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The Mommy Dentist Fixing People's Smiles

With Dr. Grace Yum

Published on: Apr 27, 2018

How a person is taught as a child will determine how they will turn out in life. For Dr. Grace Yum, having a role model to show her how to run a business and how to serve clients allowed her to grow up as a great business owner who treats her clients well. Dr. Yum, fondly known as the Mommy Dentist, is one of the leading pediatric dentists in Chicago and is also recognized as a thought leader among dentists nationally. She often appears on television, online, and in print to share her expertise. She says dentistry is an art, and the trick is not just being a good doctor but by having good hand skills. She loves fixing people’s smiles and shares that by making teeth healthy, she is making the kids happy.

When you listen to each of these interviews, you can sense how a woman’s life will turn out. It depends on how she was taught as a child. If she was taught to stick up for herself, she would grow up to be strong. If she had a role model to show her how to run a business, how to serve clients, she would grow up to be a great business owner and she would treat her clients well. That is the case of our next guest, Dr. Grace Yum, the first generation in America from Korea. Since first entering the dental field more than twenty years ago, Dr. Grace Yum has quietly become one of the leading pediatric dentists in Chicago and beyond. She has also become recognized as a thought leader among dentists nationally. Dr. Yum found her passion for dentistry when she was eighteen years old. She first worked as a dental assistant, then went to dental school, went on to advance training in pediatrics at Chicago’s leading children’s hospital, then climbed the ladder to eventually start her own practice, which now has two offices.

As a certified pediatric dentist, Dr. Yum has earned certification held by less than 5% of all dentists in the United States. Dr. Yum often appears on television, online, and in print to share her expertise. She has been sought out to appear on The Today Show, Good Morning America, HLN, NBC Chicago, Parents Magazine, Parenting magazine, and Chicago Parent Magazine. Dr. Yum has an active presence on social media, where she brings together patients, their parents, other dentists and working moms. Most recently, she founded Mommy Dentists in Business, a private Facebook group of thousands of dentists in the United States and around the world who are dedicated to share best practices to achieve excellence in dentistry while balancing life and work. A recent recipient of the Top Doctors of America Award, Dr. Yum is also a podcaster for her own show, Mommy Dentists in Business, which can be found on iTunes.Dr. Yum earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University where she studied communications. She earned her Doctor of Dentistry from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, the world’s first dental college. Dr. Yum lives in Chicago, Lincoln Park neighborhood with her husband and two children.

The Mommy Dentist: Fixing People’s Smiles with Dr. Grace Yum

Welcome, Dr. Yum.

Thank you for having me on your podcast. I’m excited about what you’re doing and what the podcast is about. I’m very honored to be here.

Grace, share with us your story, where you are from, at what age you came to America, and what is it about dentistry that attracted you? 

I am from Chicago, Illinois, here in the Midwest, and I’m a big Cubs fan. My practice is near the Cubs stadium, so I love the Cubs. I was born here in Chicago. My parents are originally from South Korea and they immigrated here to the US in the early ‘70s. I grew up in a suburb area of Chicago where I was the only Asian child in school for a long time. That’s my memory of my childhood growing up. As most immigrant families, they want their children to grow up with an education and become a professional. My family, my parents wanted me to become a doctor, an MD. I was a good kid. I listened to my parents. I stayed out of trouble, and I was like, “Maybe,” and I would look into volunteering at the hospital and working at my pediatrician’s office at a young age, in high school.

Mommy Dentist: The trick with dentistry is not just being a smart doctor or intelligent, but a person that has good hand skills like a surgeon.

My eyes opened to the medical field and I realized that life and death situation is not for me. I didn’t like that part. I’m sensitive and emotional. When I was a junior in high school, I worked for my pediatrician. We heard that a newborn baby died at the hospital and I was so devastated. You’re in high school so you don’t experience death, you don’t know anybody in your family. For me, that was my first interaction and when I looked at my doctor, he took it very well, but I thought to myself, “I don’t think I could deal with that.” I loved children, so I want to do pediatrics. I was like, “That’s just not for me.”

I started to explore other options, but when I went to Northwestern in Evanston, which is in Chicago, I explored all these other areas. I got to explore school of speech, communications, theater, all these different categories, and I began to realize that I enjoyed other things besides science. While I was in the university, I did have a part-time job as a dental assistant. I worked as a dental assistant because my father’s best friend is a dentist and his older kids were all in dental school. He encouraged me to go be a dental assistant, so I said, “Why not?” I tried it and I enjoyed it and that’s where I got my start.

