Moderator: Welcome to today’s episode of True To Form with your host, president and co-founder of Crystal Clear, highly regarded speaker and two time, inc 500 entrepreneur Tim Sawyer. True To Form is a podcast that highlights leaders making headway in the aesthetic, anti-aging and elective medical industry. Learn from the experts to discover the secrets of success and pitfalls to avoid when growing all aspects of your elective medical practice.
This week’s episode is brought to you by touch MD, the all in one aesthetic technology hub that educates your captive audience in the waiting room and consult room, consistently captures and manages photos, provides digital charting and consensus and allows patients to take their experience home to share what they learned with friends and family via the practices patient app. Please join me in welcoming your host, the authentic, the transparent Tim Sawyer.
Tim Sawyer: Hello and welcome to True To Form, the podcast that connects you to the people, technology and hot topics that shaped the elective medical community provided to you by Crystal Clear Digital Marketing and brought to you by this week’s sponsor, Touch MD, the leading all in one aesthetic technology hub. I’m your host Tim Sawyer and our returning guests we say, welcome back and for our first time listeners, we appreciate you joining us and encourage you to become a subscriber.
Last week we spoke with a successful entrepreneur, Dr. Nicole Norris, and when she talked about her transition from practicing family medicine to opening up her own medical spa, super successful medical spa, by the way, and the power of having to do whatever it takes to succeed in both business and life. If you missed it, we strongly recommend you check it out. And with all that said, and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, once again, we’re going to take it to another level today.
As promised, we bring you the real movers and shakers. And today we head over to Texas and it is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Sam Lam, owner of Lam Facial Plastics. Dr Sam Lam is a diplomat of the American board of head and neck surgery, the American board of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, the American board of hair restoration surgery serving as president of the American board of hair restoration surgery in 2021. Congratulations by the way, Dr. Lam and.
Dr. Sam: Thank- [unintelligible] [00:02:28]
Tim Sawyer: You’re welcome. Dr. Lam has also served as chairman of multiple committees for the American Academy of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and the international society of hair restoration surgery. He has written eight major textbooks over 250 published articles, has been an editor for multiple aesthetic journals. He is currently on the editorial board of the JAMA facial plastic surgery and has been featured on ABC, CBS, Fox, Telemundo. Curious to hear if you speak Spanish, Oxygen, the CWU.
Dr. Sam: [Foreign][00:03:03]
Tim Sawyer: Boom, CNN, [unintelligible] [00:03:08] and the New York Times. He is the owner and operator of a 40,000 square foot wellness center in Plano, a suburb just North of Dallas, Texas. Dr Lam practices exclusively facial plastic surgery and hair and his latest venture is his stem cell ova skincare line. You can find him at www.lamfacialplastics.com. So, Dr. Lam, welcome to the program and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Dr. Sam: Yeah. So Tim, I’m a facial plastic surgeon and a hair restoration surgeon. I do both. My background is after I finished my head, neck, surgery residency, I realized that I really wanted to be a creative professional. And so what I love about what I do is being able to bring my art with work every day. And that is, is a real passion of mine to be able to do something very artistic.
Tim Sawyer: So let me ask you this, Dr. Lam it’s so funny that you said that. So a couple of weeks ago I interviewed a really cool Beverly Hills, cosmetic dentist. His name is Dr. Larry Rifkin. Laurence Rifkin. And one of the things that he told me was, and he focuses not just on the mouth but with the whole face. Right. And one of the things that he told me was his interest. Actually he does pottery, he does sculpting and that artistic part of his life, he’s been able to, I hate to say commercialize it, but in a way he has, right. So he can use it. He can tap into that artistic piece to create beautiful faces. So is there any type of art that existed you? What do you do to, for that tic to tap into that artistic expression?
Dr. Sam: Well, I mean, every part of my life is art. I do all the paintings for my building. I’ve done all my logo designs, all my textbooks I’ve written, I’ve done the illustrations for, I do like even a house I’m building right now. I’m looking at every lighting fixture, every furniture, every part of my life is about art. And so when I approach the face, you know, I’m sort of a painter, but in terms of being an artist, because you know, artists are a painter in certain regards because I do not like things that look unnatural.
