea is because we are Multi-specialist founder. And so at Founder Multi-specialist Clinic. So for me, my associates, for example, are almost like my founders. The reason why I say that is because I still think that no human being can do everything 100%, and I think people think they do are a little bit of micromanaging in their character. So like even in my practice, like, for example, I was texting Stuart, he’s one of my associates and I was like, There’s this really difficult case. You’re better at doing this. Can you advise on this? I need your help with this. I am not afraid to do that because I recognise my skill sets are certain and I really having that relationship with Parlour, it’s different, right? And I think it’s really different because when you co-found something, there is some point of the business, I think, where and I’m sure you’ve had this with Joel, there’s like resentment in some ways because someone feels they’re either working in a different way. You don’t see eye to eye.

And that’s the thing that I find most difficult, especially if you have like a certain type of brain, like I’m a very creative, slightly kind of ADHD brain where I’ve got loads of different things going on, but I’m really bad at putting it on like a computer, PowerPoint or Excel. Does that make like, I almost need someone to be with me typing it all up? Does that make sense? Whereas, you know, my other business partners like Adobe is phenomenal at the finances. I hate numbers, you know, And Simon is incredible as just like putting everything together and making sure everything’s done and very good at presentation and so forth. So in that way it complements. But I think it’s really important that everyone knows what they’re doing because there can be those conflicts and sometimes you can have those eruptions, which is normal. But in short, I just don’t think I’m ever really a one man band. I just don’t think I am and I’m not embarrassed. But I also don’t have problem letting go and controlling and trusting as in like I’m like, cool. I trust this person.

Go with it. You might find in the future that, you know, in this I sort of thing that’s happening, people with just great ideas will be amazing. You know, the best ideas will win because execution is becoming easier.

So yeah, I mean, it is it is in a way. But and also, like you got to think as well because why are people becoming so I actually got invited to a TikTok event a few weeks ago. I was really proud of that. I’m like, Am I a TikTok influencer? Anyway, I got invited to a TikTok event and there were all these, like, famous tiktokers, if you like. And it was really interesting because some of them had built like millions of followers on like the most niche things. But it was like how creative they were with like cooking and, you know, cutting things in a very specific way. I mean, there was a guy, millions of followers, because he only raps Dr. Seuss books. I mean, how nice is that? But he’s doing it like it’s a creative input, right? So I think, you know, the future is exciting and yeah, but I personally think one man bands are just really difficult. I don’t wish to be that.

I don’t wish to be it. Yeah, I’d much rather have half of something and more of my mental health than 100% of something and less of my mental health.

And I think I think that’s that’s a really that is a really good point because I’m going to ask Dan, we could talk for hours. Payman We know this, but I’ve got a I’ve got a rock.

I have to wrap up. Yeah.

So I’m going to ask you some questions. I think one thing that I want to comment on that you’ve just said there is that I’ve often been told, and I think surrounding myself with certain people is that like, oh, you know, like being a multi, multi millionaire is really important. I’m like, actually not. Because for me, having money gives you freedom. It doesn’t buy you happiness. And I think I always say I want to be comfortable, but for me it’s about having balance, recognition, health and respect that matters more to me. So someone said you could have like 10 billion and like none of the other things, or you could have like five and all of the other things I’d always choose the less.

Amount of money 5.

Billion, 5 million, five or whatever. Okay. But, you know, I’m just trying to say that I’d always choose something less in a monetary way to have your recognition.

Sounds a bit.

Egocentric. It is a little bit. But I think recognition in terms of when you’re remembered for something I hate to say it, maybe it is egocentric, but legacy legacy is important for me because I want to be remembered for doing something that makes a difference.

I was about to back Rohner up to say it. You know, it took me a long time to say and admit that I want recognition. And I. Do you think? There’s a really great thing for someone to accept and own their insecurities and there’s something uncomfortable about saying I want to be recognised. It’s embarrassing to say that to someone else because that fundamentally I’m very aware that that will make.

But again, we all want to be seen.

But we.

Most of us, we don’t.

All want to be seen, but a lot of us want to be.

Seen. Yeah.

A lot of us want to be seen. And that for some, you know, and.

That is ego.

That is ego. So maybe I have to go on a retreat. So, Daniel, amazing chat, as always. I love speaking to you, but I’m going to actually end with one question based on an egocentric question. Perhaps if you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

My cats. Fucking legends. Um, okay. Well, what can I say? I mean, honestly, like, the thing that I would love as a legacy is to have introduced brain care as a practice to the world. Um, and, you know, we, we in society do spend time in skin care, hair care, oral care, all these different parts of our bodies that are decaying. And there’s enormous industries set up around that brain care, not an industry, not a space, and actually an area where nutrition can make an enormous difference. And it’s just simple everyday practices and the impact that would have on society, on longevity, on human’s ability to have greater health span and life span, and therefore create even more beautiful, productive work that can actually encourage people to make this a better world. Like that stuff is super meaningful. So I very much believe in like butterfly effect and ripples. And I think that if that’s something that I can contribute to the world, then fantastic. So that far, much more than secret Leaders or anything else, because I think that’s where I can have an impact.

Sure. Thank you so much. Dan, again, thanks so much.

My pleasure.

My pleasure for doing this.

My pleasure.

Coming in. Thank you.

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

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

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

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



In This Episode

02.10 – Dental Disruptors

07.46 – Horror stories

31.25 – Backstory and podcast

36.57 – Contracts and negotiations

47.30 – Practice ownership

58.24 – Black box thinking

01.06.43 – Favourite things

01.16.10 – Advice for associates and principals

01.26.02 – Fantasy dinner party

01.29.06 – Last days and legacy


About Alex Sharp

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

He is the host of the Dental Disruptors podcast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rules have changed. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To train the trainers, you mean? Yeah.

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

Something. There is something.

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

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

Yeah, well, I mean.

It’s the highlights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s your business coach?

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

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

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

But you can get.

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

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

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

And I’ve been to Middlesbrough.

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

What did your parents do?

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

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

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

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


We’ve just released a letter.

Just started.

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

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

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

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

Yeah, she’s a medical nurse.


Burns. Medical nurse.

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

Well, you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, I mean.

There’s terrible stories on that. Yeah.


Well, my.

Story is your story.

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

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

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

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

Of course.

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

Yeah, it’s fully private.

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

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

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

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

Oh, I know squat.

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

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

You know.

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


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

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

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

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

So disrespectful, so I apologise.

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

No, I haven’t.

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

Biggest clinical.


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

I’m like, it’s like a dyslexic.

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

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


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

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

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

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

Yeah, for sure.

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

Full dentures are a dark art as well.

So I’m a.

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

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

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

You know.

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

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

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

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

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

And now remains.

At least the other works lasting three years.

Exactly. Yeah.

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

What’s your favourite bit of dentistry?

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


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

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

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

I mean, I’ve read.

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

That happened.

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

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

Absolutely. Yeah.

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


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

Me too.

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

But us and them. Yeah, I.

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

83 days is perfect, you know.


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

Yeah, yeah.

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

Yeah. I mean.

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


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

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

And Alex, let’s let’s say let’s.

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

Yeah, massive.

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

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

People will lie to themselves, right?

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

Examples. What is it that you need?

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

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

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

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


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

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

Like him.

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

There although.

Although Committed suicide, right?

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


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

Oh, no, no.

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


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

Which band was.

He in?

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

Amazing. Amazing. And the final, final question.

It’s a bit weird.

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

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

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

Um. Like that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of honour. Yeah.

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

On this podcast. No.

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

Alex When did.

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

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

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

How old were.

You when they split up?

I was eight.

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

Something like that? No, not.

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, really?

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

Well, thank you.

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

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

Yeah. So Dental disruptors on all platforms, right?

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

Perfect, man. Thank you very much, buddy.

All right. Cheers. Take care. Payman.

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

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

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.

We proudly welcome Jono Lancaster as our first Mind Movers guest.

Jono gives a candid account of his journey from being an angry young man living with Treacher Collins syndrome to an international motivational speaker who is about to have his first book published by Penguin.

He also talks about the value of connection and community, the role of the inner child, and reflects on the many catalysts that have helped shape him as an inspiration to others.    



In This Episode

02.11 – Jono’s story

05.34 – Connection and community

11.50 – Catalysts for change

20.16 – Judgement and resentment

28.49 – Changing attitudes

34.36 – Genetics and family

41.26 – Little J

45.40 – Not All Heroes Wear Capes

48.06 – Insights on dysmorphia

51.10 – Healing steps

01.03.05 – Forgiveness

01.10.22 – Inner child, inner monologues

01.16.53 – The ten-year plan

01.19.16 – Bullying and cancel culture

01.28.22 – Journey back in time


About Jono Lancaster

Jono Lancaster is a motivational speaker, fundraiser and disability awareness campaigner. His debut book, Not All Heroes Wear Capes, will be published by Penguin in July 2023.

We still do live in a world that’s obsessed with image and obsessed with looks. And I think that can be really unhealthy for every single one of us. And I genuinely believe that I didn’t belong in this world, and I hated everybody in it. My friends, I was so jealous that everybody just had these beautiful faces and I had this face. And I hated that before I stopped looking in the mirror When I did look in the mirror. I would push my eyes up to try and make it look like everybody else. And I thought, muscle memory will kick in. And if eventually if I just hold it like that, something would change. Bit of a difficult question. If you could now push a.

Button and change your face, would you?

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another episode regarding mental health. Today I am so excited to bring on somebody that was an absolute honour and privilege to meet someone I consider to be a friend now, and I think that he’s really going to inspire you. We’ve got Jono. Jono was actually born with a condition called Treacher Collins syndrome, which affects the bones and joints of the face as well as the muscles. Is that correct? That’s correct. And he has a really amazing journey because he was actually abandoned by his parents, his biological parents from a young age, but has gone on to do some incredible things. And particularly his self-love journey has been so inspiring to me. So I’m not going to go too much into an introduction because I feel like Jono could do it even better. And thank you so much for being here today with us Jono.

Now thank you for inviting me and I’m excited. Excited is the wrong word. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into this subject because it is such. As it’s a subject that affects us all. Yeah, even we might not feel it right now. There is definitely a high chance it will affect you. So. Yeah.

Perfect. Thank you so much. I did ask Johno earlier how his journey was into London, and he reminded me that he actually spent time in London as a child because he was doing being treated in Great Ormond Street. Was that right? Yeah.

Great Ormond Street.

Yeah. So, John, let’s start from the very beginning. I think it’s important the audience know your story in your own words. You know the condition that you have, your experience with your biological parents and you know where it led you later on.

So whilst we’re talking about mental health and wellness, I am now very aware when it comes to explaining my situation or sharing my story, how important the language I use is to my health and well-being and my happiness. So when I talk about so I was born with Treacher Collins and there was no family history of Treacher Collins. I was a sporadic mutation. So when I was born, it was a shock to my birth family. They felt it was best to go our separate ways. And I have no idea what they felt, what they went through. I just know that they gave me life and this is me explaining my situation, my story, my start. Today when I was in dark places, I would use the word abandoned, rejected, and but now I try and move on from that because that’s, like I said, healthier for me. And so I was in hospital and the health professionals were unsure whether I’d be able to walk or talk or how I’d develop, how I’d be developing mentally. And they introduced me to a lady, a foster carer called Jean, and not even five foot, this tiny, incredible superhero in a 40s. Single mum lived in a council house. Her own children had grown up and moved on and she just had so much love to give. So she gave it to children that needed it and I needed that love.

And she’s always told me that she met me when I was two weeks old and the health professionals and the social workers were like, Jean, you need to be prepared for the way he looks. He looks different. And Jean, not even been five foot that just went straight over her head, but especially words like that. And she was just excited. She just loved babies. And she always told me when she first saw me, she couldn’t help but smile. When she first had the opportunity to hold me, she felt an instant connection and instant love and was like, When can I take him home? She fostered me for five years, tried to reconnect me with my birth parents. That didn’t work out and she adopted me when I was five on the 18th of May 1990, and she gave me this beautiful foundation. She gave me a second chance of having a home, a family, and that consistency of that was just huge for my upbringing. And she always told me I was beautiful and always told me I was special. But through my teenage years especially, I lost that. And I developed this hate for my appearance that just spreaded throughout my entire life. And I was just consumed with darkness.

That’s such a beautiful story. And I think one of the things that really stands out for me is the word connection and where she felt really connected to you. And I think that connection is one of the most important things in life. I remember that I was listening to a Ted Talk by Brene Brown. I don’t know if either one of you have heard of her and she’s an amazing woman and she says that connection is the one thing that basically is the most important thing in a community, and it is one of the sources of happiness. And the problem is actually with today and the issues of mental health is the lack of connection. And that’s the problem that people feel. And I always say that you need to work really hard on trying to feel a connection with somebody because that can ground you. And I think that’s important not just in dentistry, but in all aspects of life. You know, when you’re feeling that loneliness, there is always someone that connects to you in some way, you know? So I think that that’s really beautiful. Pay. Do you have anything to add?

So when did you realise that she wasn’t your birth mother? At what point did she make that clear to you?

I’ve always known that Jean wasn’t my birth mum. And, you know, for starters, we had a gotcha day celebration, and every 18th of May we would have a party. And, you know, I got to tell all the kids that, you know, your mums and dads, you know, were stuck with you, whereas my mum went to the hospital and out of all the kids there, my mum chose me like I’m the chosen one. How cool is that? And then I made these backstories of my birth parents. They were a couple of rock stars. My dad played guitar and my mum sang and they just couldn’t live with me. They couldn’t deal me with for whatever reason. And it’s just something that I’ve always known. And then as I got older, I was like, But Mum, why did you meet me in the hospital? Why couldn’t my birth parents love me? You’re a single mum. You we live in a council house. Why couldn’t they cope? And yet you can. And I challenged her, but every time I challenged her and every time I tried to speak to her about it, she answered every question that I ever had. And that was that was huge for me. And I took that information on board. And sometimes I accepted it and sometimes I was like, That’s not adding up. Um, so what sort of.

Things didn’t add up for you?

So again, when I was in those dark days, I was like, they rejected me because of my appearance. That’s what it was. And then if you know, you’ve heard the saying that eyes got a face only a mother could love. And I was like, Oh. That doesn’t apply to me. And it crushed me. And every time I would hear that, as, you know, just passing by, it was like, oh, a reality check that my mom couldn’t love me. And. That’s not the case. I mean, I don’t know if I’m sure my birth mother does have a love for me. You know, I don’t think you lose that. But I was making up all these I was trying to find answers that I were never going to find out. And that was a really unhealthy place to be. I was always, Why? Why me? Why did this have to happen to me? Why did I have to look like this? Why? Why? Why? When’s it going to get better? And I was just obsessed. I became obsessed with the whys and I really struggled with that.

And was that a certain point in your life? You said you mentioned as you got older. So do you think that’s because you were going into teenage hood? Do you think that that was about the people that you were around? You know, what do you think really was the catalyst for you to question, you know, the reality that you were living in?

