Click Fraud Protection Tracking Pixel
Google Reviews
Google Reviews
0330 088 11 56     A A A

Dentology Podcast with Mahrukh Khwaja


Home/Dentology Podcast/Dentology Podcast with Mahrukh Khwaja

Transcript – Dentology Podcast with Mahrukh Khwaja

Episode Release Date – Monday 27 May 2024

Andy & Chris (00:01.066)
This is the best part of what we do, isn’t it, recording the podcast? I think it’s just chatting, basically, but it feels like working, doesn’t it? Yeah, don’t turn in on that. The secret will get out. It’s highly, highly important. Well, it is important, actually. It’s just nice to chat to people, really. It is. It is. And genuinely, we say that we are building a body of work for dentists to lean back on, to find out about the business side of this great profession.

Sounds very important, the body of work. It does. The body of work. It is, it is important. Suddenly it’ll become really serious. Well, let’s change my voice for it. Let’s introduce our guest. So today we have a returning guest. We have Dr. Marok Kroijer joining us and Marok is a dentist, positive psychologist and founder of Mind Ninja, which is fabulous. So welcome back Marok, how are you? Yeah, hello.

Mahrukh Khwaja (00:26.713)
I’m sorry.

Mahrukh Khwaja (00:46.89)
Really good, thank you so much for having me back on.

Andy & Chris (00:49.566)
No, not at all, not at all. Just to start with, this question gets thrown around all the time. But how are you?

Mahrukh Khwaja (00:57.95)
I’m actually really, really good. Like honestly, I’m feeling the best, especially in my business life as well. Cause obviously that goes hand in hand, doesn’t it? It’s taken me, I think a long time with business with my Ninja, but I finally feel as though I’m in a good place. I know financially where it’s going. I’ve got a vision and yeah, just feel really, really good.

Andy & Chris (01:07.082)

Andy & Chris (01:19.359)

Andy & Chris (01:23.183)
When did we first meet you? The book had come out or was about to come out? I can’t remember now. I think it was just about to come out. Wow. I remember that. A year and a half ago?

Mahrukh Khwaja (01:30.782)
Yes, yeah. So it came out January last year. Yeah, it’s been quite a whirlwind since then. But yeah, it’s been quite the ride and I’m really excited about the future.

Andy & Chris (01:36.659)
I will

Andy & Chris (01:47.23)
So this book is Resilience and Well-being for Dental Professionals and I remember the launch well because you held it in the, it was in the Murnier Chocolate Factory wasn’t it, on the south bank which is a fantastic location for the event. And it was great, it was really uplifting, everybody seemed to really enjoy the night, it was great fun. How’s the book been received by the profession since it’s been released?

Mahrukh Khwaja (02:10.218)
I’ve had really great feedback, which has been amazing. Lots of personal messages sent over to me. From my perspective, I really wanted to create something really practical that you could use, both with patients and at home, as well as have organisations kind of create courses with it. And so from my perspective, it’s really nice to see NHS, Health Education England, Midlands, kind of pick that up. I’ve been working with them,

Andy & Chris (02:21.166)

Mahrukh Khwaja (02:40.112)
January last year, so kind of the same time that the book came out. And they ordered a bulk of the toolkits as well as the book, and I use them in my resilience programme. So from my perspective, I feel like there’s a lot of talk about wellbeing, but often when we signpost…

Andy & Chris (02:43.143)

Andy & Chris (03:00.94)

Mahrukh Khwaja (03:03.702)
dental professionals, it tends to be kind of generic services that we’re posting rather than bespoke things. And so, yeah, I really wanted to create something that resonated with us because, you know, quite frankly, we’re working with patients, it’s slightly different for us in terms of the stresses. And yeah, that was the kind of purpose behind the book. And we can look at all different aspects of wellbeing, not just mindfulness and self-compassion, but also kind of work-life harmony,

Andy & Chris (03:08.191)


Andy & Chris (03:17.552)
Hmm? Hmm.

Andy & Chris (03:24.561)

Andy & Chris (03:33.654)

Mahrukh Khwaja (03:33.816)
habits that stick and behavioural change. All of these are kind of really crucial and underpin our well-being as well as you know things like peak performance.

Andy & Chris (03:36.255)

Andy & Chris (03:43.566)
The NHS thing was amazing. I remember, I think it might have been you that sparked it off in a conversation or something, something appeared in the press and I remember we had a conversation that was about the NHS and they were saying how many days were lost predominantly to, you know, mental health. And it was something I can’t remember now, but it was something like six million days a year or something was lost to people being off of which they attributed the…

the vast majority to mental health. And I can remember, we had a conversation, we said, if you could sort of halve that, how many people would get seen in hospitals? And you know, that whole sort of snowball effect, it really struck me, because I thought, you sort of know about it, but when it was a number, it was like, whoa, that’s a big number. Well.

Was there part of your book that resonated more than another? It’s quite an encompassing book, you know, it’s kind of resilience and wellbeing, but wellbeing is quite a big topic, isn’t there? Was there one particular area where people were saying, this is the thing that I need help with?

Mahrukh Khwaja (04:47.95)
I think the chapter on emotions and understanding emotions better, that seems to resonate quite a bit with dento-professionals. So I actually have a table explaining all the potential psychological tools that you can use and the different scenarios. And I think that kind of really hit home, as well as the different stories that I had in the book that drew upon kind of current media. So media references like movies. And for me, I think that really

Andy & Chris (04:52.75)
That’s interesting.

