Dr. Lewis Chen is aboard the Dental A-Team! Dr. Chen has become an extremely successful dentist in a short amount of time — like, 10-practices-in-two-years successful. He shares with Kiera what he did differently to find his success, including utilizing the right resources and committing to a schedule.
Dr. Chen and Kiera also discuss the difference between work and luck, things that went well, and pitfalls he wishes he’d avoided. He also shares life hacks, his best tip for delegation, and how to elevate teams.
More about Dr. Chen
Dr. Lewis Chen was born and raised in New York. He completed his Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and graduated top of his class with highest honors and distinction. Due to his outstanding clinical performance, leadership, and selfless contributions to Columbia, he was one of few to be nominated and inducted into the only renowned, national dental honor society, Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU). After graduation, he completed his residency at the Bronx VA, which is nationally known to be the most prestigious, competitive, and comprehensive program in the country due to its strong focus on full-mouth reconstructions, cosmetics, prosthodontics, endodontics, and oral surgery.
Throughout his high school, college, and dental school years, he actively served as a tutor and mentor up until private practice. Because of his commitment in teaching and education, he also serves as Instructor of Clinical Dental Medicine at his dental school alma mater. He carries his passion for teaching from the classroom setting into a dental office by educating patients so that they can begin to take control of their oral health and make informed and calculated decisions. His primary focus is to cater to patients and exceed their expectations.
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0:00:05.6 Kiera Dent: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Dental A Team Podcast. I'm your host, Kiera Dent, and I had this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member's perspective, because let's face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives. I've been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, filler, office manager, regional manager, practice owner, and I have a team of traveling consultants where we have traveled to over 165 different offices coaching teams. Yep. We don't just understand you. We are you. Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental, and I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I can help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress, and create A teams. Welcome to the Dental A Team Podcast.
0:00:51.3 KD: Hello, Dental A Team listeners. This is Kiera, and you guys, today is a pretty special day. I have a dear friend. We have chatted so many times. He is a rockstar on Instagram. If you do not watch his channel, you definitely need to. And he's just one of the coolest people that I feel is a great inspiration. He's been able to do what a lot of other offices have not been able to do. So I'm so jazzed to bring on Dr. Lewis Chen. How are you today, Lewis?
0:01:14.9 Dr. Lewis Chen: Good. Thanks for having me. It's always a pleasure. It's been so long since we've been actually meeting in person. I think the last time was in 2018, 2019.
0:01:23.5 KD: I know.
0:01:23.6 DC: Something like that. Years.
0:01:24.5 KD: Because I saw you, I think, Was it Paul Goodman's event, the Dental Nachos? I think that's where we first met.
0:01:29.7 DC: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, that's when I saw Mark in person for the first time, and then I saw you for the first time. But I've known about both of you from some years back, so it's about time. Almost fangirling at the time, so it's a pleasure. So I'm fangirling now still. [chuckle]
0:01:46.2 KD: Well, you're so kind, Lewis. You inspire me. So I am so jazzed. I know a little bit of your journey, but gosh, you have done some impressive work since 2019, all the way in 2021, and in the middle, we had COVID. So kinda just walk our listeners through just your back history, your backstory of how you even got to being a dentist. What kinda inspired you to become one? Where you're at today? Just kinda give people your quick bio on you.
0:02:13.1 DC: Quick bio. So okay, I'll give myself a long story short version. So I started in college with an economics major, to which I graduated with that degree. And during that time in sophomore year, I remember interning at a dental office, and my parents were like, "You like the arts, you like the sciences. Try dentistry," and I did. And since that time, I shadowed a dentist, and he was very personable. I was a very shy guy. He's like, "Listen, you should spend some time learning about patient care, just learn about patients. Don't really think about the dentistry. Dentistry will come. You go school for that. School doesn't teach you how to speak to people."
0:02:56.9 KD: That's true.
0:02:58.1 DC: And then later, I focused a lot of my time doing it. And I realized in New York City, the crux is New York City. Dentistry's not cheap. It's an expensive commodity. And part of that, when I sat there, I realized patients who've had a great time, when they checked out, they had a bill to pay. It's usually not as exciting walking out.
