Dr. Marianna M. Weiner of EnvySmile Dental: “Sometimes the best thing you can do as a leader is to listen”

Not all leadership is about giving direction, sometimes the best thing you can do as a leader is to listen. When I have staff or patients with specific complaints or concerns, I find it is best to repress my immediate reaction of fixing. When taking a moment to listen, I give myself the time to […]

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Not all leadership is about giving direction, sometimes the best thing you can do as a leader is to listen. When I have staff or patients with specific complaints or concerns, I find it is best to repress my immediate reaction of fixing. When taking a moment to listen, I give myself the time to hear what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. This puts me in the position of genuine understanding that allows a better solution to be found.

For my series on strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Marianna M. Weiner.

Dr. Weiner graduated from New York University College of Dentistry, where she obtained her degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery. Her residency program was completed at Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Weiner served as a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai Hospital School of Medicine Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and General Dentistry. She also served as an instructor assistant in Rondeau Seminars for Straight Wire Orthodontics and Functional Appliances.

Dr. Weiner is a leading Cosmetic Dentist and has been practicing dentistry for over 26 years with a specialization in cosmetic dentistry. In that time, she has been creating envious smiles for patients from all over the NYC area as well as across the country. Due to her experience and expertise, patients travel from all over the United States and several countries, including Russia, Germany, Ireland, and Israel, to help improve their smile and overall oral health.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Being a little child and spending all after school hours in my father’s oral surgery office made me want to do things differently. Instead of letting people lose their teeth I wanted to save them all. Later on this desire kept growing and evolved into not only saving teeth but making smiles glamorous and unique. I believe every smile has to represent the inner beauty of the individual.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I was doing my residency at Mount Sinai hospital. A friend asked me to take his shift in return for a favor that he did for me. I had no choice so I did it. His shift was after mine so in reality I did a double shift which equates to 48 hours. You can’t predict the number of patients that will come through the door. That day, my shift was extremely busy. I didn’t rest a single minute. As my shift was coming to an end and his beginning I was hoping that the volume of patients will decrease and I will be able to get some rest/sleep. Unfortunately, the second shift was just as busy as the first. At the end I was completely drained; mentally and physically. However, I still had to write post-surgical reports in the patient’s charts. Being exhausted I replaced urinal catheter with incubator tube and wrote that the patient’s p….s was incubated. This was later presented in front of the entire class and faculty. During my graduation later that year, professions were still curious how that was possible. Everyone got a nice laugh at my expense.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Everyone is familiar with traditional forms of dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry. Implant dentistry. Orthodontics. Etc. I practice what I refer to as “emotional dentistry”. When a patient enters into our office, I want to hear their story. Their previous experiences. What prevented them from having the smile of their dreams in the past. Why do they want to do it now. How a new smile will impact their lives.

Many years ago, a male patient presented to our office. Let’s call him Alan. Alan always wanted to have the smile of his dreams but couldn’t afford it. He was a heavy coffee drinker and had multiple dental issues including broken and missing teeth, sever crowding and broken fillings. He was coming regularly just to see our hygienist. On one of his appointments, while checking the medical history for changes, we found out that he was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. The decision was simple and instantaneously. The entire staff wanted to give Alan his dream smile before the cancer consumes him. We never worked this fast on a smile transformation. Not a single staff member had to be pushed. We all knew what must be done. Every appointment was extremely difficult as we had to hold our composure and not cry in front of him. He was beautiful strong man who supported us with jokes and friendly smile. Alan was able to enjoy his dream smile for approximately 3 months.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We wanted to take 5 children from neighborhood schools that couldn’t afford dental services and fix their teeth for free. These children would be selected by their teachers and principals based on who wrote the most meaningful essay on why they wanted to change their smile.

This will teach the children a lesson that kindness should never be one sided. We gave them a smile and hopefully one day they will be able to give/do something special for someone else.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Lead by example. Set the bar based on your actions not words. Don’t have favorites and don’t ever let gossip enter the work environment.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Hire a culture coach. Without a solid culture foundation nothing can be achieved.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

In our world, a goal for many is to be in a position of leadership, but this goal is not achieved easily. Leadership is more than just telling people what to do or being in charge of something, I see leadership as an opportunity to positively impact an individual. For example, a few years ago I encountered a young woman who genuinely did not seem like the best candidate for a dental profession. She had no dental experience, was not in the mindset of pursuing a higher education, and was not trained in professional etiquette. Despite these challenges, I saw potential in her and decided to invest my time in her. After training and working under my supervision, there was an awakening of purpose within her, enabling her to grow within the profession and create a career for herself, opening up a world of opportunities she had not considered before.

