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CYBER MONDAY SPECIAL: Imagine Your Best Year Ever is 2023! VIEW SPECIAL

March 23rd, 2022

Episode 147 -Toxic Dental Leadership (And How to Break the Habit) with Dr. Danny Nguyen

“Are you really leading if you’re walking in front but no one is following you?” -Dr. Danny Nguyen

The surest way to dismantle a dental team is to micromanage them. You might think you’re ensuring your team meets your high standards, but what you’re really showing them is that you don’t trust them and while there’s nothing wrong with holding people to high standards, micromanagement frustrates and grates on people until they finally break and leave your practice. 

Dr. Danny Nguyen experienced this problem first-hand. Six months after graduating he “came out of dental school guns blazing so to speak.” He knew what systems and processes to put in place and had very specific ways he wanted his team to perform each task and it worked…for a while. His practice grew quickly, but there was only so much the team could handle and they soon became frustrated and irritated. 

“I said I trusted them,” says Dr. Danny, “but it was clear that I didn’t and I had a lot of excuses about how I was treating them. I see now that I was treating them like numbers and saw them for how much I could get out of them. I lost great team members who helped me get as far as I did because I saw them as a dollar amount, not as a family.” 

But his story doesn’t end there! We love to make your lives easier, so join us today as Dr. Danny shares his story, and what he did to get himself and his practice back on the right track, so you can learn from his experience and avoid the costs of micromanagement, including:

  • The real-life repercussions of not trusting your team
  • Rediscovering your purpose
  • Game-changing action steps for leadership development

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Dr. Chad Johnson
Hey, everybody, this is Chad Johnson and I’m doing a solo gig today without regen. The good news is I’ve got a special guest that I’ve known for a few years, Danny when Danny is from Texas and Danny tells us what town it is. I forget the town name. It’s near Dallas Fort Worth, right? Yes. So

Dr. Danny Nguyen
it’s near south of Dallas Fort Worth. It’s called Midlothian, Texas. Have you ever seen Chris Kyle’s American Sniper? That’s where he’s from? So we have a highway caucus. Kyle there.

Dr. Chad Johnson
Oh, very cool. Very cool. Well, I appreciate you coming on today. You kind of have an interesting story that other people I think it’ll resonate with them. Why don’t you give us some background as far as you getting your office and stuff like that?

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yeah. Um, so I left school dental school, I went into dental school with, you know, a, also at that time, 10-year-old, I had two kids at the time to poker a couple of years prior to so I came out of school and I was like, I might my heart rate is telling me that I want to be a practice owner. That’s the lifestyle one, that’s the direction I want to go. So I shopped around, I’ve looked around for a dental practice, even while I was in dental school, I learned a lot about practice ownership and then I jumped into practice ownership, probably about six months out of school, five or six months out of school and so I yep, that’s where I started. It was just a small, you know, four-off practice and it was doing general dentistry bread and butter and it that was about three years ago, in my, I think was a second-year anniversary was literally the day that Texas closed down because of COVID. So as to like, revisit, no, it was my year. Yeah, it was my first year, my the anniversary of my first year and it was like, Okay, everyone closes down as COVID I was just like, you know, crapping my pants and like, so stressed out about everything. But it was as we all were. Yes and so that’s that was back in 2020 2021 or something 20. So,

Dr. Chad Johnson
so two problems that you wanted to showcase, or that we want to kind of showcase in your story. The first one, we’ll get to the second one. But the first one, why don’t you tell us about micromanagement and what led up to that word being a keyword and your discovery of your leadership skills in the last year or two?

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yeah, so at one point, micromanagement probably worked for where I was at a time sure, I’m going to school guns blazing. Um, so I know all this about practice ownership and the way it should be the way it should look like the most efficient way. So I had all these ideas in my head and I would implement them with my team and it worked. We grew quickly and it works but there was only so much that my team could handle before I started noticing like, Okay, I’m getting um, team members are getting frustrated and burned out because I was ending up managing all these little things like it would annoy me when the birds were off or it would normally have their checklist wasn’t finished or you know, all these things were micromanaged for the most part but it’s not like I did it absolutely like my team still didn’t listen

Dr. Chad Johnson
you’re in good company when Dennis hears this, this will resonate with them because they’re like, What is that wrong?

