The Transcript Is Auto-Generated and May Contain Spelling And Grammar Errors
Dr. Len Tau 0:00
Do what you enjoy only not because you want to do but because you are just gonna make your life a lot better and not because you have to do because you have to pay the bills. Okay, so I eliminated some of those stressors in my life and only did what I really enjoyed doing no matter what it was.
You’re listening to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. This show was created for entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers and dreamers who want to learn from the experts of today and drastically shortcut their own success to build a business that supports their dream lifestyle. Since 2011, Tyler Jorgenson has been interviewing business thought leaders from around the world a serial entrepreneur himself, Tyler also shares his personal insights into what’s working in business today. Welcome to biz ninja, entrepreneur radio.
Tyler Jorgenson 0:51
Welcome out to business, entrepreneur Radio. I’m your host, Tyler Jorgensen. And today we have a special guest, Dr. Len Tao, the reviews doctor. And the reason I’m really excited to talk to Dr. To talk with Dr. Tao is I’ve always loved the business of dentistry in the business of medicine, like the bridge between being a professional and business I think it’s so fascinating because so many people get into into a profession but don’t learn business. And Dr. Tao has and so we’re gonna go through his journey, what he’s did along the way, what he’s doing now. So welcome to the show. Dr. Tao super excited to have you here.
Dr. Len Tau 1:29
Thanks for having me, Chandler, I appreciate it.
Tyler Jorgenson 1:31
Starting at the end, you just sold and moved on from being a practice owner. And we’re gonna go through all of that, but let’s dial it way back. When was the moment in your life where you first realized you were an entrepreneur.
Dr. Len Tau 1:43
So I think it all started when I was a young kid. Let’s say 13 years old. I my tennis coach was actually selling baseball cards and I was a big baseball card collector and I decided that I would one day go to a show with him to learn the business, I guess you can say and that night I went home and said to my to my parents, I needed a loan. I wanted to go into baseball card business. My parents were like you’re crazy. But here’s some money. And lo and behold, 13 years old, I started a baseball card business called Lenny’s lineup. I was making $60,000 a year. I paid my parents back. The last year I gotta go back it was called m&ms lineup. Okay, Landon mort, my dad’s name was more it’s because my dad gave me a loan. I paid him back his money and got rid of him. And it was named Lenny’s lineup and rebranded and rebranded. And so at 13 years old, I was making about 60 grand a year till I was 17. I saw an end to the traditional tradeshow market. When was it was going to college, I sold the business, and then the market took a big dive. Obviously now collectibles are a tremendous business to be in. But that’s where my entrepreneurial journey started. It’s
Tyler Jorgenson 2:52
fascinating because like the wax pack era of baseball cards, it never became what we thought it was going to be. But there was a small window where there was a lot of trading and velocity. Now we’re back to what we thought the 80s were going to be where cars actually value again, it’s really fascinating. You How did you decide I mean, you’re making good money, way more money than when you’re more than the US average income as a 13 year old. But you decided to go to college and go the traditional route. How did you land on dental as the direction you wanted to go?
Dr. Len Tau 3:21
So my dad was a dentist, he would actually have an office in my home. We called it the lower level I called the basement equal to the lower level, but it was in the basement of our home. And I would venture down there and watch him change people’s lives and smiles. And I did not think I was going to be a dentist I thought about law. I thought about accounting which I was too boring for me. I thought about a lot of different options. And I still remember I thought I thought I was gonna go into law school. And I was very, very pointed moment in my life. I was sitting at my inn in New Orleans when I went to college watching headline news, okay, and a stat came on and it said the in the year 2020. And this was 1982. In the year 2020. There’ll be 100% more lawyers than there are now. I just made a decision. I said, my job was for me. And I called my parents I said I think I’ve made a decision to go to dental school. And I still very vividly remember my mother telling me that I was selling myself to the devil. That’s what she said to me. And I told her that the decision I made and I applied to dental school got into tufts dental school and rest is history. I guess you can say,
Tyler Jorgenson 4:29
you know that that brings up something really fascinating because I think that business owners, spouses have a very biased view of most businesses because the average business owner and entrepreneur comes home and vents about their day. So the the business owner spouse tends to only hear the negatives of the business right. So that’s not an uncommon thing. What you said were your mom’s like, that’s horrible, because he probably is used to Dad venting about what happened that day.
