Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
Occasionally we here about those among us whose productivity is outstanding. Today I have the pleasure of presenting an interview with Dr. Bahram Nasehi, who runs two very different businesses: a thriving dental practice and a glass business. Dr. Nasehi was kind enough to answer questions about how he does it all for us.
Dr. Bahram Nasehi was born in Iran. He left Iran at the age of 15 after the revolution and lived in Turkey and Italy before coming to the US at the age of 18. From there, he earned his high school equivalency diploma and worked his way up, finishing dental school in 1994, at the University of Pennsylvania in seven years — a record time for the school. At age 26, Dr. Nasehi opened his first dentistry office, three months after finishing dental school. From there, he opened a second dentistry office within two years, and entered into other business ventures — real estate, the stock market, a mechanic shop, and presently, the glass business at Dulles Glass and Mirror.
SPB: Dentistry and glass are very different businesses. Which came first, and how did you get into the second?
Dr. Bahram Nasehi: Dentistry came first because I am a dentist by education. After I finished college I went to dental school and became a dentist and hence dentistry — I started out as a dentist, and little by little grew that business. I realized more and more I was interested in the business aspect of it, more and more I leaned toward the business part of it rather than the actual dentistry, procedure wise. I found that I had an interest in business and I started looking at different avenues and this — glass business — happened to be one of those avenues and we took it.
SPB: How do you manage what would be for most people two full-time jobs?
Dr. Bahram Nasehi: By making them part-time jobs and basically devoting enough time to each one of them to make sure that they run nice and smooth without hiccups and I don’t work 80 hours or 120 hours a week. I did that when I was in school, I’ve had enough of that.
But put enough time in each business that it requires and sometimes that’s not more than 20 hours or 30 hours for each business. Sometimes a little bit more for one over the other depending on if a situation has risen, but overall, you have to manage your time.
In the beginning, when I was in dentistry I had a lot of down time. When you’re working, you are WORKING — every minute counts — every second counts, you can’t just waste minutes and seconds. You have to be on at all times and no down time until it’s play time, when work is over.
SPB: Please share one time management tip that helps you most.
Dr. Bahram Nasehi: Don’t micromanage, macromanage. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you in the field they’re working in, and make sure that their heart is in it, and they want to do the work. Don’t try to micromanage because if you micromanage, there’s no way you can be on top of everything and you’d have to spend a lot and lot of time to get things done.
So that’s the one thing I would say — people try to micromanage their businesses. If you try to do that, you can’t have multiple businesses. You can only do that in one business. If you want to have multiple businesses, multiple sites, and multiple things you do, you have to let go. You have to learn to surround yourself with people who are smart and let them loose — let them do what they do better than you can. And just be results oriented, not “I want to manage everything.”
SPB: Please share one productivity tip that helps you most.
Dr. Bahram Nasehi: The biggest productivity tip I can give is a strange tip — to say, don’t overwork yourself because when you’re trying to manage multiple business, you’re not physically working, it’s your brain working.
It’s your mind working, and it’s amazing, when you’re over-worked, you can’t see the angles. You can’t see what is right, what is wrong, and where the next direction is, and you have to give yourself enough break and enough time to recuperate to be able to see those angles, and to be productive. You have to give yourself rest time, downtime, relax time, so your mind recuperates and you can come up with better ideas. A tired mind cannot work.
SPB: What is one productivity mistake you have made and how did you overcome it?
Dr. Bahram Nasehi: When I was younger the answer to most of my problems was to work hard. I worked tirelessly. I worked 80-90-100 hour shifts. I did dentistry six days a week, whereas everybody else did it three days a week and I thought that was the answer. I did that for a couple of years to get myself ahead.
But looking back, that was wrong, that was just not the way it’s supposed to be. If you work hard in that sense you can only do so much. You can only fill so many teeth, you can restore so many mouths because you’re just one person. And when you get into that cycle that becomes a mistake in itself.
Instead, what I should have been thinking about and the way I should have been doing it the first couple of years was to see how to increase the number of patients I see, the number of businesses, the number of people walking in, and how I can work with other people, to increase productivity and not just use my own muscle to propel myself ahead — I did that for a couple of years before I found out that working hard is not enough, it’s not the answer, it may provide a good living, that’s all it will provide, a good living but nothing more than that.
SPB: How do you simplify or streamline to make sure you have time for everything?
Dr. Bahram Nasehi: Most of the time, any aspect of the business you look at, there is one or two good things that can be done, that’s going to have an overwhelming effect. That’s going to be 80 or 90% effective — you have to learn to be happy with that 80/90%, if you put more and more time to try and fine tune this idea or whatever it may be, you can only bring that from 80% to 85% or 87%. In my opinion, it’s better to leave that one aspect of your business running at 80%, and move on to another aspect and bring it from 0% to 80% rather than put more and more time into improving that ratio.
You can’t be a perfectionist when you’re running multiple businesses, you have to say, what is the cut-off point where I make the most return for the least amount of time I put into any single project that’s going on, and learn to say, “that’s good enough, I’m going to move on to the next.”
SPB: Tell us one thing most people don’t know about you.
Dr. Bahram Nasehi: I don’t have a high school degree — I’m a high school dropout. I actually don’t have a high school degree, I took my high school equivalency diploma, and with that I went to community college, and with that, I went to university, and with that, I made my way through the University of Pennsylvania, one of the best schools in the world. So, a lot of people look at a doctor and think they’re very well educated, but the funny thing is, I don’t have a high school degree and all of my friends poke fun of that.
SPB: If you could do one thing over, what would it be and why?
Dr. Bahram Nasehi: If I could go back to school, I would go back to school, but this time around, I wouldn’t study dentistry, I would study business. Because that’s what really interests me.
I love dentistry, I love being a health care provider in one sense or another, but I think financially, I would have been far better if I went into the business school, and instead of the University of Pennsylvania Dental School, if I went to Wharton, where I had the opportunity to go and I didn’t. I think I would’ve changed that, I would have went to Wharton instead of dental school. And I think I would have benefited from that a lot more.
SPB: What keeps you excited about your businesses?
Dr. Bahram Nasehi: Results — that’s the only thing that keeps me going. If I do things and I don’t get results, I get frustrated, and normally I just turn to another aspect of the business where I can produce results. And it’s the results, it’s the difference every little tweak you make, that comes out and shows itself, and gets you excited. Every little tweak we make, and we come back and see and enjoy the results — that’s really priceless for me. Even though it may be very small — it’s just a priceless feeling to do something and see the results immediately.
SPB: I would like to thank Dr. Nasehi for his time and insight into how he manages to be so productive.
Dr. Bahram Nasehi is a Vice President and partner at Dulles Glass and Mirror. He is instrumental in the development and manufacturing of commercial and residential glass products including tempered glass, glass replacement, and shower doors.
If you know someone who really is on the outreaches of productivity, let me know. I would love to interview them!
Photo by Dr. Nasehi