So I never thought I’d say this, but in Atlanta during a molar jockey video contest for a previously-owned Lamborghini, it occurred to me I’d never really shared the story of our practice.
And don’t worry; at this point I know going back to the beginning is going way back. But I promise I won’t go that way back; who wants to dust off the history books? And no way we can dig up some of my childhood contemporaries like the Wilshire Blvd wooly mammoth or Abraham Lincoln (even before he was a vampire killer) for interviews.
But somewhere between The Varsity and the Atlanta Aquarium and after watching about ten DDS videos, I finally had my first regulation epiphany (good thing because I’m still waitin’ on my first endorphin.)
Our contest entry, in the minds of Guru Dental Assistant Brigitte and Tower of Hygiene Lisa, was the cleverest, funniest dang thing ever achieved in the history of dentistry…and I really believe Brigitte and Lisa actually think I’ve been around for the entire history of dentistry.
So turned out we were finalists but no cigar…and no car.
The winner told a story of rebirth and transformation not much unlike that of Humphrey Bogart’s Rick in timeless Casablanca, a film our little gang of three saw along with about 4,500 more filmgoers in Atlanta’s gloriously restored Fox Theater.
And call me old or crazy or both but what I experienced was the first tear I ever shed for a guy who beat us out of a Lambo.
There are 37,000 stories in Temple City and thousands more gin joints and molar jockey practices all over the world. Congrats, you just walked into ours.
So I’m not gonna bore you with all the stuff that would show you what a stud I used to be. We just don’t have the time. All I’ll say is I wanted to be a dentist from the time I realized all the 10th grade art students could draw better and beat me up at the same time.
Went to Cal State LA and after a memorable talk with my dad, chose to become a good student rather than go to Vietnam or back to the warehouse that required sweaty real work outa me during my three years at Cal State. I managed to get into USC, then the reputed best dental school in the country. And my parents put off buying a house.
My brother died one year before I started dental school and my dad died three months after we started our practice from scratch during Late Disco.
My context for patients from Day One was always family. And why not see the folks you serve as the people you’d really miss; the same folks making possible the relationships that mean everything? But I have to admit, only recently have I finally managed spitting out, “…if you were my daughter” to women who’re practically 40 years old.
My first half-career in Temple City was basically about my being a nice guy and blending in. Didn’t even understand compound interest; didn’t know payroll tax existed when I started out. I did or didn’t learn the business side of things the hard way. Clinically, I was happy to keep up. The magic was always in the people.
In 1996, our then band of three took some continuing education in Canada (the hygienist didn’t go and it was my first plane ride since age 12.) We met a great man named Walter Hailey who was a multimillionaire who had three businesses go public and incredibly, took pity on clueless dentists/small businessmen. We’ve since gone all over the country for the very best continuing education. I’ve been a total CE nerd ever since.
Today our mission statement reads “…making a world-class difference for others and making dentistry fun.” And we didn’t pull that intention out of thin air.
Our message is really the result of my having been my mom’s caregiver for about ten years. Seemed like just when my mom needed some reassurance or a light touch of humanity, things usually went by the impersonal numbers. What emerged from the experience was a pledge to be successful and compassionate. We create smiles but often for the lack a human smile the opportunity to provide care gets lost.
So just like in the video, we’ve constantly “upgraded” our equipment and education. We’ve invested heavily into our practice in building a wonderful team and a dynamic workplace. You may have seen us on TV or received our direct mail. I’ve written a weekly column in local papers for some 14 years. We’ve taken some risks but who doesn’t when it comes to friends and family?
Hope you know you guys are loved. We and our profession are honored to serve you. We appreciate the feedback. We’re listening. Why not put the “I care” back into health care?
Here’s looking at you kid.