Honesty Makes You a Bitch

Now that I’ve been practicing for 12 years and I’ve formed the Women in Orthodontics Study Group, I get frequent messages from residents and new grads trying to find their way in the world.  I guess that means I’m old, but I have been through a hell of a lot in those 12 short years of practice.  I’ve started two practices from scratch and bought a couple existing practices.  I’ve been totally ripped off by lying, cheating people (including some in our profession).  I’ve made the right choices that have paid off in a big way.  The more of these experiences I have, the more I realize there is still so much to learn.

Some of my negative experiences made my life a living hell.  I would never wish those experiences on anyone.  I want people to be happy and I want them to succeed.  So when people ask me for advice, I am usually pretty honest.  Unfortunately for me, this honesty may not be what they want to hear.  So instead of realizing that my frank response comes from a place of goodness in my heart, they get mad and call me a bitch – or at least think I am one.

Let me give you an example (this has happened twice recently):

New grad or soon to be new grad approaches me about opening a scratch practice in a saturated, metropolitan area.  They want advice on how to succeed.  I explain that they are choosing the hardest path possible in the area of orthodontics and that life would be much easier if they could find a location that was better suited for a new practice.  They ignore me and continue with the questions.  I explain again:

  1. The right location will allow you to work less and make more.  If you find the right area you can do almost everything else wrong and you will succeed.
  2. If you open in an extremely saturated market, you can do everything perfectly and still fall on your face.

Conversation ends and the person calls me a bitch – or thinks it.  Or worse, opens up down the street and starts telling people I told the person not to move to Phoenix because I didn’t want the competition (ugh).

Once again, my advice comes from a caring place in my heart.  Read this excerpt from a doc in Northern California:

“When I started my second office I worked like my hair was on fire; I campaigned as if I was running for public office.  I scheduled lunches daily with every dentist in a ten mile radius.  I did direct mail, television commercials and radio spots.  I held Invisalign days and patient appreciation events.  We did street fairs and farmer’s markets.  I had an advertisement at the local movie theater 30 seconds before the picture would start.  I advertised on shopping carts, placed flyers under windshield wipers, offered free iPods.  And the universe responded with a resounding “meh”.  No one cared………..Life was a bucket of shit with a barbed wire handle.”

Why would I encourage people to follow the same path?  I wouldn’t, but I’ve started to learn that you can’t help someone who won’t listen.  I was the same way as a resident.  I knew it all – or at least more than that person trying to help me.  I was special.  My situation was different.  I wouldn’t make those kinds of mistakes.  I was the exception to the rule.  Until I wasn’t.

So, I’ve resolved to just ignore my gut instinct to tell people the truth and just respond with, “That’s awesome.  You are going to do great.”  Otherwise, I’m just a bitch.

One Response to “Honesty Makes You a Bitch”

  1. Cynthia says:

    Lol I couldn’t agree with you more! The wisdom that comes with experience and the realization that it is better to respond “That’s awesome!”

    Private practice for 23 years,

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