In Culture by Dental Entrepreneur

If I had to pick an all-time fave DE issue, this would be it. From the cover to the stories inside, there are superIGNITERS everywhere. With that, although each contributor shares a different story, there are three words that unify them: Clarity, Culture and Create.


From @studentdoctormeesh to @sarabustos and all the talented dental students and young dentists in between, clarity of purpose is crystal-clear. You see, it doesn’t necessarily matter what your passion is. It doesn’t matter what your personal and professional vision is. What matters is how vivid that vision is and that you focus all of your energy on it. Knowing where you’re headed is the single most important piece of starting strong.

I know your “real life” can seem far away. As a dental student, you’re not alone in that feeling. That said, as crazy and time constrained as you are, deep down, you know you have an hour or two a week. You could use that time to invest in yourself. Don’t overthink this. Find a comfy spot and do a little dreaming. In your most perfect of worlds, what do you see when you wake up in the morning and look out your window? Where are you?

  • On a beach?
  • In the mountains?
  • Big city?
  • Tiny town?

There’s no right or wrong answer. There’s only right or wrong for you. Once you have a sense of where, the next question is, with who?

  • Married?
  • Kids?
  • Single?
  • Pets?
  • Parents?
  • Siblings?

Think about it. Choose a path. And don’t worry, you’re allowed to change your mind. You just have to start somewhere.


Once you know who you want to be when you grow up, you get to build a culture around it. You get to choose whether you’re going to be:

  • Adventurous
  • Laid back
  • Serious
  • Silly

What suits you best? Who do you need on your personal team at home to help ensure you’re living your life, your way, every day? Who do you need on your professional team to do the same? Clarity + culture = your motivation to press on during the tough times. I’m not saying your path will always be easy. But I am saying it will be worth it.


By investing time answering the above, you’ve created a roadmap – your roadmap. You know where you are – trapped in school. You now know where you’re going – living your life. And the last part will be by design!

All that’s left is creating great habits that get you there. With that, there are two big picture items to know.

  1. Say yes to habits that support your culture and your clarity of purpose.
  2. Say no thank you to everything else.

The first isn’t going to be all that hard for most of you. The second is where the good become great. If you’re anything like most dental students we work with at igniteDDS, you will be presented with countless distractions that look a whole lot like amazing opportunities. But translate that to your personal life for a hot minute … FOMO. (Fear of missing out) How many times have you: Gone out on a random night because of it? Jumped on Instagram too many times for the same? What you choose not to do is as important as what you choose to do! Let me say that again. It may be the most important lesson in this piece.

What you choose NOT TO DO is as important as what you choose to do!

So here’s where each C – Clarity, Culture and Create – come together. If you don’t have clarity of purpose, how will you recognize the distractions disguised as opportunities? If you don’t have a culture and a team of people around to support you, how will you stick to that clear picture you created when times get tough? And in true 180-degree fashion, I’m going to flip the formula and read it right to left. If you don’t constantly create with intention, how will you support your culture and fulfill your clarity of purpose?

Friends, you have chosen the greatest profession there is. Choose to do what our cover model competition winners have chosen. Spend time getting Clarity of purpose, building a Culture that supports it and Creating the life you’ve always dreamed of.

And when you have any question at all, use my favorite three-letter word in the English language, “ASK.” I am always happy to help!

David Rice, DDS, is on a mission to improve our profession by leading the next generation of dentists to grow successful lives and practices. The founder of igniteDDS, Dr. Rice speaks to over 35 dental schools and residency programs a year on practice building, team building and wealth building. Dr. Rice is a private practitioner, educator, author, and mentor who connects students, young dentists, and professionals from diverse dental-related businesses – “fueling passion beyond the classroom.”