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Honestly, it’s like I said, I trusted them. I said I trust them, but did I really trust them? Because to me, at the time, I was like, Yeah, I trust them. But these are just my standards. These are just my work where I set My Barra and it’s like in I’m allowing them to meet it. Like really that was me mentally and I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with that. But um, as you know, things progress. The micromanaging, I didn’t consider it micromanaging. That’s the truth of it.

Dr. Chad Johnson
I didn’t I was your standard,

Dr. Danny Nguyen
I got it my standard and it was just like, hey, let’s just work on this, let’s do this and you’re missing. We’re living by the trust, but verify, yes, trust but verify. But it all came from me. Sure. Awesome. So

Dr. Chad Johnson
virtuous doesn’t mean, yes,

Dr. Danny Nguyen
I know, it all came from me, like, I created all these standards, I created these protocols, not just need you guys to, to do it and perform it. That’s a whole, there’s a whole I will create it and you guys would just go and just trust the process. It’ll work out.

Dr. Chad Johnson
So the repercussions to how did that play into your AR? And you know you were kind of explaining about insurance not getting filed correctly. Tell us what you were finding out about that.

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yeah, so um, so with AR and my finances, it was me, really not trusting my team members and treating them, instead of treating them like my family and people that I can trust and rely on trust, but verify, I was treating them. Like, I still saw them as a number, I still treated them as a number subconsciously, and for me, I let go, I lost three really great team members that got me where I was at. Because I didn’t I saw money. Instead, I saw them as $1. I saw them as you’re not doing what I need to do based on your dollar amount and I was honestly, it was just out of my scarcity mindset.

Dr. Chad Johnson
And this, this wouldn’t be a problem if you didn’t have bills to pay, right? I mean, what I’m saying is I get it, you know, if we had all of our bills paid, and it was just like, oh, we had a bad month. Oh, I sure appreciate you guys for trying. That’s neat and all but there is a lot of stress that we feel as dentists with you know, getting the bills paid and getting the business mortgage paid, and then you got home stuff you know, there’s a lot of pressure. So I get that also. So tell me you kind of alluded to it, but Jeff BlueSky runs with Dr. Bruce bear, and he’s running that leadership on fire programming, I know that I got you plugged in with my marketing guy, Dean. Right and, and just in case Sebastian ever hears this, I’m glad that I put you over the board. He’s still getting, he’s still crying over the knife that I stabbed in his back, he says for giving you a donation and, you know, just despite it, maybe I don’t know. But so tell me about that leadership program.

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Sure. What that leadership program it was, I was, like I said, I was doing all these things. I was learning all these things and I was implementing, and I came back from CES and I was like, What’s the point of all this, like, oh, you can do this, you do this and you can hit this number and this profitability, which is all great. We need that in order to run the business. But for me, at the end of the day, I was like, well, what’s the point like my family never starve. They never start, there will always be a house, I worked with two kids went to college. The first one, go to dental school, got a practice, I did all these things that I thought I needed to do in order to be successful, to be fulfilled, and to provide for my family. But it wasn’t what I found at the end of the road. What I found at the end of the road where I was at was I just felt more frustrated and I felt more confused and less fulfilled than I did when I was starting that journey. I didn’t think it was burnout or like early burnout.

Dr. Danny Nguyen
I don’t I don’t. I don’t it could be early burnout. But I think it was the loss of purpose. Sure and yeah, I think you could say, hey, it was a loss of it could be, you know, some burnout with it. But I didn’t feel safe stressed in the office. As much as I was like, what you know what? I would say? Yes, it was some burnout with all the decisions at all the different times. Yeah, it was different. But I was getting my significance from being a practice owner and being an author and it worked. But it also didn’t work when it bled out to my family, where I felt like I wasn’t able to be there and be present for my family and I was like, wow, I thought I’m doing all these things and this is where the results I’m getting you guys will never starve and XY and Z but my family was not fulfilled. I wasn’t fulfilled in my family.

