Dr. Bill Dorfman was the Featured Dentist on ABC’s hit show Extreme Makeover and the CBS Emmy Awarded show The Doctors. He also founded one of the most successful dental companies in the world. Discus Dental manufactured and sold the world’s leading tooth whitening products including Nite White, Zoom and Brite Smile. He’s also a NY Times Best-selling author and has been honored with 14 Life Time Achievement awards.
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- Discus Dental – one of the largest dental companies, which Dr. Bill founded and that was acquired by Philips
- Billion Dollar Smile – book authored by Dr. Bill
- Think and Grow Rich – Dr. Bill’s Best Business Book
3 Key Points:
- Failure is a choice.
- Don’t wait for opportunities –make them.
- Don’t let anybody or anything dictate limitations –set them yourself.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:38] – John welcomes Dr. Bill
- [01:06] – Dr. Bill’s personal life
- [02:16] – Worst Entrepreneur Moment –After preparing everything for Discus Dental’s sale, at the 11th hour, it all fell apart.
- [05:31] – I never fail because I only consider it a failure when you give up
- [05:55] – Failure is a choice
- [06:15] – Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment –We redefined my goals. And from the lowest in class, I became the top of the class.
- [10:19] – Leap Program
- [10:49] – The secret to success –work your butt off!
- [12:28] – Dr. Bill’s biggest weakness as an entrepreneur – Impatience
- [13:32] –Dr. Bill’s biggest strength –The ability to just get stuff done
- [14:07] – One thing that has Dr. Bill most fired up today –I’m healthy, my kids are healthy, my life is great!
- [16:00] – leapfoundation.com
- [17:50] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – Nothing
- What is the best advice you have ever received? –
- Don’t wait for opportunities –make them.
- When you do get an opportunity, don’t take it. Master it.
- What is a personal habit that contributes to your success? – Tenacity
- If you can recommend a book for our listeners what would it be? – Private Classic: Think and Grow Rich
- [19:24] – I don’t let anybody or anything dictate my limitations –I set them myself
- [23:45] – Meet Dr. Bill at Leap
Bill Dorfman: I was born.
Interviewer: Yes! Dr. Bill was the featured dentist on ABC's hit show Extreme Makeover and The Doctors. He also founded one of the most successful dental companies in the world. He is a New York Times Best Selling author and has been honored with 14 Lifetime Achievement Awards. Bill, take a minute. Fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Bill Dorfman: My personal life is so full. I'm still practicing dentistry part time. I'm still on the Doctors filming a lot for FABLife these days. I'm got a few shows in production. I've been skiing a lot. Great, great season this year and gearing up for another fantastic leap program, which will be the last week of July this year. It's a motivational leadership program I do for high school and college kids. We have about 500 students attend all over the world so I have a pretty full plate.
Interviewer: That's a full plate. You have a lot going on. You've done a lot in your life, Bill. To kind of break down a little bit about what this show is about, EOFire, we interview successful entrepreneurs – business men and business women. We talk about their journey as entrepreneurs. So there are listeners whom we refer to lovingly as FireNation can learn from these journeys and apply it to their journeys as well. So the first question I want to ask you is going to be about a point in your entrepreneurial journey that you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment?
So Bill, think about the worst moment, take us there, and tell us that story.
Bill Dorfman: Wow! We formed a company called Discus Dental. Discus became the largest manufacturer of tooth finding products in the world. Our products included Nitewhite, Daywhite, Zoom, and BriteSmile. Over a 20-year journey we at some point decided it was time to sell the company. In 2007, we geared everything up. Our earnings were very strong, our growth was amazing, and I was very fortunate to ride the coattails of ABC's hit show Extreme Makeover, so we had a lot of exposure. Patients were walking into dental offices asking for the product by name.
Our sales grew and grew and grew and in 2003 our sales were about $76,000,000.00 the first year Extreme Makeover was on the air. We hopped to $101,000,000.00 to $130,000,00.00 to almost $180,000,000.00, so it was a really great time for us to sell. We were there in 2007. I mean, it was just kind of like everything was lined up and we were going down this path and we were working with the broker. I mean, it looked like it was going to be a done deal and in the 11th hour the whole thing fell apart. The whole thing fell apart. The economy then tanked a month later. Our company lost over $100,000,000.00 in value within two months. It went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.
