In this week’s extra special episode, previous guest Druh Shah turns the tables on Prav and Payman, playing host while they take the hot seat.
And it turns out this isn’t the first time the pair have switched.
Before finding success as dental entrepreneurs and podcast hosts, Payman was all set for a career in general practice, while Prav seemed destined for great things in the world of research science.
Here they talk about making the switch, early days, inspiration and their respective journeys to becoming dental leaders in their own right.
“This is a proper switch because [Prav] did a switch from pharmacology to marketing and Payman did the switch from dentistry to building a business and you guys have switched me into a host…” – Druh Shah
In This Episode
02.31 – Backstories
24.36 – Down to business
39.32 – Influence and inspiration
48.23 – Starting Dental Leaders
57.19 – On fatherhood
01.00.26 – A peek into the future
About Prav and Payman
Payman Langroudi started his early career as a dentist before creating leading whitening brand Enlighten.
Former research scientist Prav Solanki is the director of a national dental chain, a successful health and fitness brand and IAS Academy dental training institute. He is also director of The Fresh marketing and growth consultancy.
Prav and Payman are hosts of the Dental Leaders podcast.
Prav Solanki: I thought his name was Payman, because he was this super rich guy, who just pays for… just a high-roller man, just a super high-roller and Payman is like, “What the hell is that?” Right? But honestly, and I was totally in awe of this guy. Owner of a big dental company, he’s got this massive stand, blah, blah, blah, whatever.
Prav Solanki: But you know what? One of the things is that, you kind of levitate towards people who… I don’t know, your like, you like people who you are like, or whatever people say about that, but, very, very quickly it became apparent, if I was going to be in London, he’s the first person I’d pick up the phone to and call, because I want to hang out with him. I want to spend time with him.
Drew: And he’s always available as well.
Prav Solanki: And he’s always mucking about.
Intro Voice: This is Dental Leaders. A podcast, where you get to go one-on-one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts, Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.
Drew: Welcome to the Dental Leaders Podcast. They always say great leaders are the people who find other leaders. Well, for this podcast, it’s time to switch. Basically the boot’s on the other foot, the host becomes the guest. The guest becomes the host. The goalkeepers just become the striker. The strikers both gone in goal. Well, hell I don’t know which way this is going to turn around, but this time I’m turning this upside down, on it’s head with the two people who started the Dental Leaders Podcast. Prav, welcome to today’s show and Payman, welcome to today’s show. How are you guys doing?
Prav Solanki: I’m very well, mate. Thanks for having us on the show, mate. Really appreciate the invite and…
Payman Langroud…: A big difference, it’s a big difference, isn’t it? This one. I like that. I like that, Drew. I like little intro you gave because then neither me or Prav know anything about football, but go on. Go ahead. You’re the boss. You’re the interviewer.
Drew: Well, okay Pay, cricket, right? Pay’s been throwing all the balls and we’ve been platting away. Well, this time I’ll put him on the crease with Prav.
Prav Solanki: Well, we hope that one works. I know nothing about cricket, mate.
Drew: Right, sports is out of the question Pay, that means-
Prav Solanki: Well, out of the question.
Drew: … you probably didn’t do much. Now, Payman, it’s really funny, but everyone meets you the first time and they say this guy Payman, he must be the guy who pays. But let’s do this one, how, tell me Pay, you’ve always been in and around London growing up. Is that right?
Payman Langroud…: No, no, I was born in Iran. We had a little revolution in Iran when I was six years old and we came… We were really lucky my dad, some employees, some British employees in his company in Iran. And when their embassy said, “Listen, time to go back.” That day me, my brother and my mum got on the same plane with those British employees and good thing we did too, because he couldn’t come out then after that for two more years. So no, I was six years old when I got here.
Drew: Wow, brilliant man. How did it feel? You were six, you were discovering yourself and you must’ve sort of ended up in some random school with people’s British English, but it could be butter instead of butter?
Prav Solanki: Just one thing here mate, Payman told me he started discovering himself when he was 13, but maybe that’s a different story.
Payman Langroud…: 11 actually, when the two ones came in the lion and leopard…
Drew: But how did you get into dentistry Pay? Was that something you kind of just decided to do or someone inspired you to get into dental school?
Payman Langroud…: I’ve got a couple of uncles who are dentists. So one on either side, my mom’s brother and my dad’s brother and my mum’s brother actually used to live with us. He’s actually a periodontist like you. And he came and lived with us and he went and did perio in Cardiff. And that’s actually why I went to Cardiff as well. I studied dentistry in Cardiff because we used to go visit him and ended up having Cardiff on the map. But he was my favourite uncle when it got down to it Drew, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at all, aged 17. And my parents said, “What are you thinking?” And I said, “I don’t know, maybe accountant, like my dad.” But-
Drew: So you were still discovering yourself basically.
Prav Solanki: Yeah. Yeah.
Payman Langroud…: And my dad said, “Listen, maybe.” I said, “I don’t know, accountant or dentist.” Basically I had no idea to tell you the truth. And my dad said, “Look, what about try dentistry? And if you don’t get in then do accountancy after that.” It was one of those… I wasn’t one of those who wanted to be a dentist since I was 12 types.
Drew: That’s amazing and after dentistry, you kind of did do VT, but somewhere in the way you got into Enlighten and you got into what you’re doing now, how did that happen?
Payman Langroud…: I was quite an ambitious associate. Like you see quite a lot of young, ambitious associates when they’re… And I was in a practise, a private practise I’d come from VT to a private practise. And it was a massive achievement for me at the time. I had an amazing VT boss, Nick Mahindra, have you heard of him?
Payman Langroud…: He used to do this thing where he used to increase vertical dimension by like 30 millimetres, when the rule said two millimetres that’s the dimension and a real outside the box thinker. And he was just one of those guys that, whatever you said, he used to say, “Why not?” A Kenyan actually, like you and he opened up the books to me.
Payman Langroud…: He was just a great, great guy, still a good friend of mine. And I started then to talk about bleaching. And so I went to my private job and I ended up doing a lot of bleaching in that private job. Mainly because the associate before me was such a brilliant dentist himself and nothing was going wrong, Drew, everything he did was going, right. So the only thing he wasn’t taking care of was bleaching. And I had all these rich patients, relatively rich compared to the ones that I’d known before in VT.
Payman Langroud…: And, there were like company directors and things walking around with a stained composite, and he wasn’t fixing stained composites because there was nothing wrong with them. So I was saying, “Hey, this filling doesn’t need changing, but do you want to change it because it doesn’t look great?” And then, “Do you want to bleach your teeth?” And to my surprise, everyone was saying yes, to bleaching. And so bleaching became a thing in my head very, very early on. And then we came to opening a practise and we said, “Why don’t we open a bleaching centred practise.” With my partners who are now the partners at Enlighten.
Payman Langroud…: And, we went looking for the technology and there wasn’t the people who had the technology didn’t have an office in Europe. And they said, “Maybe if you were a distributor, maybe, but you’re not, you’re a dentist. So we can’t really go any further.” And so then this idea of distribution got into our heads and didn’t really know what that meant Drew, but I went and asked my brother-in-law who’s one of these McKinsey guys. And he said, “Look, it’s just a different idea, different business plan.” And he basically wrote me this business plan. We took it back to them and that’s how it started but by accident really.
Drew: So you’re still another discovering thing.
Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Yeah.
Drew: And at what point did you discover Prav then? At what point did you find him?
Payman Langroud…: Prav was very early on in his career. So Kailash, his brother was one of our biggest users and Prav came up through Kailash. And I remember he came to our office. Do you remember Prav?
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Payman Langroud…: He came to our office and we had one of these offices.
Drew: you right?
Payman Langroud…: So you say, man, now you say, I can’t believe it.