Dr. Len Tau 4:55
worked for my dad too. So he was actually in the trenches. She was the front desk For instance, she was the person who greeted everybody. So, but yeah, that’s that’s what that’s how it kind of came about.
Tyler Jorgenson 5:05
So what did you learn anything from like maybe what not to do from what mom and dad did?
Dr. Len Tau 5:10
Well, my dad sat me down and said, I got a couple of things for you. One is I’m going to pay for your college education. And I always like to say that I’ve worked very hard in my life, I haven’t been given anything other than a college education. So my parents paid for my dental school and my college. So I came out of school with no debt. And he sat me down and said, I’m doing this for you. But I want you to work your tush off, I want you to be at the top of your class, I want you to do as much dentistry as you can in dental school, because the goal was to join him in practice, unfortunately, my, my dad developed cancer, and that kind of got squashed because he had to sell a second practice. But the point of it was he I learned a lot from my dad on what to do and what not to do in dental school. And I took it to heart and I really learned a lot and became a really well rounded dentist, but even a more well rounded business, because I went to business courses with him. And they don’t teach you that in middle school.
Tyler Jorgenson 6:00
Yeah, and I think that’s that is why it’s always been fascinating to me on the intersection of business and professionalism. Right. And I’ve seen some medical professionals or even like legal professionals will have an aversion to marketing and sales because they think it like degrades their practice and their their skill or their expertise. But if your goal is to help people, and they don’t know you exist, you’re not going to be able to help people. Right? So there has to be a healthy intersection there. You not only have you done a great job of that with yourself, but you worked with a lot of other practice owners, what are some of the best things that you’re seeing? Like, what mindset or what things do business do practice owners need to do to actually be good in business. So I
Dr. Len Tau 6:41
think you have to really have an open mind to learn different things. We were taught to be, you know, tooth fillers and tooth cutters. And we’re very good at that. But the far majority of dentists are not very good businessman, because they don’t teach it in dental school. So I think you have to be willing to learn, I think you have to be willing to accept constructive criticism, I think get to be willing to be coached. And when I bought my practice, so I bought my practice in 2007, and 2007. And I thought I knew everything, I’m at the top of the world, and I was really, you know, put on my legs and pegs and, and beat down by the things you have to know to be a business owner, a dental business owner, I mean, you’re basically a mini CEO of the practice, you run everything. And I was not cut out for it. I was not I had to learn a lot. I had to get coached, I had to take a lot of constructive criticism. And but I was willing and open and malleable. I was molded. And I learned it and it really showed and my business dramatically increased over the years. Yeah.
Tyler Jorgenson 7:37
And I think that that’s what happens is people a lot of times the path is you graduate, you get the degree, you start working in the profession. And now you’re like, okay, I’m good. I have the book smarts I have that. Now I have some practical experience. I know how to be a dentist, and then you buy a practice. And it’s like, oh, there, there is so much more happening behind the scenes that I didn’t know about. So if you’re not open minded men, you just start hitting conflict and conflict and conflict after conflict. It is fascinating to me, the the state of mental health in dentistry. What are your thoughts on that?
Dr. Len Tau 8:12
Well, it’s interesting, you said that, because the practice I bought was from a dentist who committed suicide. So so just it just had that was a good segue into this topic. I thought I was going to be able to handle the ins and outs of running a business, which I did, I handled it extremely well. But I worked my tail off we were we were open 25 hours a week from the minute I opened the office till the minute I saw we never increased the hours. And I spent so it’s 25 hours a week clinically, but I probably spent close to 30 to 40 hours a week running the business side. And the I learned what what stresses would would trigger me to get stressed, and what are the things so I learned how to handle the stress really well. But I worked really, really hard the first few years and I boomed my business, I learned how to market I learned about online reviews. That’s where I’m in the position I am now. But I and I I built the practice of my life, or my dreams, but I wasn’t living the life of my dreams. So I had to learn to manage the stress a certain way or because I was going to burn out. So I found other avenues in life. So I learned that I love speaking and educating dentists on the marketing I learned, obviously, I’m in the review space. So I’ve been helping dentists with the reviews for the last eight years, almost nine years now. And so I found other avenues or other passions to make sure I had other things to do. Because I didn’t want to be that 75 or 80 year old dentist who’s still working in the practice. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t be that person.
