Working Your Way To the Top and Creating Your Own Luck with Anil Shrestha
In this episode, we dimmed the studio lights to bask in the glow of a true dentistry dynamo.
In 2011, Anil Shrestha was invited to take over the renowned Dr. Micheal Wise’s Lister House Practice.
It wasn’t all plain-sailing. Anil talks us through the highs and lows, and tells us about the positive mindset that has helped him to get where he is today.
If you’ve ever wondered how to go from being a victim of circumstance to taking control of your own destiny, you need to hear this.
The most successful people in practice are the ones that take responsibility. The most successful associates are the ones that treat the practice as if it was their own, as if they actually owned it. That doesn’t mean usurping whoever’s in charge, but actually taking ownership. – Anil Shrestha
In this episode:
9:23 – Achieving while finding time for others
13:29 – Anil’s biggest mistake in dentistry
38:25 – Solid referral practices
44:21 – Positive mindsets
53:30 – The value of empathy
1:03:00 – The future of women in dentistry
Connect with Anil Shrestha:
Connect with Prav and Payman:
Prav Solanki: Hey guys, welcome to the show and thank you for tuning into the Dental Leaders podcast. Today’s interview is with Anil Shrestha, another super cool guy, always immaculately presented and dressed but, so many stories from being a dentist to some very high profile individuals being at the top of his game and one amazing story about being invited to purchase his existing practise from the famous Mike Wise.
Payman L.: Yeah, so a story that goes from house officer to clinical director of a giant corporate to filling some of the biggest shoes possible in dentistry and again, a super cool dude as well with it.
Prav Solanki: And also a ninja.
Payman L.: Yeah, also martial artist and I think we asked him about that too.
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Payman L.: Excellent.
Prav Solanki: All round. Super Cool Guy.
Payman L.: Enjoy it guys.
Prav Solanki: Enjoy.
Anil Shrestha: And then I became a Geordie. I remember my grandmother being aghast at the fact that I could speak English so well, or speak Nepalese with the English accent. And then she was aghast at the fact that I could actually speak Nepalese with the Geordie accent as well.
Speaker 4: 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.
Prav Solanki: Ladies and gentlemen, today we have Anil Shrestha with us today. Anil, thank you so much for joining us today-
Anil Shrestha: Thank you.
Prav Solanki: … really appreciate that you’ve taken the time out of your busy schedule to spend some time telling us about your story.
Anil Shrestha: Thank you. I’m very flattered to be here.
Prav Solanki: Anil, I’d just like to go back in time and just tell us about your childhood, how you was brought up and what your story was before you came to the UK.
Anil Shrestha: Well, I came to the UK when I was about four just before I reached my fifth birthday and raised by my grandmother back in Nepal, had a relatively privileged existence. My father was away from us studying in the states. He was a doctor, he was at Johns Hopkins and then he came over to the UK on a sabbatical. They asked him to stay. My mother came over, my brother and I were raised by our grandparents back at home. I would have had a completely different upbringing and childhood if I had stayed in Nepal I have to say, and I don’t think I would have been in dentistry.
Anil Shrestha: I think it was, opportunity, especially with the family background to gone into a business and tourism, et cetera. But my mother persuaded my grandmother that we should come over. She had slightly different ideas and was slightly concerned because she didn’t really like Britain as she thought, it was a backward nation, which, I have to say now, I regard myself as a British and I love this place, but, I could understand much later on what she meant.
Payman L.: The first day you got to Britain.
Anil Shrestha: Yes, I literally arrived. It took me two days to fly over. My grandmother, for the first time I saw her cry. She had a very regal presence about her and everyone was afraid of her. She literally ran the household and all our servants and my uncles, they dropped me off at the airport. I was taken by an air hostess and it took me two days to fly over. I couldn’t speak English. I remember being on the plane, being uncomfortable. I remember stopping over somewhere in Europe and then flying over again. And then I arrived at Heathrow airport and there were a group of four men and I was pointed towards them and I realised that one of them was my father. That was the first time I met him that I can remember. And then I came back to be raised in [inaudible] Suburbia.
Prav Solanki: And you are how old when you first met your father Anil?
Anil Shrestha: Four maybe, I wasn’t five.
Prav Solanki: Wow.
Anil Shrestha: And then I went to school, I couldn’t speak English. I remember Mrs. White, my first foreign teacher wouldn’t let go of my mom’s hand back and she was upset. Anyway, I finally ended up there and they had concerns about me because I wasn’t speaking to anyone, et cetera. Now, six months later, express concern again. And I was brought in front of the headmistress with my mum and my dad and they were complaining that I was talking too much. And, I’ve just always been very gregarious and I’ve loved company and I got on very well, so I just adapted, I suppose. Had an interesting childhood.
Payman L.: How old were you, when you went to Newcastle then?
Anil Shrestha: I started Newcastle in 87, so I’d finished my first degree in Chemistry and Physiology in Sheffield and I didn’t know what I wanted to do to be quite honest.
Payman L.: Oh so you didn’t live in Newcastle? You weren’t brought up in Newcastle?
Anil Shrestha: I was brought up in Newcastle, I went to school there, I went to-
Payman L.: So how old were you when you went from [crosstalk]
Anil Shrestha: I think, 12 or 13.
Payman L.: 12 or 13.
Anil Shrestha: Yeah. And then I became a Geordie. I remember my grandmother being aghast at the fact that I could speak English so well or speak Nepalese with an English accent, and then she was aghast at the fact that I could actually speak Nepalese with Geordie accent as well. And it just came out, I love the northeast but, I live in London now and my regret always is that I couldn’t practise what I do in London. Sorry, what I practise in London up in the northeast anymore.
Payman L.: I love Newcastle.
Anil Shrestha: Yeah, I know you do.
Payman L.: I loved it a lot. I love how the people are so interesting there and the geography is interesting too.
Anil Shrestha: Oh it’s a lovely place.
Payman L.: Around the-
Anil Shrestha: I love just north of Newcastle in Northumberland. I love just south in the North Yorkshire as well, It’s just an amazing place, and I love the sea. I miss that.
Prav Solanki: Does your Geordie accent ever come back?
Anil Shrestha: Yeah, If I’ve had a drink, definitely [crosstalk]
Prav Solanki: I’m the one who stressed Geordie, this is going to be on me.
Anil Shrestha: Oh you should see when I meet all my Geordie friends, It’s amazing. You couldn’t tell the difference honestly. It’s fun. But London is my home now.
Payman L.: Do you remember the first time you decided you were going to look at studying dentistry? Do you remember that?
Anil Shrestha: Yeah, no, I was actually in Sheffield at the time and did well, I did Chemistry and Physiology just do an honours degree. There were only two of us on the programme and I realised that as much as I loved Chemistry and Physiology, I had all the grades to get into everything, but I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. So, then met a whole load of dental students and dentists over that three years and I thought, “You know what, this is actually really interesting.” So I went over to the Charles Clifford dental school.
Anil Shrestha: I was always very good with my hands, loved artwork. I loved making models, carving wax. I used to like painting, et cetera. All came from my mother, she was an artist and musician and everything and academic study, I just loved reading. So I applied to do dentistry and I got four offers and one of them was in Newcastle. So I decided to take the one in new castle, went back up there and the five years, like for all of us, it’s not easy. You think dentistry is easy. It’s not, it’s extremely arduous. And the course only.
Payman L.: But you know mature students tend to handle it much better. I think I was still such a child when I went into dental school, and I remember a couple of mature students in our year, definitely got the more out of it than I did, because I was just playing out my childhood.
Anil Shrestha: Absolutely. But in reality, the difficulty of the programme is actually the same for whether you’re relatively mature or not because-
Payman L.: It’s a tough course.
Anil Shrestha: … If you’ve been on the programme, then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. And obviously most of the audience listening to this are probably dentists anyway. But mature students are the ones who’ve already decided what they want to do and they’re more probably focused on completing the programme and they know pretty much where they want to go to and aspire to even though, at the end of the five years you have so many opportunities, especially now.
