Friday, March 7, 2008

Frank Spears (continued)

Cliff notes from Wednesday.
I love Frank Spears. He makes tough dentistry look easy.
I had a case that I worked up. Face bow, CR record, mounted models. Then my dad and I were stumped on how to proceed.
I thought I have spend over (between my father and I) $20,000 on hearing his lectures, I will bend he ear the next time I see him, which I knew would be in a couple of weeks.
I brought my articulator carring case with the chart to the lecture. I know, I looked real cool.

Now if you have ever seen Dr. Spear it is like a concert. At least in Orlando, there is a stage and a backstage. It is not like before the lecture he is hanging out with the little people. He is hanging out in the "green room". When it is time to start he comes from behind the curtain and he welcomes us and tells us where he ate his steak the night before.
Because he is not available before his lecture I felt like for sure I could catch him at lunch.
Now it is $1400 to see his lecture. Always in Orlando it is a packed house, about 300 people.
Do the quick math.
Included is muffins and coffee in the morning and a pretty nice lunch, both days.
Carry the one, about $300,000 a weekend for Dr. Spear. Not a bad gig.
Lets say I am uninformed, and don't realize the overhead, and he somehow ONLY pulls in $150,000. Still a pretty good weekend.
At the beginning of his lectures he tells us that there is not really time for questions and answers because of time. Now, I totally get this, you can have people totally monopolizing a lecture because they don't understand a point. Then this question opens the floor and everyone has a question. 45 minutes later you have answered everyones questions. So how he handles this is, at the break, he tells you to write you question on a sheet of paper and put them on the stage. Then he will address all the questions when we all return from a break (and or lunch).
So because he was so elusive I put a note on the pile. It says, "I am having some trouble formalating a treatment plan for a patient of mine. I brought all the xrays and study models. Do you think you could please help me. I promise not to keep you long."

So I thought he might say during his answer session, but he didn't mention it. He has some staff that usually hangs out outside the lecture hall. I told them what I did and they said, "No, he won't see you." Okay, no problem. I said, "Do you think I could email him and send him some pictures and we could just exchange some emails?" "No, they said. He doesn't take emails from dentists that he doesn't know."
I asked is there anyway I could get someone to help me with a question I was having.
They said you can try his associate.
That sounded okay with me.
I emailed his associate. Nothing in return.
Now don't get me wrong, I think the guy is a great dentist and I don't know what it is like to be him.
He has put a second to none lecture series together and I would still pay to go see it.
He is probably rich beyond his normal audience. In one of his lectures he speaks about all his cars. He has an exotic car collection, but another thing he collects is ex-wives (3 I think. I know low blow). But how can you not come done to the level of your audience? The people that afford you to have your exotic cars and ex-wives. It is like pro atheletes. If you make $250,000 a game, I would think they would be greeting people at the door signing autographs.
One time I was at his lecture and he says he is practicing 4 days a month. Now how can he not have 5 minutes to talk to me?
I once went to a lecture for lecturers and they said the first rule is make yourself available at breaks, lunch and after. Don't make your flight such that you can't make yourself available to your audience.
"I made $150,000 this weekend, I have got to go."
Last thing, he said in one of his lectures that he had this patient from Texas (he practices in Seattle). He gave this guy his treatment plan, it was $80,000. The guys says I know you are good great dentist but do you think I could get the veneers done by my regular dentist and then you can do the other stuff?
Frank says, NO.
So the guy thinks about it for a month or two and calls Dr. Spear and says, "Okay, I will do all of it with you."
Frank tells him, "No,thank you. You had your chance, now I won't treat you."

Like I said, I don't know what it is like to be Frank Spears but I am starting to think I don't want to. I love the guy as a dentist. I am not so sure I like the guy as a person anymore.

End of blog.

I have some questions for you and I need your participation....
Can you please answer? It will help me move forward and give you the entertaining blogs that you see today.

Do you visit any other blogs (it won't hurt my feelings, are relationship has not moved in this direction, YET)?
Do you have a desire to comment on this blog and don't?
Is the commenting process get in the way of commenting?
If you don't want to leave the answers in the comment section just email me.

Or if you have a topic you want me to talk about...let me know.
Don't forget to register for the AGD in Orlando. My stomping grounds. We can do lunch.


Buckeyedental said...

Dear John
I also have great respect for Frank Spear. I consider Pete Dawson and the Dawson Center, and Frank Spear, have been big influences on how I practice dentistry. When I have filled out the reviews after the lectures for Spears I have mentioned it would be nice if he mingled with us a little. Drs. Dawson, Misch, and most others are always available. I have heard that at Spears' workshops in Seattle you get more personal interaction with him. I would like to do them but at $6500.00 plus time out of the office I have a a hard time justify it. Though I know they would be great (or better be).

I know that you went through Pankey try to find someone else to take a look at the case.

