Ep. 41: How Dr. John Pham focuses on his ‘why’ to navigate his career from Engineer to Orthodontist to Startup Founder

    One of Steve Jobs’ most popular quotes is “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
    Nowhere is that principle proven truer than in John’s life and career. He grew up the son of immigrant farmers and saw first hand the hard work, sacrifice, and struggles his parents had to go through in life. So you can imagine how well-received his decision was to drop out of his Engineering program in college to join an internet startup. But John promised his mom that if it didn’t work out, he’d go back to school and become a doctor.
    While he had some initial success with the startup, it eventually folded in the internet bubble burst in the early 2000s. As you’ll hear, John credits that failure as one of the best things that could have happened to him. He went back to UCLA to finish his Engineering degree and became an engineer for Boeing. Most people would have just stopped there. But wanting to make good on his promise to his mom, John decided to go back to school to become a dentist. He not only became a dentist but went on to specialize in orthodontics.
    During that schooling, John met his current co-founder, Dr. Hongsheng Tong, and they began developing a product that would place braces behind the teeth in order to make them invisible. After he received his degree, John began working as the managing orthodontist for Bristol Dental and Orthodontics. But he kept working on this invisible brace product and company on nights and weekends.
    Eventually, John became the CEO and co-founder of Swift Health Systems and is bringing disruptive change to the orthodontics industry with INBRACE. His past startup experience coupled with his specialized knowledge of orthodontics makes him uniquely qualified to lead such an innovative company. And in under 2 years, John has helped to raise $25 million dollars and grow the company to 75 employees! Incredible, to say the least!
    There is so much we get into this episode, so you definitely don’t want to miss it!
Here is what we chat about in this episode:
  • How John’s upbringing affected his view on work and life
  • Why he decided to drop out of college to pursue the internet startup craze
  • How the failure of that tech startup impacted him
  • Why he decided to become a dentist when he had a good career as an engineer
  • How he started his current business and how he’s grown it so fast
  • How mentors have shaped his life
  • How he became clear on his “why” and how that drives him, and more!
Where to find Dr. John Pham: Resources mentioned in this episode Follow along for more: