From Ashes to Excellence: Dental Lessons in Resilience with Dr. Angela Mulrooney


Podcast Summary

In this insightful podcast episode, host Shawn Zajas interviews Dr. Angela Mulrooney, a remarkable entrepreneur and coach who helps individuals unleash their influence by identifying their niche of genius and fully embracing their unique talents and passions. Dr. Mulrooney shares her inspiring journey of resilience, innovation, and personal growth, highlighting the challenges her clients face when navigating career pivots, and the transformative power of embracing one’s true identity. 

The conversation begins with Dr. Angela Mulrooney recounting her extraordinary background. A former professional dancer turned dentist and entrepreneur, she candidly discusses her life-altering health diagnosis, which forced her to transition away from clinical dentistry. Despite the adversity, she embarked on a journey of self-discovery, ultimately founding Unleashing Influence, a coaching platform that empowers individuals to redefine their careers and step into their niche of genius. 

Shawn delves into the topic of mindset and innovation, asking Dr. Mulrooney about the most significant challenges her clients face when attempting to pivot or innovate in their careers. She pinpoints the central hurdle as the “identity shift” that clients experience when making significant career changes. Many of her clients, having established themselves in professional roles, find it daunting to shift away from their familiar identities and pursue new paths. Dr. Mulrooney’s expertise lies in helping them fully own their niche of genius, identifying their unique talents and passions, and packaging themselves in a way that resonates with the marketplace. 

The interview touches on the concept of “adult Angela,” a term Dr. Mulrooney coins to describe her upcoming five-year chapter. During this period, she commits to focusing entirely on Unleashing Influence, embracing her identity as an entrepreneur and thought leader, and refraining from launching new brands. This decision signifies a more mature, intentional approach to her career, emphasizing depth over breadth. 

The podcast concludes with a poignant question: If Dr. Mulrooney could convey a brief message to her 18-year-old self, what would it be? Her response resonates deeply: “You’re gonna change the world.” This message encapsulates her journey of transformation, resilience, and her commitment to helping others unlock their potential and make a positive impact on the world. 

In summary, this podcast episode offers listeners a profound insight into the world of career transformation, identity shifts, and the importance of embracing one’s niche of genius. Dr. Angela Mulrooney’s story serves as a testament to the human spirit’s resilience and the potential for positive change, inspiring individuals to step into their true selves and unleash their influence on the world. Her coaching platform, Unleashing Influence, provides a valuable resource for anyone seeking to navigate career transitions and harness their unique strengths to create a meaningful impact. Dr. Mulrooney’s journey exemplifies the power of self-discovery, innovation, and the unwavering belief that change is not only possible but essential for personal growth and success.

Connect with Dr. Angela Mulrooney: 

Podcast Transcript

Dr. Angela Mulrooney 00:00 

The biggest hurdle is always the identity shift that happens. So when someone decides to pivot, even if we’re, and we always are recycling, their experience, their expertise, the passion for what they want to do, but it’s channeled in a new way, there is a massive stretch in their identity that happens, which is terrifying for most people. 


Shawn Zajas  00:19 

The future of dentistry belongs to the innovators. Welcome to innovation in dentistry. I’m your host, Shawn Zajas. And I believe that the future of dentistry is going to be unbelievably great over the next decade in two decades. But the question isn’t that the question is, are you going to be part of what makes dentistry great? I could not be more excited today to be with the one and only Dr. Angela Mulrooney, aka the arsonist if you guys don’t know that. And before I set you up, let me just say, thank you so much for letting me interview you today. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 01:05 

My pleasure, Shawn. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. 


Shawn Zajas  01:08 

Okay, so innovation, you know, it’s all over the place. It can mean technological innovation, it could mean clinical innovation. After all, we’re talking about innovation in dentistry, but my main fascination Okay, so he I call you Dr. Mulrooney. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 01:25 

What do you want to call you can call me And okay, so 


Shawn Zajas  01:29 

And my main fascination, though, is with what is it? That gives someone permission to just go? Why not meet? Like, why? Why can’t I be the one that steps up? Why can’t I be the one that pioneers positive change? And if those mindsets and belief sets that I absolutely love, and that’s what gets me going, and that’s exactly who you are, you’ve been someone that continues to just pioneer, you pivot. You lead in such amazing ways. But so right now, you’re not a practicing dentist, can you just share a little bit about what your story has been in dentistry? 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 02:08 

