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Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: So welcome, everybody to this week's podcast episode for the financial freedom for physicians podcast. And I'm your host, Dr. Christopher Loo. And as we talk about four different types of freedom, financial, emotional, time, and location freedom. And the podcast has grown so that my sphere of influence is growing, and I'm trying to get the word out to the masses. So I bring in creatives, entrepreneurs, people inside and outside of medicine, doing innovative cutting edge things, to bring you the latest information so that you can live inspired, educated, informed, so that you can live your own personal freedom journey. So today, we have a special guest, Dr. Angela Mulrooney, and she's a dentist by trade, but she's going to talk all about personal branding, and why it's important in today's post COVID age. I'll let her introduce herself. Welcome, Angela, to the show.
Angela Mulrooney: Thanks for having me, Christopher. I appreciate it.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, I know, we had connected backstage through a pod match. And I've looked through your bio. And it's really interesting, because really, you're talking about marketing and building a personal brand, and establishing freedom. So take the listeners back when you first first about yourself, and you know how you got started.
Angela Mulrooney: So, I started liking teeth when I was two years old. So that kind of created the path for becoming a dentist. And that 24, my dream came true. And for the first four and a half years, in practice, I worked for the people associated primarily working with children, because I was extremely shy. And so it was easier for me to just tell them stories about the Sugar Bugs I was removing from their teeth than to try to talk to adults about their real problems. So I got stuck into the pediatric part of it. And then I realized I was stifling my potential by staying there. And so I needed to take myself to the next level.
I had a choice: I could go back and specialize in something like pediatrics, or I could buy a practice. And the perfect opportunity landed in my lap. One of my old bosses was like, Hey, I'm working at this practice. You know, I really don't like doing dentistry. So do you want to take this position off my hands? And so I did. It happened to be for a 78 year old dentist and I was 28. So there was a five decade generation gap between us. And I walked into the practice. And all I could see was potential. And I really never thought I wanted to be a business owner. But this practice, it was the most broken down practice I'd ever seen. The carpet was actually black from years of never being cleaned. And everything else was in the same kind of situation. But I saw the potential. So I stepped in and bought the practice from the 78 year old dentist and turned it from what was known as this not so great practice into this high end, high tech practice that was a referral for from other dentists for their patients who were afraid of the dentist who needed IV sedation, who needed implants, full mouth rehabilitation, lots of different things that most dentists didn't have.
So that was my first experience and actually building a brand because I took this thing in the marketplace that was not desirable, turned it into what I wanted to do and was able to get other dentists to borrow my senior to actually refer me to patients. Unfortunately, I got injured in 2013. I acquired focal dystonia, and that ended my career. So I kept practicing for two and a half years after I could no longer practice and then I decided when 2015 hit, the oil crisis, I was in Calgary, which is completely oil based and the economy went [explosion sound] and completely tanked. I decided to pass the torch on to the next person and sell the practice.
I went back to my other profession, which was dancing, which I've professionally done since I graduated from dental school, built my dance company and took a year away from dentistry completely because I kind of needed things to unravel as to why that had happened. This had been my dream for 30 years. I was 32 when dystonia kicked in. And it was a really heart wrenching time. And I needed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Can I turn this around? Is there a silver lining to all this? And what I started to realize in that year of just dancing was there were silver linings, I'd been through some experiences that people would never get to go through or they're going to come across them and they're gonna struggle like I did. Like the owner died halfway through our deal. I got sued by my team in the first year. I ended up losing my ability to practice and how to run a practice from afar. So I had these interesting experiences that I figured I could pass on that knowledge.
So, after that first year, just dancing I started to build my business coaching company for dentists called Unleashing Dentistry’s Potential, and started to help dentists to figure out how they can niche into what they were passionate about. So it wasn't just about the clinical, it was about what they really wanted to do, what got them excited during the day, and helped them build their brands that way. To be able to build that company, I took to LinkedIn and talked about what I knew about niching, about dentistry, about branding. And I went from 200 to 12,000 dental industry followers in a year. And then people started to go, how did you do that? Can you do that for me? So I took on a few of my colleagues' cases and built their LinkedIn and was able to get them similar results. And so that's where Unleashing Influence, the social media company came in, which became a full blown agency. It launched officially at the beginning of January 2020. We all know what happened in 2020. So two months later, the pandemic hit and I thought, Oh, I'm gonna have to lay off these people I just hired. But instead, we hunkered down. And by 10 months into the pandemic, we had gone from two and a half full time team members to 14 full time team members.
