Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Dr. Rhonda Kalasho

My goal in life has always been to limit the suffering of others. I believe that if everyone’s mission was the same than the world would run of sugar canes and fairy dust. Many great minds feel the same like Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, or Neil Degrass Tyson, all of whom have at one point […]

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My goal in life has always been to limit the suffering of others. I believe that if everyone’s mission was the same than the world would run of sugar canes and fairy dust. Many great minds feel the same like Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, or Neil Degrass Tyson, all of whom have at one point spoken on the topic of suffering. Human suffering and the suffering you can bring to your self can all be diminished if you try, and imagine how amazing the world would be, if every person creed was to the limit the suffering of themselves and their neighbors.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Rhonda Kalasho, DDS of GLO Modern Dental.

Dr. Rhonda Kalasho was born in a country where bomb raids and corrupt government were bigger threats than tooth decay and gum disease. She arrived to the United States in the nineties on an E-1 visa where her father opened a series of small businesses in California. Her family were Iraqi expatriates who left everything they knew and started fresh. Dr. Rhonda Kalasho remembers the morning she left Baghdad, with all of her toys still on her bedroom floor, tea on the kettle, clothes in the dryer, cars in the driveway, her family’s business was running per normal hours, and she remembers leaving it all behind to give the illusion they would be back. You see, Dr. Kalasho and her family could not just leave, or at least not leave the country permanently. A few weeks prior to leaving Rhonda’s father was arrested at his business in Baghdad city for not contributing a percentage of his income to the Ba’ath Party, which was expected of business owners who earned a considerable living. He was beaten and imprisoned for several weeks, and his release was contingent on paying 300,000 American dollars. When they released her father, Rhonda’s parents packed all six of her children, including Rhonda, no different than if she was making a trip to the grocery store. They told no one, not even other family members, neighbors or friends.

Dr. Kalasho experienced what a lot may not have had the privilege to; losing everything, and starting fresh. Children who experience creating something exceptional out of self will, who have felt true hunger, who understand loss, gain a superpower. The story of her life is not of woes, nor one of episcopal burden, but of a series of unfortunate circumstances that built up high enough to reach for the stars.

Now, Dr. Rhonda Kalasho is LA’s go to Dentist. She is a double board-certified Dentist who is highly regarded for her aesthetic and surgical workmanship. She is one of a handful of dentists who has completed an advanced residency training in full mouth reconstruction and hospital dentistry.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?

Igrew up in San Diego California after my family emigrated from Iraq in 1992. When we arrived in California we purchased a Pizza restaurant from a family acquaintance. Funny thing is, we never tasted or even knew what a Pizza looked like, but all five siblings and I worked the restaurant. Weekends and after school were dedicated to cleaning the floors, bathrooms, stocking the fridge, and doing homework in between. We made the dough, cut the toppings, delivered the pizzas, answered the calls, it didn’t matter that I could not see over the counter, my father and mother’s philosophy was success through hard work and we surely lived by that creed.

When I was ten years old I experienced one of the worst pains of my life, dental pain. I felt it in my ear, in my throat, it radiated throughout my body, I could barely open my mouth. I was eight years old. My mom took to see a local dentist, and he seeing the pain I was in and the condition of my mouth, lamented to say it was “child abuse”, but little did he know that we simply just had no idea about oral care. We did not have fluoride in the drinking water where we were from, let alone floss. Oral hygiene knowledge was rudimentary. I remember him showing me a piece of floss and asked, do you use this. I remember being so excited and enthusiastically saying “yes!, my mom has that connected to her sewing machine.” After the treatment, I was liberated from the excruciating pain, and from then on, I was obsessed with good oral care. I knew from then I wanted to be dentist.

I purchased my first office when I turned twenty-eight, partnering up with an older dentist who was looking to sell his share as he got closer to retirement. However, his practice, mentality, and his older less technically savvy way of practicing felt mundane. I realized quickly that modernity in dentistry was the way to go. Dentistry, like any other avenue of medicine, only advances with time, therefore behavior management, biomaterials, techniques were all advancing, but my older partner refused to change. I wanted to be a part of this new age of dentistry, the 3D milling, digital scanning, layered ceramics, bonded resins, age of dentistry. I sold my share, and went solo at twenty-nine. By age thirty I had a booming top rated West Hollywood practice, with state of the art dental technology. My five star practice abides by the mission of patient comfort and quality of care above all else. I am the sole dentist with a team of eight, which includes two ceramists, who help create beautifully fabricated well adapted restorations using 3D printing technology. My team and I constantly expand in our dental proficiency through continuing education courses, bringing new advancements in the field and integrating it in our oral care. The rare times I am not at work, I spend it teaching burgeoning dental students treatment techniques, as well as practice management.

