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Marion Alderete is the Practice Manager at Garrett and Boyd Orthodontics, a partner practice of Southern Orthodontic Partners. Marion’s Everyday Hero story started when a doctor at her practice was diagnosed with cancer. Marion stepped up to lead her team through unchartered territory and challenges.

Southern Orthodontic Partners (Nashville, TN) is a network of orthodontic practices in the Southeast. Affiliated practices offer general orthodontic services including correction of crowding and overbite, spacing via braces and Invisalign, as well as teeth whitening solutions.

Transcript

Introduction

Marion Alderete: That was a pretty tough time period. You wonder like, is he going to be okay? Is he going to be okay, but decide that he wants to retire early and be finished with the practice? You worry about patient care and how we're going to take care of 500 people or more. So how are we going to keep the business moving? How are we going to keep people in their jobs and keep the practice open? 

How are we going to manage our reputation management? How are we going to talk to referring doctors? What are we going to tell our patients? There was a lot of things going on during that time.  

 

Anderson Williams: Welcome to Everyday Heroes, a podcast from Shore Capital Partners that highlights the people who are building our companies from the inside, every day, often out of the spotlight. With this series, we want to pull those heroes out of the shadows. We want to hear their stories, we want to share their stories. We want to understand what drives them, why they do what they do, how they might inspire and support others to become everyday heroes too.  

In this episode, I talk with Marian Alderete, the practice manager at Garrett and Boyd Orthodontics, a partner practice of Southern Orthodontic Partners. Marion is a leader with a broad range of interests, but with a deep and long-lasting commitment to Garrett and Boyd, where she started as a mere teenager and has grown and evolved over 20 years to become the practice manager and an everyday hero in that role. 

Marion Alderete: My name is Marion Alderete, I am in my forties. I won't tell you the exact number. I've got two children. They're, grown, I have a 21 year old son who is serving in the United States Air Force and a 18 year old daughter who's actually a taxidermist. I'm going to be celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary this month. 

That's kind of exciting. I've been married to my high school sweetheart. I love to thrift shop and treasure hunt, antique shop, love, arts and crafts. I've got chickens and a garden. So those are a few little things about me. I've been at Garret and Boyd Orthodontics for about 20 years. Started right out of high school. 

I was 18. Started in the clinical area and learned how to assist. So the doctors usually don't hire that young, but they gave me a shot. Loved working as a clinical assistant, and then had some time away, came and went a little bit. And then in 2005 I returned, kind of touched up on my clinical skills, and then at that time, the practice was growing to the need to have a treatment coordinator. 

So I kind of shifted into that role and did that for nine years. And then the past eight years have been the practice manager for our Sugarland and Rosenberg locations.  

Marion's Role

 

Anderson Williams: Tell us a little bit about what a treatment coordinator does and how that transitions to a practice manager.  

Marion Alderete: Well, a treatment coordinator is a person that takes care of the new patient when they come in. We know the doctor's seeing the patient and going over the treatment plan and diagnosis.

 

And then after the doctor steps out, the treatment coordinator helps close everything. So basically you're helping coordinate the patient's care, you're presenting financial information, discussing insurance, and then, helping that patient get to the point of saying yes to treatment. 

Anderson Williams: And then as you evolved into the practice manager role, what does that role look like as compared to the treatment coordinator? What's your day-to-day look like as the practice manager?  

Marion Alderete: It's very different as practice manager. It's kind of a mix between a lot of different things. You're putting out fires, you're planning strategically. You're taking care of your people and being a good listener and support to them. You're assisting your doctor with anything that they may need off their plate.

 

It's kind of a, a broad role taking care of facilities operations. There's a lot of different aspects of it. It was kind of a scary jump because it was a big change, but they made me feel really supported and I felt like they believed that I could do it. Even if I had my own self-doubts or was getting inside my own head. They kind of helped push me into growing into that role.  

Anderson Williams: And what were your doubts?  

Marion Alderete: I was kind of hung up in my own head, worried about what the team would think. The people that I've been working with for so many years. Some I had worked with since 1996 who were older than me. 

They were there just a little bit before I was, or just right along the time that I was brought in. I was concerned about that and about being respected and how to keep the balance between kind of being a coworker at one point to being in a leadership position.

 

Anderson Williams: If there were ever any doubts about Marion's leadership and role in the practice, they were completely obliterated by a recent crisis and the way Marion stepped up to help lead her team through it. 

Adjusting in a Crisis

This is Emily Leonard, the Chief People Officer at Southern Orthodontic Partners.  

