Instagram Dentistry and Overcoming Good Luck with Simon Chard
Coming from a family of dentists, Simon Chard has been accused of starting out in the game with an unfair advantage.
In this episode, he talks about how he overcame negativity from fellow professionals to find success on his own terms.
Simon’s story is one of hard work and determination, and it’s also one of amazing pragmatism. He has used social media to turn himself into one of the industry’s most recognisable personal brands.
In an episode that will resonate with both old-school professionals and digital natives alike, Simon talks about engaging clients online, the problems facing young ‘upstart’ dentists and much more.
The ability to change someone’s life and generate a positive impact, you don’t get that in the majority of jobs. And that feeling is amazing. Dentistry is good in some ways because it grounds you and keeps you in a strong relationship with other human beings. – Dr. Simon Chard
About Simon Chard
Cosmetic dentist and director of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Simon Chard graduated with Honours from King’s College London Dental Institute in 2012.
He is a passionate proponent of using digital technology to simplify cosmetic and implant dentistry. Simon regularly teaches this alongside dental photography and minimally invasive aesthetic dental techniques.
In 2015, Simon was named Best Young Dentist UK and London at the prestigious Dentistry Awards.
In this episode:
4:42 – The impact of social media
6:38 – Diversifying by doing what you love
7:37 – Perceptions of Simon
8:02 – What not to engage in on social media
9:05 – Biggest weakness revealed!
12:54 – Coping with imposter syndrome
16:09 – Simon’s top three public speaking tips
21:17 – Choosing dentistry over pharmacology
26:40 – Taking over from mum and dad
30:27 – Digital vs traditional marketing
31:43 – Simon’s ‘unfair’ advantage
33:42 – Business challenges
34:33 – Business systems
39: 56 – Being an ‘Instagram dentist’
44:35 – Attitudes towards young dentists
50:22 – Social media – a double-edged sword
Connect with Simon:
Connect with Prav and Payman:
Payman: Hi Guys, welcome to the Dental Leaders Podcast. Today’s guest is Simon Chard, a real rising star. I’ve known him since he was undergrad, Prav.
Prav Solanki: Wow.
Payman: Yeah. Student Rep at PACD and even then, he had a presence, but so lovely to see him go from strength to strength and now becoming an international lecturer coming from a family of dentists and how he’s taking his practise to the next level. Just a super impressive guy.
Prav Solanki: Yeah, I mean, my takeaways from this was that you see Simon on Instagram and there’s this persona that’s built up about this guy-
Payman: You hadn’t met him before, had you?
Prav Solanki: I hadn’t met Simon before, no. So I really wasn’t sure what to expect, and I truly believe this in person, right? You have engagement on social media with somebody, when you meet them, it’s completely different to what you expect, right? And that was also the case with Simon. He’s very polished, he’s incredibly well presented, he’s always immaculately groomed, right? But, underneath the depth of that, what a lovely person and he let into some of the things that worry him before giving a presentation and how everything that he does is built out of practise, practise, practise and perfection, and the tweaks he makes to his presentations and the way that social media’s affected him as a person, right? The comments, the things like that.
Payman: With someone like Simon, just because of the way he comes across and the way he looks and dresses, you could be forgiven for thinking he’s an arrogant person.
Prav Solanki: Far from it. Far from it.
Payman: But he’s actually the opposite, really actually a really humble, down to earth guy you’d want to have a beer with, and that’s always lovely to see when you’ve got one view of what the guy’s going to be like, but as I say, I’ve known him for a while, so it was interesting to see your reflections on it first time you-
Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect, right? And you always build up these preconceptions. What a lovely, lovely guy. Guys, you’re going to really enjoy this interview.
Payman: Yeah, enjoy it guys.
Simon: I remember seeing her, she was in a blue shirt, black waistcoat, glasses and pigtails, and yeah, I spotted her out of the crowd and then actually we went out that night and we started chatting and the rest is history.
Simon: And, I had a girlfriend at the time.
Speaker 3: 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.
Payman: It’s good to have you, Simon. Thanks for coming down. Been looking forward to this one, and Prav’s been particularly looking forward to-
Prav Solanki: Absolutely.
Payman: … talking. You guys ever met before?
Prav Solanki: No, first time.
Simon: First Time.
Payman: It’s all right.
Payman: How have you managed that? You stopped coming to events, obviously.
Simon: I have, I have.
Payman: He was a regular, he used to be an absolute regular at-
Prav Solanki: Every event.
Payman: … of the ACD, AC.
Simon: Yeah, yeah. Then I got married and that was it, Game over.
Payman: I think we met at the ACD once.
Prav Solanki: I think we met at showcase.
Prav Solanki: Showcase.
Payman: Yeah. So it’s actually really nice to have you here rather than that one of those events because, wanted to have more of an in depth conversation. Your persona, your status in Dentistry’s just going from strength to strength. Is that something that you’ve been working on actively or feels a little bit about that. I mean, you’re only, what, qualified?
Simon: Six years.
Payman: Six years, and I came to you and when was it? We talked recently and I said, “it’s interesting you won the generation.” I said. Not that it’s a competition, but it’s very impressive, very impressive where you’ve come. I mean, it feels like you’ve been around for ages and then that’s a compliment, I guess to it, but that’s an active process.
Simon: I guess it’s a bit of both. I think that I have a very Type A driven personality and that pushes me to just say yes to everything, and I think the more things you say yes to, the more opportunities come your way and that just will naturally, I guess increase your profile. I think I got lucky in a few things. I got lucky in the fact that I was thrown into Digital Dentistry as soon as I got out of VT, became my niche. I got lucky that I was exposed to Tif Qureshi on dentaltown.com when I was a third year undergraduate and I’ve got him into uni to do a lecture and then he pushed me into the BACD and that’s obviously been a big part of my career.
Simon: But yeah, I mean certainly it’s something that I worked very hard on and as the social media thing has become bigger and bigger and bigger, again, that’s something that has always been a part of my career for better or for worse. It’s certainly something that I think is a double edged sword, but it’d been a big part of my career to date and it’s something that I’m putting a lot of effort into now because I see that it’s going to continue to get bigger and bigger, whether it’s the platforms that we’re currently talking about or whether it moves into a different space, I don’t know, but I do know that it’s the modern arena, both within professionals and also with regards to how we communicate with our patients.
Payman: Yeah, but I mean, from my perspective, there’s people who qualified with you in your year who are busy being dentists, treating patient and you’re looking at teaching, you’re looking at influence the work, the keeping a leader work and so on. Is that something to do with the fact that your dad was a dentist and you try, and move it forward from there, or what is it about you that makes you look at that sort of stuff at such a young age?
Simon: Well, yes. I think my parents both being dentists means that I can’t, and I didn’t go into Dentistry to start with, I just did a degree before Dentistry, so a lot of people realise. I actually didn’t want to do what my parents did because someone told me when I was 16 that you should do with your parents do, and that stuck in my head. We can talk about that later, but I think since getting involved with industry, it’s become a complete obsession for me and I was chatting with Prav before, I’ve got quite an obsessive personality.