Anil Shrestha: By the time we graduated over 20, 25 years ago. So, the options there were relatively limited. Specialist Dentistry hadn’t really developed, there was only Maxillofacial Surgery or Orthodontics or Hospital Service and most people went into general practise, and quite literally, we were all thrown out into general practise before VT. We didn’t know how to set up businesses, we didn’t know anything about what we need to know about now. Marketing, social media, et cetera, the things that you’re experts at. And we just learned as we went along.
Payman L.: So what was your first job?
Anil Shrestha: A house officer. So I did my house officer jobs in Newcastle. I had a real skill with my hands, so Conservative Dentistry just came very naturally to me. I won medals and things, but equally, it was a difficult academic programme for me and I failed exams as well. But it wasn’t till I actually qualified paying that suddenly light was like 1, 000 light bulbs came on at once and everything made sense and that’s what makes that passion really ignite for me.
Anil Shrestha: Seeing dentists who don’t quite get it yet and they don’t realise how to integrate everything from anatomy, to pathology, to operative dentistry, to understanding how [inaudible] work, to understanding how displays years occur, what try radiant nuclear actually mean, how they develop. These are things that you just read about in pathology books, but nothing makes sense until you’re actually in practise.
Prav Solanki: And do you think there was a moment in time, like a defining moment when that all just came together? I even in my own life talked about my own education, I draw the analogy to learning how to drive. At some point you’re putting the clutch down-
Anil Shrestha: And then it becomes so instinctive.
Prav Solanki: … then it just all falls into place and it happens. Was there a time during your career where you thought, well it’s all come together now, It all makes sense.
Anil Shrestha: Yeah, when I was pushed away from Conservative Dentistry and the dean said, because I always wanted to train to be a Restorative Consultant or go into academia, and he said you need to do maxillofacial surgery now. And I thought, I really just want to do conservative dentistry and cut teeth beautifully and make crowns bridges. I used to do all my own gold work and everything, it was amazing. I was doing gold work and casting, I’d cast all my ex-wife’s in laser non lays by third BDS when everyone was still finishing, learning how to do MOD amalgams and things.
Anil Shrestha: Because when you had an opportunity and you had people like professor Ian Bonds who would see that you wanted to see how cohesive gold work, when everyone else was playing with amalgam and you’re in the back of the cupboards there, getting out of the cohesive gold Kit, and he’d said, “Do you know what that is?” and I said, “No, but I’d really like to learn.” And then you tell them a bit about the history of lost wax technique, et cetera. He can see. And that’s really incumbent upon people like us to see that spark in somebody and then to give the opportunity for them to learn.
Anil Shrestha: And as I said to you earlier, people can open doors for you, but you’ve got to want to really go in or people can have a door that is there, and you can burst the door open or you can find another door, but you’ll get to where you want to be. And so I was doing all of these things and I thought that’s all I wanted to do, but I didn’t realise, going back to your original question, what dentistry really meant to to start my maxillofacial jobs. And then you started to see accident emergency traumas coming in, you were suturing things, you were seeing pathologies, you were doing radical neck dissections and everything started coming back.
Anil Shrestha: And then I started reading, and I started reading so prolifically. Things just flowed literally like learning how to ride a motorbike for the first time and then instinctively letting go the clutch and accelerating, pulling wheelies, getting your knee down. When you get to that level, you think, wow, even now I’m starting to learn. So at that time I decided I was going to start testing myself. So there were lots of different exams and I’d always been encouraged by some very good general practitioner tutors to sit the MTDS exam, which you may recall was regarded as the gold standard in general practise.
Anil Shrestha: My perception of it is that it’s, I’m a member, is that it’s an elitist organisation of self-selecting, exceptionally good dentists that understand dentistry really well. Now I see this in the younger generation. I see it in people who are teaching fantastic courses. Now I see it in people who are working in practise and producing the most amazing work from just simple fillings to doing block burn graphs, et cetera.
Anil Shrestha: You see this, and this is a way of testing to a level of knowledge and for this group to come together. And so I sat that exam, passed it first time, did very well, and at the same time I decided to do the MFDS. I decided to do GDP, et cetera, and I thought, well, why not sit them all at the same time because they can only ask you certain things. And the reality is, you know you’re going to be sitting in, I’m an examiner now for different royal college exams. You know that they can only ask you certain things.
Anil Shrestha: So when you’ve learned Sjogren’s syndrome, all the signs and symptoms and the pathology behind it. Then not unusually, you’ll find it asked in three exams in the same year or something in different exams and things. So it’s simple. And I just became very adept at doing this. But the reason I sat all these exams is because I wanted to test my understanding. It wasn’t to prove to anything, anyone anything about me other than I actually understood this.
Prav Solanki: Let me ask you a question, It might be a difficult one for you. You’re obviously an incredibly successful dentist as well as an academic.
Anil Shrestha: Well that’s what your perception is, yes thank you.
Prav Solanki: You love learning, you have a passion for learning.
Anil Shrestha: Absolutely. Definitely.
Prav Solanki: And, there’s a quote by a guy called James Dyson who is the guy who invented the Dyson hoovers and then the hand dryers and so on and so forth.
Anil Shrestha: Oh, I know.
Payman L.: Of course you do.
Prav Solanki: And his biggest thing is that we can all learn from failure. What’s the biggest mistake that you’ve made in dentistry so far?
Payman L.: The other thing is that he’s talking clinically.
Prav Solanki: It could be.
Payman L.: Could you be willing to discuss that?
Anil Shrestha: Probably not having started it earlier. But then again the course of our lives is such that you take different steps that it leads you to where you’re eventually going to end up. And my belief is that if you have a particular passion and you manage to find it, then you should do everything to excel in it, and like cream, you’ll always rise to the top. Opportunities will open for you.
Anil Shrestha: If I had an opportunity to do dentistry early and had found that calling earlier, than I would have at least another five or 10 years to give to the profession. I don’t think anything is a mistake. I think everything is a learning opportunity and it’s part of your life pathway. So I don’t think anything I’ve done is a mistake. There things that I may have thought, well I could’ve done that better at some point.
Payman L.: What was your lowest point in it, especially your lowest point?
Anil Shrestha: Probably going through divorce whilst I was still a dentist.
Payman L.: What stage was that dentistry wise, where were you?
Anil Shrestha: I’d qualified, I’d joined James Hull, basically just after I finished the Eastman. In fact, just before I went to the Eastman, I knew the relationship was breaking down with my ex wife Noelle, who I’m still very good friends with now. And it’s hard because every successful dentist that you ever meet in your life, you think, “Wow, they’re doing so well.” What you don’t realise is every single one of them, though unknown, have had a really difficult period in their lives. You don’t understand what they’ve gone through. You can never understand it. You can see it and you can maybe empathise, but we all have a story. That part for me was actually going through that divorce and still managing to stay focused.
Prav Solanki: Do you remember the day when it became a reality that you were going to be divorced or perhaps you were going through a time where you were trying to convince yourself things were going to work out and everything was going to be all right and there was a defining moment ways or actually, do you know what? This is all going to end, however that was. Can you take me back to that moment, what you were thinking, what you were emotionally going through and how you managed to keep your head above water at the same time?
Anil Shrestha: That was a very dark time for me. Say this is for anyone going through that sort of thing. It’s not something I would wish upon anyone and the relationship naturally was coming to an end. But it’s always emotional, especially when there’s a child involved. My daughter, Maya, who is 21 now was about two or three years old at the time. And used to remain focused through the day just making sure that I was focused on my patients. They were always the priority. My personal way of coping with it was after work, I would always train. Before work, I’d always train.
