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Dentology Podcast with Ritesh Aggarwal


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Transcript – Dentology Podcast with Ritesh Aggarwal

Episode release date – Monday 26 February 2024

Andy & Chris (00:00.762)
How you doing? I’m very good, thank you very much. Looking forward to another Dentalogy podcast. Absolutely, yeah. We keep saying they come thick and fast and it never ceases to amaze me the quality of people we continue to get to talk to. And also it never gets dull. No. Every guest is like, oh wow, that’s interesting. Even some guests that we’ve known for years. We find new things about them. But I think people.

While they’re going, no one will listen to me. People are interesting. Everybody’s got stories, haven’t they? Definitely. It’s a bit like Mastermind, your favorite subject is you. Well, today we are really, really fortunate. We have Dr. Ritesh Agarwal joining us. And Ritesh is a dentist. Principal of Edge Dental in Sheffield and co-founder of Synergy Mental Health, which is a business dedicated to improving the mental health and wellbeing culture of organizations. Excellent. That’s gonna be interesting. So welcome, Rick, how are you doing?

Ritesh Aggarwal (00:50.29)
Hi both, how are you doing? Yeah I’m good thanks. No, no thanks for having me. Oh I love talking football. I love it.

Andy & Chris (00:51.534)
Yeah, we’re very good. Thank you very much. Thanks for making the time available to us. Yeah, and we won’t talk football, Rick.

No, I’ve just moved on for those for those who listen you might hear my accent Which is sort of London and Rick’s that is sort of scowcy and the answer is we just lost a full match So so we’re recording this a day after Liverpool beating Arsenal so anybody who follows football will understand how Chris is slightly disappointed for those is feeling absolutely wonderful this morning For those on YouTube you can see my mug Which is the only cup I’m winning this year, oh it could be Champions League I suppose but you never know

Ritesh Aggarwal (01:21.732)
I can’t, yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (01:28.073)
You never know.

Andy & Chris (01:29.338)
So just to kick off, for football analogies, see what you did there, thank you very much. Before we get to half time. Oh! Often our childhood informs who we like to become in line, as grownups. So what do we need to know about you from your early years, your childhood? What are the things that inform us in terms of who you are today?

Ritesh Aggarwal (01:52.078)
played loads of football and watched loads of football, which basically means that my life evolves around football. What informed you about that? That’s a good question. Wow.

Andy & Chris (01:53.754)

Andy & Chris (02:03.406)
I mean, joke aside, Rick, is football that big a part of your life? Is it really important to you? Yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (02:06.858)
Yeah, massive. Massive. Yeah, yeah, I live in Sheffield. I travel back to Anfield every home game. I, yeah, huge, huge part of my life. I go to I go abroad when I can. Yeah, love it. Love it.

Andy & Chris (02:15.719)

Andy & Chris (02:19.242)
Yeah, I do find it, I’m fascinated and there’s people who kind of focus on this subject solely, which is a link between sport and business and how much you can learn both ways. You know, you can learn so much from business about how sports teams perform and how they behave like a tribe and how you motivate people and galvanize a team. And likewise, I think sport has a lot to learn from business in terms of making sure that you’ve got a commercial setting for it to thrive. And how it’s changed. Yes.

I think you know when I was reading about Alex Ferguson, you know, he used to berate and hair dryer, but I’m pretty sure in today’s generation football that’s not going to work. Yeah, yeah, that’s true. Yeah, you’re right. It doesn’t quite, it’s different people, isn’t it? And that’s the same with businesses, isn’t it? Different people, different mentalities now.

Ritesh Aggarwal (02:48.266)
I mean…

Ritesh Aggarwal (02:57.695)
I just got a tan heart. It can be said as a better excuse.

Ritesh Aggarwal (03:07.39)
So it’s good that you mention that about sports and business, because it’s something we talk a lot about synergy and sort of, you know, a concept that was around, you know, eight, nine, ten years ago, the business athlete, which was trying to bring in the aspects of, you know, elite sports into business and whatever. But just marginal gains and that is so important. That’s something that we talk about a lot when we’re talking about improving cultures and workplace cultures and stuff. So, yeah, definitely.

Andy & Chris (03:13.475)

Andy & Chris (03:23.042)

Andy & Chris (03:26.473)

Andy & Chris (03:33.922)
But like you say, I think it was kind of Dave Balesford that brought that to the fore at Team Sky when he joined the cycling team about marginal gains. I know that Steve Peters talked about it, but a lot of that did start over in the sport world, but it’s so relevant in the business space as well.

Ritesh Aggarwal (03:49.334)
So certainly Sir David Brailsford, we use, we at Synergy, I was very taken by one of his phrases and we use that as part of our brochures and stuff to get the message across about how just the importance of marginal gains is. So yeah, and Steve Peat is obviously brilliant with the Chim Paradox and stuff, yeah, brilliant. Right.

Andy & Chris (04:02.843)

Andy & Chris (04:09.198)
Yeah, so going back to you when you were playing football, did you start playing football young and then just keep going? Do you play football now or is it?

Ritesh Aggarwal (04:16.51)
Nah, nah, I can’t play football now, jeez. I’ve torn both hamstrings and yeah, put on a lot of weight. Put on a lot of weight. I played football but not to any sort of level. Just really loved it every day, just that’s all you do. In Liverpool, what you do, you know, you go to school, you get in, you do your homework and you play a bit of footy, you know.

Andy & Chris (04:21.719)
Oh, okay, right.

Andy & Chris (04:28.506)

Andy & Chris (04:36.932)
And what were you like as a student Rick? Were you good? You know dedicated to work?

Ritesh Aggarwal (04:41.714)
I was talking dental students or were we talking school? Pre dental school started off being good. And probably then probably then winged quite a bit, to be honest with you. I did I did enough to get me at stepping stones for me. I figured out very early on our education is stepping stones. It’s about getting onto the next rung of the ladder to get you where you need to be. And I think I started to become very efficient in the way that I studied.

Andy & Chris (04:44.346)
pre-dental school.

Andy & Chris (04:51.417)
Ha ha!

Andy & Chris (04:57.827)

Andy & Chris (05:02.359)
Mm-hmm. Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Ritesh Aggarwal (05:10.754)
that hit me. So you know I did enough to get me onto that next step.

Andy & Chris (05:11.167)

Andy & Chris (05:17.484)
Brothers, sisters, anything like that?

Ritesh Aggarwal (05:19.146)
I’m one of four, I’m the youngest of four, two older brothers and one older sister. None of them medical, none of them in the dentistry field. My parents, I grew up on top of an off-licence in Liverpool until we moved, but my parents were shopkeepers, came over from India. So yeah, there’s nothing medical in the family at all.

Andy & Chris (05:25.835)
Oh well. Hmm.

Andy & Chris (05:35.395)

Andy & Chris (05:39.474)
So what was the, you say about stepping stones, what was the stepping stone that meant you put your foot forward towards interdentistry? Yeah. They had a football team.

Ritesh Aggarwal (05:47.85)
Well, I fell into dentistry a little bit. I didn’t really know what I wanted to be when I was doing my A-levels. I’m not sure.

Do most 16, 17 year olds know what they want to be? I mean, some do and some have that pathway. And, you know, my wife was a dentist and she comes from a family of dentists, her entire family are just dentists. So she always knew that that’s what she wanted to do. I was totally different. My dad wanted me to go into medicine. I did a week’s worth of work experience at the Royal Liverpool Hospital. I found it boring as anything.

Andy & Chris (06:00.634)
Don’t think so.

Ritesh Aggarwal (06:27.524)
And literally the night before my UCAS format ended in, I stuck to Enter Street Hounds, my first choice. And there you have it now, you know, qualified in 99 and 24 years later still going.

Andy & Chris (06:32.294)

Andy & Chris (06:37.346)
But I think it’s changed, isn’t it? Because you were saying like the 16, 17 year olds know what they want to do. But I think the nature of schooling and the education system, you need to work out now kind of 12, 13, 14, what you want to do. So you choose the right A levels, you get the right A-CES points, you get to apply to dental school with the right grades. I think it’s getting a lot more channeled so much earlier. And young kids at that age, they perhaps don’t know what they want to do. And it’s a big pressure.

on young people.

