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Dental Maverick Dr. Tuan Pham | Take Control of Your Dental Practice and Your Life!

Dental Maverick Dr. Tuan Pham Tells All!

It's an honor and pleasure to interview the legendary "Original Dental Maverick," Dr. Tuan Pham.  Dr. Pham has a high level of energy, which I personally find addicting.  Dr Pham specializes in helping dentists take control of their dental office, and take control of their destiny!  Learn more about the story behind in this energetic interview!

Dr. Tuan Pham Appears on The Dental Marketing Guy Show

Justin: Welcome to the dental marketing guy show, today we have a guest who,  for many of you, needs no introduction, Dr Pham, he is really known for a lot of great things, but one of the best things that he's known for, that I’m really enthusiastic to share with you, is about

Now is something that was started by Dr Pham, and he's going to tell us about how he's helping dentists' all over the country. He's got some raving testimonials online, I’d like to learn more about what you do with that, Dr Pham, but first of all, how are you?

Dr Pham: I’m doing very well, thank you for the invite

Justin: excellent, yeah, we're so happy to have you, I’m sure you're going to put out some great value to our listeners. So could you tell us first though, before we jump into the dental maverick stuff, could you tell us a little bit about you're background, as a dentist?

Dr Pham: I graduated in 2005, from the University Of Texas Health Science Center Of San Antonio, and when I went to school, and this will relate to in the future and in a little bit what I have to talk about, but, I thought that one should work harder and longer, just keep working at it to be successful. 

So that meant that when I went to school, I was the nerdiest of nerds. I studied all the time, I got very good grades and I was at the top of my class, and I was in the 90th percentile across all of my board scores, and all of my tests and stuff, and so, I thought that would be what would gain me success in real life. And so I was a very typical nerd, it's very easy to think in life, if you work smarter, you work harder, you work longer, you put in your hours, you will be successful - when I joined the real world, that was not the case. 

It's the easiest answer in the book, meaning that if you just work longer hours, you'll earn more, you'll be more 'successful', but is that really success?

Is it worth it to work yourself to death, to work yourself to the point where, you no longer enjoy dentistry?

 Well, I realized that’s not really what I wanted in life, I realized that success in life, success as a dentist doesn't necessarily mean the traditional 'working harder, working longer'.

You can, but that’s not really the answer. 

So, as I progressed in my career, I needed to make changes if I wanted to enjoy my career long term. Any job that you do is a marathon. 

Unless you're lucky, and you're Facebook, and they buy you out within a couple of years and you have a bazillion dollars, or you're Instagram. 

Most of us are going to be working a long career, and if you're in a long career, you might as well work a job where - we are general and we're successful - we can master our skills. And so, I believe that every dentist, including myself, can create their vision of what they want. We all want different things, some Doc's want to open 5 offices and just manage and sit back, some people want to see a ton of patients, and they enjoy working at a fast pace, it doesn't really matter, as long as you know your vision, and you approach that. 

So myself personally, like I said, I don’t like to work physically long and hard, and see a ton of patients a day. I like to have an easy schedule and be successful. So in my personal practice, I’m a general dentist, in Austin, Texas. I have a lot of offices around me, but at least in my view, I’m very successful.

Our office does about $1.2 million a year collecting almost 100%, it’s not the biggest in the world, but I work 4 days a week, I have an hour lunch, I’m at the gym at 5:15PM, and the biggest thing is, I see about 4 doctor patients a day. I work at my own pace. I'm not hurrying in; I get to be very obsessive about how I do work. And that’s what I wanted in life, and so I believe, any dentist, myself, the persons/people watching this show, actually I believe anybody, in whatever career they do, especially if they're the boss, they can create the vision and the reality of what they want. 

That's a little bit about myself, I love my job, I love seeing my patients, I love doing what I do, my fridays - I get to do fun things like this because I wanted to do something else in my world, and I told myself 'I’m going to do it, whose going to hold me back, nobody?', so here we are, it’s a great friday right now! 

Justin: You know I've seen a lot of your videos on, it's just amazing, the power of video. A lot of people don't want to get in front of the camera, but that's I, along with many other people that you've never met, feel like we know you! 

And it's great, you're kind of a celebrity in the dental community and I’m sure you'll never admit it, but we really appreciate you putting out that content.

