Monday, April 11, 2011

Marketing for the Exceptional Practice

Raleigh April 9, 2011 Marketing for the Exceptional Practice & Mastery over Money Seminar ATTENTION: This is IMPORTANT! As I predicted, the Washington State Dental Plan has just reduced re-imbursement to dentists in their NETWORK by 15%!! If you are in bed with PPO’s and insurance companies, your life is going to get a lot more difficult. Your Financial Freedom, Time Freedom, Control Freedom, Relationship Freedom and Purpose Freedom are in severe jeopardy. What happens to Physicians happens to Dentists 5-10 years later! Dentistry is a very unique and wonderful profession for those who understand how to build an Exceptional Practice. For the ‘herd’ who are too cheap and too fearful to spend the time and money to create a great practice, practice and life isn’t nearly as fulfilling, enjoyable and profitable. When I reached the airport on my way home, I had an e-mail from a Schuster Center alumni of 5 years in Seattle. He said he just had finished his month ever and that his practice overhead was down to 40%! That’s right 40%!! If you doubt me, e-mail me and I’ll forward you his name and e-mail and you can talk with him yourself. In his e-mail he said that the majority (the herd) of dentists in Seattle are in a huge uproar because DELTA DENTAL has just lowered the fees it pays dentists in their plan by 15%! Now, let me share this with you from the Kodak study. If you want a 25% margin of profit, and you lower your fees 15% you have to increase your production 150% to equal the same profit margin you had before. There is simply no way on God’s green earth that this is going to happen. If the majority of dentists weren’t in SURVIVAL before, they will be now. · How can any dentist focus on the best interest of his/her patients when they are barely making enough money to pay their overhead, let alone themselves? · How do you think these dentists ‘feel’ when they go to work every day. · Imagine how a professional, any professional must feel about their practice and their life when all they think about is money. · Imagine how any of us feel when we are always pressed and short of time..trying to do our best, but neither being paid for doing our best nor having the time to do it. · Imagine how a dentist must feel when every patient coming to them is coming to them because they are either ‘in network’ or ‘on their plan!’ o Is this what dentists spent $500,000 on their college and dental school education for and then another $500,000 to open and run a dental practice? · Imagine how a dentist must feel working with ‘strangers’ every day with little or no time to get to know their patients. · Imagine how a dentist must feel when his staff are only interested in the money they make and not interested in the dentist, the quality of care the dentist is trying to deliver. · Imagine how a dentist must feel when every patient will only do what the ‘insurance company’ will pay for and puts off the rest. · Imagine going to work every day and having little or no appreciation, respect either by your patients or your staff. If you are not working ON your PRACTICE and ON YOURSELF to build an exceptional practice, then you are going to get sucked into the abyss of PPO hell. If you are in a rural area, far removed from any big city, and have no factories, no state workers, no teachers unions, no casino workers, then you can neglect to read this memo. If you have been a client of the Schuster Center and already built an exceptional practice, and you are already on the Road (Path) Less Traveled, well, stop and give yourself a pat on the back for following your heart and doing the right thing. Wishing you the best. Mike Schuster

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Human Being is Part of a Whole