Ritesh Aggarwal (07:06.77)
Yeah, I totally agree and obviously I was speaking back from back in the 80s when I was in school sort of thing But certainly nowadays the pressure I mean I would I would really not enjoy living my childhood under the pressure of what you know these guys have with social media and things that they have to have to do and the things that they have to live up to almost and Matt all the time 24, it’s like Big Brother, you know, Big Brother was a

Andy & Chris (07:10.79)

Andy & Chris (07:18.61)
Hmm. Yeah, definitely.

Andy & Chris (07:29.746)
You’re permanently under scrutiny, aren’t you? All the time.

Ritesh Aggarwal (07:36.734)
was a big thing back in the early 2000s wasn’t it? We thought, bloody hell, watch this, but that’s what it is now. It’s, you know, everything in your life. I watched, you know, even New Year’s Eve, you know, my kids that are on social media posting whatever it might be, you know, instead of just being in the moment. And that’s the way life is now, you know? And some of it’s really good. You can’t, we can’t, we can’t knock that.

Andy & Chris (07:39.426)
Yeah, yeah.


Andy & Chris (07:52.816)

Andy & Chris (07:56.263)

Ritesh Aggarwal (08:00.118)
But some of it is very detrimental in my opinion. And I think it really is a fine line there to get it right.

Andy & Chris (08:03.861)

Andy & Chris (08:07.146)
It is amazing. I remember watching that. What’s that film? Was it Bohemian Rhapsody with Remy Malik? Yeah, and I remember that the thing that really struck me was at the end you know when they’re doing Queen at Live Aid and they sort of I think they merged and they footage and you know And then they show you the crowd at Live Aid. Was it Live Aid 84? I can’t quite remember now Was it 85? And and there’s you know, I don’t know a hundred thousand people watching Queen

Ritesh Aggarwal (08:28.107)
AC5 I think.

Andy & Chris (08:34.562)
and there’s not a phone in sight. Whereas if you’d have done that now, everybody would have been recording it. To probably never watch it again, it’s like mad. Living the moment, I find it really weird. But also I think people only know what they know. Years ago, our bank manager was blind, blind from birth. And I was talking to him about the challenges of living as a blind guy. And he was phenomenal. He was the captain of England’s blind football team. He’d done some phenomenal stuff.

Ritesh Aggarwal (08:42.357)
Yeah, exactly.

Andy & Chris (09:03.034)
And he said to me something that really stuck with me. He said, I have no idea what it’s like to see. And it really hit me that for young people today, they don’t know our upbringing. They don’t know what the world is like without social media, without having a mobile phone in their pocket all the time. So we kind of feel sorry for them, but it’s with our own eyes. I think for them, that’s just the world they’re in. They don’t know anything different, is it? And it’s- But the pressure is there, isn’t it? That we never had. Yes. I think that’s the thing for everybody. I think you’re constantly under, as you say, Ricky.

Ritesh Aggarwal (09:07.586)

Ritesh Aggarwal (09:25.047)

Andy & Chris (09:32.078)
you know, big brother isn’t it? Someone’s always looking at you.

Ritesh Aggarwal (09:35.294)
It is, you know, when you make a mistake it’s out for the world to see now, you know. We made a mistake and you know, you cracked on and that’s what started to build up your own resilience in your childhood, you know. You learn from your mistakes, you learn from experience, don’t you, you know. But whereas I think there’s definitely a culture now where people are scared to make mistakes and again that’s exactly the kind of culture that we’re trying to change.

Andy & Chris (09:38.734)

Andy & Chris (09:45.762)
Yeah, I think you’re right.

Andy & Chris (09:51.216)

Andy & Chris (09:56.466)
Hmm It’s it’s really interesting this conversation I had with Henry so my son in a car yesterday We were talking about I said when you make it when you made a mistake in my age Uh in my youth a long time ago, um You basically the only people you really knew about it were you and maybe a few other people Because that was it I said was now you make a mistake and it’s out there You know, it might even go viral or whatever. I said, that’s like terrible I mean, I’m not sure we’ll come on to it, but specifically in dentistry

Ritesh Aggarwal (10:14.497)

Andy & Chris (10:26.21)
I think that potentially influences right back to dental school, how you end up with people being taught defensive dentistry. It’s all about form filling, you know, people aren’t prepared to take risks. And I’m not saying clinical risks. I’m just talking about living a bit more freely. They’re working in a very, very contained structure, which might not necessarily be great for them and also for the future of the profession. But we’re jumping ahead. So before we get to that, you’ve done your A levels, you’re a Liverpool lad.

but you then went and studied over in Sheffield. So why didn’t you stay, why didn’t you stay locally? Why did you cross the- Meadow Hall. Yes.

Ritesh Aggarwal (11:03.654)
The honest answer, I didn’t get the grade. So I was going to stay in Liverpool.

Andy & Chris (11:06.906)

Andy & Chris (11:10.03)
So that suggests that given the choice you would have decided in Liverpool, would you? Right.

Ritesh Aggarwal (11:12.862)
Yeah, yeah, at the time I was, I didn’t want to leave because, you know, A, I wanted to go to the match every week, B, well, sorry, I should have said this in the other order, my family live in Liverpool. Yeah, so, you know, family, yeah, it probably is, don’t tell me Mum and Dad. Good job, they’re no good on technology, they won’t be watching this I tell you.

Andy & Chris (11:19.677)
Mmm. Ha ha ha.

Andy & Chris (11:27.851)
It feels like that feels like the same answer. Don’t worry we’ll be sending him a link.

Ritesh Aggarwal (11:43.834)
Yeah, so yeah, I missed out by one grade so But I got accepted into Sheffield. So yeah, I went to Sheffield but by the same token, you know It’s it’s sliding doors and all that business, you know, it’s You know, I met my wife there and you know I’ve settled down here and I’ve been Sheffield ever since so I came to Sheffield in 1994 and I’ve been here ever since

Andy & Chris (11:58.309)

Andy & Chris (12:05.23)
Cool. Quite reasonably and obviously you’d have learned how to be a dentist at Sheffield. What else did you learn at dental school that you weren’t expecting?

Ritesh Aggarwal (12:16.311)
Wow, that I wasn’t expecting. That’s a good question. I learnt that there’s a lot of good footballers about. Outside of Liverpool. I learnt how to drink a bit. That was good. I learnt, yeah, probably different cultures, how diverse it was really. I think…

Andy & Chris (12:25.813)

Ritesh Aggarwal (12:42.11)
Okay, one of the biggest things I learnt was when I went to university, obviously university is very diverse, yeah? In Liverpool there wasn’t lots of Asian people at the time. There is now as a community we’ve grown and whatever, but there wasn’t lots there. It wasn’t the typical place to go and settle when you came over, you know? So I think, not necessarily

Andy & Chris (12:49.577)

Andy & Chris (12:56.624)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (13:01.193)
Mm. But.

Ritesh Aggarwal (13:10.074)
so much about diverse cultures and different people and different ways of thinking actually. So I think that was probably a good lesson for me because in Liverpool we were very, not entrenched, but you know it was very much a working-class city, you know there wasn’t many Asian people there from a cultural point of view. So you know my first proper Asian friend was when I went to university in Sheffield. I was probably one of three Asian kids in school. So…

Andy & Chris (13:18.267)

Andy & Chris (13:24.761)

Andy & Chris (13:36.754)
Wow. So, did you have non-Asian friends when you were growing up in Liverpool or were you insular?

Ritesh Aggarwal (13:43.158)
No, no, not Asian friends completely, yeah, all my friends. But also, and we weren’t, we weren’t actually, the exact opposite actually, and we had a community there, you know, so my dad was very heavily involved in the Hindu Cultural Temple, which is on Edgley in Liverpool. So you know, we had a community that was there of, well, Hindus, because that’s what we are as a religion, so that’s what went to the temple.

Andy & Chris (13:44.931)
Yeah, good.