Simon: When I get into something, I get into it, I’m watching 18 YouTube videos a day on that specific topic and Dentistry is, luckily for me, one of those things that I am very obsessive about. I do love it and I know that’s really cliche by genuinely do love it and so that side of things, people have the misconception about me that I’m never in the clinic, I’m never doing any work, I’ve never seen my patients.
Simon: In general on a normal week, I’m in the clinic four days a week, but outside of that time, I like to diversify my career and just keep things fresh, I guess, and doing the lecturing is really fun, it’s something I love doing. I love sharing my passion with other dentists. It allows me to travel, it allows me to interact with other professionals and the influence of stuff is just something that’s just happened, really. It’s not something that I’ve actively engaged on. It’s just a product of the environment that I operate in, I think.
Payman: Yeah, I feel like you’ve carried off well, and I’m the first one to say that age isn’t a concern. We’ve been working with Depesh for five years now and only eight years out of university, but you carried off pretty well and it feels like you’ve thought of the I’s and crossed the T’s and it doesn’t feel like you’re still a young dentist, and sometimes I have to remind myself.
Simon: Yeah, I’m not that young anymore, mate.
Payman: Yeah, yeah. That’s because you did that, the degree.
Simon: I think the key thing for me, that the most important characteristic that I’ve tried to push out into the social environment is humility because I’m very aware of my inadequacies and the fact that I am young and the fact that I shouldn’t be out there saying I’m God’s gift to Dentistry or anything. So I think trying to be humble is the most important thing in the way that I carry myself, specifically online, and that’s why I never engage with anyone who wants to engage in a negative way on social media because there’s plenty of people wanting to engage with you negativity on social media. I’ve had people call me out for wearing too much Brylcreem and stuff like that. Dentists I’m talking about. Yeah. Not even just randomness, but-
Payman: I used to get that.
Simon: … but, yeah, I think that’s been the main pillar of, if you’re saying, how do I want other people to, I would like them to view me as humble because traditionally I’ve had a lot of people, for whatever reason, assume that I’m arrogant without actually giving me the opportunity to engage with them and interact with them.
Prav Solanki: I think you put yourself out there, no matter who you are, whether you come across as a Polish character, you’re obviously very successful at what you do, and people are going to take shots no matter you are or what you do and why the business you’re in. From your perspective, you say that what you want to get across is humility. What would you say your biggest weakness is, Simon?
Simon: Okay. My biggest weakness for myself is my thin skin. We talked about it before.
Prav Solanki: Sure.
Simon: My anxiety, for me, is my weakness and my inability to control that because I’m a complete control freak. I like everything to be exactly where it should be. I like every element of my life, whether it be family, work, how I dress, how my health is, I want everything to be perfect, which is completely unrealistic and that drives me to be better in everything that I do.
Simon: But naturally failure is present in everything, and so that generates a lot of anxiety for me at the same time in the fact that when things don’t go right, I get very anxious about it.
Prav Solanki: And so, have you got a particular example that you can share with us that has made you feel particularly anxious, maybe a comment on Instagram or on your social media that fired you up, or like you said earlier, you don’t respond to negativity, you hold back and cope with that in a certain way?
Simon: Yeah. I think the main negativity that I receive on social media is very rarely from the general public, even though I’m quite present with regards to the general public with a number of followers I have an Instagram and that sort of thing. I try to target my posts and my communications both towards professionals but also to the general public to help with communication with dentists and patients, but the main negativity that I’ve experienced on social media is from all the dentists trying to cut me down, I guess, is the best way to say it, for whatever reason.
Simon: There’s been, I can’t remember an exact specific right now, but whether it be my treatment planning, doing lecturing from such a young age was a big one, when I first started, I started lecturing on CyraCom Digital Dentistry after using it for two years full time. That wasn’t enough for some people, at that point, I was teaching on it in a very basic level.
Simon: Basically this is how you use the machine, but-
Payman: How many years did you do get it, because one worries about two years out teaching.
Simon: Absolutely. I mean… I’ve been offered so many opportunities to talk on stuff that I don’t have sufficient knowledge on and my anxiety would not let me do that because if someone was to call me out… my constant worry is I’m going to get called out for not knowing enough.
Simon: Which is why I put so much effort into every single lecture I do, that if you speak to Megan, even now, every morning, if I’m lecturing on the day, I mark at 4:30 in the morning, put in the finishing touches to my lecture because I don’t think it’s good enough. I don’t think any of my lectures are good enough.
Payman: Even if you’ve delivered the same lecture before.
Simon: Yeah, exactly. I mean, obviously the ones that I give more frequently, I’m much more comfortable with, but anything that is called advanced or, yeah, basically all the advanced stuff that I do because I now teach every single level to do with Digital Dentistry from non-user up to very, very experienced users.
Simon: Especially when there’s an advanced element to it, even though I’ve given that exact lecture God knows how many times I will always be up adding a little bits, making sure everything is current, making sure everything’s fresh, because I’m constantly concerned that I’m going to get called out for not knowing enough.
Prav Solanki: Do you think you suffer from imposter syndrome where basically you feel that similarly, someone’s going to call you out and say, “Well, such a body does this better.” Or, “You’re inexperienced at this.” And so the typical example is you put a piece of content out then someone says, “Well, that’s not original, somebody else has said that, somebody else has done this.” And so you get up on stage and there’s that inbuilt fear that I’m actually a poster and somebody is going to catch me now.
Simon: Yeah, yeah. No, I definitely think like that from that. It’s not the way that I’ve looked at it before, but it’s definitely, that’s exactly how I feel.
Prav Solanki: Sure, and I guess that my take on that is certainly from your perspective as well, there is only one Simon Chard and there’s only one way that you deliver your content and there’s no one else who can deliver it the same way that you can, so.
Prav Solanki: I mean that’s my way of coping with it. When someone says, “Well, Prav I’ve heard such a body talk about customer journey or customer experience and this is my angle on it.” There’s only one way that this brown baldheaded Mancunian guy can deliver that, but there’s only one way that Simon Chard can deliver Digital Dentistry. No one else can deliver it like you.
Simon: Yeah, absolutely.
Prav Solanki: So that’s what I use as a coping mechanism, and I had the same fears and anxieties, right? Sometimes people say, “Oh, Prav, well, I’ve heard that before, or that’s not original and that’s not new, and that’s a way for me to cope with it.”
Payman: But we think about this a lot with Depesh’s course and Depesh has never been on a hands-on course himself.
Prav Solanki: Ever.
Payman: Yeah? And we’re now saying ever go on a hands-on course so all the content is his own.
Payman: This is an interesting idea because often, even though you think it’s your own-
Prav Solanki: You’ll pick it up by osmosis, right?
Prav Solanki: Of course you will.
Payman: Not that it’s a problem, of course, but that’s the whole point of going, of course, and learning and everything.
Simon: But nothing is new, mate.
Payman: Of course.
Simon: That’s the concept that I always live by, it’s that.
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Payman: Of course.
Simon: Yes. Anything that you see, you say, “Oh, wow, that’s awesome.” You can guarantee that person-
Payman: Of course.