As a child, I used to naturally celebrate who I was. You know, I celebrated that my mom got to choose me and I wear a hearing aid. So I’m hard of hearing. And I remember at junior school we would get into water fights and I would like soak my friends and then they would go to soak me. And I was like, Whoa, guys, I’ve got a hearing aid. I can’t get wet. I’ll blow up the entire school. And they were like, Oh, sorry, sorry. And I used to just celebrate who I was. But then as I started going into high school, secondary school, those stories that I once celebrated and shouted about, all of a sudden they became a little bit uncool. I didn’t feel like I could talk about them. I didn’t think I feel like I could celebrate them. And I became embarrassed about them. And and then I started seeing my friends get into relationships. And connection is going to come up a lot. During this conversation, I saw my friends getting into relationships and that never happened to me and I took that so personal. I was like my birth parents couldn’t love me. How is anybody else going to love me? How is anybody else going to find me attractive? Where does that leave my future when it comes to having a family of my own? And I grew up without a dad. I was adopted by a single mom and I was like one of my coping strategies. Dealing with that was one day I’m going to be a father and I’m going to be the father that I never had. But then all of a sudden I’m thinking one of my hopes to make everything better. I’m like, I’m never going to be a father. And it crushed me. So I was trying to find answers. But then I was taking those answers away. And it it was tough. It was tough.

I’m really sorry to hear that. But I know the man that you are now, so I know that this story has a happy ending. Now, one of the things again, I think that you said is really important is that a child you would always celebrate things. And I’m actually completely obsessed with the inner child. Right. I’m sure you’ve done a lot of reading around this. And I talk about this with my own therapist as well, because we always talk about the child. And I think actually when we are in our adult self, sometimes we should speak to ourselves as if we are our younger self, sit in a way that helps you give that compassion, as you said, because what would like adult Johno say to like little Johno? What would Adult Rohner say? And you know, adult payments each other. So I think that that’s like it’s something to learn from as well. Like, you know, how our childhood really does help us celebrate things.

Took us through the process of going from that self-loathing to, you know, right now you’re obviously in a much better place. What were the catalysts that made you change the way you think about yourself?

We need to go back onto the inner child stuff as well because I’ve just been doing some work on that. Oh, no.

Go, go, go for that if you want.

When we’re doing the takeaways. So the turning point was, um, so from 15 to the age of 2014 to 15. So I spent six, 6 to 5 years developing this hate from a face, hate from a birth parents. I was jealous of my friends and the only thing that I could do to manage it was to not look at my face. And every time I went out, I would look at my feet and I would go from A to B as quick as I could. And that was the only coping strategy that I could I could do. And I tried to manage it. Loads of things happened in life. But the big turning point came by accident. I was obsessed with sport and fitness, and when I was 20, I found myself working in a gym. And if you’ve ever been, I was a fitness instructor. And if you’ve ever been to the gym, there’s this crazy thing that happens. People pick up and use the weights, but it’s virtually impossible for it to for them to put them back. I don’t know what it is, but they just can’t put the weights back. So I had to do is I had to put the weight back and the weight rack in this gym was in front of the mirrors mirror from the floor to the ceiling. And I found myself putting the weights away, avoiding my face, avoiding my reflection. But one night I passed nine gym closed at 10:00. I was putting the weights away. I’m obsessed with trainers, so I just bought some trainers and I were looking at my trainers in the mirror and I was like, Oh, I like my trainers.

I had my little short shorts on and had got a tan, and I was like, Oh, I’ve got a nice set of legs. So on my boat. And I was like, Hey, I’ve got a cute butt and I’m working up and I’ve just done chest that day and I’m wearing an extra small shirt and I’ve got a bit of a pump on and I’m like, Oh, I’ve got an ice chest. And normally I always stopped at my shoulders, always stopped at my shoulders. But on this day, I’m on this roll. I love my trainers legs but chest. And I got to my face and I looked at my face and I hadn’t properly looked at my face for years. And I saw that I had blue eyes. And that sounds so stupid, but I’ve not seen my blue eyes in what felt like forever. And I smiled. And when I smiled I got this. When I smile I’ve got this little dimple on the left side and I’m like, Oh my God, that’s so cool. And I don’t know how I got there, but I was looking at a face that I was now smiling at. And now loving. And I was just like the biggest energy shift, this whole empowering of like, wow. And I still hadn’t made it. And there was still a lot of work to do and there was still a lot of trauma to get through. But I was looking at my face and that was massive.

Yeah, that’s amazing.

Well, that was the moment, right? But what do you think it was that made you get to that moment? Was it was your life going better than.

So human connection? We’re going to come back to human connection again. So from 17 to 17, 18, 19, my friends are going to college in university at first holidays, first jobs first girlfriends, first kisses. And I was hiding away at home. Every time my friends invited me on holiday, I would say no. And then I got so jealous that I wasn’t there. They were in relationships and. And I wasn’t. And I was angry and I was isolating myself. And a good friend of mine who’s still a really good friend. He got me a job working in a busy bar up in Yorkshire and I hated him for it because I’d been into bars and clubs and I spent more time hiding away in a toilet than I did actually interacting with people. And then all of a sudden I found myself working in a bar and I hated it. I absolutely hated it. And I would leave early, make excuses. But I met and again, I made so many connections in the bar industry that strangers just changed my life from it forever. And that was groundbreaking. Wow.

Yeah. And again, it reinforces what we said, that it’s just that connection even on that level of just meeting people on a night out and having those interactions which are so important, which is why social media, I think, has become so toxic because it’s so easy to be isolated and be on your phone and nothing really replaces that physical interaction, you know, with humans.

So there were two moments.

A guy walked into a bar head to toe in tattoos, muscles coming out of muscles I didn’t even know existed. And we made eye contact and he seen me. And I quickly looked down at the floor and I was like, Oh, God. And he came straight over to where I was working, and he just stared at me Everywhere I went. His eyes just followed me and I eventually served him and I was like, What would you like to drink? And I’m looking at the floor talking to him. And he was like trying to get eye contact with me. And he was like me, What happened to your face? And I hated talking about my face. And I was like, What would you like to have? What do you want to drink? And he’s like, No, no, mate, what’s happened to your ears? Why are your ears little? What’s that in your head? Is that a hearing aid? And I was like, Oh, I was born like this. And he was like and you know, Are you deaf? And I was like, Yeah, I’m Adria in a cat ear. Anything without my hearing aid. Just trying to quickly skim through the conversation. And he’s like, Hold up, mate. If you take your hearing aid out and I shout really loud.

Can you hear me? And I was like, No, I can’t hear a thing. And he was like, Oh, I made you so lucky. And I’m like, Why? And he’s like, I’ve got a wife at home. And she is so loud. Being deaf, having a hearing aid would save my marriage, I swear to God. And then the best thing ever happened to me. He held out his hand and he was like, What’s your name? Shook my hand. He was like, What do you want to drink? I was like, vodka. Red Bull, please. Got up. Same. We did a vodka Red Bull together. And he was like, Nice to meet you, Jono. And off he went. Human connection, complete stranger in a single moment changed my life forever because I thought he was going to be cruel. I thought he was going to be mean. But he was just curious. And he and he was for a moment. It was one of my first moments as an adult that I realised that it was okay to talk about my face and not in a negative way. And yes, he could have gone about it in a different way. But now I’m also aware that some people don’t have the vocabulary, they don’t have the personal skills to be able to approach topics.

But he just changed my life. He was just that stranger. And we all have that power inside us right now. A simple connection. A simple human connection can change somebody’s life forever, sometimes negative in a negative way and sometimes in a positive way. And he changed my life in such a beautiful, positive way. During that exact same period, I continued to work in that same bar. A girl started working there and she just kind of long story short, one night she was like, You know, I find myself staring at you all the time. And again I thought, I hate being stared at. I hated it, hated it, hated it. And I was like, this is not cool. This is not sexy. Oh, she’s staring at me. And before I had a chance to say anything back, she was like, John, I find myself staring at you all the time. I just love your face in it. And she leaned in and kissed me. And that was one of my first kisses. And again, a simple human connection changed my life forever. Those two things led me to being able to apply for a job at the gym. And then I found myself working.

Yeah, it really is.

One thing that I want to ask. You still haven’t asked how we met, by the way, so I’m still waiting for you to ask for that. Um, but one thing I wanted to ask you as well is that I understand now, through the way that you’re speaking, that you have so much compassion inquiry for the way that people behave and the way that people react, even if it’s not the desirable way. Like you just said a moment ago, some people might not use the right vocabulary because they’re just unaware, and that’s because you’ve got a great understanding of human beings in general. Not a lot of people have that, and I think that’s incredible insight. But having said that, did you have a lot of resentment for people up until that point, up until you essentially done the work to understand people?

I hated people. I believe that we live in a we still do live in a world that’s obsessed with image and obsessed with looks. And I think that can be really unhealthy for every single one of us. Um, and I genuinely believe that I didn’t belong in this world that were obsessed with image and obsessed with looks. And I hated everybody in it. Like I said, my friends, I was so jealous that they just everybody just had these beautiful faces. And I had this face and and I hated that as it, you know, before I stopped looking in the mirror. When I did look in the mirror, I would push my eyes up to try and make it look like everybody else. And I thought muscle memory will kick in. And if eventually if I just hold it like that, something would change. And again, I got so angry that I couldn’t change my face. And then again, it all went back to my birth parents. And then I had an anger and a hate towards them. And that hate and anger just took over me. And I was just I was a hateful person.

Um, I think I think hate is quite dangerous thing and it’s a hard place to be in because when you hate things, you think if you hate enough, you can change it. And the reality is you can’t. And actually having understanding compassion is something that’s so much more powerful. So you can ask me the question then. Yeah, go on then.

I was gonna ask a different question first.

He’s always doing this, by the way. We’ve known each other since we were like 20 wind up merchants. So this is it. I’ll, I’ll say, like black. He’ll say white. Oh, okay. He’ll say down. So cool. All right, we’re playing this game. All right.

No, no, the.

Editor will sort it, but no p since you had these two moments that, you know, it was a connection from a stranger that changed so much for you. Are you now aware of that, that you can have that effect on someone else as a stranger? Massively. I’m not easy. I mean.

Just a massively like, honestly, we all have the power to the next whoever’s listening to. This your next human interaction, your next interaction with somebody else. You can change that person’s life forever. A handshake, a smile, a good morning. You have the power to change someone’s life forever. And now when? So I was recently, I started dating somebody and we went on dog walks and she was like, John, Oh, you talked to everybody. And I was like, And I’m not really thought about it. And she was like, You’ve said good morning to every single person that we’ve passed. And I was like, Yeah. And and I and I started analysing that and I’m like, Why do I do it? And it’s part of that human connection. But it’s also taking control because I was terrified of people looking at me and like them assuming or them making like, Oh, who is this person? Why does it look like that? And then all of a sudden if I say, Hey, good morning with a smile. Hey, how are you doing? All of a sudden that goes away and there’s a nice, pleasant interaction there. It’s a positive experience for them and it’s a positive experience for me. I’m taking control of that.

Um, I think, you know, there’s another really important point that you, you look a certain way, so you’ve got to worry about prejudgements and that sort of thing. But there’s, there’s plenty of people who look fantastic, but somewhere inside them, there’s something that’s broken. And, you know that, that, you know, the notion of be kind in general, you know, the person could be on paper, the luckiest person in the world could be a supermodel or whatever. But we know sometimes those people are the most damaged people of them all. And the idea that connection, you know, we we are a community species, that that’s what we’re good at, that any interaction could be one like that. It’s so inspiring. It’s such a it’s such a beautiful thing. Thank you. You know, it really is.

And again, you’ve just hit the nail on the head. I think every single one of us has got something inside of us, insecurities, things that we’re scared of, fears.

But yeah, yeah. Tell me.

Tell me, how did.

You guys meet?

I’ll tell you in a second.

I know my own time now.

I’m on my own time. The one thing that John says, though, is that like judgement, right? And I know that we’ve touched on this before because I’ve been quite sensitive about it, because I’m judged for also for the way I look. We’re all judged on some extent by our exterior, and I hate that, you know, because at certain points of my life people have judged me incorrectly and cruelly, you know, because of the way that I look. And I still find that difficult.

What things do they pick on or what do you know, any elements?

I think there’s certain elements that they think that like, I’ve got to where I am because of the way that I look, that I’ve not worked hard enough. Or they’d say that I look like I’m up myself, or that I am arrogant, that I love myself. And you know what’s interesting about that? Actually, it’s taken me a really long time to love certain aspects of myself. And I think even if someone does love themselves, why is that negative? Why aren’t we allowed to love ourselves? If you see somebody celebrating themselves on social media or something like that, posting a photo or something like that, you know, I’m like, That’s okay. You know, people are allowed to celebrate the things they do.

You know.

One of the most misjudged people.

Thank you.

See in dentistry. Yeah, that I know that she she projects a confidence. Confidence. But but but I think people think you’re shallow to some extent. This is what I mean. Whereas you’re one of the deepest people around. And there is that mismatch, right? If if the mismatch is a problem, it’s a problem, right? In the same way as if someone prejudges Jonah when they see him. But if you could own it and be cool with it. Yeah. That people will find out who the real me is. Once they’ve known me for a while, you know, then that’s even cooler. You know, it’s a it’s an interesting thing.

Totally. But I think, you know, the things that we talk about today are so much more important to me now. I have to admit I have fallen into the trap of image based things to an extent that I feel that I need to present myself in a certain way to get acceptance and approval. I’m not going to lie to you guys, you know, like I like looking and feeling good, as we all do. Suave outfit. You know, you do it for yourself, right?

They self care. Yeah.

It’s self care. Self care is self love. And I do believe that. But there is an element of validation which we’ve discussed as well. And I think that sometimes it is hard. But the, the point I’m trying to really make in a roundabout way is that like we’re all judging each other to some extent. Right? And I think that that’s something that we can say never judge because you never know what someone is going through. And I think one of my favourite most cliche quotes is be kind, because you don’t know what others are going through and you will see stories of people like Caroline Flack or recently with Twitch, the Dancer, where they will project happiness, success, fame, sexiness, all that. Stuff and then they’ll kill themselves, you know, because we don’t know what they’re going through. So I always say that even if people behave in an angry way, like you said, you’ve been there. There’s a story. They’re angry for a reason. Do you see what I mean? You know? So I think that’s just a really important point.

You know, I mean, at the industry we’re in is partly responsible for that world that you’re talking about, which is, you know, why is everything going to be about the way you look? I mean, she’s one of the most famous cosmetic dentists around. I make a teeth whitening product in my own defence, Right. We specifically try not to play on, on on the sort of the weakness or the sort of insecurity. Insecurity of a of, of a of a smile.

And this leads.

Into how we met, by the way. So go.


So, so I’m, I’m constantly telling my team, look, a smile is on a person. Let’s talk about people rather than talking about teeth. You know, that’s that’s it. But but, you know, we got to put our hands up. We’re in that world. We’re in that world of making people prettier and. And look, these pretty, pretty, pretty girls on the walls, you know? Um, you know, even when we’ve tried, we said, Oh, let’s be really authentic now, and let’s have someone with a gap in between their teeth. At the last moment, we’ve pulled out and made it another pretty smile. But this, this world that that is so image based. Do you feel that you’re you’re over that and that the world itself will develop into something. I mean we’ve become as a as a as a society much more accepting of diversity. For instance, I, I saw two guys kissing each other in the street yesterday and I thought back to like 20 years ago, that would have shocked me, you know. And now it doesn’t feel like such a big issue. How do you feel? It’s it’s it’s moved on. Do you do you get like now compared to ten years ago, do you get different feelings on the streets?

So I we’re in dangerous ground because I do think teeth whitening is okay. I do think dentist work is is okay. I think Botox is okay. I think a well-balanced, well-balanced diet is okay. Wanting to tan is okay, wanting to colour your hair is okay. Lip fillers is okay. All these things are perfectly okay and perfectly acceptable. But when they become a dependency for somebody, that’s when it becomes dangerous. If they genuinely believe that if I get this done or if I’m going to do this, I am going to be happy. So I think it’s important that whilst we do these things that we we can buy these things. We also do the emotional well-being and we do the emotional work. And this is how you and I met.