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Payman Langroud…: But he came, he came to our office and it was a single room, just me and Sanj and one girl in this room. And he said to me, “If you pay me £500 a month, I’ll get you on the first page of Google.” And he left and I said to Sanj, I said, “This guy’s talking about getting on the first page of Google.” And then Sanj being a Gujarati like [crosstalk] like you too. He said, “Don’t think of it like that. Think of it as six grand he’s asked for.”
Payman Langroud…: And then he says that, “Oh, yeah, I guess so, multiply that by 12.” I don’t think whether… I don’t think we did go with it. But he ended up being just a friend and a confidant and just a super, super, super special buddy of mine since then. And we ended up being me in private and not being much closer than I am even to Kailash even though Kailash is a dear friend too.
Drew: That’s amazing because Prav, you have bounds of energy Prav. Where did you generate this energy from Tell us your story?
Prav Solanki: I think for me, if we take you right back to the beginning, grew up born and bred in Manchester. And I think from a very, very early age, we always saw dad grafting, from working in the factories, 16, 17 hour shifts. We didn’t really see him much growing up. And it was my… My granddad spent a lot of time with us essentially bringing us up. I remember him making his omelettes for us and things like that and that’s such fond memories of my granddad growing up but dad wasn’t really around, but there was one overriding message from him for all of us growing up.
Prav Solanki: And it was, “The reason I’m working so hard is because I don’t want you to. I don’t want you to have to go through what I’m going through.” And that still resonates to today. And so that drive that energy and everything, for me, I think comes from my dad. And it comes from the fact of seeing him not only from factory to taxi driver, through to running a corner shop, he went and got some kind of qualification and ended up doing TV and video engineering and then going and fixing TVs in people’s houses and stuff like that, real wheeler and a dealer, but always grafting, never making loads of money.
Prav Solanki: And I remember growing up and it was probably just before I started high school, mum and dad split up and always remember them having not a great relationship, always arguing and, we were brought up in that environment and then a bit strange, right? But the day she left and they decided to split, they said, “Who do you want to go with? Do you want to stay with dad? Do you want to go with mom?” And me and my brother just said, “We’ll stay with dad.” And then we signed our life away to working in the corner shop. So whether it was on weekends, evenings, bagging SPADs, or serving customers and dealing with all of that growing up, dad looked after us then, he learned to cook.
Prav Solanki: So he makes meat curries and everything, he was writing down recipes, speaking to his sister on the phone, and he learned all of that whilst he was still working and education, education, education was drummed into us growing up. And that was all about being a typical Asian, Indian, whatever you want to call it. There’s only a couple of professions that carry any sort of respect and in that sort of household, and it was either medicine, dentistry, or accountancy/finance, that sort of thing. And the old fashioned guy that my dad was and still is to some respects, but he’s a little bit more straight now is, “My son is a doctor.”
Prav Solanki: That was the pride that he wanted and so that was always the dream. And I remember applying for university at the time, and we were looking at all different kinds of medical schools. And just the thought that I could get into a medical school would have been a dream, an absolute dream come true. And we looked to Oxford, my dad said, “Give this a go.” And I was like, “Nah, that’s not good enough.” And then he in the Sunday Times, in the back of the Sunday Times, it was a little cut out where someone was advertising to help you with your personal statement to get you into Oxford.
Prav Solanki: And so this guy helped with my personal, I can’t remember, I think it was like 50 quid back then. Which to my dad was maybe a day and a bit of income. It was a lot of money, and so he paid it and we got this guy to do my personal statement. And back then, I didn’t know anything about writing or copy or anything like that. What eventually ended up happening is I applied, threw my hat in the ring, so to speak and attended, got an interview. And when I was skipping all over the place, thinking, “How the hell did this just happen?”
Prav Solanki: I got shortlisted, I’ve got an interview. And then I had the old conversation that, “Hey, if I get offered a place, I’m not going to take it anyway, too cool for that place.” Yeah. And deep down, that was just a coping mechanism to deal with rejection, because deep down as well, I wasn’t going to get in. And so when I attended, I threw my hat in the ring and I thought, “Do you know what? If I get in, I get in. And if I don’t, I’ve got an offer from Manchester anyway. So what?” And so I knew I had a place. So, when I attended the interview, there was some tests, some exams, some elimination tests and stuff.
Prav Solanki: So got through that bit. And then a really surreal experience. I met one of my, sort of lifelong mentors, a guy called Professor Tom Kinane, who interviewed me along with a panel of a couple of other people. And it was a strange interview. I don’t think they asked me, “Why medicine?” Or any of sort of stuff in it. It was really off the wall questions about going through the jungle and somebody, throws a poison dart at a hog, and then the hog dies instantly and ingests the poison, and then you eat the hog and then why don’t you die? And so you say, “Oh, the poison has been digested by the thingy and been made inactive.” “Oh, no, no, no, no, no. What happened? Did you ate the skin with the poison still intact in the skin. Why don’t you die?” And so it was all this and loads of questions like that. And what I realised-
Drew: What’s the answer to that?
Prav Solanki: There wasn’t one, because every answer you gave and in between that, they’d throw in a what’s a 22 times 64 question in the middle of answering the question. So it was a really… So we went through several rounds. I think I was there for like three days got through to the finals. And as I left that interview, I knew I’d got a place. I just somehow knew I’d got a place.
Prav Solanki: He said to me, Tom said to me, “It’s your birthday on the 24th of December, wouldn’t it be an amazing birthday present?” Okay. And it was actually, I think it was the day before my birthday, I found out and it was probably still to today, some of the best news I’ve ever received getting in there. And so shortly after that, uni, studying and I entered this world where I’d gone from being the cleverest kid in school by a long stretch, by a huge stretch, to being surrounded by people who were far more intelligent than me, much cleverer had got X number of more A levels than me, spoke in a different way. Do you know what I mean?
Prav Solanki: All these different things. And you end up in this foreign world but going back to your energy question, I really, really do believe that you are the sum total of the people you surround yourself with. So by surrounding myself with whether I’m forced into that situation or not by really, really smart people, you raise your game. And that’s what I did, I studied really hard, did well in my exams. And then it was-
Drew: It was quite intense I would have assumed at that point there in Oxford? The competition, the people sort of wanting to get to the top?
Prav Solanki: Yeah, egos, end of year exams, every eight weeks exams, all the rest of it. And, we have this chart on the wall of all the medics in your year. Little black and white photograph sort of yay size.
Prav Solanki: And I used to look at that and say, “I’ll beat him in the exam. And I’ll beat that person in the exam. I’ll beat that person there, that person’s really good at anatomy and physio. I need to up my anatomy and physiology game, that person…”
Drew: We never had that in dentistry I think Pay. I think as long as we got 50.5%, I was very happy with it.
Payman Langroud…: I certainly did it, but I think there were some who were like that. But Prav, I was going to say to you, why were you the only one in your school to go to Oxbridge?
Prav Solanki: Yeah. One of a few. I actually went to university, right?
Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Yeah. So, I’m thinking back to school, myself. There was the Oxbridge classes that they were specialised at getting people into Oxbridge from my school. I don’t know, they used to count the number that got in every year and then boast about it. That was one of the measures of the school. So the achievement of getting in from yours was something else, mate.
Prav Solanki: The measure of our school was the number of people who didn’t get expelled. But yeah, and funnily enough, turning that background, I actually spent a bit of time when I post medicine when I started doing my PhD in pharmacology. I was still under the guidance of Tom Kinane and he was my PhD supervisor. And he was still interviewing candidates. So I was fortunate enough to, first of all, be invited by Tom to teach pharmacology to undergraduates. I was teaching first and second year medics. I was running some of the lectures for pharmacology. I was running the practical classes.
Prav Solanki: And I remember having a conversation with him saying, “I’d love to…” Because we did a one-year route where we did a bit of research and it was in pharmacology and I loved it. I loved the experiment. I loved the science, the uncertainty, trying to figure this stuff out and pharmacology was my thing. So he also invited me to be a part of the interview panel for entry into Oxford for medicine. And that was an interesting time because you had these young kids coming in and I’d be sat there with a stack of UCAS forms. They were called UCAS forms and personal statements. Right?