Andy & Chris (05:16.811)

Mahrukh Khwaja (05:19.364)
this conversation to life actually, because sometimes it’s quite difficult, especially when we’re kind of new to a topic. So exploring self-compassion through the eyes of Bridget Jones. You know, this is really, that’s well loved, but actually exploring that concept better and even exploring things like perfectionism through that character, I think really, really resonated. So I had a lot of students and professionals kind of reach out and say, actually, I love that bit. And interestingly, that was the part that Wiley

Andy & Chris (05:25.867)

Andy & Chris (05:29.86)

Andy & Chris (05:42.218)

Mahrukh Khwaja (05:47.904)
were not happy about. I actually, yeah.

Andy & Chris (05:49.798)
Oh really? That’s your publisher isn’t it? Yeah, yeah.

Mahrukh Khwaja (05:52.15)
That was my publisher and they, so I got the publisher to read the book and I said, we’re loving it, but actually I think you should take out those references. There’s pop culture references. No, it’s a serious book. And yeah, I never wanted it to be a serious textbook, a typical book. It needs to be colourful, bold, really practical, lots of work sheets. And for me, you know, having those pop culture references made sense.

Andy & Chris (06:03.877)
Oh really?

Andy & Chris (06:10.645)

Andy & Chris (06:21.713)

Mahrukh Khwaja (06:22.064)
upon a lot of them, even, you know, there’s so many amazing Disney references in the book as well, that I think really, really explain a lot of these psychological concepts that are kind of hard to grasp otherwise. So I think that’s been like really nice to draw upon that. So you’ve got, you know, movies like Mulan, exploring resilience, you’ve got, yeah, there’s so many kind of different areas to draw upon,

Andy & Chris (06:27.975)

Andy & Chris (06:36.593)

Andy & Chris (06:39.946)

Andy & Chris (06:51.81)
It makes it real though doesn’t it? It’s a bit like, to me it strikes me a bit like the Haynes, those of our listeners that are old enough It’s like the Haynes manual, you used to buy a Haynes manual for any car you had that told you how it worked and that sounds like what your book is, it’s not a textbook, it’s not dry and pithy But what I love as well is, you’re right I think

Stories are incredibly powerful anyway. And I think if people aren’t in tune with their emotions and they don’t really know how to express them or how they feel, if they can look at a character of some sort and go, ah.

and they recognize something in themselves. That might be really helpful in terms of them understanding themselves through a third party. Because if people really touch their emotions, I guess, they’re kind of coping and they’re understanding. But if they’re not, having a character to look at, I think I can see how that would be really helpful. Well-being is a bit sort of esoteric and fluffy, isn’t it, in a way, unless you really think about it, unless you help people. So the danger is that they don’t really think about it.

that to use someone like Mulan or one of those other characters is a great one isn’t it? Because you’re watching it anyway. And good to you for sticking to your guns and saying no they have to stay in.

Mahrukh Khwaja (08:06.004)

yeah, no, for me that was the best part. Why would I check that out? Yeah, no, like I want to make everything I do really fun, engaging. That was my top priority actually. So obviously I do want to really break down the psychology in a easy way that you can access. So I’ve got that kind of the evidence-based side, for Wiley, obviously really crucial, considering they published these kinds of books.

Andy & Chris (08:18.026)

Mahrukh Khwaja (08:37.648)
but from my perspective I want something that you want to pick up and so the design was really important, the way I present it is important. And I don’t know about you but a lot of our books, I don’t know if you’ve noticed with these dental textbooks, they tend to be very text heavy and so yeah that’s where from I really wanted it to be readable. Yeah, yeah there’s that so and we’ve managed to, which is really cool, we’ve managed to get the book

Andy & Chris (08:43.442)
Yeah, definitely.

Andy & Chris (08:57.322)
Read dull.

Mahrukh Khwaja (09:07.508)
in quite a few dental unis, which is epic. And it’s taken actually the ambassadors, the student ambassadors that have loads of persistence from their end, because it’s actually not very easy to get students to get books into libraries, but we’ve managed to get it in Kings, UCLan, we’ve got it in Leeds, Sheffield. So there’s quite a number of units, particularly Bart soon. So yeah, it’s been a real kind of effort in that respect. And I’m looking forward to getting it.

Andy & Chris (09:18.463)

Andy & Chris (09:27.747)
That’s great, isn’t it? Yeah.


Andy & Chris (09:34.442)
But also I think the book kind of is an extension of you because we met recently at the Dental Showcase exhibition and you had a stand, which was really exciting. But your stand, again, was fun and it was bright and it was colorful and it was welcoming and you had sofas. So in terms of that congruence, the whole thing fits together. And it had a chief happiness officer. There was. Yeah, you had your chief happiness officer, yeah.

Mahrukh Khwaja (09:56.406)
Yes, there was, but maybe I was the chief bassinet officer. Yeah, I want, even like everyone in the team had really fun roles. So my husband was then the chief cheerleader and my brother was the ambassador of us. He was actually, you know what, he totally… He didn’t have…

Andy & Chris (10:10.217)
Was he pleased about that, your husband? He didn’t have any pom poms though, man.

Mahrukh Khwaja (10:16.798)
But he actually suggested that because I was going to come up with something like really grand for him. But he was like, no, I definitely want it to be like fun. And so I kind of took the lead from him. But yeah, I’m really glad that the brand, it’s really clear and I want it to be clear. Like it is about making well-being fun and accessible. And, you know, I hope that comes across. I love the sofa element as well. So we had so many well-being chats.

Andy & Chris (10:32.181)

Andy & Chris (10:36.949)

Andy & Chris (10:42.951)

Mahrukh Khwaja (10:46.232)
these events will go and it was my first time exhibiting, but it was amazing. I got really interesting convos, dentists, dental professionals, hygienists, nurses coming to talk to me and actually sharing some really deep stuff, you know, bipolar diagnoses, being struck off by CQC, like really conversations you’re not really expecting.

