Dennis Hartlieb

Dental Podcasting and Becoming a Dentist with Alan Mead

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Do you love listening to dental podcasts? Have you considered the way that dental podcasts can enrich your continuing education experiences?

If you're a podcast listener and a dentist, you're probably familiar with today's guest, Dr. Alan Mead, who is a vital part of the dental podcasting world and who shares professional knowledge with dentists everywhere. Alan talks with host your host, Dennis Hartlieb, about dental school and becoming a dentist and about how he found his way into the dental podcasting world. Don't miss this riveting episode with Dr. Alan Mead!  

More about Dr. Alan Mead

From the Voices of Dentistry Site

Alan Mead, DDS, is a writer and podcaster. He has lectured extensively on various topics, including social media for dentists, medical marijuana, and addiction. He writes a blog——for patients at He has also written several articles for professional journals, and he maintains two other blogs—one for his office website and one for dentists. In 2014, he started the DentalHacks Podcast, a weekly internet radio show for dentists. Dr. Mead is a 1997 graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry and currently practices in Saginaw, Michigan.
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Read the Full Interview Below

Dental Podcasts and Professional Enrichment

Dennis 0:03  
Hey, Dental Online Trainers. Dr. Dennis Hartlieb, here with You. So, many of you are like me with a long commute to the office every day. Or maybe you like to just get away mentally while you're working out or out on a run or, like me, on a bike ride. And if you're like me, you've grown fond of any number of podcasts that are out there. I mean, there's zillions of them. And actually, I sincerely hope that Dental Online Training Sharecast is one of your favorites.

Anyhow, there are several that I listen to on a regular basis. My favorite is Guy Raz's How I Built This. And it's an NPR podcast, and anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit will just love this one. When I need a laugh, though, I'll listen to Conan Needs a Friend with Conan O'Brien or SmartLess with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett.

But there are times when I want to listen to someone talk about dentistry or people talking to dentists. My go to over the years has been Alan Mead, first with the Dental Hacks, then the Alan Mead Experience, and here more lately with his podcast, the Very Dental Podcast. Alan has this total radio voice. I mean, it's as smooth as polished microfilm, and he has a gift for pulling the thread that is like really getting to the next question with the person he's talking with. So kick back and join us now for part one of our conversation with Alan, as he talks about his background -- his life as a child of a dentist, the challenges of dental school, and how we got into the podcast world. 

Hello, Dental Online Trainers. Dr. Dennis Hartlieb, back with you with a another splendid Sharecast. Today's guest is a... Well, Alan, we're friends, I think. We go way back. 

Alan 1:38  
I would say! I would say! 

Dennis 1:40  
I've gotten to know Alan a bit along the years. And if you don't know Dr. Alan Mead, let me give you a little introduction. So Dr. Alan Mead is from Saginaw, Michigan. If you don't have your map handy, I brought mine with me! This is a good map of Michigan, and it is right there. So as a fellow Michigander, we tend to carry our maps with us, right? 

Alan 2:00  
Yes, yes. 

Dennis 2:01  
Right in our hand! We have our mittens. I had family from Saginaw, Michigan. I grew up in the Detroit area. So just...

Alan 2:07  
Actually, I live in Midland. I practice in Saginaw. I live in Midland and grew up in Midland. So... But to be honest, Midland is actually even smaller than Saginaw. It's just it's just further west from Saginaw. It's all the... The Saginaw Bay region is... It's interesting. It's the... I don't know, how do you describe it?

It's like it's bigger city than up north, but it's much smaller than Metro Detroit or Grand Rapids or even Flint area on some level. But yet, those three cities actually have several 100,000 people in that region. So it's not... Sometimes when I describe it, you know, compared to folks that live in metro area, it's tiny, but it's not actually! It's... Oh, man, I was driving around yesterday, and it's a lot of farmland still.

Dennis 2:57  
My cousin Terry Snow has a farm in Midland, Michigan. He worked for Dow Chemical and he, on the side, he had a farm. He had a working farm, and one of my favorite memories as a kid, he let me go up and pick some cucumbers out of his little plantation, and then I'd get a big bushel bag of cucumbers. I bring them back to my Detroit suburb, I put them in a red wagon, and I'd walk down the street and I'd sell cucumbers for a dime each! 

Alan 3:27  

Dennis 3:27  
And my favorite memory is my buddy and I, Jerry Call, we would sit there and... We used to have ditches back where I grew up, and so we would sit on the ditch, we'd take out a cucumber, I would bring a salt shaker, and put some salt on my cucumber. We each eat cucumbers like they were apples. 

Alan 3:43  
Yeah. Oh, yeah. 

Dennis 3:44  
And go out make a few bucks while we were, you know, 10 years old or so... 

Alan 3:47  
There you go! Nice. 

Dennis 3:49  
So yeah, I used to spend a lot of time up in Midland, and then I have family also in Saginaw, so... 

Alan 3:54  
Okay. Okay. 

Dennis 3:55  
So, yes, and then. Let's see. So, you are a son of a dentist. I want to talk about that more, because I always find that super fascinating. Kids whose parents were dentists. And then you went to University of Minnesota for dental school. 

Alan 4:12  
I did. 

Dennis 4:12  
Yep. We're going to talk about that in just a bit. And but your, probably your recognition is known for the Dental Hacks Podcast that you did with Dr. Lips 

Alan 4:15  
With Jason. Yep. 

Dennis 4:16  
Jason Lipscomb. And then but you also have a podcast, The Alan Mead Experience...

Alan 4:30  
Which is sort of defunct at the moment, although I... I tend to... The concept of that podcast was always kind of cool. So I might bring that back at some point, too.

Dennis 4:39  
All right. I wanted to ask you about that. So that's perfect. And then currently, though, you are sort of the supervising person of The Very Dental Podcast, so that's sort of the Alan Mead brand. And then you have some guest people that are on there. 

Alan 4:50  
Yeah, yep. 

Dennis 4:51  
Hosting that. Yeah. So, that is... So, general practice dentist, and you have so much to talk about. And the reason why I wanted to bring Alan on was a couple of reasons. Number one, I think Alan has, I think, the best dental podcast out there. And it... Historically, and I'll tell you why I like it so much, Alan, is that when you when you do these type of things, you have an agenda, you have an idea of things that you want to get through.

But what I really appreciate about your style is you have this ability to riff, and you have the ability to go off concept and off topic, because you follow the thread. And so when a thread gets pulled, you want to know more about it. And you're just going to continue to pull that thread so that you get better, deeper understanding. And a lot of podcasters, or a lot of stuff that you listen to, they're so intent on just fulfilling the information...

They got their checklist: I got to ask this, and this -- that there's things that it's like, why didn't you ask them about this? Because that's super interesting. And you do! You follow that thread. And I've always appreciated that about your podcast; I think that's super cool.

Alan 5:57  
It is funny, too, because part of it is that a lot of dental podcasts have a reason for being outside of, hey, I want to do podcasts... You know, like, I mean, whether it's the fact that the people who do it have a have some kind of a program that they run, or they do training or they teach implants, or they have a mastermind program or whatever.

And so, on some level, a podcast has always been a great way to market. I mean, it's sort of you create an audience, and then you can sell something to the audience. And, to Jason's great chagrin, I never did that. I never... I just... We started it because I wanted to make something that I thought I would want to hear because I listened to podcasts like crazy. I listen to a ton of podcasts. And so my point was, "Hey, let's do something that I'd like to hear." Well, what happens is, I mean, I don't have... I don't have a product I'm selling really. I don't have... And that used to drive Jason crazy.

Like, you know, we started The Voice of Dentistry, and you've got Mark Costas who has all kinds of coaching and all kinds of... And Justin Moody has an implant program, and Jason... And, of course, they are able to sell stuff on top of that...

Dennis 7:12  
They're monetizing!