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us ‘Universe’; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, his feelings as something separated from the rest--- A kind optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is kind of a prison for us, restricting us to personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.” Albert Einstein One of the biggest problems we have is our personal myopia. The more we know the less we know. The more we confine our thinking to smaller and smaller portions of the Universe; ( myopia) the less we understand the ‘bigger picture’. An example might be the thinking of a dentist and what resides on the top of a single tooth! The more we break things into smaller and smaller pieces the less we recognize or understand the whole. And so this is especially true of us dentists. It is even more true of those who teach the technical aspects of dentistry. “From a very early age, we are taught to break apart problems, to fragment the world. This apparently makes complex tasks and subjects more manageable, but we pay a hidden, enormous price. We no longer see the consequences of our actions; we lose our intrinsic sense of connection to a larger whole. When we try to see the ‘big picture’, we try to reassemble the fragments in our minds, to list and organize all the pieces. But as David Bohm says, the task is futile—similar to trying to reassemble the fragments of a broken mirror to see a true reflection. Thus, after a while we give up trying to see the whole altogether.” Peter Senge (MIT) The 5th Discipline The more we know about smaller things the less we are capable of seeing the bigger picture. Of how things fit together; of how one element impacts the other elements of any system. It would take a mind such as Einstein to remind us of the smallness of our thinking. He also wrote: “I want to know God’s thoughts, the rest are details.” As one thing rules, the less other factors are taken into consideration. There appears to be many forms of intelligence. The most predominate seems to be to study and identify small things, and in this process lose the image or picture of the whole. This leads to linear, left brain, break things into pieces mental framework, but that is not how we humans have been taught to function, , but it’s NOT how the Universe works! So it is with those who teach us clinical or technical dentistry. There was, and I emphasize was, one exception that I’m aware of and that was LD Pankey. Pankey had an understanding of the big picture. LD was more concerned about the patient, the whole person than he was simply what constituted one part of the oral system. He knew and taught that there was a patient attached to the teeth. There was a real, live person whose value system, needs, wants and aspirations needed equal consideration when completing an examination and diagnosis of the patients’ oral system. There has been much advancement in technology, materials and delivery of dentistry for patients since Dr. Pankey’s time as a practicing dentistry, but there has been painfully little advancement in the perspective of seeing and experiencing the whole patient. Practicing true systems based dentistry is more of fiction than a reality. People talk in vague terms regarding the Pankey Philosophy but I can tell you that there has been little to no advancement in ‘philosophy’ of dentistry since his time. In fact, dentists and dentistry have never caught up with his message. Within Dr. Pankey’s philosophy was imbedded the principle of Universality and that a human being is a whole system, not just an assemblage of parts. The thing that separates the human being from the rest of animals is her soul. We are ‘spiritual beings’, ‘emotional beings’ as well as ‘physical beings’; and because human beings are partly spiritual that they needed to be treated with the highest ‘dignity’ and ‘respect’ we can possibly render. Human beings need to be respected, honored, revered, prized and cherished. The education of dentists before and after dental school is limited by the people, instructors and faculty in the schools; by clinicians in their private schools after. Dentists are not taught in a holistic or comprehensive manner. The technical teachers who influence dentists generally know little or nothing about: · The financial condition of the dentists in their classes · Whether their family or home life is stable and healthy. · Whether or not the dentist has any personal philosophy · Whether their practices are organized to deliver this higher level of care · Whether the dentists has the ability to translate what he is learning into actual care within the practice. · Whether or not the dentist’s team appreciates the level of care the dentist aspires to deliver · Whether or not the spouse comprehends what the dentist is attempting to do. · Whether the dentist is a good enough communicator to actually help patients make healthy decisions for themselves. · Whether the dentist has a self-image, self-esteem and self-belief strong enough to translate what he is learning into reality. · Whether the dentist is healthy mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. So the principle of least effort takes over. In spite of spending their kids education money and their retirement savings on advanced technical education a very few (the top 1% or less) ever get off the shelf with consistency what they are spending precious time and money learning how to do. This has been the case ever since I’ve been working one-on-one with dentists, seeing the inside of their ‘financial statements’; getting inside their practices and interviewing the dentist, spouse, the team and observing how the practice actually works. The dentist is a pawn, used unintentionally by those who are busy promoting their own technique or building their own schools with little or no understanding or knowledge as to how to help dentists truly practice what they are being taught. We are victimized by well intentioned but very small thinkers who lack the understanding and awareness of educating dentists in a more universal and general systems manner. The more we know, the tendency is to know less and less about less and less. We lose site of the big picture. We lose sight of the full human condition. We lose sight of the forest while we contemplate the trees. We are not taught in a systemic, holistic manner, so how could we possibly learn to see the whole when all we are taught is pieces. No, it is not only the insurance companies and dental schools that are at fault, it is the clinicians who teach us dentists how to repair the body parts of a human being and not take into consideration the totality of the human being in the first place. We get the bragging rights of telling our friends of what Guru we follow or what courses we take. We get out badges of completion. We join the various groups (factions) and wear the various pins and yet inside we feel separated; we feel alienated; we feel that we are deficient somehow because we can’t do what our guru’s have taught us; we often end up feeling less than we were before we gained all this new information that we can’t or won’t use or apply. We fail because we fail to comprehend the wholeness of each human being we are interacting with. We often make far less money and have far fewer rewards than our classmates who are delivering single tooth dentistry. Don’t you find this interesting? Aren’t you a