Ep. 53 - Setting Life Priorities And Saying Yes To Opportunities with Community Dental Partners COO & CMO, Jodi Evans

Ep. 53 - Setting Life Priorities And Saying Yes To Opportunities with Community Dental Partners COO & CMO, Jodi Evans

Overcoming obstacles in life, fulfilling priorities, welcoming opportunities, and running a company all at once are skills of a strong and committed person. Jodi Evans, the COO and CMO of Community Dental Partners, is the epitome of the above. Leading an organization which focuses on serving patients in underserved areas by providing dental care in their communities, she reveals the hack to a perfect work-life balance by breaking down the five F’s you should focus on and the concept of creating a “baseball card.” Jodi reveals her secret to customizing tools that work for scaling organizations, attracting the right client, and retaining employees. On the side, discover how they get their dentists in sync with the rest of the company.

Setting Life Priorities And Saying Yes To Opportunities with Community Dental Partners COO & CMO, Jodi Evans

Jodi Evans is the Chief Operations Officer at Community Dental Partners. Community Dental Partners is an organization that focuses on serving patients in underserved areas by providing dental care in their communities. In 2012, Jodi owned her own business but decided to meet her husband at work for lunch at CDP. During lunch, she learned more about what he did and fell in love with the mission of helping moms with multiple kids get the help they deserve in a fun, guilt-free environment. She soon applied as a part-time assistant to the CMO, quickly moving up in the company, becoming the CMO in 2013. In 2016, she accepted the opportunity to lead as both the COO and CMO. However, the role she is most proud of is your role as a mom of six kids and a wife through her amazing husband, Isaac, for many years. Jodi, welcome to the Second In Command podcast. I’m a father of two kids. I had step-kids for a bit as well. I can’t imagine how you’re doing your role in raising six. You’re going to give us some insights.

Thank you so much for having me here. I’m super excited. I appreciate it. The secret is to get a lot of help. We have six kids. We have a lot of protection and support, as I like to call it, that help us make that possible. They range from nineteen to five-year-old twins. One of them is off to college outside of home. One alone will humble you to ask for help but between all six, we make it work. They’re the joy of my life. It’s super fun. I’m grateful for them.

When people have children, it also changes them for better in the workplace because it forces some balance back into their lives and into their business. I see a lot of younger Gen Y starting companies or running companies. I was even guilty back when we were starting 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I was the first person on the executive team to have a child. I was the first person in the company to have a child because there were only fourteen of us when I started. When we did that, it shifted. We couldn’t have the morning meetings anymore. We couldn’t go for a beer five nights a week. How do you balance being a mom, being a wife, running a family and running as the COO of a company? Give us some of the tricks on that.

I’m blessed because on our executive team, our CDO, Chief Dental Officer, has seven children. Our CFO has eight. Our CEO has five. I have six. Our CFO one, the kid card, because all of us were like, “We’re out. We’re done. We’re not having any more.” He gets to win the prize on having the most kids and maybe even the most complexity from that perspective. If you try to balance it all perfectly, you’re going to be disappointed. I don’t try to achieve that. Sometimes I’m able to be present and do things with my kids and other times I’m not. I have to work. That’s what’s important. That’s what’s focused. My children are very independent. They have a lot of great life skills because of this position.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with a sleeping disorder. This is a big part of what’s brought me to becoming the COO of the company and being able to organize with six kids. I was totally a functioning entrepreneur. I was sitting in church one day and I turned to my husband and said, “I can’t feel my legs.” We had four kids at the time. The sensation moved up my body and my eyes closed. I went completely paralyzed. They carried me out of the church. It’s the whole nine yards. I learned that I had this intense sleeping disorder where my brain would confuse emotions with dreaming. It paralyzes my whole body as if I’m asleep, but my brain is still awake. I’m totally conscious, but I can’t move and I can’t see. I’m stuck in the shell. It’s cataplexy with narcolepsy.

