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AUDIO - HSP #217 - Alan Mead
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VIDEO - HSP #217 - Alan Mead
It's not enough to simply omit addictive behavior from your life; you have to replace it with positive things. For Alan Mead, DDS, one of those positive things is podcasting.
practicing in Saginaw, MI. Founder and co-host of the Dental Hacks podcast.
Howard: It is a huge, huge, huge honor for me to be podcast-interviewing probably one of the first Townies. You logged on in 2002. It's 2015. I've known you for 13 years. I've seen you lecture. We met several times. You and me had a fun lunch with Rella Christensen one time. I feel like you're my brother and you jumped on ... You and I have always been at the forefront of new and exciting technology. You jumped on podcast first. When did you start podcasting?
Alan: We started podcasting June of 2014.
Howard: June of 2014.
Alan: A year and a few months ago, basically. We've been going for that long.
Howard: Okay. Then, we started at about the same time. I know I just interviewed Mike DiTolla and he was my first podcaster. Then, he was my ... just a week ago. I've been doing it right at a year. It was a year in October. You had to beat me by a month.
Alan: Yeah. I had you by a few months.
Howard: Damn you, Alan.
Alan: I know. I know. Sorry, man.
Howard: Gosh. Darn it.
Alan: I heard you were coming on. I wanted to see your thunder a little bit and that's how it works.
Howard: I'll tell you why I am excited about podcasting and then you have to tell me ... Let's just talk about podcasters for a while. Here's the one thing I'm not sure of. I'm trying this but I'm not sure. I don't know what comes first, the chicken or the egg. I noticed after 28 years of dentistry that the kids who got out of school and committed themselves to a hundred hours of CE a year, 10, 20 years later, they were successful. By success, I don't mean money or a million dollar practice. I know so many million dollar practice that went bankrupt. I know one who was doing two million a year and walked out in his backyard and shot himself in the head. Success isn't a million dollar practice. I can't even count how many dentists I have known over the years that have killed themselves. Phoenix, Arizona last year was three. There's one or two every damn year.
What I mean by success is they're happy and healthy. They like what they do. The people are coming in with problems. I wasn't quite a successful. Here's my definition of success in my own walnut brain. What does a fireman want? He wants to be called to help put out a fire and the bigger the fire, the more they rise to the occasion. What does the police want to do? They want to catch the bad guy. They don't want to write a ticket to grandma jaywalking. They want to go catch the robber, murderer, the guy causing carnage. As a dentist, I don't like cosmetic dentistry. I don't like some girl coming in with four pages, notes on her teeth and her chip, she's got clown pain on her face, four-inch heels and rubber boobs.
I like pain chair. I like emergencies. Room four is my emergency room and people come in and they're just sitting there in their chair, holding their face. They're scared and they're in pain. To be able to calm them down, get them relaxed and fix their problem, I just love that. I love pulling wisdom teeth. I love pulling hot teeth. I love doing endo. I just like solving big problems when people are in pain and hurt unless they're three years old. Then, I'd rather just say, "Well, that's what you get for giving your kid coke." No, I'm just kidding.
Alan: It is funny because I think everyone's definition of success in dentistry is maybe different or flexible. You were interviewing Matt Costa just earlier this week and you were pretty down on people who were not into the blood and guts because how would you start as a dentist if you weren't expecting blood and guts? That hits a little close to home. I've been taking a lot of surgery CE this year, learn to place implants, that sort of thing. Still in my heart of hearts, I believe there are two different kinds of dentists and they are the ones that are above the pink. Then, there are some that are below the pink and I think part of it ...
Howard: I've never heard above and below the pink. That's a new terminology.
Alan: Yeah. That can be construed the wrong way and I just don't want that ... When you think about it, I think there's a certain comfort level. As soon as someone starts bleeding, I'm like, "I'm hurting this person even if they're technically numb." It's a different ball of wax. Mind you, I like taking teeth out. I like doing this stuff but that's not my orientation. Whatever you've been saying on a podcast, I'm like, "Wait! There are some of us that are not so into that" and I've talked about that on our podcast, too. It's interesting. Everyone's got their thing but I will say that the people who are killing it financially seem to have a pretty deep bag of tricks, don't you think?
Howard: Exactly. Well put. People killing them financially. I would say they have a deep bag of tricks and they also have this other magical formula that I've always singled out. There's two full-time hygienists, they have two full-time operatories and they an emergency room. They have two receptionists, two full-time hygienists, two assistants. What that means to me is that if you're checking two full rooms of hygiene a day, number one, a hygiene check is going to be five minutes, it could be longer, you're finding so much stuff ...
Alan: Wait a second. Five minutes or it could be ... Hygiene checks, they're the most inconsistent thing in the world. It just drives me crazy but thank God for hygienists. You've had the time where they ring for you and you're just about ready, finished up. It's the bane of my existence but I get it. Go ahead. I'm sorry. I interrupted you.
Howard: Let's go back to the hygiene check. All 400-pound gorillas are socially hardwired to control and make everyone underneath submissive. I think most people that become priests ...
Alan: I'm not 400 pounds. I am not 400. I'm close but I'm not 400 pounds.
Howard: I'm a smacking 213 as of this morning but I'm a lot taller than you. I'm 5'7".
Alan: That's right.
Howard: You're only six foot and I measure these numbers as golf. Four hundred-pound gorillas end up being priests, rabbis, politicians, lawyers, dentists and it's success is very counterintuitive to be a 400-pound gorilla and to completely delegate and let your hygienists take x-rays and diagnose. My hygienist sees a lady and she needs a root canal and a the crown. She'll tell her. Legally, it's not diagnosing but she's telling her this is what Howard's going to say. Then, if the lady's asking what it's going to cost, she can bring in a financer. Anyway, by the time I get there, my hygiene checks aren't that long because I completely unshackle everyone. Some dentists say to me, "That's illegal for your hygienist to do that."
Alan: Oh, come on. Yeah, I know. I do get where you're going.
Howard: You show me one hygienist in jail today and I'll listen to the law. I look at all laws as just merely suggestions written by talking monkeys. The talking monkey is trying to share their concern with me. That's a law.
Alan: They're not diagnosing either. Are they not allowed to see the giant hole in 19 or something? "No, no, I don't see that." I always thought that was you can't diagnose well. Okay. They're not going to do the filling so that's fine. I'm with you on that. That's a little bit silly for dentists to get hung up about that but dentists would get hung up about that, right? That's what dentists do.
Howard: The dentists are bizarre because of natural selection. Why does the United States have 4% bipolar rate and Europe has a half percent? Because for 500 years, it was the bipolar's manic who said, "Screw this country. I'm getting in a damn 10-foot long boat and sailing across the ocean. This country can shove it up their ass." We have four out of a hundred bipolars.
Alan: Bipolars and alcoholics. Let's be honest now, Howard. Bipolars and alcoholics.
Howard: These terms are thrown around so loosely but they're extremist people. They're manic people. Then, the natural selection of dentistry is, "You can't come to our club unless you get straight As in math, calculus, physics, organic and biochemistry." It was all a bunch of library geeks like me who every single night of undergrad heard this - "The library will be closing in ten minutes." I'd yell, "Shit. I still had ..." Then, I would take my book back to the Swanson dorm. I'd enter the dorm and there's all these people that I just thought were vile. They were drinking, making out with girls and shooting pool. I thought, "This is a house of worshiping books. Who are these vile people?"
Alan: I can't see that about you Howard. Are you telling me you were a bookworm?
Howard: I didn't have a date the first three years of undergrad because I was so worried about getting in. I got accepted a year early. Then when I got to dental school, I didn't have a date the first three years then and then married ... My first date with Judith, I asked her to marry me one hour to the date. We got married ten weeks later. I was just an extremist person.
Alan: Socially off might be ...
Howard: I was just focused. I knew I wanted to be a dentist in the sixth grade and when I'd go to Creighton, they'd say, "Okay. Well, what's your backup plan because 5,000 people will apply to these 50 dental seats so it's a 4,950-chance you're not going to be a dentist? What's your backup plan?" I would just come unglued like, "I don't have a backup plan."
