Hi Dr. Kami, you love what you do. It’s clear to anyone who knows you.
Why do you love what you do? What do you love most about it?
There are so many things I love about what I do. As a dentist and orthodontist, I can help people have more confidence, be happier and be healthier. Since oral health impacts so many aspects of our lives, I have an opportunity to help people in variety of ways. I also get to combine my love of science and art and use the hand dexterity I’ve developed from my musical training. And as the CEO of our company, I can help so many people follow their own dreams.
Are you pursuing your passion? If so, why? If not, why?
Absolutely, or I wouldn’t be doing it for so long. One of the secrets to happiness and success is loving what you do. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing you’re getting paid for something you’d gladly do otherwise.
How has the COVID-19Crisis changed how you think about work-life balance?
Work/life balance has always been important to me. Even though COVID-19 has impacted my life in many ways just like everyone else, I wouldn’t say it has made a big difference in this area. Obviously, I’ve had to juggle business crisis management while taking care of family like many business owners which has been extremely challenging.
How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your business?
I’ve been practicing for 24 years and like all businesses, we’ve been through many financial ups and downs and economic downturns during this period. But nothing has come even close to the impact COVID-19 crisis has had on the dental profession and our practice. Dental practices were closed across the country for close to 2 months and have just finally reopened in most states. Some surveys show that up to 20% of dental offices will never recuperate and will remain closed indefinitely. For those of us who have reopened, there are ongoing challenges with PPEs across the country, potential risks and employment issues as we develop new protocols and adhere to social distancing and other measures.
Have you had any epiphanies during or due to the COVID-19 crisis?
I just finished writing a book on the connection between oral health and overall health and was ready to have it published before the crisis happened. The COVID-19 crisis made it abundantly clear that our healthcare system needs to be reinvented and restructured from the ground-up. Dentistry and medicine should not be taught in two separate schools. As a member of board of counselors at UCLA School of Dentistry and as the founder of Howard Healthcare Academy, I’ll do everything I can to make this happen. The mouth is part of the body and in fact the gateway to it and nearly everything that enters the body goes through the mouth – COVID-19 is no exception.
What life experience do you think has had the biggest impact on you or your career?
Moving to the U.S. as a teenager. I grew up in Iran and one day when I was 15, my parents sat me and my siblings down and said we were going to leave Iran for good and we left two days later. Iran at the time was at war with Iraq and I was the oldest of my siblings and getting close to the age to get drafted to go to war. Universities were also closed during the war and education was very important to my family. My parents made the very difficult decision to leave everything they had behind and take us away. Luckily, because my father received his MBA in Boston when I was a child, we were able to get a visa to U.S. and moved here when I was a junior in high school. I think in some ways, I’ve always studied hard in school and worked hard in my business because of the sacrifice my parents made to provide us a better life. Deep down I don’t want to ever let them down.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned from your significant other, best friend, sibling or parent?
My wife is one of the smartest and most talented people I’ve ever met. We also work together. Although in our personal lives we have very similar likes and dislikes and we almost agree on everything, in our business we have very different views of things and have our own unique talents in opposite things. One of the most important things I’ve learned from our working relationship is how wonderful it is to work with people who are complementary with different talents than you. We help each other be better.
Can you tell us about a risk you took in life and why you are glad you took it?
When I was graduating from my orthodontic residency at USC, a practice business consultant sat me down and said, “Kami, I really like you. You’re a good student and I’m going to give you some advice before you graduate.” She told me not to move to San Diego since I grew up in L.A. and knew so many people there (I only knew one person in San Diego). She also told me not to work with my wife for the obvious reasons. My wife and I moved to San Diego the following week and started working together. These are probably two of the best decisions I ever made. Sometimes you have to go with your gut.
Can you tell us the story of how you started your business? How did you get your first client? What were the first steps or things you had to do to get started? If it started as a hobby how did it go from hobby to business?
When my wife and I moved to San Diego, we rented an office a couple of days a week in Chula Vista from a general dentist who had two offices. We asked him to leave some charts in his cabinet so it didn’t look empty when we would see our patients. We bought a scheduling book and hired someone part-time and asked her to get an extra phone in her house with our number since we couldn’t afford having her in the office full time. We also gave her instructions to schedule any patients she would get on the phone in the same day and time so the office wouldn’t look empty. A few years later, we became the largest pediatric group dental practice in San Diego with offices all over the county.
Risk taking: how do you think about risk, what role has taking risks played in your life/career?
Life is about taking risks and managing them, but I think everyone should find the balance that they’re comfortable with. I’d like to think the risks I take are carefully planned and I have a safety net and a back-up plan if I fail. I do expect some of my risks to fail or otherwise I think I’m not taking enough risks.
If you are a parent, what do you think is the most important thing you’ve done as a parent in terms of the impact on your children?
Other than my love, I believe my time and my knowledge of the world are the most important things I can give to anyone including my child. I try to do as much of that as possible.
What is the most important factor behind your success / the success of your brand?
I think there are always many factors behind a brand’s success. For us, one of the most important is that we know our customers and we fix their pain – literally in this case. We’ve been able to figure out how to take a business that is typically feared and/or hated (dentistry) and make it into one that kids literally beg to visit The Super Dentists. Early on in my career, I used to think my customers were the parents (especially moms) because they’re the ones who would bring the kids in and sign the checks. But one day I had an epiphany and realized I was wrong. Once I realized kids were my customers, I built my whole practice supporting their needs and wants, and parents followed.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Super Dentists is San Diego’s largest, most trusted and top awarded Pediatric Dentistry, Orthodontics and Parent Dentistry practice – one in every five kids in San Diego is a Super Kid and we’re proud of that accomplishment! We create the most unique and out-of-this-world dental experience for children and parents. We’re the only office in the world where kids ask (many times, beg!) their parents to take them to the dentist!
The Super Dentists take advantage of the latest in preventative and restorative treatments and are Clear Aligners and AccelaDent accelerated orthodontics specialists. With locations throughout San Diego (Kearny Mesa, Carmel Valley, Chula Vista, East Lake, Oceanside, and Escondido), and growing, we give back to whenever possible with a focus on kids and education. One of our largest programs is an in-classroom dental education program reaching thousands of kids annually, we also host and sponsor dozens of events, and provide complimentary dental care to those in need through our Free Dental Day events, held annually.
I have decades of experience working in the dental space and my practice has treated hundreds of thousands of patients, but it’s important to stay current in the industry. So, I stay active. I recently joined the Board of Counselors at UCLA’s School of Dentistry, I have served on faculty at Howard Healthcare Academy and University of Southern California’s postgraduate orthodontic program and I’m a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, American Dental Association, California Dental Association, and San Diego Dental Society. For more information, visit www.DrKamiHoss.com
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
My favorite spots during the pandemic: bedroom, kitchen and home-office. Post-pandemic: A trip over the bridge to Coronado Island. A stop for a hazelnut iced coffee at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Lunch at George’s balcony in La Jolla for a spectacular view of the ocean. Walk along the beach. An afternoon movie in a packed theater with a large popcorn. Dinner at Roy’s starting with a lychee martini. Uber home.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve been very fortunate to have many good role models throughout my life. From my parents to teachers and friends along the way, so many deserve credit for my personal and professional successes. However, the shout-out to the person with the biggest influence on me easily goes to my beautiful wife. She and I met in high school and went to our senior prom as our first date. Since then we’ve always been best friends and partners in life and work.
Youtube: The Super Dentists
Photos: The Super Dentists