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Dentists Who Invest

Podcast Episode

Dr James: 0:41

Fans of the Dentists who Invest podcast. If you feel like there was one particular episode in the back catalog in the anthology of Dentists who Invest podcast episodes that really, really really was massively valuable to you, feel free to share that with a fellow dental colleague who’s in a similar position, so their understanding of finance can be elevated and they can hit the next level of financial success in their life. Also, as well as that, if you could take two seconds to rate and review this podcast, it would mean the world. To me, what that would mean is that it drives this podcast further in terms of reach so that more dentists across the world can be able to benefit from the knowledge contained therein. Welcome, welcome to the Dentists who Invest podcast. What is good, everyone? Welcome. Welcome back to another episode of the Dentists who Invest podcast, episode number 47. So good to see you all. Hope everybody is still enjoying side gigs month. Side gigs month is still going on for the whole of August. We are interviewing dentists who are well-known and renowned for their side gigs, and I was chatting to my next guest just before we got on the show and I said surely this is one of the best, the most well-known side gigs in dentistry Enlighten, enlighten, whitening. And Payman, my guest, was so much more modest than that. Well, he was modest, which was very good, which was very good to see, and he said oh James, you flatter me, you flatter me really, but I think it is, a lot of people have heard of it, and Payman, of course, has left dentistry purely to pursue enlighten, and that is, I suppose, for some people, in their side gigs and their side objectives, their side hustles, that might be the ultimate goal. Some people is to, for some it is to do it around dentistry and for some it is to do it in lieu of dentistry or as a means to leave dentistry, and I think that the fact that you even have the option to do that is absolutely incredible, payman, and it’s testament to your success. Anyway, payman, I haven’t even asked you how you are today, how are you?

Payman: 2:48

I’m very good man. Lovely to be on the show, One of my favorites.

Dr James: 2:53

And flatter me Payman, Thank you.

Payman: 2:55

No, it is one of my favorites, man. I love the way that you’re just yourself, man, it’s not trying to be anyone else. And obviously we had you on our podcast and that was also one of my favorite episodes. Do you remember? At the time when crypto was still right? It was peaking, wasn’t it? It was peaking duck at that moment. Hopefully we’ll get back there as well. But, yeah, I really enjoyed talking to you, so it’s a pleasure to be on. Thanks, man.

Dr James: 3:21

Oh, my pleasure, mate. It was awesome to be there and thank you so much. And yeah, fingers crossed. On the old crypto front, things are heating up a little bit again these days, so we still haven’t seen what I would normally expect to happen at the end of the boom market. So that’s a good sign in itself. So we shall see, but no one ultimately knows, with investing, of course, we just have to ride the roller coaster and hope for the best a little bit. So we have mentioned oh, by the way, shout out to Payman’s Payman and Prav’s podcast, who appeared on, of course, which Payman was just referencing dental leaders podcast. Great podcast for anybody in the dental world. They interview prominent figures in the dental space for their opinions and insight, reflections on the dental industry Worth the listen of anybody fancies it, anybody, any podcast, any podcast, avid podcast fans out there who are dentists is worth a look straight up your street. So, payman, we are here to talk about your side gig, because of course it is side gigs month on your journey and just how it quite happened for you. So, for anybody who doesn’t know yourself, payman, would you like to do just a little bit of an introduction? Speak about who you are, so that people can get to know you.

