Hello, and welcome to Beauty and the Biz where we talk…
Hello, and welcome to Beauty and the Biz where we talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery, and how to be 1 percent above the rest.
I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of Your Aesthetic Practice – What your patients are saying, as well as consultant to plastic surgeons, to get them more patients and more profits. Now, today’s episode is called “1 Percent Above the Rest — with Benjamin Talei, MD”.
Some surgeons do not follow the norm. They are wired to see things from a different perspective, so they take different action and get different results.
This week’s video is an interview I did with Ben Talei, MD, facial plastic surgeon and founder of the Beverly Hills Center, and here’s how he sees it:
Dr. Talei did more surgery in a year than most do in a decade because he expected the best results for himself (even more than for his patients).
Because of that commitment to excellence, surgeons from all over the world visit his center to watch him perform surgery.
Within 8 years, Dr. Talei has built an uber successful surgical practice + healing center + energy booster center, with 2 more local offices opening soon and then expanding around the world.
This is a much-watch interview. It’s so interesting and inspiring to hear how some people think.
P.S. If you want to talk about the growth of your own practice, Click Here to Schedule a 30-Minute Strategy Call.
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Hello, and welcome to Beauty and the Biz where we talk…
Hello, and welcome to Beauty and the Biz where we…
Catherine Maley, MBA: Hello and welcome to Beauty and the Biz, where we talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery and how to be 1 percent above the rest. I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of “Your aesthetic practice, which your patients are saying”, as well as consultant to plastic surgeons to get them more patients and more profits. I have a really special guest today who’s 1 percent above the rest.
It’s Dr. Ben Talei. He’s a cosmetic and reconstructive facial surgeon in private practice in Beverly Hills, where he founded the Beverly Hills Center for Plastic and Laser Surgery eight and a half years ago and considers himself to be 1 percent above the rest.
Now, Dr. Talei’s a native Californian and he completed his training at Columbia University, Cornell University and New York Presbyterian Hospital, and then he served as a fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (before he learned the secret of becoming 1 percent above the rest). Then, he also completed two more fellowships to learn the most cutting-edge advanced procedures available.
Now, surgeons from around the world visit Dr. Talei’s Center to learn his advanced face and neck lifting techniques, as well as his revision rhinoplasty, modified upper lip lift, and his philosophy on becoming 1 percent above the rest.
He’s also a popular speaker and published author in medical journals and textbooks, and Dr. Talei’s humanitarian pursuits are numerous. He goes on searchable missions and raises funds and awareness for several organizations. And he even received a special award from Beverly Hills City Hall for his charitable works — a testament of him being 1 percent above the rest.
Dr. Talei, welcome to Beauty and the Biz. It’s a pleasure to have you here.
Benjamin Talei, MD: Thank you. Thank you. It’s great talking to you.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. So, let’s just start out with how did you end up being a facial plastic surgeon? I always found that interesting because I always thought, oh, people would grow up and they want to be a doctor. But how did you get so, specific about a facial plastic surgeon? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: I grew up not wanting to be a plastic surgeon specifically, like against it.
So, it’s, it is funny. It’s not something that I didn’t think about. I thought about it and I hated it when I didn’t know about it when I was younger. And my original goal was to become a cardiac surgeon, a brain surgeon. Then as I really learned more about the burnout rates and all that, I, I went more towards either orthopedics or head and neck cancer, orthopedics, because I do a lot of carpentry and I’ve always worked with my hands since I was a kid.
So, for me it was like second nature what they were teaching the third- and fourth-year residents and head and neck just because it’s really, really intricated and you’re dealing with cancer and big extra patients and all this. And I really loved that. I ended up going into head and neck cancer and I was going to be a head and neck cancer surgeon.
And then I started crying every day in my third year telling people they had cancer and they would cry. I would cry. And so, I decided at that point to go towards reconstruction of the cancers. And once I started following the reconstructive surgeons, I actually saw that the more challenging cases were the cosmetic ones.
So, I wanted to learn all of it, the recon and the cosmetic. And I just love the cosmetic more and more because the intricacy and the difficulty is much, much more, it’s much more technically difficult to do a rhinoplasty correctly than a free flap, which sounds crazy because a free flap is a very complex surgery, which is lifesaving.
But then to get a rhinoplasty right is a little bit harder, which for me drew me towards it more. And I loved it so, much. I trained as much as I could with the ocular guys, the, the eye, the plastics, the facial. I spent years with Steven Perlman. I did the fellowship with Jacono in New York for both cosmetics and recon because he was using a lot of recon at the time.
And then I did another fellowship for pediatric vascular birthmarks where we could take out these giant tumors from kids, but they weren’t really malignant cancers. So, for me it was the best of all worlds. I got to do my tumor surgery, but it wasn’t a tumor that was killing anybody, so, I wasn’t crying.
And that was I, how I got into that. And then I came back to Beverly Hills and I did that for a bit. And then everything went cosmetic, not by choice, just demand of what was around me and popularity. And I became pretty much all cosmetic.
Catherine Maley, MBA: So, That’s really interesting because number one, you went through three fellowships and most go through one at the most. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
And you two of those fellowships were with top facial plastic surgeons on Park Avenue in New York. Did you ever want to move to New York, or, or you always knew you were going to go back to California? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: No, I, became a New Yorker, you know, I was there for, for a while, so, I started walking faster, talking faster.
My patience diminished over time. So, I became a New Yorker and I thought I wanted to stay there, actually. But my family’s out here in California and I’m addicted to outdoors and boating and racing cars. And so, I raced boats, cars, and I was like a ski patrol and for me it was hard to do that in New York.
And I think towards like my sixth year or something, I said, you know, if I spend one more winter here, I’m going to lose my mind. So, I’m, I like, you know, I, I, I like seasons, but I have a favorite one. And it’s this, it’s like, Summer, spring. That’s my favorite season. So, I, that’s why LA is better for me.
Catherine Maley, MBA: I hear you.
How big of a stepping stone was it for you to hang around with two top, well, three top surgeons in their fields for you to get where you were going? Like how imperative was that to you? Or, or was it valuable? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: It was, it was super valuable. You learn to really just go after the best of the best. And I didn’t really realize that in the beginning because I thought everybody was great and I was very optimistic.
And after a while of hanging out, you know, a while hanging out with people who were at the top of their game, you start to realize they’re different than others and they tell you different things and they’re giving you different advice than 95% of doctors that you were listening to. And at first, you’re like, wow, this is unique.
And then after a while you realize why it is. They see things differently and I see things differently and that’s why we always got along. So, for me it helped not just. Teach me what they knew, but teach me the ways to learn. So, I would actually go follow not just them, but I’d go follow other surgeons.
So, all my vacations for years, I didn’t take a vacation for, for many years. They would be like a real vacation. It would be a vacation to go visit a doctor, watch them, you know, the best in every field and just keep watching. And even when I was in residency, when most of the residents were burnt out after their 16-hour shifts, I would still go work.
And it’s not that I felt like I was a workaholic, I wasn’t like a nerd or anything. I was still partying. But I went and did extra shifts and I would do it with Perlman. I would do it with Gary Lely with a bunch of other, you know, people in New York and the plastics guys like Sherman and lab Bruna and just Dan Baker.
I visited. Like I, I’d visit everybody I possibly could. And New York was amazing because everybody’s there. It’s like Beverly Hills, you know, tons of people are there. So, I got to learn so, much. And then I take trips and every time I took a vacation, I go visit somebody somewhere.
Catherine Maley, MBA: But, so, now you’re, you’re ready to leave New York.
You’re going to Beverly Hills, but this was eight and a half years ago. It was already uber competitive in Beverly Hills. How did you have the wherewithal or the gall, or the courage to open up shop in Beverly Hills? And did you join somebody else? Did you go straight out on your own? What was that like when you got to Beverly Hills? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Well, I’ve always been oblivious to those things, so, it worked out in my favor. I just kind of moved back and did my thing. I didn’t really care about Competition ever. I’ve, I’ve been in competitions my whole life with racing and things like that, of, of different sorts. But I was never competitive with the other people.
