Listen on iTunes
"We all have to put in our efforts to the profession…we can't depend on other people to step in. We have to take initiative."
Stream Audio here:
AUDIO - HSP #229 - Amir Motamed
Watch Video here:
VIDEO - HSP #229 - Amir Motamed
•Where are we in Dentistry and where are we heading?
•What are the challenges that face younger dentists and new graduates?
•What has brought on these challenges
•How to try to solve these challenges
View 'Ultradent receives Golden Hands Award': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBSY4hWqezE
Graduated from USC School of Dentistry in 1992 and have been practicing for almost 24 years. Private Practice in Beverly Hills.
2001-2003 Clinical Instructor, U.S.C
1993-1994 Associate Instructor, U.S.C., Restorative Dentistry
1992-1993 Associate Instructor, U.S.C., Fixed Prosthodontics
2012 - Present FOUNDER & CEO, California Dental Expo
2010 – MEMBERSHIP CHAIRMAN, Alpha Omega, Los Angeles Chapter
2007 – 2010 REGENT, California, Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity
2007 – PROGRAM CHAIRMAN, Philanthropy Dental Seminar
2003 – 2004 PRESIDENT, Alpha Omega, Los Angeles Chapter
2002 – 2003 PROGRAM CHAIRMAN, Alpha Omega, Los Angeles Chapter
2001 – 2002 TREASURER, Alpha Omega, Los Angeles Chapter
1991 – 1992 PRESIDENT, Alpha Omega, Tau Chapter
1990 – 1991 SOCIAL CHAIRMAN, Alpha Omega, Tau Chapter
• 2010 Regent’s Award, Alpha Omega
• 2004 President’s Award, Alpha Omega
• 1992 Nathan A. Styrt Scholarship Award
• 1992 President’s Award, Alpha Omega
• 1991 Officer’s Award, Alpha Omega 1991
• 1991 Dean’s List, U.S.C. School of Dentistry
Amir H. Motamed, D.D.S.
436 N. Roxbury Dive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Howard: It is a huge honor today to be to be interviewing my buddy, Amir Motamed, and the reason I want to interview you is we both have so many things in common, We're both dentists. We're both so many things, but we both have a meeting. I have the Townie meeting and we've had it every year for, I think, 13, 14 years. You started the California Dental Expo which I have been honored to speak at a couple of times. I wanted to ask you what made you start the California Dental Expo? What was all that about?
Dr. Motamed: Well, Howard, I saw and need for it and the need is for younger dentists and new grads to basically have access to dental care in a cost conscientious environment. Today, what we're seeing is a lot of dentists going to dental conferences, they are relying on solely on the internet to get their scientific knowledge. So much of what I have learned, and so many of us as dentists have learned, is through personal interaction with other dentists. Books are not the answer when it comes to learning something that involves both science and skill.
Howard: So you're in California. Now, granted, there's 205,000 dentists in the United States and 32,000 of them are in California, but you've got the big CDA meeting in San Fran. You've got the big CDA meeting in Anaheim. That was pretty gutsy to sit there and say, "Hey, little old me, Amir's, going to start my own dental meeting and go against CDA North and South."
That was a gutsy move. How many meetings have you had?
Dr. Motamed: We've had two meetings. We're going on our third, Howard, this year in January. January 22nd to 23rd.
Howard: January 22nd to 23rd?
Dr. Motamed: Yes.
Howard: Where's it at?
Dr. Motamed: It's at the L. A. Convention Center. Beautiful L. A. Perfect weather in the winter. It's free for everyone to attend. The students ...
Howard: It's free?
Dr. Motamed: The lecture is free of charge.
Howard: So the meeting is free to dentists?
Dr. Motamed: The admission is free. A lot of lectures are free. The lectures that cost money are anywhere from 40 to 95 dollars and, basically, students can get to come to all the lectures for free. Dentists can also get all 15 C.E. units if they're there for both days free of costs depending on which classes they choose.
Howard: Wow. This is amazing and this is working for you? This is a profitable hobby that you have now? On Sharktank they say, "Is this a hobby or a business?" How would you answer that?
Dr. Motamed: It's a passion more than anything. Everything takes time to grow. I am putting whatever we get back into the business. My salary has been a dollar per year and it's been the hardest dollar I've ever earned, but it's working towards something greater. Something more and it's just a drive I have. I think it's just incumbent on all of us, when we see a need, to try to fill it and not to depend on other people necessarily to do stuff for us. Especially for the under kids - the newer grads. It's important to take initiative. I have been very lucky and a lot of people that are experienced in dentistry, teachers, educators, they have been very supportive of the idea. I've very very appreciative to all of them.
Howard: By the way, thank you so much for having me lecture for you last year. That was a blast. It was so adorable to see you with your mom and your sister. It was like a family event. I felt like I was going to a family party at your house.
