Looking for Happiness? Try Gratitude First!

I recently participated in a book study for “Build the Life You Want” by Arthur Brooks on the Daily Dental Podcast. We delved into common misconceptions about happiness, uncovered the “secret sauce” of happiness, and explored ways to enhance our everyday happiness.
A key element is gratitude, but before diving into its science, let’s discuss caffeine. As the world’s most commonly used drug, (in fact, I’m drinking it right now,) caffeine intriguingly affects our brain. When adenosine builds up, it induces sleepiness. However, caffeine competes with adenosine for neuroreceptors, displacing it and creating a sensation of alertness. This illustrates how we can replace tiredness with excitement.
This concept extends beyond caffeine; we don’t have to settle for our initial emotional reactions. We can choose our emotions, and choice is crucial. If we’re selecting an emotion for a quick boost, I’d argue for “gratefulness.” The world is so full of terrible and negative information and sometimes that leads us to take it all in. Despite our natural tendency towards negativity bias, gratitude stands out as a powerful counterforce.
Research underscores this. In a 2018 study, psychologists divided participants into groups tasked with recalling either a grateful memory or something neutral. The group focusing on gratitude reported experiencing five times more positive emotions than the control group, highlighting gratitude’s profound impact.
From a scientific perspective, gratitude activates the medial prefrontal cortex, a key part of the brain’s reward pathway. So, if you’re seeking a reward, start with gratitude. It’s a bit like the chicken or the egg dilemma, isn’t it?
How can we cultivate more gratitude? A practical method is journaling. I personally use the 4 Futures Journal, which aids in focusing on what’s important and stimulates a sense of gratitude.
I hope this insight into gratitude helps you find greater happiness in your life.
P.S. If you’re looking to join a community that fosters gratitude, consider the Dental Success Network. It’s a great place for dentists to connect with like-minded individuals and grow together.

Habit Formation and Daily Repetition

One of the best-selling books on Amazon last year was Atomic Habits by James Clear. In the book, he says habits are the small daily votes for the kind of person you are to become. Directly from his website, he says:

Lesson 1: Small habits make a big difference.

It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you are right now. What matters is whether your habits are putting you on the path toward success.

Lesson 2: Forget about setting goals. Focus on your systems instead.

Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change.

Lesson 3: Build identity-based habits.

The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. You need to build identity-based habits.

So, if you’re ready to start changing your dental practice, focus on the systems that will get you there. The small daily habits that you make a part of your identity will make you successful.

Be well and do well,
Addison Killeen

One of those daily habits might be to listen to the Daily Dental Podcast, where we spend 5 minutes talking about some way to improve your practice using the resources from Dental Success Network. Join Dental Success Network where you can become part of a community to help build your new habits!

Certainty in Recruiting Associates

If you’re going to build a successful group practice, you’re going to be recruiting a lot of associates. You probably know what you’re looking for in a quality candidate, but do you know what they’re looking for in a practice to join? Here are five points of certainty you must solve on the recruiting trail:

If you are interested in using an exclusive discount between Polaris and Dental Success Network, apply to DSN today!

Implementation of Effective Ortho Techniques

With her consulting experience, DSN Orthodontics faculty Dr. Amanda Wilson is attuned to giving the best tips and tricks for Ortho treatments. If you want a taste of her tips, check out the clip below:

Join Dr. Amanda Wilson, DDS, MDS on January 18, 2024, at 7 PM EST for a FREE webinar on “Advanced Aligner Tips, Tricks and Pearls.”

Discover effective strategies, including:
  • Optimizing clear aligners
  • Minimizing revisions
  • Enhancing tracking accuracy
  • Mastering orthodontic systems for primary care dentists
If you loved the tips in the video above and want to see the full video, join DSN today!

Top 5 Clinical Efficiency Fails

OK, let’s talk. There are a number of common habits that on the surface seem like good things but are actually holding you back from practicing more efficiently. Get ready to ditch these five dental faux pas for faster, higher-quality dentistry: a patient experience so good, they might even look forward to their next visit.

