Take a moment to reflect on those days growing up, when we could be anything we wanted and every week we were something new. I was a Power Ranger, Ninja Turtle, Superman, and definitely a cop several times. Those days when we were crazy kids running around playing cops and robbers, we never cared about societal thoughts and expectations. So why did this all stop? When did anyone wanting to be successful start caring about what society thinks? This is what retards the process of personal success for so many.
While the dream of becoming a superhero may have faded, the possibilities of who I can become have continued to evolve. The only difference between now and back when I was 3, is this is game time. How come so many people limit their own possibilities of who they can become?
Success is not measured in comparison to others, rather it is internally driven by what one is willing to sacrifice and achieve that others are not. Maybe that is the difference between those that are successful and those that are still striving to achieve success; sacrifice, failure and experimentation. These are the parameters that define success.
My journey is nothing short of just that. GRIT is and will forever be my key ingredient to having achieved this level of success so quickly after completing dental school. I cannot claim any secret sauce or having reinvented the wheel.
After graduating, I joined a Dental Support Organization (DSO), which we commonly refer to as “corporate dentistry.” I quickly grew in that DSO, as I was exposed to patient and practice management. I was given the chance to dictate treatment, manage a staff and further my education with courses. A year and a half later, I began to realize there was a ceiling effect to my growth potential. I was constantly battling what I thought to be inefficient systems with no opportunity for change. Regardless of the service I provided or the influx of patients, administrators were trying to limit my progress.
So after realizing that my vision had outgrown the corporate world, I did what every other dentist wouldn’t do … I quit. I negotiated terms of my 90-day notice per our contract. I made the largest DSO in the world sign a proposal for my termination, putting them in awe. I placed several demands on the company for a smooth transition, because I personally built relationships with my patients and I wanted to make sure they were accounted for accordingly. As I feel all dentists should.
For the next six months, I retired. That’s right, not a day of work. I went to Europe for a month, traveled the states for a month, and built my office the remaining months. Was this all planned? NO WAY!!! Through this part of my life I sacrificed, experimented and definitely failed.
A Little Background to Reflect on My Thought Process
When I gave my 90 days, I knew I wanted to open an office. I worked on my vision and business plan, and I wrote it all down to the finest details. I even gave my fictional employees names. I knew only two things; I had a plan on paper, and I needed money. I started to research, and then researched some more. I called banks, mentors, Schein, Benco, you name it, and I coldcalled. The universal response to my dream was: “Don’t you think it is a little early to start?” or, “Why not stay where you are, you are making great money?” or, “Why not pay off your loans when you have so much debt?” Instead of giving in to the opinions and societal pressure to conform with what is expected of me, I decided to use their opinions as fuel to further develop my vision.
Fast-forward through the lack of sleep, fear and constant questioning from peers and friends about how far-reaching my dream was, I decided to pursue opening my own office, a start-up. In my mind, the decision was simple, because after searching for a few months, I realized there was nothing out there that I felt was at the caliber of what I could achieve. Not due to a lack of potential, but because of what I envisioned for my business and my practice. I wanted to do Jason Watts, so I did.
Again, I encountered the tribulations of sacrifice, experimentation and failure. There is a mountain of real world information we aren’t afforded as dental students and information other dentists neglect to mention about their experiences. One of the sayings that resonated with me the most during my journey is, “No one cares about your vision as much as you do.” Unfortunately, once people are paid, they are gone. People will listen, smile and nod, and then be gone, and businesses will say and do whatever they need to win your business, and then move on to the next big deal.” That’s just business. GRIT, sacrifice and failure will get you through this.
Fast-forward again through six months of delayed construction to Jan. 2, 2018, and finally Watts Dental is open. Then to September 2018, and we have over 200-plue five-star reviews on Google and Facebook, in the process of opening the second office, and have gone from four employees to 14 employees and an associate. All of this was accomplished after multiple experiments, several failures, sacrifice and perseverance.
I reflect on those days when I imagined dressing up and putting on a superhero cape. I now realize that nothing has changed. I still dress up every day. I decide to dress up as a dentist and as a business owner for my patients. I decided to dress up as a leader and a mentor for my team and my colleagues. I decided to dress up as an entrepreneur and a visionary. Because when I dress up, I become who I want to be. Once you become that successful person you imagined, then people will begin to see you in that light.
Don’t let your surroundings dictate who you become and how you become it. Sacrifice what won’t benefit you. Fail often. Experiment a lot.
One day I was at the ADA Annual Session at a New Dentist Social. A colleague came up to me and asked, “Do you think you are successful?” That year, I spoke at a national meeting, finished an Ironman and was in the process of building my first practice. I responded by asking, “What do you think?” She said, “No.” I agreed … Success is a journey, not a destination.
Ryan Estes once said at an ASDA Annual Session, “Be hungry, stay humble and always hustle.” Never stop wanting more, never fear failure, always desire change, and success will be there waiting for you.
My vision has been to always write and publicly speak about “The Million Dollar Plus Start-Up.” By Jan. 2, 2019, I will determine if my vision comes true.