Alan 7:14  
They're monetizing, and so... And we monetized with with ads, on some level, and some affiliate stuff, but it was... Jason always felt like... He would... This sounds insulting, but I don't think he would disagree. He always felt like we didn't take advantage of what we had created on some level. And that was one of the things that used to drive him crazy about me because I just wasn't very ambitious about that aspect of it.

Dennis 7:39  
Well, I've heard you talk about your dental practice, and sometimes how it's easy to ignore what the numbers are of the practice, and the production of it, right? You're just busy doing the dentistry, the stuff you love to do. And maybe, likewise, it's like, I just want to have fun, I just want to do this. 

Alan 7:54  
I'm terrible because... the other thing is being old enough, and having bought the practice cheap enough, I can get away with that. I can totally get away with that. Like I can, if the numbers are, ah, if they're okay. You know, and my accountant, if they were listening, they'd probably be throwing up right now. But it's kind of true. I mean, it's like I... And what's crazy is there are times like now, my numbers are as good as they've been. And I haven't really tried that much. It's crazy. The other thing is, as soon as I put out in the world that I don't like removable, that seems to be all I'm doing now.

Dennis 8:27  
Well. Be careful what you say.

Alan 8:28  
Right?! I know! Exactly.

Dennis 8:30  
Well, hey, I want to this is a quote from a viewer or listener of your.. I think this is from Dental Hacks, but it might be from The Alan Mead Experience. No, I think this is from The Alan Mead Experience: "Like catching up with a friend from dental school: listening to this podcast feels like finally catch up with an old friend from dental school you love catching up with, swapping stories and sharing ideas like you only can with a friend who gets it." And that's from Jess from Iowa. 

Alan 8:32  
Okay, I like that. 

Dennis 8:37  
Right. I mean, and I think that's super true. And if you haven't listened to any of Alan's podcasts... Now some of them are kind of archived, it's like going back into the Library of Congress to find some...

Alan 9:09  
It is! That's what happens you do it for long enough, and it's really funny, because our download numbers... I say our. Jason and I kind of split ways almost a year ago, and I still say "our." My download numbers are enormous. But I think what happens about the enormous when you when you look at any given day, I mean, there's hundreds of episodes that are that are downloaded any given day. And so you can only do that if you have hundreds of different episodes, right? Like, it's cool because it's evergreen content.

For the most part we haven't there's nothing that's like, topical, like, you know, it's not like we're talking about the Ukraine war or COVID particularly... Although the COVID stuff probably didn't age very well, I would say that... But the reality is just the best time to start a podcast was seven years ago, or eight years ago. You know, that's because we were there at the right place, the right time, and we just have a lot of content out there. So yeah, you're right. The archives are pretty deep.

Dennis 10:04  
When I was a younger dentist, I had a buddy who lived in Washington, DC. And for some reason we ended up in the Library of Congress. I have no idea why we did that. And I was thinking about that this morning. And so there's certain books you can look at in Library of Congress, but there's a bunch that you're not supposed to be even touch, but there was a door that was open. And literally behind this door, there's a spiral staircase.

And I'm like, well, it's there. And we're here. And so we just sort of wondered if this spiral staircase, and we went into the deep vaults of the Library of Congress. I was so stupid. I mean, I was 20 something years old, right? What's the worst that could happen? So anyhow, that's sort of how, when I was digging through some of your old stuff, I felt like I was going back, and going through and digging through trying to find some stuff.

Alan 10:47  
We were terrible in the beginning, too. It's fun to listen. We were not very good in the beginning. I mean, I think the content was okay, but we didn't know what we were doing. And like, one thing... When you do it a lot, the conversation becomes smoother. Or, I don't know. The other thing is, as my dad said, you know, you guys would finish each other's sentences. It's kind of true.

Jason and I did a live event, when we were at Voices of Dentistry, we did a live podcast together. It was really fun. And it was it was the same, it was the same like things haven't changed that way. We still have really good chemistry with that. And that was one of the things, but even from the very beginning we had... We sort of tried to make each other laugh; that was sort of the... And oftentimes we did.

The Early Days of Dental Podcasting

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Listen as Dr. Alan Mead talks about the early episodes when he was new to podcasting and how that changes over time.

Early Experiences and Being the Child of a Dentist

Alan 11:04
I've got a great story that's like that. Okay, so when I was a freshman at Miami of Ohio, so that's where I went to undergrad, which is outside of Cincinnati. 

Dennis 11:20  
That's referred to as Khaki U. 

Alan 11:40  
Or the Harvard of the East, Harvard of the West. I don't know... That's the Harvard of the Midwest. But every college likes to say that. Michigan likes to say that. Johnson likes to say that... In any case, mine was mine was a great place to go. I have no regrets. And the funny thing about Miami is I hated it the whole time I was there, but looking back, it was such a great thing. And I found myself in those places a lot in my life. In any case, so some friends from my dorm, literally the first couple days we were there, I had a car. I had a truck, actually a pickup truck. And that was rare.

So, a bunch of us went in to Cincinnati, downtown Cincinnati. This kid lived there, and so, I didn't know anything. I just drove. And so they told me to park here, and we're like downtown. It wasn't a rough part of town, but it was not... Cincinnati, downtown Cincinnati, was not super busy. It was not... But we walked by, and there was a big bus right on the street. And there was a door open. This is much like your door. And we were dumb 18 year olds and so we just went in the door. Of course, we couldn't have gotten into a bar if we wanted to. This was the backdoor.

So we walk in the back door to the club. It's friggin Joe Cocker singing "You Can Leave Your Hat On" to a completely crowded.... It was like, that was his bus that was like waiting to take him off stage, and like somehow some stagehand had left the door open, and we walked in and watched his finishing number, which was pretty cool. And they didn't kick us out. They saw us there, and it was pretty cool. That was pretty neat thing. So sometimes, sometimes those doors -- if you're bold or dumb enough, whichever it is, maybe a little both -- it's maybe worth walking through sometimes.

Dennis 13:22  
And for those listeners who don't know who Joe Cocker is, you have to go YouTube him.

Alan 13:27  
Sorry, he's died a while back. But he's he's got a real gruff voice. And he's got a bunch of songs you've heard before. You know, it's... But yeah, I like... Who knew we were going to walk into a Joe Cocker concert? This would have been in what 1989, too! 

Dennis 13:40  
Oh, at the height! 

Alan 13:41  
He was awesome. 

Dennis 13:42  
So, you tell the story about how you and Jason met. But before you get into all that, one of the things that I'm always super curious about, Alan, is when, talking to dentists, there are such different journeys for all of us about how we got into it. And so your dad was a dentist, correct? 

Alan 13:56
Yeah. Yep. 

Dennis 13:58
So, what was it like having a dad as a dentist? Because I cannot... My daughter can talk about it, but I can't talk about that. What's it like having a dad as a dentist? 

Alan 14:08  
Well, he liked it. He still likes it. Like literally we went to the... You know the Better Meeting up north? 

Dennis 14:15  

Alan 14:16  
So, we were at the Meeting last fall. And it was really cool because we had a bunch of... several podcast listeners that came from not Michigan. I mean, the meeting is basically Michigan people that go up north and see excellent continuing education for $0. Basically, it's like the best deal in CE, and it tends to be a Michigan-ish thing. Well, I invited some people from the pod, anyone who wanted to to come up, and so we got we had people from Oregon, we had people from Indiana, it was great. And we saw Hornbrook who was fantastic. He was really good.

And anyhow, so my dad, every person he ran into every person younger than about 50, he said, "Whatever you do, don't retire. Just slow down. Just slow down!" Because he misses it. He really misses it. He does work in my office some occasionally like doing removable stuff, but so he's someone who doesn't like to sit still very much. And he does miss it. But I mean, he loved it when I was growing up.

So like, I remember moving into his old building. He had multiple old buildings at that point, but when I was probably about 12, I helped him and the guy that he built the building with, move into the new office, and that would have been like 1981. And I remember... I just remember what a huge deal that was. I remember... I don't know man, I just grew up in it! You know? He would take us over there all the time. I tell the story constantly. But he'd take us over there all the time when he was doing whatever as dentists do, and you got something... You've got some on your desk, you've got to... whether it's charts or whatever, he'd take us over there.