Alan: I didn't realized that you were that focused on being a dentist. What in sixth grade made it so being a dentist was the thing for you?
Howard: I was born extremely poor in Wichita, Kansas. We were so damn poor we didn't even know we were poor. You know you're poor when you're not even smart enough to know you're poor and mom and dad were Catholic. They had seven kids in a week and mom stayed home and made cookies. We went to mass every morning, pray the rosary every night, just lived in the slums and my dad delivered rainbow bread from the bakery to the grocery stores for no money. I think he made 10,000 a year or whatever.
He saved up his money and he took a wild swing. These new franchises were rolling out because of the new interstate systems and he saw this Sonic Drive-In franchise. He bought a franchise and opened it up. In the first year when I was ten, he made 60 grand and then he opened up a restaurant every year. He ended up having nine and after one restaurant, we moved from the poorest part of Wichita, Kansas to a nice suburb part and changed from a Blessed Sacrament School to St. Pat's. Then after about three restaurants, we moved to the absolutely richest, most magnificent part in Wichita called Hidden Lakes Estates.
We buy this mansion estate. Everybody had tennis courts, swimming pools, whatever and my next-door neighbor was Kenny Anderson who just celebrated 50 years of clinical dentistry. I just lectured in Wichita, Kansas this year and he sat in the front row. Gosh, darn. He was the valedictorian at Creighton. That's why I went to Creighton because it was Catholic and Creighton and all this kind of stuff.
My best friend was always my dad. I was the only boy. My brother wasn't born until I was 17. I'd either stay home, play barbie dolls with my sisters which I did until I was about 12 or I could go to work with my dad, my hero, my idol and I could run the grill. I could make onion rings. I could put 12 tater tots in a tub and do prep work. When I was ten, he'd pay me a roll of pennies. Then when I was 11, it was a roll of nickels for the day. Then, it was a roll of dimes and quarters. Then eventually, it got to cash.
I just love being with my dad and I loved seeing all those hot teenage car hops and girls and talking to older boys because I was home with five sisters. I just loved everything about it. I thought school was boring. After school, get out at 3:30, I go straight to my dad's restaurant at 5 and stay there as late as he'd let me. It was fun. Then, I met my neighbor Kenny Anderson. I wanted to go to work with him and I went in to work with Kenny. He was not making a cheeseburger or chili dogs. He was doing these Sargenti root canals back in the day. Then later, got [inaudible 00:12:22] crowns and reading x-rays.
Instead of having a bunch of 16-year-old girls ... They were hot but they were also crazy, drama and you'd have to schedule three car hops if you wanted one to show up. Sometimes, a car hop would take a cheeseburger out to a car on aisle three. Then, leave with them and we're like, "Are you kidding me? She still has her money change in her uniform." It was just crazy but in the dental office, it's a bunch of hot, older women and it was sophisticated.
Then, my mom valued dentistry more than anything. She had always taken us every six months and my mom is the only lady I know to this day if the hygienist said we weren't brushing and flossing properly, she would ground you until your next appointment which was half a year. A couple of my sisters, I won't say their names because Jeanmarie and Kaleen will get mad at me, they couldn't spend the night with anybody. They couldn't have anybody come over. They lost all their privileges for half a year because my mom thought losing your teeth and having bad teeth is the worst thing about it. "You only live once. You only get one set of teeth and you are going to do what that hygienist says or I'm going to ground you until the next six months."
I've got to tell you. I was a skill or stud varsity wrestler. My mom only went to one match. When bring home grade cards, mom never said anything. If you said, "Mom, the teacher needs you to sign this", she'd just say, "Where do I sign?" Never read it. She didn't care about almost anything except the Catholic church and dental appointments.
Alan: That is amazing.
Howard: I know. I know.
Alan: When was the last time you saw a person like that?
Howard: When she was little in Parsons, Kansas, if you got a toothache, you went to the dentist, you had a cavity, they pulled it and it was very traumatic. It was psychologically injuring. Her and her three brothers ... Parsons, Kansas in the '30s and the '40s was a dental nightmare. It was a hell hole and my mom thought, "I'm going to nip this in the butt now. I've got seven kids and they are going to brush, floss and do everything the hygienist says. They are not going to have that experience in their life."
She didn't care about wrestling. She didn't care about math, algebra and geometry. I don't even know if she knows the difference between algebra, geometry and trig to this day. She probably still doesn't know or care. It was my mother's most highest value. I let my mother down because my two older sisters left high school and went straight to the nunnery. One is a cloistered Carmelite monk in Lake Elmo, Minnesota outside of Minneapolis. The other one is not [inaudible 00:15:04] My mother used to always tell me that ... She'd always say, "Howie, there's never been an American pope and you are so smart. The popes are all Italians and you're going to be the first American pope." I think that's where I got all my self-esteem.
When you're a raised little kid and you think one day you're going to grow up and be the pope, you think, "Hell, I can do anything." That was my plan until I met this girl named Jane who moved into the house on the other side right next door. I thought God was sending me a message when they moved in - a hot 16-year-old blonde, your same age. I said, "This is definitely a message from God." I started working with Kenny Anderson and I decided in sixth grade. I wrote my dental school, University of Missouri-Kansas City, a letter to the admissions officer. His name is Diane Beard and I wrote a letter. "I really want to be a dentist. How do I do it?" She sent me back a letter, told me I should go to high school and study sciences.
You're not going to believe this part of the story. I got accepted at Creighton dental school med school after three years and I applied to one other school. The state school for Kansas was in Kansas City. I got accepted in all. Accepted Kansas City because my mom, being Catholic, no birth control, had a little accident called my little brother Paul. He was born. Kansas City three and a half hours from home and Omaha was seven. I wanted to be able to see my brother a lot more and all that kind of stuff.
I walk in there freshman year at dental school for my interview for dental school and Diane Beard meets me out there with the letter in her hand. She goes, "I filed this knowing ... I'm wondering if this kid will really stay focused [inaudible 00:16:46]." In my application, they literally had a letter from the sixth grade. They said, "Dude, a lot of students, they worry that we're going to accept you. Then six months later, you'll change your mind." They're like, "Okay. This kid is not going to change his mind. He's been singularly focused since his sixth grade."
Alan: That is awesome. I've heard a lot of your stories, Howard. I've never heard that one. That is very cool. I love it.
Howard: Kenny still is my idol role model because he taught me so many things especially about retirement. He told me, "If you want to quit dentistry, why would a fireman lose the thrill of putting out a fire? Why would a sheriff lose the thrill of catching a bad guy?" He didn't get it. He said, "What you should do is when you're starting to get older and losing energy every year, work one hour less and make one dollar more." Now, he's setting their work in two days a week from six to noon still making a hundred grand.
If you take a hundred grand over your bond portfolio. Let's see. I'll take $100,000 divided by the risk-free rate of the US Treasury of 0.05, that's an added $2,000,000 to your bond portfolio. When you're making a hundred grand a year, the substitute in the marketplace would be ... You would add $2,000,000 in US Treasuries and he's still helping people. He's still getting out of the house. He still loves it. When I meet that people that hate dentistry ... Back to this model we were talking about. If you're checking two full-time hygienists and you're running two full-time chairs, you're diagnosing enough.
Then, room five, you have to have an emergency room which is why a 100% of all US hospitals have emergency rooms. You walk in there with an angina, it's a $100,000 bypass. You walk in there bleeding out your rear end, it's a $75,000 gastrointestinal colon cancer or colon resegment. By having an emergency room, then your front office, they're not sitting there when Alan Mead calls with a toothache and trying to find a hole in the schedule. They can always, without looking at the schedule, say, "We'll just come on down. Just come on down." What I've noticed in my practice is that when you're having an emergency room, the front office people can say, "We'll just come on down." Usually, when somebody comes on down, that almost always perfectly matches my no-shows and cancellation rates.
Alan: It's karma.
Howard: I know. I'll go in there. "Alan's here and he's got a toothache. They worked him all up and he needs a root canal." I'm going in there to say, "Alan, I'm just going to give you Pen VK and some pain pills. [inaudible 00:19:20]. You're next guy just cancelled." I'm like, "Perfect" or your afternoon cancelled out. You were about ready to go to lunch but you realized, "I don't have anything to come back from lunch from because they cancelled. Then, all, me and my assistants, will do a root canal, build-up and crown through lunch. Then, we can eat at 1 instead of 12."