I know that because my aunt was diagnosed with that. She was describing these tremors. She could see everything around her, but there is no response going on.

My eyes closed and I collapsed.

She would collapse as well. It’s scary stuff.

It was scary when I didn’t know what it was. I remember thinking, “I’m probably going to die.” That’s what you think. They’re like, “No, you have narcolepsy.” You’re like, “How am I going to live?” That was a profound question for me at that moment. We had built our dream home. I was this entrepreneur, solopreneur doing all this work and all of a sudden, it was over. I was done. At that moment, I learned quickly that if I was going to get momentum, I would need a team. That mindset started immediately. I went from going cataplectic episodes 40 times a day to manipulating and learning different things. Now I’m fully functioning. I can drive. I’m obviously in the company. I’m learning how to get momentum. It’s been a blessing because I’ve been obsessed with leveraging the energy, unique ability, and building protection and support around me and around people that support me as well.

Those are massive lessons. I don’t want to underscore that either because when I asked about how do you have the balance between work, being a mom and being a wife, you said, “I don’t have the balance.” It almost might seem to the reader like you’re dismissing that but you’ve uncovered the real key to it because I’ve always said that balance is impossible. If I think of maybe the five F’s: friends, family, fitness, faith and finance, how can I always have them in balance? I can’t. What I try to do is obsess about two of them for a quarter and then maybe let three slides for a few months. I pick another two and I obsess about those for a quarter and I let a couple slide. That’s by being honest with myself and others around me, they understand. Dad is going to be 100 miles an hour on work for this quarter. I’m going to Europe for five weeks. I’m telling clients, “I’m moving calls around.” I’m getting better at that. Is that how you’ve managed it in your mind is to compartmentalize what you are truly focused on?

You brought up something interesting too is if we understand where our strengths are and we can leverage that strength, it doesn’t necessarily depend on me completely to provide that for everybody and everything. We have this thing called a baseball card that I created a couple of years ago. It’s this total profile of everybody and what their strengths are and has all these different tests. We do Kolbe, Enneagram, the DISC. There are learning styles. There are Myers-Briggs and it’s all on one card. It’s all about them. I have one for each of my kids. The five-year-old twins, not so much. We guess their Enneagram. We guess where they like to be. All my kids have taken it.

I believe that when you understand a person, you can help them get momentum much faster and also provide resources for them to get the help that they need so that they can live with their unique ability and be in momentum as well. It’s leveraging some of the principles I’ve learned over the years with the disability. Also, a fast-growing company is you’ve got to figure out how to get everybody momentum, then connect them to those resources so they can get what they to become their best selves. With my kids, it may not always be me but I can look at their baseball card and say, “Who can I connect you with so that you can get what you need, to go where you want to go.” It’s fascinating because all of my kids’ Kolbe’s are different.

I’ve done about ten different personality profiles on myself over the years. I do them with all of our team. We started a network called the COO Alliance. We have the only network of its kind in the world for the Second In Command. There are all these groups for entrepreneurs. There’s even an amazing group for dental entrepreneurs called the DEO, the Dentist Entrepreneurs Organization. We have a group called the COO Alliance, which is only for Second In Command. No entrepreneurs are allowed. We had all of our members do their Kolbe profile. They also are all doing their love languages. They also are all doing DISC. It’s to not try to change themselves but we also had their CEO do the profiles to understand each other. Do you teach your employees or your executive teams about the profiles? How do you leverage the baseball cards internally?

Our executive team is now doing it. The Kolbe was something that I was introduced to by the CEO. The Enneagram was by the CDO. When I thought the Kolbe for me, that became that opportunity to say, “I want to understand this.” I started doing other tests, the DISC profile, the Myer-Briggs. I have this notebook that’s full of my core team, operational team. I can turn to it when I’m meeting with them and speak their language. My team usually likes to bring solutions. Let’s say that they have a problem and they’re stuck. I don’t talk past them and they don’t talk past me. We don’t feel frustrated because sometimes it feels like they’re intentionally trying to tick you off.