0:03:22.0 KD: It's true.
0:03:23.4 DC: Yeah. So I always sought out a mission. I said, "Well, and New York City is very saturated, Why should I be perpetuating the stereotype of dentistry, dental work to be expensive?" So I sought out a vision. I say, "You know what? I love dentistry. I wanna provide good quality care. It's like social hour or happy hour every day, every hour. But why can't I just make it a little bit more affordable than my neighboring dentists?" And I wanted to provide an exceptional patient experience and exceptional patient care. The dental care, so on and so forth. The whole gamut of things. And then I said, "You know what? I wanna do it on a scale. I wanted to at least have five offices by the time, and I wanted to achieved that." And I was 19 at the time.
0:04:13.5 KD: Haven't even gone to dental school. You're like, "Here's the vision, this is what I want, and let's make it happen."
0:04:19.0 DC: Yeah. And that's exactly what I wanted. And through dental school, that wasn't my vision. My vision was to be an exceptional provider, which kinda still falls into my core values when I first started. The purpose behind what I do is just helping as many lives, impacting as many lives as possible through this journey. And then now fast forward, I went to dental school, did residency. And then in 2019 till 2021, my partner and I, which is who I met in dental school, he was my professor at the time. And since then I've got other new partners. We just started to build from two locations, and now in 2021, hopefully by the end of 2021, we'll have 10.
0:05:04.4 KD: You guys heard that, right? That was 10. So 2019-2021, 10 practices. It's pretty impressive, Lewis. And what I love... You and I are very aligned. Our mission at Dental A Team is to positively impact the world of dentistry in the greatest way possible, and you also wanted to positively impact and change the way patients view dentistry. So I just love it. Lewis, I think you're an inspiration to so many. So I'm going to like, "Let's get ready, let's dive deep," 'cause I'm sure people listening are like, "How? How did you do it, Lewis?" That's great. You had a vision when you were 19. You went to dental school. It sounds like you partnered up with somebody fantastic, and now here you are two years later, and you've got 10 practices. So kinda walk us through some of the things that you felt helped perpetuate that and make it into a reality. You're also in New York. I mean, you got hit hard with COVID. I think you actually were one of the hardest hit places of all. So I mean, massive growth, massive change. And you're also real chill. You are always fun and engaging. You also attend a ton of CE. You also have a personal life. So a lot of people ask, "How?" And I'm always curious to know very successful people, people who just...
0:06:11.2 KD: I feel like... And sometimes it's weird to say "successful people," 'cause you're like, "I'm just Lewis, I'm just this person," but it's like you do things differently. You're a different breed. Everybody else has the same opportunities in life, but you do things differently. So what are some of those things that you feel like you've done differently to get to this day in your life right now?
0:06:29.1 DC: That was a loaded question.
0:06:30.4 KD: It is a loaded question. That's why you're on the podcast, Lewis.
0:06:33.9 DC: That's a great question.
0:06:34.0 KD: I can ask all the questions to you. [chuckle]
0:06:36.2 DC: You ask amazing questions, so I'm happy to entertain it, and I feel like I should be a better question asker too. To start, I think to perpetuate, one, is having the proper resources available to you and just committing yourself. I remember when I was in residency and whatnot, on top of being in residency, learning what I had to do, and just kind of self-learning, I was listening to a lot of podcasts, and then eventually podcast was a huge learning experience 'cause it's available. It's available, and why not utilize it? Over time, as you start building your sort of operation business, I entertained just taking CE. In fact, actually one of my team members, a couple of my teams are infatuated with you, Kiera, by the way.
0:07:14.6 KD: Thank you.
0:07:15.9 DC: They love you. They're like, "Oh my God, I wish I could be Kiera." I'm like, "You should. That'd be a great thing." [laughter]
0:07:20.1 KD: When I come to New York, I'll be there in December. Let me know, we'll hang out. It will be a good time.
0:07:23.7 DC: That would be awesome.
