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Dr Nauv Kashyap is the founder of Practice Ownership Consulting, Australia’s first dedicated consulting business to help employee/associate dentists explore practice ownership opportunities. He has been helping dentists transition into ownership with some excellent results. Many dentists have relied on him to provide expert guidance as they take on the challenges of ownership.

Dr Nauv bought his first practice in 2008 with approx $400K a year turnover and 2,500 patients. That practice has seen more than 20,000 patients and in 2015 will turnover approx. $2.5million. He has started a further ten dental practices and has also sold practices. He continues to find opportunities for successful startups and takeovers even through a saturated dental market.

 

In this episode we talk about:

  • The key to establishing a good base so you can expand rapidly
  • Being a delegation Ninja from the beginning
  • Focusing on strengths and outsourcing weaknesses
  • The major lessons he learned early in his career
  • The business philosophy he learned from his parents
  • Supporting younger dentists
  • The importance of creating an elite team
  • Choosing friends and valuing honesty
  • Nauv’s major achievements
  • The importance of systems to improve efficiency and save time
  • The importance of financial backing
  • Taking risks and understanding the risk forces
  • The importance of a partnership
  • The parallels between poker and a business
  • Taking a chance and stepping into the unknown
  • Keeping the right decisions in business
  • The importance of being patient

 

Where to find Nauv Kashyap

Website:

http://www.dentevents.com/speaker-profile/dr-nauv-kashyap/c11003676

http://www.raceviewdental.com.au/category/dental-blog/

Linkedin:   https://au.linkedin.com/in/nauvneel-kashyap-04041b4b

Transcript

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Jesse:

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We have a special guest with us tonight, Dr. Nauv Kashyap, who is an expert in the art of starting a practice and indeed helping dentists transition to ownership. Nuav, thank you so much for coming along tonight. It’s great to have you.
Nauv:

Thanks, Jesse. Thanks for having me. Looking forward to it.
Jesse:

We’re going to have a bit of fun tonight. Nauv, you’re a very well-known figure in the dental community certainly in Australia and New Zealand. You’re a regular poster in the forums of DPR and DPO and others, and so there’ll be a lot of listeners who are familiar with you, but there’ll be equally some new listeners who aren’t familiar with you and your stories. I was wondering, mate, if you wouldn’t mind just sharing a little bit of your story with us. For those who don’t know, Nauv has started 11 practices, which is phenomenal. That is a phenomenal record. There’s not too many people I can think of who would have done more than that. Mate, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind just giving us a little bit about your background, telling us a little bit about your story, and then we’ll go from there.
Nauv:

Yeah. Sure, Jesse. I guess it all started when I graduated from dentistry back in 2006. I had a year of working as a dentist. It was always the plan to do medicine following dentistry and getting to surgery and the rest of it, but I enjoyed my first year of working. I did a lot of surgery with … As you know, I do a lot of wisdom teeth surgery. I decided to stick with dentistry and then we had the option to buy a practice quite early on in my career, which I did. I saw a lot of opportunity and I capitalized on it. Then from there, from my first practice, it was quite a few years before the second practice started, but once systems were established and I had a really good cash flow with those first 2 practices, then from number 3 to number 11 was quite a quick process. I guess, yeah, the key thing there for me was establishing a good base initially, and once that base was established, then it really did become a lot easier to do certain things and expand rapidly, I guess.
Jesse:

Fantastic. As you’ve gone through this journey, has there been any underlying philosophy that’s guided your decision-making process around this? Has there been an overarching plan? Did you begin with the end in mind so to speak or has it been something that’s evolved naturally?
Nauv:

Yeah, it’s an interesting question. I did get asked this a little bit, but for me, I can’t honestly say that I began with the end in mind. There was no way, if someone had told me back in 2008 when I bought my first practice that 2015 I’d have started 11, I don’t think there’s any way that I would have believed them. In that respect, no, but there was a lot of things that I did I guess by chance that really helped set me up for that level of growth, and I think the major thing was that I was very pro-delegation from the beginning.
There was a lot of things in my practice I didn’t know how to do. I left it to a practice manager that I really trusted, and that freed up a lot of my time to look for startup locations and set the strategic direction for the group. I think that that obviously helped, but at the start, it wasn’t like I was actively thinking if I delegate everything and be completely hands off, then I’ll be able to grow quite rapidly. It was the function of how I set out to do things at the beginning.
Jesse:

That’s a really interesting point, Nauv, because that’s a bit counter-intuitive for most dentists, because most dentists tend to like to be in control of a lot of things. What I’m hearing you say is you consciously gave up control of certain elements of your practice so that you could focus in other areas. Am I interpreting that correctly?
Nauv:

Yeah, exactly right. I’ve always been one to focus on my strengths, and my strengths aren’t clinical dentistry other than surgery. Obviously, I enjoy wisdom teeth. I had a lot of training to do them to quite a high level, but there’s a lot of administrative tasks, a lot of bookkeeping, and a lot of things like that that have never been my strength and never will be. I guess marketing is a strength of mine because I enjoy it and I do a bit of research into it. I’ve really tried to focus on my strengths, whereas I’ve outsourced a lot of my weaknesses, and I think that’s helped a bit along the way.
Jesse:

I think that’s a massive insight there for anyone listening, is making sure that you’re playing to your strengths. Again, Nauv, I’d be interested to know, I’m sure that that’s a philosophy that’s going through your organization as well, is putting people in roles that play to their strengths, if I’m assuming that. Am I correct in assuming that?
Nauv:

Yeah. Well, from the clinical level, a great example of that is our model is very different to a lot of conventional dental practices out there in that we have pseudo-specialists or practitioners with special areas of interest. A patient that comes through our surgery could well see a lot of different practitioners, and there’s arguments for and against that kind of thing, but I firmly believe that if you’re seeing the best person for a certain procedure, then that’s more ideal.
We’ve got a guy that does root canals really high level. I do wisdom teeth surgery. We’ve got dentists and a couple of dentists with a lot of experience. Yeah, it is about focusing on the strengths as well, and not so much … I had lunch with a dentist today, or a dental student today, and he was saying how he’s really tried to build up his weaknesses, but for me, it’s been about letting go of your weaknesses and focusing on strengths. I think that’s been a major guiding philosophy, yeah.
Jesse:

Yeah. I really concur with that. What I found certainly in my own life as well is the things that I enjoy, I’m generally better at because I enjoy it. I put more time and effort in it and I inherently develop the skills just through interest levels. Like you, there are a lot of things that I’m really lousy at, and I’m more than happy to have those taken off my plate, too. As you’ve gone through this journey, clearly, 11 startups, and you would have learned a thing or 2 clearly, what would be … As people are listening here, what would be the number one or 2 or 3 things that you think, with the benefit of hindsight, turned out to be boo-boos? Were there any key blunders or key, I suppose, traps for young players in terms of starting a practice?
Nauv:

I guess within the context of business and ownership generally, the biggest trap that young owners I think get into is the relationship with their staff. Often, as a young business owner, you have a really young team, and the tendency is there to want to get really close to your team, to socialize with your team, have Friday night drinks and kick on to a pub, and all that kind of thing, and I’m guilty of that. I was guilty of that in the early days, but the problem that that does is it sets it up for a really uncomfortable time when things start to turn around. When you want to discipline a staff member or have a talk to them about something that they perhaps haven’t done the right way or how you’d like them to improve, it’s a much more difficult conversation to have with someone who’s a friend and someone who is a staff member, so I think it’s really important to maintain that boundary.
That’s been one of the major lessons I’ve developed, and that was simply by making huge mistakes in that regard early on. I guess in terms of things that I’ve done right, just from a young age, I’ve always had my parents instill in us the philosophy that to build up your own business, you don’t have to destroy anyone else’s or destroying someone else’s business, or if you dig someone else’s grave, God will have dug your grave ready for you. I think a lot of that guides a lot of the principles that I follow.
Jesse:

That’s a really nice principle. Again, for those who do know you, Nauv, will know that you’re very generous in what you share in various forums and so on. Interestingly enough, just as a small topic, I was talking to friend of mine, Andrew Griffiths, who, extraordinarily gifted marketer, extraordinarily gifted public presenter. He’s just a really lovely guy. He and I were having a conversation a little while ago, and we think one of the new currencies is really generosity. I don’t know. Do you have a take on that? That’s not really a conversation that I thought we’d be having tonight, but do you have any views on generosity as currency at all?
Nauv:

