The Driving Force Behind Investment-Grade Dental Practices – A Vulnerable Discussion with Dr. Victoria Peterson


Podcast Summary

The podcast episode features an interview with Victoria Peterson, a dental industry expert and CEO of Productive Dentist Academy (PDA). The conversation revolves around building investment-grade practices and the future of dentistry. Victoria shares her insights and experiences while discussing various aspects of dental practice management, leadership, and innovation. 

Victoria begins by emphasizing the importance of understanding the role of money in dentistry. She believes that money magnifies what already exists within a person. Those who are giving and caring will make a bigger impact with more financial resources, while those who are self-focused will continue to prioritize themselves. She also highlights the mindset of dentists and the need for them to be open to receiving support and cultivating trust in their teams. 

The discussion then shifts to the mindsets of dentists and their readiness to work with PDA. Victoria explains that those who are open to receiving support and have clear role descriptions and priorities tend to do well. She also addresses the issue of vertical movement within dental careers and the importance of creating growth opportunities to retain talent. 

Victoria touches upon the significance of financial literacy and accountability for dentists. She advises them to take finance and accounting courses to better understand their practice’s financial health. She stresses the need for accurate and timely financial data to make informed business decisions and recommends dentists hold their CPAs accountable for providing the necessary information. 

The conversation moves on to the future of dentistry and the ongoing consolidation within the industry. Victoria notes that about 30-35% of the market is currently consolidated, and this trend is expected to continue. She believes this is an opportune time to be a practice owner and advises dentists to pay attention to their bottom line and consider exiting PPO plans to improve profitability. Victoria also highlights the growing interest in functional medicine, sleep apnea treatment, and holistic dental practices as the industry evolves. 

Towards the end of the episode, Victoria discusses the services offered by PDA, which include investment-grade practice building, practice management, marketing optimization, and cultural development. She mentions the focus on employer reputation and attracting quality team members. PDA’s programs help dentists improve their business assets, enhance practice management systems, optimize marketing strategies, and develop a strong company culture.  

In closing, Victoria honors her father, an auto mechanic and entrepreneur, for his innovative spirit and his mantra of “putting the serve in service.” She encourages listeners to step out of their comfort zones, have faith, and not let uncertainty hold them back. She shares her own experiences of taking leaps of faith and reassures listeners that resources and opportunities will arise once they take action. 

Overall, the podcast episode provides valuable insights into building investment-grade practices, the future of dentistry, and the importance of financial literacy and team development. Victoria’s expertise and experiences serve as a guiding light for dentists seeking to enhance their practices and navigate the evolving landscape of the dental industry.

Connect with Victoria Peterson

LI: @ Dr. Victoria Peterson

IG: @ dewlifemag

FB: @ DeWlife – Dental Entrepreneur Woman

Podcast Transcript

Shawn Zajas  00:01 

So today, I have the honor of getting to be with Victoria Peterson. And I am just such a big fan. So this is going to be a ton of fun. Victoria, if you guys don’t know her, she is like to say everything in Dental is probably true. Like you went from being a dental professional, to author, speaker, CEO. And now even investor. Let me welcome you. And then I’m going to set the stage for what we’re about to talk about. So, thank you so much for being here with me today. Victoria. 


Victoria Peterson  00:37 

Sean, it’s such an honor. Thanks for the invitation. Okay, so 


Shawn Zajas  00:41 

to set the stage, I am fascinated Victoria, by what it is that causes dental professionals to all of a sudden feel that empowerment that that permission to pioneer and to step up and to step out. And often I preface this with innovation in dentistry, what what type of innovation am I talking about, and I say, I’m not really talking about clinical innovation, or technological innovation, I’m really talking about those beliefs, and mindsets that lead people to do great things. But to say that I’m not talking about technological or clinical innovation, it’s like, when you have that innovation or that breakthrough in your mindset, and in your belief, it’s what leads to those outward innovations that people see like you can’t have one and not the other. So right now, I am so much more focused about people’s story of struggle and how they overcame like, right now, if someone could click their heels, and be where Victoria Peterson is, 


Victoria Peterson  01:40 

they would not recommend it. I would love to arrive 


Shawn Zajas  01:43 

at the destination. Right? Maybe they wouldn’t have, they wouldn’t be able to endure the journey, or the process. That’s what I’m interested in. I’m interested to find out like, how did you get to where you’re at today? 