But, you know, we didn't give up. We buckled down. We made a lot of changes. We grew and grew and grew and we grew the company until 2010 when we had a very successful sale of the company and it was a big, happy ending. But man, 2007 was a really, really, really hard time to get through.
Interviewer: So Dr. Bill, one thing I really would like to share with FireNation is the importance of perseverance. The importance of persistence. We're going to hit these walls. We're going to have these failure moments but we only truly fail if we give up. If you keep on putting that nose to the grindstone and going forward, then there's going to be opportunities that come down the line, FireNation. So that's my big takeaway, Dr. Bill, from your story. What do you want to make sure FireNation gets from that moment in your life?
Bill Dorfman: You know, it's so funny that you said that because I have been saying this for years and you almost said it exactly the way I say it and it's this - at LEAP I never fail. Now, that doesn't mean I'm arrogant and it doesn't mean I'm conceited. What I am telling you is I never fail because I only consider it a failure when you give up. So if I do something and it doesn't come out the way I want it to, I don't call that failure. That's practice and I'll do it again and if it doesn't come out the way I want it, that's even more practice.
I will continue to quote unquote practice until I get it right. So I think failure is actually a choice and if you choose to never fail, you never have to fail. You just have to never give up.
Interviewer: Failure is a choice, FireNation. I love those words. Dr. Bill, I loved that story and what I'm going to ask you to shift into now is another story but this one is going to be one of your greatest aha moments that you've had. Now you've had a lot of great aha moments and I'm only asking for one, so take us to one of your greatest aha moments. Share with us that epiphany that happened and how you turned that idea into success.
Interviewer: It was third grade. So I think like most kind of rambunctious young guys, I didn't really care too much about school in the beginning, you know. It was more about let me go as fast as I can so I can get out and go to recess. So I didn't really read questions. On multiple choice tests I just kind of guessed. My goal was to just be done, you know, and so my teacher had a parent/teacher conference and told my parents that I had a learning disability. They wanted to put me in a Special Ed. class because I literally had the lowest scores of all the kids in my class, everything.
My mother told me this later on – she said you know, I don't get it because he seems pretty smart. She said I've seen kids that are idiots and this doesn't really describe my son. So my parents kind of sat down with me and had a long talk with me and explained the importance of education and where it was going to take you and asked me why do you do so badly in school? I said, "What do you mean badly? I'm like the first one out."
Interviewer: Yeah, isn't that the goal?
Bill Dorfman: Yeah, yeah, but that's not the goal. So we basically redefined my goals and I literally went from the bottom of the class to the No. 1 student in the class overnight because I just tried. You know, and this is the epiphany. The epiphany is I realized I could do it and in that moment I also realized that a lot of people who were also trying also couldn't do it. I had this feeling like I can do anything if I put my mind to it and really buckle down. It was a really crazy thing and then from then on I literally pretty much got straight "As" all the way through school.
I wasn't one of those kids that you hated. I wasn't one of those kids that just got "As". I was one of those kids that worked my ass off and got "As." You know what I mean? There were guys in my classes and girls that were just incredibly gifted and they could just kind of never study and they aced it. That wasn't me. I mean, I always worked really hard for what I did and I studied probably ten times more than anybody I knew but I always did what I needed to do to get the best marks I could. But I think the epiphany for me was that I realized I COULD do that.
Now maybe other people did too. They just weren't willing to put the work in. I don't know what their capabilities were. But that for me was kind of a shining moment in my life.
Interviewer: FireNation, you can apply Dr. Bill's third rate epiphany moment to your life right now because if you're not having the success that you desire, guess what, you might have set the wrong goal. So step back, examine those goals, and that could be the foundation of your problem. I mean, Dr. Bill, that's my big takeaway from your aha moment.