Andy & Chris (11:02.986)

Andy & Chris (11:06.778)
On a stand on a trade stand. I mean, it’s interesting. You always seem very busy whenever I looked over because we were

not that far away from you. You always seem to have someone on there chatting away. What’s your take from that event, accepting it was only a two day event and there’s obviously only a certain number of people and type of people that went, but what’s your kind of gauge in terms of the temperature of dentistry based on that event and the people that came to your stand? Do you think there is a bit of a wellbeing epidemic going on out there or is it a bit like we were saying before, does it mean that people are now just finding a place that they can talk about these things?

Mahrukh Khwaja (11:13.899)

Andy & Chris (11:43.905)
where the profession’s at the moment.

Mahrukh Khwaja (11:46.434)
I think there’s a real appetite for talking about wellbeing and mental health and sharing openly about burnout than ever before. So, you know, I had, like I said, all different members of the team come in and approach me and they just really got it. It was just really clear. All you had to say was, you know, I’m, we’re my ninja and we’re on a mission to really spread the use of evidence-based tools. Burnout rates are really high.

Andy & Chris (11:53.566)

Mahrukh Khwaja (12:16.848)
it’s really tough out there so I think before the pandemic it might have been more of a convo where maybe certain members didn’t quite understand but yeah everyone seemed to kind of really get as a healthcare professional you’re constantly looking after other people you know we’re not often looking after ourselves so that piece seemed to really resonate and from my

Andy & Chris (12:26.218)

Andy & Chris (12:35.284)

Andy & Chris (12:43.989)

Mahrukh Khwaja (12:46.728)
the book launch and I’ve loved the events that I’ve done so far but this was great. Like I really got to talk to the profession and customers as well. I got to understand their pain points even more which was wicked and got to understand the type of person that likes these products and is interested in well-being. So from that kind of even the business side of things it was really interesting having those combos and realizing well this is the type of person that’s super

Andy & Chris (13:00.336)

Andy & Chris (13:04.287)

Andy & Chris (13:14.764)

Mahrukh Khwaja (13:16.608)
really interesting convos with dental organizations. So they came and they wanted to potentially do some sort of collab, but also even other partners like people, dental professionals that are like in charge of like the community dental services. So I had the CEO of a community dental service come and we sat on the sofa and we had this convo and she’s an older lady. And you always think that,

Andy & Chris (13:24.095)

Mahrukh Khwaja (13:46.128)
you know, with the older generation, you do have this view that, oh, they’re not gonna get it. They’re gonna be like, these young ones.

Andy & Chris (13:52.695)
Yeah, stiff up a lip, just get on with it. Oops.

Mahrukh Khwaja (13:54.658)
Just get on with it. These young ones just don’t know how to handle stress, but it was really refreshing that she got it. She’d actually been to the talk with Sarah Hurley, and she was really spotlighting that, she has this big problem amongst community dentists and dentists professionals, because they’re actually managing all the vulnerable patients. So obviously, their burnout rates are gonna be higher, we need to address this. So really nice to have those convos with some of the key players

Andy & Chris (14:13.279)

Andy & Chris (14:17.579)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Mahrukh Khwaja (14:24.992)
can make a big difference, especially in terms of organisational change, which we need. It’s not just the stress management side, but it’s also the culture side, and that’s you get the buy-in from higher up, then this is how we can make real positive change.

Andy & Chris (14:25.002)

Andy & Chris (14:31.255)

Andy & Chris (14:35.814)

Andy & Chris (14:42.754)
That’s great with the books, isn’t it? As you were saying in the students, because if you start there, then the answer is they should be more recognition of their own issues and other people’s. I love the fact that you had people from all the team. So you didn’t just have dentists, by the sounds of things, everybody. And that’s the thing, it doesn’t discriminate, does it? It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a man, a woman, rich, poor. It cuts across everybody, doesn’t it?

Mahrukh Khwaja (14:58.19)
I don’t know. Yeah, we had high-teeners, nurses.

Mahrukh Khwaja (15:07.451)

Andy & Chris (15:12.618)
You, before you took this segue in your kind of career path, you started out qualified as a dentist and you still are a dentist. Are you still clinical? Are you still doing a couple of days a week? Right.

Mahrukh Khwaja (15:22.526)
Yeah, so I do two days with patients a week, which I absolutely love now. It’s really, it’s actually really interesting pivoting and finding that I’m my work, my clinical work is a lot more meaningful as a result of being happier and actually feeling like I’m living my purpose. So, and I certainly use loads of psychology with patients. So it’s actually really, really helpful. It’s so connected. I mean, I think we do need to have.

Andy & Chris (15:40.121)
I’m just saying.

Andy & Chris (15:45.982)

Mahrukh Khwaja (15:52.56)
a key understanding of psychology to help our patients with behavioural change. So, things like helping them to give up smoking, exploring stress management and kind of the root cause of things like grinding. Obviously, they all have psychological causes and so just really talking to patients on a human level is so, so crucial in building those like strong patient-clinician bonds and creating a list, you know, that

Andy & Chris (15:57.169)

Andy & Chris (16:20.202)

Mahrukh Khwaja (16:22.36)
that actually loves you, patients that love you, that kind of keep coming back and seeing you. That’s the human touch and that’s where psychology actually is really beneficial. So the type of dentistry I like to do is I talk to a patient for a while and then I do a few seconds of dentistry. That’s like…

Andy & Chris (16:38.77)
No. Ha ha ha.