Victoria Peterson  02:00 

Oh, my goodness. You know, reality is such a fluid thing for some of us. So we’d have to first define what the reality of where I am is, you know, but I would say that at my core, I am incredibly curious about what drives people, what motivates people, and I am a champion for the human spirit. And that has always been my cause I can remember being a young girl, you know, and contemplating these things, I can remember being six years old, and thinking about the world. Now you got to remember, this is 1968. When I’m six years old, your parents probably weren’t a twinkle in the eye. So and I can remember being in my bedroom looking at the stars, and thinking about time thinking about then there’s going to be 1969 1970 1972 I’ll be 10 years old 1982 I’ll be 20 years old 1992, I’ll be 30 years old. So I’m something of a futurist and I used to belong to the world, future society. So I love thinking about what’s happening, and more importantly, how do I impact my future by what I do today. That has been a curiosity since I was six years old. And I can remember after that night, waking up, and and we’re in South Georgia, we’re very southern. We’re in the Okefenokee Swamp, right. In 1968, you’re going to just paint the picture of a dirt road farm, where we have pigs and cows and horses and chickens. And I go to my mother, and I go, Mama, what comes after 1999? And she’s like, I don’t know, what are you talking about? Well, the year 1999, what comes after that? And she said, town, get out of here. I don’t know what you’re talking about. And I said, there’s going to be a year that comes after that. And she goes, Well, I suppose it’s 2000. So I was thinking about the year 2000 in 1968. And I was thinking about what’s going to change in my lifetime? What’s it gonna be like? And so that curiosity, and then there was also a compassion and an innocence about me. So as a CEO, I’m not a hardcore driver, I am the how do I help organize people into their highest and best so that I don’t have to be hardcore authoritative? And I can remember also, in that time, when influenced me, was desegregation. So you know, the black life matters and all of the movements that we see today? No, I was experiencing as a young person in the 60s and 70s when the civil rights movements were in their height, and I can remember being in the Deep South, where the black Schools and the white schools integrated. And that happened when I was in third grade. And there were bomb threats. And there were riots and there was a lot of of turmoil going on. But in that what I remember is befriending the new kids in the school. And it was very upsetting to some of the parents, it was very upsetting to some of my white friends. Like, why are you holding hands with a little black girl? I held hands with everybody who had warts on their hands, who their physical features, like, I’m sure this kid Michael had Down syndrome, but we didn’t know what that was back then. So I was always befriending the underdog. And that’s so so you know, high school, all that. So I’m in Student Council and beta club and all the nerdy academic stuff. But I also hung out in lunch with the kids who are smoking pot. Like I have friends everywhere, I was a band nerd, I just am endlessly curious about why people do what they do. And, you know, I guess I’ve got judgment and all of that, but I really don’t care how people show up. Like, that’s their journey. It’s enough that I’m on my journey. Now, if their journey starts to hurt me or threaten my safety, I’m gonna care a lot about it. But you want to be what you want to be good, be that, because that’s your journey. So I don’t know if that’s answering your question or not. But that is kind of the core of who I am is. I’m endlessly curious about spirituality, the universe and what drives human nature. 


Shawn Zajas  06:44 

So Victoria, like I love, I love where you’re at, I love that you’ve even been able to tie it to like, beginning things that were sprouting up in your youth of like, this is kind of how I was wired. And connecting it because I think when we’re in alignment with like, who are called to be, so to speak, there’s just that that energy, that flow of you know who we are. But there’s also that sense of fulfillment, because it’s like, Oh, I’m getting to express myself, I’m getting to be myself. Now that journey to discovering that it took you along, somehow, at some point you You crashed into dentistry and were a hygienist. But but you didn’t remain there. And not that there’s anything wrong if you did, but it wasn’t the beat in your head. It wasn’t. It wasn’t staying true to yourself. So like, what was that journey of a crashing into dentistry, and then all of a sudden, continuing on to do what you’re doing? 


Victoria Peterson  07:43 

Well, along with the endless curiosity, there is just this underlying type A personality, which I think a lot of us type A workaholics. For me, I can’t speak for anybody else. But that’s cultivated on a thread of trauma. So abuse, trauma, misunderstanding, things like that in youth, right. And so by the time I was 17, I was burned out, I was absolutely burned out. Which sounds crazy, right? But now you see all the social statistics of kids in high school that are depressed and suicidal and feeling the peer pressure and all of that, and I relate to that, because that was happening back then. We just didn’t have a social media platform to throw gasoline on it, right. And so my first nervous breakdown, if you will, I was 17 years old. And our band director, remember I was in band I was student conductor. So you got to picture this. I was in crushed Blue Velvet, hot pads, like little short shorts in my major at band major. You know, tails, you know, like the tuxedo tails and go go boots. I wish I had a picture of this. It was stunning. 


Shawn Zajas  08:58 

Picture everything, but the Go Go boots. 


Victoria Peterson  09:02 

Go Go boots, and the hat. You know, the whole thing. So I’m in charge of the band somewhat as a student director, but our leader had cancer, and he didn’t tell anyone. And he was going through chemo and radiation, and he would come in with big memory gaps, right. And so it was I was just always getting in trouble with him because I was doing what he asked to do, but he would forget. And then he would humiliate me in front of the, the band, right? And again, there’s racial tensions. There’s just all this cacophony of cultural stuff going on. And I remember the day that I snapped, I think it was playing the Oregon and he said, No one should be on the Oregon you’re not allowed. I ran out. I hit the door, the soundproof doors so hard that it broke the glass in it. I went out to my mom’s car, I’m beating the hood of the Lincoln Continental, and they put me on Valium, because that’s what you do when you’re 17. And I thought, you know, I can’t I can’t keep being everything. to everybody. That was the first time I woke up and said, I’m trying to please my parents, I’m trying to please the band director, I’m trying to please. You know, the FBLA, because I was the president of the FBLA. So as president of everything, like, I think a lot of us in entrepreneurs are born with a leadership thread. That’s why we’re entrepreneurs, we can’t work for anybody else. You’re like that I would work for somebody else, but I won’t comply. So let me go make up a job and then go make it happen. So you’ve got that innate self governance, that innate leadership, and I left, I left high school, I dropped it completely. I went to junior high Junior College, which was 30 miles from our house, and I got my high school diploma, earning one credit in Americanism versus communism. And I knew my parents would let me do that without declaring a major. So I declared dental hygiene on a whim. And out of 400 applicants is 17 year old kid with no college credits got in. So I think that’s a God thing. Because I cried when I got the acceptance letter, I had no idea you could say no. So I went off to three years of hygiene school, always knowing that I wanted to go in business school. And I think the thing that saved me the thing that really launched me, I launched it at age 17. Because my parents read, my parents believed me so much like they saw that leadership. And they enrolled me in this little course, called Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. And I still have my book. And so from the age of 17, you know, combining the sense of, how do I help humanity, I love this diverse group of people, I hate seeing suffering and others. Now with this dental hygiene degree and these skills, the speaking skills, I thought, one day, I’m going to take a stage. But first, I need to figure out what I’m going to talk about. So I spent 15 years honing my clinical skills. I had a strong, small business background, my parents owned gas stations, and U hauls and restaurants and all of this stuff. So we were always working. So I knew how to balance a day sheet. I knew we care and reactivation because I was in charge of making sure everybody brought their car in every three months or 3000 miles, I was calling people and scheduling all the things we do in dentistry, I had been doing as a high school kid, and preparing for this. So I just needed time to season and figure out what I was going to talk about, and then figure out who I wanted to help. So my journey isn’t. I don’t know, I don’t think it’s that special. I don’t think it’s that extraordinary. I just took the next step. So, you know, up until age 18, I think we’re just trying to survive whatever environment we’re in, because we don’t have a lot of control over it. And those survival skills just said, Be bold, and take the next step, what is my best next step. And I just keep following whatever is in front of me, of what can I do now with what I have. 