My sister and I would move around and spray each other with air water syringes, and go up and down on the chair. My kids do the exact same thing when I take them to the office. So I mean, but there's a comfort of being in a dental office. I didn't recognize a dental office smell, if you did, because it was just dad's office, you know? And then more than that, this is the best part. I started mowing the lawn at his office when I was like 12. And the lawn at his office was enormous to be mowing with like a regular mower. And that's exactly... I mowed it with a regular mower. So it took two and a half, three hours, and it was... I mean, I'm sure I did not do a very good job considering how it would take like a lawn place probably like 10 minutes. 

Dennis 16:33  
Right, right. 

Alan 16:33  
You'd have 3 guys doing it, and be done! But I mean, like I literally... I was around that office a lot. A lot! And then when I could drive I'd put the mower in the truck, and it was... I was not good. I broke a lot of sprinkler heads with that gig, actually. But I also had ortho. He did ortho. Man, he did ortho. He was doing ortho before it was even close to cool for general dentists to be doing ortho, like,

Dennis 17:04
Like twin wire? Twin wire society? 

Alan 17:07
Yeah, I mean, yeah. And he did a fair amount of... I was in a bionator when I was in seventh grade. Well, I remember specifically because I had to give a speech, a speech class and I went up with the bionator and forgetting it, that it was in my mouth. And I took it out midway through the speech, which was a real hit, apparently! I don't know if there's any...

I mean, of course, it was the grossest thing ever. Poor Mr. Navarro had a heart attack. But I mean, and looking back knowing what the bionator is, that's like, I mean, I don't think they use the bionator very much because it was this giant piece of acrylic that I was wearing the whole time, and it was... I was in headgear. Basically everything that he learned, he would try on me, basically. And I have... I've said this on the show before. I have spaces. I have all of my wisdom teeth, and I've got room for more. I have a diastema that he closed multiple times, and I was terrible retainer wearer because he had been braces when I was like, eight, you know? I was so jacked up.

Dennis 17:59  
You know what's interesting, I hate to interrupt, but it's, you know... You talked about the bionator, and you're talking about starting early intervention at eight. And it's interesting. Your dad was a real pioneer. 

Alan 18:08  
He had no idea! He had no idea what he was like. And he would never... He never, never took these out. He'd never do extraction work. Well, little did he know... I mean, he was treating airway before they knew... Yeah. And that's the one thing you can say! I've got a lot of things wrong with me. I got a tongue the size of the school bus. But my airway is pretty good. Because I have these jaws. I have these jaws. It's ridiculous. And he didn't... There were never any teeth gone, he was never going to retract me much. But even when he did, I didn't wear the retainer.

So I have a natural diastema. He ended up, after a couple several times, fixing the diastema closure he did in composite, he did them in porcelain, probably midway through college. So I figured that had to have been about 1992. They're still on. And I mean, he didn't prep much. Because there's no way these things stayed unless he was bonding to enamel, for sure. I mean, like so. And if you look at them on the x-ray, I've got a beauty of a space to my teeth still. So it's yeah, they probably need to be redone. But that's some longevity. Considering I'm 50 years old. I've been there for 26 years or something. 

Dennis 19:13  
That's not bad. 

Alan 19:14  
Yeah, pretty good. Pretty good. So I grew up in a dental office, and I've had a lot of dental work done on me.

Dennis 19:19  
So I mean, my daughter grew up, you know, in the dental office. I mean, I was always going in on the weekends doing stuff and she's like, the last thing I'm going to do is be a dentist. I don't want to have that. So, you know, you can be in that environment. And you can be either compelled to, you know, join it, or you can be sort of, you know, opposite. You can be sort of pushed away with it.

Alan 19:41  
Yeah, I know Dad wanted me to be a dentist. I don't know why, like I now that I have kids. I don't have a strong feeling that I... For one thing, dentistry was... Like right now, with the kind of debt you have to go into to go to dental school, it clearly is a different animal. So I don't feel super... And I, unfortunately, having heard and talked to lots of you younger dentists, that debt load is not anything I necessarily would wish for my kids. But on the other hand, I mean, it's been a good profession for me.

But like I said, I think I was born at the right time on some level. But I always... it was always a thing. It's really funny. When I was in college, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Dad thought that was not a great idea. He wanted me to be a dentist, but I wanted to be a veterinarian and I would go back and forth on that deal. And I remember when I was taking the DAT, the standardized test for dental school, I don't even know if they do that anymore. 

Dennis 20:39  
They do. Absolutely. 

Alan 20:40  
So, I'm a pretty good test taker, but I didn't really study much or anything like that. But the most important thing was at the time I took the DAT, I was pretty sure I was going to be a veterinarian. And so I'm like, damn, I signed up for this test. I might as well show up and take it, but I don't want to be a dentist at this point. So I went in there with zero expectations. And I did very well. I did really.... I will say I did not do well on the organic chemistry part because it had been a couple years since I'd taken organic chemistry and I didn't do any studying for it. But I did really well.

Apparently on the biology section, I got 100%, and apparently that doesn't happen ever. And I literally got a... I got a freaking scholarship for my DAT scores the first freshman year of dental school and like you could have knocked me over with a feather. I thought scholarship? I don't even remember taking the test because I didn't need to take it. So that's I will say that; if you're taking standardized tests, take the ones you don't think you need because of the lack of pressure. I did the same thing for the GRE because I was already going to be a dentist when I took the GRE for vet school. So that's a really... That's a test prep tip that they don't give you. I'd be an award winning lawyer by now.

Dennis 21:58
Yeah. So, alright, so that's really... I'm really surprised by that. I was sort of thinking alright, you're you're loving dentistry. You're out there practicing with your dad. And so you get in, you get in dental school. So what about vet school? Did you follow up with vet school?

Alan 22:01
No, I would have... I would have applied to Michigan State. Because Michigan State is a great vet school. And that's... I mean, like, I didn't have a drive to go it. But when I was looking at dental schools, I couldn't have been any more midwest. I looked at Michigan, Detroit for about three seconds. Detroit was still in... Detroit was still in the building that my dad graduated from. 

Dennis 22:28  
Yeah, that's a scary area.
Sometimes those doors -- if you're bold or dumb enough, whichever it is, maybe a little of both -- it's maybe worth walking through [them] sometimes.
Dr. Alan Mead

School Experiences, Mentorship, and Dental Boards

Alan 22:30  
That was tough neighborhood. Yeah, I mean, like, I've actually spoken at the University of Detroit now. And the school is amazing, but it is in a tough neighborhood still. Literally while I was there last time I was speaking, they had a car stolen from the parking lot. I was worried it was mine. It was a pretty tough neighborhood, so I looked at Detroit for a second and I knew that wasn't going to happen for me. I went to Michigan.

I applied at Michigan. I applied at Minnesota. I applied at Iowa, and I applied at Nebraska. And I remember my dad and I took some kind of cool trips because we did Iowa and Nebraska at the same time. And all of them really seemed pretty compelling. Minnesota. This is embarrassing, but true. Minnesota was particularly compelling because you know who Garrison Keillor is? 

Dennis 23:11  
Oh, sure, of course. 

Alan 23:11  
Okay. So I listened. I mean, I was a seventy year old man when I was 20. I was a big Garrison Keillor fan, like the News from Lake Wobegon kind of stuff, that sort of thing. And so I was sort of drawn to Minnesota for that. And then I went to... I liked the building. And Doggone it if these guys...

Probably the thing that made the choice for me was I went and visited this iomega house when I interviewed at Minnesota, and there was a guy by the name of Rob Kozlowski, who is still practicing. I think he was a junior at the time, I went to see it, and he was so kind and so nice. He gave me a tour of the title house, and told me everything I wanted to know like from an actual student point of view. And no matter what, they did a nice job at Minnesota making you feel welcome in the recruiting, if you will. They're great. They're good people.