Maybe, “Why is Jodi so insensitive?” that would be what being so insensitive means. I’m like, “No, I’m working my Kolbe.” I turn and I go, “I’ve got a fact finder here.” I’m going to go to the strategy circle. I’m going to let them go through all the obstacles. I can get excited about the vision or sometimes I’ll say, “I’m not following this conversation. Remember I like to brainstorm first. Do you mind if I go up to the spaceship for a minute and play? You’re going to be like lost and feel a little bit invalidated but give me a minute and tell me if I’m on the right track. We can go down to the ants and talk about all these details.” I leveraged the baseball cards in all my conversations so we’re all free to be ourselves, but we still are communicating and understanding each other.

You mentioned the Strategy Circle. I’ve rebranded that for my own purposes, internal and call it overcoming obstacles where we come up with a big goal, state all the obstacles to the goal and to counter it. Clearly, your CEO is involved in strategic coach because you’ve mentioned Kolbe and Strategy Circle. Are they still involved in the Strategic Coach?

Not as much. He was in it for ten or fifteen years. My mom is also an entrepreneur. She’s in Strategic Coach so we leverage quite little groups. Alex Charfen is another one.

Who’s your mom?

She’s Cristina Scott.

SIC 53 | Community Dental Partners
Community Dental Partners: Figure out how to get everybody the momentum, and then connect them to those resources so that they can get what they need to become their best selves.

 

I was in Dan’s 10x Program for the last few years but I took a couple of years off. I’ve got too much on the go. It’s probably me recalibrating a little bit of my focus. How much personal growth do I need when I want more free time with my kids and my family? I wanted my eight days back. I told Dan and Babs at Abundance 360 the reason I wasn’t continuing to coach is because I want some time back.

It’s interesting that you say that because we’ve gone through that phase for the last couple of years. We were with Joe Polish’s 25K Group. We’re heavily involved with Alex Charfen. He’s now doing The Billionaire Code. We went to an event, but we typically have stepped back from that. Strategic Coach was a big one. We were attending all the Oz principles and learning about that. We stepped back for a minute and said, “Now we have all these tools, let’s build systems to make sure we’re utilizing them. Let’s see how are we going to customize them to work within our organization as we scale.” Now, we’re getting to a place where we’re ready to jump back in and to get more tools. It was good.

I was talking to some learners, some CEOs, I said, “At some point, stop reading books and start putting the ideas in place.” Many people read another book. I’m like, “There are twelve great ideas that are good to great. Are you using them?” What’s the point of reading the next book or Rockefeller Habits going up? That’s smart on the recalibration. Tell us quickly about the operation, Community Dental Partners, so we understand the brand and the scope of the organization. I want to find out from you how you’ve risen in your role and how you’ve continued to grow.

Community Dental Partners is a dental-based organization. We have 26 locations throughout Texas. We see about 150,000 visits a year. These are not typically smaller practices. They’re more two to three doctor practices with multiple specialties in them. Our core focus is to serve the underserved markets. We will focus on Medicaid or rural towns where they don’t have a lot of resources to be able to go to the dentist. We’re focusing on these underserved locations where they need us. Our goal is to bring an experience-based feel to the market. We have different themes in each of our offices. We have the Royal Kingdom. We have a mascot named Charlie the Chipmunk, who takes these kids on this great adventure through the practices.

We have jungle themes. We have underwater themes. They’re pretty extravagant dental practices. They have movie theaters and we have popcorn. It’s a fun experience. At the end of the experience at the dentist, the children get crowned the king or queen of smile magic. It’s a fun little Disneyesque type of experience that we bring to the dental industry because the underserved markets typically do not understand why the dentist is important. It has not been emphasized in their family units. We’re there to make it fun, to meet them where they’re at and to help them understand the importance of going to the dentist and taking care of their teeth. There’s a fun element to it.