Payman: 4:38

Yeah, I’m Payman Langridi, so I am a dentist. I still identify as a dentist. You know, I don’t practice dentistry. It’s funny, you know, when an Uber driver asks you what you do, I’m a dentist. That seems to come across better than you know. I supply products to dentists somehow, but I still feel like a dentist. You know, I don’t feel like a business person and, by the way, I’m not actually a very talented business person. I’ve got a partner who is, you know, very talented. But for me, dentistry is one of those professions that, if you do want to get a side gig, it’s one of the best professions to be in, because, just in the same way as if you want to be a mother, it’s one of the best professions to be in because you can take a day down, two days down through. And that’s exactly what ended up happening with me. I was working five days a week, then four days a week, then three days a week and then eventually got down to one day a week for five years before I completely stopped. And you know there’s a psychological thing about being a dentist. But the moment that I realized that it’s the right thing to do to stop was actually proud of my co-host, who sort of cemented it for me was when I realized, if it all goes wrong, I can go back and be a dentist, which is something most entrepreneurs don’t have that option of going back and having a well-paid, respected job if it all goes wrong. And so, rather than holding you back, it suddenly propelled me into starting the business and even the idea of completely giving up clinical practice, because I knew that I could take bigger risks and if it all went wrong I’d be back and earning a hundred grand being an associate, as I was before I started all of it. So it’s a good profession for that. That’s the thing. It’s a good profession for that. And then the question of how long can you be out of it and then get back into it and not suffer. I think that’s an interesting one, because I had it in my head that there’s lots of mothers who take five years off. Now subsequently I’ve realized there’s not that many who do that, but, but I had it in my head. There’s loads of mothers who have two children five years off and come back, and so I gave myself five years. I said, like that’s what I’m going to do. Whatever this experiment is, I’m going to give it five years. In today’s terms it seems strange, because companies get to billion dollar valuations in five years I wasn’t thinking like that. And when I did go back and I had time off and back and time off and back, and you know, you have that thing where you’ve been away for two weeks on holiday and you come back and you’re a bit you know not, not not into, but I think we all experienced it with with lockdown. Yeah, the first few days after lockdown, everyone experienced it, and then, and then you get back into a rhythm. Clinically though. The market moves on, yeah, and and don’t think it doesn’t, it does. If you take five years off today, in five years time, all dentists are much better than they were today. And it’s something I didn’t realize and it really came home to me with Endo. I used to fancy myself as a bit of a endo. Not ended on this. Someone who, liked Endo, took five years off roadtree, came in. Suddenly everyone, the whole market, all dentists were better than me at Endo. And you know, of course I could have gone and learned or whatever. But but you know that happens, that happens. So that’s it, that’s, that’s, that’s sort of some of the stuff around it.

Dr James: 8:24

Do you know? I’m interested to hear you speak because I would have there was a younger version of me that would have said once upon a time that actually dentistry, rather than being one of the best professions to encourage a side hustle around, is actually one of the worst. And my logic would have I’m not saying that was right, I’m not saying that was wrong, and I think you’ve made some really good points. But my logic would have been listen, if you want to be a dentist, you’ve got all the CPD. There’s an immense level of dedication that comes alongside with with even just the very fact that you’re working clinically every day from the point of view of keeping your skills up to date. It’s be in there for your patients. It’s all the hours, it’s the nine to five, but it’s the extra hours on top to go that extra mile to help people which inevitably creeps in. All of those things would have led me to saying I’m so time parched, I have so little time that entertaining a side hustle for me is just totally not an option. But I guess what I wasn’t saying or I was working under the presumption that I have to be working five, six days a week, in which case that is a lot more of an issue, but you’ve made quite you’ve made a great point that that my problem was. I wasn’t recognizing that, because you do earn relatively well, that you can use that to your advantage to buy back some of your time and hence encourage these other aspects of your life.

Payman: 9:54

We have to balance it. We have to balance it. I’ve got kids now going into A levels and we have this discussion all the time. We’re going into O levels, but GCSE is the whole thing. We have this discussion on our podcast all the time Would you want your kid to be a dentist or not? And you’re a bit young for it? But the thought process is still there and there are positives to dentistry and there are negatives to dentistry. The positives if you’re not interested by that job, then you’re not paying attention, because it’s a super interesting job, whether you’re focused on the Meccano, putting things together, aspect of it, or whether you’re interested in the caring, being there for people, aspect of it, or whether you’re interested in the building a business, keeping up with CPD, going to conferences, meeting great people whether that’s your interest or not, one of those is going to should be your interest. Dentistry is a great profession. There’s the positive. The negatives, though, there are several, and you guys have more negatives than I did, because I didn’t have that whole GDC nightmare that everyone’s got right now. That didn’t exist when I existed, but nowhere near the way it is right now. But also the one that I really didn’t used to like about dentistry was just having to be there. That was the thing. If you work a day of dentistry, you’ve got to be there from nine to five, however long it is, you’ve got to turn up and you’re right. In that day, you can’t think of much else other than the treatments that you’re doing as a business. It is quite flawed in that sense that the leader has to actually be doing the work, because the leader’s job shouldn’t be to do the work. The leader should be looking to the future and in a light, and if there’s a task that needs doing, if me or one of my partners is actually doing that task, I always feel like we’re failing. We should be hiring people to do those tasks and we should be looking to the future and giving our vision to the team, keeping the team happy, supporting the team. It comes back to. If you want to sell your business as well, no one wants to buy it if you’re completely integrated into it. Those are the things that with dentistry you’ve got to turn up, you’ve got to be there and it’s a stressful job. There’s no doubt, both physically and mentally, a stressful job, but most worthwhile stuff is stressful. The question of some people can take a stressful thing that they enjoy and then it’s no longer stressful, and so that drives some people. I see a massive difference between myself and my brother, who’s a hospital radiologist and he’s just looking forward to Friday afternoon. On Tuesday afternoon he’s already in a state and he’s just waiting for the weekend, and whereas the opposite with me. These days I don’t even go in very much, but when I did go in I used to hate Friday afternoon because all the team were leaving and we couldn’t have as much fun anymore. And it was okay, the weekend was coming. But the funny thing at the weekend I felt like I was working for the family. I was an employee of the family, kind of doing what I was told, whereas during the week no one was telling me what to do and I didn’t have to be there. That idea of not having to be there really resonates with me. You turn up, we don’t have to. You haven’t got that option with dentistry really.

