(856) 264-9890
Download Our Free E-Book
Join The Academy Buy Our Books Attend A Seminar Contact Barry

The Garden of TAO

August 18, 2014

Filed under: Happiness,Philosophy — Tags: , , — Barry @ 12:37 PM




I love metaphors.  They help me explain things better. Metaphors not only make our thoughts more vivid and interesting but that they actually structure our perceptions and understanding.  And perception, as you know is everything.

Think of the metaphor, “time is money.”  I used to think of that as a rule.  That I should live my life and run my practice like that.

Until I realized that that metaphor was causing me all kinds of stress.  But who was I to argue, after all, I had heard that metaphor throughout my entire life as if it were handed down from high above.

I’ve since learned that time is not money…time is time, and money is money, and these days time is worth much more than money.

Recently I was assessing my last forty years in dental practice.  I was using Clayton Christensen’s ideas from his book How Will You Measure Your Life?

Tough times make one very reflective.  Christensen advises to look back on your career and focus on all of the people you have helped through the years.  We tend to focus more on our setbacks.  It’s called a negative bias.

So I did.

Over the past forty-one years I have seen over 31,000 patients.

But my practice these days has slightly less than 1000 active patients.

Well, they’re more than patients—they’re members.  People who have subscribed to my approach to dental and health care.  People who know, like and trust me.  People who have mutual trust, appreciation and ownership of their health.

The nutriments of a healthy,  long term fee-for service practice….and the title of this Blogsite.

They’re like family members.

I am sure there would have been more.  People have passed on, people have moved…things happen.

Of course, there are people who just didn’t “click.”

There is an online marketing concept known as 1000 true fans.  It was taken from the idea of the long tail in using keyword search.  The idea is that a business doesn’t have to serve the entire market—just the long tail, to thriveWired magazine editor Keven Kelley created the concept of 1000 true fans from the long tail, and describes many successful businesses as thriving by concentrating on that “niche” market.

Then the metaphor came to me.

Through my years I have been developing and growing my garden…my Garden of TAO.

By using my examination process and nurturing the above mentioned nutriments of trust, appreciation and ownership…I have grown a very nice garden.  Trust, appreciation and ownership are blended into the soil.  They make relationships grow and thrive.

It takes time to build a garden.  Great relationships, in contrast to what the practice management people tell us, take time.  I didn’t know that early in my practice.  It’s the reason I wrote and developed the Arts of Examination and Case Presentation.

Of course, like any gardener you have to be very protective of the beautiful flowers you are growing.  You must tend to the soil, provide nutriments and supplements, but most importantly, keep the weeds out.

That is one of the reasons I am purely fee-for-service.

I have my own philosophy developed through the years.  The last thing I want is to hybridize the garden with foreign thoughts and ideas.  That’s how I maintain my autonomy…that’s why I have learned that time is not money.  You can always lose your money…time is more precious.




The Dental Myth That Never Dies

January 24, 2013

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Marketing,Uncategorized — Tags: — Barry @ 10:47 PM

George Nicholsopn-7



My patient cancelled her last appointment…”I forgot,” she said.

Considering her age (82) I accepted the memory breakdown.  She just needed a simple composite on her lateral incisor.

Another routine moment in a dental practice. Until I sensed some hesitation on her part.

So I asked if she had any reservations about the filling (it was clearly missing), and she said…”Well, I thought fillings last forever.”

And so, there it was…the dental myth that never dies.

So I took the opportunity to start a conversation about about this pervasive myth that most dentists have been fighting for years.

The heart and soul of a practice that believes in comprehensive care is these conversations that we get into with patients every day.

Business is a conversation.

During this particular conversation my patient learned the difference between the various materials available for treatment.  She also felt a lot better about the old dentistry that her brother had placed through the years.

She asked me to assess the rest of his work and how long I thought it would last.

Her brother did nice crown and bridge work that was holding up, and she felt good about that too.

Then she brought up her daughter who is in the middle of getting some older crowns replaced.  She had been wondering about that too…now she felt relieved.

All of these issues were generated from a mistaken belief and a good talk.

So I started to ask more patients about this myth…and lo and behold it was disturbingly popular…even in my practice.