If you're swamped, just going in there ... When the patients met me in the flash, they've got x-rays. They've got a diagnosed denture implant. They've got their antibiotics. They've got their pain pills. We hope to fish. They're going to come back and let us cook, clean and eat it but back of that happiness, you don't have to do things you don't like for money. When you don't have two hygienists to pick from and an emergency room that the front office receptionist can sell and close because their only job description is to get butts in the seat, not check the mail, make deposits, file charge, all that crap. The receptionist's only job is to get butts in the seat. When you've got a lot to pick from and you've got what you have, a lot of bags and the tricks, you're happy, successful, financially [inaudible 00:20:26].
Then, back to the original question about this podcast. My whole deal of this podcast, I don't know even though if it's right or wrong, is that the people who got committed to a 100 hours of CE every year, ten, 20 years later, they developed a bag of tricks. They were financially successful. I look at the 19,022 towns in America in the rural and the 117 big metro areas. A lot of these girls, they tell me, "I come home. I pick up my kids at daycare. I've got to cook dinner. I've got to do all this stuff and the only thing we have is one night a month. Our study club has a speaker and they're usually lame. It's so hard for me. Some of you single guys or single women can fly around the country taking CE but I've got a one-year-old and a three-year-old."
I thought to myself, "You know what I'll do? I'll just interview these people." Instead of the one hour study club where you've got to drive across town, register, eat the rubber chicken rice [inaudible 00:21:21], cold broccoli and bullshit, and then listen to 15 minutes of baloney, I'm just going to give her a study club." The reason that I opened it all up on Dentaltown for other people to [inaudible 00:21:35] is because the number one complaint, 90% of all my complaints from my podcast or, "Do this person. Do that person. There's not enough. I have an hour commute each way. I want ten a week. Then, on weekends, it takes me four hours to clean the house. You should release four on Saturday." I'm like, "Nobody can make us supply a podcast that can be [inaudible 00:21:55]."
We put them up on Dentaltown. There's about a dozen podcasts on Dentaltown and every single one of them told me the same thing. It said it was the best free marketing idea. They would put it up for free on iTunes. They put it for free on Dentaltown. A lot of people got turned on the show but just subscribed to it on iTunes so their iTunes exploded. It was just free marketing.
Alan: That's the beauty of the iTunes thing, too, because the distribution's taken care of someone else. All you've got to do is just put it up in the air and iTunes get it out there. I will say trying to market on iTunes versus trying to market on Dentaltown ... My demographic is on Dentaltown. My demographic is not on iTunes. That does make a lot of sense.
Howard: You should load your podcast because a lot of people just go to the podcast. This is the one thing that ... When I tell you about Dentaltown, you're never going to believe it but I have all the data. Do you know half the people that go to Dentaltown each month never go to the message boards?
Alan: That seems impossible. What are they looking at?
Howard: You've got the digital magazine online which we e-mail that all over the world. They look at the articles, a lot of the dental manufacturers and whatever. I look at all their behavior. Classified ads is huge. I think there's a thousand people a day that go to classified ads.
Alan: I can see that because I've used a classified ads in the past, too. Yeah.
Howard: Yeah. The classified ad people almost never go to the message boards. Online CE is huge. We just passed 550,000 views from our courses and a lot of those people might go to Dentaltown once every three months, watch an online CE course and never even go to the classifieds or read the digital magazine online. I think a lot of Townies like you and me ... Thank you so much for posting 5,400 times over the last 13 years. It's the 1% guys like you creating all the content which feeds the lurkers. Everyone goes to Dentaltown just to read what a very few dental unicorns like you do which is create content on the message boards, not create content on dental [inaudible 00:24:06]. Without you content creators, there's no magazine, there's no website, there's no podcast and I think the reason people don't create content is because most people live in fear their whole life of what every other person in the world thinks.
Alan: I think that's very true and I do think creating content will get you past that. I don't like it if people don't like my stuff but a lot of times, the ones that don't like it, I don't actually hear about it. Occasionally, I get some bad feedback. I'm sure your very familiar with this because you put a ton of content out there. I want to ask you about that, too. For people that don't like it, yeah, they don't have to listen. It's a BA podcast, right? You're not going to download it if you're not going to listen to it or if you're not interested in it. You can get a sample. If you don't like it, don't download it. It's interesting.
I want to ask you this though before you go on. You were putting out so many podcasts and I know what it takes to do it. How are you doing this? How in the world do you get so many podcasts? I know there's a model by the guy from the Entrepreneur on Fire, the way he records and puts out but you are essentially doing the same thing he is. When I started, I thought, "Man, it'd be cool to put out more stuff" but then all of a sudden, you're putting out ... Tell me how it works. How do you set it up and let it go?
Howard: I've got 55 employees. The only thing I have to do is show up and talk to people.
Alan: Yeah but you're talking to people though.
Howard: There's 24 hours in a day. I'll set aside two days and do five hours back-to-back. This is Friday right now. This is Friday, 11:47, I think the number four today. The other thing is a lot of these podcasts are like ... I'll give the example. Scott Perkins texts me a couple of Friday nights. It was 9 o'clock at night and we're talking. I said, "Dude, this should be on a podcast" and he starts laughing because I don't know anything about Skype.
Here I am living in my home with three of my boys - Zach, 20, Ryan, 22, Greg, 24 and I just hand the phone to Ryan. He goes to Skype and it takes an hour to teach Scott how to get an account, figure it out and all that kind of stuff. Then, I'm sitting in here watching a UFC fight with my other two boys. It was 10 o'clock at night. Ryan's come back and says, "Hey dad! Let's go. It's time to video a podcast." I look at all the podcast. They're not work. Like you, I would want to meet you for lunch. I'd meet you for dinner. Talking to you an hour is not work. I went back there and talked to Scott Perkins for an hour or so.
Alan: I listened to it. I listened to it since I hadn't heard from him in so long. I listened to this great podcast. It was kind of cool to hear him back in the saddle.
Howard: I'll tell you which podcast gets the most views, period. They're all people on Dentaltown that have a thousand post or more because these people know you as smiley face 999 and they're a big fan of your post. When they see it, "Oh my God. I like that guy's post. I want to see who the talking money is behind the text on the message boards."
That was the same thing some mere pre, interinaugural figure out of the [inaudible 00:27:13]. They asked me 15 years ago, "You need to have an annual meeting in Vegas." I said, "Dude, I've got a dental office. I've got four kids. I lecture 30, 50 times a year. I don't have time to crap, let alone have an annual meeting." They said, "Well, then we'll do it." They did it for the first ten years and then after ten years, their kids were in high school and their wives were complaining. Then, they gave it back to me.
Alan: It's interesting. What you say is interesting, too, because the difference ... I went to several Townie meetings after I started but they were ... It was probably before I had kids which was 2007. It is. The dynamic is so much different than any other meeting because you're running into people that you already know even though you've never met them. Podcasting is, to some extent, the same thing. There's a fair amount of people that will e-mail me or contact me like they know me even though they don't. That's huge. It's so fun. Dentaltown did that for me for sure. All these people that I had read then you run into them in real life and it's like a night-and-day difference. I'd never seen anything like that before.
Howard: Here's the most romantic thing about your podcast being on iTunes and you get to print out that report to tell you what countries your in. Ryan, how many countries is our up? One ninety-nine? Whatever. Something like 199, 200 or whatever. I have lectured in 50 countries. I've lectured all over Africa, Asia, South America. In the United States, American's always say, "We're number one. We're number one." We're only number in self-esteem and bullshit. Do you know what I mean? We're only number one in military, medicine, insurance, banking, finance, movies and music. We're not number one in cars. Hell, we're not even in the top 3 in cars.
If a country in Africa wants to send their students to learn engineering or cars, they send them to Japan and Germany. They don't send them to Chrysler and Dodge and General Motors where your car comes with a full-time mechanic. In medicine, the whole world believes in their country if they're poor, that if you got sick and were going to die, if you only won the lottery and could afford to fly to America, they'd fix you up the best that could possibly be done. These dental schools I've lectured in, 20 dental schools didn't have a book that was more than ten years old. Sometimes, the book won't even be in the native language of the people. They might be Nepalese and the books are all in French and Mandarin and none of their students read French or Mandarin.