I just kind of just wanted to be better. So, when I moved back, it wasn’t a big deal. Beverly Hills, when you look at the market, actually, it’s the opposite of what most people think. It’s, it’s more patients. There are more patients around. There’s plenty for everybody. And I’ve never been a competitive person, so, it didn’t bother me.
And in LA you do hear a lot of that, and when I came back, I asked a lot of doctors for advice and the competitive ones told me, maybe you should move somewhere else. They said, maybe, maybe, you know, we’re full over here. Consider going to Santa Barbara. Consider going. And I heard that from a lot of people and it kind of sucked because I really wanted their advice and I’m moving there anyways.
And it would be great if they, they helped, but many of them weren’t open to it. And after you’d go on in practice for a while, you realize that you were just talking to, you know, not to be mean, but the mediocre people and the mediocre people. They worry so, much about competition because they have nothing to offer.
So, they’re just the same as everybody else. Whereas even if you have a better personality, you’re already a step ahead because, you know, doctors aren’t that vibrant, they don’t have that much personality. So, just a good personality, you’re already ahead. You don’t have to worry about competition so, much.
And then on top of that, if you have any kind of like talent, insight, good taste, that kind of stuff, you’re also ahead. So, it doesn’t really matter for, for the people who are trying to excel and improve all the time, it’s actually a better place to be because the volume is so, much higher. So, I was able to accelerate really quickly.
You know, it’s something that takes another doctor 10 to 20 years to get their volume I was doing in one year. And you just learn quickly that way. So, being, and I, and I actually tell this to the residents and fellows that we train, I say, you know what? Live wherever you want to live, you’re going to be fine. I would just tell them, the one thing to realize is being in an academic establishment, even though you want to be academic, is going to slow you down.
And being in a small city is going to slow you down just because you can’t get the exposure that you want. Whereas being in a big city private practice, which is not what I wanted, I wanted it to be academic, but, and I still am academic, but I’m not an academic center. But being in a big city, you have so, many patients and they all come to you.
You could work day and night. And I did, and I worked day and night for about six and a half, seven years until I got a little heart arrhythmia and then I had to slow down. So, I was working 16-hour days, six days a week. I was working Sundays too. And it was momentum, you know, I just had fun with it and I kept going and at some point, my body forbade me from doing that anymore.
It said, you have to stop. It wasn’t a mental choice, it was an exhaustion type of decision where I just had to, so, I’ve, I’ve slowed down now. I’m about four days a week in the past year, and mental clarity is returned. So, it’s kind of nice.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Good. So, when you got to Beverly Hills though, did you, Rent a spot, lease a spot Bill, do a build out? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
How did you enter the marketplace? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: I contacted every single doctor I could find. And the way you find them is on US World and news report. You go and type in plastic surgeon, dermatologist, whatever name, particular vicinity, vicinity, and you, you cold call. You actually just call their office or email them and say, Hey, like, do you want a junior in your practice?
Have you considered it? And that’s what someone else told me to do. It didn’t work out in the academic centers. Even though I was a specialist, a super specialist in pediatric surgery and birthmarks, they didn’t want me because the academic centers are more competitive than private practices and groups are.
They are, it’s, it’s a lot of diplomacy. It’s kind of it, it, it gets a little dirty, kind of like government, you know? It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s not super different. And I, I saw that and I got very lucky. There’s a doctor here named David Hop, who is like an angelic, amazing plastic surgeon. And Catherine Wong Begovic, who’s another plastic surgeon out here, said, you know what?
I’m leaving his office. He’s such a sweet guy. Go talk to him. Maybe you can rent from him. Mm-hmm. And I went in, he said, I don’t want any contract. I don’t want anything. My handshake will do. You move in, you rent. If it works out, great. If it doesn’t, no, I don’t want anything from you. You just pay the rent and that’s it.
No percentages, no nothing. And I’m like, wow, who is this guy? So, I moved into this tiny little office. It was perfect for me. And he gave me the office most of the time. He, he was kind of phasing out of practice and trying to do more stuff outside. And I moved into a place where I had a surgery center in my hallway so, I would never have to leave because when I trained in New York, I saw how it is when you get busy and you just don’t have time to leave if you want to be efficient.
And I’m. Obsessed with efficiencies. So, for me it was amazing. And that way my overhead was low and every single penny I got, I would just put back into the practice and growing it and for staff and for patients and all that kind of stuff. And I didn’t care about money. I didn’t care about money for a very long time, actually even till like probably a year ago.
I didn’t care at all. I just, I never looked at my bank account and my dad started managing everything. And I would do cases for free, I’d do it for half price, I’d do it for whatever. I didn’t care because for me a price doesn’t establish your value. You know, you telling people I’m worth a hundred thousand doesn’t mean you’re worth anything.
It’s like giving yourself a nickname. You know, you could tell people call me like Bugsy and nobody’s going to think like you’re actually Bugsy Siegel, you know? But people do that. And so, I just put everything back. I didn’t care about. What I had in my bank account and I kept growing and I grew very rapidly.
So, within about six months, I felt the pressure of the space. And after about a year, year and a half, I started looking for a new space. And I was very scared, but I went and looked and I thought, okay, let me build out something like this. I ended up building out something like this and I had to, because my patients were coming in at six in the morning, they were coming in at 10 at night and there would be 15 of them waiting in the hallway because I was doing a lot of injectables too.
And it got to the point where we had, you know, those restaurant pagers, Uhhuh, that people, we used to give them pagers to say like, just go shopping at Neman Marcus. We’ll page you when we can fit you in and come back. That’s a great idea. Yeah. Yes, everybody. Yes. I built out and I’m in the place that I call now, Beverly Hills Center, Uhhuh, and I have a little spa next door and I’ve got, you know, a nice facility with a big patio and everything works out for me.
And I’m still have, even though it’s a huge space, it’s not enough space. And so, I’m trying to break off and I’m opening to other clinics to do other things.
Catherine Maley, MBA: No kidding. The clinics would be nearby but not attached. Is that the point? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Yeah. So, I already opened a spa next door probably six years ago, and for the Healing Center that I was doing.
And then now I’m opening this place called E Turn, which is an energy boosting center down the street. And then in West Hollywood I’m opening a place called Cupid Lips, which is going to be a lip center, which is like lip products. So, the front is all retail. When you walk in it’s like Sephora, it looks like, and you walk in.
It’s just beautiful, all retail lip products, every kind. And then the back is my injectors who do like fixing the lips, making them look more natural, dissolving little filler, little laser wrinkles deflation, all that kind of stuff. And then once a week I’ll have a surgeon there who does the lip lift.
For now, I’m going to work there on Fridays, cause I have Fridays off. But then I’m going to have somebody else come in and, and do that so, he can have a nice, you know, someone else that can do lip lifts other than me.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Okay. So, you, you have a lot of profit centers now that you didn’t have before. I think you also do hair transplant.
Do you do hair transplant? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Yeah, so, the Healing Center that we had that’s, or aura Spa. Mm-hmm. Moving those hyperbarics and l e d and IV therapies to Eter. And then I’m turning that into just the hair dedicated center, which we call Beverly Hills’ Hair Group, because we’ve had that mixed into my regular practice for a long time, where we do a lot of f U e, so, follicular unit extraction transplantation, which is what this is.
And then we do a lot of P R P and we have a treatment called fat hair, which is. P h a t. It’s platelet hybrid. What great name. Yeah. And it’s, it’s the strongest way to regrow or stop hair loss out of anything, out of the PRP A-Cell, stem cell treatments, exosomes, any of those things. It’s the strongest.
And I became obsessed with figuring this out over about five years. So, I was doing the treatments, not, not for free, but pretty much for free. It was like at a loss for me because I had to figure it out. And then once I figured it out, what the best treatment was, I got bored with it. And I said, I don’t want to do it anymore.