Dr. Motamed: We try to keep it intimate and informal and I think that also serves to make people, dentists, more comfortable asking questions in lectures. We try to keep it very intimate. Thank you so much for your involvement, Howard.
Howard: I feel embarrassed. I might get this wrong. Was your mother a dentists or sister, brother?
Dr. Motamed: She was a dental hygienist.
Howard: Your mom's a dental hygienist?
Dr. Motamed: Yes. My mom's a dental hygienist. My father and brother are both dentists and, I guess, that's our family.
Howard: So your mom's a hygienists. Your dad and brother are dentists.
Dr. Motamed: Yes and my sister is a physicians assistant.
Howard: I thought she had something to do with social media too or social media marketing.
Dr. Motamed: No, she also lectures on basically life coaching etc., motivational speaking.
Howard: Life coaching. I'm trying to get her to put an hour up on Dentaltown. She said she would, but maybe she's busy, busy, busy.
Dr. Motamed: She's very busy, very successful. I will ask and I'm sure that she'll accept.
Howard: I always like the motivational. I think it's Zig Ziglar that said, "All humans need, everyday, deodorant and motivation." I tell my boys, I say, you know, "The hardest thing about life is just getting through it, take one day at a time, and just try to stay happy and healthy and at the end we're all lowered in the same casket anyways so don't get crazy or don't trade away your health for wealth. Just say focused, stay happy, stay healthy."
I thought your family was amazingly happy and healthy.
Dr. Motamed: Thank you.
Howard: Also, talk about the award you get. Let me back up. I have a sense in my heart that you created this meeting because, really, deep down inside you don't like the way where dentistry's headed. Is that a fair assessment.
Dr. Motamed: Well, we all have to put in our efforts, Howard, for the profession. It's not us verses them or our group verses another group. We have to work together. We can't depend on other people to step in. We have to step in and take initiative and hopefully we're going to have people, such as yourself, backing us up and helping us because, as younger members, we need that. We need the guidance, but we do have to show the initiative. We can't wait for other people to do the work for us.
Howard: You know, I always tell dentists, I say, "The reason your mom and dad cried at your dental school graduation is you had done nothing yet. You just got your diploma. It was you were standing on the shoulders of all the great dentists who'd gone before you all the way back to G.V. Black or Pierre Fauchard in France or what have you."
In boy scouts, you know, the thing they beat in your head is you've got to leave the playground better than when you found it. It makes me upset when people just drop out of the ADA because they got a complaint. Well, when you don't like America, I'm not going to move back to Ireland. You pay your dues and, because it's the only one supporting you, and I'm a member of all of them. I want to be a member of the ADA, AGD, whatever. Any group or fraternity or bunch of dentists with passion are together working on their profession, it's all good.
Dr. Motamed: Howard, what you've done with Dentaltown also, you saw a need for dentists to get together and for them to communicate. Dentaltown brings people from all over the world together in one spot to communicate, to share ideas and to solve problems. That is going to be the future of dentistry and that is so important for dentists to be able to communicate. Even they need to communicate face to face and ask questions. That's what conferences and dental meetings are for.
Howard: Go ahead. I agree. When I look back at every post graduate [inaudible 00:08:07] I took, whether it was the Misch Institute, Pankey Institute, or LVI, or whatever, looking back over those years, the most important thing I got out of all those was a friend I met there who had the similar interests and the similar passion. The conference might be January 22nd, 23rd so it's two days, right?
Dr. Motamed: Two days.
Howard: It's a two day conference. You might hear a lecture, but what might really be cool is if you go there and meet a buddy and then you and that buddy are walking through dentistry the next 30 years holding hands together helping each other. I always thought it was relationship. Same thing within the dental societies in Arizona. It's the same hundred dentists at all the meetings and, after three decades, they're all your buddies.
Dr. Motamed: I've been a dentist for 24 years and, as I've gone through these meetings to the conferences, one of the saddest things I seen is the declining number of attendees. It's really sad. It's heartbreaking. How can we change this? We can change this with two things. We can create access for dentists to come to these conferences and also create a financial viable model so dentists who are heavily would not shy away from coming to these meetings.
Howard: True, but I think their debt was well spent. To be 400,000 dollars in debt and be a doctor, I still think that's a [inaudible 00:09:40]. I just think, unlike our generation where they live in a million dollar home, they can just live in a 600,000 dollar home and it would be even Steven.
Again, I know I'm redundant, they come out with 3 or 400,000 dollar student loans, but every dentist I know that got divorced, that cost 1 to 3 million dollars. If they could just buy a slightly smaller home or never get married or never get divorced, they'll come out ahead.
Does your meeting target anything specifically or is it general dentistry or is it more practice management? Does it have any special kind of niche or is the niche mostly L. A. and kind of a fraternity in L. A.?