Yeah, it’s a little philosophical, but I think my view on it is that, as you know, you and I have disagreed previously on the role that luck plays, but for me, I feel like the position I’ve been in, although I have worked hard and the rest of that, a lot of it has been luck. I’m quite, I guess, fortunate to be in the position I am at such an early age, but part of that is also giving back to people who haven’t. I think I take that view when I try to support younger dentists, advocate for younger dentists, help educate younger dentists in the past to transition to ownership, but also, wisdom teeth surgery, I regularly have dentists from the forums come and watch me take wisdom teeth out and that kind of thing. All that is free of charge, but it’s something that, yeah, it’s more because I felt like I’ve gotten to where I have because of luck and I should give back a little.
Jesse:

We are going to delve into the role of luck in a minute because I know that’s something that you and I do, yeah, kick around a little bit, so we’ll certainly get into that in a moment. Again, just while we’re on the startup journey you’ve had, and I suppose one of the most watched speeches you’ll see on the internet is Steve Jobs’ address to the Stanford Uni graduates, and one of the things he says is you can’t make the dots forward. You can only connect them, with the benefit of hindsight, looking backwards. As you look back and connect the dots in your journey, what things do you think you did well? Things that you might not have known at the time, but things that turned out to be master strokes.
Nauv:

I think leading on from the point initially, and I won’t go back to that, focusing on my strengths, but an extension to that was really picking well the team that I established around me. What I found is one of my major principles in my personal relationships, in my choosing of friends, and the rest of that has been honesty. I value honesty above pretty much all else. I found that I gravitated towards people who value the same when dealing with business.
I’ve got a situation now where if I have found a location for a startup practice, I pretty much pick up the phone for my… guy, him and I arrange a meeting, we go there, we have 30 minutes to look at the building, I’ve already done all my research, he measures it out, within 2 days he gives me a floor plan, I make any changes I want to make, and then the next time I go to that practice, it’s when it’s fitted up. The same thing happens with my equipment guy. We’ve got a standard order of equipment that we have. When you can automate it to that level, I put in the time into how much time I look out into a startup. My personal time is literally between 5 to 10 hours, it’s very little, whereas the person that’s starting their first practice, obviously, they’re putting many, many more hours in that.
I think the key thing was because I value honesty, I’ve gravitated towards people that were quite honest, and that served me well in the business world. The lesson, I guess the greater lesson from that is, and the question you were asking, is that you need to do business with people that share the same values that you share. I think that’s helped me a lot along the way because if someone makes a mistake, anyone I deal with makes a mistake, they’re very honest about it, we address it, and we move on from it. Yeah, I think that’s been one of the major blessings I guess I’ve learned over the years, and that anyone who’s not honest, I cut business ties with them very quickly. Yeah, I’m just trying to think. In terms of other good things that I’ve done along the way, I guess I have an appreciation for return on investment in a very strong numbers background. That’s helped a lot as well in assessing things in a business sense.
Jesse:

Yeah, okay, cool. I certainly share your love of numbers with you, but the other thing I think I share with you as well, and we’ve spoken about this in previous conversations, was how systemized your business is and you take a systematic approach with a lot of things that you do. I’m just wondering if you’d be happy to share a bit of insight around the level of systemization that you have and how you went about doing that.
Nauv:

I think the main things that I have systemized is the process of opening, the process of starting up. I recently ran a seminar in Gold Coast, and one of the key feedback things I got from participants is how I delivered a recipe, almost a how-to or a checklist of how to transition into ownership. The big thing was it was a really easy-to-follow recipe, and I think I’ve systemized that over the years. We’ve got people that make our initial stock and equipment order. We’ve got people that look at our marketing and get our marketing up to date. Everything in the startup process has been systemized to a point where my time and investment in that is very, very little, and that’s the important thing about systems.
I guess with experience and having done quite a few now, you can refine the steps in the systemized process that are not as efficient as they could be or not getting the ideal results as they could be. You work to refine that over time, but I think if you go into it with a view of having a system in place, no matter what it is, it could be … Let’s just say you’re grocery shopping. If you have a system in place that you’re going to do this, this, and this, you can do things a lot more efficiently and save a lot of time. It applies to everything in life, I think, and so that’s been a bit plus for the way that we’ve done things.
Jesse:

Yeah. Fantastic. In terms of the day-to-day operations of your practices once they’re up and established, again, how important have the systems been in that as well?
Nauv:

Yeah, in the day-to-day running of the practices, admittedly, my systems are still a work in progress. From 2008, from my first practice to the point we’re at now, we basically have grown 11 practices. A lot of effort has gone into that, a lot of thinking has gone into that, and now I’m taking a step back from the growth process in terms of expansion to focusing on the internal systems within the practice. Those have evolved themselves from the back of my practice managers and their knowledge, but now, we’re getting, obviously, professionals like you involved who are much better at that kind of thing. Being upfront, it’s not a strength of mine, so that’s something that I’m more than happy to get outside help in.
Jesse:

Well, it’s basically your point earlier about playing to your strengths, really, doesn’t it?