Emily Leonard: Marion had to deal with the circumstance under our platform that no one has had to, to date. She had to deal with the fact that her doctor, and dear friend, because they've worked together for over 20 years, had a cancer diagnosis. 

Dr. Rick Boyd: This was almost a year in the making, or at least six months in the making.  

Anderson Williams: This is Dr. Rick Boyd. 

Dr. Rick Boyd: And what had happened is, I was due a colonoscopy, so I'm going to kind of tout everybody to please go get them. They're not bad, it's easy, but it'll save your life.  

So what happened is during COVID I was due for the colonoscopy, and that was in about May of '20, and I did not get the colonoscopy until May of '21. And there was a mass and it was serious and so I called Marion and said, Marion and I got a problem.

 

Emily Leonard: And in addition to being worried about him, she also realized she was going to have to step up and figure out how to not only find a solution for how we were going to serve patients during that time, but how to get the team on board with a pretty significant disruption to their day-to-day.

 

And that was a huge ask for her to take on. And she, after we received the phone call around the situation, we started trying to problem solve it for them because that's the way we look at our platform, is we look at our platform as being in service to our partners. 

And before we could even get a whole lot of traction on it because we had never had to find a temporary doctor and our goal was to find a temporary doctor while this doctor was seeking treatment. She called and said, I have an idea, and that idea became a full blown plan.

 

Not only did she help us identify a really great solution, she just led the charge in making sure that doctor was integrated into the practice quickly, that the team learned new ways of doing things that they hadn't had to know before, and she just really rallied a whole group of people to serve patients during a really stressful time for our partner doctor there. 

Anderson Williams: How did she do it? How was she able to step up, not just to have the desire and to jump on fixing a big problem, but to execute, to rally a team, to bring in another doctor. There's operational, there's HR, there's training, there's all of these layers. How did she do it?  

Emily Leonard: Gosh, that's such a good question. I've often joked she wears a cape because it did seem, again, why she's nominated or why I wanted to ensure she was nominated because I really think what she did was nothing short of heroic. How she did it, I think is how she's built. She is an extremely passionate person who carries a light and love about her that is just infectious, and she was not going to let these people that she loves down. 

And so, she just put one foot in front of the other and took it one step at a time. And I, I will tell you, she really didn't ask for much from SOP. All we had to do was follow her lead. Which again is some of the magic here.  

Anderson Williams: Well, it's interesting because you, you used a word that I was going to ask you about that she used a lot and that was love. 

And I'm just curious about that, and what that means in your practice from a Chief People Officer perspective, of a big and growing private equity-backed company that we're sitting here talking about, one of the heroic values is love.  

Marion's Super Power: Love

Emily Leonard: Yeah. Isn't that something? Are we allowed to talk about that? Are we allowed to talk about love in a corporate environment? And of course I'm going to say absolutely we're allowed to talk about love and I think there's different types of love, but I certainly think there is a love we develop for people that we spend a lot of time with in a work environment, and it doesn't always happen that way, but when you find a team that feels that for one another, it is, it's magical and it is, it's very special. 

 

And this team in particular rallied through something that was rather traumatic, but it was, it was through Marion's love of them and their love for her, her ability to connect, that I think pulled them through or played a big role in pulling them through.  

Anderson Williams: Of course, I had to ask Dr. Boyd about this idea of love and what role it plays in Marion's leadership. 

Dr. Rick Boyd: Love is definitely a word that should be used when you refer to her on a personal level and also on a, on a business level. It starts in the heart. You can't teach that. You cannot give that. You cannot go buy that. She's a strong believer. She's got love in her heart. She just truly loves people and loves life and obviously she loves this practice and I've tried to be a good leader. 

I've tried to inspire people and I guess we've just, we just kind of hit it off. It's, it's just no getting around it. She was the right person, came into our lives at the right time.  

Anderson Williams: It's clear that Marion's love is a powerful force. But you can't simply love your way into taking care of patients when the lead doctor isn't there. You can't just love your way into keeping a business running during a crisis. You have to take action. You have to show people how much you love them by rolling up your sleeves with them to find your way through it together.  

What did you do in the business and the practice during this time period to kind of hold things together? 

Leading a Team

Marion Alderete: Well, number one, I didn't make decisions by myself. Everything that we did, we did as a team. SOP was a great support from John Nelson to Emily to our more local support level, checking in, making sure we were okay. That was huge. And then just having real raw conversations. And you know, we cry together, we laugh together, we plan together. 

