TheWealthyDentist.com™ Newsletter Archive – TWD – 002

News From The Wealthy Dentist #2: July 18, 2006

In this issue…
  • The Dental Guru Syndrome
  • A Little PR Goes a Long Way
  • Move Over Dan Brown!
  • Filipino Dental Care in the Spotlight
  • Heroes and Zeros!

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Move Over Dan Brown!
The Yacoubian Building

The Yacoubian Building:

Dentist’s Edgy New Novel Gets Egyptians Hot Under the Collar

 

 

Some say writing is like pulling teeth. Thankfully, Egyptian dentist Alaa el-Aswany loves doing both. Unfortunately, one of these hobbies raises more controversy than the other. Move over Dan Brown, the world has a new author to scorn (and celebrate).

The novel The Yacoubian Building sounds simple enough in its basic story, which depicts contemporary life in a famous old Cairo apartment house. It’s a clash of economics. The rich and powerful reside here, but so do the dirt-poor urban squatters who live on the roof. It’s the book’s political and sexual content, however, that makes it explosive in Egypt.

Dr. Aswany is tied to the nation’s opposition political movement, and has led a series of demonstrations against President Mubarak. He fearlessly illustrates his views through his characters. He also sympathizes with homosexuality and generally celebrates sensuality – something many Egyptians frown upon. It’s all a bit unheard of in a nation where books are censored for lesser offenses.

It’s no surprise that it took a long time to find a sympathetic publisher – most avoided the manuscript like the plague – and Aswany realized that launching the book outside of Egypt would make it easier for the government to keep it out of the country. It paid off. While most of Arab fiction’s first editions last up to five years, Dr. Aswany’s book was sold out in less than two months. It became too famous to be banned (so far anyway). The rule is universal: controversy sells.

 

Dr. Aswany attended dental school in the United States, but spurned a chance to remain here for fear of being cut off from Egypt entirely. While he cites Ernest Hemingway as his muse, he credits dentistry with much of his success. Nobody earns a living writing novels in the Arab world, and his patients provide much of the material for his work. He says he reads and studies them, and claims that he can tell whether or not they are in love the first instant he sees them. And they say there’s no passion in dentistry…

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Across the Pond

Filipinos on Dental Care

The Filipino dental community is battling widespread misconceptions about dental care among the region’s citizens. Some of the most common myths: You do not need to care for your primary teeth because they will be replaced; there’s no need to care for your permanent teeth because dentures will replace them; dentures do not need to be brushed; and there’s no point in brushing your teeth without toothpaste.

One dentist reports that some Filipino families share toothbrushes while others never replace them. What’s more, a number of school-age children aren’t even familiar with what dentists do, let alone have visited them.

So, what does all this mean? England is no longer the only nation making headlines for horrific dental care. It’s about time they shared the spotlight (and the crumpets).


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The Dental Guru Syndrome
When Egos Run Wild!

I recently asked a number of dentists to name the first three clinicians who came to mind when I said the words “Guru” and “Ego.” Invariably the same three names were conjured: one on the east coast, one on the west coast, and one living in fantasy land.

Now don’t get me wrong, a healthy ego is generally a good thing, but when does a guru’s ego get out of hand? I remember when I first started in dental management, I attended a CDA session on case presentation by the then-reigning master, who has since moved on to the wilds of Canada. I can’t even begin to count the number of times he claimed to have a 100% case acceptance record. 100%!

My partner at that time – who had an outrageous ego of her own (I think she once claimed to have invented the airplane) – said to me: “What has this guy been smoking?” Even Zig Zigler never claimed a 100% closing ratio.

This was my first introduction to what I have since coined the “Dental Guru Syndrome.” It manifests itself when truly great clinicians have mastered their craft and been recognized by their peers as breakthrough thinkers. They begin speaking at various dental meetings where their skills are rightly acclaimed by their colleagues. Eventually, they may even go on to found their own institutes or associations. Not a bad start, but slowly some of these doctors fall prey to the Dental Guru Syndrome. They start to believe their own PR.

The first sign of the Dental Guru Syndrome is the phrase, “This is how I did it in my practice…” Next, they start teaching “marketing.” “Change your sign,” they preach, “to The Center for Aesthetic Dental Arts, and attract all of the cosmetic dental market!” (All three of them in your middle-class market who understand what you are trying to say when you combine the words “arts,” “dental” and “aesthetic,” that is.)

Then they start telling their acolytes how to invest their money. My favorite was the pitch to buy undeveloped land in the country and wait for the city to get there. I know several doctors who are still waiting, 15 years later.

Once they’ve worn through their financial advisor hats, these “brilliant thinkers” move into the field of practice management. They tell you to follow the 80/20 rule – cut 80% of your patient base to focus solely on the top 20%.

“Small is good,” they say. “You don’t need the hassle of a hygienist, and one person at the front is all you need to handle your reduced patient load.” Don’t worry about only working two days a week… the city will eventually reach your land in the countryside. Your children’s college funds can wait until your ship comes in. (Did they tell you to build a harbor, too?)

The final stage of the Guru Syndrome is the outrageous behavior stage. We have all seen gurus do strange things in public – I’ve done a few strange things myself. The difference? I usually regret it the next day and try not to make a fool of myself again. Gurus deep in the syndrome, however, are so successful, rich and powerful that the rules no longer apply to them. Their bad boy – or girl – behavior is now part of their public persona. Where does it end?

– Jim Du Molin


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A Little PR Goes a Long Way

A Disgustingly Simple Way to Make Headlines

The other day I opened up Google News and was surprised to read the headline, “Local dentist to attend cosmetic dentistry seminar.” I’m sure Dr. Borquez is a very fine dentist, but I’m not impressed by the fact that he’s attending a seminar. What impresses me is that a relatively small town dentist made it to my browser’s home page. Talk about great PR!

Sometimes a doc can get so caught up in the obvious marketing strategies – Web pages, yellow page advertisements, etc. – that they overlook disgustingly simple (and cheap!) ways to get positive exposure.

This was a case in point. My guess is that Dr. Borquez (or whichever staff member drew the shortest straw) wrote a relatively short press release about his new plans, sent it off to a newspaper and voila! Instant press! Maybe it was a slow news day.

A press release can take as little as 15 minutes, cost as much as a stamp, yet attract more patients and money than you’d know what to do with. If you’re lucky, larger syndicates like Google News will pick up on it, leaving marketing professionals to shake their heads in utter disbelief.

So, next time you decide to learn a new technique or volunteer in some third-world country, consider taking the time to tell your local paper about it. You never know where it might lead.

Heroes and Zeros

Kung Pao Dentistry

Armed with only a few supplies, Pittsburgh dentist Dr. Donald Stoner and three student accomplices tread through the most remote regions of China to provide dental care for those who had never had any before. Working long hours, day after day, the team got more than they bargained for as thousands flocked to their mobile clinic. Stoner says the whole experience, which only reaffirmed his decision to enter dentistry, was a privilege.

Call it a Bling Sting

Great news! West Palm Beach rappers can get their gold teeth and grills at rock bottom prices! The catch? Your unlicensed “dentist” will use dirty tools, leaving you with a mouthful of infection (and the “doc” in a mouthful of trouble). The Sheriff’s office shut down the illegal operation run from the back of a jewelry store, where they found filthy tools, buckets of disgusting God-knows-what and piles of trash. Detectives say they aren’t certain the metal being used was even real gold. I guess it doesn’t always pay to be thrifty.

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