So my story in dentistry was when I graduated, I was this shy little wallflower who could barely look adults in the eyes. So I decided to focus on children because I could just tell them stories, and they loved the stories and would be really great in my chair. And I was really little. So I looked like a little kid myself when I was working on them. So it was quite, it wasn’t very intimidating. And then I reached a point in my career where I was felt like I had plateaued, you know, I either needed to go and specialize and become a pediatric dentist, or I needed to change paths. And I know, you know, when you reach a point where the decision is made me like, oh, I need something to change, oftentimes, the thing that is going to help you to change appears on your pathway. And that’s what happened to me, I ran into a previous dentist that I had worked for. And he said, You know, I’m working for the 78 year old dentist, and you know, I don’t really like doing dentistry. So would you be interested to take some hours off my hands? And I said, Sure, why not? In 24 hours, he called me back and said, and you know, why don’t you just take the whole thing? I just, I don’t want to touch patients right now. So I was like, Okay, I know nothing about this. So I drove to this place. And I hadn’t looked up before I agreed to work there. And it was in the the worst part of Calgary, the part where there’s the most violence, gangs, drugs, all this stuff. And I was like, Oh, dear, what have I got myself into? So I’m sitting there in the parking lot that morning going. If I disappear right now, nobody is going to actually know where I was. What happened to me. And so when he finally drove up beside me is like, oh, okay, we’re good. So he took me up to this practice, this rickety old elevator, opened the door to the practice, and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. The carpet was black said, Never been cleaned, the cupboards were all open, because everything was so warped with age. And I fell in love with practice. So it took me on this journey of self realization, becoming confident stepping out of my shyness. And part of the reason that happened was because the 78 year old dentist and I was 28 at the time, so there’s a five decade difference in age and culture and everything between us. He was gregarious, he was very outgoing. The patients loved him. And I was this like, I looked like a little kid. I looked like I was about 12 in my scrubs. And I was the youngest person working in the practice because he worked like it was still the 60s his team had been with him forever. And I had to really step up my game to show that I knew what I was talking about, that they needed the work that I was recommending that I love dentistry, and a lot of my patients said, you know, I’ve never met someone who loves teeth so much as they did me. And it was really, it was exactly what I needed to get to where I didn’t even know I needed to go. And so that was my journey in dentistry and then unfortunately, after building an amazing practice, building a referral based practice and having the perfect patients the perfect team, the perfect production, I ended up getting injured. And it was, it wasn’t like I got into a car accident, my hand stopped working. It’s actually a central nervous system injury from overusing my manual dexterity. So my love of dentistry, killed my ability to do dentistry, unfortunately, because I pushed myself too far. And so that set me on a path of reinvention trying to figure out what the heck I was supposed to do without a drill in my hand. So I ended up going back to professional dance. Then I after six months of doing that I decided, you know, I did all these cool things in dentistry, I have the skill set that most people don’t achieve in a 30 year career, let alone an eight and a half year career, I had things that I had learned that I could help other people with. So I decided to build unleashing them streets potential, and start teaching people how to niche into their passion dead Street, find their passion in dentistry, and really scale to the next level. When I was doing that, I took the LinkedIn start talking about what I knew. And in a year, I went from 200 to 12,000 industry followers. And so people started to go like, where did you come from? Like, yes, you had this career as a clinical dentist, but you got yourself out across North America in a very short period of time. Can you do that for me? So I started experimenting with a few different people’s profiles and seeing what I could do with that. And I wasn’t a unicorn, it was actually replicable. So I ended up building Unleashing Influence which launched in officially in January of 2020. We all know what happened in 2020. It was exactly two months after I launched that the pandemic hit. And my team said, you know, what, can you take us off, everyone else getting laid off, and I said, No buckle in, we’re taking this thing to the moon. So in 10 months, we went from two and a half full time to 14 full time team members, we exploded. And then I moved to Nicaragua, which is where I’m sitting presently and realized, you know, I wanted my life to change. I didn’t want to be the entrepreneurial addict that I had been when I was a dentist, or when I was a professional dancer, or when I was building my coaching company or with the agency that had built. And so I decided things needed to change. So moved to Nicaragua thought everything would change just because it changed environments. And Well guess who followed me there? Good old Angela. So suddenly, I found myself being addicted to entrepreneurship, again, working 100 hours a week, you know, making excuses for why I needed to be on the computer why needs to be working. And I reached a point where I started have waking up in the middle of night in a cold sweat, thinking I’d forgotten something with one of my clients and I realized, you know, I moved here to change, I actually need to change. So I started divesting my companies I’d sold my dance company before I moved to move to Nicaragua. And then I decided to sell my coaching company for dentists I sold off the agency part of unleashing influence kept the name and then just niched into exactly what I do, which is help people to pivot to profitable entrepreneurship. 


Shawn Zajas  07:53 

Wow, that answer. Well, I can’t like I so I’m fascinated by so much of what that story says. But it sounds like the through line is like you’ve always been an entrepreneur, Did you always know you’re an entrepreneur like meaning? I don’t think someone in middle school goes, Oh, I’m an entrepreneur. But maybe it was it was at high school for you. Was it College, like When did all of a sudden that light bulb go on? You’re like, wow, I’m different. I’m very entrepreneurial. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 08:21 

I don’t even know that I knew I was an entrepreneur till after I actually sold my dental practice. But I was doing entrepreneurial things since I was in elementary school. So once I got my license to be a babysitter, I just started working every Friday, Saturday, sometimes Sunday night, and I actually made $23,000 as a babysitter by the time I finally was able to get a real job and work for minimum wage. And so yeah, I’ve always been able to sell myself even though I was really shy at that time, too. I still had that ability to provide quality and say the right things to get the work that I wanted to get. So that started with babysitting when I was in university, I built a fitness company for the the residents that I was living in, so I was making good money doing that while I was also going to school, and so so on and so forth. I’ve always been able to build brands around my skills. 


Shawn Zajas  09:16 

Okay, I’m like speechless because I love this I love not knowing everything about you because then when I’m interviewing you it’s like I’m genuinely in awe $23,000 as a babysitter and I’m fascinated by 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 09:34 

my mom used to find money in my my drawer and be like you can’t you can’t keep this much money in your in your your dresser like it’s not a good idea. So she’d marched me to the bank and make me put it in and then she’d go through my dresser again the next time and find a pile of cash and put it in the bank and that’s how that 23,000 got accumulated. 


