Podcast Episode 59 | How to Attract, Grow, and Keep a Great Team

With Ben Shaver

About the Prosperous Doc® Podcast

The Prosperous Doc® podcast by Spaugh Dameron Tenny highlights real-life stories from doctors and dentist to encourage and inspire listeners through discussions of professional successes and failures in addition to personal stories and financial wellness advice.

Shane Tenny, CFP® is our podcast host and Partner at SDT. He has lectured numerous times for hospitals and physician groups and, most importantly, helped hundreds of clients develop strategies to navigate through turbulent times toward their financial goals.

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Full Transcript

Ben Shaver (00:00):

If you really create a brand people want to be a part of, then you're going to win because they're going to see that and engage with it.

Voiceover (00:10):

From Spaugh Dameron Tenny, it's the Prosperous Doc Podcast. Real stories, real inspiration, real growth, a show for doctors who are ready to improve their overall wellness in every aspect of life. Now, here's your host, Shane Tenny.

Shane Tenny (00:28):

Welcome back to the Prosperous Doc Podcast. My name is Shane Tenny. Glad to have you with us. Before I dive into today's conversation with my guest, as always, a thank you for being here. I want to invite you to take a minute to review us on iTunes or Google Play, wherever you download your podcast. We welcome your feedback, your thoughts, and as always, if you have an idea for a topic or a guest, someone who's making a difference in the medical or dental fields, I'd welcome your email directly, shane@whitecoatwell.com. You can ping me and I welcome your suggestions.


Today we're talking about teamwork, basically. For those of you in medicine, in dentistry, the only way you're able to care for the patients who trust you is with the help of a good team, and it is harder than ever to attract, retain, develop top talent, and good team members. With a really tight labor market, it is a real challenge, and finding the right team to grow your business is the goal of anyone running a private practice and a business. A lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of money have been invested in this, and my guest today helps dental and medical practices move to the next level in terms of their teamwork and finding and developing the right talent. Ben Shaver is a certified leadership coach and a business consultant working with medical and dental practices, helping them with organizational development, recruiting, branding. Ben, thanks so much for joining me on the Prosperous Doc Podcast.

Ben Shaver (02:06):

Yeah, Shane, thanks for having me. I'm excited about it.

Shane Tenny (02:09):

Yeah. Start at the top line here. I know you work with practices around these topics of organizational development, recruiting's a big part, branding is often a part of the conversation. What are the different legs of the stool that you bring to businesses you work with?

Ben Shaver (02:29):

What we do is we help dental practices, medical practices, groups figure out that pathway between leadership, and then that outward-looking, how do they look in the community, how are they branded themselves, how do consumers see them, potential patients? Really, what we found, what makes us unique is we have this process called the leader brand where essentially, when we talk about organizational development, we come in and if you look at your typical org chart, we sort of flip that upside down, and we say, "At the top now is the consumer. Who are we actually going after?" For a private practice, that's really going to be the goal. If it's group practices, that's going to probably be done more on the local level where your local practices are. But then as you start to go down from there, who are the people that are supporting that patient? Because that patient is the one that's going to go out, and if they had a great experience, if they love your culture, which your culture is your brand, it's how you make people feel, then they're going to go out and talk about you in Facebook groups.


I'm a recovering marketing agency owner, so my background is marketing, and what we would find in some practices that did great in marketing and some didn't, even though we'd use some of the same tactics, is that they just weren't set up from the inside out to be successful, so they might get great leads from marketing, but they really didn't know how to push those people through, build those relationship practices versus it just being transactional, and they come in, and they're gone, so really, we just started working back to where now we look at leadership builds a great vision, that vision is then shared with a leadership team, they go out, and hire an elite team that builds a culture. That culture is your look, act, and feel. Then that look, act, and feel is every day what your team is putting out there so that they've now created this great brand that people want to be a part of, so it really does help with marketing and recruiting.

Shane Tenny (04:35):

Talk a little, you mentioned just your background in marketing and working with private practices on how they market brand, which is, of course, something that you and I know a lot of dentists, a lot of owners spend a lot of money on. I think you raised an interesting point that I just want to highlight for a minute. Talk about those scenarios where you spend a lot of time on the marketing effort and it just doesn't work. What's going on in a practice that ends up making all that effort fall flat?

