Kickoff 2022: Finding Your Work/Life Balance

Establishing healthy patterns and practices can go a long way toward ensuring you can grow professionally and personally.

Katie Poulsen, Director of Customer Marketing and Curtis Marshall, Principal Product Manager at Dental Intelligence, recently had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Peter Boulden and Dr. Craig Spodak from Bulletproof Dental about how dental practice owners and team members can find and sustain a work/life balance. As a new year begins, establishing healthy patterns and practices can go a long way toward ensuring you can grow professionally and personally.

Katie Poulsen:

Today we're talking about work-life balance, and I'm really intrigued to discuss this topic with you because I've heard you guys say in previous podcasts that it's a myth. I've heard you talking about that with Dr. Boulden, that balance is a myth and it's not achievable. So, let's first dive into that. Is balance obtainable for you? Tell us a little bit about your perspective on that.

Dr. Craig Spodak and Dr. Peter Boulden


Peter Boulden:

I think getting balance in your life is a stressor. It stresses us out. Oh my gosh, I feel so unbalanced, and I've been told I don't have to have it. I think when you get peace and give yourself some grace with the fact that there's going to be periods where you're going to be a way better family person, per se, than you are a businessperson. And then suddenly, those scales are going to shift again. So, I think we go through, like Naval Ravikant says, I think we go through periods where we train, and then we sprint, and then we rest, and then we reassess. The key takeaway though, is just awareness. If you acknowledge the fact that like, "Man, I've been head down working on business stuff," as long as you're aware about it, and you kind of need to bring that lever back to center again, I think that takes the stress of, "Oh my gosh, am I spinning all these plates equally, with equal RPMs, all these plates that I'm spinning? My family, and philanthropy, and my visions, and all these things, my businesses, am I spinning them all equally?" I think that's stressful in and of itself.

Craig Spodak:

I just think we don't have the silos that we make ourselves out to have. I think that comes in, the first example that runs into my mind is peoples’ spiritual identities. They tend to silo their identities, like - here's my work identity, and my house identity, my father identity. I think you're one human being. And life is meant to be multifaceted. So, it's always integrated for me. I don't think of time here as time away from somewhere else, it's just all the same to me.


Being aware about the other aspects. I think the most dangerous part is when you don't acknowledge the fact that when you're unbalanced, right?


We fool ourselves by thinking we're being great fathers, or great mothers, by working really hard. It's like, your kids just want more time with you. And you're like, "Well, I'm going to work so you can have all this fancy stuff, or you can go on a vacation. Don't you appreciate that?" Kids don't want that. Kids just want quality time. You could live in a trailer for most young kids and be happy.



My dad was a dentist, he passed away at 65. And he worked on Friday and died that Sunday. And he was so good at his job, but he wasn't balanced in that way when he was home – he still did his work. Like when he was home, he was studying dentistry, all the time he was talking. But I knew that was valuable for him. But I also knew he was there for me as a kid, and it's really tricky as a dentist to sometimes do that. So, I guess my question to you is, what advice do you have? It can be overwhelming and time-consuming to own a practice, especially at the level that you guys do, so what advice do you have for those that feel that their personal life suffers from stresses of running a dental practice? What have you done to make it so that you can have that perspective shift?

Image from iOS-1


I think it's easy to speak as a man to this, because men, we have a natural desire towards productivity. And I think it's easy for us to fill up all our buckets at work, especially in a dental practice, you have all these people that are dedicated, a single doctor practice. You're the doctor, you're the man or woman in charge. And I think you can leave your family because your family keeps it real. When you're at work you're special, you're the doctor, you're in charge of things. And everybody's there to support you, and it can be very egocentric. And you can come home, and your family needs you, and it could feel not the same level of exchange. And I think of men not having the ability to talk as much about how they feel, there's a degree of stoicism that's kind of passed through male culture. And I believe that we fill up at work. We fill up all our needs and significance at work.

I think women, by virtue of biology and stuff like that, have a little bit more of a tug to be with the kids and stuff like that. So, whilst I'm sure women can overwork, and women have another thing that I talk about oftentimes too, it's very difficult. There's no clear role for them. They work too hard; they're being too aggressive. They work too little, they're a gold digger. They must walk a very fine line. Men have a free pass to go in and work really hard. Daddy's working, daddy's doing this for us. So, I think there's a trap for us that we can really bury ourselves in work, and leave our families adrift, because it's so culturally rewarding for us to be productive and work hard, and so acceptable for us to do so that there's a little blind spot that we can get sucked into work as men.