Oh, finally.

How did you work it in?

How did you.


Okay, well, I’ll let I’ll essentially I got called up to come on a TV programme and I was informed that Jono was heavily involved. And then I was said there’s going to be patients, there’s going to be doctors, and then I’m going to let him finish the rest of the narrative because it ties in perfectly.

So we have this clinic in Yorkshire and people come to us and they have been thinking about treatments on their appearance, on their faces, and they’ve been thinking, will that work for them? Will that be the answer to their problems? Will? Are they doing it for themselves or are they doing it for because of society the way it’s treat them? And they’re have all these things going on. And we had such a range of conditions. We did have somebody with a gap between their tooth. We we did have somebody that had had childhood cancer, somebody that was. And I’d been involved in an acid attack. We had a wide range of appearance related conditions and it was to the individual, it was massive to them. It had taken over their life. And I sat down with them and I spoke to them and I listened to them. Sometimes they wanted answers from me. Sometimes they just want to be heard. And I did all that with them. And then alongside these conversations that we were having, we had these crazy, amazing health professionals were then able, were then able to talk about treatments, and they’ve then gone away and thought, okay, we’ve done the emotional conversations. We start picking whether it’s right for me or whatever, and then the talking to the health professionals and hopefully those conversations with the health professionals are coming from a place of love and acceptance rather than feeling the need to be fixed. And Rona was somebody who again listened to them and guided them and walked along that journey with them rather than saying, We can do this, this and this. She walked alongside them. And I and that’s something that I really admired about you. So yeah, that’s how we met.

Yeah, it was it.

Was honestly one of the most inspiring filming days. And that’s when I was like blown away by Johnno and I was like, This guy is incredible because as I said, like and it was interesting to observe health professionals in a way, and I think this isn’t a conversation because they’re so clinical. They’re like, There’s this condition, so we’re going to do this. But again, like you said, don’t talk to the teeth, Talk to the human being behind the teeth, behind the smile.

The thing is, look, I think it’s your superpower as a clinician. It’s it’s you know, everyone has a superpower. Your people think your superpower is social media. Yeah, but it isn’t. It’s your your superpower is empathy. And and empathy is what patients want, which is why you’re such a successful dentist. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. You figured out Instagram? Yeah, but I don’t think that’s your superpower. Yeah, you know, different people can do Instagram, but the way that you speak to your patients, what I’ve seen and the way that you get their feeling and take that on yourself. And as dentists, it’s the number one skill. It’s the most important skill, right? Because, okay, you can do a filling. You can, you can you can prep a tooth, you can you can do all the things that that we learn about. But that side of it is the difference between liking your dentist and loving your dentist, you know, and that’s that’s why you’ve done so well. There’s no doubt about it. Yeah.

You’ve spoken about connection and it’s amazing to hear that you’ve obviously had some incredible connections in your life. Now, I know as well that there’s a possibility of your condition being passed on to children. How has that affected your relationships? Has it affected it or not? Talk us through it all.

Um, so again, just to hold that hold that thought, as health professionals, I’ve spent my entire life seeing every health professional under the sun. Um, their bedside manner in a lot of cases is terrible. Like I’ve.


Some, some people have like wanted to do an operation or a surgery and I don’t even know their name. And I’m like, okay, you know, And they just it’s so easy to forget because and I get there must be so much pressure. I need to see this patient. I want to give them the best line of work. And let’s talk about work, work, work, work, work. But ask me what my favourite football team is. You know, just like some simple thing like that is huge. And then. Okay, now. And now I’m in. Now I’m in safe hands. And I remember I had a local anaesthetic. I’ve got a screw in my head that my hearing aid attaches onto. I don’t want to be seen doing that on the camera too much, do I? But I’ve got a screw in my head that my hearing aid attaches onto. And every now and again the skin around it gets inflamed and starts growing over the screw and it needs cutting away and so on the local anaesthetic, they’ll put the drapes over me and I’m there and I’m nervous. And then a nurse’s hand will just come onto the blanket and hold my hand. And honestly, that’s the best pain relief ever again. It’s human connection. Just just that warmth of a hand. Another hand is just and I still appreciate that as as a 30 year old man. Um, so I mean, look.

If they want to punish prisoners, they put them into solitary confinement. You know what.

Shows you that? That, like, removing all connections is the worst punishment.

You imagine being in prison. The best thing would be to be in solitary confinement. You’re away from the murderers. But even in prison, that’s the worst thing that can happen to you to to cut you off.

Being all alone. Isolation. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But about kids.

Kids tell us.

So I was a happy kid. Happy kid. And then all of a sudden, I’m learning about the birds and the bees. And then all of a sudden, I’m learning about genetics. And then I learn as a young teenager that there’s a 5050 chance that I might pass on my condition to my child. And that terrified me. Absolutely terrified me. I would love a little blonde haired, blue eyed Jonathan running around, taking his hearing aid out when I’m trying to get him back here quicker and whatever. Let me feed you. Do your homework. No, no, no. I would absolutely love that. But the thing that terrifies me is with Treacher Collins, it’s an airway thing. And over these past few years, I have experienced far too many deaths within our community. Um, and it’s crushing and it’s heartbreaking. And then when it comes to then me thinking of my own family, especially as a kid, when I didn’t have the life skills or the emotional capacity to deal with it. I’m like, and then when it comes to relationships, I’m like, They’re not going to find me attractive. And then if somebody does find me attractive and I find myself in a relationship with them, and then I’m going to drop this bombshell on them that I’m going to pass on my condition to my child. Like, when do I tell them? Do I tell them on a first date and then they’ll run a mile and this one person out of the entire world found me attractive and she’s run a mile because I’m scared them off.

Or like, do I let her fall in love with me? Then do I tell her? And I’m a kid, I’m a teenage boy, and I’m like, Oh my God, what do I do? What do I do? And then I start doing research. Oh, you can have operations where you can not have children. Oh, okay. I think that’s what I’ll do as an adult. And obviously I didn’t go through with it. But again, I’m trying to find answers that I didn’t have the right information or guidance to do. And then now as an adult, it. It’s recently I’m having these conversations first date, second date, and then they’re having conversation. Oh, I don’t want kids. I’m not sure if I want kids or I’ve got this. And being able to talk to somebody and be vulnerable with somebody. Again, it comes to human connection. Being able to connect with another human being about dark thoughts, about scary thoughts, about things that we’ve hidden. All of a sudden you’re sharing with somebody and then it’s quite a turn on. You know, you can flirt and you can do all the sexy stuff, but when you’re being vulnerable, that is just like a lost connection on such a deeper level. It’s, it’s yeah, but sort of.

You know, the this angel who brought you up.


Jean, don’t. Don’t you think this having, having witnessed that, don’t you think that you could then do that you could adopt a kid and do that for someone else?

Yeah, that’s a great point.


So again, as I’ve grown up, I would love to adopt, I would love to foster. There are children, more and more children in care, and there’s a shortage of foster carers and people willing to adopt and there is a need for people, but that obviously the other person in my life that I meet and go have that decision with, they’re going to have that, they’re going to have their say. And we’ve had a look at I’ve, I’ve also explored IVF, IVF, PGD, and then I did a documentary a few years ago about IVF, PGD.

What does it stand for?

Oh, do you know the PGD? So basically, I do my bit in the test tube and.

Then we’re not real.

Doctors, so I wouldn’t know.

So I put with your dad. Yeah. Yeah.

Um, and then we’ve got the eggs. Yeah. We put them together. And then once that process has started, they test it for Treacher Collins and then if we’ve got eight samples, if seven of them have got Treacher Collins, we don’t use them and we use the one with outreach. Collins And then we use that and hopefully that sticks and then hopefully the woman gets pregnant. But then, you know, that’s that’s scary. You know, if my birth parents had have done that, I would have been one of the ones that were tossed aside. And I and I absolutely love who I am. It’s it’s a minefield. But I can talk about it.

A bit of a bit of a difficult question. If you could now push a button and change your face, would you?

Oh, hell no. Not 100%. Like, I love that.

I love it.

I and again, it comes back to human connection and in a child stuff. So I did some work on my inner child last year. Therapist Yes, my therapist.

By the way.

Therapy is great and putting out there. I have a therapist. She’s coming on the show as well. Therapy is an amazing thing for self healing and mental health. Just want to put it out there.

So I completely echo that. A therapist should be just like going to the gym. It should be part of maybe not do it three times a week, but it should be a regular thing that you do throughout the year, throughout your lifetime. And and my therapist. So I was in a relationship that ended this was only last year. And then when it ended, I found myself loving that person even more. And and it was a really happy relationship that just ended. And I was like, oh, I’ve been rejected again and I’m loving this person and I didn’t want to lose this. And I’m like, Why do people keep on leaving me for abandonment? I, I through this work and speaking to my therapist, I still had an unhealthy coping mechanisms, abandonment, feelings going on. And he was like, John, I want you to spend some time with your inner child. I want you to talk to him. I want you to love him. I want you to listen to him. I want you to hold him. I want you to spend time with him. And I’m very I’m a tactile person. So I got one of my old teddies, and I put a one of my old rugby shirts on him, called him Little J, and he’s in he’s in my car at the train station parked up. He goes everywhere with me. And the first day I did it, I did a photoshoot up in Newcastle.

It took me a two hour drive to get up there and I’m so in tune with music. Song came on and I started crying and I looked over to Little J and I was like, Why do we keep on getting rejected? And and honestly, I broke down and then I remembered what my therapist said. And he’s like, Talk to him. So I was talking to him and I was like, You know what, little J Yes, we’ve experienced rejection, but we’ve also made so many beautiful connections throughout our entire life, starting with Momma Jean, starting with. All these kids and all these families that I’ve met throughout my life, I’ve had some beautiful relationships. And yes, they haven’t worked out, but they’ve been beautiful relationships that I’ve been blessed to experience. And I kept on saying to Little J, we attract. We attract beautiful moments and experiences. And I think through looking the way I do, I’ve had to do the work for such a young age, and I see such a unique beauty in our world and I wouldn’t change any of it. I just when I get trolls abusing me and I feel so sorry for them because they don’t see the beauty that I see in the world. And and it’s one of my superpowers. And I won’t change that for anything.

You know, speaking of trolls and so forth. And that’s the thing. Like, it’s really funny because I was obviously in a completely different way, trolled online, and I found it really difficult for different reasons. But now again, it’s that thing of like, you develop empathy when you do the work because you’re like, people are trolling for a reason. If people are trolls, they’re actually very hurt people. You know, if they can be that cruel to other people, they haven’t done any of the work. And you know what you said pay as well. Like if Jonno had changed anything, he wouldn’t have done all the incredible things. He’s gone on to help people in schools. He’s written a book. You know, he’s also had connections with some incredible people like Fearne Cotton. You know, you’ve developed an amazing relationship with her and she’s astounded. Um, and also Katie Piper. I know she’s kind of spoken about you and these opportunities may not have happened, you know, like a real ability to make a difference. And I think that’s a really beautiful thing for sure.

So what do you do now for work?

And I so I spent I did work in the fitness industry. And then for the past 16 years, I’ve worked in the care industry supporting like my mum was a foster carer for vulnerable children, children with autism and various other learning disabilities and physical disabilities. So I went into the care sector myself and, and worked in that industry. And then recently I quit that to focus on my book. And I’ve just wrote in my first book, Um, what’s it called?

Where’s my signed copy?

Um, so it’s called Not All Heroes Wear Capes comes out on the 20th of July this year, and I will get you a signed copy. Um, um, it is available to pre-order on Amazon was in W.H. Smith’s, um, and Book Depository. Um, and I share about my life and it’s called Not All Heroes Wear Capes. And I’ve met people in my life that assured me love the guy in the bar, that stranger, they were heroes to me. They didn’t have the capes. They didn’t have they couldn’t fly or anything like. But they saved my life when I was in my darkest times. And by them showing me love, I eventually found love for myself. And then that was enabled me to become my own hero. And when you reach that point full of self-love, being able to be your own hero, then you’re on to a winner. But that’s not me isolating myself and saying I can’t do everything. It’s me also recognising that in my tool kit, in my super hero belt, as you will, I’ve got therapy, I’ve got friends, I’ve got music, I’ve got drawing, I’ve got all these other little things in my emotional tool kit to be able to help myself.

This work that you did in the clinic about we’d broadly call that sort of body dysmorphic syndrome, where people think having a procedure is going to solve their life. And, you know, for dentists, for cosmetic dentists, it’s a massive issue because someone will come say, do my teeth.

And it will change my.

Life. You know.

The job, the partner.

Whatever you do to their teeth, they’re never happy with because the teeth weren’t the problem. It was something psychological. Do you have some insights on that body dysmorphia that you can help us with?

So I hated my face. And 18, 19, 20 years old, I became obsessed with my body. And I thought, if my face ain’t all that I need to make everything else compensating the best it could be. So I became obsessed with with the gym and fitness. I became obsessed with food. I would only eat chicken and vegetables. That was the only thing that I would allow to have gravy. I wouldn’t be able to have carbs. I had to be I had to have abs. It was abs in my head meant that I could be a little bit attractive. I used to run in the sauna to dehydrate myself. I used to be obsessed with sunbeds. I would buy designer clothes and I was like, Oh, if I do all these things, I might be a four out of ten and somebody might find me attractive. And then I am having these stories in my head like there’s a couple of girls like talking and like, Oh, you’re dating Jono, why are you dating Jono? And I’m like, in my head I’m thinking, Oh, they’ll say, Oh, he’s facing all of that, but he’s got a nice body. Or I used to, I had no boundaries and I was a people pleaser. Oh he’ll do X, y, z for me. And I just became obsessed. And I remember talking to health professionals throughout my childhood and we’re like, Jono, we can improve your faith.

You know, we can build your cheekbones, we can build your ears up and we can improve these features, we can improve your face. And I thought I never shared it, but I said no. And I would say to my mum, you know, I was made like this and I would make a joke. I’m brilliant at putting on a fake smile. And I would say to my mum, I was like, Mum, you wouldn’t even recognise me if I had all this work done, you know? And but deep down I didn’t want my face improving. I wanted a new face. I wanted a face like yours. I wanted a face like yours. And the fact that they couldn’t do that for me said no. I said no. But everything happens for a reason. And by me saying no as forced me to do that emotional work and all of a sudden my face hasn’t changed. But my world has because I’ve accepted that I’ve had to do the work without the cosmetic side of things. So again, the advice is if you do choose any treatment, you still need to do the work on accepting or working through the trauma, talking to your inner child, seeing a therapist, whatever it is, whatever stage of your life you are, if you’re happy or if you start, you still need to do the work. So that would be the answer to that.

One of the big things.

So I said so talking about steps that have improved your mental health, we’ve talked about therapy, which I think is like a non-negotiable, like you said. I mean, there’s some funny episodes in Sex and the City as well, where like, everyone has a therapist like having a gym instructor, as he said. So like, you know, I think, again, that stigma should be removed. You don’t just see a therapist because you think you’re ill mentally. Literally, a therapist can help navigate who you are. I’m in a great place at the moment, but I still speak to my therapist because I’m like, I catch myself. Certain things he said, certain because it’s so ingrained. We all have completely different thinking, like our memories are all formed from childhood experiences. As I said, Johnno, feeling like left at some points in his life, shows up in other ways in his life. Like, you know, as I said, like even breaking up with his therapist, she’s like, Don’t leave me. He’s not leaving him. But it’s just a trauma that’s been triggered. And sometimes I’m a very reactive person. I actually have a very high sort of energy and sometimes I get really easily offended. And I think it’s because things happen to me as a child to make me get easily offended. So now I try to catch myself and take three before responding. So to be reactive, I’m not reactive. I’m like, okay, just take a few days and then respond. And I think that I wouldn’t have been able to do that work without therapy. So I think therapy is a great thing. But what what else do you think kind of helped your mental health journey, which was always a work in progress for most people?

