In this podcast, Shawn Zajas shares his journey from selling manual toothbrushes to developing a premium electric toothbrush brand, Zana – which flips the current electric toothbrush model on its head. He discusses the importance of belief, confidence, and innovation in dentistry and challenges listeners to conceive new possibilities in their dental practices.
Zajas aims to inspire dentists to think differently and create positive change, ultimately achieving true wealth. He emphasizes the importance of mindset, risk-taking, and learning from failure. The podcast encourages dentists to embrace uncertainty and explore innovative ideas in order to differentiate themselves to truly succeed in the dental industry.
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Shawn Zajas 0:00
My name is Shawn Zajas. I got back into dentistry what, over over 20 years ago now, because my dad started a dental supply company, and I wanted to work with him, I wanted to honor my dad, I wanted to be part of what he was doing. But believe it or not, selling manual toothbrushes didn't really make me come alive. So really, I stumbled into the whole, I don't know, just seeing the world from a lens of innovation, simply because I was trying to create value. My dad had this dental supply company. And I had access to these toothbrushes, but I didn't want them to be simply brushes. It's like you're given lemons. You can do a lot with lemons, I guess, you know, in the culinary world. But it's not always obvious that you're going to make lemonade out of lemons, right? Something different, something refreshing, something sweet, something really enjoyable, especially on a hot day. Here I was I was given products. And if you want to find out about how I took a brush, and thought about how it can be more than a brush, not just any brush button, an electric toothbrush, not just any electric toothbrush, but a premium electric toothbrush. That's what I'm doing right now, with zonna. But that's not what this podcast is about. This podcast is about you in the ways in which you can start seeing dentistry differently, so you can be part of that change. Now my fundamental belief is that belief is so so so, so important, right? If we don't believe if we don't have that confidence, if we don't have that assurance of what is not a head of time, then we can never start bringing that future into the now.
Shawn Zajas 1:54
However, it doesn't start with belief. It actually starts with conceiving,
Shawn Zajas 2:04
and you must conceive before you can believe. Now this might sound basic. But what I'm saying here is that in this podcast, what I want to do is I want to
Shawn Zajas 2:15
paint a picture and illustrate concepts.
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different realities out there in the world of business that you as a dentist may not be familiar with or you may not be aware of. And why is that because I want to challenge the current concept of what you believe is possible. Right? Like you have no chance to believe in something that you cannot first conceive of. Maybe you didn't know, like most of us that consumers were willing to take their own vehicles, which were come on as Americans were pretty crazy about our vehicles, and pretty much become like glorified taxi drivers and let strangers into our vehicles to make money. You might have thought, oh my gosh, that's crazy. That's beneath people, they would never do that. Well, Uber prove that differently, right. So many of the innovations that come are because people dare to see something and think differently. I believe at the heart innovation is all about creating remarkable, and I'm not going to finish that sentence. It's not about creating remarkable products. It's not about creating remarkable experiences. It's not about creating remarkable services or technologies. It is simply something that is remarkable. It's out of the box, it's different. So I want to first of all give you permission to pioneer. I want to give you permission to pioneer positive disruption. I want to be part of inspiring, positive change. I want to teach you and show you how you can continue to differentiate to think differently and how doing that isn't just going to help your practice. But it's going to help you if this is what you're interested in, actually achieve true wealth. Now, I say that and again, I don't mean to offend any dentist here. But there's a big difference between having lots of money and being rich versus being wealthy. And I don't believe it is my complete conviction that a dentist doing normal dentistry even phenomenally, exceptionally well. I don't believe a dentist doing that can create true wealth. Why is that? You say because dentistry at the core is tied to time. It's tied to a skill set that's tied to an individual or a few individuals. Maybe you have a specialist in your office. Maybe you have a few other dentists that also perform great dentistry. You know, maybe you have 10 offs and you're bringing in, you know, your 2 million a year, that is still not going to create wealth,
Shawn Zajas 5:08
riches maybe. But I believe that the