Ben Shaver (05:06):

Yeah, I think a lot of it, I was an advertising major and consumer behavior major in college, I think everybody should have a passion. Mine was always consumer behavior. That's grown to, obviously, team and leadership behavior over the years. But I think the real challenge became, I don't want to necessarily use the word "commoditized," but marketing just came down to you're going to buy a package A, B, or C, and so it was a checklist item. There wasn't a lot of strategy put into it. There wasn't a lot of effort put into, "Okay, now what happens when that lead comes in? Are we capturing them correctly? If we don't capture them, how are we getting back to them?"


But it goes beyond that. What does their first experience with us look like? Do we look like a place that they want to be at? I talked about look, act, and feel. Well, if your look, act, and feel, your culture is you want to look professional, you want to act organized, and you want to feel trusted, well, are you doing that every day? What ends up happening is if people can relate to that, and this is the practice for them, then they're going to go out and tell other people. I mean, nothing's greater than getting in those mom groups where there's 8,000 people and somebody asks, "Hey, what's a great dentist?", and all of a sudden, everybody's saying it's your practice.

Shane Tenny (06:24):

I know that there's so many dentists in particular who are drawn to the field, find themselves owning a business, and then find themselves overwhelmed with managing, and leading people, and yet that is a real key to delivering the experience that you're hoping people will find when they walk in the door.

Ben Shaver (06:45):

Yeah, I actually love that part of it because, not necessarily startups, that's a totally different kind of beast, but on the acquisition side, it's very interesting. We started working with people that were buying their first practice, becoming an owner for the first time.


There's two elements there. One, it was almost like they were an outsider in their own practice. Here they bought this practice but didn't necessarily know or connect with the team. Then the other part of that was they wanted to grow, but now, they had that barrier of knowledge because the skills curve is you're a technician. When you're a dentist, you're a technician, you know what you're doing, you've mastered those skills. But now, instead of being 90% doing your job and being that technician and 10% dealing with people, you're at least 50/50, if not more, and so that's a whole new set of skills. That's really what we help people with is let's go through, understand your communication strategy, how we're going to get you to blend in with the team that you've got, evaluate that team, and really start to develop the vision, and develop the culture, and that doesn't happen overnight.

Shane Tenny (07:54):

What are you seeing today in terms of the challenge? We're talking about the challenge of just inward-looking, "Who am I, and what am I doing in terms of managing people, and recruiting people, and things like that? What's my own skill?" But of course, there's the external marketplace factors right now. What are you seeing with the businesses you are working with?

Ben Shaver (08:14):

Yeah, on the private practice side that we were just talking about, the acquisition people, generally they're a little nervous to evaluate the team members. They will hang onto team members longer than they needed to. When I first got into coaching and consulting, I was like, "I'm never going to go in and tell somebody to fire somebody."


But what I learned over time was let's just identify these people in one of the four employment categories, which I look at the bottom of that's the cynic. That's a person that acts like they care, but then they walk out of a meeting, and they're like, "That's an hour of my life I'm never going to get back," right? Then you've got the contributors. They're not necessarily bought into the vision, probably don't care about the culture, but they come in, and do their job, but they can be very easily influenced by cynic. That next level up is where you start to get more of the committed people that definitely by into the culture, vision, they want to be there. They're just not going to go that extra mile, right?They're not going to attend events on a Saturday, things like that. Then the champion level, that's where you can build a leadership team from. They're there to push everything that the leader's vision has come into place.


I think the biggest issue is if you don't evaluate people early enough, you're going to let some things go longer than you wanted to, and you might even lose some other staff members. That's on the private side. On the group side, it's lots of times a recruiting issue. We'll get a lot of calls on recruiting, and they'll say, "Hey, look, I just need a warm body." We're like, "Well, that's not what we do because frankly we could probably make more money because you're going to be back here a few months from now interviewing for the same job," so we really try to help people figure that out, have a good strategy as they moved through building their teams.

Shane Tenny (09:57):

Talk a little bit about recruiting right now in the marketplace and what the challenges are.