1. Quit Piddling and Chasing Perfection
You know what they say, “Perfection is like a unicorn – you’ll never catch it!” Instead of chasing the mythical beast, aim for excellence.

As one of my professors put it, “Aim for excellence, and you’ll last a lot longer.” Trying to reach perfection can actually decrease the quality of your work. So, once you’ve achieved an excellent result, resist the urge to keep piddling.  (You know, like when you keep perfecting those anterior composite veneers and in the end realize that your original result was better AND took you less time.)

This also has the added benefit of making your patient’s day by getting them out of that chair faster.

2. Don’t Play Musical Burs
If you find yourself swapping back and forth between burs and handpieces like it’s a dental orchestra, it’s time to stop the madness. Streamline your workflow by picking up that high-speed handpiece and sticking with a bur/diamond until the task is complete. Not only will this save you time, but it’ll also prevent you from developing a new form of dental carpal tunnel syndrome.

3. Give Burs a Break, Don’t Break Them
Reusing burs is a habit that should be left in the dental Stone Age. Not only does it slow down your prep time and make your assistant’s life harder (cleaning, sterilizing, restocking, etc), but dull burs can turn up the heat on your patient’s pulp. That’s not good for you or the patient. Plus let’s be honest, a dull bur is more likely to have you slipping and cutting the adjacent tooth: creating additional problems. So, save your burs, save your time, and save your sanity.

4. Time to Dump the Waiting Game
If your anesthesia hasn’t kicked in within 5 minutes, it’s time to stop playing the waiting game. There’s no magic trick that’ll make your patient suddenly numb after that point. It’s time to unveil your backup anesthesia technique. Think a reliable PDL or Intraosseous injection technique.

5. Quit Ambling Through the Hygiene Check
No more aimless wandering through your hygiene checks – it’s time to have a system!

These are my favorite steps for a quicker check, a flawless case presentation, and more treatment acceptance:

Give one of these habits the boot each week, and in just a month or so, you’ll find that your days are smoother and your patients are happier. You might even have time for that extra cup of coffee.

P.S. Wanting to increase your clinical efficiency game? Check out Dr. Nicholas’ Hands on courses for Root Canal Therapy and Extractions in 2024. Registration for his 90 Day Clinical Accelerator starting in January is also now open! Dr. Nicholas developed this technique over decades of practicing dentistry and makes keeping common emergency procedures in-house simple, predictable and profitable.

Click Here for more information or reach out to info@mondaymorningdentistry.com

Coaching or Consulting

I had someone recently ask me, “Is what you do called coaching or consulting?” It didn’t occur to me quite exactly what the difference was until I spent some time thinking about it.

There are a lot of reasons folks look for coaching. Sometimes, it’s because things are good and they want them to be great. But most of the time, it’s because they are having problems in some form. Things in their life and leadership aren’t working for them. Perhaps there’s nothing drastically wrong but the person has a sense deep down that in order to face the challenges of the future they need to change: change their approach, change their perspective, change their whole way of being–but change they can’t do alone.

Enter coaching. Not consulting. Coaching!

Coaching offers a unique approach to personal development. It goes beyond simply providing answers or strategies. 

Consulting answers questions. Giving opinions, and offering solutions. It doesn’t focus on turning the person into a different, better version of themselves. 

Instead, coaching empowers individuals to better understand themselves, their values, and what truly matters to them. Commitment to this self-inquiry, communication with a coach, and subsequent improvement is the vehicle for lasting and impactful change. Tactical and strategic changes often work quickly but fade. But, changing from the inside out leads to life-long shifts in who we are and how we show up in the world. 

When we look within and have a group of others who can help us see within, we give ourselves an opportunity to grow into the type of leader (and human) we aspire to be.

To be clear, whether you’re interested in coaching with Dental Success Institute with Dr. Mark Costes or any other group, you need to make sure you look for coaches who will not just give you a system; they need to teach you how to become a leader who learns and grows. 