Payman Langroud…: That’s right.
Prav Solanki: And you’re just literally reading through them. And the one thing Tom taught me is that if the first couple of sentences doesn’t excite you move on, we’ve got far too many to get through. And so we have this huge stack and it was really, we’d filter through and everyone that had been shortlisted either by me, Tom and other guy called Martin Bracewell and a guy called Steve Racavich, who we were all interviewing with together. We’d put them together in this stack. And it just seems so surreal that I was being interviewed then I was interviewing.
Prav Solanki: Today at my kid’s school, they do have the Oxbridge club and I’m the guy who does the mock interviews with them. I’m the guy who reviews their personal statements and so far so good. Narrows down 100% success rate in getting these kids in.
Prav Solanki: They’ve obviously got the academic ability, but when they stick a personal statement on my lap, that’s when I tear it to shreds. I think like a marketer. You’re selling yourself to somebody who’s reading this statement. You want to go in with a big punch from the start. You want them to pick that up and say, “Whoever’s read this, whoever’s reading a hundred they’ve never read a first sentence that sounds like this.”
Drew: But that’s something to remember, isn’t it for everything. Pay, do you remember your interview at Cardiff?
Payman Langroud…: I do.
Drew: And how the experience was, how did it feel?
Payman Langroud…: What I particularly remember I had an interview at the London Hospital that went very, very well. And then I had an interview at Guy’s that went very, very badly and I answered the same question in the same way in both interviews thinking, “If it went so well over there, it’s going to well over here.” But it was a massive error.
Payman Langroud…: I said something political and I think as it turned out, one was a very left leaning institution and one wasn’t. And at the time I was a bit lefty myself. So I think in Guy’s when I said something about the government, I just saw fear in all their faces. All their eyes as they opened up and said, “We don’t want this troublemaker.” So then I realised, the thing is though guys, you’re 18 when you’re having these conversations.
Payman Langroud…: I was an absolute child, Drew, we heard your story, you went through so much to get to that point. You were ahead of me for sure and Pravin is a corner shop and experiences he’s talked to the public. My parents forced me to get a job on Oxford Street for a week and-
Drew: Well, tell you what? That worked because your sales ability is absolutely brilliant Pay, I can tell you that.
Payman Langroud…: Well, actually, I hated them for making me get this job because they said, “You’re getting a job. You’re working.” And it was a clothes shop and I learned more in that week about why the previous five years, by the way, I still took a taxi in and took a taxi out and had a steak at lunch as I spent more every day that I was earning. But I think one thing I’ve thought about that for my kids as well. They’re not getting that live experience bit right now. And it’s important. It’s important. I think both of you guys had a lot more of it than I did. I had a very sheltered experience in a public school.
Drew: But I think still think about the challenge, the challenge of starting a business, you were dentily trained. You and I were taught how to cut teeth and I’m going to ask Prav, that in a bit, but you and I were taught how to cut teeth and stick a crown on and you kind of thought one step ahead and thought, “Let me make these teeth whiter.” But business was a challenge. You were kicked right into it, starting that business. Go on. Tell me about some of the challenges you had Prav, because it can’t have been that easy just to get going like this.
Prav Solanki: No, it’s not easy. The first thing is my dear friends from school who are still my dear friends now, several of them their dads had these gigantic conglomerate businesses, the multinational manufacturing businesses. And so the idea of business to me seemed like this beautiful thing. And Sanj and I used to joke about it in university. Me and Sanj and Janine did used to live together for five years in university. We used to joke about having this business in dentistry. When it came down to it Drew, I think when you’re young you do things that you don’t realise what the challenges are going to be. But yeah, it was very tough, dude. It was very tough.
Prav Solanki: I think we’ve got a loan for 80 grand and it was all personal guarantees on the loan. We had to put houses and all of that, and you don’t have, totally clueless, man. I think I spent 40 grand in the first two weeks on adverts. Yeah, because I had no idea that it was two weeks before the dental show. We thought, “Well, let’s do some ads.” And I said, “Well, where should we do ads?” I thought, “Well, everywhere.” Well, I wasn’t thinking like, the way you do the business. So I called every single magazine and said, “How much is an ad?” And just took the price they gave me and bought double page spreads in every single magazine, 40 grand went.
Payman Langroud…: Just like roll the food in a restaurant, buddy.
Drew: I’ve been saying that since then, perhaps Payman only spent four grand in advertising, I think, which is good news. I think he learned his lesson realistically.
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Drew: And you weren’t full-time at that point, I suppose you were still doing dentistry and doing this at the same time.
Prav Solanki: No, we were working-
Drew: Did you take the lunch?
Prav Solanki: What happened was on that first day that we launched at dental showcase I don’t know whether it was the advertising or the market was right for it or whatever it was.
Drew: What year was it?
Prav Solanki: 2001, 2001 just after 9/11, I think. We had queues of people trying to talk to us maybe part of the thing was it was light activated back then, and we were giving the machine for free. And then we were charging people to turn it on with this credit card that Fardy, you know Fardy from a Quickwipe?
Prav Solanki: He organised retrofitting these machines for me with card readers. And so we used to sell because we were saying… It’s funny because Sanj is the finance guy to this day and Sanj managed to buy 12 machines, we only had 12. And so there was queues of people wanting to talk to us, but we only had 12 machines.
Prav Solanki: So we were doing this apply to become an Enlighten Centre thing. And we were saying no to people. And the more we were saying no, to people, the more people wanted to know. So, these are the funny mistakes you make. But it started, it suddenly became clear that I needed to stop being a dentist and start working. And I had in my head, I was going to give it five years and I did, I worked on Enlighten for five years before my wife when she got pregnant, I went back and did her job as a dentist.
Drew: Do you miss it?
Prav Solanki: Yeah. Yeah. A little bit, man.
Drew: I’m very convinced with that.
Prav Solanki: No, no, I do. I miss people. I miss people. Yeah.
Prav Solanki: I don’t meet as many people now. On the odd occasion I miss teeth. I’ve said this before when I’d watch a lecture and I feel like doing that work, then I know that’s a great lecture. I felt that way with Dipesh. I felt that way with Jason Smithson. I felt that way with Galip Gurel. When I’m thinking, “God, I want to do that.” Then I know that’s a great, great, great lecture. But Drew, I didn’t really dig having to be there at 9:00 AM, I didn’t dig that. I do like that aspect of business that you can fit it around your particular lifestyle. We’ve had so many guests and Prav likes to wake up at 4:30 AM and go to bed at 4:30 in the afternoon so that he can put his work around that. I’m more of a night owl. And then you said you’re like both of us, right?
Prav Solanki: You go to bed late, wake up early. But I love that. That’s one thing I really do like about business is that you can fit it around yourself. And we had Safina. I don’t know if you listened to that one, Drew.
Drew: I have not finished that one, yes.
Prav Solanki: Safina, three kids and a kitchen table, and she’s building an empire, building an absolute empire. And she works at nighttime [inaudible 00:28:55]. That’s this one aspect of business I really do like.
Drew: You can fit it around life, you can fit around-
Prav Solanki: You can fit it around your own particular situation.
Drew: Yeah, and it’s amazing that… And going back to Prav now, I’m going to kind of re un-pause your story here, where you were doing your pharmacology PhD. You had Mr. Kinane, Professor Kinane sort of doing this. You were doing the interviews, you were still in Oxford. How many years on was that now? That must’ve been eight, nine years?
Prav Solanki: Yeah. I was there for a total of just around nine years. And I remember I was in the final year of my PhD and the reason I got the PhD, there is no way on this planet that we had the means or the funds to even live for me to do another three years and to fund a PhD. So I applied, Tom Kinane said, “Look, there’s a Welcome Trust Scholarship.” And these were his words, “Throw your hat in the ring kid. If you don’t apply, you’ll never know.”
