Career Corner: A chat with the Frequent Flosser

June 18, 2012
Will Lien, RDH, offers his advice on dental hygiene careers for RDH eVillage.

Will Lien, RDH

RDH eVillage interviews dental hygienists who are passionate about their careers for Career Corner. These profiles are crafted to inspire you to reach your full potential. For this issue, we chatted with Will Lien, RDH, who created the Frequent Flosser website. Lien can be contacted at [email protected].

RDH eVillage: Tell us a little about you educational background and current business.

Lien: I’ve spent most of my adult life in a dental office. I’ve worked as a RDH for the past 5 years. Currently, I’m working full time as the creator and author of www.FrequentFlosser.com.

RDH eVillage: What is your success secret?

Lien: I would have to say setting small daily goals has been my secret to life and any successes I have had up to this point. Goals help me stay focused on the mission at hand and helps me prioritize my time. I’ve learned that it’s the accumulation of these small tasks that eventually compound and helps you create the life you want to live.

RDH eVillage: What strengths or qualities have helped you excel?

Lien: I think a few qualities have helped me excel in my life. First of all, the mindset of being a servant has been the most significant. When I began paying more attention to serving others is when my life really started to change. I learned to serve the dental hygiene patients as best I can and this service mindset trickled into my personal life.

Secondly, hard work is a prerequisite for doing anything meaningful in life. Running a business is hard work as there’s a lot of skills to learn. I have more respect for all the dentists I’ve worked with in the past and anyone brave enough to start their own business because of my current experience running a web-based business.

Lastly, a commitment to continually learn has really helped. I remember saying in my dental hygiene admissions interview at San Joaquin Valley College that the one thing I’ve learned so far in life is that I know nothing. It’s still true today.

RDH eVillage: What’s the biggest issue hygienists face today?

Lien: I think the biggest challenge that dental hygienists face today (especially in the U.S.) is the global economic woes. So much of dental care is dependent on dental insurance (which is dependent on employment) that I am concerned about the dwindling number of patients accepting treatment in the dental office. The current economic woes the world is facing in addition to the growing supply of dental hygienists is making the job market (in the U.S.) much more competitive.

RDH eVillage: What is the best business/career advice you have ever received?

Lien: This is a challenging question as there have been so many people who have influenced me.

Through Guy Kawasaki in his book, “The Art of the Start,” I learned to “make meaning”; business is more than just about money. I also learned from this book that a business can be a tool to help others and add value to their lives.

Through Robert Kiyosaki’s books I learned that sales is the fundamental skill any business owner must have; again, business is about more than just money.

Through Zig Ziglar’s materials I learned that the key to life and business is to give first and expect nothing in return.

RDH eVillage: How and/or when did you get the entrepreneur itch?

Lien: The funny thing is I never really wanted to be a businessman. I went into the dental field just wanting to help my patients improve their oral health.

I think I developing the entrepreneurial itch was an evolutionary process for me; it was more than just one event.

The first event that triggered the “itch” was the financial crisis in 2007/2008. I saw my parent’s friends struggle due to businesses and investments gone awry. I read stories of people from around the country who were about to retire but suddenly had to go back to work, delay retirement, or have their standard of living drastically reduced. I learned that “learning to fish” would help reduce this risk.

Guy Kawasaki’s book (as mentioned above) made me realize that a business was more than just a money-making venture; I used to only equate business with money in the past. Mr. Kawasaki’s “make meaning” mantra became permanently ingrained in my mind because I realized I could help change the world by running my own business. If you’re new to business I would highly recommend this book — I’ve already lent my copy to another RDH as she is starting her business.

Then the “itch” really hit after going on my first dental mission (my first international trip as well). During that trip I learned that people all over the world need the dental community’s help. I was appalled to learn that many of these patients had never gotten their teeth cleaned and didn’t even know that sugar causes cavities. The calculus, gross decay, and lack of dental education I saw on this trip made me think of ways I could help more.

So the business I’m currently running is to help dental hygienists with their communication challenges as well as free up more time so I can volunteer my dental hygiene knowledge and skills.

RDH eVillage: In service to the profession, please tell us about your products and or services.

Lien: Currently my website, www.FrequentFlosser.com, is the main product/service I am currently providing to the dental hygiene community. The site is focused on developing communication skills to help dental hygienists “navigate the dental hygiene communications maze.”

The sales eBook I provide for free on my blog is a sneak preview to a book I have just recently completed writing; I’m just waiting for pictures to be taken and final book design to be completed. I also provide mentoring/consulting services for anyone interested.

I have a couple of other projects that I am working on so keep checking back on the blog for updates!

RDH eVillage: What are your best life/work balance tips?

Lien: Wow! These questions are really making me think!

There’s a few tips I’d like to share on the life/work balance subject.

The first tip is sometimes you get out of balance — and that’s OK. Starting a business, learning new skills, or transitioning into a new job/career can take you out of balance but eventually you should get the balance back. It’s kind of like the pH buffering action of saliva. Sometimes, the pH gets too low or too high but eventually it should revert back to normal.

The second tip I’d like to share is to surround yourself with like-minded people; people who want to do similar things that you want to do. This way it’s easier to work hard because you’re getting life and work relationships taken care of at the same time. This is especially true if you can volunteer some of your time to the community; you get a sense of fulfillment helping others in need and you’re working hard!

The last tip is to enjoy the moment. This is definitely easier said than done but when you focus on the present moment you are truly living. Whether you’re having fun with friends and family or working hard serving your dental hygiene patients’ needs if you’re in the moment the time you spend relaxing or working become more significant and meaningful.

RDH eVillage: What is one thing most people do not know about you?

Lien: One thing most people don’t know is I read 52 books in 2011 and am on pace to read 60 in 2012. The learning never stops.

RDH eVillage: What do you do to relax and feel rejuvenated?

Lien: I like to read, travel, and work on my landscape photography. Recently, it’s been more challenging to relax and feel rejuvenated but hopefully I will get to soon.

RDH eVillage: Do you have a favorite quote/book and or movie?

Lien: So many to choose from but one of my all time favorite quotes is from Lao Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Just start what you want to do in your career and life — begin the adventure!

A favorite movie of mine that makes more and more sense as I get older is “The Matrix” and “Office Space.” I’d go into the philosophical reasons why I enjoy these movies but it would take too long!

RDHeVillage: How do you define success?

Lien: Success to me these days means to live a life of passion and freedom through service.