Anil Shrestha: I’ve been doing martial arts since I was five. I was a gymnast, the county level for teens. And then I went into martial arts which came relatively naturally for me. And it was a way of spending time focusing on not the bad things but actually managing to get through rather than falling into depression. And I would train all the time. I was not bad, I wasn’t great. I could have been a lot better, especially if I didn’t, I could spend more time doing a training. But it’s always been a focus for me. And the key thing for me, because everyone is slightly different. The key thing for me that’s taken me to the levels of success that you perceive is that I mastered the art of self-discipline from a very early age.
Anil Shrestha: And for me that was a natural revelation. So I defined self-discipline. When people ask me how you become successful, how you remain focused or how you get over difficult things, as being self-disciplined is the ability to get up and do what you need to do, when you need to do it, even when you don’t want to do it. Get up, do what you need to do when you need to do it, even when you don’t want to do it. And when you can do that, you remain focused on an end objective. The end objective is always to make everyone happy, to do the right thing, to be successful, to fulfil your potential.
Anil Shrestha: And that’s what I’d like to see, when I see people, other professionals, younger professionals, if I see a spark in them, it’s almost incumbent upon me. It’s like a duty for me to help them to fulfil that potential, whichever direction it may be.
Payman L.: I feel that way too. Do you feel like you are good at seeing that spark in-
Anil Shrestha: I think it comes through empathy and I see it, and when I do see it then, if my help is called upon, then I will always do whatever I can to help people.
Prav Solanki: It seems to me that, just from the short time I’ve spent with you that, a lot of what you’re about is getting your happiness by doing things for other people and fulfilling your happiness through that.
Anil Shrestha: It’s sharing passion, Prav. It’s sharing my passion, because having found it myself, and you read about it and there are a lot of things that you can see in self help books and things and I read them and I think, “Oh, I realised that myself a while ago.” If you’re going to be successful in life, you need to find a passion. There are certain things and certain rules in life that I’ve learned. One is that, find something you’re really good at, something that comes naturally. But when it comes naturally, you should, like I tell my daughter, just because she’s a gifted artist, she’s been selling her artwork online since she was a teenager. She’s in a college now where they’re at least half a dozen people that she thinks are better than her, but she’s now in the right peer group because she’s being pushed. So find something that you find that you’re very passionate about, but you must commit to excel in it. You must excel and you must push yourself. And when you do that, then it doesn’t become a job.
Anil Shrestha: Dentistry for me is not a job. I’ll tell you a story about when I went to my 25 year reunion a year or two so ago, and about 50 out of the class of 70 had turned up. It’s quite a tight group in Newcastle. And we’d booked this Boutique hotel in Jasmine Dune and the whole of the bar was overtaken by us, as you would imagine the whole hotel was in fact, and it was about maybe two, three o’clock in the morning and we’re all sitting in our small groups in the different sofas and things. And it just struck me that it was like the canteen at Newcastle, all the little cliques are sitting next to each other again.
Anil Shrestha: I was talking to a good friend of mine, and I noticed just sitting across was, two of my friends, Adrian O’Malley and one of the other guys, I forget his name now, but they’re just sitting there laughing at me. I said, “Damn, WTF, what are you laughing at?” And again, they were just looking at me saying, “Anil,” they said, “Every five years we come here, and you’re the only one that’s talking about what your passion in Dentistry,” because I was talking about my new scanning and cad cam milling technique.
Payman L.: Talking about T.
Anil Shrestha: We’re all sitting here talking about retiring, how tired we are and our kids and everything and you’re the only one that’s getting enthusiastic about it. And I said, “Well that’s because it’s just so exciting.” And that’s why I said if there is a regret, I wish I’d started this five years earlier. So when you see it in somebody else again, then it’s fantastic.
Payman L.: What I’ll say about that, about you, is firstly, you’ve got the humility at the level that you’re at, to show up at courses like [inaudible 00:20:37]-
Anil Shrestha: Oh, but you’ll lean so much there.
Payman L.: … student courses all over the place and often when people get to a certain level, they don’t want to be seen to be at courses. But that’s one point. But the other thing is, I was watching you during that course because I thought it was with one different-
Anil Shrestha: During the fresh commerce course?
Payman L.: … yeah.
Anil Shrestha: Oh my God. Amazing [crosstalk]
Payman L.: One of the first times I think we met each other as well. So I was excited to meet you. I was watching and you were just taking notes.
Anil Shrestha: Yeah, always-
Payman L.: Throughout the whole, taking solid notes.
Anil Shrestha: With my apple pen and my iPad.
Payman L.: With your iPad on the thing. And I was watching the notes you were taking and there was, it’s funny because I’ve told Depeche, there’s gotta be learning points on the slide and I think you took 60 pages of out of it. And I thought, this guy loves teeth. The room was full of dentists, but you’ve got to where you’ve got to and still fully engaged in it.
Anil Shrestha: Always. So, I remember Kanaan Elias who taught me at the Eastman and he’s still practising now. He’s one of the most gifted operators you’ll ever meet. And every year at the Eastman, there’s always an amazing gifted operator. You see them now teaching courses and things, but, a lot of them will just go off into academia, et cetera. And every year there’s a gold medal winner. In my year, had a class of six, four distinctions. And I was-
Payman L.: Wow.
Anil Shrestha: I felt great but, and it’s rare to be given, but, I was just like everyone else. And every year there’s somebody like that. And these are exceptional when it’s outside of places like the Eastman. But we’re actually quite common. You’ll see a lot of people like this and all of us have something to learn. And Kanaan Elias was one of the old guard at the Eastman. And he became my mentor and I would always see him at things like section 63 meetings or some postgraduate meetings. And he’d always be sitting in the back just nodding his head, maybe taking one or two notes.
Anil Shrestha: And I’d always go and see him pay my respects. And he would say, “Oh, you are Anil.” And he’d ask me about my family, et cetera. And I remember one of the first times I saw him at this relatively in a section 63 meeting and I thought, really learned much but at least I met that few people. And I said, “Why do you keep coming to these?” And he said, “Anil” He said, “You always learn something in a course like this, even if it’s how not to do it.” And this guy was the most humble most gifted operator and one of the most inspirational mentors I had and I thought, “Yes, you’re right.”
Anil Shrestha: And so when I do current courses, I’ll pick them and I see the work, I sought to pass your stuff on social media, you know the power of social media. I’d never met him before, but I knew about him from Louis McKenzie and a few other people in the West Midlands when I was there. And I thought, yeah, this guy’s supposed to be very good. And you start to hear about them. So when I started to see his work, immediately I could see that spark we’re talking about, I thought, “Whoa, this guy is passionate.” He has the hands, he has the eyes, he sees it and he knows how to teach it. And maybe it was because of some of the refinement from you, but those lectures were good. That lecture was-
Payman L.: I know, he’s brilliant. [crosstalk] I’m not taking credit for the lecture at all.
Anil Shrestha: But this isn’t just about the enlightened. There are other-
Payman L.: Of course.
Anil Shrestha: … very good operators and I see them. And so whenever I see an opportunity to go, especially when it’s somebody younger, then I’ll go. And the funny thing is I get the same reaction, you’re absolutely right. [crosstalk 00:23:56]. Yeah, I’m telling you, invariably people always say, “We’re really honoured.” I remember Ratik, I went on his position cutting programmes and he introduced me as being part of dental royalty, he was very humbled, et cetera. And I said Ratik, just get on with it mate, because I actually deserve it.
Payman L.: [inaudible 00:24:17]. Tell me about the day you eventually went on to become the clinical director at James Hull Group.
Anil Shrestha: I was clinical lead-
Payman L.: Clinical lead.
Anil Shrestha: And then there were four clinical directors and then after they [crosstalk]
Payman L.: And you set up those iced two nationals-
Anil Shrestha: There were two practises, one in Birmingham, one in Eastman, so.
Payman L.: Before you talk about that, let’s go back to the day you met James Hull.
Anil Shrestha: Oh that’s an interesting story, and then we’ll go onto that if you wish, because they’re quite interesting stories. So [inaudible] in Newcastle, did my house jobs and then I was told I needed to go and do maxillofacial surgery. It’d be somewhere rough where, you’re actually going to get a lot of experience.