Prav Solanki: So there were 200 applicants open to Oxford and Cambridge for this Welcome Trust Scholarship, one place. And you have to put a research proposal together, turn up at the Welcome Trust in London, have your interview by these panel of whoevers they were and then they choose one person. And then I got it. So my PhD was fully funded. My accommodation was fully funded and I received what was called a stipend. It was referred to as a stipend at the time, a salary, a tax-free salary of 3K a month as a student, as well.
Drew: As well.
Prav Solanki: As well. They paid for a research grant. So hundreds of thousands in research chemicals, microscopes, this, that, and the other covered it all, it was a really, really prestigious scholarship and high value and I was getting towards the end of that. And I remember speaking to Tom and I loved the research. I loved the travel that came with it as well. I loved the academia. Yeah. Lazy life. Yeah. Wake up and I was a gym bunny then as well. So go to the gym, rock up at the lab, teach a few students, flake my microscope on, do some experiments, record the results, and then some weeks you might be analysing whatever teaching.
Prav Solanki: It was such a relaxed compared to today, such a really relaxed life. For me what was written in my career plan was this junior research fellow, work my way up to head of lab in academia. That was my dream, okay? In the final year, my brother had just launched Kids Dental. And I remember having a conversation with him and saying, “How’s the practise going, blah, blah, blah.” And our conversations weren’t about business. We were both so wet behind the ears, even though we’d been brought up in a business environment, the shop, I think gave us our foundation in that. And he goes, “Listen up kid.” he goes, “I’m having three hour lunch breaks. We’ve not got any patients come in through the door. And if I don’t do something about this, we’re just going to go pop?”
Prav Solanki: So I went to the practise, we sat down, we had a chat and he had a PR company who were in at that time and they were spending somewhere between 20 to… And in one particular month, 60, 70 grand in marketing. That was national PR, local, this that I knew that. They were charging a king’s ransom, and that was back in 2005/6 and he just said to me, “Listen, bro, I can’t afford to do this. Can you just research the crap out of this, figure out how to do this marketing thing and get me busy?”
Prav Solanki: And so in my mind, I thought, “I pretty much know the roots of every single blood vessel and nerve in the body. I know about how transmission occurs at the chemical level. I know all about drug interactions, volume of distribution, blah, blah, blah, all this sort of stuff. How difficult can this marketing game be?”
Prav Solanki: So I sat and studied and I went back to uni and whilst having the flexibility of doing the PhD was that I could sit there and study and study and study. So what did we do? We launched some radio ads. We launched some newspaper ads. Google PPC came into the mix, search engine optimization and constantly learning my craft. But I would say within-
Drew: Did you spend the 40 grand in ads anywhere did you?
Prav Solanki: We spent a lot of money. So these were the words my brother said to me is, ‘`I’ve only got 50K left, and you can just spend it.’ And he said to me that, “Listen, I got 110% loan to buy this business. It’s not my money. Just spend it.” And he pulls on the map. So he put his trust in me, someone who wasn’t a marketer but ultimately someone who felt he had ownership and I don’t mean ownership as in shares or anything like that but we’re talking family here, right? So my heart was one in that to succeed. Okay. And very, very shortly within six to eight weeks, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Patients are coming through the door. Brother, no longer had room for a lunch break.
Prav Solanki: Next thing you know he is refurbishing the practise. And next thing you know, we applied for the Private Dentistry Awards, first practise to win outside of London. And then it just became this business that was booming and then sort of fast forward a couple of months, Kailesh was on the politics and cause and he had loads of friends and colleagues who were on the politics and cause with him and they asked him, “So how have you got your practise so busy, who’s doing your marketing for you.” He’s like, “You want to speak to The Fresh, speak to this guy called Prav, he is amazing.”
Prav Solanki: He didn’t tell them we were related, and wanted to keep that distance. And so he rang me, he goes, “Listen, mate, this guy called and the staff it’s going to call you, he’s opening a practise in New Castle, cosmetic dental clinic, go and see him. He lives in Liverpool. And he’ll get you to do a website. You’ll get a few quid out of him.” So I thought, “All right, okay.” And then that snowballed. And so Andy and Darrell were some of my earliest, first clients and have a massive-
Drew: They’re still your clients.
Prav Solanki: Still my clients today. And I remember I drove to Liverpool in my Ford Ka at the time a car that my dad bought me brand new, about 5,000 quid, the windows that you wind down with your hands. But I was incredibly proud of that car. And I drove to meet the guys and we talked about things and then you dream the new vision, the new practise. And to be honest it was from there onwards my business snowballed because in a short period of time, I had maybe a dozen clients and I was winging it guys. I was figuring out this marketing game. I was learning about it, but I was generating success. And this one client of mine, Dr. Rattan Patel.
Prav Solanki: No, sorry.
Prav Solanki: He rang me and he said, “Listen Prav, you’re doing amazing things for my practise. Well, let me tell you something, you’re not charging me anywhere near what you should be charging me.” And I think this is one of my earliest lessons in value and business that I’d ever had. And it was from my own customer. I’m sure everyone else had the same opinion, but just for the milky for one account, why not? There’s been no negotiation this happened. And he said to me, “Listen, Prav, write to all your customers increase your prices by four times and you’ll still be a bargain. And I’ll be the first one to pay you. But until you do that, I’m going to carry on paying you what I’m paying you now and I’m stealing from you, Prav.”
Prav Solanki: And I went away and left it for 12 months. And then he rang me up and he said, “Listen Prav, if you lose three quarters of your customers, you’ll be doing a quarter of the work. You’ll be earning the same money and you’ve just got to do it.” So I did. I drew up and I lost one customer. That was it. I just lost one customer. And then that then sort of helps me realise that, “Hold on a minute? This could be a real business.” Because off the back of that, I could hire people and blah, blah, blah, and, then it all came-
Payman Langroud…: I’ll tell you a story about Prav and his customers. We had our top user, Enlighten top user for a couple of years, was Anthony Quinn in Liverpool, great guy, wonderful.
Prav Solanki: Amazing guy.
Payman Langroud…: And he did a lot of bleaching man and he came to sell his practise. He was retiring and we were at a BACD thing. And it was me and Prav and Anthony and we were having beers and all that. And he was reflecting, we were saying, “Good job, well done. You deserve it. What are your plans going forward?” and all that. And he said, “Payman, you’ve supported me so well, we’ve done this.” And I said, “Actually, you supported me and my top customer… Really happy about it.” Then he turned around to Prav and he put his hand on his shoulder and then no tear came to his eye, literally no tear came to his eye and he went, “There’s no way I could have done what I’ve done without you.”
Drew: Well, it sounds like a good movie line there.
Payman Langroud…: Yeah.
Drew: That’s amazing.
Payman Langroud…: I felt a little bit small at that point, but, yes, he’s a lot more to his customers than the marketing guy, man. All of them have been with you for a decade.
Prav Solanki: Yeah. And I think what’s happened is we’ve evolved together. We started on this journey what? 15 years ago, whatever it is. My business has evolved. They’ve evolved.
Drew: We used to… This is proper switch because you did a switch from pharmacology to marketing and Payman did the switch from dentistry to building a business and you guys have switched me into a host. And your dad had a massive influence on you, Prav.
Prav Solanki: Still does.
Drew: I think that when I listened to your story, his entrepreneurial spirit. His love of cooking. I follow your Facebook recipes, from head to tail, but he must have had all that.
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Drew: Pay, who do you feel had influence? You’ll tell me about your dad in a minute, Prav, but I want to hear Pay’s who had a massive influence on you that you kind of turn back and go, “That person really shadowed me.”
Payman Langroud…: It’s strange but if we’re talking work and we’re talking Enlighten, I’d have to say Sanj, my partner because Sanj, he’s a low-profile kind of guy, you know him Drew.
Drew: Yeah, yeah.