There’s also some complexity with it because of the lack of education and the lack of resources to go to the dentist. That’s where I fell in love with the company. We deal a lot with single moms who have multiple children. They’re doing this on their own. They have a lot of different demands on them, their time. Financially, things are tight. Even getting gas money to be able to come to the dentist is a sacrifice for them. We try to make it where it’s enjoyable for their kids and also, we try to make it where it’s enjoyable for mom as well. We have a whole thing built into our systems where at the end, mom is given this Amazing Mom sticker. We clap and we celebrate her as well. We get lots of tears in those moments because it’s maybe the first time somebody’s reaffirmed, “You’re doing a good job because you showed up here and you’re taking care of your kids.”

Does the cause side of your business help you attract and retain employees?

Yes, I believe so. That big vision that we’re here to help that mom and these kids, they see the pictures with the kids in their crowns and their balloons, they’re smiling and they go, “I want to be a part of something like that. I want to change people’s lives.” People don’t know that about dentistry, but it changes the trajectory of kids’ lives when their mouth is free from cavities. We see extreme cases. What we do does prolong the life of that child, but also the current health of that child. It has major impacts on how they’re functioning in school. The foods that they’ll eat. Kids with a lot of decay cannot eat healthy food because it’s hard and crunchy. The employees see that. In dentistry, they come back hopefully every six months. Typically, ours was about every year. They see that kid and they go, “They grew,” because they can eat good foods now. They’re not missing school. It changes that kid’s life. That draws them.

Tell us what’s the org chart for your company. Let’s go back to the operational side. What does the org chart look like? Who reports to who and how many employees do you have throughout the organization? I know over 26 locations. You’ve got some span all of a sudden.

We have over 500 employees. Do you want to know who’s on our executive team?

Yeah, who’s on the executive team? How does the reporting work? Who do you report to? Who reports into you, etc.?

I report to the CEO. We have a CDO, which is our Chief Dental Officer. I report to him as well because in healthcare you have to have a doctor that’s running it. We have what we call a dental support organization. Our job is to support the clinical team. They need to be in charge of it. I’m reporting to both of them. We have our CFO who reports to the CEO, our Chief Compliance Officer and Biz Dev team that goes out and finds new opportunities. That’s our executive team.

If you’re reporting into two, how do you split that reporting? How do the three of you make decisions or how does that work?

When we have our executive meeting, the first person that brings up what they need solved is the clinical team. The clinical team leads out on that meeting and says, “These are the initiatives that we want to be solved. Here’s where we want protection and support.” Our team will come in afterwards. That’s typically when we all come in or the CEO will come in and they’ll start listing out their operational needs that need to happen in order to support in operational levels. The clinical leads say, “Here’s what needs to be taken care of first.” As far as priorities are concerned, clinical’s priorities are first.

Has your growth all been organic or through acquisitions?

It’s both. We’ve done de novo and acquisitions.

What did you call the first one?

We call them de novo. Those are us building our brand from the ground up. Our acquisitions, it’s been interesting when we’ve done them. We’ve turned them into like some form of us. We couldn’t help ourselves. We’re excited about our chipmunk.

I used to coach a group that’s in a similar space in California called Kids Smiles. Jack, the CEO, was obsessed about helping kids that were in the lower income bracket. English is second language group. He’s super passionate about that whole space. I was curious whether anyone was doing a roll up in that industry or whether it’s all organic. How do you attract the mid-level team, the management team or are you growing them all from within?

SIC 53 | Community Dental Partners
Community Dental Partners: Underserved markets typically do not understand why the dentist is important because it has not been emphasized in their family units.

 

We’re doing both. We’ve been growing quickly for us at least. We’ve been having to attract people from the outside. What we’ve used is we have these nine pillars that we offer it by our nine values. We changed our entire interviewing process to be around those nine pillars. There are questions that we’re asking and what we’re listening for are things like humility, gratitude and this sense of ownership. Attracting people from the outside, we’ve been able to change our turnover. We were at over 100% turnover on practice managers when we did our acquisition. We’re trying to figure out like, “How do we integrate people into our culture because it’s pretty intense?”