Tyler Jorgenson 9:42
And I mean, the average practice owner makes a very good living right and so it’s it’s fascinating when people think, Well, why are you stressed? I mean, you’re, you’re in dentistry, you’re not in you’re not you’re not an ER doctor, right? You’re working most of them three days a week, and then there’s no empathy. Why are you You’ve been stressed, right? So what do you think? Is there like a root cause of why so many dentists are struggling with this and what should we do about it?
Dr. Len Tau 10:08
Well, look, we’re treating patients we’re doing the dentistry, dentistry is not the easiest thing in the world is difficult to work in some pages now that the position we’re in, but you also have the pain in the butt patients, you have team members who are who are want want want, and they don’t understand the the overhead of practice has, look, we’re talking about entrepreneurship, the overhead and I would love to practice with trade, or like dentists will treat would trade, the amount of debt and the amount of overhead they have for something that’s not as stressful, I can guarantee you that. But I mean, we’re the average dental practice is somewhere between 60 and 70%, which if you think about it, you’re making 30 cents on the dollar. So yes, we’re bringing in good income. And that’s what the team doesn’t see, they see the money coming in, but they don’t see the money going out. So I think that has a lot to do with it. And, you know, it’s interesting to see, over the years how the mental health has become such a big topic in the dental industry, and how there’s so many speakers now who speak out about mental health, because they literally walked away from dentistry, and decided that this wasn’t for them anymore.
Tyler Jorgenson 11:11
You know, it’s interesting, because it’s hard to to be surrounded by things all day and not be impacted by it. And I don’t know a lot of people who are like, I’m really excited to go to the dentist today. Right? Most people go to the dentist in a state of agitation, anxiety, nervousness, neglect. And so that’s the energy that’s brought in every single day to every patient, like you almost have to convince them to take care of themselves. And so, I mean, that that’s hard if you’re not actively working on it, and protecting yourself from it and finding those other outlets outside of the office. It’s gotta be really easy for that to just pile up over a over in a short timeframe, we’re all of a sudden, you’re carrying all that.
Dr. Len Tau 11:53
It’s funny, you say that, you know, and look, I’m the king of reviews, but I’ve got a number of bad reviews. I mean, I would like to say I have about 2000 positives, but about 90 Something negative negatives, and most of them are because of my mouth. I’m a New Yorker living I grew up practicing in Philadelphia, and my mouth has certainly gotten into trouble because I lash out at patients, because I would have patients come and say, you know, I hate coming to see you, I’m ready to say, Well, I hate coming at you as well. I mean, but I hear that all the time. So I think that you have to be able to handle some of the things that are thrown at you. And in a coming up very quickly. People on the phone yelling at you, you’ve got doctors trying to get ahold of you. You got patients complaining about certain things, you got the team complaining about things, all day long, you’re getting these things bombarded that you and you have to learn how to deal with it. That’s really what it comes down to.
Tyler Jorgenson 12:36
Well, that’s the thing you’re going if you’re in business, you’re going to have negative reviews, you’re gonna have negative experiences, that it’s how, like, how important is it though, that you don’t make that your identity? Right? And isn’t it fasten 2000, positive 90 Negative, there are some dentists and some people just business owners, they saw 90 negative reviews, they wouldn’t be able to sleep for a month. Right? But it’s like, well, you also have 2000 positive, like, what are you going to focus on. But I do think that that’s something that the average dentist is coming out of school unprepared for is that there is going to be negative experiences. And you have to like have thick skin about that. I always
Dr. Len Tau 13:13
like to say that a perfect business is imperfect. The feedback that they get is may not be perfect, but it’s how they respond to the feedback is really shouldn’t be, they should be perfect and doing it. And there’s no perfect business, nobody can go to a restaurant, you know, you’re never going to have every meal be perfect. So you have to expect to get some negative reviews, patients with our practices all the time, we have to expect to get negative reviews. And I always like to say to dentists, if you haven’t got a negative review yet you haven’t been a dentist long enough because it’s it’s going to happen at some point.
