Skip to content
Back to Blog

744: 3 Things for a Better Practice & a Better Life – Anne Duffy

In this special episode, the tables are turned once again! Kirk Behrendt is interviewed on The Future of Dentistry, a podcast by Anne Duffy, founder of Dental Entrepreneur Woman. Kirk shares the origins of his Better Practice, Better Life philosophy, his thoughts on dentistry, and three keys to creating a better practice so you can enjoy a better life. To learn more about Kirk, the “why” behind his business, and some secrets to his success, listen to Episode 744 of The Best Practices Show!

Learn More About Anne:

Learn More About ACT Dental:

More Helpful Links for a Better Practice & a Better Life:

Episode Resources:

Main Takeaways:

  • Figure out who you are ASAP — the sooner, the better.
  • Develop your core values. It’s the most important thing you will ever do.
  • Find your tribe and be selective about the people you surround yourself with.
  • Learn to become a leader. Anyone can do it with the right training and mentorship.
  • Balance your life as much as possible and give time to things that matter to you most.


“Dentistry is so noble. You can actually pick your hours. You can pick your patients. You can pick what type of dentistry. You can choose your fees. You can choose when to leave — everything is a choice. The power of choice is the most incredible thing in this profession.” (5:44—6:00) -Kirk

“Everything I do has to check two boxes. It's got to create a better practice and a better life. If it only checks one box, we're not going to do it because it feels icky. Like, if I help people make a lot of money but their life sucks, no thank you. And if their life is great but the business isn't great, well, then what good is that?” (7:06—7:26) -Kirk

“Your happy life is not somebody else's idea of a happy life. So, if you're listening out there, that is one of the beautiful things about dentistry. When you own your own practice, you have a choice. There is something really special about that.” (8:50—9:06) -Anne

“Are leaders born, or are they made? I think everybody has leadership in them. You just have to pull it out. There are some people that are born with some leader skills. But when they're trained, when they're mentored, when they ask for help, when they don't do it alone, then it's like the bell curve. They're going to go higher up on the top, and that is going to trickle down and be that pebble in the pond of highbrow leadership.” (11:06—11:36) -Anne

“[Dentists] don't get the leadership and business skills in dental school because apparently there's “not enough time”. And a lot of times, they don't even know that they can grow into leadership.” (11:43—11:54) -Anne

“Somebody said this not too long ago to me. ‘Kirk, you're not really a leader until you create other leaders that create other leaders.’ That was an epiphany for me because I always thought leadership was like, ‘I've got to develop myself. I've got to inspire people and I've got to motivate them. I've got to create this incredible vision.’ And while some of that is true, it takes the load off of your shoulders when you say, ‘I've just got to grow people.’” (12:19—12:44) -Kirk

“Are leaders born, or are they developed? I strongly believe that they are developed. Now, let me explain. That's why places like West Point exist. I wasn't a born leader. I screwed up so much. I had the help of mentors, and I went through Dale Carnegie training. I remember going through that, and I'm like, ‘I'm not paying $1,000 to learn how to shake hands. That's so dumb.’ I was 24. And I'm like, ‘I learned so much.’ That was one of the most important courses. Then, I took another course. And then, I took another course. And then, I went through the training. I was on the long track. So, can people be leaders? Absolutely. Do you need a title to be a leader? No. Everybody can lead.” (13:00—13:45) -Kirk

“Some people that are listening think, ‘Well, I wasn't a born leader,’ or, ‘It's too late for me to become a leader,’ or, ‘Where do I go to get those skills?’ It's there. If you want it, you can find it. You just have to find your tribe, your people, your mentors, whatever. And then, be a good mentee.” (13:51—14:13) -Anne

“In life, you get knocked down, and there are so many cliches that happen. Like, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Well, I waited a long time. I kept waiting, and I kept waiting, and there were great people that came into my life.” (14:40—14:52) -Kirk

“Who are you hanging around with? I say to my kids all the time, ‘You're the average of the five people you hang around with most. Show me your friends. I'll show you your future right now.’ I don't think it's any different for us as adults. I think, as adults — even at 54 — I’ve got to go, ‘Who am I around every year, and what are they doing?’ I've got to pick some tough friends. I want some friends that will challenge me.” (18:02—18:22) -Kirk

“The biggest problem in the world is one thing: we don't give our best energy to the things that matter most. So, whenever you're stressed, you’ve got to say, ‘What am I giving my energy to? Does this really matter?’ So, that's the first piece, is what matters.” (20:22—20:35) -Kirk

“Time is the new rich . . . The best-kept secret of the rich is how they use their 24 hours. And so, when you're adding hours to make money, that's not very smart. That's short-sighted.” (21:14—21:27) -Kirk

“We have a lot of people that come to us working five days a week. I'm like, ‘Why are you working five days a week?’ ‘Well, it's hard. I've got to pay bills.’ I'm like, ‘Okay. How old are your kids?’ They go, ‘Six, four, and two.’ I go, ‘Do you want to watch them grow up?’ They go, ‘Yes.’ ‘All right. So, you're going to go 7:00 to 3:00, four days a week.’ ‘What?’ I go, ‘Yes, you are.’ ‘My practice is going to die.’ I go, ‘No, it's not going to die.’ You can pick the hours, 8:00 to 4:00 — it doesn't matter. I want you to get the “why” clear.” (21:45—22:09) -Kirk

“What we have a lot of our dentists do is take a photo of [their] kids and put it right on the counter. When they talk to a patient and say, ‘Mrs. Jones, thanks for coming in. Hey, I want to let you know we're going to be changing our hours.’ Point to those gorgeous little kids and go, ‘That's the reason why.’ They will get it. You don't need to explain things. You can just say, ‘That's my why.’ When they go, ‘Can't you see me at 7:00 at night?’ say, ‘No. Unfortunately, I can't.’ If they don't understand that, I really wonder if I'd want to give up my evening hours to serve people that don't care, because your kids and your family need you. They need you. They have an emotional need for you. So, do I think balance can be done? Absolutely.” (22:09—22:49) -Kirk

“Balance is really important. We only have so much time. I'm looking at my life — I wish I would have known someone like you to be able to set that tone early on. Again, if you're young — you can't get it back. So, you might as well start early, making those choices for a better practice and a better life.” (25:06—25:29) -Anne

“You don't have to get your life perfect. But somebody told me this. Take care of the moments, and then the years take care of themselves. If you take care of the moments, you won't look back at the years and go, ‘Where did all that go?’ You'll go, ‘That was great.’” (26:14—26:27) -Kirk

“It's also showing up and being present. Again, that's focused on who is in front of you right there, right now — because you're right. Those precious moments, you do look back on those. That's what you remember. You don't remember being at the office five extra hours or whatever a night, doing something that really is meaningful. Or again, I like what you were saying about being focused on your tribe because Facebook and all of that could just be a time-suck. And you look back on that — I think we're going to look back on how much time did we waste looking at other people's lives instead of working on our own life.” (27:33—28:12) -Anne

“I really only have one big regret in my life. I wish I had figured out who I was earlier in life. Let me explain. So, I started doing DiSC, Kolbe, Working Genius, and all of these personality tests and getting feedback. When I got older, I'm like, ‘Wow, I really suck at a lot of these things.’ And they're like, ‘Yes, you do, because that's not who you are.’” (28:30—28:51) -Kirk

“The earlier you find out who you are, the more you don't work against yourself.” (29:40—29:44) -Kirk

“Core values is the most important thing you will ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever do.” (30:39—30:44) -Kirk

“The benefit of [core values] is crazy stuff goes away. Once you put the flag in the ground, core values, it's like crazy stuff repellent. People are like, ‘You're not going to believe what happened at work.’ I'm like, ‘Well, that doesn't happen at my office.’ And they're like, ‘What, do you have a unicorn at your office?’ I'm like, ‘No, I refused to put up with that crap years ago.’” (32:08—32:28) -Kirk

“Find your tribe. You’ve got to find your people.” (33:04—33:06) -Kirk

“I always ask people in a conference or lecture, ‘How important is it to have the right team members?’ And they go, ‘Very.’ I'm like, ‘Okay, let's go there. Scale from one to ten.’ They go, ‘Well, it's a ten.’ I go, ‘No, it's not. It's 12.’ When you find the right people, your life gets better.” (33:57—34:11) -Kirk

“Find out who you are, know what your strengths are, lean into those, find other people that have other strengths and other gifts, and work together. I think that's the key.” (34:59—35:11) -Anne

“When I found out what my top five strengths were, I leaned in because I didn't like them right away. And now, I adore them. It made me really fall in love with myself, and also fall in love with others for what they bring. I think that's what makes the world go round.” (36:40—37:00) -Anne


0:00 Introduction.

2:29 Kirk’s background.

3:43 Origins of Better Practice, Better Life.

9:26 The importance of leaders and becoming a leader.

12:59 Are leaders born or developed?

16:39 The biggest problem in dentistry today.

19:40 Is balance possible?

28:13 Figure out who you are.

30:33 Develop your core values.

33:01 Find your tribe.

37:13 More about ACT Dental.

Anne Duffy Bio:

Anne Duffy is a passionate, dedicated member of the dental community. She works diligently to empower others to strengthen themselves and their dental careers. She graduated from Ohio State University in 1974 and has been practicing ever since. With six state boards under her belt, she has worked in practices around the country, forming relationships with professionals throughout the various facets of the industry. In 1995, she joined a direct sales company selling toothpaste and alcohol-free mouth rinse and worked to build the largest group of female leaders in the company. In 1998, Anne assisted with the launch of Dental Entrepreneur: Business Beyond the Classroom as the only sales associate. In 2002, she purchased the publication. In 2016, she conceived Dental Entrepreneur Woman magazine and is committed to inspiring, highlighting, empowering, and connecting all women in dentistry. She is building up the DeW community as a movement to continue to advance women in dentistry and the causes they advocate.