Shawn Zajas  09:57 

Now when you were talking with your peers did you realize that like, this wasn’t normal? Like I’m guessing other friends of yours weren’t accumulating and saving and earning like this? I mean, did you? Did you feel like you were different? Or did you just not even think about it? And you just kind of assumed, hey, what everyone’s working hard. Everyone must be making money. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 10:20 

Well, to me, I never felt like I was working. Everything that I’ve always done has felt like play. So even after, you know, I finished babysitting, and I started working as a cashier in the, in a gift shop to me that was played because I was getting to press a bunch of buttons, which is something I had always mimicked as a kid. I was, like, my parents bought me a basic calculator at what used to be RadioShack. And I was playing with that. And so when I actually got to do it, I was like, Oh, this is like playtime. And then when I got to be a dentist, I felt like this is play time. This is what I’ve been doing since I was two, you know? So all these things, even in the career that I have right now, I feel like I get to play. So I think that was something that notice was different. Because a lot of people when they got into dental school, they’re like, Well, how much money do you think you’re going to make? And I was like, I don’t even know how much a dentist makes I just want to play with teeth. And so it was really weird to a lot of people in my class because I gone to dental school because I want to play with teeth. I didn’t really understand how much money I was going to make. I knew was going to take a lot of work. It was a hard program to get into. But it was just Yeah, I want to play with teeth. 


Shawn Zajas  11:23 

The dancer turns dentist. Okay, so So you you’re believing that you’re shy? Whether you I guess you probably are at this point in time 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 11:34 

People who know me now versus then they will they will have verified that it was very shy. 


Shawn Zajas  11:41 

Okay, so you were shy? Would you describe yourself as an introvert at that time? Hugely. Okay, but yet you had the emotional intelligence to be able to communicate and sell your services at a high level. Like I’m trying to reconcile the two because to me, it seems like those natural born salespeople are the ones that either have the charisma are the charm, or they’re always communicating. And they have that sense of confidence socially. And then you seem like this anomaly that maybe didn’t have that confidence, except when it came to what you could, what you could offer, like you so you’re confident in your value, even though you had to develop on guessing some of that the social or the communication confidence. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 12:32 

I had to develop the conscious confidence period. What actually what I find with introverts is they make amazing salespeople because they’re really good at asking questions. And then it’s super comfortable for us to sit in silence and just listen to people. So we are able to get a lot of information out of people, which is what I did in my dental practice. That was how I was able to sell comprehensive dentistry $50- $60,000 cases to a stranger. I was very good at just Yeah, being quiet and being like, Okay, now it’s your turn to talk and getting to people getting to know people that way. 


Shawn Zajas  13:06 

So did the moment seem crazy to you when this individual this but 78 year old asks you a if you want to split some time. And then like you said 24 hours later if you just want to have it? Like what is going through your mind at this time? Are you thinking like, I I’m educated, I’m trained, I have the blueprint, I’m gonna succeed, like, I’m just gonna crush it. Like, why? Why did it almost seemed like you were so willing to just dive in. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 13:33 

So, the 78 year old was the dentist who was actually in the hospital. So it was my previous boss, who is he’s probably five years older than me. He was the one who gave me this position in the 78 year old dentist. Okay, okay. Yeah, so the reason I had I stepped into it is because I had finished a locum. And I needed a position to fill my time. So to me stepping into it wasn’t a big deal. The drive there made me realize I hadn’t thought it through. But I’ve always been good at like jumping off the cliff and going well, I’ll figure out how to build wings on the way down. That’s always been my personality. Even when I’ve been really shy. That’s always been my personality to know that no matter what happens, I can figure it out. 


Shawn Zajas  14:17 

That’s amazing. Like, I’ve heard of the book, ready fire aim. People told me I should read it, but I haven’t read it yet. But that’s exactly from what I understand is what you’re talking about. This idea that you’re able to fire and then tune things in like you’re able to jump, make a commitment and then figure it out and you have that confidence. And it’s crazy because I think I was reading it was a Brendon Bouchard, I think the one of his habits of high performers books, and one of the five that all high performers had was their ability to trust that they would figure stuff out. Like instead of backing down from something Right, they had no problem going into it. Because they ultimately just trusted that they they could they could figure it out. Now tell me, was there ever a time that figuring it out took longer than you thought? Or you ever came into one of those moments of like, wow, I’m not sure I can figure this out. And how did you get through a moment like that? 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 15:21 

So after losing my ability to practice dentistry, that moment lasted for about eight years. Even though I was building brand after brand around my unique talents, I still felt like, I don’t know if I’m gonna ever figure this out. I don’t know, if I’m going to find the next thing that excites me like dentistry does. Yeah, it was actually really terrifying. Until I burned everything down and focused exactly on what I’m doing today. But I was conducting experiments up for all those years trying to figure out like, you know, what, do I uniquely contribute aside from my hands, being able to drill really well, which now they don’t trying to figure out? Like, how do I take the geniuses that I have, because I knew I had genius in business, I knew I had genius and being able to help people to step into their potential because I did that in my dance company. I did that when I was coaching dentists. I did that when I was helping people to, you know, finally get comfortable in front of the little black hole of a camera during the pandemic, because they couldn’t meet people in person. And so, it’s, yeah, I knew that part of me was different. And I knew that if I could figure out what that genius was, I could finally be comfortable again, like I was when I was a dentist, I could feel like I was fully playing again, instead of wondering, When is the next shoe gonna drop? When is the bomb gonna fall out? Is this all gonna go away? Because something external happens like my hand stops working properly. 