Dr. Motamed: No, actually, last year, all the most people came from Los Angeles. We had people registering from 27 states and over 30 countries. I believe it was 33 countries. L. A. is basically the gateway to Asia and what I want to do is involve as much dentistry in L. A. as possible and get people to come together.
Howard: I noticed that your first two meetings you gave an award, a beautiful award, to a company. It was an ethics award. Talk about your award. What is was supposed to symbolize and, also, talk about the award itself because it was a beautiful award that you gave.
Dr. Motamed: Well thank you so much, Howard. The award is called the Golden Hands Award of Excellence. Recently, there has been increasing notations of, basically, scientific papers and advertising being false. Dr. John Ioannidis, who's the core director of metrics at Stanford, wrote a paper on why most research is false. Most research writing is false and that's actually one of the most cited articles in journals now. Dr. Nozari spoke on the state of the profession in 2014 at the California Dental Expo and spoke of 3985 scientific articles that were evaluated and, out of this, only 34 were qualified for further analysis because a lot of papers are biased and they have different biases that basically muddy the results.
What I wanted to do was give an award to a company that recognizes its ethics and it's truth in advertising. The best products right now are made in the United States. If I want something done in my mouth or my patient's mouth, I want to use the products of one of these companies.
It's important for these companies to stay strong and the bottom line is everything has to be transparent because, we as dentists, we need to know what we're using. We might use x product for this procedure and y product for this procedure. We have to know what it's all about. When we get false advertising or research that's incorrect and biased, we are being robbed. This is not serving the profession and this needs to be addressed, Howard.
Howard: This is dentistry uncensored. I could go brutal. I could go company by company and name names, but the bottom line is research is for sell. There's lots of professors and lots of universities around the world and you give them an honorarium and they'll put together a study and they'll show your product's better than the other guy. Is that true or false?
Dr. Motamed: Well, there's a lot of it going on, but my point is it does not serve the profession.
Dr. Motamed: We should not be prostituting our profession for our own personal gain. The bottom line is the patients and the care we give to patients. Now, as practitioners, we change and we treat people and their mouth. We permanently change things in people bodies. Religious folks, spiritual folks, thing things in people's heads. Both professions are the holiest ... You can't get any more holy than that when you're changing something in people so there's an honor code that we have to abide by. The patients have to come first. I mean, this is an honor to be able to do this and it should not be taken lightly.
Howard: When you said our profession is holy, did you mean from the occlusal hole? We have a holy profession because we fix holes?
Dr. Motamed: That's good.
Howard: It hurts these dental companies in the long run because whenever we survey dentists on Dentaltown, they say that ... We say, "Who do you go to for information?" They say a dentist or a peer or colleague is in the high 90's. Then you say, "Do you trust a manufacturer?" It's like 10 to 15 percent. They kind of burn their own bridge. If a manufacturer spends money on advertising and the dentist reading it say, "I don't believe you."
Just like I didn't watch the political debate. Everybody keeps asking me if I watch the political debates. I'm half a century old. They just all lie. Why do I want to listen to their lies? What they said they were going to do and then what they do is so unbelievably different that it's hard to even listen to them.
Dr. Motamed: Howard, what you're saying is correct. We cannot change a lot of things around us because it's beyond our control. We have to be resigned to that, but what we must do is whatever we can to change our environment. That's the most we can do. We might not be able and we're not going to be able to change everything. What we're doing is not perfect, but if it's the best we can do that's all we can ask of anyone basically.
Howard: On Dentaltown I took the politics tread and the religious tread, I took them off today's active topic. I put them in leisure. When you post it doesn't show up. You actually have to go to the forum, go to leisure, click in to politics or religion. It says 'Do not enter if easily offended.' The reason I didn't want to see them is because I feel like the reason I don't like news and politics and foreign stuff is just what you said - I have no control over it. I could think for a million hours of whether Putin should be in the Ukraine or not and all I'm going to do is get stressed and have a heart attack and blow a blood vessel. When I'm answering dentist emails or when I'm getting a patient out of pain, then I feel good.
What I don't do is I don't like to do anything that doesn't make me happy and healthy. I don't want to go do something ... I think doing something that makes you miserable for money is going to lead to disease and depression. When people are watching politics and they're screaming and yelling and getting all mad, they're not even making a dollar off of it. It's like you're not even making enough money for a cup of coffee and you just took five hours off your lifetime watching some political debate. I don't get it.
Let's go positive. Let's keep this positive comrade. Talk about what two companies got your first two awards, the Golden Hands Award. By the way ...
Dr. Motamed: Well, we've done it for one year and the company that got voted to get it was Alterdam and the award was presented to Dr. Dan Fisher May of 2015. For your viewers, they can go on YouTube and actually watch the whole acceptance speech. I think what Dr. Dan Fisher, the speech he gave and the points he made, are so pertinent. We should really take that to heart and that's what dentistry is all about.
Howard: How long is the YouTube video?