But Rob, probably, Rob and Bill, who I'm still in contact with now, are probably the reason I went to Minnesota because they were so nice. And they were so... And I did. I lived at the silo house for three years. And that's how I ended up in Minnesota. I mean, I lament the fact that University of Michigan was two hours from home, and my dad's entire family is within 20 minutes of Ann Arbor, and they all have terrible teeth. So I didn't... You know, like I... it would have been perfect! I would have had all the patients I could stand. I didn't know a soul in Minnesota when I went there, so it wasn't a great choice on that part.

But but if you closed your eyes and ended up in the clinic at Michigan or Minnesota, you probably wouldn't have been able to tell which one it was. Minnesota's building was tall and Michigan's was wide, but more or less, they're very similar that way.

Dennis 24:46  
Oh, interesting. Yeah, so I went to Michigan. I was there before you would have gone because I graduated in '88. So what year what year did you graduate?

Alan 24:54  
I graduated in '97. 

Dennis 24:55  
Yeah, so that would have... You would have seen like the former tray burn marks that we left on the countertops, but...

Alan 25:03  
Yeah, there was plenty of that, too. I can't believe they let us have open flames in those days.

Dennis 25:10  
The good old days. 3D printers, who needs them? Give me that tray of liquid and a lighter...

Alan 25:16  
My favorite thing was like our denture like the preclinical Denture Clinic. They just said, "Start doing it!" And we're like, "Start doing what?" We had no idea. And that's kind of how lab always was in dental school. They're like, "Just do it." You're like, "Do what?" I can't believe how little we actually knew when we got up there. It blows my mind.

Dennis 25:37  
Yeah, you have an open flame, some hot acrylic, some molten metal... 

Alan 25:40  
What could possibly go wrong? Exactly.

Dennis 25:44  
When you when you finished dental school, did you join your dad's practice? 

Alan 25:48  
I did. I did. Well, you know, that's one thing. It's really funny because I never... There was never a question where I was going when I was done. So interestingly, I left having... I failed boards the first time. It was even it was it was the type of doc stuff that I failed. I passed all my clinical stuff. It was the type of doc stuff I failed, which is so crazy. So I had to go take boards a second time in Chicago at Northwestern, which was...

Looking back I can't believe how brave I was. I'm not that brave of a person, like going into a strange dental school with a patient that I brought from Midland, with an assistant that I brought from Midland, and like, hoping for the best It was insane. I passed. I passed! You know, I made it. But oh my gosh, I can't believe how... What a bold thing to have done. And I can't even... I mean, I remember doing it, but it's like I was a different person at that point. But so yeah, I had a license in Minnesota.

And I didn't realize... I mean, how could I have missed this giant thing? Michigan is Eastern, and Minnesota is Central. Eastern boards and central boards! And I took central boards. And they didn't automatically just give you a license, like you had to credential. Well, they did. Somehow or another, the Michigan -- and it might be that Dad knew people or the Michigan Dental Association may have lobbied for me or something like that -- but I didn't have to take Eastern boards. They took my credits.

Yeah, it really didn't hurt that Dad was kind of... knew a lot of folks in the Michigan Dental Association that were willing to stick their neck out for me. So that was good.

Dennis 27:20  
You know, one of the one of the good things that's changing is that no longer is it going to be just these regional boards. Things are becoming much more universal, with some some exceptions in some states, but the other thing that's happened with COVID is there's... I think they're getting away from live patient boards, which is so important, because...

Alan 27:37  
Ethically speaking, they never had a leg to stand on with live patient boards!

Dennis 27:42  
I think it's just a money generating scheme. And it was complete BS. I mean, we had to pay our patients to come for the boards. And if they didn't show up, you're automatically failed. In today's world, they take their boards while they're still in school. I don't know how it was for you, but we didn't take boards until we were graduating. So if you didn't pass, or even if you did pass, you didn't get your license until July. So...

Alan 28:05  
I got a little of both, Dennis, because we took our boards while we were in school. But since I failed them, then I got to take them after I graduated with no... I mean, having having the support of the school where you had done a mock boards was probably a winner. I mean, if the situation could be better, that would be the way it was. You know, the other thing is what you do is a bunch of people would pay extra patients to just sit around just in case they didn't accept your perio patients. I mean, come on. Come on! 

Dennis 28:31  
What a bunch of nonsense! 

Alan 28:32  
And what's crazy is that we just took it because that's what we had to do, instead of saying, you know, okay, ethically speaking, let's think about the patients here. Is this a good thing for patients to be like, "Oh, yeah, we're going to hold off on treating that perio until it's good for me." Come on! I mean they should... Honestly, they should all be embarrassed that that ever was a thing! To be perfectly honest.

Dennis 28:55  
Well, and I can understand early on, you didn't have a whole lot of options. But now with the materials that we have available, they can do better. And they finally are! And it was COVID, I think, that pushed things over the edge. Thank God because of what a bunch of crap that was!

Taking the Dental Boards

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Dr. Mead shares about taking the dental boards and how he feels about looking back on that experience.

Dental School, Mental Health, and Training

Alan 29:06  
Well, I will say COVID has got to... And I know I don't have any associates or anything like that, but COVID has made... They have no... I mean, COVID made it so these students had no actual clinical experience or very little. I mean, like they haven't they haven't had any patient experience. And like, that was the entirety of the second two years of dental school! Showing up and grinding it out. And, you know, the other thing is, we should probably... The patients that would show up to the dental school and be patients, those people are saints! 

Dennis 29:06  
They're angels! 

Alan 29:07  
Yeah, they are. And a lot of them did it because they knew that it was good for us. I mean, at Minnesota... I mean, okay, some people say, "Well, it costs a lot less!" But I'm saying if you're getting paid, first off, the amount of time that it took -- there are no cost savings there. 

Dennis 29:49  
Yeah, no, not a chance!

Alan 29:51  
But on top of that, at the University of Minnesota, it wasn't that much less expensive. Honestly, that was the thing that you know, you'd think it'd be easy to sell treatment when it doesn't cost very much but it was it wasn't that much less Less than what everyone was paying outside. They have to, you know... There was no appointment at the University of Minnesota that wasn't three hours long. 

Dennis 30:06  
Oh, for sure!

Alan 30:06  
Polishing an amalgam? That's a three hour appointment!

Dennis 30:08  
With a rubber dam! 

Alan 30:10  
Exactly. I just am like oh, man, and those people put up with a lot. I sure I look back and I think, man, I just... Thank goodness for them. And I didn't like I said, I didn't know anyone in Minnesota. So, at least if it was your mom, she was going to put up with whatever. 

Dennis 30:25  
God forbid I worked on my Mom, are you crazy? 

Alan 30:27  
I know, I know. My best friend did a full mouth rehab, essentially, probably one crown at the time or whatever on both of his parents at that point. I remember, honestly, he had his friends doing stuff on... His mom needed work, and his mom was willing to show up. And so, she was a patient for multiple friends of his and stuff. Unbelievable. She's a great lady, too. So I just tend to think... I'm like, you know, those guys were smart. Those guys were smart to get it done that way. I just... I didn't have the resources because everyone was so far away. 

Dennis 30:58  

Alan 30:59  
I mean, if I had it to do over again, I don't know that I would... Dental School was hell for me. I did not... I didn't come out of dental school mentally well. I am still scarred to be perfectly honest.

Dennis 31:10  
Same. Yeah. I want to talk about that. When I was in dental school, the culture at Michigan was very much... It was very army based. You know, digging ditches just to fill up ditches type stuff.

Alan 31:29  
You brought your wax up to the instructor, and they just... If they didn't like it, they'd just break it. Break it, do it again.

Dennis 31:35  
And it was... Thank God I had wonderful, wonderful classmates. I don't know that I would have gotten through dental school if I didn't have such awesome classmates. Because it was an emotional struggle was an academic struggle. And I haven't been... I have literally not gone back into University Michigan dental school since I graduated. I've walked by it, I've thought about going in, and I'm like, I I still have this PTSD from from all the stress that was there. And did you feel the same thing? Because a lot of people don't! A lot of people have a great experience.