What about dentistry that you enjoy?

Dentistry is a mystery for most people. Most people associate dentistry with pain. They are like, “It’s scary. I don’t want to go to the dentist. I don’t want the shots in my mouth. I don’t want poking in my mouth.” I got to work for a pediatric dentist and an orthodontist. I was working with a lot of children and I loved it because we were fixing people’s smiles, we were making them healthy, we were making the kids happy. That part I liked. What I liked is that dentistry is an art. You have to be a very good technician, so you have to be very good with your hands because you’re working in the mouth, especially a child’s mouth, really small. You have to get in there. You have to be quick, so you have to have good manual dexterity. You have to be intelligent, but the trick with dentistry is not just being a smart doctor or intelligent, but a person that has good hand skills, like a surgeon.

A dentist, when you graduate, your degree is DDS and it’s Doctor of Dental Surgery. That’s what it stands for because you are a surgeon of the teeth and of the mouth. If you’re good at minute little details and working with your hands, then dentistry is a good profession. They call it the millimeter profession. We see everything in millimeters. Because we need everything to be perfect, you can’t have sloppy dental work. That’s what I like. I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. I like the artistry. I like helping people. I like creating smiles. I like to make sure that all children are healthy. That’s what I enjoyed about dentistry.

You opened my eyes for dentistry. I was like, “Dentistry? Who is interested in looking at people’s mouths all day long?” That’s what I thought about it, so I was always curious. Who was your role model growing up and who is your model now? 

Growing up, my role model in high school and college is my dentist’s daughter. She was an orthodontist and her name is Cecile and I followed her around as a dental assistant. Wherever she worked, I followed her and she taught me so much. She took me under her wing and helped me to learn. When I went to dental school, I was very prepared. It was good to have that role model, but other doctors that I worked for were my role models and my mentors. Not only did they teach me dental skills and how to talk to a patient, how to provide patient care, they also showed me that dentistry is a business and you have to know how to run a business in addition to being a good dentist and that’s something that dental school doesn’t teach you.

I would say my role models now are other dentists who are ahead of me, that have continuously been my role models throughout the process, but now I look up to other business leaders in the world, not necessarily having to do with dentists, but philosophies on how they run their business or corporations. For instance, I love the Nordstrom’s model. I love the Four Seasons model. I read Isadore Sharp’s book and I was inspired about the service that you treat every guest like family. That’s what I do in my practice. I want my patients to get the Four Seasons experience, the wow factor when they come into my office. I do look up to other role models in the business arena and not just dentists.

That’s wonderful that you recognize the customer service in a business because that’s how you survive and that’s how you thrive as a business owner. What is your life priority growing up and has it changed since then?

It’s funny because when you’re a young child and whatever your experience in life is, it goes with you. It carries with you as an adult and you have some deep-rooted ideas, concepts, and philosophies that stick with you. I grew up in a very religious home. I went to church every Friday with my youth group and went to church every Sunday and that built a moral compass. Having grown up in a church, that’s how I stayed out of trouble. Looking back, I appreciate that I had that part of my life in my informative years because I have a deep sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. When I practice dentistry, it kicks in. I always want to do what’s right for the patient. I always want to be honest. I always want to be practicing with integrity. When you do that, patients see that you care, that you’re going to be honest, that you’re going to tell the truth, even if you make a mistake, not being afraid to say, “I made a mistake or sorry,” but always doing your best.

That has molded me as a dentist even today, even in my 40s. It’s a valuable lesson. They’re valuable character traits and patients appreciate that. There’s a connection when you feel that your doctor cares about you, that your doctor wants to do right by you. A lot of times I tell my own patients, “I’m a patient too. I go to the doctor too. I go to the dentist too. I take my children to their pediatrician. I take them to the eye doctor,” so whatever service it is that I want for myself and for my family, I want to do that for my patients. Those ideas and philosophies stem from my childhood and having deep-rooted character traits within myself and my faith and being able to practice and deliver that way, that’s important. I don’t think that’ll ever change for me.

You say that you take your kids to other dentists to treat your kid. You don’t treat your kids?