Payman L.: [inaudible]
Anil Shrestha: So I ended up just near you, where you qualified mate. You know what Newport’s like, it was amazing. I was in there and he’s stitching out faces all the time and then I’d meet the same people at the nightclubs, working on the doors and things and they’d let you in and they’d had bandaged faces. I’ll fix you up, anyway, so I ended up there and you learn so much. In one year of residency in maxillofacial surgery, everything. Like I say, it all came together suddenly, all of the academic stuff, all of the clinical staff came together. You are responsible, you just got on with it and it just really just ignited my thirst for knowledge. And within about three months I was starting to miss holding a handpiece.
Anil Shrestha: So I remember sitting there clocking in patients and I’d just been speaking to the policeman who was trying to deter me from going to the local boxing gym down the pill, which is the roughest area there. So I said, “I need to learn how to box.” And he said, “Oh, don’t go down there dock,” because I’d just been doing a report for him and I thought, “Why not?” And he said, “Oh, it’s full of the roughest people here.” And I thought, “Yeah, that’s where I’m going to go.” I used to train there literally everyday, they used to love me. Anyway, next door, or just a few doors down was a practise that was owned by James Hull.
Anil Shrestha: And as I started misusing the hand piece, I thought, “Do you know what, I’m going to get myself a Saturday job.” So I started ringing on the yellow pages. Yellow pages was before google. I had a list of about 10 practises in and around the Rogue [inaudible] where I was resident, at the hospital. And I came up to number five and it was James Hull. And every time I picked up the phone in between seeing these patients, I’d say, “Listen, I’m the maxillofacial SHO up the road, just looking for a Saturday job or an evening job just doing routine conservative dentistry.” And they’d all say, “I’m sorry, no.”
Anil Shrestha: Picked up the phone to James Hull practise and, lo and behold, James Hull answered the phone. So I went through the same spiel expecting a no, I think, I’m the maxillofacial SHO up the road, I’m looking for a Saturday job or an evening job, wondering whether you’ve got an opportunity and I don’t have an NHS number, et cetera. I was expecting, no thank you. There was just the pregnant pause and he said, “Actually I don’t have a job, but I like your attitude.” He said, “Come down and see me, where are you now?” And I said, “I’m up the road.” He said, “Come see me, I’m here at the Practise and Pill, do you know it?” And I thought, “Yeah, it’s next to the boxing gym. I see all the people coming in and getting stopped or selling drugs.” And so I went there after work and I met him.
Payman L.: [inaudible] was it just that one practise?
Anil Shrestha: Oh, he had about three practises.
Payman L.: He had three.
Anil Shrestha: It was the smallest, just before he bought the Wolverhampton practise, which gave him the corporate licence.
Payman L.: And what was that thing called? The corporate body thing?
Prav Solanki: Corporate body. Yeah.
Payman L.: I remember there was a limited [inaudible 00:27:34]. If you didn’t have one, you couldn’t have a large number of practises. Anyway-
Payman L.: So he met you?
Anil Shrestha: Yeah. And we got on really well. He said, “I don’t have a Saturday job, I don’t have an evening job, but I’m going to open one for you.”
Payman L.: Wow.
Anil Shrestha: “Apply for your NHS number,” et cetera. So during that week, I made all the applications, literally bigs doing the sedations and extraction of wisdom teeth up the road on the NHS. Then I’d walk down, have a cup of tea with him, his nurses, et cetera. And I’ll be doing the same thing from six o’clock in the evening till nine o’clock except we’re charging, I think 175 pounds. Remember this is back in 93, 94 plus sedation fees. And I started making money and I was happy, I was doing fillings, et cetera. I was doing crowns, so they had a lab upstairs, I was doing my own gold work, waxing, et cetera. He just let me have free reign of the place, and it came up to Christmas and I said, “What’s the matter James?” And he said, “Bloody dentists, none of them will do the on call.”
Anil Shrestha: And I said, “Listen,: I said, “I’ve got the consultant’s bleep, I’ve got the hospital bleep, I’ve got a pager and I’m up the road and all I do is I just stitch up faces, go on a theatre or read for my FTS.” And I said, “I’ll do this for you.” And he said, “Great.” He gave me a phone, mobile phone. Very first one, a Nokia. He said, “This is yours.” He said, “Use this for your own calls, use it for anything else you like,” and I’m telling you, I didn’t give up that phone or that phone number. I had a new one every year from that year until I left James Hull in 2011.
Payman L.: Wow.
Anil Shrestha: And I remember that the new directors, they would come to me and maybe three, four years before everything sold. And they’d say, “How come you’re the only dentist with a director’s phone and who do you call with it? I said, listen, “I had a phone bill.” And I said, “I’ve been using this phone case since James gave it to me for all the on calls, et cetera. I ring my mum in Nepal, I ring people overseas, I ring whoever I want, I don’t abuse it, but I use it for all the on calls and I’ve always done the on call centre.” So, I did the on calls for him and then he gave me the keys to the other practises. So I’d either go to the Gare, which is a nicer part of Newport, or I’d go to Pill, which was the sort of place where you didn’t really want to be.
Anil Shrestha: I remember one afternoon in the summer, okay, in the spring, I was with a nurse and we were just standing outside the door and we heard all these police sirens. And then suddenly I saw this guy running down the road, the middle of the high street, legging, and then suddenly two policemen running down the road again. And then there were cars coming and the sirens and everything. And we just had a cup of tea and thought, “Yeah, normal life around here.” Anyways, so I used to get paid about 53 pounds, I think for every time I opened up. And then for emergency fees. And at the end of it, we were paid, I think as SHOs about 26, 27, 000 pounds a year. And I made more than that from doing all the jobs on the Saturdays and the on calls, et cetera when I came away, plus my FTS and everything. So it worked. And then I went to the Eastman. Before I went to the Eastman-
Payman L.: No, wait. At what point did it turn from being, It sounds like you were pretty energetic young house officer willing to work all the time. By the way, I did the house job. I was in for a minute consider working on top of that house job. So well done. But no, at what point did you realise that this James who is my boss has actually a lot more going on here than just, he’s got three practises within, when did the funding round start? Were you involved in any of that acquisition?
Anil Shrestha: Oh yeah, we were involved. We were entertaining all of the venture capitalists, we were entertaining the [inaudible] bank.
Payman L.: When did it go from being the guy who covers the phones or drink-
Anil Shrestha: When I saw him again next. So I left the job in South Wales, went back up to the northeast, spent six years in NHS and private practises, did all my exams, et cetera. I’d applied then to get to go and study in the states and I’d got an offer to go to Ohio to study prosthodontics. So I was in northeast and so during this period I lost contact with James and when I got the offer plus an offer for application for a scholarship from the dean in Ohio, I told my wife and I remember, and this is an important lesson in life actually, I remember saying, “Oh my God, we’re going to go to Ohio.” I’d saved up 60, 000 pounds and which is more than enough, back in the mid nights working, I was always very good at putting money away, et cetera, and I knew what I needed to plan for.
Anil Shrestha: I remember she was a bit upset. So I spoke to her about an hour later. I said, oh, she was happy, but I knew that something’s wrong, when you know somebody really well. And I said, “Listen, what’s the matter?” And she said, “I’m pregnant.” And it took me too long, one second. It took me one second to say to her, “Fantastic.” Because she said, sorry. I think just going back a step, she said, “I’m pregnant, but I don’t want to go to the states and have the baby.” And I knew that she’d be alone there, we had everything here, and that one second was that one second too long. And I said, “That’s fantastic, we’re not going to go to the states. Never mind.” Because I realised then family and babies and everything else are more important. And like I said to you, cream’s always gonna rise to the top. And I thought I’m going to have to another way. And I just literally gave up the idea of going to the states.
Payman L.: But there was a piece of you that was shattered there.