Payman Langroud…: He’s low profile. He doesn’t like being out there. But the reason why Enlighten is a quality product is because of Sanj. He’s one of those guys, he just wants things done absolutely right. But not in an annoying way. He just wants things done the best. And I was a little bit guilty of being the just good enough type of person but, and if you look at Enlighten, people think it’s me because I’m on the front end, but I’d say three quarters of the backend is Sanj. He’s all of operations, he’s all of finance. He is the beating… I wouldn’t say like the heart. I think maybe I’m the heart, he’s the head of the company.
Payman Langroud…: But growing up with him through university, he was the first guy I met in Cardiff. I borrowed a tin opener from him and just a lovely, one of the sweetest guys you’ll meet, a clever, clever guy, but from this perspective of influence to standards, standards let’s do it right. Do it right. Do it right. And I read Good to Great months, years after I met Sanj, but one of the things in that book was, “Even if it hurts you, do it right.”
Payman Langroud…: And he’s one of those, man. He just wants things done right. That’s it, that’s all he wants. And that’s been a massive… Enlighten may not have been, or probably wouldn’t have been a high end player, we are a high end player because we do everything absolutely right. That’s what defines us now.
Drew: And he’s a grafter, man. He’s a grafter, and I’m not saying you’re not Payman, but-
Payman Langroud…: No, he is.
Drew: He’s a man of few words, but a man of multiple actions from what I’ve gathered.
Prav Solanki: For sure. And I turn up, so on my London days, I often plan it like this. I’ll have a couple of morning meetings or I may have a full day board meeting at the IAS Academy or something like that, but always book a late train, or I finish early and I call Payman in the morning on my way to London. I don’t give him any notice. And I say, “Buddy, I’m free from 3:00.” And he’s like, “Yeah, cool.” So he knows I’m rocking up at 3:00 takes the rest of the day off and we hang out. And he can just do that. Sanj is there sat at his desk. He’ll take 10 minutes to chat to me and he’s straight back on his computer.
Drew: Yeah. [crosstalk] difference really. Well, it is like that but you were telling me about your dad because he was a man of few words, a lot of action from the sounds of it as well. Huge influence there for you.
Prav Solanki: For me. Yeah, massive, massive influence. Very old-fashioned, quite strict and growing up we didn’t really go out that much, hangout that much. For me it was all about studying. For my brother he was a bit of a Jack the lad but we all both worked really hard in the shop. The shift used to be from 6:00 in the morning, stocking the shelves and we go to school, come home, study, study, study.
Prav Solanki: In the evening, mopping the kitchen floor, bagging the tables. At the end of the day, we’d sweep the shop. We’d mop the shop with hot steaming kettle water. Yeah. We’d restock the shelves. Weekend was all about cash and carry. Stocking the shelves, blah, blah, blah, so on and so forth. And it was constant. It was a seven day a week, 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM and our house was above and at the back of the shop. So you walk from the shop, open the back door and you’re in our living room.
Drew: Into the house, yeah.
Prav Solanki: Into the living room from the shop. And then you go upstairs above the shop are our bedrooms. So yeah. I think he taught us the art of graft. He taught us hard work. He taught us the value of money. And as you were saying Drew, it’s hard now trying to pass those values onto your own kids because as a dad, I want what’s best for them. I want to give them everything. I don’t want them to be without anything but at the same time, you don’t know whether you’re destroying them or actually doing the right thing. It’s always a tough balance.
Drew: It’s always a tough balance.
Prav Solanki: Always, always a tough balance. So, treat them mean, keep them keen and or what you can afford to give them what maybe we didn’t have, but then do they learn the value of going without and still till today, my dad is involved in helping me with my personal finances, my business, all of my like car insurance, all that sort of stuff. All that admin just gets handled. And I also, as you guys have said with Sanj, I don’t think my business would be where it is today without him, his influence, his backing, his support when I’m down, when a customer for whatever reason is not happy or leaves or whatever he’s there, he’s got my back and that’s really important.
Drew: It’s so amazing because Payman, was saying when you first saw him, he saw you as the £500 a month guy. What was your impression when you first saw Pay? Is that why you said £500 a month because he’s called Payman or was this your first impression different?
Prav Solanki: You know what? There’s a story behind this. So Kailash would, I remember there were a few people I met around that time. One was Payman, another guy called Ferbert, who’s a dear friend. I don’t know that you remember Payman.
Payman Langroud…: Mm-hmm.
Prav Solanki: And so around that time we were going to like Dental showcase this, that, and the other, I just got, “Payman, Payman, Payman.” Someone said, “Payman.” I didn’t actually believe that was his real name. And if you listen to the first episode of this podcast all will become apparent. But basically, I thought his name was Payman, because he was this super rich guy, who just pays for… just a high-roller man, just a super high-roller and Payman is like, “What the hell is that?” Right? But honestly, and I was totally in awe of this guy.
Prav Solanki: Owner of a big dental company, he’s got this massive stand, blah, blah, blah, whatever. But you know what? One of the things is that, you kind of levitate towards people who… I don’t know, you are like, you like people who you are like, or whatever people say about that, but, very, very quickly it became apparent, if I was going to be in London, he’s the first person I’d pick up the phone to and call, because I want to hang out with him. I want to spend time with him.
Drew: And he’s always available as well.
Prav Solanki: And he’s always mucking about.
Drew: He gives that impression away isn’t it? And you guys have been working for how many years together now, has it been sort of three, four, five years. You’ve known each other for ages.
Payman Langroud…: We actually just started working together last week for the first time.
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Drew: That’s amazing.
Payman Langroud…: Finally, I said to Prav, “Listen dude, you’ve done so much for me over these years, but you’ve never charged me a penny and it’s getting…” It was starting to get ridiculous. All my team were contacting him continuously and I said, “Listen, can we just not organise it so that I pay you?” And it’s finally, finally happened after 10 years of work for me, he’s finally being paid for it.
Drew: Yeah. You finally realised Payman, but importantly, how did Dental Leaders Podcast come around? I suppose all the listeners want to know, because this Dental Leaders Podcast it’s seriously captured people’s hearts, it’s captured their minds. And some of the stories you’ve unravelled. I honestly to God, even I didn’t know a lot of things and they’re just inspiring. What enabled it, whose idea was it?
Prav Solanki: We were always talking about content creation, ideas and just marketing. We have these conversations, we listen to marketing podcasts all the time. We’re both avid podcast listeners Payman, more so than me actually. What do you remember about the conversation Pay?
Payman Langroud…: Yeah, on the podcast point you know how they… Do remember guys when it went from if you’re searching for a subject where’d you go? Google, but then at one point it became some YouTube. Some group of younger people started looking in YouTube, or if you want to learn how to do something, YouTube. I got to the point where I realised for me if I wanted to learn about something, a podcast would be the one that would engage me the most.
Payman Langroud…: And so whatever the subject was, whether it was, I don’t know, Facebook ads or whether it was whatever, whether it was entertainment or learning, I found podcasts were the ones that was what was really engaging me the most. So I realised I want to do a podcast, that’s it. And who do I go with to with this sort of thing? Prav, and then he said, “Yeah, I want to do a podcast too.” And we weren’t thinking of doing one together to start with.
Prav Solanki: Not at all.
Payman Langroud…: But then he made kind of sense as well because perhaps the kind of executer type, if he wants something to happen, he’ll make it happen. And then for me, I’m probably the Dental side of this Dental Leaders Podcast. But I was thinking about it Prav actually, if I had ever gone on to do it by myself, I would never have followed through in the end. I probably would have one of my team would have made me whatever but you know what I mean. But what’s made me really an amazing thing about it is we’ve had 50 episodes so far.
Drew: That many.
Payman Langroud…: Yeah. The last one was episode 50.
Drew: Wow! Jeez.
Payman Langroud…: And then there’s so many more, I’m talking to people every day who have got these brilliant stories.