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income you make from dentistry can then lead you to make strategic investments, strategic moves. Innovative moves, one might say, that allow you then to go into the realm of the wealthy. Because true wealth is generated when you're sleeping. True wealth involves scale. And scale is really only possible through leverage. And right now in dentistry, unfortunately, the only leverage that you really can employ is labor and capital to some extent. So labor is obviously you're hiring other people to do jobs that you don't have to do. You don't have to answer phones, you don't have to greet patients, you don't have to perform, you know, the clinical responsibilities that hygenist would do. You have your area of expertise, and you get to employ the leverage of labor to handle everything else. And then of course, you can leverage capital, in order to reproduce what you've successfully built in one area, right, you can buy another practice, by another practice, you can start your own small DSO, you can go with a few other dental friends. And that's great. That's, that's starting to be able to build wealth, because you don't have to be at those other practices, and they can keep making money. But the two last forms of leverage are media and code. Now, the reason why these are so special is because they don't have any marginal cost to replicate. You know, so if I'm, if I'm a product company, yeah, I can take advantage of economies of scale. That's awesome. That's wonderful. It means, you know, economies of scale, for those that don't understand, it just means I'm allowed to get a much cheaper per unit cost, because of the insane volumes that I'm reaching, I'm no longer trying to produce 500 of these items at a time or these widgets. Now, because I have a partnership with Costco, they need to know that I can produce 2 million. So now my cost per unit is going to go down significantly because of economies of scale. Everything you can buy in bulk, you can bulk produce them, you can save a lot of money, but media ENCODE. So really quickly, media simply means you create some form of media could be a picture could be a video could be a course online, it could be a book, I guess an ebook will be better a sample. And it, it doesn't really cost anything to reproduce that. So for example, influencers today that post in have media out there, that media, beyond the moment it was created, can continue to get consumed at zero cost. It can one image can spread worldwide, and lead to that fame of that individual. And yet it didn't cost any money for the individual for that image to spread. In code, it's obvious, right software, you create some line of software, you create something useful, and people buy it and use it. And you continue to make money from it, even when you're not continuing to create it. And then of course, there's servers and there's maintenance. But by and large, it's practically infinitely scalable. Now what is not infinitely scalable, it's obvious, again, here is human capital. It is the skills and abilities that you have as a clinician. And that's why you can do a great job, you can produce million million a half 2 million more. And that's going to lead to you having money that you can invest, it's going to lead to what the world would probably look at as Wow, you're you're pretty rich, but you're not truly wealthy. You know, the Waltons from Walmart. You know, when they have one of the 1200 stores, I don't even know how to look into that. And every single store is just producing every single day and just cranking out like that is wealth in the billions. That's wealth.
Shawn Zajas 9:29
So if you want to
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think about how you can create more wealth, again, that is what this podcast is about. How do you think differently? How do you see the world differently? How do you learn to pioneer so you can create that positive disruption? And so much of it's a mindset. It's about how do you fail fast, so you can fail forward so you can actually understand what it is that the market wants. true success is learning how to align your actions and behave beers with the marketplace, you have to be thinking about market driven realities. This isn't about theory anymore. It's not about a well this could work. It's about what does the market say yes to and what does the market reject. And the more you let the market give you feedback, the quicker you're gonna dial in something that's going to work. Again, permission to pioneer to be original. I believe being original is the only true strategy for lasting success for you. In dentistry, more mindset is, if you don't risk anything, there's not going to be a reward. If that sounds scary, again, I still challenge you to stay along for the ride. Join me, it's not all about facing your fears all atShawn Zajas:
once. It's not aboutShawn Zajas:
that voice that tells you that everyone else is just different. Those people that start really crazy companies are really crazy partnerships, they're different. I don't believe that, I believe if you're a dentist, you are incredibly qualified, you are incredibly intelligent, you are incredibly resilient. And if COVID-19 showed us anything that is dentistry, is massively resilient, that you own that you are resilient. But you're probably also calculated, right. Which just means you don't want to jump off a bridge unless you know you're going to be able to survive, and there's a reason for it. There's rocks underneath the water, you're not jumping, that's prudent, that's wise. But I want to challenge you to get moreShawn Zajas:
comfortable with risk,Shawn Zajas:
more comfortable with the realm of what's uncertain. I think you can be a visionary entrepreneur,Shawn Zajas:
if you want to.Shawn Zajas:
I don't know if you read the book, I think it's called Blue Ocean Strategy. And the whole concept was about the red oceans, that's where everyone hangs out. That's where the marketplace continues to have competition. The sharks are eating there, and there's lots of blood in the water, it's pretty busy. So there's no innovation there that's established. It's almost like dentistry as it is today.Shawn Zajas:
But the blue ocean over there,Shawn Zajas:
that is where innovation is taking place. Now that that blue oceanShawn Zajas:
to the left.Shawn Zajas:
Maybe it doesn't have any fish. Maybe there's not going to be success there. So then you change your bearings a little bit, had, you know, 20 degrees in this direction, Northwest? Maybe that blue ocean is where there's gonna be prosperity, success, innovation. And so is there a certainty that you're going to find it? No, of course not. But if there was certainty,Shawn Zajas:
I don't know. If it would be worth it. Like, IShawn Zajas:
think everyone else would have already gone there. So there's a few myths that I want to completely bust that like playing it safe really is safe. It's not. There's nothing safe about that it is an illusion. Safety is completely an illusion. If I if I stay where I'm at. If I set up camp, if I create that protective wall, and I hold on to my patience, and I just keep doing what I've been doing that works right now. I can sleep well at night because there's safety, it's best practices. It's wisdom, it's theShawn Zajas:
Unfortunately, your own experience has told you that's not true. The market changes, people change. And it's those that are willing to step up to leadShawn Zajas:
in the face of uncertainty. They're the ones that get the spoils. And I believe that can be you. Even if you like like safety even if you are risk averse, today, that's okay.Shawn Zajas:
We're gonna go on this journey. Little by little seedShawn Zajas:
by seed. And again, my challenge to you is just to say yes, in the areas where it's coming up for you. I might I might say this one thing I might tell this one story, I might give an illustration or an example about some some concepts of mindset, some some reality. But you know, in your mind, where it is like what you're hearing, where there's conviction, where there's some insecurity where there's some fear, and when that's rising up, lean into it.Shawn Zajas:
shine the light on that,Shawn Zajas:
that conversation in your head, that conversation when there's doubt. And again, you don't have to do it all at once. I want to bring passion, zeal and fire into dentistry. To help dentists likeShawn Zajas:
you step out. Step up,Shawn Zajas:
to be able to believe and then Lee Eat, or as I like to call it, leap, and then learn. I know that sounds crazy. You don't. There's some learning you do ahead of time. But the true learning is actually once you've leaped you want to start a podcast, start a podcast. I've been podcasting with one of my inspirations in dentistry, Dr. Allison house of house Dental in Scottsdale. And we've been podcasting for three years now called the authentic dentist. And we just decided we are going to do this more than ever now. You can decide what you want to do how you want to show up how you want to lead. You want to start a YouTube channel, you want to start a podcast, you think that maybe you're cut out to be an influencer? Or maybe not, maybe you're more behind the scenes. I don't know someone that's coming up with partnerships, maybe maybe you're really connected already. And there's a lot of friends, vendors that already trust you. And maybe you don't know, but they would follow you if you got up and started Delete. That completely reminds me of the movie Braveheart was my favorite movie growing up. Anyone that seen it remembers the scene between William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. And Robert the Bruce. You know, it's a sad story. It was inherited wealth right from his dad, and he was one of the Lords in Scotland. He was given position, he was given titles. And William Wallace wasn't. He rose up and started this whole movement toward freedom, because you lost, you know, the woman that he loved. Anyway, so the point of this analogy, is that there's this moment between William and Robert, the Bruce. And Robert, the Bruce is a coward. You can tell he wants to be strong. He sees things in William he wishes he had. And William looks at him and just calls out strength and says, if you stepped up and lead, I would even follow you. Now, clearly, that's not the exact phrase, but something to that effect. And then he left and you could tell almost Robert the Bruce was haunted by that because he realized like it's crazy through so much of my life. I've seen myself as Robert the Bruce. I've dreamt about being William Wallace, right? I've dreamt about having the courage being fearless. But the reality is nobody's fearless. Everyone has to dance with a tension of what I look like a fool will look like an idiot, am I gonna be embarrassed is just going to completely bomb and humiliate me. And what I've come to understand, and I hope this really can be a gift to you. And I'm going to end on this is that I believe the greatest pain is the pain of regret over what we don't do in life. I know that's true for me. When I look back, and I'm like, No, I could have stepped up earlier. I could have stepped out earlier I could have tried earlier. What am I been waiting for? So that's my question you. What are you waiting for? Is 2023 going to be the year that you've imagined? Are you going to live the same experience of life that you did last year this year? So if you want to change if you want to contribute to dentistry in a more intentional way,Shawn Zajas:
then join me on this podcast. As weShawn Zajas:
as I go into the ways to think like an innovator but also highlight the individuals and the companies that are truly innovatingShawn Zajas:
in dentistry today.