So, could you tell us a little bit about, and how you've help dentists build the dream dental practice for that?

Dr Pham: well, one of the things that I do, that I enjoy doing, is I run a local business group for entrepreneurs and business owners, and as a part of this group, I lead this group, and its mentioned on there; I wanted to teach - I've always thought it'd be the coolest thing to teach other people. And so, one of the people in my group was like, 'great, I know you do nothing on Fridays except drink beer, so why don’t you teach this?', I thought, what the hell kind of question is that?, I was like 'I have no good answer for you, why I’m not doing this', so I said 'you know what, I will do this', so I made it my mission, to do this.

I spent about a year, a year and a half writing all the content. I spend a lot of time online, you see me on Dental Town and other Dental things, and so one of the most common things I see is, a lot of dentist complain over and over, about their staff doing this and that, that they don't like, office problems. Basically what it boils down to is, a lot of P Dentists' feel like they don’t have control of their office, they feel like their employees are the boss and not them, even though they're writing the cheque's every 2 weeks to pay them. They don't feel in control, and it blows my mind that, a dentist can do these amazing dental works, like; implants, place these crowns, do these beautiful things, that require so much technical skill and learning - yet they readily give in, and accept that they can't manage their staff.

It blows my mind because, you can read these dentist's and they readily offload to a third party. Some people pay consultants, and there’s nothing wrong with them, as long as you accept the value, and you accept, you want to off-load it, but some don't, until they pay 30, 40, 50, 60 thousand a year, for people to take care of these duties. Or some people use affiliates. They use affiliate programs, where they pay a percentage per month, and I’ve read some of these doc's pay; 10, 11, 12 thousand a month, as long, once again, as you realize what you're doing, it's great, but a lot of people feel like they can't learn these skills, and they feel like they have to offload a lot of leadership and management skills. So, I started reading all these things, just like every dentist. I decided, you know what? I know how to do this because I’ve proven it, with some of my friends and local other Doc's that I’ve helped, and so I said, 'I’m going to make this course, and I’m going to structure it in a way, where it's easy to understand and it's systematic', any dentist, if you can bond a crown, very technically and follow steps, you can learn how to be a better leader, and manage your staff. And if you do it, and you learn yourself, what happens? You become more successful, more profitable, but in the long run, the bigger picture is, and you have control of your office, your career, yourself, for the rest of your career. And if you think about 30-50 thousand a year, or whatever you pay, say some people pay $10 000 a month for these duties, compounded for the rest of your life, that’s hundreds of thousands, it becomes millions of dollars throughout your career. But if you learn these skills, BOOM! You’re in control. And then, you don't have to rely on anyone. 

So that’s the main reason I started this course, I think that too many dentists' feel that they cannot learn these skills, and it's true, dental school doesn't teach you, there aren't many courses that teach you how to talk to people, how to talk to your staff, how to lead your staff. I'm a nerd, I read all the time, I listen to audio books all the time, I love it, when I’m in my car listening to music sometimes, I flip on a book because I just want to learn a tid-bit about something, But in all the readings I've learned, I've tried to compress it, and formulate it, for dentists', and in this course what I want to teach is, or talk about is; 'four reasons to recognize why staff management is needed', if you understand it, and each reason has a principle - why it needs to be done, and how you talk, and once you recognize these things,   its actually not that hard. And as with any skill, if you practice a skill long enough, it becomes like the back of your hand.

And so, earlier in my career, just like any other dentist, or any business owner, I was scared to talk to my staff and approach them about things, and now - it's easy! It feels good, it feels very empowering to have this control, and not have people take advantage of you!

A lot of doctors feel like 'hey, if I talk to my staff, I’m going to be perceived as mean, and they're not going to like me or they're going to be scared of me' but, in the interim that’s true, no one likes to be spoken to, or reprimanded - in this case I haven't reprimanded -  but advised on what’s going on that’s not right, but in the long run - it's a funny thing that, if you talk to your staff, and you correct them, that you give them good reasons why this needs to be done, and you show the bigger picture, they will respect you much more.

It's a great feeling to be in control and to be in charge of things.

Vlad: Dr Pham, what's your ideal dentist, what kind of dentist is your ideal client?