Dr. Chad Johnson
So this is also interesting. Sometimes in this vein, I think Think of, if you had a sports car, and someone said, you know, you could take that from 600 horsepower to 1000 horsepower if you did this and that and then you Okay, well, no, that’s, that’s cool. That makes sense. So let’s make the changes on the vehicle and then, and then it’s like, okay, now I can use all 1000 horsepower and someone says, Well, what you need is better tires, then you switch out better tires, and then it’s like, well, you know, what you needed to help with aerodynamics is this and that, and so you? Right, and so it never ends. But then the question just becomes, wait a second. But why what? When can I enjoy this vehicle? I know that I can punch it the whole time. But like, Can I maybe take it out on a country drive occasionally and just enjoy it?

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yes. Or where am I going to go? Why? What’s the purpose? Right,

Dr. Chad Johnson
just to rev the engine and blow it up. I mean, you know, like, that’s neat and all, but like, for what final goal? Right? So tell me, I mean, you know, did you recognize when you reached out for Productive Dentist Academy to help with coaching, or when you went to the workshops where I met you, did you recognize at that moment yet, that you were a micromanager? Because listen, I mean, you’re in good company in dentistry with a micromanager. So I would you have realized it at that point, or not quite yet.

Dr. Danny Nguyen
No, I think I, I, I did not realize really, that I was that much of a micromanager

Dr. Chad Johnson
might be a little problem on the rehab is to be on holidays. Any problems.

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yeah. So yes, when I went to Productive Dentist Academy, I was like, for me, it was like, hey, there’s I don’t know everything and I need to seek out some answers from gotten from gals that have been doing it a little bit further like messed up. Yeah and then learn from them and so yeah, my first run at PDA, I was just like, wow, we’re working way too hard. You know, like we there’s definitely a better way in order to schedule and to give patients a great experience and do comprehensive care and focus on the team,

Dr. Chad Johnson
that Dr. Bruce resonate with you when he talked about how he had messed up so many times over the years with his, you know, stuff and everything like that. Do you remember that being like, yeah,

Dr. Danny Nguyen
yeah. Oh, yes. I would say he was definitely on the higher end of it. Of course, you know, and but yes, I definitely resonated with it and it resonated more after PDA too. As I caught myself doing it more. I was like, oh, I’m not being like, Yes, I could say that’s like being a leader and you know, having high standards, but are you really leading if you’re walking in front, and no one’s following you? Or are you just taking a walk? Yep.

Dr. Chad Johnson
Yep. So what was the game-changer? Like, what changed about, your vision casting?

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yeah, so for me, it was a just EA gives supporting me and connecting me with great doctors who are leading their teams and leading themselves, including Jeff booth ski, he was a big part of that when I went to the leadership, his the dental leadership training, that was part of it, because he, I got to develop a lot of emotional intelligence and really figure out a lot of barriers in me mentally that I didn’t even realize was there that was holding me back. Yeah and so as I went through that process, and went through this path of self-discovery, and self, analyzing self-examining about who I am, in my leadership, I found out through doing the work, and just continue to learn about myself, that I was like, wow, I’m still my, I don’t think my team is on the same page as me. I don’t think they really hear and understand me, because I dictated what everything was from the very beginning and for me, I was like, people are not going to hold on to what they don’t discover, understand and create in themselves. But in order to do that, I have to communicate and trust them. I have to trust the team that they want the same thing and put people in the right seats for the right. Pete right people in the right seats.

Dr. Chad Johnson
This is a weird question. But do you see yourself more humble than a couple of years ago because of how you’ve positioned yourself from that? That self-exploration?

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yes, I am not saying anything without my team. But it’s so pointless without it. I work so much harder. I burn out so much faster. I just can’t handle it very much. But when I get to go to work, have fun doing it. Have fun with my patients and have fun with my team and laugh and have margaritas afterward. Yeah, you just kind of shoot the candle a little bit and have our jokes and funds and knowing things are being taken care of before I even don’t even talk hatchery in it’s already being taken care of in my interest because everyone is on the same page and I don’t have to micromanage. So what’s leadership do? My leadership for me is always still casting the vision. Like without a vision you are not a leader without a vision, you’re a dreamer. So getting clear on your vision about where you want to go, that’s part of leadership and the rest of it is just growing the people and serving the people that are going in the same direction as you in your vision.