bit P.O.’d about this? Why do you put up with this? We join our various academies and share the ‘words’ and ‘concepts’ we learned in the various schools and somehow we hold out hope that if we stay with it long enough, hang onto (as John Anderson Dr. Pankey’s protégé and my mentor said to me: “Mike, they think if they just get next to me and touch me that they are going to get it!”) the hope that some wealthy patient is going to walk into our office and want us to fix them the way we’ve been taught to fix. This is the world we live in. It is a fractured, piecemeal world in which from grade school on we learn and study about individual things and learn to break things apart, but in the very breaking apart we lose the capability to comprehend the whole. In the process we become fractured human beings focusing on fixing this or that part of a human being and we call it the lie that it is ‘health care’ when in reality in the best of definitions it is ‘disease care’. The smartest minds that God ever graced His planet see what the rest of us fail to see. We are part of something bigger. Yes, we are limited. We are limited by the eyes (the mind) that we see with. We are limited by the teachers we learn with. We are limited by the conditions we have surrounded ourselves with. We are limited by keeping up with the Joneses. We are limited by having to take in $100,000 a month just to pay the bills in our practices and personal lives. We are limited by the very conditions we have created in our own lives and practices. But, truly we only limited by ourselves. Better we begin again by seeking the ‘whole’; better to see the ‘big picture’ and then see how the parts fit together. Better we begin with a picture of what’s right; what’s healthy; what’s beautiful; what’s functional; what is lasting; what’s whole; what makes the most sense; what is ethical; what is honest; what is true; and then work backwards to re-assemble; restructure; renew what has been broken back to a whole. Maybe as Einstein suggests, if you read deeper into his thought: maybe it’s our job to make sense out of a fractured world; to make sense out of all the events that occur in our lives; it’s never too late to have a whole, happy fulfilling life and practice. Never! These are trying times. Times we were never prepared for. I know I was not prepared and yet, things break apart for a reason and only a few comprehend that Entropy is a law of the universe. We are dying to something old as something new is being born. Our world is broken; it is fractured and yet the Universal Power, God is still holding court. To have a different life we must learn to think differently. More systemically; in a more holistic way; in a more health-centered way. We will learn that everything is related; that everything we do impacts every other person on the planet. We will learn that everything is connected. When we will learn that everything is important. When will we learn that we cannot separate one aspect of a human being from the totality of the human being’s experience. On a more local level, we would learn that education must inform and bring the all aspects or elements of the human system into consciousness, into effect and leave nothing out. Dentistry is a fabulous and unique profession. I first heard Dr. Pankey talk about HEAD-HEART-HANDS in 1970!! I heard Peter Senge at MIT talk about HEAD-HEART-HANDS in a lecture at the Babson School of Entrepreneurial Management in 1988. Our patients are BODY—MIND—SPIRIT. If we really believed this then what would our offices look like? Maybe like Fred Arnold’s or TJ’s Bolt’s or Mike Robichaux’s. They wouldn’t be factories would they? If we really believed in BODY-MIND-SPIRIT then how would our practice’s be structured. What might our new patient process be like? How would we interact with our patients? I remember Bob Lee saying to me once at lunch: I think about my accountant. He meets one patient at a time and 10 minutes before he finishes one person, another is met in his reception room. When I meet with my financial planner, he doesn’t have 4 other people waiting in 4 other rooms. It’s only when I go the office of a physician or dentist that the doctor is running from room to room, from chair to chair keeping with his expenses both at home and in the office. Do you find this interesting? The highest profit pediatric dentist I have ever known had less than 1,000 patients of record. The wealthiest orthodontist I have ever met (more than $5 Net Worth by age 42) had 2 chairs and 3 total staff people. It’s not what you gross, but rather what you net that counts. (Do I sound like a preacher!) I had another lunch with Bob Lee and he talked about the ‘virus’ in dental schools. He was really pulling my leg when he said that a ‘virus’ is passed on from one generation of teachers to the next. The virus, you see, he said, is in the dental school and every instructor gets it. He was talking about dental repair, not dental health. But, there is a ‘virus’ in the profession of dentistry and it’s passed on from one dental generation to the next. Somehow, some way Frederick Taylor and Scientific Management got into dentists and dental consultants and manufacturers and dental equipment suppliers who profit by the virus of volume, speed, and sell dentists on the idea that more is better even if they are losing money on every patient and procedure. Well, times are changing. We are moving into the generation of less is more and away from a generation of more is less. The worm has turned. The tide had shifted. That’s why I wanted you to read FLIP. FLIP really means CHANGE YOUR PARADIGM because it isn’t working any more. So, if your rent is up, or close to being up, I’d do what Patti’s friend in Salem has done; a Chiropractor moved from 3700 square feet into 1,000 square feet and is loving it. He works less and makes 3X net what he made before. His patients love him and he loves them. He’s having the time of his life! One the wealthiest dentists I’ve ever known, a long time student (died and left an estate of more than $50M) said to me; Mike will you tell them for me when you lecture that their ‘butts’ can only be in one room at a time. You are going to laugh at this; the orthodontist that was in my practice in Dubuque worked 2 days a week in my office, using ONE CHAIR and ONE ASSISTANT (we scheduled and made FA’s for him) produced around $50,000 a month in 1977 and netted around $20,000 a month!! He was a happy camper and so was I!! So also were his and my patients. They got the best. A gnathologically trained technical who became an orthodontist. How could it have been any better for everyone. He saw every patient. Bracketed and banded every tooth, and he loved his patients and they loved him. He had a ‘personal relationship’ with every patient and family. We are RE-INVENTING THE FUTURE. I’m not suggesting that we will re-invent the past. The future will be different, very different. This is called RIGHT SIZING. Right sizing for the present and future. Are we having a difficult time living with less? Less material acquisition. Will our children have less than we have had? Will they really have less? We are dealing with a generation of children whose parents both worked and were raised by TV’s babysitting them, computer games and parents who believed that making money was more important than raising their kids. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fixer or Grower