So, I handed it off to a couple people that I trained and, and they do it now. I kind of lose interest in things if they plateau. So, I like to create things and if, if I’m not creating, I feel redundant and boring, I’m, I’m not a person who can tell a joke twice it, I kind of feel cheesy. Doing that. So, for me to do the same surgery over and over again, it, I feel, I feel like an idiot.
So, like, I can’t do it. And it’s the way I cook too. I can’t make the same recipe more than once. I feel like I’m just copying myself. And it’s boring. You’re not, you know, you’re, you’re nothing special. Yeah. So, if I make a new recipe, I make it just once. Never again.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Now, you know, some doctors call it AADD or something or AD.
So, for you it’s just boredom. So, that’s great. I like the way you’ve re-defined that. Yeah. Did you trademark the fat hair? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: I think so. Yeah. I think we, that’s amazing. That is such a great name. Yeah. So, so, we did fat hair and fat lips. Mm-hmm. So, different things. And it’s the same treatment, which is nano-fat with P R P, and it’s a specific way of doing it.
But for hair loss it from our study we had 90% of patients had it slowed or stopped their hair loss. 30% of patients had some visible regrowth within before and after photos. And then for fat lips, it’s for deflation of the area around the mouth. Especially like white women as they get older, they start to deflate here and, on the sides, and you can actually inject it with nano fat p r p and it rehydrates the mass naturally without putting a filler in there.
So, it’s not technically a volumizer as a spacer, it is a stimulator that draws in water.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, I’m certainly glad you’re inventing all this. Keep it up because I need all of that. Yeah, that’s fantastic. Now, do you feel like you’re overextended at all? Because when you, I’ve just watched some practices add in more moving parts and that’s more staff more overhead more management of people.
How is that going? Because that can get out of hand, right? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Yeah, I would love to have less staff. We have my, my center is probably like 27, 28 people just running mainly my stuff. And then we have Robert Cohen, who’s a plastic surgeon who I work with. So, they run for both of us. But it’s mainly, mainly for me, it is a lot of staff.
It’s just they run themselves so, it works out okay. And I have an amazing manager who like helped organize everything, so, I don’t really have to spend too much energy running the practice. So, it doesn’t affect me so, much. And then the aftercare that we use, my, my dad runs and it’s 50 nurses or so, over there, but I don’t have anything to do with that.
So, I don’t have to do much. And then the, the, the, so, you understand the two days that I took off a week, I know it’s, for most people, that’s like 16 hours for me that’s 36 hours. Cause it’s, I, you know, 30 it was, yeah, it was only like 16, 18-hour workday. So, it’s like 34 hours, 32 hours extra I have a week.
So, it’s, it is not too bad, but I do feel sometimes like maybe I should just back off and do something else. But for me I would rather get everything done in a short period of time and then, Retire early and move on to something else. So, I’ll go become like a boat racer again or something.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Right.
So, see that I, I, lately I’ve been asking because a lot of us are getting older, like, what’s your exit strategy for you? You’re still just, you’re just starting, or I, or maybe you’re not, maybe your vision is, hit it hard now for a shorter amount of time and then walk away earlier. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Is that what I thought? Yeah, it, it has turned to that a little bit.
I thought I was going to operate at the same pace forever. And then I realized that people some people who enter your life in plastic surgery world aren’t so, nice. People who enter your life when you become more successful aren’t so, nice. And I wanted start to distance myself a little bit because I was always the empath and always the person who said like, please come in.
I trust you. You know, with, with patience, with friends, with everything. And you start to get burned a few times. And this is a lesson I learned from Jacono over and over again because he’s the. The nicest person in the world to just get screwed constantly. And it’s happening to me now. So, I decided that I want to have the ability to retire at a younger age.
So, I’m 41 now, and I want to have the ability to retire by the time I’m 45. Not that I’m going to retire, but that I can say in my mind that I’m retired. And then when a patient tries to extort me or threaten me or things like that, or, you know, you, I, I’ve, I’ve had patients where I said, I won’t operate on you because you can tell there’s something wrong with them or they don’t need it, and then they start trying to threaten you and things like that.
So, I just want the ability to distance myself quickly and that’ll come with, in my mind, it’ll come with the ability to, to retire.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Right. Even that’s such a shame too because most people start out super nice. They’re kind, everyone’s happy, and then you get burned a few times and you start getting so, skeptical and you, you get that that thing on your shoulder. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
But if you looked at it as a compliment, because you’re getting grief because you’re rattling other people like the competitors. So, you know, take it as compliment. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Yeah. I actually went through a phase where other doctors in the beginning, because I grew so, rapidly, I kind of ignored. I ignored it.
It didn’t bother me too much. But they were saying a lot of negative things because they weren’t happy about it or they weren’t used to somebody. Being better than them at a younger age. So, it was a bit of a hit to the ego. I don’t know what it was, but something, but they, they said a lot of negative things.
They would make up things. They said, I, like s people would make up rumors that I sank my boat for insurance. They would say like crazy, weird things. Yeah. But now it got to a level where if they say something negative about me to a patient, like they sound like an idiot. So, I’m in a good place. It’s, I don’t hear anything negative anymore.
And it’s, I think part of it is out of mutual respect amongst all of us. We’re all friends, but the other is you have to be an idiot to insult me because like, my results are pretty good. So, it’s, it’s, it’s become a really nice world as far as like colleagues go. So, colleagues and other doctors are super, super nice anywhere around the country, even if I have a patient with a complication.
Mm-hmm. I’ll say really, really nice things. So, I’m, I’m super happy with how it’s gone with those. And then in my own practice, Since I’ve found better ways to filter out patients, all my patients are super nice. The level of extortion has gone down like 90%, 99%. It, it’s, it’s, I’m in a very happy place at this point.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Wait, we’re all ears. What are you doing to filter them out? Because that has be, that’s increasingly becoming a bigger issue. How are you doing it? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Yeah. Well, one is the approach. So, you have to think to yourself, you know, I’m going to say no to some patients that I should actually do surgery on. And you have to be willing to lose a couple patients who might be good.
Because it’s like raising your threshold and you’re saying I have a cutoff. When I look at these photos or I look at how someone talks, where I’m just not going to operate on them. I’m not even going to take the chance, even though they might be a nice person because they said something a little off.
Mm-hmm. And when you do that, you filter out probably eight bad people and two good people. But for me, I would lose eight good people just to save myself from one bad one. Because one bad one, ooh, it’ll, it’ll ruin you. You, you can have 300 good ones and one bad one, and one will come after you and destroy you.
So, that’s the first thing. But the way I actually went about it was instead of having just consultations blindly saying, come into the office and we’ll see you. Or instead of just raising my price, that didn’t make any difference. We started raising the price a little bit just to filter out people, and we saw it really made no difference as far as getting rid of the aggressive crazies.
So, now what we do is we have messages that go back and forth. The staff talks to them. They need to get photos from the patient to see what they look like. Meaning, do they look like a nice person? Do they look like a mean person? That’s one thing. And you can’t always tell. Sometimes ptosis makes you look like a mean person.
But then you look to see if they actually need something. You know, you don’t want to waste their time, waste your time if they don’t need something, or if you can’t help them, or if you should refer it to somebody else. And then you want to look to see if they’ve overdone stuff or if they’re dysmorphic because.
If they enter your life, it’s going to be very hard to fix those people and you can’t satisfy them sometimes then we look at the story. So, we have them write us an email saying, why do you want to do this? What are you having done? And what doctors have you been to? If they don’t tell you everything you’re risking?
And I’m not willing to risk for somebody saying, well, I don’t want to tell you what doctor I went to. I’m like, why don’t you want to tell me what doctor you went to? I want to know. I want to know what techniques they use. I want to know, I want to be prepared, and the fact that you’re not telling me scares me a little bit.