I recognised I used I used to try and escape reality. So again, 20 2120. 223 When I did start accepting who I was, I had an addiction around alcohol and sex. The alcohol gave me a false confidence and then somebody finding me sexually attractive was like my ultimate drug. And I was like, Oh, okay, I’m sexually attractive. Then that’s okay. That that’s that’s it. I’m I belong in this world because somebody finds me sexually attractive, and then the next day I’d be hung over and I’d be on my own. And then all these feelings that had come flooding back in again, it was so temporary. It was like the sun bed and it was just so temporary. So we’ve got to try and think, find things that are more long lasting that can stay with us and that is self love. What do we love about ourselves? And that’s something that I accidentally discovered in the gym when I was looking at my face. And you know, we talk about therapy. It’s hugely important. Finding things that we love about ourselves is hugely important too, because we never, ever go there. And for me, it was looking at my face and finding it. But then now I’ve gone in to my inner child and I’ve gone deep within and talking about when I was sat with Little J, I started finding things that I loved about Little J.

And he used to write Girls Love Poems, and he used to take quotes from Celine like lyrics from Celine Dion and put them in my poems and give them to girls and stuff. And I was like, I love that kid so much. With his little bowl cut that was copied from like, David Beckham and Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys. I was so influenced by by, by music and film. And I would dress up like my favourite film character. And I loved him. I absolutely loved him. So I’m unpicking who I am and all those coping mechanisms. But one thing I want to touch on when I was I’ve, I’ve always thought about death and I’ve always questioned whether I belonged in this world. When I was 17, I started going into town drinking, and that’s when I saw all my friends pulling and one night stands. And how many people have you slept with? That didn’t happen for me. And I judged myself on how many people had not slept with. And I’m like, Oh, I’m less because I’ve not experienced these things. And then in a nightclub I’d be able to hide away. And then all of a sudden you in a bright takeaway and everybody’s looking at you. I found that so embarrassing and I hated it. So I would walk home and instead of going into a taxi with all my friends, I would walk home.

And I remember walking home once from my way to from town to my little village. There’s a crematorium still there now. And there’s a big dip. And you get down to the crematorium. The crematorium used to terrify me, so I always used to walk in the road. One night, early morning, I’m walking home. A taxi comes down this hill and it nearly hits me. And I’ve stepped outside and it’s bombed on into into next village. And that was 17 year old. That was the first time I realised that I wished that car had have hit me. I’ve when I talk about suicidal thoughts, I’ve never thought about taking pills. I’ve never thought about cutting a wrist or anything like that. I wanted to be in a car accident. I wanted to have something that would take me out of this this place where I didn’t belong. And eventually I worked through all that. And as I’ve said, I’ve got to a better place. But then four years ago, 2017, 2018, so 2017, everything I touched turned to gold. I was public speaking all over the world. I was in a relationship. I was raising thousands and thousands for charity. I was doing my own TV documentaries. I bought my own house. I was fit. I was talking about my emotions and my feelings.

I was in a really, really good place. And then 2018, January, February. And my mom, Jean, she ended up in hospital. That scared me. She’s okay now, but she ended up in hospital. A friend passed away. A relationship that’s again, that’s a common theme. A relationship ended and I was in a car crash. I wasn’t thinking and I was in a car crash. And all of a sudden I was I was going I was crying all day and I was hiding my feelings, putting on that fake mask when I was around people. Then when I was on my own, I would cry and I felt pain. I was drinking and I just wanted it to all stop and all go away. And I just felt numb. Woke up in a panic, and I thought I was having a heart attack. I had a pain in my chest. My my arm felt numb. I found 999 a firstrillionesponder came out and he sat me down on my sofa and he got me to breathe. And I was like and I felt okay. And I went back to bed following night, same thing happened. I were drinking. I fell asleep because I just wanted I was trying to escape all this pain. And the following day I took myself to A&E and this doctor did all of the checks on me, and he was like, everything was fine.

And I was sat in a waiting room in a in a side cubicle, and he was like, I’ve been observing you. Your results have been back a while ago and I’ve just been observing you. What’s going on, What’s wrong? And I was like, Everything’s fine. And I took myself home and he actually phoned my GP up as well during this process. And on my way home from the doctors I bought some more alcohol, I drank, and again, I was just crying and I just felt numb and I just wanted it all to stop and I didn’t know how to end it. I didn’t know how to take all this pain away. I wasn’t thinking. I eventually fell asleep and I woke up and every time I was waking up, all this pain and all this emotion just hit me. And during this time, somebody out on Love Island had taken their own life. Yeah. And had hung themself. And I became obsessed with How did they find the tree? How did they find the branch? How did they find the location? How did they find the rope? How did they get to that situation of ending it all and escaping this pain? I wanted to know how I could do that. How could I reach that? And I found myself downstairs in the kitchen and I was looking at my knives and I was so scared to touch him.

And I didn’t I didn’t touch them, but I was like, how was he got to that point? And I can’t. And thankfully it passed and I ended up talking to a suicide hotline. I don’t think that helped. They didn’t give me any advice or anything like that. But I spoke and then the next day I wrote a big massive message and sent it all to my friends. This is what’s happened. The emergency doctor had spoken to my GP. My GP then rang me to do a check in with me. How are you doing? And I started working and me and my friends agreed to go out for meals. We used to do like, boozy lads nights out. This is when I’m in my 30s in a good place. We do all these boozy nights out where we’d have a laugh and a joke and we were like, Let’s just go out. No alcohol, let’s have a nice meal. And we’d talk and we talked about things. And so what I’m getting is whether you’re in a dark place or when you’re in a happy place and everything you touch turns to gold, you still need to be doing the work because every now and again you might just get a kick in the gut. They’ll just throw you.

And I mean, 2018 isn’t that long ago. It’s, you know, there’s a there’s a fragility that you need to be constantly aware of because, you know, the it’s a beautiful story saying that you’ve gotten through it and all of that. But something at the beginning was so difficult that you got to be constantly aware that that could come and get you, you know, to do the work, as you’re saying, the work.

F f. F. F. F, f f for whatever reasons. It can happen to any single one of us at any moment in our life.

And I mean, dentists are famously take their lives more than any other professionals. The it’s and we were trying to figure out why I was going to say why yeah we don’t know we don’t we’re not sure why there’s some isolation in it. There’s there’s some sort of high achieving ness in it or something. Yeah but, but you know the.

And the thing is like actually a lot of them the most. Uh, I don’t know. I probably won’t use the right word, but they often find that when dentists do decide to take their own life, it’s usually in the surgery. So a lot of people find them in the surgery. Yeah. So it’s interesting that we know that it is linked to work somewhat. Do you see what I mean? So I think that is but I think, you know, Payman and I have been trying to unravel. But why is it dentists? You know, people get stressed and.

Apparently anaesthetists as.

Well. Anaesthetists are farmers to farmers. But I can understand why. But again, with farmers, it’s a very lonely profession. Do you see what I mean? You know, like dentistry like. And it goes back and the thing is, you mentioned again, connection. And I think that, you know, one of the big takeaways as well is that we need to constantly be finding connections. Because you just said the dinners with your friends, it’s a check in. It’s a way for you to be like, how are you doing? And it’s not just a WhatsApp or an Instagram message. It’s that physical connection. I remember even when I said you pretty, please come on this podcast and you said, Can we do it in person? I said, Of course, no other way, because it’s so much better, you.

Know, was being here.

I mean, this this series we we don’t normally do our podcasts in person but this.

I insisted.

This it just made so much sense for this series. Yeah I’ve got a question for you. So sorry for you around forgiveness. Of your birth parents. Have you had that sort of moment of. Sort of. Squaring that that that issue that.

So my birth parents gave me life. They made this who I am and they brought me into this world and they gave me life. And for that, I am forever grateful. They gave me a life that’s mine to live and fill it with love, fill it with adventure, fill it with connection. And I do like. Uh, with every part of me I just love and I seek out connection. And I do. And I have no hate for them. I’ve just come back from Africa and won quite a few. I went to some schools that were refugee schools and they in separate speaking events so they hadn’t heard the other questions that the other kids asked. Every single group, they asked a question Do you still love your birth parents? I’ve never been asked that anywhere else in the world other than those refugee schools in Africa. And I’ve never really thought about I’ve never I know I do love them. I don’t love them the way I love my mom and Jean. I love her with all my heart in in in that way. And then I have a love and a respect for my birth parents for for giving me an opportunity to to have a life and to have a family and a home and, um. Yeah, there’s no hate for them at all.

No. I understand as well, though, that you did try to contact your birth parents some years later as well. So what happened?

Um, so in my mid 20s I was in a really, really good place. I was in a really healthy relationship. Um, I was just happy, really, really happy. And I’d gone from hating my birth parents to saying, Hey, you know what? I want to share with you? That I’m okay and I’m open to meeting them if they wanted to. So I did it through after adoption services and I sat down with a lady and we accept we went through all my adoption reports and the adoption reports from the 80s were awful. We talked about the language. It was just cold and just so clinical. And when I was reading this and the adoption support work was reading this, and she was like, Johno, when we reach out to your birth parents, if that’s the way we decide to go through with this, I don’t think you’re going to receive a positive outcome. But it’s up to you. Do you still want to do this? And I said, Yes, I want to reach out to them. I want to let them know I’m okay and if they’re open to meeting me. So we sent them a letter and then two weeks later we got a letter back. From their solicitor regarding this subject. We do not wish any contact. Further attempts will be ignored and both my birth parents had signed it and. It broke my heart. It was another rejection and I was crushed. But during that time, I had spoken to Mama Jean and my partner at the time and my friends and I cried and I hurt and I was able to to move on. And I was able to live and I was able to I felt it. I’m a believer in feeling pain and I’m a believer of sitting with it and kind of like, okay, but you.

Purged it.

And, and, um, I, I moved on from it.

And I think that shows.

Your growth even further because I recently commented on Giovanni’s podcast when I spoke to you and I said, we become a society of self-soothing when we don’t want to sit with discomfort, we self-soothe. So it might be alcohol, drugs, sex, whatever. But really learning to just sit with that discomfort is actually really important and quite healing. And I’m trying to do it. There’s still like work to be done and, you know, you could even be self soothing by going on social media, like try to make the feelings go away something. So it shows, you know, how.

Much you grow.

It reminds me of grief, you know, when, when, when someone close to you passes away. Then I don’t know. I’m not a natural crier or whatever, but. But sometimes you cry and then you feel better. Yeah. It’s a cathartic emotion coming out. Yeah. Catharsis.

I purposely make myself cry. Um. Yeah, I. If I know I need to cry, I know I can watch the first 15 minutes of up. I’m bawling my eyes out of the animation up and it just.

And it just makes you feel better.

Crying and watch and a cry. And I. And I feel.

What’s up? Oh, my.

God. Up is amazing. Soul is amazing, too. Have you seen Soul?

Soul. Soul.

Tonight on the train.


Yeah, I’ll find that. Yeah, But another thing that I did last year, that walk home that I used to do as a teenager, I redid it, and I did it at 2:00 in the morning and police car stopped me and asked me what I was doing, and I was like, I’m doing this. And they were.

Like, crack.


Crack on. And, um. And I felt it and I felt it. And again, when I’d done that rejection and that abandonment and that relationship ending, we went to a spa together. Absolutely amazing. I had a brilliant time. When we broke up, I went to that spa on my own and I and and I saw the the the outside Jacuzzi that we went in. People were there were couples. There were there were there were the robes there. And I purposely put myself in that situation on my own. And I felt it and I and I cried and I hurt. But there’s something I find quite therapeutic about going there again. And and and I feel a growth. And and then when people ask me about the public speaking and when I’m doing the talks in front of the kids, they’re like, is it draining? Is it hard? And I’m like, it’s three therapists, three therapy. I’m talking about These.

Podcasts are.

Definitely free.


Do people need to try it? Talking in front of kids about all your vulnerabilities and like, have you got any questions? And you’re like, What’s your favourite song? Who’s your favourite singer? And and you’re like, I’ve just offloaded on to you guys and that’s all you want to know. It’s like, Well, can we play football with you at playground? And I’m like, Yeah, let’s do it. And again, connection, talking, revisiting painful things in situations, having a good cry. Um, I’m.

Interested in Little J. I mean, does your therapist tell you to talk to your child self?

Yeah. So with the inner child stuff as well, Um, we’re actually doing something called Emdr. I don’t know if you did it, John. So Emdr is actually where you use your eyes to revisit an uncomfortable memory. And the memory may be the cause of, like, a the way that you are now and the way that you react to things, you know? So it’s like if I expressed to my therapist that I suffer a lot when people make a comment about a certain thing and it’s related to particular like possibly a particular event. So you’ve got to think about and the event might be something that you think wasn’t a big deal. Like it could be your parents arguing, your mum sort of telling you that you weren’t good enough when you were five years old or, you know, putting some kind of punishment. And then you go back to you go back to that memory and then you have to then talk. See yourself as a child, observing yourself in that memory. So for me, there was a memory that came up about university. But, you know, she says like, well, what would your five year old say? Do you see? I mean, you’re in your child. And what would the five year old say to you as your 20 year old self? Do you see what I mean? So you do work like that.

But what’s with.

The eye? You move your eye to sort.

Of the therapist.

Sort of change between child.

A little bit. There’s no, no. She it’s a little bit of hypnotherapy that when you follow the finger, it changes something in your memory. Does that make sense? And so they’re like as a shift, it’s quite interesting. We can talk about it further with my therapist comes on here, but also, as John was saying, there’s a lot of thing about nurturing your inner child. So there’s things about imagining your five year old self with you and cuddling it and telling it it’s okay. And the really interesting thing is, is that sometimes when we have those awful thoughts, like I’m sure Payman, even with yourself, with your business, you’ve been like, this isn’t good enough, this isn’t this, or you have those like self doubts. A thing is would you say that to a child? The stuff, the negative stuff that you’re saying to your head? Would you say that to a child? Probably not. Just so. I mean. So really, why are you speaking to yourself in that way? So it gives you self love and compassion. Do you get what I’m saying? You know, because you wouldn’t tell a child, you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re not good enough. You’re not this, you’re not that. Do you see what I mean? But we have those conversations with ourselves now, so it’s, you know, it can be quite effective in those ways as well.

So have you got.

A teddy bear as.


I don’t have a teddy bear. I might get one. Oh, I might. I’m thinking more like a jasmine Barbie. I think that would work well for me.

Let’s do. The Disney store, you know?

Um, and, uh, mine. Mine is a big, zippy doll I found in a charity shop, Big Blue Eye. And I used to go to my local rugby team, Featherstone Rovers. I was always the match day mascot, like before a surgery and stuff. So I’ve got this little shirt that’s got the number ten on that I wore as a kid walking my favourite rugby team out and it’s become Little Jay and he’s gone to the office with me and he’s gone on road trips with me and I have hugged him and we opened up about language, talking about our own story and our own teaching talk, talking about ourselves with love. But I also used to get motivation from I used to call myself like I used to call myself horrible names to try to motivate myself. Or even when I was struggling in gym and I was struggling with those last few reps, I’d be like, I’d think about my birth parents. I know the left, you can prove them wrong. And then I’d get angry and I’d get adrenaline and then I’d get those last two reps out. And then it became the norm. If I needed a little bit of extra, I would tap into that hate and that anger. But it would long term that would drain in and it were unhealthy. Whereas now I’m like, Come on, Johnny boy, you got this. And it’s I don’t get those adrenaline spikes as intense, but it’s healthier long term.