Bill Dorfman: You know, I've got to tell you something. I do the LEAP Program every year. We have 500 kids come. The next one is July 24 to the 30th. It's at UCLA; it's an amazing program where we basically teach students the skills they need to succeed in life and it is one epiphany after another. One of my favorite questions is students will often come up to me and say, "Dr. Bill, what's the secret of success?" They are looking for a pill. I'm going to say it's no secret; work your butt off.
I mean, that's the secret. Work your butt off! I mean, it's not what they want to hear but that's the secret. I don't know a single successful person that doesn't work their butt off. I'm talking about, you know, from actors and actresses that I have in my practice that are really killing it out there – I mean the really big ones and you saw them all at the Academy Awards. They work like crazy people. They work like crazy! You don't see it. I mean you see a film but you don't see the hours and hours and hours of preparation and this and that. I mean, success doesn’t just happen. It doesn't just happen. You need to make it happen.
Interviewer: I love those points and I watched the behind the scenes YouTube clips that's out there right now about Leonardo DiCaprio's little scene with the bear that on screen – what was it? Like six… seven minutes long. That was not just days; that was weeks and weeks and weeks of getting thrown around by ropes. You know, getting tossed down hills, picked back up again for that six or seven minutes. I mean, FireNation, what we see – that glimpse that we see on Facebook, on Instagram, wherever it might be, believe me that's the .1 percent of it.
There's 99.9 percent of just hard flipping work. Now, Dr. Bill, what's your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Bill Dorfman: Impatience. I want everything done yesterday and it's hard for me to pace myself at other people's pace because I just want stuff done. Sometimes it's a little detrimental to try and do things too fast but I just work incredibly rapidly. I mean, even in dentistry – in dentistry what would take most dentist four or five hours to do, I'll do it in two hours. I'm just really, really efficient in what I do and I try to streamline things and just work that way. When you're working with a team of people, it's hard for me sometimes because I'm running and I feel like a lot of times they're walking.
Interviewer: What's your biggest strength?
Bill Dorfman: The ability to just get stuff done. A lot of people dilly dally, you know, and that goes back to what we just talked about. But I mean I get stuff done and I get it done fast. I get stuff done fast!
Interviewer: Dr. Bill, you have a lot of awesome things going on in your world right now. Efficiency brings out the best in you. You've mentioned the LEAP Program a couple of times. You know, maybe this is going to be your answer for this but if I was to ask you what's the one thing that has you fired up right now above everything else, what is that?
Bill Dorfman: You can answer that on so many different levels. I mean, the most obvious one to me is just that I'm healthy, my kids are healthy, and my wife is great. I'm thankful for that every day and I think that we need to always wake up thankful. So many people wake up miserable. There were people that did wake up this morning. The fact that you woke up is already something, you know. So to me that's always the No. 1 thing. If you want to know vocationally or whatever, there's a lot of things going on. I mean, we're out pitching the Dr. Bill Show.
I'm excited about that. There's another show called the Wish Doctors I've done with Dr. Fisher, which is a version of Extreme Makeover. I'm excited about that. I built a beautiful little dental clinic in the Dominican Republic. I go there a few times a year with my kids and we treat orphans and vulnerable children. I'm excited about that and LEAP is always a huge highlight. I mean, we get 500 amazing students at this program. In fact, I'll give you the website so if any of your listeners are interested, go to www.leapfoundation.com.
It's L-E-A-P F-O-U-N-D-A-T-I-O-N dot com. It will be at UCLA July 24 to 30th and it's an amazing, fun, educational program that we put on. This will be our ninth year at UCLA and it's always the highlight of my year – it's that one week at LEAP.
Interviewer: Leapfoundation.com, FireNation. Check it out. Don't leap off anywhere yourself because we are about to hit the Lightning Round. We're going to take a quick minute, FireNation, to thank our sponsors. Dr. Bill, are you prepared for the Lightning Rounds?
Bill Dorfman: I'm pretty much prepared for anything.