Fixer or Grower

“YOU don’t have to spent time developing your people.
Treat them like Donkey’s;
They will act like Donkey’s!”

It seems as though the majority of dentists Level I and II are fixers.

In other words they are looking for people to FIX. The more people they can find to fix the better. From Peter Senge and systems thinking:

“When you are in a system you experience subsets of the system.
You literally become the system.”

It makes sense to me that people who are FIXING others want to be FIXED THEMSELVES.

Are we fixers because we are Men, who love to fix things and people?
Are we fixers because that’s all we know how to do?
Are we fixers because we don’t want to take the time to GROW/DEVELOP people?
Are we fixers because we don’t really care about people.

Level I dentists do remedial fixing.
Level II dentists are looking for bigger things to fix.

There are three prime reasons to select a COACHING/GROWING model versus a FIXING MODEL.

1. You want to increase quality
2. You want people to learn.
3. You want people to increase performance.

There may be many more reasons, but these are the 3 primary reasons.

To increase Performance two things are necessary:

You must increase AWARENESS. Good coaches always point out the GAP between the current level of Performance and the desired level of Performance.

To increase Performance an individual must take RESPONSIBILITY for their own actions, their own behavior, their own improvement.

One the main difficulties (obstacles to be overcome) is that we use a Level III or coaching model, and our prospects and clients use a FIXING model.

Isn’t it true that most people who come to seminars and even when they become clients want to be FIXED YESTERDAY and want results TOMORROW.

If you are a GROWER versus a FIXER your entire NEW PATIENT PROCESS is different, totally different because it has a different intention.

WOW is this important? WOW!!

Please remember these thoughts.

You don’t have to have a relationship (be in a coaching model) to fix people and treat disease.

But you do have to have a relationship to help people become healthy (coach people to a higher level of health)

The Medical Model is a FIXING MODEL.

I’m not sure if we can call it TRANSFORMATION but it certainly is life changing when you move from a FIXING MODEL into COACHING MODEL.

Since the majority are into TRANSACTIONS and FIXING people, the majority are NOT INTO RELATIONSHIPS, not into COACHING and not into IMPROVING PERFORMANCE, QUALITY, AND this is why most, but not all consulting is transactional.

Give me a fish and I eat for today. Teach me a fish and I eat for a lifetime.

I hope this makes sense. If course there is more, a lot more, but this should help us understand why initially we have such great disconnect with so many dentists who we are trying to serve.

They have created and are trapped by their FIXING MODEL.

I like to grow people. I like to help people reach their God-given potential
I like my patients to become as healthy as they can become.

Yes, I do fix them, but the joy is in seeing people, learn, grow, develop, become more than they were before. This will always be a COACHING MODEL of LEARNING, never simply a transaction model. This is why I’ve said since the beginning we will NEVER SIMPLY TRAIN without COACHING, and you can’t really COACH someone who doesn’t want to LEARN.

You can try to FIX someone, and of course if they don’t ask to be FIXED, then MANIPULATE THEM. This IS the world we live in. I don’t like it, do you?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Keys to Professional Success and Happiness

The Keys to Professional Success and Happiness

The Principles---Practices---Performance---Profits of Successful Professional practices.

A CODE for a better, more fulfilling, rewarding, and profitable practice and life.

“Your aspirations are your possibilities”

A study of business school graduates (could have been professionals) tracked the careers of 1,500 people from 1960-1980. From the beginning, the graduates were grouped into two categories.

Category A consisted of people who said they wanted to make money first so that they could do what they really wanted to do later---after they had taken care of their financial concerns. Those in Category B pursued their true interests first, sure that money eventually would follow.