Dr James: 13:50

Yeah, it’s a very hands on. It’s an archaic, traditional profession, isn’t it that there’s no way to decentralize it? I guess that works with some people. But yeah, the depending on your commute in the morning and how long that takes it can be a huge, and you know various other factors it can be a huge bearing on your happiness and your overall lifestyle.

Payman: 14:14

And coming from somebody, by the way, by the way, you could own 40 practices and then you don’t have to be there, right? You don’t have to be doing that. Actually drilling, yeah, that’s, that’s possible, isn’t it? And there’s plenty of people doing that too, true, true. And I would say that’s leaving dentistry, isn’t it? I mean, it’s leaving clinical dentistry, isn’t it? But you know, who else have you talked to about side hustles? Who have you had anyone else before me? Oh, by the first.

Dr James: 14:39

Yeah, so we’ve had a few, so we’ve had. There was one chap and he started this artificial intelligence virtual assistant, which he’s an associate and you know he didn’t have much experience with computers. But he said you know what? There’s a real gap in the market for automating how we speak to patients to some degrees, because how many receptionists are just overworked and just don’t have the time to speak to patients properly. So there was one chap who did that we had what’s that called? Oh, you’re testing my memory now.

Payman: 15:11

Is it your name?

Dr James: 15:12

His name is Gregor McPherson. I’ve the name of the product that slipped my mind and we’ve had. We had Sheila Lai. She was speaking about how she branched out into facial aesthetics and does that solely now. We had another chap called Mamud, who has left dentistry. Mamudji, Mamudmohji, that’s the one.

Payman: 15:34

I’ve had him on. I’ve had him on.

Dr James: 15:35

Great, oh, I didn’t know that. So yeah, mamud was speaking about how he’s left dentistry to educate other dentists how to create their side gigs and various other business interests, how to improve their ability to sell, how to improve their ability to speak. So we’ve had a whole host of people. It’s been a great month, it’s. You know what, once upon a time, before I ventured down this path into this realm, into this dimension, I would have no clue that this world existed. I really, really wouldn’t. I thought all there was to life was being an associate. And I know, I know, I know, I know that some other people who, who are listening to this, who are members of my group as well, may not have had the opportunity to witness that world. And that’s why I wanted to do side gigs month, just to heighten everybody’s awareness and get us to recognize that actually there can be more to life in dentistry. And that’s not me getting on my high horse, that’s me saying that a younger James Martin was that guy and was that individual for a long, long, long time. And you’ll know that inside into that as well.

Payman: 16:37

This groups now set up for people who want to leave dentistry. And I get it, I get it, I get it, dude, I get it Ish.

Dr James: 16:45

Ish, I mean, certainly it shows. It shows you that there’s a door there. But I suppose my, my, it’s different things to different people, and some people will just want to supplement dentistry by investing or learning about side gigs, and some people will want to leave. So I would like to think we cater to everyone. Go Pakistan report details these seven most common issues. However, most importantly, it also shows you how to fix them Really. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Payman: 17:56

No, but I’m saying there’s separate groups. There’s a group on Facebook that’s all about how to leave dentistry.

Dr James: 18:02

Oh, I see Sorry.

Payman: 18:03

Yeah, and it’s got loads of members. So then the next question then is what to do. And I think that’s an interesting thing, because you’ve got one type of person who just wants to leave, and it’s what they’re trying to get away from, is the point. And generally those people are saying but where do I go? I don’t know what to do. Then you’ve got another group who dentists. I was very, I just enjoy being a dentist, but something else pulls them. And when someone says to you, I’m thinking about doing this business, or I’m thinking about doing this project, but I’m not sure if it’s the right project or the right business, I always worry about that because for me it’s got to be all-encompassed. The right project is the one that you can’t stop thinking about. That’s the right project. If it’s not like that, then it’s the wrong project, or you’re not ready, or whatever it is, because you’ve got to be absolutely in love with the idea that you’re going to, because it’s so hard.