Interviewer: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Bill Dorfman: Nothing held me back. Let me tell you something. I've been interviewed by a lot of people. My favorite is Oprah and I'll tell you why. When you're on the Tonight Show, when you're on Ellen, when you're on Rosie, when you're on any of these shows they do what they call a pre-interview. You sit in a little room and they ask you all these questions. They'll grill you for like an hour and then the producer will pick the three or four questions that they like your answer to best and then you go out on stage and they'll ask you those questions.
Oprah doesn't do that. She wants your raw unfiltered natural response, so you have no idea what she's going to ask. Plus a lot of times she's live, you know, so Oprah says to me, "Dr. Bill, what makes you different than any other dentist?" I thought for a second and I had just heard somebody talking about thinking outside the box and what a revelation that was for them. I said to her, "You know, Oprah, people are so proud of themselves for thinking outside the box. I never even knew there WAS a box." That's how far outside the box I am.
I don't let anybody or anything dictate limitations to me. I set them myself and there aren't any. I mean, I literally will put whatever effort I need to into whatever it is I'm interested in doing to make it happen, period. If I listen to all the people out there – I mean, do you honestly think that when I was writing a New York Times bestselling book on Smile Designs – anybody out there ever thought that would become a New York Times bestseller?
Bill Dorfman: I'm going to be honest with you. When I was first approached about writing a book, I said I am not writing a book. I will write a New York Times bestseller. I will not write a book. And I did.
Interviewer: FireNation, I love that answer. I hope you do too. Dr. Bill, what would you consider the best advice you have ever received?
Bill Dorfman: This isn't advice I received. This is advice I'm going to give your listeners. No. 1 – don't wait for opportunities – make them. Don't wait for opportunities – make them. No. 2 – when you do get a great opportunity, don't take it – master it. And there's a big difference, you know. My good fortune got me on Extreme Makeover – on ABC's hit show Extreme Makeover. When I realized what a potential impact that show had on my business, I maximized that opportunity.
I took hosting classes. I took acting classes. I took teleprompting classes. I wanted to be as good as I could be on TV because I knew that translated to sales. Honestly, I had desire to ever be on TV. I wanted to be a dentist and I still do. I love dentistry and I still do. I had no desire to do that but when I realized what a great opportunity that was and that if I got better at presenting myself and presenting my patients and everything else, I would have an even bigger impact, I started taking classes. It' just like with my company, Discus Dental, the first four or five years I sat in those board meetings, I had no idea what we were doing.
I knew how to make product. I knew how to market. I knew how to design packages, I mean, just by what I liked and didn't like. But when it came to reading graphs and charts and projections, I had no idea. So what I did was I worked all day as a dentist and then I went to UCLA and I took business classes at night for years.
Interviewer: What's a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Bill Dorfman: Tenacity.
Interviewer: How do you use tenacity in your life?
Bill Dorfman: Everything I do. I mean, again, I never give up. If my parents said no to something. I just figured I didn't ask the question the right way.
Interviewer: So, FireNation, Billion Dollar Smile is definitely a book that you are going to want to pick up, read, consume, and read again. Dr. Bill, my question for you is what book inspired you at some point in your journey?
Bill Dorfman: Probably the classic Think and Grow Rich was probably the one that had the biggest impact.
Interviewer: Think and Grow Rich – that is a book, FireNation, that you read once and you say hey, I get what it means in the 1930s to be a success. The odd thing is those same principles apply in 2016 and 2017 and beyond. That is priceless, timeless knowledge and, FireNation, I know you love audio so we have teamed up with Audible so if you haven't already, you can get an amazing audiobook for free at EOFirebook.com. Dr. Bill, you have been spending incredibly valuable time with us today, so let's end on fire with a parting piece of guidance - the best way that we can connect with you and then we'll say goodbye.
Bill Dorfman: I would say the best way to connect with me is to come meet me in person by attending LEAP.
Interviewer: Leapfoundation.com. FireNation, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with and you've been hanging out with BD and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com and just type Dr. Bill in the search. His Show Notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today and, of course, head directly over to leapfoundation.com. Make that happen, FireNation! Dr. Bill, thank you for sharing your journey with FireNation today and for that, my friends, we salute you and will catch you on the flip side.
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