What percentage fell into each category? Of the 1,500 graduates in the survey, the money-now category A’s comprised 83%, or 1,245 people. Category B risk takers made up 17%, or 255 graduates.

After 20 years there were 101 millionaires in one group. One came form Group A, and 100 from group B.

The study’s author Srully Blotnick, concluded that ‘the overwhelming majority of people who have become Wealthy have become so thanks to work they found profoundly absorbing…Their ‘luck’ arose from the accidental dedication to something they loved doing.

“No heart has ever suffered when
it goes in search of its dreams.”

Where are you in relationship to following your dreams?

Dr. Michael Schuster

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Keys to Professinal Success and Happiness

The Keys to Professional Success and Happiness

The Principles---Practices---Performance---Profits of Successful Professional practices.

A CODE for a better, more fulfilling, rewarding, and profitable practice and life.

I trust that you will read, think about and apply these ideas with as much diligence and thought that I put into sharing these with you.

Is Professionalism Dead??

If you ever visit the Mayo Clinic in North Scottsdale, you’ll see banner written on the wall when you enter that suggests the time honored meaning of a True Professional:

“The only interest of the physician should be the
best interest of the patient.”
Charles Mayo

Wow!! Is this really true? Well if it really, really is, then why is all the talk and the rage that dentists respond to is “I need more new patients!”
I’m not for a moment suggesting the importance of new patients to any and every professional practice, but I am asking the question is that the primary focus of your practice? And if it is why is it?

What if…take a deep breath and think…what if (those of you who profess Judeo-Christian values)…what if, for just a day, for just a week, or maybe if you are so bold, a month…you turned your focus, you know the light, off yourself and your needs for making more money (isn’t that the goal of more new patients) and focused on doing the absolute best for each and every patient you served?

What would that look like? How would that feel? What do you think would happen? I’m not saying you would not be taking care of your costs, your overhead, practice and personal, but if you are a true professional, then I must remind you, that your actions and your goals speak louder than the words you speak. The same is true for me.
If your goal was to care for people…not in a religious sense but in a biologic sense, (read Stress without Distress by Hans Selye, MD.) if your prime goal was to do the best you could for every person you saw, for the sake of caring for people…I submit to you that your life and practice would change in a dimension that you never thought possible.

How do I know? Well, 33 years of working one-on-one with dentists of all shapes and sizes suggests again that success leaves clues. Those in pursuit of money never have enough, no matter how much they have. This group of ‘business men and women’, not ‘professional men and women’, are NOT HAPPY. They are NOT FULFILLED because you see, they can never be fulfilled. Fulfillment is a spiritual ‘quality of life thing’ not a material, how much money can I make and spend thing.

The marks of a professional are:

· Competence in a specialized body of knowledge and skill.
· An acknowledgement of specific duties and responsibilities toward the individuals it serves and toward society.
· The right to train, admit, discipline and dismiss its members for failure to sustain competence and observe the duties and responsibilities for the good of their patients or clients.

I ask you, is Professionalism dead in dentistry?

Love to have your response and thoughts, no matter what they are.

Dr. Michael Schuster
Schuster Center for Professional Development (My blog site where you will see this posted)

Pass this on to your friends and colleagues and ask them the same question.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Different Kind of School

A Different Kind of School

When I was a young dentist I was blessed to meet 4 people that changed my life. What I learned from these 4 people had nothing to do with dentistry directly, but it had everything to do with it.

I’d have to say that the most important and powerful thing I ever learned was how


Gaining control over money changed the rest of my life experience.

Later I created a place where dentists could learn to free themselves of money. I’d have to say that this is the most important thing that I’ve done with my life. It is a very simple idea but has an enormous capacity to FREE oneself and become the best human being and dentist you have the capacity to become. It also enables you to enjoy your life rather than be anxious, frustrated and distressed throughout your life.

It starts with a fundamental idea that we are TWO-NATURRED. We have a physical nature and we have a spiritual nature. If the physical (money, material acquisition) dominates your time and existence, then it crowds out the possibility of developing your spiritual nature.

You can’t give to money what it can’t give to you. If you give all your thoughts and energy to the making, accumulating of money, and what you think it will give you, then you will fail to gain what money can’ t give you: peace of mind, fulfillment, an anxiety free life, and only what a focus on developing your ‘higher nature’, the ‘spiritual aspect’ of your life can give to you .

If you live predominantly below the line (for money and material possessions) then you will always wonder why you don’t or can’t develop significant relationships; a wonderful relationship with you spouse, your children, the people you work with, significant friends and wonderful relationships with your patients and colleagues. Those who live below the line, never have enough, and even when they do accumulate money and material possessions, they always have the knowing feeling that it isn’t enough…because it isn’t.