Simon: … saw that somewhere else either directly, unlikely directly, copied it, but probably just put their little tweak on it and then redirected it and it might just be that last little 5% that makes it amazing, whereas before it was just average.
Prav Solanki: Or just people resonate with you as a human being, right?
Simon: Yeah, exactly.
Prav Solanki: You might deliver exactly the same content and you just connect with someone a little bit better and you may not be for some people and you may be for others.
Payman: You seem so comfortable on the stage. Did you do any drama, or?
Simon: No. Well actually I think I was a lead in a play at when I was about 11. I’ve got memories of me with actually similar hair to what I have now. I had curtains at the time because they were cool from Backstreet Boys, so I think I was the lead, I was the circus master or something like that. But no, I’ve never done any drama. I was petrified of public speaking. Now I absolutely love it.
Prav Solanki: Just to get nervous before you step on stage? Any butterflies, or?
Simon: Only about the same stuff that we’ve already talked about.
Prav Solanki: Okay.
Simon: Not about actually the delivery or what I’m going to say or anything like that. As long as I’m comfortable with the content that I’m delivering, which by that point I will be, because I would have been through it about four times the morning off. Whether it’s ten people, or a thousand people, I’m not fast as long as I am comfortable with the content I’m delivering. I think that’s the key thing.
Prav Solanki: True.
Simon: And I mean… Dentsply Sirona sent me on a public speaking course and naturally I was the one that went up to the front to do the training in front of everyone else, and that was really interesting actually because it made me realise a few things, a few little tells, almost, that I was giving out without thinking about it, and I try, and do those. It’s very hard though when you’re doing public speaking to get out of your old habits of how you deliver.
Prav Solanki: What are your top three tips for public speaking?
Simon: Number one is just blind confidence, and I don’t mean that like fake it till you make it, don’t know what you’re talking about.
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Simon: I just mean just go up and just be as confident as you can be because one thing that I realised very early on was that if I stutter or stumble, I did a live news interview on Channel Five News, 6:00 PM news on kids’ teeth, on the epidemic of decay in kids, and it’s not my main topic. I’m not a paediatric dentists, I’m a cosmetic dentist, but they wanted me to do it, and because I’m a yes man, I said yes to it. So I was speeding off to the Channel Five News Centre and I was there doing it completely live, and I know they told me they were going to tell me the questions before, they didn’t. So I just went straight on national TV, no idea what they were going to ask me and I thought, when I came off, I was like, “Oh, that is just so embarrassing. I’ve completely embarrassed myself.” I was nervous, I was stuttering.
Simon: Then I watched it back, and I was like, “No, actually it looks all right.” And everyone, all my family were like, “Oh, you did so well. It was amazing, I can’t believe you didn’t know the questions.” So I think that you’re your worst critic when it come to public speaking would be my number one tip, and then the other ones are just basic ones really like try and avoid pacing around too much. That’s what I used to do a lot. Be Confident in your own skin and just hold your ground, and then obviously just eye contact if you can do and, I mean, there’s just obvious things, but I’m no expert. As I say, I do it really like most things just on the fly.
Prav Solanki: I’d like people to get an understanding of who Simon Chard is, right? They see this persona on social media, and just tell us just a little bit about your childhood and growing up and just what that was like.
Simon: So I had a great childhood in many ways. I’m one of three kids. I’m the oldest. Neither my brother or sister have gone into Dentistry but obviously both my parents were dentists, so I was surrounded by that from an early age, I had a mirror and probe in the cutlery drawer at home. I went to a private school, had a really good education, wasn’t really, I was not a high achiever at school anyway, I got ABC in my A levels, went to boarding school and yeah, I just had a great childhood, really, loved my sport, loved going out with my mates. The main negative through my childhood was my sister had cancer when she was seven. So luckily in many ways she tripped over at school, over a paving slab, landed on her knee.
Simon: They thought she’d broken it, took her to hospital, she had Osteosarcoma of the knee bone. So incredibly fortunate that she tripped over, otherwise she probably wouldn’t be here today, but that in essence meant that she had to go through radio, chemo and surgery to remove the knee. So she got a metal prosthesis in her knee even today, which she had to have extended. She had, I think, 25 operations from 7 up to 20 as she grew because obviously the thing had to grow with her. So that meant my mum was in hospital with her for six months up at Stanmore, the Orthopaedic Hospital, and my dad was like, “Hold it, they practised in stains, driving up BM 25 at 7:00 till, and then being there from 7:30 till 9:00 then driving back to Walton to see me and my brother. So yeah, that was rough-
Payman: That’s an incredible strain on the family.
Simon: Incredible. I mean, I don’t know how… being a parent now, I genuinely don’t understand how they did it, but it’s just a testament to their relationship and them as people that they just cracked on with it, they’re such grafters, the two of them.
Payman: One of my previous bosses, he had a sick child, and they were in Great Ormond Street all the time, and he said to me that the number of split families at Great Ormond Street because-
Simon: Of massive pressure.
Payman: … of stress, because of the stress of it.
Simon: Yeah. I think the thing for us, it went the other way. It actually pushed my family together and we’re such a tight knit family now, like me and my brother and my sister, my parents, all of us were so, so close and we still go on holiday couple of times a year together as a family.
Simon: We’re all very, very emotional and my family is the most important thing in my life, Megan and Thea included. So that’s what everything is for, for me and then, yeah, I think that what my sister went through certainly posters together. Thankfully now she’s actually pregnant herself and so she’s going to have a little baby a year younger than my Thea, and so yeah, so a positive happy ending but could have been a lot worse.
Prav Solanki: And how old were you around that time?
Simon: I was nine.
Prav Solanki: Was nine. All right, okay.
Prav Solanki: So very young.
Simon: Yeah, but I had to be the mature older brother at nine and hold the family together at home with my dad, so.
Prav Solanki: Wow.
Simon: So yeah, how that’s impacted on me from the personal level-
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Simon: … I still don’t really think I’ve unpacked all of that baggage. Not that I have any, I think I’m relatively well rounded as I say, apart from a little bit of anxiety now and again, but it’s, yeah, it was-
Prav Solanki: It’s a lot for a nine year old to take on.
Simon: It is, yeah.
Prav Solanki: It’s a lot for a nine year old to take on.
Simon: Yeah, exactly.
Prav Solanki: And so then moving on from there and growing up, at what point did you know you wanted to go into Dentistry? You said earlier on you didn’t want to do what your parents did and then at what point did you realise I want to be a dentist?
Simon: So I went to Bristol University to study Pharmacology and got there, absolutely love Bristol, amazing place to go to uni. Lots of partying.
Payman: Great town.
Simon: Yeah, really lovely place. My next door neighbour in my halls was, my mum spotted him actually when she was dropping us off at halls and she said, “Oh, what about that guy? He looks cool, why don’t you mates with him.” Turns out he was my next door neighbour in my hall block, a guy called Tom Crawford-Clarke who pay well know, and Tom trained to be a dentist, and I saw the community that Tom had, how much he was enjoying what he was doing, and I just thought, why not then Dentistry?