Dr. Chad Johnson
I saw you before we hit record just for the guests listening today. You held up a book? Have you read that book yet? The traction book? Or is that when you’re getting to love traction? Yeah, tell me a couple of insights that you’ve got from it. I mean, because this is for a listener that was like, I don’t know, if I’m ready for coaching. A good, you know, thing to do would be to hop on Amazon or your local bookshop, you know, and bend in order traction by Gina Whitman. Right. So tell me one or two thoughts that you got from that.

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yeah. So for me, I realized how important my leadership team was, like, it is so important to have the right people in the right seats. There are really the right people in the right seats and trust them to do their job and trust their judgment to perform at their level. I, my team transformed when they realize they were accountable for the vision, yes, but they have the autonomy to make the decisions as best for that vision. Longer an ABCDE F robotic mechanical thing on this off formula basis. Now they get to show up as they are and then they get to make decisions that serve the whole office. But I mean, I love traction, because it really clarifies Hey, how many meetings should we have, which the meetings include? Like, we don’t, I don’t waste time going through a meeting and falling through a tangent. It just gives me really great instructions and clarity. But the biggest thing for me is getting the right people in the right seats, having a plan of action for the year, and breaking that down. So I recommend it to all my doctrines and anyone who owns a business like an absolutely wonderful book, I made my own revisions, for my practice to serve my practice, but the underlying theme is very applicable.

Dr. Chad Johnson
So I’m thinking about, you know, right people, right seeds, delegation leadership, and handing off the micromanagement, stuff like that. Those seem to be the keywords that I’ve got, is there anything else that over the last couple of years that we haven’t quite covered so far is the history of it, you know, like some good valuable lessons that you’ve learned? Because it’s, it’s good to talk about, you know, recently in a podcast about a month ago, I was sharing, you know, that as much as I’ve heard other people saying, Wow, this was, you know, 2021 was a great year and I’m like, Well, you know, honestly, it wasn’t a great year. For me, it just was okay. But I’ve learned a lot from it and I’m growing from it and furthermore, thank you very much for coming on. Because, like, when I was giving the monologue about it, the idea was that we can, we can let other people learn from it. By sharing our story, by being transparent, not everyone can share their story. I guess this would be a good plug that if you are listening, and you resonate with my podcast monologue from a month ago, and Danny’s story and you would like to share it, by all means, feel free to reach out to us to come on the podcast. But So in conclusion, all I was thinking was, is there any other kind of habit or? or whatever that you wish you had known earlier?

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yeah. That’s one of the big ones. So I’m in a big currently, right now I’m in a big AR, like, obstacle challenge and I kind of alluded to earlier, but the origins of that was, hey, you know what, I can just, you know, bring anybody on and just train them how to do the front and they’ll be great at it, because I did it for my assistants, and I did it for my headphones, and it worked to train. You know what, maybe I can even probably, you know, pay them less to do it and you know what, they’ll still do a great job because I’ll just show them how to do it and it’s just as simple as that and no, it’s not.

Dr. Chad Johnson
No, it’s not. No, it’s,

Dr. Danny Nguyen
it’s worth it to invest. Again in the right people for the right seats. Yeah. Because, like, right now I’m sitting in I was like, over like 100 and something in overdue like AR and I was like my this is terrible. Like that puts a damper on everything. Are we going to be okay? Yes, we will be fine with who I am working it out. It’ll be fun. But was it worth all the headache because I was a prideful a, you know, be possibly too cheap see, can see the value and other people in what they contribute and seeing myself as the guy who can do it all like, I look back and I’m like if I just trust to my head, put a couple of systems in place and truly trusted them and verified wouldn’t have that problem, but it’s okay because you are not your results. You are what you’re committed to I am who I’m committed to and it’s just a learning lesson. It’s just an obstacle that I get to learn from, it’s an opportunity.

Dr. Chad Johnson
So are you working with Brent right now as your coach? Right? Yes. Now, did she help you find your new office manager and tell me because it sounds like your office manager knows the PDA organizational skills and stuff like that? So tell me a little bit about that and how the brand has been helping to?

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yes, so Brent has been great at getting into the specifics of the holes in our practice, and where we can definitely have opportunities to improve in including the AR and giving us the standards of what it looks like for what should it be at 30? What should be at 30 and 66? You know, like, what is the norm here? And where are we hitting for goals? So Brent’s been great at saying, like, Hey, Brian, you know, this is a mess right? Now, what is a realistic goal for us to be here at this month, at this quarter on this date, like what is possible, because, you know, we’re not trained in this in dental school, in a lot of this, I don’t care how much you read and learn, you still got to pick up a lot of this as you go just like everything else in life, and to have been there and say, Hey, this is more and this is definitely achievable in creating these concrete steps, like crickets for us to work on and then we can just go force, work on it, like focus on it and delegate and not dump and just delegate and get those goals tackled and achieved?