The more you think and act in conflict with nature, the less peace, fulfillment and happiness are yours no matter how hard you try, how much money you make and how many things you own, no matter what you do, it will never be enough.

Let me explain:

· You are a slave to money if everything you do is for the sake of making money.
· You are a slave to money if every day you plan your day around making money.
· You are a slave to money if your predominant thought process surrounds the making, keeping and accumulating money.
· You are a slave to money if money drives all your decisions and choices.

Most people falsely believe that if they make enough money or have enough money that somehow they are FREE of money.
The exact opposite occurs in their lives. These people become slaves in the world that they have created in their minds. They are rarely happy unless they are pursuing more money and that is a temporary thing.

Another group is always afraid to spend money. They are money hoarders. They drive 30 year old cars and live in the cheapest surroundings, and are always looking for the best deals. Money drives all their choices. These people are also SLAVES TO MONEY.

Another large group (maybe the same people) work primarily for money. This group will do mindless, boring work that they don’t even want or like to do because of either the money or the benefits. These people are enslaved with ‘golden handcuffs.” I have a brother in law that went to work for John Deere when he was 18 and retired when he was 48 and he told me,

“I hated every day I went to work for 30 years.”

For 30 years he was a slave to money and the benefits of his job (which represent money)

My friend Jacob Needleman who wrote Money and the Meaning of Life suggests that much has been written about money; how to make it, invest it, save it, 401K’s, pension plans, etc and of course all of this is very, very important, but what is even more important is the RELATIONSHIP that you have with money.

In my world, consultants and management companies prey on the money dominated thinking of our culture. They teach dentists primarily to make produce more and more money and the vast majority of their clients become even GREATER SLAVES to MONEY. The old adage, I owe, I owe, so off to work I go seems to fit the majority.

They go from interest in making more money; to a predominate focus of producing more money; to becoming SLAVES to MONEY,to becoming ADDICTED TO MONEY. Another way of saying this is anything that you are a SLAVE TO is CONTROLLING YOU. This easily leads to DEPENDENCY which ultimately leads to an ADDICTION.

Money becomes the central driving activity of your life.
You are happy when you are making it, and you are anxious, irritable, frustrated, distressed and eventually depressed when you aren’t. This also explains why dentists often tell me that they want to be busy. They can no longer relax. They rarely feel peaceful unless they are busy making money.

It’s relatively easy to teach people to make more money. That’s a no brainer!! It’s simple but not as easy to teach people to keep more of what they make. Time catches up with all of us. Around the ages of 42-50, people start looking forward and realize that there is less light ahead in the tunnel than behind. This is the time when many, but certainly not all, begin to get serious about money. Getting serious about money means evaluating your relationship to money and how money may be controlling your life and practice.

Getting serious about money creates a different kind of thinking.

It requires a change in attitude about what money is and isn’t in your life. What it can or can’t do for you in your life. You may begin to realize that you ARE NOT FREE, and unless you think and act different with MONEY in your life you will never be FREE. But just because you have this awareness, doesn’t mean that you stop letting MONEY CONTROL YOU. In fact, you may become more pre-occupied with than you were before and become even more DEPENDENT on MONEY than you were before.

Why is all this important?

Why are there so many mediocre dentists? Why are there so many average dentists? What are there so few EXCEPTIONAL DENTISTS? Why are there so little EXCEPTIONAL ANYTHING in our culture today?

My response is that mediocre and average people in any walk of life are more driven by money than they are driven by becoming the best they can be to make some difference in the world. Becoming the best you can become for the sake of others is ABOVE THE LINE THINKING, not BELOW THE LINE THINKING. The more secular a person is or becomes the more they are driven by money.
There are five conditions to achieve EXCELLENCE in DENTISTRY. I should know. I had to go through the same process myself. I’ve been studying this since 1974 and working one-on-one with dentists since that time. I’m only going to cover one condition. If you don’t achieve the first, the rest don’t make any difference because they will never occur in your life anyway.

1ST Condition

You have to GET CONTROL OF MONEY so that you can get beyond it and MOVE UP. If you come to an understanding of what MONEY can do for you and what it can’t, then you will spend your life STUCK in the MONEY, SAFETY, SECURITY, SURVIVAL DOMAIN of LIFE and never move up to reach higher levels of your potential as a human being and a dentist.