Simon: So at that point, I spoke to Bristol, said, “Can I transfer?” They said, “No, you have to either drop out and reapply or complete your degree and then come on the fast track course.” So basically it meant an extra year at Bristol and an actual qualification. So I thought I might as well complete with my colleagues, get that degree sorted and then go to do Dentistry, but decided in the end to go to Kings to do Dentistry because all of my mates were moving from Bristol to London, most of them working in the city and that sort of thing.
Simon: So it made sense for me to move into town and what that meant for me was, as I view it, very much as a positive because all of my colleagues at dental school were mainly on undergraduate, so they were on a jolly still but I was really there to work and was very, very grateful for the position that I’d been offered because getting a two-one in Pharmacology was probably the hardest thing I’m about to do, and getting an offer from Kings, again, I had a lot of tears when I got that offer through.
Prav Solanki: Can you just talk us through the day when you found out that you’d been accepted?
Simon: Yeah. I was at my parents’ villa in Cyprus as always, we’d been going to Cyprus for 25 years every single year, every summer we’d be in Cyprus. So I found out my GCSE results in Cyprus, I found out my A level results in Cyprus and coincidentally the application process for the dental schools or the notification process was at the same time that I was there as well.
Simon: So I was sitting in the living room on my laptop, everyone else’s outside and yeah, notification came through on email. I can’t remember exactly now, I think it was some portal or something that you logged into and it would just say accepted or declined or something like that, and yeah, when I saw that green accepted pop up.
Simon: I mean, yeah, there was a lot of tears. I’m quite a crier so it didn’t stack much for me to cry.
Payman: You’ll cry today buddy.
Simon: I cried on videotape before, but yeah, no, that was a very, very emotional day because as I say, the Pharmacology, Maths is my big weak point from a academic point of view and Pharmacology had a lot of Maths in it from a Chemistry point of view, and so I really had to graft hard to get that two-one. Game changing for me, life changing.
Prav Solanki: So then you went into Dentistry as-
Payman: What were the choices?
Prav Solanki: … to be a mature student? And I’ve got actually a very close friend of mine, Danny Watson.
Payman: Yeah. Yeah.
Prav Solanki: Not quite what you’d name, and he did the same thing. So I’ve seen him through that journey and what I noticed about him was he’d always comment to me, “The rest of the guys are turning up to lectures unprepared or they turn up to clinic half cut…
Payman: And children?
Payman: Because they’re children.
Prav Solanki: Because they’re kids, right?
Simon: I mean there was a bit of that for me as well, so yeah. I was in town and fabric was the colour of the day.
Payman: In Oxford, did you have any mature students on your course, probably matured students didn’t get Oxford?
Prav Solanki: I can’t remember. Not that I recall.
Payman: We did, we had one in particular and he was very serious about the course as well. Mark, he was just-
Prav Solanki: Post grad, we had a lot of mature.
Payman: Yeah. But it’s a bit like a year off or something. Then you grow up a little bit and then when you come to do the course, I remember asking, I was, asking my parents for a year off A Levels. Year off what? Year to do what? I didn’t get it at all. Yeah?
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Payman: And I wanted a holiday to be fair, but if I’d had my holiday, I would’ve taken Dentistry much more seriously, I think, because I had a holiday doing Dentistry.
Prav Solanki: It depends on your upbringing, doesn’t it? Certainly for me growing up in the environment that me and my brother did with dad was a shopkeeper and everything that he did was driven towards getting us into university…and so there’s nowhere to run to so I can have a holiday. Well it wasn’t even in my head.
Payman: Yeah, you valued your life.
Prav Solanki: So there was that side of things, but also because he’d taken us to that point and put everything into our education. We did take it very, very seriously, but it was the first time that we were let loose.
Prav Solanki: We were not going out clubbing at 16, 17, anything like that. So we lost it a uni.
Payman: That’s what I’m saying, that’s my point. I was in a boys’ school.
Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah.
Payman: Didn’t know anything about anything.
Prav Solanki: No, no. So that’s the time you go and enjoy yourself, if you did have the option of, you’ve done your three years of partying doing your-
Simon: I did a gap year as well. Yeah. I owe my parents a lot. Still paying them off now.
Payman: Let’s talk about that then. You’ve recently taken over their practise.
Payman: Did you pay for it? Did they give it?
Simon: No, I paid market value for it. My parents have always been very keen that me and my brother and my sister, everything is equal in the division of wealth, I guess and everything really, and love, and everything and that comes from money issues in the family before. So I think they were very keen that there was no undue preferential treatment to me because obviously they’ve given me this practise. It’s an incredibly successful practise that they’ve grown from a squat practise for over 35 years. It’s in essence their fourth child, and so for them, just to give that to me would have been very unfair on my brother and sister.
Simon: So it was, don’t get me wrong, it was incredibly stressful to buy it off them because the moment you have to bring in accountants and solicitors and all of that sort of thing, I mean, until 18 months. Me and my dad were like, “Let’s just do this on a handshake.” And everyone who got involved seemed to want to add another layer of complexity to it. So by the time we got to the end of it, we were all at our wits end. We actually completed on the practise two weeks before Thea was born. So then me and Meg just dropped in like, “You’re the bosses now and you’ve just got your first baby.”
Simon: So yeah, 2018 was pretty intense, but I think me and Meg have come out the other side now and the practise is going really well, I mean, sorry, I forgot to say, at the same time as buying it off my parents, we’re extending it simultaneously. So we grew up from a five to a seven surgery practise, but yeah, so now all seven surgeries are running five days a week plus Saturdays. So it’s going really well.
Prav Solanki: And was it a transition, did you just buy him any walks or did your dad stay on and practise?
Simon: My Dad’s still working now.
Prav Solanki: He’s still working?
Simon: He’s a great associate.
Prav Solanki: Yeah? Did he negotiate his associate rate?
Simon: Well, I was his associate before and I don’t think I was a great associate, there’s a lot of holidays and a very good associate percentage. So yeah, no, he’s being well looked after, but no, it’s great to work with him.
Prav Solanki: What’s the dynamic of that role reversal like?
Payman: Has it changed?
Simon: Oh No. I mean me and my dad are very chilled in the fact that I’m not, although a lot of people might think I am, I’m not the big I am, I’m not my dad so, although in essence my dad is still the boss, really, I mean he’s not officially, but he’s not now, yeah, just dropped down to associate position. I mean, for example, the other day he was out the front sweeping up the leaves. I mean, I haven’t met any other associates sweeping the leaves, because he loves the practise and he loves his patients and he-
Prav Solanki: Well, you stood at the front door telling him how it was.
Simon: I mean he just, he loves what he does and he loves the relationship that he has with his patients.
Prav Solanki: Sure.
Simon: He loves the relationship with the staff… 75% of the staff have been there for 20 years so they’ve all grown up together and I would never want to take that away from him.
Prav Solanki: Of course.
Simon: My mum has retired, she works part-time already, two days a week doing a lot of the back room admin type stuff, doing all the staff wages and everything, which Megan’s not taken over but I think my mum wanted to get more into grandparent mode. So she’s now looking after Thea.
