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October 6th, 2021

Episode 135 – Preventing Burnout in Dentistry with Dr. Victoria Peterson & Dr. Joe Blalock

“Our minds never shut off. Because we have our phones and our social media etc. it never shuts down and it can be overwhelming.” ~Dr. Joe Blalock

Regan Robertson here, and today we are having a podcast crossover party featuring yours truly and Dr. Victoria Peterson, host of the Investment Grade PracticesTM podcast & Dr. Joe Blalock host of the Life and Dentistry podcast. During the recent PDA workshop, we sat down for a conversation about the mindset and techniques it takes so you can stay on the track to productivity.

Dr. Joe knows a little bit about this. For those who don’t know, Dr. Joe opened his practice last year. Then, seven days later, COVID shut him down. Says Dr. Joe, “The roof was leaking, everything was on fire, it was a lot. ” But he didn’t let circumstances burn him out. I love to brag on him because I’ve seen Dr. Joe’s production numbers and he went from ‘I hope I collect a paycheck’ to where he’s at now with 5 ops…its astounding.

So join us for this candid, encouraging conversation about how to prevent burnout and ensure your long-term success and productivity with actionable tips including:

  • What the right mindset has to do with success
  • How an attitude of abundance makes a difference
  • The impact of eternal learning


VICTORIA: Welcome to the Everyday Practices, Life and Dentistry, Investment Grade podcast I’m Victoria Peterson with Reagan Robertson and Dr. Joe Blalock. What’s up everybody? I like having a radio voices.

JOE: I never sound like all my friends. No one is professional Joe. Buck. Oh, he goes from country Joe. He gets so professional pro Joe. Yeah, I gotta Well, I’m from the south, you know, and I gotta I got to talk like I’m somebody you know, fake it till you make it.

VICTORIA: Is this your professional Joe voice right now?

JOE: Well, I’m trying really hard.

REGAN: I feel left out.

JOE: A little gotta throw it in there. I don’t want people thinking. Um, I mean, I can’t say that y’all are from the norm. I mean, people know what I’m from the south. Georgia. I’m proud. Yeah, I’m proud of it.

VICTORIA: I’m proud. So let’s tell people why we’re here, Joe.

JOE: Yes. So we are in Irving, Texas for the Productive Dentist Academy workshop. I just brought my team up here. And, you know, I was telling them, this is probably one of the most productive it sounds corny because it’s Productive Dentist Academy. But productive courses that I’ve gone to with my team. We just had like an hour meeting after the course. Like I’m I’m kind of on a high right now. Honestly. Natural high. Yeah, natural high, yeah.

REGAN: We pump a little extra oxygen to those rooms.

JOE: Come to PDA you’ll, you’ll leave buzzin.

VICTORIA: We also have Reagan Robertson, the president, CMO and podcast host for Everyday Practices.

REGAN: Thank you so much for having me. When I found out that Joe was going to come to the productive dentist Academy workshop, I jumped out of my skin because we got to spend time together last year right Joe, when you were opening your practice,

JOE: Yeah, in honestly, like a little backstory on me. So um, I started a practice about seven, I open seven days before the pandemic shutdown. Um, and I had to go through some things that I never prepared for most people, you know, you weren’t prepared for it. But through the journey, PDA in the PDA philosophy has truly helped us not only come out of it, but recover anything that I ever thought we would we would be able to produce or collect during that time. Like, during the shutdown, I enrolled in an online course with you guys. 

Like so I’m at home, you I can’t do anything. But I’m still learning and preparing, like, you know, when this thing opens, like, I didn’t like just hide under a shell, you know, I’m trying to like, you know, I’m fighting, right, I’m trying to learn everything that we can. So when we did open back up, I was able to implement concepts. You know, I didn’t implement everything. But you know, you start by like, the ideas because we have a young team and I can train them you know, they’re impressionable at this point. 

And so I was a year and a half ago. Now I bring them to a live course they hear you guys on stage in their eyes are like it makes sense. You know, you’ve been talking about this but but now they showed me on paper like I see this. So it’s it’s been really cool. I can’t I can’t thank you guys enough on you guys are excited for me to be here. Like I’m I’m honored, truly honored to be here.