Andy & Chris (13:57.702)

Andy & Chris (14:08.306)

Ritesh Aggarwal (14:12.835)
But I wouldn’t class them as mates, they were more sort of extended families, you know what I mean? But like my day-to-day mates were mates at school or mates on the estate or whatever, you know, so…

Andy & Chris (14:17.584)

Andy & Chris (14:21.112)

Mm-hmm. It’s interesting. We only know our own environment, don’t we? You know, we as kids we grow up and that’s just all we know. It’s like they’re just our mates That’s my world and when you go somewhere else and you see a different culture and a different mix of people you’re like, okay So something actually that’s quite different because being brought up in one city and Liverpool is a big city So you don’t really need to leave Liverpool that much. I’ve lived in London all my life So as a kid, you know, you spend all your time in London and that’s

Ritesh Aggarwal (14:27.672)

Andy & Chris (14:50.422)
incredibly diverse. So you just get used to a certain environment. But then if you then travel out to perhaps Suffolk or Norfolk, you realize how insular it is as an area. And it’s still quite contained. It’s not that diverse. So for you to go to an area as a young man and get exposed to that was actually a really valuable thing.

Ritesh Aggarwal (14:59.192)
Thank you.

Ritesh Aggarwal (15:08.898)
It was massive and even just little things like you know, it’s what you know at dance school I also had to pay me own way sort of thing. So I got a job in Meadowhall. You mentioned Meadowhall I’ve got a job in Meadowhall and just going to work at Meadowhall and being around

people who worked on a day to day basis and then going back to university life and being a student and living life and being a student. Just two totally different things and again I learned so much just from that. It’s just picking up all those, like we said before you learn from experiences don’t you and you try to evolve and become a better person through experiences and it was nice to be exposed to so many different types of experiences.

Andy & Chris (15:31.534)

Andy & Chris (15:41.761)

Andy & Chris (15:46.15)

And it probably improves, well it must have done, and it’s probably a bit of help in your practices, because it builds your communication skills, doesn’t it? Dealing with varied people, basically, whether it be social demographic, race, whatever it might be, you’d have to deal with people.

Ritesh Aggarwal (16:05.674)
I think that’s a massive thing, communication skills as a dentist as well is huge. Let’s be honest, would you guys know whether a good film was done in your mouth or not? Not really. No. But what you will know is how well you were treated during that experience.

Andy & Chris (16:10.37)

Andy & Chris (16:15.802)
No, we don’t have a clue. No. If it hurt or is expensive. Yeah, definitely. Definitely.

Ritesh Aggarwal (16:22.858)
Yeah, so good communication skills is huge and going back just slightly when we’ve touched on, you know, kids and social media and that kind of stuff. Another big problem with telephones is people communicate via text nowadays. You don’t have this kind of communication where we can just have a chat and you don’t see where it goes with us. It’s harder for people to do that. And I think that’s an art form that’s getting lost which, you know, we do need to be mindful of and very wary of actually.

Andy & Chris (16:34.147)
Mm. Ha, ha, ha.

Andy & Chris (16:41.944)

Andy & Chris (16:48.274)
It’s really interesting. One of our big bug bears is whenever we recruit a new client manager, not the older guys, but a new generation of client managers, now you get a 19-year-old in. And one of the hardest things is saying you actually have to pick up the phone. You have to answer the phone, or you have to make a phone call. And it’s like, oh, I don’t.

Ritesh Aggarwal (17:06.541)

Andy & Chris (17:12.518)
I’ve never really done that and we’re saying, you know, I remember one girl and she said yeah But I don’t know what they’re gonna ask me and we said well that’s sort of the point of picking up the phone Really is you don’t know what someone’s gonna ask you and I think you’re dead right Rick. It’s not the sort of it’s a lost skill You we’ve probably all seen that pie chart of the three elements, which is the what you say

the how you say it and your body language. And the what you say is actually the smallest component, the how you say it and your body language. And today people might be listening to this as a podcast, but if they’re on YouTube, we can see one another. So I get your facial expression, your body movement. I get your body language. So if I’m saying something that resonates, I’m gonna know immediately. And on a text message, all you get are the words. There’s no intonation, there’s no how did it feel. Whereas if you’re on the phone, at least you get the, what did it feel like, what did it sound like.

Ritesh Aggarwal (17:51.404)

Andy & Chris (18:02.388)
Whereas once it becomes a digital communication, you’ve got to be so careful. Because you missed a comma or you didn’t realise that the caps lock were on. And suddenly the whole message changes. Did you see that thing from Jodie Foster over the weekend about Gen Z? I think it was. She said, I find working with Gen Z really annoying. Because she said they don’t turn up when they say they’re going to turn up. Or they sort of tell you when they’re going to turn up. And your point is exactly right. And she said, and they will email.

Ritesh Aggarwal (18:07.202)

Andy & Chris (18:31.374)
and their emails will be terrible. She said, and I will go back to them and say, they’re spelling mistakes and grammatically wrong. She said, and their response, and I can’t remember the precise words, but it’s almost like, well, how dare you challenge me? This is the way I want to be. You’re like trying to fit me in a box. And it’s like, oh my goodness. Very interesting, very interesting. So you finish out of Sheffield Dental School.

Ritesh Aggarwal (18:51.313)
It is it.

Andy & Chris (18:56.578)
and then you come out with your GDC number, your qualified dentist, and then what did that look like? Because you have your own private practice in Sheffield now. What were the stepping stones from qualifying through to that?

Ritesh Aggarwal (19:08.422)
So I did my, it was VT at the time, my vocational training at the time, with a fabulous dentist called Mark Bishop. He’s quite well known in Sheffield actually because he’s the denture guy. So I did my training with him in a place called Mapplewell. Mapplewell’s famous for the fact it’s a place in Barnsley, it’s a tiny little village, it’s where Unpired Dicky Bird is from.

Andy & Chris (19:12.941)

Andy & Chris (19:34.322)
No! Ah!

Ritesh Aggarwal (19:35.563)
So that’s why it’s famous. It’s about two roads. So I did my VT there and I had three fabulous years there. Really, really loved it. And at that point in 2002…

Andy & Chris (19:40.059)
Ha ha ha.

Ritesh Aggarwal (19:52.498)
and me and my girlfriend at the time had gotten well we were getting engaged and we decided we’re going to get married and we thought you know what should we move near a family so one of the options was to move to back to Liverpool.

But my wife’s family lived in Loughborough and I didn’t particularly want to live in Loughborough itself so we talked about Nottingham so I was going to think about moving to one of those two places so I looked at some practices got offered a couple of jobs one in Birkdale, which I mean wishes aren’t taken actually In Birkdale and South Port just because I’m quite into golf as well. So Yeah, it’s like a golf in heaven around those parts, you know

Andy & Chris (20:15.401)

Andy & Chris (20:33.22)
Oh, yeah, yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (20:35.446)
So yeah, I got offered a job in Nottingham, that was the other option, but then I, well, I quit my job for the World Cup, I quit my VT position in time for the 2002 World Cup so I could stay at home and watch it basically. So I spent a full month.

Andy & Chris (20:52.519)
This is going back to football is quite important. Yeah, flip de flip.

Ritesh Aggarwal (20:57.31)
I spent the full month getting up at 6am watching the World Cup and being back in bed by about one in the afternoon and then getting up at five when the missus got in from work. And then I was looking for jobs in the meantime, I was going to some interviews and that kind of stuff. But then I got offered a job in Stocksbridge in Sheffield, which was a private job actually. So that was the first time I worked privately, like full privately.

Andy & Chris (21:04.418)
Wow! Flippin’ it!

Andy & Chris (21:23.558)

Ritesh Aggarwal (21:24.679)
And yeah, that was a bit of a risk to be honest with you because I was three years qualified. It felt like…

Andy & Chris (21:30.553)

Ritesh Aggarwal (21:33.274)
I’m a good enough for those things that you’re coming to your mind, you know, and One of the provisos was taking the job was to do an advanced restorative course Which was which was massive for me and my confidence actually I did it with Professor Paul Tipton so I did that back in 2002 2003 and that was a big game changer for me from a comfort perspective in my clinical ability

Andy & Chris (21:46.499)

Yeah, okay.