Payman: Do you feel the weight of following through on what your dad started. Do you feel that?
Simon: Yeah, it’s a very complex emotion taking over your parents’ business, I think, because there’s so many layers to it, you don’t want to mess it up. You don’t want to offend them in any way in anything that you change but at the same time you want to be your own person, you want to put your own stamp on it. Certainly for me, I mean, I’m so obsessive about being as up to date, as current as I can be in everything, whether it be the technology that I bring into the practise or the way in which we market ourselves.
Simon: I want to be cutting edge, leaning edge of everything, and so stuff like Instagram, how amazing that’s been for me with regards to new patients coming through because of that, my dad doesn’t really understand. He thinks that I’m just doing what I’ve always done, which is being lazy and just watching TV. I think that’s in essence what he thinks I’m doing and he’s like, “Why?” The cold face grafting and getting the job done because that’s what he did, and he’s done it very successfully and he’s built natural word of mouth, but I’m very keen not to be Toys R Us. I don’t want to just rest on the laurels of the business my parents have built.
Simon: I want to be one of the best practises in the world and one of the best dentists in the world, and so the way in which I do that, while still maintaining the tradition that my parents have built is something that I’m very delicate about, and that goes to how the patients perceive me as the boss or Megan and I as boss and also how the staff perceived me as well. All of those things, I would hate to sully anything that my parents have spent their whole lives building.
Payman: And when I think of friends who have gone into the family business, one thing they suffer with is that they maybe always thought of always having been put on, having an unfair advantage, and then also that the idea that you know their achievements are never their achievements. That’s what they’re going to be thought of. Society will always think that they had an advantage.
Simon: Well, I don’t really care. I did have an advantage, obviously, because both my parents had dentists, so if I had a dental question, I just ask my dad. He’s like a walking encyclopaedia.
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Simon: But at the same time, that’s why I’m so aggressively competitive and driven because fair enough, both my parents are dentists, so I had an advantage in that regard, but I’m still going to smash in everything else and that’s got nothing to do with my parents being dentists, it’s just, that’s who I am, and if anything, it drives-
Payman: You’re going to apologise for it.
Simon: No, hell no, and if anything, it makes me want to be the best that I can be because I have to get away from that.
Prav Solanki: Sure.
Simon: I guess that’s what one of the things that drives me is that I feel I have to put my own stamp on things and so that pushes me to go a bit left field and that’s I guess why the currency of what I’m doing with regards to going into digital so heavily and going into social so heavily because I believe that they are the two futures of our profession.
Payman: Its interesting because Christian Coachman comes from a dynasty of-
Simon: Yeah, exactly.
Payman: … dentists and Linda Greenwall, she’s, the fourth generation-
Payman: … son is the fourth generation, so she’s third generation.
Simon: You see a lot of the people who I interact with internationally, online, in the dental profession-
Payman: It’s quite common abroad. Yeah. Yeah.
Simon: It’s very common to see that they come from a family of dentists. Whether, or not that’s just the competitive advantage that they’ve been given by having parents that are dentists or-
Payman: There we go.
Simon: … it’s the fact that it pushes them to go next level, I don’t know but I don’t care.
Payman: I like that.
Prav Solanki: What’s the most challenging aspects of running a business and being a business owner?
Simon: Staff. Staff every day and I have the best staff as well, so it’s nothing to do with how good my staff are but I mean we have a practise, our staff number now is 27 so there’s so many dynamics going on within that. I mean, a lot of these guys have been working together for 20 years and they have their own little dynamics, that’s the dynamics of me and Meg being the young upstarts, there’s the dynamics of being my parents son, and yeah, you take it really personally.
Simon: I mean, me and Megs have… we’re aware of wholly, we’ll get a message about something going wrong in the practise and you just have to deal with it, you have to fight those feelings, and that’s just part of being a business owner and they happen a lot. There’s always something going on and I mean, one of the big things that I’m working on is trying to get systems in place so that things run themselves efficiently, and that’s one of my big goals. Before I move into adding more practises to my portfolio, I want to make sure that our practise is running like the slickest machine that ever could be.
Simon: And so me and Megs are working really hard on that, just every little area, just systemizing, systemizing, systemizing, try, and improve on that but yeah, certainly that’s the thing that hit me in the face with the most impact over the last year is just, right, the Dentistry’s the easy part now, actually managing the staff is, and when people leave and when people don’t do what you’ve asked them to do and yeah-
Prav Solanki: It’s so frightening.
Simon: … it’s complicated.
Prav Solanki: And so, you talk about putting systems in place, so I guess you’ve put together workflows or whatever of patient journeys or how they answer the phone, et cetera, et cetera.
Simon: I’m trying.
Prav Solanki: Yeah, but then how do you, this is something that a lot of business owners struggle with is how do you get them to implement, execute, and follow through on that? Do you have a certain team member that oversees and it’s their responsibility or is that your responsibility or is it someone else?
Simon: Well, I think everything is my responsibility, number one, but I have certain team members that I can lean on more and I try to allocate specific roles to give responsibility to team members because I think that’s a net positive for everyone. It’s a net positive for them when they feel that they can be relied on and they are responsible and it’s a net positive for me because it means it takes something off my shoulders, but I think I’m guilty of wanting to control everything myself, which I’m sure is a very common trait for [crosstalk ] owners and I find relinquishing that control very difficult.
Simon: Perfect example is the fact that I replied to all of my own, so I have my professional email address on my Instagram and I get God knows how many DMs every day. I’m replying to all of those.
Prav Solanki: Personally?
Simon: Personally. And a lot of them, the majority of them are just the same question. How much is bonding? How much is whitening? Why do you recommend Enlighten?
Prav Solanki: I’m assuming you’ve got, have you got canned responses for quite a few of those, or?
Simon: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Obviously. I mean, as I say, the majority, I mean my prices are set. I mean it’s an easy discussion to have. I just, I’m yet to relinquish control of that act, which takes a lot of my time, but I feel that if I relinquish it, then I might lose that patient and so that’s the trade off.
Prav Solanki: Because they may not answer the question in the right way? What-
Payman: It’s perfection paralysis.
Payman: That’s what it is. That’s what-
Simon: Correct. We’ve now got to two points of my personality that are incorrect, impostor and perfectionist. It’s like therapy for me, this-
Payman: Listen, everyone or a lot of people suffer with it. I’ve suffered with it and the funniest thing is sometimes you’ll find that person is actually better at it than you are. Believe it or not.
Simon: Agreed. Agreed. No, I do believe it.
Payman: I don’t think you do believe it, but-
Simon: Because you haven’t done it yet?
Payman: Yeah. Yeah. It’s only when you do it but look, I was doing Lara’s job.
Payman: That’s ridiculous. Yeah? Lara’s I’m marketing person, if anyone does know her, I talk to Depesh about this all the time regarding posting. I mean, how should it, how can it, is it possible to post every day the way you do and be a perfectionist at the same time?
