Welcome to How I Grew My Practice, a podcast presented by NexHealth. I'm your host, Alec Goldman. In this episode, we have Dr. Charles Moser, DDS, and now founder of Blue Horse Personal Development. He's here to talk to us today about leadership skills for improved culture, improved productivity, better retention, and an overall better life, better life practicing dentistry. Charles, welcome to the show. It is so great to have you. How are you doing today?
The adjectives, I don't know how many I can put out. I'm humbled, I'm appreciative, thankful, grateful. So yeah, just really good to be here. That's very kind of you and I appreciate the time. For those who do not know you, Dr. Moser, you don't mind just sharing a little bit about yourself, your history of practicing dentistry, and how you came about founding Blue Horse Personal Development.
So I graduated from dental school a long time ago when we were still taking a horse and buggy to class and that whole thing. I graduated from dental school, a great dental school. I went to the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, did my residency in general practice, came back to Houston, which was home, and started my practice. You know, all the same things that most of your listeners are doing, became an associate in a big group, became an associate in a private practice. 16 years into practice, I had three offices of my own.
And then the universe decided to throw me a curve ball, right? And I ended up dropping a trailer hitch on my operating hand. And that was the end of private practice. I had three offices, I sold them. Had an amazing opportunity to go into what really was the DSO space back in 2009. People didn't even really know that those letters existed.
We were in 2009, we went through an exit to a private equity company in 2010, which was one of the first of its kind. Had an amazing run as a dental director with that large organization, close to 100 locations. Exited that we actually sold three times, which is unique. Then went on to work with a great company called the Dental Entrepreneur organization where we help dental offices grow and scale.
did that for five years where I became an executive business coach, and worked with CEOs, chief dental officers, and operations people. And all the while I was loving leadership. I was certified through the John Maxwell program, leading, going to courses, learning about myself, and just reading and leading. And then I decided, you know what, dentistry is massively difficult. I recognize that it's really, really hard. The clinical skills come to you very, very quickly.
after three years, five years, you guys clinically are top-notch. But what was missing was the ability to communicate, the ability to understand why people are not being held accountable. What was missing was how to ask great questions. What was missing was the self-awareness to recognize that are our employees failing or are we setting them up to fail. So originally I created a company called Simple Leadership, which was an acronym.
Now we're doing so many things. We're actually reaching out. We're going into schools now and working with teenagers and teaching teens leadership skills. If anybody listening is in the education arena and they wanna talk to me about what we're doing, it's all free for the schools and the kids. It's an amazing program. And so we rebranded the name of the company from Simple Leadership to Blue Horse Personal Development.
And the reason that it's called Blue Horse is because after hours and hours of deliberation, if you've ever had to come up with a name for anything, my daughter said to me, and my daughter's 27, she's not a child. She said, Dad, what's your favorite color? I said blue. She said, what's your favorite animal? I said horse. Lo and behold, Blue Horse personal development was born. Or sired, I guess, you know. I love the naming convention.
That's really cool. I mean, listen, we've had tons of folks come in the show and there's lots of expertise needed in order to successfully run a practice and, you know, at least on the show so far, we've had lots of folks talk about running a front desk, lots of different marketing agencies, pitching things on SEO and reviews management. Um, people coming on and talking about the revenue management cycle. We haven't really had a lot of folks talk about leadership. Um, and obviously.
you know, when I think about a dental practice, it's kind of this tight-knit little family of people working on top of each other. And communication is so key in order to ensure the success of, you know, your patient, right? Not just the actual experience in the chair, but fulfilling all the communications before, during, and after. And it's really this team sport that almost is running, you know, at least eight to 10 hours, five days a week. And how you communicate.
and how you as a dentist lead is so important. So my question to you is, obviously, leadership is a bit of a vague word. It's really big and it's like, what does it mean to lead? So what, you know, asking that question of you, when you think about leadership and making your life's work about leadership, what does that mean to Dr. Charles Mosher? So leadership.
