Dr. Bruce B. Baird is one of the pioneers of dental practice management. He has helped thousands of dentists take control of their practices to create the productivity and retirement they desire as co-founder of the Productive Dentist Academy. Dr. Baird has now applied his experience and knowledge he has gained over the years in a book called Legendary Leadership. The book is filled with strategies to help people unlock the leadership potential within themselves. I recently had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Baird about his new book and his other ventures that benefit dental practices.
Glenn Vo: So, Bruce, let me ask you about your new book, Legendary Leadership. How did this idea come about? Did you have this goal in your head when you first started as a dentist to write a book like this? How did this all come about?
Bruce Baird: I wrote a book several years ago called Implant Dentistry, but I never thought I would write a book on leadership. I was so bad at leadership early in my career that I could just never even imagine writing a book like that. Not that I’ve reached the goal of legendary leadership but what I believe in is legendary leadership. To be a legendary leader is something to strive for. It’s like having the ideal practice. It’s a destination that we work for and once I started realizing how important leadership was, my productivity went up and my stress levels went down.
Growing up the son of a Marine aviator who was always, “my way or the highway”, writing this book was really kind of cathartic. I just wanted to be able to help dentists who were struggling with leadership to be able to get them to where they were having fun doing dentistry because dentistry is, as you know, is tough!
Glenn Vo: So tough!
Bruce Baird: It is and you know you’re working with people and that’s always a challenge. But I really do love leading people now and I’ve been fortunate enough with my other ventures to be able to do just that. Once I learned that it wasn’t all about me, then all of a sudden, things started really happening not only in my life but also in our practice.
Glenn Vo: I’ve always told you that you have this uncanny ability to understand the market, the environment, and what people need. Now more than ever, dentists need to just embrace the fact that they’re going to be leaders in their practice.
What’s this leadership stuff? What’s this people stuff? A lot of times these dentists are like – “Well let me find someone else to do it. Let me delegate to someone else and then it might go good for a while”, but that is a recipe for disaster when that person who took up the leadership reins leaves or something happens. Talk about why it is so important now for dentists to realize that if you sign up to be a general practice owner, being a dentist is only one of the jobs you have to do. Talk about why that’s so important now more than ever.
Bruce Baird: It doesn’t matter whether it’s your practice or you’re working at another practice. I remember when I was in the military I had a great team around me, and I became very productive. When I got into private practice, it was a lot more stressful. I had debt. I had things that I was worried about and then all of a sudden, I reverted to my roots. Work hard and I’m going to be successful no matter what and that was just my mantra. But I didn’t realize how important leadership was in being successful. Whether you’re an associate dentist or an owner dentist, it doesn’t make any difference. You still need to lead the people around you and if you don’t get that part of it, then you’ll struggle.
And I really do think now more than ever, it’s important to have that philosophy of being a leader. It doesn’t have to be that hard. Honestly, you just have to be real with people. I don’t just have employees here. I have families that are counting on us. A lot of my team were single parents. This is their job. They’re taking it seriously. They didn’t just come to work to hack me off. They were coming to work to do a great job and I had to learn how to say “thank you” and say, “gosh, we had a great day” or say “today really sucked but I really appreciate you guys so much.” Since then, it has been great and it’s been so much fun.
Glenn Vo: I’m glad that you brought that up. We forget about the importance of understanding your team and actually caring about your team like they’re one of your family members. We have so many dentists out there with staffing issues. A lot of people don’t remember ever going through something like this.
Bruce Baird: Right.
Glenn Vo: You have people deciding to either stay-at-home or maybe go into a different career now. There are so many other opportunities to make money now. We’re actually now competing for people. Dentists get upset. They’re like, “Dr. Jones is stealing my assistant or my front office”. No, Dr. Jones down the street is not doing it. It’s the Ubers and the Air BNBs of the world. You’re getting upset at the wrong people here. There’s an abundance of opportunity. So let’s talk about having legendary leadership and treating people right. Why is it even more important now? People have options. They can go and they can work somewhere else and make good money as well.
Bruce Baird: They sure can! We’re in this really unique environment and I have to step back a little bit. When COVID hit, all of a sudden it was the first time in history that dentists had to actually look at their businesses because they were scared to death. They weren’t making any money and all of a sudden they were like, “oh my gosh, I have a team to consider”. Coming out of COVID, the ones that had great teams reached their goals even though they had three months of no production.
Glenn Vo: I love that, Bruce, and I’ve said this many times. You seem to come up with a solution for a problem in a way that solves it for everyone else. Starting from Productive Dentists Academy, which I attended, to Compassionate Finance, Abella, and now AcceptCare. So let’s go back a little bit. Let’s just go through the whole timeline here because it seems like each new product or service that you create for the general industry, which helps us all out, was created because of a problem you encountered.