Dr James: 19:59

It is hard that if you’re not 100% into it, then you’re not going to survive 100% because even if it’s the best idea, the intense level of effort that has to go in to execute it. There needs to be an obsession there. There really does. And actually, femme, that’s something I’m glad you brought that up, because I wanted to talk about your moment of 5% inspiration. 5% inspiration, 95% perspiration, they say when you’re pulling off your entrepreneurial, any entrepreneurial escapade or business idea. What was your 5% inspiration look like? When did you realise that there was something that you could do so much better with Enlighten versus other whitening products, and how did that hard work look like afterwards? And balance and dentistry what was the story? Basically, for anyone who doesn’t know, enlighten is a unique whitening system which guarantees that your teeth will be B1 shared afterwards, which is their unique USP. Have I done a good job of describing it, femme? Femme is 4T of course.

Payman: 21:12

Yeah, I want to talk about the guarantee because I came up with it after I was watching one of those 4AM infomercials. I was in America, I was watching jet lag. I was watching these infomercials and the guy was selling like a salad cutter or something and I thought what’s this crap? And then he went and more and more and more and he was like and you can have a second salad cutter and so on. And then right at the end of it he said and, by the way, 30 days after you use it, you can just send the whole thing back, get your money back guaranteed. I won’t even ask you why you want to. And you can keep X, y and Z as well, those books that you gave free part of the thing. And he’s like I was like I better buy this salad car. So then we looked at it and we were getting just brilliant results again and again and again and again and again and again, and we were taking photos and all that. And I said to my partner I said, look, we should do a guarantee because it keeps on happening. And this question of how are you going to police it, you know, and for me a really eureka moment of. I want to run my company, run my organization, based on trust trust for my suppliers, trust for my employees and trust for my customers. Yeah, and if, within that framework of trust, someone betrays that trust? So let’s say an employee lies to you and does something, I’m not going to run my business looking for lies. I’m going to run my business looking for trustworthy people who want to do their best or whatever it is. And so, by the same token, I’m not going to run my business looking for dentists who are lying to me about whether or not they got to be one, because you know I can’t actually police it, can I? I mean, someone can send me two before pictures. That’s the end of it, right?

Dr James: 23:16

That’s true, actually.

Payman: 23:18

But as it turns out, as it turns out, it’s actually the opposite way to what you might think. We get very few people that we think are betraying the system very few, and for me, I’d say for our staff I’d like them to be even more. I’m very happy for a few people to take advantage, as long as everyone else feels like we’re giving fantastic service. You know, that’s the key point.

Dr James: 23:49

Yeah, definitely. Well, I mean, I think you have to look at the bigger picture, don’t you? And it’s definitely a great USP. So you’ve always been interested in whitening since the early days of I used to do as a dentist.

Payman: 24:04

As a dentist, I used to do a lot of whitening and I took over an associate job from this guy who was really really good dentist. He was one of those restorative Eastman guys and everything he was doing was just working. And there were these just well maintained patients. Nothing was going wrong. But the one thing he wasn’t doing was whitening and, and so I started just asking saying, hey, have you ever thought about whitening your teeth? And you know loads of people were just going ahead At the time I think opalescence was the only product on the market and it worked pretty well. I mean, you know it was a happy treatment and so I really loved it. As far as you know, some people see whitening as not not rocket science, not dentistry. But for me, the aspect of dentistry I was interested in was the patient aspect, not necessarily the Meccano. I mean, I used to fit veneers and try and you know be get the bonding absolutely right and all of that. But that wasn’t my interest. My interest was the people side of it and from the people side, whitening is just a powerful, powerful treatment. Because, you know, people want white smiles. They always wanted white smiles. Well, last 1000 years people have wanted white smiles, and so the idea of should we start a company to do this came from. There was a new technology that we thought at the time was light activated, and this is years and years and years before zoom existed. Zoom was a, you know, a reactionary move. There was a product called Bright Smile and we saw this product. The internet had just kind of started, really, and we thought we were going to open some practices. The four of us who are now owners of Enlighten there were three that I lived with my wife now and two others we said we’re going to open four practices that focus on cosmetic dentistry and focus on this new technology, which is live to activated white. You can wipe your teeth in one hour was like an unbelievable idea and I just thought that’s it. That is the thing, and I was always the type of wanted to do a business. I thought it would be a dental dentistry business and, you know, branding was becoming a thing. Virgin had just gotten into airlines and I just badly, when I went to America I wanted to fly Virgin, not any other airline, and I was trying to ask myself why? Why is that Right? So we were going to open four branded practices that were, you know, north, south, east, west, london Central, whatever. Four practices the same name with the four of us, and for them to be whitening oriented practices, oriented practices. And at the time the way that you did marketing was PR. So you get a PR company, pay them like I don’t know, three, four, five thousand a month and they get your story into Vogue and magazines. And so the story I wanted to be one hour teeth whitening comes to the UK for the first time. I wanted that to be the story. So we went to San Francisco to meet this company, bright Smile, only to buy the machines. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to buy four machines for these four practices. And the guy said it was a proper, you know, businessman, you know, and we weren’t 28 year old associate. And he said, he said, he said on the way out, he said look, you guys, your, your, your dentist is fine, but you’re not distributors. And what we want is distributors because they didn’t even have an office in New York at the time, let alone an office in London. So I left that meeting, I went into, spoke to my brother-in-law, who now brother-in-law who was one of these consultant types and he said look, it’s a different business plan, just just do this, send them this one instead. So we sent them a different distribution, this business plan, instead of being entered, and that’s how it started that the idea of becoming a distributor came from. That, I mean, if that guy hadn’t said that and he just sold me four machines, I’d be a dentist or with machines.