I needed that talking to yourself. The language that you use, talking to yourself. And sometimes I see it in when you’re talking about yourself. And joking about it. Yeah. Like, just for the sake of the argument and saying, Oh, look at me. I look like whatever. Yeah, like last week. Um. The I heard someone saying like, you know, your subconscious doesn’t know you’re joking, you know, and and this is kind of speaking to that. Yeah. Yeah. It helped you with the reps, but actually it was doing more damage.

Yeah, it just became the norm. Yeah, it just became the norm. And so a few years ago on Valentine, I found myself on Valentine’s Day. A lot of things were me comes with relationships because I spent a long time wanting to be accepted. So I found myself in this relationship Valentine’s Day and writing a letter down a love poem. I love your eyes. I love your taste in music. Like all these things I loved and admired about this person. I was like, Oh my God, she’s going to love this. I can’t wait to give it to her. And she’s just going to have this big, massive smile on her face. And then I pause for a moment. I was like, Why don’t I write things that I loved and admire about myself? So I put that to one side and I started writing. It was the element of writing things that I loved and admired about myself. And I sat there and I was like And I smiled and I was like, Huh, I’m a catch. I’m a good guy, you know? And that self-love talking to yourself, writing it down has become such a game changer in my life. And now it’s become a regular practice. And in 2021, I set myself the challenge of finding something that I loved about myself every single day. And like anything, exercise or any good things that we can do, sometimes it’s hard to maintain every single day. But I got 181 things that I loved about myself from what I see to from within to experience. And I revisited all aspects of my life and I just loved who I was and I’d encourage anybody to.

I saw that list and I, I thought it was really powerful. And again, in some ways it’s it’s gratitude because it’s gratitude for the things that you love. Do you know what I mean? Your life. And it could be, as you said, gratitude for the things you can see, gratitude for the things that you can feel, gratitude for the people. So in a way, it shows also the power of the stuff. And that’s why I say, you know, all the woo woo stuff works. You know what I mean? When they say to you like, meditate, breathe, feel grateful, do the work. You know, this is stuff that absolutely does work. Yeah. So tell me, Jono, what’s the plan for the future? Where do you want to be then? Now In ten years?

In ten years I’ll be Oh God. 48 Nearly 50.

Um, welcome.

Um, I spent a long time of actually, I think that’s a really, really good question and I’m so glad you’ve asked because I think I have been so focussed on giving my inner child love. And then with the book, I’ve been so focussed on getting these book deadlines. I’m very much in the now, which is really important because last year I was like, Well, my mum’s 80th birthday and I was like, Oh my God, my mum’s 80. My first trip to Africa, the book coming out with the TV series, and I’m like, Oh my God, these are all exciting. And then I was like, Whoa, let’s appreciate them now. And but by doing that, I have not even thought about long term in the future. I guess I just want to be happy. Yeah. And surrounded by. Human beings. It’s as if I’ve got that. And don’t get me wrong, I want to be successful. I hope my my books are successful. I hope potentially I’ve got another book. I hope my charity goes from strength to strength. I hope that I’m still able to contribute in talking into schools and doing anti-bullying workshops. And so and I hope all that grows, don’t get me wrong. But for me personally, if I’m surrounded by human beings that that I can connect with on a deep, deep level, I’ve got human connection and I’m safe and I’m well emotionally and physically, then that’s I’ll take that.

That’s a good.

Place to be. And actually, in a way, I could say it was a trick question because goals are tend to have an impact on our mental health, because when we create these goals and don’t achieve them, we often don’t feel great. And actually living in the future creates anxiety. Living in the past creates depression, and living in the now is where we find our happiest.

Have you.

Read Power of.

Now? Of course. Eckhart Tolle. It’s a classic.

It’s a classic.


Yeah. It helped me so much since I read it so much.

What book was that again?

The Power of Now. Um, so bullying. I mean, bullying of children. And a lot of times it’s about how they look. You got the fat kid or the the kid that’s slightly, I don’t know, introverted.

I had really big ears.

When I was younger.

I got made fun of you.

Yeah, I was still.


But the the is are there are there parallels between kids bullying each other and bullying in the workplace? I. I’d say there are. It’s like a power dynamic or whatever. Can you give me some insights on bullying that you’ve you’ve managed to Because I’m sure if you go into schools and discuss your story and and relate that to bullying, you change kids lives, for sure. Yeah. The a kid who doesn’t even know he’s a bully, he suddenly realises I’m a bully and you have to feel sorry. I find more for the bully than the one being bullied sometimes.

Oh, yeah. It’s such a complex situation, like you mentioned. Hurt people. Hurt people. And when it comes to bullying and when I talk to all the kids. They will they ask all those questions. But when we’re playing football or when I’m having lunch with them, so many of them come to me and say, I’m experiencing this form of bullying. I live with my grandma, my mom and dad do drugs and be all sharing. But there are some kids that will say, Oh, I was saying this to this person, and I didn’t even realise that that was a form of bullying or that was causing them pain. And I’m going to change. And, and even adults, even trolls have come back to me and I’ve engaged them and they’ve like, oh, I’m, I’m sorry, I didn’t, I didn’t realise that. But I’ve also been bullied. In workplace as well. Um. There’s jealousy. There is they they they were hurt people. But again, I don’t know what they were going through for them to do what they did. The only thing I control is my own reactions and how I can protect and safeguard myself. Um, but yeah, it’s, it’s a tricky one, but it happens on playgrounds, in workplace, on social media, even within families. Even within relationships. Yeah. Is it a power thing? Is it control? Is it a lack of education or awareness? I guess I’m what I’m saying is it’s it’s everything.

It’s just such.

A complex issue. And actually. Well, I was having a conversation with one of my friends with a psychotherapist yesterday. We were talking about cancel culture and how effective it is, you know, people being cancelled online. And and it was a really interesting conversation that we had, which we’re not going to have now here. But ultimately it was also about. My partner was saying that cancel culture was a really good thing because people that are really harmful to people should be cancelled essentially. But my my. Yeah. So you’re not into it, right? But my psychotherapist friend was saying that she thinks it creates a totalitarian system which is basically effectively saying we need to control everything. And the speech, it’s a very tricky one, I think, because yeah, I don’t necessarily agree with cancel culture because I don’t think it’s helpful because like you said, it’s not getting to the root of the problem. Why are people behaving badly? That’s the issue. We don’t say, right, they’re done, let’s cancel this person.

I think I.

Read I, I think I read something you wrote about Clarkson. Yeah. Yeah, I think you wrote. I don’t I don’t think he should be cancelled.

No, I said, well, he said it was disgusting, but I don’t.

Think he should be.

I said cancel culture wasn’t helpful, you know. Yeah.

And I agree. I agreed with that. Yeah I, I agree with that. Yeah. In that, you know, if, if people are worried about what they’re going to say. Yeah. And if you talk to anyone these days everyone’s worried about what they’re saying then, then people won’t be able to, to progress together. Humanity won’t go forward. But then there.

Are the dangerous ones. You know, for example, when you have Kanye West creating anti-Semitic hate speech and possibly encouraging someone.

Unhinged, I think.

It’s worth it.

I think it’s worth it. Really?

Yeah. In the same way as it’s worth it to drive cars, even though some people have car crashes, you know? You know what I mean? There are there are downsides to everything but speech. Being worried about what I say. I do it all the time on this show. I worry about what I’m going to say next in case someone gets offended. I get it. I get the reason for it. But it’s going to hold us back as a as a as a society.

I the only thing I can add to this point is having a facial difference and a basic example. We used to say a disfigurement. So and again, I’ve been in many interviews where people have said, Oh, you’ve got a facial disfigurement. I could easily be offended and react differently or angrily. But it’s a simple conversation now. It’s like, Oh, it’s actual facial difference now. So I have to be able to share with you that that’s how I want or I prefer the language to be, and then you’ll be willing to say, Hey, okay, learning noted. Sure. And start using it. And so again, it’s it’s both parties being able to talk about it. I don’t want you to be scared of your language, but I want you to be.


Open and be willing to learn.


I mean, I learned something at the beginning of this talk because I use the word abandonment. And then I know noted that you had said that it’s helpful to use different language when speaking about your parents because it can trigger something. And I, I was uneducated about that. And now I’m educated and I know. And I think that that’s fair.

That’s a good.

Point. Yeah. But I’ve just learned that because I used the word, I used to say, oh yeah, I abandoned my, my parents. I used to say that. Whereas now I’m like, Oh, actually we went our separate ways. We went our separate ways. So and you know, in ten years time you asked me where I’d be in ten years time. That language, that of me sharing my story, that language I may be using in ten years time may have changed. Um, yeah.

No, I mean, look, the evolution of language is amazing. Yeah, but we were discussing cancel culture. Yeah. Where and what gets me about cancel culture is it’s almost like all different media outlets get together and decide this person’s cancelled.

Yeah, I think.

The organisation it takes for that it, it, it speaks to the fact that it is a conspiracy.

No, but the thing is. Yeah. No, but I. I do, I do.

I think it’s a complex subjects. I don’t agree with cancel culture, but I think that when you have potentially dangerous people with huge social media platforms and following they have a. Sponsibility. Because if someone like Hitler was cancelled, it would have been a good thing. Do you understand what I’m saying? Somebody that can have that much power to influence the masses and it’s dangerous. I’m not saying cancel culture, but we have to find a way to monitor, educate and sort of change the narrative as well.

So do you think like somebody like Kanye at one point, he needs to be say, hey, these are your actions, this is the impact that it’s having in a negative way. You either learn or you get cancelled.

Look, I’m not sure it’s even positive in the end. Yeah, because you cancel someone like Kanye, you end up causing a whole subculture of hate.

But at the end of the day, we all know that Kanye also, you know, he has bipolar disorder. Kanye needs help. You understand? Like he also has a medical condition and people are also abusing his medical condition, by the way, which has been a.

Having him on shows and things.

Yeah, but they’re also abusing because they’re recognising that, you know, when he professes certain views he might be in a certain state within his mind and that’s actually manipulation of media as well. It becomes a whole different conversation. So we can leave that, you know. But I have absolutely loved, loved, loved having you here. Jono, I think we’ve almost talked for two hours, by the way.

Like you’ve been such an.

Incredible human.


And all the way down from Leeds and I’m so glad that London doesn’t scare you because most people I speak to from the North are like, I hate London, I’m going back. But honestly, like you are such an amazing person, I think you’re going to really help a lot of people during this talk. And I’m you know, for one, I feel so privileged to know someone like you. So thank.


Thank you for having me. And if anybody who’s listening to this does want to reach out or wants to connect, then I’m happy for you to put them in touch with myself. Um, talk about things, anything further. If they’ve got any questions, then what’s your Instagram? Jono Lancaster. Jono Lancaster.

Perfect. Last thing is I do actually ask a guest one random question off the cuff and I want you to answer. If you could go back in time, where would you go and why?

If I could go back in time personally or in person?

No. Well, it could be. Could be anywhere. You could go back to the 1950s, the 20s. You could go back a particular time in your life. It’s open.

I would love to go back.


I would love to go back to the 90s so I am the music, you know.

Best hip hop era. I’m here.

For it.

Um, you know, so not so obviously. I grew up listening to Puff Daddy as he was back then. Um, and then you had Tupac and Biggie, but then you also had the 90s dance music. Then you had also the Oasis and the Blur.

Um, even the old man.

Remembers Music.

Was good in the night.


Um, and then the obviously the Euro 96, that was the first big football tournament that I kind of recognised and loved. But during the 90s I wasn’t Jonathan. I wasn’t gonna where I am today. I know we can say that about ourselves, but I lived a good chunk of the 90s. Just been very fake. And I would love to have experienced the 90s being my authentic self.


And yeah, I would love to experience.

I’ll see you there.

I love that era. Perfect. Thank you so much.

My pleasure.

NHS contracts, litigation, and the GDC are among the factors creating a perfect storm propelling dentistry to pole-position among the most stressful professions.

In Mind Movers—a new weekly podcast with cosmetic dentist extraordinaire Rhona Eskander—Payman explores mental health and wellbeing and their relation to the profession.

In coming episodes, Rhona and Payman will hear from exceptional people from all walks of life who have been on the front line of adversity and finally give mental health in the profession the hearing it deserves.

In this inaugural episode, Rhona and Payman introduce some of the themes for upcoming episodes, and Rhona reveals how her own struggles inspired the Mind Movers concept.    



In This Episode

01.29 – Introduction

03.14 – Dentistry and mental health

08.40 – Rhona’s wellbeing

16.28 – Making an impact

19.37 – Vulnerability as a superpower

Why is it that dentistry, specifically as a career, is linked so heavily to mental health? The idea.

That you see your work fail, it’s soul destroying when that happens over and.

Over again. We are known as perhaps being in the top five professions where suicide is the highest rate and in fact even worse. I think if you speak to most dentists, they will know somebody who has taken their own life.

What do you think is the reason why we’re so find it so hard to talk about mistakes?

Because I think it’s about vulnerability.

It’s my great pleasure to welcome Rhona Eskander into our studio for a live Dental Leaders We’ve got a new process, a new a new series, a mini series that we’re going to be looking at that deals with mental health for dentists called Mind Movers. And, you know, it was born of kind of a frustration of, you know, what’s out there for dentists who are suffering Something that Rhona said to me that, you know, that the stigma of talking about this sort of thing is one thing. And we seem to be a lot better at talking about these things now. But then, you know, after that, what can people do to to improve their situation when they’ve got some sort of stress burnout? You know, I saw in a in a survey, 17% of dentists have considered suicide in a recent survey. So it’s lovely to have you. Rhona, what are your thoughts around mental health and dentistry?

First of all, Payman, thank you so much for having me. I’m smiling here because I think you’re looking at me so seriously, but it’s always a pleasure and I’m so glad that we can bring this alive. So as many of you know, I’ve been working with Enlighten for a number of years. I think that they’re an incredible, incredible brand. And the reason why I’m saying this is because I’ve been trying to approach the subject of mental health with so many people in dentistry and no one would really listen. I think there’s a lot of stigma and taboo that has been really associated with it. You said a statistic, but actually there’s been a lot more shocking statistics I think, in the last few years. And over and over again we are known as perhaps being in the top five professions where suicide is the highest rate and in fact, even worse. I think if you speak to most dentists, they will know somebody who has taken their own life because of the stresses and pressures of our job. Now, I’ve been really open about my mental health online, and I think whether people think it’s appropriate or inappropriate, I think it’s just part of being a human. You know, mental health is something that we all very much get, you know, very much as part of us. But we need tools to basically get through it. And I think that for me, looking outside the Dental arena and having those tools available to me has made me who I am today and overcome a lot of adversity in my life or those really difficult mental states. So my vision is with Enlighten, which I’m really excited, is to bring on guests that I’ve found really inspiring, that have overcome something in some way in their life and have been really remarkable People either in their field or to other people and really share their stories on how they can help you and give you something to take away with you. So that’s really the idea of vision. And I’m really glad that we’ve got some very exciting guests coming on.

Rhona, do you think that, you know, you discussed your mental health challenges that you’ve had before. Do you think that whatever job you did, you would have those? Or do you think that being a dentist has triggered some of that?

