The 2018 Golden Girls cruise was a huge success! I find myself looking forward to the 2019 edition but while also reflecting on how this event sprouted from a casual conversation with none other than Linda Miles in the first place
Linda and I are approximately the same age and first met each other in the mid-1980’s at a national convention in Toronto, Canada. I was presenting in the morning and she was the keynote speaker in the afternoon.
We really connected in the brief time we spent together, to the point that Linda suggested I consider becoming a consultant full time. While intrigued, the life of a road warrior was not for me. So our careers went in different directions, though they always remained connected by our passion for dentistry.
Back then, we did not have social media to stay connected. Now that we do, it provides a wonderful platform to reconnect with people from our past. FaceBook allowed Linda and I to reconnect years after we first met.
When Linda announced her “retirement” from speaking on FaceBook two years ago, I reached out to offer my congratulations on a marvelous and impactful career. And I noted that, like myself, she would never “fully” retire.
While Linda agreed with that statement to some extent, she did feel it was time for her to slow down. She also felt that she had enjoyed the “golden years of dentistry” and that the rapid change in technology, corporate growth and other disruptive influences added to her sense that the time to move on was now.
I understood what Linda was saying. However, I observed that with proper guidance, today’s dentists may be entering the “platinum age”. Intrigued by this concept, Linda asked me to explain further.
I offered that it is harder to operate a profitable practice today than in years gone by. Today’s dentists are facing greater competition for patients, higher costs to maintain a modern practice and higher debt loads upon graduation from dental school.
This is where the platinum analogy came in. Platinum is far more rare and harder to find than gold. Thus, it is more valuable. It may be more challenging to create a “platinum” dental practice today, but those that make that effort to achieve it may be rewarded with much greater financial success than their colleagues.
Linda was fascinated by my analogy so I suggested we bring together women who had also lived through the golden years to go on a cruise to discuss how to move dentistry from the those years and into the “platinum age”. If you know Linda, you know she loves to cruise…she loved the idea and told me I should organize it.
I set out to organize an informal gathering of ladies to sit by the pool on a cruise ship, sipping wine or some other colorful cocktail suitably resplendent with a small umbrella, while informally chatting about our perspective on dentistry.
But Linda had other ideas.
One day, she advised me she had 13 women interested in joining us. Combined with my 4, we had 17 people in total! Not the casual chat around the pool I had envisioned. So I received Linda’s blessing to bring my son, Shawn, along to help organize the logistics and scheduling.
Shawn worked with the cruise ship staff to keep us on time and while making sure we arrived where we needed to be when we needed to be there. He was our event organizer, MC and male servant all wrapped into one.
Fortunately, the women on the inaugural Golden Girls of Dentistry cruise accepted his presence and allowed him to take on a more active role organizing the 2018 event. With a full year to plan, the second cruise was even better than the first with lots of positive feedback from the attendees.
It provided a great opportunity for female consultants to discuss some of the issues facing all dental consultants, regardless of gender. But it also provided a small, intimate atmosphere for these women to share their unique experiences and vulnerabilities…to truly discuss being a woman in an industry that, for years, was just another extension of the “man’s world”.
As consultants, we work in such states of isolation and can be so busy running from one office or speaking engagement to the next. It can be difficult to find the time to just stop and learn from each other. The Golden Girls of Dentistry provides us with that opportunity to break past that isolation and harness the creativity of some powerful female minds and make us ALL better.
When we make each other better, we can make the world of dentistry better. The more we share, the more we care. I hope the Golden Girls can play a small role in helping us all care just a bit more for each other and for all of our dental colleagues.