Mahrukh Khwaja (16:41.374)
And that was actually why I even went into the profession. I did some work experience and the dentist was that type of dentist. He had this incredible bond with his patients. And there’ll be, you know, patients that don’t want to talk and that’s fine. But then there’s other patients and I’ve been in the practice for seven years now that absolutely know me and I know them and it’s great. I’ve gone through their struggles of divorce or death or loss or whatever it may be.

Andy & Chris (17:09.759)

Mahrukh Khwaja (17:11.088)
Sometimes it is a bit of a therapy session and that’s what I love it.

Andy & Chris (17:13.126)
Yeah. Brilliant. I suppose they got to, they feel comfortable then don’t they with you in the fact it’s interesting. I hadn’t even thought about the grinding thing, you know, that there probably is something that’s behind that. So if you can talk to someone to find out what’s behind that, then that’s, that’s a real help, isn’t it? And I’d have also thought staying on the frontline of dentistry, it helps you.

Mahrukh Khwaja (17:27.626)
See you later.

Andy & Chris (17:36.578)
inform yourself on the right sort of tools for the profession because you’re one of the people that you’re designing services to support and help. So I thought it makes you way more empathetic when dealing with other dentists, other dental professionals because you’re in their situation a couple of days a week.

Mahrukh Khwaja (17:53.706)
Yeah, absolutely. I really understand the pressures under the NHS. And so when I do my workshops or coaching or programmes or create products, I really kind of understand our stresses. And I’ve gone through depression and burnout. So I really do understand it on an experiential level, which is really, really crucial. And I often get that, you know, in conversation, when I talk to gender professionals, they make that as a point as well. Like they’re wanting to know if I’m practising,

Andy & Chris (17:56.109)

Andy & Chris (18:08.446)

Andy & Chris (18:21.557)

Mahrukh Khwaja (18:23.66)
and they wanting to feel as though they are understood. This is what we’re talking about. So, you know, it can be another psychologist that could lead that session or a therapist. There’s so many possibilities and that can work well as well, but there is that advantage of having that critical care and being an dentist that seems to kind of connect in a different way.

Andy & Chris (18:24.451)

Andy & Chris (18:29.431)

Andy & Chris (18:39.474)
Hmm. I mean, absolutely. Yeah. Hmm. You mentioned that you’ve suffered your own bout of kind of burnout and depression, and you said that that’s kind of led you to study a diploma in organizational psychology. What is organizational psychology? That was a new phrase for me.

Mahrukh Khwaja (19:01.878)
Yeah, so probably the easiest way to describe it is it’s a branch of psychology that explores workplace wellbeing. So actually what I’ve been doing throughout my ninja’s life, so, you know, we’re five years into the business now, I founded it in 2019, is actually organisational psychology. I just haven’t labelled it that way, but I really wanted to delve into it more. I have a master’s in applied positive psych, which is a branch of psychology.

Andy & Chris (19:21.762)
Wow. Right.

Mahrukh Khwaja (19:32.032)
on what makes people and organisations thrive. And I had a module on organisational psychology, but I’d want to delve into that more. And the big, you know, the wider goal is to, you know, really help organisations when it comes to creating wellbeing plans and initiatives for the whole team. And also not just dental professionals, but also I’m kind of broadening out, so looking at other healthcare professionals,

Andy & Chris (19:58.043)
Yeah, any business.

Mahrukh Khwaja (20:01.752)
So in dental organisations, the sales teams and the other teams that are supporting dental professionals, they also need the support. So I’m finding ways that I can support them and I’m currently doing something with Action actually with their sales team, exploring wellbeing by doing an audit to begin with, to assess their wellbeing needs. But yeah, essentially this diploma will help me delve into this in a lot more detail

Andy & Chris (20:20.522)

Mahrukh Khwaja (20:31.712)
I’m really passionate about workplace wellbeing.

Andy & Chris (20:33.941)
I mean expanding your services to support the wider profession makes sense because

I guess all people get affected by this in different ways. Well-being’s across everything. Yeah, and when you think about the profession, a very small minority actually hold a handpiece. There’s thousands of other people who support the profession, you know, Action, that have a sales team, they’ll have technical people, they’ll have managers, it’s a business in its own right. All those people will be affected to this in the same way. The tools that you’ve developed, I guess whilst they’re pointed towards the dental profession,

straightforward for those just to become you know broader and more generic for non-dentists as well.

Mahrukh Khwaja (21:15.734)
Yeah, absolutely. I actually launched last year a mindfulness toolkit for the general public. And so my vision going forward with products is to create products, both for dental that are very specific, but also for outside of dentistry as well. So anyone that’s not working directly with patients. I think that we need to kind of create those products in the future because, yeah, I want to make a wider impact.

Andy & Chris (21:22.387)
Oh wow.

Andy & Chris (21:43.647)

Mahrukh Khwaja (21:46.172)
more and more safe.

Andy & Chris (21:47.122)
How’s the general public one been received? Have you been promoting it? Is it going well?

Mahrukh Khwaja (21:52.438)
Yeah, it’s going really well. You know what? It’s a completely different kettle of fish because I haven’t built an audience with the general public. So it’s very much starting to splash. And it’s not B2B, which has been my business model with my ninja mostly. It would be a B2C model, which, as you know, very, very different. But I’m really, really excited. I’ve got a few workshops booked. I’m doing a workshop with the toolkit with creators from ethnic minorities

Andy & Chris (21:59.21)
You’re sort of new.

Andy & Chris (22:08.182)
Hmm. Yeah, definitely.

Andy & Chris (22:15.291)
I will.