Dr. Motamed: The shortened version is six minutes. The regular version is about eleven to thirteen depending on which website you watch it.
Howard: Well, heck, Ryan can we just ad that at the end of this podcast? Is that okay with you?
Dr. Motamed: Definitely!
Howard: I think Dan Fisher, he's been my idol, role model, from advice raising my four kids to dentistry. He is just unbelievable. Do you know how old he is? I'm 53. He's got to be ... How old is he, you think?
Dr. Motamed: I don't know, Howard. It was the first time I met him when I presented the award to him and he just blew me away. His heart, Howard, is basically young. He's got fresh ideas and he is such an inspiration. People, younger people, need that in the profession. We need the wise, elder people to guide us and, unfortunately, we get people who's ideas, instead of it being so up-to-date, they're basically fossilized. I think that's what's happening to dentistry. We're fossilizing the profession.
Howard: What do you mean fossilizing?
Dr. Motamed: Well, people that do not want to change. People who are set in doing one thing one way. People who did not want to give up positions or responsibilities to others. Things always have to change and we have to receptive to different ideas and open to suggestions and come up with innovative ways of changing the profession as it changes us basically as it changes around us.
Howard: The thing that I thought was just a hall of famer, single act that Dan Fisher did just beyond anything was when bleaching came out. [inaudible 00:20:21] was big. It was a big revenue builder and his business was getting hurt because other companies were selling a light to make the bleaching better, but they kept doing all the research and the light did nothing, but if you marketed it with the light and sold a light and made a kit you were just making big bucks. Dan said, "I could make twice as much money if I started lying, cheating, and stealing but, but I can't sell something to a dentist and take their money knowing it does absolutely nothing.
He left millions on the table. Maybe tens of millions, hundreds of millions, by just not playing that game.
Dr. Motamed: That's why he's got that passion because, if you're doing it for money, that passion dies and you die with it. If you're doing it because it's something you believe in, then you keep going forward. Maybe he's not going to make his ten million on bleaching, but his mindset is in a way that he's going to make it on something going forward. I hope he does. He is just a fantastic role model. Also, us as dentists, we can't lie to patients either.
We have to tell our patients what's going on. There are times when we setup for a crown prep or a big procedures, the patient comes, and the tooth is not as involved as we think it is. It takes guts to reset it up for a simple filling and tell the patient, "Hey, it's not as bad as I thought it was." The patients in the long run will appreciate that. If you have that short mindset of making a quick buck, basically, you're dead inside. I have very little respect for that.
Howard: Okay, I grew up in Kansas and, living my first 24 years in Kansas, we all were aware that everything starts on California and New York and ends up in Kansas about a decade later. I believe that California is the most heavily competitive ... You're at the forefront of the arrow, no doubt. You've got 30,000 dentists in that state. You've got six dental schools.
I remember quiet clearly in the 2008 financial meltdown, nobody heard of a practice closing or going bankrupt in Kansas City, Wichita, Kansas, Saint Louis. Here in Phoenix there were 88 and a couple of suicides. You're out there in the most competitive environment. What are the challenges of dentistry in the L. A. market today? You're in L. A. too. Where are you actually at?
Dr. Motamed: I'm in Beverly Hills. [crosstalk 00:23:06]
Howard: What's it like practicing in California, like the L. A. metro, Orange County today? What are the challenges dentists are facing? Also, the new grads coming out of school, entering that market that's saturated and has six dental schools, pouring out more. You get tons of foreign trained dentists moving in there too and when foreigners come to the United States they don't want to go to Kansas or Saint Louis. They don't want to go to the armpit of America. If they're from Asia, they want to go to San Fran or L. A. If they're from Latin America, they want to go to Miami. If they're from all of Europe, they want to go to Manhattan. What's it like out there? What are the challenges?
Dr. Motamed: Basically the challenges are is competition, but I believe that you create your own practice by patients coming to you and necessarily if patients are happy with you, they don't tend to go to another dentist, so yes, there's a lot of competition. Before, we've heard stories of people opening up their practice and there would be a line outside, a line of patients waiting to get in. Now, you have to be creative, do some marketing. Internal marketing is important. Word of mouth is important.
What's facing the younger generation today is it takes time to build up a practice. When you're that much in debt and you're out of school and it's so hard for you to find a job, it's usually a job that forces you to do things that you're not comfortable with, that is very demoralizing. It's tough. It's a tough market, Howard, but I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I think kids should use social media to build their own brand, build their own identity. This is a very unique time in the word basically. It's the uniformation age. You need to create your own identity. You need to learn as much as you can. Then, maybe, hopefully get together with colleagues that you like, you trust. Get together and start a group practice together. Share the overhead. Share your knowledge.
Depending on who you speak to, in the future there are going to be two types of practices - the volume dentists and, basically, the small practice where it's mostly cash based or [inaudible 00:25:41] insurance based.