Simon: Well, I try to. I post every day and I don’t let anything rubbish go through. So, I mean, it takes a lot of work though. I mean-
Payman: It’s a lot of energy, you know?
Simon: Yeah, but it’s worth, it’s free marketing. I mean, you can’t.
Simon: If you’ve got… I feel like I have a savvy enough knowledge of the platforms that I’m working on, well, mainly Instagram, and I have a creative eye that works enough that I can put those two skills together and output good content on a daily basis. I don’t know who I would outsource that to.
Payman: I don’t think it’s wise to, but it’s something that we’re running right now, four pages, yeah? There’s no way one person could run the four pages.
Simon: Yeah. Absolutely.
Payman: It’s one of those things.
Simon: I think a personal brand and a business are different.
Payman: Yeah. Yeah.
Simon: I’d happily let one of my team run my business account, but my personal brand I’m afraid.
Payman: The longer you keep that yourself, the better.
Simon: Yeah. Exactly.
Payman: Absolutely right.
Simon: I mean, Gary Vessel does his own personal account to a large extent, he’s still replying to DMs and stuff like that, just only about 1% of the ones he gets.
Payman: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Do you like the title of Instagram famous, Insta famous dentist? How do you feel about that? I mean this let’s talk about, there’s been a lot of talk on-
Payman: Yeah. Yeah, and isn’t that ironic? A lot of talk on one social platform about it in another social platform.
Simon: That’s because all the trolls are on Facebook. That’s why we’ve all moved to Instagram. I have no trolls listening to this.
Payman: Let’s talk about that. I mean the criticism, I guess, is that Instagram’s promoting a kind of Dentistry that’s bad for the patient, and a lot of these youngsters in the verticals are upstarts and I don’t agree with it. I think that every situation has good and bad in it.
Payman: But what’s your feeling on it? Because I’m not out there, I’m not posting everyday. I’m not building a personal brand. So a lot of times when people are talking about these things, you might think they’re talking about me.
Simon: Yeah. Well that’s always what I think, and any time I see Insta dentist or anyone slating dentist suppose cases on Instagram, on Facebook, I assume they’re talking about me and actually when they tend to follow, we’ve had some incidences in the past of people writing lists, actually, of dentists who you should follow to, in essence, troll, I think.
Simon: And I was one of the people that was followed by that specific account, but anyway, I think my feeling on it is that, as you say, like with anything, there’s always practitioners who are going to be doing things correctly and doing things incorrectly. There’s obviously cowboys in every profession. I don’t think there’s any more cowboys on Instagram than there are on Facebook or just in general public but for me Instagram is just a way that I communicate with my generation. It’s as simple as that, that everyone who is 20 to 40 is on Instagram whether they be a dentist or a patient and so that’s where I hang out, and that for me has been incredibly instrumental in me building my business, in finding patients who are after the sort of work that I provide, which is minimally Invasive Aesthetic Dentistry.
Simon: Normally things like ABB, as Tiff taught me when I was undergrad, Align, Bleach and Bond, mainly small make-over stuff and that’s just, it just is what it is. I think the reason why some people have an issue with it is that there are certain individuals who are doing the same treatment on every patient or that’s what they’re posting. They may not be, but that’s how it comes across, and anyone who’s doing the same treatment on everyone must therefore be incorrectly prescribing that treatment, if they were doing it on everyone, which they probably aren’t, those are just the cases that they’re posting, because if they were, Dentistry’s not one size fits all. You can’t do the same treatment on everyone.
Payman: Well, or there are specialists. I don’t mean the actual meaning of the word special, but that’s the kind of work they do.
Simon: Yeah, exactly.
Payman: There’s nothing wrong with-
Simon: But, if that was to be the case, then they could only do that procedure on cases that were suitable, and I think that’s the concern from some people. I don’t know, it’s a weird environment. I think the most important thing for me is that the profession just needs to sort itself out with regards to the negativity because you can’t judge someone on a case they put up as to, that’s what they do for everything or that’s who they are as a person.
Simon: You don’t know the ins and outs of the situation, and I think everyone’s just so keen to slate each other and that’s why we’re so weak as a body against things like NHS Dentistry and that sort of thing, which has the potential to be such a positive for the general public and that we’ve allowed the government to just cut the budget to do that and now it’s in such a state of disrepair that it’s very difficult to work in.
Payman: So what? We need to be more united?
Simon: Absolutely, but there’s so much negativity. I mean, it’s horrible. The way in which individuals, dentists specifically I see speak to each other on the main dental forums on Facebook is just horrible. I mean, I’ve just stopped watching them altogether because it’s just atrocious the way that people treat each other. It’s so funny.
Simon: I mean, we have a WhatsApp group with some of my dentist mates and you can actually see when the trolls have broken up for Christmas because you could do all those forums where they were just slating other dentists, Instagram dentists, young dentists, whatever, whoever you take your fancy, Snapchat dentists, I don’t know who the next one’s going to be, but it was as soon as they broke up for Christmas, they obviously didn’t have anything else to do and so they just started, just keyboard warriors going ahead and I’m calling that negativity on social media.
Simon: I don’t see what point it is to be honest.
Prav Solanki: I know, certainly with my brother Kailesh.
Payman: He gets an ear full
Prav Solanki: Oh, he gets a lot of shit, and I heard on the grapevine, there was a private closed Facebook group that is focused on him and a couple of individuals and they just let loose in there.
Prav Solanki: Well here’s the thing, you know how these people got the time to do what they do and put the energy and the negativity into something like this rather than improving their own Dentistry or-
Prav Solanki: The people who are trolling people like yourselves or other people putting cases up, never put cases up themselves.
Prav Solanki: So…
Payman: But… I think understanding is more important than anything else. Yeah, and so if we were to understand it, I think what you said was very valuable. The thing that they don’t like is your example.
Payman: Doing one tool to treat all diseases but what are other things that they are-
Simon: No, the other thing they’re unhappy about is, the main problem that dentists have as far as I’m concerned, is they lack an abundance mentality. Dentists as a general rule, are so scared that their patient’s going to be taken away from them or they’re lecturing position’s going to be taken away from them by the young upstart or the Instagram dentist or whoever the flavour of the month is to be targeted. That they feel the need, they become so incensed, they have to vent on social media, and I think it just comes down to insecurities. I mean that’s what the majority of it is.
Payman: Screwed up.
Simon: I agree.
Payman: I think there’s an element of that, but I don’t think that’s the main driver. I don’t think that’s the main driver. One of the main drivers, I think, is to do with the… you know what? Tiff was saying, regarding seeing your own failures, and these younger dentists haven’t seen the failures. They don’t know what they don’t know, and yet they go out there and tell the public they are brilliant and that’s-
Simon: That’s fair, and that comes down to being humble and knowing your craft that you’re presenting but at the end of the day, you can’t buy experience. I mean, they can’t pull out of thin air. Would they rather they didn’t post anything until they had that experience? I guess that’s a fair point but I think-
Prav Solanki: Everyone’s got to start somewhere, right? And ultimately the way I look at this, I’ve experienced this because I’ve worked with, over the last 10, 11 years I’ve been in business, I’ve seen young dentists grow up and I’ve seen them at their time, either be whether it was back then at the top of Google, how does he deserve to be at the top of Google? I’ve been qualified 10 years. Yeah?
