Jonathan Alexander-Abt is a well-credentialed orthodontist.
Having trained in dentistry at the Royal London Hospital, he went on to serve as a dentist in the Air Force of the Israeli Defense Forces. After completing his service, Jonathan relocated to New York City, where he taught Anatomy to dental students at the Ivy League Columbia University and to medical students at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Jonathan then became an Orthodontic Resident at the prestigious New York University, where he completed his post graduate specialty training in orthodontics. He also served as the residents’ representative on the orthodontic programme’s admissions committee. Upon returning to the United Kingdom, he earned the Fellowship in Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and worked as a specialist orthodontist in a High Street orthodontic practice. Jonathan additionally served as a Locum Consultant in Orthodontics at the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, treating a full range of cases, including cleft palate patients and patients requiring jaw surgery. He was registered as a Specialist in Orthodontics by the General Dental Council in 2000.
Jonathan Alexander-Abt has been published on several occasions in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. He was certified by the American Board of Orthodontics in 2007. Most recently, Jonathan participated in primary care research undertaken by the University of Sheffield, presenting his research to his peers and colleagues at the British Orthodontic Society Inaugural Research Day.
Having since sold his practice, Jonathan Alexander-Abt remains in the field as an associate orthodontist in London where he resides, choosing to focus on treating patients without the business responsibilities associated with being a practice owner.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
My ambition of becoming an orthodontist began when I was 12 years old and had to get braces myself. My orthodontist, Richard Marx, was a clever man who showed me how orthodontics married intellectual challenge with art, physics, and medicine.
The real joy that I derive from practicing specialist orthodontics though is that I am able to harness the power of dental medicine and physics to change my patient’s lives for the better. I love that I am able to work with my patients on mainly elective, non-invasive treatment plans that transform their smiles and make a real difference for their self-esteem and confidence.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts early with catching the first train from my home to the practice. Once there, I begin my day by sending and answering emails, then catching up on all other work that needs to be done so that I can have a productive day with my patients. I’m at work by 6:15 am, and I start seeing patients about 8 am. My last patients are usually at about 4:30 pm, after which I complete any outstanding paperwork and then take the train home.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I enjoy researching ideas. So when I have an idea, I flesh it out, research it, and then put it in concrete terms. After that, I begin to take action on it.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I have been practicing specialist orthodontics for over 25 years and I firmly believe that fixed braces are the most effective way of treating most cases. The advances in bracket design and continuous improvement of materials makes this journey ever more gratifying. I don’t believe that choices like Invisalign, which seemingly circumvent the need for specialist treatment design, give patients the superior result achieved with fixed braces.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The habit of clearing my desk. I come into the office early to get the administrative tasks done. I have a clean desk after that. I have everything sorted out before my first patient comes in. Also, I never leave any task undone or unaddressed for more than 24 hours.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t let imposter syndrome take over. It took me until I was in my 30s to realize that I could do good work. Believe in yourself more.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Conventional fixed braces are superior to Invisalign.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Define your goals and then create a strategy to achieve them.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Maintaining a good relationship with referring dentists. I use software to generate letters which show referring dentists their patients’ x-rays and photographs. This allows them to see the progress their patient is making and helps to reassure them that work is progressing on schedule.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I am a bit shy and as an orthodontist you have to be able to interact with patients and their families. At first, I had a hard time with it, but I have since learned that by having the right people in my corner, I can make much bigger strides toward patient satisfaction. I credit my nurse, Muhammad, with some of my biggest successes in this arena.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Open a coffee shop. It’s not a high-tech or cutting-edge business, but coffee shops serve an important function in society—that of encouraging people in a community to meet and converse over a warm drink. And I think they can be profitable when operated as a small business.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought new slacks and new shoes. I’ve received a lot of compliments on them.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I subscribe to The Guardian’s website. I get most of my news through there. I read the articles on it on a daily basis to stay informed. There’s also WhatsApp. I use it quite a bit to talk to family, friends and staff.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Art and Science of Success by Edward de Bono. He interviewed hundreds of successful people to determine common themes. One important tip I got from the book is to define your goals.
What is your favorite quote?
“On s’engage at puis on voit” “Enter the fray and then re-evaluate” I’m paraphrasing Napoleon Bonaparte!
- Knowing your limitations and working to mitigate them is the best thing you can do for yourself and others.
- Socialization can be taught if it doesn’t come naturally.
- Clearing your desk before getting down to the real work can help you get more done.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.