VICTORIA: Wow. Thank you. Well, and I’d love to brag on you a little bit. Because Dr. Bruce and Victoria, you have always taught me about mindset, the mindset of abundance versus scarcity, and how to get through life because unexpected things happen all the time. And what stood out to me, Joe, about you specifically is you mentioned starting up seven days and you get shut down your roof was leaking. Right? Wasn’t it? I think it was like you

JOE: The roof was leaking like things were on fire. Yeah, it was a lot.

VICTORIA: Yeah. And your, your, your behavior, your attitude, your mental state was shocking to me because you were like, you know, it’s gonna be what it’s going to be we’re going to get through this, it’s going to turn out all right on the other end of it. And I won’t reveal your numbers. But I did happen to see your production since then going from I hope to get a paycheck to where you’re at now with five ops is absolutely astounding. And I truly believe that your ability to lead with a mindset of abundance be an internal learner, I mean, Victoria, you promote nothing but eternal learning. You and Bruce both go into that. So it’s a, I think it’s a really special combination. You know, it takes the numbers, but it takes that heart as well, to bring it to life. So to see you here in person is incredible. And you’re a great storyteller. So you started a podcast before we did and said I’m going to share everything I’m going through right.

JOE: Yeah, well, thank you for that. That means a lot. You know, we just started a podcast in dental school, after our influencers, you know, you guys didn’t have one at the time. But like, you were an influencer, you know, like, I can, I don’t know if you remember this Victoria, like, this was four years ago and the first voices of dentistry. Victoria was there on stage lecturing. And you know, we’re still in dental school, and she’s packing up her stuff, like you had like this big box of things you had to carry. And you had like you were by yourself. It was like the thing that held your banner. And you were pointing at me and Matthew ran over to you. Okay, Hey, no, we got it. We took it up from for you. Like, she’s like, oh, y’all must be from the south. And I go, yeah.

We, you know, we look up to our role models, you guys are role models, and we’re just trying to duplicate the stuff that you teach.

VICTORIA: Oh, you know, what I love about you, Joe. I mean, you and Mark Costas, and all of you inspired me to do a podcast. So I started Everyday Practices with Chad. And then I quickly recognized that Reagan is the one that really needed to be co hosting that with Chad, you guys are hitting it out of the park.

REGAN: Thank you. 

JOE: That’s a great show. 

VICTORIA: By the way, it’s fun, because you take everyday doctors and say, What do you do? What is your what do you do every day? What’s your day in and day out practice that makes your practice run. I love that. And Bruce has the productive dentist Academy. And it took a while to find my voice and all of this. And it’s starting to come out. And I wanted to ask you a couple of questions because my podcast on Investment Grade PracticesTM is to help doctors love the practice they have today and the lifestyle while they’re building an asset for tomorrow. And in our breakout today. Remember, I you were sitting up front. So you may not have seen what I said, How many of you know what it will take for you to retire. And I would say out of 40 doctors, maybe seven raise their hand. How many of you look at your profit and loss statement every month by the 15th, which is generous, and about a third of the room went up. And then

REGAN: PDA would never say that by the 15th of the month.

VICTORIA: By the 10 by the fifth. And you know, it got down to like three people are really doing a profit loss with a budget. They know their overhead. And I I see you I’ll put you on the spot because we’re live here on recorded radio. Yes, right. It seems to me that you’re you’re already grounding in on what creates value, not just cash flow. You know, I’m building a system I’m building so the the principles of invest in yourself as a business owner and clinician grow the value by growing your team and helping them understand how they can grow and then protect and package your assets, you know, so that they’re that’s later down the line for you when you get ready to sell. But how do you see that? What has helped you stay focused on building value, not just running the rat race,

JOE: I think for me is um, I looked at where people that were where I wanted to be. So I looked at dentist and business owners in and said okay, who are the people that are doing what I want that are where I want to be in 510 15 years, and I literally duplicated their journey and still am I’m so early in the journey. I wish I had it with me. So my backpack I drew this, this curve and showed it to my team. I said this is 2020 This is where we started for Lakeside down, okay. 

And I did a journey up till some future endpoint could be retirement could be when they’re tied up dentistry could be when I want to do something else, but some arbitrary future endpoint. And I showed them this growth curve and the curve is is a 45 degree angle straight up. There’s no bumps we’re going we’re moving up okay. And I showed them the the way we’re going to get there. And that’s education. Okay, you go and learn. I have to go to the best courses. Like that’s you have to go to the courses like, why would you reinvent the wheel like, they’ve already done this like Bruce Baird Victoria, Mark Costas, like these, you guys have already done this, go learn it, okay, you can perfect it right but go learn it go learn from Justin Moody and implant passes, okay, and then take it back. 