Another example would be the conscious choice I make in investing in my team. As a dentist I am not obligated to provide learning opportunities for my staff outside of our daily office responsibilities. I disagree with this notion because I believe that in order to maintain a successful practice, I need to provide the means for my team to grow as individuals. The personal development of each team member is so important; if my employee is feeling more confident and ready for their lives, they will most definitely bring that fire to work, inspiring the people around them to continue to do their best.

As a person in a leadership position, I have encountered many chances to be too good for a task or situation. I have never fallen victim to this behavioral pattern, however, because I realize that a big part of showcasing leadership is being a team player. If I would not be willing to take out the trash, how can I expect my staff to respect and understand the importance of doing so? By setting an example of servitude, I encourage a work ethic that is rooted in mutual respect.

Not all leadership is about giving direction, sometimes the best thing you can do as a leader is to listen. When I have staff or patients with specific complaints or concerns, I find it is best to repress my immediate reaction of fixing. When taking a moment to listen, I give myself the time to hear what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. This puts me in the position of genuine understanding that allows a better solution to be found.

It is especially challenging when you’re a woman in a position of leadership, the possibilities for learning are abundant and have their own unique challenges. As a dentist who is also a woman, I have found that one of the most important lessons in leadership is how to be direct and confident in your decision making. There is no shame in knowing that you know best. I had an assistant once, very talented and well-versed in dentistry, but argumentative and had a tendency to debate authority. They were cleaning a room as I passed by, and upon noticing that they hadn’t followed our regular protocol, I approached them and asked them to correct their mistake. Immediately they became defensive and insisted the room was ready for the next patient, but I stood my ground. They relented and followed my direction, and the fact that I confirmed my office is being held to the best standard is worth everything. All in all, I find the best part of being considered a leader is that I can see the journey we’re on from all sides; it’s about being part of the process, not above it.

Every time I see a staff member show interest in advancing their career in dentistry I help any way I can. I encouraged assistants to become hygienists so they can serve patients on a higher level. One of my assistants, Noreen, she was in the army reserve. She was one of eleven kids in a low income household. She never imaged that she would be the first of her siblings to attend college. I contacted NYU Hygiene school and got an application for her and filled it out as much as I could and I forced her to fill out the rest. I then escorted her to the school to meet the dean and hand in her application. Two years later she is a hygienist and living a life she never thought of. I lost one of the best assistants I ever had but the dental community got an extremely talented and caring dental hygienist.

We make a living by what we do but we make a life by what we give — Winston Churchill.

Don’t treat your business as a workplace. Make it a place where you can help people and create a happy environment for your employees.

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?

Dr. Barry Glassman — Diplomate of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain and the American Academy of Pain Management

Many years ago I applied for a mini-residency for diagnosing and treating TMJ disorder. At the time, TMJ was not a well known field in dentistry. Dr. Barry Glassman was running this residency. He was able to present a difficult and anatomically complicated concept in the most colorful and vibrant way. Being the youngest in the residency he took me under his wing. He not only opened my eyes on how to incorporate TMJ into my daily treatments, he was able to draw a parallel of success of dental work on the health of jaw joints. Till now he remains my mentor and close friend.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As Henry Ford said “The business that makes nothing but money is a poor business. Every business should leave a legacy.”

I believe we need to invest in our youth. Every business should invite the youth to help ignite the fire that will drive our future generation. For the past 25 years I always try to expose the younger generation to dentistry and medicine so that they can be more involved in helping people in time of need.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Dream big. Work hard. Stay focused. Surround yourself with good people.

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 with 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 🙂

Hands down it would be Tony Robbins. His enormous generosity in feeding the world, saving girls from sexual slavery and changing/transforming so many lives make him the most amazing individual on this planet. In my humble opinion.

How can our readers connect with you on social media?

Instagram: @envysmiledental

website: www.envysmile.com

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