Alan 31:53  
I mean, I had a horrible experience. I have been back to Minnesota before. I mean, like multiple... I've taken courses there. I took a surgical course there. I took a photography course there, and what's interesting is like, I've only been able to do... I've only been able to do that. It's hard to say because am I angry at the way we were treated? Yeah. But I also know that like a lot of the folks that were treating us that way, were treated that way. 

Dennis 32:37  

Alan 32:38  
Like the change in culture doesn't come without someone being very understanding about it. I don't know. It's hard to like... I've had some good experiences there since, and I've actually talked to a lot of students at Minnesota, and it does sound like the culture has changed some which is good. The culture was not good there. I mean, it was not it was not good. It was bordering on abusive, and it was...

But I mean, I know people that that, even when I was going to school, that had a good experience in dental school. So part of it's the fact that I didn't have much in the way of coping skills, I think, probably. And that's a huge part of it for me. But, you know, my dad talked about, you know, dental school was a nightmare for him, too. 

Dennis 33:18  
I bet it was! 

Alan 33:19  
On some level. I think there's a bit of that for everyone. So if you're one of the people that that loves dental school, understand that we're not alike. We're just not alike. We're different kinds of people. I talked to Justin Moody, who's like, "Oh, yeah, I loved it. I was done with my prerequisites at the end of my junior year. So I just hung out in the Oral Surgery Clinic." I'm like, "Who are you? Who are you? Oh, my God!" I was a super senior it took to my... I was over for summer after. It was actually the most relaxed time in dental school after I'd technically graduated, I just had to finish up my patients in July or whatever. It was crazy.

So I didn't understand that. I didn't understand people could do that. But I've talked to tons of people that had a pretty good experience around the same time that I was there. So it isn't just the dental school. I have to own some of that; I just didn't have the coping skills. Because school was never a challenge for me until like, honestly, I don't mean to say that, like, I'm some kind of super genius. But at Miami, Ohio, it wasn't that hard. I did fine. And I got great grades, you know? So, on some level, dental school might be that it was the first time that I wasn't, you know, it wasn't a walk in the park.

And honestly, for me, even the academic stuff wasn't too awful bad. Like just if it was lectures, I have a... I don't think I do anymore, but I used to have a creepy memory, like creepy. Like, I didn't need to go over the stuff very much to pass the test... 

Dennis 34:40  
How nice!

Alan 34:41  
So it was the clinical and preclinical, it was the hand stuff that I just didn't have a skill set for. I mean, the story is that you can you can get that; that comes with practice. And I mean, literally your entire model is that! Your entire model is that it does come with repetition, practice, and some some leadership. I did have some really good clinical instructors and preclinical instructors that understood that I struggled with... that I was a little slower than the rest and took a little more time with me. That was helpful.

But honestly, one of the best... I failed operative preclinical operative second year, so I had to do summer school with... There a few others of us, and then there were there's a fixed price one where they had to... So luckily I only had to do it in operative. I was with a couple guys that had do operative and fixed proths. But we weren't allowed to go in the clinic, which was incredibly shameful. It was really... it was embarrassing. It was shameful. We were, you know, we were the slow kids. It was bad. What was great was the actual summer clinic of preclinical operative, I was allowed to...

They re-graded us on all of the same practicals that we did during the regular time and we were allowed to get whatever grade we got in the preclinical. I was one point away from an A, like, so having the hands-on, having a lot of practice having an instructor right there to help, made a big difference, too. It really did! It made... And that's a lesson people could learn, too. I mean, some people... And this is, again, this was totally your thing. People learn so differently. There were some people that just never had a hard time understanding how the handpiece works and how the how the eye hand coordination works. And, you know, and there were some people like me where it took a while to get that, you know? I took a while to get that.

Dennis 36:25  
So that's where most people... I think most dentists... You know, truth be told there's going to be some that are just super, super skilled, you know? You've talked about... what's your friend from Britain? 

Alan 36:37  
Oh, Smithson, 

Dennis 36:38  
Yes, Smithson. So he's a natural...

Alan 36:40  
He knows it. He won't say it. But he also he knows it. He knows he is. He understands that he's got different kinds of eyes and hands and the rest of us do. And he does. He's not even arrogant about it. Because he knows he's blessed, honestly. So...

Dennis 36:55  
There are people out there; we had them in our class, right? For me, I just tried to outwork everybody. I was in the lab at night. I was just prepping teeth, prepping teeth, prepping teeth. I mean, I just understood that, you know, it's about repetition. It's like a golf swing, like a baseball swing...

Alan 37:09  
It is! It is, but what they always tell you, though... They didn't want... In Minnesota, they didn't... I don't know if it's because they didn't want you to burn through their teeth supply? It could have literally been about dollars and cents. They didn't want you prepping a bunch of teeth, especially not without them grading your efforts and understanding... You know what I'm saying? On some level... So, I'm going to tell you right now, if you're struggling, if you're a dental student struggling with the hand skills...

This is what my best friend Bart always says. He says you should just hand them a box of 1000 teeth and say, "Don't even come back and talk to me until you've prepped 1000 teeth!" Because because the story is, like, even if you don't have the best instruction on every preparation you do, just doing it. Just doing it makes a huge difference! A huge difference. And I didn't have that! At all. So I...

Dennis 37:58  
I remember, I couldn't tell what the DEJ was. I mean, like I... You know, I'm starting out in clinic and they're like, "You're still in the enamel!" I'm like, really? And then I mean, I remember going in one night, and I just took a handful of teeth, and I just kept on drilling. And then I started feeling it. It's like, "Oh, that's the damn DEJ!"

Alan 38:12  
Do you remember the first time you had to drop a box on a typodont tooth? And of course, the idea of using a mirror to tell you! So literally, a lot of times, you're sort of doing it by feel, but you didn't have any feel! So it was, you know, like it was just a friggin... I remember that! I remember that. Like my day was fine as long as I didn't have to drop a box! I'm thinking to myself, like... Which, of course is what every one of us does 1000 times a day without even thinking about it. But there was a time in my career where I'm like, "Look, if I can just work on the occlusal or the facial, I'm good. I'm great!"

You know, it's like, like having to break into the interproximal was the scariest thing in the world. I remember that. I remember when that was a thing. But the thing in dental school is that you have to put on the air that you got it all figured out. I was never any good at that everyone knew that. I didn't have it figured out, but I mean, the air was you had to feel inferior or you weren't doing it right!

Dennis 39:04  
Well, you've got to fake it until you make it, right? But that's a total challenge. 

Alan 39:05  

The Importance of Repetition

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Watch as Dennis and Alan talk about the critical role that repetition plays in learning new skills as a dentist. 

The Podcasting World and Continuing Education

Dennis 39:12  
There's a couple things I want to talk about. I want to talk about podcasting. Because like we talked about, I mean, I really, really appreciate yours. And so, you know, you tell the story about how you and Jason had sort of met online back... And I didn't even know you guys had met when computers were around. I figured it was before then.

Alan 39:28  
No, no, we met on Facebook!

Dennis 39:32  
And then was that part of Dental Town? Is that where you guys met through?

Alan 39:35  
We actually met on Facebook. I probably could look back and see the date. But I mean, I was preparing a talk for the Michigan Dental Association meeting. And you've probably been to MDA meetings before? 

Dennis 39:47  

Alan 39:47  
I mean, like, when the MDA meeting, when local state meetings were good, the MDA meeting was as good as they got. I hate to say it, they all suck now, but... But I mean that was that was the highlight, you know? You'd go to Chicago Midwinter, and then the MDA was only a couple months away. So, you had your meetings that you'd go to. In any case I was preparing for... I got to speak at that meeting a bunch of times on a bunch of different things. I spoke on addiction; I spoke on...

