You could argue that running a technology company and running a dental practice are two very different things. However, I think someone who achieves profound revolutionary success in any walk of life has certain attributes that would have made them successful no matter what they did. That's part of what makes him such a interesting figure – we sense that his example has something to teach us about professional passion and how to pursue greatness.

For instance, I think if Steve Jobs had been a dentist ...

He would have been an uncompromising clinician. He was famous for obsessing over the finest details in the designs of his products, so I think it's safe to say he would have obsessed over his margins just as intensely.

His facility would have been a showcase for the best of modern dentistry. You can bet he would have insisted on the best equipment and technology and had it all tightly integrated form a clinical and value perspective. The place would look incredible so that you would sense that there was something special about the practice as soon as you walked in. And he would always be enthusiastically looking for (and critically evaluating) any new developments that could improve the practice.

He would be a master of creating value for his patients. Remember, many Apple products were revolutionary not just for their form and function, but for how they were packaged and presented. Jobs understood the importance of not just having the best product, but also communicating the value of that product in a way that resonated with people. His patients would have known he was an outstanding clinician, even if they couldn't, in technical terms, explain why.

He would have an empowered and aligned team. Anyone who opens retail outlets staffed by Geniuses who have a mandate to make the customer experience as simple and memorable as possible understands the importance of educating team members and empowering them in the right way.

He would have surrounded himself with the best. It's no secret that Steve Jobs sought out people who were smarter than he was in many of the areas he wanted to excel in and brought them into his orbit. If he had been a dentist, I'm sure you would have found him associating with the best clinicians in the profession – to learn from, to bounce ideas off and to feed off their energy.

He would be a different dentist every year. As a dentist, Steve Jobs would no doubt have remained at the forefront of developments in the profession and eagerly embraced new opportunities to take his practice to a higher level all the time. This may be the most powerful lesson of all that we can learn from people like him. They look at each new level of success as a springboard to the next. They always want to learn, grow and want to be getting better. It's an invigorating, inspiring approach to life, one where you are always saying: "That was great! Now what can I do next?"


Commenter's Profile Image Barry Polansky
July 23rd, 2013
Imtiaz--It's no doubt that Jobs had the mindset that is necessary for success in today's world---but one thing he did not excel at was building relationships. That is still the most important piece of the puzzle---that said he could could have designed one helluva practice.
Commenter's Profile Image Jim Orticelli
July 23rd, 2013
He should have also taken a play out of the "Manji" playbook and planned for a better succession strategy for his company when he was gone...IMHO, Apple is not the same company now than when he was at the reins....
Commenter's Profile Image Dr Chandrashekar Yavagal
July 24th, 2013
Simply awesome imtiaz.. agree with every single word.. more than anything he would have been an inspirational icon for the field..
Commenter's Profile Image Kiran
July 31st, 2013
I agree with the first two comments by Jim and Barry. Building relationships, kindness, compassion are some of the key elements of clinical success when you are dealing one on one with human beings especially when they are being so vulnerable. I don't think Steve Jobs was cut out for that. He would have been great at the business, innovation side of dentistry. Jobs was best at coming up ideas and getting the best of the best to exceute the idea and get the work done. Not sure I would allow him to work on my teeth. He might get into one of his tantrums and decide to do hack the teeth!
Commenter's Profile Image Marc Cooper
February 14th, 2014
Steve Jobs was a brilliant entrepreneur. He would not think "small business." He would have developed a dental model that was scalable. He would followed Reis' Lean Startup Model to create a enterprise that would revolutionize dentistry, not done more, better or different of the same thing, i.e. solo practice. His diagnostic and treatment methods and procedures would be able to be replicated so he could take his delivery model nationally and finally globally. He would see that 3rd parties and employers are his real target market given that ~75% of the patients have some form of dental plan and most provided by their employers. He would have not looked at the past at how dentistry has always been done and tried to do it better. No, he would have looked at the future where health care is going (outcomes based not fee-for-service based, with disease management and risk management, quality assurance, peer review, with some genomics), able to deliver dentistry in a radically different way than solo practice.