Through these interview questions and things, we’ve been attracting the right talent. We’re down to like 10% turnover for practice managers. We’ve done it through going out and attracting talent. Also, we have this thing called summits and daily leadership things that we do to help bring the leaders out that are inside the practices and help them career path up to a practice manager. We do a two-way approach to try to bring out all the leaders that we can.

How do you bring them out? I’ve always believed that a leader’s job is to grow people. It sounds like that’s something you’re focused on as a company. How do you bring out the leadership in people?

The first one that we have was we have something called Pillars in a Box, which is our value system. Every month we pick one of the pillars. We have nine of them and three of them are the core ones. We rotate those twice. Every day, there’s a morning huddle. Each one of the practices is led by the practice manager. We go through and they have one question or activity that they go through and do. That’s where the team starts expressing their belief system, how they think about the world. They also get training on how they should think about the world and how they should think about humility. We did personal honesty and responsibility. That’s where you start seeing people being able to express themselves. You understand where their mindset is at. We’re training them every day on here’s how to get your mindset to a leadership place.

We have what we call leadership summits. We bring in key people in the practices to these summits. We do things like the baseball card for them. We teach them and educate them on what does a Kolbe mean and what does it mean now to rely on team members. In our practices, you have some people that are individual contributors and we identify them as such like, “This is an individual contributing position. Your job is to be technical.” We teach them, “If you want to move to this next position, you are now leading a team.” In order to do that, you need to understand not only yourself, but you need to understand that everybody else is different and how are you going to work with them. Through the summits, we use that to educate them on how to lead and train people. We do book clubs. There’s quite a bit that we have in place.

I love that you talked about relying on the others in a team. I was at a restaurant in Whistler, BC. We were sitting at the chef’s table watching these chefs cook. There were a bunch of plates out being prepped. All three of the main chefs were all putting stuff on all of the plates. They weren’t doing one plate. Someone was doing all the meats for all the plates. Someone else was doing all the sauces. It was amazing to watch these three people working on plates that I would have only thought one person was doing. They were completely operating as a team and fast and furiously around each other in a complete state of calm but all in their unique ability. I don’t think we do enough of that in a company. It’s interesting to see you’re doing it. I also liked that you mentioned that you had the nine core values or nine pillars, but you have the three core. I’ve always believed that a company can’t have more than four or five core values. They can have others that are aspirational values. It sounds like that’s what you’ve done. You’ve got your three core and your other values as well. Is that how you treat them or think of them internally as well?

Yes, because I found the same things that operated. The nine pillars were there before I was the COO. It was at the foundation of the company and I loved it. As we’re developing leadership training, I was like, “What were the three core ones that I could say people were either thriving or struggling in our company based off of these principles?” The three that we picked was humility, gratitude, personal honesty and responsibility.

My test has been, “Are we willing to fire people who break them?” If we’re willing to fire people who break them, those are core values. If we want to work towards them, those are all the aspirational values that are good. They may not be fireable offenses. It’s just let’s work harder at those. The core values are like the Ten Commandments. You don’t break them. In the book club, what were your favorite books that you guys have read as a company that you’ve worked with your teams on?

Leadership and Self-Deception, I find is one for our team members starting out. We do The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. We are reading Extreme Ownership. The 7 Habits, I liked that book but I feel that one loses a lot of people to be honest. That was one of our core ones initially. That one is what I go over more with my regional management team and getting down clear on how to do it. How to Win Friends & Influence People is another one. The Oz Principle series, we utilize that as well.

For The 7 Habits, we have to get a Blinkist version of it, the condensed version because it doesn’t need to be 240 pages when it could be fifteen or twenty. It’s so strong but we don’t need the rest of the story. It’s like, “Tell us the seven habits and we’ve got them.”