I treat my kids in the dental office but if they have to go to the eye doctor, if they have to go to a skin doctor, or for me, I can’t do my own teeth so I need another doctor. For us, it’s easy to judge other people than judge yourself. It’s easy to criticize other people and not criticize yourself, but if I go somewhere, I’m like, “I like the way they did that. I should incorporate that into my practice.” You notice things and if I see something that I don’t like, I might tell the doctor a feedback, “If the roles were reversed, I would want you to tell me what I’m doing wrong or what I didn’t appreciate or what could be better.” I’m not saying it to spite someone. I’m not saying it to be mean. I’m just saying it like if you care and you want to provide better service or something like that, then I’ll point it out.

Because you were born here, have you ever experienced some discrimination while you were growing up? 

Kimchi, all the time. I face discrimination all the time, even now. Just because I was born here, I still look Korean. I’m 100% Korean and I have experienced discrimination as a child in school. No matter what age group, even in my 40s, I face discrimination and facing discrimination is good because you develop a sense of sticking up for yourself and fighting for yourself. I learned that the hard way.

I was a little kid that was crying if somebody made fun of me, but my parents taught me at a young age to always fight back and never back down. Not in a physical fight, but they’re like, “If somebody says something to you, you fight back. Don’t just sit there and take it.” I did that and I’ve learned the hard way, but it was scary and awkward as a child. As I grew older, I learned how to handle those situations and handle those things.

When I turned 40, my husband took me to New York and we decided to go to a Broadway play. The main actress was Cate Blanchett and her husband wrote the play, so she was going to star in it for three months. He got third row seats right in the middle. We were so excited. We get there early, and we sit down, but then I was so nervous, I’m like, “I should go to the bathroom before the show starts,” so he stayed in the middle. I went to the bathroom and then when I came back, the row had filled up with people sitting down. There was this man sitting at the very end and he would not stand up for me to get by. He said, “Go around to the other side. I’m not getting up.” I was a little bit caught off guard. I was like, “Okay.” There were other people sitting next to him and they’re like, “Get up,” and he’s like, “No, I’m not getting up.”

Then the people around us are starting to stare at us because he’s sitting there looking at me and I’m standing there looking at him. It was embarrassing and everyone started yelling, “Get up, get up,” like the crowd was going. Meanwhile my husband has no idea what’s going on. He was sitting towards the middle. Something triggered in me and I leaned down. It was the mom in me that leaned down and I put my finger in his chest and I said, “Get up because if this was reversed and I was sitting here, I would get up for you, so get your ass up.” He didn’t expect that a small Asian woman would chastise him in front of everybody. He got up and I walked and everybody around me started clapping. I didn’t have to make it more than it was. I said my piece, commanded him to do what I wanted, I did not back down. I was not going to walk to the other end of the aisle, and only in New York, I’m 40 years old, and I’m still facing discrimination.

New York is a little bit rough, right?

Yes. New York is a rough crowd, but that’s life. You can’t hide. I encourage all people that are discriminated against, whether you’re Asian, whether you’re gay, whatever it is, unless it’s a very life or death situation, don’t back down. Even in dentistry, being a female boss owner of a dental office, I have to deal with buying equipment from vendors. Dentistry is a very “male-dominated” world, the old boys club. It’s starting to change and it’s creeping towards 50% women, but if you look at all the salesmen, the construction guys, I did two new construction offices, brand new, and people want to take advantage of you. My parents being immigrants were business owners and from a young age, I worked in their stores. I learned how to wheel and deal. I learned how to negotiate. I learned how to do it with finesse. I’m not being mean about it, but how to get what you want and how to negotiate. It’s an art, it’s a skill.

To this day, my husband makes me go to the car dealership. I buy the cars in our family. Those are part of being discriminated against because people think, “You’re a woman, you’re a girl. You don’t know how to do this,” but I am definitely that person that will negotiate to get pretty much what I want or at least very close to what I want, especially when it comes to bargaining, when it comes to money. It’s good. If you’re buying dental equipment, each dental chair is at least $10,000, the x-ray machine is $60,000, you have to learn how to negotiate and not just take it for face value.

How do you find peace and harmony in your life while balancing between career, family, and self‑interest? 