0:07:24.8 KD: It'd be a fun surprise, Lewis. We should definitely, off-air, come up with a surprise. It'd be real fun. [laughter]
0:07:30.9 DC: Yeah, I do send a lot of the information you send out to... Your newsletters are fantastic.
0:07:37.6 KD: Thank you.
0:07:37.6 DC: And actually reading the resources that are provided. I know sometimes people just kinda sift through it and they kinda toss it away, but I actually sift through it and I say, "Well, I'm gonna forward to the appropriate team members so I can elevate them." So just being the good filter of resources is one. Number two is, committing yourself to a schedule. For me, I'm always a early bird now, like 5:30, 5:40 wake up. I work pretty much all day, non-stop, and it's hard to get a hold of me. I'm always bouncing around offices. I think what gets me going is really just that commitment to purpose, which I think that people don't focus so much on, and when they go into dentistry is that purpose. I still stand by what I want to achieve when I was 19 'til now, which is basically just continue to drive and push for great things, and over time you elevate yourself and you realize you just start to grow in size, expand. You need to have a belief system, and it comes first, which is what's your core values? And really just redesigning everything that you do. So that gets me going. Waking up in the morning. I have a purpose behind what I do. I have my own personal core values that I abide by, and there's nothing better than that.
0:08:51.3 KD: I love it, I love it so much. And, Lewis, of course, I'm gonna dive in deeper. I think a few pieces I pulled from that is, one, it sounds like you're very, I would say regimented, like you know what you wanna do in life. And I found that when I talk to successful people, it's one of my favorite things about the podcast is picking people's brains. Tony Robbins has a quote that I love, and it says, "Successful people ask better questions." So it's like, what is that routine? You have a morning routine. You wake up at certain times. You're very much dedicated to a purpose, something beyond you, because when those hard days come, which they will always come, it's pulling back to, "Why are we doing this? What is the why behind it?" So I love that you started first with that. I also love that you mentioned you filter through the resources that are available. You're right, this podcast is free. People can download it, listen to it. We put it on for free, and we bring on really an awesome guest. Our newsletters are written by our consultants, and I check all of them, make sure there's awesome facts, tangibles in there. It's not just a newsletter of bleh. It really is, but also filtering through what is that best information. So, I love hearing that you actually take the time to read through it, but you're also very systematized in how you operate.
0:09:58.9 KD: So I'm gonna dive into what do you feel, 'cause I feel like I was given the golden spoon of success meeting Mark Costas. I will say that again and again and again, just like, proximity is power. Right place, right time meeting people. I connected in, I helped an office grow exponentially, they connected me with Mark Costas, had the whole DSI experience. It was amazing. Perpetuated Dental A team, learned a ton, but that was a strike of lightning, but I don't think it was just pure luck. I think right place, right time. Also looking for opportunities. So for you, what were some of those opportunities? Again, 'cause I hate when people say it was just luck. I'm like, "Yes, but did I get a really lucky golden card out of heaven? Absolutely, yes, but I also think there was a lot of preparation that came first." So what were some of the things that you feel you've done well that has kind of propelled you to be able to do 10 practices in two years?
0:10:47.3 DC: To your point, I do say it's a part of luck, but I think it's a little bit of understanding whether the luck is presented to you, because sometimes people, there's tons and plenty of opportunities are presented, and sometimes is we just don't visualize it to be luck. For me, I worked really hard. I worked hard and I graduated early from dental school, but I was the only guy who worked to the very, very end. Even though I didn't have to do it, I still wanted to work. I didn't take the vacation that the other people did. I just really wanted to be the absolute best at what I did and be comfortable with it, and my partner at the time, my professor at the time, is a prosthodontist, so he is very detail-oriented. He had his eyes on me, like, "This is a hard worker, great with people, loves dentistry, good clinician." And I had a vision. Him and I sat down and he said, "What are your goals?" 'Cause he wanted to hire me as an associate, and what you're building, and What you wanna do? And then as soon as we got off that dinner, I remember it was December 2016 or something like that, he was just like, "What if I want you to work with me? Not just work with me, but work, build, build something with me?" I'm like, "What? What's going on?" [laughter]
0:11:57.3 DC: And then I went to residency and I was like, "Alright, cool." I just continued to do what I had to do, but I continued to revisit and commit to that luck and opportunity. Again, I think to that point, I think we have to understand that we have to put our best self out first every day, because if you're not performing optimally, yeah, sometimes people perceive under-performance as not optimal performance, and I'm gonna deliver... If an interview falls short, then what do I have to do? That's that first impression, right? So I definitely think that we have to be on A Game all the time, for sure, and then once you hit that point, critical mass. A game is always your game. [laughter]
0:12:37.8 KD: That becomes your new standard. That's where it is. That's your baseline.
