Tonya Lanthier | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Tonya Lanthier


DentalPost is an online mobile job board where people can find jobs and connect and build teams in the dentistry industry. It's used by more than 35,000 dentist offices in the U.S.  

The Mistake:  

I took advice from a mentor without understanding the motivations for his recommendation.   

I started DentalPost ten years ago. I didn't hire my first employee until three and a half, almost four years ago. When I did, I took advice from my mentor. I had several mentors, but I had one in particular who had a lot experiencing in hiring in HR companies. He had run some of the biggest HR firms in the world. His accomplishments were huge, and I had admired what he had done.

I valued his opinion, but I learned that our values didn't line up. Something was always off with me and him. 

When you have people in authoritative positions and they have a lot of experience, you look up to those kinds of people. Those people are not always right, and they don't always have your best interests at heart.  

Your core values drive your culture.  

The Lesson:  

What you need to do is bring in team members to help interview. You need another person to make a judgment instead of going off your gut. I am really good at selecting a person for another company, but when it comes to myself, it's hard to make those choices without having another party to give another different point of view.    

There are so many things to look at when matching a person up with you. It's like dating. You have to look at everything. Do you love his mother? Is he a good person? Is he kind? There are all different kinds of personalities. I usually don't want to hire someone who is the same person as I am. You want to hire somebody that complements your skill set in a job.  

There are many facets to the hiring aspect. It takes time to onboard somebody. You really have to look at who they are down to their core values. Your core values drive your culture.  

My core value is family. If you go to work for a doctor and they say they don't have a family, they're just out of school and they are working really hard, their value is not family. You are going to have a hard time working there if you need to ask off early for your kids. That can cause a big problem.   

Follow Tonya Lanthier on Twitter at @Tlanthier

Photo courtesy of Tonya Lanthier. 

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