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Payman Langroud…: And dentists are interesting bunch because I don’t know man, maybe it’s the time you’re waiting for that curing light to… I love the medium. I really do and I don’t know, maybe I am a curious person if I’m sitting on a train and there’s two people talking kind of this thing in on them. So I definitely want to know what dentists are thinking. And we started off by saying that we want it to be about people’s lives, not about teeth, because that’s what we’re interested in.
Payman Langroud…: But I think there’s even with all the podcasts that there are now, I think there’s room for another 10 on top of the ones that there are now, but I’m an avid listener I listen to all of the dental ones, the American ones as well. I don’t watch TV or anything like that though.
Drew: No, that’s a good thing actually, your eyes are intact. Your ears will keep going as well. Isn’t it? And you’ve unravelled some seriously awesome stories. It’s hard to point out, I suppose you’ll tell me all 50, but which one for either of you really kind of drove a thing at a personal level, go on Prav.
Prav Solanki: For me, just going back to the whole, first of all, the doing this together, let me just tailor off before I answer your next question.
Prav Solanki: Is that had I gone out and tried to execute this, I think I’d have ended up getting lazy, and it’s the combination of actually is fun and it’s my favourite working day of the month.
Payman Langroud…: Yeah, me too.
Prav Solanki: Especially when we were doing it in person.
Payman Langroud…: Yeah.
Prav Solanki: Now we’re doing this whole socially distance thing, just doesn’t quite have the same energy. It doesn’t feel the same. But I remember like in my diary, I’ve got podcast day and I know that day I’m going to eat some good food because me and Payman are going to go out for dinner. And we’re going to have some really cool conversations. We’re going to bounce off each other. The vibe in the Enlighten office is always just positive. The team is so happy. So I’ll go in and connect with a few of the team, chat with them. It’s just a great, it doesn’t feel like work. And so yeah, I think the combination of us coming together and doing this is what’s created this podcast.
Drew: You know that they say the ying and the yang, the two parts of the circle, make it up. You guys decide who wants to be ying and yang, but that’s worked really well I think. Absolutely brilliantly.
Payman Langroud…: My favourite one’s Andrew Dawood for me. He was just a massive hero of mine for years and years and years just to meet the guy for me was special. But then to be the one to ask him questions and get answers from him and all that, and in his story, so much about his story, I didn’t even realise, even though I used to follow him. I loved Anil Shrestha, really did, and then stumbled on yours and some of the struggle ones guys, your story Drew.
Drew: You don’t say it. I’m just interviewing you.
Payman Langroud…: What a story man, what a story?
Drew: It left me wounded, man. I walked out of there just feeling like you sort of imparted your pain on us, man.
Payman Langroud…: Sorry.
Drew: And I don’t mean that in a negative-
Payman Langroud…: What’s the name of that shopping centre in Sheffield, man. The going and working and then going to college and then going to the shopping centre every day.
Drew: Meadowhall everyday.
Payman Langroud…: Meadowhall.
Drew: Brilliant, which other ones really Prav, got you because Meadowhall was brilliant by the way. I’ve learned like you, I learned sales there. I worked in Ravel, at a shoe shop selling shoes.
Prav Solanki: Vishal’s, did you listen to Vishal?
Payman Langroud…: Yeah.
Drew: I’ve learnt we have listened to Vishal’s as well. And his story, he’s a flamboyant character and to kind of get to what you guys got to, I’ve got to give it to you. I think he must’ve cried after that if you didn’t.
Prav Solanki: He’s one of my favourite people, Vishal. Robbie Hughes, I liked a lot.
Payman Langroud…: Yeah.
Prav Solanki: Of course, I mean it goes without saying Anup.
Payman Langroud…: And for me that was my favourite episode. Anup, once again one of my early customers very quickly became a friend and a confidant and almost like my ear to the ground, my voice in dentistry. If I produced a piece of content and put it out there, Anup would be texting me about it, asking me about it and et cetera. But he was you say it now, but such a special guy. And we only realised actually how special he was when we lost him.
Prav Solanki: He did it all very quietly to be honest.
Payman Langroud…: With the outpouring but the life lessons in that podcast, the conversations about him being distracted by his computer and his son glueing his laptop, the resonation of the love he had for his dad and when he lost his dad shortly, before he passed. And then how he ended his podcast as well incredibly, incredibly valuable, so many business life and lessons in that podcast, for sure. Definitely, definitely one of my favourites. Another one-
Prav Solanki: I didn’t know Anup as well as you obviously Prav, I used to meet him at a conference, shake hands and have a quick joke. But I’m so glad we did that interview because on that day, at least I felt like I’d met him really properly. And a real gentlemen, real fun loving gentlemen.
Payman Langroud…: Yeah.
Drew: Anup, few months before what happened unfortunately he told me something very nicely he said, “Drew, all these tubule lines may find another tubules if you, whatever, but your son will never find another dad.” And so that was a joke, a joke for me, where I started spending every Sunday with my dad. But as a dad, I know Prav, you’ve got three little ones.
Prav Solanki: Four, four kids mate, four kids.
Drew: You’ve got your hands full. Payman, have you got little ones-
Payman Langroud…: Two.
Drew: … or slightly bigger than little? Two of them. Tell me as a dad, what’s your approach in life when you’re with your kids, how do you want your kids to see yourselves? Go on Payman, you tell me.
Payman Langroud…: I don’t know if it’s the right thing or not. What I’ve found is kids are a bit like, at work with the best intentions you do something and then you get an unintended consequence comes out of it as well. It’s almost like something good and bad comes from every action you make. I’m very lucky though, I’ve been with my wife just about since university. She’s very connected to the kids, to school and all of that.
Payman Langroud…: I think I suffer Prav, with the same issue with my kids as I do with my people at Enlighten. The line between wanting to be their friend and wanting to be their dad, and I don’t know whether it’s a problem or not, but obviously that’s what I’m into, so I don’t want to artificially change the thing, but I’m very close friends with both my kids.
Prav Solanki: Can I just butt in there just for a second Pay, and he talks about this line between being the friend and the dad. Me and Pay was in one of these, his boutiquey coffee shops that he likes to take me to. And we were sat there and this little girl walks in the shop and goes, “Hey, Pay?” And, I just thought, “I wonder who that is.” His daughter, she spoke to him like a mate. I was like, “She calls you Pay?” He was like, “Yeah, carry on Payman.”
Drew: Carry on Pay.
Payman Langroud…: Yeah, I’ve got one of my friends here who gets very offended about that. One of my good friends. He doesn’t like that idea, “You’re her dad. She mustn’t call you Pay.” But I don’t how it came about, but yeah, they both call me Pay.
Drew: That’s really awesome. Isn’t it? I think from after listening to this is when everyone finds you across anywhere, they’re going to go there and, “Hey Pay. How you doing, Pay?” That’s the way it’s going to go, isn’t it? How old are yours Prav? How old are yours now? There’s a wide range.
Prav Solanki: So we’ve got 17, 15, five and three.
Drew: Wow, so you’ve got the absolute independent minded teenager to the absolutely following you, learning from you three year old with every question on the planet. How old are yours Pay?
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Payman Langroud…: 13 and 10.
Drew: Wow. He’s entering that stage of rebel thing. That’s amazing. Where do you guys see dentistry going? You’ve interviewed so many people. You’ve spoken to a lot of them. You’ve got insight, you work within the business field of dentistry. You see different faces. Do you want to play Nostradamus’ game and look into a Crystal Ball?
Prav Solanki: I think direct to consumer is going to be huge. I do think that obviously what’s happening in the market now is shaking things up. So we’re talking direct to consumer orthodontics. I’m a director of the IAS Academy and I work with the likes of Tif Qureshi, Ross Hobson, Anup when he was around and very much about teaching how to do things right ethically in the right way. And I don’t think that it’s there yet, but I do believe that the power of machine learning that can second guess your next move. And I see this when we’re optimising Google AdWords campaigns, right?