Howard: You think the volume will be low priced group practices and the niche, do you think that will be single dentists or do you think those too will be partners or groups of two or three dentists.
Dr. Motamed: The niche could also be groups of two or three dentists, but I think this niche is not going to depend so much on third party payments and how artificially low the cost or the reimbursement rates are for a lot of the procedures that we do. We spend a lot of time with patients. I think we spend a lot of our youth trying to get educated and a lot of time in the chair. The compensation for dentists is inadequate. There has to be a balance, Howard. There has to be a nice balance.
Howard: Let's go back in time. You got out of school in 1992 so that was 23 years ago. When we talk about two types of [inaudible 00:26:45] what percent of the dentists in '92 were group practice volume verse niche, verses today in 2015, and try to make, on that note going 23 years back, let's go 23 years in the future, and say in 2038 what do you think the percent of it will be volume verses niche?
Dr. Motamed: Howard, if I gave you an answer to that I'll be speaking from thin air so I can't answer that question.
Howard: Well, how has it changed in the last 23 years?
Dr. Motamed: I was going to get into that. What's happened in the past 23 years is you had a lot of middle ground basically in the past 20 years where dentists could see a little bit of HMO. They could see a little bit more of these contracted insurance fees. They could see a little bit of private patients as well. Back then you had basically crowns that were, I don't know, going for 585, 600 dollars. Patient insurance limits were 2000. Over the last 20 years, what's happened is the reimbursement rates has not kept up with the pace of inflation. The patient's maximum is basically ... Most insurances that I know, see here it's a thousand or 1500 and if a crown costs 1800 and now you need a root canal [inaudible 00:28:17] that whole year off.
I think what's going to happen is that we're going to lose that middle ground where you're going to do a little bit of this, little bit of that, little bit of that and it's going to be a more separated market where you're going to have the more fee for service dentist and more, "Hey, I'll do all the insurances and everything I can with the help of other dentists."
Howard: A lot of these podcast listeners might be in Milwaukee or Omaha where they're getting one of these first national corporate trained dental offices come in. I always think it's funny because they'll be a town and then one of these national chains will build one office in the town and all the dentists freak out. I'm like, "Dude, there's 350 dentists in this town and this place employs two and you just had a stroke."
You're out there with a lot of national chains. Would you care to comment on the national chains and what you think they're like? Would you say they're Chevy, Pontiac, old or would you say they're a used car? Are they public health? Is it taking the city bus or train? How long do dentists, when they get out of school and they take a job there, what percentage say, "I actually like it," and stay there ten, twenty years verses "I'm only doing this because I have to have a job and I have no other option?"
Dr. Motamed: Most dentists I speak to, most younger grads and u-grads that I speak to, number one, it's difficult for them to get a job. Number two, they're always looking for something better. That, to me, indicates that they're not as happy as they could be. As far as the quality of these organizations or corporations, number one, not everyone can afford the ideal ... the best that dentistry has to offer. A family making 60,000 dollars, the father cannot spend 5500 dollars on a molar root canal, build up, possibly crown lengthening, and a crown at tenth of the yearly income.
These corporations are needed. Pricing structure has to basically see society and treat society as a whole. I've seen the full gamut of these corporations. One of them that I worked for, it was the middle of the day, I worked their one day, Howard, and I went to wash my hands and there was no soap. I'm like, "Why is there no soap," and their answer was, "Well, we don't have soap because patients will steal it." That's an extreme there but it actually happened to me. I just left immediately. I have seen a full range and some corporations are well run and my hats off to them and they're serving the public in a good way.
Howard: Not to be negative to that ones that aren't well run, but what ones do you think are well run or which ones do you think are serving their market well?
Dr. Motamed: Howard, I don't want to name specifics or call people out and I haven't done the research to really ask dentists who work for these corporations as to what their feedback is, but sometimes, with corporations, their main goal, their main incentive they give to dentists working there could be monetary. When dentists are in such a financial burden they might do unnecessary dental work and extra dental work. I've definitely seen that happen. I've seen a lot of over treatment. In HMO cases, you see under treatment because, if those patients end up not being treated, the office profits. It basically comes down to everyone's individual consciousness. You can have two dentists working in the same corporation and the work that they could do and the service they provide for patients could be substantially different. That's why sometimes the boss gets upset and says there's no more patience for you.
Howard: I graduated May 11th and it took till September 21 to get my office open. During the construction phase there was a big ... the first corporate dental chain [inaudible 00:32:55] Sunshine Dental, owned by Ed Silker, and I got to work at one of his locations in downtown Phoenix, seven days a week, seven am to one. Then I drove 30 minutes into Glendale, at 43rd Avenue Glendale, and worked the second one two to ten. I did that seven days a week while they were building out my construction and I loved it because I was doing all of my dental school requirements every single week. Every single week. I think my requirement was like 75 filling, 50 extractions, 15 canals of endos, 15 units of removable. I just thought it was great. Yes, it was a low cost. Yes, there were people coming in there that were working fast food and retail and all that stuff, but I loved helping people. I loved all that experience. I thought it was a great time.