Shawn Zajas  16:44 

Okay, so for our listeners that maybe have never met Dr. Mulrooney, we’re seeing her speak. And you have this ability, because of the dance background, you you are just captivating to watch. You’re such a presence on stage, not only because of your movement, but your ability to communicate. You just hold audiences captive. So I just want to acknowledge you are such an amazing speaker. So I want to go back to that period in your life, when you discovered you have this debilitating neurological issue that that is going to stop you from your beloved dentistry. Is this something that was over a period of diagnosis or a longer discovery phase? Or was it literally one moment? The doctor comes in? You know, you just went to checkout? Why is it that my hands are numb or who knows? Like, take me to that moment, because I’m so curious how you got through something that could have been so depressing, crushing. And yet you didn’t so so like, talk to me about what happened there. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 17:55 

So about three months before, my last day that I got to practice, I had been having pain in my hand. And you know, I was doing IV sedation, I was doing long procedures, I was doing full mouth rehabilitation on highly phobic patients. So when you had the patient out, you had to get as much done as you possibly could, because you may not get them back in the chair for a while. So when they had the guts to do it, you had to go do it. And so I like my hand at the end of the day would be a claw and I couldn’t even like type. So I would sit down beside my assistant and be like, type this and type that because otherwise the notes weren’t gonna get done. And I was seeing a physiotherapist who is two floors down for me, he was sticking needles in my arm trying to get everything to relax. So because we just thought it was muscle tension, because it made sense with the kind of work I was doing that the muscles would be getting tense. And it came to a point where my physio is like, just take a week off and see if we can just like give your body a break and see if we can get it to reset itself. And it was the last day before I was supposed to be taking this break. When I was working on a patient. And my hand stopped working after I’d flipped her open. It was time to sue to her backup. And I couldn’t pick up my hemostat and I had been scared like those three months before I was scared because I was getting worse and worse and worse. And I was a professional athlete I had danced professionally as long as I’d been a dentist, and I was like I can’t even tolerate the pain anymore. Like I vomit sometimes after surgeries because the pain was so intense. And when my hand finally stopped working, I knew something had shifted. I didn’t know what had shifted, but I knew something like very serious had shifted, and my life wasn’t going to be the same. So I went to the doctor and was like, This is what happened. I had seen him the week before because I was like this is getting worse and worse and I don’t know what to do about it. He’s like, Well, it’s probably just you know, we’ll do carpal tunnel testing. We’ll do all these things to see what’s going on. And then when it finally stopped in surgery, he’s like You can’t touch another patient until we get this figured out. So I spent the next six months not able to touch patients Not knowing what is going on feeling like completely insane because I’m dealing with disability insurance, and they try to make you feel like you’re lying, even though you’re not, and going for all these tests, and I was in Canada, so, you know, you go see one specialist, you see another specialist, you see another and they don’t talk to each other. So they’re not putting their heads together to look at the puzzle, from all dimensions or looking at from their dimension, saying, Well, I think it’s this, and they all have different opinions. And it finally came to about six months in and I was at already talked to the bank and like, you know, what, I’m gonna have to declare bankruptcy, I’m gonna have to give you the keys. I like I can’t keep going down this path, because I had kept my staff on full time because I felt responsible that I had messed up. And I didn’t want it to affect their livelihood, even though patients didn’t want to come because they were scared of the dentist, they wanted to see me they didn’t want to see an associate, they want to see the person that they had built that relationship with. So it comes to this arriving on bankruptcies, doorstep. And a patient called me and he said, he said, I know you’re doing a really good job putting on a brave face while you’re at the clinic. You’re working at the front desk and trying to like keep the patients happy. He’s like, I know you’re in trouble. There’s no way you’re not in trouble with you keeping on the staff and like patients not coming. So he was a businessman, he he could see right through me. He’s like, You need to get yourself down to the Mayo Clinic and get a diagnosis, and do whatever you have to do to get there. And I’m like, Well, you know what, I’m going under next week anyway, so I might as well throw a little extra money at this and figure out how to pay it back after. So I flew down to the Mayo Clinic. Within the first day, they had an idea of what was going on, they put me through all this testing, which was way more comprehensive than what I’d experienced in Canada. I had a team of specialists looking at me, and they ended up at the end of that week telling me that I had focal dystonia. And when they told me that and explain what it was, I remember, I must have looked at my left hand because they said, if you try and train your left hand to do, you’re dead straight, you’re gonna lose that hand too. So they told me, you know, unfortunately, you need to figure out what you’re going to be when you grow up again, because you’re no longer going to be a dentist. And that moment was actually a massive relief, because the six months before that, everyone’s like, you know, you’re meant to be a dentist, you love dentistry, of course, you’re going to be able to come back. And in that moment, when I couldn’t pick up the hemostat. I knew something had shifted. And so they’re telling me to hold on to hope. And part of me is just like, I just want, you know, there’s hope. And then there’s devastation. And I just wanted one of the PAs to be there, instead of getting pulled back and forth always been like this yo yo between these two things, depending on who I was talking to. And everyone was giving me a recommendation. Well, this person was cured by this specialist. And if you rub this oil on you, everything will be fine. I’m like, thanks. Thanks for the input. I appreciate it. But like, Buzz off. And so when they finally gave me the diagnosis, it was a relief. Because now and you like 


