Working on a Dream the LAST ezine from Dental Business Partners

Sent to subscribers on September 26th 2014

Hello and welcome to a slightly different ezine. A special welcome to the new subscribers, especially those I met at the presentations that Siobhan Kelleher & I did at the offices of Henry Schein in Dublin and Cork. Congratulations to HS on their 20th anniversary in Ireland, marked by a great party at Identex. Welcome also to the people I met at Identex last weekend, this event is growing from year on year and well done to the IDTA and IDA for making it happen.

September has always felt like a month of re-starts and I have my 20 formative years living by an academic calendar to thank. This is the month of returning students; the Rees household is no exception and yesterday morning we rose at ungodly o’clock to get the son to Cork airport for his journey to Cardiff. He’ll be starting his fourth and final year at University in the Welsh capital. In 9 months, hopefully, he will graduate as a Master of Physics.

This got me thinking on the nature of masters and mastery and what it takes to become a true master of anything, rather than a degree title. Common acceptance from K. Anders Ericsson’s work and explained by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, would have us believe that to master any skill, be it guitar, golf or endodontics, takes 10,000 hours of practice. That may seem daunting to the young dentists and final year dental students I met at the Dentinal Tubules partners’ meeting recently, who were delightful and stimulating company, but at least they have a skill that will be in demand (they hope) whilst they are learning mastery. Compare that with a budding guitarist who will have to practice in isolation until they have the confidence to face the public. Neither Eric Clapton nor Rory McIlroy dropped fully formed from the trees.

Mare daunting to the fledgling dentists is the fact that for many cases they may never become masters of particular skills; in the same way that for every Clapton, McIlroy or Carter there are thousands who have put in the hours but don’t have the basic wiring or natural skill. So whilst dedication and hard work will take you so far it will not take you further.

Do you settle for life as a journeyman or do you constantly keep climbing the artist’s mountain improving and enhancing your skills? You would think the latter must be the case, however judging from the numbers of dentists who appear to do the bare minimum of CPD and early on settle for a life in the comfort zone it isn’t the case. In the UK this is often blamed on the emphasis on core topics laid down by the GDC so that other interesting and stimulating courses aren’t considered.

In my case I had the clinical skills in many directions, a successful practice and a good income but I stopped enjoying the practice of clinical dentistry which led to my seeking a new direction nine years ago.

I have never regretted the decision although it has led to some introspective moments, the most recent of these was stimulated by a chance remark by Sheila Scott to whom I owe thanks for her catalytic qualities. This will the last edition of the Ezine in its current format as Dental Business Partners is about to undergo a metamorphosis in time for Dental Showcase. In edition to Sheila I have to thank Chris Baker from Corona, Louise Rowlatt from Pen-Pal design and John Moore Photography for their inspiration and toleration of my procrastination.

So what’s coming up? Clarity about who I am and what I do. I’m fed up of hiding my lamp under a bushel and being apologetic about my skills. My clients benefit from those skills and experience of a career in dentistry and nearly a decade of professional coaching; they seem happy about it, why shouldn’t more experience the same?

So at the moment I’m Working on a Dream; which clunky link brings me slipping and sliding to wish Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen a belated happy birthday, his 65th. Little did I know when I borrowed his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ, from the students’ union record library to record it on my Akai 4000D reel-to-reel tape deck that our relationship would still be going strong 41 years later. We have made several similar mistakes over the years (contractual, marital and hair) but have come through all the stronger for it.

Finally, I made a reprise to DJing a couple of weeks ago at a friend’s 60th birthday party – what was intimidating was that it was also her daughter’s 30th celebrations. Would I be able to span the eras? Could I still get the feel of a crowd? Would I suffer the ignominy of clearing a dance floor? The answer, it was a success and we had a great night. I had one more chance and I could make those people dance. I may not have Springsteen’s stamina but I still put on a good show! Using software on a laptop and mp3s is a whole lot easier than humping twin decks, boxes of vinyl and speaker cabinets around too.

That’s it, I’ll be back in just under a fortnight, if you’re going to Dental Showcase drop me an email and let’s arrange to meet up for a cup of something and a chat.

To your success and happiness.

The Monday Morning Quote #285

“The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.”



The Monday Morning Quote #284

“The first step towards getting anywhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”

J.P. Morgan


The Monday Morning Quote #283

“If you can’t fly, then run,
if you can’t run then walk,
if you can’t walk then crawl,
but whatever you do
you have to keep moving forward.
Martin Luther King


The Weekend Read (and so much more) – Elsie Magazine


As a restart to a season of book reviews I thought I would draw your attention to a briefer read with a lovely look. I love magazines, from Private Eye to the New Yorker via Esquire, Vogue numerous music mags including the late lamented The Word and things like Amateur Photographer from my youth. I am of an age to (just) remember the Sunday Times introducing its colour magazine in 1962 which broke the mould of weekend newspapers; when I was a little older I used to spend some of my pocket money to buy the paper, eventually I pursuaded my father to buy it because, “the sports coverage was so good”. The use of the visual image inspired me to take photographs and resulted in my learning darkroom techniques and appreciation of great photographers.