is comes in many forms and you may think that you know the president of the United States in order to be a great leader you have to be the president of the United States you know present company excluding whatever you know the whatever I don't want to go down that road but you know you might think of the CEO of Apple or some big organization is what it takes to be a leader well so nothing could be further from the truth
Leadership, originally when we created simple leadership, it's an acronym for self-awareness, inquiry, mission, people, listening skills, and empowerment. And we kind of figured those were if you got those five down pretty well, then you were a really good leader. What does it take to be a great leader? It takes two basic ingredients. One,
people have to trust you. Now again, huge topic, right? I mean, we could talk for days on trust. What is it? How do you get it? How do you know if people trust you? I think that's a really interesting question. How do we know if people trust us? It's not as simple as it looks. But you yourself, I'm sure, you might work for somebody for a paycheck that you don't trust, but you're not gonna go to war for them, right? So trust is absolutely imperative.
to be a great leader. You have to trust them, they have to trust you. And the second thing is, is that your people need to feel valued. If your people feel valued, excuse me, and they trust you, then you have the opportunity, you have the ingredients now to be a great leader. Working on your communication skills, your empathy, and learning how to ask great questions, are all skill sets that can be learned, but without trust.
And without people feeling valued inspired and empowered, your opportunity to lead is really going to diminish.
So let's break down those two. Let's start with trust. Yeah. Again, it's vague, but everybody knows when they feel trusted and everybody knows what it means to give trust. But when you're thinking about a dental practice, what are some of the strategies that you're employing or advice that you're offering to dentists in their practice to kind of create an environment of trust? Yeah, it's a great question.
And I don't say it's a great question, just because every time you ask a question, I'm supposed to say it's a great question, but that's a really great question. The challenge, again, as we talked about, excuse me, the challenge is, and I teach this, we do mastermind programs where we talk about trust, and I ask people, okay, define trust for me. Define the word. And it's amazing to watch really highly intelligent people
come up with the definition of a word that we learned in fourth grade. You know, and I think the challenge to, and most people can tell me, well, it's, I trust this person because, right. They can tell me why they trust a person, but they can't tell me what trust is. And I think it's because it's a bit abstract because trust is a bit of a feeling, if you will trust is being able to know.
that something or someone is reliable. The chair that you're sitting in, as abstract as it is, before you sat down in it, and you plopped down into it, trusting that it was going to support you. It was reliable, okay? That's why we do all these trust falls, right? Can we rely on the people that are behind us to catch us? So, how do we gain the trust of people?
two ways that I would really challenge people to check in with themselves and work on. One is, are you willing to be vulnerable? Vulnerability creates trust. Now this is not vulnerability about telling someone about your extramarital affairs or crazy personal things like that, like they talk about in the insurance company, commercials, right? What I'm talking about is the vulnerability of a leader.
or anybody for that matter, to be able to say, you know what, I don't know this, so let's learn it together, or I don't know this, so let me empower you with the ability to go learn it and bring it back to us, right? So that vulnerability is that expression of, I don't know what I don't know, and I'm willing to accept the fact that I don't need to know everything. And frankly, you come out of dental school.
You know how to be a clinician. Really, you don't know how to be a businessman. You don't know how to be a business person. You don't know how to be a leader. You don't know how to be an office manager. You know how to do dentistry. So the opportunity to show that you're vulnerable and don't know how to do these things is wide open, okay? So that's one thing is you have to be able to be vulnerable with people in order to establish trust. And then that second thing is, is you have to be reliable.
That brings us to an integrity word, right? You have to Say what you do and do what you say and when you fall out of integrity Which everybody does at some point in time you have to clean up your mess, which sometimes is as simple as just saying I'm sorry Can you give me another chance? You know, I won't do it again But you have to be a person of your word You have to say what you do and do what you say and you have to show vulnerability If you do those two things well, then people will start to trust you
Okay, and then once they trust you, you can go to the next part, which is starting to learn how to, the other skills, which is asking great questions. But then the question becomes, how do we know if people trust us? How do we know? We really don't know until we hold their feet to the fire by creating a request that will require trust, and then we'll know, right? It's like, you know, the whole,
uh... what was that movie with uh... where he's he's an Irish soldier needs going off to war you know and three-quarters of the people are gonna die but they were gonna go to war for him because they trusted him and they trusted the cause you really won't know if people trust you until you ask them to go to war
Can you explain the idea of, I guess you and I had this conversation previously, but when you're putting somebody in a situation where they are asked to do something.