I definitely have to say that I am a firm believer in doing at least one fun thing a week or going to do self-care for yourself. One thing that a lot of moms in careers don’t do for themselves is get more help. I am not ashamed. I have two nannies, a personal assistant, and if I want to go get a manicure at 8:00 PM, I’m going to go. If I want to get a massage, whatever it is that week, I always make time to do one activity for myself, whether it’s going out to dinner by myself or going with friends. I always like to schedule. For me, peace and harmony is being able to schedule appropriately and having a lot of help. I have peace in spiritual way. I go to church with my kids on Sunday. I have peace in my own way of calming my body. I do yoga once a week and work out once a week, so I have to fit all these things in. If that means taking a two-hour lunch during my day to do yoga, I schedule it. It is all a balancing act, but a lot of people are like, “I’m going to go home and see my kids during lunch and then go back to work.” Some moms do that too, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but have a good handle on your schedule. Be organized, be prepared, and make time for yourself. My husband and I, we do a lot of date nights, not just one a week. If we can, we’ll do two date nights a week and we try to do fun things together. That’s important. A lot of people, a lot of moms will be like, “I feel so guilty. I’m a guilty mom. If I’m at work, I think about my kids and vice versa.”

Mommy Dentist: Facing discrimination is good because you develop a sense of sticking up for yourself and fighting for yourself.

My best piece of advice is that, yes, moms do feel guilt, but you have to own it. When I decided to have kids, I already had a business. I feel guilty at times, but I said to myself like, “I signed up for this.” This is what I wanted. I wanted to have a career. I wanted to be a business woman. I wanted to be a dentist and I want to be a mom and I’m not going to feel guilty anymore. It is what it is. My kids are fine. They’re doing well, they’re thriving. I make time for my kids and do activities with them. I make time for my husband, I make time for myself and I run my businesses. That’s how I feel peace in owning it and being happy with what I’m doing. That how I find peace.

All women should do that. We need to do that. Wonderful way that you shared that we all need help and if we are capable of paying for those expense, why not? 

If you financially can afford it, then go for it. Honestly, I would rather pay my nanny more money than buy a handbag. I love all those things too, but I’m not crazy. I don’t go crazy gangbusters. I have one or two nice things, but I would rather have more comfort in my life with having help than spending my money on material things. That’s our priorities, whatever are your priorities. Being in my 40s, I’ve come to that lesson that the priority is, “I don’t have to come home. I don’t have to do laundry. I don’t have to wash the dishes. I spend time with my kids, put them to bed, and then it’s my time for me or me and my husband or me and my friends.“ It is worth every penny. It is worth every penny that I work so hard for to not have to do the busy work of life.

In the 40s, we are still climbing up in our career. Our career is thriving and growing while we still have kids. We’re raising kids, so how do we balance that life, work and the business? Most women at this age, between mid 30s to mid 40s, they struggle with life balance because they don’t know what is the most important. They think the family should be the most important, but then what about your career or your business. What you are doing is excellent. It is very good example of having it all rather than either/or. 

It takes time to figure it out for every person but once you do, it’s amazing.

What does power mean to you, Grace?

Power is a funny word because when I think of power, I think of people in high position and abuse, almost like dictatorship. I never think of myself as somebody in a position of power, but I feel like that word sometimes can have a negative connotation. When I think power, I think of those things, but people that have influence over others, people that have a driving force, our leaders have power. It’s power in different circumstances, whether it’s being a CEO or the President of the United States. It’s basically one person that has more influence than a person beneath them. That’s what I define power as, but for me, I don’t think of myself as a powerful person. I think of myself as more of an influencer, more in a positive way.

I’d rather be an influencer. If people view me as somebody in a position of power, that’s okay, but I would never take advantage of anybody. I would never take advantage of somebody that’s working for me. My goal in my business environment is to motivate and empower my team. I like more positive aspects of being a business owner, empowerment, giving them the tools that they need to do their job well, to motivate them in a way that they can be creative and come to me with ideas, to be able for all of them to be leaders in the practice setting. That’s what power is like and in a positive way, someone with power can be able to lead and influence whoever is working for them in a positive way.

I’m lucky because I feel like my team members have ownership of the business. They take care of my patients, they take care of the business and the business can run without me.

How does your business run without you? You have two dentistry offices, right? 