Dr Pham: That's a great question. I have a lot of people that message me all the time 'is this course right for me?', 'should I take this course?', and actually I try to weed some of them out. It is not for people that don't want to take control. There are those doctors that are like 'you know what, I’ve let this happen my whole life, I’m ready for change, I don’t want to feel like I’m no longer in control', it's for people that want to take control of their lives, it's not for people that want their hand held, okay - if you do, and you understand it, and you don’t want to learn it, for whatever reason, then that’s great - to have people like consultants that will take over your HR, they will lead your staff, and that’s wonderful, there is nothing wrong with that, especially on a scale where you have bigger offices, but, if you're a sole practitioner, then you're the type of person that wants to take control of their office, then this course is for you.

It's interesting, you go to a dental convention and you'll hear a dentist talk like 'oh, I don't like it that my assistant did this', and it’s funny, but say the assistant doesn't set up the room right, then let it slide once, with the average dentist it becomes twice, before you know it, it's ten times, twenty times, fifty times, a hundred times and they just say 'you know what, the next time she'll correct it' but, they never voice it, they never attempt to make a change, then what happens, it’s crazy, some of these issues and problems, now it's a hundred times, it's a year of their practice, before you know it, it's become 2 years or 3 years, or these same issues occur their entire lifetimes, and it just blows my mind, because if you have a dentist, a very nerdy dentist, that is doing - let’s say a crown - and a crown falls off frequently, they're not just going to accept it, they're going to figure an answer for it, but yet so many dentist, just let leadership management office issues occur and recur and recur, and it’s interesting because a lot of my Maverick users, there are some, they buy offices and they tell me 'you know what, we had to make all these changes' and they whipped their new offices into shape, what does that tell you?

It blows my mind, how many reports I hear of this, because that tells you, how many dentists' previously, are such poor managers and leaders, that they just let all these problems pile up, and continue for their entire careers. And then this new doctor comes in, a maverick, that understands all these principles and they buy this practice, and their like 'what’s going on here? We’re going to make some changes, it's not going to be like this, and I’m the boss'.

So, those are the people, the people that want to take control, and want to assume the responsibility and understand that they're the person that leads to the success of the office their selves; those are people that I look for to do this course.

Vlad: The term that comes to mind is culture, the habit of breeding a healthy culture within a dental practice, sounds like, is a big portion of what you do

Dr Pham: absolutely, a lot of people, and I’m giving you this lecture, and one of the things I want to talk about is, a lot of people are like 'how do I hire a good employee?', 'how do I find these people? Is it simply looking on craigslist? Or ask a few people?’ that's part of the equation; hiring is part of the equation, but most people don't realize that good employee's, don't occur naturally, you have to lead them to be great employees.

If you have a very motivated employee, a very 'good employee', but they realize that they can get away, and slack at you're office, and get paid the same to work half the time, and surf on the internet on their phone the rest of the time, who wouldn't do it? It’s human nature!

And so, where ever you find good employees, good employees are made to be great employees, by having good bosses. Good employees can very easily become poor employees if they realize that they can slack in your office, and do what they want to do, and get paid the exact same, because there are no consequences!

Justin: attitude shift, this is a periodontal shift, you're changing the way the dentist thinks, and the result is obviously much higher profits. I've seen a lot of good testimonials, we had Sunny Pahouja on this show couple of episodes ago, and I started wondering 'where did this guy learn all this good stuff?’ And I started looking around and I found you, and so I’m kind of running on here, but my question is, is it basically, it’s kind of a life style, a thinking style change, is that right?

Dr Pham: Yes. Well, first of all, it's tailored to dentist, and there are very specific things, that are very specific for dentistry only. For example, there is a potion that is an entire huge portion, about how to talk to your patients, so there are very specific examples that I say, personally, a user may use, if they want to copy exactly in their practice. But before I even get to that, as with anything, I feel like someone should understand the principles, before I give them my personal examples, I advise them that they should exercise and use their brain, about all of the procedures that they offer and formulate their own things, because they may see things in a better way, especially relating to their own personality. And then I come in with my information, and so they have done, hopefully the exercise, and then combined with mine, they may become something even better!