Shawn Zajas  22:54 

liberating, liberating, you finally know, okay, it’s yes. incredibly difficult. But you were ready to face whatever it was. You just wanted to know what it was. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 23:05 

Yeah, yeah. Because by that time, like I had sold off everything, I own it. Like, even down to my knives and forks and plate. I was living on flour mixed with water, which I’m actually really quite allergic to gluten. And so I was just like, I was done. I just didn’t know what was supposed to happen with me. And I was like, I’d lived out of my car for a little while as well, because I didn’t know like, I couldn’t ask for help that I needed. And yeah, it was just brutal. And that’s part of why I think I’m so brave moving forward now to is because I’ve seen worst case scenario. I know I can live like a cockroach if I have to. And everything will eventually work out even if it’s not the way that I implant for it to work out. But you know, when you actually are completely rock bottom, and it feels like oh, this is the bottom Oh, and then things still keep burning around you. You realize you can you can really face anything. And most people never actually reach that, that low of a point and have to climb back up from absolutely nothing. 


Shawn Zajas  24:08 

I I’m trying to relate. And I’ve just never come close. And yet I feel more trapped by the fears that I still have, because I’ve never been liberated from them. Because I didn’t have to face them. So they’re still there. Like I still have Spectres around me that mocked me that that, you know, make me a little timid at times for from stepping up stepping out. And yet, I’m sure you have a certain freedom and liberation. And it came with a cost. It’s like I don’t think most people would ever say yes, let me volunteer for the road that Dr. Angela Mulroney walked through. And yet even though I know I’m going to make it through, I don’t think you’d have a lot of volunteers in line for that and yet What has emerged is like pure gold. And that’s what I tell people all the time. Sometimes it’s those moments that we are the most ashamed of, or we’d like to erase, or we wish we could undo. Those are the moments where we actually find out who we are and what we’re made of. And we can receive the greatest gift from life, if we just yield to that instead of trying to, like, be ashamed of it or be in denial of it, you know, instead, you just embraced. This is what life this is the hand that I’ve been dealt. And, man, I can’t imagine the resilience that got developed in you, during that time. Now, before that diagnosis came, became really clear from the Mayo Clinic, I imagine in that six month period of that slow decline, in terms of your you saw the practice all of a sudden making less, and less and less, and you can see maybe the writing on the wall, and you’re still in this balance between believing, having hope, maybe you’ll still be able to all of a sudden, get fixed, the hands are back, you know, and now all of a sudden, you know, and can dive back into what she loves, and you know, have this beautiful story. Um, were there some moments where it was just hard for you to get out of bed or face the day? 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 26:23 

Absolutely. Like, I sat in the corner and cried often. It was really, it was frustrating. It’s very lonely time, because a lot of the people that I thought were my friends at that time, abandoned me, because I wasn’t the person that they had been used to. I wasn’t on that pedestal. I wasn’t the famous Dr. Mulrooney, and the famous dancer, Angela, like all these status things were gone. And I didn’t realize that a lot of my circle. They were there for the status part. And so it was yeah, it was really all on me to climb out of it. And it was scary. 


Shawn Zajas  27:02 

Oh, my gosh. So what do you think like one of the main mindsets that you learn during that period, and whether it was a mindset that you just had to get rid of because it wasn’t serving you or whether it was a mindset you discovered that helped propel you forward? 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 27:16 

I’ll be honest, I still have fear that the bottom is going to fall out. Even though when I look at like how well my businesses are working, and my ability to like, if the current one fails, I know I can build another one. Even knowing that and seeing my history of being able to climb out of the rubble, I still have fear, I still wake up with nightmares, that it’s all gone again, and that I’m back on rock bottom. So that’s one of the things that I think that has propelled my entrepreneurial addiction as well, because I’m so afraid to like, not be sitting on a pile of money and having that, you know, knowing that this thing is there. And if something goes wrong, I can afford to fix it. But things happen, like even after a year after I lost my ability to practice dentistry, I had a stroke and lost a bunch of the function in my left leg. And so that was like, Oh, crap. You know, again, I’m super healthy. I was still dancing professionally. Like, I took very good care of myself. And yet this happened. Right? And so those devastating things like these were minor things are devastating things still have fear me, I still work on it every day. And I’m like, I know, whatever happens, even if I have to live like a cockroach, I can crawl back out of this, right. But it definitely stays with you when you’ve had that big of a trauma, that big of fear in you. And it stayed with you that long, like for six months, not knowing what was going on. That was pretty brutal, right? And it it shook me to the core because I felt like I’d done everything right. I had gotten the skills, I had been a good dentist. I helped serve other people’s patients. I gave freely of my dentistry. Like we had a big pro bono program. And I’d done everything, right, taking care of my body, and yet, I ended up getting slapped on the sky and you know, hitting rock bottom. 