Yes. I have other dentists working for me. There’re eight doctors between two offices and fifteen employees between two offices. I still see patients too. I work two days in one office and one in the other. I don’t need to but I choose to because I love seeing my patients. My goal was always to have an office that could run without me.

That’s a very good vision because most people, they own a business and that is like another high-end pay job that I see. What will you not compromise or tolerate about life in general?

I don’t tolerate bullying. I don’t tolerate negativity. I don’t tolerate people that are constantly doing the same thing and complaining. I have a low tolerance for that. Even amongst my friends, if they call me once a week and complain about the same thing over and over, out of love, I will say, “I will listen to you, but this is enough. I already told you what I think you should do and what other people will do, and I’m here to support you, but if you can’t change your own circumstance, and you keep saying the same thing, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” It sounds harsh, but it’ll only be an extreme situation.

For example, I had a friend who was in a bad relationship and every other day, she’s calling me crying. I’m like, “Get out of the relationship.” It was for six months and then I was like, “Honey, it’s been six months. You know what you need to do, but moving forward, if you’re not going to change anything, then I’d rather not talk about this part of your life. Let’s talk about other things. I’m here to support you in other ways.” I only had to say that once to a friend that it gets to a point where you’re like, “I can’t listen to this anymore unless it’s a dangerous situation.”

The other thing that I don’t tolerate is people being rude and mean to other people. It’s not appropriate. I run a Facebook group called Mommy Dentists in Business, and there are close to 3,500 members. I’m also a part of a lot of other dental Facebook groups, but we’re professionals, we’re doctors. There’s no reason to say negative things to one another. There is no reason to be condescending to one another. I expect you to be all grownups and adults. We live in an age in reality TV world and a lot of these reality TV shows show people acting very badly.

It’s just drama and it seems to translate into real life to other people thinking that they can do these things like the people on TV and get away with it. It’s silly. We are not part of the Real Housewives of Whatever. You can’t act like you’re on the Real Housewives of New York, Manhattan, and act like that because that’s not real. It’s drama, it’s made for TV, and I find that it gives women an excuse to behave in that way. I don’t know. I’m not about the drama. I’m not about unrealistic living outside of your means like Keeping Up with the Joneses, things like that. I think it’s silly.

[Tweet “Without your health, you can’t do anything.”]

What things have you done that you are proud of? 

Things that I’m proud of would be definitely having a family. I have to say that when I had my first child, I was 36. My husband and I were married for four years before we had kids. We were so busy in our careers and we were enjoying life together that we were like, “Should we have kids? Should we not have kids?” We were very much on the fence, and being a pediatric dentist, I’m with kids all day long, so I never felt like a biological clock ticking. I never felt like I needed to have my own because I felt like I was the mommy dentist to everyone else’s kids. Then when we had one, it was just a miracle. I have to say that the whole process of having a child is seriously like a miracle, from conception through carrying all the way to delivery. The whole plan, like God’s sign, the way it works is just a miracle. I was blown away.

I’ll be honest, I did not enjoy pregnancy. I felt sick, I was tired and my first pregnancy was just like, “I’m never doing this again.” After my daughter was born, I was like, “This was so amazing.” Then my husband was like, “Maybe we should have a second,” and I was like, “I didn’t enjoy the pregnancy,” but then we were worried that our daughter is going to be alone in life after we die, so we were just like, “Maybe we should have a second,” so then the second pregnancy was completely different than the first pregnancy. There were days where I looked down and I was like, “I’m pregnant.” I forgot I was pregnant. The second pregnancy was amazing. We had a boy.

I feel like my children are my proudest accomplishment as of yet. One of the reasons is because you can’t control that. There are people out there that have a hard time getting pregnant, have to do in vitro and all that, and for me, I feel very blessed. I got pregnant easily both times and I didn’t have any issues. I feel like I’m very fortunate in that way because I was older. I was 36 and 38 and I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to get pregnant and it happened. I have to say that I have two beautiful healthy children that I’m extremely proud of and that would have to be my proudest accomplishment is being a mom.

That’s the biggest accomplishment that I did. 

How many kids do you have, Kimchi?

I have two, one daughter and one son. They are 30 and 28 now. I’m very happy. I can relate to what you have shared although my pregnancy was very smooth.

It’s funny because my children are age five and three, and I wonder, “How am I going to make it until they’re eighteen years old?”