Then I decided I didn't want to see snowflakes anymore, decided to move to Nicaragua, and realized I was working 100 hours a week, living in paradise, and not seeing paradise. So I started to divest. Sold off the dance company, sold off the business coaching company for dentists and sold off the agency part of Unleashing Influence, and niche down into what I'm masterful at which is, taking people packaging them for their personal brands, helping them to pivot to a new path and launching the business behind the personal brand. And that's where we stand today.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Nice, very fascinating story and very fascinating journey. You know, there's so many talking points. So one thing that really resonated with me was you had to pivot and you have to be constantly creating. So you build up multiple businesses to be very successful. And you did in the sense of like an entrepreneur and a business owner hiring out, skilled and managing the business. So we can talk about being a business owner later on, because that's like the operation, but I really am fascinated by building the personal brand thing, because this is what makes Apple and all these companies great. And so why is building a personal brand an essential marketing tool?
Angela Mulrooney: Because people want to know the people behind the company now. And this already started to happen before the pandemic hit. But when we got completely disconnected from each other, our radar of people who were not authentic, became so much more sensitive. And people started to like, there were all these social justice things that happened, we have DEI [diversity, equality and inclusion], we have all these social matters that have come to the forefront and people want to know what you actually stand for. They want to know if your values are aligned, they want to know if they would feel like they would get along with you personality wise if they're gonna work with you. And so, just showcasing the perfect corporate brand with the perfect logo, the perfect tagline having all these perfect videos and perfect photos, is not what people are seeking, they want you to step off your pedestal of perfection, they want to know the human behind the brand, they want to see that you're on the same page as them. Yes, you have your pedestal of expertise, but they want to know human to human that you are actually someone that they want to support and throw their money towards.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, then it's almost like, because I've been reading a lot and I talk a lot and contemplate a lot. It's almost like, it's kind of like in the industrial age companies maintain their dominance by rules and regulation and monopolies. And now with the internet and blockchain and everything, building a unique personal brand is kind of like your insurance against calamities. So you bring up a lot of fascinating points. Now we have to be a brand and content and creating. So and then why did you choose LinkedIn, as opposed to Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, Facebook?
Angela Mulrooney: I first took to LinkedIn, because I was trying to build a business coaching company for dentists; entrepreneurial dentists are on LinkedIn. And so it's easier to get to the people who are going to be like minded to me on that platform, and I was able to get to the decision maker. If I message a clinic on Facebook, or I message a clinic on Instagram, I have no idea who I'm talking to. But if I message the person on the profile on LinkedIn, it's more likely that I'm actually talking to that person versus an assistant.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, so it sounds like, go where your clientele go, go where your followers are, establish a base there, your digital presence. It's kind of interesting. It's like you go where your tribe is, and it's like in the digital realm, which is gonna be really fascinating.
Angela Mulrooney: And I did try using the other platforms, like I tried to recycle the content from Facebook to Instagram. But the kind of content that I produce doesn't do well on those kinds of things, the kind of content that my clients produce is thought leadership content. It's not the fun dancing, entertainment kind of stuff, it's actually high value information that people are looking for. And on LinkedIn, if you're putting out stuff that people can use, they can listen to it, they can apply it and run with it themselves. That's the kind of content that works really well on that platform.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. One thing I talk to a lot of my colleagues, or just in general, professionals, dentists about, is that a lot of them are not on LinkedIn. And this idea of social media is actually very foreign to them, even post COVID. And a lot of it's still word of mouth and referrals. And so a lot of doctors and professionals, they don't like social media, and then a lot of professionals, they feel uncomfortable, because they're introverted, or they just don't feel comfortable with sharing. So how do people get comfortable with if you're an introvert at heart, or you just kind of don't feel comfortable sharing it, because if you don't, in today's age, if you don't, if you're a professional, and you don't have a social media or brand presence you're at a significant disadvantage.