Mahrukh Khwaja (22:22.692)
A lot of content creators and founders are really struggling with well-being. So I’ve got a few events coming up and yeah, really, really excited. I’ve got a social media campaign that I’m going to launch shortly as well, which is a storytelling campaign which explores what a mindfulness journey looks like. So I really want to get like a BTS look around mindfulness and what that looks like infusing that from a storytelling perspective.

Andy & Chris (22:50.933)

Mahrukh Khwaja (22:52.392)
hearing those kind of stories and a really like candid look into how you build a positive habit.

Andy & Chris (22:58.189)

Andy & Chris (23:01.675)
And can I just ask, do people pay for that? Is that they sort of pay a subscription or something or a book or what is it? How does that sort of work?

Mahrukh Khwaja (23:08.482)
So I have a toolkit, it’s like a physical toolkit, similar to the mind flossing, and it’s called Navigating a Squiggly Life.

Andy & Chris (23:12.168)

Andy & Chris (23:17.139)
I must say that I think mind flossing is a cracking phrase. I bet when you got that I bet you thought, that’s a good day’s work. Get the copyright on that one.

Mahrukh Khwaja (23:19.83)
Thank you.

Mahrukh Khwaja (23:26.572)
That’s it. Yeah. I do love it. But yeah, so this new one, it’s called Navigating a Squiggly Life. Can I grab it? So yeah.

Andy & Chris (23:35.02)
Yeah, let’s have a look. I like that navigating a squiggly life. Oh, nice.

Mahrukh Khwaja (23:37.699)
So for anyone who’s interested in getting something for their loved one, this could be it. So this, the way it differs, obviously the content is a bit different, but I’ve also got a journaling worksheet. So you’ve got QR codes that you can scan.

Andy & Chris (23:50.742)

Mahrukh Khwaja (23:53.686)
So this is one example. So you scan the QR code and it takes you to either a guided meditation or a worksheet that you can feel online. So again, I wanna make it super interactive and that was the reason for creating it. And then…

Andy & Chris (24:03.871)

Andy & Chris (24:09.522)
I tell you what, Marok, could you send us the link to that Squiggly Life talking? Yeah, that’s brilliant. And we’ll put it in the guest notes. So if people are listening through, because like you say, I guess whilst this is a podcast that goes to the dental profession, they’re gonna have partners, friends, family, Yeah, definitely. Who aren’t. So having access to that, I think will be really useful. I love the look of it as well. It looks approachable, doesn’t it? That’s what I like, is the fact it’s approachable.

Mahrukh Khwaja (24:15.387)
Yes. Yes, I’ll be with you.

Mahrukh Khwaja (24:32.77)
Thank you. Yeah, I’m really, really excited. Yeah. Yeah, I want that vibe for my illustrations, like really, really compassionate, kind, colourful, something you want to pick up and yeah.

Andy & Chris (24:41.011)

Andy & Chris (24:46.438)
Yeah, I think that’s the thing, isn’t it? You need someone to be able to want to pick it up as opposed to have to pick it up, if that makes sense. You know, like as you say with a doll textbook, you have to do it.

Mahrukh Khwaja (24:52.654)
Yes. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (24:57.574)
So you know you have to you might not enjoy it but something like this is what you want some to go. Oh, yeah All that looks good. All right, I mean just this whole kind of Pathway that you’re taking people down Um is exploring the art of the possible and exploring emotions So if it was just words on a page, you’re hardly creating the right sort of creative environment No for them to really think about what they could be and what things bothered them and how they feel about things So we’ve learned so much about How to educate, you know education principles, haven’t we?

this business that we’re building and you never really think about it and now you realize it has to be so it has to really hit the mark otherwise the attention span is down to somewhere between sort of six or eight minutes you were saying so given that we’re nearly 30 minutes into this episode yeah I think people find it really hard to stay engaged and I guess the more

Mahrukh Khwaja (25:43.042)
I’m sorry.

Mahrukh Khwaja (25:50.07)
I’m sorry.

Andy & Chris (25:56.338)
you can make it interesting and the more it bounces around. But there’s a thread of learning that carries on through the process. It’s not an easy thing to do.

Mahrukh Khwaja (26:04.598)
Yeah, it’s not easy, but like you were saying, it’s so, so crucial and it’s quite exciting. I love that challenge. And as a kind of forever learner myself, love of learning is one of my top strengths. And so I’m constantly thinking, you know, how can I create something that is different, that can really help make this fun and engaging? And absolutely that matters. And so, yeah, hopefully that is really evident

Andy & Chris (26:10.552)

Andy & Chris (26:27.56)
Hmm? Hmm.

Mahrukh Khwaja (26:34.772)
all the My Ninja products.

Andy & Chris (26:36.65)
She’s on a mission, isn’t it? It’s not just a book, you’re on a mission. Exactly. And I hear you’re facilitating a resilience programme for NHS education midlands, which is exciting. Is there a shift towards the understanding of the need to build resilience? Is there a change in that direction? You say you’ve been working with them for quite a while and now it’s turned into a programme. Is that progress quite slow in that direction?

Mahrukh Khwaja (27:06.023)
Is that slow? Yeah, I mean, I think I’m slightly biased because I think it is really slow But I’m in this space, but I would probably think that

Andy & Chris (27:15.318)
Hmm. Welcome to the NHS, I’d imagine.

Mahrukh Khwaja (27:17.758)
To be honest, I’m actually feeling really grateful and hopeful that there is one Dean who is so passionate about this. Honestly, these programmes do not exist if you do not get buy-in from Deans. It was really the Dean of Education in the Midlands and then Associate Dean Flair Collette, really passionate about wellbeing and supporting the younger generation.