But for a while, I was speaking on social media, which is funny because I'm still... I was young at that time, and social media was so new. Like I look back, and I think to myself, I would never want to speak on social media because it changes so quickly. Like when I was speaking you couldn't have imagined such a thing as Instagram.

Dennis 40:31  
Or TikTok!

Alan 40:32  
Yeah, exactly. Well, so. But Jason had a pretty good... He'd written a book, Social Media for Dentists, he and another guy, right? I mean... We're talking like the aughts, man, the early aughts. And I was struggling to find out about how Google reviews and how Google Local worked. I couldn't figure that out for some reason, and he had a lot of good stuff on Facebook. And so I just reached out to him, and he basically gave me all of his stuff. And he said, "Yeah, go ahead, use whatever." And so I kind of...

My entire Google Local and everything was Jason's when I gave it, it was a pretty good presentation at the time. And Jason pretty much gave it to me. So I realized he knew what was going on with online stuff, so social media stuff, which is so funny, because both he and I are relatively old compared to, you know, social media, but but we were kind of playing around with it when it was still kind of an early thing. 

Dennis 41:21  
The infancy. 

Alan 41:22  
Yeah, exactly. So that's how I met him. He was super nice, gave me all that stuff. And we always... I could tell he had a good sense of humor then, too. We would make each other laugh. So then, I don't know, I listened to podcasts. And I kept... I sort of remember me bugging him about maybe we should try this. Like we probably have... We'd probably make each other laugh; we could do give it a try. And then we met in person for the first time in 2013 at a Jason Smithson Course at Cosmedent. And you know, I can't really say enough. If you have not taken a course at Cosmedent, you need to take a course at Cosmedent. I literally think it's, you know... Okay, so Spear has an amazing classroom. Kois has an amazing classroom. You know who had an amazing classroom first?

Dennis 42:07  

Alan 42:08  
Cosmedent had that classroom in the sky overlooking Michigan Avenue before those guys had anything. I literally think a lot of these these teaching, you know, these teaching centers for dentists that aren't dental schools, they're all kind of based on what Cosmedent started, I think.

Dennis 42:23  
I agree! And the nice thing about Cosmedent, too, is it is small. You know, it's 15 people max and that's half the size.

Alan 42:29  
They've never changed that, too. I know that's got to be tempting sometimes, but they... But you're going to have hands on, you know, you're going to have face time with one of the instructors. And then when they get you and Buddy, you've got two instructors, for crying out loud! The reality is... I mean, it's a great... First off socially, it's great. You know, you guys always take people to great lunch or anything like that.

And downtown Chicago is nice. You don't really... No one is -- well, maybe they could -- but people are probably not really driving in in the morning, they're probably staying somewhere and just walking over which is. So it's a... You can kind of focus on what's going on. But it's a great classroom, it's... You know, my only thing was that, like, you could probably stay there longer and do more. It was always like, there's always... they didn't overwhelm you. But it was... There's just a lot of good stuff in there.

Dennis 43:15  
When you started out, and you were talking to Jason, literally, seriously, why did you think anyone would want to listen to you?

Alan 43:22  
We didn't! we didn't know.

Dennis 43:24  
Did it ever occur to you... Did you say, like, why? Why would anyone want to listen to us?

Alan 43:31  
Yeah, I don't know. I, you know, I think there was a dearth of content that was...

Dennis 43:41  
It was related...

Alan 43:43  
I have a theory about podcasting. And basically, you need to be entertaining first, informative second, but you need to be entertaining first. It needs to be entertaining. Because if you're just pitching a product, no one's going to stick with that. No one's going to stick with that. So that's always been my theory. And so I felt like because Jason cracked me up, and still does, I felt like.... Okay, so on some level, I was always the big talker. I was always the lead sort of like...

For whatever reason, I think it's actually a fault of mine. I can't stand empty space. So I will fill it with words. I do that to my... I do that at the office. I mean, it's a problem, except it's worked out for me. But in any case, Jason was always waiting to put the zinger in there. So Jason, his talent is to put the like the soul-crushingly funny zinger in in the conversation, so he wasn't he wasn't necessarily a guy who would pick the conversation up from the beginning, but he was always like the perfect foil. 

Dennis 44:47  

Alan 44:47  
And we kind of knew that about each other, but literally... And the other thing is we all wanted to... My thing was that the best thing I thought to listen to if you've ever heard... God, it's been a long time since I've listened to it, but a podcast called the Skeptics Guide to the Universe. And it's basically... It's like a five person podcast that talks about scientific skepticism. And it was huge at the time; it's got to be even bigger now. But there were five people that were on it, so it is a roundtable all the time. You know, a roundtable all the time. And then actually the other one that I listened to a lot was called Muggle Cast. And this was back in the day...

Dennis 44:55  
Harry Potter! 

Alan 44:59  
Yeah, right. It was just a bunch of high school kids. It was kids for crying out loud! But they did a roundtable style podcast, and I thought to myself, no one does that in dentistry. And my thing was like, so we were definitely going to do a roundtable but then also have Jason and I interview people and we didn't realize how, at the time, how nice it was going to be. People were okay being interviewed. Most people didn't know what they're getting into. 

Dennis 45:43  

Alan 45:44  
But it was... So, on some level, they didn't really have that. There were a few podcasts out there, not a ton. Gary Paccus was out there, and Bill Alsaid was out there, and Jason Lagerfeld and Grant, they were doing sort of... It was wasn't really a dental podcast, called The Prism, it was sort of a... Because these are a couple of the ones that I went on before I decided that I could do it. I was a guest of a couple before I wanted to do it. And I'm like, I could totally do this. And then, so I kind of came in there with the idea of this is how we should do because it would be interesting. And we sort of stuck with that. And that's actually still hung in there to this day.

We actually used to do it... So we'd always had the first half of the podcast was an interview, the second half was a roundtable. And I'd always break the interviews into two parts. So you'd have to listen to the second podcast to get the rest. Everyone hated that. And I did that for the first probably couple years. And I finally said, "Okay, okay, I hear everyone! You hate it!" So I would... You could start and finish the same interview or roundtable at the same time. But so that was... I felt like that would be interesting to listen to. And I think it is, but the other thing is, is Jason I didn't realize that he and I would just have...

We could carry it on our own, too. A lot of times, we always had banter before and after that stuff. And that was that became very comfortable and easy because we got used to each other. So on some level, it just worked out. I didn't know people were going to want to listen to us. But I did know that there weren't a lot of podcasts out there. So we thought, hey, maybe we could start something interesting. You know?

Dennis 47:11  
One of the challenges when I'm doing these -- and we call it a Sharecast because it's all about people just sort of sharing -- but because I'm my own, I've only invited people in who I think are fun and enjoyable. Because I need that banter. I want to have fun while I'm doing this, and so when you guys were doing this, and you guys talked to a lot of people, there must have been some people where it was just sort of like, like trying to, you know, talking to a snail... like talking to a book! And then, I'm assuming, having Jason with you, you guys could sort of overcome that.

Alan 47:40
Yeah, I think so. I've got to tell you, if anyone wants to listen to an interview, where we warmed the person up, and they came, and they finally realized where we were going with it. Scott Ganz.

Dennis 47:52
That was a long time ago. 

Alan 47:58  
Okay, so we interviewed...

Dennis 48:01  
He's an implant guy for those who don't know. 

Alan 48:01  
He's an intimidating implant guy. Like he's been at the cutting edge of implants for years and years. And we were, you know, to him, we were just a couple chuckleheads. I didn't know anything about him. Jason kind of brought him in. And you could tell about halfway through the interview, he realized, "Oh, this is okay. This is softballs. These guys are okay." And it was a pretty good interview.

And on some level that got easier as we went along, because I think once people had heard of us, or maybe heard how we do things, they knew that it wasn't gonna be... Because I think a lot of people were worried about what it was going to be because they didn't know anything about podcasts. They didn't know... They didn't know what to expect. And I don't blame them for that on some level. And we got to talk with... The other thing is the technology has been... Man, the technology was tough because you want to... It's important that it sounds decent. There's nothing worse than listening to an interview that sounds like a bad cell phone call. 