Shawn Zajas  13:07 

So it’s crazy Victoria, because as I’m hearing you speak, think about how many dental professionals you’re talking to. And you know, they have that yearning, or maybe some desire for more, but they’re not, they’re not sure how to kind of arrive at like who they are, in the professional sense, they’re not able to arrive at their own personal brand. And when you listen to someone that knows their personal brand, you’re able to weave in and connect all the dots in pieces. And obviously, you know, you’re very spiritual, connected person. And there’s probably even more insights that are there that you haven’t connected yet, but it’s so amazing how much you’ve integrated, who you are, your story, the the moments in your life that have led you to where you’re at. So many people are so disconnected from that. That’s why they’re like, Oh, I really I really want to have a difference. Or I have this the sense that I can do something else. And there’s there’s more to be expressed. But then you start asking, Well, you know, like what what in your life has either prepared you for this, or set you up for this? And it’s kind of like crickets, you know, what, what stories can you pull from? And yet, unless we actually connect our pain, our tragedies or triumphs, the ways in which we’ve been shaped, we’re never going to find that authentic voice that only we have in it is such a strong belief of mine that like I know dentistry is going to be great in the next 10 years. And what I encourage our listeners to is like, are you going to be part of what makes it great like you listener right now, like are you going to step up and fill something because I feel like all of us are almost like, you know, in some you could say we’re on the same Army we’re on the same side trying to advance the industry. And we’re, we’re better when we’re linking arms. But there’s some places in the ranks where someone’s not occupying it, because they haven’t owned who they are yet. And none of us are competing for that light, because we all shine a certain light that only we can shine. And that’s what I love about you is you have this sense of authenticity, of purpose of intentionality. And that presents, anytime anyone that meets you just gets overwhelmed by that sense of security. No, for real. When I met you, I was like, wow, I remember, you sat down. It was smiles. Let’s see, April 21. And it was one of those almost, like, meet and greet. The vendor stayed still. And then like, the investors or whatever, will go around, and you sat across from me? And oh, I 


Victoria Peterson  15:48 

could read that. That was in the pre conference networking. Yes. 


Shawn Zajas  15:53 

i Yeah, I’d never met you before you slid your you know, business card across. And I just remember again, the presence that you carried, you were aligned, you knew who you were. And yet you you carry your strength with such a humility. So I want to honor you have that now. Victoria, along that journey. Was there a mindset that you realized you had to shed in order to kind of embrace who you are even more? 


Victoria Peterson  16:25 

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. For me, maturing. And in any aspect of your life, be it in your leadership and your parenting and your who you are in your spirituality, all of that it’s a process of letting go. And I think that was one of the big I didn’t learn that lesson until I was in my 50s. Now menopause, you won’t get to experience that, Shawn. But menopause teaches women a lot about letting go. That’s literally the process, we’re letting go of a big part of our identities and things like that. So you talk about looking, you talk about connecting the dots and who you are. And reflecting reflection really comes, you don’t know how you did something until you turn around and connect the dots. So I think that’s where age has an advantage on youth that doesn’t have a lot of experience yet to turn around. But each of you can turn around and say, Well, what did sparked me to success? And if you get out of this mindspace of right or wrong good or bad and oh my god, they so did this to me, when once you get out of that mind frame of the world are these people did something to me. And then you understand that happened for me. You know, if you’re alive today, you walked on glass, right? You you, all of us have struggled in some way. And it shaped who we are. And you know, there’s way too many movies telling us you can’t go back in time and change it because you would have a different thing for where you are today. So I love that you brought that up that your reality is the accumulation of your choices and your experiences you went through. And you know I’m living full time now on the Big Island of Hawaii. Now you got to think I started in Okefenokee Swamp, the house I grew up and is still on a dirt road. My 23 first cousins, my 42nd cousins, I’ve got fifth cousins, nobody moves out of a 20 mile radius. Yet I moved from there to Atlanta to Anacortes, Washington to Hawaii, like I’m a nomad. In that aspect, and here in Hawaii, they have a phrase, dance where your feet are, right, make a change where your feet are, like I see a lot, especially young speakers, and consultants and, and people who want to be key influencers. They’re like I’m changing the world. And unlike awesome, how are you going to change your world? And how are you going to change the world of your family? And then how you change the world of your friends? How do you change the world of your clients, how you change the world, in your small slice of it, because there are billions of people in this world. And I just love that phrase, we may not be able to change the world, but we can change the whole world for just one person. So I that is when I’m remembering that it helps me to be present. And when I’m present, then you’re in your power. So work where your feet are work where you’re planted. Desk Destiny feel like I will also say Tony Robbins was a huge influence on my life. Again, Dale Carnegie and Wayne Dyer and those in my teens and early 20s When I was let’s see, it’s gonna be 1992 too. I was introduced to Tony Robbins. So I was 30 he was about 32 He was just getting started and by the time I was 35, I was working In a Tony Robbins company, so I’ve done the date with destiny, I’ve done the firewalk, because I’ve studied NLP and things like that. And through it, one of the things I had to shed was my story. I had to share my story of trauma, I had to shed my story of abuse, I got to look at it, and then rewrite the story. And I think that’s the deep inner work if you’re going to lead yourself and others, the leaders I know that are truly successful and happy and balanced and all of that they’ve done the deep inner work. You can tell once you do the inner work, you can tell those that are wearing the mask and pretending to themselves who they are and what they’re trying to do. So it’s not a journey of changing the world. It’s a journey of Changing your world. And then the gifts flow out. Everybody has unique medicine. Everybody has unique gifts. So just let that come out. It sounds so esoteric, but you know, 