I think that that’s a very important question. Why is it that dentistry, specifically as a career, is linked so heavily to mental health? And I was doing a lot of research around this, and I did find that there were a number of reasons specifically related to dentistry. Number one, it’s the pressures of the job number two. So that’s working in a very small confined space, for example. Number two, it’s the psychology of patients constantly telling you that they hate you and feeling undervalued somewhat by people in society. Number three, it’s also the fear of litigation, GDC, all of our governing bodies and not knowing where your career is going to go. Number four, pressures of the NHS. And number five, also feeling this was a really interesting one for me that you didn’t feel you could talk about your mental health because you viewed yourself as a healer in society in some way, because you studied medicine. You’re there to help people and heal people. You can’t really admit to having things going on yourself. So I think those are the reasons specifically linked to dentistry. However, I think that everybody suffers with mental health no matter what profession they’re in. And there’s different ways when we speak to the people that I’ve invited on here, for example, entrepreneurs that have left jobs because of their mental health and started up their own start-ups, but that also comes with its own problems. So I think that really, yes, with dentistry and other professions specifically, there is an issue. But I think as a wider picture, as a generation, mental health is becoming more and more prevalent for other reasons.

But I mean, you list things like the NHS or being sued or the GDC and these these are, you know, local two right now in UK dentistry. But you know, I think for the last 100 years all over the world, dentists have been more prone to suicide than other professionals. Yes. So the job itself, you know, it’s not the most stressful job in the world. There are more stressful jobs than dentistry. And yet we suffer with stress. Now, of course, what you said, you know, the sort of the challenges of working on a live patient who’s, you know, nervous about being there. Sure. I get that. I think, you know, your relationship with your nurse is gigantic. You know, like the way you deal with your your staff and the way it almost feels like a family atmosphere and all of that. But and I’ve always had very good relations with all of my nurses. But I can imagine if if, you know, you and your nurse don’t get on for whatever reason, that’s the one person that you spend all that time with. If you think the patients are just, you know, their work, you know, it’s quite an isolated profession in that sense, right? That you’ve got no one around you for support as a dentist. You could go in and see your patients, only see your nurse and then leave. And if your nurse hates you or if you hate your nurse for whatever reason, I’m sure it’s a massive contributor and.

I think that is a contributor, but I don’t think that’s the be all and end all because lots of people can go into their work and not like their colleagues or their companions. And sure, like you said, you may argue, well, there’s more of them, but not really, because the company that you’re in can really affect your mental health, but perhaps not to the degree of feeling so suicidal. And I think there’s other things as well. You know, dentistry, as you said, you know, working on the patient has, you know, a few. It’s massively stressful because you really feel like someone’s health is in your hands. And I think there’s pressures of really, really immense on you. And I think that dental school as well doesn’t equip you for the emotional side of dentistry or the other things in dentistry that matter. You know, I say matter. I mean, they make you safe in the sense of being able to do the clinical skills, but they don’t really teach you much about complaint handling. They may touch on it, but not really a lot. You know, things like your indemnity, as I said, the GDC, these things are touched upon, but there’s not sort of a heavy focus and they don’t really give you tools on how you deal with things and you ultimately feel like a failure a lot of the time, I think in dentistry, because by the very nature of the job people are attracted to, they attract people that are very high striving, right? You know, you’re going to get people that get straight A’s and A-levels, do extracurricular activities, do X, Y and Z, and then they get thrown into this situation in dental school where they actually feel a little bit average.

That definitely happened to me because it was suddenly like, Oh, I’m actually now striving to just pass rather than getting A’s when at school. That’s what I was doing. So you don’t feel so great about yourself? And I think because people in dentistry are the ones that put so much pressure on themselves, they take it a lot more seriously when they feel they’ve had these failures, as it were. And that’s why I think we’ve got to rewrite the narrative on failure as well, which I hope to discuss later on in the podcast. But this is an extremely complex issue and I don’t think it’s something that can be just made black and white.

But I think if you’re a cardiac surgeon. The stress of whether or not that patient is going to live is probably more than the stress of the RCT and whether whether that tooth and yet cardiac surgeons don’t have the suicide rate the dentists have.

Yeah, totally.

So there’s something in particular. Now, what I said about it’s a live, you know, awake patient that certainly has I think there’s another angle on it where what do you think of this? I mean, I haven’t researched this, but the idea that you see your work fail and much of the work that you do doesn’t benefit the patient. It’s soul destroying when that happens. Right. And and much of dentistry causes problems rather than solves them. And then you layer on top of that a patient who doesn’t want to be there, maybe layer on top of that some sort of toxic work situation. Exactly. And then I think when people go into suicidal ideation, usually it’s a perfect storm of something at home, you know, some sort of chemical imbalance. We’re going to talk to Dan today about about that, you know, about the nutritional side of it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But when I’ve looked into it, I can’t get a really good answer for why dentistry causes that.

I think it’s like the multitude of things that you were talking about. It can’t be one single thing. And I think actually I’m going to have to disagree with you in one way. You can’t necessarily pin one thing to mental health, and I think that’s a narrative we need to get rid of. You know, people might say, why did that person take their own life? They had a perfect life. They had kids. I mean, recently there was the death, if you remember, of that amazing dancer from the Ellen Show. And it was so sad because there was a TikTok video of him dancing with his family, looking so happy. And again, everyone be like he had a beautiful wife. He had amazing kids. He had a successful career. Why did he do it? And I think that’s the problem with what’s going on. We’re trying to make it a black and white issue. You have it all. Why would you do that? It’s selfish. And I think the narrative of it’s selfish. It’s extremely dangerous, you know, because we’ve got to provide resources to people. Because I saw this actually a analysis that said when people say it’s selfish for the person that’s going through the mental health, if it means that a mind is the burning building and jumping out of the building as the suicide, that’s the hell that they’re living in. They’re not seeing it in the way that we’re seeing it, you know? So actually, which is worse to stay in the burning building or to jump out of the burning building? Do you see.

What I mean? It’s not helpful at all to say it’s selfish. I mean, the last thing someone who’s committing suicide or thinking about committing suicide needs is judgement. Yeah, exactly. On top of all the problems that they have got. Exactly. I saw some research where the guy was saying that the only thing that they found helped with people who had had some sort of suicidal ideation was something as simple as the people who said no to treatment. Half of them they sent letters to every month saying, How’s it going? We’re thinking of you, this sort of thing. And half of them they didn’t send letters to and the ones they sent letters to didn’t kill themselves as much as the ones who did think someone cares. You know, the loneliness of the job. Yeah. Coupled with triggers, you know, the stresses that happen Now, you said you went through some mental health problems. Yeah. And did you did you sort of go into why? Why did you have these problems or did you just leave that to one side and say, how do I get out of this?

So I think if I think about it properly, I’ve always been prone to being vulnerable to mental health issues. So since I was a young kid, I remember always being really sensitive to certain things in the world. I know it sounds crazy insensitive kid. Yeah, and I was a very sensitive kid, but I was very sensitive and I was very aware of people’s emotions, people’s actions and people’s words. And I think that carried on throughout my life. And I think there was this general sense of being quite disappointed by human beings. I know that sounds strange, and I think it’s because I always was perhaps a bit naive to how the world was run and really believed everything was kind of rainbows and everyone had good intentions. And as I got older, people continuously disappointed me and that used to really affect me on a deeper level. And I felt that I felt a lot more throughout my 20s. I think it was the most difficult time of my life because I really believe you just have no idea who you are in your 20s. And that’s why I find it totally crazy that people think you should be making these life changing decisions in your 20s, you know? And I went to university and it was a really difficult environment for me. So, for example, I was the only Middle Eastern girl in an extremely different environment. You know, I grew up in North London, you know, pay as well because you grew up in the same kind of like childhood background.

And suddenly I was the only Middle Eastern girl, you know, with all these white boarding school girls, which is completely fine. But I was definitely seen as the outcast in a way. And I didn’t fit in from a. Aesthetic perspective where they were like, Oh my gosh, you’re so exotic looking and you know, things like that. And, you know, it was back in the day before Kim K and all that kind of look, and I remember feeling that I just didn’t fit in and comments were constantly being made about my image and I found that really difficult. And I tried so hard to be someone I wasn’t. Like I tried so hard to dampen the way that I look. I was so embarrassed of my eyebrows. I was so embarrassed of my hair, etcetera. And even, you know, living, you know, my parents, you know, tried to dampen down that they were Middle Eastern and so forth. And it’s crazy now because I love it. I’m like, this is me and this is part of my identity. But I think university was really tough as well because I just didn’t know how to deal with so much rejection. That was rejection within Dental school, but also social aspects of my life. I had friends, sure.

And you know, I was popular, but it just goes deeper than that. And sometimes I just found that my mind would run riot, you know, telling myself that I wasn’t good enough, telling myself that I needed to be someone else, you know, putting so much pressure. And I think that that voice in my head would just constantly be there. And in some ways, you know, you’ve got to flip it around because it helped me push further because I was like, okay, you know what? If this person doesn’t believe in me, I’m going to prove them wrong. So that was my drive. But I think one of the major things that helped me is that I sought out information from people that I believe had come over struggles and had made it in life. So I’m really excited that we’re going to have Daniel Murray Certa on the show. And the reason is because when I was young as 14, all my teachers told me that I was pretty much a failure because I was really good at drama and public speaking, but was not academic at all. I used to hang out with Daniel outside school and he was academic and he wanted to apply to Oxbridge and we used to study Othello together and Shakespeare and everything. And I remember being really inspired because for some reason I associated his academic success with respect in a way.

So I saw that he was getting the respect of teachers, and I’m not saying that’s the right way, but I noticed that. And I said, okay, great, maybe I can learn from Dan. So that pushed me and I’d study with him further and I’d do other things, and I really pushed myself academically even if it didn’t come naturally to me. So I always found that, like looking up to people and Daniel, when he comes on the show, he’ll talk to you about Difficult. The loss of his father was, for example, as well. And, you know, I can’t imagine how difficult that would be, especially as, you know, I’m so close to my dad. But being able to look up to people who have come so far in life and be able to come, those horrendous moments have really helped me. And then the more and more I looked up to these people, I realised there was a whole community of people that really have been through their own struggles but overcome them, you know, somehow. And I think that’s when I realised it’s actually okay. And most of us, most human beings have stuff going on in their head. Most not everyone is in like on that super, super complex level where they overthink things. And the more we help each other and the more we develop a community and the more we talk, the better it is.

You know what you said about being the outsider that, you know, I’m very interested in this idea of your your biggest strength being your biggest weakness. Yeah. And, you know, right now you’re an outsider as far as you know, you’re an outlier in dentistry.

Am I Payman. Can you. Can you? Yeah. Can you like.

No, you are. You are. And in the way I’m thinking about it is, you know, like you said, you feel you used to feel people like almost be empathic to the way people were feeling about you. And if it was a negative. Yeah, like you said, all these girls who were being negative. Yeah. But at the same time, I’ve seen you with your staff, I’ve seen you with patients. You’ve got you’ve got that in the positive way as well, right? You can you can make people feel fantastic. You can you can understand what, what someone’s saying to you without them actually saying it. And so, you know, our biggest strength ends up being our biggest weakness. And so what you just said here about sort of gaining strength from mental health challenges. Yeah. When you see other people overcoming them, one one sort of thing that worries me, though, is, you know, we’re calling this Mind movers, right? Do you think someone who’s actually suffering would bother to listen?

Oh, 100%, because I think it was when I was suffering and my weakest points that I sought out information and people that could really help me. So for me, it was looking outside dentistry somehow, which is why I want to have the conversation within dentistry. So if it meant looking on YouTube, you know, for videos or people that had talked about different things, of course there’s days that you’re completely paralysed and I think Dan can talk about that as well. But then you might have a moment where you’re like, I need help. I want help. Does that make sense? You know? And then you start to look for sources that might be going to therapy it. Might be, as I said, finding a community that understands you. It might be talking to other people. But what do you think?

What do you think the trigger itself is to go from to go from a position of I’m sad and I deserve to be sad or I am, you know, I’m sad about being sad or I’m going to try and find a solution to this. I’m going to try and seek out help. And there’s obviously, you know, some people never, never look for help or reject help. And then they’re the ones who descend into a in a darker place. Other people will look for help and try and, you know, try things out and, you know, in the same way. But I think.

A lot of people, the ones that don’t try things out again, I think it goes back to the whole thing of the stigma that people feel like I can’t ask for help because people are going to think I’m weak. I can’t have conversations because people are going to judge me. I have a family, What are they going to think? And that’s when they spiral. But the more conversations we’re having, like today, the more media outlets that are like, this person went through this, this person went through that, let’s be kind to one another. Let’s change the narrative. The more education we have, the more people I think will seek help rather than spiral out of control.

Let’s let’s take that on to dentistry in general. Sure. And, you know, failures. And it’s actually one of the reasons why we ask the question on on this podcast is that, you know, what were your biggest mistakes clinically and so forth. What do you what do you think is the reason why we’re so sort of find it so hard to talk about mistakes and and clinical failures?

Because I think it’s about vulnerability.

Why are we more vulnerable than the, I don’t know, the next profession? No.

But I think it’s in general, I think most people people don’t like being vulnerable. It was funny because I was having a conversation with one of my best friends yesterday and she’s having an experience with a guy. Right. And she said to me, this guy has a bad reputation. He’s known for not treating women very well. And she kind of gone there and she was like, I’m really scared. People are going to judge me. I said, What do you mean? She said, Well, I’m just worried people are going to speak about me, you know, like, Oh, poor her. She got messed around by him. And I said, And for me, I recognise that she doesn’t want to be vulnerable. Right. Because that’s ultimately it. Right? And this is talking about guys situations, not talking about a job situation. Human beings in general don’t like being vulnerable. What I’ve realised over the last few years is you very much know through my social media vulnerability is a superpower because vulnerability is actually what makes you relatable. It makes you relatable, it makes you real. So don’t be afraid to share those stories. And I think, yes, as dentists, because we’ve been high achievers, we’ve been used to be like, I got an A, I got a distinction. I got this. You see what I mean? It’s even harder for us to be like, Oh my gosh, I’m suffering. I failed this. I didn’t do this treatment that well, etcetera, you know? So I think that those are some of the reasons. But take vulnerability as a superpower. And if you change that, your whole mindset can change for sure.

For sure. I mean, I’ve thought about this in in business as well. And I know Dan does something called founders where it’s like a it’s like a safe space where, you know, founders can talk to each other about things that are going wrong. But often it’s hard. Even in business, it’s really hard to admit that something’s a challenge or that you’re really bad at something. You know how in every business some people are really good at some things and really bad at other things?

Totally. Like even with Parlour, as you know, like I’m so creative, but I’m absolutely awful, awful at like the computer stuff, like putting it down on a PowerPoint or like Excel. But I have a million ideas and you probably know as well, like working with me recently, it’s like I’m the ideas person. Like I can bring all the creative ideas, but it’s I hate that. Like I hate the sort of administrative side of things.

I’ve been I’ve been quite impressed with your execution side. You know, if if we say, let’s do something by that date, you tend to do it by that date, which I didn’t think you would be, that that sort of on it.

But I’m not good at but like.

I’m certainly not but.

I but I wouldn’t send like an agenda. Do you see what I mean? You know that kind of thing. You know, we’ve got Laura. That’s okay.

She’s listening. Yeah.

All right. Well, I’m really looking forward to this. Me, too. You know, and I think there’s going to be a lot of value in it. And we’ll try and also engage the people in dentistry who are involved in this space. You know, speak to Lauren and Mahrukh and see what see what answers they’ve got. They’ve obviously they’ve been asking these questions, the ones about specific to dentistry for quite a long time and super excited about all these people that you know and that you’re bringing on. So look forward to it. Amazing.

Thank you, Payman Thank you.

Grab a brew and find some diary white time for a free consultation with Prav, in this special solo show.