Then, Dentaltown came along. All they needed was an Internet connection and a PC. Let's say that you're going to write an endo book. It takes you five years to write the book and then to get your return, you've got to sell it for a decade. Here's an endo case that was posted last night and here's the relevant questions. I remember going to Poland and meeting a little girl named Ewa, E-W-A, and her full-time job at the dental school is just to translate Dentaltown threads into Polish. Their instructors would look at the cases and say, "Oh, translate that." Then, she'd translate them all night, print out copies the next morning.
What the Internet's doing for me, it's taken two millions dentists around the world. Only 150,000 dentists are in the United States, 150,000 in Brazil, 150,000 in China. Brazil just went over a billion people. India's got 200 million. China's got a billion. There are seven billion people and there's dentists. Every one of those countries, the poorest country you can think of, has some dentists that went to a dental school which from start to finish was nine months and they graduated with a toolbox. They're all on a smartphone. We put out the Dentaltown app. The Dentaltown app is exploding. When I go there and I'm in Tanzania, I said this. "Where did you learn dentistry?" They just say the same thing. "Well, YouTube and iTunes." I just thought, "Oh my God. We've got to get all the people."
That's why when I'm doing podcast, I'm looking at the mix spread of all your AGD requirements. I've got my FAGD, my MAGD. I want a dozen or more in the implants, a dozen or more in endo, a dozen or more in composites. I'm going across the board trying to fill this curriculum. That dentist isn't going to away because he's making money, he's feeding his family and he's fixing customers. Someone in England might not like this private dental school and it didn't have the English/British school system model but we're past that. It's like when the E4D people are debating the CEREC people. We separate them because anytime someone will post an E4D case, here comes the CEREC hackers. They're, "What about a CEREC?" We're like, "Dude, he already bought an E4D. Wake the hell up." Do you know what I mean?
That's the way I look at these dentists. Three billion people live off $3 a day or less. That dentist in that village, he isn't going away but he's got a smartphone. I've never met a dentist that didn't have a smartphone since about, I'd say, 2008. They're sitting there, watching YouTube. They're on the Dentaltown app. They're listening to iTunes and I just think what we're doing ... By the way, I only care about the dentist. I'm not focused on the patient. I'm focused in spreading information among the dentists, two million dentists, than treat the seven billion people.
I've never met a dentist who can't read English or understand it. Now, many of them cannot speak it. It's a different part of the brain but they can listen to the Dental Hacks Podcast and they understand it. They just can't speak it back. We're really raising the bar of dentistry. We're doing a good thing. We're raising the bar of quality dentistry around the world. The 20 richest countries should send the elevator back down from the top floor to the bottom countries and say, "Hey, we made it to the top in Germany, in Japan, in Korea, in the States, in Canada, Australia and Scandinavia. We're going to take our new technology, our new iPhones, our new podcast and we're sending the elevator back down. We hope you guys join us real quick."
Alan: That's very cool.
Howard: That's what fuels my [inaudible 00:33:51]. It isn't about money anymore. Shit. I'm single. I'm 50. I've raised my kids. My car is a 2004, the 117,000 miles. I don't own a watch, jewelry, a necklace, soap, shampoo or perfume. To me, it's a mission just like my oldest sister. They don't work for money. It's a vocation. My podcast isn't about money. They're free. It's about a vocation.
Alan: I wish my motives were as good as yours. Do you listen to a lot of podcasts? Outside of the dental stuff, are you podcast listener or not really?
Howard: No, no. What my influence was when I started this thing, the first thing I was [inaudible 00:34:34] were that the two big radio shows in the world were Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh. You combine those two guys together, everyone else combined is not either one of them and it's because they have no filters, they're uncensored. Howard Stern had to be fired from multiple radio stations and moved until someone said, "Hey, he's tasteless but the people like him." You know what? I don't give a shit about what anybody thinks. Thank you to my father. Did I ever tell you that [inaudible 00:35:01] story?
Alan: Let's hear it.
Howard: I was ten years old. Remember back in the day? He made it rich in Sonic Drive-ins and he has this big, old Lincoln Town Car. The trunk was so big. I'm kidding you not. When I put my 10-speed wind bicycle in the trunk, you could close the lid and it could still be sitting up there on it's kickstand. When we had to take our riding lawn mower to the shop, we could put the entire riding lawn mower in the trunk. This isn't even a joke. It had a 458 cylinder. These things were literally tanks. You could've mounted a machine gun.
My [inaudible 00:35:35] flats were a problem. We put them in and take them to the [inaudible 00:35:36]. My dad stops [inaudible 00:35:41] dealer and he pops, trying to get the bike out. I go to the window. I go, "Were you coming with me?" He goes, "No." I go, "Dad, what do I tell him?" He said, "What do you mean what do you tell him? What the hell did you tell me? Go there and tell them your [inaudible 00:35:52] or you want your tennis racket restrand."
I go, "[inaudible 00:35:56] and get your tennis ..." He was, "Howard, there are seven billion people. No one is thinking about you. Why do you give a shit what that guy thinks? What did you tell me? Whatever the hell you told me, I drove you here. Now, go in there and tell that guy. If you're too damn afraid to tell him what's wrong with your bike, then I'm going to leave you there because it's a waste of time feeding you." I'm like, "[inaudible 00:36:20] bicycle and afraid to talk to this man." Then I finally realized when you wake up in the morning, seven billion people, there isn't one guy thinking about you. Everybody's in their own world, their own life.
Alan: It is true. It is very true.
Howard: Howard Stern doesn't give a shit what you think. Rush Limbaugh is completely insane. He's really not even capable of knowing what people think. I'm just me and if you don't like it, I don't give a shit. Go somewhere else but I'm going to be true to myself. Usually when I'm true to myself, I'm happy, I'm healthy, I'm having fun. If that works for you, great but if it doesn't work for you, who cares. Be happy and healthy.
Alan: Your podcast is a mission and I do understand that because you bring ... Like you said, it's pretty obvious you're keeping your eyes on the AGD stuff because you cover a really wide variety of topics. I will say that when we put ours together, I don't know if Jason would agree with me on this, I listen to podcasts ...
Howard: Jason [inaudible 00:37:15], you're talking about.
Alan: No, Jason Lipscomb, my partner, my partner in crime. We put it last June together but honestly, I sometimes think I love doing it. I've listened to podcasts forever and I always thought to myself, "I could do this. I could do this." My point was I want to talk about dentistry but mostly because I know dentistry better than other topics. Do you know what I'm saying? I actually could have something to say that's potentially useful but it's about the entertainment value to me. I've listened to a lot of podcasts that don't keep me hooked because there isn't an angle of entertainment.
Mind you, when you're delivering it, you're pretty familiar with being a friend of the crowd and keeping it interesting. There's a lot of podcasts out there. I'm not saying dental ones, just a lot of podcasts in general that can't do that. That was the goal. I do want to bring a good dental message to it but I also want to keep it entertaining and I want to keep it so people come back. It's been a trip doing that. It really has. I didn't know that I would like doing it so much. I knew I was like, "I could doing this" but I really enjoy doing it. It's fun. It pats yourself on the back. I keep wanting to do it. Typically, I run out of gas on a project like this and I still like doing it. It's interesting and I see what you're saying. You're coming from a mission point of view. Mine was just to see what I could do and now I'm doing it, I can't really stop.
Howard: I guess I'm coming from the CE model. Hardly any courses lose. Sometimes, Howard Goldstein will take down a course and says, "Okay. This is outdated. Mature on that and we'll take it down." We've got 350 courses. I don't know how many we've taken down since we started the online CE in 2004 but it's not that many. The way I looked at it is once ... Like the one I did before you today was someone who specializes in orthopedic surgery. She's an instructor at the University of Boston. She only does orthognathic surgeries. She's acclaimed as the world expert on orthognathic surgery.
