A Tough Call: Spending Money to Make Money
“If I gave you a million dollars cash, no strings attached, would you take it?” Rich Small asked his best friend. Before waiting for a reply from Brian, Rich demanded, “Where is your resistance to increasing your staff coming from, buddy? You know I would never give you advice that would hurt you! And I’m giving you a million-dollar piece of advice!”
On the other end of the line, Brian thought back to the night before. He and Jen had a long talk after he missed his daughter’s kindergarten graduation. She wasn’t angry with Brian for missing the graduation. She accepted that the circumstances of Sharon’s car accident put Brian in that situation. It was Brian’s constant stress at work that really bothered her, and the fact that he came home every day depressed, angry, and exhausted. Brian had decided then that he needed to follow through right away on his idea to consult with his friend Rich.
Rich was Brian’s best friend and one of the most successful general dental practitioners he knew. Rich had earned more than $750,000 the year before and was determined to reach his goal of $1 million, working four days or less per week, within the next five years. He had graduated only a year earlier than Brian, yet he was earning more than triple Brian’s income.
Brian met Rich in high school in Brooklyn, New York, and even back then, Rich had everything going for him. The six-foot two-inch football player always got straight As. And while Brian went to state university at Albany to complete his predental education, Rich got accepted to MIT and completed a biomedical engineering degree in just three years. He entered Stony Brook dental school a year earlier than Brian. There, Rich would come up with conceptual models that could improve the flow of patients through a practice, and he would talk about systems and designs that were beyond the imaginations of other dental students with no engineering background.
He had been hesitant at first to unload his problems onto his best friend, but once they started talking, Brian could tell that Rich genuinely loved to discuss practice strategy and share his ideas and insights. He was beginning to wonder whether Rich would be happier if he were a consultant rather than a dentist.
As Rich talked about Brian’s potential to reach his financial goals, Brian reflected on his own drive for success and motivation to accomplish his goals and realized that the force behind that drive had dissipated over the years since graduation. Here he was, the son of Russian immigrants who came to America with nothing and managed to build a business and a life in the strange land of New York City. He inherited those values of pride in good, hard work, striving for a better life, and never losing sight of one’s goals. But wait—what were those goals again? And pride—in what?
Brian’s thoughts went back to the days when he helped his parents at their newsstand outside Grand Central Terminal during evening rush hours, and how his mother always insisted that he finish his homework between customers. It was there that he met Jen, also an ambitious student, buying papers in the morning on her way to class, and their plans for a life together grew out of the values set down by the previous generation.
One of these values was persistence, a strong characteristic that both his parents possessed, and it had paid off for them. But in the past few years, Brian’s practice was failing to gain momentum, and he recognized without a doubt that persistence, by itself, was not enough to be successful. As he began to pinpoint his own role in his practice difficulties, he felt better able to hear what Rich was communicating. He had lost sight of his fundamental thought patterns. This analysis brought him to a sudden, clear realization. Simple and shallow as it sounded, it was about money. He simply had to do something about generating more personal income from his practice.
Of course, piling up money was not the goal, and it alone would not remedy his problems or shower happiness upon him, but money bought a comfortable home life for him and his family; vacation getaways to recharge their spirits; enjoyable distractions such as dinners out, season tickets to various entertainment venues, and club memberships; a top-notch education for his children; and a secure future for his family. Those were the rewards he had been working so hard for since school, the goals he could not lose sight of: enjoying life inside and outside work, taking care of the health and happiness of his family, and securing a financially stable future to the best of his ability.
“Brian, I’m telling you that you can double your income and reduce your stress in a year by adding staff.” Rich’s voice pulled Brian out of his reveries.
“But, Rich, what you’re telling me is the exact opposite of what I paid good money to hear at every seminar I’ve attended in the past two years.” Brian was open to listening to what/>