A lot of patients tell me, hey, you know, I’m always scared to look unnatural. And I always tell them their standard of unnatural is actually lower than mine because I can look at things that I can see across the room that something looks fake and they may not see it. And so that is really what makes even things like injectable fillers, things that would be mundane to maybe a surgeon. For me it’s fun because I’m actually designing every little thing I do is design. So it’s a ton of fun.
Tim Sawyer: Got it. And so do you, you do some injectables yourself then?
Dr. Sam: Yeah, I do all my injectables. The way I look at it, I know this is probably a weird analogy, but it’s like apple ink because Apple controls the software, the hardware, the entire expression of their design from beginning to end. And I always believe that if I do a beautiful rhinoplasty on a patient or blepharoplasty and I give the injectables to someone else, they’re going to look over done or weird. And at the same time, if I do great injectables and I don’t do a good rhinoplasty for the patient or hair restoration, they’re not going to look right.
And it’s also nice when a patient walks through the door. I’m able to offer them the whole gamut of things. So a lot of times if you go to someone who does injectables, they’re going to talk you out of the facelift. They’re going to say, that’s scary. You’re not going to get a good result. I just need to inject my way out of this. And I think that’s a bad way of doing it because a lot of things cannot be done non-surgically. At the same time you talk to someone who is only a surgeon and relegates all the injectables over to a staff, then everything has to be surgery and then, and they’re not controlling the design. You know, a great example for me is, let’s say, I do a fat graft grafting or fat transfer where I make the face look volumize in a very gentle way.
Doesn’t look like a pillow face your overdone cheeks. But they’ve got these little areas that they have further aging other areas of some of the resorption of fat. I’ll need a little filler touch up. And if I give that over to someone else, then I really believe that I’m giving the patient the worst care that is. I even do all the neuromodulator Botox injections because I believe that everything is expressed as an expression of my art, not just surgery, not just injectables, not just not office based. Now of course like, you know, radio frequency, micro needle, other small office therapies that don’t require that level of artistic touch that is relegated over to my staff.
Tim Sawyer: Wow. And so, and I noticed that you at some point made a conscious decision to just focus on the face, right?
Dr. Sam: Yes. Right.
Tim Sawyer: What led you to that? Which is kind of unique for a plastic surgeon. And so what led you to that?
Dr. Sam: Okay, so I’ll try to keep this answer short. So in medical school, I was very fascinated by both medicine and surgery. I really had a hard time deciding between both of those specialties because I love surgery and medicine. And the one that seemed to capture my attention was otolaryngology, ear, nose and throat, head, neck surgery. So I did a head neck surgery residency and was fascinated by the anatomy. I think the head and neck area is the most complicated anatomy out there. And it’s just, and it’s also the most impactful, you know, people always say, you can’t put a bra on my work.
In other words, you can’t cover it up. Right. It’s right in front of you. But toward the end of my residency, in head neck surgery and facial plastic surgery is a part of that. I started to realize that doing the same procedure over and over again did not allow me to have that creative output. And I absolutely crave, it’s just in my lifeblood. I’ve got to do something creative. And so there was a gentleman, [unintelligible] [00:08:48] came and lectured about rhinoplasty and he was just amazing in his patrician stature, just talking about what he did and the creativity. And I said, this is what I have to do. And so that’s where my passion started. It was really ignited.
Tim Sawyer: And I would think people would like that. Right. From, you know, when we talk about some of the commercial aspects of the business to how do you differentiate yourself in kind of a, you know, what can be sometimes a convoluted marketplace and I would think your patients would appreciate that. That’s what you focus on. That’s what you do. And do you get people about that?
Dr. Sam: You know a lot of people choose me because the number one thing is they like the fact that my results don’t look over done. And you know, a lot of people say, Hey, I want to be conservative. But for me, you know, conservative does not mean inconsequential. It means balanced, you know, and everything looks balanced. And, it is just an example to understand this is that, you know, if someone is doing a Botox all the time and then their whole lower face looks aged, there’s an unbalance with the face. And sometimes I’ll tell patients, the only other thing I do outside of the face or the hands, and so that the hands start to age and you’ve got to rejuvenate face and neck. That doesn’t look balanced either. So I’m really looking at total balance. And that’s what is part of the artistry and that’s what people are attracted to about what I do.