So we learn, then we then we implement Okay. Um, same thing with, you know, like I wanted to learn from like I use um, dentists advisors, yeah, I use them already because I see the value and I need someone to help coach me on where my money’s going, where I’m spending how my budget is. So I’m utilizing the resources that are out there. This is 2021 like you have resources on your phone. So the people that are where I want to be, have you there created these resources yourself? Or they’re using them, okay, now, that’s the biggest thing for me. And then on that growth curve, you have you learn, you’ll get educated, then you implement. The next thing for us, I think actually might be coaching. 

The people that are doing the things that you talked about the ones that had their hand up, they’re looking at their profit loss statement. Yeah. I bet they’re getting coached. And it first right out of school, I had this mindset of save a penny, I can do this myself, right? Well, here’s what happens. You ain’t got time for crap. And this is where I’m at. I’m at the dinner table. And my wife’s like, Hello. I’m like, sorry. She’s like, what do you do? And I’m like, my mind’s elsewhere. Yeah, live like that. So I’m learning. You know, I’m getting better. I’m not perfect. I’m not. So

VICTORIA: You’re already learning mindfulness right now and being present, right? Yes, that’s right. You mean take take a timeout from that, because that is you’ve already learned from so many doctors that I hear that are probably what, 20 years into the career after, after you that said, Okay, I burned through this marriage, I crashed this practice over here, I went this because I just was so obsessed with more and more and more, I can do it myself. I can figure it out. And they just burn the candles at both ends. So it sounds like you were doing all the right steps of all of these things you’ve learned over the last year. Is there something in particular one thing that was a surprise to you? Was there anything in the learning that kind of turned your head the other way? and was like, Whoa, I’ve never thought about it that way before.

JOE: I think it’s just knowing that so many people have experienced the same things. And there are ready solutions to the problems that face that I don’t have to figure out on my own. And like part of its being stubborn. You know, I’m a I was raised on a farm. So I’m a country boy, I have a very big blue collar mindset. Like even when I’m working on tea, like, you know, I don’t work, figure it out, you know, let’s get in there. And so like I do that with, with my family life and my business, but I know that’s how I am. 

So I try to counter that by trying to find the solutions that have been done. Right. So like, you know, right now I’m going to go home and really consider if it’s time for me to have a true coach, someone who’s outside of my practice helping me because even though I know the things to do, all right, I put myself in the education. I know what needs to be done. Having the intentionality the time, and the will honestly like you’re drained. Like I know I should be reviewing this with my team. I know I should pull up my p&l, my bank statement. Truth is like, I’ll go two weeks without looking at it because like I’m scared.

VICTORIA:  Or like you just don’t have to say the crap tables. Come on, baby.

JOE: Like I know when not to, just wait a couple weeks.

VICTORIA: It’ll look better.

JOE: I don’t want to freak out.

VICTORIA: Yeah. Especially during COVID and and a scratch start. Yeah, well, that took a lot of courage.

JOE: Honestly, we were like, We were a month away from going bankrupt. We don’t need I mean, that’s neither here nor there. I knew it was gonna be fun. Even if we did like I had a plan. Okay, what’s gonna be okay, but like we were a month away from it. That’s true leaders. I was just talking to my CPA on the phone, like we’re talking about, I want to get a prom. I have an omni cam. I’m gonna get a prom scan now. 

And I was talking to him about making the investment. I’m like, I know I can make the investment right now but duty but should a year and a half ago. Like Dude, I didn’t even know if we were going to make it. You know, like, this wasn’t that long ago. And now I’m to the point where I can get a prime scan and it’s okay. But like, I’m so close to where I was there in my mind hasn’t caught up to where we’re at it.

