An American dentist and a British dentist walk into a Zoom room at the start of the pandemic. The American shares how excited she is to meet another DeW! The British dentist agrees. The rest is history…
It is not every day that you meet someone who will be your best friend and business partner. We began our journey as friends with a mutual passion for wellbeing, self-care, and mental wellness. We are so aware and grateful for the fantastic fortune that brought us together. So we want to share with you what it is like to spend some time behind The Mint Door with two women who are friends first and business partners second.
I can’t believe where the last two years have gone! Who would have imagined the magic put into motion when Anne Duffy introduced us at the start of 2020. We were two women who had recently left careers as dentists, and we had both moved our families long distances. Mine across the Atlantic Ocean and yours across the country. What do you remember about when we first met?
Wow! It has been two years since we entered that Zoom room together! I remember Anne’s words, “I have someone you just have to meet!” Then I remember how comfortable and refreshing our first conversation was. I immediately felt like we had been friends for a long time as we shared our unique stories with so many similarities, and I just knew that we would be having many more conversations in the future.
One word that sums up that first conversation is ‘authentic’. I think that’s the magic that we had been searching for in our careers as dentists that we could never quite find; honest conversations about real feelings, challenges, and wins. How do you feel our discussions have led us onto the path we are on?
Our conversations are always real. We never hide what we are thinking or feeling, and we have created a safe space where we are both open (and comfortable) to be vulnerable. There is never any judgment between us, and we are always honest. The authenticity you mention has allowed us to live in alignment with our values, both as individuals and business partners.
I love so many things about the way we work together. One element that makes me smile is how we always start our meetings five minutes after the start time. We understand how busy life can be and always need extra time. So instead of feeling rushed, we give ourselves that space. The 5-minute rule is an example of creating something that allows us to be ourselves. Can you share your experience working together?
Yes! I love that we both allow each other that extra 5-minutes of wiggle room! (I always need it!) And you’re so right, Karen. It does let us not just be ourselves but also celebrate our unique gifts.
A big part of being a DeW is discovering your unique strengths and learning how to use them in your life. (Thank you, Valerie Menzel and Leanne Burnett, for your help here!) I believe our strengths complement each other, which is one of the reasons we work so well together.
We are strategic, which means we can distill complexity into simple steps and get things done. I love your futuristic strength because I feel like it balances my intellection strength well. You are superb at peering into the future and coming up with new ideas with a ‘let’s do it’ attitude. Your futuristic strength feeds into my desire to exercise my brain and helps push me out of ‘let me analyze this forever’ mode and into ‘let’s do it’ mode!
How do you feel our strengths complement each other?
I love seeing our strengths come to life when we tackle tasks and take on new roles. We are a great mix of similar strengths that complement each other. You have an incredible talent for technology and social media, which can easily overwhelm me. Understanding our Clifton Strengths has allowed us to quickly and intuitively assign what we each do. It’s a highly effective way for us to work. So while you focus on the technology, I can be focusing on the tasks that play into my strengths, as we learned at the DeW Retreat. “I have other gifts!”
There’s no doubt that the insight into our different strengths works to our advantage. I love that the diversity in our talents makes us stronger. However, our similarities and shared passions have driven us to follow our mission to support women in dentistry and the creation of The Mint Door. I love listening to how you describe how we conceived the idea for our partnership. Can you tell it again?
Oh, Yes, this is one of my favorite stories to tell. I love how it just evolved organically through several genuine conversations. You and I had already decided to develop a group coaching program when you visited me in Bend for a few days. We had just finished presenting our webinar highlighting the program and decided to go out to eat in celebration. We met up with another DeW (Julie Kellogg) and had a wonderful evening. We shared delicious food and genuine conversation. At one point, we all started discussing the digestive problems we had when we practiced dentistry. We were amazed that all of our stories were so similar! It felt so good to share our ideas, challenges, and triumphs.
The next day you and I walked around downtown looking for unique gifts you could bring home to your family. We were remarking how we enjoyed all of the great conversations of the visit and commenting that this was missing when we practiced dentistry. We often felt alone and had no one to have honest, vulnerable, or authentic conversations with.
That was the lightbulb moment! It didn’t exist when we were practicing, but we could create it now—a private member’s club for women dentists. A bespoke and custom-made space where they could feel comfortable just being themselves.
The following day you woke up early and got busy on your iPad brainstorming. I remember how excited you were to show me your ideas. Maybe you can describe how we decided on the name and details of The Mint Door.
Yes! Inspiration is a beautiful thing! For me, I experience it as an energizing and exciting feeling. One that flows around my mind and body, and it does tend to wake me up early in the mornings!
Once more, we started with values but with our members’ club in mind. We had a solid base on which to build with these in place. We considered what our members are experiencing right now, the conversations they have kept quiet until this point, and how they want to feel due to being in the group. It was so important that we could create a space where women dentists feel comfortable, safe, and confident to be themselves away from the professional face of everyday dentistry. We know what it is like to be a woman in dentistry, and we have seen how it can be different. It is something we strive to share.
Imagine having the keys to unlock a life you want and need for yourself. We have the keys to achieving that life, so we thought about a door. We want to open that door for women dentists. The inspiration for the door’s color came from the freshness of mint and its close relation to dentistry.
As we created our new concept, we not only considered what the club would mean for our members, we also thought carefully about what The Mint Door would mean for our lives too.
We carefully curated the concept of The Mint Door to live in harmony with our values. Every decision we make always comes back to our values of family, friendship, balance, service, and joy. (Oh yes, and a love of dogs and alpacas!)
We knew we could turn to the DeW community, so we reached out to two DeWs that are business partners, Melissa Turner and Sonya Dunbar, and asked for their guidance. Shortly after visiting with them, we decided a big part of The Mint Door would be collaboration. Leaning on the value of abundance, The Mint Door will continually highlight other amazing women who offer something that can enhance the wellbeing of women dentists.
Every day we are inspired by so many astounding women, and we want to make sure as many women dentists as possible know who they are and how they can elevate their lives!
Now that I think about it, this brings me right back to Anne Duffy and the spirit of DeW. Anne lives and breathes the DeW movement of inspiring, highlighting, connecting, and empowering all women in dentistry. Because of her, we met, and so ultimately, she set the stage for the birth of The Mint Door!
Karen and Laura:
We are incredibly grateful for the DeW community and their support. We have harnessed our strengths, which have allowed us to grab onto our dreams as we both realized our purpose: to support other women dentists. The Mint Door is the space that every woman dentist craves. It is a home where she can be herself, focus on her wellbeing, gain wisdom, and establish wonderful connections. In essence, The Mint Door is the missing link to her total wellbeing.