Of course, if you’re interested in the Dental Success Institute always keep an eye out for the annual Dental Success Summit 2024 in San Antonio this spring or jump on a call with Mark Costes to see if this program is right for you. 

P.S. If you’re not quite ready to commit to a coach, maybe Dental Success Network is a way to start with a community of like-minded people. Sometimes, the many voices on DSN can function very similarly to a coach.

End of Year Tax Planning

It’s that time when everyone is starting to look at their revenues, their profits, and their tax bill. Sometimes this tax bill is larger than you’ve expected. When that occurs, here’s the top five things in my book to look at to possibly reduce my taxable income:

1. Buy a New Car: For 2023, the limitations are based on the automobile component deduction limits and the weight of the vehicle. The maximum amount that can be deducted for the first year is $20,200 (with bonus depreciation) or $12,200 (without bonus depreciation) for passenger automobiles weighing 6,000 pounds or less: assuming 100% business use.

2. Buy an Electric Vehicle: Looking to go green by purchasing an Electric Vehicle (EV)? You can qualify for a tax credit of up to $7,500, provided the vehicle is assembled in North America and follows a few other rules. Check out Cadillac, Ford, Rivian, Tesla, and Volkswagen for applicable models.

3. Buy Some Equipment or Technology: Need new or used dental or office equipment, furniture, computers, or software? Purchase these items by December 31 and elect to expense (write-off) up to 100% of the cost, up to a maximum of $1,080,000, for immediate savings this year. (Don’t just throw away money- check with our DSN Vendors here for the best price.)

4. Do Some Office Improvements: Did you outfit new office space or make leasehold improvements to your existing space in 2023? If so, have your CPA claim 100% bonus depreciation, allowing you to immediately deduct up to the entire cost of these improvements. Or, if you bought any real estate, make sure you do a cost segregation study to accelerate the depreciation on the asset.

5. Rent Your Home: Through using the Augusta Rule, you can rent your own home from your business. Did you use your personal residence, vacation home, and/or qualifying boat to hold business meetings, staff retreats, training or parties, board of directors, shareholder or retirement plan meetings totaling 14 days or less at each property during 2023? If so, make sure your practice pays you the highest reasonable rent for the use of each property, and claim a practice deduction for the rental paid, while the income you receive personally is tax-free under Section 280A(g).

Following these five tips can help save you a significant amount of money on taxes; but, you should always make sure that this is a part of a larger tax mitigation strategy put together with a qualified accountant or financial advisor. Thankfully, we have many skilled faculty members on Dental Success Network that can help you create a plan and execute for maximum efficiency. I hope this helps makes your holiday season a little brighter!

Setting Expectations for Associate Partners

If you’re committed to building a successful group practice, you’re probably going to allow for associates to become partners at some level. But, are their expectations truly aligned with your expectations? What about the aspect of “control” of the business? And, what about distributions as income versus reinvestment int the growth of the business? Our friend Perrin DesPortes at Polaris has been working on a series about exactly that topic! Check out the video below: 

If you are interested in using an exclusive discount between Polaris and Dental Success Network, apply to DSN today!

To your success,
The Dental Success Network Team

Guerrilla Marketing Tactics

Today’s world is consumed by technology and innovation, and oftentimes what society needs most is the human aspect of life: building relationships and focusing on the soft skills people have that an algorithm does not. Marketing dentistry has increasingly centered on SEO (search engine optimization) and getting our practice websites to rank higher when prospective patients search online for dental solutions.

I personally allot a tremendous amount of time, energy, resources, and money towards growing my practice’s online presence. With all of this being said, I believe that we are leaving a lot of meat on the bone by ignoring old school guerrilla marketing strategies. I have created many guerrilla marketing techniques that have proven to be wildly successful. I will touch on a couple of these ideas to help you grow your practice. 