That’s what is done with the team is take this book and instead of making a rate, push through it and get discouraged. Let’s simplify it. Let’s identify what your core values are. The baseball cards helped me with that. I believe that you can rely on being a great communicator or you can build systems that communicate for you. The 7 Habits has some great points in it, but they almost need something that articulates for them. Self-assessment tests and things like that help them understand, “They weren’t really my principles. Who am I? What do I value?” We changed that up a little bit and simplified it.

You are dealing with something in the dental space that is very similar to a lot of technology companies or probably most companies because most companies have to have fairly large IT teams. There used to be internet companies and now basically we’re all using the internet for our business and all the technology tools. How do you get your dentists to communicate with the rest of the company so that you can stay in sync? The lesson is how do we get IT to communicate with the rest of the business people that don’t speak IT? We don’t speak dentist. We don’t understand all of their terminologies. I’ve even had an issue with having to call them doctor all the time. I’m over that. I want to call them Bob, Fred and Sally. Forget the title. You’re Bob, Fred and Sally. How do you guys work with that?

One of the things that we do is we have developed what we call daily huddle every morning. We ask the doctor to be involved with it. We start with data because doctors typically like data. They like facts. They want to know like, “The facts are going to tell me the truth.” It’s a very data-driven concept with the daily huddle, “This is where we’re at. This is where we’re projected to be at. Is that in line with what your vision, with your income goals are? Does this get you excited?” We have what we call the daily house strategy. It basically says, “If this number’s off, here are different ways you can support the doctor. If this number’s high, here’s how you can support the doctor.”

The team will then strategize and go to the doctor and say, “Doctor, from what I understand to get you momentum, here’s what we need to do. This is what we need to work on.” To rely solely on the doctors to answer that question we found was difficult. It was better for us to lead through that and have them give feedback on whether or not we were hitting the mark or not. That aligns us with the doctor. The practice manager aligns with the operational team that says, “Team, we’re going to support the doctor this way. We’re going to support our customers or patients this way.” They go through that strategy.

That happens every morning. It took us about a year and a couple of summits to get everybody in that habit because they were used to looking at the report and either winging it. Everybody was operating their own way. Now, the boards are in every single location and there’s a dashboard that’s custom made for them to help them fill out that board. It drives those conversations. We systematize that to help communicate better with the doctors. Instead of relying on people’s emotional intelligence to be able to do that solely, it’s better to give them a system that communicates for them.

It’s that old Michael Gerber’s saying, “People don’t fail, systems fail.” If you put the right system in place, you can remove the human element from it. It’s good that you’re systemizing. It’s also probably becoming a core strength of your company, the systemization, because you’re in multiple locations. When you have 26 locations, you can’t rely on the people as much. You have to rely on systems. Is that true?

Yes, the system should strengthen people’s leadership. It should be built to enable them to become better leaders. The daily huddle allows that practice manager to stand confidently in front of their team. Even with the little cheater board on the side that’s hung up for everyone to see that has all the different strategies, we can look at that ahead of time and go, “Here are the ones I’m going to pull out,” and lead through that. My goal with any system is that people become better leaders because of the system. That doesn’t become so tactical that it bogs them down where they feel like they’re leading through a checklist. I try hard to create systems where people feel empowered and they feel like a stronger leader because of it.

Walk us through some of the leadership team. You’ve obviously done a good job with your meeting with them using daily huddles. What’s your leadership team meeting like or what different meetings with them do you have at the leadership team level?

Do you mean at the executive or at my team level?

SIC 53 | Community Dental Partners
Community Dental Partners: Everybody else is different. You need to figure out how you are going to work with them.

 

The top layer, the C level company.

