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a blog by Chris Barrow

The best news so far this year.

I had a meetup with Barbara Trotter (my former business manager at The Dental Business School) and Tim Thackrah, principal of Elmsleigh House Dental Clinic in Farnham, Surrey. Tim became a client quite a few years ago now (maybe 5 years?) and became a close friend along the way. Nowadays, his practice is at maximum cruise and we meet quarterly to keep an eye on things, to do our “grumpy old men” conversation and to coach each other. Last time (January) we met in the West End and enjoyed a great day window shopping and walking as we discussed our respective businesses. Shortly after that, Tim called me with the news that he was being rushed into hospital for a biopsy on a lump in his jaw. That began weeks of uncertainty, during which he was informed of a 75% chance that the tumour in his parotid gland would be non-malignant – but a 25% chance that things could get very serious. Like the perfectionist he is, I was part of a team of people he gathered around him to make sure that “his affairs were in order”. I recall an early email from Tim, thanking me for the encouragement some years ago to build an excellent senior management team around himself- a team that was now swinging into action to protect the business, his employees and the patients. As Tim is the main fee-generator in his business, there was a financial implication in that, even if successful, his surgery would necessitate time off work. Many beans were counted in making sure that a three month absence wouldn’t floor the business. The day of the surgery came on 18th March and then the excrutiating wait for the diagnosis. “All clear”, a pleomorphic adenoma is the good news that Tim received a few days later. In the meantime, he has acquired a very impressive scar from his ear lobe to his throat (not quite Johnny Dep). Yesterday we kept our quarterly date for business coaching. I asked Tim about what difference the last three months have made. 1. the value of a team; 2. the value of true friends; 3. the value of family. Our meeting lasted 4 hours – not the usual 8 – because he is still recovering. But seeing the half of his face that currently works breaking into grins and giggles and we did our usual outrageous conversations was, quite simply, the best experience I have had so far this year.

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