So when a message on Facebook suggested that I might enjoy a sight of the second edition of “Elsie” I took the plunge paid my £10 and waited full of anticipation. Unfortunately its arrival at my Cardiff address coincided with my leaving for a summer in Ireland, but the wait was well worthwhile.

Who? Elsie is produced by Les Jones better known to most people in dentistry as the Marketing Director of Practice Plan. If you are familiar with some of the Practice Plan  fund raising “stunts” at trade shows, like Amarillo, then you will be familiar with Les and his work.

What? Well it’s difficult to define really. A4 sized (smaller than edition 1 for pragmatic reasons) , high quality, heavy paper, with 40 leaves giving you 84 pages to take in and enjoy. I can’t say read because although there are paragraphs, stories, tales, descriptions and lessons learned, what this is mostly about is the image and the experience. So whether it’s boarded up shops, gloves from the road, impressions from Bukumbi (Les is a supporter of Bridge2Aid), portraits or a great photo-journalistic piece on his local hunt there is a massive amount to see. I had thought I had done it from cover to cover on three occasions but just realised whilst writing this that I had missed an article on pre-recorded audio cassettes.

Why? I guess, if Elsie doesn’t float your boat, you could call this self-indulgent. Some might say it’s a vanity project. I believe that you could say that about every work of art.

Closer to the truth is that it’s a labour of love, a form of expression and a way to make those of us who read it start to look at the ordinary in a different way; to help us become, as Henry Miller said about the aim of life, “more aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely, aware”. Les is hardly making a living out of this, I shudder to think what the printing costs are and there is a limited circulation of 1000.

Go on, indulge yourself it could be the most provocative £10 you will ever spend. Did I say that there are 100 different covers? So you are bound to have one a limited edition of 10.

I have just ordered edition 1, I can’t wait!

How? Elsie’s website is worth a look too, designed with flair and humour and an example to all of us who want a good website.

Where? Join the discerning ones who have liked Elsie on Facebook.

The TV & The Concierge

I am not a great TV watcher. I haven’t been since the early 70s. In my 5 years at university and the the 3 hospital years that followed I think I only watched rugby and The Old Grey Whistle Test with any consistency. In one house where I lived, there were 5 people, three spent their evenings smoking & watching TV and the other two of us did neither. I have always preferred radio, music or a book.

Now, even with hundreds of channels I still find it hard to watch anything that might appeal without being ruined by hype or repeated hooks to keep me watching as if I had the attention span of a gnat. Add to that a deep suspicion and antipathy towards anything that is associated with the name Murdoch and I’m struggling.

So I tend to stumble across things, frequently on-line and when I’m in the UK. Although I pay a UK TV licence fee I am denied the opportunity to “catch up” when I’m outside the UK. I know that it’s possible to use a proxy to watch, but that’s illegal. Surely it isn’t beyond the wit of the beeb to devise something for we licence fee paying ex-pats.

Whilst we’re here, don’t ever start me on 5Live digital’s repeatedly hyping its programmes only to be told that “due to rights reasons” I can’t listen. Long wave cricket or via ECB is legal and online is not. Tripe.

In recent months I thoroughly enjoyed “The Men Who Made Us Spend”, Jaques Peretti’s 3 part account of how consumers are manipulated.

Yesterday I stumbled across the second in the series of Hotel India, the documentary series set in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai. Like everyone else I am fascinated by India, my only visit there was 28 years ago and is still vivid. The organisation of a staff of 1500 in one of the world’s top hotels would overwhelm many, yet it seems to run smoothly, most of the time anyway. The quality and commitment  of the management, the structure of the staffing and everyone’s understanding of what they are to do is obvious.

One of the lessons that I learned was what concierge service is really about. There has been much said and written about providing concierge dentistry (good piece from Marc Cooper) and medicine & here & here & here.  I’ll be interested to see how the Apple Watch & others will be used for this, tho’ how soon we’ll get to the sort of monitoring that Dave Eggers described in The Circle I’m nor sure.

What is clear is that you must build an environment with close support and meticulous attention to detail.

One of the butlers providing the concierge system summed it up for me when he said that his role was to be that of a “Man Friday”.

He went on, “You say you want it, I will get it or do it. Our guests come back time after time, my job is to engage with them. It is all about having a relationship with them.”

I would like that statement to be printed and framed and recited by every dental team member at the start of every day.

Why not?

The Monday Morning Quote #282

“I learn from going where I have to go”

Theodore Roethke 1908 – 1963

from “The Waking”




The Monday Morning Quote #281

“What we call the beginning is often the end

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.”

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