Your meeting is coming up. This is November 11th. Your meeting is coming up January 22 to 23rd. Who's speaking and why are they speaking for you? What are they speaking on?
Dr. Motamed: We have a wide range. This year's meeting is going to have a lot on dental implants and imaging techniques and integrating that with doing surgical work. We're going to have a number of lectures on endodontics. We're going to have lectures on perio and, also, a lot of lectures on business administration and how to basically code dental insurance, what comments to write to have claims processed. We have infection control. We have California law courses that are mandated by the board here. We tried to include as many courses as possible for the whole office. Again, for the young grads, for the people that have just graduated, it is so important for these people, for young dentists, to get a sense of what's going on in business and how to run a business because we don't get that education in dental school.
Howard, I got a copy of your book. It came yesterday so I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I've been thumbing through it and it looks like it's such an easy read and so informative. Young kids need to basically go out and search books, search lectures, that show them how to run a business. You could be a great dentist, but if you cannot run a business, number one, you lose your confidence and, number two, you can't even provide the quality of dentistry that you normally would. You're always worried about finances. It's so important to get that business education. I think dental intuitions, teaching institution, especially at this time in dentistry, put greater emphasis on that. [crosstalk 00:36:00]
Howard: You know, dentists are drill, fill, and bill and hygienists are the ones trying to prevent it so you don't need drill, fill, bill. At this point I'm thinking you get all your passion from your mother who's the hygienist and not your father who's a dentist. Is that fair to say? Was he the drill, fill, and bill and your mother was preventing all the bad stuff?
Dr. Motamed: No, I think I got all the passion from everyone around me. You have mentors. One of my mentors was Dr. Bill Frank who passed away. You see the people you admire and you sort of have to assume the responsibility of carrying the torch and giving that to someone at the end of the line. It's evolution. It's a process that you have to go through during your career. It's basically people around you. Always surround yourself for people worthy to be around because they are what makes you. The quality of your relationships basically is paramount to who you are as a dentist and how happy you are in life.
Howard: Yes, and eagles fly with eagles and turkeys fly with turkeys. When my boys were asking me what their curfew was I didn't even care what the clock was. I wanted to know who the hell they were with. Some of their friends, I'd say, "Well, you can spend the night there. You can spend the weekend there." Some of their other friends, it was like, "I'm going with you."
Dr. Motamed: Howard, actually in your book I was reading your comments about your boys and your family. I thought, 'How great is this? This is not just a book about, hey, dentistry. This is a book about life. It's a book about how to balance life also and business. It's about getting your priorities straight and all of life is priorities.' I think dentists need to be open minded. They need to see the whole forest instead of each tooth.
Howard: They can find more information at www.californiadentalexpo.com and they can email you. Is that okay to give your email address?
Dr. Motamed: Sure. It's firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard: That's Dr. D-R Motamed. M-O-T-A-M-E-D. At California Dental Expo dot com. Am I saying your name right or am I butchering it? Motamed?
Dr. Motamed: No, that's perfect.
Howard: Well, how do you say it?
Dr. Motamed: Motamed.
Howard: Motamed. I have to remind everybody that I only got one D in my entire life and that was in Spanish and San Martine told my mother that I was linguistically retarded. The happiest day of my life was when my mom said I no longer said I had to take piano lessons and the teacher said I couldn't carry a tune in a lunch pail. I have two role models in my life that explained to you why I can't pronounce anyone's name right.
They can sign up for this course, California Dental Expo. You said you had people coming from many countries, many states. You said it's at the what center down town? The Los Angeles Convention Center.
Dr. Motamed: Correct, Howard. It's at the L. A. Convention Center.
Howard: Would you recommend flying to LAX or to Orange County John Wayne?
Dr. Motamed: Okay, I'd recommend flying into LAX and I recommend checking our website because we have special deals with the airlines where you could get your ticket at a special discount. We have special deals with hotels where you can get your room for as low 169 dollars. Basically come spend the winter in California. We've had a couple of tough winters in the east coast. Come here. It's a legitimate tax write off and you basically get to be with colleagues. You get to learn about dentistry and you get to see, also, what's new. A lot of times I go to these conferences, Howard, I love going to the exhibit hall and checking out what's new, looking at different products.
There's definitely that opportunity to come do that where you don't even have to pay anything.