You will:

· Do anything to stay as busy as you can be.
· You will do anything that makes you MORE MONEY
· You will compromise yourself, your values, even deliver mediocre or average dentistry to get more money.
· You will develop a practice that is production and money driven, not patient and quality of care driven.
· This isn’t about you, it’s about human nature.
· If you don’t learn how to fulfill your most powerful needs, and what money can and can’t do for you, you will continually be pulled down into your LOWER NATURE.
· I didn’t make these rules. These are the rules of nature.
· Understand these rules and learn how to apply them to your life and practice, and your whole world changes.
· Violate these rules of nature, and you will suffer anxiety, distress, frustration, anger, despair and eventually depression and burnout.

Remember, you are supposed to be living on a roll and growing.

The strongest pull of all human needs is SURVIVAL, then SECURITY and SAFETY. If any human being allows these needs to dominate their life, then you can be sure that MONEY, the making of it, the accumulation of it will dominate their thinking and behavior. In order to achieve SURVIVAL, SAFETY and SECURITY in your life, it is vital that you learn what can provide SURVIVAL, SAFETY and SECURITY for you and what can’t!

You have to become FREE of this survival thinking and behavior to MOVE UP beyond simply your LOWER NATURE or (your physical nature) will dominate your life and your practice.

Jacob Needleman is right. Money is important, there has never been a culture (like ours) where money play such a dominate role in our lives.

Become FREE of money doesn’t mean that money isn’t important. It simply means that you have put money in its rightful place, and that is not to dominate your life and practice.

In my small world, I watch dentists taking advanced technical training, filling the classes of the current technical gurus, and yet little or nothing of what they are learning is actually applied in their every day practices. WHY? Because whether they are in SURVIVAL or they ACT like they are in survival. Money dominates their life and their practice and their world.


Until any professional becomes FREE of money there is no way that the quality of CARE DELIVERED will match the SCIENCE that has been invented.

The purpose of MASTERING MONEY is so that you can get beyond it and it doesn’t MASTER YOU, YOUR LIFE and YOUR LIFE.

If you can Master money in your life, your life will be vastly different, better and you will reach more of your potential.
The tools and strategies that I have developed into a system enable any dentist to become a MASTER OVER MONEY.

One day you’ll understand the importance of all this. That will be the day when you are TRULY BEYOND MONEY. You will live and practice in a higher domain. A place where few go, but once in this place, it is a far different kind of human existence.
A balance between both natures occurs, and the spiritual aspect of our human nature becomes a far bigger and more important aspect of your human existence. You will begin to live with a higher order of human beings.

Wow, think on this. If I were you I’d copy it, share it with my spouse, best friends, accountant, financial planner but I’d first take it seriously in your own life.

This IS life changing stuff…it is transformational and I’m sorry to say, a very few really understand the importance of this message.

Dr. Michael Schuster

I alone am responsible for the content of this message.

I’d like to refer you to page 103-110 in Jacob Needleman’s landmark book, Money and the Meaning of Life. Rethinking what money is and isn’t in your life may be the most important transformational activity in your entire career.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


One can make an accurate diagnosis of the health or disease of any system, but if the orientation to fix the problems rather than create structures to create what you really, really want, I guarantee you that you will begin forward movement and then your gains will be reversed.

Consultant after consultant can diagnose problems, conflicts, issues, symptoms of an unhealthy system but the only proven way to obtain and sustain long term results is to install structures in order that the natural energy can flow towards its intended outcome or result.

I spoke with Barbara, a long term dental assistant and clinical coordinator yesterday and she gave me a startling insight into the power of the first two paragraphs:

“Consultants keep coming into our practice and telling us that we should be doing better and that our practice should be growing, but it’s like we don’t have a ladder to get there.

We need a contractor who will build us a ladder so we can climb up to where we want.”

What Barbara and every other thinking, reasoning person is begging for is a structure (ladder) to get to where they want.

What do St. Paul, Minnesota, St. Louis, Missouri and Dubuque, Iowa have in common? I grew up from age 7 to 21 in these cities. They all are on the Mississippi River, the largest and fastest flowing river in the United States. It is an amazing body of water. The river flows at different rates with the variance in seasons, which makes it obvious that in the spring season, with the snow melt and spring rains the river will have more water in it and it will naturally ‘follow its path of least resistance’ at a higher flow rate.

Dams are placed every so many miles on the upper Mississippi; structures that are designed to control and maintain the flow of water throughout the year. WHY? So the tugboats, which require a minimum of 20 depth, can navigate
the river to move millions of tons of oil, coal, and other commodities from one point to another on the river.