Shawn Zajas  21:02 

I love it. My mind. I’m just trying to like, process everything because there’s so much of what you’re you’re saying that is just so profound, Victoria. I know. Like I remember talking to Tanya Lanthier of dental post. She grew up in her mom something about her mom, she had some sort of disorder. And I don’t know if it was like some crazy perfectionism she expected of her children. And Tanya was able to say, my mom gave me a gift. With her issue with her disease. It wasn’t something she played me with. It was something she gave me a gift because now I have extraordinary patients, or now I learned this. So it’s completely right. It’s like we all have traumas. Right? And tragedies, and low parts. And a lot of times we’re we’re almost trying to like disconnect that from who we are like that. No, that’s not me. I’m running from it. It’s shame. And it’s like, well, no, there’s actually gold there. Because that’s 


Victoria Peterson  22:07 

the maturing process. You know, oh my gosh, yeah, my brother won’t hear this podcast, it will go there. Like alcoholism runs deep on both sides of my family, like, a lot of us. You know, that’s just society, how we cope with things, right. And I brought him to live with me one time, and he was like, really out of control had to call the cops and to do all this stuff. And I’m calling all the hotlines like how do I get help? And I call this one hotline. And this old Vietnam vet answers the phone. And I’m like, Oh, my God, and what do I do? And he’s so out of control. And I’ve got kids and Lola, and I can’t send them back. And, and he’s like, look, I don’t know you. But I’m just gonna tell you, there’s only two types of people, there’s, there’s victims, and there’s volunteers. So as hard as it sounds, everything you just described you have volunteered for. So I don’t see that you’re a victim here. You need to just, you know, suck it up, buttercup, and make some choices. If this person is threatening you and your kids, then send them back. You know what drunks love to be drunks, he’s gonna be happy hanging out with drunks, and you need to be okay with that. Otherwise, you’re bending over backwards to have him change when he doesn’t want to. And so, you know, growing up in that environment I wanted, because in my household, I mean, again, we’re in the Deep South, corporal punishment. One kid was in trouble. You’re all in trouble. So as the middle child, I spent my life making sure that nobody ever got in trouble for anything. I did my older brother’s homework. I did my younger sister’s homework. I didn’t know at the time that she was dyslexic. I just knew she couldn’t spell. So I would correct all her papers. I would I would give him the answers to he would he would get my school schedule and then he would sign up for the exact classes one class after mine beat me up, get my homework, steal the test answers the whole bit. So I don’t even know why I’m telling you. I don’t know that this would help us soul. But we all if you’re in dentistry, you’re somewhat OCD, you’re somewhat perfectionistic you’re so you’re precise let precision that drives us to be able to remove tartar and calculus in a 15 millimeter pocket. While not an anesthetizing people right. So, your gentle touch doing this heroic thing. If you can do endo like the attention span that it takes to file a root canal, right like we are OCD we hyperfocus that was cultivated somewhere early on, because that is not typically a natural human experience. Like when we’re mentally Help the and left to our own devices. You know, we’re we’re doing other things, you know, worrying about how many times I turn the light switch on and off? And did I check the doors three times and all of those things that we we fun creatures in dentistry do. 


Shawn Zajas  25:16 

So you’re also sharing the story because it’s in those moments that are unique to us that we can find gold, where there’s the greatest transformation. Yeah, it’s like, you know, maybe there’s parts of the family that were given that we sometimes look at God and go, Why, like, Why them? I, it’s a really bad joke. But you know, my mom went through some really difficult times as she was battling cancer. And after four years, you know, she didn’t, she didn’t end up winning that battle. And I just remember like, with my brother joking, like, God could have taken my uncle like, yeah, like, why my mom, like, you know, because we all have those, that weird uncle that you’re like, everybody said that, you know, but you have those weird people that are like, not living a good life. It doesn’t seem like you’re contributing at all. And yet, they still seem like they’re in good health. They’re trucking along. And then there’s that person that’s blessing everyone’s life, and enriching. And they die young. And you’re like, ah, that makes sense, right? 