For our team, what we’ve matured into over the last couple of years is a CDP playbook. We got that from Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Advantage. I wrote out the playbook. I was like, “I want to be clear on who you are, where we’re going and what we’re trying to accomplish.” I did that with the help of the executive team. We use that playbook as our main operational platform to run our meetings. We show up every week and we discuss the playbook, where we’re going and things we’re committed to doing. We add to it the other priorities that clinical concerns might have and the operational concerns. We do that every week. My team runs about 90% of the organization and is under my leadership. With that, I run an intense agile system for every single department.

There are people that don’t understand the agile competing methodology. Walk us through how you’re using that operationally because I think It’s brilliant.

We’ve tweaked it a little bit. We started out using language and stuff. We tweaked it to every single week we are meeting as a team. We are going through a list of constraints that are built out compared to our data. We pick out three priorities that we’re going to focus on that week and accomplish. That’s the agile platform that we use at the regional level. We have a project management team that I help run. That team does a daily call every single day and they’re running the major initiatives. They run a task force every week for their major initiatives.

Are you documenting what they’re doing or is it simply everyone’s making the commitments, then check in the following week? How do you follow-up with that or do you bother following-up to people getting it done?

No, it’s all documented. With our regional team, we ask ourselves, “What are we going to do this week?” We say, “What does it look like? How are we going to be successful?” That’s written out clearly because sometimes if you’re too broad in your problems, you come back and you always find yourself, that Dan Sullivan in the gap where it’s like, “I did that, but I found this new idea. I went to accomplish it.” That stays within scope there. For our project management team, we have a robust system that I can talk through as a totally separate one. That’s taking all of our executive initiatives and making it real.

What do you mean by making it real?

On our team we see, three levels of an initiative. The first one is make it up. The second is make it real. The third one is make it reoccurring. The executive team often is making stuff up. That’s typical. Our project management team who makes it real. They start bridging the gap between making it real and that reoccurring team that’s going to take it and utilize it every single day.

How do you avoid working on projects that don’t end up becoming recurring? There are obviously the one-offs that have to be one-offs, but do you try to decide what projects to work on that can become recurring or can become automated? Do you think about that at all?

What you’re asking is how do you keep a bunch of smaller projects from getting in there?

Yeah, because it seems like the smaller projects don’t necessarily give us the leverage that a recurring project will. Once we do something, we make it real and we make it reoccurring. That can become automated or it can be leveraged across all the systems. We get more leverage off that than those one-offs. I remember a call I had with my mentor years ago. He was being groomed as the second-in-command at Starbucks. Greg and I were talking and he was reporting to Howard Schultz at the time. He was reporting to all three CEOs: Howard Behar, Orin Smith and Howard Schultz. Howard was upset that the letter B on the sign that the 50th in Wallingford location in Fremont in Seattle wasn’t working. He said, “Why is the letter B not working?” Greg said, “It doesn’t matter why the letter B is not working. What matters is what system do we have in place to ensure that every letter on every sign and all locations are always working.” He refused to solve the symptom. He would only solve the root problems. We often in companies work on the busy work instead of the systems that prevent that or that leveraged. I’m curious what you do around that.

It depends on the size of the problem. We have different groups that work on different sides of issues. I am a firm believer that people don’t want to fail. Systems fail. I always ask the question, “What was in the system that lets them know that was a problem? What do we have built in?” When it gets to something like that, I would rely heavily on my regional team and my operational project manager to look at that system. We utilize what we call support cards. They’re divided up by the different groups, different positions and things we want to accomplish. We would look through those support cards and say, “Does it say anywhere that that’s a priority and what’s the frequency and cadence so that they know, ‘I got to look at that and sign off?’”

That’s one section of reoccurring. We have our bigger initiatives of an acquisition that we want to accomplish or we’re going to build a new practice from the ground up. That’s not going to hit operations or my reoccurring team until later on in what we call the phase gate system. We have a whole different system and group that works and supports that, then transitions it over to the regional team who takes it and says, “How do I put this in our reoccurring agile to make sure that things are working and utilizing that operational team?”