Mahrukh Khwaja (27:46.412)
heard about me through someone else, another principal and then got in touch last year. So I do think with the pandemic there is a greater understanding of what mental well-being looks like, like everyone’s been impacted to some sort of degree and so there is an awareness, there’s an awareness piece around resilience a little bit more, like in the general public I think, so that helps.

Andy & Chris (27:56.31)
Hmm. Definitely.

Andy & Chris (28:03.722)

Andy & Chris (28:09.95)

Andy & Chris (28:13.326)
I’m fascinated on resilience. I always had resilience being down one of those things that you build through lived experience. So, you know, you play a sports match and you lose and you learn what it is to lose and you add that to your armory of things in life. I’m fascinated how a program on resilience works in terms of how people learn about resilience. Because I was personally, I always had it down as one of those things that you developed through lived experience as opposed to via a program. So what does it actually look like?

Mahrukh Khwaja (28:42.626)
So you can actually develop resilience through lived experience as well, but the idea behind programmes is for you to learn those, you know, really develop that muscle of resilience through learning the key kind of skills. And so actually we used to think in psychology, probably a decade ago, that there was a very fixed level of resilience, that there’s certain people that were more resilient than others, but actually we know that the brain is neuroplastic and has this beautiful kind of…

Andy & Chris (29:08.17)

Mahrukh Khwaja (29:12.62)
of ability to change through you know our positive habits and can rewire at any age. And so you know all the research, all the data supports that you can develop programs and teach you know anyone any of these skills. These are critical kind of life skills so whether that’s resilience or whether that’s mindfulness or self-compassion muscle or gross mindset, these are all muscles of the mind that you can develop. And so when we think about resilience, the definition

Andy & Chris (29:20.086)

Mahrukh Khwaja (29:42.56)
like to draw upon that really I think explains it much better than the bounce back analogy because I really don’t like that one and a lot of psychologists we kind of veer against that one is that resilience is a journey where we which we navigate and we growth through challenges and adversities and you’ve got a couple of components with that firstly it’s a journey and there’s a

Andy & Chris (30:04.241)

Andy & Chris (30:12.092)

Mahrukh Khwaja (30:12.4)
You grow is through internal psychological resources and external. So external could be through getting a therapist, a coach, a mentor or your positive support groups. The internal stuff is the stuff that I work on in these kind of resilience programs that I do and that’s you know very much about you know being able to think flexibly to really unhook from unhelpful thoughts

Mahrukh Khwaja (30:42.44)
self-awareness, those aspects that are really kind of fundamental for you to develop resilience.

Andy & Chris (30:43.625)

Andy & Chris (30:48.662)
Do you notice, and this is an old bloke here, is there something in ages or is it the fact of maybe younger people are more willing to talk about it and actually older people have it they’re just less willing?

to talk about it. So it’s not actually that younger people are less resilient. It’s just the fact that maybe they’re more open about being less resilient, and the older people suffer the same things, but they just don’t want to share it. Or does that make sense?

Mahrukh Khwaja (31:23.134)
Yeah, absolutely. I think having spoken to a lot of older dental professionals, you know, they really, really share that they went through all sorts of tough parts in dentistry, deep struggles, but it was a different culture then. They couldn’t share, they had to get on with it, they suffered the consequences. And so from the way I think of it is, it’s not that younger people are not able to cope with things. We have to also remember

Andy & Chris (31:35.239)

Andy & Chris (31:42.612)

Mahrukh Khwaja (31:53.069)

younger dental professionals are actually dealing with a whole new landscape in dentistry. You’ve got social media, I didn’t grow up with social media as a dental student and so and I didn’t grow up with the same level of news as well, you know the negativity around dentistry as well as NHS dentistry is very high, the fear of litigation is super high as well. So you know they’re actually handling different stresses and so I’m very compassionate towards

Andy & Chris (32:00.81)

Andy & Chris (32:09.966)

Mahrukh Khwaja (32:24.444)
dealing with other things and what’s exciting I do think they are more open to talking about what’s actually going on. They’re interested in perhaps not you know going down the path of working so hard to the point where you don’t have time for yourself, you can’t care for yourself, that they’re really interested in a different kind of life that perhaps you know we didn’t

Andy & Chris (32:30.09)

Andy & Chris (32:45.036)

Andy & Chris (32:53.487)

Mahrukh Khwaja (32:54.364)
I really respect that they’re looking for happiness at work. And these are the steps we want to get to. We want to get to a point where we’re talking about happiness and industry. We’re not there yet, but we want to.

Andy & Chris (33:02.034)
Yeah, sure. Yeah. What I loved is when you were saying about…

Yeah, the old school thinking in psychology was resilience was kind of fixed. There was a limit to our capacity to be resilient. And you’re saying that now the modern thinking is that actually there is no capacity. We can keep changing. And I guess as a species, because we’re living longer and longer, I heard on the radio just today, the oldest man in England died today. He was 115. So people are now going to be routinely getting over the 100 mark. So the fact that we’re not limited in our potential is really encouraging.

Mahrukh Khwaja (33:21.048)

Andy & Chris (33:38.904)
because you know, it’s true isn’t it? Because if we genuinely thought that our behaviors and our ability and our capacity was fixed.

You know if you’re I don’t know 50 or 60 but back in the day you might only live for another five or ten years That’s true. That’s it I bother but the thing is if you if you if you could be having another 50 years That’s a significant amount of time and being able to remath yourself and keep growing and learning is it’s huge Well, they say don’t you I mean this is nothing well It’s sort of related I suppose in the number of divorces in 50s and 60s is going through the roof because people well Realizing there is another there is another path to follow which probably is part of

isn’t it, I suppose, of self-awareness and confidence rather than the fact of I’ll just stick with this because it’ll be over in a few years. It’s very interesting. We’re heading into a marriage guidance. Yeah, sorry, yeah. It’s a very interesting thinking. Bringing it back, mission mindful campaign, you’ve got this mission mindful campaign that you’re pushing. What’s that all about?