Dr. Chad Johnson
Delegate not dump. I like that. Sorry, um, you know, that down?

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yeah, like, Hey, I just finished this delegating now you just did you just threw it on them and expected them to run with it and then you get disappointed when you don’t get the results you want. Right?

Dr. Chad Johnson
Which reminds me of EMS kind of, you know, style. It’s just like, Oh, good. Finally, someone else can do this. Here you go. So, listeners, I just want to make sure that, you know, you’ve heard some of the keywords, you know, if if you identify with micromanagement, if you identify with, you know, finding the right people for the right seeds, casting the vision, increasing your leadership organically using delegation, you know, learning from your mistakes it Dan, you’ve had a lot to share here that, you know, helps people. Maybe identity first identify that where would you recommend they go next? Like if they go talk on it? I am a micromanager. I need to change that. Well, I mean, listen, it’s not just a plug for like you what you should do is, you know, call Productive Dentist Academy, though you and I both know, that would be a great resource. But in general, what would be your recommendation?

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Yeah, my, my gosh, well, you know, what, I, the way I think I feel about it is you can read all the books you want all day long and it can just go in your head and great. But if you don’t take action on it, like immediate action on it and not be fair not be scared of failing forward. Yeah. Just learning, applying, messing it up, and going back again. But a lot is that struggling? That’s scary. So I see reach out to coaches, reach out to PDA, reach out to Jeff BlueSky reach out to all do different coaches that fit you and where you’re at, to get the support you need and the feedback you need. Because without it, you can like me say I’m just doing a little bit of micromanaging. No asshole, you’re doing lots of micromanaging.

Dr. Chad Johnson
Like, did you when do you not? Yeah.

Dr. Danny Nguyen
When do you not do it naturally? And you just don’t you just I considered like you’re just not aware of what you’re doing? Because you’re used to doing it and you’ve been on autopilot. I’ve been on autopilot for so long.

Dr. Chad Johnson
And have you allowed anyone to, you know, question you or like you know, kind of pushed back by you know, if they’ve come in, observed an observation with your office and then have the freedom to say, well, you know, what you’re doing is you know, the blank and blank. That’s a great, great bit of wisdom there. I have to tell you, I’m proud of where you’ve come from, but At the same time, like so the last couple years, you know, some from when I first met you, and you’re getting stuff started, I’m proud of where you’ve come from. But I think I saw that you were ready to change. So you had a spirit that was ready to change. It’s just I don’t think you knew what all change was going to be coming in the last couple of years. But it was, it was cool to see that you were so on fire to learn and to reinvent yourself and to you know, keep improving yourself and I think it sure seems like it’s paying off and so I’m proud of you. I just thought I’d tell you that. You know, that almost goes back to Jeff and Sebastian, you know, the Brotherhood, just saying, Hey, I’m proud of you and I want you to know that so. Good work, man. Yeah, that’s right. Good on you and I appreciate you coming on today. Thank you for joining us, listeners, if you have any comments that you’d like to talk about. Maybe I can have you write those questions below on the Facebook page for Productive Dentist Academy and we can get those questions to Danny and he can respond to those. So feel free to organically get involved and figure out where you are on your journey. So thanks for joining us today on Everyday Practices. Danny. Thank you so much, buddy.

Dr. Danny Nguyen
Thanks, Chad. Appreciate it, man.

Regan
Thank you for listening to another episode of the Everyday Practices Podcast. Chad and I are here every week. Thanks to our community of listeners just like you and we’d love your help. It would mean the world if you can help spread the word by sharing this episode with a fellow dentist and leave us a review on iTunes or Spotify. Do you have an extraordinary story you’d like to share? Or feedback on how we can make this podcast even more awesome. Drop us an email at podcast@productivedentist.com And don’t forget to check out our other podcasts from Productive Dentist Academy at https://productivedentist.com/podcasts/ See you next week.

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