So, these things alone have filtered out a large amount of patients. And then once we look at the pictures, I glance through them and I can tell in two seconds what I want to do to somebody. So, I say what I would like to do, and if they’re in line with that, we know we’re on the same page. And then the coordinators give them the cost of what it would be.
At that point, so, they don’t come in and kind of get sticker shock or they can go to my colleague Ali Raspberry, who works in the office also. So, that’s how we’ve done it and it’s worked out really, really well. And we’ve put our consulting fee not in the high range, not in the low range. So, we have it just in the middle because I don’t care about 500 bucks.
Like I’m not trying to make money off of consultations. You know, it’s, it’s not for that reason. You want it high enough where people will kind of respect the time and not just try to talk to you for no reason. Because I don’t have, I wish I had more time. I don’t, you know, I used to have all the time in the world to talk to people.
Now I’m really limited and I’m stressing and it’s taking away from my own life. So, I need to limit how much consultation I’m doing. And then I found, you know, if you charge 1000, 2000 for a consult, I don’t see it make. Difference. It just feels more offensive. Like you’re going to tell someone like a thousand dollars consult fee and they haven’t met you, haven’t spoken with you.
So, 500 seems to be kind of this like soft area and I really don’t even care about the 500. I give it back to people if they, if I tell them I don’t want to operate on you. It makes no difference for, for me. But we’ve actually also told them that it’s non-refundable because if you say it’s going towards the consult fee or towards the surgery and it’s going towards fillers or towards your treatment, you think that’s drawing them in.
All it’s doing is they look at it like a deposit that they’re going to get back if they decide not to do surgery or if they decide not to do something. And you’re a bank and already a bunch of, we have patients who like look at you as like, oh, I have an investment there and I’m going to withdraw my money and I did surgery, but you know my money’s still sitting there.
I’m going to get it back. So, saying that it’s non-refundable has helped too.
Catherine Maley, MBA: That’s so, interesting because we’ve often used that to soften the blow because, well now people are a lot more used to paying a consult fee, but it was still fairly new just a few years ago. And especially when it was getting up to like 300, 400, 500. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
So, we would say by the way, to, to reserve your time with Dr. Smith because he is so, busy, we do take a credit card for a $500 deposit and it does go towards your surgical procedure. So, we used it to soften the flow. Yeah, but you’re saying don’t bother because you’re —
Benjamin Talei, MD: Oh, it’s only going to lead to trouble with some patients.
Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. If somebody’s going to pay 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 for a facelift, or 75 or whatever it is, mm-hmm. 500 really becomes inconsequential. And if you want to give it back to them, give it back to them, like put it into the fee, but just have the disclaimer beforehand that they’re not going to have it back.
And it takes away that conversation takes away the headache and you can put it back in there. So, we actually apply it sometimes where people ask, oh, can you apply it? We say, yeah, of course. You know, we don’t care. We just pop it in there. It doesn’t matter.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Okay. What, what would you say is your biggest challenge right now, the business side of, of plastic surgery? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
What would be your biggest challenge? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: The business side? Nothing. I mean, there’s the difficulty in my practice is really trying to like, schedule people and work with cancellations. Because when you get a cancellation on a long case, it kind of ruins your day. So, I’ve found that it’s a bit out of my control in the way that I run the practice.
That would be my only real difficulty because I’m not the aggressive person to say, okay, someone’s got to a cancel two weeks before, let me charge them an exorbitant fee, or let me tell them they’re not getting half their money. You know, things like that. And if they’re a chronic counselor, I’ll just not do their surgery.
You know, they don’t, they, they, they don’t respect our relationship, so, I don’t want to do their surgery if they keep canceling on me. It’s and it’s fine, you know, it’s like someone keeps canceling on a date. Every time you go out, they’re flaking on you. You’re like, okay, well I’m just not going to date you.
So, it’s not a financial thing. But that’s the only thing that is a bit of a struggle, which I don’t really know how to navigate because I don’t want to become the harsh financial person. I’d rather still stay kind of on the soft side and financially I’m fine. You know, I accept that there’s going to be losses throughout the year anyways, and you can’t look at things like you’re going to stare at every dollar coming in out, because then your brain is always business.
It’s not medicine and I just don’t want to go there. So, that, but that’s the only difficulty that I really have business wise. The other is the amount of staff that I have. I would love to have lower overhead. I would love to have, you know, all that if you, if you knew my overhead. It’s insane. And like patients don’t realize it, they don’t realize that, my staff doesn’t realize it.
You know, they, they, they all want raises all the time. Of course. And I want to give it to them, but my overhead’s like over 500,000 a month for one doctor. It’s, it’s a lot of overhead. And it just takes that for 30 people, for supplies, for the rent, for God knows what that we do, but, right.
Catherine Maley, MBA: And you have this one manager who handles all this for you and your dad helps a little on the side. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Yeah. My, my dad now we moved him out of the office. He’s got some gambling issues, so, we’re, he’s kind of out we’re still very close, but, but he doesn’t deal in the office anymore. But he was helping me for a long time. But he wasn’t great at managing the people in the office to tell them what to do.
We were both very easygoing and we would just say, okay, you know, you figure it out, you’re independent. And when we brought in a manager, ultimately that caused a lot of friction because they were all used to doing things on their own. So, I brought in a manager, and then I also brought in a financial controller.
So, I have Ivy, who’s my financial controller. She deals with everything because there’s a lot of in and out. And I, I’m somebody who does not look in my bank account. You have to understand, like even to this day coincide even now, you don’t, even now, if I have to go in and do a transfer to like somebody who like, you know, worked on my car and I don’t feel like telling Ivy, I’ll sign into my app and I’m like, oh, that’s low, or, oh, that’s high.
Yeah, I, I just don’t like to it’s not something I’m super interested in. Even to this day. I do have a financial goal in mind now that I never had before. So, I do have to get to a certain point where I can say I can have the ability to retire, but that’s the first financial goal I’ve ever had, ever in my whole life.
Because we grew up with no money. So, and my dad and my mom always had us comfortable. So, we didn’t care. It wasn’t there, there was no correlation between money and comfort. There was a correlation between money and cars. Like, I want cars. That’s, that was the only correlation I ever had in jet skis. So, I would measure things in my mind in jet skis, but between money and happiness, money and comfort, there was never a correlation because we didn’t have money and we were fine.
And you go through med school, no money, you go through residency, 400,000 of debt. You know, I had full riots through med school and undergrad, so, I didn’t have any debt. Once I went into residency, I’m in New York, I wanted to go have fun, I started taking loans and I went through seven years. So, there’s fi 400,000 of debt that I had at the end of that.
But aside from that, never had a financial thought about where I needed to be until this past year. And I said, you know what? I got to retire at some point or have the ability to.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. Holy cow. Now we have to talk about marketing because here’s, I’ve watched you, I’ve watched you for a few years now, and you’ve done 3000 lip lifts. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Yeah, over probably. Yeah.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Okay. I heard you say that once at a medical conference and I, I said, did I hear that right? Did he say 3000 or 300? Then I just saw you recently in San Diego and you said it again and I said, did he say 3000? Like, how is that even possible? And you’ve only been in practice for eight and a half years and you do a whole bunch of facelifts every year too. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: So, and I was doing noses and I was doing 20, 30, 40 injectables a day. So, it’s a, it was a lot. I was at a higher, faster pace, but as far, yeah, if you’re asking how, you get there or how I got there, it was it’s, it’s a, it’s like a popularity contest and you know, most doctors don’t have the mind for learning these things because none of us are good at marketing.
It’s like, it’s rare we’re going to come out and be good at business or marketing. I’m, I’m terrible at business. I’m great at creating things, I’m great at being creative, doing things, you know, whatever it is. That’s what I like to do. I like to create and get better at things. One of those things was marketing and.
Marketing, you can do it in a cheesy way or you can do it in an organic way that just fits you as a person. And I like to do things my way. So, I always did things like that where, let’s say I did a Cross-Country I did a dome a domestic violence fundraiser. Mm-hmm. I wouldn’t marathon like other people did.