Angela Mulrooney: It takes practice. Just like the skills that you learned at medical school, the skills that we learned at dental school. I remember the first day, we're drilling on these plaster teeth, and I'm looking over going, am I doing it right? Are you doing it right? I don’t know what I'm doing. And then we're masterful at it, after we've been working at it for a while. So it really does take practice, but you have to be intentional with what you're putting out there.
Our reputation as healthcare professionals is very important. So we don't want to misstep. We don't want to throw spaghetti against the wall and hope something sticks, we want to figure out what we want to niche into for our expertise that we want to put out there. And then make sure that everything that we do is aligned with what we put out there so that people aren't confused.
People who are confused aren't going to see you as a thought leader, they're not going to see you as the expert that they want to seek out for whatever service you're providing. So we need to make sure we're packaged properly, and very congruent across the board, from sales calls to what we put out on LinkedIn or any other social media platform, how we speak on podcasts, how we speak from the stage, so that the total package, no matter what angle you're looking at it from, is the same thing.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, yeah. The other question, or the follow up question I had is, when it comes to like most people, putting themselves out there with thought leadership content is so difficult. Why is that?
Angela Mulrooney: Because you get in your head, especially in front of the camera. Like you've got this little black hole staring you down, giving you no feedback as to whether you're doing a good job or not. And so these lovely little Gremlins come out and they tell you, you shouldn't be doing this, who's gonna listen to you? Why would you share that? And so it's really interesting because the little voices in our head come out so clear when this little black hole is staring us down. And I've worked with people who have spoken from the stage for 30 years. And when the pandemic hit, they're like, I suck on camera, I can't believe this, like, I can't hold an audience. And I kill it when I'm in person.
And so they had to relearn the skills that they needed to be actually able to be captivating to their audience as well. But it is really hard, we have this lovely albatross that our professional schools gave us called, you need to be a professional. So we have this albatross around our neck telling us that we need to be perfect. Being a professional doesn't mean we have to be perfect, it means we have a professional degree that we need to use in our work. What people want Now isn't that perfection, though, they want to see the human behind that skill. And see if you again, are on the same page with your values, your personality, all those things, they want to be relatable to me while they seek out that expertise. And so that's why it becomes so important to me using this in this day and age.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. That's so well said. And I like the idea where you're just your degree and your background. Really, that's kind of your entry. And then after that it's like your experience, and then your people skills, communication skills, your emotional intelligence and how you leverage that.
Angela Mulrooney: And your passion, your passion is so important. If you have two people who are very similar and one who is passionate and one who isn't, you're probably going to pick the one who is passionate as long as everything else is pretty similar, because they seem like they're going to be way more invested in doing a good job in their professional work.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, what's really interesting about your story that stood out to me was that you traveled as, what I call - what I did - as a digital nomad living in a different area, in paradise and running a business. Tell us, because I know you have financial freedom, time, freedom, location freedom. So and then we'll go into niching down after that, but tell us more just what is a digital nomad? And why did you do that?
Angela Mulrooney: So digital nomading means, really, you can work from anywhere. And honestly, after I lost my ability to practice, I nearly went bankrupt, because my population was afraid of the dentist. I had an in person tell my patients, for sure she's gonna be back in a month. And then six months later, I still wasn't back, and I was still paying my team full. I still had full overhead, and it just killed me financially. And after that, I vowed I would never be, I would never be at the mercy of brick and mortar again. And this was in 2015. So I was really well prepared for the pandemic when it hit.