Dr James: 28:20

So it was. It was a, it was a path. Well, that’s quite often the case with lots of side gigs. It’s where you wind up is completely different to where you intended, but it’s having the momentum and the wish and the inclination to begin down the path in the first place, I suppose, and that’s it’s part of the fun as well, because you genuinely don’t know where you’re going to wind up sometimes, and it brings an element of excitement and it’s certainly. It certainly breaks apart the, the continuity or the one, the potential mundaneness of just being. Sometimes, when you’re working nine to five as an associate and you go to the same surgery every single day, there’s something else to break up your week, and this is why it’s such a. Yeah, I’m so, I talk about it and I’m so enthusiastic about it. And I wanted to do side gigs month because I genuinely believe that it can enhance so many people’s lives, just like it enhanced mine. Brilliant. So this was, this was how you started out on the pathway to enlighten, become the proprietor of the, of an, of enlighten and the the. Well, it was. It’s now, of course, your, your full time endeavor, isn’t it? You’re not an associate any longer. How did that evolution happen over time. So dentistry, it kind of just got left by the wayside. Yeah, less and less, yeah.

Payman: 29:35

I mean we got. We got quite busy quite quickly, but when I say busy, I don’t mean profitable. We were losing loads of money. But busy, I was busy, and it was the first year. It was just me and and no one else. And you know, this idea of it’s fun to be an entrepreneur definitely wasn’t fun at that point Not for me. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was, it was, we were constantly hitting cash crises, you know. You know there were situations in the first year it could have happened maybe 15 times that we were totally run out of money. And it’s such a chicken and egg situation, right, because you haven’t got any customers and you haven’t got any money to find, to do marketing, to get customers, and that’s why it’s so hard. That’s why it’s so hard. I think I’d do it differently now. I’d look for more investment. You know it’s a whole different time, isn’t it? I think I’d build a community, what you’re doing right now, before starting a business. But anyway, we did it and and and it. I think it took four years before we even made a profit, yeah, and all our houses were up. It was a tough time, a tough, tough time.

Dr James: 30:53

What kept you going? Sorry to interject, but what kept you going?

Payman: 30:56

Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, like I said, I’m not a very talented business person, but one thing I do have is I don’t give up. And it’s interesting because it doesn’t always work to your favor. I remember I used to play piano for 15 years with a piano teacher and I didn’t used to be good at it at all. I’d never practiced nothing. My brother started at the same time as me and he was an amazing pianist and I was still on the old Pink Panther and my piano teacher was trying to get me to quit and he said look, why don’t you just quit? I didn’t do something else. You know, you’re obviously not enjoying this, but I was just saying, oh no, I’m going to keep going. So you know, in that situation it didn’t help. I think in this situation it probably did help, because that sort of sticking at something is a big part of it. Big part of it. You know, the problem is, these days everyone looks at overnight success and there is overnight success, but it’s rare. Totally. That’s the problem.

Dr James: 31:57

Totally the success iceberg. Have you seen that picture? Yeah, it’s like it shows the tip of the iceberg and it’s like success. And then it shows the bottom of the iceberg, underneath the ocean, and it’s like late nights, hard work, emotional stress, crying, all these negative, all these things at the bottom, which just gives you an idea of, I suppose, what it takes. I mean, everybody’s journey is different, but it certainly is.