VICTORIA: Absolutely makes sense. Where does that come from? That is not normal to say it is absolutely not normal to be like maybe we’ll go bankrupt We’re gonna be okay. Anyway, that’s coming from some deep faith. You said that you grew up on a farm. Was it a cattle ranch? Yeah,

JOE: We had a cattle farm. We raised anywhere from about 50 to 100 head of cows on about 100 acres. We leased more land some time. So we had some. Yeah, I’m faith base for sure. Like 100 years from now, like, ain’t nobody gonna be here, this listening to this, whatever you believe, like, I believe where I’m going. But like, you know, that sounds come and so to me, it doesn’t matter. Like at the end of the day, it’s okay. You know, on our worst, there’s people right now, like, look at the refugees from Afghanistan, like on our worst days, like everyone is on your worst day. It is way better than 95% of people who walked on planet Earth. 

That’s right. Like our worst problem. Like, we all have agreed, like, I’ve experienced a lot of grief. You know, this year, I don’t even know if I told y’all my grandmother passed away, like, a couple of weeks ago. Like right when mom was getting done with her chemotherapy. And my grandma was like my mother mom, like, like that was that was a blow like she was the matriarch of our family on the farm. And that was we’re still dealing with that. 

Yeah. But you know, we’re faith based our whole family is, and it’s going to be okay. The sun will come up again, tomorrow. All we can do is what’s best for our family now. What’s best for our friends, and with regard to our business? What’s best for your patients? That’s the next best thing you could do.

VICTORIA: Isn’t it fun to see a leader right here? In the making? Right here right now?

JOE: In the making, I like it. I’m trying I got, I got a long way to go still.

VICTORIA: You have just summed up something that I have not heard people in their 50s 60s or even 70s. Say so it’s very magnetic. It’s it’s very healthy, mentally healthy, spiritually healthy. It’s, as you say, you and I have worked together for a decade. Yes. Right. And Regan’s watched me go through this.

I take every emotional intelligence, every leadership class, get a doctorate in spirituality. And I thought you just summed up everything that they all say is just live in the moment and know that I’m doing the best I can right now. And you just sound right. What’s the best for my family was the best for me was the best for my patients. How do I just do my best right here right now? I mean, to me, that’s a life with no regrets. Because you’re being conscious. And you’re saying, This is my best. And Chad said it earlier today is like, sometimes I’m not a five star general. You know, I can be as a lieutenant that day, and that’s my best on that day. And I think that’s good enough. I think that’s, you know, and you could push yourself and you do as a leader, but there’s also the self care how do you how do you regenerate and take care of yourself a good question.

JOE: I don’t. I need to do a better job of taking care of, of me. I’m, I’m really hard on myself, honestly. And I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Like, they’re like, there’s probably a middle ground. But like my wired

VICTORIA: That from high school, right? You got to get straight A’s. You got to get in schools, it’s competitive, and you got to work out, you got to be on clubs, and you do it. So your dentistry itself just attracts hyper achievers who are so singularly focused, that the matter about food doesn’t matter about sleep, does it just matter about the grades? Right? It just matters about the case. So I was wondering, how does a young dentist start to rebalance their life and social life and relationships and community?

JOE: I’m trying to figure it out, honestly. And I know that’s what I need to focus on. Like, you know, my wife will tell you, there’s very few days where I come home. I’m like, I had a great day. Like, I come home most days and it’s like, Man, it’s really stressful. Yeah, like, I feel I’m a terrible dentist. I’m a terrible leader. Like that’s how, that’s how I’m, yeah, you’re exhausted and you don’t you don’t see it in the day to day like, on paper, you know, you look back and we’re a successful office and my, you know, our patients would say, you know, we’re great office, but as the leader of the organization, you don’t feel that necessarily, so I’ve got to get better at like, whatever that is. I’ve got to find it. Because that’s my weakest point. Honestly.

VICTORIA: I can offer you advice. From my kindergarten teacher. All right. This is the best advice. Take a nap every day. 

Yeah. I don’t know. I mean, when you think about, I do a lot of neuro coaching, right. And when you really think about brain science, it takes 40% more glucose to to run your brain than the rest of your body. Right. And so you get that sugar drop, your blood pressure’s off your everything’s off and so When you’re that intense and focused in the operatory, it really is beyond just, Hey, I’m being lazy and taking a nap. It’s really shutting down the computer of your mind and defragging and letting it go. So I learned early on to take 20 minute power naps. I think it saved me and my career,

JOE: You know, something it did I need to do that, that I bet I would speak to a lot of people on right now. Is, is our minds never shut off. Because we have, we have our cell phones and our social media. And in our apps, and whatever, like whatever kind of group you’re in text message threads. It never shuts down. Right. And I know that I’ve got to get better at that. Like throughout the day,