Shawn Zajas  29:15 

You know, and I feel like that is one of those like questions of like, I did the right things. Like you said, I’m healthy, not just physically but emotionally and I care. And then sometimes you in life, you know, there’s people around you. I’m not even saying ones that are close to you. Just you know, people that just kind of seem rotten, and it seems like bad things don’t happen. And it’s like what you know, I remember just dealing with the challenge of you know, my mom got got cancer and battle for four years and didn’t end up winning the battle with lymphoma and this was like maybe maybe Eve four years ago now, so she battled for four years. And it’s been four years since she passed. And I just remember like thinking, you know, like, man I have. I have certain people, it was kind of a joke, but I’m like, I have an uncle. No one cares about no one wants to talk to you. He’s like this. Like, why not him? Like, why? Why my mom, she like, dedicated her life to just loving people and loving my kids. And I’m just a beautiful soul. And it was just one of those things where it’s like, she wouldn’t want what happened to her and her losing her battle to lymphoma, to be something that then brought down everybody else that she loved, you know, she would want somehow for us to find a way to imbue meaning, and have greater vibrancy and life and go after everything we want just to honor her more. So it’s like, I don’t understand why things happen at times. And it doesn’t seem like it makes sense. And it’s always fair. But wow, I want to honor you for the fact that you did not give up. I know a lot of situations have come against people not even as crazy as that. And I’ve seen them take the selfish route of just wanting to escape, or just completely giving up on their hopes and dreams. And the fact that you didn’t the fact that you stayed in the fight and continue to just go, that’s why I feel like even what you’re doing with unleashing influence has such power to it, it’s because you’ve walked it out, you you didn’t give up. And my message to our listeners all the time is you don’t know what’s going to happen. If you try if you step up if you step out, but for sure we know what’s going to happen if you don’t, nothing. You know, like, if you didn’t step up, and keep going, it’s like I wouldn’t have met you at the trade show. You know, the smiles see, and just the gift that you are even just taking your LinkedIn challenge course was so enlightening. As you can see, I haven’t done anything with it. And that’s because of my my fears of, I need to have all my ducks in a row, you know, I need to have certainty that when I do it, it’s going to work out everything that I like, want to inspire others with. And it’s because deep down inside, there’s parts of me that aren’t brave. There are parts of me that aren’t courageous. And I have to stir myself up, I have to just try to almost like inspire myself to lay hold of what I want in life. And that’s why it’s so refreshing for me to get to interview people like you that. Yeah, I’m just saying it’s, it’s so beautiful. And I’m sorry, it came at a cost. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 32:48 

But it came at it came at reward as well. Right? As you said, Yeah, I wouldn’t have chosen if I’d known what I was getting into. I wouldn’t, there’s no way I would have signed up for that. But looking back, it’s given me so many tools. It’s it’s formed me into the person that I am, and allowed me to be able to reach back and pull people forward. And the fact that I was super shy has allowed me to help other people who are shy, but so talented men have so much to offer the world and get them to get confident to step out into the world. You know, when people face fear of pivoting to entrepreneurship, worst case, you go back and get a job. Like there’s so many things that there’s so many lessons that I’ve been taught. And yes, they were hard won. And sometimes they super sucked going through the learning phase, but it has given me so many gifts, there’s so many silver linings to everything that has happened. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like I feel even looking back a year from now, like you’re back from where I am today. I’m not even close the same person. When I look back at when I bought the practice and I couldn’t even look patients in the eyes, I’m not the same person. So there’s been all this growth along the way that has has changed me and allows me to really help other people to transform into who they want to be. So I’m super grateful for that. 


Shawn Zajas  34:07 

You have to imagine if you would have continued on in dentistry, as a clinician, there are countless lives you would have touched in the chair and in the community. But the influence you have right now, and the reach of that influence, meant transcends anything you could have done in the chair. And not to say it has to be better or worse. But I’m just saying like, men, all those business leaders, dentists that have real struggles and they feel alone, and they don’t feel like anyone understands them. And then all of a sudden they find you and you’re able to not just give them hope, but give them a roadmap and show them how they can take those steps to find that fulfillment. That I don’t think that would have come. Like I don’t know how you would have got here if success had continued with clinical dentistry. That’s true. And then that’s like a beautiful story because not everybody rises like a phoenix out of the ashes. But that’s exactly what I feel like you’ve done that you didn’t just rise. It’s like, it’s like 2.0 or 3.0 of Dr. Angela Maroney is even more powerful and magnanimous. And I can see you just have this gratitude, you have this joy. I don’t know. I’m just I’m a huge fan of you. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 35:25 

Thanks, Shawn. 