Payman: 32:26

Look what does it take to be a dentist? Five years of pain, yeah, true, yeah, and pleasure and pleasure, don’t get me wrong. Yeah, but five years of blood, sweat and tears, and don’t forget the two years before that of trying to get into becoming a dentist. And at the end of that seven years, you’re nowhere, just start, you know nothing. And so worthwhile stuff takes time. That’s just the way it is, I think. Unless you’re very lucky, worthwhile stuff takes time.

Dr James: 32:59

True, true. And then you were speaking. You were just saying earlier about how eventually Enlightened grew after those first four years. There was light at the end of the tunnel. You became profitable and then dentistry gradually diminished in your life. What was that transition like?

Payman: 33:18

Yeah. So I started cutting days down, going from five to four. I took a whole five years off and then I came back when my wife got pregnant. I took over her patients. That was difficult because she’s really into nervous patients. People travel from all over the country to see her and I was taking on these patients, not having given an ID block for five years, and these guys would say, oh, I’m sure she’s told you all about me, I’m that patient. But all of her patients were like that. She had loads and loads of very, very, very nervous patients. So it was difficult getting back into dentistry with those things, but I did. So it was then five days, four days, three days, two days and then one day a week for ages. The one piece of advice I’d want to give people is one day a week is a massive error. It just is. You just don’t get into any rhythm. You still got to perform, you still got to be up with the knowledge these days with the GDC and all of that. You don’t really care when things go wrong because you’re out of there. I think out of that lot. Two days a week was excellent If your side hustle is going somewhere, or three days a week or four days a week when you’re actually planning it. In fact, when we were planning in light and I was on four days a week and without that one day off every week, I don’t think in light and definitely would have happened, because that was my day for planning what we were going to do.

Dr James: 34:51

Yeah, it makes a huge difference and I’ll agree with that from personal experience. That shift from even four days to five days. It sounds like it’s not that much, but what we have to remember is seven days is the limited factor, because there’s seven days in a week and it’s less the time that you spend working and more the time that you don’t have to do other things, and that’s what I find the greatest difficulty Like. When I used to again a younger version of myself, I used to work six days a week in clinic and I spent that set. If there was eight days in a week it would have been fine. I didn’t mind sequentially working six days. I didn’t mind that. It was the fact that I had to use my only other day prepping to work. Six other days, you know, go into the gym, clean my clothes, clean my scrubs, do some meal prep, whatever, and that pretty much took the whole day. So that was. That’s an important thing to recognize.

Payman: 35:51

It could be right for some people, but definitely not for me. I need time to think and be by myself and this sort of thing. And it’s not really seven days a week in the week is there Because two of them are kind of protected by you know. I guess you know you haven’t got dependence and all that, but two of them don’t belong to you really. So there’s five days in a week and so cutting down to four means you’ve got one day to do other stuff. That’s it. And then you know. I think after that it comes down to what kind of another side gig you want to do. Is it sort of a hobby thing? Is it a business? I find it makes sense for it to start as a hobby and turn into a business. And then, what kind of business are you? Because you know there’s businesses that you know work on finding the cheapest things for people. Then there’s other businesses to work on finding the best things for people. You know, I just went to holiday and I rented a Kia. Yeah, super impressive car man, super impressive.

Dr James: 37:02

They get good reviews, kias.