Howard: You know what? I never think in fear and scarcity. I always think in hope, growth, and abundance and I have always said that the dentists that became friends with the other dentist across the street from him, 30, 40 years later, they always had the much more happier, healthy, rewarding career. The dentist who feared the guy across the street as a competitor were always miserable. I don't care. I never met a dentist or read one dental magazine so I could care less if I'm talking to a dentist who's on another dental magazine. I just don't think that way. I think you and I should network a lot more together because we both have a meeting. I want my team to brainstorm with your team and your team to brainstorm with my team because you have your meeting in January. In April, we have ours in Los Vegas. We should make a challenge to help grew each others meeting for ten years. I bet if we tried to grow each others meeting as hard as we could for ten years we'd both have the best meeting ever.
Dr. Motamed: Undoubtedly we will. The passion is there. I think the substructure is there. We just have to let people know about what's available to them. That's been the challenge that we face. Not enough people know about it and, once they know, they're all, "Oh, we should have gone."
Well, I think there's huge possibilities and I really see a bright future for dentists if they follow their passion and if they also do things on the side and make dentistry a part of their life, a good part of their life, instead of making their life a part of dentistry.
Howard: Well, as my mother always told me, I mean she convinced my two older sisters to go straight into the Catholic nunnery straight out of high school. She always wanted me to be the first American pope, but the way my mom saw it was that everything was a vocation. She wasn't into occupations. She didn't' care if you were Mother Theresa and treating the poor for nothing and having just a tin cup and two changes of clothes. It's really about if you make your occupation a vocation instead of just trading time for money, but you give it your whole heart, mind, and soul, and it becomes your personal identity.
I don't know where Howard the Dentist stops and Howard the person or Howard the grandpa starts. It's just all one blur. I think the people who approach their occupation ... I don't care if they're plumbers. If you're the best damn plumber you'll live with purpose and passion. Everybody needs plumbing. I also noticed that in high school because I thought the coolest girl in the whole school was Eldona Flanagan and her dad owned the trash trucks. Most people would be embarrassed to say if your dad was a trasher, but you would talk to Eldona and she could just peel your brain open about all the things you never thought of that went into the trash and how you've got to pick it up and the landfills and this. You could just tell she ate, lived, and breathed trash. Not to mention her dad was a gazillionaire.
I don't care if your taking out trash or doing a root canal. That's what a root canal is. We're taking the trash out of the middle of the tooth and putting it somewhere else. It's been 45 minutes, it's been 44 minutes, and you said Fisher's deal is 13 minutes. I say we do that. In the hour of podcast, you want to do the last 13 minutes with Fishers YouTube?
Dr. Motamed: Yes. We could do that. We could do the 13 minutes or we could do the shortened 6 minutes which also has the preamble to what the Golden Hands is all about. We just try to condense that into six minutes, but I do encourage everyone to watch Dr. Fisher's whole interview.
Howard: How do they find it on YouTube? Is it on your website, California Dental Expo?
Dr. Motamed: Yes, it's on our channel, California Dental Expo. It's also on Alterdan's site. The full interview is on Alerdan's site also.
Howard: I felt so bad because I ran into him and sometimes I'll run into him in like London or at the Cologne meeting in Germany. Here I am ten years younger than him and I've got jet lag and here he's just fired up and bouncing off the walls. He's got three times as many meetings as I do. I just look at him like, 'My God, how do you find that energy?' That is just amazing. [crosstalk 00:44:41]
Dr. Motamed: What's so common with both of you is you have great interpersonal skills and the first time I met you, the first time I met Dan, you're both very easy to relate to and I think as dentists, sometimes, we can be a little bit too clinical and that humanity, that person touch, knowing that you're treating the person and not the tooth, that is so important.
Howard: I think that the niche of our meetings is that just because you're in a room with 100 thousand people means you can still be meetings. I think some people go to these big big meetings like CDA or ADA and they don't know anybody. They're just walking around the floor and they're just all alone. I think the perfect size of our meetings is that you're far more likely to go there and meet someone and get real with someone and have lunch or go to the bar with someone and meet someone so that when the meeting's over you have a friend. You just got to meet some friends. The best CE also, the best CE isn't even our meetings. The best CE to learn endo is to go across the street to the endodontist and just knock on his door and say, "I'm Billy bob and I'm three blocks down. Can I spend the day with you?" He wants a friend just as bad as you do. The periodontist, the oral surgeon, and then the next thing you know, you've got friends in the flesh, in your zip code, for the rest of your life. That just makes dentistry so rewarding.
Dr. Motamed: I completely agree with that.
Howard: What's your close then? What's your big close?
Dr. Motamed: Well, I want to encourage the younger dentists, the new grads, basically to take initiative and to make things happen when they see a need for it. Not to depend on other to do it. I also want to say that we should basically, for dentistry, maybe even have a dental recommendation board that analyses what's going on in dentistry and basically recommends ideas to the dental organization. This should be monitored on a website as to what got recommended, has any action been taken, if so what, so that people will become engaged with organized dentistry. They will want to relate more to it. They will stay more in organized dentistry. It is some important to keep people in organizations and to keep the communication going. My big close is to basically communicate with you peers, do whatever it takes to be in the profession.