Prav Solanki: So before you had all these switches to optimise and you can change things like your bid strategies, time of day, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Or now today, once you’ve got enough conversions, you can leave the machine to it. And it’s got so much more data in hands than we have, and it does a better job than you, but you’ve got to get it to that place. And ultimately, I think machine learning will come into a place where actually it will outsmart the human, but you will still need the human to drive it. We’re seeing things like, look I’m not a clinician, but things like injection moulded teeth. Yeah.
Prav Solanki: Now, even though I’m not a dentist, I challenge anyone to injection mould and produce teeth as beautiful as Dipesh Palmer does, it ain’t going to happen today, but maybe it will happen tomorrow. Yeah. And so that’s where I see the future of dentistry going and just like you can order your groceries from [inaudible] and whatever I think you’ll probably one day be able to ask Alexa for a new set of teeth.
Drew: Yeah, I agree mate.
Payman Langroud…: Look, the digital side is definitely going to change everything. There’s no doubt about that. And a dentist isn’t going to have to hold a drill. Why should a dentist hold a drill? Why can’t the thing go in there and take care of business if drilling is still part of the game? It doesn’t mean there’s no role for a dentist. I’m sure there will be. But I think in shorter term in the UK, I don’t know how you feel Drew, because with your experience internationally yeah, but in the UK, the NHS has held us back.
Payman Langroud…: Yeah. It’s held us back big time and so what happens next to the NHS will make a massive difference to what happens next in dentistry in the UK. But we can see on the private side that when the NHS isn’t holding people back then wonderful things can happen in UK dentistry, but the NHS has held us back. And, I’m not trying to put a downer on it, but in dentistry, even in medicine, I’ve got a love-hate relationship with it. When you’ve had family who’ve needed medical care, there’s definitely a side of it that you love because you know that NHS will save your life.
Payman Langroud…: On the other hand, you try and get a diagnosis quicker. Sometimes I’ve been in third world countries where you get better medical care then you do in the NHS and cleaner medical care. So even though I think as a net, the country’s better off with an NHS, in dentistry I don’t think that. I think in dentistry, if we could switch it off tomorrow, I think life would be better for patients and dentists.
Drew: I think quality would definitely go up and I’ll tell you a very interesting story. Here is a friend of mine moved to another country. And from there, she started in practise and she said to me, “Drew, I’m not getting any patients.” And I said, “What marketing have you done?” She said, “Marketing? What’s that?” Because in the UK, there’s this big board, blue board that says NHS so you never have to do it. But when she did learn marketing, patients came in and then she said, “Drew, a lot of them come in, but when I refer them for some complex stuff, they never come back.”
Drew: I said, “That’s because you refer them. And you’re not in the UK where the system is referral. You’ve got to have every skill under your belt.” So she had to learn implants, orthodontics. But the biggest thing she said is, “I can’t believe it, but it had curtailed my growth and not just growth as a clinician. It had curtailed my growth.” And I think that’s probably where we come in because the fundamentals of why the NHS existed was right until the value got lost somewhere, which is an interesting story. I stick in there, but I think growth is really big.
Drew: Now, you’re both contributing towards that growth. We’re not talking financial growth only but contributing towards whether it’s mental, physical, spiritual, the whole professional, vocational growth, social growth Leaders Podcast has pretty much connected people together. You must feel proud. There must be a sense of pride in what you guys have achieved at what level. At what point do you sit down and go, “Yeah, I’m proud of this.” And at what point do you say, “Huh, life carries on let’s push the barriers further?” Are you those kind of people? Well you look like it.
Prav Solanki: I’ve never really thought about it, but one thing that I do think about is it goes back to Anup’s story. That what we’re doing is we’re putting a stamp of legacy down for every individual that we interview and that’s there forever. That story there is solid. And so had we not interviewed Anup, all those thousands of people that have listened to his episode, wouldn’t still be able to connect to him now he’s no longer here. And that’s what I see is that. The other side of it is actually bringing that true human being to the surface, and I’m sure people like Simon or Rona won’t mind what I’m about to say.
Prav Solanki: So before I met Simon, I thought he was this super perfect made out of plastic canon Barbie doll ask type guy, because that’s what social media depicts him as. Since I’ve got to know Simon. I met him at the podcast in person and stuff, a truly humble, genuine human being who is actually a bit of a perfectionist, self-limiting because of that paralysed by perfection.
Prav Solanki: And I’ve since been fortunate enough to work with him on a couple of different projects, just a really nice guy to chat with. But social media can put you and reflect you in a way that you truly are not as a human being, and the same goes for Rona.
Prav Solanki: The way she puts herself out there, the way she talks and everything is her. It’s just the way she’s not putting on an act or anything like that. And once again, somebody who I’ve worked with, and I think if we hadn’t put these podcasts together, I don’t think you’d have got into the inner workings of a person. Dominica Holland is another one who once again, he’s has been known to be quite abrasive on social media. Let’s be honest.
Prav Solanki: But he’s been the hero of lockdown. His intelligence and then the backstory behind that intelligence and then his vulnerability that, the stuff about his son and all the rest of it, bringing that story to the surface, do you know what? I’m proud of us together, being able to bring that out, publish it. And it be there as an archive for people to listen to. Pay, what about you?
Payman Langroud…: I think it’s one of… It’s like the UN, if it didn’t exist, you’d have to invent it. You know what I mean? These are valuable stories. I get contacted all the time by like first year dental student. I never had any idea that first year dental student would even have access to the Dental Leaders Podcast, lots of students saying how much it’s inspired them, how much they’ve learned from it. And then interestingly, different people find different episodes valuable, different episodes get different numbers of people actually tuning in as well.
Payman Langroud…: I guess they get shared and all of that, but yeah, it’s valuable. Like you said Prav, it’s there forever and it’s a resource and getting to understand how people got to where they got to. And I think we’re going to try and bring out some stories from people who aren’t famous as well, because to start with, when you start something like this, you try to find all your friends who are well-known like, “Get Drew, get Drew.” Two years later it might mean getting new space.
Payman Langroud…: But both me and Prav, we’ve got customers, we have friends, customers, users who no one’s ever heard of because they’re not out there, but they’re amazing business people. They’ve got wonderful stories of their own. People who we know because we’d been working with them for such a long time, and going forward, I want to expose some of those as well, because dude, the day-to-day for dentists is as much about relationships with their patients, relationships with their teams and relationships with each other. And we’re in this wonderful situation now where we were talking to Lauren Harrhy, do you know her?
Payman Langroud…: And we were told her, she’s sitting in the Welsh Valleys. I know that the Welsh Valleys well. She’s sitting in Pontypool and she’s able to have this massive impact nationally on mental health. And she’s going into the BDA-
Drew: It’s amazing.
Payman Langroud…: … elections and all this. We like to denigrate social media and all that. We are at a point where we’re connected and the best stories will resonate. And so having a platform where we can talk to people, I just love it, dude. I love it. It’s definitely, this is a mini smarmy for all my favourite two days of my month, my least profitable two days.
Prav Solanki: I think they’re profitable. They’re just not financially profitable, but they might provide spiritual wellness.
Drew: Not yet. Not yet, the spiritual wealth and the mental wealth they put into you is amazing. And I suppose, Pay you’re very good at jokes. And my one advice to you is please teach Dipesh Palmer, how to get good at jokes. If he’s listening to this, he’ll think I’m very nice. And I think what you guys capture is that very human spirit. End of the day, whatever social media portrays, as you say Prav, what is most important is every single dentist has good intentions for other human beings.
Drew: It’s just the way they go about it is different. They skin the cat in different ways but that’s what I find most enjoyable about this profession. And everyone takes a different project. They want to impact another human being. You guys have picked up a project that I think is phenomenal, and you’re not impacting another human being. You’re impacting a shit load of, pardon my French, human beings. How many views has these podcasts had? Have you got any idea on the numbers?
Prav Solanki: Pay, handles that better than me.
Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Prav, doesn’t care much about this stuff, man. He doesn’t care.
Prav Solanki: For me, once we’ve done the thing, we’ve recorded the episode, and we’ve got the story out. The way I look at it is we’ve done our bit, right? I’m not looking at performance or anything like that but Payman is so into the numbers.