Shawn Zajas  35:28 

So when it comes to mindset, and innovation, what do you send in your clients is one of the mindsets that maybe is the most challenging for them to get over. To get to that point where they they’re, I don’t know, willing to either step up or step out, or really implement some of the things that you’re showing them. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 35:50 

The biggest hurdle is always the identity shift that happens. So when someone decides to pivot, even if we’re, and we always are recycling, their experience, their expertise, their passion for what they want to do, but it’s channeled in a new way, there is a massive stretch in their identity that happens, which is terrifying for most people. Because some, some are like former CEOs of big companies like NASA, and now they’re representing themselves. So being that position within this big company is a different ballgame than being completely in charge. And being completely accountable for the company and the personal brand that you’re building. And so for a lot of people, there’s a massive stretch. And there’s a lot of fear around letting go that past identity and fully stepping into who they are now, because they’re not sure that people are going to like, this was easy over here working for a company, even if you’re an intrapreneur, doing big things in that company, when you’re finally stepping out on your own and claiming your meet your niche of genius in the world. It’s super, super scary, you’re going to have to sell you not sell for the company you’re selling you, you are going to have to fully own this role that you are taking on and be willing to defend it. And a lot of people when they’re going through that identity shift, it’s hard for the people around them, their colleagues go, what are you doing, like you were this, this was secure, you had health insurance, you had massive income. And now you’re taking risks going out on your own at this stage in life, because most of my clients are 55 plus, and then they’ve got their friends going. Have you lost your mind, they have their family going. Have you lost your mind, because they’re stepping away from something that has been comfortable for everyone else, they’ve identified that person, as such, they’ve got them in this little box. And now there’s a new box that is completely different. And everyone’s going I don’t, I don’t know that you should do this. And a lot of times it’s there, those people’s fear that they’re putting onto other people and telling them you should be doing this, you should be doing that. And I call it you know, people are shitting all over you. And a lot of times people should all over themselves as well, because they go well, maybe they’re right, maybe I should stay, maybe I should be happy with where I’m at instead of stretching to this new thing. And so there’s this war that happens inside them until they fully own this new identity, this niche of genius, what is the impact that we’re going to create in the world? And how is that ripple effect going to affect other people as well. Once they do that, sometimes that means a change of their circle. Sometimes they have a change of colleagues that they surround themselves with change a friend, sometimes marriages go through a suffering because especially if it if that person was the lower person, and now they’re this kickass innovative person, they are a thought leader, they have people looking up to them, they have people like banging down their door to work with them. That can be hard to see your partner rise when you were the dominant before. So yeah, there’s the identity shift part is definitely the hardest part for most of my clients. 


Shawn Zajas  38:48 

And I can even see in the sense of like, if we’re just talking about a dentist, you know, if you’re a successful dentist in any way, shape, or form, that’s a very visible outward facing identity that your whole peer group and community knows. Wow. Like Dr. Angela Maroney is successful as a dentist, and then now all of a sudden to say be willing to step up. Whether it’s a side thing, it’s it, whether it’s intended with your dentistry and say, Hey, I don’t know just even to embrace the courage but humility of that beginner’s brain of I’m trying something else, whether I want to start speaking, or I want to lead in this way, where I see a problem and I think I can bring a solution. Well, you’re, you’re not known for that. Like, you’re, you don’t already have respect for that. So it all of a sudden to visibly be seen for something that you have respect for. And then all of a sudden, visibly be seeing for something that you’re just starting at. I think even that is such a difficult thing. When someone’s so used to what I already have respect. It’s almost like this comfortable identity. And then this moat gets created around it, but unfortunately, it isolates you from being able to Maybe fully expressed those other parts of you, that could lead to greater fulfillment. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 40:04 

Absolutely. And a lot of the people I work with, they have come from highly professional backgrounds. So we get trained in university, you know, nine to five, climb the corporate ladder, and then you’ll hit this glass ceiling of income, and you have to work so many hours to actually stay at that income. And to actually shift away from that, that has been ingrained in them for 3040 years. And now go, okay, I can design my life, the way that I want to design it, that’s super scary. And that’s a big identity shift as well, for a lot of people. And also realizing they kind of got lied to, as a professional that this was the max, you could do, right, like a lot of my clients are aiming for a million $2 million per year. And that is not achievable. In a traditional nine to five job, even if you’re in the C suite position in a company, unless you’re like Bill Gates, for a lot of people, that’s not achievable, until they step out of that box and go, Okay, I have something to offer, it’s valuable. I know how to explain it, I know how to create replicatable outcomes, that’s when they start to be able to make more of a difference in the world and also have a life that they want, where they’re not working 100 plus hours a week being, you know, a prisoner to the endeavor that they’ve created. And it’s a beautiful thing, when they actually fully own that it takes a while, like sometimes a couple of years for them to fully own that they can actually do this differently. 


Shawn Zajas  41:32 

So you keep saying was it a niche of genius? Is that the phrase? Okay, so just talk about it a little bit, because this is what you do. Right? This is what you can do for people is you can help them identify, and then step into and then form. I’m guessing some sense of a business around that, right? Yeah. So So I mean, yeah, tell us 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 41:59 