I love the fact that you have thought through all these systems and you’re branding a lot of these systems internally too. You don’t talk about doing something, you’re putting it into a system or a playbook that is specific to your company. Tell us about your growth. How have you grown in the organization because when you came to the company was it at a different size? How many locations did you have when you joined?

There were seven locations.

You’re four times the size already and continuing to grow. How have you had to grow as a leader and what specifically have you worked on for yourself as a leader?

If I could say something that attributed to where I’m at is I said yes to the stuff that nobody wanted. I honestly was told where I needed to go even when I couldn’t see necessarily my strength in that. I said, “It sounds like fun. I’ll try it.” As the company grew and the complexity grew, things that other people didn’t want I thought were interesting. That’s why I ended up with so many departments. I have a lot of passion around it of taking on the stuff that nobody else wants and nobody thinks is interesting. Those are the things I find the most interesting.

What have you had to work on as a leader?

I have had my tail handed to me so many times. The first time that it got handed to me, it was shocking and a little bit painful. After a while, it felt like a gift. I got a lot of feedback and learning how to take that and to run through it, “What part of this do I need to take and learn from? What part do I need to set aside? What part do I need to acknowledge? I can’t work on that right now.” I’m dividing up how I’m going to approach all the feedback that I’m getting has been helpful and it’s taken a lot of tears, a lot of writing and reflecting. I’m a firm believer in counseling or whatever it takes. To grow into that leadership, it’s painful.

SIC 53 | Community Dental Partners
Community Dental Partners: There are three levels of an initiative – make it up, make it real, and make it reoccurring.

 

I almost assume that you are able to sidestep the emotions, the worry, the fear and the insecurities. When you said it, it’s taken a lot of reflection, writing, counseling and tears. I’m guessing that you have gone through the pain of leadership, of growth, of worry, insecurity and all those things that we carry as baggage. Can you give us some tips around that? I’m thinking of a couple of people that are members of the COO Alliance and even myself at times where the baggage feels insurmountable. How are you able to deal with that?

There’s a daily practice that I do. I have my five-minute gratitude journal. Every day I am pretty good about doing that. When things are tough, I will write down what can I influence and I will go through that. I’ll say, “What do I not have control over?” I will write all of that out, then ask myself, “Why do I need control over that in order to do what I need to do?” That helps me because a lot of times I find that what I have influence over, I have all the tools I need to get to the place I need to be at. I don’t need to be stressing about things I can’t control or don’t have influence over.

You’re also pretty good with understanding that good is good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Maybe that’s a ten quick start but maybe it’s because you have six kids and go, “Perfect, let’s toss that out the window.” It’s like let’s raise happy, healthy kids. One final question, if you were to look back at your 21-year-old self, starting out leadership or in leadership and you wanted to give yourself some advice that you know now to be true but you wish you’d known earlier, what would it be?

The biggest thing is if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. I’d probably tell my 21-year-old self, you have no idea what’s was coming because I was 30 when I got cataplexy. You have no idea what’s coming and it’s going to be so much better than you thought that was going to be. It is through all the garbage that everything good has come. I believe that and that principle is giving me a little bit more courage moving forward. When it’s bad, they always say, “You always break down before you break through.” That’s been true.

I appreciate this. Jodi Evans, the Chief Operations Officer at Community Dental Partners. Thanks very much for joining us on the Second In Command podcast.

Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

Thank you.

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About Jodi Evans

SIC 53 | Community Dental PartnersI’ve worked in the Dental industry for nearly 8 years. I started out as an assistant to the CMO, then moved to project manager, call center director, Chief Marketing Officer and then added Chief Operations Officers over the last three years. I’m currently serving in the CMO and COO position.

I have helped build Community Dental Partners from 5 locations to 26 and growing.

I’m excellent at building teams and collaborating across departments to strategically get the results we want to achieve.

I believe the excellent culture established by our founders has givens team and me the ability to progress and be successful at Community Dental Partners.

Most importantly, I’m a wife of 20 years and mom of six beautiful children.

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