I often think of Virginia Satire, the famous family therapist, who was the genius who intuitively created Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It was Virginia that stated:

“All unhealthy family systems are unhealthy in dissimilar ways, but all healthy family systems are healthy in similar ways.”

This is a profound statement. There are similarities in healthy systems; they are similarly structured, with similar elements and structures but none are exactly the same.

Ms. Satire would never work with just one member of a family system. She believed that ever individual within any system could and would impact the behavior of the entire system.

You know this is true. One dysfunctional member of any family system or team can and will impact the behavior of the entire system. Why would this be any different in your business? One unhealthy person in your business can and will impact the behavior and thus the performance of your entire system.

So, people do have great impact on your personal life and your business life. But there are also other elements in your business structure. Yes, there are people.

· People either know what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and why they do it, or they don’t.
· People either have systems and structures that determine and define whether their energy is utilized to achieve certain results or they don’t.
· People choose to function synergistically within the structure of your practice, or they don’t.
· People are either engaged and inspired to produce a certain outcome or they aren’t.
· Leaders provide the inspiration; management creates the structure so that the energy of people can and will produce consistent outcomes and growth.

Every business system, like a music composition, is composed of core elements. These elements are either structured to create movement in a positive direction or they are inhibiting the flow of energy. Some structures are designed to be immovable and stable, and others are designed to move.

Time is nothing but energy. You either use it effectively or you lose it. Time is not recoverable; once spent it is lost forever.
You either structure your time in effective and efficient ways or you don’t!

Money is energy. With the ‘wrong structure’ money is dissipated, lost with little or no return. In the Creative Process we control the flow of money rather than simply react to it. Accounting systems of any are reactive structures which always lead to the reaction to money.

Cash flow systems are management structures, like dams which control the flow of money, rather than reacting to it and wondering where it went at the end of the month, quarter or year.

A sound Marketing Structure identifies in advance those prospects, customers, clients or patients who are more likely to buy, and a sound marketing structure finds and attracts those prospects to you who want what you have to offer.

A sound Sales Structure (process) enables you to identify early those who will buy and those who won’t. A sound Sales Structure saves you enormous time and energy as you are working with people who want what you have to offer and it is far easier to work with them.

As sound Organizational Structure enables all the elements or components of the system to work together in a synergistic manner. A few, in a synergistic relationship, can produce far more with less effort than many working in structural conflict.

Purpose or Why is the reason your business exists. Sadly, but true, unhealthy businesses are those that focus on internal results, for themselves, rather than outside results, for the people or businesses they serve.

The power of purpose is massively misunderstood and underestimated. In 1973, General Motors started to die. The CEO made this statement:

“The purpose of General Motors is to make money for its
shareholders, not to make cars.”

General Motors has been losing money for more than three decades, practicing manipulative discount strategies yet continues to lose the war regarding ‘market share’ and ‘profit.’

It took a government bailout of $100B to rescue a company that couldn’t rescue itself. Now, with a purpose beyond itself, it may survive. Workers abused the company as well as executives, all in the name of getting as much from GM as they could.

“When you lose your WHY
You start to DIE”

Enter ENTROPY. All systems have a natural tendency to dissipate, become disorganized, return to randomness. The same is true for us human beings.

Organizations however, don’t have to die, they can RENEW themselves.

Renewal of any family system or business system always begins with revisiting the owners, values, beliefs, vision and PURPOSE.

PURPOSE is the starting point and ending point of everything. Without a worthwhile reason to exist, or live, people within organizations and the organization itself begins to die.

I didn’t invent this, I’m just a messenger.
This is Nature. This is Biology.

Like it or not PURPOSE is the prime element, the most powerful DRIVING FORCE of any person’s life or any business.

· You show me a person without a Clearly Defined Purpose and I’ll show you a person who isn’t going anywhere.
· You show me an organization (any kind) without a clearly defined Purpose and I’ll show you an organization that isn’t going anywhere.

Great people in all walks of life engage with and live their purpose. Victor Frankl, (Logotherapy) the famous Austrian Jewish Psychiatrist, proved that only those who had a bigger why, a bigger purpose beyond themselves, survived the Nazi Concentration Camps.

A person or organization with a GREATER PURPOSE can and will survive any setback, any turmoil and will find the energy to survive and thrive.

PURPOSE is NEVER about YOU, but it is in some way it is about

Making a difference in the lives or businesses of others.

· It is enhancing the quality of life of people in some important and meaningful way.
· It is enhancing the quality of life of any group of people whether organized for profit or not.

When any individual or organization, large or small loses it’s WHY…it starts to DIE!

Michael Schuster for
The Schuster Center