When you make a decision to join an association in dentistry, how much thought goes into that? When (if) you joined the ADA, was it an automatic? Was that decision influenced by others around you? Are you getting all you can from that relationship to include an ROI?

Who you associate with on a professional level is as important as on a personal level. We were taught as youngsters that being around “bad kids” would likely put us into an undesirable situation. Our parents guided (and sometimes perhaps demanded) that we avoid certain characters due to their reputation.

In fact, I just had this conversation with one of my kids.

At the end of the day, you and me, our character and our earnings are an average of the sum of whom we choose to associate with.

If 5 of your friends are billionaires, and they are whom you spend most of your time with, there’s a far greater chance you’ll be one as well. You’ll at least a become or maintain your millionaire level of financial net worth.

Similarly, if 5 of your friends all earn less than you, you’ll soon join them.

It’s a law that’s not easy to overcome or make exceptions to, mostly because habits dictate our financial worth. Most have horrible habits. Hence, most can’t keep their money, no matter if they can earn it easily or not.

My advice to young people is to always choose your friends carefully, since you can’t choose your parents. And, to choose to invest time in relationships where it makes sense. That might sound harsh, but that is just reality.

On a professional level, who you associate with is paramount to who you become as a dentist and business(wo)man.

If you started out believing the ADA will lead you to financial and time freedom, then, by now, you probably not surprised that is not the case nor is it their mission. You have to again, be careful who you invest time or resources in and make sure your ROI is substantiated with that investment.

Take the AADPA – the American Academy of Dental Practice. They’ve been around since the late 50s. And, they were formed by a group of, at that time, very progressive dentists who preferred to talk business and not so much focus on the clinical side of dentistry. They saw what I’ve noted since I got started in dentistry: Financial success in dentistry is not dictated by clinical excellence. It certainly is not impeded by it and is helped along, but that alone is not the sole determinant. Were it, most dentists would be able to retire and do what they wanted at age 45 or 50, after 20 years of cutting crowns and filling teeth.

Learning early on, I have always sought out those relationships in business that were not only meaningful to me and fed my soul, but also, profitable. One without the other in business will leave you unfulfilled with limited success.

I encourage you to examine your associations and determine for yourself to look into a relationship with AADPA to help you focus on the business side of dentistry.

No, I’m not encouraging you to give up your ADA membership, but were I you, I’d want to get a handle on whether or not the ADA is helping you enough that you’re getting an ROI on your membership.

To learn more about AADPA and their national meeting featuring some of the best business leaders in and outside of dentistry, go to their website, here.