The Weekend Read – Brush by James Goolnick

This review first appeared on GDP-UK

I read this book at a single sitting and really enjoyed it as a “fly past”. It’s full of ideas and tips resulting from James’ experiences of personal and professional life, initially as an associate but primarily as founder and principal of Bow Lane Dental in the City of London. James shares the influences and philosophies that have helped shape his outlook and made Bow Lane a practice to admire and brought James the respect and acknowledgement of his peers. Taken like this it’s a thoroughly enjoyable skim across the surface of what it takes to be a success when you do things “my way”.

James straddles the line between innovator and early adopter, he’s definitely an educated opinion leader when it comes to clinical matters but hasn’t been afraid to try innovation in his business and is honest enough to share his few failures with the reader.

The book is laid out well with chapter headings that are straightforward to follow making it easy to return to and dip in and out, this also makes it suitable as the basis for a number of staff meetings.

Dr Goolnik definitely “gets” not only the advances in technology and communication but also the importance of the traditions of what is a relationship, rather than a transaction, based business. To read of someone advocating some of the marketing techniques embracing social networking that have worked for Bow Lane will come as a surprise to the practices who are still to be convinced of the value of a website. Currently these are frequently the practices that are beginning to wonder what happened to their patients.

Worthy of mention is his attitude to recruitment, team building, retention and reward. Utilisation of psychometric tests including Kolbe Wisdom™ is refreshing. There are few, if any, businesses that wouldn’t benefit from adoption of the Bow Lane approach.

I particularly enjoyed James when he was in crystal ball mode in the penultimate chapter “What does the future hold?” I’m sure that 50% of what he predicts will happen but which 50% that might be and what else will have an influence, who can tell? As this was written in 2011 he’s able to talk about the CQC but would they have got a mention 12 months ago?

This reflects the rate of change in life; dentistry is no exception and the author goes to lengths to tell the reader that in order to be successful and continue to stay ahead you have to keep evolving and improving. The competition in dentistry is fiercer than ever before and “change is the only constant”. Wise words.

I have a couple of small criticisms. One is that it comes across as a little simplistic and doesn’t necessarily reflect the extra hours of work and miles walked that are done by any successful entrepreneur alongside those when you’re doing what you’re paid for. I’m minded of the words of one of my mentors, “If it was that easy we’d all be millionaires”. The fact that James eschews alcohol, doesn’t watch TV and is dedicated to physical fitness hints at his dedication.

Also a formal reading list rather than the few mentions as footnotes would have been of benefit to the reader in order to follow up the author’s influences but these are small quibbles.

In short this is a welcome addition to the dental library and a good starting point to introduce change in your practice and life, but in the same way that this is James Goolnik “so far”; Brush is the start but not the end.

All profits from this book go to Dentaid. Available from Amazon here.




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