Andy & Chris (21:54.01)

Andy & Chris (21:57.33)
Hmm. Yeah 20 years ago. Yeah over 20 years ago. It’s mad and Paul’s scary. Isn’t it still going? Pull still pull still. Yeah, it is a remarkable beard for those of you watching on podcast I am particularly envious as to the fact of how you’ve managed to get that grooming So as the gray is right at the end. It’s I am impressed actually rick. I’ll tell you So so you get your job? Um, and that obviously was

Ritesh Aggarwal (22:02.491)

I’m gonna go play.

Ritesh Aggarwal (22:20.558)

Andy & Chris (22:26.29)
prior to you having your practice. But did you always have a plan and intention to be a principal? Did you always want to be a practice owner? Was that kind of part of the life plan?

Ritesh Aggarwal (22:38.504)
I think at the time if you had asked me that question I would have said no but I was always very much more business minded compared to dentally minded. Like I say I think the two big things I hold dear in our practice, everything else will work out, the two big things I hold dear from a business perspective in our practice is cross infection and customer service.

Andy & Chris (22:42.806)

Andy & Chris (22:49.609)
Mm. Mm, okay.

Andy & Chris (23:02.251)

Ritesh Aggarwal (23:02.502)
I think customer service is the cornerstone of any business, as we all would agree. So I think I was very much geared towards trying to do my best for people, not just specifically the two that I’m working on, if that makes sense.

Andy & Chris (23:05.354)
Yeah. Yep.

Andy & Chris (23:14.364)

Andy & Chris (23:18.715)
Mmm. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (23:20.01)
Okay, so I think probably subconsciously I was probably always going to be a business owner and but at the time I probably just wanted as little responsibility as possible and you know wanted to carry on living the life in there.

Andy & Chris (23:30.362)
Did you, you know, you know, Rick, when your mom and dad, you were saying they were sort of shopkeepers, didn’t you say? But did you used to work in the shop with them? So I just thinking, I wonder whether there’s this sort of inbuilt customer service wanting to serve people that sort of carries through to your, your dentistry in the fact of, you know, that if you’re a, if you’re an asshole as a shopkeeper, guess what, you don’t really get much repeat business.

Ritesh Aggarwal (23:39.842)
Yeah. Yay.

Ritesh Aggarwal (23:59.663)
Maybe, yeah, I think I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser. I’ve always been someone who wants to help people in some way shape or form. So I think it more comes from the fact of how can I do right by you as a person or what can I do for you. And I think serving others gives me pleasure if that makes sense. So…

Andy & Chris (24:07.299)

Andy & Chris (24:10.88)

Andy & Chris (24:23.086)
Yeah? Yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (24:24.166)
I think that’s where the majority of it comes from really, but certainly the business side of things, yeah, you know, you need to have time to shop in Liverpool, you know, that’s what we were, we were a liner, yeah.

Andy & Chris (24:36.73)
Hmm. See you in the next episode.

pleasing people because I guess part of that is having your team aligned and happy in the jobs they do, which kind of is a segue through to culture. A positive culture means that people tend to want to stick around in the place they’re in. So in another world, we value and sell dental practices. And one of the things that we look at is how long have the team been in place in a practice? And where a team have been in place for three months, four months, six months, nine months, that kind of indicates there’s probably something

that business because people aren’t sticking around. And going back to what you just said about pleasing people, if you please people, you create a good environment, they tend to want to stay there. And that also ends up becoming a strong and positive culture. What was your kind of own philosophy in trying to build a positive culture in your practice?

Ritesh Aggarwal (25:26.934)
When I set up my first practice, I was very laissez-faire in my leadership style. I very much went into it the way that we speak in terms of, if I treat you right, yous will treat me right, and everyone will be. And that was very naive. That was very naive.

Andy & Chris (25:33.315)

Andy & Chris (25:39.816)

Andy & Chris (25:43.258)
Yeah, because that doesn’t happen. No, no.

Ritesh Aggarwal (25:44.622)
because the world doesn’t work in that way. But I thought that it would do. And so I fast learned, not fast learned, it took me a while actually to learn. I learned that actually people-pleasance is not completely the right way. And actually, from a mental health perspective.

Andy & Chris (25:59.398)

Ritesh Aggarwal (26:02.346)
I think it does have detriment on my own mental health at times and I put the people’s feelings before mine and one of my big everyone’s 17 years resolutions don’t be you know we’re going to do a diet, we’re going to do exercise all this but I’ve failed at far too many of them so not my thing for this year is setting boundaries is actually it’s saying no to people because I’m like at times I am just burnt out completely.

Andy & Chris (26:04.942)
Yeah, yeah, I’m sure it did. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (26:19.802)

Andy & Chris (26:23.556)

Andy & Chris (26:28.506)

Ritesh Aggarwal (26:29.266)
and need that time to rest, to recuperate, to get myself on and so I’m going to try and use this year to say no when I need to and not be afraid to not speak my mind because I do tend to speak my mind but to be afraid to not

Andy & Chris (26:36.44)

Andy & Chris (26:54.117)

Ritesh Aggarwal (26:56.81)
It’s not in my, I haven’t got the power to have, to be in control of how somebody’s going to take something that I say. As long as I know I’m saying it in a respectful, intentional manner of good intentions, I haven’t got the power to then say how they’re going to react. So therefore, I’m usually upset with something I say, it’s not always on me and that’s something I’m going to take into this year actually.

Andy & Chris (26:57.07)

Andy & Chris (27:06.186)

Andy & Chris (27:14.529)

Hmm. I think also the great thing about boundaries is, um, we use them for our kids or we should do, but I, I was taught by some guy many years ago in, in the bank and he had a great way of doing it, which enables you to have those conversations because you set the boundaries. It’s when you haven’t got the boundaries. I think you try to have those conversations. It all sort of feels a bit weird. And, and, and he had this great thing that he described everybody as a thoroughbred or show pony.

And he said, what you need to do is effectively, he said, if you treat everybody like a show pony, you know, the donkey on the beach that you sort of like, you take off the saddle and say, be free. And the answer is it sits there and it stands there and goes, well, I don’t know what be free really means. He said, you don’t want that. You want everybody to be a thoroughbred and sort of say, right, off you go. But then you need to pull the reins back sometimes. And those are those tricky conversations. But if you’ve, if you set the boundaries, you can say, do you remember?

Ritesh Aggarwal (28:16.354)

Andy & Chris (28:16.634)
This is what we talked about. I’m pulling your boundary back and you can make that field as small as you like and then let them go again. I think once you’ve got the boundaries when you have those awkward conversations It hopefully removes you from it because actually you’re just saying that you’re not delivering what you should be doing Rather than making it about you. I think it’s great to have boundaries. Yeah, really good

Ritesh Aggarwal (28:38.338)
So I think when I first started in business and when I first had my first practice I didn’t set boundaries. I didn’t set any boundaries. Yes, or I probably was a bit of an old fashioned leader. You know, I think we touched on it before we got on air didn’t we about Alex Ferguson or whatever. Or that old sort of coach I think. I wasn’t like that but I was a bit sort of old fashioned in terms of, you know…

Andy & Chris (28:44.28)

Andy & Chris (28:51.422)

Andy & Chris (28:58.125)

Ritesh Aggarwal (29:04.766)
I tap into what my core values are, so respect is a really important part for me, it’s what something I’ve been brought up with and whatnot. Being respectful of people is massively important, if I see people who aren’t being respectful, I find that quite difficult to deal with. And again, these are things that I’ve got to work on in my own personal growth to try and deal with things a bit better. So when I first started in leadership or owning a business, I…

Andy & Chris (29:10.774)

Andy & Chris (29:21.002)

Andy & Chris (29:26.476)

Ritesh Aggarwal (29:32.965)
I didn’t set enough boundaries actually.

I didn’t have those distinct lines. Whereas now I’m totally the opposite of what I was. I set up my first practice in 2008 and what have we on now? 2024. Now I’m the exact opposite as a leader. And I talk a lot about this when I give workshops on mental health and culture in terms of being the authentic leader, being the vulnerable leader. You know, lose your

Andy & Chris (29:35.777)

Andy & Chris (29:54.886)

Andy & Chris (29:59.574)

Andy & Chris (30:03.983)
Yeah, definitely.