So yeah, a lot of things tailored to dentistry itself, but a lot of it is perception, it's an attitude shift. One of the first principals, one of the first videos that anyone can watch on the dental maverick page that takes about perception. There is a concept that you can read about, which is very good, its call 're-frame me', it starts with the fact that everything that you do, or every event that occurs in your life; you can train your brain, just like any muscle, to view it, from a different view point. And the reason that’s very important, for example, the average doctor, what do they think about? What do they complain about? They complain about 'oh, my assistant doesn’t do this, my office does this' they complain about specific problems that occur in their office, but if you aggregate them together, there is a bigger picture. And so, when I have someone that joins the program, I try to really kind of weed the people that aren't good users because they'll just like, they're not going to take any action, but, the users that join, we start with a perception shift. 'Okay, you have a problem', I have problems in my life and my office, what do you do with it? And every doctor that isn't a maverick, they're someone that just complains about it, and then they complain about it indefinitely, and problems just occur for the rest of their lives.

When I have a problem, that's cool, I might complain about it for a second, or a moment, but that's the opportunity for me to find the solution, and resolve that problem, so that it no longer occurs for the rest of my life, that is the difference. 

And yes it is, it's an attitude and it's a perception shift, and you have to accept people that are successful, people that are winners, people that are continue to gain success and improve their lives, they don’t get held up by problems, it's just something that simply shows them that there is something that needs to be changed.

And so, everything was a perception shift, we start with that, because if you cannot accept that, in your life, if you can’t accept that problems will occur, but you can’t accept that there is a reason these problems occur, they are telling you that things need to be changed, you'll never change your life got the better, and you will never resolve yourself of these issues. So for me and allot of mavericks, problems are opportunities to find success.

So yes it is a lifestyle shift too, I have a lot of mavericks that because of this program, like you said, Sunny, monetarily, they have increased their profits, $200 000-$300 000 their 1 first year and that’s not even using the recent released staff training program, because the original program for maverick is to train the doctor, and now I have a program that’s designed specifically to train their staff, all of their staff members. So, watch in a year or two and you'll have people going through and training their staff, I bet you we have doctors that say 'hey, I was at $200,000 the first year, went to $300,000, now we're at $400,000+'. 

It's very cool to me, you can change these thoughts, they change you're work, if you're happy at work, what happens? It migrates to your personal life, and a lot of these doctors are happier, they're more in control, their families are happier, it’s a win win for everybody.

Justin: I’m really excited to hear that you have staff training coming out

Dr Pham: it’s actually already out

Justin: yeah? Good, good, excellent. That makes perfect sense, if you're training the dentist, and he's got to try and parlay that to his staff, that’s kind of like the telephone game, that might get watered down a little bit, so it sounds like, wow, you've bought it directly to the staff, that’s really cool.

You know, you mention 're-framing', I think, you know maybe that’s one of the three top tips we can provide our viewers, I’m hoping to have just three quick take-away tips, if our viewers remember anything about this interview, I was hoping you could tell them 'here's three quick tips'

Dr Pham: well the first tip I’d say is that, you've got to understand that all of the tools start with you; you are the one that must accept that responsibility to lead and make changes as you wish. It's not the offices' down the street, it's not the economy, it’s not the president, and it’s not these things that affect you. It's what you can control - you're the person. So, the first tip is, you, you have got to accept the responsibility.

The second thing I would say, is just what we talked about, life is perspective, everything can be viewed from a different perspective. Patient no shows - well there's your chance to find out the reason, and the solution; your assistant forgets to point something out, yeah it might be annoying, but there's your chance to resolve it so it no longer occurs. So that second thing is, life is perspective.

The third thing I’d say is, every skill in the world can be learned. Clinical skills; if you're a dentist, you learn over time, first time you did something, you were probably pretty bad at it, and pretty slow at it, but after you practice it a lot, you're like an expert - the same thing applies to leadership and management skills - which so many dentists lack in their office.

If you learn that skill, if you learn that skill systematically, before you know it, one day you're walking into your office, and everybody's doing everything you expect them to do. And if they don't, it's a very quick and easy conversation, it’s not this long drawn out think where you blow up, and you're mad at your assistant and it's emotional - no! It's very easy and your employee says 'okay', goes off and corrects it, life goes on.