Dennis 48:03  

Alan 48:08  
And back when we started, a lot of times, that's what the technology would allow. So I would... I went to great lengths to -- I won't even go into it, but I went into great lengths to to have some pretty elaborate ways to make it sound good. Now... 

Dennis 49:06  
You guys would send a microphone! 

Alan 49:10  
Yeah, it was nuts! And we would... Well because the other thing is if they didn't have a decent mic, what we didn't realize is that on some level, you could almost do your phone, like an iPhone microphone is actually not bad. But if they can even get just an iPhone headset, it was better than a laptop mic. Although some of the laptop mics now, in a relatively quiet room, aren't even all that bad. So literally we've been doing it long enough that the technology's just gotten better, I think! But yeah, I mean, the other thing is like sometimes people accepted our invitation that we wouldn't ...

We talked to Rella Christiansen early on. Gordon wanted nothing to do with us! I still have never podcasted with Gordon Christiansen, which I'd love to, but I still never have... But Rella did, and meanwhile she was just -- oh my gosh, she was unreal! The sound wasn't very good. I wasn't... I didn't record her very well unfortunately. But, boy, the podcast content was amazing. I remember that. There was a long time ago. I mean, it was within the first year that we were doing it. So it had to be 2014 or 2015. That's nuts! Seven years ago! 

Dennis 50:06  
That's cool. 

Alan 50:08  
So yeah, I mean, and I think it got easier to get guests on! And I will say this, the roundtables are great. But it's hard enough to get three people to come on at once. Getting four or five people to come on, that's hard!

Dennis 50:21  
Yeah. It's hard to coordinate having one person as a guest, let alone having multiple people that have to be in with that as well.

Alan 50:30  
Yeah, and the remote... The idea of recording from your living room or whatever sounds great. Except the tech... The technology really has caught up. Zoom is pretty good. We use Squadcast, but I mean, there's some pretty good things, but at the time, it didn't... The other thing is that what I've realized...

The perfect world is that I would live in Los Angeles or Chicago or something where people, there were lots of people to talk to that you could do face to face studios. That'd be awesome. And I think, the quality of the conversation live is pretty great. Like, you've got to admit that the quality of conversation is pretty good when you're in person. We've done that at Voices of Dentistry a lot. And so, I like to try and come to meetings where I can talk with people.

Dennis 50:59
Right! That you just can't when you're screen separated and all that.

Alan 51:01
Even better at meetings, too, when you have a headset mic like we have, it's pretty cool, because you get the background noise of the meeting going on. But yet when you're in there, it's like you're in your own little room in there. 

Dennis 51:28  
I didn't know people were going to want to listen to us. But I did know that there weren't a lot of podcasts out there. So we thought, hey, maybe we could start something interesting!
Dr. Alan Mead

The Voice of Dentistry and Dental Podcasts

Alan 51:28  
Very cool. It's a really cool... My dream had always been to have a booth where people could look in and you podcasting, and it was quiet in there. But we have pretty close to that at Voice of Dentistry though, too. So it's pretty good. We've got the remote, we've got the live thing figured out pretty good. I've got my live setup. If it weren't for my stupid foot, I would have been in Chicago! I've got a live set up that I can set up anywhere. I don't even need to plug. I can literally... I can run off batteries and everything like that. So I can literally do it anywhere. It's pretty great.

Dennis 51:58  
Talk to me about Voices of Dentistry. How did that come into play? And you know, like, where did that all happen?

Alan 52:06  
It's so funny. Okay, so Mark Costas was podcasting soon... He started a little bit after us, but not a lot. Mark has probably the most downloads of anyone because he... For a while there, he might still be putting out content every day. I'm not sure... That's a lot. In any case, I knew he was out there. We knew he was... And we'd had him on the show and stuff like that. And so we had a group of podcasters that were doing the thing, and it sort of sprung from my brain. I'm like we should do a meeting that kind of features podcasters. And so, we sort of... We came to it late in that year, because there is a pretty...

There's a pretty tight community of dentists that are podcast listeners. And in particular, audio podcast listeners. It's kind of a thing, you know, it's... I don't really even know how to describe it other than that they sort of came together. And so we had a nucleus of people that were going to show up for this meeting, and we just had to find a place to have it. But it kind of sprung from my brain. I'm like, what if we had a meeting where the podcasters all got together and just in did live podcasts. my original concept was that the podcasters go on stage and do live podcasts in front of an audience. It's kind of like that. And I have made a point of trying to do that whenever I present. Not every time.

Most of the time I'm presenting in some kind of a podcast format, whether that's Jason and I doing something live. I did a live Alan Mead Experience, that sort of thing. The other guys, really, since they're used to presenting to groups, a lot of them take advantage of their own thing, but we still have tried to feed your podcasters as speakers as much as possible. And that's been kind of cool. That's been a neat thing to be able to do, and we haven't done that perfectly. But also, the meeting hasn't really... the energy hasn't really changed actually.

Dennis 53:54  
Was your first one in 2017?

Alan 53:56  
Okay, so yeah, it was! Because Trump had just been inaugurated. I remember that. So it was 2017 January. Like the day before, Trump had been inaugurated, or something like that. And that's just the landmark. I've got no other commentary besides that. But so, it was in Nashville. It was the craziest thing ever. It was at the one of the... It was a resort that sounded better than it was. What is it? What's the fancy one?

Dennis 54:20  
Not the Gaylord? 

Alan 54:22  
Well it was the Gaylord, except it wasn't the one you're thinking of. It wasn't the one you're thinking. It was like the Gaylord Motor Inn, or something like that. It was across the street from the actual Gaylord resort, but it had the word Gaylord in it, and I swear to God, all the southern guys that showed up, they came because they thought it was at the actual Gaylord, and it was it was like a holidome... It was terrible.

Dennis 54:41  
The property is like a big trail, the one in Nashville...

Alan 54:44  
It's literally... You've been there because it's literally right across the street from that place.

Dennis 54:48  
I think it's awful. Quite honestly!

Alan 54:50  
I never spent any time in there because I'm a Motor Lodge guy. I'm team Motor Lodge here. But like literally if you got the wrong room, your room was literally on the outside. You had to... like they had rooms that opened into the inside. It was clearly... it was originally like a courtyard that was outside and they put a roof over it. It was a holidome for crying out loud. And actually, you know, the people that went there, we like to joke about it. It was not a nice place.

But the meeting had a cool energy. And that's what happened was Justin Moody showed up with his podcast, He had just started his podcast, and those guys never left the podcasting room. We had a room where people were doing live podcasts. Well, all of the sudden, we came to realize that that live podcasting thing was very interesting. It sort of became a place where people would go to the meeting, so they could be on podcasts. 

Dennis 55:38  

Alan 55:39  
And I have to tell you, Paul Homily and I sort of talked about this a couple of months ago, you know, at VOD 2020. You could do that without having an audience, by the way. Just have podcasters and people who want to be on podcasts show up, and have a meeting, and it'd be a lot cheaper! It'd be cheaper! You wouldn't have to put on a show or anything, just do a bunch of podcasts. So that's, on some level, we've talked about doing like VOD mini things that are just sort of like that. But so, we have a program. We have a CE program that you can take, but also, the magic is in the exhibit hall because the exhibitors are all in there on the outside. And then there's a bunch of podcasters in the middle that are doing their thing. 

Dennis 56:15  
That are doing their live podcast. 

Alan 56:15  

Dennis 56:17  
Sitting at the table and just talking.

Alan 56:17  
So, it's a different energy than probably any other meeting. And in a lot of the exhibitors come because they're sort of in the space of, you know, whatever podcasters are working. So it's been an interesting meeting. I always... I had an idea for it. And it's sort of evolved over the years, but it's pretty cool. It's a neat meeting.

Dennis 56:41  
Well, and the nice thing, you get tons of content out of it. You know, I was talking to... We have a dental Study Club, we run through DOT. We meet Friday morning, one Friday morning a month. We call it Coffee and Donut Study Club. 