Anil Shrestha: For a split second. This was because what I realised, and I learned this a while ago when I went to Nepal, I trained with the Nepalese police forces and I spent several weeks out in the forest fighting ex Gurkhas, learning not how to fight, but learning to control anger and fear. What I mean by that is I learned to create a distance between an action and a reaction because that’s small space between an action and reaction is the time you need to think rationally. It’s a split second and it allows me to keep composure. So going back again to how you deal with problems in life, you mustn’t react. You must create a distance because that defines how you think.
Anil Shrestha: And so that’s what happened when I took too long to allay my wife’s fears, we had the baby and you just find another way. You don’t be despondent, you don’t think, “Oh, I’m shattered,” because that’s not the way to react in life. And, so I found a way into the Eastman, went to the Eastman, started a programme there under Derek [inaudible 00:33:52]. Did very well, and within the first few weeks, James Hull appeared back into my life because he was there sitting at Derek’s office, in the process of buying Eastman ICD one, two, three down the road.
Payman L.: Oh, I see. So you went with him throughout that process.
Anil Shrestha: So, that was when he first bought the Eastman ICD. This was before, then escalated and you’re talking about when it really paying big. And so I said, “Hi, how are you?” Et cetera. And I remember Derek was a bit suspicious of him. He said to me afterwards, he said, “listen.” And he said, “Well, if Anil thinks you’re a good guy, then there must be something about you.” He still thought you was not to be trusted. And James approached me and he said, “Listen,” he said, “I’m pleased to seeing you again.” He said, “I’m about to take over one, two, three.
Anil Shrestha: I want you to come and work for me there.” I said, “I haven’t finished my programme yet.” He said [inaudible 00:34:42], and do you know what he offered me? He said, “I want you to do the on-calls there, because we’ve just started [inaudible] probably, I’m not kidding you man. He gave me a mobile phone. He paid me 50 pounds a week I think it was. And actually it was more than that. Let’s not talk figures anyway. He paid me to hold on that phone, take emergency. Do you know how many emergencies I saw in my one year when I was doing my MSC?
Payman L.: Go on
Anil Shrestha: One, and that patient still comes to see me now. So I was paid to hold his phone. I was able to then use it to call anyone I wanted to, but I didn’t overuse it or abuse it. And I never let go of it-
Prav Solanki: We used to have [inaudible] phone back in the day.
Payman L.: [inaudible]
Prav Solanki: Remember those?
Payman L.: No.
Prav Solanki: No?
Anil Shrestha: The old Nokias.
Prav Solanki: It might be another thing. You basically, you go and pick, buy a phone off somebody, you’ll never get a phone bill, but you [inaudible] it.
Anil Shrestha: Yeah.
Prav Solanki: [crosstalk]
Payman L.: Right, fair enough.
Anil Shrestha: And then, the funny thing is that, I was in touch with him then and I watched this when ICD struggled to develop and before I qualified at the Eastman, Crispin Scalia called me into his office. I barely knew the bloke obviously, but he was an awesome figure. And he said, “Anil.” He said, because there are only few people in each programme. He said, “Have you thought about having an academic career here?” And I was very flattered and honoured and I had, I thought that’s what I wanted to do. He offered me, he said, “When you finish,” and this was before I even finished, he said, “Of course you’ll have to work as a lecturer, build up to senior lecturer within five years you could be a senior lecturer and then PHD et cetera. He was trying to accelerate me onto a PHD programme, get your chair. And I went back to James Hull because I saw him later on that week and I told him about this and he said, “No.”
Anil Shrestha: He said, “Listen,” he said, “I need you to look after the Eastman private practise.” He said, “I’m going to offer you substantially more, five times more. As a retainer and I’m going to offer you 45% of all your specialists fees and anything else that you need.” And he gave me some things which weren’t on offer to anyone else like removal fees, paid for rent for a flat for a year, offered to gite my wife [crosstalk]
Payman L.: Made you an offer you couldn’t refuse basically.
Prav Solanki: Really [inaudible]
Anil Shrestha: Absolutely, he did, because he knew how to look after his best guys. And there were a small group of us that he looked after very well and he was a difficult businessman, but he was also very generous and very, to the few of the people that he knew. And that’s the way that you needed to be. And I stayed with him from 2000 to 2011 until he sold. And during that time, within the next few years, he then opened up the specialist practise in Birmingham, which was supposed to be a mirror of the Eastman ICD in London, and he couldn’t find anyone to look after it. So, again, I said, “Well I’ll go up there.” I was going to be at Eastman ICD in London for two years. I was going through my divorce at this time.
Anil Shrestha: Now I see this, this is the [crosstalk 00:37:48]. And so, I ended up spending two, three days in Birmingham, two, three days in London. I had a place in both. I was going through a divorce. And within the first year we made the Birmingham and practise, which was his biggest concern because it was going to be a big white elephant. It literally was a bicycle shop before he converted it. We had no presence there. I knew no one in the West Midlands. But he thought, good, industrious, young Asian Guy, a cake gregarious, go out, go and meet everyone. And I did, I started writing to everyone, I started to meet loads of people. I’ve got so many friends in the West Midlands now and they started referring to me.
Anil Shrestha: They could see my work, and now that’s really the crux of a good referral practise. That you produce work, you communicate with your referring dentists, they see the work because it always has to go back here. And then, it just built up in the first year, it became the most successful practise in the James Hull Group. Because it went from zero to a profit. It really proved my worth in the company and I stayed there and it became part of my own character within the company. So I’ve always realised that even if you work for somebody else, whether it’s an associate like I did, whether it’s private or whether it’s NHS, the most successful people in practise are the ones that take responsibility.
Anil Shrestha: The most successful associates are the ones that treat the practise as if it was their own, as if they actually owned it. That doesn’t mean usurping whoever’s in charge, but actually taking ownership. I would clean toilets, I would dust, I would do the maintenance, take apart chairs, et cetera, whatever it needed, even if it wasn’t for my own patient. The associates that didn’t do well and the ones that we had difficulties with, because I used to troubleshoot for the group for, a few of us did but not just clinical cases but also, having mentors as well.
Payman L.: How many practises were there?
Anil Shrestha: I think ultimately there were about 86 at the peak, and there was a big process of acquisition. So I think really the group grew organically until about 20, 25 practises when I believe that the business direction probably changed and James was then ready to sell. And up to that point it was actually one of the best practises, best groups to work for. And James Hull Associates was always known at that point as being the corporate-
Prav Solanki: The private corporate-
Anil Shrestha: The private corporate that really pushed quality and comradery and everyone loved being there.
Prav Solanki: Going back to your divorce, it was one of the lowest points in your life.
Anil Shrestha: Protracted lowest points. It took years.
Prav Solanki: And you said, you mentioned earlier that it naturally came to an end. [crosstalk]
Anil Shrestha: I think the relationship, yeah.
Prav Solanki: And you both knew that at the time or?
Anil Shrestha: Yeah we did and we both tried to make things work but you see when a child’s involved, then that puts a completely different perspective on things.
Prav Solanki: And so I come from, my parents divorced from a young age, and I think certainly learning from that, I know that the biggest impact is on the kids. You really feel it. And for me, my parents weren’t amicable. That made things even harder. What was your thought process going through all of that and what have you learned about relationships since your divorce that you could maybe pass on to people like?
Payman L.: Yeah, how have you managed to stay amicable?
Anil Shrestha: It wasn’t amicable for a year or two.
Payman L.: Oh, It wasn’t.
Anil Shrestha: But, every divorce goes through that. No divorce is easy. Both our priorities were for Maya. Ask me to give you advice, then I can’t. And I never give advice, especially on relationships. The reason is that everyone has their own perspectives on, and their own emotions that no one else can understand-
Payman L.: Totally.