Incorporating elements of his new Consultation Masterclass training, Prav talks about the power of free consultations and the role of the treatment coordinator in the patient’s journey from assessment to acceptance.  

Prav touches on rapport building, power dynamics and emotional intelligence in case presentations and reveals pricing insight to ensure clinicians never sell themselves short.



In This Episode

04.47 – Discovery, filtering and expectations 

14.07 – To free or not to free?

17.02 – The TCOs, nurses and consultation ‘colour’

21.51 – Emotional intelligence

23.37 – Power dynamics and rapport

28.31 – Presenting options

33.48 – Pricing and fiscal drag

35.50 – Evidence and social proof

42.01 – Reflection

45.15 – Follow-up times

47.49 – The cost-of-living effect

Prav Solanki
Welcome to the Dental Leaders podcast. Today’s episode, it’s just me, Prav, and I’m just going to cover a few topics that are current amongst my clients, questions that have come up, especially with navigating the current climate that we’re in at the moment. So the topics I’m gonna cover, I’m gonna talk about the new patient consultation.

Prav Solanki
my thoughts around it, how it should be structured, whether it should be dentist or TCO, is there a right or wrong way of doing it? A lot of people have very strong views on, you know, whether dentists should give free consultations or it should be all TCO driven, don’t waste clinical time, blah, blah. My answer to that question, and pretty much every question anyone asks me, is it depends.

Prav Solanki
Every practice is different. Every clinic is different. You know, some have got TCOs, some have not. Some have got dentists sat there twiddling their thumbs. Would they rather be spending that time maybe exploring a sales opportunity with a patient or would they like to carry on twiddling their thumbs? Does that dentist have the ability to convert and strike rapport with the patient? What’s the difference between a free consultation and a free assessment?

Prav Solanki
And a lot of practitioners don’t know the difference between that. So some dentists really struggle with offering a patient a free consultation, which in my mind, sit down, have a chit chat. You’re not really going to do an oral examination. You may take some photographs, blow them up on the screen, take the patient through a, almost like a, what do they call it, co-diagnosis discovery where they essentially write their own treatment plan on the screen.

Prav Solanki
and talk to them about costs, rough indications, are you the right person for them? Do they feel close enough? Are they connected? Have you built enough rapport for this patient to trust you so that you can make a recommendation, sell them a treatment and book them in for the assessment? And then the old topic of leads, generating leads and lead generation, you might be running open days, Facebook campaigns, Google campaigns, and when you try and contact these patients, can you get through to them?

Prav Solanki
often and the narrative I’m hearing at the moment is you just can’t bloody get hold of patients and you know you follow them up you chase them you chase them you chase them you ring them you email them and you can’t get through to them. So these are the general topics I’m going to navigate my way around today in no particular order but these are the topics that are that are coming up at the moment with

Prav Solanki
conversations that I’m having with clients, or just potential clients or new customers who are looking to sort of either switch agencies or looking for a bit of coaching and consultancy advice. So I thought I’d just dish out this advice on the podcast so that you can all benefit from it. So let’s talk about consultations, okay? To free or not to free is the question. And…

Prav Solanki
If you ask me, should you do a free consultation? And, you know, often the rebuttal to that is, well, you know, does the dentist want to waste their clinical time? They could be drilling in that time. They could be doing something else. The TCO can deal with the tire kickers, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, right? What’s really important is that how that free consultation has landed in that dentist’s lap.

Prav Solanki
So before I answer that question, free consultations come in different flavors. So you could have an offer, an advert that says free consultation with a dentist, usually 75 pounds or something like that, right? And anyone who’s willing to put down, let’s say a 30 pound fully refundable deposit, you will happily give them a free consultation.

Prav Solanki
And that’s where the trouble starts. Because unless you’ve got a series of filters that means that patient has to earn that free consultation, you are going to get the equivalent of what a lot of people refer to as tire kickers. But for me, it’s just a mismatch, right? I think it’s, I’ve probably used the term myself, right? But I think it’s derogatory in the sense that, do you know what? These are just human beings who’ve got a problem.

Prav Solanki
a dental problem that needs fixing. And there’s a mismatch between what they believe, the price and the service, the cost is, and what it actually is. And so if you allow those patients to walk into your practice without knowing enough about the practice, without having a very clear indication of pricing, and you sit them in front of the dentist, you’re going to have a poor experience. Out of 20 consultations, you might have 15 patients.

Prav Solanki
who are either not clinically suitable or simply just miles off on the price point, right? And you’re not doing any favors to anyone. So what’s really important is what happens prior to booking that free consultation. So let’s say it is with the dentist and even if it’s with a TCO, I think this discovery process should be going on. And find out what the patient knows. What do they know about the treatment?

Prav Solanki
What do they know about Invisalign? Have they had any previous consultations? What was the outcome of those consultations? Why didn’t they go ahead with those consultations? What was it? Was it an information? Was it confusion? Was it price? If it was price, did they perceive it to be too expensive? If they thought it was too expensive, what does too expensive mean? And how does that lie in terms of your price point? Because if they thought two and a half grand was too expensive for Invisalign, for example,

Prav Solanki
then what is the point of that patient walking through your door? Okay, let’s be upfront about prices. Perhaps they’ve been given a treatment plan. Always say that when a patient comes into my practice for a free consultation, I want to be armed with as much information as I can. And more importantly, I want to understand what those patients’ expectations are. And I want to know, I want that patient to know exactly.

Prav Solanki
what they’re going to get in their consultation, whether it’s a free consultation or a paid assessment. So what we always say is before a patient books a free consultation, I want to find out what they know about the treatment. I want to find out what they know about the costs and the range of costs. And I want to inform them of the costs, the range of costs.

Prav Solanki
and payment options. I definitely want to find out what that patient’s funding sources are. So we will ask the patient, so have you thought about how you’re going to fund the treatment? Is this something that you’re just gonna pay for upfront? Have you got the funds to pay for this? Or would you need to apply for one of our affordable finance options or pay as you go choices? So you get an idea of, you know.

Prav Solanki
what it is that this patient is going to pay with, right? How they’re gonna fund this. And you have an open conversation with them about it. The patient will appreciate that, right? Because often, especially in today’s age, right? Interest rates have gone up, people’s mortgages have gone up by a phenomenal amount, cost of living’s going up, prices at the forefront. So we should be very upfront about this.

Prav Solanki
So I want to know what does the patient know about it? Have they had any previous consultations? What were they like? Why didn’t they go ahead? What do they understand about the possible costs and what are their funding sources? And then the final thing I want this patient to have a very clear understanding of is what is it that is different about us, right? What is it that’s our USP? Whether it’s the clinician’s experience, whether it’s about the patient journey, whether it’s about your all-inclusive.

Prav Solanki
whether it’s about remote check-ins and all the rest of it, right? Whether it’s about the volume of cases that you’ve done, the variety of cases you’ve done, or your communication journey or what’s included in the package, right? Make sure that patient understands what your, we call it, unique selling proposition or unique selling points are. And your team should be very, very clear in being able to articulate that.

Prav Solanki
I think you also need to bear in mind that you shouldn’t be disillusioned that this patient is not only gonna call your practice, they’re gonna call half a dozen. And when they do, you better make sure that the phone calls at your practice are memorable. Let me say to my team, whether the patient books or not, I want you to leave them with a lasting impression and I want you to make sure that the phone call is incredibly

Prav Solanki
memorable. So when they ring the four or five practices, they realize, ah, I’m going to book in with Kerry. She was excellent. She mentioned X, Y, and Z and so on and so forth. Right. So it’s really important is we talk about free consultations and not what’s the quality of that free consultation. How much filtering have you done before they have earned the right to book a free consultation in your practice. Right. And not only that,

Prav Solanki
All that information that you’ve taken from the patient about the funding sources and what their expectations are, whether they’ve had a consultation elsewhere, whether they can send you a treatment plan that had been sent by another clinic, that information should all make it through to the TCO or the dentist before their consultation. And they should take five, 10 minutes out before that consultation to consider that.

Prav Solanki
If you’re running consultations back to back to back to back, you’re not going to have that time to just take that data in that’s really, really important and then plan and prepare for that consultation, which is essentially that sales appointment. So now when you ask me the question, should dentists offer free consultations, the answer it depends, really depends on what’s happening upstream.

Prav Solanki
Are we taking a refundable deposit, even though it’s a free consultation? Are we putting these filters in place? And is that patient attending well-informed and well-educated about what our process is? In our practice, when a patient rings up and they want a free consultation, we actually offer two appointments. We say you can come in and have a free consultation. And during that appointment, you get 20, 25 minutes with the dentist.

Prav Solanki
You’ll have the opportunity to get all your questions answered. We’ll show you examples of cases that are similar to yours and we’ll give you approximate indication of costs. The alternative is you’re booking for a comprehensive assessment because even if you have the free consultation, you will need a comprehensive assessment and the cost of that assessment is £95. Now what some patients do,

Prav Solanki
is they decide to skip the queue and upgrade straight for the comprehensive assessment because they are more serious about getting treatment done. Which one would you like to do?

Prav Solanki
And what we invariably find is that approximately 40% of our patients who inquire about a free consultation actually say, well, what’s the point of the free consultation? I’ll just book in for the comprehensive assessment. I wanna get started sooner rather than later. And so, it depends on whether a dentist should offer a free consultation or not.

Prav Solanki
How good are they? What are their sales skills like? What are their report building skills like? What are their communication skills like? Can they convert at an exceptional rate? Do they have the time in their diary to be able to be offering these free consultations? Or are they so clinically busy that they can’t? I’ll go back to the case study of my brother, Kalish. He’s been in the business of dentistry.

Prav Solanki
for what he opened his practice back in 2005. He’s gone through that point where he’s grown it multiple practices and sold it for an unbelievable sum to a corporate. And still to present day, he offers free consultations. And I’ve yet to meet practitioners who can convert like him. And if I was to bottle up what…

Prav Solanki
Kailish does in his consultations and the secret source is just his people skills, his rapport building skills, his chameleon type communication skills and his level of emotional intelligence. And that is all something that you can train, right? That is all something you can get better at. But that’s the difference. Now, Kailish can consistently…

Prav Solanki
And I’m not putting these numbers out here to brag or anything, right? But just to sort of say, even as a dentist who picks up the drill and works, but also spends a significant amount of his time talking and selling and does all his own talking and selling, can comfortably in a decent month, gross in excess of £300,000.

Prav Solanki
And I’m well aware of a lot of other dentists and clients who operate at a similar level. They sell all their own work, but they’re exceptional sales individuals. They follow a specific formula, structure and strategy, and it works incredibly well. There are some dentists, they can go on every sales training course on the planet. They can practice, practice and practice, and they will never be that good. And in that particular case, perhaps.

Prav Solanki
a TCO may be the right person for them to be that filter.

Prav Solanki
The other question, I’m gonna come back to consultation structure in a minute, and I think this conversation is gonna just wax and wane as my thoughts just do that, because it’s the way my brain works. But let’s think about what the role of a TCO is. Because what I described earlier, the data collection, the finding out what the patient’s funding sources are, what they know about it.

Prav Solanki
And obviously on the call, you’re going to try and connect emotionally with the patient, understand their why, understand the why now, understand what their pain points are and what their smile is holding them back from doing and all that, razzmatazz, right? All of that is a TCO’s role, right? Or you could call it a TCO’s role or you could call it an emotionally intelligent receptionist. And I find today

Prav Solanki
that the role of TCO or the title of TCO gets bandied about a lot and it means different things and different practices. Later on this year, I think around September time, I am running a sales mastery course for TCOs. And one of the issues that I really want to address is what is a TCO in your practice? What is their role?

Prav Solanki
and how that role can be completely different in every practice, yet be completely correct for that practice. And I guess I’m fed up of hearing that a TCO should take photographs, a TCO should scan, a TCO should do this, a TCO should follow the treatment plan. You create your own patient journey. You map out what your patient journey needs to look like, the whole communication journey, and you decide where the TCO slots in.

Prav Solanki
to deliver that perfect journey. So in some of my practices, our TCOs are actually dental nurses, but they’re dental nurses with TCO superpowers, that’s all. We don’t call them TCOs. And the way the consultation works is the patient comes in for a free consultation. The nurse is sat in on that free consultation. The nurse contributes to that conversation with the dentist.

Prav Solanki
The nurse then takes that patient out of the dental room into a separate room, sits down in that room, and asks the patient the following question. So do you know all that stuff that dentist went over with you just now? Any of it you didn’t understand? Any of it didn’t make sense? You got any questions for me? And sometimes the patients really open up. And why is that? It’s because there’s a natural power dynamic between

Prav Solanki
the dentist and the patient and the power dynamic is completely reduced between the nurse and the patient. And so some patients may feel more comfortable speaking to the nurse, opening up about pricing and asking more probing questions. Following that, the nurse stroke super TCO will go through pricing. They’ll show them examples of testimonials, play some videos.

Prav Solanki
make them read some Google reviews, and just add a little bit of color to that consultation, and eventually close the deal. So that’s what our TCOs do. They’re essentially dental nurses. Some TCOs are just on the front line. They’re super receptionists. They take all the details I’ve described above. They make sure that it’s all passed to the dentist. Then the dentist takes over. They hand the baton over to the dentist.

Prav Solanki
And then once the consultation’s done, that TCO may take over the communication journey and take the patient all the way through to completion of treatment. Some TCOs start from the phone call, frontline, get the patient in, meet with the patient, either in person or over Zoom. In person, they may scan the patient, they may take some photographs, they may give some indication of costs before they sell them a comprehensive assessment.

Prav Solanki
What’s right, what’s wrong? What’s the perfect way to do it and what’s the right way to do it? There is no right or wrong way to do it. From working with lots of practices over the last 15 years, many of them super successful. I can tell you one thing, they’ve all got a completely different approach, but it is the right approach for them. So going back to the consultation, right? So we’ve spoken about…

Prav Solanki
TCOs and their role and their role can be wide and varied. What’s really important, you know, if you want to ask me, you know, what are the key qualities of a TCO? I will tell you, probably the most important quality for me is a high level of emotional intelligence or what we may refer to as people skills or being able to connect with different people from.

Prav Solanki
different demographics at their level and find common ground really, really quickly. Obviously listening skills, well presented, great telephone manner, be able to use technology such as CRM systems to manage the flow of patients, be able to operate and manage things like Zoom and video platforms and all that sort of stuff.

Prav Solanki
And so I’d say that’s really, really important in terms of skill sets for TCOs. But let’s move on to the consultation process, right? And what that is, what it could be, but not necessarily what it should be. Because having sat in on over, I would say over a hundred dentist patient consultations as the observer.

Prav Solanki
I’ve seen lots of different styles, I’ve seen lots of different approaches, and I’ve seen different styles and approaches be equally successful. But there’s definitely some commonalities in the ones that have really, really high treatment uptake.

Prav Solanki
So let’s think about the consultation, okay? So you’re armed with all the information, right? So that’s really important. As the dentist, do you go out to reception or your waiting area and collect the patient? Or do you allow the patient to be escorted by your nurse or walk into door number two? Let me tell you, if you’ve got a nervous patient,

Prav Solanki
Even if you’ve not got a nervous patient, right? There’s a level of hierarchy that sits between you and the patient. Okay. Referred to as the power dynamic. Now there are ways in which you can make that patient feel more comfortable and that’s by reducing the power dynamic, right? So you could go and collect the patient. You could use your first name rather than Dr. Salanke when introducing yourself to the patient. Hi.