There's lots of, there's a world where you as the manager have to say, wow, I'm letting go and there's an opportunity for potential failure. But our goal is to set up this individual for success. And we referred to this as passing the ball. Oh yeah. Yeah. Can you elaborate a little bit more on what it means to pass the ball? Well, when you're the manager and trying to get an employee to trust you, but also to inspire them to do their best work.
Our workforce today is a workforce that wants to be empowered. They want to grow. They are not task-oriented. Uh, they want the power to make small mistakes to allow them to grow. We do not grow without feedback period. Whether you're a runner and you get a side stitch, uh, whether you wake up in the morning with sore muscles after a workout.
whether your eyes are tired after reading or whatever, all that is is feedback, and that's what allows us to grow. So the first thing that I will challenge the listeners to remember is that the work that we do isn't that important overall. I mean, don't take it so freaking seriously, you know? You're not the only person that can do it.
And as I was talking about earlier, if you're the clinician, if you're the owner, you really can't do much of anything in that office except practice dentistry. So the idea of a clinician walking up to the front desk and trying to tell them how to verify an insurance program is ludicrous. So what we do is not life-threatening. Pass the ball. Allow people to carry the ball. Now,
If you want to set them up for success, there is what I call the accountability formula. And this is kind of a write-down thing because you can take this after we're finished here and you can use it now. The accountability formula starts with being able to create a clear, concise request of the person that you are empowering, okay? So it goes, first, it starts with language. I have to create a very clear request for you, Alec.
And I might say to you, hey Alec, what I would like you to do is to investigate the patient flow all the way from the new patient phone call through the first appointment and check out at the end of the appointment, okay? I want you to dissect that whole patient flowchart, if you will, because I'm thinking that we might need to revisit it. Okay, that's the request. Now I have to clarify that you heard the request properly because
When we hear something as individuals, we're all interpreting it a little bit differently. This is, we're all speaking English for the most part of whatever language we're communicating in, but the interpretation can be vastly different. Ergo, that game we used to play in elementary school where we, you know, whispered a secret into somebody's ear. By the time it got all the way around, it was completely different. Yeah, right? So, I have to say to you, Alec, what did you hear me say? And you...
you would say back to me, well, you want me to tell you what happens to our new patients. And I'm like, okay, well, that's close, but let's make sure that before you leave, we are really clear on what the request is. So do not underestimate the lack of interpretation and how many times the person formulating the request, you may need to clarify that the person heard the request properly. That is step number one.
Step number two is what I call the two C's. The two C's are competency and capacity. In order for you to fulfill the request for me, you have to have the competency, tools, training, and resources. Those three things you have to have, or you will not be able to fulfill the request. The second thing you have to have is the capacity. You have to have the time to do it. So if I asked you to fly down to Houston and pick me up in a private plane,
and you have all the time in the world but don't know how to fly a plane, you're gonna fail. And the flip side to that is if you know how to fly a plane, but you don't have any time to get in and come get me, you're going to fail. So we need a clear request, hey Alex, come pick me up on the plane. And you're like, yeah, I understand what that means, but I don't have a pilot's license, okay? So you don't have the competency. You have all the time in the world, so you have the capacity. Clear request.
Competency, capacity, and then the last really important thing is a timeline. All requests, if you're going to empower people, need to have a deadline that you've agreed upon. Okay? So, Alex, can you come get me by tomorrow? Yes, yes, yes, yes. You checked all those boxes. And tomorrow comes and Alex is either here or he's not here. That's not what we're talking about right now. We're talking about how to set people up for success. Okay?
And then there's a little thing I call the nudge. If I create a request for someone that's further than a week out, then I feel in order to set them up for success, six days out, one day before the request is due, I'm going to ask you, Hey, Alec, how are you doing on that patient flow chart? So that you can tell me, you know what, Charles, it's been crazy here. We've been two people down. I've been filling in everywhere. I haven't had a chance to look at it. I don't want to walk into my office and then have you tell me that the dog ate your homework and all that kind of stuff.
let's push it out another week, you know, make sure that again, hopefully, the employees are coming back, you've got the clear request, you've got the capacity, the competency, and then we can move on to collaborate from that point onto an outcome that you and I neither could have done on our own. So I think, I hope that answers the question about the passing of the ball, right? Passing of the ball and then make sure, I love that, I'm gonna use that, passing the ball, make sure that they've got good legs to run.