Anil Shrestha: … not even their closest people. But what I do do, is people know what my experiences were and how they interpret that is up to them. And there’s always a lesson that can be learned from things like that. So it was just a tough time Prav. It was difficult because, my daughter appears to be well balanced. I speak to her every day. I speak to my ex wife every few days or so. We get on, I keep a distance, a respectful distance obviously now because I’m remarried. But my daughter is still my primary concern as is my new daughter now who is only 10 months old.
Anil Shrestha: So you learn to prioritise and as in where they are in their different stages of life and you’re still there as a father, you’re still there supporting them. But for both of us, it was important that she was fine. And it’s just really that the relationship between us is ex husband, ex-wife, and finding a happy medium in between where we could both get on again, but with separate lives, that took a while to establish.
Prav Solanki: Did you ever have any period of time where perhaps you went without seeing your daughter when you wanted to or anything like that or was it always only amicable from that front?
Anil Shrestha: Maya was always accessible to us both. And the reason that… re married or got into any serious relationships over a period of 17 years while she was growing up and to the point where I met Ana, was because I felt a real sense of duty to her. And people that are very close to me know that because they’ve known me during that period. Even some of my referring dentists while I was in Birmingham, and I’m a private man. You’re asking me some very intimate questions today. I don’t mind relaying this to you and your listeners because I think there may be a lesson for people to take from there, what they interpret from it is up to them. But I don’t mind opening up to you because you know, this is my story.
Anil Shrestha: It was a time that, I’ve been through many times in my head now and I’m happy that my daughter is doing very well. She’s always kept a good relationship with both of us. There was never a time when she was pulled away from either us because we both had our priorities for her. So in that respect, I’m very grateful to my ex wife and I can only remain as a father that will always support my daughter and give the kind consideration to my ex wife.
Prav Solanki: Very admirable of you to shape your life around your daughter’s future and age because I don’t think many people would. A lot of people live lives for ourselves. And I think what you’ve done there is really special and I just want to say thank you for sharing that story with us. It really is.
Anil Shrestha: It has been my pleasure.
Prav Solanki: Yeah. Because having been through that myself as a child, I wasn’t exposed to that. And it does impact the way you grow up, your perception, your outlook of life.
Anil Shrestha: So you see this will resonate with you then, you’ll understand this. See I’m sure as a father you understand how I feel as well. But I’ve never let it deter me from my passion, which has always kept me focused. I’ve learned a lesson as I told you earlier on, on how to remain focused with my way of remaining [inaudible] which is self-discipline, I hope people pick up on that. And it will not stop me in the future because, I’m still passionate about dentistry, I still want to continue doing what I want to do. And, sharing this passion, and I love seeing people around me just share that same passion and develop and opening doors for them as I say.
Payman L.: So we can’t have an interview with an old Chester and not talk about Mike Wise’s practise. It’s amazing It’s taken this long to get to this point. But the undisputed top dentist Britain’s ever produced-
Anil Shrestha: Well I’ll tell you a story about-
Payman L.: How do you go about buying up, I’m guessing it wasn’t on the Frank Taylor.
Anil Shrestha: Absolutely not. People that knew Mike Wise, and I didn’t know him, I have to say came. I got to know him very well, to people that knew him knew that he wouldn’t sell to anyone. I know James Hull offered him a big seven figure sum and he laughed at him because he knew that he didn’t want to taken over by corporate. And what actually happened was in 2011 after James Hull had pretty much been out of the picture for a few years and we’d left the company taken over, I thought, well I thought I’d go back into academia. I thought I’d go either back to the Eastman or go abroad or go and study again because I just wanted to get back into teaching and research, which I had a real passion for.
Anil Shrestha: And about four months after leaving James Hull, and I was comfortable. I’d looked off for money and I’d made sure that everyone was well looked after and I thought, “Yeah, I’m happy.” I was always going to do okay. And then I’ve got a phone call representing Mike Wise, met up with them and they said, Dr. Wise wants to meet you. And I thought he’d had already retired. He was literally out of the picture. I remember he was ill for a number of years and his practise was literally folding because he was only there part time to meet him. I’d only ever seen him lecture once. I’d read his book obviously. His lecture showed some great but exotic dentistry and I thought, “Yeah, it’s interesting.” I liked the kind of work you did because it really reflects what I do, which is complex remedial rehabilitation work.
Anil Shrestha: Said my wife Anna tells me that I’m a troubleshooter in dentistry. I deal with complex remedial rehabilitations. I do all of the restorative, I do all of the surgery, all of the grafting, et cetera. And I work on really difficult patients who have emotional issues as well as complex written or restorative issues. So that I knew it was very similar. But other than that I didn’t know the guy. And within about half an hour of sitting with him in his office, So I really liked this bloke. I couldn’t figure out why immigrant from Nepali couldn’t speak the language and had studied dentistry and is passionate about it, could have anything in common with who I regarded as a god of dentistry. We spent a lot of time talking about family. We spent a lot of time talking about music, about lives in dentistry and very little talking about actual dentistry, and very in fact, almost nothing about buying and selling the practise.
Anil Shrestha: And I thought I liked this bloke, but you know, the interesting thing was I was thinking, “How does this guy know so much about me?” Because as you will know, I keep a low profile in dentistry, you find it very difficult to find out stuff about me. People in dentistry that know dentistry and know me, know me. This guy was asking me things about myself that you just couldn’t even google. And while he was sitting, he’s a tall guy, he had a thin file sitting on his lap and I realised that was on me. And that reflected the way that he was because he was so meticulous about everything. He researched everything. So we came to the point where he was discussing selling the practise and he basically asked me if I would consider taking over the practise and it wasn’t a thought that I’d had in my mind.
Anil Shrestha: I’d never really knew the west end apart from when James took over Lister House. I didn’t even know that Mike worked on the fifth floor and I had no intention of becoming a western practitioner. I literally intended to go into academia to find a place in the Eastman. I’d run a Master’s programme at University of Central Lancashire, developed and written arts certificate and diploma programme. Therefore, when they asked me, I had a bit of knowledge about these things and-
Payman L.: What’s it that made you flip your decision from becoming an academic to buying this practise? Did you think [crosstalk] this opportunity’s never going to come again?
Anil Shrestha: That’s a very good question but, as I was leaving the practise, he was at the lift and he asked me a question, which I knew that he’d definitely done research on me. He asked me what my experiences were in treating the Nepalese royal family, and I couldn’t talk about that because they’re not my patients anymore because they’d been deposed. And I thought, “Where did he learn this from?” And within about half an hour of me leaving Lister house, a phone call from one of my old tutors who I knew was one of his close friends, he said, “How did it go?” And I said, “How did you know I was here, Malcolm?” And, he said, “Oh.” It became obvious that he had obviously contacted people who had taught me, who knew me, et cetera. And he had done his background checks. And then I went away, thought about it and actually rang my ex wife who’d known me since before I was a dentist, and told her what had happened and said you can’t turn it down. Really can you? When God offers you his a practise, you shouldn’t say no.
Anil Shrestha: So, I went back, saw him again a few times and the interesting thing about him is he insisted when I agreed, that I spend three months with him. He did a proper handover. It wasn’t just a case of, yeah, take over and sign here and I’m off. He said, “I need you to see these patients care.” And he would call patients from all over the world. I met [inaudible] came from India, from Saudi, from parts of the country, et cetera, from Europe, Geneva. And he would call them over and we’d spend about half an hour talking a case. He would introduce me to the patients. I remember he introduced me to a patient that I don’t see, a young Saudi prince and the prince said, “But Dr. Wise I want to see you.” And Michael put his arm around me and in front of him and his entourage and said, “But this is the next Michael Wise.” And I thought that was a real honour and never looked back after that.
Payman L.: Good on him.
Anil Shrestha: You know he’s a real gentlemen, absolutely.
Prav Solanki: What I find amazing about that story is whenever you buy a business, you do the due diligence on the business. But Michael Wise was doing the due diligence on you. It was almost like a privilege-
Anil Shrestha: Oh it was absolutely a privilege, I was honoured.
