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Episode #373: Thriving in Chaos, with Dr. Mark Hyman

“The way you start isn’t the end of the story.” Take it from Dr. Mark Hyman, who almost quit dental school, bought a bankrupt dental practice, and then made it worse. But he fought his way through the chaos, turned his practice around, and even went on to become one of the top leaders in continuing education. And today, Kirk Behrendt brings back Dr. Hyman to share his words of wisdom for how to thrive in chaotic times. To learn about his journey to success and how you can also thrive, listen to Episode 373 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

  • Perfection is an impossibility, especially in dentistry.
  • Your team comes first, not your patients.
  • Listen to your teammates — oftentimes, they know best.
  • Money spent on coaching is the cheapest money you’ll ever spend.
  • If you make a bad hire, let them grow elsewhere as quickly as possible.


  • “There are no 4.0s in dentistry. There is no perfection chairside, clinically. It’s an impossibility. And so, it’s kind of cliché to say, ‘Well, strive for perfection and accept excellence.’ That’s the way that you will [not] last in this profession, if you devastate yourself every time you fail, every time you stub your toe. It’s not healthy.” (9:47—10:08)
  • “I got that call yesterday from one of my students who had stubbed their toe on a final exam and has got to retake it. And they were questioning whether they belonged at UNC. And I said, ‘We picked you for a reason.’ We had about 2,000 initial applicants. Per year, we interview 240. We take 82. I said, ‘We picked you for a reason. You’re looking at yourself and saying, well, I’m last in my class. No, you’re 82 out of 2,000. So, there’s no question you can do the work, it’s, are you willing to stick to it? Are you willing to hang in there and keep slogging away, keep chucking, keep chopping, keep fighting your way through it?’ There isn’t anything in dental school, by itself, that’s too hard to do, it’s just you’re drinking from a fire hose. There is so much coming at you, it could become overwhelming.” (10:46—11:37)
  • “The way you start isn’t the end of the story.” (11:48—11:50)
  • “I want the men and women in dentistry to take their dental hats off and become businessmen and women and say, ‘Would I pay $200 a day for a coach that would increase my practice $1,000 a day?’ Most dentists work 200 days a year. That’s a $200,000 increase over five years. It’s a million-dollar change for $200 a day.” (17:26—17:46)
  • “I adored my former partner. I knew from the second day it wasn’t the right fit, and for eight-and-a-half years I tried to put a square peg in a round hole. And she’s fabulous. We just weren’t a good fit, professionally. But I kept saying, ‘I can educate her. I can raise her game. I can figure this out because I can solve it. I can save this.’ And I was wrong.” (23:39—24:01)
  • “The best advice I could give somebody listening today is, if you make a bad hire, let them grow elsewhere as fast as possible. Don’t try to heal them. Don’t try to solve them, save them, rescue them. If it’s a bad fit, it’s okay to say, ‘Let me help you grow elsewhere.’” (28:34—28:49)
  • “Your teammates who love you and adore you and that you have put your faith and trust in all those years, listen to them. They know better.” (30:48—30:56)
  • “Dentistry done right is such a joy. And when it’s done without systems, without good coaching, without good equipment, without policies and predictability, it can be a nightmare. It’s not a whole lot of fun that way.” (37:49—38:00)
  • “It’s all about the relationships. And your team comes first, not the patient. Your patient is always right; they just don’t have to be your patient. You have got to protect your team.” (38:37—38:46)
  • “Coach Dean Smith in the 1960s, if you watch a basketball game, you see a player shoot, score, and then they point. Coach Smith started that. It was required, once you scored a basket, you turned and you pointed to the man or woman who passed you the ball, because without the ball, you cannot score. So, I want every dental practice to point to the assist man or woman and say thank you. If you catch the team doing things right instead of doing things wrong, it makes all the difference.” (39:13—39:38)
  • “Give yourself some grace during these tough times. Everybody’s had it tough. Everyone’s got a story. And we are in the greatest profession in the world, what I think is the greatest time there ever has been to be a dentist. Why would you want to practice without intraoral cameras, without Isolites, without buffering, without implants, without aligner therapy, without sleep medicine, without all of these things we have in modern dentistry? I don’t want to go back to 1980, 1990. We’ve got storm clouds over the profession. Yeah, sure we do. But this is the greatest time it’s ever been to be a dentist, and everybody can benefit from a coach.” (39:54—40:31)


  • 0:00 Introduction.
  • 3:30 Dr. Hyman’s background.
  • 6:56 Dentistry is resiliency.
  • 10:10 Dealing with impostor syndrome.
  • 12:09 Success leaves clues.
  • 15:10 How Dr. Hyman quadrupled his cash flow.
  • 19:28 Breaking up a partnership.
  • 23:19 Lessons learned from breaking up a partnership.
  • 25:06 Putting efficiency success systems in place.
  • 27:35 Don’t keep bad hires.
  • 28:49 The biggest mistake Dr. Hyman made.
  • 31:59 Transitioning out of dentistry.
  • 35:17 Dentistry is never a straight path to the top.
  • 38:22 Last thoughts on thriving in chaos.
  • 39:09 Thank your assist person.
  • 40:45 Dr. Hyman’s contact information.

Reach Out to Dr. Hyman:

Dr. Hyman’s website:

Dr. Hyman’s email: [email protected]

Dr. Hyman’s cell phone number: (336) 456-6728

Dr. Hyman’s social media: @drmarkspeaks

Dr. Mark Hyman Bio:

Dr. Mark E. Hyman is a renowned, full-time practicing dentist in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a public speaker whose work is characterized by his warmth, enthusiasm, sense of humor, and passion for dentistry.

As an accomplished seminar speaker, Dr. Hyman has lectured throughout North America and internationally, receiving rave reviews. For the past fourteen years, Dentistry Today magazine has selected Dr. Hyman as one of the top 100 speakers in dentistry. He is an Adjunct Full Professor at the UNC School of Dentistry in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and has taught at The Pankey Institute in Florida and at Spear Education in Arizona.


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