Nauv:

Definitely. Yeah.
Jesse:

Cool. As you’ve gone through this whole process, Nauv … Again, for those people listening, there would have been a couple of key lessons which obviously, we’ve covered off there. Is there anything else, any other insights, any other awarenesses, any other key aha’s or pennies dropping? I can’t think of any other metaphors to roll off my tongue any faster than that, but is there anything else that you think that an aspiring practice owner should really think about as they’re contemplating their journey?

Nauv:

Yeah. I think one story that I think I want to share is a situation that I was in. When I had my first practice, I bought the first practice. It was a small, one-chair practice. Yeah, we got to the point where we got quite busy about 9 months after I bought it. It had reached its capacity, so we really needed to add a second chair, but for me at the time, a second chair was going to be roughly a $50,000 investment. Back then, I’ve spent around $280,000 buying my practice, and $50,000 more, that was a lot of money.
$50,000 is a lot of money any time, but it was a massive amount of money. For me, other than the initial investment, I was also going to hire another dental assistant, I was going to hire another dentist. The dentist that I was looking at at the time was recommended by a friend, and she had a pretty busy public job, and she was wanting to get into private practice. For me, it was like, “You know, if I put this second chair in, is she going to be busy? Am I going to waste my $50,000?” There was a lot of sleepless nights that.
One night, I was at dinner at a very close friend’s house whose dad owns … Well, just recently sold the third biggest battery company in Australia. This guy is very well-versed in business. He said to me, “Oh, Nauv, you look a bit concerned. There’s something on your mind. You’re not your usual chirpy self.” I said to him that … I explained the situation as I just have and, yeah, he said to me … It’s so profound. It seems so simple, but at that time, it was a big lesson to me. He said, “Nauv, how much do you charge when you pull a tooth out?” I was like, “Oh, around $200 or so.” He said, “$50,000. Lease repayments, that’s, what, about $500, $600 a month?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Pull 3 teeth out and you’ve paid off your lease repayments. Do you think you’re going to do well?” Obviously, that’s a really simplified thing and there’s no return on investment lesson in that.
There’s a lot more to it, but when he broke it down like that, someone in business who had years of experience, when they broke it down to the fact that forget about the $50,000, think about the repayment on the $50,000, think about how much units of labor or how many products you have to sell to break even on that, it just became such an easy decision. We put the second chair in within 3 or 4 months. It was booked out and we’re ready to expand again. I think the massive lesson from that is the difference between us as dentists and business owners generally in their ability to think about problems. I urge people that are looking at ownership to get an idea of things like return on investment, to get an idea of just little things like this that will make decisions that are supposed to be difficult or that appear difficult much, much easier. I think that was very profound for me, and I tell that story a lot, actually.
Jesse:

Yeah, it’s a cracking story. I really like it, Nauv. Again, one of the things that’s coming up for me as I’m listening to you speak or share that story with us is the difference, in my view, between traditional practice ownership, which I think is really an owner-operated model, versus true business ownership. They’re 2 different models. One may not be necessarily more right than the other, but 2 very different skillsets in my mind. Do you have any views around … What are your thoughts around traditional business ownership or traditional practice ownership versus true business ownership? Do you have any comments around that?
Nauv:

Yeah, I think for me personally, I’m very pro, as you’ve probably gathered, pro the second thing which is the business ownership model. The traditional practice ownership model for a startup in today’s environment, especially in most major metro cities, I’ll make the statement, it will be controversial, 98% of people that take that approach to it will fail. I completely believe that with everything I have. The ones that will succeed, the 1% or 2% that will succeed, will probably have an established base already, will be bringing that into their startup, and have some extraordinary skills as a dentist, so offering very niche-type services. They’ll be the one to succeed.
Now traditional practice ownership involved very little marketing. It involved perhaps one associate, but it involved the dentist doing the bulk of the dentistry, involved opening hours of 9:00 ’til 4:00 everyday, Fridays off playing golf, not even dreaming of being open weekends, that kind of thing. I think there was a place for that. There was definitely a place for that because that’s how every dentist was, but if you try that model with very little to no marketing, relying on word of mouth as a startup in any of the metro cities in this day and age, it’s definitely not going to work for you. My view is obviously very strong. It’s quite polarizing, but, yeah, that’s how I think of it.
Jesse:

I happen to share a very similar view. I have a view that in the years to come, those practices that succeed are going to combine really what it means to be a great health professional and combine that with the very best in terms of business knowledge and business skills and business acumen. In the past, again, coming back to your comment about trying to have the 9:00 to 4:00, Monday to Thursday practice in today’s world in a metro area, the reason it was so successful in the past or able to be successful in the past was purely because there was an under-supply of dentists.
Nauv:

Yes.
Jesse:

As things have tightened up, and we all know the situation around the market at the moment, really, those dentists that don’t change, don’t grow, don’t develop their business thinking, their business skills I think are really going to suffer. Yeah, I think it’s incumbent on everyone to learn how to be a better business owner, not just a better owner/operator.

Nauv:

No, definitely. I just want to clarify one point, Jesse. The 9:00 to 4:00 thing that I mentioned or the 9:00 to 5:00, I think that a lot of dentists, once they established themselves or once … I was talking in respect with startup, but there’s a lot of established dentists out there that have had a following for 10, 15, 20 years that can afford to work those hours. Their patients will move hell and high water to come and see them during those hours, and they’re fairly well-booked up working those hours. It could be just 2 or 3 days a week, but talking more in the context of startup, that if you’re starting up, trying to go into it with those hours, it’s going to be quite difficult for you to establish a good patient base. That was just one example.
Jesse:

Yeah, no, I absolutely agree. Yeah. Now, Nauv, one of the things that people who don’t know you so well or haven’t seen much of your stuff around the traps, or even those who have, they might not realize that you’re an extraordinarily good poker player. This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise as we’re listening to the conversation when you think about it, but I was wondering, can you give us a bit of an insight? Tell us a bit about your poker. I know you’ve played some tournaments and I know you’ve had some astoundingly good wins there. Talk us through a bit about that. How did you get into poker? What was it that attracted you to poker?
Nauv:

I think poker came from back in the uni days. Late nights, procrastinating instead of studying, switching on the TV and watching poker games, and I guess getting addicted to the strategies and the suspense and everything that was involved with that. I guess my first throw of the dice with real money was one night at a casino. It was with a bunch of mates and I went to the casino in Brisbane Treasury. I had $100, which $100 to me was an astronomical amount of money as a student and for us. I was with some friends and they egged me on to have a go. They knew I was a bit interested. We played a little, a few fun games together as friends. I whacked this $100 down and I thought, “Oh, yeah, you’ll give it a go,” and 3 to 4 hours later, with the friends on the rails backing me on and the rest of it, I walked away with $1,100 that night, which, if $100 was an astronomical amount of money, you can imagine how much $1,100 was.
Jesse:

Yup.
Nauv:

The funny thing was, when I got better at poker and got more experience and started playing in bigger tournaments, I look back at my play that night and some of the key hands that came up, and I realized just how bad I played them and how lucky I’d actually gotten. It was a good reality check, but for me, I guess that’s what spurred it on. I don’t know, if I had lost that initial time, I don’t know if I ever would have played again, but that certainly peaked my interest. Just a continuation from that story, the very next week, I went and lost that entire $1,000 playing poker, but I was hooked from that point on.
Jesse:

Yeah, gamble responsibly, people, just for the sake of the disclaimer. Interesting, though, Nauv, because what I’m really interested in is understanding the parallels between poker playing and business. I’m sure there’s got to be some good lessons in there. Tell us a bit about the relationship of risk. Tell me what your thoughts are around that.
Nauv:

I guess with poker in my very, very initial days, it was still while I was at uni. That first story was very early on in uni, and then it evolves a bit. I played a lot of poker through uni when I first graduated as a dentist and I’ve been playing a lot since, but the key thing was, back then, I didn’t understand risk and I didn’t understand risk to the extent that I needed to. I lost a lot of money initially, like a lot of people that first get into poker do. When I say a lot, a lot in the context of my personal situation at the time, but I think I wasn’t understanding risk. Here I was, putting a lot of money in. $100, like I said, to me was a massive amount of money at that stage. That’s probably all the money I had in my wallet, and it was completely irresponsible of me to have gambled that $100 that night.
It turned out to be good, but I guess with risk, as a new practice owner or as someone starting out in ownership, I think it’s really important to have a good financial backing and understand that starting a practice is a massive risk. The more financial, I guess, backing you have under you, the more savings you have, the lesser the risk it becomes. As I said to you, between my first and second practices, there was almost 3 years of gap, and that was because I was establishing a really sound financial base such that once that was established and I’d had my second practice and the cash flow was there, I could afford to take risks.
Last year, we started I think 4 practices in the one year. 4 practices in one year is a massive risk, but it’s a calculated risk. It was a risk that I found some really good areas and they just happen to be at the same time. They’ve all turned out really well and things have gone well, but taking that risk without calculating the risks and without understanding the forces or the different dimensions around that risk could have been catastrophic. It paid off, but in the end, it was still a risk.
Jesse:

What I’m hearing you say is for those of us contemplating practice ownership, be sure to make sure you’re not betting the house or betting the farm in one play, so to speak.
Nauv:

Exactly right. Exactly right.
Jesse:

Don’t put your whole life on the line for this practice. If that’s what you need to do to start up, would you suggest delaying it for a little while, no?
Nauv:

Yeah. There’s a lot of strategies. Delaying, considering a partnership …
Jesse:

Partnership, yeah.

Nauv:

Yeah, there’s financing a greater portion of it, getting outside investors. Just, there’s a lot of different things you can do to ensure that even if the practice doesn’t turn out well that your personal life remains strong.
Jesse:

Yeah, so you’re minimizing your exposure.
Nauv:

Yes. Exactly right, yeah.
Jesse:

Cool. When you’re playing a hand of poker, and it is, as you indicated, the game of unknowns, you don’t know what everyone else has got, what filters do you have in place for thinking, “Okay, I’m going to play this hand or not”? What’s the decision-making process that you go through?
Nauv:

I think it’s actually a really interesting question. I was thinking about this the other day in terms of the parallels between poker and business I guess generally. When you’re playing a hand, poker is known as a game of unknowns, so incomplete information. I know the hand I have. I don’t know the hand of anyone else at the table. I know the cards the dealers placed in front of us all. They’re called the community cards. The only information I have about a particular player’s hands is how they act on those hands, so any physical mannerisms that that player may display when they’ve got a strong hand, stuff I commit to memory.

A lot of times, a player plays a hand a certain way, goes to what we call a showdown so in the end the players remaining in the pot reveal their hands. That allows you to see what they’ve got, but what you try to commit to memory is the way they played their hand, their betting characteristics, how much they bet, how quickly they bet, any physical characteristics, so their breathing increase, all that kind of thing.

Combining all that and committing it to memory, the next time you play a hand against that player, especially if they’re not a highly skilled player, you get an idea of a shortened range. Although you might not know their specific hand, you get an idea of the strength of their hand and you can make your bets accordingly.
I think the parallel to that in business is simply that business is also a game of incomplete information. You don’t know how the future is going to go. You don’t know how a particular marketing thing is going to go for you. You know basically that you’re interested in marketing a certain way, but you don’t know the result of that marketing. By researching and finding out about different aspects of that marketing venture that you want to embark on, you get a good idea of how it’s going to respond, so even if the worst-case scenario comes about, in anything in business, you have a good grasp of it and you can control it a lot more.
I think the big lesson is research the information. The more that you’ve got, I guess the less catastrophic the unknowns become. For me, if I’ve gotten a player in poker where it’s quite a large pot and I’ve determined that the player doesn’t have the best hand, then there’s 2 ways I can win that. I can win that pot from betting high and him folding, but if I know that I’ve got a better hand than him, then I want him to commit more money to the pot. Because of the information that I’ve gained through previous hands and the way that that player has played that hand, it can really allow me to control the situation a lot better. I think in business, it’s important that you have control of any situation that you’re in and it’s not just left to chance.
Jesse:

Interestingly around this, Nauv, that’s fascinating because it is such a study of the human condition and psychology, and not just the psychology but the physiology of it and all those things that go with it, but have you found those … I’m just curious to know. A random question. Have you found those poker skills translating in any way, for instance, negotiating leases or anything like that?
Nauv:

Yeah, definitely. I have a lot of friends that I help, friends and colleagues that I help around negotiating. The thing about negotiating is you hear the term used all the time in normal life and business. It’s, “Just call his bluff.” A lot of the time, when I’m negotiating with a potential landlord, I think back to poker. I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge from my poker playing days and applying that to business, and knowing, based on the actions that they’ve done, whether they’re serious about a certain offer, whether they’ve reached their limit, or whether you’ve got more room to negotiate, all that kind of thing. I think playing poker really allows you to get conditioned in the process of negotiation. There’s a lot of times in business where negotiations happen, so I think it’s helped a lot. Dealing with staff, dealing with other people that you do business with, and everything. Yeah, it’s been quite good in that way as well, I think.
Jesse:

Fantastic. Remind me not to get into too many negotiations with you, mate. Another question I have for you relating to poker is, you’ve got your hand there, and you’ve used all of your best intelligence, you’ve tried to understand what the other players are doing, and surely, there must come a time though when you’ve got to take that leap of faith. You’ve got to take a chance in either reveal your cards or fold or whatever it happens to be. What’s your thoughts about taking a chance, stepping into the unknown?
Nauv:

I think for me personally, I’ve got a personality that’s quite happy to take on risks, especially if I’ve calculated the worst case and I’m happy with the worst case. What I mean by that is I won’t get into a situation where I’ll take a risk on something where I feel the return is not going to be something that makes me very happy or where the loss is going to be something that makes me alarmingly unhappy. From that point of view, poker has helped.

Getting back to the hand-specific situation that you talked about, the other important thing around that though is, in poker, like in life, you can play a hand perfectly. At the end of the day, as I got more experienced with poker, I used to concentrate a lot on results. I used to think, “Okay, that day, I lost a lot of money, so I must have played really badly,” whereas because of the luck element in poker, you can have a situation where you play perfect poker all day, you make all the perfect decisions, you read players well, but the hands and the cards just don’t fall your way.

The problem that I find with people in life is that you could work hard at a particular job and you might not get that promotion, for argument’s sake, and they read too much into that, so they start to think that, “Oh, I’m a failure. I didn’t do things properly,” and they’re trying to learn a lesson where there’s no lesson to be learned. The important thing with poker as I got more experienced was realizing that I wasn’t … My wife and I used to go and stay at hotels I used to come back, and the first question she would ask me is, “How did you go?” My answer in the early days of playing poker was how I went financially, if I’d lost money, how I went, but as I’ve got more experienced, the answer became more about how I played, so the money was inconsequential. I could have lost a lot of money and played perfect poker, but I was more happy with myself because I played perfect poker.

In poker, they say there’s a 30% skill element and there’s a 70% luck element. In life, there’s a much, much smaller luck element, but the thing about luck is if I play the best poker I possibly can, everyone’s luck in the long run will equal out. It’s the skill element that will differentiate us. In life, as I said, there’s even a smaller luck element, so as long as you keep doing things the right way, as long as in business you keep making the correct decisions, and just because they don’t turn out well for you this time around, it doesn’t mean that they won’t. A lot of the time, when things don’t go well, people try to learn a lesson when there’s no lesson to be learned. If you think you’ve done the right thing and you can analyze things and assess that you have and things haven’t gone your way, well, you can put that down to a bit of unluckiness in that particular situation instead of learning a lesson that’s not meant to be learned. I think that’s important.

Jesse:

Yeah. Well, that’s a really good point. In spite of previous conversations that we’ve had around luck, I think we are on the same page. I just also have a view that the harder I work, the luckier I get. I guess one of the comments that I would make about luck just on that, and I think you’ve really covered it anyway, is doing the right consistently and putting in the work. One of the things I find when it comes to luck is people will blame bad luck when really, it could have been lack of preparation, lack of training, lack of whatever it happens to be. While I know that you attribute a portion of your success to having the cards fall the right way, I also find that there are some people who attribute their poor results to factors beyond their control when the reality is, in my view, there were plenty of things that they could have done to improve their odds of winning.

It goes both ways, of course. We’re probably singing from the same song sheet there, mate. What I’d really love just to understand, just as we wrap up the conversation around poker, is the concept of when you play poker, you get dealt a certain set of cards, a hand, and obviously, those are the cards that you play with, and same in life. We all get dealt a certain hand that we play. Do you have any view about making the best of what you’ve got, finding the enjoyment or finding the good in what there is already? It’s perhaps a little philosophical conversation perhaps, but … or even, how do you change the cards if you can in life?

Nauv:

I think my view might be a little more contrary to most people. Just going back to poker, in poker …
Jesse:

It’s certainly not, mate.