Tim Sawyer: And how has … so obviously we live in the age of insanity on social media and…
Dr. Sam: Yeah, totally.
Tim Sawyer: You know, people call it the Kardashian age, whatever you want to call it, but has that impacted patient’s expectations and how do you manage that when someone comes in?
Dr. Sam: You know, I always manage the expectations because I always actually answer. Like for example, I just had a face of concept with a lady. She had seen five other doctors and she said, I said, do you have any questions for me? She said, you’ve actually answered all my questions before I asked them. It was the first consult that that happened. And so what the point of this is, is that when I do consultations, I tell them all the pros, cons, limitations, all the questions they should ask me. I love that question when he said, are there any questions I should’ve asked you? I said, no, I’ve already answered those before you asked me though.
So, and what I do for me and just hind us into the concept of social media. So the medium that has really worked for me since 2006 is YouTube. And I know that there’s, you know, are doing Instagram’s, Facebook. And of course I’ve got a social media director that helps me guide me on those things. But my passion is YouTube because I’m able to communicate. And a lot of people think, you know, YouTube is about just showing some graphic images of a facelift or rhinoplasty. And yes, people do that. It’s not what I’m about.
I’m about communicating to them, you know, expectations. And so the reason why I think they have really good expectations is that they are already knowing who I am as a surgeon, a physician when they watch my videos. And so this is going to be funny to tell you this, but almost every single patient, says that they’d watch my videos and they spent tens, hundreds of hours watching my videos, a lot of it. What am I most popular? Like I’m going to San Diego right now and lecturing and I’ll be filming myself so you can watch me give those lectures to other doctors. And so I think that’s a huge interest.
Tim Sawyer: Yeah. So what’s the show that you headed down to? We’re going to be there.
Dr. Sam: We’re going to the American Academy of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and just heading out there, yeah.
Tim Sawyer: Yes. So that’s a great show. Hopefully the weather’s beautiful for you.
Dr. Sam: I hope so as well.
Tim Sawyer: So let me ask you this, because people always ask me, particularly young residents, right. And try to figure this out. And when you, so was there anything as a kid, like are your parents doctors, were they plastic surgeons? What was, what got you to be cycle this?
Dr. Sam: So that’s a great question. So my father was a family doctor, he’s passed on, but my mom had a great influence in me, but in certain respects to give some advice for the young, the next generation going forward is obviously be inspired by your parents if they’re good mentors for you. My parents were very good mentors for me, but at the same time I made life choices that felt resident to, resonating to me personally. For example, I was a undergraduate history major and my parent, my mother said, what are you going to do with that?
You know, this is stupid. Why don’t you, don’t be history major. And I said, mom, I love this. And it was the best choice I made. And the reason is I was able to learn how to write. And so like in my fellowship year, I wrote and published 39 papers. I can write a textbook literally within two months because it’s not hard for me. I can write a chapter in one night and you see jobs in a Stanford address and if any one of those young guys out there want to go into this field, I encourage them watch that 12 minute videos of him giving a lecture at Stanford, talking about connecting the dots backwards.
If you follow your heart of where you want to be, it nothing is too hard. Because if you love what you do and you’re passionate, you’re driven, you can achieve what you want. You just got to basically take, don’t take no for an answer. So that’s my first lesson to the next generation. Just be passionate about what you want to do. And same thing my mom said, don’t go to probably grocery store saying those fake looking woman. I said, mom, one thing I’ll tell you is I will never create that stuff because it’s gross. And when you start to, you know, I said I have good taste, I was a little arrogant but I, when you don’t have good tastes, you can’t design good stuff.
And I, you know, another thing is a big lesson for the young people that Ed Williams, my mentor taught me is be a great leader and a leadership is about knowing your limitations and your staff already knows what you suck at. Okay. They do. It’s obvious and it culture all starts from the top down. And if you start blaming, hey, my staff is doing bad job, it’s a reflection of your choice in them and your leadership. So to me this is such a huge part of what I do is try to lead better everyday.