Time flies fast, and based on how you prioritize your life schedule, you will enjoy them, you will enjoy the time being with them. Most women miss that period including me. I was chasing a career and things like that, so most of the time I missed out on my growing children. Remember that and don’t forget.

My mom tells me all the time because my mom was also a working mom. She’s like, “It goes by so fast. Don’t miss it. You can’t ever get it back,”

What makes you feel at peace? 

I’m at peace knowing that I have faith in Christ and it’s not supposed to be a bottled answer. My spiritual life, I feel at peace because I feel like I am protected and I feel very much like I have my guardian angels watching over me. I live my life. I try to be very intentional, but I also try to be organic. I don’t try to force things to make it work. If something’s not working, it’s not working, and it’s okay and I’ll move on. I feel very much at peace knowing that I don’t have to struggle so much, I don’t have to try to force things to work and I feel I’m supported. I feel like my family supports me. I feel like I’m just in a good place with my family and my religion. Whatever it is you believe in, you do have to have some kind of belief system and I feel very comforted in knowing that. That brings me peace, but it’s a very multifactorial answer, but that peace can make me feel calm and not have to worry. I’m not anxious. I’m not a person filled with anxiety.

Some people who are anxious can let fear drive their life. I don’t want to live in fear. I want to live with intention, live with purpose, live organically, and live with love. One part of practicing yoga, which has helped me as well, even though I only do it once a week, my yoga teacher comes to my dental office during my lunch hour and we practice yoga for the hour and we talk while we’re doing it. I feel grounded and it’s a good way to start the week as well. That’s another thing. You have to find a way to ground yourself and feel peace. That’s what helps me too.

What do you do for fun? 

My husband and I like to do things that are experiences. When it’s Christmas, we’ll give each other small gift, but it’s not about the gift of a material object. We like to go to concerts. We like to go to shows. We went to see Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, their show at the Chicago Theater, and that was fun. We try to go to other concerts. We went to Bruno Mars. We went to see Ed Sheeran. We try to do fun things like that, but at the same time, we’ll try and get good seats. We don’t go all the time, but when we do go, we want to get good seats and make it a fun experience. That’s what we do for fun. We like to go on trips. He travels for work so sometimes I’ll go with him for a long weekend. Sometimes we take our kids with us. Experiences and vacation trips are fun. I love traveling, so that’s what I love to do.

Have you been back to Korea? 

Yes, I’ve been back to Korea. Five years ago, I went. My husband went with my father to my cousin’s wedding. I love going to Korea. We love going to Asia, but one place I still need to go to is Hong Kong. I still haven’t gone to Hong Kong yet, so I need to do that. Japan and China, we’ve done that as well. On my to-do list is Africa. I’ve always wanted to go on Safari, so hopefully we’ll do that one day.

Mommy Dentist: For Asian women, we need to unite and come together.

What is your life about? What are your top three goals in life? 

My top three goals in life number one is to stay healthy. Without your health, you can’t do anything. Health is so important. One of my goals is to stay as healthy as I can be for my family and for my patients. Number two goal is to be a mentor for other women and to be inspirational and to help to encourage them on. Especially my Mom’s Facebook group, that’s another goal. My third goal, I always do a business meeting with both offices and everybody meets. I have everybody pick one word for their year, “2018, what’s going to be your one word that you want to focus on or have a goal whether it’s personal or career-related?” I chose the word creativity.

My third goal is to bring creativity into my life for 2018. I do that by hosting my own podcast page in the Mommy Dentists on Business on iTunes. It’s not about making money. I’m not making any money off of this whatsoever. It is because I want to tap into my creativity skills. When I graduated the university, I graduated with a communications degree and it wasn’t science. It’s tapping back into some of the things that I enjoyed with my degree. Creativity is the third goal, which is part of the reason I eagerly accepted when you invited me to do your podcast. It is fulfilling my need to be creative.

What’s next for you? 

I’ve been thinking about that ever since New Year’s. What’s next? I’m taking baby steps and I would love to become an influencer in my field to be somebody that has credibility amongst my peers, my colleagues. I feel like up until now, for fifteen years of being a dentist, I’ve built my business and my career skill sets, but I wanted to go to a different direction and I wanted to make more connections with my colleagues and have a network and focus on that. That is my next step. It is building network with my colleagues and professional world and professional setting. So far, I’m headed in the right direction.