It doesn’t suit me. I, I don’t like running for money. It makes no sense. So, I organized a cross country drive where I threw parties and I drove in a Mini Cooper and I went from New York to Miami. I went 23 states, 15 parties, and we just partied the whole time and had car meet. And that’s the way I did it.
So, for me, when, because I do it that way, it becomes fun. And I’m not doing it as a business thing. I’m not doing it. I’m doing it to be successful. And I like being successful. I like achieving things. So, with my marketing, I realized early on, this is mainly from Jacono. You have to touch as many people as possible.
You have to be in people’s lives. And the place, and the time that this hit me was in my first year and second year where I’d have friends. Who I’m friends with on Facebook, I’ve known for 20 years, asked me, Hey, who should I go to for a rhinoplasty? I’m like, what? What are you talking about? I am a revision rhinoplasty specialist and I’m one of your best friends.
How do you not know this? And I was shocked that my own friends didn’t know specifically what I did. And instead of being offended by it at that point, I realized, wait, that’s because I’m not enough in people’s lives. I’m just working all the time. They have no idea what I’m actually doing. So, I realized you just have to permeate as much as possible and to be resilient with fluctuations in economy and trends and anything that happens, you have to permeate everything.
So, you can’t just be. Word of mouth. You can’t just be Google; you also have to be YouTube. You also have to be Instagram. You also have to do this, that you have to do a million different things. And it’s sort of like when you see a billionaire succeed, they didn’t succeed because they had one financial venture.
Usually it’s, they probably had a hundred and a bunch of them failed, and a few of them were successful. And that’s how it goes, and that’s how marketing is. So, you have to constantly be thinking about it and doing it and putting yourself in people’s lives however you do it. But if you do it in a cheesy way, you will probably get tired of it.
It’s not fun. And people will see that you’re a cheese ball. So, I never did it that way. I did it organically and everything I did was kind of fun. And I started having fun with posting things on Instagram. And Instagram was like a blessing to, to all of us. It really just put all of us out there and you can start talking about your procedures without, you know, needing to publish in a, in an article where some megalomaniac is trying to keep you from publishing new things because it doesn’t match what they want.
And so, Instagram was like a blessing really. But I’m all over the place. So, I’ve, I’ve done a lot of things and that’s why in eight years or eight and a half years, or at that point, it was more fun when I was popular at two, three years because I was like 32 years old and I was lecturing amongst the top guys and I was being invited to all these conferences.
It was more of a novelty at that point where they’re like, oh my god, this guy’s so, young now. It’s kind of like, okay. He’s kind of young, he’s 41. You know, they invited me to be a professor in Mexico, so, I’m a professor in in in in, in Monterey, in Lama, which is one of their top plastic surgery programs.
And they were nervous bringing me in as a facial plastic, which is a big deal because they’re very competitive. It’s very old school there. And they were even more nervous saying he’s young because he is like 50. And then they brought me in and gave me the reception and they’re like, we can’t believe we brought in somebody so, young and also official plastics.
You’re barely even 50 years old. I’m like, I’m 39. And they’re shocked. So, it was more fun. The younger I was. Now I’m actually like at a respectable age, I think, to be where I am. But either way to get there that quickly, I had to do a lot of surgeries and a lot of putting myself out there and doing as much as possible at all times.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, I have to go back to the 3000 lip lifts. I don’t even know 3000 people. How did you, where did you find all these people? And do you do it incredibly fast? And is, is it a special technique? I know you have that you, you have a trademark too, but can you just explain how did you get there? Because I’ve often said to some of the new, the young up and coming facial plastics, I say, why don’t you just pick something like lip lift? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Why don’t you just get really good at lift lifts? You’ll go after the younger market, they’ll age with you, and then you can get their bleph and facelift later and they’re like, oh no, it’ll leave a scar. They’re going to, they’re not going to be happy with it. And I think, I’ll bet, I’ll bet you don’t think that way, do you? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Well, I have a few ways that I think about it. So, First of all, as far as like niche specialization. Yeah. I tell people not to jump into picking it to become successful. It’ll pick you like you’ll, it’ll, the, the demand will come after whatever your natural talent happens to be. So, you have to really pick what you like doing and ultra-focus on a few things, become really good at them, and then you’ll start to narrow down once your taste develops.
Because in the beginning you don’t know what’s good or bad, and the more you do, you start to realize your own failures. You start to realize where you excel, where you’re better than other people and you keep excelling and then people start coming to you more for it when they see your results are better and better anyways.
And you do end up becoming a specialist or super specialist if you’re someone who hyperfocus is because you can’t deal with not being the best in something. So, at some point that’ll happen naturally and organically anyways. But the lip lifts in the beginning, I didn’t go chasing them. What happened was I, my first lip lift I did was on a really hot friend of mine who in New York, this girl Anastasia, who was just gorgeous, and she wanted me to do a lip lift and I learned how to do lip lifts from Andrew whom at that time he didn’t do a ton, but he was doing more than most people.
Mm-hmm. And I did it on her and it came out nicely. And she’s beautiful. And I posted her photo and all of a sudden, like another beautiful girl camp, another beautiful girl camp. And it became all of these young girls where classically, since 1970s it was 60-year old’s, 70-year old’s getting it for an elongated fil trim and lack of tooth show.
Mm-hmm. Whereas now a younger girl can get it for improved balance, sexiness, shape, all this kind of stuff. As I did more and more in my first year, I. I quickly try to, I’m always trying to change something, so, I quickly changed it to a deep, plain approach, which nobody had described before. And to this day, people argue who, which I’ve done 3000 plus now and I’ve done, God knows how many other lip procedures and how many lip injectables.
Like I know the lip anatomy and I know it very, very well to this day. People still argue with me, people who have done like a hundred, they argue with me about what the lip anatomy is. And I’m like, dude, I’ve seen it in every possible shape and form and I know it better than you. But they still argue with me either way.
There is a deep plan. And I realized this early on as I tried to dissect deeper and do what I was doing in the facelift that Andrew had thought and I started releasing and I saw, wow, you know, the muscle function is better. It’s doing this, it’s doing that. They less scarring. And I started doing on more and more young people.
The young people are what set me off because yeah, it hadn’t been done and or at least not repetitive, there was Randall Hayworth who is amazing and he is in Beverly Hills and he was doing a bunch but he was the only one really doing it on young patients. And once people saw this, it spread in social media.
And social media wasn’t that big back in 2014. So, 20 13, 20 14, like Kim Kardashian had like the most in the world and she had like 50,000 followers. Oh wow. Right. So, it wasn’t big back then, but enough, that word got to Europe. So, people in Poland, I had quoting me, people in Germany, people in different areas were quoting me and I didn’t really even know about it.
And that’s how the modified upper lip lift, which is the deep plane, kind of grew. And I didn’t publish it until a long time later because I didn’t think anybody cared. And then I kept getting requests to lecture about it and I said, okay, well here’s the publication on how I do it. Teaching people is the best way to learn.
You teach, you think things through, you start talking about it and you realize that you don’t understand everything and you need to understand more to teach them better. Then they tell you things because you talk to them and you learn more. The other thing that happens is you realize your failures. Because I would teach somebody, they’d go back to Australia, they’d go back to Germany, they’d go back to Spain, and then they’d send me pictures afterwards and it would be a total failure.
Yeah. And I look at it, I’m like, shit. Like, what did I do wrong? You know, it’s like your child’s going to jail. It’s like, what did I do wrong here that my kid’s in prison? And I thought about it and I said, you know, it’s not them. It’s not their lack of talent, it’s my lack of explanation. They’re going into a new territory.
Mm-hmm. So, I try to find a mathematical way to explain it, because doctors are not artistic. Doctors are not super insightful. Doctors are not tasteful. Most people aren’t tasteful. Right. People have common sense. Most people have common tastes. And that’s not great taste. That’s like average. So, I was trying to teach people this and I realized you can’t give them those things.