Ben Shaver (10:01):

I think the challenge in recruiting is very similar to other challenges you see in dentistry. I think we've talked about this before. In dentistry moreso than some other areas, everything's very standardized, right? It's, "This is what everybody's doing, so we all go, and we do it." When we had to get into recruiting to help people build teams, we had the marketing background, and that helped us think differently. When we would get in there, it'd be like everybody's out there posting ads on Indeed, or getting into social media groups, and they're all saying the same things about all of the same practices, so how is anybody getting ahead?


What we started looking at was maybe we could do some branding there and some marketing there because nobody goes on a blind date anymore, so if we're out there trying to talk to a candidate, and they're like, "Okay, well, what is this practice? What do they do?" It's not about money you can offer, right? I had a client, he said, "Why don't we just offer a $150,000 signing bonus?", and I'm like, "I just really feel like that's going to come across as desperate. Let's just offer them something they need and want," so we worked through that. But yeah, if you really create a brand people want to be a part of, then you're going to win because they're going to see that and engage with it.

Shane Tenny (11:22):

Your approach, since recruiting and helping practices find the right talent is a key part of the consulting work that you do, and rather than just playing in the same pond of increasing hourly rates or increasing per diems are increasing compensation, I think your perspective of what you bring into the work you do with clients is really help to clarify the brand, and the culture, not just for the patients, but also for team members that you want to attract?

Ben Shaver (11:55):

Yeah, it's interesting you bring that up because I tell people that all the time. I'm like, "A lot of the same reason somebody would come to your practices to be a patient is a lot of the same reasons somebody would come there to work." In addition to that, if you've branded yourself well, if you're a great leader, and you've put together a great team, your best recruiters for both patients and future staff members is your staff.


It's amazing to me, I mean, recruiting fees now for an associate dentist ranged 15 to 25 grand. Some people even charging 30, I've heard for specialists up to 60, so some of it's getting pretty out of hand. But I'm like, "What if you bonused another associate five grand and said, 'Bring me somebody that's quality that you want to work with into this practice with you, and you guys will get to work together, you'll make a little bit of money, and we'll have a good team because of it?'" Always look inward because your staff is your best recruiter and your best marketer.

Shane Tenny (12:51):

Now, what about the person who's listening to our conversation today, they're running a practice, or a couple locations, they've had some growth, and they realize, "I hear you, Ben, but to be honest, I'm not that great a leader, or I don't really like it. The people wear me out. I want to have a good brand, I want to have a good culture, I want to have the right people, but I've learned about myself over the years that I'm not the best leader"?

Ben Shaver (13:18):

Those are the exact conversations that end up happening when people call me. I think some of it is people have to get there. I tell people all the time, I'm like, "I work with successful people that are looking to be more successful." Lots of times when people get to me, they're thinking about, "Maybe I'll just sell because the headaches of staffing and the headaches of trying to lead a team is too much." Really, I help them just simplify that to get clarity, to get a path of how they're going to do that and identify where those issues are. Is there some areas where you're understaffed, maybe even overstaffed?


We had a client that when he bought his practice about six months in, he's like, "This is too much for me. I need to understand it better. I need to understand what's going on inside of the practice," so we did what we call task filters that came from a great leadership guy named Michael Hyatt. Basically, what that is, is your team proficient and passionate about the tasks they have? We have them go through and mark, are you proficient, or passionate, or passionate but not proficient? Then you start to realize, and they're very honest about this because it helps them get in the position they want to be, but all of a sudden, you get these back, and there's five people have listed that they open the practice in the morning. Well, who's actually doing that, right? You start to even find some holes in systems and processes.


But at the end of the day, you can really write great roles and responsibilities, you can really start making agreements with individual team members so that they're happy, and really start to put together a great team that's excited to be around each other, and it's not all based on incentive. I think to me, I'm one of the few consultants out there that's like, "I don't think you have to offer incentives outside of recruiting." Give people individual attention. Everybody wants to feel significant. They want to feel like they belong. I mean, it's the same thing. I have a four-year-old daughter. She wants exact same thing that a staff member wants, exact same thing that a patient wants: make me feel significant, and make me feel like I belong. In doing that and having people that buy into that and your vision, you're going to be successful.

Shane Tenny (15:26):

Mm-hmm. Now, I know a key part of your work with your clients involves some tools and some benchmarking data. We'll pause here for a quick break, but when we come back, I want to ask you about that so you can talk a little bit about how you do what you do.