Prav Solanki: I’ve seen that with the guys in Newcastle, I work with, right? And then right through to yourself and younger people and I think, I truly believe there’s this high level of jealousy here and the fact of this fear of, they’re going to take my patients, and also I consult with all the dentists and the conversations that I have with them is, I am a specialist or I’ve got these qualifications, I’ve been doing this for so long, why is it that Joe Bloggs is getting more patients than me? Why is it that that person’s getting more patients? They don’t deserve the patients.
Prav Solanki: I have those conversations with more senior dentists, but I’ve also witnessed on the other end of the family side with my brother, and clients who I’ve seen grow up to become more senior dentists over the last 10, 11 years experience that people having a pop at them or referring practitioners, sending various emails that I’ve been privy to that are pretty nasty and a lot of it revolves around, I think personally jealousy.
Simon: I think at the end of the day, I agree with Tiff in some ways. No one wants young dentists and I’m sure the young dentists themselves don’t want to be promoting treatment that would not be to the benefit of their patients. I think that’s not the angle that anyone’s coming at it from. I think it’s a very multilayered debate, but I think that the key message at the end of it is, come at it from a positive angle. If you do feel that young dentists need… like tiff is one who will always come at it from a positive angle and he’ll work to try, and bring those young dentists on to improve their knowledge. I love the stuff that he puts out on social media.
Simon: He’s not coming at it just trolling the people who are doing the stuff that he doesn’t agree with. He’s just showing his work and saying here’s my 5, 10 15 year reviews and when I see that stuff I’m like, that’s just amazing. I mean he’s so talented but to show that sort of stuff in this arena is not seen enough because the majority of the dentists that are on there are young because they’re native to that platform.
Payman: But do you not think that just like you’re entitled to your voice on Instagram, talking to your patients and the profession, these guys are entitled their voice on Facebook talking about what we should all be worrying about sometimes?
Simon: Mayor, it’s freedom of speech at the end of the day. I personally don’t push negativity out into the world. Even if I don’t agree with something or I don’t like a case or I don’t like the way that someone’s handling themselves, I don’t think that having that discussion on social media or setting up groups to discuss it or having people who you want to actually troll. I mean, I just, I don’t think that’s the way that you should operate. If you have an issue with something, speak to someone about it. I mean, if you feel that you’re the person to be having that conversation. I just think that the way that people present is trolling. I just think it’s just pure negativity.
Payman: Yeah, look, it’s a nuance of the time we’re in, but in the long run, just like there was a discussion recently about some dentists buying some piece of equipment off of different dentists and are in the money or whatever it was and social media has brought it to a conclusion, all of this in the end, will be harder to lie, harder to hide in the end.
Simon: Well that’s a positive, sure.
Payman: Yeah. That’s the positive, and in the meantime while we get to that point, there’ll be nuances, which people worry about but when you compare it to back in our day when there was, no one was policing anything, no one could police anything anyone was saying or doing, that wasn’t any better, I mean, the net, net we’re in a much, much better place, and for me the fact that Dentistry resonates, photographs resonate is that the absolute win for the profession. I mean we could’ve been in a profession which didn’t have that sort of resonance on Instagram.
Payman: It’s only a few things, it’s fitness, cooking, beauty, that really resonated and what a giant opportunity that is for the profession and a bit of a risk. That’s-
Simon: Yeah. That’s why I said it’s a double edged sword-
Payman: Yeah. The nature of things. Where do you think you differ from your dad in your management?
Simon: Well, that’s tough, eh? Certainly, I’ve seen a lot of my parents patients and I’ve had a lot of dialogue. My patients and the staff themselves say that I am a 50-50 split of my mum and my dad. My dad is very much a scientist, very logical thinker, doesn’t understand when things aren’t done logically and is quite one dimensional in that regard sometimes, whereas my mum has more of the soft touch, amazing with kids, that sort of thing. Amazing with nervous patients. So, I guess I’ve got a bit more of that softly, softly approach from my mum. I think where that falls down for me is that I want to be everyone’s best friend and that doesn’t always work when you’re the boss. So I think I don’t know where I fit in the hierarchy, I guess, and going from an associate to the boss, you’re still at the associate level.
Payman: You’re going to end up good cop, bad cop and Megan being the bad cop. Is that-
Simon: Maybe, maybe.
Payman: Is that how it’s going to be?
Simon: Yeah. That would work nicely for me.
Payman: Thats how its going to be
Prav Solanki: So tell us a little bit about your family life, Simon. You’ve got a daughter Thea. Tell us a little bit about how you manage the work life balance of lecturing, running your own business and then being a father and a husband?
Simon: Probably badly. Well, my day to day is I wake up and go to the gym before work, so I’m up at 5:00. I actually started journaling this year, which has really helped with my mental state at the start of the day, then I go to the gym workout, which again helps with my mental status as I don’t get to see the family in the morning, which is a shame but my first patient’s 8:15 anyway, so I probably wouldn’t show. The main time on my work days I get to see Thea is when I bath and I want to get in work, which I love.
Simon: And then me and Megs, we’ll have dinner together and chat about those events. I mean, I’m very lucky with Meg. She’s honestly, she’s amazing person. We laugh so much together. We have a spectacular relationship I’m so grateful for, and so we’re very, very solid and she has taken to motherhood incredibly well. Thea has not been a great sleeper and Megs and I both really can’t asleep, so that’s been tough.
Simon: The difficulty I’m having at the moment is I’m getting so many opportunities with regards to international lecturing opportunities and that sort of thing, and learning how to balance that with my family life is something that I’m trying to keep under control, which is quite difficult because, again, I’m a yes man. So I like to say yes to everything, but what I’ve realised quite quickly is that saying yes to a lecturer in Germany means that I don’t get to see my family for four days and so that’s a bit of a negative for me.
Simon: So that’s something I’m learning at the moment but I’d probably say that I work too much, every evening after I had dinner and bath Thea, I’m there on my laptop planning cases, planning, marketing for the practise and Megs is the same to be fair because, I mean, last night she was doing staff wages and that sort of thing. So, being in a relationship with someone who understands you a professional basis as well as a personal basis is actually amazing. I love the fact that me and Megs are both dentists. We try to keep our dental chat to a minimum when we’re at home, but it’s definitely a net positive I think.
Prav Solanki: And so how long have you been with Meg? When did you meet?
Simon: First day of dental school. So that would be 10 years ago now.
Prav Solanki: First Day of dental school?
Payman: The same year? Yeah.
Simon: Yeah. So she was undergrad and I was a post grad, so, we did a little three week post grad thing and then the undergrads and the post grads were put together for the first time in the lecture hall, and Mark Wolford was giving a lecture about how, it was something very negative, and Megs, I remember seeing her, she was in a blue shirt, black waistcoat, glasses and pigtails and yeah, I spotted her out of the crowd, and then actually we went out that night and we started chatting and the rest is history.