Tyler Jorgenson 13:42
So let’s go into reviews in general like how important is it that a dent that business owners take their reviews seriously
Dr. Len Tau 13:49
as as a whole not just dentists? I think look, we are a a reputation, society. Everything we do as a consumer revolves around reviews. If you think about it, when you go to Amazon, you don’t buy a one star product, you buy a five star Editor’s Choice Award product. You when you go to a movie, you don’t pick a movie that sucks you pick a well rounded movie most of the time that has thumbs up or whatever from Siskel and Ebert. You know, when I go to when you go look for a dentist or a doctor or any restaurant, you don’t pick a poorly rated business. Everything we do revolves around reputation. And that’s what you have to understand you personally as the business owner may not understand that. But I guarantee your patients or your clients or customers are looking online and you have to understand that this is a society we live in. So reviews have become an important part, but also become an important part for ranking. So if you want to be found, you have to have a significant number of reviews to stand out from the competition.
Tyler Jorgenson 14:43
Absolutely. So you have you’re the author of a book called raving patients and the host of raving patients podcast. What does it mean for a business to create raving customers or for a practice to create raving patients?
Dr. Len Tau 14:55
So what I like to say is you want to create these customers, patients clients Know you want to call them who are happy and willing and able to talk to you about to talk about you online. And you want to take that positive feedback and market it to bring in more new business. Look, I don’t think there’s any business in the United States that doesn’t want more business or new business. That’s how you continue to grow and make more money. The only way that’s going to happen is if you continue to put yourself out there in a way that people find you and that you look good in front of the people who are looking for you. So if you have a bad reputation, and I just spoke to a dental practice, they had been in practice for 30 years, they have 27 reviews in 30 years, and they have less than two stars less than two stars. Now, you’re never going to know. And I always like to say that you’re never going to know who doesn’t come to your business, whether you’re a restaurant or a doctor or lawyer or whatever it is. They don’t tell you that, hey, I’m not coming because you suck online. They just don’t come in. They don’t yeah, they don’t come into the business. That’s what you have to understand. So that’s why you always have to put forth your best stuff in front of the people who are looking for you,
Tyler Jorgenson 15:56
man, that’s huge. I think the power of showing up right. And so we talk about all the time in marketing that, you know, you have people that are looking for you, and the first issue they can’t find you. And the next thing is maybe they found you but you’re ugly online, right? You don’t have good reviews, you know, you’re not managing your profiles, your stuffs outdated, all these things that don’t necessarily take a ton of work. But you do have to handle it. You do have to process it. Now you’ve you’ve gone through the whole process now where you came out of college, you started as associate you bought a practice you grew it you did you sold it, you’re doing all these amazing other things now, what, like along that path, what was a major challenge that you faced? And how did you overcome it?
Dr. Len Tau 16:37
Well, I think the biggest challenge was finding time to do everything that I was doing. And I say that in a good way, in a bad way. I overwhelmed my schedule, I loved being busy. So yes, I was I was somewhat stressed being a business owner, and I learned how to cope with that. But I did that by by speaking so I spoke I was traveling, you know, in 2017 18 and pre COVID, I was traveling 40 weeks out of the year to do to speak all over the country. You know, go to seminars, go to go to trade shows to tout my product that I wanted all these businesses to use. So, you know, I think one of the things I’m really proud about is how I was able to manage that and manage it really well, to a point where I was now able to exit my main career, have other things that I can fall back on, and still be you know, comfortable and happy in my life. I don’t want to say money doesn’t it’s not a money thing here. It’s that right now I live a life where I wake up in the morning, super excited to do what I’m going to do that day, no matter what it is that day, I can have a day that I’m speaking to you, Tyler, you know, I can have a day where I have a team demos for Bert, i or i can be literally just doing some consulting, whatever it is, I wake up so excited. I’m very fortunate that I don’t think I’ve ever woken up a day in my life where I haven’t been happy to do or excited to do what I’m doing that day. And that’s just that’s just what my DNA is. And that’s
Tyler Jorgenson 17:58
a big deal. Because you said there was a point where you got the practice working? Well, you had the practice of your genius, but not the life of your dream. So what did you have to fix to transition from like you still woke up happy and positive? Because that’s your DNA. But it wasn’t the life of your dreams? Like what did you have to change?