I'm still passionate because so many times, I'm like, "Oh my God. That'd be a great informative hour" but as soon as I lose that, there really isn't any great informative hours. Then, I know from the online CE that the views just keep clicking. I've never done a podcast that doesn't keep getting another 20, 30 listens every single time from the last time I checked it like that orthognathic surgery deal. I cannot see how that information would not be relevant for at least one decade.
We joke that probably by the time I get to the same number of courses on Dentaltown, 350, by the time I've interviewed all the great guests and I've covered all the deals, there's still a lot of great ones I want to get. Who's the anesthesiologist, anesthesia guy from USC?
Howard: Yeah, Stanley Malamed.
Alan: He's be great. He'd be great.
Howard: Yeah, I know. I e-mailed him. He said, "I'm busy. Sorry. I don't have time." Once I get all the Stanley Malameds of other subjects and all the top gurus that have been doing it for 20 years plus and since I did them all, who knows? Also in my life, did you ever see the next big thing? I never saw one next big thing. The only thing I ever got right was ... True story. Freshman year of Creighton 1980, business 101, the instructor says, "Friday night, we have this local investment guy coming over and if you go listen to him, his lecture for an hour and write what you think of in a paragraph, you get ten extra credit points." Of course, a nerd, geek, "I'm going for the ten extra credit points."
This old man shows up who I just thought was a complete loser. His name was Warren Buffett and he was friends with the business school at Creighton. I'm all excited. He's going to talk about the Nifty 50 stocks and my dad had a lot of these stocks. There was Kodak and Xerox. This old, fart loser didn't own one single Nifty 50 stock and he's talking about, "If you can't explain it to me on a 5x7 index card with a number two pencil about what you do and how you make money, I'm not going to buy your stock." I'm listening to this guy for an hour. I'm like, "Dude, he doesn't even own Kodak or Xerox, this guy." He knew his shit. He delivered Manhattan, not Ohama, Nebraska, the [inaudible 00:41:39] hillbillies. If I just would've cashed out of dental school, taken my undergrad, given Berkshire Hathaway my cash and then just went, got a job at Taco Bell, I'd be infinitely times more wealthy now.
Then, I'm on my dorm floor and this guy ... I'm in room 915. Down in 919 was Joe [inaudible 00:42:02] who was an amazing endodontist. He was on the forefront of so many things. He just passed away. Then, there was Gary [inaudible 00:42:09] who's an amazing implant general dentist in New Jersey and Randy Kirwan who's in Kansas. A lot of great guys. This guy David Hileman comes down. Here's Creighton who has her own dental school, med school, law school and he was a computer major [inaudible 00:42:24]. We're looking at him like, "Did you have a head injury? What the hell are you talking about?" He came in with this Radio Shack Tandy computer and he was demoing it to everybody. I'm just sitting there biting my tongue. Then as soon as he leaves the room, we all bust up laughing. This is the dumbest guy on the planet.
I missed a complete computer evolution. It was demoed to me in college freshman year. I didn't even see it. Then, when I saw the first ATM machine, me and my dad used to laugh because you'd see some guy outside, they're working with it. We go in, make our deposit, do whatever the hell, come out and he'd still be out there, going at it. When the Internet came out, it was purely selfish reasons. It was my oldest [inaudible 00:43:13]. He was born in '89. It was 1998 so he was nine years old. He walks in my office. He says, "Dad, can I borrow your credit card?" When a nine-year-old asks you for your credit card, you always give it to them just out of morbid curiosity. "What is this nine-year-old going to do with my credit card?"
Then, he starts doing this AOL bullcrap that we had to get for a school paper. He's on this thing for a while and he finally logs on this site. He goes to the skateboard and they're talking about the best wheels. They don't sell them at Walmart and he buys a $120 set of wheels. I'm just looking at the thing and thinking, "Oh my God. We should be talking about something important like, "What should I do with this root canal that just exploded?"
For me personally, the biggest problem I had in dentistry is disengaging from the dental office then reengaging my four little boys. I'd come home, they don't want to talk and my bairn would be beating me up, thinking, "Oh my God. Should you have not done that endo appointment" or "You put them antibiotics. Should you have added Keflex or Augmentin?" Everybody that love me couldn't help me and going to a dental meeting once or twice a year wasn't cutting the mustard.
Alan: It wasn't enough, yeah.
Howard: Then when I realized that stupid AOL dial-up that I could actually connect with a guy like you and say, "Alan, Alan, what would you have done?" That was my only goal. It was all selfish, just for me. I just was professionally isolated and lonely. I was dumb and young and I needed help with my root canals, fillings and crowns. Then when I launched it, I thought after a year or two, I might have 25 guys and an online study club maybe one or two nights a month. The first month, a thousand people signed up. Everybody, obviously, had the same problem I did.
Alan: Yeah. It's really funny that you say this. We weren't really going to talk about it but in 2002, I was newly in recovery. I was newly clean. What's really funny about when you go into drug and alcohol treatment, they tell you you just have to change one thing and that's everything. You come out. I had to do things differently than I had done them. The kind of thing where no one trusted you at all. The dogs were the only ones happy to see you. No one trusted you at all. I was doing everything very publicly and it came down to ... It's really funny. I saw Marshall White's webpage first and I could tell he was in recovery.
Howard: How could you tell?
Alan: Because his e-mail address was gr8fuldentist. No one talks about grateful except recovering people. Out of the blue, I e-mailed him. I said, "I really like your website. I like what you're doing." He said, "You ought to try this place. You ought to try this. I'm on this website where there's a lot of people." Marshall gets me over to Dentaltown and I was really ... I don't know exactly when it was. That was probably summer or early fall of 2002 that I started. I jumped in. I'm like, "Oh my gosh."
Literally, when you have a habit like I had, you have to ... People who have addictive personalities, you've got to fill that hole with something. I kind of filled the hole a little bit. Not a little bit, a lot, actually, with Dentaltown. I immersed myself. As it comes down to it, almost everything I do in the office now is different than how I used to do it and I think a lot of it came from just listening to people, just listening, reading what they had to say. I know that there wasn't any place else that you could do that.
Now, obviously, the Internet has changed a lot but Dentaltown was there way before. I had literally done bulletin boards when I was a kid. There were bulletin boards so I was familiar with the concept but never put two and two together about, "Maybe dentists could do something like this." I got dragged in and I was in in no time. I was all in. That was what I did at night. I came home and I read Dentaltown. I posted right off the bat. I didn't start out a lurker and I'm really glad I didn't because you know how it is. You'll put something up there. I don't know.
Maybe as the owner, you don't feel this way but you put something out there and then no one answers it. "I just killed this thread." What I wrote was so dumb that no one's going to answer it. Of course, it really doesn't work out that way. Threads have a life of their own if you know what I'm talking about. I just got so much out of it and I'm very glad that I did start writing stuff right off the bat because being involved was definitely better than just being a lurker to me.
Howard: I always hear the same [inaudible 00:47:55] for years. On Dentaltown Magazine, every three years, we try to have a focus on addiction that 18% of all dentists during their lifetime will be treated inpatient for substance abuse and of that, it's about 85% alcohol, 15% Vicodin pills, whatever. For the anesthesiologist, it's 38%. Do you agree with those numbers?
Alan: Yeah. They say overall population's probably between ten and 12 and clearly, dentists are much more prone to it because we're naturally ...
Howard: Of natural selection.
Alan: Yeah. Personalities and then also, the isolation access to different drugs. That's why anesthesiologists have so much of it. I was the only dentist when I was there but there were a bunch of anesthesiologists and nurses.
Howard: Can I tell you my personal experience with fentanyl explaining why ...
Howard: Okay. Dentists, you say, 10-12%. I hear a lot of times for dentists, 18%, and anesthesiologists, 38%. The anesthesiologists are 38% because they say if you ever experiment and try injectable fentanyl one time, no talking monkey can stop injecting themselves until they crash. My ex has her first kid or I think she has her second kid, Greg, then Ryan. Last one. Last one, little Zach. Middle of the night, she hadn't slept in a couple of days, wasn't feeling good. Finally, it started happening. We're driving on the way down and she was like, "I just can't go through this again." I said, "Look. Get a damn epidural." She's a farm girl from Kansas. "No, I want to have a natural." I said, "What the hell is a natural? Tornado or hurricane? Gonorrhea?"