Payman: 37:05

It was a super impressive car For what it was. It really did everything. Would I buy a Kia? No, I won’t. I don’t know. A lot of that is maybe wrapped up in ego or whatever, but what I’m saying is Kia is a great company, a great company for being able to do that At that price. There’s a whole process going on of getting everything to work at that price. Would I buy a Kia equivalent computer? No, I don’t know anything about computers. I’ll buy an Apple computer that helps me use. Which business do you want to be? Yeah, it’s a key thing. So then, with Enlighten, we decided that we were going to be the light activated system, the new thing. But there was this other company, bright Smile. That was a better company than us. The product was about 30 million pounds of packing. When they started, their product was an ideal product. It had been designed by one of the best designers in the world, just looked beautiful. Everything was in brand. They had consumer marketing. People will remember they suddenly took out ads on a whole bunch of London taxis. It was a big thing. We were always at number two today. And then what happened was Zoom came along as the copycat. They went into legal dispute and all that. But then Zoom made me realize that that light activated isn’t. Right Up to that point I was convinced myself that light activated was the way to do whitening. But then we decided no, light activated isn’t the way to do whitening. And so we knew we had to switch to tray whitening. And this time I didn’t want to be number two. It was so hard being number two, always trying to be a little bit cheaper and trying to negotiate. And we said, with tray whitening we want to be number one. And I don’t mean by sales, because I don’t think we’re still number one by sales. I want to be number one as far as the product, the product to be the best product. And so what you do there? It’s a daunting prospect but at the same time it energizes you, because I’m about you, man. But I find everything could be improved. These headphones I’m wearing, they’re uncomfortable. This microphone should be a little bit higher. You know what I mean. Everything can get better. So, results-wise, with whitening, the one hour thing we realized isn’t real. That’s not going to work. People’s teeth aren’t going to go white in one hour yet. So what can we do? So we broke tray whitening down into the impression, the lab work, the gel and the desensitizers and incrementally improve each of those. For the last, since 2007. There was a guy called Rod Curthy who had a tray design but we used to sell a book on how to make this tray and we learned how to make that tray. It was a very long-winded way of doing it but we brought him over to the UK and he lectured and he was on this idea of selling his book to teach people to sell the tray, to make the tray, and it was just. It was grating with the UK audience. The UK audience doesn’t want someone to come out on stage and say buy my book for $140 or whatever it was. It was $140. It wasn’t that $9.99 book In America. Somehow. That’s very acceptable, but the UK audience did not like that and I could feel it. And then, on the other hand, the culture in America is to make your own trays. But the culture in the UK at that time definitely wasn’t to make your own trays. People were sending them out to labs. So I said to Rod look, halfway through the lecture I said to him I’ll buy all your books off you and I’m going to hand them out for free to people who buy the product. By that time I had a product that was linked to the tray and the centralising of the lab work became a really key factor of making sure the lab works absolutely right, and obviously we weren’t going to do it the way he was doing it, because his was based on one at a time and we were getting hundreds a week in at that point. So buying a complete system with Enlightenment’s impression materials, desensitizers, toothpaste, home gels, office gels, lab all of that stuff within the one system and that all being made to go together and work correctly together became the thing. And it was a very niche thing, right, and to some extent still a little bit niche, but we were talking about it before. You know, you get that the early adopters, and there were plenty of those, and I remember in the early days when I was doing my training, there’d be all famous dentists on the film, people in the West End and all of that those early adopters and from other towns, but early adopters. And now you’ve got sort of a much more mass market adoption of, you know, premium whitening. Don’t forget, when we started, whitening was completely illegal as well. Until 2012, whitening was illegal. So we jumped through all sorts of hoops. The first version we used to have no peroxide in the kit. We used to get raided by trading standards to test our kits to see whether they had peroxide, and we used to have no peroxide in the kit. And then we used to direct the dentist to get the peroxide from a chemist. The dentist would mix the peroxide with the gel the carrier gel at the chair side, which was legally allowed to do and then apply that onto the teeth. But we weren’t allowed to sell him a product with peroxide.

Dr James: 43:27

I had no idea. I had no idea, wow, not even carbon, so there’s lots of that. Carbon. Was it legal as well Illegal.

Payman: 43:36

No, no, not until 2012. But this, this was in office, right, so we used to get this proper 35% hydrogen peroxide mixed into this sort of slurry. It was lots of fun. I don’t know where you’d go these days or something like that, but yeah.

Dr James: 43:55

That’s nuts. I didn’t know that. Wow, they’ll probably be. I may be showing my, you know, because I qualified in 2016. I just had no idea that that went In my in my sort of. From what I’ve seen, I’ve just presumed that it was always legal. I honestly didn’t know that. That’s interesting, I suppose the lesson to take away from what you were talking about earlier. I was listening to Gary V I think I was saying this on the other, on one of the other podcasts. But it’s kind of like this when you have a product or when you have a business, if you’re trying to do the same as everybody else, you’re not really poking your head above the clouds. You’re at the same level in the clouds, everybody else, and, of course, what happens around the clouds? There’s lots of, there’s lots of fog, there’s lots of mist, there’s lots of other planes, other air traffic. You’re at the same level as everybody else. But what happens when you go a little higher and you go a little further and you create something that’s different? You suddenly find yourself above the clouds and there’s clear skies and everything’s blue. And that’s because you’ve set yourself apart in such a way as you find your niche and there’s way less competition because you have a USP and you’re not trying to copy everybody else. But of course I’ve made it sound so simple because it’s finding what that USP is. But it sounds like we’re enlightened. I mean you. For you personally it was moving away from the whole, the whole UV activation thing in the whitening realm and I know that you’ve got your own system with your, your trays and it’s the combination of the carbon iodine peroxide and all of those things. But, yeah, awesome, thanks for sharing your wisdom today on this podcast. Payman If anybody is interested in enlightened Payman is, of course, on the group. It’s a really cool product. I used to use it in my own practice. I was always very impressed with the results and the B1 thing is a really cool USP Payman. Is there anything that you would like to say to wrap up today?