Ritesh Aggarwal (30:05.364)
drop your ego at the door that kind of stuff.

Andy & Chris (30:07.586)
I think it’s really important because I was just going to say that, you know, I think lots of people, when you say people please, I know that’s a good thing, that’s great. But I think in a very short term and confined space, it can be a nice thing because, you know, you’re providing good service. But I think for you as an individual, one, I think without boundaries, you have problems. But ultimately, if you all you set out to do is please other people, you’re never going to please yourself and deliver on your plan. We spoke to

Christina Raddich, she’s a dentist, she works in Spain, and she’s suffered two bouts of burnout. And she attributes the burnout to not having boundaries. She says, because I didn’t have boundaries, I was so fixated on trying to please other people and do everything. That’s what led to her burnout. And what you were saying about, you know, you have to set boundaries because it’s not good for you and your health. I think a lot of people can take so much from that.

Ritesh Aggarwal (30:43.51)

Ritesh Aggarwal (30:57.698)

Ritesh Aggarwal (31:02.57)
I used to think that if I put myself first I was being selfish. Whereas actually the more and more that I’ve gone on to this mental health journey, because that’s what it is now in terms of where I am and the work that I do, the more and more I’ve got into this mental health journey I’ve actually realised that actually self-care is not being selfish at all. You have to have this self-care. You have to be.

Andy & Chris (31:08.147)

Andy & Chris (31:16.798)

Andy & Chris (31:24.434)

Ritesh Aggarwal (31:27.89)
in the correct frame of mind yourself personally so you can then help others and that’s yeah and that’s where my people please me for my mind comes from the fact that i enjoy helping others that’s what i’ve that’s what i said to you before but if i’m mentally or do not have the mental capacity to do that because i’m mentally unhealthy or mentally ill at times then i’m not going to be able to do that you know so it took me a long time to learn that but i’m now learning that so that’s the next phase of my life

Andy & Chris (31:32.89)
So you can lead.

Andy & Chris (31:45.479)

Oh, yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (31:54.23)
Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think the biggest things I learned in the bank was that I had to get my head around that people don’t think Like me. That was the one that was the one I really struggled with to start with when I first started being a manager in The bank it was like what why did you not think like that? And the answer is they just didn’t think like that because they don’t think like me And and it takes a while I felt to recognize it and then once you sort of got it you go

Ritesh Aggarwal (32:03.008)

I’m going to go ahead and turn it off.

Ritesh Aggarwal (32:22.183)
Yeah, my wife would say the same thing to me. We don’t think the same.

Andy & Chris (32:28.62)
So, was it your own experience that led you co-founding Synergy Mental Health? Was it this kind of discovery of people pleasing, the risks of burnout and boundaries? Was that kind of put you on that path?

Ritesh Aggarwal (32:40.822)
I’d love to give you that holistic answer, but that’s not how it happened. That’s not how it happened. I sold my NHS practice in 2017.

Andy & Chris (32:45.448)
You’re nothing if not honest. Oh go on, because we can edit this out. It’ll just make you feel better.

Ritesh Aggarwal (32:59.246)
The plan was, so my wife unfortunately had to retire in 2013, my last child, she has rheumatoid arthritis so as a dental she can’t bend the fingers anymore so she couldn’t work so the plan was to get a bit of a slower pace of life, sell the NHS practice, have this small one surgery private practice which I have now and just work there three or four days a week, earn a comfortable living and you know just chill out and be happy sort of thing, have the most lavish lifestyle and

Andy & Chris (33:06.831)
Oh dear. Dear me, yeah.

Andy & Chris (33:13.347)

Ritesh Aggarwal (33:29.583)

And then when I sold the practice I had a few quid on my hip and I got involved in some business with some entrepreneurs essentially. It didn’t quite work out unfortunately, but I made an investment into a company and they asked me to be a consultant for this company. I was like, what have you got something dental related? And they said no, they said we just quite like the way that you think and whatever, will you help us out? And the first job I did was on depression and anxiety.

Andy & Chris (33:57.79)
I don’t know.

Ritesh Aggarwal (34:00.72)
treatment called transcranial magnetic stimulation, TMS for short, which was invented in Sheffield. And I did a consultation job for them on that and it just fuelled this passion massively. So my biggest problem with mental health is how poorly assessed it is, okay? As a part of medicine.

Andy & Chris (34:24.313)

Ritesh Aggarwal (34:29.17)
It’s probably the most poorly assessed part of medicine that’s there. And there’s an interesting bit of paper that’s come out now actually from a professor at Cambridge University. It’s very, very recent and who talks about that depression is a physical illness, not a mental illness. This professor says that depression causes inflammation of the brain. So you need to treat the inflammation of the brain, which is a physical symptom and that will help with your depression.

Andy & Chris (34:45.232)

Andy & Chris (34:54.798)
Wow. I wonder whether from a, we talk about kind of the stigmas of mental health. I wonder whether it transitioning across to being a physical health issue would help some people in terms of how it’s treated, how they feel about it. Because one of the things is, when we talk about, if you said to anybody health, people immediately jump to their physical health. And if we talk about mental health, we always preface the word health with mental.

Ritesh Aggarwal (35:17.762)

Andy & Chris (35:22.45)
where you talk about mental health. And if you talk about health, it generally refers to physical. It’s true, isn’t it? Whereas if you just get to- Physical health is physical health, but mental health is mental health. But if you can get to a point where you just talk about health. So whilst it’s a very subtle change, the fact that has become a physical issue might actually try and remove some of the stigma that is still associated with mental health issues, which is mad that we’re in 2024, but it’s still what it is.

Ritesh Aggarwal (35:46.638)
Definitely. Most people, in anything, most people want to understand what’s wrong, yeah? So let’s say you’ve got a lump on your hand, whatever it might be, okay, or what not. You sit there and you probably worry about this lump a little bit, you probably go, oh, I’ve got a lump there, that’s not good, and all sorts of things will then go through you, and if you’re…

Andy & Chris (35:54.369)

Ritesh Aggarwal (36:11.666)
if you’re that way inclined, I’m not, because Google Doc will tell you all sorts of things wrong with you, you know. But people will start to Google it and then they’ll start to get themselves even more and more worked up because they don’t understand it. And once they understand it, no matter what that lump is, whether it’s sinister or not, the understanding part actually leads to a little bit of relief. Because then most people can then actually start to think, okay, now I know what’s wrong, how can I then deal with it? Yeah?

Andy & Chris (36:17.267)
Ha ha ha!

Andy & Chris (36:22.034)
It’s stressed, yeah.

Andy & Chris (36:29.446)

Andy & Chris (36:33.638)

Andy & Chris (36:40.014)
Yeah. We’ve got a pathway. Yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (36:41.438)
Okay, in terms of in terms of mental health, we don’t know that we don’t know what’s wrong. So what the big part of my journey and where I’m wanting to get to ultimately is I mentioned about assessing I want to assess mental health with more robust objective biomarkers that will allow us to understand. Okay, because it’s. Well, it’s all subjective, isn’t it?

Andy & Chris (36:58.848)
Mm. Rather than someone’s opinion almost, yeah. Yeah, yeah, that’s true, yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (37:04.174)
When you said before about the physical health and mental health and you’re dead right in terms of we talk about health and people automatically assume your overall health, your physicality, your weight, diet, all that business. But we always talk about mental health.

Andy & Chris (37:12.944)
Mm. Mm-hmm.


Ritesh Aggarwal (37:15.934)
Yeah, and we never talk about mental illness. We always call it mental health, which is good and bad really, you know, there’s so many ways you can take these words and phrases that we use within the industry. But if we started to get a more robust way of assessing the problem, which is what ultimately my team wanna work on at Synergy, is if we get a more robust way of assessing.

Andy & Chris (37:40.709)

Ritesh Aggarwal (37:44.742)
and start to be able to profile individuals. We can move away from that one subjective point of view to that one size fits all approach that generally, well, okay, you’re struggling, here’s a prescription, go and see how you get on for the next four weeks and we’ll come back and review you. Well, that don’t really work for everyone, that doesn’t work for me.