Prav Solanki
Dr. Prav Selanki here, lovely to meet you. Follow me into surgery one. Or it could be, hey, it’s Prav, lovely to meet you. Been looking forward to meeting you. I know you’re really nervous, but I promise you got nothing to worry about. Come with me and step into my room and we’ll have a little chat. So you get into the room, where’s your eye level? Is your eye level above the patient? Is it below the patient? Are you knee to knee, eye to eye? Or are you…

Prav Solanki
sitting further up and is the patient lying down? Have you swung around to the side and tried to talk to the patient from the side or even worse, behind them? Or are you looking the patient straight in the eye with a friendly smile? All of these things impact the power dynamic between you and the patient. What’s the interaction like between you and your nurse? Is it friendly? Is it informal?

Prav Solanki
Is the nurse contributing in that conversation? Or is it quite formal and rigid? You’ll know that, but the less formal it is, the more inviting that relationship between you is the more comfortable that patient will be, and the lower the power dynamic will be, okay? But the first part of your consultation, the first part of that process, is really about trying to…

Prav Solanki
Connect, trying to connect with that patient on a completely non-dental level, on a human level, right? So, you know, every sales training course will tell you this. What you want to do is you want to try and find some common ground. You want to ask the patient, how did you get here? Did you get here all right? Did you drive? Did you walk? Where did you come from? Are you off work today? Are you working at the moment? You got any kids?

Prav Solanki
going on holiday, whatever it is, just try and find something in common with the patient so that you can share similar experiences. Maybe talk about their job, tell them how interesting it is, perhaps your son, daughter, friend, family member’s got a similar job, they find it challenging. But try and strike some rapport where that patient essentially connects with you and people buy from people like them.

Prav Solanki
people buy from people that they like. So you’ve got to try and make those two things happen before you go in with your sales pitch. Once you’ve nailed that, that’s the point to try and figure out what that patient’s problem is, right? Whether you ask them a bunch of questions that revolve around you finding out the why now. Yeah, what is it that happened? People don’t wake up in the morning and think, holy crap, I’ve got crooked teeth today. Where did they come from?

Prav Solanki
There’s usually a moment, an event or a time or a point where that particular patient woke up and thought I’m gonna do something about it today. What’s triggered that? Find out. What does that patient struggle with? What is it that their smile holds them back from? Maybe try and paint some scenarios for that patient, such as if I was to get a camera out, Prav, and you were at a party, what would you do?

Prav Solanki
Some patients would run to the back. Some patients would smile with closed lips. Some patients would just do a run a full stop and make up an excuse, go to the toilet. Let those patients open up about those situations. Maybe it’s a functional issue and because of failing teeth and gum disease, they can’t eat the foods they want to eat. So give them some scenarios, ask them to talk to you and share with you what sort of foods they’d love to eat if things were better, yeah.

Prav Solanki
just understand the what’s and the why’s. But then when it comes to, and look, I’m not gonna go through the entire consultation masterclass process here, but just really see this as a bit of a discussion and just some thoughts that have been flying around in my head recently. And so if we get to the point where, okay, patients shared information with you, they’ve opened up with you, you understand the what’s, the why’s, the where’s, and you’ve built some rapport.

Prav Solanki
there will come a point in the consultation where you need to present options to the patient. And I think this is on observing more than 100 consultations, right? On observing those, what I will tell you is this is where a lot of dentists will mess it up. They’ll present too many options. They’ll say, well, this crown, you can have it in this material, that material, and that material, and this, and this, it costs this, but if you didn’t go for a crown and you went for a bridge, or if you did this, you went for a partial denture, and so on and so forth.

Prav Solanki
And this is this option, this is that option. You get to the end of it. I understand dentistry. I understand the type of dental work that gets done. I’m not a dentist, but let me tell you, if I’m getting bamboozled, your patient’s getting bamboozled. There’s absolutely no two ways about it. When I sit there and break it down, the one thing that’s really important when you’re presenting options and a plan is the art of concise communication.

Prav Solanki
You need to be really clear about the options. And I advise never present more than three. Even if your treatment plans offers more than three, tell them, look, these are my top three recommendations for you and option one is this, and this is the investment. Option two is this, and this is the investment. And option three is this, and this is the investment. How does that sound to you?

Prav Solanki
Okay, try and get some feedback on the options and the costs and what their preferences are. You know, you may have to give a load of other options, but incorporate them in your treatment plan. You don’t have to talk about them all.

Prav Solanki
You know, there was a famous experiment, it was called the famous jam experiment by I think it was Lenger and Leper. I’ve written about this on my personal blog. So if you go to and look at the personal blog and it’s about analysis paralysis, and it’s how too much choice can really discourage us from making a buying decision.

Prav Solanki
I think that’s the easiest way to describe that analysis paralysis situation. And it’s a phenomenon called choice overload. If you present your patients with too many options, research is pretty clear. It’ll put them off buying. And so if I go back to the JAM experiment, what these researchers did is in a particular shopping mall center, you name whatever, day one.

Prav Solanki
They put out a whole display of jams, 24 different flavors and varieties. And the following day, they only put out six different flavors and varieties. What was really interesting is loads and loads and loads of choice attracted more people. Oh, look at all them different jam flavors. So more shoppers actually went to sample and taste the jam.

Prav Solanki
but only 3% of people who tasted bought. Compare that to when we had six choices, 30% of shoppers bought. So when the choice is reduced, certainly in that particular experiment, they had a 10 times increase in sales. Moral of the story, try and reduce your choices. If it’s just one or two choices, present one or two choices.

Prav Solanki
Don’t sit there and rattle through all of them because you will get paralysis. Another thing that I’ve seen in a lot of consultations that I think is incredibly valuable is when you take just three smile photographs of the patient, get them to give you your biggest cheesy smile, take a shot from the front, a shot from the left and a shot from the right.

Prav Solanki
use some kind of wireless tech to beam it up via Apple TV to a massive screen in front of them and let them look at that screen. When they see their teeth on a huge screen, they’ll tell you what they need to do, right? And I’ve seen it done really, really slickly where a dentist has taken a picture and literally within seconds, it’s on the screen, right? Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, don’t put whatever, right? And…

Prav Solanki
You know, all you’ve got to say to the patient is this, looking at that picture of your teeth there, how does that make you feel? And what would you like to change? And that is your invitation to just zip it and listen to the patient and hear what they’ve got to say. Tooth by tooth, they’ll write their own treatment plan for you and it works really well. Going back to price and I know this conversation is waxing and waning between different elements of the consultation, but let’s go to money.

Prav Solanki
A lot of practitioners, I have seen this, when they think about quoting a price, they apply some taxes to the price somewhere in their head. We call this concept fiscal drag, right? So in their head, they’re gonna charge a thousand pound for that crown, but they apply a 300 pound tax before it works its way from the brain right through to their mouth.

Prav Solanki
and they say that crown’s gonna be 700 pound. And it’s this concept of, the main issue there really is lack of confidence and lack of self-worth and valuing your own work, right? It is a confidence issue, but there’s certain things you can do. You can have a price list there and it’s as bold as day there. This is what it is, right? So you’re confident talking about the prices. So that’s one element, fiscal drag, just don’t do it.

Prav Solanki
The next thing is, if you do offer finance, if you do offer flexible payment plans, every time you mention price, do bring that up. Make sure you have a little cheat sheet in front of you that says, okay, this is going to cost 4,000 pounds and on our flexible monthly payment plan, that’s going to cost you, I don’t know, 44 pounds a month for X number of months. And you know that off the top of your head. You’re not having to get a calculator out or work it out on a screen. You just know it.

Prav Solanki
becomes the habit that you consistently drill for these consultations. So, you know, that would be what I would consider to be my general advice when it comes to the core elements of what makes a really good consultation versus one that’s just average.

Prav Solanki
There’s one other thing I think that’s really important during a consultation, and that is evidence. Patients make decisions and make buying choices based on evidence, right? And so I think what’s really important is that you show patients evidence of what you can deliver. This may be in the form of

Prav Solanki
before and after images. But if you’re gonna show a patient a before and after image, do pull a little bit more effort in and show them a case that’s very, very similar to their central diastema. Here’s four central diastema cases. You know, sticking out whatever tooth, show them a sticking out whatever tooth case, yeah.

Prav Solanki
loose denture, whatever it is, you know, show them something similar to what you’ve done. So you can say to them, I have done this before and I’ve done this before plenty of times. All these before and afters you take and put them into some kind of a PowerPoint or keynote presentation and be able to beam that from an iPad straight to your screen and take them through cases. If you’ve got video testimonials, don’t let them rot on your website. Bring them into your surgery.

Prav Solanki
and let the patient watch a video testimonial of a patient who’s been in the same position as they are right now, had the same objections and dealt with those objections. We find that that’s an amazing conversion tool. And one last thing that we use in consultations is reviews. So Google reviews, Facebook reviews, we screenshot them.

Prav Solanki
put them into a presentation and we say, oh, by the way, Linda here was in the same position as you, absolutely terrified of the dentist and look at what she had to say about us. You know, it was amazing. And so those are what I’d consider to be sort of the key elements of a consultation. But there’s one thing I’ll tell you now that a lot of…

Prav Solanki
Practitioners won’t do the keep going through the motions. They do consultation after consultation after consultation. They don’t get any better. But you’ll get better if you stop to think about it. And one piece of advice I can give any clinician really is after you have, after you’ve delivered that consultation and the patient’s walked out of the room, sit and reflect. Think about what’s

Prav Solanki
could have gone better. What you could have said, what tools you could have used that you didn’t use, or forgot to get those type of dots out of the cupboard to show them the difference between a fixed ceramic brace and Invisalign or something like that, right? And just jot down in a pad, piece of paper, whatever it is, three things that could have gone better. If you get into that habit of doing that, you will naturally get better.

Prav Solanki
You’ll keep drilling that process. You’ll find you keep writing the same thing down That leads me back to the beginning of the story which is

Prav Solanki
lead generation and converting patients and getting hold of patients. Now, what I’m hearing a lot, we’re generating loads of inquiries, but we just can’t get hold of the patients. We call them, we text them, we ring them, we call them, we text them and ring them. We can’t get hold of them, we email them. How many times do you try? Twice, three times. What times a day do you try? Or always in the morning? And

Prav Solanki
What I have seen in the landscape is the landscape has changed. Before a patient would just pick up the phone or you’d pick up the phone and speak to them. You’d sell, you’d essentially sell them a consultation over the phone, whether it was a free one or a paid one, and they either book in or they don’t. What we’re hearing and seeing a lot of now is patients are now attending multiple consultations before deciding where to go.

Prav Solanki
Some of them are looking for the cheapest deal. Some of them are looking for the best deal, which may not necessarily be the cheapest deal, right? But it’s the right deal for them. And patients are generally a lot harder to get hold of. Let’s layer this on a background of higher cost of living, mortgages going up 500 to a thousand pound a month, heating bills going up, okay.

Prav Solanki
There’s not as much money sloshing around as there was when we were all paid to sit at home and do nothing and get money every month and then not have anywhere to go to spend it and then when they let us out on the streets

Prav Solanki
decided to treat ourselves and spend it on dentistry. And we had the post-COVID dental explosion, where we could drop our marketing budgets and patients were falling over after themselves to try and get into a practice and get the work done. Landscape is completely different from that now. So yeah, patients inquire. They don’t pick up the phone. They don’t respond. And then we have the conversation

Prav Solanki
Well, these inquiries are a waste of time. What you’ve really got to do is you’ve got to try and put yourself in that patient’s shoes and think, why on earth would a patient hand over their name, their phone number, their email address, and tell you their story if they weren’t even remotely interested in attending a consultation, having a conversation or exploring dental treatment?

Prav Solanki
Why on earth would they do it? I mean, is it some kind of a crazy fad or something, or are they actually interested? What we found when looking at the data within our Lead Flow CRM system is this. The time between those patients sending the inquiry and getting communication from you, the smaller that time, the more likely you are to succeed.

Prav Solanki
So are those patients interested in talking with us? I believe so. And do you know when they’re more likely to speak to us than any other time? The exact moment they send that inquiry. So if we’ve got our team literally sat there, get an alert, ping, inquiry’s gone through, and they pick up the phone there and then, their hit rate on getting through to that patient goes through the roof.

Prav Solanki
Leave it till the following morning and the following afternoon you’re playing cat and mouse, you’re playing chase. You’re trying to get hold of that patient and maybe you try and ring that patient from a landline they don’t recognise on their mobile so they think, well I’m picking that up. Maybe you try and ring them from a practice mobile and don’t recognise that and they say, I ain’t picking that up.

Prav Solanki
Maybe you try and pick them when they’re on the, call them when they’re on the school run. They’re busy, missed call, another call comes through. Ain’t answering that. So what we need to do is we need to try and increase the probability of getting hold of these patients. And the number one way in which you can do that is strike while the iron’s hot. As soon as that inquiry lands, you’re on the phone, you get through to the patient, you book them in. Failing that, your attempts should be as follows. Try them in the morning.

Prav Solanki
Try them at lunchtime. Try them after work and try them on a Saturday morning. Certainly in my clinic, we book 50% of our patients in on a Saturday morning. Not into the diary on a Saturday morning, but that’s when we have the conversations with them on a Saturday morning or after work. If your team, your infrastructure doesn’t allow you to call patients during these times, you’re missing a huge trick.

Prav Solanki
So, you know, and have some kind of robust system to automatically follow up with patients, to send them the odd text message here and there, after they’ve inquired, if they’ve not sort of proceeded to a consultation, send some automated emails to these patients, sharing things like case studies, video testimonials, screenshots of your Google reviews, for example, those sort of things. So,

Prav Solanki
Yes, is the market a tougher place today? 100%. We have just come out of what was the COVID explosion. Are patients finding it more and more difficult to get accepted for finance? 100%. We’re seeing a lot more declines at the moment. So then we’ve got to adapt, right? And I think the practices that are gonna survive are those who are capable of adapting.

Prav Solanki
to the environment, right? So what have we done to adapt? We have done for a while, but offering our own in-house finance for longer treatment plans. Thinking about the fact that even for bigger treatment plans, why don’t we just take a bit of a risk and offer our own finance plans and take a bigger deposit? Because if the naught percent subsidy is 10%, then if one in 10 patients default, I mean completely default and don’t pay anything.

Prav Solanki
you’re still in the same position. But if you’re taking a deposit, you’re way ahead of that. And you’ll find that your default rate is much, much lower than that. And by the time they finish treatment, maybe they’ve done four or five appointments plus the big deposit and there’s not a lot left. You’d have lost more with a finance company. So just some food for thought there really in sort of navigating what is the current situation that I see a lot at the moment, which is first of all, quality of inquiries.

Prav Solanki
People call them tire kickers or whatever and we’ve got to find a way to filter them and we’ve spoke about that. And I think that’s all I’ve got to rant on about today. There’s probably a lot more I could talk about, but I think I’ve said enough. That leads me to introduce the next series of episodes of Dental Leaders. So a few months ago, Payman Langroody and Rona Eskandar

Prav Solanki
connected on a new series of podcast episodes, which are called, which is called Mind Movers. And they’ve got some amazing guests that they’ve interviewed who have been recorded all in and around mental health and optimization of that. And there’s some really, really exciting interviews coming up. These are gonna be launched every Friday.

Prav Solanki
So it won’t be midweek like the usual dental leaders episode, you’ll still be getting that. But every Friday for a few weeks the Mind Movers episode is going to be live and you’ll get to hear from guests who are essentially outside the dentistry and how they overcame their…

Prav Solanki
mental health challenges or what advice they’ve got for optimizing them. So, so just a slight twist to the Dental Leaders program. But I’m sure you’ll all enjoy it.