Vlad: What's your favorite one - three audible books that you would recommend for a dentist?

 Dr Pham: You know my favorite book of all time, is a very simple and silly book called the 'energy bus'; it is a book about a bus driver that picks up passengers. But that's where I learned the perspective shift, okay.

I used to be a pessimist in life, like I used to view cup as half empty, when I read that book, there's amazing equation that talks about 'E+P=O'; which means E equals events that occur, and P is your perception that determines the outcome. When I read that book, I was like, 'you know what there’s no point for me being this pessimistic person'.

Vlad: what is it called again?

Dr Pham: it's called 'The energy Bus'

Vlad: Energy bus, okay, that'll be my next read

Dr Pham: well it's the energy bus, I’d say that, of all my books I've read, have been the easiest book to read, it's my favorite book to read.

Justin: Excellent. Well, you know, I’m wondering what’s next for Dr Pham?

Dr Pham: You know, I don't know; take over the world maybe?  No.

Justin: Well I know one thing, because I’ll tell you, it's a personal mission of mine, to have the entire 'practice on fire’, every speaker on this show. So, you know, you're speaking at 'practice on fire', did you speak last year too?

Dr Pham: I spoke last year, yes, and I’m speaking at the Dental Town meeting, this upcoming March, so it'll be fun, yeah.

My goal is to help dentist take control of their office. There is a reason corporate dentistry and stiff is taking over, and it's that a lot of doctors don't understand some of these principals. And these companies that are corporations, they've got it down; they've got management teams, they've got all these businesses.

Vlad: Franchise

Dr Pham: yeah! If every individual dentist in the world, learned a portion of these skills - they would take back for themselves, and dentistry would remain more as it is, versus slowly changing to corporate.

So, my goal; help other doctors understand this nationwide, and worldwide, so - that’s my goal, that’s my future plan - and to fish, I love to fish so.

Justin: I like it. You know there's so many consultants out there, there’s so many people are like 'let’s grow your practice, let's grow your practice', you're actually, you're fun, I like the energy, because at the end of the day, what do people really want? What do dentist really want? We want the life that we want, and that might not look exactly the same for every dentist, and I see that in your videos, it might, like you just said in this interview, it might be a million dollar a year practice, or it might be working 3 days a week, it might be this, that and the other. So, I really appreciate that, because I think it really strikes the core; we're all trying to do things to be happier, we're all doing this to get that bottom line, but a lot of times, we don’t talk about that, we don't really talk about 'what's the end game?', but you're talking about that.

Dr Pham: you know, one of the common questions I get asked is 'is this course for my style of practice?’ it's every style of practice, because all of these principles are universal for how business works. So, it doesn't matter how you practice your office, but, we all have our goals and we have to work towards it. There is no one, like I said, accept yourself, that can lead your office and yourself to these goals.

Shoot, I like goals, I like reaching for something, and I like reaching for a lifestyle that I like.

And every doctor should to.

Vlad: I like taking Fridays' off too, just depends on the occasion, you know, but, sometimes I feel like really working hard, really getting to it, some days - I just feel like doing absolutely nothing, I think that’s universal, I don’t think its industry specific.

But I like that.

Dr Pham: yes, absolutely

Justin: excellent, well Dr Pham, Can I call you the original dental Maverick?

Dr Pham: absolutely!

Justin: the OG of the dental Mavericks, right here, you heard it from the original dental Maverick, Dr Pham, and you know, I’m sure some of the viewers and some of the listeners are going to have some questions for you, maybe drop your email address or however they can contact you.

Dr Pham: well, I’d encourage everyone to take a look at my website, it's '', if you need to send me an email, great, feel free to, my email, my personal email is my first name,, If you send me an email, I’ll get to it, I’ll respond to your email, I’ll help you out as best as I can.

Justin: excellent, well we'll put a link below in the description

Dr Pham: Even better, it's even easier.

Justin:  I’m the Dental Marketing Guy, thanks for listening to the dental marketing guy show.

 Read more on the dental marketing blog!


About the Author - Justin Morgan

Justin Morgan is the CEO and founder of what most of us affectionately refer to as the “DMG.” From all circles within the dental industry who address dental marketing as a topic, Justin Morgan is the dental marketing guy that everyone keeps talking about.
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