Andy & Chris (37:51.41)

Andy & Chris (38:02.048)

Andy & Chris (38:05.954)
And is this related to you were saying that only one in eight people with a mental health condition receive appropriate treatment? And is this the problem? Is this a problem that people aren’t accurately assessed? So the treatment they get isn’t appropriate for their situation?

Ritesh Aggarwal (38:13.782)

Ritesh Aggarwal (38:20.638)
If you’ve got toothache and I prescribed every time to you guys and go, you know what, you’ve got toothache, let’s just take your tooth out. Well, you’re not really the appropriate treatment. You might need a filling, you might need a root carl, you might not, it might just have a bit of food stuck in between your teeth. Do you know what I mean? It’s that sort of principle. Okay, we’re moving away from that and there’s a lot more of the techniques now where, you know, CBT, whatever it might be, you know, there’s other interventions out there, but…

Andy & Chris (38:30.619)

Andy & Chris (38:35.331)

Ritesh Aggarwal (38:46.058)
Generally speaking, yeah, the one in eight, you know, that was a research paper written quite some time ago. If you don’t get the diagnostic part right, if you don’t get the assessment part right, how can you get the treatment plan part right? How can you then get the treatment right? That is the same principle in dentistry.

Andy & Chris (38:52.454)

Andy & Chris (39:02.118)
Mm-hmm And it’s I suppose it’s also that thing when you think of that Christina and had two burnouts and one of the questions We asked her wasn’t it? You know, how did you know and basically it was she didn’t really know until it happened And then you think this I mean the suicide rate of dentists is it the second highest? I think of the farmers or something. It’s it’s really high in comparison. So Yeah, I mean and that’s probably this

Ritesh Aggarwal (39:25.897)
That’s as well. That’s.

Andy & Chris (39:29.73)
independence, insular, maybe not, identify, not wanting to discuss it. So anything you can do that almost removes and makes it more objective has got to be good, hasn’t it? Because you can sort of say, oh, right. But you say it about using biomarkers because typically what tends to happen is you wait for there to be a symptom, a physical symptom of some sort, you know, somebody’s incredibly unhappy or they don’t turn up to work or, you know, they burst into tears or whatever it might be. But…

What sort of biomarkers are out there? Because we all know that prevention is better than cure. So are there things that you can track to see whether somebody’s on a pathway where there’s likely to be an episode of some sort coming down the line?

Ritesh Aggarwal (40:12.818)
Yeah, I mean, you know, there’s so my business partner is a medical doctor and he’s a neuroscientist at Cambridge University. OK, so in a growing body of research within neuroscience and dysregulation in electrical activity in your brain can potentially lead to mental health disorders. OK, so we use EG, which is.

Andy & Chris (40:33.199)

Ritesh Aggarwal (40:38.666)
electrical encephalography, okay, we use EEG to measure the electrical activity in your brain, okay, and if we can start to profile people as individuals and see what their electrical activity is and we get more and more data on people, then you’re then more likely to understand what’s happening with that person and when they’re going to have ups and downs. Now it’s not, it’s not 100% perfect.

Andy & Chris (40:51.909)

Andy & Chris (40:56.77)
Yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (41:06.84)

Ritesh Aggarwal (41:07.234)
But it’s certainly better than just let’s fill out nine questions, which is what you do to measure depression. You do a PHQ9. Let’s fill out nine questions. You’ve got four responses and we’ll give you the score. And that’s how you feel today. You know what I mean? We have to combine it all. We have to combine everything to create a profile as opposed to just snapshots in time. And we have to have profiles.

Andy & Chris (41:18.594)
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, how you feeling today? Yeah.

Andy & Chris (41:25.88)

Andy & Chris (41:29.77)
I mean, it’s really exciting. I’m thinking about you’ve got Whoop, which is obviously the markers for physical health. You’ve now got this Zoe program, which are the markers for gut health. You know, are we, is it fantasy land to think there might be a system, a process, a service of some sort, where you could actually start to look at markers for your mental health, so you can preempt potential issues coming down the line.

Ritesh Aggarwal (41:54.998)
It’s not fancy land at all. I’ve been working in this field since 2017 and we set up Synergy in 2019 and that’s how we started to go about. We then got an NHS research contract in 2020 to research this very thing that we’re talking about because this is our concept of what we want to do. We now want to combine it with AI, machine learning techniques as well. But we haven’t got the funding to do it and that’s the problem. This could be done. This could have been done.

Andy & Chris (42:11.354)
Well… Mmm.

Andy & Chris (42:20.666)

Ritesh Aggarwal (42:24.822)
decades ago.

Andy & Chris (42:26.018)
Wow, and this is well, I was gonna get really I was gonna get really Yeah, I was gonna get really Machiavellian and saying I wonder if that’s because the big pharma companies Would prefer to sell you? Just being cynical, do you know what I mean that thing of the fact of

Ritesh Aggarwal (42:30.084)
It’s gonna get deep political.

Ritesh Aggarwal (42:38.146)

Ritesh Aggarwal (42:43.662)
Well, yeah, 100% but there will be an element to that for sure. There will be an element to that for sure. And this, I’m not saying that, I’m not saying what I’m saying is 100% correct, but what I am saying is that it needs to be checked out whether it’s going to be correct or not.

Andy & Chris (42:49.687)

Ritesh Aggarwal (43:00.574)
or we need to look at different, the best way to do it would be to do an MRI, but that’s too costly. It’s impossible, but we could do an EEG. It’s a bit like your headphones that you guys are wearing now. It’s a headset that goes on to you, measure surface activity. It can be done within five minutes. It can be done by a practice nurse in a GP’s office, and the data can be pushed out to us, and we can analyze it within seconds, because of the tools that we’ve created. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (43:00.982)

Andy & Chris (43:05.202)
Mm. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (43:10.915)

Andy & Chris (43:14.301)

Andy & Chris (43:23.978)
I mean it is interesting because my one of my daughters is a

I don’t know. She’s got a master’s in something. She’s a counselor and trauma specialist and works in school and counsels, you know, women, men, whatever. And she said, it is fascinating, especially in the young people, the number of people that come to her with suicidal tendencies and emotional. She said, it’s frightening really. That, you know, it goes back to our conversation about social media in a way, but she said, you know, it’s, it’s frightening. And then, and then there’s also the other side of it. She says there’s some people who come to her and say,

Ritesh Aggarwal (43:53.475)

Andy & Chris (43:56.888)
I’ve got so and so.” And she said, well, no, you’re just having a bad day. She said, it’s quite interesting that almost the whole pendulum has swung from no one wanting to talk about mental illness or mental health to now sometimes people almost going the other way. And it’s so hard, but something like yours, which would be this independent sort of objective view is brilliant, I think.

Ritesh Aggarwal (44:00.77)

Ritesh Aggarwal (44:21.354)
Well, it will be. It’s a few years off yet. We need to get it going.

Andy & Chris (44:24.278)
Yeah, anyone listening who’s got some funding, which probably could be, I wonder if you could be EIS, I imagine you’d probably give some EIS on that. But for where we are as a society, it’s really, really important valuable work, isn’t it? Yeah, that’s kind of almost, thinking back to the technology that’s available to help people in terms of physical health and gut health. You know,

brain and mental health is kind of the missing link in that whole wellbeing piece. So to hear you’re doing work in this area is really exciting.

Ritesh Aggarwal (44:54.654)
It is and you know we like I said like I said before it’s probably

it’s probably the only part of medicine or science that’s so badly assessed and it’s been and we’re using techniques that have been around since the 80s and the 70s and the 90s you know what I mean we’re now in 2024 you know we’re in this we’re in this world where everything is at your fingertips all on you know wearables they’re going to measure your heart rate you know your apple watch is going to beep at you to say that your heart rate’s gone up a bit higher than what it should be you know but yet we still don’t really do anything

Andy & Chris (45:04.437)

Andy & Chris (45:11.094)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (45:20.807)

Andy & Chris (45:24.515)

Ritesh Aggarwal (45:29.138)
on the mental health side of things and Apple have tried to get into this world actually. They’ve launched a new mental health part as part of their health metrics. But again it’s too simplified in terms of what it is. It’s not really going to give you what you need. But we’ll get there. We’ll get there.