And there are days that I don’t lead well, but the one thing also Ed taught me is never lose control of your emotions. Don’t get angry because if you can’t control yourself, you can’t control anyone else. So I encourage everyone out there, the young generation to read John Maxwell’s 21 irrefutable laws of leadership and all his books because it is a fundamental blueprint [Inaudible 00:15:14]
Tim Sawyer: Yeah, I haven’t read it yet, but I have it. It’s been sitting there got a. You know what, I’m so glad that you brought that up because I’ve had this conversation before and I do a lot of traveling and I, you know, probably do 30, 40 talks a year, probably just like you and I was in Beverly Hills, and I won’t say the name of the event, but, one of the things they had me come in and to speak on was leadership. And so the doctors were sitting in there all day, all different types of physicians, surgeons, and I got up to give my best 15 minutes on leadership.
Of course, I’ve been president of two inc 500 companies and been in the electric medical space for a while and it kind of felt like I had something to say about it. And 70% of the room, as soon as I walked in, they saw the topic. Everybody got up and left. And I thought to myself, I said, well, either nobody likes me or nobody appreciates. And I really do believe culturally because we don’t talk about it enough. Right. As you go through…
Dr. Sam: No totally.
Tim Sawyer: School, you know, there is no business questions, there’s no leadership question per se. You have to sit out and I think it’s one of the most undervalued parts of what you do because you can be technically proficient, which clearly you are and your patients appreciate you. But there still has to be a world-class patient experience leading up to the procedure, following the procedure. And those people feel good about it. And so I’m trying to beat a little bit of a champion of that and say, guys, we really need to pay more attention to that. So what advice would you have? So a guy’s thinking about our, is thinking about right now, starting their own plastic surgery practice and they’re going to get a little team together. And, what would you say to them to say, hey, listen man, here’s three things you really got to make sure as you build out your team.
Dr. Sam: You know, I think a lot of the things I’ve already just mentioned are critical elements of this. You’ve got to get the right team on together. If you don’t have that, nothing else really matters. And the thing is they say that you should hire smarter people than you, but you have to lead them higher. So a lot of people think what is the difference that it means if you get, you can only attract smarter people around you if you can lead them better. And I know that may sound a little controversial, but the concept is to inspire them to be better than who they are. And if you can do that, that is the cornerstone to everything.
I would say is take time to think about your business. There’s a great book called the evenings we visited and a lot of people work in their business on their business. I’m part of this group called entrepreneur organization who would say take time to think about what is your vision? I always say you must have a vision for one year, five year, 10 years, and you can do what’s called a hot pen exercise. Where essentially you sit down with a sheet of paper and you just write everything about your personal professional life, what you’re focusing on, what your goals are, and you’re going to come with your subconscious and it tells you where you need to be.
Tim Sawyer: That’s interesting.
Dr. Sam: And the next thing I would say is go to meetings. I just taught, actually I just, my friend just texted me and he said, Sam, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I said, Hey, are you going to be in San Diego? He goes, no, I’ll go to the meetings for the last few years. And he goes, he asked me some questions that, Hey, are you doing a PRP? I said, just as a point of reference here, a PRP is dead. He goes, what are you talking about before research with surgery? But I said, there was a next generation of exosomes growth backers. I said, the fact that you’re asking me this question, you’re not going to hear my lecture on Friday.
You’re not going to understand that I’m one year ahead of the curve right now because people don’t even know this. And so what my encouragement is go and get a peer group and learn from them. I have this group on Facebook, the private Facebook group called the same thing tank, and we’re constantly sharing and feed each other. Do not be out there by yourself, work with your peers who are smarter than you and that can and fulfill you and fill your deficits of who you are.
Tim Sawyer: I think that’s what’s interesting about that is that model is sound so simple and obviously everyone should follow it, but it’s amazing how many people think they need to reinvent everything by themselves. So they cut themselves off from great people. And I don’t know if that self-esteem or ego or whatever it is, but I think you’re right. I mean, we have to encourage people. And you know what’s funny about the PRP issue, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but Google just made an announcement that come today, effective today, they’re banning any paper click or paid advertising on Google PRP treatment. You can’t even promote that anymore in Google nor stem cells or do it yourself gene.