about it. I love nature of genius. So everyone has something that they can offer the world because of the path that they’ve been on. So when clients come to me, even when you did the LinkedIn level of challenge, we, we touch on the nature of genius, but most people never really fully own it unless I crack them. And so I have this thing called the crack you open session, which I really crack you open, I look at your whole story. I look at your soul, I look at your experience, expertise, passion, personality, and I package you into your niche of genius. And it’s always exactly what people need. It’s not necessarily what people would have thought they were going to packaged into when they stepped into the crack the open session, but it makes them able to run with it. And then they have to stretch into that new identity that I’m giving them. But that niche of genius is really figuring out what are you unfairly gifted at in this world? Or unfairly trained at that you actually like doing? And how can we get you only doing that. Now, it doesn’t mean all the skills and the expertise that you have developed goes away, it means we’re packaging you in such a way that you are easy to understand in the marketplace. So people go, ah, that’s the expert that I want. And that is really hard for people to do on their own. Because most people have a ton of talents. And then they tried to build companies around all those talents. How do I know? I did that myself. And I was using to the marketplace because people were like, well, how the heck were you a dentist, and a professional dancer. And you have a business coaching company for dentists and you run a social media agency like it made no sense. There was common ties between everything because that was at the center of everything, right? But people didn’t get how someone could build all these disparate brands. And so that’s what happens with people. They’re not necessarily building a whole bunch of different brands, but their trends showcase too many things. And they are trying to use every tool in their toolkit toolkit, instead of saying, This is what I am a genius at. This is what you need to hire me for. And so when I help people to figure this out, I do exactly what I did. So when I made the decision that yes, I moved to Nicaragua, I made this big change. And yet I was still addicted to entrepreneurship, and needed to start to shift into exactly what I was a genius at. What I did was I took all these little post it notes that I’d gotten out of conference, there was bright yellow ones and bright pink ones. And I wrote on every single one, just one skill that I knew people would pay me for. So I had this two by three foot whiteboard and start sticking sticky notes on it. And I finished sticking everything on and looked at and went well. This is not actually helpful. Like it was just chaos of color. I’m just gonna go for a run. And then I came back and like I still don’t want anyone to look at this. So I’m gonna go to bed. Woke up the next morning with this thing staring at me. Like there’s got to be a pattern in here. This like, there’s something here so I started ordering them into one corner was the things that I love to do. The bottom corner was the thing that I hated to do. And then I took the things that I loved and ordered for them in what I was, if I could only do those things for the next five years, what would be the top three things. And what came out in the wash is, I love cracking people open. I love helping people to figure out what their path should be. So figuring out what their needs of genius is, the second thing I’m great at is helping them to fully own that niche of genius, fully step into that identity. And then I’m really good at helping people to commit arson and start burning away everything else that does not belong in that niche of genius. And truly, yes, we hear the 80/20 rule, I think most people are spending 95% of their day, not in their niche of genius. Yep. And so they’re wasting their time and energy on things that aren’t making the most impact with people when you’re actually in your niche of genius. And you are doing what you are most gifted, that most talented, most experienced at, and you’re leveraging that to help people, you create way more impact than me like, Well, yeah, I can do that. And yeah, I can do that. And they start pulling in all these things, because they’re scared, they’re not gonna make it. And it is scary. This is part of the reason owning your identity, especially in your niche of genius is so hard because it is scary, you’re going all in on you and what you think your best package is. And so that is terrifying for people, because they’re, as professionals, we’re so used to being like, oh, yeah, I can do that, I can do that, I can do that. And so we have all these different things that we do in a day that we’ve always done. So they’re comfortable, we have gotten good at them. But we aren’t necessarily the most talented at doing that. And so letting go have all that burning that away becoming an arsonist in their own life is so hard. But once they do that, that’s where their status gets elevated. They start getting the right clients, their program comes together so easy once they fully own that niche of genius. And they start creating massive impact in the world, which is what they came to me for in the first place. 


Shawn Zajas  46:50 

Okay, so I’m sold but for everyone else that wants to hire you for this. Where do you want them to go to find out more? 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 47:00 

Two good places. First is going to my LinkedIn. So under Dr. Angelo Rooney, or go to unleashing 


Shawn Zajas  47:08 

Okay, I feel like I just got like a free session because that’s like everything I need to hear. So we’re gonna be talking after this. Okay, so Angela, here’s a thing. And sorry, I call the Angela. So Ang. What would you call the chapter? For the next five years of your life? What would that chapter be called? 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 47:31 

I know it’s gonna sound weird, but I feel like it’s Adult Adult Angela. And fully getting intentional with focusing, like, I feel like I’ve been a little kid dabbling in things the last since my injury happened. And now I’m like, I know, this is what I need to do. I’m going to fully claim my power, I’m going to fully go in on all this. I’m not allowed to take on any new endeavors, I have to stay with Unleashing Influence. This is my baby. For the next five years, there’s no new brands that I’m allowed to build. It has to be all in on this. So I’m fully going in on my niche of genius. And to me that, that feels like being a mature entrepreneur. Now. Instead of you know, being a serial entrepreneur, which is a bit of an entrepreneurial addiction. Now it’s like cake. Getting grounded, getting peaceful with this and just giving it my all. 


Shawn Zajas  48:25 

Well, I cannot wait to see what that looks like. Okay, so here’s the final question. As we close. You’re walking down the street and off in the distance, you see 18 year old Angela. And you only have one moment to communicate a brief sentiment to her. What do you share with her? 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 48:49 

You’re gonna change the world. 


Shawn Zajas  48:53 

Wow. That is amazing. So and it has been such an honor to just get to interview you today. It has been so easy to just see the ways in which you have innovated the ways in which you pioneer the ways in which you have just had to manifest resilience and strength, just have character to keep going. And again, thank you for overcoming and continuing to say yes, so that the world gets to enjoy the light that you’re shining. And I am so in your corner. And I really hope and believe that this next five years you are 100% going to step into who you are with even greater intentionality, greater fullness. And I’m excited to see what that’s going to look like. So once again, just thank you so much for letting me interview you today. 


Dr. Angela Mulrooney 49:47 

Thanks for having me, Shawn. I appreciate it. So, so much. 


Shawn Zajas  49:51 

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