…An influencer is someone who tries to make everyone believe that what they say is the truth. Some dentists try to convince families that it is their way or no way. But there are always options and parents should be given those options.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Mike Koumaras, DMD. “Dr. Mike” was raised in northeast Philadelphia. He graduated from Chestnut Hill Academy, and then Lafayette College. He received his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. He completed his two year pediatric dental training at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in June 2009.
Dr. Mike enjoys singing to his patients and making them laugh during treatment! He recently completed a rigorous process which includes both written and oral examinations to become a Diplomate of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. This is the highest achievement that can be obtained in Pediatric Dentistry!
Thank you for joining us Dr. Mike. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I was born into a family of dentists. My grandfather was an oral surgeon who was the President of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. My mother is a Pediatric dentist, and my Father was also an oral surgeon. I worked 6 days a week in my grandfather’s oral surgery office during my summers from the age of 12 through college. I went to the University of Pittsburgh for Dental School.
Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?
I’ve always taken a leadership role from the time I was young, but as a Pediatric Dentist, I’ve taken more and more pride in leading by example. I am always looking at new products, techniques, and materials to perfect my craft. I offer a seemingly endless amount of options to my patients so that the parents can be informed of all the options, and the pros and cons to each option.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
It’s actually quite funny to me how many parents ask if they can bring nitrous oxide home for their children to calm down when they need a break. Haha WE ALL NEED A BREAK from parenthood sometimes!
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?
My assistant and I were feeling a bit funny after work one day and realized there was a hole in the bag that titrates the nitrous oxide. We couldn’t get over that for a while
Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different from a typical leader? How is a thought leader different from an influencer?
Being a thought leader is easier once you have built a trusted practice and great relationships with your patients. l also believe that gaining the respect of pediatricians, physicians and other dentists is important. This takes years of knowledge, expertise, and doing what you truly believe is best for the patient. One thing that sets me aside from other dentists is that I prefer to give all the information to the parents and patients, and as a group we decide what is best for that specific child. As thought leader, I do not try to influence any decisions, I allow the parent to make an informed decision. An influencer is someone who tries to make everyone believe that what they say is the truth. Some dentists try to convince families that it is their way or no way. There are always options and parents should be given those options.
Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?
The main benefits of becoming an expert in your field is gaining the respect of others. As you become more recognized, your ideas and options tend to carry more weight with others. This in turn allows for increased opportunities, whether networking or even helping with local fundraising. These in turn get your name out there.
Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?
The theme in this story has occurred multiple times, but one day, I treated a patient the way I treat all the patients I see. I took the time to gain the trust of the new patient and the patient’s parents, who ended up being a pediatrician in the area. As a result, I have received many referrals. She even asked for paperwork on common dental issues that she could give to her patients. With the thought leader mentality, I went a step further and created a magnet for parents with our logo and phone number. Paperwork often gets lost. Magnets are easy to use and a great marketing tool.
Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.
1) Put the patient/client first
2) Be open to new treatment options: I’ve had a few parents bring up materials I did not currently use at my office. I used their information to try the new materials. In one case, I switched the sealant material use based on the parents recommendation
3) Never dismiss any concern or question from a patient/family
4) Always look to improve: Even the best at their field can still improve. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards
5) Hire people around you that believe in what you’re doing, and the way you’re doing it
In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach?
Elon Musk is a great example of a thought leader. He has amazing ideas, a great approach to them, is always looking to improve and more forward.
I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?
I don’t think it is overused.
What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
I can personally say I found that burnout can interfere with your ability to perform well at work, especially when working with children all day. For me, when I feel this way, I’m not as funny with the kids I treat. A big part of my approach with the kids is to make them laugh and feel comfortable.
It’s so important to have some sort of outlet, whether creative or not. Some of my colleges use exercise as their outlet, while others love to cook or some even schedule a massage. It can be whatever you want, but most importantly it will keep you engaged and motivated at work. Scheduled time-off is so important, as a business owner I hated the idea, but after years of limited time off you realize it’s important to hit the pause button, just not for you but also your family. You learn with time, the work will always be there, but your long term health and success depend on YOU and taking the time to re-boot.
You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂
The movement of MINDFULNESS is something that I am passionate about. I practice everyday with my children at home and patients in the office. There are so many studies out there showing that increasing your positive emotions and thoughts builds resilience.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This is an easy one for me, “It’s not IQ, It’s I can and I will”. This was a motto drilled into my mind from my grandfather as a child and even after I learned I was accepted to Dental School. If you repeat to yourself, “I can and I will”, you can achieve anything if you work hard towards that goal. Success does not come from being smart on tests. It comes from the persistence and determination to work towards the goal in mind. I share this advice with so many patients.
We are lucky that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Mark Cuban or Tyler Perry would be great to sit down and talk with. They have both had an incredible journey through life and continue the ascent.
How can our readers follow you on social media?