Victoria Peterson  26:19 

Yeah, God needed another angel. Yeah, well, we could get into that path. But that would be a whole different podcast. But that is the also the other thread of my motivations. Life is short. Again, I don’t all these seeds, I think, for most of us is planted in our early 20s, I had two boyfriends in high school, one got killed by a drunk driver, the other one got killed in a pulp mill accident. And then by the time I was 22, I thought I should not even fall in love. And I did with a university professor, we were married. And two years later, he died. So I’m widowed by the time I’m 25. And I’m like, self worth was just really low for a long time, there’s there was a lot of things to overcome. So I appreciate that, like, you meet me in my 50s. And you go, wow, she’s really cool lady. Look at that she’s integrated. It takes the work to, you know, so the wounds, open our hearts, I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at Japanese pottery, or porcelain, but if it cracks or breaks, they put it back together, and they fill it with gold, and Ruby and stones. And so it takes so much courage. And one of my mentors shared the phrase, success requires support. And I’ll tell you that every rung of life, as I’ve elevated up, I have sought out surrounding myself with support. And what happens is your heart cracks open your brain cracks open you melt you puddle. And then if you have the courage to surround yourself with support, the healing comes, and the healing comes in with this beautiful layer of gold, this river of gold, where that that track was down. So I needed to be cracked open, I was a little hard head and I’m a little stubborn, you know, so I don’t hit the easy button. Life has to literally take a two by four to my forehead and say, Wake up, wake up. And then going through that pain, you always I have, I’ve got this phrase Break, break through is always on the other side of break down. And I use it, you have to go through the breakdown sometime to get to the breakthrough. And it takes a lot of courage. It takes a lot of courage to, to hang in there. And it takes a lot of support. And that support might mean you know, instead of taking a big vacation, I’m going to hire a housekeeper who comes twice a week and does laundry and helps me with the kids it’s going to be I am not a bad mother. If I have someone else pick my kids up from school or soccer like women, especially in dentistry, women leaders, we put too much on ourselves to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect provider. And there’s just no such thing and this mom guilt, like Jesus that’s really real. That is really real. We just put so much on ourselves. So you know what, get a therapist get on antidepressants, do ketamine treatments, meditate, do yoga, take retreats, do whatever you take, and I think post pandemic, the level of support that we need as highly focused professionals get takes a lot of brain power we’re we’re we’re burning a lot of glucose mentally every day if we don’t find a way to replenish our batteries, we burn out and I’m seeing that higher than ever. You know, I’ve been in dentistry a long time burnouts always been there. But post pandemic. It’s off the charts. It’s off the charts. So my compassion And is rising, you know, you had asked me in a pre interview, you know, how do I want to innovate dentistry. And I’m doing that through this platform we call investment grade practice. Because true wealth comes in the form of peace of mind, it comes in the form of genuine relationships, it comes in the form of contribution and giving back, and the feelings come first, and then the money or the material come second. And so in this quest of creating financial freedom, and building a business that’s truly a value, then you have the latitude to do more of those things that bring you peace of mind and connected relationships and contributions to the community. So it’s this beautiful upward spiral of identify and feel the feelings that you want to feel, because that’s your source, your job is not your source of wealth, its source, it’s its spirit, it’s God, it’s my as the prana. It’s, you know, whatever you want to call that. That’s the source. So feel the feeling, get the frequency of it, and then you start manifesting the pathway to the financial freedom. And then once you get the financial freedom, how are you being a good steward of that. So that’s what I want to help. Innovate is this concept of sacred commerce and sacred economics where we we have, we don’t take people out of the equation, you know, people are at the center of the hearts are at the center of the equation, they’re at the center of our business. 


Shawn Zajas  31:45 

I think that’s beautiful. And I love what you’re doing with investment, great practices. You know, one of my beliefs around money is just that, like it reveals. It just magnifies kind of what’s already inside. So if you, if if someone that is already going to be really giving and caring and wants to make a difference has more money, they’re just going to make a bigger impact. You know, if someone’s very self focused, you give them more money, they’re just going to continue to be self focus, you know? Now, Victoria, you see a lot of different practices. And dentists because they’re wanting to work with you either through aggressive investment, great practices, or through production, dentists, Academy. Are there any mindsets that you’re hearing as people want to work with you where you’re like, Okay, either this tennis is going to be a little bit harder to work with, because they’re not really mature yet, or they’re not really ready. Or when I hear this mindset, I’m like, Oh, my gosh, Let’s go baby. This is like the perfect practice. Yeah, um, 


Victoria Peterson  32:44 

gosh, it’s easy to put labels on people and things. And that’s probably a disservice. But what I will say is that you have an easier time when you allow support. So again, leadership and growing in your leadership is The Art of Letting Go. Which means you have to cultivate the ability to receive. So those people that we coach who have the ability to receive, do really well. So let’s put it in practical terms. If you are a micromanager and you do everything because you don’t trust your team, right. And I made a lot of doctors like that. You have to cultivate this peace within yourself that it’s okay to receive support. And again, through dental school through the academic journey, you are subconsciously taught, don’t trust anybody, because you’re in competition with them. Right? Your GPA is what’s going to get you into the, you know, your GPA, an undergrad is going to get you into grad school, which is going to get you in dental school, which is going to get you in your general practice residency, you know, it’s highly competitive to get there. And it’s highly competitive. And it’s comparative. So you learn to count on yourself. And you don’t understand that humans aren’t designed to do at all like we need others. And so delegation there when they have the mindset of how do I how do I create such clear role descriptions and projects and priorities? It’s like a gift to our team. It’s one of the number one reasons people leave dentistry is because they perceive that there’s no vertical movement. Right? I’m a hygienist. I’m always a hygienist. I’m going to be a hygienist. I’ll make a little bit more next year than I made this year, but it’s kind of a repetitive job. I’m, I’m just a dental assistant. I’m just a scheduler. I’m just a receptionist. You hear that all the time. And I think that’s what’s sparking a lot of the blackmail. And if you’re if you’re a dental team member, I’m just gonna say right out you are blackmailing your frickin doctor right now, at, you know, two years ago, I would have worked for 25 bucks an hour. Now I’m working for 35 bucks an hour, and I’m leaving you because somebody will pay me 40 bucks an hour. So it’s supply and demand and I don’t don’t fault. You know if you’re on your career path, but consider this, what value am I willing to give for that $40 an hour, I work with doctors who pay really well, their hygienist are making 100 150 grand a year, but they give a ton of value. So being a leader and allowing your team to help you, you’ve got to cultivate trust, you’ve got to cultivate respect, you have to cultivate measurable skill sets, and you’ve got to be willing to take a stand. So those leaders who say, This is My philosophy of care. This is what I stand for in my business. This is what I stand for in my practice. Will you join me in the journey? And I think that’s the difference in today’s talent wars and today’s economy. In the 80s. You could just say my way or the highway, you’re on the bus, you’re off the bus, get the hell out of here, and employees would comply. But today, there’s so much choice that it isn’t, it is Get really clear about who you are. And most of us can’t do that without coaching. It takes someone like you or me or those with with coaching skills to just sit down with compassion and actively listen and say, oh, did I just hear you say that this was important to you? And they go, yeah, oh, that is important. Let’s make a note of that. So really crafting the key characteristics of how you want your team to show up, cultivating the core value that you’d go to the wall for cultivating your standard of care. I’ll ask doctors, what’s your standard of perio periodontal therapy? And they’ll go Well, that depends on what and they go on which hygenist is working, because Peggy won’t probe and Martha’s kind of young and she’s a little more progressive. And I tried to hire this one hygienist, but she was really oral systemic and, and nobody liked her. So I’m like, so what’s your standard? Because? Well, it depends. And so that’s the one that’s hard to coach, when you don’t know your own standard, then the team is confused. And they don’t know where you’re really going. So you got to take a stand on what you believe. If you look at the American Dental Association standard of care, there’s great big book on it. And it’s like 353 pages that says, How often should you take x rays? When do you do this, when you do that 350 pages and saying the decision on this is up to a licensed professional dentist, like there really is no standard of care there. It’s so wide, you know, amalgam to extract an implant. That’s all a viable plan for a tooth with a hole in it. So what do you stand for? So I know you’re you’re not talking about clinical innovations, but it’s clarity, the job of a leader is to be clear. So those who are clear, those are willing to do the work to become clear, then we can help them articulate that to their team. And I had a doctor justice last week, he was just telling me what to do. Just tell me what to do. So well, I could do that. But then it would be my practice, it wouldn’t be your practice. So Regan, Robertson, whom you know, she’s our chief communications officer, she came up with this brilliant formula for decision making. And she said data plus emotion equals decisive action. So if you’re, if you’re stuck in making decisions as a leader, go back and say, Do I have all the data? Where could I get where could I become more informed on this subject? What do I need to ask of my team? What report should I pull? Should I bring in someone to take a look so get the data but then marry that with? What do I want to feel like when this happens? You know, do you want to feel that peace of mind? Do you want to feel success? Do you want to feel accomplishment? You know, what is that that’s driving this need for change? When you marry those two things together? The answers on what to do next is so clear. And maybe take a take a 30 day challenge with a Shauna and you text me and Reagan and see how that shows up in your life. I think it’d be really interesting. 


