“Focus!!!! It is unbelievably easy to be distracted” With Dr. Joe Willardsen
“Focus!!!! It is unbelievably easy to be distracted. Even when we think we are working on important things. Define what you want and focus on that. Focus like a laser beam. Learn to say no to the ideas that don’t support your main objective.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Reconstructive and Cosmetic dentist, Dr. Joe Willardsen of True Dentistry. Dr. Willardsen is a key opinion leader, lecturing nationally on the latest in dental techniques. Often referred to as America’s Dentist, he is a regularly featured cosmetic dentist on several regional and national shows including the Emmy winning hit show, “The Doctors”, creating dramatic smile makeovers and insight to the advancements in dental health as His drive to bring clinical dentistry and the business of dentistry to new heights, making him very unique in his field.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a kid growing up in a family of dentists, including my father, though I always thought I was going to do something different. I even started a few different businesses in college building custom mountain bikes and started a clothing company that was actually making decent money. Eventually, I think I realized it was just in my blood to be a dentist. There are so many aspects of dentistry that fit my personality and realized I found passion in it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Wow, there are so many stories over the years! I once had a patient that came in for their first visit with me and began telling me their story of how they got braces when they were 18. Sadly, the experience for them was so traumatic that they never returned; not for cleanings, adjustments, check-ups, nothing! I then asked how old they were and they responded with “ I am now 40 years old and still have my original braces on.” This patient had been wearing braces for over 20 years and at that point, I realized how much of an impact fear can have on a patient. I never want fear to be the reason why my patients don’t want to come to the dentist. I have found that with the right approach you can help even the most fearful patients!
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
- Yes! I have never been one to sit still. I have had an active lecturing schedule traveling around the country and different parts of the world teaching the aspects of dentistry that I am so passionate about. Cosmetic dentistry and Biomimetic dentistry are two areas I love.
- Working on “The Doctors” television show has been a great opportunity to give back to deserving patients with everything from full mouth makeovers to insight on the latest dental procedures.
- This year I have focused on opening new dental offices that emphasizes on service and quality. With the large takeover of Corporate dentistry, I want to provide offices that don’t sacrifice patient experience and quality of work.
- Years back I developed a high-end dental product line that has been a lot of fun to grow. It is fun to see it get more and more traction.
- Esthetic Alliance Dental Lab. I formed this lab to bring doctors and lab technicians together in a way that I have never seen before. It’s a project that continues to grow every year.
What advice would you give to other doctors to help their patients to thrive?
Maintenance! It is so easy to become reactive rather than proactive. Our patients need constant reminders to stay on top of their own health so we can give them optimal treatment. Think about it. Rushing to fix or reverse a problem is frustrating for the patient and the treating doctor.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes, I have had many mentors that have guided me along the way. It is so true, success comes from those that help us along the way. Sorry, I can’t just mention one.
- Dr. Arthur Willardsen (my Dad) taught me the principle of hard work. He was not about to have lazy kids. He would find work for us kids to do now matter what.
- Dr. Clayton Chan taught me how important it was to be passionate about what we do. Being around his passion for dentistry has become infectious. It is inspiring and fulfilling to be around those type of people. I want to be seen as someone with passion in the things I do, personally and professionally. It is more important to me to be inspiring that to be inspired.
- Dr. Kay Clifford taught the importance of doing things right. I have a saying that I constantly tell my staff. “Do it nice… or do it twice” Something I continually strive for.
Is there a particular book that made an impact on you? Can you share a story?
I have a collection of books I constantly go back to and re-visit. I would have to say the two most “Re-visited” books right now are “EntreLeadership” and “Chop Wood Carry Water” As much as I love the clinical aspects of dentistry, I enjoy the business of dentistry just as much. Creating and leading teams is an art form that I strive to do well at.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The opportunity on “The Doctors” show has been a great platform for public awareness of various dental health issues. This has also been a great way to really help people that have been struggling with their dental care and needs free of charge. These people had no means or hope. It’s been so amazing to be a part of someone’s life changing experience.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Focus!!!! It is unbelievably easy to be distracted. Even when we think we are working on important things. Define what you want and focus on that. Focus like a laser beam. Learn to say no to the ideas that don’t support your main objective.
- Fear. Do not scare easily. Fear will paralyze you. It can cause you to put your head in the sand. The anxiety that comes with fear can stop your progress more than anything I have encountered.
- Balance. Take time out of your profession to enjoy family, friends and non-professional passions. I recently had a very good friend pass away at an early age. Work work work was his motto. As I sat at his funeral and saw his two young boys, I thought, “what was it all for?” As much as my father taught me a work ethic, he knew how to have fun better than anyone I knew.
- Mentors — Find the right Mentor. Mentor someone else. It is the quickest path to finding success.
- Never compare yourself to others. If you are constantly comparing yourself to others, you will find yourself being insufficient or cocky. Neither are a good outcome. This world of social media and the constant barrage of “Look at me” creates an environment that is easy to make one feel less than. Even worse, if you find yourself in that situation, you lose your uniqueness and identity, because keeping of with the “Jones” just makes more “Jones”… I hope that all made sense. Sometimes I have a hard time articulating why I mean :)
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant to your life?
“Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of something better.” — Gordon B. Hinckley
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Hey, @DaveRamsey let’s do lunch. I really like Dave’s story, passion and insight. Seems like a cool guy too. As much as I would like to meet him I would be nervous of him chewing me out for some of the dumb business decisions I have made over the years. Have you ever listened to his show? Woof, some of those people really take a beating… Let’s call those bad decisions an expensive education :)
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@joewillardsen on instagram
joewillardsen on facebook
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!