and blockers in front of them, and they know where they're going. Yeah. I mean, the passing the ball thing is just a very tangible way to think about it. Like it. Just, you know, if you throw somebody, something that's way over their head, it's, it's hard for them to be successful. And if you spend the time and are thoughtful about the delivery of what you're requesting, it makes it easy for them to understand it and then run forward and ultimately achieve success. As I'm drinking from my pro football Hall of Fame mug here. So
You know, these are all, these concepts are great, right? Better trust, better communication, right? At some level as a manager, you're assuming that if somebody's failure, it really is on your communication that you didn't set them up for success. It puts a lot of onus on being a leader and taking a fall for the team if things don't go well. I think it's very healthy, especially in a dental practice, let alone any company, but still bringing these concepts and bringing them to life.
I mean, what are things that you are doing at Blue Horse that are helping these practices actually bring these types of different thinking and certainly self-improvement to life so that ultimately patients feel it in the patient experience? Yeah, so I think that what I'm hearing there is the biggest gap in the world is the gap between theory and execution, right? Yeah, and so how at Blue Horse, what are we doing?
I think that anyone who engages with us will recognize that there is a slight difference in our desire to make things sticky. Everything that we do, every exercise that we give you is designed to make these skill sets stick. Now, having said that, it is one of the hardest things that there is to do for any consultant in any field out there is to be able to come in.
And to help people get you again, talk about the competency. We can give you all the tools, all the training, all the resources in the world. But if it doesn't stick, then, you know, thank you. We've transferred a lot of money back and forth from one account to another, which is whatever. But have we helped you? And really, that is absolutely 100 percent my desire since I can't practice dentistry myself, to help people through this. So, you know, all I can tell you, Alec, is that
You know, as Simon Sinek said, it has to start with why. Why are you wanting to make these changes? Is the pain of staying the same greater than the pain of changing? You know, that's a really common question that we ask. I've worked with clients who have essentially let me go because the pain of change was greater than the pain of staying the same. And they just didn't feel like going through that, which I completely respect. You know, it's...
Absolutely okay. But that's the first thing that as a leader of the organization you have to ask yourself is like, is where we are just driving me crazy? Every day I come in and it's just a different reason for chaos, right? How long can you live in that? And then the other thing that I would tell people is that using these skills and getting them right is no more time-consuming than not using the skills, right?
that you're using skills right now poorly. So using different skills is no more difficult. It's just that change. So we work a lot with change management, right? We talk about change management. The other thing that I would really recommend is you don't do this alone. You can't come into Blue Horse and say, as much as we love to hear it, a dentist says, I need to be a better leader.
not gonna argue with you because we all can. But unless you're gonna take your team along this journey with you, so that you have some accountability partners, and that first of all, the language, you mentioned earlier on in this podcast, which is absolutely spot on, I talk about language so much, almost every session that I teach starts with, let's define some of these terms. Let's define what empowerment is, what delegation is, what responsibility is. All those things, what trust is, all those things are so vague.
The very first part of leadership is learning the language so that when we use the words in a team environment, everybody understands what we're talking about. So we really work hard to give people exercise to make things stick. Whether it's Blue Horse doing one-on-one coaching with you to hold you accountable or setting up accountability partners within your own organization, which can be just as powerful, right?
It's rare that people can take these changes on themselves unless they've gone through some major crucible moment in their lives. I had a mentor that used to say, people can change, but just a little bit. And I agree with that really, unless you've had that real epiphany, those life-changing moments where you wake up and go, okay, and I don't wanna have that heart attack again, so I think I'll lose weight and eat better and exercise type of thing.
Every day you're reflecting on why am I doing this. What were the outcomes I was getting before? What are the outcomes that I wanna get next time? And really revisiting that motive. Simon Sinek did come up with that, everything starts with why. And he's amazing, I listen to his stuff. But the reality of it is, is that word was just substituted for motive back in the day. We used to say, what's your motive? Now it's what is your why.
If your motive is compelling enough to take you through the pain of change, then you'll get to the other side of it. If it's not compelling, good luck.
So what do you guys do with Blue Horse, you then ideally not just take in a dentist and work with that individual, but you're taking on a team. What is the structure at which you're working with that team, the frequency, and what are the sessions like to take them on this journey of self-improvement?
