Just over a decade ago, my business coach asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks.
At the time, I’d just been selected as a finalist for Global Female Entrepreneur of the Year for ActionCOACH, and I was excited about what I’d built and how I could continue to grow.
And then came the question.
It shifted my focus completely. It shaped me—and became the driver for all of my future decisions.
Thanks to this thought-provoking simple question, in the last 11 years, I’ve built dozens of computer labs, whiteboards and playgrounds for schools, treated thousands of kids for free in my dental practice, changed the lives of my teams, and built schools in Kenya. I’ve helped and inspired thousands of fellow colleagues to build healthy and profitable practices.
When I’m exhausted and want to crawl under a blanket with a bowl of ice cream, it’s this question that gives me the strength to show up.
And it’s all because my coach looked me in the eye and asked:
“What will your legacy be, Anissa? What will be your impact?”
How I began…
I built my startup practice from scratch after graduating from the University of Alabama. Seven years later, I sold it to move to Jamaica. No, I wasn’t retiring to live a life of luxury. In fact, the opposite.
My Jamaican husband had his own dream—to serve the people he had grown up with as an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. He had worked and studied for years in order to bring his skills back home and make an impact on his community.
I was equal parts excited and terrified. How would I fit in as an American in a new country? How would I make friends and build a business where I did not understand the culture?
At first, I took a job as an associate in an established practice; but after a few years, I was ready to open another startup of my own.
I had big ideas and a vision to revolutionize how dentistry was done—the technology and services we could provide patients would be cutting edge—and I knew exactly how I wanted to run the business.
We focused on delivering WOW experiences to our patients — and word spread quickly. After just a few years we were getting over 150 patients a month and were one of the highest producing practices on the Island.
I also was a founding member of a local study club that began educating fellow colleagues on interdisciplinary patient care and became obsessed with CE and doing complex cosmetic and restorative care, getting referrals from general dentists and specialists island-wide.
At the same time, I became obsessed with the business side of dentistry to understand how to build a powerful team of leaders and associates and scale profit margins so that my business could create lifetime passive impact?” recurring revenue of multiple tens of thousands a month independent of me.
What came next…
When my coach asked me, “What will your legacy be, Anissa? What will be your impact?” I thought long and hard, and I gave her an answer.
I wanted to write a book—to share my journey with other dentists and give them the tools to replicate my success in their own lives.
I just had one small problem.
Outside of my beautiful island home and my thriving community of patients, no one knew who I was. I wasn’t anyone special in the dental world. Even though I am a natural introvert, I’d have to get more visible to get my message out there.
I became the first female dentist podcaster.
Sitting at my desk to record my first episode was one of the scariest moments of my life. Every tiny sound in my office felt impossibly loud. My throat was dry, and I couldn’t remember anything I wanted to say.
My office manager told me afterwards, “It sounds like you’re reading from a script.”
Uh, yeah, because I was.
Part of me wanted to scrap that episode and forget all about podcasting, visibility and all of it. But my coach’s question poked at me.
“What will your legacy be, Anissa? What will be your impact?”
“It’s like riding a bike,” I told myself. “I’ll get better with practice. I just have to be consistent and move forward, one step at a time.”
So I did.
And as a podcaster, I was able to identify a huge need—to connect educators to dental colleagues.
Right around that time, Facebook released “Groups,” and I created the Dental Boss Movement group to connect industry experts to colleagues for community and collaborative conversations. This was one of the first groups in the industry and was in alignment with my vision of impact.
Before too long, other doctors started reaching out to me asking for coaching. That definitely wasn’t part of my plan, so I turned them all down. But a few—specifically Drs. Robert Malone and Saba Rizvi—were persistent, and they convinced me to launch my Executive Business Coaching and Facebook Marketing programs.
Success always brings new challenges.
One of my biggest challenges was learning how to build a virtual coaching business.
I couldn’t travel to teach and speak—I had kids and a practice to run.
Dentists weren’t exactly leaping into the virtual world, and the idea of virtual coaching didn’t feel natural to them.
I invested hundreds of thousands of dollars with mentors and coaches to understand how to build powerful programs where now over 2000 doctors and their teams could thrive even without in-person contact.
Email automation, software development, building support teams, and learning how to build programs with high impact returns and personal accountability that keep advancing practice owners to their next level of growth—I didn’t anticipate any of this when I was in dental school.
And then there was my marriage.
“Why do you need to spend all this time and effort, Anissa?” my husband asked. “You have a wildly profitable practice. What are you doing?”
Again and again, I explained, “It’s not about the money.”
Yes, I like earning money, but that’s never been my driver.
Legacy. Impact. Purpose.
My goal is to solve complex problems and provide solutions that improve people’s lives.
In my practice alone, I can help a few thousand people in Jamaica every year.
By serving other dentists, who can better serve their patients, I can impact hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.
The power of belief…
As women entrepreneurs, we hold the belief that we can change the world. Everything is possible once we know how.
We have learned to replace “I can’t” with “How can I?” and to learn through failure. We are resilient. We hire the best experts we can find to teach us how to reach even our most audacious goals, and we become their best students.
We implement, execute, and know that when we serve others hard, profit will follow. We know that the more money we make, the bigger impact we can have on the world. We also know that we will make mistakes—and we will learn from them and make our businesses better.
We grow by serving people hard.
As entrepreneurs, we look forward to our next steps. How do we serve our people harder? How do we serve more people and build more impact?
For me, what that looks like right now is…
• Continuing to build out my executive coaching programs and innovating to create new solutions to serve my fellow dentists so that they can turn around and serve their patients.
• Learning and exploring new platforms, such as Clubhouse, where, inside of the Dentists Club, thousands of dental colleagues are coming together from around the globe to connect, collaborate and communicate.
• Building higher level impact by speaking on more stages and building deeper relationships with other DeWs because when we surround ourselves with the right people success becomes inevitable.
What we do matters…
The road to success as a DeW is not a straight path. There are many hills and valleys, twists and turns, early mornings and sleepless nights. BUT… it is worth it. Focus on progress, not perfection.
In our front pocket, we have our friends, our family, perhaps even our spouse. But in our back pocket, we have our people, our tribe, our community. The people whom we can lean on and talk to about our businesses and our passion to serve.
Surround yourself with like-minded people who get you and believe in you. Our message matters. Our voice matters. Your impact is changing the world.