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THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Blogs

Josh Linkner Inspires Student Leaders at ADEA in Creative Disruption

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This past weekend was the American Dental Education Association’s Annual Session in Denver Colorado. On Wednesday morning, the keynote speaker was Josh Linkner, a successful entrepreneur, author, musician, and motivator. He covered a few topics that are worth sharing and seeing how we can apply it to our position as dental students and as future dental providers. Josh Linkner is the author of three books, Leaning Forward: Surviving/Winning in the Future of Interactive Marketing, Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity, and The Road to Reinvention.



What does it mean?

Innovation: (noun): the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods

-Meriam Webster


As he was speaking I began to apply his theory to my situation in dental school. We must challenge ourselves to relate these principles to our lives.

Josh introduces his Five Obsessions of Innovators:

Get curious. –

Why? The first step to being an innovator is having the innate wonder of why things are the way they are. If we never ask why, then we cannot begin to think of alternative solutions to problems. Josh compared this point to conversation with children, who have curiosity about everything. A child asks a question and you answer. Then the child asks why that is the answer, and why that answer is the answer, and so on. This leads to a convoluted journey of understanding the basis for why we do what we do. Keep the curiosity of a child to find chances for innovation!


Always look for what’s next. –

What comes next? How could this be better? These questions could also lead you back to the first obsession of “why?”

How can we change our sequence? Can we rearrange what we currently do to make something more efficient or more productive? All of these questions might lead to you find what could be next in your situation.


Defy tradition. –

 Dentistry is a practice build on tradition, experience, and evidence. However, doing what has been done all along might not be good enough anymore. The field is constantly changing, not only in treatment, but in methods and practice. Although change and progression can be exhausting and in some ways intimidating, change is actually very beneficial for your practice. Change means  you are constantly bringing the most up-to-date treatment to your patients. It means you have the the best care, and are able to do the most good. Changes keep your practice relevant and competitive. Additionally, change keeps your team members engaged, and safe.


Get scrappy. –

Being a student is a great representation of when and how to be scrappy. From my personal experience, and many students involved in organized dentistry, we know the struggles of bringing change to a very conservative field. Being passionate about your ideas is the utmost most critical part of sharing innovation to a not-so-enthusiastic audience. Using resources available to you can lead to more opportunities for progression and innovation. Not all ideas are accepted at first proposal, so part of being scrappy means being persistent.


Push the boundaries. –

As dental students we have many boundaries. Boundaries we experience as students and will experience as future dentists are increasing dental student debt, lack of water fluoridation, barriers to access to care, and licensure reform. Anyone who has lobbied on the Hill knows how much effort it takes to make national reform, and how boundaries must be challenged in order to see any changes.