0:12:41.9 DC: That's the baseline. Did I answer your question, entirely? That's another loaded question, so I was like, "Okay."
0:12:46.4 KD: It was a loaded question, Lewis. I just like to pick people's brains of what... So it sounds like if I were to recap it in a way, it's almost as if... I feel like you put in a lot of hard work, hustle, and grit. And I think that that's important. I love the picture, I'm sure a lot of us have seen it, of the ballet slippers. There is a ballerina on pointe, and one foot is in the ballerina slipper, and the other foot is just like cut up, bloody hot mess, and it says, "Everybody wants success, but they often don't realize what it takes to get there." And I think about... I just heard a lot of that hard work, that grit. You also had a vision and you were very committed to it. So I think about team members, I think about practice owners of, "What is that vision? And are you actually committed to it? Are you a fair weather fan or are you like ride or die, 'I will achieve this goal?'" And I hear a lot of conviction, but also because of that conviction from you, Lewis, I feel like it also presented you opportunities that might have otherwise passed you by. This professor was looking for an associate. You had proven yourself to be this very successful student, so they were looking. There was an opportunity sitting there. You didn't even know it, and a lot of times I tell people often, I groom people. I watch people before they even become in leadership.
0:13:56.4 KD: My husband was groomed for about four years before he was taken into leadership. Had no idea was happening, but people are constantly watching. There are opportunities always around us. It's just like you said, "Who are you presenting day in and day out?" So I love that. I love that, and I hope other people are listening and realizing it's not just a stroke of luck. It is literally being your best self, having that baseline continually. That's what is gonna set you up for opportunities that you may have otherwise missed. So next up, you and professor decide you're going to become partners. You're gonna take this on. You finish up residency. So I also love that you equipped yourself with the skills and tools you needed, so if it didn't work out with your professor, all eggs weren't in that basket. You're like, "With you or without you, I will do this." And I like that you did that. So then, what are some of the things you felt you and your partner did very well from the get-go? 'Cause I also feel a lot of success comes from pivoting quickly, learning from your mistakes very quickly. So what were some of the things you felt at the beginning you guys did really, really well? And then I'm gonna pivot to mistakes, but right now, what are some of the things you felt like, "That set me up for success exceptionally well in the beginning"?
0:15:04.0 DC: Well, I think I'm gonna keep an open mind. I think that having the clear expectations of each other is important. As we continued to grow, we added more team partners, too, again, it's awesome to have difference. So we make it very clear what our strengths are, "stay in your lane" kind of thing. My partner is great with the financial aspect, I'm great with... Well, I'm not great with system, but I like systems.
0:15:25.2 KD: Yeah, I can tell. You wake up at a certain time.
0:15:27.4 DC: The process of providing...
0:15:28.3 KD: The process, I got the vision. You're good.
0:15:31.2 DC: Yeah. The getting, writing it, the process, the system, putting it in place, organize, that's the hard part that he didn't take care of. That's what I do. The one thing that we did do well is we talked about What we want to achieve. I think that one of the things that he mentioned was, What he's trying to achieve is not the financial goals. His is very aligned with mine, which is to provide exceptional care. So our core values were aligned, so at any given point, I just know the decisions that he suggests and makes is for better, for a good purpose or for the right reasons, not for any other intent. That was really important to us. And of course, just building a lot of trust. I did throw a lot of my eggs in his bag, and in fact, I threw everything in.
0:16:19.2 KD: Good, all in.