Ben Shaver (15:42):

Sure. Sounds great.

Shane Tenny (15:47):

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All right, so Ben, we were talking right before the break about just recruiting and finding the right people to assemble the right team. I want to talk a little bit about developing them, but I know a key part of the process is some behavioral assessment or communication-type tools. Talk a little bit about what you use when you come into a practice to help them identify who they have and who they might need.

Ben Shaver (17:29):

Yeah, I worked through trying to find the perfect tool for me 'cause I do think you need to have assessments, right? I don't think they need to be personality assessments, they need to be more on behavioral styles, communication styles, and what people value, so it took me a while to find more of a communication assessment that combined. I used DiSC along with a values assessment and they come together to give you a report. It's really a 54-page cheat sheet on someone, so whether you're using that to hire or you're using it to get everybody on your team's behavioral styles, and do a team communication workshop, everybody understands, "Okay, I'm unique, that's fine. But now, how are we going to use this?"


I'll tell you where I came up with that one was, this was before I was doing this, before I got into doing leadership and communications training, I saw this, I think it was a guy, he had two practices, and the person that came in to facilitate this said, "Hey." This is the doctor, the owner. He said, "I want you to look at these two girls today because one of them, I've got to figure out who I'm going to fire, so I'm hoping today will bring some clarity to that." The facilitator looked at him and said, "That's not why I'm here, but we'll get to that."


What it was, the reason these two, and they did argue in this meeting with 25 other people in the room, they were assistants turning a room, and that's what they were mad at each other about because one was, if you're familiar with the DiSC, she was more of a high i, so she was more about people, and the doctor, the owner had said, "Look, we don't want people sitting in the waiting room more than five minutes." High i's, not as detail-oriented, more about the people, they were bringing people back as quick as they could. The other girl was a high C, very much about details, and the doctor also said, "I don't want to have to get up in the middle of procedure. I don't want my assistance getting up in the middle of a procedure to have to go get anything."


The thing was they were both right, right? The high C was mad because of how quickly this person is bringing it back and the high i was like, "Why does it take you so long?" So, what he did, which is a great leadership move, is he had them go out to lunch that whole next week every day, and said, "I want you to create a standard operating procedure for how we turn around since you guys are on the opposite." It worked great and they became really great friends and so I was like, "Wow, that's powerful knowing that and that can save that headache of having to fire someone."

Shane Tenny (19:55):

A really good example because the question that I want to ask is when you look at the roles in, say, a dental office, as you come in to help them identify the people that perform the best, or the types of people who may perform the best in building out a team, are you wanting to help the owner find people that are similar across the board in all respects, or are you wanting to help them find people who are different and complementary?

Ben Shaver (20:25):

That is a great question. I'm glad you asked that because four years ago I would've answered that question with you need to find people that are different and complementary. I do not say that now because what ends up happening is high S's are a little bit more about pace and they want to keep things smooth and rolling in a certain direction. They're not fast, take a little longer for decision-making, so to me, if you have a high S office with a high S dentist and some of the clinical staff and you bring in a high i, a high D, those people that are a little more assertive and aggressive and talk a little more, they can stress that situation out, so really, everything's on an individual basis. Sometimes it's good to have complementary people to balance that out, but sometimes it can cause too much drama, too much headache, too much stress, so really, just figure out what type of practice you want. As you grow, you're going to have bigger problems, but I think you just need to figure out the culture and see if those assessments help fit those people into their culture.

Shane Tenny (21:30):

I know from experience working within our own office that, to the point you're making, people come in all stripes and colors regardless of how they profile in an assessment tool and there's so much freedom in just being able to identify things and say, "Oh, this is why this is stressful for you," or, "This is why." Sometimes and usually it's a source of some amusement and laughter, but it allows people to come together and at least better understand one another and why, to the example you brought, why it's stressful when you're bringing people back, and why it's stressful for me when the room's not ready, or whatever the dynamics are.

Ben Shaver (22:13):

Yeah, and it's good, too, to further that point, to know the predictable conflict, so even though we're exactly the same, that predictable conflict would know it.