Payman: 45:55

just in conclusion, to inspire any would be entrepreneurs on the group yeah, look, sometimes you’ve got an idea or you’ve got a thought about how the world should be, and sometimes that that idea is real and and and you should sometimes go for that idea. But do you do everyone who’s listening probably something to do with dentistry that point I’m making about the seven years to get to recently qualified dentists. That’s the reality. Things take time, things take effort and luck as well. Plenty of luck, I mean. For instance, you know we had plenty of bad luck with the legality thing, but COVID’s been a massive upside for us. You know, strangely, whatever, for whatever reason that it is, you know the NHS dentists can’t see enough patients and people have got money from their pockets because of the furlough scheme. That’s good luck, yeah. So good luck and bad luck come along, but the only way you can benefit from good luck is by being around and sticking at something for long enough.

Dr James: 47:07

So I’m going forward in the first place, right Of course of course, because you have to be in it to win it. You have to buy a ticket to win the lottery. One of my favorite expressions that I absolutely love it. Second most favorite expression I can’t see. Never made a strong sailor. Have you heard that one before? And what I can’t see I can’t see I can’t see. Never made a strong sailor yeah.

Payman: 47:31

Do you know what it means Is?

Dr James: 47:33

it obvious from the expression what it means.

Payman: 47:35

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re basically shaped by your challenges, right, and that’s very true.

Dr James: 47:40

That’s very, very very true, that’s actually a more poetic way than I would have described it. That’s a really nice way of describing it actually, but yeah, it’s just basically you. You’ll only ever be your resolve. You only ever know the limit of your resolve until it’s tested, and your threshold of your resolve becomes higher and higher the more storm in the ocean it is and the more challenges and turbulence that you have.

Payman: 48:01

Think of it in dentistry, man. Imagine the things you’ve learned from your failures in dentistry. Oh yeah, totally.

Dr James: 48:05

I certainly did.

Payman: 48:06

I certainly learned from failures, doesn’t it?

Dr James: 48:09

Yeah, it sticks with you so much more. Somehow you only really know. You only really know what doesn’t doesn’t work just by trying it. There’s no textbook that can teach you the many, many, many permutations of a filling, etc. Etc. And these things to watch out for.

Payman: 48:26

So, yeah, one of my favorite expressions that by the way, one book I’d recommend for anyone who’s thinking of starting a business is Lean Startup. I wish I’d read that before I started in Lighting.

Dr James: 48:40

Keep an eye out for that.

Payman: 48:42

Yeah, it’s a very standard business book. It’s all about that minimum viable product. You know you’ve got an idea. Make it a very, very simple basic version of the idea, test the idea, iterate. It gets a bit softwary. So if you’re not that way inclined, then it gets you. But if you’re going to start a business, I would read that book. I would read that book.

Dr James: 49:03

Awesome, I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you so much, payman. Thank you so much for your time today. Payman is jet setting. Later in the evening he’s going off to Monaco. So we wish Payman safe travels and I hope you have a good time while you’re out there mixing with the millionaires, and stay away from the casinos, if you can.

Payman: 49:23

I’m ready to go for one night.

Dr James: 49:25

Oh, I see, Damage should be limited then that’s only one night, Well having said that, there’s no upper limit in the casinos. From what I’m told, I’ve never been there. Awesome, payman, thank you so much for your time today.

Payman: 49:36

Thank you so much, man.

Dr James: 49:37

My pleasure Anytime. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. We wish you very well, and me and you will speak again very soon, I have no doubt.

Payman: 49:44

Yeah, hopefully I see you in Edinburgh, buddy.

Dr James: 49:47

Oh, yes, that’s the plan. The BACD dental show yeah, I would. I’m going to book a ticket to that tonight, actually because Payman and I were chatting off camera and that sounds awesome. I’ve never been before Awesome.

Payman: 49:59

Cool, take care, man. Awesome, looking forward to it. Thank you so much.

Dr James: 50:02

You’re welcome. I’ll see you later, my friend. All the best. Bye, buddy. See you soon.