0:16:20.0 DC: Everything, all my practice, is all in. And we have the conviction to finish and end strong, and that's kind of where we stood. I think that's what we did well, and we continue to grow. We weren't stagnant. We all, like my partner, he's 10 years my senior, so he's constantly in leadership classes, 'cause he needs to be a better leader. He wants to be a better leader. He takes the necessary classes to be a better leader. He understands. He's self-reflective and self-aware about how he presents himself to his team, and it rubs off on me, and again, we learn. One also great thing is we embrace honest mistakes. We embrace the humility, 'cause even if I made a mistake and I would honestly tell him, "Look, my bad, I didn't think about this. I didn't think about that. Here's the outcome." "It's fine, just don't do it again. Just figure it out, put it on a sheet of paper, figure it out, do it again." And there was a lot of forgiveness in that process which helped. I oftentimes think that if there is no open communication to allow for humility, people, they'll probably get stuck within their own confines, and I think that's something that was really beneficial for us.
0:17:38.0 KD: As you guys look back on 2021, how was it? Was it your best year? Was it a year you could have done a little better? And as you're looking forward to 2022, what type of a practice and a person do you wanna be? Well, guys, now is the time to take massive action and to have the life and the practice you've always wanted. Dental A-Team Platinum is where it's at, guys. We focus on system development. That's right, top to bottom. Team development, growing leaders, growing you as a person, making sure you're balanced so that we have happier teams. And we also ensure that your practice is profitable, teaching you how to be business savvy. So if you're looking to enhance your practice, take it to the next level, you yourself wanna grow? Now is the time. Dental A-Team Platinum. We fly to your practice. Most of our offices see a 10-30% increase in revenue, reduction of stress, happier teams, better patient experiences. So if you know you wanna rocket launch yourself into 2022, don't wait, guys. We're only taking on so many platinum practices, because we physically fly to you. So email us today, [email protected], and you better believe we have something special for you, end of year offices. So be sure to reach out, [email protected] Remember, you're only one decision away from a completely different life.
0:18:47.4 KD: Gosh, so many good takeaways, because I think so many people have partnerships that actually don't go well. And so helping to see you guys were in your lanes. You also had complementary skillsets to one another. I think that that's actually amazing that you figured it out, "Stay in your lanes." And then, there's the honest mistakes like, "That happens," I tell everybody. "Fail successfully." And I also love another quote, "There are no failures, there's just results." Like, "What happened? Why did it happen?" "Let's learn from it, so it doesn't happen again and move forward." And when teams and partners feel that they can make those mistakes, there's so much freedom. The rules and the boundaries are all open. You can have anything. There's massive creative success and openings and ideas that can come because you feel very, very free, I guess, to make those mistakes. You know you're gonna be accountable to it, but there's nothing wrong in not having it go exactly as planned.
0:19:37.0 KD: So I'm now gonna pivot, Lewis, you've been so generous, and I wanted to pick your brain. I've been dying to talk to you. You guys have such a fun culture, which I think kudos to you guys for doing that. But next up is going to be, what do you feel... I know I can go back in my career and say these were big pivotal mistakes that if I could do it over again, I would never have done that. So maybe one or two of those, and not even mistakes. I guess it's just like, of course, I learned from them, I'm grateful I had them, but if I was giving someone guidance, these would be some pitfalls that I wish I would have known about prior to making them. Do you have any of those that have come? I mean, 10 practices in two years, Lewis, I'm not gonna lie, it's impressive, I love it. I'm so fricking proud of you. I'm like high-five-ing you through the screen right now, just impressed with who you are and that your vision's coming to light. What were some of those pitfalls though that you're like, "Wish I wouldn't have done that"?
0:20:26.7 DC: There's a laundry list of pitfalls. [chuckle] And to your point of failing successfully, it's so important, failing forward, oh my God, I can give you a whole separate podcast on just failures. Biggest thing is ego. Let go of ego. Huge thing about that is ego. Let it go. Number two, team culture. Number three, provide the proper resources for success. There's tons of resources out there, like I said. You can purchase the protocols, you can purchase manuals, whatever it is, you don't have to re-invent the wheel if you don't have to. Very simple. And oftentimes people think, "I want my own recipe," and I always say it, I say it too to my teams. I'm like, "There's no point re-inventing the wheel or just following someone else's recipe. Use your recipe to make something that you like to cook, not what they like to cook." If you want that breaded chicken, maybe you want some breaded chicken cutlet with some other paprika or Cajun, that's your recipe. So what are those additional variables? But you don't have to re-invent the wheel. Save yourself the time and struggle.