So, maybe I can make a mathematical equation that can be reproduced. And with that, I started going back and measuring all this things that I was doing to take down the numbers, look for a pattern. I’m good at finding patterns. And after like. Two months. I’m like, oh shit. I’ve been drawing this slope the whole time, and that’s how I’ve been getting these results.
And I started naming the lines. I realized there were last contention lines and all these patterns in the lip, and it started to come to me and I wrote the paper and I left it there. And two years later, it was like during Covid. I look at it and I’m like, oh my God. I’m like, it says Cupid, like I looked at the lines and they’re named Central Peak Intermediate Diagonal.
And that’s what I was using to describe the doctors who were visiting me. I’m like, you have these relaxed, intentional lines. And so, I came up with the Cupid lift. Yeah. And it figured out the algorithm. So, now I have an algorithm which helps me teach people. And I have a couple more exciting things that I’m going to do with it very soon, which I like.
I don’t impress myself very often. I impress myself. I was like, that’s a good one. So, I have a few things that I’m, I’m doing, I’m, I’m a little bored with the lip lift itself just kind of plateaued. I’m waiting for somebody else to take over the reins and teach me something, because now they have all the info.
I’ve come up with new like nomenclature. In the article, I came up with words. I, I came up with the word Lego lobbyists. And it’s a word now though, because they published it in a peer reviewed journal. What does. Lagos, it’s the inability to close the mouth. Like the, you have Laos for the eye, you have Lago Labio for the lip, and when people lay down you get more tooth exposure because of the gravity and the change in the muscle function.
Mm-hmm. So, either way, there’s a bunch of stuff in there where I’m just waiting for somebody else to really comprehend it and them to take it to a point where I couldn’t have, because I, I’ve thought enough about this, where I’m a little rigid now, I think. And I need somebody else to create something so, I can jump on their bandwagon and figure out what they’re doing.
But for now, I’m kind of plateaued. But this new algorithmic thing that I’m doing is very cool, which you’ll know about it in a couple months.
Catherine Maley, MBA: And so, you’re taking that QPI theme and, and opening up retail shops? Like where, how far are you going with that? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: I want to open at least five locations and the, in the next couple years.
And the whole idea is reproducibility and quality control. So, there was a company called Lifestyle Lift and Lifestyle Lift Of course. Yeah. Was. A mega company for marketing, but a total shit company for quality of quality. You know, you can go to an amazing surgeon like Kevin Saddi, who was doing this early on in his practice, and he’s, you get lucky because you go to Kevin or you can go to like Joe Schmoe and he’s never done a facelift ever.
And they’re forcing him to do it in two hours, which is what they used to do under local anesthesia. And you get this totally terrible scar filled facelift and they were misleading people. So, what I want to do is full quality control, which means I teach one surgeon in one city and completely like, watch them operate, get them to reproduce what I’m doing, which is easy now with my article.
It like spells it out for you. Mm-hmm. And then open one in West Hollywood, which is opening next month. Miami, next Dallas, Toronto, Mexico City. I want to be Dubai, London, and Riyadh. And then I’ll be happy, only focused on the lips. Only lips. Yeah. Yeah. You go in there and you get everything for lips. It could be a lip plumper, a lip a lip moisturizer, a lip filler, lip dissolver, lip, laser, lip, everything lip lift.
And so, the cupid lift is going to be the surgery that we offer at Cupid Lips. We also have something called a Cupid Compendium, which is going to be a video library for people to learn because injectors come out starving for good injection technique and they don’t have it. And I’m, I’m a I, I do a lot of teaching in the injection world, so, I’m going to do videos of myself teaching, but I’m also going to get the top injectors to make videos for me.
Because I’ve done them favors, they got to do me a favor. So, I’m going to have them put their video in the compendium and we’re going to give access to, to everybody to go use it. And I think it’s going to help a lot cause they can watch it repeatedly rather than visiting somebody’s office seeing it once and really not grasping it.
So, I have a bunch of cubit themed things that are coming along with it and getting, including the Cupid calculator, which that’s, that’s what I’m working on.
Catherine Maley, MBA: That’s terrific. So, what advice would you give other surgeons, because it sounds like you’re pretty entrepreneurial and most aren’t, you know, and I can see why not though. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
When you’re going to become a surgeon, you’re fairly scientific, you’re very analytical. It’s not normal for you to also be entrepreneurial and creative and artistic and it is not normal. We’re back to the normal. But where, where, where can, where do you see this industry going? Do you see doctors still going out of fellowship and opening up their own practices going entrepreneurial and trying to hook up with some kind of business and turn things into franchises? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Like what do you think about that? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Well, the, the, so, first question about my advice for people going into practice and then. This question about where it’s going are two very different things. Very. Where it’s going is changing a lot because you’re always going to have private practice, you’re always going to have the individual, you’ll have academia.
But what’s happening now is private equity is getting into buying out practices. Now they’re mostly interested classically in multiple group practices with insurance bases. So, they’re doing ophthalmology, dermatology, that kind of stuff. Now they’re looking at cosmetic because it’s cash pay and, but you need replaceable parts.
And where do you get that? Is med spas. So, they’re really going after med spas. Yeah. So, the entrepreneurial business-minded surgeon which there are many of them actually, because you get a ton of sociopaths going into plastic surgery, then they all want money. So, there will be a bunch going into private equity for sure.
As far as the people who want true success and meaning success in surgery as a surgeon those are like the people I train every day who come in and visit me. We have usually like four or five visitors every day in, in the operating room. And when they’re younger, the first thing I try to tell them, I’m very harsh about it, and they think I’m an asshole.
Sometimes they think I’m arrogant, but I I’m trying to teach them, and I’m trying to tell them, I go, listen, 95% of what you are learning and what you’ve heard from people will lead you to mediocrity 95%. And you have to, and they don’t get it. And I say, what’s the most commonly used filler in the world? And I say, what’s the worst filler in the world?
And they’re like, oh, it’s the same. What’s the most commonly performed facelift in the world? It’s mass cation. What’s the worst facelift? It’s mass cation. And I say, do you understand the pattern here? People are not that good. And so, and it’s the sad reality. It is, it’s plastic surgery is not evidence-based medicine.
It is not like you’re an internist and you have a consensus on what the best blood pressure medication is, and everybody just upgrades to that. It’s not like that. It’s a free for all. You can go do whatever you want and it’s up to you and your insight and your taste and your reflection. You know, that’s, that’s really how it is.
So, people have, there’s a huge variety and then you fall back into high school where in high school you have 95% of people on this part of the curve, and you have 5% of that part of the curve. So, I try to teach them this is true reality, and you have to understand this. If you want to be the best, if 95% of people tell you this is how you start your practice, this is what you go do, this is how you do it.
You hang your shingle, you do this, you do that. You start working for somebody and 5% of people like me tell you no, that is not what you do. You really want to listen to 95%, you’re going to become just like them. You’re going to be average. You’re going to have that 10-year course where you have a successful practice after 10 years, 20 years after you’re fully established.
And you know, if you’re fine with that, great. But if you’re somebody who wants to be best of the best and really excel, then you can’t follow those people. You have to follow the 5%. So, I try to teach them, I give them so, many examples until they really like clicks. But you have to follow that. And I say 5% because 5% it’s a lot.
And there are a lot of good people. And the same thing in finance world. Same thing in the real estate world. Same thing in every single world you go into, arts, anything. The top 5% are the outliers, not the full outliers, that’s the 0.1%. But they’re the outliers who lead the field and who progress then neither.
95% are the morons. And you have to look at it that way because you cannot listen to the 95% and do what they do. You can listen to it and learn from it. And then go do your own thing. And that’s really what I try to teach them and try to teach them that in plastic surgery, do not believe a single thing that you read in an article.