Screen Shot 2022-01-28 at 11.51.17 AM


But I've heard you talk about how you block your day. I don't know if that is advice that you would give, but I love that idea of blocking out time. Just because in dentistry, we live in blocks of time anyway. And to be able to do that at home, I do that as well. That's how I function. It's how I block out as a working, full time mom. I block out my time at home, with my kids and with my work, and that's how I live.


It creates guidelines, right? It creates boundaries for people. Like Craig and I set podcasting for a certain time every week. So, I try to pre-block my schedule. For instance, on Wednesdays, nothing can get on there, because I've already blocked it personally for me. That's my day to recharge, midweek. I go get a massage, go get my nails done, whatever.

But going back to what you're saying is, what advice do you have for running complexities, that is a good tool into laying down guidelines? But it is tough because, for instance, the people that listen to your podcast are probably people who are much like ours, right? They're entrepreneurs in a dental job, or a dental career, a dental practice. And so, you have the business of dentistry during the day, and the business of growing your business after you're done the dentistry. Right?

Now, if you just want to kind of run along and be a dentist, which is admirable, and just stay with your practice, you do the dentistry and you go home. And everything seems to take care of itself. By the grace of God, it really does in dentistry. Because if you're good, you can kind of just exist, and have a great career, by not having to do much.


However, if you're in a growth-minded standpoint, you do have to take the next five hours after you get off work, because you're going to have to go from here to here. And what got you here, isn't going to get you here. And so, you need a different set of skills now that are going to take you next level. And that's what Craig and I focus on in the Bulletproof mastermind, and Bulletproof podcast, is taking the business of dentistry and applying it with the least amount of friction possible, because Craig and I have made a lot of friction-able mistakes, if you will.

And so, we stood on the shoulders of giants, and we want to give back, and our mission is just to say, "Hey, if you want to grow, here's some things that have helped us."

Yeah, so you're bringing up a great point, Craig, and this is something we've gone into a lot recently is just knowing your strengths, Katie and Curtis. Knowing your strengths, like knowing that you stink at hiring. So, stop hiring. Let someone else do that. Find your superpower and double down on that. Because what it'll give you is a lot more purpose, a lot more freedom, all these things. And then it'll accelerate your business. I used to be the bottleneck in my practice, honestly. Looking back, I was the bottleneck in that I was the nucleus in almost all decisions, all things. Now I don't want to be involved. I don't even want to know. I always ask questions when someone comes to me, it's like, "Do I need to know this, or do I need to be involved?" And they will audit that question. They'll have to give me an answer. If the answer is yes, let's talk about it. But nine times out of 10, or four times out of five, it's, "No, you're right. I got this."


Yeah. Because a lot of dentists, when they start their little baby from the ground up, their practice, they've got to be involved in everything.


Yeah, the very act of being a dentist steers you away from the macro that's needed to really make bigger decisions.



So, Katie, what I did or have done in the past, because sometimes I used to go home and play the “woe is me” game. Look at all the stuff I did and all this stuff. And a lot of times it was stuff that I didn't really want to be doing or wasn't good at, but I took as this badge of honor. Like, “look at me, look at this suffering I'm doing for my family and my future. So, I made myself, a lot of my day now is spent getting rid of things that I don't enjoy doing anything. So, I would audit and write down all the things that I was doing during the day, and then I would identify the things that probably should be with someone else. Because either I, A — Hated them, or B — I wasn't very good at them. And so, my actions became, How do I get this off of my daily sheet?

Now I don't do that. I don't do stuff I don't want to do. And ironically, the things I am doing, I'm really good at. Why? Because I like doing them. It's this virtuous cycle.



And by the way, I don't want anybody to hear Peter, I just want to make sure that no one hears him as saying this an egotistical “I delegate taking out the trash.” He's not talking about that. He's talking about that there's certain things that people in his organization love to do. Peter and I are both low-detail people. We're high vision, we want to win, we're fast paced. But the details, nah, let someone else figure that out. So, Peter and I have come to realize that if we're surrounded by high detail people, like a Lacey who works in the Bulletproof organization, for example, we can get a lot of things done. Lacey is high detail. She loves figuring out all the little things. So, if we're working on a summit or something like that, she'll love figuring out all the little details. Peter and I would die doing that. Peter and I get to focus on the stuff that we're good at.