VICTORIA: If you don’t have time. 20 minutes for a nap. I’ll give you my next best because I love a nap. I love and that was a good app. They’re called putting them up called piece pucks piece piece packs is what I call them off. I’ll find the name for either these two little musical discs and they sit they sit right and you just turn them on for three minutes. They set it’s kind of like giving her singing bowls like like like the Tibetans. Yeah, so it does that and it does it in random session. So you set one on the left and one on the right. And it helps you become immediately present and shut down the dopamine receptors of the the dings from the text messages. I get so many text messages that it’s insane. Oh, yeah. Don’t turn on social media because then it’s just like an absolute. Yeah, I support emails. And if for you patience, plus emails Plus, I mean, it’s a lot.

JOE: Like I have three Facebook pages that I have mine. I have the practice and our podcast, please.

VICTORIA: Yeah, I’m a been in and I have

JOE: The same with emails. Yeah, yeah, right. Yeah. And then the text message there. It’s

VICTORIA: So like, do you have an office in your practice that you can go kind of hide in?

JOE: I have my office is 1400 square feet. Oh, my practice 

REGAN: Your practices. But do you have a little space that’s private for you

JOE: I have four by four square between the hygiene Op in the front desk. So no, all day long? I am with the entire I do not unless I go to my truck. I’ve got no space. And that is one thing. I had no choice. Yeah, I had to have five offs. Yeah, you’re better than four by four. I know. You they make fun of me. Like I get in there. And like I literally have a closet. It’s It is

REGAN: My first professional job was in a closet where I actually met my husband. We had our backs together and I was like well, I’ll take it. 

VICTORIA: You came out of the closet.

REGAN: Ha! Yes. But those in there or put those in your truck and three minutes. So when things start to ratchet up, you go in it has been a lifesaver for me because I’ve asked for years. How do I lower my anxiety a mentor once came to me because I was bawling, embarrassingly, so and I went into the negative space of I’m not good enough. I’m not a good enough wife. I’m not a good enough mom. I’m definitely not good at work. I’m just basically a big failure. And he made me stop and he made me take a breath got me that calm. 

And he said, Megan, all the top performers suffer with this, all of them, you’re not gonna get away from it? Well, you’re not seeing yourself accurately. And I actually read an article the other day, that’s the people on that IQ spectrum, kind of the more you creep up. Now, I’m definitely no genius. But I know you start to be able to process more and more information and more and more scenarios. So when you said to me, you’ve got this arbitrary number at the end that tells me that you’re thinking constantly. Always. Yeah. So you need those moments for you. So you can reset that brain and it’s not selfish. I used to think in a selfish tutorial worked hard on me.

Well, and I, the social statistics in our industry Don’t lie. So what cam will keep encouraging you you’re going to this is good for a VR good.

JOE: Well, I told my wife that and this is the last thing I’ll say, and we can wrap up but I told my wife I said, I said I hope when I get here I leave rejuvenated. And I did like from the first day I knew that I would like I’m just being with other like minded people. Um, you know, people who are positive this is such a positive core. I can’t see. Like, I’m not I’m not a client of PDA. yet. Anyway, I just come to the courses. They’re my friends, honestly. But this is the most optimistic, positive educational group of people that I have been in contact. I’ve been to lots of courses, okay. I have like 100s 100s hours in the last two years. I leave, rejuvenated. This is great for the soul. So that’s my, that’s my genuine opinion and thankfulness of where we’re at. Today who

VICTORIA: Your vulnerability is uncommon. And I if I remember right, you are doing your own event coming up. Is that right?

JOE: Yeah, we are going to have an event. We were going to have one September, but we had to move it. So we’re going to do one, hopefully in the spring. So you guys got to be there. Yeah, we have the life ministry conference. It’s been a couple years, unfortunately, due to COVID. But we’re going to be there. So

VICTORIA: It’s going to be it’s going to be in the spring 2022

JOE: Yeah in Lexington, Kentucky so it’ll be cool.

VICTORIA: We’ll be there.

REGAN: We’ll be there.

JOE: We’d love it. We’ll have a great time. And then yeah. 

VICTORIA: Bourbon and BBQ tour.

JOE: Bourbon and BBQ baby. bourbon. Barbecue and horses, doesn’t get any better than that.

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