Are these AR articles published are fully biased. They’re by people who they’re all opinion pieces by the way. They’re not like evidence-based medicine and plastic surgery. There are a few articles that are like evidence-based. The rest are fully opinion. And the opinion was different in 1970 than it is now.
And there’s a lot of lies that are repeated over and over and over again. I teach them, have you ever heard the word muscle tightening? Have you ever heard the word smash tightening? And they’re like, yeah. I go, have you ever seen a muscle tighten? Is it possible? It’s not even possible. And it’s been repeated so, many times, smash tightening.
What are you talking about? I show them, I go, look at this mask. It’s a hydrator fatty layer. How are you going to concentrically tighten fat? What are you going to do? You’re you, you’re going to melt it. Right? It atrophies, you lose volume. It’s the opposite. But it’s been parroted and repeated so, many times people think that this stuff is real and that’s why plastic surgery doesn’t progress.
That’s why plastic surgeons make weird looking people. Mm-hmm. Over and over again. That’s why plastic surgeon has a bad reputation. So, I try to teach them, don’t believe everything. It’s not true. Even though people repeat it a million times, they repeat a million times that you need to extend the skin elevation past the last wrinkle on your neck to get a good skin improvement.
And then I show them a picture of me having only elevated up to here and I have improvements all the way across the chest better than they’ve had in any photo in their lives. My worst photo is better than their best photo and they still argue. So, I try to teach the residents and the fellows coming in and say, listen, accept the reality.
It is what it is. If you want to excel, listen to everybody, but follow the top 5%. And don’t argue with the 95%. Let them do what they want to do. I’ve argued enough in presentations where I have to get up on stage and I say, I disagree with everything that was just said. Yeah, I’ve heard you. So, you’ve heard this.
And it’s because I’m there to teach. I’m there to teach the best of the best. I want people to improve. I’m not there to teach them how to be mediocre. You know, they can be mediocre on their own if they’re, they want my time. I’m there to teach them how to be the best of the best of what I want to be.
Maybe I’m not the best, but I think I am. So, I want to teach them, you know, whatever I think is best.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, I find that so interesting because you have beliefs that are strong, you know but you know, you’re the best. But did you always know you were, or you were, or you wanted to be the best and then you just worked harder at it, or you were willing to? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: No, no, no. When I started, I did not think I was the best. Now, If you look at my photos, it’s not arrogance. It’s just like, okay, show me someone who’s better than me. And if they are, I want to go do it. And so, that’s what I kept doing actually. So, I kept looking at other people’s photos and if it was better than my photo and something, I would either learn from them and get there or I’d refer out.
So, that’s actually how the evolution happened in my practice, was I would refer everything out where I wasn’t the best. I’d be embarrassed if somebody comes to me and they want a whatever kind of procedure, if I’m going to give them less of a result than someone else would, I failed. So, I send it to somebody else, I don’t care.
I’m like, I just want them to get the best result because it reflects better on me. I want to be like a good surgeon and I want to look at my before and after’s and be proud. And if I can’t, you know, because people think that what makes you a good surgeon is caring about the patient. That makes you a caring doctor.
It doesn’t make you the best surgeon. What makes you the best surgeon is you looking at your “before and after’s” and not being happy with them until they’re better than everybody else’s. And you’re not being biased about it. You’re looking at every single photo. You’re not lying to yourself. You’re seeing things and you say, ah, okay, I finally got it.
Versus, Nope, that needs to be better. That needs to be better. And that’s what I do in every single before and after photo. So, patients come back and I tell them, I go, we have to go fix something. And they’re like, no, I’m happy. It’s great. What are you talking about? I’m like, no, no. You have this little thing here.
We have to go fix it. I’m not doing it for them at all. I’m doing it. So, my picture can be great. And I can look at my picture and show my mom and say, mom, look what I did. You know? So, that’s, that’s how I’ve always been. And I think that is what makes me excel is that I, I love patients. They’re fantastic, but I don’t do it for them.
I do it for me. Hmm.
Catherine Maley, MBA: That’s a really big tip that you’re, you’re giving there. That’s a different perspective. Good for you. Regarding the photos of patients, you get a lot of photos and a lot of vid video patient testimonials and you know, I hear over and over again, my patients are so, private and I think Okay. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
If that’s true, how is Dr. Talei able to do it in Beverly Hills? Do you have a secret for getting these people to approve before and after photos and showing full on face? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Yeah. Well, the secret is you have to do probably 20 times more surgery than most people do, which is how I got all my before and after photos.
I was operating six days a week. Mm-hmm. And I would get 10% of patients giving me photos in facelift and maybe 5% in rhinoplasty. Now with rhinoplasty, it wasn’t feeding my ego enough. It hurt me that people weren’t letting me use the photos because they let me use it much more in aging face. And that plus my neck problems have kind of.
Giving me a distaste for rhinoplasty, even though I was like, I spent my whole life becoming good at rhinoplasty. But the aging face stuff, they share a little bit more now. It’s still not that many compared to whom I actually operate on. If you see like the number of people I operate on, if I, if I do six facelifts a week, I’ll get one photo out of it maybe.
And then videos, I’ll get out of 30 facelifts, I’ll get maybe one video. And I never pressure patients to do it. Just when I take their before and after photos, I show it to them and I say, would you like me to keep this private or can I share it? And that’s the easiest way. Some people do it beforehand.
Now there are other practices who have a heavy TikTok influence or have a really heavy Instagram influence. And they have a younger population who is very into social media. They automatically like to share. So, they come in already like saying like, I want to be part of this community where all these patients are sharing.
So, if you have a bunch of patients, Talking all the time and sharing their experiences and crying and having these emotional videos. The patients that come in, came in because of that cause they want to be part of that community. So, it’s much easier in those practices. That’s not my practice. My practice is the private high-end Beverly Hills expensive person, you know?
So, I have to do a lot of volume to, to, to get the photos that I get. But aging face, they let you show a little bit more than, than rhinoplasty in general. Unless you’re like, you know, Richard Zuma, who’s like one of my really good friends and co-fellow director, he is amazing plastic surgeon for knows, and he gets so, many because people fall in love with, well his results are incredible, but it’s also like his videos, they’re amazing if you watch them, I watch them and I’m like addicted to them.
They’re amazing. And he DJs the music himself. Wow. So, I’m not on all of them, but on some of them.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Oh, nice. I’ll check that out. All right. You know, we’re going to wrap it up now, but I hear you have a piano in your lobby. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: What, what’s I got too? I got a few.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. We have to talk about the piano in the lobby and the little car next to you. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
So, what, what’s going on with you, with your interests? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Yeah. Well, I started playing piano when I was a kid and I started composing when I was like 10 years old. And then I stopped composing when I was about 20. So, I had written I don’t know, probably like 50 something songs. And they’re not with lyrics, but they are with the, the story.
They all have kind of a story. And the piano I have in my office was kind of a dream of mine, where initially when I was building my office, I wanted to build it like Andrews, I wanted to build it like Promen. I wanted to build like Unas where it was more of a classic style, classic Victorian style because you’re trying to cater to the patient.
Then I started talking to my friend who’s a designer, Antonio Risi, and he has this company called Prototype Design Lab. And he started trying to pick my brain to see what I wanted. And I have no taste in like furniture and interior design and architectural design. Maybe I had a little, but it was hidden.
I didn’t know. And so, he starts extracting it out of you. And one of the things he saw was that I really did always want a piano in my lobby to be playing. Either I play it or it’s self-playing. So, we actually designed the lobby to fit the piano, but also in the shape of a grand piano. So, when you walk in, my couch curves out like this and it parallels the piano, which is sitting over there.
And the floor, the tile is three-dimensional white and black tile. So, it looks like piano keys and the chrome louver is kind of look. So, it’s, it’s a very cool reception. And it’s now seven and a half years old probably. And it looks like it hasn’t aged a day like the reception. It’s a very cool office and I’m so, happy I did that rather than trying to cater to the patient because I’m spending so, much time in there, like I want it to be fun.