Good Luck.
Kim Shaw

YOUTH said...

I've read all of your blogs... and enjoy them. The only other online "dental" website I visit is Dental Towne which I just discovered and love.
Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I think you're doing a great job - I love hearing more about everyday dental life.

Don't let the fact that not everyone comments slow you down. I blog almost daily and get maybe one comment/email a day but I know they're reading. Keep it up!

goostardmd said...


Keep up the good work! I've subscribed to your blog and have tried to promote it with friends and at our recent state and regional meeting.

I especially enjoy the ones (like these last two) where you put yourself out there for people to deal with. I can't believe it's actually still on the website!

See you in Orlando.

Anonymous said...


It will take time to garner the audience. I am sure at one time Dr. Spears did not have 300 people at his lectures. Slow growth. Like the market.

Like anything I am learning how to "use the blog" at it is getting easier to post things.

As for your Dr. Spears comments I and I am sure everyone else knew where they were going. For $1 to $1400, a lecturer SHOLD ALWAYS make themselves available. ALWAYS. They are the reason you are there. I wished I could tell you send me your models and case, etc. but not sure I would know what to do with the facebow. At least you use it still. That has got to count for something!

Just keep writing John. It make not seem worth the effort, but others do take notice and drip by drip, the bucket will become full of water (bloggers). Stay the course young man, stay the course!

One suggestion is you might see if there is a way a guest blogger could start a n internal blog inside yours on something they want to add to the mix. Or would that be like you stopping Dr. Spears during his lecture? Hmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

He is an excellent lecturer and in the smaller courses you actually can present your cases and get great feedback. There is no way he could get a lecture done if he had to be interrupted by everyone who wanted a piece of him. I've tried too, but now realize he has to limit access or he'd be less effective.

Spend the money and go to the limited courses...they now cost more than $6500, but one a year should work into your budget. The courses have really changed my practice and enjoyment of the profession.

M. Zuk

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog, John. Dr. Spear is quite a gifted and astute clinician from what I know. Here is my biased opinion. If you are looking for comprehensive, science-driven courses, check out John Kois at the Kois Center. He insists you call him John, takes all your questions and is extremely approachable. He and Frank Spear were partners at one time. I am told their "divorce" helped propel each one to greatness.
I use something from Kois everyday in practice and it has changed the way I think and practice.


gatordmd said...

Dr. Zuk and Ken,
I appreciate you commenting.
I understand the plight of a lecturer who is popular. I understand there are 300-600 people in the audience. I understand how cumbersome it might be to get to know some of them.
Why would I spend $6500 just so I could get the guy to acknowledge my existence.
"Oh, he will be nicer to you if you fly out to see him and spend the big bucks to be in an exclusive group"
I don't think so.
Now to Ken's comment. I have seen "John" Kois a number of times. I liked him. I liked him alot.
I kind of get a good vibe from him. The call me "John" thing is so up my alley.
I would spend the money to sit in a room with this guy.
Dr. Dawson who is another dude that is up there is the same way.

Dr.Z do you see the difference?
Would it be great to sit in a room with Dr. Spear and pick his brain and learn from him? OH YEAH it would.
But I just don't think I want to.
I will do it with John and Pete.


Anonymous said...


I like your reasoning--think it's spot on. There are lots of folks I could learn from but few I really want to and still fewer that have something meaningful to contribute.

I just checked out Spear's three-day Mastery coures in Seattle. Attending one of these in 2009 is a cool $7000. I never imagined I would think the Kois Center is cheap but this makes it look like a good deal. One thing I really appreciate about the Kois Center is that it is the only post-graduate teaching center free from corporate or private financial support. Pretty remarkable in today's world of dental CE.

For me lack of ego, integrity, and pragmatism are key qualities that make me what to learn form someone. If the course is just a showcase of the presenter's skill and little else, I leave disgusted. The lecturer that shows the gorgeous single central that was sent to Zurich and redone multiple times just for the perfect presentation picture and makes you think it came out of the box that way, is disingenuous and not living in reality.

The more CE I take, it seems the more selective I become. Feel free to correct me, but I think there is a lot of junk CE out there.


Anonymous said...

To all,
I have completed the continuum at Pankey, went to all of Franks' hotel series, then the first FGTP 'in office' program. I was dissapointed so much, that it was so similar to his lecture. I take notes on a laptop, and did not start a new doc, only appended to the same hotel series.

As for John Kois, he is truly amazing. I will complete his series, and his teachings have an influence on me every day. what a difference. I feel everyone should do this. I will look no further.

The Pacific NW is far more contemporary, less dogmatic in my opinion than the SE part of our country. With John's philosophy, I have a reason for all of my decisions. Just do it, and you may have to get in line to do so!


gatordmd said...