0:21:28.8 DC: Number three is learning to elevate the team. I realize that people forget that every team member is looking for growth, we just have to provide that platform for growth. Another one is, again, the same thing, embrace humility about your leadership. I think that sometimes people look for team members with a skillset and they don't provide the opportunity or look at potential more than skillset. And to this day, I don't hire for skills, I hire for talent, I hire for potential, because you can't find someone who's really good with hospitality who hasn't been in the hospitality business. [laughter]
0:22:06.5 KD: Amen. So true, so true, I love it.
0:22:10.2 DC: Yeah. There's so much more, again, even cultural alignment with your partners, resetting that, having that conversation or revisiting, and figuring the differences out, that the only way you can grow is to be aligned and there's no other way around it.
0:22:27.9 KD: Gosh, Lewis, I love it so much. I think that there's just so many pieces on there. And something I really wanted to highlight, the reason I asked that question is because, again, I think so many people look at that and say, "Oh my gosh, 10 practices in two years. Is this person really human? Do they ever make mistakes?" And I think it's really important to rise on the path of success. I love it. I heard a quote and it's called "The Success Tax". There are hard times that follow, there are things that we wish we wouldn't have done, there are things that we learn along the way, but it's like, just keep growing and becoming better. So I'm actually gonna ask you, I came up with a few questions that I've wanted to ask podcast guests that I'm like, "Oh, I'm gonna remember to ask Lewis these." So my first question is, what is your best time-saving hack?
0:23:12.4 DC: Time-saving hack? Oh. [chuckle] People oftentimes say it's because I sleep so little.
0:23:19.7 KD: How many hours do you sleep a night, Lewis? Let's talk about that.
0:23:21.6 DC: So, I got an Oura Ring. So this is a ring that measures your sleep and it measures your REM sleep. So I'm trying to life hack myself through data by understanding like, well if I'm getting X amount of hours of deep sleep or REM sleep or whatnot, Do I wake up feeling like I'm gonna be productive? Do I feel like I'm energized? Do I feel like I'm putting my best foot forward? That's key. I am huge on calendars. I know that I heard a podcast about productivity. Some people say to-do lists are great, but calendar's even better. But I personally have all my work that I do actually on calendar by blocks, almost. I put it on my calendar, say, "Alright, today, payroll, I gotta do payroll." I hope to achieve it, but there's so many moving parts that the time I set for it is not usually the time I will take to complete.
0:24:09.7 KD: Sure.
0:24:10.5 DC: So at the minimum I try to tackle it by... I have a to-do project management to-do list, and I break it down by location, by management, by team members or administrative, all that stuff, and I prioritize it based off deadlines. So for me, I feel like I will prioritize and provide a deadline for myself if I find this work is gonna take a little longer. If it's easy, I knock it out because there's no point to delay and procrastinate the easy tasks because I feel like completing easy tasks provides us momentum and inertia to continue to achieve more.
0:24:44.1 KD: Totally.
0:24:44.4 DC: So sometimes I wake up in the morning like tackling the biggest task, I'm like, "Oh, this is a drag. It's gonna take a long time to do it." But if I just thought just finishing off some emails or just ticking off some of the things on the to-do list, I get this momentum feeling productive and I continue to be more productive.
0:25:03.8 KD: I like it.
0:25:04.5 DC: So that's one of my life hacks.