Payman Langroud…: I look at it every day, dude. It’s like my shares or something every single day I look at it. There’s been around 50,000 downloads so far but-
Drew: Brilliant. That’s amazing actually. And I think you have the ability to capture a global audience as well. Isn’t it? You can now. Well, I know you don’t see them in person, but now you can go out and grab your hands as far to Australia, America, Fiji, wherever they are. So where do you see it going? What’s the future? What’s the future for not the podcast? What’s the future for Prav and Pay.
Prav Solanki: Jeez.
Payman Langroud…: Look, the most important takeaway needs to be, and I know it’s a cliché, but the journey rather than the destination because Drew, we could say, “Hey, what’s your destination.” I don’t know. You’ve got such massive goals. But that might as well be something, ultimately, I want to sell Enlighten for a hundred million dollars or something like that. What am I going to do? Be unhappy until whether that day comes or doesn’t come. Absolutely not, we have to enjoy the journey. And for me, I’m going to carry on doing the things that make me enjoy it. So, we’re going to work on Enlighten. We’re going to develop products and all of that. But I find real joy in connecting Drew, which I know you do as well.
Payman Langroud…: And for me, watching new generations come through is always exciting. You mentioned Dipesh, and meeting Dipesh in VT and seeing him as a global lecturer, probably one of the best teachers in the world right now on his subject. That just looked, feels good to watch that journey, it really does.
Drew: Fulfilling, rewarding and-
Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah, yeah, and you can’t always spot the people, but you can as well, you can see them, you can see them coming. I remember Simon. Talking to Simon as a student rep at the BACD. He was a fourth year dental student and Richard Field as well. And you could see that the ambition of the guy, even at that point, you could see it and watching him becoming this, it feels like he’s been around for 30 years.
Drew: He doesn’t look it.
Payman Langroud…: Or even Jason. Jason’s first ever lecture was with us. And proper household name, the guys themselves are amazing. They’re amazing, amazing people, but what I’m saying about UK-wise is we’ve got the potential to be doing things like that. And yet a large proportion of our workforce has sat there working out UDA rules. What can they and can’t they do, minimising outgoings and like the way it’s all set up and you know what? For me, the real painful part of what you said about not having to look for patients is that it’s like something comes in your psyche that’s like, “I’m doing the patient a massive favour by seeing them.”
Payman Langroud…: And whenever that comes into your psyche, it’s just wrong. It’s just wrong. You’re not doing the patient a favour. The patient is doing you a massive favour, it’s an honour to treat that patient. And the NHS has somehow kind of skews that. Which [crosstalk 01:16:33].
Prav Solanki: I think you’re right.
Drew: I can see it’s an important point, but it is important to realise that there’s a benefit both ways in that. And that’s why I always tell people, maximise your potential to thrive. Prav, go on.
Payman Langroud…: Opened up the future to us.
Drew: What’s the future Prav?
Prav Solanki: Yeah. So for me, it’s about always learning and being better tomorrow, than I was today or yesterday or whatever. And so be that in different elements or aspects of my life, whether it’s health, whether it’s relationships with family, whether it’s business and taking on new challenges. So, for me, I only really understood dentistry, even though I was in it for a decade beforehand, until I became a practise owner. And then I understood the struggles and the strengths of what reception team members go through, management, people taking a day off sick, dentists not turning up today, patients left waiting, how do we deal with that problem?
Prav Solanki: Emails going unanswered, et cetera, et cetera. All of that pain and struggle. So, from the business side, just taking on more responsibilities and more challenges to improve myself all round. And that may not necessarily result in financial reward, but I really do get my kicks out of learning, trying to apply some kind of scientific methodology to it and rolling that out. That I love, on the business side and on the family side, I just want to be a superhero to my kids.
Prav Solanki: I just want to be that role model, that somebody who can influence them, guide them when they need that support. So for example, my daughter’s applying for university now. Too bloody right, I wrote her personal statement.
Drew: Throw your hat in the ring girl.
Prav Solanki: And it’s the best personal statement that anyone will ever read, and I can guarantee you that, buddy.
Drew: I think so.
Prav Solanki: And it’s those little things, you want to be the superhero to your kids that’s and with the younger ones, I’m definitely that in their eyes, whilst they’re little kids. I just want to carry on doing that. Nurture my relationship with my wife. You’ve got to work on that stuff. Just like you, Drew. I’m a workaholic, given half the chance, I’ll sit here for 18 hours a day in front of my computer. No question, no question.
Drew: I noticed.
Prav Solanki: But you’ve got to really, really work on that and make time and just segment, it’s hard. The balance is hard. The kid, the wife, the work, the ambition, the drive, and you’re juggling, spinning plates, call it whatever you want. But if any, one of those goes out of whack, it can affect everything else. It can mess-
Drew: It can mess.
Prav Solanki: And Zuber said this the other day,
Payman Langroud…: Zuber Bagasi.
Drew: Yeah. I speak to Zuber all the time.
Payman Langroud…: Synergy Dental.
Drew: I love that man’s drive, another [crosstalk] guy.
Payman Langroud…: Loved it.
Prav Solanki: We haven’t put the episode out yet, but it was a very good.
Drew: I’m going to wait for that, what did he say Prav? Tell me.
Prav Solanki: He said that life is like driving a car with all four tyres inflated. And one of them could be like life, wealth, health, business whatever. And if one of those isn’t fully inflated, then everything goes to pop. So his focus was on driving his car with all four tyres, inflated.
Drew: I mean, that’s brilliant. Zuber always says car analogies as well. I’ve realised when I first met him-
Prav Solanki: Is that right.
Drew: He gave me three car analogies. I’ve just realised he’s got a fourth one, something interesting there, but with car analogies, I’m just going to say I’ve enjoyed being the driver of the Dental Leaders Podcast. I’m moving back to the back seat. So you guys can choose who’s going to drive and navigate again into the future. The sports didn’t make sense. That made sense.
Prav Solanki: Absolutely buddy, absolutely.
Payman Langroud…: That’s brilliant. Guys, I’ve loved sharing this actually. I think [crosstalk 01:20:55].
Drew: Thank you so much for that, I’ve loved it, man.
Prav Solanki: Thanks Drew. When you first suggested the switch, both me and Payman, I think we were just a little bit like, “Well, that’s a bit weird. Let’s do it anyway.” And it’s been great. I’ve enjoyed it.
Drew: I hope you’ve enjoyed it. And I hope you kind of got a bit of a feel of what we’ve been on the hot seat.
Payman Langroud…: It’s difficult on this side, much easier on the other.
Drew: The other side, you ask the questions, but you know what it was, I’m going to finish it with this book worth the read because I know, especially Pay likes reading the Thinking Effect, and I’ll send you this kid’s TED Talk that’s what somehow triggered it in my head. It created a thinking effect, but the switch has been fun. Dental Leaders Podcast is inspiring, it’s positive. It’s energising.
Drew: It’s bringing people of different backgrounds, different experiences, different knowledge, different beliefs, different values, different faiths, and making us all the same. We look after humans. This is Mr. Payman, and now you say, “Hey, Pay.” Who has really told us about his passion for creating, connecting, and really collaborating and watching Prav, whose passion is all about learning and creating systems that just maximise everyone’s potential to thrive together. I’ve enjoyed this Dental Leaders Podcast. The hot seat is back to Prav and Pay. Thanks guys.
Prav Solanki: Thanks Drew.
Payman Langroud…: Awesome man.
Prav Solanki: Thank you so much.
Payman Langroud…: That’s brilliant.
Outro Voice: 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: Thanks for listening guys. If you’ve got this far, you must have listened to the whole thing and just a huge thank you both from me and Pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we had to say and what our guest has had to say, because I’m assuming you’ve got some value out of it.
Payman Langroud…: 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.
Prav Solanki: And don’t forget our six star rating.