Shane Tenny (22:22):

Yeah, absolutely. You work with groups, businesses, at least in the dental space as an example, in that strong middle, in between being just a solo practice and maybe being part of a larger conglomerate or DSO. What are you seeing now culturally, I guess, across dentistry where there's such a vortex and a pull towards ownership or being bought out or selling to a DSO? What are you seeing culturally are some of the ways that owners are choosing to help develop their key personnel and develop stronger leadership teams?

Ben Shaver (23:04):

Yes, that's a good question, too. I really feel like there's three categories now, right? There's the private practice, maybe even small group practices, then there's obviously the large DSOs. In between there are these group practices that are kind of a hybrid so that they've got those private practice tendencies where they might look at culture a little bit more, they might look at hiring people that are going to work together great, but they've got the resources of a DSO.


When we are in recruiting and we're talking to associates that are coming from a DSO, they're like, "I don't want to get into another DSO," right? But I'm like, "Okay. But there's challenges in private practice, too, because if somebody gets into private practice with another dentist, sometimes we find they're not getting the better cases. They might not have the schedule they thought they were going to, they might not make the money they think they were going to," so lots of times, that hybrid in the middle helps solve both issues, and helps culturally drive people forward. But they just don't know how to do that, that's where we've filled that void, and help them find the people that will fit that culture, too.

Shane Tenny (24:11):

I guess this is circling back to my question, so then in just terms of developing them, what does that look like? How do you identify, and then what do you do? Do you start saying, "Hey, I want you to run things, here's all this work," or what's the approach?

Ben Shaver (24:26):

I'm afraid some people do that, Shane, but no.

Shane Tenny (24:29):

That's why I offered to talk to you.

Ben Shaver (24:31):

I think it's like, "Hey, just go ahead and get out there and do the best you can." No, I think some of it is you got to be unique in your approach. I'll give you an example. We had a client, they've got 30 practices, and they put out the same ads, they did the same things everybody else did. They had 18 positions open for associate dentists. Now, those types of groups need to have a good blueprint. They need to know, "We're going to have practices that have two associates and X amount of hygienists and maybe an office manager," whatever that is, as well as have a good footprint. Are you going to be more metropolitan? Are you going to be more rural, or suburbs, or whatever that might be? If they've got that, that's incredibly helpful.


Then you can step down into now, "What type of person do we want?" We help them by saying, "Here's what your unique thing could look like. What if you had an associate pathway to where if you want to be more involved with leadership to where you communicate better, you're running a great team, you come in every day to a stress-free, drama-free office? We've got that path for you." If a great clinician, then we'll send you to CE courses, we'll develop you as a clinician, and if you want to run your own practice one day, we'll even help you understand what that looks like. But we're going to give you an associate pathway that helps you accomplish your goals. That gives you a competitive advantage, but then it also lets you know, back to your question, how are we going to train them? What path are they on? You're very organized and then you can get more standardized, right? 'Cause then you can say, "Hey, this is what we agreed on, and now, we're moving forward with that, and you're the perfect person of this practice because you chose leadership."

Shane Tenny (26:13):

Mm-hmm. Yeah, that's a really key point you make, which is a part of it is asking people or helping them identify what it is that they are wired for or drawn to. But the other is having pre-thought about the process to help them accomplish their own goal and have a system have a plan, which brings me to, I think where I may want to end the conversation here in terms of covering recruiting, covering development, how do you retain people? The job market is tight these days. What are you seeing in some of the trends in terms of just retaining the right people in the right seats in your business?

Ben Shaver (26:54):

For that, I start at the end, right? If you're hiring people, you're hiring, let's just say it's associate, what exactly, we go back to that whole pathway, what they're on. Onboarding is going to be key. I think if you really want to retain people, you're going to lose them on onboarding because they're already going to have a bad impression of you. You didn't do what you say you were going to do. Get them involved with the team as quickly as you can, whether that's lunches, whether that's how you introduce them, but they need to be part of the team as quickly as possible.


The other thing is, again, say it's an associate, how are we going to market them? How are we going to brand them? Let's give them their own webpage on our website that really talks about who they are so that people can relate to them and they want to come to them and that connects with that doctor. I think that's incredibly important. There's different ways to do that as far as retention, I think the main thing is just keeping open communication out.


