The word of mouth on Dennis Da Ponte, the owner and practicing Chiropractic Physician at Chiropractic Solutions in Harrisonburg Va, is impressive. That is why I made my way to his practice as a first time patient, years ago. I had an upcoming half marathon planned and enough leg pain that I had stopped training.
I was a tentative patient, but I was quickly convinced of his professionalism, knowledge, and ability to work through pain, and more, with his patients. I always received more from my appointment than I anticipated. He consistently dealt with my top concern, and found the underlying issue to address as well.
Recently I sat down with him to find out what contributes to his success. I was eager to learn about his practice, passions, mindsets, and motives. As a coach, there is little that is more fascinating to me than people and their stories.
On the day of our conversation he greeted me with his typical focused energy and presence.
I started out with a standard question.“What drew you to this particular career?”
“From an early age I was empathetic and wanted to help others. I was not motivated to work, for the sake of work, but as a chance to help someone,” Dennis said with a laugh. “I initially went into sales, and became a successful salesman, before a surprise party changed my life. My cousin was a chiropractic student and I visited him one weekend and he threw a party to convince me that I should become a chiropractor too. My cousin and his classmates told me about the profession and convinced me to look into going back to school and joining them in their field. That weekend I looked into grants and loans and the course of my life was changed.”
Today Dennis is ten years into his practice and expanding his business but I wonder about what happened after he finished school.“How did you get your first patients?”
“As an independent contractor I focused on athletes first, particularly, runners. I went to races and triathlons and offered free five minute massages. I focused on value marketing. I went into practice with another Doctor, and eventually had the opportunity to buy his business.”
“And these days, how do you build credibility?”
“I create value in my office. 99% of my clients come in because of word of mouth. I also speak at events and have an online presence that I am building on.”
I nod, having experienced word of mouth as very convincing.“What mindset is helpful to the health and growth of business?”
“Good question,” he says. “I have patient centered protocols that are not built on profit, they are people focused. I believe God rewards hard work and good intentions too.”
Sometimes the best adjustment occurs before a patient lies down on the table.
Recognizing the truth there, I lean in to hear more.
“I ask myself what can I bring to each of my patients. I aim to be completely present. Some of my patients identify with their pain and I want to encourage them to engage in life beyond their pain. Sometimes the best adjustments occur before a patient lies down on the table. Tension unravels as thoughts come out.”
As a coach, I see clients go from slump shouldered to confident as they are heard. I respect this doctor’s approach and prerogative.
Dennis continues,“I operate from a place of peace. I want to be the calm in the storm. I aim to stay centered and grounded. Self awareness is key here. I am proactive rather than reactive. I make sure to take care of myself so I can be a help to others. Alone time is key to recharge. Exercising, meditating, eating healthfully, and saying no, is important.”
His intentions and lifestyle match the wisdom he prescribes for his patients.“What is your typical day like,” I query.
“The day I aim for looks like this,” he pauses with a smile that indicates days are not entirely reliable creatures. “I get up early so I can have a peaceful start. I like to get in a run or mediate if I can. I enjoy a cup of coffee and may reply to emails or do a little marketing. Then I head to the office and am busy until 12:30. Over lunch I take my dog out, often to a local park. Then I am back at work until 6:30.”
Hearing about his full day leads us to talk about the sacrifices that come with owning and running his business. “Unscheduled time is sacrificed.There is less time for family and recreation than if I worked a 9-5 day,” he says.
“What do you enjoy about running your own business?” I ask next. I want to be sure to get a clear picture of the positives of business ownership.
“Sense of purpose and fulfilled passion. My work is a way to express my passion. Owning their own business, that is what I wish for others and for my children. No one should ever aim to work for others.”
Dennis has strong beliefs about his work, and his heart is clearly in it. As a coach, I know that living your core beliefs is a recipe for success.
As if to prove the point, patients began filling the office again, and so we wrapped it up with one last question. “If you could give your younger self advice, from your perspective now, what would it be?”
“Prepare to work hard. Stay centered and know that hard times pass. Success takes fitness. You need to be, or become, fit for success. It is an adjustment to go from a slow start to success.”
The concept of becoming fit for success sits with me; it seems like wisdom anyone can use and so I ponder it awhile. What does fit for success mean for me, or you?