Shawn Zajas  39:51 

I will absolutely do that. Now I’m on the record. 


Victoria Peterson  39:55 

He just said it Regan. 


Shawn Zajas  39:58 

So Victoria when you are even painting that picture, though, of the practice where the dentist maybe is a little controlling, and micromanaging, and maybe everyone in the team, you know, feels like there’s really no vertical movement. Like I can imagine, as a patient showing up in a practice like that, there’s not going to be this culture that’s unified, that comes through of like this really great team that has this energy of like this synergy that can come from, we’re in it together, we’re making beautiful outcomes together. And I guess at the root of that, I’m also seeing that like, maybe the dentist just has a lot of fear. You know, like, what happens if I let go? What happens if I don’t micromanage? What happens if I let them buy into the vision, and I’m a little more vulnerable with the way that I lead. And I noticed, because dentists aren’t typically entrepreneurs. And I think you probably identified yourself as an entrepreneur maybe even earlier than I did. You know, it was one of those journeys for me of like, okay, I guess this is who I am. This is why I’m wired the way that I am. But I, I still sympathize with dentists that maybe don’t have the right view on on failure, or on taking risks. Because it’s like, well, failure clinically means lawsuits, right? It could like it’s scary. But failure in the business sense, is the quickest way to actually arrive at what works. Like, yeah, you’ve got to fail fast and fail forward. 


Victoria Peterson  41:35 

That’s something I mean, John Maxwell, I love that. 


Shawn Zajas  41:37 

Is that something that you run into a lot, where just fundamentally the mindsets of like these dentists, they’re just not typically entrepreneurial. And you’re having to, like, educate them on, it’s okay to step out. And that’s kind of why I even want to tell people stories, because so much of the great people that I get to interview, they have tragedies. They have, they have the times where they’re in those, like that dark night of the soul, those valleys where they’re like, they’re not sure they’re gonna make it. But they inevitably do they dig down deep, they find something, and they come out of it. And it’s like they realized the only failure would have been if they didn’t try. 


Victoria Peterson  42:18 

Yeah. You know, when I began consulting, it was it was just out of sheer need. I was a dental hygienist. I was working four days a week. I loved being a hygienist. I loved my boss, I loved everything about it. I had just given birth to my second child. Both of my kids were preemies. They were 17 months apart. I had spent, can you imagine this 14 weeks on bed rest. With no internet, this was pre internet. And I lost my glasses I couldn’t even read. And I have not you probably picked up on this. I’m not knit little booties, you know and make cupcakes kind of mom. So back then pre internet, I sent off to the University of Denver for a mail order course on financial planning, because I thought if I’m going to help my doctors, I need to know more about financial planning. And I was trying to set up some kind of IRA for my husband’s business, and I was not liking the answers I was getting from my Merrill Lynch broker. So all I had was a push button phone and time. And I kept calling and calling and calling Merrill Lynch. And I was like, well, who’s your boss? Well, who is your boss? I don’t think your answers right. I think my answer is right. So I kept calling until I got a senior vice president in New York, like on Wall Street. He’s up on probably the 32nd floor. And he’s answering. Hi, I’m Vicki. And I just want to know, with you know, as some Sep, I don’t even know what it was a SEP IRA. If my husband has part time employees in his photography business, can we put a waiting period of three years before they invest into this? And he’s like, Who is this? And how did you get my number, right? And I said, Well, that doesn’t matter. What matters is, Can I do that? And he goes, Well, of course you could do that. And I said, Okay, here’s my broker’s number in Atlanta. Can you call him and tell him because I have gone five times around and round and he won’t set it up this way. So I’m there bossing, you know, Merrill Lynch around. And in that moment, I thought, well, you know, this isn’t going to be too tough to figure out. So it’s up to the University of Denver’s financial planning. So I spent three months studying investing stocks and insurance, I was sitting for my series, three exam, you know, and I woke up and I do not want to invest anybody else’s money. That is not who I am. So I kind of stopped all that nonsense. So my path of growth again, it’s data, it’s skill set, hone your skills, then you’ve got the confidence. So every dentist, if I had to speak to the owners, I would say learn these skills. Go on Udemy go to Coursera. Take a finance for non finance majors class, take a basic accounting and bookkeeping class, go take some QuickBooks classes, understand how your financials come together. That is probably the smartest piece of advice I could give any business owner. Because I see it every single day I start every client with Let me see your p&l and your balance sheets. And they’re like, Well, my book my CPA hasn’t gotten it to me yet for this year. I’m like, It’s May, yeah, they’re a little behind on their quarterly fees. And so please hear me well, your CPA works for you. Do not work for your CPA. So when I say success requires support, then you need to be supported with people who are experts in their field. So you can expect and there are people doing this today, you can expect that your p&l is on your desk no later than the 10th of every month that your bank balance is reconciled to the penny that you know your EBIT, da, you know, your earnings, you know, your net profits. Without that data, you cannot run your business. So I personally think dentists are extremely entrepreneurial. I think they’re great business owners. You compare him to restaurant owners who go out of business every three years, right? We sustain practices for 1520 30 years, dentists are amazing entrepreneurs is the most stable industry in America. That’s why private equity is here. What they are, though, is unarmed with good information. So they’re in this emotional spin of fear, because they’re relying on people that they don’t know how to hold them accountable. So take a finance class, take an accounting class, listen to podcasts about creating wealth, that’s number one. Number two, talk to dentrix or open dental or whoever. There are security features in there that only the practice owner can, can research. So you are a trusted person, that’s not your team. Do audit trail reports, find out if your team is embezzling. I mean, the nicest people on your team, the most loyal people on your team are probably the ones who are going to rip you off. And I love dental teams. I’ve been a dental team member for 40 years. But you open your hearts and you open your practice and you open your bank accounts to people that you’ve not vetted. So you’ve got to learn and this is this isn’t my book, there’s a whole chapter on how do you vet your professionals? Because you deserve support. You deserve unbiased, honest without agenda. Advice. Did I get passionate about that? Or was it just 


Shawn Zajas  47:55 

really well, so this is the thing I I want that and you might have just answered this, but you have a very unique perspective on the future of dentistry. You’re seeing that, you know, you run a practice management company, you do investment, great practices, you podcast or network with so many people like you’re a CEO, like based off the future. You see, like I love for you to share about the future, you see, but also what is it based off that future that you think dentists need to embrace so that they’re going to be more prepared for what is coming? 


Victoria Peterson  48:27 

Yeah. Right now we’re in what they call consolidation curve. And every fragmented market consolidates Mom and Pop dime stores right consolidated into Walmart, and Kmart and things like that. Pharmaceuticals, little mom and pop pharmacies. We still have some compounding pharmacists, but not a lot, right. They, they consolidated into CVS and Walgreens and things like that. So dentistry is on the consolidation curve. It began in the 90s. Heartland Dental is probably you know, the biggest icon out there. So that’s happening. We are about 30 35% consolidated right now, it’s not going to go away, you know, in the beginning, and you can see the adoption curve in the beginning corporates were evil in all of that. I owned and created neighborhood smiles, which is now a network of 16 practices. So I created it from scratch, and Wisconsin, got it up to about six practices, and then sold it to my partner, I went in it specifically knowing that I was going to bring the banking and the business acumen and practice management so that this young dentist could take it and move on. And I sold for an 11x Multiple and I was pretty happy. And now he’s got a 16 practices to worry about. So I’ve been in that space of growing a group. I know that space, and we over the course of the next seven years. So think about it by 2030. The landscape of dentistry totally shifts, maybe it’s 2030 By right these crystal balls aren’t, don’t have exact landing precision. So what that means is there’s opportunity right now, private equity is in dentistry because it’s stable. And because they see dentist as great leaders, and they see that practices, who can throw off a profit, we call that EBIT, da earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortization. When you, when you can do that at a rate of 15% or more, then your practice sells in a whole different way than if your profits are less than 15%. So less than 15%, less than a million dollars, you’re going to sell to another dentist, and you’re probably going to sell at 65 to 85%. So if it’s a million dollar practice, you’ll sell from 650 to 850. If you really have amazing equipment, team and processes, and you’re about 10 or 11 12% profitable, maybe you get the full million, maybe you’ll get 1,000,001. Alright, so in that same scenario, say that the million dollars, you had 250,000 in net profits, and you got five operatories. I mean, there’s some standards here, right? But instead of selling on percentage of collections, you’re going to sell on multiple of EBIT da, minimally, that would probably be five right now. Instead of selling for 850, you’d sell for 1.25. So there’s a $400,000 difference based on whether your net profits are 12% versus 16%. So dentists love shiny objects, they go to trade shows, they buy crap, they don’t need, they overpay their team, they they just waste money. So it really shifted into what is my bottom line? What is my bottom line, the other thing that you’re seeing is a mass exodus from PPO plans like never before, it used to be, should I maybe I shouldn’t. Now it’s like, I don’t care. I can’t take a 40% write off. And, and we help dentists all the time. The challenge with the 40% write off is that your overhead, like you’ve got to staff for that 1.4 million, you’ve got to buy supplies at that 1.4 million, you’ve got to buy labs at 1.4 million, but you only have a million dollars to pay for it. So all your overhead is artificially driven up with that kind of write offs. So I’m seeing that there’s opportunity, when you pay attention to the bottom line, there is opportunity to get off the P POS, people are doing it every single day now. Whereas before, like five years ago, it was like, Well, I’m stuck with it. This opportunity is going to shift and it’ll revert back. But for today, pay attention to that. When consolidation finishes in 578 years, there’ll still be 30% of the market that’s independent. So solo doctors groups, you’ll see a lot of independent groups, small groups and things like that. So I think this is actually the best time to be an owner. I’m seeing a lot of associate doctors exit DSOs and start their own practices. They’re very this new generation is very entrepreneurial. So I think there’s a lot of hope in that. I think there’s a lot of potential in functional medicine. Coming into dentistry, we’re seeing a lot of sleep apnea is mainstreaming myofunctional therapy and airway is mainstreaming. So we’re, we’re bridging that into wellness spas. So the I worked in a Holistic Dental Practice back in the 80s. And everybody thought we were freaks, today is its mainstream, like holistic is just becoming best practice. So I think it’s the best time to be an owner, I think there are a few small shifts that you can make to improve your profit margins. And it really helps you take decisive action as a leader, it all kind of plays together. 


