ASDA’s National Leadership Conference is an annual event in Chicago, Illinois, where students from around the country gather to learn about leadership fundamentals, personal development and wellness, advocacy, career planning, and cutting edge topics in the field of dentistry. This year, even through cancelled and delayed flights, over 800 dental students swarmed the Hyatt Regency and McCormick Place to network and prepare for their future as bosses and community leaders.
The first two days were started with breakfast followed by a general session with a keynote speaker. After general session, students chose a breakout session to attend that fit into one of the 5 tracks listed above based on their personal interests. The final day (a half day of sessions) began with breakout sessions and closed with a final keynote speaker and closing remarks.
Day 1 general session kicked off the weekend with Ben Nemtin – member of MTV’s hit show “The Buried Life”, New York Times bestselling author, co-founder of The Buried Life Movement, and so much more. Ben’s story inspired the attendees to think about what they want to do before they die, and uncover the life that we bury beneath the business of our day-to-day activities. He shared his 5 steps to making the impossible possible:
1. Write – writing an idea down makes it real
2. Share – if you don’t talk about your dreams, no one can help you
3. Persist – increase your odds of success, you only fail when you stop trying
4. Moonshots – take moonshots, most people only make realistic goals, so the unrealistic ones have less competition
5. Give – helping others fills you in a way that doing things for yourself never will; the simplest way to do this is to live what you love, and by doing this, others will feel inspired to live what they love as well
Parts of their story can be found in episodes of “The Buried Life”, in Ben’s book, and soon “The Buried Life Documentary” will be released diving even deeper into the history and background of their incredible story and journey.
The second keynote speaker was Joe Abraham, a professional entrepreneur who has helped companies develop to from an idea to a thriving business in multiple industries. He spoke about the “Entrepreneurial DNA” inside all of us. After completing a study of over 1,000 company owners, Joe developed the BOSI methodology to assess qualities of entrepreneurs, and which qualities are needed at different times of creating and developing a business. “BOSI” stands for: Builder, Opportunist, Specialist, and Innovator – the four types of entrepreneur DNA. Some people may present strongly with one form of the DNA while others can have traits from multiple, present at different times in their development. This methodology is also useful in creating a team and knowing the types of people you need in order to build a successful business. If you’re interested in learning more, read his book! Entrepreneurial DNA: The Breakthrough Discovery that Aligns Your Business to Your Unique Strengths.
NLC 2019 was closed out by TEDx Talk speaker, entrepreneur and eternal optimist Stacey Flowers. From the moment Stacey stepped on the stage she had the audience’s attention (which can be difficult after 2 full days of lectures, networking activities, and not a lot of hours of sleep). She addressed the P.O.W.E.R. of Happiness (People, Obstacles, Why, Expectations, and Results) and how getting in touch with this power helps you live your best lift. I’m not going to try to emulate her talk in a short blurb. Instead, I encourage you to watch her Ted Talk where she addresses the “People” category of the Power of Happiness, by clicking on the link. It was inspiring to see people gather the courage to go up and ask questions before 800 of their peers, while admitting feeling overwhelmed – that her words inspired their courage to push through an obstacle and step into a place of growth.
In one of his breakout sessions, Dr. Mike Meru said that NLC is the best dental conference (and he’s been to all sorts as a student, dentist, and orthodontist) because we’re all there with a common goal – become better leaders in our field and in our communities. We’re all trying to be better – not better than each other, but better than we were before. We want to be on the cutting edge of technology so we can provide the best care opportunities to our patients. We want to be the best bosses so that our team functions at an optimal level, creating a positive environment at work. We want to be better advocates for our field so that dentistry continues to evolve and improve with policy, licensure, and access to care. While leaving NLC is tough, because you’ve just spent an amazing weekend learning and socializing with so many friends from around the country and now you have to go back to your respective campuses (some thousands of miles away), it’s also inspiring, because you know that you’re all working towards a common goal of making dentistry, and the dental student experience, better for our future and for the generations of students that come after us.