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February 2009 Archives

February 10, 2009

Six Lessons in Six Decades

Hello Folks,

I can’t believe the time has come but I recently turned the final marker of my 50s to the big “60”. I have to say that I’m proud to be here. I feel as though I’ve earned every grey hair. And, I’m in good company with those that have survived some of the most significant mile markers –Neil Armstrong taking a first step on the moon, the uprise of the personal computer, the demolishment of the Berlin Wall, and the most recent - inauguration of President Barack Obama, a new kind of visionary and the first African American to become our president – to name a few. It’s really overwhelming to think of how important these and other events occurring in my lifetime have been.

On an individual basis, we bring value through the insights gained from events that surround us. It seemed like good timing to share in a condensed version six (one for each decade) of some of the more important lessons I’ve learned. As you can imagine, in six decades one acquires many useful lessons and beyond what is practical to share here. The six I share will occur in separate entries along with a brief history or story showing some of why they are so important.

First Lesson: Family is the true foundation of our core. It supports us in everything we do.

I hold invaluable the quality values and work ethic I learned from my mother and father. Although their belief in a fanatical religion and my stand against its goofy leader has limited communication with them, I still love, care and appreciate my parents and other family members for all the quality lessons they helped me learn. I did come to realize however that I needed to pay priority attention to those I’d participated in bringing upon this earth, namely my own children. I am thankful every day for having come to this realization.

My birthday dinner this past weekend was a “Thanksgiving feast”, complete with the turkey and all the trimmings. It truly was a day of thanks for me because of the loved ones that surrounded me. The room was full with the chatter of some 25 young children (mostly grandchildren) of all ages plus most of my adult children and their spouses. As I reflect on the many untold stories that occur daily and throughout the years, in addition to the honor of being a father and grandfather to so many wonderful and talented humans, I feel like the most blessed (or lucky) guy in the world. I only hope that my teachings, and most importantly through living by example, that my bride Leenie and I can enable my children to also feel thankful for having learned quality values and a work ethic. And speaking of being thankful, I’m thankful for how Leenie makes all of my family members who choose to be with us feel so welcome.

Without family, Ultradent would not exist. It was because of my family coming together and working hard that Ultradent got off the ground. I believe to my bootstraps that when families work together, solving problems and driving through solutions which requires hard work, they grow stronger and many times closer. Furthermore, I often say that if you do nothing more than teach your children two things, namely quality values and a work ethic, they can become or obtain anything in life they choose. It is the family foundation that causes us to strive at Ultradent, albeit with over 800 employees, to maintain family values.

In a larger sense, history and contemporary evidence shows that small family businesses are fundamental to the health and quality of a free economy. Sadly, loosing sight of them, or causing their demise as probate taxes often does at the death of the founder(s) is one of the greatest “lost opportunities” that occurs in our country today. I hope I live to see this corrected in my lifetime and before turning the finale marker of my 60s.

Thank you,

February 16, 2009

Lesson #2: Small ideas can lead to big opportunities.

I never imagined how a small family business born in the basement of our home could sprout to a global operation. I think it critical that a sense of direction is determined as soon as possible however. As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else”. Additionally, it is so important to establish, maintain and build on a culture that attracts good people. For sure, Ultradent has not been built by Dan Fischer alone. It is the result of many quality, brilliant and hard-working people who have contributed to the end goal for years. By having quality people come together and align their values and work ethic towards a common goal, amazing things can happen. We now have quality colleagues in Ultradent offices in Japan, Brazil, Italy, and Germany and yes, here in the US. I feel fortunate every day that we have been able to attract and keep “in the family” so many fabulous people all over the world. I look forward to being in there swinging it out with them as I turn the finale marker from my 60s. After all, why should one retire from what one is enjoying especially if knowing it makes a difference for others? Small ideas, even later in life, can still make a difference.

February 23, 2009

Lesson #3: Learn from your mistakes.

Dealing with mistakes professionally can provide a healthy “awakening for the soul” which may also help us remain humble. While I understand that I have mistakes ahead of me, I’ve learned that when mistakes are made, it is most important to apologize and compensate if needed. The next step is to make sure the mistake is not repeated.

Learning to apologize even if one believes they’re partially right, can be liberating. It lifts a load off one’s shoulders and brings fruitless debates and hurt feelings to an end. It can be a fabulous point to build from and often provides an opportunity to develop a better relationship with the other person.

It’s also good to laugh at yourself for certain mistakes (when it’s not inappropriate or disrespectful, of course). When those who surround us or even answer to us discover that we’re human, it connects us to a large degree with being genuine. And besides, some of the best laughs result from our own silly little mistakes.

Mistakes sometimes require compensation. I learned in my early years to beat my patient to the punch by offering to redo something they didn’t like. In the grand scheme of life and business, a few replaced crowns or even thousands of dollars if larger mistakes are made, become “pennies” in light of a relationship that continues to grow.

Albert Einstein once said: “Make new mistakes”. I do believe that if one is pushing through new frontiers, even going places humans haven’t gone before, mistakes will be made. To this end, I hope to be making new mistakes as I turn the finale marker of my 60s.


About February 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Dr. Dan Fischer's Blog in February 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2008 is the previous archive.

March 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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