Shawn Zajas  54:19 

So this is a perfect segue of what it is that you’re doing. Because if I’m a listener right now, and I’m hearing about all this, and I’m hearing that you’re doing investment grade practices, like how do I how do I become part of this Victoria, you know, because it’s not just investment grade. It’s also PDA so just tell our listeners a little bit about what you’re doing those services and how they can even contact you to be part of that. Oh, sure. 


Victoria Peterson  54:44 

Yeah, so productive dentist Academy is a partnership between myself and Dr. Bruce Baird, out of Granbury, Texas and our employees. We are a 30% owned ESOP company. So we’re an employee owned company. We made that decision in 20. 19 As part of our exit strategy, because we want this content to continue coming out of the pandemic, what we realized is that doctors didn’t have a problem being productive, like they’re swamped with patients. It is how do I, how do I kind of tame the abundance, we went into challenges of abundance. So what I was seeing is all the practices were busy. They weren’t any more sellable than they were before. And back in 2015, I started doing a little breakout session called Building an investment grade practice, which talked about these key components of organizing your financial life, understanding that piece, organizing your marketing, understanding the ROI of your marketing of what your message is, making sure that you’ve optimized all the systems of scheduling and reactivation and accounts receivables, things like that. And now the new one is developing your cultural Northstar. And we’ve always had like Team agreements and things like that. There’s a huge yearning from team members to say, Let’s build a culture together. And we’ve developed processes around that we’re actually doing, you know how you get a net promoter score with patients leaving you a five star review. We know we now do that for employers. Do you rank a five star review on indeed and Glassdoor? What do your employees say about you as an employer of them? So we’ve got a whole new program under the investment grade practice umbrella of what how employable is your company. And that’s what really is, the way we write roll descriptors, the way we write job ads, the way we’re doing videos to attract assistants, and hygienist and associates to the practice. These are the kinds of innovative things that it takes to be the number one employer dentist in your area. So those four components like business assets, practice management, marketing, and culture, come together to create the investment grade practice platform. So you can hear more about it on my podcast, we talk about these things, I interview a lot of people on wealth management and dentist who have broken through to create this, you can also come to one of our workshops in Dallas, we see you there quite often. So our next productive dentist, and workshop and IGP summit are in September in Dallas, so you can go to productive and find out about all of those things. 


Shawn Zajas  57:35 

That is amazing. Okay, so I’m about to close. But before I do, just in the spirit of honor, who would you like to honor as an innovator just in your life? It could be in the industry. 


Victoria Peterson  57:56 

Oh, there’s so many in the industry, we would be here for another 30 minutes. I’m gonna honor my dad. I’m gonna honor my dad. I come from a family of auto mechanics. And, you know, my dad could have just stayed in his shop, turning wrenches and all of that. But he he he saw that the I 95 interstate was coming along on the East Coast, he took on the Gulf. I don’t even know if Gulf service stations are still around. But he bought the franchise for the Gulf service station. So he was bold in that way. He became a school teacher, high school teacher and taught shop. And a lot of those shop kids worked in the gas station. So that was very synergistic. But on his business card, and I still have one it says Dinkins automotive services, we put the serve in service. And that has been a mantra that has really served me well. And he really was innovative in that time, because we were going into self service gas stations. And even though it was self service, he still provided the service for free. And that’s my mantra is what would you do? If everything was equal? And all things were free? How would you put the serve in service? 


Shawn Zajas  59:15 

Oh, wow. Okay, so hopefully that didn’t answer this last question. But it might have but if not, so here, here it is. Victoria of today sees Victoria at 17 years old in the distance. And you know, you’re gonna walk past her and have one moment just to communicate a sentiment. What would you communicate to her? 


Victoria Peterson  59:42 

I would say don’t worry so much. You got this kid. wish somebody had told me that when I was 17 


Shawn Zajas  59:53 

I absolutely love it. Just it’s just even the idea of like, you’ve got this. It’s almost like You’re gonna be okay. Yeah. Like, let let go of the anxiety, let go of the worry. And that’s exactly kind of that message to the listeners today. It’s like, you want to step out and you want to get your practice ready for, you know, to be an investment grade practice, like step up, it’s going to be okay. Like, you’re not gonna regret taking that step you’re gonna regret in five or 10 years. If you look back and you’re like, wow, I could have done it. Maybe maybe I could have done it, but you didn’t do it. 


Victoria Peterson  1:00:27 

I was. So I never felt prepared to take the next step when I leaped. But once you leave, once you leap, you know, Have the faith that the resources will come up around you. I’ve never once felt 100% certain about anything I’ve ever done. So I do the research, and I do an 80% head heart and gut check if I’m at 80%. I can live with 20% uncertainty. So I take the leap. Not and then and then the fun begins. And then the fun begins. 


Shawn Zajas  1:01:01 

Well, Victoria, it has been an absolute honor, it is it’s just easy to honor you as an innovator, as a leader, as someone that really is pioneering in dentistry and making such a big difference. Thank you for all the times in your journey that you didn’t give up. And that you continued to just lean in, continue to overcome and continue just to believe because I love where you’re at in what you’re doing. So thank you for joining me today. 


Victoria Peterson  1:01:30 

Thank you Shawn, and thank you for all that you’re doing to innovate dentistry. Thank you 

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