Andy & Chris (45:30.318)

Andy & Chris (45:38.118)
Hmm. Yeah, right.

Andy & Chris (45:47.28)
Hmm. Is there other work in other countries that are pushing further forward than we are or is this quite a new space globally?

Ritesh Aggarwal (45:55.151)
America’s massive, you know, in terms of this kind of tech and EG, America, Asia, way ahead of us. But Americans in general, you know, we always start talking about mental health.

We never used to talk about it as a culture, as a society. Whereas you could be down on the pub with your mate in America and they say what are you doing tomorrow? Oh yeah, I’m gonna see my therapist at 10 and I’m gonna be on the golf course at 12 or whatever it might be. No problems. Men’s mental health, how often do we say that amongst each other? How often do we say that we’re struggling? I just mentioned before on this talk that we’re doing that I have times when I struggle. I have times massively when I struggle massively with my mental health. I will have times in the future when I’m gonna struggle.

Andy & Chris (46:13.623)

Andy & Chris (46:20.686)
See you, see you.

Andy & Chris (46:25.499)
Um, yeah.

Andy & Chris (46:35.76)

Ritesh Aggarwal (46:41.232)
know that what I have started to become I’ve become better equipped to deal with it even if it’s just recognizing when those times are so I then back to that understanding piece to say okay Rick you’re not 100% to you now you need to just try and get yourself through these times and it’s hard at times.

Andy & Chris (46:41.368)

Andy & Chris (46:49.345)

Andy & Chris (46:56.754)
I think that recognition is probably the key bit. As you were saying, you know, you’ve been saying all the way Rick, it’s that actually saying, oh, okay, I might need to do something or even just recognise something and then you can do something. Yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (46:59.691)
Thank you.

Ritesh Aggarwal (47:09.622)
So, again, going on to some of the other work that we do in organisations then, for instance, and we talk about culture and building workplace cultures. How many business owners out there, how many dental practises out there understand the culture of their business? They might think they do, but they don’t really, they don’t back it up with metrics, they don’t have a data-driven approach. And understanding it and recognising it and allowing people the psychological safety to talk about it.

is then going to allow them to build a proper long-term sustained behavioural change culture. That’s what we need. We need that in any business. So, recognising what’s happening in anything, whether it’s within your workplace, whether it’s within yourself, whether it’s in your home, whether it’s in your marriage, whatever, it’s massive, it’s massive to anything.

Andy & Chris (47:43.206)

Andy & Chris (47:57.638)
Hmm. What’s good is, is yeah, it’s good for business because whilst people do care, um, selfishly, lots of people are also running a profit loss account and, and they’re looking at the bottom line. And I think

being able to demonstrate there being a true business value in understanding more of our culture from a data-driven perspective is really important. More likely for an investment. Well, yeah, because it’s a brutal reality, isn’t it? As a small business owner, you know, people are trying to kind of make their ends meet. But if there is something that means that if we better understand culture, we better understand the data, which means we do have a happier team. We have a more loyal team. That’s going to feed back into the business.

That’s quite a nice circle that closes the loop on itself, isn’t it? Definitely.

Ritesh Aggarwal (48:43.39)
100% but we’ve got that data now, we’ve got that data in terms of the benefits of implementing basic mental health programs. Okay, so Deloitte publishes a report every year, they say that for every £1 spent there’s an approximate £4 return on investment. So where does that come from? Well, what are the biggest issues in dentistry at the minute? Probably recruitment and retention you’d say.

Andy & Chris (48:53.208)

Ritesh Aggarwal (49:12.518)
that’s a massive problem. So for you to recruit a member of staff it costs you two thirds of the annual salary of that staff member. Now that’s a lot of money to spend. That’s a big number to recruit if someone’s on

Andy & Chris (49:12.576)

Yeah, definitely.

Andy & Chris (49:32.703)
That’s a big number, yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (49:36.642)
30k that’s gonna cost you 20k to recruit that person around in terms of all the time efforts everything get them trained up Whatever massive well, so it’s much better to keep your stuff. Yeah Yeah, as we talked about before new guys value businesses as you as you say so and use look at cultures So keeping your staffs massively informed So if we can improve our workplace cultures and we can show that we’re improving it with data driven insights Yeah

Andy & Chris (49:41.786)

Andy & Chris (49:48.046)
Hmm, yeah, definitely.

Andy & Chris (50:00.967)


Ritesh Aggarwal (50:05.614)
we can act upon and then remeasure and act upon again and remeasure and have this continual cycle then you’re more likely to keep your staff therefore you’re not going to have recruitment costs you know what I mean so which is your bottom line so the business case is there within two seconds of me talking about it you know everyone knows that we should be doing it and everyone thinks that they are doing it but I just wonder whether everyone is really doing it and it’s hard

Andy & Chris (50:09.231)

Andy & Chris (50:15.586)
Mm-hmm. Which goes to the bottom line, yeah.

Andy & Chris (50:23.854)

Ritesh Aggarwal (50:35.806)
you know, we go back to me as a dentist, let’s say I’m not in this space. So I’m a dentist and let’s say I’m a full-time dentist and I’m also a full-time business owner. Well, there’s two job roles that I’m trying to do in a one week number of hours straight away. Yeah. Not to mention you’ve got your family life and all that business. Yeah. And then also I’ve got to go to the match to go to Anfield as well. That takes time, you know.

Andy & Chris (50:47.586)
Yeah, yeah, yeah and you’re I said you’re a dad and a husband as well

Andy & Chris (50:57.074)
Yeah, sure, yeah, sure, yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (50:59.946)
You know, there’s a lot going on there. So then you’re then chucking in other things. It’s easy to shift people to focus on. Well, actually, you know, let’s just crack on with the dentistry still, because that’s what we is bringing in the bottom line and creating the profits. And it is that is what’s creating the profits. But the hidden costs are not addressed. And that and also as well, from a societal point of view, forget about bottom line. From a societal point of view, it’s the right thing to do. We know that our work life.

Andy & Chris (51:11.567)

Andy & Chris (51:17.829)

Andy & Chris (51:27.459)
Yes. Mm.

Ritesh Aggarwal (51:28.65)
and our home life are intrinsically linked, they’re absolutely woven. Yeah? So if we can improve our work life, it will have a knock-on effect to that person’s home life, and vice versa. And if that person’s home life is improved, it will have a knock-on effect to their work life. Increases productivity, etc. reduces presenteeism, etc. So you know, there’s a lot of things that will do this, and then that filters down out if we’ve got happier, healthier people in a more engaged workforce.

Andy & Chris (51:31.235)

Ritesh Aggarwal (51:56.15)
then society-wise we’re better, because people learn better within communities, et cetera. It knocks on.

Andy & Chris (51:58.564)

Yeah, true, very true. You’re quite a big picture guy. Lots of the things you’re talking about are things that I guess some people will find a bit challenging or they’ll see us being almost down the line in terms of future. On a day-to-day basis, do you also sweat the small stuff as well?

Ritesh Aggarwal (52:08.12)

Ritesh Aggarwal (52:23.754)
Yeah massively. Yeah I probably, I probably focus on the small stuff a bit too much at times and again this is a…

Andy & Chris (52:28.773)
You’re not always living out in the future.

Andy & Chris (52:35.8)
It’s always the way though isn’t it, because that’s your most immediate isn’t it?

Ritesh Aggarwal (52:39.454)
It is, you know, you do and certainly, again, you know, going through my own business journey, you know, when I think back on some of the things I used to get wound up on thinking, oh my Lord, what were you thinking about getting wound up about that? Why do you waste all that energy? You know, whereas, whereas now I’m again getting better at it. But yeah, this time, because you revert to type as a person, you know, we can talk about personal growth all we want, but you still have some core things that you revert back to.

Andy & Chris (52:52.311)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (53:00.614)

Andy & Chris (53:06.423)

Ritesh Aggarwal (53:07.634)
I’m a bit of a perfectionist which is a massive problem in dentistry and that’s a massive problem within me as a person. I like things to be done in a certain way and I like them to be done spot-on. Do you know what I mean? And when they’re not, I’m constantly… And I have to tell myself, just stop, just stop, stop wiping down that surface 20,000 times. What’s wrong with you? Just stop. You know, it’s clean, exactly. Exactly.