Dr. Len Tau 18:15
So I built an amazing team in the office who supported me. And they were really important. And I sat them down and said, Look, guys, I love dentistry. But I like I love other things even more. So I’m going to bring in an associate dentist, and that’s gonna allow me to step away from being in the practice fight five plus days a week potentially, where I dropped down to two days a week. And that was a big epic that was in 2017 in January actually shouldn’t be January of 2018, technically, was I said, I’m not going to work more days than two days a week. And from that point on, I only only work two days a week. And the only other time I had to work full time again was when my associate left during COVID. Other than that I still worked only two days a week in clinical practice. I gave him plenty of time to live my life to spend time with my family to still travel and do everything else I was doing. So that was a huge, huge step. For me to take a step away from the practice. My team understood it, they were able to run the business without me being there. And the practice ran by itself because we were well well well oiled machine, because we put the systems in place necessary to make that happen.
Tyler Jorgenson 19:13
I mean, hopefully people can infer what the advice is there. But let’s say you’re talking to someone coming right out of dental school, what’s the one piece of advice that you always give them because that you don’t want them to have a life that they don’t love?
Dr. Len Tau 19:25
I would say one big thing is only do what you enjoy doing. So I when I was in when I first bought my practice, I was doing a ton of different procedures and as a general dentist, you can and I finally realized a number of years in that I didn’t enjoy doing oral surgery. I didn’t do enjoy, you know, doing periodontal surgery, I didn’t enjoy doing root canals, so I stopped doing it. Okay, so do what you enjoy only not because you want to do but because you are just going to make your life a lot better and not because you have to do because you have to pay the bills. Okay, so I eliminated some of those stressors in my life and only did what I really enjoyed doing no matter what it was. That was a huge thing and that’s the advice I give to Every new dentist coming out is only do what you enjoy doing.
Tyler Jorgenson 20:03
That’s huge. And I think that’s important. I mean, that can be a dental thing that can be any business. It’s so easy in the early days to just want to say yes to whatever the work that comes because you, you’re early, you’re in that kind of a little bit of a scarcity mindset, you’re trying to fill up the calendar the first time. But that is I would agree that that is the fastest recipe towards unhappiness and not enjoying your job is all of a sudden you wake up, you look at a calendar, you’re not excited about what’s on the calendar. So I think that’s phenomenal advice for any entrepreneur in any business owner, especially obviously dentists. But what you got some cool stuff coming up, you’ve got an event and tell us a little bit about why you’re planning an event and then tell us about the event. So I’ve always like
Dr. Len Tau 20:43
I’ve been educating I’ve been, I started speaking in 2010. And I’ve given over 450 presentations over the last 12 plus 13 years now. I love entertaining, I love educating on things that other people don’t understand and don’t know. So that’s that became a huge part of my life, and a huge part of my passion. And I know how to run a business. So I have unique skills that really have put me in the forefront of the dental industry. And I branched out I spoke to plastic surgery meetings this year. So you know, reviews are all over the place, any business can use them. So I’m obviously multi-dimensional here. And but I wanted to take the entertainment and the education to the next level. And that I live in Florida. So I moved two years ago to Florida, from Philadelphia. And I said, You know what, I want to finally have people come down to see me once in a while. So I have an event called Supercharge your dental practice. It’s in Delray Beach on September 29 and 30th of 2023. It’s a two day event. The first day is is focused on the marketing side of dentistry. And the second day is focused on the business side of dentistry. And it’s for dentists but it’s a two day events. We’ve got some great education, 717 speakers, 14 hours of continuing education, there’s 23 sponsors who are already committed to coming to the events, we’re going to have over probably over 200 dentists at the events. And I’m just really excited to finally, this has been on my, my my mental bucket list or my goals for for a very long time. And I was finally able to achieve that this particular goal, once I knew I was no longer going to be involved in the ordering of the practice and then obviously doing dentistry anymore.