0:25:05.8 KD: I like it. Okay, so I like also that you... One thing I hope people are picking up is that you innovate. You are literally looking at your sleep habits to see, "Could I actually be as productive with less sleep?" I love it. I love that you're testing it out, you're trying it out. You think outside the box. And I really hope that people are realizing like it doesn't just come with the flick of your wrist or a magic wand. This is called, you're actually putting these things into play. I also agree with you. Calendaring is a world of difference. I literally put blocks on the calendar 'cause if there aren't blocks, I've got an hour or two of free time, well, instantly that hour or two gets sucked up by all these other things 'cause I didn't actually proactively take care of it. So, awesome. Next question is, what's your best tip for delegation? And this is me just selfishly asking you all the things that I wanna get better at. So I'm just asking. This is you and me having a private podcast, more for myself. So, best tip for delegation, Lewis, what is it?
0:25:58.9 DC: I think that question I should be asking you instead 'cause you've been able to grow practices [0:26:04.9] ____ and consult now. So, like delegation's a weird thing. I think everyone says the same thing. Abdication is a very, very different delegation.
0:26:14.8 KD: Totally.
0:26:15.1 DC: Abdication is really just kind of relieving yourself of the work that you don't want to achieve and putting it in the hands of someone with autonomy and then not providing good outcomes that you find to be successful. Delegation is understanding that your productivity will increase by you offloading some of the workload so you can spearhead the delegation. Not to do the work, but you can provide projects or spearhead progress with an individual who can take the load off and understanding an agenda. Even for myself, right now I'm at the point where I need to hire some more HR recruiters and more operations team members, and I know what I need because my time is diminished if I continue to focus on so many different things that I know I can offload and just oversee, have a project timeline for that.
0:27:06.4 KD: Totally. I love it. As you said that, I'm hoping people heard that you prioritize your time and you're constantly hiring and innovating and bringing on different people, so that way you're always on optimum peak performance. What are the things that only you can do? Times being diminished, I could outsource this, I could hire somebody else. And then the last question I have for you is, your best tip for team communication, or you talked a lot about elevating your team? This is a team podcast. What is something that you feel you do really, really well? I think you guys have a really fun culture from what I see, super jazz what you guys are doing. What do you feel is something that you've done very well to help have a great team culture in your practices?
0:27:47.4 DC: I don't know. I still do HR, so I hire every person, and one of the biggest things is me being the person who can establish that culture through the interview from the get-go. And that comes from speaking with the right candidates. I spend a little bit more time really going through the company culture as well as the core values of the office, so that's why they come in expecting that. What's harder is kinda shaking up the culture that doesn't exist, basically trying to create something that didn't start. So every office I'm trying something new, like the new [0:28:24.3] ____ office that my partners and I have. I came in and did this whole cultural thing, and I'm not great at it, I'm trying it, but I walk in, I feel amazing. I feel amazing. I see the team, the team is great. I feel I can't wait... I love coming to the office, and I love knowing that I can, 'cause I also know that the team loves that too. So that's one thing is to create a culture is just establish it from the get-go. Do not delay the process. The moment they get onboarded, culture comes first, the belief systems. Another thing is being honest with yourself with that process because, it's corny, everyone talks about, it's like when I first started, "Core values? What are those?" The work needs to be done, right?
0:29:12.5 KD: Totally.
0:29:12.9 DC: And then you realize that toxicity happens and there's other stuff that needs to be managed and navigated. And it's just so much harder, especially if you start growing, the culture has to be consistent across the board.
0:29:25.9 KD: Amen.
0:29:27.4 DC: Yeah. And it's easier with one 'cause you see the same people all the time, but if you're dropshipping yourself in different locations, you expect the culture to persist. And am I great at it? I am far from it. And even right now, I'm just trying to figure out, how do I measure culture, right? How do I ensure that it's being consistent? Maybe 'cause I'm coming in, people are performing well, maybe they're not, right?
0:29:51.9 KD: Sure.
0:29:52.7 DC: And how do I measure that? I think that's the first and foremost thing.