I'll say this, I'm not a big fan of annual reviews, never have been. What I've been telling people, if you just pick one person in your organization, or in your practice, every Thursday, go to lunch with them, ask them questions, learn from them. They're going to feel like they're being listened to, where an annual review can be stressful, and all that, so you'll know, and make individual agreements with each employee, and they'll know you did that with the other employees, too, so they won't care that Cindy made more money because she's a high economic, I want more time off to spend with my kids, or pick my kids up from school. Have those individual agreements. You can always renegotiate them. They're great, so I mean, from a retention standpoint, take people from what they want to what they need, that's helpful, and you'll definitely see great results.

Shane Tenny (28:35):

Yeah, and even to your answer previously, it sounds like helping to, or planning in advance to have that path for people to grow in the way they want to go. If you have an associate you bring in and they really want to be in private practice, but they think the only option here is to stay W-2, then they end up being more susceptible to leaving. If they understand, "Oh, you're open to this," or you have a path, or those sorts of things, then there's not the need to change their environment as much.

Ben Shaver (29:07):

Right, absolutely. Knowing all that's great. Like I said, be efficient first. Get your process and systems down. Think about how that looks when you onboard somebody, but then being effective, there's a huge gap between there, right? Being effective means you're paying attention to their needs.

Shane Tenny (29:23):

Ben, what's the process like for someone who's listening to the conversation and thinking, "Maybe I should reach out to Ben?" How does someone know if they're a good fit for you? Or is there an assessment that you can give them to know if they're at a place where partnering with you would be beneficial to their business?

Ben Shaver (29:41):

Yeah, we have a pretty simple non-sophisticated process, but what we like to do is have that initial conversation, but then I usually give somebody a complimentary DiSC values assessment just so we can get into that self-awareness, just so I know, and then from there we do what I call a practice pulse. Where are the areas that are causing you the most stress? It may be marketing, it may be recruiting, it may be that you've got some team issues, and then what we do is work through those issues on a 90-day basis. Or we might do a program like StoryBrand, leadership brand just to get people that don't know engagement off and going, so it's pretty easy to work with us. Contact me, get on my calendar. You can go to venturepractices.com and find me there. I love talking to people about dentistry. I'm somebody that likes to talk on the phone or talk about the business of dentistry.

Shane Tenny (30:35):

Again, if you're listening, didn't pick up Ben's shout-out there, it's venturepractices.com. You can find him. Ben, our parting question here I like to ask all the guests, you've accomplished a lot in your career, you've seen a lot, you've worked with a lot of people, and I know it didn't happen all alone. You have gotten to where you are because of the help of someone else that's built into your life, and so my question is, here's your chance to give a shout-out on the Prosperous Doc Podcast, who comes to your mind as someone that has been really instrumental in your career and where you are today?

Ben Shaver (31:10):

I guess everybody used the cop-out of your parents, but I do say them just because they taught me accountability. That's a big deal. I think there's a lot of accountability lacking from the workforce out there right now, so I do appreciate that. My dad had great leadership skills. But my business coach that I've had for 12 years, his name's Harvey Smith, he's been very instrumental in, honestly, keeping me from doing things that I shouldn't have done. But he never tells me to do anything, right? He makes me talk through myself and figured out and that's just a much richer relationship than somebody just coming in and telling you what to do, so that would be the guy I gave the shout-out to. Harvey's been great.

Shane Tenny (31:49):

All right. Well, Harvey Smith, here's your free shout-out. Isn't it so true, Ben, that often the best advice we get is to not do something?

Ben Shaver (31:57):

Right, that's always the best advice I think I've gotten over the years.

Shane Tenny (32:03):

Excellent. Well, thanks so much for being with me this afternoon.

Ben Shaver (32:05):

Yes. Thanks, Shane. I appreciate it.

Shane Tenny (32:07):

All right, and thank you for joining us for this episode of the Prosperous Doc Podcast. We'll be back here soon with another great conversation.

Voiceover (32:14):

This episode of the Prosperous Doc Podcast is over, but you're not alone on your journey. Spaugh Dameron Tenny has been helping physicians and dentists prosper through financial planning for over 60 years. To connect with us, visit sdtplanning.com today and take your financial wellness to new levels. Join us on the next episode of the Prosperous Doc Podcast.