Prav Solanki: Buying his business, unbelievable.
Anil Shrestha: That’s exactly what it was and-
Prav Solanki: Unbelievable.
Anil Shrestha: … I tell you, I met a few people who had been in negotiations with him and Michael, his primary concern was finding somebody who would look after his patients the way he wanted. He spent four years trying to find that person-
Prav Solanki: Amazing.
Anil Shrestha: … and he would quite literally have just folded up shop as my accountant said, because he deals with a lot of world-class doctors and dentists up and down the Holly Street area. And he says there are some people who they can’t find somebody to look after their patients the way they want to, just like Michael. And it’s literally a case of, “Okay, thank you. Elvis has left the building.” And they just shut up and they just think, “Great. I’ve had a wonderful career. I’m off now, and to let the patients fend for themselves. Michael’s main concern was always looking at finding somebody to look after his patients and he felt that I could, very honoured that I’m in that position-
Payman L.: Does the practise have regular patients like as we would think of them, six months, three core regular people or Is it all?
Anil Shrestha: Yes, but there are patients that have been there a long time or there are patients that have seen me from places and I see patients that have come, followed me from-
Payman L.: [crosstalk] people who have Mike Wise as their six month recall dentist that used to go for examinations from him.
Anil Shrestha: Many of them actually left with the [inaudible] because many of them used to see the [inaudible] more than they saw Michael. So Michael would only see them maybe to year or so. So when she left then many of them followed on. But, as I’ve always firmly believed, a good dentist is always busy. The patients recognise you, your peers recognise you. And so, I’ve attracted, I’ve always been busy there and many of his patients have left, a number of state, quite a significant number and prominent people as well. And the practise has grown through word of mouth. So, I’ve always been-
Payman L.: If you had to split your work in percentage terms, how much of it is, implantology, how much of it is straight aesthetic dentistry, how much of it is, restorative rehab type stuff or I know it’s all mixed together as well in some cases but-
Anil Shrestha: So that’s a good question as well. So last year, because I audit every week and at the end of every year, it’s [inaudible 00:53:36]. Last year I started 19 full mouth rehabs. That’s enough to keep me working for at least another, in fact you’ve been to the practise, you’ve seen my lists. I’ve actually, that’s enough to keep me working for another two, three years and I get new patients with stuff like that. I have to pick and choose very carefully. I teach at the Royal London, I teach in the prosthodontics specialist training programme as one of the clinical tutors. And I say to these guys, “Listen, you really need to learn all of the academic stuff as well as the clinical stuff in the clinics very well, but what you learn to be able to work, people like me being able to rebuild a whole mouth, reconstruct a whole mouth, not just anterior cases, not just beautiful preps, but rebuilding a whole mouth and reorganising inclusions, including doing the grafting and the implants, which is the majority of my work.”
Anil Shrestha: Restorative in implants, it’s only 50% of what you actually need to master. The other 50% is being able to be empathetic and looking after these patients because I have patients who have certified post-traumatic stress disorder, several of them. I have patients who are incredibly difficult to manage who you just have to understand them, you have to be empathetic, but you also have to be in command. I have patients who’ve walked out the door who’ve had so much trauma that they’ve become alcoholics from the previous traumas they’ve had. I’ve had a patient who I had to [inaudible] because she literally left and she was so emotional, revisited past traumas that police had to take her into their custody.
Anil Shrestha: 50% of that work is not actually clinical dentistry, It’s the management of the patients. And I think that reflects what Michael was saying. His patients were not easy. He used to pick and choose his patients. I’ve heard it said that he used to say, but he didn’t say it to me. His practise was based not on the patients he used to treat, the very famous ones, et cetera, but the patients he didn’t treat, because he knew how to select them.
Payman L.: Yeah, well I was gonna ask you that question. So in your position, you must come across a bunch of people who their problem is more, let’s call it psychological than dental.
Anil Shrestha: I’d say it forms a significant part.
Payman L.: Yeah, the question I was going to ask is how often do you refuse treatment based on those grounds, where you can tell this person’s thinking, the treatment you are going to provide is going to be the answer to all of their problems. Whereas their problems are actually nothing to do with their mouth over all, their problems are deeper. Do you have to refuse treatment, could you spot those patients or have you had the-
Anil Shrestha: Yes.
Payman L.: … one way you didn’t spot it and it came back to bite you?
Anil Shrestha: And yes. But-
Payman L.: Does it happen a lot?
Anil Shrestha: No.
Payman L.: No?
Anil Shrestha: No, you know to do the work I do, you actually have to have a particular character. This is what Anna says. My wife Anna has own practise in Holly Street and she is very astute, she has been in the west end for 13 years, 14 years now. And she says, you need to be very careful about who you take on. And she also says the work you do, you have to have a particular character because there are at least three, four people that I know very well who can do what I do technically. But we all have our own characters. And so we all attracted different types of patients. And again, another thing that I’ve learned is that you attract the patients that you deserve-
Payman L.: That’s true.
Anil Shrestha: … It reflects you.
Prav Solanki: Sure.
Payman L.: That’s very true. Yeah.
Anil Shrestha: And so, I’m very careful, but you still-
Payman L.: It’s something that you got to look out for-
Anil Shrestha: Absolutely.
Payman L.: … In your position particularly.
Anil Shrestha: Very much so.
Payman L.: A lot of people will gravitate to you thinking you’re the answer to their problems.
Anil Shrestha: Yeah. And you need to know what your limitations are. I work with people, when I need to refer, I refer, believe it or not. I’m not the answer-
Payman L.: That’s interesting. Go on.
Anil Shrestha: Oh no, I have people-
Payman L.: In the first year and then you refer on a bit of it that you know.
Anil Shrestha: As in part of the overall holistic specialist programme of treatments. So if there’s a case, one of my very good friends and mentors is Mr Stephen Dover, who if you’ll know, very famous craniofacial surgeon in the West Midlands. He handled some of my most difficult to grafting cases, he is maxfax surgeon, very famous. And if i feel that somebody will be better managed in his hands, then I will ask him to do that part of the treatment. I’ll be there with him and he does it. And he says to me quite often, he says, “Anil you could do this.” I said, “Yes, I know, but you’ll do it better, even if it’s only 15, 20, 30, 40% better, but you’ll also be able to manage it better.” It’s only sharing the responsibility. If I think that somebody can do better ortho-
Payman L.: Yes, you can’t be a master of everything and-
Anil Shrestha: Absolutely not. And it reflects back again to the point about, what I learned from going on other courses. I learned a lot, and I’ll see people and I think, “Yeah, great.” But I have a multidisciplinary approach to all my treatments, so I’ve got a great orthodontist, a few good endodontists-
Payman L.: What made you think you could fill Mike Wise’s shoes?
Anil Shrestha: I didn’t.
Payman L.: I don’t mean that, I’m not saying the audacity of it, but-
Anil Shrestha: No.
Payman L.: But a lot of people would be scared of-
Anil Shrestha: I got that a lot.
Payman L.: … I would worry myself. I’m by no means that doctor, but if I was that doctor, I would worry that the referring dentists who used to refer to Mike Wise, will now compare, and of course I’d worry that I’m not going to be the same as [crosstalk]
Anil Shrestha: After I tell you what my biggest worry was-
Payman L.: What is in your character that made you handle that?
Anil Shrestha: I’ll go back slightly. My biggest concern about taking over the Mike Wise practise was, not the fact that I couldn’t do the work. He didn’t worry about it, I didn’t worry about it. I wouldn’t have been there if he thought that I couldn’t clinically do the work. My biggest concern was could I run a single handed practise having spent almost all of my professional career working in hospitals or working as an associate, admittedly in one of the best corporates at the time. I’d never done that before-
Payman L.: Interesting that that was your worry.