0:30:00.8 KD: I really love that you said that, and I love that you said it's cheesy because I think so many people think it's cheesy, so they actually don't do it. And yet at the end of the day, we've got great resignation, it's hard to hire all these different pieces, but I'm like, you clearly are hiring a lot of people, and I think having a great culture that people genuinely love to work there, having a culture that is based on core values, I read on my core values, I think we're on rendition four, but it's because I realized things are being missed from our company, and so I love that you brought up the cheesy aspect of it. So bottomline is... And I'm actually just gonna give you a tip that I've heard for, how do you measure culture? 'Cause you're right, it should be a tangible thing. It should be something when we walk in, it is the same from practice to practice to practice. So an office that I really, really love and respect and admire, they actually send out quarterly surveys or twice-a-year surveys, so November and May, and they actually have an anonymous survey of like, how is the culture? So they get a pulse on all the practices.
0:30:56.0 KD: For my team, I'm constantly ripping our core values down, and I will spot audit them and say, "Alright guys, what are our core values?" And I will randomly ask different people on calls just to see, do they know the core values, having core value shoutouts at morning huddle where they have to all choose a team member and pick a core value, I don't care which one it is, that exemplifies that. So I'd be like, "Today Dr. Chen, I'm gonna give him the core value of fun. He's always fun. He brings a lot of fun energy." So it actually is infused into your practice, but then how to measure it doing those core... Or those twice-a-year surveys oftentimes can give you kind of a anonymous pulse on your practices. So I love that you brought these pieces in. I love that you're focused on it because I really do believe great cultures are where great practices happen. Great practices are able to impact their community stronger, and it also impacts the lives of those that work there. So I love it. Those are so fun, Lewis. I think it's fun to see your journey. It's been fun to watch you grow. I mean, I met you pre even owning practices and now to see you where you are, and I just know there's so much more ahead of you. So I love it. I'm always rooting you on, always happy to help.
0:32:01.3 KD: We should definitely plan a time to meet up. I'm always in New York. So I'd love to see you guys. But thanks for sharing. Thanks for sharing all your tips. Any last things you wanna share as we wrap up? I'd love hear anything else you wanna add in.
0:32:13.9 DC: I think to any team member or any provider, particularly the providers, because to grow, you have to keep an open mind to what's out there. And even for myself, like you mentioned, I do always say it's cheesy, but no one talks about it, but you know what? I see the difference day and night, day and night. It changes the way you deliver your care. It changes the way you lead. It changes the way you manage. And then to your point, I try the team surveys. Again, I like trying a lot of things. And I realized that sometimes trying things has to have a structure when you're ready for it. I couldn't measure culture if I didn't understand what culture meant. But now that I have culture set in the core values and the company culture is established, now this might have a better impact. Now I have team members who can understand that and deliver that. So it requires a lot of step back. I think one thing to learn from any team members, is like take a step back and just kinda take a read on the practice, whether people are feeling great, whether they're...
0:33:16.6 DC: I like Danny Meyer. So Danny Meyer is a podcast, I could send it to you, and he talks about having team members check the weather report before they come in, because if you're feeling sunny, it's gonna be a sunny day at the office, patients, team members, everyone. But if you're feeling like you have a rainy day, you better check yourself, leave that rain behind because you're gonna rain on everyone else. So that's one thing that I've started to realize is I gotta make sure to check on my weather report every single day before I deliver my results.
0:33:46.8 KD: That's awesome, Lewis. You are just, like I said, an inspiration. It's fun. Thank you for sharing. I know it's sometimes uncomfortable to share our successes, sometimes it's uncomfortable to share our failures, but that's why I love this podcast because we bring the best of the best, we share ideas, because I think sometimes just hearing someone's story, hearing someone's experiences, learning from them helps rocket launch so many other practices to success. So thank you, Lewis. I just adore you. I'm so glad you're here today. Always cheering you on. So thank you. Thanks for being a part of this today.
0:34:16.2 DC: Thank you, I appreciate it.
0:34:17.1 KD: Of course. Alright, you guys, that wraps it up. Dr. Lewis Chen, super grateful, guys. Check him out, he's all over social media, great, great person. He will respond to you like you will never believe this man is as busy as he is 'cause he responds all the time. He's always gathering so much information. So check him out, such an inspiration. And as always to all of you, thank you for listening, and I'll catch you next time on the Dental A Team Podcast.
0:34:42.1 KD: And that wraps it up for another episode of The Dental A Team Podcast. Thank you so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time.
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