Howard: The new ADA president is my buddy and lives up the street. Carol Summerhays. Do you know her?
Dr. Motamed: No, I don't. Unfortunately not.
Howard: You ought to have her come and do an opening or say something at your meeting.
Dr. Motamed: She's more than welcome to. ADA, CDA, dental organizations are welcome to participate at our meetings. One thing we've done, Howard, is whatever organization has come to our meetings and presented courses, we've given a hundred percent of the profits to those organizations because part of our mission statement is to build up organized dentistry. We think that organized dentistry, being a part of it should start in your own area, in your special corner, in your city. Then go outwards from there.
Howard: Yes, send me an email, Howard@dentaltown.com, and say, "Who's your buddy that's president at the ADA?" I'll reply back to you and say, "Carol." She's the president of the ADA. I'm sure she's swamped, but if she's in LA, if she's there those two days I'd bet you anything that she'd swing by. She's a people person who loves dentists. I don't think she'd ever pass up a chance to go shake hands with more dentists.
Dr. Motamed: That would be great and thank you so much Howard.
Howard: All right. Tell your mother and sister that Uncle Howie said, "Hello."
Dr. Motamed: Thank you and thanks for all your support and just for your positive energy.
Howard: All right buddy. Thanks for spending an hour with me.
Dr. Motamed: Thank you Howard.
It's called the Golden Hands Award of Excellence for ethics and truth in advertising. It is presented to one company a year and we wanted to promote the more noble ideals in dentistry. Having this award will enable other companies to follow these ideals that dentistry has. We're going to have dentists from across the United States voting on a company, for a company, that they believe represents the ideals of dentistry.
Speaker 3: This is a profession and the manufacturers of our products are part of the profession. The Gold Hands Award is really for those manufacturers, or for that manufacturer [inaudible 00:49:52], for that manufacturer that upholds these ideals to the greatest extent. I think once one manufacturer gets it and sees what it took to achieve it, other manufacturers are also going to want it. They're going to want the Golden Hands Award.
Dr. Motamed: Dr. Fisher, I'd like to congratulate you for receiving the first Golden Hands Award of Excellence on behalf of the dental profession.
Dr. Fisher: Thank you so much. We are honored.
Dr. Motamed: You're most welcome. Thank you for what you've given to the profession. This now belongs to you.
Dr. Fisher: Thank you. Wow, that is heavy. That is truly a lost casting. Wow. That is lost wax casting. Incredible.
Speaker 4: Dr. Fisher, congratulations on receiving the Golden Hands Award. Over 3,000 companies were initially considered for this award and it was narrowed down and voted on by real dentists across the country. What does it mean to you and to the company as a whole to be the recipient of such an honorable award?
Dr. Fisher: Wow. My mind is a whirlwind. It's started to sink in just a little bit. The values of [inaudible 00:51:17]. They don't belong to me. I learned them from my grandfather. Keep your hand open to give, it will be open to receive. You never can receive with a closed fist. That is so true.
Speaker 4: This award is so representative of that story, of what you just said about having an open hand to giving and open to receive so how [inaudible 00:51:45] of an award this is for you to receive. [crosstalk 00:51:48] Your family origin in this company really tells the whole story of how you've establish such a culture of integrity with your employees and with this company as a whole so this award totally encompasses your company, your heart, your spirit, everything. Congratulations. I'm thrilled for you and I can see the passion in your eyes. How do you feel about this award being introduced into the profession of dentistry and what does it mean for dentistry and for dental companies moving forward? Integrity, a sense of honesty and transparency being established as such an awesome award. What does that mean to you and to the future of dentistry?
Dr. Fisher: How many hours do wish me to use to answer that one young lady? First of all, I have to say that this award belongs to our people more than to me. Certainly, integrity is our first core value. We have been evaluated over the years, at times, as being the profession patients could most trust. At other times, we've gotten some black eyes. I think it is pivotal , it is first and foremost in dentistry, that, as dentists, we be damn honest with those we serve. They're the patients. Without the patient in the chair, this meeting wouldn't exist. We wouldn't be receiving this. None of these guys would be here. It wouldn't be. It's the patient in the chair that it's all about. It's critical in dentistry, be it a dentist or be it a dental manufacturer, that we remember ultimately this effects the oral health for good, hopefully, or bad, tragically. It affects their health for the rest of their lives. This adds to the [inaudible 00:53:53]. It adds to the encouragement of doing the right things, but for right reasons.
Speaker 4: Thank you for your candidness and for all of your honesty and your passion. Your truly making a difference. Your company is making a difference. Your values are making a difference. Thank you so much. Congratulations again.
Dr. Fisher: My pleasure. Thank you.
Speaker 4: I wish you all the longevity in the world.
Dr. Fisher: I plan on going for 150.
Speaker 4: Thank you. Thank you.