Dr. Alan Stern

“It’s a very raw story because, like every one of us, I’m imperfect. When I got out of dental school, I really thought that I should have that big house and be driving that Lexus. To add to it, I thought I should be on live radio because I speak well and it was an opportunity to both advertise my practice and become like one of the ‘celebrity big boys.’ Then, all of a sudden, 9/11 hit, and the economy went downhill from there. I was in my mid-fifties and living in this lovely house that’d be worth at least a million dollars today, but my wife and I were living paycheck to paycheck. Unfortunately, I was not following a plan that was appropriate for me—and I’m responsible for those decisions. But when my new financial adviser came along and told me I had to sell the house, it felt like a hit to my pride. I was a 30-year dentist and I’d have to sell my house? Nonetheless, I did it. And, when I did it, I cried for weeks afterward. What was the world going to think? What was my community going to think? What were my colleagues and patients going to think when they found out the great Dr. Stern was living in a townhouse? But we settled in. Thank God I married the right girl; my wife was supportive and we did what we had to do. Soon enough, there was money in my pocket. My debt to income ratio which had been awful was now becoming manageable. I was creating a cash flow. I had money to hire a personal trainer, nutritionist, and even go to Vegas like my wife and I loved to do. Overall, I became liberated. If a patient didn’t accept a case, my life wasn’t depending on it anymore—things got better. The big lesson I learned was not to compare yourself to anyone else. If you live in a beautiful, magnificent home you have earned, I have no idea what price you’ve paid for it. You need to practice according to your happiness; don’t force yourself to work too hard just to impress others… Whatever idea you have about what a dentist should earn, practice gratitude by knowing that, no matter what, you’re doing just fine.”