Mahrukh Khwaja (34:41.614)
So last year I was thinking about creating a social media campaign and what that could look like.

you know, I talk about evidence-based tools, but there’s a big amount of, there’s a large amount of dental professionals that really don’t understand what these tools are, and so I really wanted to increase awareness of using mindfulness at work. So it was very much a workplace kind of initiative, and I thought wouldn’t it be great to do this yearly, and I created then the campaign, and the vision really is to help dental professionals really apply.

mindfulness both with patients and at home as well. So that was the kind of idea. I created a free kind of digital calendar with 31 mindfulness prompts and the idea is you know to do that challenge and to start exploring well-being and take those small daily actions and this you know it’s kind of fundamental to well-being. I really want to emphasise taking this proactive

approach that comes to not only a wellbeing but also a peak performance, you know, that’s really kind of crucial and so that’s the reason for the campaign.

Andy & Chris (35:50.124)

Andy & Chris (36:00.054)
Brilliant, good. And is that? Sorry, I was just thinking, I love the fact that the link to peak performance, because that’s an interesting one, isn’t it? The fact of will people respond to that? Some people will respond to that, won’t they? Because they’ll think, ah, I just thought mindfulness was being, I don’t know.

soft and floppy, I don’t know, but that they would look at it in a in a different way, but by relinking it to the fact of actually you’ll perform better. That’s clever. I like that. That’s really good. I think one of the fundamental problems when we talk about this topic is it always seems to start from the point of there’s something wrong with me and I need to get better.

Mahrukh Khwaja (36:22.775)

Andy & Chris (36:33.406)
That, but it is, isn’t it? When you hear the phrases, mindfulness, wellbeing, resilience, stress, they all kind of come with this undertone of well, there’s something wrong with me and I need to go down this path to fix myself. No, that’s true, yeah. You were saying about your own bout of kind of burnout and depression and all those kind of words go into the same bucket, but to spin it on its head and say, actually, you could still be in a great place, but you will perform better as a result of doing that. Really good idea. That’s quite a nice twist on it.

Mahrukh Khwaja (37:01.922)

Thank you. I’ve been trying to do that. It’s really difficult to get that message across something in copy, but it’s always been my idea to really emphasise on the positive wellbeing markers. It’s not just about stress management, although it can be quite great for that. It’s also about thriving and having a sense of meaning and feeling engaged and energised at work. And this is where this tool is amazing. And certainly now I’m not really, I do help

Andy & Chris (37:08.39)

Andy & Chris (37:17.939)

Andy & Chris (37:26.762)

Mahrukh Khwaja (37:32.972)
with mindfulness, but predominantly I’m using it to focus. I’m using it to align my actions with my values and to take positive steps forward. I’m using it in different ways. And even if we kind of zoom out and look at the way mindfulness is being used amongst professions outside of dentistry. So we’re looking at athletes, for example, they’re already using mindfulness as a daily to help them get to those optimal performance.

Andy & Chris (37:58.154)

Mahrukh Khwaja (38:03.392)
zones and so I think absolutely it could do with a PR little change and that’s certainly something that I’m going to keep exploring in the language that I’m using when I when I you know talk about well-being.

Andy & Chris (38:08.348)

Andy & Chris (38:13.945)

Andy & Chris (38:17.354)
But also for you as a practitioner, I imagine it means it’s a more uplifting day and your work is more fulfilling. If you’re talking about the positive aspects of it, as opposed to it being a bit doom and gloom about let’s help people out of problems. It’s the other end of things, which is like, imagine how much, you know, you’ve got an amazing life. Imagine if you turned up by 10%, what that would look like.

Mahrukh Khwaja (38:38.606)
Exactly. This is why I love positive psychology and I was so drawn to it because traditional psychology really focuses on you going from a minus number back to zero. And it’s about kind of reducing depressing feelings, depressive feelings, feelings of anxiety and burnout and of course that is important. But there’s an aspect that’s often missed in psychology which is why positive psychology was brought into the play in the first place, which is

Andy & Chris (38:49.998)

Andy & Chris (38:55.754)

Mahrukh Khwaja (39:08.62)
kind of address that problem and get us from zero to plus state, those are kind of peak performance states.

Andy & Chris (39:10.934)
Hmm. It’s what it’s my daughter’s a psychologist. And what she did was that it’s exactly the way she did it. She said, you get people counsel, you know, counselors take you from, you know, minus 10 to zero. But she said, then they don’t really do anything else. So hers is the same as what you’re saying is you, you get people to a point and then you say, right, well, where do we go from here?

I think it’s a great way of looking at it. I think the majority of people, if you said to them about psychology, they would think of negative de zero, you know, fixing problems. Just get people back to some sort of equilibrium, and you’ve done a great job. Whereas you’re saying, well, imagine people who are in a good state of equilibrium. How far could they go the other way? So that positive end of things. Yeah, amazing. But I think what you said is right, that there’s probably a perception challenge.

in that people don’t think of psychology in that context. They think of it, you know, at the end that we’ve been, you know, kind of talking about through that sort of, you know, the burnout and the depression, building resilience, that side of things. So it’s a bit of an uphill battle, isn’t it, to make sure you’ve got that covered. Marlon, we get to a point where we can’t let you go without answering two questions. And I know you’ve answered them before, so it’s not easy, but we still got to go through the same process, because no one gets to leave without answering them.