I was spending 16 hours a day, six days a week. And like I wanted to be somewhere where I wanted to look around and appreciate. Cause I like pretty things. You know, maybe I’m not the best at creating them sometimes with, like, furniture that I have no idea how. But I like looking at them. I like looking at art.
I like, it’s, it’s like nice to look at. My favorite thing to look at is cars. So, I have I’ve been working on more recently focusing on finally achieving that dream because I ignored that for a very long time. I’ve raced cars since I was a kid. I’ve been a car fanatic, but I never thought I’d be able to afford any of these cars.
So, I had it kind of in the back burner. And then at some point I just kind of bit the bullet, said, you know what? Let me get it. And I’m, I got so, happy from this one car. I’m like, I got to get another one. I got so, happy from that. I’m like, wait, whoa, whoa, whoa. What did you get? I have a, a couple cars. I have a, well the, the one that drove me over the edge was the 4G T.
So, I have a 2006 4G T, which is a like pure analog track car, which means 700 horsepower, zero assist in breaking, zero, assist in steering, zero, assist in anything. So, it’s that is one of the most amazing things to drive. And then this one’s a BMW Isetta, which is a, Isetta 300. It’s from 1960. And that’s a lawnmower engine.
It’s usually covered, but that’s a lawnmower engine. It has 13 horsepower. It barely makes it up my hill. And I brought it into the house now that I brought it in, I can’t get it out. So, it, it’s going to be here for a while unless I take it to the backyard and crane it over.
Catherine Maley, MBA: So, so, you, I, because I was going to ask you like, tell us something we don’t know about you.
I’m pretty sure your car collection, you have like a little car collection going, don’t you? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Starting. I wouldn’t call myself a car collector. I am a car enthusiast and obsessed with cars, and I will, in the next few years, have a decent number where you’d look at it and say, wow, he does have like a little collection.
It won’t be an impressive one. But the types of cars are very well curated. So, if you look at them, they’re, they all have kind of their place in history where it was a very special or iconic car. They call them all iconic cars, but they’re all iconic.
Catherine Maley, MBA: All right. So, like what, what’s a vision of one of them that you don’t have yet, that you want? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: My dream of all dreams would be a Maserati MC-12, which is 51 were made, they said 50, but there’s two number fifties. So, 51 were made in 2005’ish where when the Ferrari Enzo came out and it’s the they made a more beautiful version of any car ever. So, that was my favorite classic kind of car or collectible.
Whereas my favorite newer car, which I can’t even put into my dream list, would be a Paani Utopia, which is the, in the, there was a Pagani Pra, another Pagan utopia. It’s the most beautiful car to date built. It’s gorgeous and it looks like a watchmaker made, and that’s how they built it. It looks like a watchmaker and it has a tour beyond inside the speedometer and tachometer.
So, it’s in incredible. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to afford that unless I like sell my house for it, but that would be a remote dream.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Wow. Okay. Yeah, I want to see that when that happens. I have to go Google it. I don’t, I don’t even know what it looks like. So, with the one more thing though that we nobody knows about you, you mentioned cooking. How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
I think you’re a pretty good cook, aren’t you? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: I’m, I’m, I’m an amateur cook, but I make everything up myself, which is the fun part. So, since I was a kid, I started cooking when I was like, probably like five, six years old. I made my first like eggs and then I would make myself breakfast every morning when I was seven, eight years old.
And I started cooking more classic, like Persian food and stews, like when I was nine or so. And from there just would watch my mom cook and figure things out. And the fun for me started after like, high school more, where before high school I was all about like fried chicken. So, I make like all fried chicken recipes and different things.
But I got a little more creative afterwards as my palette expanded a little bit and I would Try to create recipes or recreate them when I would get inspired by being in a restaurant without looking at a recipe. So, I would just make it, and after like 50% failures, I went to 40% failures, 20% failures where it just wouldn’t taste good.
And then now I’m at the point where almost everything I make tastes good without me tasting it. So, I’m not somebody who tastes as I go to see if it’s good, I like to kind of envision what flavors will go together. And I’ll make something I’d never made before. And it works. And the way I do it is I just walk around the market, pick a bunch of things that I’d like, and then I come put them on my counter and I say let me make this.
And I just start putting it together. So, I started a cooking page on Facebook a while back called Bent’s Kitchen, and then I started a hashtag on Instagram called Bent’s Kitchen. So, I, I would actually remember some of the ones that I made. I learned this from when I composed all my piano songs. I would compose them.
I never actually transcribed them. I only transcribed a few of them. I videotaped a bunch. But with the recipes, I thought it was a shame that I had made so, many and forgot I had ever made them. So, I started taking photos and I would just write a brief description of what it was. So, I have a hashtag Ben’s Kitchen.
I have an Instagram page, mentality’s Kitchen, but it’s only the more recent kind of stuff that’s been uploaded to it.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Dear Lord, are you getting any sleep? I know you were supposed to because your heart wanted to take a rest, but I Do you get any sleep? How did this impact you on becoming 1 percent above the rest?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Yeah. I’m in a good position now. So, I, I, I used to come home at 10:00 PM from work and then I’d be on emails till midnight and I’d be back at work.
I’d be back in the office at five or even four 30. So, I’d have to be up at four or four 30 at that point. And I’d just take a nap somewhere here and there. Now I sleep a decent amount, so, I get home, I work like 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM and then do a couple things here and there. I’m usually asleep by like 11, so, it’s not, not too bad anymore.
Catherine Maley, MBA: All right. Well, you’re still young. You can, don’t do it while you can, because when you get older, boy it doesn’t, it does. It changes. It really does. I never thought it would, but it does. Anyway. It has been a pleasure having you. Dr. Talei, if anybody wanted to get ahold of you, which I’m afraid they’re going to say yes.
How would they, how would they communicate?
Benjamin Talei, MD: Most people just contact me on Instagram. So, it’s Dr. Ben Talei. So, they put “Dr. Ben”, d r b e n and it pops up. And then my website’s, www.BeverlyHillsCenter.com. That domain name was available when I was graduating Fellowship and I was like shocked. So, I got Beverly.
That’s crazy. Oh my God. Who didn’t grab that? That’s crazy. I don’t know, but I was so, happy because I was having trouble figuring out what to name my practice or what to name. Because you can’t put Tai, like people can’t spell t a l e i. It’s too many. Yeah. You know, it’s easy for me, but it’s not for other people.
And. I, I had a list of names that I liked. One of them was Beverly Hills Center, and I looked it up, I’m like, there’s no way this is on GoDaddy. And I ended up buying it. And Great website. Have you always been lucky? Things work out for me in general. Not, not like I’ve had like horrible relationships a few times, but otherwise I’ve but I went into them kind of knowingly sacrificing, so, otherwise you’ve always been pretty fortunate.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, and I think hard work. What’s that quote? I’m the, the harder I work, the luckier I get. It’s probably one of those, but boy, I mean, just watching you from afar. You are crushing it. So, congratulations. Keep up the good work. I’ll be watching. I’ll be at the next meeting as well.
Everybody that’s going to wrap it up for us today, a Beauty and the Biz and this episode on how to be 1 percent above the rest.
If you’ve got any questions or feedback for Dr. Talei, you can reach out to his website at, www.BeverlyHillsCenter.com.
A big thanks to Dr. Talei for sharing his experience on how to be 1 percent above the rest.
And if you have any questions or feedback for me, you can go ahead and leave them at my website at www.CatherineMaley.com, or you can certainly DM me on Instagram @CatherineMaleyMBA.
If you’ve enjoyed this episode on Beauty and the Biz, please head over to Apple Podcasts and give me a review and subscribe to Beauty and the Biz so, you don’t miss any episodes. And of course, please share this with your staff and colleagues.
And we will talk to you again soon. Take care.
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-End transcript for “1 Percent Above the Rest — with Benjamin Talei, MD”.
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