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

Currently, I have my hands in development, creating an advanced mouth rinse to help combat gum disease based on clinical controlled data. The formulation is currently undergoing clinical trials and its showing incredible abilities in the treatment and prevention of severe cases of gum disease. Many people lose their teeth as they get older, and a large percentage of Americans go into partials or dentures by the age of sixty-five, I am hoping that my formulation proves itself to be a medicament that not only preserves the longevity of teeth and gums, but the youthfulness of many smiles.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

My dental office is an all female owed and operated office, or at least it started that way. Taking on the name GLO Modern Dental, GLO which was an acronym for Great Ladies of Modern Dentistry which is a dental practice with the reputation among the community that far exceeds the rest. We are most acclaimed for our genuinity in care, professionalism, nurturing demeanors, and our high quality of treatment. All members of my company are constantly honing in on their skill sets and advancing in their methodologies. All members are required, and encouraged to take continuing education courses to expand on what they know, and learn what they do not. Any patient treated by our team immediately shares the same sentiment, that they can feel the happiness among the team, that their treatment was exceptional, and the enthusiasm for the field is palpable.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

I worked several dental practices, both in the private and corporate sector. Every dental office generally operated the same way, and each one, that I came across at least, lacked ingenuity, dentists locked in the old world of dental materials and techniques. I wanted to be a sole practice owner, with a completely modern practice. I wanted to own a thriving practice in West Hollywood. Many from my hometown thought it was too competitive an area to be successful in, especially without a business partner, or any finances for that matter. The overhead was high in the building I set my sites on, and there were three dentists in the building before me. Many banks would not fund my practice, especially because the previous owner had lost the practice, but I showed over 13 different banks that I was resilient. I brought my business plan to each and every one, and after months of searching for funding, one bank came through.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂

I managed to get funding as well as a working capital for the first few months of operations, luckily, I did not use the working capital, and my business plan of an all modern, female run and operated, multidisciplinary dental office proved a success. People felt the difference in care and treatment quality, which drove in more patients, and referrals. I guess all those banks that denied funding, and all those that said I could not compete in the high demand market of West Hollywood, were indeed, wrong.

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?

I was once asked for by a paper covering young entrepreneurs who inspires me, but it was never just one person, or one thing, what inspires me is seeing what actually precipitates from self-drive, dedication, and hard work. I witness this truth through my families trajectory. We started an entirely new life, every single one of us. We had this urge to exist comfortably, to gain what we lost, and seek the things we never had. Humans are fascinating, and our willingness to thrive is incredible. I simply love what I do and immerse myself in my passions everyday, and subsequently there lies the success.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

Nothing should fuel your drive more than negativity. I used to have a strong accent when I was younger, learning English, and I remember getting made fun and bullied for it. I went home and watched and rewatched every episode of Full House, and mimicked the way the pronounced words, and inflections. I did this for weeks. What I got out of it was an ability to not only recite entire Uncle Jesse and Joey monologues, but the realization that if I tried hard enough at anything, at the very least, I surprise myself with how far I can success, but for the most part, I actually do what I intended.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

  1. Choose a Goal
  2. Try your hardest to achieve that goal
  3. Do not fear failure, but do not remain contempt with failure
  4. Learn to hit your personal marks
  5. Use the Naysayers chants of negativity as a driving force to your victory

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

“You cannot be protected from the things that frighten you and hurt you, but if you identify with the part of your being that is responsible for transformation, then you are always the equal, or more than the equal of the things that frighten you.”

― Jordan B. Peterson

I love this quote by Jordan Peterson, who is a fantastic writer, clinical psychologist, and speaker. The quote is where I derived my third strategy for success, which is to not fear failure, as fear is incredibly debilitating and limiting. You must face your fear, and tell your fear to bring it on, and you will soon see that your fear can actually be a great influence.

It reminds me of what my father’s dogma, to always take the road that makes your feet tired, because that will be the road that defines your resilience the most.

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

My goal in life has always been to limit the suffering of others. I believe that if everyone’s mission was the same than the world would run of sugar canes and fairy dust. Many great minds feel the same like Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, or Neil Degrass Tyson, all of whom have at one point spoken on the topic of suffering. Human suffering and the suffering you can bring to your self can all be diminished if you try, and imagine how amazing the world would be, if every person creed was to the limit the suffering of themselves and their neighbors.

Can our readers follow you on social media?

Absolutely, my social media page is @dr.rhondakalasho We certainly look forward to hearing your questions and answering any questions you may have.

Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!

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