Mahrukh Khwaja (40:12.782)

Mahrukh Khwaja (40:29.153)
Yeah, I’m up for it.

Mahrukh Khwaja (40:33.078)
Thank you.

Andy & Chris (40:34.026)
No, so we’re hoping they’re not copies. If you could be a fly on a wall in a situation, where would you be and who would be there?

Mahrukh Khwaja (40:42.338)
So can this be a scenario that happened in the past?

Andy & Chris (40:45.022)
Yeah, of course we can. Yeah.

Mahrukh Khwaja (40:45.598)
Yeah, wicked. Okay, so it would be Serena Williams during Wimbledon when she’s in a negative position. So she’s like down a set or something. And I want to be there to kind of know what she’s thinking. Like I would absolutely love to know her mental strategy, because she talks a lot about this big emphasis on, yes, like she had to put the time and effort into training.

Andy & Chris (41:04.02)

Mahrukh Khwaja (41:15.472)
as a mental aspect. So I would absolutely love to know what affirmation she’s using, what’s she thinking, how she focusing on one step at a time rather than the big picture and getting freaked out that she’s down quite a bit.

Andy & Chris (41:17.074)

Andy & Chris (41:21.82)

Andy & Chris (41:28.923)

Andy & Chris (41:32.59)
Yeah. And I think people like that, um, it must be quite hard, a phenomenal tennis player. And because she’s so successful, arguably for those people, it may be even harder to cope when they are down because they’re used to winning. So training that skill all the time is probably quite a hard thing to do.

Mahrukh Khwaja (41:49.218)
I’m touching. Yeah.

Mahrukh Khwaja (41:53.05)
I think actually the athletes that are doing well are really good at managing their emotions and they’re really resilient. So they’ve had to work on the mental game massively hard and a lot of them, almost all of them have got sports psychologists and this is what you work with, with a sports psychologist. So I actually think that they probably are really, really good at this and we could learn a lot from it. So yes, we’re not competing at Serena Williams level, but you know, in

Andy & Chris (42:00.283)

Andy & Chris (42:09.331)

Mahrukh Khwaja (42:23.024)
smaller ways we are, you know, we might be doing really complex cases, we might be public speaking in front of you know thousands, whatever it might be, whatever your big mountain to climb is, there are those challenges and so how do you kind of flip that over and go from you know that sense of creativity to actually this is a challenge that I can do.

Andy & Chris (42:24.551)


Andy & Chris (42:31.902)

Andy & Chris (42:37.118)

Andy & Chris (42:41.698)
Yes, she.

Andy & Chris (42:46.47)
We all have our own set point on whatever that is when we’re doing it. Exactly. And our follow up is if you could meet somebody, you’re going to go for a stroll through the woods with somebody to have a conversation. Who would you like to meet?

Mahrukh Khwaja (43:00.478)
I’m going to stick with the whole athletes kind of theme I’ve got going on. So I will go with Michael Jordan because again, I really, he’s quite a big one when it comes to mindset. So he has several really interesting videos around growth mindset. So I just love to know how he coped with all of his failures because we often don’t hear about those challenges with athletes, but he’s gone through a lot. And how did he then kind of flip it around from a fixed mind?

Andy & Chris (43:08.1)
Oh, wow.

Andy & Chris (43:24.778)

Mahrukh Khwaja (43:30.352)
mindset to a growth mindset. So yeah, I’d love to have really candid kind of chats around that. No, I haven’t actually. I do want to see that. That sounds brilliant.

Andy & Chris (43:31.911)

Mm-hmm. Have you have you seen the last dance the series about his career? There’s yeah, it’s phenomenal great start on it actually yeah So through his career his win rate of matches is only something like 34% which is

Mahrukh Khwaja (43:51.415)

Andy & Chris (43:52.814)
for somebody who’s so incredibly successful, he would have also had to deal with loss, you know, week after week after week. But in the last dance, he is, I would imagine he was an incredibly difficult person to be in a team with, because the standards that he set and the expectations of his teammates were ridiculous. But to his credit, he never asked anyone to do anything that he wasn’t prepared to do himself. So in terms of training, commitment, work rate, but he looks like he was in incredible

Mahrukh Khwaja (43:56.086)

Andy & Chris (44:23.731)
and he didn’t allow anybody a day off. Everybody had to show up all the time.

Mahrukh Khwaja (44:28.956)
Yeah, so I probably don’t like that aspect but certainly the mindset and there’s a famous quote where he says, because I fail I succeed. So he’s got some interesting psychology around that so it’d be great to explore that more.

Andy & Chris (44:40.234)

Andy & Chris (44:45.574)
Absolutely. Oh, brilliant. Marduk, thank you. That was really good fun. Always loved you speaking to you. I’m glad you’re doing well. You’ve got a real vibe about you. You seem to be really enjoying what you’re doing in a moment. So from that point of view, it’s absolutely fabulous. Yeah, no problem at all. That was great. And hopefully we’ll see you again soon at some point too. We’re booking the next one in about another year and a half. Exactly. Ha ha ha. Lovely. Look after yourself. Cheers Marduk, keep well. Thanks Marduk. Cheers.

Mahrukh Khwaja (44:59.766)
Thank you so much.

Mahrukh Khwaja (45:03.874)
Yeah, looking forward to it.

Yes, let’s do it.


Frank Taylor & Associates

© Frank Taylor & Associates, 1 Bradmore Building, Bradmore Green, Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire AL9 7QR. All rights reserved.

Dental Website Design by Digimax Dental

Do you want to:
No thanks, please take me back to the main site.