Simply ask! We have all heard that we should ask our current patients for referrals, haven’t we? Current patients know, like, and trust us. Current patients are a wonderful source of high quality new patients. So why don’t we do this more? In many cases, adding one more thing to our team’s list of responsibilities strikes fear in our souls. In other cases, we do ask our teams to ask for referrals and they do it sporadically.

Let me share how I solved this problem. The solution is simple and in typical fashion it all starts with the leader: you.

Every time I present treatment I use this quote: “My wonderful treatment coordinators will go over insurance benefits if you have them, several monthly payment plans that many of our patients love, and even a way to save $50 on your treatment.” This primes the treatment coordinator to discuss these topics and primes the patient to ask for these things if the TC drops the ball. That $50 discount is for referring someone to our practice. When a patient refers someone to us, both the new and existing patient get a $50 credit towards doctor treatment when the new patient presents for their first appointment.

We had our graphic designer create some great rack cards that market our practice on one side and on the other side serve as a ticket or coupon for the $50 discount. It has blanks for the source of referral and the new patient’s name. The new patient brings this to their first appointment and everyone wins! We put these refer and save rack cards in our new patient bags, we have graphics that describe the system on TVs throughout the office, and of course we cover that system with every treatment plan. This has been a success in our office. I am sure that if you implement this strategy you too will benefit.

Another guerrilla marketing campaign is our school pride t-shirt campaign. We print soft t-shirts for area high school athletics in their school colors. The front may say “Go Elephants” and the back has our practice logo across the shoulder blades. We had graphic design make unique full color fliers that we wrap around each shirt with a ribbon. The flier markets our office and has an offer with a choice on it. The choice is a $50 discount on doctor treatment or a $50 donation to the school’s booster club.

We bring the shirts to the sports teams prior to the season and give each player a shirt for their parents to wear to their games. Also, we give these shirts to cheer leaders to throw out to the crowd at sporting events. You can also keep a stash of these shirts at the office to give to current patients. You can find wholesale screen printing shops or even Alibaba to save money on the shirts.


Consistent branding is paramount and often lost in the new Google world that we live in. We must remember we influence Google search terms before they are typed in; the more our practices are specifically searched, the higher we move in the rankings.  

I will be covering many guerrilla marketing programs that have been successful for us at my Case Acceptance and Marketing Masterclass on January 11, 2024 in Scottsdale, AZ. Ryan Gross will be joining me to elaborate on marketing strategies and he will be sponsoring a cocktail hour. Come learn how we continue to increase the number of new patients we see month after month. Don’t forget to use the DSN discount code DSN2024.

How to Institute Change

There’s times when we, as the owners and leaders, try to institute a new policy or system. Oftentimes we come back from a CE course all fired up and ready to take on the world only to face a wall of resistance to this new way of doing things.

Why do these fail so often?  

It’s often associated with the realization that we missed a step somewhere along the way. So, here’s my six step model of how change works and how we need to address each part of the process in order to get people to change.

If the team doesn’t have awareness – they will just end up in confusion.

If the team doesn’t have buy in – they will just end up in sabotage.

If the team doesn’t have the skills – they will just be stressed and filled with anxiety.

If the team doesn’t have the desire – they will be openly resistant.

If the team doesn’t have the resources – they will be frustrated with you.

If the team doesn’t have an action plan – they will be on a treadmill loop of aimless wandering.

So, how do we help avoid all these pitfalls? Remember that 70% of learning is on the job training. This training needs to be done in small steps, hand-in-hand, and with the resources for you to help them. You will be standing at their side as they learn this new idea. This is not done in a classroom, it’s done on the “battlefield” of the practice: at the front desk and operatory.

To recap, when we ask someone to change, we need to remember these big rules:

If you follow these rules, and follow up with the accountability, then you can institute change like a champ. Remember, the dental industry evolves all the time, from clinical to business practices, so your ability to change and implement change is going to lead to success. I hope you find this process helpful the next time you need to switch things up in your practice!