Alan 56:53  

Dennis 56:54  
And we just sort of hang out. We have dentists who have been practicing for 40 plus years to dentists who are recent graduates and stuff. And someone was asking about occlusion and where should they go for an occlusion course. You know, they want to learn more about occlusion before they start doing aesthetic stuff, which I think is really brilliant. 

Alan 57:10  
That's pretty smart. 

Dennis 57:11  
Yeah. Right. And so as I was talking, I said, you know, a lot of it is about mentorship, you know, where are you going to go for your mentorship? Because if you... It's hard to take these paths alone, and if you have a group that you can take this path with, you're just going to be more successful. You're going to have people to support you.

And I think maybe with a podcast stuff, and I don't know... I'm new to this whole arena, but I think being able to talk to people who have gone through it, and have experience -- it could be equipment wise, it could be, you know, people that you're interviewing -- you know, whatever it is, I think probably being in an environment with other people who are going down a similar trail... I think that's going to be pretty, super helpful and powerful.

Alan 57:53  
Yeah. It's funny because we've talked about mentorship on the show a lot, and mentorship is a hard topic because it's hard...

Dennis 58:07  
It's my favorite topic!

Alan 58:09  
Some people really like to mentor. Some people really like to share. Like, you're like that. There's a lot of people that are not interested in sharing what they know; they're too busy doing other stuff. And that's fine, too. On some level, you wouldn't want someone mentoring you that's not particularly interested in it. 

Dennis 58:25  
Absolutely, absolutely. 

Alan 58:26  
But it's hard because on some level it's it's sort of a competitive thing. I do think that like dentists, new dentists coming out now, they just... I think someone my age or older just doesn't get it. They just can't understand the... There's a whole different kind of pressure right now. Like people my age, they were probably planning on buying a practice at some point... Maybe not, but most of them figured they don't have practice at some point 

Dennis 58:52  
For sure. 
But the the way the world is is that [with] Instagram and Facebook, you have to show that you know your stuff and that you're a rockstar! ... That's where mentorship would come in big time, to help you know what you don't know a little bit.
Dr. Alan Mead

Mentorship and Gaining Clinical Experience

Alan 58:53  
That's like a whole different animal now. Like the idea of... They come out with a practice loan because they went to dental school! I mean, literally, think about that! 400 grand! I mean, I bought my practice for way less than that! Mind you, mine is a little bit of a special situation, but bottom line is that that's the whole thing! I mean...

Dennis 59:09  
It's a house! 

Alan 59:09  
Yeah, it's a big house around here! You know so it's like, they come out with that, and did people, you know, when I graduated have debt? Yeah. But nothing really like this! Not gonna really like this. So it's just a different animal! And I do think a lot of people our age maybe don't understand it.

Dennis 59:20
We're not sensitive to it for sure! 

Alan 59:21
Yeah, that's probably... They might understand it; they don't care! But the other thing is that I also think that younger people don't realize how little clinical experience they got in school. And I don't... I'm not trying to say anything bad about their education. They paid a lot for it, for crying out loud, but they just didn't! Particularly the ones in the last couple of years, they just didn't get a lot of clinical experience!

But the the way the world is is that, you know, Instagram and Facebook, you have to show that you know your stuff and that you're a rockstar! I'm just like, man! I don't know. That's where mentorship would come in big time, to help you know what you don't know a little bit because there's a lot... I was never brave about that stuff. There's a lot of people that are. There's a lot of people that are ready to do all kinds of crazy stuff. And they don't really know what they're doing yet maybe.

Dennis 1:00:15  
Yeah, I needed... I mean, I sought out my mentorship when I was young. I mean, I would just go ask questions. I just... I mean, you know, one thing I want to talk about, and... Actually, what I'd like to do is sort of finish up our conversation here. But I want to talk to you about addiction stuff. 

Alan 1:00:31  
Sure, absolutely.

Dennis 1:00:32  
Sobriety and stuff like that. And that's going to take a few minutes. So what I'd like to do before we move on, I want to sort of finish off this part one, and then take a little break, and then we'll come back in part two. And when I want to talk... I think you and I are very similar. I think we have this very introvert / extrovert dynamic. Have you taken the Myers Briggs before?

Alan 1:00:52  
I did a long time ago! I don't remember. I mean, we did. I probably should. It'd be interesting, because I know when I took it, I tested extrovert. I know that. And I don't know if it was that I wasn't being honest. Or if I've changed, but I'm quite sure I would I would be an I. I'm pretty sure.

Dennis 1:01:11  
Yeah, I was right on the border. I was 50%. I was like, literally right on the border. And I think that that's a characteristic that I sort of suspect in you as well, is that you're able to, when you're put into a situation, you're able to be there. 

Alan 1:01:25  

Dennis 1:01:26  
But the question is when you need time, when you need to recharge your batteries. Do you want to recharge your batteries by going out and being with a bunch of people? Or do you recharge your battery by going in find solitary time and doing things on your own? 

Alan 1:01:41  
Yeah. I mean, you want me to answer that? It's the easiest question in the world. Leave me alone. I need to be alone. A lot. A lot. Yeah. Like, for a while there... We will talk about it, but what's funny, Voices of Dentistry... I am notorious... First off, Voices of Dentistry... I'm not embarrassed to say it. I don't like the drinking culture that's at my own meeting. It's a party. Everyone knows it. Haha, real funny, you know? But not for me. Right?

I will say that as soon as as soon as we're done, I disappear. And I find a small crew of people that I can be around that don't drink. I mean, I can be around people who are drinking, don't get me wrong, but I choose not to. But also, I don't really want to be around that many people, either. It's partly the drinking. It's partly, I just kind of want to be alone. So yeah.

Dennis 1:02:24  
Yeah, after I do a presentation, especially like a full day workshop or something, I just want to go back to my hotel room. And just like, you know... Maybe I'll go down to the gym and workout. Maybe I'll get a glass of wine. And I'll just turn on ESPN, but I just need to recharge after giving out all that energy, and I sort of suspect it's the same with you. 

Alan 1:02:40  
Yeah, it is big time. Big time.

Dennis 1:02:42  
Interesting. Well, listen, Dental Online Trainers. Thanks for hanging out with us during our little chit chat with Dr. Alan Mead. In part two, Alan speaks openly, and he's incredibly vulnerable about his experience with addiction. I think this is a topic and information that everyone's got to listen to, because it's either going to affect you or it's going to affect someone that you love. And it's a reality of the world we live in.

And I want to... I've got a bunch of questions. I want to talk to Alan and have him share his experience and things that we need to look at both in ourselves, for some of us, and those around us, and maybe get in front of something before things become more challenging. So Dental Online Trainers, thanks for hanging out with us. Yours for better dentistry, Dr. Dennis Hartlieb. We'll talk to you soon. 

Alan 1:03:28  

Dennis 1:03:29  
Well, Dental Online Trainers, I hope that you enjoyed our visit with Alan. Now coming up in part two of our conversation, we'll be talking about a much more severe and serious topic, drug addiction and recovery. Alan is very open to this conversation about his unlikely path into addiction, and the care and love of his family, friends and team members that helped him get to sobriety. So look for that episode coming up soon, wherever you get your podcasts. And hey, if you enjoyed listening to our Sharecast, we love those five star ratings.

And please, feel free to share this with your dental colleagues. Now also, don't forget that DOT has so many other great opportunities from our Wine and Unwind, our monthly webinars where we engage real time with our viewers as we bring in leaders throughout the dental industry. We also have our monthly coffee and donut Study Club mentoring sessions, our live virtual workshops. In fact, we have our sixth tooth direct resin course coming up this June.

And we have our blogs and, of course, our endless selection of hands-on pre-recorded technique courses to help you improve your dentistry. So check us out at And thanks for joining us! And, as always, yours for better dentistry, I'm Dr. Dennis Hartlieb.

Dennis Hartlieb, DDS, AAACD

DOT Founder

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