Alan: Scorpions. Scorpions, very natural.
Howard: Scorpions. She goes, "I just want to have a ..." I said, "Only a man named Dr. Lamaze who's never had a child could convince all the women to have a natural. Let's give Dr. Lamaze's ass in my office and I'm going to pull all four of his wisdom teeth naturally while he holds his wife's hands and blows, breathes and all that." I'm like, "Just pressure. Just pressure. Just an elevating pressure. Just pressure, you little big, fat, wimp, lazy son of a bitch! Just hang on and breathe. Breathe!" I am so sad that he's passed away and I don't get to rip all of his teeth out of his head naturally. I walked in there and I said to Dr. Hell ... I think with HIPAA, we can't say his name is Gordon Hell. I said, "She's going to have an ..." What is it called?
Howard: Epidural. "You know Howard? I don't think she needs it." I said, "Look, dude." I said, "She's done it three times your way and if she delivers this kid without an epidural, I'm walking out here to a law firm and I'm going to haunt you." In front of him, I just lost it. He's like, "Dude, settle down. Settle down." He makes the phone call. Two minutes later, this anesthesiologist walks in. I said, "What were you doing? Sitting down on the street?" He goes, "Yeah, we sit at the IHOP, the Waffle House and we're on call." He comes and I said, "I'm a dentist. Can I watch?" He said, "Yeah."
He leans her forward and he puts in some." He goes, "This is what you do" but he says, "Here's some lidocaine but we don't use any epinephrine. That would be a nightmare, cut out the blood flow." I don't know. It was a long or short-acting pain [inaudible 00:51:10]. He said, "We want to use a little narcotic to take the edge off." He puts a little narcotic. My ex is all set and she turns and looks straight at me. She grabs my arm and she goes, "What was that?" I said, "It was fentanyl." The anesthesiologist is cracking and she goes, "That's awesome." Then, he's laughing and then she goes, "Howard, do you have that in your office?" I thought, "Oh my God." The anesthesiologist was cracking up. He goes, "Yeah." He goes, "This is the one-hit wonder. Nobody could ever have a ..."
Then, when these libertarians talked their stupidity because they don't read any history what the British observed when they got to Hong Kong a hundred years ago when everybody was just laid or getting high on opium, heroine and all that stuff, these libertarians think every drug should be legal. I'm going to ask you. If there was fentanyl, cocaine, crack at every 7-Eleven, Circle K in America, do you think it would increase the amount of substance abusers in the United States?
Alan: It would. I go back and forth on this a lot. It's so funny because for me, it's such a personal thing. I feel like marijuana should be legal but I think the really hard stuff ... I can't help but think. Knowing how it controlled me, I didn't really do ... I did do fentanyl, actually, but that wasn't my bag because I didn't have it in my office. Long story short though, knowing what it did to me, I don't know that it should be easy to get. You don't see the same kind of ... The really hard stuff seems to be ... I don't know, man.
The anesthesiologist had the hardest time getting cleaned, too. Can you imagine going back to work knowing that you literally are rolling the candy box in the hospital? You've got all the good stuff right in front of you. You go into treatment after essentially abusing that stuff. You go back to the hospital and you're still rolling that same carton. I don't know. I cannot imagine that people wouldn't try it if it's legal.
Howard: Did you watch that new TED talk about that guy, about Portugal's experience with the [inaudible 00:53:21]?
Howard: What are your thoughts? I e-mailed every dentist from Dentaltown saying, "Is there a dentist in Lisbon, Portugal who's in charge of the substance abuse program for dentists? I wanted to score a podcast but I don't even know if he exists. What do you think about Portugal's?
Alan: The book you're reading ... I forgot the name of the book. You and I had e-mailed back and forth about it.
Howard: The book or the TED talk?
Alan: The TED talk, same thing. The TED talk's a shortened version of his book. His point is that addiction isn't about the drugs. Addiction is about basically ... If you give a rat and a cage choice between narcotics and water, they will eventually kill themselves with the narcotics but if you give them a park-full of other rats, wonderful food and chances for social interaction, sex, recreation and all that stuff, they never choose the drugs. That's a narrative but I'm not sure that it works as well as he would ...
His point is that if you just made everyone equal and made it so everyone had stimulating lifestyle, no one would ever want to do drugs. I'm like, "I don't know. I'm not sure that I can buy that because there's plenty of people I know that have everything, want for nothing and they still get in trouble with it." The bottom line is as long as we have psychology, as we have complicated brains, I'm not sure that he is right about that as some people do. I don't know.
Howard: I think as you get older, you don't believe in yes, no, left, right, [crosstalk 00:54:58]. Everything's a spectrum.
Alan: I know.
Howard: It seems like 30 years of being a dentist, I saw so many dentists substance abusing, being treated and all that and they were in miserable relationships. Then as soon as they divorced, it was like a baby bird just flew out of a cage and then ten years later, they're just happy as can be. I saw the environmental side of it. Then, I also saw the ones that had perfect wives and families and everybody loved and supported them but they hooked on it. I believe every answer is 50 Shades of Grey if you're an intelligent person.
Alan: It is. It really is. I went into treatment and everyone used to laugh because I was the only guy that wasn't diagnosed with depression in the treatment center. I was kind of pissed. Everyone else gets attention from the psychiatrist, the psychologist. I don't really get that and I took the test. Apparently, my diagnosis had more to do with I really like getting high. That was my problem.
Howard: "Why did you people try drugs?" "Because it's fun. I get high."
Alan: Yeah. I was going to say. The one thing is that he's like, "Well, it's all about the misery and they're trying to escape." I'm like, "What about the fact that it feels pretty good?" People don't continue to do this stuff because it doesn't feel good. It's not just about an escape. It feels pretty good. My thing was that it felt good but I'm convinced that I didn't have good coping mechanisms. I didn't have the tools to handle the types of stress that I was dealing with. Actually, I bought a practice in the middle of all this stuff. Talk about adding gasoline to the fire. I didn't know what I was doing at all. It was just easy for me to use that as a coping mechanism and it couldn't last because everything was falling apart.
Howard: Alan, do you believe right now that 10-12%, that right now one in ten dentists or two million dentists, one in ten has had a history of substance abuse and now sober or has substance abuse issues? One in ten.
Alan: I believe it's way higher than that. I think your 18 or 20 is probably right.
Howard: Okay. There's two million dentists and I took geometry so I should know what 20% of this is.
Alan: Two hundred thousand.
Howard: I used trig, calculus or just ...
Alan: I think just some algebra, maybe. I don't know.
Howard: There's two hundred thousand. Why don't you do an online AA on Dentaltown or a podcast Colin Show? Why don't you do a special daily AA? First of all, do you believe that the best way to get and maintain sober is AA? Who were those two famous comedians? The tall guy that's loud and the little guy that didn't say anything.
Alan: Laurel and Hardy?
Howard: No, the Las Vegas comedians. They have a television ...
Alan: Penn and Teller.
Howard: Penn and Teller. He did a deal on AA and he just called it flat-out bullshit, that 99% failure rate. He just tore it apart.
Alan: Yeah. Skeptics don't like AA because it's completely spiritual. The science behind AA, and there will be people that will discriminate, is not good. My experience with 12-step program is they work for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons but there reason that I think that they are helpful is because they give you a peer group that you didn't have before. Here's the thing. Anyone who's really honest and really, really wants to stop can stop for sure and AA helps with that a lot or NA, in my case, helps with that a lot. Does that mean that it's because God did it? I don't know. For a lot of people, that's how they feel but in reality if that's the case, how does it [crosstalk 00:58:44]?
Howard: By God, do you mean Dawn?
Alan: By whoever. That's the thing. AA says you can create your own.
Howard: I think Dawn is God.