Anil Shrestha: No, it was. And I told my accountant the same thing. I said, “Listen, I have a five year plan. If it doesn’t work, then I’ll have burnt this money and then it’s fine.” I’ve still got plan B et cetera, I can go off, I can pay the whole practise off through return of all of my income within three years. My accountant couldn’t believe he said in the first year he said, “I’ve very rarely seen a western practise turn a net profit in year one, let alone year three, four, five and six and seven.” And it’s always run well. I’ve always done well, but that was my biggest concern. Would it work or wouldn’t it work? And again, I planned for it, I thought, well, okay, maybe it won’t work.
Prav Solanki: Anil, you’ve gone from employee to business owner overnight and become a success. How? What’s your secret? Is it just pure graft like from your earlier days, James Hull gives you a phone, hands you a set of keys and between doing martial arts and running your day job, weekends and nights, you’re just grafting, grafting, grafting. What is it within you that enabled you to, there’s people out there who are seasoned business owners with multiple practise, couldn’t achieve what you’ve done. But how did you do it?
Anil Shrestha: I’m passionate about dentistry and I’m focused. There’s always a structured plan. If you ask James Hull’s wife, she always used to laugh and she said, “Anil, you’ve always got a plan A, B, and C.” I always do. And it’s like a matrix that keeps changing. So when something comes up, you need to change it. It’s like when I was very young when I first came to this country. I would see, and it wasn’t a pleasant time at the time, when you’d come from the background I had to suddenly being one of the only immigrants in the school or whatever. And basically, you knew where you wanted to go. You’d see glass ceilings or you’d see doors that were shut. So the glass ceiling, I’d either swim around it or I’d go through it.
Anil Shrestha: I’d always make sure that I was focused to go through it or find a way around. I knew where I wanted to be and I always knew that if an opportunity, if a door shot like Ohio, that I would not take it personally. I would just think, “Okay, what’s the way around it? What’s plan B?” And the self discipline that I mastered from a very early age allowed me to focus, like you Prav. I tell you why. I know a bit about you. A lot of people do. Every morning I get up at five o’clock, I’m out of bed by 5:15. I’ll meditate for half an hour. Then I work for about an hour or so. And then I go to the gym, I go to a boxing class, I go to Anthony Joshua’s gym, if you’re going to learn something, you’re going learn it from the best place. Admittedly, it’s the Marylebone gym, but these are already, it’s not for the fainthearted.
Anil Shrestha: And then I get to work. And then when I’m at work, I work. If somebody wants to have a chat with me, if somebody wants to waste my time, then don’t. When you’re at work, you work. Then I get home and I spend time with my baby, put her to sleep. Then I work, then I sleep and I’m usually trying to get to bed about 10 usually get, realistically, I’ll get about five or six hours sleep. And I need to make sure that I feed well, I sleep well and I’m focused-
Prav Solanki: Amazing.
Anil Shrestha: And so maybe that’s what it is.
Prav Solanki: Discipline, structure, yeah.
Anil Shrestha: But you see I’m passionate about it and that’s the key. There’s no point having discipline and structure unless you found something that you really like. So when I see it in younger dentists, then all I’m trying to do is just push them in slightly the right direction.
Payman L.: If your daughter was a dentist qualifying now, what advice would you give them about [crosstalk] which way to go?
Anil Shrestha: It’s a fantastic profession, especially for women. We talk about how dentistry has changed and it’s not the same as when we first qualified 20 or 25 years ago. We say it’s harder and these are the golden days. But the reality is 25 years ago, it was bloody hard then as well. And it always is, and that’s why you’ve got to keep a reality on, a reality check. Because everyone’s saying, “Oh, it’s so difficult now,” et cetera. We are regulated now beyond reason so we say. But it’s a natural evolution of the regulatory process and we say that social media has now become evolved to the point where everyone needs to Instagram, et cetera, cane. And you see people that do extremely well out of it. People like the lovely girls that you’ve had, that are instagraming all day-
Payman L.: Slay [inaudible 01:04:01].
Anil Shrestha: This [inaudible] is amazing. She’s literally got it, so she’s super bright. I remember speaking to [inaudible 01:04:10], another person I really admire, she came to see me just after she qualified. We were put in touch by somebody mutual and she was asking me for professional advice and it was a bit like talking to [inaudible] as well. Lovely meeting you and all. What advice can you give me? And you very quickly see through both of them that not only are they passionate, but they’re creating a pathway that I could never imagine. I said to both especially [inaudible] “Listen, you’re going to be doing things that I couldn’t even think were possible or have been given an opportunity to do.” She’s become an amazing superstar so is he. Who ever thought that, being able to sing as a dentist and rap et cetera would bring him to the kind of for that he was having-
Payman L.: Like what we’re doing right now.
Anil Shrestha: Podcasting, what’s this about-
Payman L.: Was this even possible when we qualified, was it?
Anil Shrestha: I’ve done so many interviews and everything else. I’m sitting here with you two guys and I know we’re having such a great time talking about, quite deep things actually. I’ve just realised that what you mentioned the gotten me, you guys, man.
Payman L.: Just, I’ve got a question for you. Your last day on this planet, there’s three things that people can take away about you. What three things do you want to leave behind as your legacy? Three pieces of advice, three things that you want people to remember you by. What are those?
Anil Shrestha: Okay, so two of them definitely relate to dentistry. One of the things as well, but find your passion. Commit to excel. Don’t ever let anything, this is all part of the same point. Don’t ever let anything hold you back. Nothing in your past should hold you back in life to be an up and down all the time. And find peers that will help bring you to a level that you want to be at. And if you ever see things like doors that shut or glass ceilings, find a way to break through or go around. The second thing is learn how to control yourself and remain focused. Learn the art of self discipline. Self discipline is the ability to get up and do what you need to do when you need to do it, even when you don’t want to do it. The third thing, last thing is, man just enjoy yourself. So short is life. And-
Payman L.: See for me this self discipline thing and the enjoy yourself thing don’t seem to work together.
Anil Shrestha: Oh, they do. There is so much about, no. [crosstalk] That’s a good point. You may get the impression that all I do is work and train. No. Again, especially since having found love again, and with my beautiful wife Anna and for her to say to me, “Look, let’s go and explore.” We travel all the time. We go to see different art galleries, we read history together, go to the ballet with the opera. She just shows me a different perspective in life. And now we have my beautiful baby Nika that’s 10 months now. She just brought another flower into my life. It’s just amazing.
Prav Solanki: How is it different second time round?
Anil Shrestha: So much more in control. So it’s so much more settled. Everything is, it’s not easier because having a child is never easy. But it’s almost like a having a gift again, it’s almost like somebody saying, practise is going to be left to you from Mike Wise’s. It’s just like being, “Wow, you just won the lottery” and it’s-
Prav Solanki: Amazing.
Anil Shrestha: And you create these opportunities. I’m telling you, this isn’t the case of me being lucky. I remember where I came from. I remember everything is taken away. You’ve recreated all of this. Nothing I’ve got up to this point in my life has been just handed to me. It’s all being created and you can create that.
Payman L.: What’s suppose the best advice anyone’s given you and who was that person?
Anil Shrestha: Very interesting. Astute question. I’ve always realised that I don’t actually have real mentors in my life. I’ve had people who I’ve admired certain facets from and everything that I am now is just a-
Payman L.: Amalgamation.
Anil Shrestha: … amalgamation of everything. I couldn’t answer that simply.
Payman L.: [inaudible]
Prav Solanki: So back to my last question, which was if today was your last day, something to remember you by, what would that be?
Anil Shrestha: Live by my motto or at least take a lesson from it and that’s it. You should squeeze the life out of life.
Prav Solanki: Beautiful.
Payman L.: I had to know if it is but [crosstalk 01:08:30].
Prav Solanki: That’s nice. Anil thank you so much, so much.
Anil Shrestha: It’s been a pleasure. Honestly, I’ve really enjoyed today, thank you.
Payman L.: Thanks for sharing with us what you did.
Speaker 4: 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.