We continue to reflect on it, “What’s next? What’s the next goal? Next year? Next five or ten years?” It continues to evolve as we know more about who we are and what we want to leave behind. I want to hear your top three pieces of advice for Asian women.

Number one is to be strong. There’re two stereotypes. One that’s like Asian women are subservient, quiet, and mousey. The other extreme stereotype is bitchy, cold, crack the whip. I feel like there’re two stereotypes in the world of Asian women. One piece of advice is just be yourself, be you, be strong, be professional. Number two is to not feel so guilty and don’t listen to all the chitter chatter like, “My mother-in-law says this and I’m not a good mother or my cousin is doing this.” It’s easy for Asians to compare and you shouldn’t put yourself in that position or if somebody is trying to compare you, you should not take it personally.

Focus on you. You do you and don’t let other Asian family influences bring you down. Then third piece of advice is for Asian women, for all in general, we need to unite and come together. If there was a platform that could do that, I would love to be a part of it. No matter what industry, we need to show support for each other, whether you’re a journalist, whether you’re a doctor, whether you’re an actress, whether you’re a stay-at-home mother, a chef. It doesn’t matter what industry or business you’re in. As Asian women, we need to collaborate and give each other support. That is important and I’d like to see more of that happening. Hopefully, Kimchi, you will bring us together.

That is my goal for this podcast, Grace. First is to introduce to Asian community, Asian women, that there are other Asian women out there who make things happen and to show a variety of backgrounds and skill set and philosophies and the way that we use to thrive in our life as an Asian woman. Hopefully, some day we’re going to have a big event that I can invite all of the guests to come and do something together. My dream is to create some movement, but I don’t know what it is yet. Can I count on you, Grace?

Count me in. I’m very excited for you because I feel this energy that you are going to create something great and I can’t wait to be a part of it. It’s going to be a movement and a force to be reckoned with. That’s what Asian women need to be because I know so many Asian women that are strong leaders and I support you 100%.

How would my audience get in touch with you or learn more about you? 

They can always email me at [email protected]. Email is probably the best way. My web address is www.YummyDental.com. You can always look us up that way, but I’m always good on email, so any questions or any requests to get in touch, please email me. I’d be more than happy to be in touch with anyone of your audience.

Thank you for this opportunity to talk with you and thank you for being here to share your wisdom with us. 

Thank you so much for inviting me. I had a lovely time. I can’t wait for the other podcasters to go up and I’m excited to listen to all of your other interviews, Kimchi.

That’s a powerful story from a powerful woman. What did you learn from this interview? What are your top three areas you will change today to create more balance in your life? If you are married, will you set up a regular date each week? Let us know your thoughts. Until next time, live life loud.

Links Mentioned:


Episode Quotes

"You do you."

"Without your health, you can’t do anything."

"Don’t let other Asian family influences bring you down."


About Dr. Grace Yum

GRACE YUM – The Mommy Dentist

Since first entering the dental field more than 20 years ago, Dr. Grace Yum has quietly become one of the leading pediatric dentists in Chicago and beyond. She has also become recognized as a thought-leader among dentists nationally. Dr. Yum found her passion for dentistry when she was 18 years old. She first worked as a dental assistant, then went to dental school, went on to advanced training in pediatrics at Chicago’s leading children’s hospital, then climbed the ladder to eventually start her own practice, which now has two offices. As a certified pediatric dentist, Dr. Yum has earned a certification held by less than 5% of all dentists in the United States.
Dr. Yum often appears on television, online and in print to share her expertise. She has been sought out to appear on:
• The TODAY Show
• Good Morning America
• NBC Chicago
• Parents Magazine
• Parenting Magazine
• Chicago Parent Magazine
Dr. Yum has an active presence on social media, where she brings together patients, their parents, other dentists and working moms. Most recently, she founded Mommy Dentists in Business, a private Facebook group of thousands of dentists in the United States and around the world who are dedicated to sharing best practices to achieve excellence in dentistry while balancing life and work.
A recent recipient of the Top Doctors of America award, Dr. Yum is also a podcaster for her own show “Mommy Dentists in Business,” which can be found on iTunes.
Dr. Yum earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, where she studied communications. She earned her D.D.S. from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, the world’s first dental college. Dr. Yum lives in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood with her husband and their two children.

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