Alan: Okay. I love that. Maybe that's what's going to work for you. My thing is that they have you hang your head on the spirituality but I don't think the spirituality is as important as you buying into the social aspect of it, by you buying into the peer aspect of it. In other words, when I kept going to meetings ... Mind you, I had to go to meetings. I had to have a card signed because I was on a contract to keep my license. I'm not saying that I didn't want to do that. After a while, it becomes part of your lifestyle and these are your friends, these are your people. You really do. If you can get involved in a peer group like this, you don't want to let them down. You talk about yourself. We're just evolved monkeys and frankly, we don't want to let the group down once you're in there. I think that's an overly simple way of doing it. AA can work but there's other ways that can work, too.
In general, I found that if you really want to stop, you'll stop. The problem and the reason that this big number is so creepy, most of those people, the 200,000 dentists we're talking about, most of them don't think it's a problem. A lot of them are having huge troubles but they don't feel like it's a problem for themselves, if you know what I'm saying. You have to recognize, "Wow. This is wrecking my life and I want to do something about it." Otherwise, there's no treatment in the world that's going to help. That's been my experience.
Howard: My thing in the Penn and Teller is just back to that black-and-white thinking - Is AA good or bad? It depends on you. There are seven billion people.
Alan: The person. It can work. I agree.
Howard: I went to comedy school. After 20 years of lecturing and having fun, I professionally went to comedy school. My comedy coach, he started it 20 years ago and he swears by it. He's got a list of comedians he's taken and it's saved them. They literally would go to a comedy club and then go sleep behind the dumpster, behind the club until the next night. Then, sober up for enough minutes to do their ... How could Penn and Teller look at how it's completely saved Tony's life and a bunch of his comedians and then say it's just bad? Life is 50 Shades of Grey.
Alan: It is. I love Penn and Teller. I even love what they have to say on this stuff but I also think that trying to make this kind of thing simple like if you just do this, this'll happen, we're very complicated beings.
Howard: I think what Penn and Teller is doing is I think what we all do, the content creators. So many of, I think, his shows is so many of my columns. I'm trying to start a conversation and sometimes you have a little comedic flare or sometimes you have a little ... A lot of times when they prove my Howard Speaks show, Howard Goldstein or [inaudible 01:01:33] are just like, "That's going to offend some people." Awesome!
Alan: You'll get lots of e-mails in.
Howard: Yeah. If this kicks 10% of the dentists right in the nuts, I know there's going to be 500 comments after it. If it's just a puff piece, there'll be three people saying, "I enjoyed your article." I don't want to hear, "I enjoyed your article." I want to spark a debate where people say ... Right now, Penn and Teller did that and we're debating whether he's right or wrong. He's probably back there smiling, saying, " I knew I'd get you guys to talk about it and I wasn't even taking an opinion on it."
I did that with surgical guides because I can't have all these older surgeons place literally 30,000 implants, telling me that they thought surgical guides were training wheels and no real surgeon used a surgical guide. My God. You got a second bicuspid in front of it, a second molar behind it. You're looking at the deal. If you need a surgical guide ... What is your name? Stevie Wonder? Ray Charles? What the hell's wrong with you?
Then, you had all these other people who you could say, "Maybe they're just trying to sell CBCTs, surgical guides and all that." I knew throwing that out there that they would start. I want to go back to that deal. If 200,000 dentists really are having issues with this and you're the lead podcaster, 5,000 posts, do you think you should do a daily AA meeting? Do you should do a daily AA podcast or start a group? Is there some new technology?
Alan: No. I will say I don't think a daily AA ... First off, AA is such a local thing. It works so much better in local and in person. I thought about doing a recovery podcast but frankly, between you, me and the whole world here, I don't really go to meetings very much anymore. I feel like I probably should but not because I need but because other could use maybe what I have a little bit. Sometimes, it's good to hear from people that have been doing well and stuff. When I would walk into an NA meeting, I advertise it but a lot of times, I was wearing scrubs and people knew that I was a dentist. I see so many recovering people in my office. It's hilarious.
Howard: Was it a business builder?
Alan: It was a non-intentional marketing plan, I will say that. I do most of my charitable dentistry for recovering people. Even though they've been clean for a while, a lot of them maybe don't put it necessarily all together in all aspects of their life. I do a lot of charitable ... Not all. There's plenty of recovering people doing fine but I tend to ... People say, "You're a dentist. You're all afraid of yourself." I like doing charitable stuff but I tend to do it with people that I know that I can check in on these folks because I already know these people. Do you know what I'm saying? I don't mind doing it for them either. It's been awesome.
As a business builder, maybe, maybe not. I think in a lot cases, since I go to Narcotics Anonymous, there's a lot of people that were ... This is a super obvious thing but clearly, alcohol is more socially acceptable. You're much more likely to get lawyers, doctors, dentists that drink alcohol versus people who are really into drugs. Alcoholics Anonymous, it's about alcohol. It's not about drugs even though it works just the same. Sometimes, they kind of drum out the people who are into drugs or they feel that way so they'll go to Narcotics Anonymous. Narcotics Anonymous tends to have a little bit rougher of a crowd. Maybe a little bit less educated. Maybe a little bit less employable, that sort of thing.
In any case, I see a lot of recovering people like that. I guess my thing was that face-to-face interaction is very helpful particularly when you're new but I also think that number is not 18% of people who are getting clean. That number is people who are screwed up. The recovering aspect is there's not as many people that are doing okay. It's that people are screwing up. That's a matter. A lot of times, you and I can't see that because we don't really know what's going on in these people's lives. Sometimes, they'll sit there and flounder for their whole life because they never saw that it was really that big of a deal, what was going on.
Howard: Hey, tell my viewers about your podcast. Tell them what's Dental Hacks. Tell them what it's all about.
Alan: All right. The Dental Hacks Podcast is a podcast, the creation of my partner, Jason Lipscomb who's a dentist in Virginia and myself.
Howard: L-I-P-S ...
Alan: S-C-O-M-B. Yup.
Howard: He's a social media expert.
Alan: Yup, he's a social media guy. We both had lectured on social media, him more so than me. We kind of got together. Actually, we kicked it around for a little while, I think, on Facebook. Then, we met in person at a Jason Smithson course at COSMED in Chicago. We talked about it a little bit there and then left it. Then, we just decided we're going to try it. Honestly, it was cool because we didn't struggle with it that much. We just recorded something and threw it out there. Do you know what I'm saying? That's one of the things that ...
Apparently in podcasting circles, it's very typical for people to struggle over how you're going to do it, what you're going to do, what mic to use and how to record and all that stuff. We didn't know anything so we just did it. It was fun. It was really fun and I, all of a sudden, got into the whole recording, editing and all that stuff. We were doing it ourselves. Our first episode went out in mid June of 2014. We interviewed Lance Timmerman and he talked about sleep apnea. First half was sleep apnea. I think the second half was Botox or vice versa. Again, subjects that are interesting and we immediately had an audience. We immediately had people that wanted to listen. I have a lot of Facebook friends that are dentists and Dentaltown people and stuff. They started listening.
It's been interesting because what we do is typically, the first half of the show ... It's an hour and 20 minutes. The first half is typically an interview of someone. Then the second half, we'll do what's called the Brain Trust which is we'll get a group of friends. A lot of these are people that actually have been on Dentaltown, to tell you the truth, and we just kick around a subject. They're dentists and we talk about whatever, lots of different topics - patients that are belligerent, treatment planning, placing composites, all sorts of stuff and it's fun. What's cool is it's pretty disarming because we're just people talking ...
My concept was you go to a continuing education course and go out to dinner with some people. What do you talk about after dinner? What do you talk about while you're at dinner? You talk about the real stuff. It's not the super formal stuff. It's just a conversation and I think that's been a huge mover for us. I think people like that round table aspect and it's totally fun to do, too. That's what we've done and it's been really fun. It's been a good time and I think we'll probably keep doing it.
Howard: What's the logistics of your shows? Is it a certain time a week?
Alan: It's funny. We release once a week, typically on Tuesdays, and it's a completely random thing. I actually missed it this week. I came out late this week. It's the first time in forever that I've done that. We just do it once a week. We probably have enough content to do more than that a week but we haven't to this point. I think a lot of podcasts sweeps by this once a week or like what you're doing which is a lot of times a week. In the middle seems to not do as well. That's what we've done.