We developed a number of different programs because what we recognized is that people learn at different rates and by different methods, right? So we went from a format of just kind of this one-on-one coaching where we ask the hard questions, who do you wanna be, not what do you wanna be, which is an amazing question. Sit on the mountaintop and ponder that one for a couple of hours.
It is important to know the difference between who and what. And coaching is great, but it's not for everybody. And plus it's time-consuming and it's rigid and things of that nature. We do have programs where we come into the office and we work with your leadership team. And again, we kind of take them through that simple method. We talk about self-awareness because that's where everything starts. No change happens, as we talked about just a minute ago.
No change happens until you recognize that a change needs to happen. And that's that self-awareness part. Now you can ask yourself, well, why? What's my motive for wanting this change? Well, the pain of staying the same is terrible. So I want to change. And then we can talk about the ways to do that. So the one-on-one coaching, we come in and we work with your leadership team and we coach them as well. We created a 12-week online program for the people that kind of want to do it yourself.
And they're about 30-minute sessions where it's a video. It's got homework associated with it. And we push out these videos once a week to you. So bringing you everything from all the things we've talked about to how to be a good coach and things like that. And if people kind of want to DIY it, they can do that. And I guess a spoiler alert, if I go to bluehorse.com
and say that they heard us here, there's a deep, deep discount if they would like to.
Get involved in that. And then, you know, there's Mastermind programs that are amazing to do as a team, to take a piece of content and go through that content together as a team. This is an amazing way to get some insight into your team's thinking. And it really also does a great job of identifying who your future leaders are, right? So you've spent five hours going through some content together with your team, really an amazing way to see who steps up.
And look, we need great followers just like we need great leaders. You know, we definitely need great followers as well. What I have found is that the qualities of a great follower are really pretty much the same as a great leader. They might just not want to make the decisions like a leader does, but they're people who have integrity. There are people who are punctual. They're professional. They show up. They're willing to take accountability and risk. You know, they're all the same, same things as great leaders. So.
Uh, you know, that's that's what we're doing. Thank you for asking me that it's, uh, it's been an amazing journey. You know, it's really something that I'm wildly passionate about. Um, and I, and I really hope that there used to be this commercial, you know if you don't get help from Blue Horse, just get help from somebody, you know, because we all need help. Couldn't agree more. I know near the 30-minute mark. I want to leave it just one last opportunity. Is there anything that we did not speak about today that you'd want to leave with our listeners?
So, yeah, I think that I just want everybody to recognize that you're not alone in this journey. Dentistry for so many years was this cottage industry where it was one shingle, one dentist type of thing. And we at the DEO used to talk about the dark tunnel that people walk into. And you're not alone. Dentistry is really, really hard. You're having to be a provider and a leader and all at the same time.
And so we don't want you to recognize that you're not alone and everything is within your reach if you want it. Um, please do everything you can to develop a really keen sense of self-awareness, find some exercises that you can do with really simple questions. I used to ask myself every night, I don't know why I don't do it. I think I'm going to start tonight. Alec, three simple questions, to recap your day
What did I learn today? Who can I share it with? And who can I teach it to? And those three questions take you through what I think is the epitome of leadership. What did I learn today? Which is continual growth. Who can I share it with? Which is opening up your door, opening to other people to come in. And then.
who can I teach it to, which is what we should all be looking for as leaders, is helping other people grow as well. It takes about 60 seconds to do that before you fall asleep. It's a great way to fall asleep. Thanks. It's a great exercise. I'll have to at least dabble with it and see how I feel. But Dr. Charles Moser, thank you so much for joining us today. It was extremely insightful and loved.
that we were able to bring on somebody who was so focused on leadership, self-improvement, and just improving the overall feeling of both working and I guess working at a dental practice. Yeah, yeah, we just want people to, you know, we need people to provide dental care for people. I mean, obviously, that's not going away. You can't do it over the internet, right? So your job is safe as a clinician, but we know that dentistry is hard and that there are all kinds of really crazy statistics that we don't need to quote here about.
the challenges of dentistry. We want you to provide great service and then we want you to go home, lead a great team, provide growth opportunities for people, and enjoy it for a long time. Dr. Moser, thank you so much for joining us today. Thanks for having me, Alex. Appreciate it. Thanks.