Do a survey in your practice.  See what kinds of conversations a simple question can generate.  You may be surprised that it may lead to changing people’s beliefs about materials, hygiene and occlusion.

On my other blog CasePresenter.com I write a lot about getting our patients emotionally involved.  Destroying myths like these are quite emotional as you can tell by the “feeling” reactions of my 82 year old patient.Train everyone in your practice to open these conversations…especially the hygienists.

The Spear blog had a post concerning 5 Ways to Start a Conversation with Your Patient.  All of the suggestions were quite good.  But if you really want to home in on the subject at hand…destroying this myth is a good place to start.

It may also be good for dentistry…so many forces are out there teaching people things that are just wrong.  Start a grass roots campaign to help the profession.It’s worth repeating...Business is a conversation.





Dental Design the Steve Jobs Way

October 9, 2011

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Marketing — Tags: , , , — Barry @ 10:08 PM

An Elite GroupThroughout the past week the Internet has been filled with blog posts concerning the death of Steve Jobs.  Like  everyone in America, I too am a big fan of what he created.  For years I have been calling him our modern day Thomas Edison.

Everything that needs to be said has already been said as noted by my friend’s blog post at Spear Education.  Most of the references to Jobs have centered around the world of business…what a great leader, and what a great marketer he was.  And yes, that is all true, but just as Edison was primarily a great inventor, Jobs was primarily a great designer who truly understood what humans wanted and needed at a practical level.

And he delivered.

That is his greatest lesson for dentists.

Steve Jobs understood what “design” means.  He understood “form follows function,” where others just give it lip service.

I will never forget his keynote speech introducing the iPad2.  The entire presentation was designed (yes doctors, his presentations were designed as well), around function; how the new iPad worked.  He subtly mocked his competitors because he knew what his audience wanted and he delivered it—so many improvements over the original iPad and yet all he kept saying was “It just works.”

Clear and concise: “It just works.”

Form follows function.

Read what Steve Jobs said about design in a New York Times article written in 2003 titled, The Guts of a New Machine:

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Design is how it works…makes us wonder about the cosmetic dentistry revolution, and about what Peter Dawson has been preaching for the last thirty years.  People really want dentistry that works, that lasts…quality dentistry.

First you have to design it…then you have to sell it ( the idea, I mean).

And Jobs was good at that too.  He was a master presenter, an impressive storyteller who painted crystal clear images with extraordinary graphic design.

So what can dentists learn from Steve Jobs?

Hopefully I have given you two things…become a great dental designer by deeply understanding examination and treatment planning skills and second, take your presentations very seriously.

I have created another blog called Casepresenter.com which explores all the nuances of effective dental case presentation.  Please visit and contribute your thoughts and ideas.

One more thing.  I am a frequent visitor to Amazon.com.  Some months ago I noticed that Walter Isaacson, the author of Ben Franklin’s  and Einstein’s bio’s, was writing the first authorized biography of Steve Jobs.  The publication date was March 2012.  Over time I noticed the date was moving forward.  That combined with his departure from Apple in August should have tipped me off to his imminent death.

I can’t wait to read Isaacson’s book, due out at the end of October 2011…that will surely tell dentists what we could learn from Steve Jobs.

Follow the masses?

March 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Barry @ 11:56 AM
Don't Follow Me

Don't Follow Me

I read blogs.  I read blogs outside of dentistry.  I read books outside of dentistry, and the irony is that is where I get most of my information about dentistry.  I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog.  In today’s blog post he writes about how the current trends online are creating a society of drive-bys…people who spend very little time reading content, just clicking and moving.  The online world is on hyperspeed…and I agree.  Actually in the dental field, we’ve seen this hyperspeed occurring over many years.  We are the content—our exams, our treatment plans our presentations.  So many people move on these days.  It’s difficult to see where this will all go.
Create your own philosophy.  Invent your own way of doing things.  Make sure your content (treatment is world class)- and your audience will beat a path to your door.  Read what Godin say’s:

“In the race between ‘who’ and ‘how many’, who usually wins–if action is your goal. Find the right people, those that are willing to listen to what you have to say, and ignore the masses that are just going to race on, unchanged.”  –Seth Godin

I am reminded what L.D. Pankey used to say:

“Follow the masses—follow the asses.