… Write down your goals, your dreams, what you want to accomplish. Keep looking back and commit to continue striving for more. Remember to keep your thoughts positive. Keep making the affirmation and give yourself the courage and strength you need to succeed. If you know you are not good at something, work on it. I work on my mental amplitude, controlling my emotions to be able to handle and communicate with anyone no matter how stressful or challenging it may be.
Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Sima Yakoby Epstein.
Dr. Sima Yakoby Epstein, is the Founder and CEO of OrthoNu, a company focused on driving innovation in oral care to support both patient experience and practice efficiencies. Dr. Yakoby Epstein holds a Doctorate of Medicine in Dentistry and Clinical Orthodontics from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. She completed her residency at New York Presbyterian and taught Advanced Aesthetic Dentistry at New York University. She has more than 10 years of professional orthodontic experience, including working as a cosmetic dentist in New York City, and a lifetime of patient experience. Today, through OrthoNu, Dr. Yakoby Epstein is committed to engaging top orthodontic innovators and scientific developers as she transforms the orthodontic industry.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I am a first-generation born from Georgian immigrant parents who came to America with $100.00 dollars in their pocket and big aspirations. My father worked 18-hour days driving a yellow checker cab to survive and raise three children. In Georgia, my mom was one semester shy of becoming a doctor and was also a professional pianist when she and my father decided to come here to pursue the American dream. I often think about how she must have felt and how she had the strength to continue to be incredibly fearless! She filled our tiny apartment with music and home-cooked meals and the door was always open to anyone that needed a friend. I often reflect on both my parents with amazement and adoration. My Mom and Dad truly taught me compassion for humanity by giving when they didn’t have anything and relying on their cultural foundation of feeding everyone as their way of showing love and respect, a trait I am proud to say I still carry on to this day! I dreamed of one day becoming a doctor so my mom could truly see the greatness she instilled in me and know that her incredible sacrifices were not in vain. I was raised with a hard-work ethic, to be grateful for the opportunity of freedom, and with proof that the American dream is real!
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My interest in orthodontics and passion for patient well-being began at an early age. When I was 13 years old, my face, teeth, and jaw were broken in a horrible car accident. I endured years of treatment during which I became fascinated with, and appreciative of, the vital role that an Orthodontist plays in transforming a person’s smile, a physical change that also provides mental and emotional confidence. I was so inspired that I pursued the same career path and became an Orthodontist. This, combined with my passion for patient well-being, further inspired me to found OrthoNu.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first started, I thought that I could use the same approach with customers, vendors, and investors as those that made me so successful with my patients. I used familiarity, empathy, humor, and open access. I even cut someone’s steak across the table when they had a hand injury! But, in some instances, those behaviors were responded to with a lack of respect and not being taken seriously. I had to learn about operating in the business world, as it is, but I also didn’t want to lose what makes me, Sima. So, it’s been a balancing act, but I have toned down some of those instincts and supplemented them with an expression of my confidence in my expertise and business professionalism.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I cannot say enough about the power of forging, building, and nurturing relationships. I attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine where I earned my DMD degree. I’ve continued my relationship with Penn and today, OrthoNu has partnered with researchers at Penn’s Dental and Medical schools as well as the Center for Innovation & Precision Dentistry (CiOD) at the University of Pennsylvania in creating and validating two revolutionary preventative medicine vehicles for patients and doctors.
I also dedicate as much time as I can to mentoring. As a mentor, engaging with Orthodontic residents at schools across the country and helping them see the endless potential in themselves is so incredibly gratifying. I’m filled with passion for creating opportunity and living one’s vision, and this would not have been possible without my mentors, throughout my dental and orthodontic schooling from Dr. Lemchen, Dr. Salzer, and Dr. Shapiro, all of whom inspired me to continue pursuing unimaginable heights.
The feedback and reception that I have received from prominent doctors, mentors, and residents has been incredibly positive and fuels my inspiration and motivation to continue to develop scientifically driven solutions to redefine the Orthodontic standard of self-care. Being a woman and having been a patient myself, I have the empathy, and experience, to truly understand the patient’s point of view. That feeling of empowerment extends to all patients through OrthoNu!
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?
The most important qualities an entrepreneur can have, in my opinion, are confidence and positive belief in oneself. As Waldo Emerson said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” It is human nature to follow the path of least resistance. If you offer a new way, a new perspective, you will inevitably be challenged from every angle. It’s your belief in yourself and in your instincts that will build and sustain your confidence and lead the way. I have the good fortune of speaking and meeting with Orthodontic residents in schools across the country and this is always my advice to them: Trust your instincts, push outside of your comfort zone, don’t be satisfied with mediocrity, and always believe in yourself. We can do this together!
What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself? Can I believe that I can be a great artist even though I’m not very talented? Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? Can you please explain what you mean?
I believe that anything is possible, as Albert Einstein said, “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then, you have to play better than anyone else.” Whatever it is that you want in life, you must be willing to work harder than anyone else, and know that sacrifice, love and respect for your goal and yourself can only be accomplished with your unyielding commitment to a complete mind, body, and spiritual belief that you can and will succeed.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
Yes, there was a time where I was told what I was trying to accomplish couldn’t be done especially if I weren’t savvy enough, and that was a bit daunting and can certainly affect your confidence, if you let it. The truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know so I learned what I needed to and continue to innovate, discover, pivot, and persevere.
At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?
My belief system changed when one of the most incredible Orthodontists was my first investor, when the most prestigious CEO of billion-dollar company called Tweakz innovative and revolutionary. When the orders started to roll in and the feedback that what I had created was truly exceptional. The time when another prominent industry key opinion leader echoed what I have been saying all along – OrthoNu is disrupting the Orthodontic Industry and Tweakz will be the new standard of care. I’m taking this and every science driven dynamic product to market. I will not stop until we create that new category of self-care and continue research that redefines prevention medicine innovation.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
Do something that makes you happy everyday- for me that’s doing something that makes me feel good: Moving my body, solving a crossword, playing tennis, enjoying my family.
Work hard but Play Harder. Take the time to enjoy being with great friends and family that re-energize you and keep you grounded.
Balance your needs and wants. What you want and what you need is very different. Taking the time to give yourself what you need is crucial to your success. For me, a massage or facial every now and then, is my go-to.
Read, Read, Read. Know everything you can about anything you find valuable and respect in the knowledge of others. In speaking to other CEO’s, they were so impressive to me because of what they were able to extrapolate from any situation to relate and effectively monopolize their field of industry. We must be the masters of our craft.
Write down your goals, your dreams, what you want to accomplish. Keep looking back and commit to continue striving for more. Remember to keep your thoughts positive. Keep making the affirmation and give yourself the courage and strength you need to succeed. If you know you are not good at something, work on it. I work on my mental amplitude, controlling my emotions to be able to handle and communicate with anyone no matter how stressful or challenging it may be.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
That is something you need to acknowledge you need to change. The minute you realize that you want more, you must continue to consistently repeat, I am powerful, and I am capable of getting stronger, I can accomplish anything. I can and I will. It’s like exercise for your brain. It’s the most important part, not only for business, but in life!
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.