So, it's not a hierarchical thing. It's not like “I am king and they’re serfs.” It's just that it's a Strength Finder type of exercise. We've done a lot of work to find out what we're good at and stay in those lanes. Peter just sticks to the stuff he's really, really good at. And then, at the end of the day, he's worked really hard, but only on the stuff he's really good at. He's not as exhausted as if he was trying to pretend to be good at everything.

Dan Sullivan talks about the four freedoms. Freedom of time, freedom of money, freedom of relationship and purpose. And so those, personally for me, were quests. Going back to what you were saying, Craig. I want to work on the stuff that I want to work on. I want to work because I'm not forced to make money, just because I enjoy doing what I'm doing. I want to work with relationships, I want to work with people that I like, not because I'm forced to do that. So, this can become a driver as well. I don't know why I went on that tangent; I just think it's important in front of what we're talking about, contextually.

Curtis Marshall:

I think the biggest thing is, when you look at anything, balancing anything, take personal out of this, right? You're balancing a car, making sure that the wheels are balanced, or whatnot, whatever it might be. You can't focus on everything at once. You need to focus on one specific thing at a time. And if you're able to do that, then everything else starts to get into line.


Humans are not designed to multi-task. All you do is do a bunch of things really poorly.


Yeah. And I think that we're touching on something else, like this realization that you're not meant to be good at all this stuff. That provides a little bit more grace for people, and a little bit more understanding. Then people suffer less, and they actually become happier. So, this idea that you need to be in balance, that you need to be a multi-tasker, you need to be a CEO, you need to do all this stuff - It's daunting, and you're not meant to, and you're not meant to be good at everything. And I think it's an important realization that you have to come to. And eventually you'll find out what you're good at, and what makes you happy. And just double down on that, because that's life's ultimate bottom line is that question - What makes you happy?



What does growth in dentistry look like to Craig Spodak and to Peter Boulden right now?


I can't answer growth in dentistry, because dentistry, like I always say it's a snowflake. It's everybody's practice is entirely different. And I think if we could start understanding that dialogue at a bigger level, that dental practices are uniquely suited to the owners and leaders of those individual practices and could be whatever they want it to be. So, I can't answer to that. But for me, growth is just progress. Slowly getting better. Change is always going to happen, whether you grow from it is up to you. So, going through life and getting slightly better, whether that means dealing with the downs or the highs better, it's just that that's what the key to life and the key to happiness is, is just growth. Growth over time. And I don't think failure is anything to be ashamed of. Failure is just growth in action.


So, I think growth in dentistry would be, I'm going to piggyback on that Craig, because I think that's good, is that identifying A, from a self-awareness thing, what does it look like? So, I'm going to talk about, for me, what it grows like is, growing my enterprise. I like foot on the gas, I like building, I like designing, I like visionary stuff. So, growth for me is continuing to grow my ecosystem, whether that's my own practices or whether that's a DSO, or whether that's whatever. It's continuing to evolve to make dentistry a better place.



I like how Craig mentioned, it is a snowflake. And this is why dentistry is a snowflake. It's different. And that's why we ask this question.


And dentistry is such a different... occupation for a lot of people than others, because dentistry…


…It's the most beautiful profession in the world. 


Can I jump on this, Katie? Here's why, is because we talked about the dentist who wants to be the craftsman and just be in his office and work. And he can make a great living and be very fulfilled.


And art. Make art all the time…


... and can go home and study more dentistry. He can be the artist in that. It also fulfills the buckets of the entrepreneur. Someone like me, who really went to dental school knowing yeah, I'm going to do dentistry for a while, and then I'm going to really grow things. And so, it's the most beautiful thing, because you're always making impact in people's lives, you're really respected in your community, and you can do whatever you want. There's no ceiling on what you want to do. But it gives you what you want. It gives you what you want if you work at it.

So many great insights here! We’re thankful to Dr. Boulden and Dr. Spodak for sharing some of their wisdom with us. Both doctors use Dental Intelligence in their practices to provide more and better dentistry to their patients. If you want to learn more about how your practice can benefit from the power of data, visit us today to get started.