Tyler Jorgenson 22:22
Yeah, and I think it’s great. I mean, I know this, you plan far ahead. And you’ve been planning this and getting it ready. So once you were able to exit the practice, it was already in motion. And you’ve like you already have a ton of speakers, a ton of sponsors lined up. I know it’s going to be a really amazing event. Any curveballs that happened while you were planning and lessons for those that are planning something big,
Dr. Len Tau 22:43
I think the venue is always a curveball, they throw things at you like you never imagined I was I’m using a third party company to assist me with the logistics behind the events. I knew that I didn’t have enough knowledge about running the day to days that needed to run the events. So my responsibility was getting the speakers and getting the sponsors. And I’m working with this company that helped me with everything else. But I want to hear through the through their conversations that the venue is a pain in the butt. I mean, it just the honestly the biggest one is is getting getting the speakers to send you what you need in a timely matter. And it’s amazing how many times you have to message somebody to get them to send you some pieces of information that you need. So it’s just one of many things you manage? Yeah,
Tyler Jorgenson 23:24
well, I think anytime you’re building something big, we have an assumption that everyone will just do what the simple tasks, but everyone is filled with their already their current schedules or current days. And so in marketing in general, it’s amazing how that is the same concept. We have issues in marketing, where it’s like, Well, why would I email this person or text or have a company send a text message to that person they already know we exist? It’s like, yeah, they know they were supposed to come in for a six month cleaning. You and I both know they didn’t, you’re going to need to remind them to get them to book and that’s probably going to take more than one touch to be able to help them do it. And the goal is to help them do the thing they know they need to do. And so it’s funny where some business owners will take that as well. That’s No, I only want to work with people who like are going to show up on their own. I’m like, okay, but like really the goal of marketing and sales is to help people to do the thing that is already best for them. But either they don’t know about it, they’ve forgotten about it, some obstacles came up whatever it is. And so I’ve always taken the very like the ethical approach to marketing is to help people make the decision they should have they should be making already. Right and so I see you do that in your marketing and your your your goal is just to help people do best practices in their practice. It’s not like it’s something that nobody else has ever heard. So, when you’re consulting, I know one of the things you do is consult other practices. What’s a common issue that you that you address, and help people overcome?
Dr. Len Tau 24:51
So I mean, there’s many things I consult to that obviously we deal with marketing, we deal with online reviews, dealing with third party financing. I’m very I speak to a lot of practices about, I think it’s just changing the mentality that the dentist has to understand that there is so much more they can potentially do in the practice, because a lot of times they’re stuck. They aren’t growing, and they need revenue growth. And because I was such a successful business owner, and did really well, on the practice, I have these firsthand experiences. I just need them to open the boxes, I like to say, be outside the box thinker, open the box, let me in and just listen to successful stories. And you may not, you know, I give so many different pearls when I do education. If you take at least one or two of the pros I give you, you’re going to see a significant improvement just from taking those pearls.
Tyler Jorgenson 25:39
Yeah. Now you brought up just a minute ago, you brought up that the event was part of your bucket list or big goal. And I’m a big believer that business is part of life. But life should also have a lot of parts of it that aren’t about business. What is one item on your personal bucket list that you’re going to accomplish in the next 12 months?
Dr. Len Tau 25:58
In the next 12 months, so that’s that’s a tough one in 12 months, I have a lot of goals I’ve been fortunate enough to achieve already at 49 years old, I had a list of that I made at 10 years old and I achieved all those. By the time I was 49. You know, one of the things I will tell you that I want to do is I’m a big huge tennis fan. I love playing tennis. But I love seeing tennis. So we’ve been to US Open we my wife and I went to Wimbledon. So we’re putting on our bucket list either go to the Australian Open or the French Open the other two majors. I’m hoping it may be this year but definitely within next couple of years. That’s definitely on my bucket list to go do.
Tyler Jorgenson 26:32
That’s a great one. And I love I love seeing people like that If you enjoy something setting a big thing about it like, you know, if you love football, go into the Superbowl right, that kind of stuff. I just love those kinds of events, and milestones and goals. And I know you’re very goal driven person. So I’m excited to see those pictures pop up online when you actually do it. I hope and encourage everybody to go check out Dr. Len Tao on Instagram at Dr. Lin Tao on your website and also check out supercharge your dental practice because that’s gonna be an amazing event. Dr. Tao thank you so much for coming out on the show. And to all my businesses wherever you’re watching listening streaming, it’s your turn to go out and do something.
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