‘Doing well by doing good” is a phrase that was originally coined by Ben Franklin more than 200 years ago, but I hadn’t heard it until Henry Schein’s Stanley Bergman said it during a Give Kids A Smile event I attended in New York. I’ve heard the phrase uttered plenty since then, and I’ve just taken part in the 2006 Leadership Forum at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine where the theme revolved around Ben’s powerful statement.
For a day and a half, I sat among some of the best and brightest leaders in the dental industry as topics such as access to oral care and the changing face of the American population were discussed. No, we didn’t solve the world’s problems, but I walked away from Harvard with a few thoughts about our industry as we turn our attention toward 2007.
First, the dental industry cares. Sure, every company wants to make a profit and be successful, but you and I know that the dental industry is filled with caring people and corporations who want to make a difference. I spent a few minutes talking to a lady who was actively involved in Harvard’s business school, but knew very little about the dental industry. She asked me, “Does this industry believe in doing good?” It didn’t take me long to talk about Give Kids A Smile, Christina’s Smile, and other charitable organizations that help those in need. So many companies support the theme of “doing good” every day.
And, as I told her, Give Kids A Smile and other events may get the attention, but the dental industry supports so many unpublicized missionary trips, chips in when disasters (such as Hurricane Katrina or September 11) happen, and supports causes most of us will never know about. Yes, ma’am, the dental industry cares.
When I first got involved in dentistry seven years ago (wow, it’s really been that long?), I was told by several people, “You’ll never leave the industry once you’re in.” I didn’t know why then, but I do now - this is a close-knit bunch of people who compete against each other, but also work together for the greater good.
The beautiful thing about Franklin’s quote is that it doesn’t just apply to business. We can all do well by doing good, and it may have nothing to do with increasing the value of a business. I had an experience in Boston that proved that to me ... and I have the nickname to prove it.
I have an awesome team in Tulsa who helps me put together this and our other magazines. There are times it gets a little stressed in the office and everyone is asked to put in a little extra time and effort. Without that extra push, we wouldn’t get our magazines done. As a way to say thank you, I decided to bring home some fudge from Boston (hey, nothing says thanks like New England fudge, right?). I headed to Quincy Market, handpicked eight pieces to bring home, and packed the bag to bring with me back to Tulsa. Well, that bag that I packed so carefully I also left on a subway car as I headed to my last day of meetings at Harvard. I realized it as I was about a block away and the Green Line train was long out of sight. I muttered a few things that can’t be printed, and walked on to Harvard. I decided I’d call later and see if anyone had turned in my bag. Yeah, sure, someone will turn in a bag filled with fudge. That’ll happen, I said to myself as I grumbled toward the conference center.
Well, as you can guess, someone actually did turn it in. I was stunned when I called Lost and Found and was told to come pick it up. I rode the Green Line to the end and asked the subway operator where Lost and Found was. He looked and me and said (with a great Boston accent), “You the fudge guy?” Ah yes, I had become legendary. Yes, I was Fudge Guy. Hear me roar. He took me to the supervisor’s office where five MBTA employees sat, enjoying their lunch. “Hey, it’s the Fudge Guy,” my new friend told his cohorts. The supervisor pointed to the door and said, “Your bag is hanging on the handle. I put the fudge in the fridge to keep it cold.” Sure enough, every piece of fudge was there and it hadn’t melted. I have to admit I was a little stunned. I smiled, and then thanked them all (more than once) as I walked out the door. Fudge Guy, exit right.
Any one of them could’ve eaten the fudge or taken it home to their families. They could’ve said they’d never seen the bag when I called, but they did the right thing. Those MBTA employees did well by doing good. They made an impact on me, Fudge Guy, and I have nothing but praise for them.
It was a simple case of choosing to do the right thing. It’s the same choice we can all make every day. We can make a positive impact in someone’s life, and sometimes we might not even know that we’re doing it. In 2007, I hope you’ll choose to follow Mr. Franklin and do good. Take it from Fudge Guy, good things bring awesome feelings.
Read on, this is your magazine...
Kevin Henry, Editor