Simon: And I had a girlfriend at the time.
Simon: But we were our last legs. We were on our last legs.
Prav Solanki: Great story.
Simon: Shouldn’t have said that.
Payman: So Tom Crawford-Clarke wasn’t even in that year.
Simon: No, Tom Crawford-Clarke was merrily continuing his degree at Bristol.
Payman: Oh, I see. I thought you were in the same year as well?
Simon: No. So Tom-
Payman: You and Tom-
Simon: … Tom qualified-
Payman: Pharmacology work.
Simon: Two or three years before me. Guy Lafan was in the same year.
Payman: That’s Tom?.
Simon: So, me, Guy and Tom lived together and Bristol in our last year.
Simon: Guy’s a big Lakota fan, yeah.
Prav Solanki: So then you went on to have Thea. Just talk to me about the day she was born, the feelings that went through, me and Pave spoke about this at depth, haven’t we? In just that instant feeling that you get when you see your child for the first time, and some people get it, some people don’t.
Simon: I mean it was amazing. Megs was induced, so we weren’t expecting, Thea came two weeks earlier, so we went to the hospital, just thinking it was a routine check and then didn’t leave basically, so we were there for, I think 36 hours, and yeah, I mean, from my point of view, 90% of it was amazing. The Term Centre was awful, well seeing Megs in so much pain but, again, she’s an absolute trooper, she did so well and yeah, when Thea came out, I mean obviously I cried, I mean that goes without saying. Yes. It’s definitely one of the best days of my life, it’s absolutely incredible feeling, and I mean even now it’s just a whole, it’s a whole new thing.
Simon: I mean my whole drive in life has been shifted away from purely selfish activities to, right, we’re going to just grind this out, grind this out, this is for Thea. It just completely changes your mindset on why you’re doing what you’re doing, and obviously I filmed the whole thing so, I mean, that’s the sound of me. We watched it back a few times. Yeah. Yeah. Not from the business end but from the whole set. I just stuck it on a tripod.
Payman: Oh, dear. What was I thinking?
Payman: It’s funny because you described very similar experience. I’m not just talking about the day about your whole mind-
Simon: Just the whole thing. Everything, right? Just from the moment she came out was-
Payman: But very different for me. Very different, and I love my kids. Can you guys love your kids more than I do? But very different. I didn’t get that feeling on the day. It didn’t shift my mind regarding, I’m doing all this for the kids for years, for years and years and so it is different for different people.
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Payman: It’s those things.
Simon: It’s certainly, I mean it’s hard work man. I mean-
Payman: What do you miss most about not having kids?
Simon: Just freedom. Freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want. I mean, I love just booking around on holiday or just randomly decided to go out for dinner and everything now requires a lot more planning but the one thing that is great about me and Megs is, Megs mainly because it’s harder for the mum, I think is that we just said right from the start we’re just going to carry on living our lives not exactly the same but as much as we can do, so, I mean we were out for dinner with Thea the day after she was born.
Simon: We’ve taken her out to Duck and Waffle and Michelin Star Restaurants and she’s been on about six holidays since we’ve had her, so we’ve tried to continue living our lives as much as possible, which is, yeah, it certainly makes it harder, but doing that I think has been really positive for our relationship.
Prav Solanki: And just your perspective on light as whole, like you said you’re less selfish now, right? Is that how you described it?
Simon: Yeah. I think my central drive has always been to be successful.
Prav Solanki: Yeah.
Simon: I guess for me, for my own ego, I guess and now it’s very much building the future for Thea is at the epicentre of my drive, I guess.
Prav Solanki: Did you have any plans for any siblings?
Simon: Yeah, yeah. Well Megs is Irish, so she originally wanted four, I’ve now taper it down to three now, but yeah, we’ll probably at the next couple of years we’ll probably start trying it.
Prav Solanki: Cool.
Simon: But I’m using that to my advantage, I managed to squeeze a holiday to the Maldives because we can’t go next year, so.
Payman: I know it’s a bit early to ask but would you want your kids to be dentists?
Simon: I think there are easier ways to make money, especially in the modern Internet era. I mean, I personally love it, but as I say, it’s the source of a lot of my anxieties, so I wouldn’t wish that anxiety on my child, and when I say anxiety, I mean we’re all constantly have this looming negativity of when we’re going to get sued? When is the GDC going to come knocking at our door? When is the letter going to come through the door.
Payman: It’s the thing I don’t miss, since I stopped…
Payman: … all this stuff started.
Simon: If I didn’t have that looming over my head, then I would say 100% yes, because the ability to change someone’s life and generate, I mean, the classic mini smart maker everything, I put a video up on my Instagram recently of this lovely lady who I did just some cosmetic bonding, a bit of whitening. She turned the mirror around and just immediately burst into tears and the ability to have that in that positive impact on someone’s life, you don’t get that in the majority of jobs.
Simon: And so, that feeling is why I would want for my child because it’s amazing and and I do genuinely love what I do, but the counter argument is that looming negativity which is stressful.
Payman: If I give you a billion dollars, would you still drill teeth?
Simon: Yeah, I’d like to say that I would do, it’s very difficult to know how you’d actually react. I wouldn’t be working four days a week. I’d probably be working two days a week and taking more holidays, but yeah, I think Dentistry is good in some ways because it grounds you and it keeps you in a strong relationship with other human beings, seeing the general public, which is a positive-negative flip depending on who comes through the door, but-
Payman: Which do you enjoy more? The practise side or the teaching side?
Simon: Treating my patients, I enjoy more.
Payman: Than the teaching?
Payman: Really? Okay. We’ve been asking everyone what would you want to be remembered as? Your legacy, what do you want that to be?
Prav Solanki: Last day on the planet. Imagine finishing the sentence of Simon was…
Simon: I mean, I’m just going to say exactly what came into my head, and the answer’s passionate. I don’t know why that’s come into my head, but I guess I try to be passionate about everything that I’m doing. The most, as I said to you before, the most important thing for me is my family and expressing that love that I have for them in whatever way I could do in that last moment would be what I would wish to do.
Payman: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It’s beautiful.
Simon: I think that’s all you can hope to do, really, but yeah, it’s a difficult one to answer. What would your answer be?
Prav Solanki: Oh Gosh. You got me with the complicated question. I think quite similar to yours, so a great father, husband and overall nice guy.
Simon: I thought were in one word.
Prav Solanki: When did I say one word? I said finish the sentence.
Simon: Oh, I missed the bait on that one.
Prav Solanki: You can have another go.
Simon: I’ll take mine.
Payman: That’s brilliant. Thanks a lot man.
Simon: Thank you.
Payman: It was a lovely conversation.
Payman: I enjoyed that. Thanks.
Speaker 3: 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.
Payman: Well, thank you for listening to the dental leaders podcast. If you listened to the end, then hopefully you got some value out of it. If you did, please subscribe to the channel and share it with your friends. Maybe think like, give me some five star review. Thanks so much for joining us.
Prav Solanki: Thanks guys. Massively appreciated and this is all about creating a community where we can share the depth of every individual interview. So thank you for taking the time out to-