Nauv:

Basically, the best players or the players that do the best in poker are the players that play the least hands. What I mean by that is, a good day of poker playing, typically, you should be folding or getting rid of between 80% and 90% of your hand, so you should only be playing with 10% or 20% of your hand. I think the application to that in life and in opportunities is … I had a lot of people that come to me, and 2 months ago, they made the decision that they wanted to look into practice ownership, and all of a sudden, they’ve got a practice to buy and it’s the one their heart is set on. It’s the very first practice they looked at, and there’s nothing good about that practice other than the fact that they think that there’s no other practices out there and this is the one for them. I think in poker, the most successful players are only playing with 10% to 20% of the hands that they have, whereas …
Yeah, I think in business, there’s a lot of opportunities that walk through the door. You get 20 reps who see you in a year’s time trying to sell their products. There should only be a very small percentage of products that you actually buy. The same way as a new practice owner. You might have 10, 20 different locations come at you, but it’s about being patient and about sticking to what you know, sticking to I guess a set of principles that will guide how you look at different opportunities.

For example, in my talks on the weekend, I went through location selection and gave the attendees an idea of what makes a perfect location. If they follow that, I’m convinced that they have half the battle won in respect to choosing a location, but the issue following that is there’s going to be many locations that come at them that they’re going to have to just refuse and just say, “No, that’s not good. That’s not a good location. My practice is going to be on the back foot from day one if I start in that area.” I think, yeah, poker and life have a lot of parallels, and that’s yet another one, I think.

Jesse:

Yeah, that’s a fantastic story. If I can just build on it for a moment, one of my very earliest business mentors back when I was in my 20s early, early on, he used to say to me, “Jesse, the opportunity a lot of the time comes along about once a week, and you’re going to need to learn to say no to the things.” This is a comment that, again, we’ve discussed on the forum in an abstract way last night, but it’s about designing a life where you have some filters where most of the stuff that comes across your desk, you’re going to have to refuse. It seems to me, that’s the same way with poker as well, is you’re going to carefully select the hands, you’re going to pick your handful, and then play them, and leave the rest. I really think that one of the problems that dentists have is, as a rule, dentists tend to bounce around like pinballs looking from one opportunity to the next, and I think that’s a problem.

Nauv:

Yeah, and it’s a problem. In poker, when I get impatient and play a hand that I should really let go of, that’s when problems arise. That’s when I can lose all my money and things like that. I think the practical application of that is if you get bored of waiting, you start to take more risks, and a lot of those risks are unnecessary risks, so it’s really important that being patient is a lesson, I think.

Jesse:

Which is a beautiful segue into cricket. Really random, I know, but, yeah, I know you’re a cricket fan, and I am, too. I was just thinking, as you described that, that reminds me of Glenn McGrath bowling ball after ball after ball, just short of a good length, just outside off the stump, and the batsman, he’s boring the batsman into taking a risk, right?

Nauv:

Yes, exactly right.

Jesse:

It’s exactly the thing. Then they do something rash, and all of a sudden, they’re caught in the slips, and bingo, he’s got his wicket. From the batsman’s point of view, it’s about shot selection, and it’s the same thing in poker, the same thing in business. It’s all about waiting for the right opportunity and capitalizing on it when it approaches.

Nauv:

When it does come.

Jesse:

Yeah, and being prepared for it, too.

Nauv:

Yeah. Even Glenn McGrath, as good as he was, if you were a patient batsman, he’s going to bowl a bad ball, but if you … I guess the beauty of Glenn McGrath was he had the batsman in such a defensive mindset that it were just gun shy, so he would get away with the odd bad ball because they just weren’t ready to capitalize on the opportunity that he presented when it came. I guess the other parallel from that is to ensure that although you had a run of bad luck, all these bad locations have come across your desk and none of them are being good, when the right one comes along, make sure you’re using the same filters so that you can actually see that it’s the right opportunity. Yeah, I think there’s a lot to it with all sports, I guess, and business.

Jesse:

Fantastic. Listen, Nauv, I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming on the show tonight. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you here, mate, and sharing all your lessons, all your wisdom, and all your insights over the last how many years you’ve had in this business and starting those 11 practices. There’s so much more that we could go into, but we might save that for another episode. Again, mate, on behalf of all the listeners here tonight, thank you so much for being so generous with your time. I really appreciate it, mate. You’re a gem.

Nauv:

No, thanks a lot, Jesse. I’ve really enjoyed it. Thanks very much.

Jesse:

Cool. Thanks, man. Bye.

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