Howard: I'm trying to do more of a library. If you're some 25-year-old dentist who's driving home and she's getting her butt kicked by endo, she has a dozen people that's talking about endos. I always thought, "If I did one show a week" and then she's saying, "I need help on endo", then I'd get a course on, say, implants or practice management. I'm trying to build a library on continuing education. Dawn's on your show a lot, right?
Howard: That was my joke. Did you catch that joke when I said it.
Alan: Yeah. I didn't realize you meant Dawn. Yes, Dawn's on the show a lot. Yeah.
Howard: How do you say her last name?
Howard: What is it?
Howard: Is it Polish or Polish?
Alan: I think that's pretty Polish, yes.
Howard: I guess it could be Ukrainian, right? How do you say her last name? Spell it.
Alan: K-U-L-O-N-G-O-W-S-K-I. Kulongowski.
Howard: Is she a hockey player?
Alan: If she's not, she should be.
Howard: I think you would double your iTunes downloads if you put it on Dentaltown. I really do.
Alan: I may do that. I may do that and see what happens.
Howard: Yeah. Everyone who's already done this told me it just exploded. They get a lot of views. I have a lot of dentists who only listen to their iTunes on their Dentaltown app and they don't know where the iTunes shows are or whatever. They learned it on the Dentaltown app. Do you think you'd ever make an online CE course? You're the world-renowned dental expert on substance abuse specifically to dentistry and you live through it.
Alan: It's really funny. I went around and around with Howard with this. I made one a long time ago and apparently, it got lost is the shuffle but I would consider making another one.
Howard: How long ago was that?
Alan: It was some years ago. I think it was probably 2009 or something like that. I got all over poor Howard Goldstein for that. It was not his fault. I don't have it. I'm sure it was several computers ago before we were doing cloud storage. I don't know where it is. Now, I have all the equipment to do it well, too, so I probably would do that. I remember just really, really killing myself to do it and then it got lost. It was all hacked up. I don't think it would take as long now because I have the gear to do it really well now, too. I would think of that.
Howard: When I saw you speak at the Arizona State Dental Association, there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
Alan: You saw me speak there? I didn't know you were there. Okay.
Howard: Yeah. I was the short, fat, bald guy.
Alan: That's a pretty big crowd.
Howard: That was probably half of the crowd. What percent of the crowd was short, fat, bald guys?
Alan: Clearly, when you're talking to a dental audience, it's quite a few. It's a bigger percentage than the average, I think. That's always a huge meeting because Arizona, they've got it figured out.
Howard: Do you agree there wasn't a dry eye in the room?
Alan: Yeah. well, not me. Their eyes fall apart when I'm doing it, too.
Howard: You're amazing, dude. I just want to walk up there and give you a big hug. I think you're an amazing guy because again, everybody gives a shit about so much what everybody thinks and you just go out there, no filters, let it lose and everybody connects with you. It's an amazing thing. You did what I call the Arizona State University version of it and I want you to do the Phoenix online version of it.
Alan: Sure, sure. It's funny. Arizona's got it figured out, too. What you guys are required to do, X numbers of hours in addiction per each cycle, I think, of your license. What they do is they bring an addiction speaker to the big meeting. They give him a gigantic room. It's not because I'm Gordon Christensen. It's because it's free and everyone needs the credit but it was pretty cool to see that they really supported that. The licensing board says, "You have to have this." The Arizona Dental Association said, "Okay. We're going to make this easy to get." They did. It was great. I was there three years. I'm not doing it this year but I was there three years in a row. It was great.
Howard: This would be a perfect opportunity to talk about how back in the '80s, if you got caught with this, they treated you with ... You're a spank, had your license taken away and we're treated like you're a bad guy. When you read the Bible, that's how's the takeaway message from Jesus, that he would spank you, beat you and you'd be a bad guy. He wouldn't love you or forgive you. It's funny how the people who hold the most Bibles and wear the most crucifix are usually the meanest people in the room.
Over the years, dental state boards finally quit treating it as, "You need a spanking. This is a medical issue and you need help, love and support." I think there's a lot of dentists out there still suffering in some of those states. I won't say what region because people will say we're bashing the South where if they get caught, they get a spanking. In other states, you get caught and you get love, support and help.
Alan: It is interesting that they have not ... I'm the chair of the committee in Michigan on the MDA that helps get people help if they want it and there's a lot but I think in some states, it costs money to do that. I think a lot of times, they just don't see that as something they can do. It costs money to help support a person who's trying to get clean. The other thing is that people don't want to do it necessarily either. A lot of people, they don't think it's that much of a problem. We're getting more people that will lawyer up then say, "Okay. I need some help" once they're ...
Howard: What percent say, "God, I'm glad I'm caught. I'm so miserable. I need help" versus "Damn. I've got to give up my best friend"? What percent is it?
Alan: I'm telling you, man. I'm telling you. The stats aren't good. I'm just going to say that. I've had plenty of chances to intervene on someone and most people are not ready to give it up when they're intervened upon. Most of them, it takes the thought that they're going to get in trouble whether that's with their family and someone's going to leave. Most of the time, it's people who are already in trouble. They come to get help. In Michigan, it's the HPRP, the Health Professionals Recovery Program. Anyone with a license in a healthcare field can get help through them and get a contract through them but you'd be shocked how many people won't go in without kicking and screaming. It's a little sad but it's true.
I think in a lot of states, there is help available. Like I said before, part of it is you have to understand that it's a problem and you have to decide that you're going to do something about it. I tried to quit on my own a bunch of times but it was only when I was intervened upon that I got help. When I was intervened upon, I will say, I went with no reservations. I did not go kicking and screaming. I was glad that finally, the truth was out but that's not typical. Typically, people want to hang onto it.
The other things is typically, there's people that know what's going on. People didn't really know what was going on or no one had faced me down before. My situation was a little special in that way. Just because someone says, "You've got a problem. You need help", most addicts are, "Screw that. I like getting high." It's tough. It's a tough thing when you have to break through a lot of denial. Usually, the person, they want to change if it's going to work. That's what I would say.
Howard: Only you and DiTolla have ever gone over an hour and 15 minutes or an hour and 16 minutes. We should cut this off just because that's the format of the show and they're used to that. I just want to say this. I'd give anything if you made that online CE course. In my 30 years, about half the people that go out in their backyard that I've known and been friends with in Phoenix and put a bullet through their head had issues with this that they got unresolved. I hope between both of our shows listening to this, if you're in a backward-assed state or country where this is treated as morality issues and judgmental ... This doesn't have anything to do with your Creator. This is a medical illness. It's not black and white. I'm sure there are sociopaths are going to just pull people's teeth for the insurance check.
Same thing with advertising. I literally almost cried when a dentist listened to my 30-day dental MBA then started advertising, then got their license taken away because it was illegal to advertise in Hong Kong or Albania. Oh my God. Are you kidding me? I was lecturing to a podcast interview, my first guest from Nigeria yesterday and we're talking about how AIDS was going crazy. Then, they came in there, started all these public awareness campaigns, everybody got literate on it and they turned it complete around yet dental advertising is still against all.
When you go to Asia, if you just flew over to India and Nepal at a thousand feet, you just thought it was just Coca Cola billboards. All you see are these big, red billboards. That's legal but for a dentist to have a flyer or a sign, that's illegal. Coca Cola gets to spread their message with no restraints but telling someone you're a dentist and a brush and floss, that's illegal. They're just crazy.
Alan, I think the world of you. I think of you as a brother. You're ten years younger and I've been your biggest fan. I've read all your posts on Dentaltown. It was a few guys like you back in the early days that even made Dentaltown what it was. If it wouldn't have been for few guys like you back in the day, there would've been nothing at all on Dentaltown to read because 99% of the people just want to read. Thank you so much for all that you've done for me, for Dentaltown, for everybody. I love you to death and I hope to hell you get that course online because I think it'll do a lot of damn good.
Alan: All right. Thanks a ton, Howard. This was blast and thank you for doing all you do. I wouldn't be there if it weren't for you.
Howard: We should both thank Al Gore for inventing the Internet.
Alan: That's right. Thank you, Al Gore.
Howard: Thank you, Al Gore. All right. See you, Alan. Buh-bye, buddy.
Alan: Thanks a lot. Buh-bye.