And then when the pandemic hit, I realized I'm sitting in my office in Calgary, and it's snowing a lot. And I was like, why would I be sitting here in quarantine, but I can be anywhere in the world and quarantine? So I started looking at where I could go. My plan was to actually go and do some international business development in Australia, UK, and South Africa. And each of those countries, when I decided to do that, started shutting down the borders, because Canada kept having these increases in COVID cases. And so we were locked out of the world. And Nicaragua became the path of least resistance. So that's how I ended up here.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Ah, nice. You actually had a lot of foresight to see that everything was going virtual and digital and preparing for that. So I know 2020 caught everybody by surprise. And businesses that couldn't pivot or shift quickly really struggled in, I really like your moment of decision where you're not going to be at the mercy of something external. And then you're going to take control. So that's kind of the tenants of one of the principles of this podcast.
So you sold your businesses, and then you niched down into your personal brand. Tell the listeners why niching down is so essential for your personal brand.
Angela Mulrooney: Well, the dollars that you make when you're niched compared to when you don't are night and day. So when I had the three companies, they were all doing really well. But my focus was so split between them, that I couldn't excel to my highest potential in any of them. I finally finished divesting at the end of September 2021. By January 2022, I had the best month yet since I finished being able to be a dentist. So that's October, November, December; it took three months after finally niching down into my mastery, for me to see a huge increase in my finances. And sometimes that's just the catch up of, you've got three months of sales, or sales calls that you're doing, finally start capitalizing on that.
But I see it time and time again with my clients. You know, the ones who are unfocused, they are unclear with their message. They're super talented, and they want to show everyone every single talent. They don't do as well as the ones who package themselves into a niche. And niching sounds terrible for the multi-talented because they're like, well, I'm only going to be able to do one thing for the rest of my life. That is not true. You're going to showcase things in an easy to recognize package to the market, but you're still gonna be able to pull in all those tools that you have, that you like using. It's just you have to be understandable to the marketplace.
But when you're understandable people buy. When you are niched into a specific thing, people buy. Because people are looking for experts. They're not looking for a jack of all trades. You know, when people looked at me, even actually one of my first business coaches after I finished selling off my practice, he didn't want to work with me because he's like, I think you're a flake. You think you can coach dentists, and you think you can travel all over the world competing in dance, and you think you can do LinkedIn? No one is that talented. They started digging into me and looking into my background and talking to the people who knew me and they’re like, yeah, Angela can kill it at all these things. But for the average person looking at that, when you're putting out that many offerings and that much talent, they can't fathom that I could be really good at that many things. And I was good at those things, but I wasn't able to be as great as I wanted to be. And that's why I niched down.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, the most common objection or common question is that, if I just focus on this one specific area, then I lose out on all these other opportunities. But then you actually dilute your focus by focusing on everything and being scattered.
So yeah, it's been a fantastic conversation. I really enjoyed it. Coming to the end. I know you have some work that you'd like to share. How can the audience find you and contact you? I know you're a best selling author as well. So tell the audience about that.
Angela Mulrooney: So I have two books. My first book was called The Passion Pursuit, which was about how to pivot from brick and mortar to doing your own thing. And then my second book is Unleashing Influence, which is teaching you how to use social media to build your personal brand. So both of those are available on Amazon. But if the stuff that I'm talking about seems like it might be something that you need a little bit of help with, you can reach out to me at info[at]UnleashingInfluence.com or check me out on LinkedIn. It's listed as Dr. Angela Mulrooney, and I will be so happy to set up a call with you to see how I can help you with your brand.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, awesome. So Angela, it's been a great conversation. I really enjoyed the lessons, the conversation, and hearing about your journey. It was very inspiring. So thanks so much, and we look forward to having you as future guests on the show.
Angela Mulrooney: Wonderful. Thanks, Chris.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Many thanks again for being here. If you’re new, you can find me online at Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD, where I have links to other episodes or links to online resources that will support you on your financial literacy journey. I’ll see you there in on next week’s show. While I bring you thoroughly vetted information on this show regarding a variety of financial topics, I cannot promise you a one size fits all solution. This is why I caution you to continue to learn. Educate yourself and seek professional advice unique to your situation. If you want to talk to me, I welcome it. Please reach out via my website or email at Chris@drchrisloomdphd.com. I read and personally respond to all of my emails. Talk soon!
Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.