Andy & Chris (53:11.751)

Andy & Chris (53:20.306)

Andy & Chris (53:30.646)
It’s clean, it’s clean.

Ritesh Aggarwal (53:36.306)
Yeah, it’s… Yeah, two sweaters more stuff basically.

Andy & Chris (53:45.386)
It’s been a wonderful chat. I mean, I can’t believe it. I think the work you’re doing, particularly around the mental health bit and using that data, I think there’s a, it sounds like we’ve only kind of scratched the surface in terms of the potential of what it could mean for society and also drilling it down to dentistry. You know, there’s issues within dentistry where people really need to get a handle on that side. So I think it’s exciting work.

it’s just going to take a time for it to come together. We always finish up with, I guess, with the same two questions. Given that there’s been a weaving of football through our conversation, I’ve got a- I wonder where in this movie, yeah. I’ve got a feeling where one of them might go, but let’s find out, let’s find out. So our first question is, if you could be a fly on the wall in a situation, where would that be and who would be there?

Ritesh Aggarwal (54:37.894)
I would I’ve got a bit of a story about this I’ll be quite quick Champions League final 2005 yes okay so I had two free tickets for that game right hospitality all set to go and I’m booking flights I’m booking flights and whatever and I said to the missus I said oh by the way this is about a week before so by the way I’m going to Turkey for the football she went all right okay

Andy & Chris (54:44.594)
Was that Istanbul? Yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (55:04.766)
I said it matches on Wednesday but I’m going to go on Tuesday I’ll be back by Thursday whatever. So I’m booking for that and she goes what date is that? I said 25th of May or something. And she’s going on and on and on about what date. I’m like I’m thinking your birthday is in October I was born in September we got married in August what’s the problem here? She says you know your child and we had one child at the time so you know your daughter.

birthday it’s a first birthday so I probably put the laptop down didn’t book a flight and at halftime I was possibly a little bit glad about that this does actually bring me back into your question so I would like to have been a fly on the wall in that Liverpool dressing room at halftime I’d love to know I know this being to it’s come out Rafa was talking about you know the badge and this and you’ll never walk alone but I’d love to have listened to every

Andy & Chris (55:37.287)

Andy & Chris (55:47.152)
Oh yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (56:04.694)
to pick those people up from probably the most humiliating first half in Champions League football in a final to then go on to possibly the best final ever. So I would love to have been on Final Wall to listen to that dressing room, Rafa, Stephen Gerrard.

Andy & Chris (56:05.275)

Andy & Chris (56:13.214)

Andy & Chris (56:16.742)

Andy & Chris (56:21.37)
I think that’s fascinating because basically all he had was words. The players were the same players. They had the same skill. And just by saying a few key things to people, it completely changed their mindset, which fed through to their behavior, which got a different result. And I think going back to that thing between sport and business, you know, how we communicate with people is really, really important. And that’s such a, an incredible case study that guy had less than 15 minutes to send a message to a group of players.

that meant the result in the second half was so materially different from the first half. For those that don’t know, Liverpool went on to win that game. They do now anyway.

Ritesh Aggarwal (56:57.262)
I’m sure they know. Well, Scouts has told everyone about that game so I’m sure they know. It is really important, you know, and if you think about it, all of us have his words. As a business owner, as a practice principal or whatever, I can go in there and I can do whatever I can. All I have is my words to try and motivate my team. They’ve got the best items to let, you know, get them to shine. And you talked about, you know, sport and business and whatnot.

Andy & Chris (57:10.405)
Yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (57:18.335)

Ritesh Aggarwal (57:27.03)
the link, the marginal gain side of things, the improvement by 1%, if we can improve every area, so we gather metrics for businesses, yeah? If we can then improve those metrics by 1% in every single domain, then knock on effect on the entire amount is massive. As Abe Brailsford said that about cycling, yeah? It’s huge, but we don’t look at it in that way.

Andy & Chris (57:36.035)

Oh. Massive. Yeah.


Andy & Chris (57:48.558)
Yeah. And our follow-up question is you’re given the opportunity to meet somebody. You can sit down with a cup of coffee, red wine, glass of beer, whatever you fancy. Who would you like to meet if you were given the opportunity?

Ritesh Aggarwal (58:00.234)
Well, I can’t meet this person now because they’ve died, but I am a massive Prince fan. So, I would have loved to have sat and… Prince is a massive part of my life, huge part, as in music gets… mental health-wise, helps me get through times when I’m struggling, that kind of stuff, just music. I use a lot of music therapy. And, yeah, I would love to have done… I would love to have…

Andy & Chris (58:05.476)

Andy & Chris (58:20.014)

Andy & Chris (58:28.599)
Hmm. There was a situation relating to Prince wasn’t there in your past as well?

Ritesh Aggarwal (58:32.857)
Well, so I was part…

I am a massive Prince fan so I’m a bit of a geek on this so I was part of the MPG music club which is the new power generation music club. But that allowed you to get front row tickets or go to the sound checks and things like that. So he was playing at the Manchester Academy, the O2 Academy, so quite a small venue and we went to the sound check and that was brilliant, absolutely amazing just watching some guy at work and he was just chatting a little bit and whatever. He had a very deep voice as well in my heart, a deep talking voice.

Andy & Chris (58:41.98)
Oh, okay, alright, excellent.

Ritesh Aggarwal (59:03.518)
and then during the concert the front three rows got invited up on stage and it’s the biggest regret in my life that I didn’t go up and I probably thinking about it I bottled it a little bit because you had to go up the stage well you had to go up the stage and dance now if anyone’s seen me dance you probably understand why I bottled it a little bit no it was all three rows so I could have probably hidden away yeah but he was calling people out and things like that so um

Andy & Chris (59:13.582)
Right. Hey, really?


Andy & Chris (59:21.585)
Ah, okay. But, one at a time, or all together? You’re hidden at the back or something, yeah.

Ritesh Aggarwal (59:31.802)
Yeah, it should have got up on stage and done that, but then some of the people that were left on the stage at the end were all crowded around his piano as he played the next song, which just would have been amazing. Yeah, and so… Nah, I wasn’t young, I was… I’d qualified, that would have been about 2004-ish, I reckon. Like four-ish, so yeah, poor choice.

Andy & Chris (59:32.749)
Ha ha

Andy & Chris (59:41.19)
Oh, uh… How old were you, Rick? Were you young, old?

Andy & Chris (59:52.701)
Oh, okay. Wow.

It’s lovely to hear though, you still take so much power from his music as well. Music’s very powerful, isn’t it?

Ritesh Aggarwal (59:59.93)
Oh massive, every day. I listen to a Prince song, at least one, every single day. My wife gets well bored, but you know. Well, my practice colours are purple. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s just amazing. It is, it is, it is. Hey, that could be a good name though, I like that one.

Andy & Chris (01:00:07.674)
Wow. Wait. Flip.

Andy & Chris (01:00:12.658)
Do you dress in purple? Wasn’t he very apt to purple, wasn’t he?

Are they? Interesting. It’s a homage to the man. It’s called Prince Dental. It’s been wonderful. Thank you for your time. I think it’s been your story, but I think the work you’re doing at the moment is really important. If you could let us perhaps have a link for your Synergy page, we’ll add that in the guest notes just so that…

If people want to find out more about it, they may have access to some resources or some people that might be able to help you push that project forward as well.

Ritesh Aggarwal (01:00:52.982)
Well, it’s not just the other part. We can help that practices right now. You know, we can help improve cultures. We’ve got a load of resources that will help individuals and organizations to improve as well. So, yeah, I’d love to give you that link. That’s really cool.

Andy & Chris (01:00:57.134)
Yes. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (01:01:08.078)
Yeah, that’d be brilliant. If you could, that’d be great. But no, we really appreciate your time today. It’s been great fun. Yeah, cheers, Dre. Thanks, man. Cheers.

Ritesh Aggarwal (01:01:11.766)
Thank you very much.


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