Thanks Doug.
And I want everyone to know and to remember how much I love going to Dr. Spear's lectures. The guy is unbelievably talented and I still want to be the dentist he is.
But so far as I can tell many people like Dr.Kois' lectures and like the man.
Doug, where are you from and have you taken any of the Dawson series?
Talk to you later,

Anonymous said...

Tucson, AZ
I have not taken any of Pete's courses. I would likely not consider it.
I feel that Pankey has not kept up with esthetics (althought they have tried to make some progress there lately).
I am a believer in FGTP, as both Frank and John propose, then make the lower arch work.
Pete was with the Institute for many years, and I would be afraid he has too much PMS influence, but I could certainly be wrong here. Neraly everyone I talk to who has been to both PI, and Pete's, say they feel they got something from both.
Kois is another animal, completely. It is advanced level calculus. I do NOT feel it is dogmatic at all. In fact in changes, frequently (subtle differences).
You should go to Kois. I work very closely with a periodontist, and a orthodontist. I do almost exclusively adult restorartive/cosmetic, almost no kids. No surgical, no rct. Assuming you have a good relationshipo with your specialists, I would reccomend if at all possible, you take with you, your periodontist to John's first course, and your orthodontist to John's Occlusion 1.

gatordmd said...

So I just went to Kois' website.
He has like 11 different courses.
Where do you recommend starting?
Have you been to all of them? I mean you are talking $50,000.
That is not even talking about the loss of production.
But I do understand it is over a long period of time and it is great CE.
Recommend to me how you would start.
Help a brother out.

Anonymous said...

you have too much time on your hands!
I have completed 7 of the 9. I suggest you start with #1, take the periodontist. See if you feel John has something to offer you. I jumped to Occlusion 1, next, but then went back in order. Do it anyway you want.
I read a bit more of you...with your dad, a wonderful thing. but 27 hyg checks? Oh gosh.
I hope you have the ability to do things as many people consider ideal...such as seeing the new adult for the first time in a seperate consult area, and conducting a new client interview (yes, I did pick up alot at Pankey, this was one, and CRITICAL). Then some other day the NP sees the hygeinist, etc. consult even further down the road. I could be a lot busier these days, but I am doing dentistry I LOVE to do, and find I can make it as rewarding as I want to.
I found your blog by accident, and do not have time to keep up with it, but feel free to write me in your CE efforts.
One other thing, if you have not yet done so. Go to the AACD meeting for about 5 years in a row. When it is close, take your whole team. Budget for it, in your annual plan. I budget 20K/year in CE travel and tuition. Try to stick to it. Today might be THE day to select classes/workshops. You need to set your alarm early, as the best workshops fill up by the end of the first day. It is the most fun, enjoyble, upbeat meeting I have been to. I has no doubt propelled by esthetic skills immensely.

gatordmd said...

I am a Pankey Dentist. I don't know what that means anymore but I have completed 6 continuums.
I do spend 90 minutes with my New Patients and have a separate room for the Interview before the exam.
I almost never clean people on the first visit. Because we are doing a full perio workup during the exam.
As far as 27 checks. Well I might of exaggerated that number a bit.
We have 3 hygeniests and they see 8 patients a day. So if they all need checks that day...yeah it is a crazy day.
Thanks for the advice.
I have wanted to go to the AACD meeting...maybe this year I will.

Dorce said...

Reading all the comments is like everyone discussing who is the best quarterback in the NFL.
I see no mention of Gorden Christensen. Yet, he is consistently the most deserving and talented of clinicians and teachers. If you want style Pankey et. al are great - but if you want to be doing it in your office tomorrow Dr. C is the one. He is the quarterback of my educational foundation.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Christensen may be a great clinician, but lately he markets his institute over sharing any real clinical insights.

gatordmd said...

Agreed. The way it use to be is Spears and Christensen would book a hotel to speak in and it would be packed with out much marketing. But with the present economy you are noticing a bunch of advertising for all their courses.
I have noticed that Dr. Spears has lowered his price.
It is going to be interesting how these big $25 million facilities are going to stay afloat.
Thanks for the comment.

david ALLEMAN said...

Hi Everyone,
I just found your blog this morning. These comments are spot on. When dentists are looking for CE, they have so many choices! I have been a dentist for almost 32 years now. When I took the program at the Kois center 10 years ago there were only 4 courses. They changed the way I do dentistry for the better.
For the last six years I have been teaching dentists a new way to adhesively rebuild posterior teeth. It is called Biomimetic dentistry. My partners in this effort are Ray Bertolotti, Pascal Magne and Simone Deliperi. Check out

Unknown said...

Reminds me of a story. A friend of mine took the Misch courses. One of his hygienists used to work for Misch. The friends goes up to him after a lecture to relate the story to him and Misch couldn't give a shit less! There's a reason why these guys are on the lecture circuit and not in private practice. It's not because they are such nice guys.


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