Candidate Q&A

David Yoshimaru, DDS
1. I have made great strides in pursuing my goals as a sole practitioner.  In 1991, I founded my private practice with one commitment – delivery of the highest quality care possible.  My practice has grown in size and production every year since 1991 while staying true to that ideal.  I am quite satisfied with how things have turned out.  However, th one area I have neglected is giving back to my dental community.  One of my goals was to teach, but the demands of running a solo practice created impossible time restraints.
This profession has been exceedingly good to me and my family.  The obligations required of an AACD board member are neither too many nor too difficult.  It is a duty that I can easily accomplish and commit to, and of course will allow me to give back.
At this point in my career, I am confident that my experience and my accomplishments can have a broader reach than the confines of my own practice.  I have strong interpersonal skills, am open to new ideas, and pride myself on reasoning soundly and acting ethically – all qualities that would be of benefit to the AACD Board of Directors.
2a. While leadership comes in an assortment of styles, I believe that those who are true to who they are, tend to lead best.  And those who are great leaders know what their strengths and weaknesses are and surround themselves with people to fill in the holes.  Leaders who tend to keep their own ego in check and let others receive accolades and recognition are generally the most successful in moving an organization forward.
Leading by example usually provides me the results I seek.  Give me a task to complete, and I will not often fail.  Give me some direction and some background and I will complete whatever it is, with whatever team is given to me.  I love to delegate (in fact, I think it is necessary to the health of the organization), but only if I know that person to be competent.  If not, I tend to complete it myself.  I have no problem with being a follower/supporter as long as I know the objectives from the very start and I believe that it is for the greater good.  I love being the “Chef” but make a great “Sous-Chef” also.  Fear can be a great motivator for some, but I do not respond well to aggressive individuals who use that bully tactic.  In fact I can be counted on to be the one to stand up to such tactics.
My organizational skills are sound, yet I prefer the creative aspects of design, problem solving and leadership.  I tend to want positions of authority, but only after I know that I can adequately manage the people around me.  Until I get to that comfort level, I love to surround myself with those people that are in the know, so I can learn as much as possible.  Just as I lead through example, I learn best by example.
When negotiating, I often realize that the solution will be in the middle.  The art of negotiating isn’t to win, but to compromise and move forward.  Therefore, I subscribe to the notion that it is probably the correct outcome if both sides feel like they gave up something in the deal.
2b.  Working toward specific goals in large groups is a difficult task.  Unless all players involved are invested, the outcome can be disastrous.  I was the assistant coach for a high school swim team.  During that time, we were having issues with some kids not wanting to put in the work.  We found that those who were not the strongest swimmers were feeling left out.  Swimming although a very individual sport has a strong sense of team and that really makes a difference during practice.  So to solve this problem, I suggested that the star swimmers (who were obviously well respected in the pool) help coach the other kids with no interference from the actual coaches.  What this did was give everyone a little bit of “skin in the game” so to speak.  The better swimmers wanted to see improvements from the lesser swimmers, and those swimmers, in turn wanted to do their best.  We went to City Finals for the first time ever.  Sometimes we don’t need a leader to charge through the front lines.  Sometimes, we just need a leader to see potential, to brainstorm, and to figure out a solution for the greater good.
On an individual level, I am a weekend triathlete and have coached several friends to also swim, ride and run.  All of these disciplines involve careful planning and regular commitments.  One fellow credits me with inspiring him to become physically fit at 60 and has now completed several triathlons on his own.  Again, it’s not my victory; I just pointed the way and showed him what to do.  He did all the work. 
In short, when I make a commitment to something, I give it my full attention and focus on achieving results of which all involved can be proud.
2c.The trust that is established over the course of a friendship is best tested during conflict.  Friendship is not, and should not be, defined by constant agreement, but rather by the ability to disagree respectfully and move forward.  Most people understand that Board service is a voluntary position, as is the case with the AACD.  Nonetheless, the obligation made is a professional one and fulfilling the duties and responsibilities ethically needs to be the primary interest of all involved.  This means valuing your commitment to the Board over the individual relationships formed as a result of Board service.
Additionally, conflicts between board members can arise if there is a disconnect between the Director (and his/her goals) and the perceived purpose of the organization.  This can create chaos among Board members who may then feel they need to drive the board in a certain direction and take control themselves.  When this happens, it may be that some have the wrong perception of what a Board member’s actual function is.  Or it may be that a Director’s position is in distress because some Board members want to control the day to day operations of the organization rather than focusing on their duties and responsibilities.
Thus one of the most important responsibilities of the Board is to select the organization’s Director carefully and then hold him/her accountable early on with clear, decisive, and measurable goals that have less to do with day-to-day management and more to do with long range planning and goal setting.
3. In addition to offering ethnic and cultural diversity as second-generation Japanese American fluent in both Japanese and English, I am relatively young in comparison to most trustees.  Both of these qualities will enhance the composition of the Board and facilitate access to a broadened demographic.
Interestingly enough, most of my understanding of no-for-profit organizations and Board service is knowledge gained from my wife’s involvement in 501C’s for over 30 years as part of her career.  Her expertise in this arena offers the advantage of a resource to which few others have consistent access.  I have intimate and immediate access to Organizational Board consultants and individuals on 501© boards amounting to well over a 100 years of total board experience.
I have been on two Boards in my lifetime.  Each was a very short stint, but one of theme was a startup school which continues to grow stronger every year.  Some of the decisions made by the Board in the very early stages made the difference in its survival and continued success. 
4. I believe that the AACD must continue to define the goal standard in cosmetic dentistry and I will work to help manifest that objective.  I understand the purpose and importance of supporting all of the Board’s duties and responsibilities.  I can be trusted to fulfill those duties diligently and respectfully.  I would like my involvement to include helping to generate new memberships while retaining current ones.  I would also like to be involved with the Accreditation process.
It is worth mentioning that I searched the AACD website and also did a Google search for “AACD Strategic Plan” that turned up zero results.  Therefore, I’d also like to be part of any committee charged with making sure that all information related to the mission and vision of the AACD is accessible to current and potential members, as well as to the general public.
The Strategic Plan, I would assume, involves generating new and retaining existing member, increasing accreditation number and elevating the AACD status worldwide.  I can be counted on to support all of these objectives. 
5. When I first joined the AACD many years ago, I was very motivated and excited.  However, there were a few glitches that diminished my enthusiasm.  At the time, things were not computerized, my exam was not recorded as passed, and they couldn’t find record of it.  I gradually lost interest, stopped receiving emails or other material, and lost contact.  I eventually let my membership lapse.
When I decided to reapply, I actually found my copy of the paperwork from the AACD showing that I had passed that first test.  However, I had to take the test again because the bylaws state that lapsed members must retake the exam.
Although it was a great learning experience to take the exam again, I do believe that simple things like this result in lost membership.  Taking hat exam again was almost a deterrent.  Better and more individualized communication between the organization and its membership could have made a difference in my experience.
New members are busy doctors who want things easy, seamless and painless.  I would be an advocate for any program that could create mentor relationships between existing members and new ones.  Ultimately access to personal contact would make a tremendous difference in encouraging connection to and support of the organization.
6. I have previous experience on two boards.