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Dentistry, Business, Rugby – It’s All The Same Really

December 16th, 2007

I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Dr. Paddi Lund last week in his extraordinary dental practice located in Brisbane, Australia.

I first met Paddi in 1990 at a Bootcamp at a beautiful resort hotel at Leura in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. I have to confess that I did not expect to meet a dentist at a marketing Bootcamp but even more surprising, I had no idea at the time that Paddi was going to have such a profound impact on me and many thousands of other people in later years.

Some of the people who read this blog will remember that Paddi was featured in our Towards Awesome Service video training program. Since doing that he has authored several books and has become a sought after speaker around the world.

Paddi’s story is fascinating. He has crafted a concept of business management that focuses on creating a business that gives happiness to all of its stakeholders – its team members, its customers and of course, its managers and owners. His idea that business can be fun and that happiness and profitability can sit very well together has played a big role in helping us frame our own business model.

He has also profoundly impacted many other people’s success, a notable one being Clive Woodward (now Sir Clive Woodward), the celebrated rugby coach who used Paddi’s concepts to transform the English National Rugby team from a very ordinary team to World Cup Winners in 2003.

I have often recommended Paddi’s book Building the Happiness-Centred Business and I do so again. It’s not available through traditional booksellers, indeed, very little of what Paddi does is at all “traditional”.

Paddi suggests that everyone wants to be happy—that’s an over-riding high level life goal. Given that most people spend at least one third of their time involved in “making a living” it makes a lot of sense for that time to be spent doing things that make you happy while making a living. He lives out his own advice.

Paddi has created a dental business that is simply amazing.

  • He works just 22.5 hours a week.
  • There are no signs on his business premises.
  • There is no phone number listed in the phone book.
  • The front door is always locked.
  • You can only become his patient from a referral.
  • You can only refer a patient if he grants you an invitation to do so – you read that correctly, you must be given permission through invitation to be asked to refer, let alone become, a customer.

You’re probably thinking “now I understand why he only gets to work just 2.5 days a week!”

Wait … here’s a bit more information. He makes 2.5 times more than an average dentist in half the time.

My arithmetic tells me that on the “making a living” scale he’s 5 times better at it than the average dentist (and for that you can read any business person.) But there’s more, he also absolutely delights in what he does during his working hours not to mention his playing hours, so I think it’s fair to say he’s found utopia.

At the risk of over-simplifying, he achieves these extraordinary results by focusing absolutely on the little things (he calls them Critical Non-Essentials Cne’s) that together have a big impact and which enable any business to stand-out in an otherwise bland and undifferentiated market place. They’re so important to Paddi that he’s written a book about them and how to use them to create the WOW that most busineses lack.

Seth Godin talks about this sort of thing in his books “The Purple Cow” and “Free Prize Inside” in which is suggests that today it is not good enough to satisfy customers—everyone is doing that to a reasonable degree. What’s needed to be a stand-out business that people notice is to be remarkable. Typically that is not going to be “remarkable” in relation to the core product or service the business sells, it’s going to be in relation to the “non-essentials” that Paddi talks about. These are the things people actually understand, can relate to, can evaluate and do talk about.

What I find amazing is that Paddi was really 20 years ahead of his time when he started to implement the things that have enabled him to create a truly remarkable business. Although Paddi was ahead of Seth when he started to implement his business ideas I’m sure you’ll love Seth’s blog if you like “out of the box” thinking on what’s happening in contemporary marketing.

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