We go in the doctor's office and sit on the carpet and close the door and cry and say, okay, who can do what. We just pull our best skills together. Okay. I'm great at placing initial brackets. Okay, well, we're going to free up your column of patients and we'll have you ready to walk around and help with that. 

And then of course, the doctor comes over and does the final positioning. Who's good at glue removal. Okay, I'm great at that. Okay, well let's have you do that. So just different skills for whoever was better at what thing, is how we tried to make it work the best we could. We could just all be ourselves with one another and be honest and real and, and go through it together. 

We all really love and care about one another. Our doctors have loved and cared about us.  

 

Anderson Williams: Marion knew this was about more than the practice or the business. The team had to take care of each other in very delicate times, and sometimes that requires karaoke. How did your team take care of each other?  

Marion Alderete: What we've done in the past? Be real with one another and allow each other to have bad days and be patient and understanding. We see somebody struggling, give them a pass, they're having a rough day. We all do. Everybody has times like that, especially when all these other things are going on.

 

And then kind of recentering and keeping together, going to lunch together, having a, a little Valentine's get together, or a little Christmas thing at my house where we could all have some cocktails and sing karaoke and be ridiculous. Those kind of things, they help because you hold onto that when you're faced with tough, tough things going on.  

Anderson Williams: When you're in the heat of crisis, no matter how good you are, it's sometimes hard to find time to reflect or to learn from the experience. Marion and her team were able to step up in ways they likely never could have imagined before. So I was curious to know what wisdom may have emerged from Marion with a little bit of time and hindsight. 

From just your personal reflection, when you look on that time, what's something you learned about yourself during that stretch?  

Marion Alderete: I learned that I'm stronger than I thought I was, and just to take things one step at a time. When you've got a big challenge, you shouldn't expect yourself to be able to solve it all immediately or have a plan that's going to be exactly how it goes. You have to learn to adapt and go with it. And you know, if you make a mistake, it's okay.

 

You have to learn to make decisions quicker. You may have to go with a gut instinct having to do things you normally wouldn't do. Say, you know what? I think this is the right thing to do. What would Dr. Boyd say, okay, let's do this or that.   

The Meaning in Her Name

Anderson Williams: It's clear that Marion has not only grown stronger through this experience, but it's also helped her recognize her strength. She has seen the power of her love in action. When I asked her what we had missed in capturing her everyday hero story, Marion shared a profound and personal insight about the power of love, something she carries with her, not only in words or actions, but in her very name.

Before we wrap up, Marion, as we think about capturing your story, who you are, what drives you, why you do the things you do, why you've stepped up in this critical time for your team, how you've grown, how you've stayed committed to this team, for decades at this point, what part of your story haven't I asked you about or haven't had a chance to get on record that you want to make sure that we know and capture and share? 

Marion Alderete: I would get back to my name. It's not something I really share very much, but it is a big part of who I am. My name is my grandmother's name. Her name was Marion, and she's always been a hero in my eyes. Because she passed away saving my dad's life when he was three. He named me after her and it's been an honor, and just knowing that she gave her life for her son. 

I've always wanted to make sure I live a good life and live it to the fullest and do what's right. It's been a motivation for me.  

Anderson Williams: As you think about that lineage and that name you're carrying, what is the part of your story that's most important for your kids to know and understand about your journey at this point?  

Marion Alderete: I would just say love, like you have to love people. If you don't love people get out, you're in the wrong industry. You're in the wrong place. Either you do or you don’t. So if you don't find something else, because that's the only thing that will help you get through. And park your ego in the backseat. 

There's no room for that either. So you can't do this and have an ego. You have to care more about people, period.  

Anderson Williams: Marion's everyday hero superpower is love. She has proven in her words and in her actions, the power that love can have when we feel lost or vulnerable or without other answers, when we need to take care of ourselves and others, when we have to make difficult decisions and go with our gut and just make it happen, there is simply no doubt in my mind that Marion is living up to her name and honoring and continuing its legacy. 

 

This podcast was produced by Shore Capital Partners with story and narration by Anderson Williams. Recording and editing by Andrew Malone. Editing by Reel Audiobooks. Sound design, mixing and mastering by Mark Galup of Reel Audiobooks.  

Special thanks to Marion Alderete, Dr. Rick Boyd and Emily Leonard.  

This podcast is the property of Shore Capital Partners, LLC. None of the content herein is investment advice, an offer of investment advisory services, nor a recommendation or offer relating to any security. See the terms of use page on the Shore Capital website for other important information. 

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