Dr. Sam: Oh yeah.
Tim Sawyer: It’s introduced a huge ban. I did a whole series about it, but it was what they called speculative in nature, PRP, stem cells, gene therapy kids. There were four or five categories in there. And some of those topics are you would think are fairly mainstream at this point, to your point, almost passé. Right.
Dr. Sam: Right.
Tim Sawyer: And so from a marketing standpoint, obviously you don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket and so talk a little bit about, because you said you’ve got an in house person doing your social media for you and do you have a philosophy that you want to share associated with your social media strategy in terms of what you’d like to put out in the community?
Dr. Sam: Yeah, so I think I alluded to a little bit of it this before. For me, as I said, YouTube really is my medium. It is my forte, it’s how I communicate with patients. Because just like this format where we can talk for a little while, people can start to understand my philosophy, my, you know, all those elements me. And whereas like for me, Instagram, Facebook, those other pieces, I just can’t communicate as effectively who am on about. Of course you can put it before and after off, et cetera, but I can’t communicate as well as I would like.
So she’s really in charge of a lot of that content. So I would give her the props and I, you said, well, Hey Sam, what are you doing with this? How are you designing? Honestly, I don’t have a coherent strategy for those elements. It’s really, I am in charge of my YouTube channel and I produce videos. That is my baby. And that’s really because people get me. I mean, if I get, if they get a photo of me on Instagram saying something or a short ten second video, it’s not who I am. It’s just not my personality, you know.
Tim Sawyer: So how did you end up in Plano?
Dr. Sam: Well, I’m actually raised in Dallas, so I was born in Hong Kong, came over when I was three. So I’ve been in Dallas since I was a very young age. But at the time when I started my practice in 2001, was really just a like a field. And the yes. And is there some, is this a place where I’m from, you know.
Tim Sawyer: And so as a couple of things and then we’ll let you go. So as we can ready to wind this down.
Dr. Sam: Sure.
Tim Sawyer: You’re headed to San Diego. So I hear what you’re going to be talking about and then I want to hear what the next three years, five years looks like for your practice and what can folks expect from you.
Dr. Sam: Yeah. So there are a lot of things. So the focus of this year has been on product development. Now I still use a lot of great brand names like oxygenetics for, you know, wound repairs and things like that for makeup camouflage. But I would say 95% of my product line right now, I’m developing now why is that? Several reasons. Number one is I have complete control in terms of the design of the packaging all the way to the ingredients. Higher quality ingredients of course is a better margin from a business perspective as well. And it’s like I’m working on a hair loss shampoo. It’s taken me over a year. It’s still the product development, you know, hair loss pills, supplements, which are huge right now. If you look at where things are going, silicone scar gels, I can list a million [unintelligible] [00:23:35]
Tim Sawyer: And then these would be private label?
Dr. Sam: Yes, yes, yes, exactly. And I’ve got multiple manufacturers work on it, but yeah, there’s a great Latin saying, and this is probably a lesson for the young guys out there too, is Festina Lente, which means hurry slowly, you know. So I’m always pushing it, trying to think about the next thing. But that’s the first thing. And the second thing that I’m doing besides product development is I’m expanding my building is about 40,000 square feet, but I contain about 5,000 square feet in it. But I’m moving. For 17 years, I’ve had four major treatment rooms plus an OR now I’m expanding seven additional rooms. New sterilization quarters, new photo rooms, view everything.
And the reason for the expansion is there’s a lot of these, small non-evasive type things. I’ve been really, really happy with radio frequency, micro needle, all these different small things. Injectable NISO eight hydrotic acid injections, those things. Oh, great. Because my staff can do it and they can offer the patient the full gamut of what I can do now. So that’s the next one, two years. As I mentioned, I’m, you know, I’m incoming president 2021 for American hair board. So there’s a lot of work I’m doing with that…
Tim Sawyer: Congratulations.
Dr. Sam: Thank you. And academically, I’m actually rewriting my FUE textbook. Sorry guys, you should still buy it because it’d take me about two to three years to finalize that. But academically that’s my biggest challenge is another edition of my textbook. And beyond that having other [unintelligible] [00:25:12].
Tim Sawyer: Well I’d want to hear before I let you go. I want to hear about the ova skincare line.
Dr. Sam: Yes. So ova skincare premise, right. So the premise behind this, I’ve had this skin care line for many years now, but one thing I realized was I wanted to pack in as much of a high quality ingredients as I can humanly place into a single product line. I said, well, you know, as I said with any products, there’s good margins on it. I need you to pack it in with everything you can humanly put into this product. So ova is universal. It’s morning night. It just makes the skin look amazing because there’s, I put everything plus two kitchen sinks in it.
Tim Sawyer: That’s amazing. Now and your head, like I said, you’re going to be down in San Diego, so you’re working on this new text book, you’re working on product development, you’ve got a new skincare line. So my only concern is that, you know, you might lack motivation and drive.
Dr. Sam: Yeah. You know what, I probably, my wife and I do a little devotional in the morning using this a You Version thing, a app, and she set up the devotional, which is a, I think it’s called, you need rest is, and so we’re starting that in two weeks. So apparently that’s a little simpler goal message for me.
Tim Sawyer: Well, I’ll tell you what, I really, really, really, really appreciated you spending some time. I know our listeners will be all fired up and pump your peers are going to love what you have to say.
Dr. Sam: I’m honored.
Tim Sawyer: Hopefully they’ll see you down in San Diego. We look forward to the upcoming text book. I know your patients love what you do and I read your reviews and we encourage you to check out email@example.com. You can go visit him this week for our plastic friends who are listening at cosmetic surgery friends down in San Diego and if it’s okay.
Dr. Sam: Thank you.
Tim Sawyer: I am going to use the title for this podcast came to me and it’s going to be hurry..
Dr. Sam: Crazy surgeon.
Tim Sawyer: Nope.
Dr. Sam: Sorry.
Tim Sawyer: Hurry. Slowly.
Dr. Sam: Yeah, hurry slowly. I love it. I love it. Yeah, love it.
Tim Sawyer: That’s, I feel like that’s kind of your, you know, you’re a applauding guy, you’ve got vision. Like you said, you’re always thinking one, two, five, 10 years out, but you’re also a deliberate human meaning you’re going to do what’s right along the way and not just go fast. I think…
Dr. Sam: Oh I want to plug one more thing though.
Tim Sawyer: Yeah. Please.
Dr. Sam: If I can really. 10% of my profits of my skin care line goes to stop sex trafficking and my book profits go there. I’m hosting event for anyone in the Dallas area, a 12 cut steak house. There is a event on October 10, which is to stop human trafficking, sex trafficking, which is a huge problem. I just want the world to understand what we’re dealing with right now and it’s going to be a 12 cut steak house in Dallas. Please come October 10, 6:30 PM even if you haven’t RSVP. That’s sorry.
Tim Sawyer: Was there a way that someone who’s not local could go and donate to the charities or names?
Dr. Sam: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. So it’s operation rescue children, which is working under the rubric of 501C3 of love, justice not NGO. The best way is send me an email that you’re interested in donating and I will give this over to the powers that be, and it’s Dr Lam, drlam@lamfacialplastics with an s.com.
Tim Sawyer: You got it.
Dr. Sam: Thank you so much.
Tim Sawyer: Send him an email. Dr. Lam. I really appreciate you taking the time. I hope you enjoy your safe travels in San Diego.
Dr. Sam: Thank you so much.
Tim Sawyer: Hope that’s productive for you and I look forward to seeing you on the road. I’m sure we’ll bump into each other.
Dr. Sam: I’d love to meet you. Bye. Bye.
Tim Sawyer: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it. Bye. Bye.
Moderator: Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of True To Form, brought to you by touch MD, the all one aesthetic technology hub. To learn more about your podcast sponsor, visit touchmd.com and to learn more about your podcast provider, crystal clear, visit crystalcleardm.com also, be sure to subscribe to the show on all your favorite music apps, including iTunes, Spotify, Sound Cloud, and tune in to stay up to date with the newest episodes. Thank you for listening.
For convenient listening on the go, feel free to subscribe to True to Form on your favorite music apps!