It's midnight on a Tuesday in Brooklyn and Dr. Daniel Rubinshtein has been working for hours finishing up an extensive cosmetic dental treatment with veneers for one of his celebrity athlete clients who is in town for a new smile. This is no ordinary set of veneers, it's a transformation that is digitally custom made with precision to fit his client's mouth and profile with a natural look and feel. Each crown has been meticulously measured and curated for quality and fit. Dr. Daniel brings out the new crowns on display before application on an exquisite velvet tray, like something you might encounter at Cartier when they show you a selection of priceless diamonds.
Rubinshtein himself is a triple threat...He's humble, handsome and dressed to the nines, but his persona is part doctor and artist with a twist of hip hop swagger wrapped in to one. Brooklyn youth culture is in his blood, as Daniel grew up playing basketball and listening to hip hop with his friends in Williamsburg. His office is a reflection of his style and clientele.
Rubinshtein went into the family business and shares the space with his parents who are also dentists. Their space is like a quaint suburban multi-level home transformed into a high tech dental mission control center. It's eclectic with a lobby that feels like your grandma's living room, juxtaposed by a large painting of the late Tupac Shakur and friendly young staff members offering smoothies to patients while they wait.
Years ago it was common for children to follow in their parents' footsteps and go into the family business, or trade when it came time to work. But with increased opportunities in education and travel, it has become more and more common for children to carve out their own paths and explore different career options.
Dr. Rubinshtein comes from a dental family. "It was in the DNA," he tells me. "I was lucky to be raised by two parents who are both dentists. They inspired me from day one in dentistry and it was like second nature to me to come into this profession and I'm very blessed to be helping others with this profession."
Rubinshtein tells me that he feels like it's rare for both parents to be in the same line of work and then inspire a child to go into it, but he thinks it says a lot about their success. His younger brother is also a specialist dentist.
"I think it's rare," he says. "It's one thing to be married, but then to work together and be in the same profession and then to inspire the next generation, like your kids to go into it... I think that is pretty rare and special and it says a lot about how hard my parents work and about how passionate they are."
Rubinshtein's parents Drs. Alex and Marina Rubinshtein emigrated to the United States from Latvia and Ukraine and opened Bensonhurst Dental Care in Brooklyn more than twenty-five years ago.
After graduating from Yale University, where he completed his general residency, Dr. Daniel Rubinshtein went on to study at New York University College of Dentistry. This is the same school where his parents also graduated from. He earned his Doctorate in Dental Surgery.
While he may have followed in his parents' footsteps, Dr. Daniel was determined to put his own unique spin on the work.
"I always drove in the car with my parents [and they were] listening to these boring, dental lectures, and it bored me to death," he says. "And I asked my mom, 'why are you listening to this?' and she goes, 'it's educational, it's important,' and I'm like dentistry is so dry and boring, how do we put a little spice into it? So, I told myself that if I was going to go into this profession, I have to do it my way. You know, putting it with a little bit of flare, a little sexiness...make it fun, because as you know dentistry has a bad rep. People are scared; people believe that it's expensive. It's just the nervousness of the unknown. I really wanted to change that perspective of what this field is about."
While most aspiring dentists might graduate a bit panicked about the amount of school debt they have racked up. Dr. Daniel says he never really worried about that. More than joining a practice where he could start making money as soon as possible, he was more focused on creating a brand that he would be proud of.
"Building a brand that's authentic to you and full of quality verses quantity will help you get through any type of loan that you have," he says. "It's investing in yourself. You have to believe in yourself!"
Dr. Daniel was able to combine is passion for putting his own unique spin on dentistry while making enough noise to get the word out about his work. And he did that through social media.
"My youngest brother is a very big tech entrepreneur and he recommended something called Meerkat," he tells me. "And Meerkat at the time was a live streaming platform. I had all the time in the world. I had [just] graduated. I don't have a line of patients, so I was like, why don't I answer a lot of the questions that some people might have. So, the first night I tried Meerkat, I had one or two people ask me questions, then it led to several... tens, to twenty and then it got to like, hundreds of people. It was a really good way to showcase who you are, what you're all about and give out information for free. I was there to educate the public and what I was hoping for was to build good relationships so that when a person needs the kind of work that I provide, they'll think of me first."
This strategy worked out well, but it started to take up a lot of Dr. Daniel's time. He says that the first couple of nights he did Meerkat Q & A's it took maybe a half an hour to an hour, but by the time his audience had grown, he was staying up until four o'clock in the morning answering everyone's questions and he realized this option wasn't sustainable for him. He needed another platform where he could reach his audience and give them the content they were looking for, while also protecting his precious time.
"Do not get too romantic with any one particular platform," he warns. "[In case] you need to pivot [to] the next platform that's popular and the attention is there... [that was] Snapchat. At the time, Snapchat was intended for younger users who were sending inappropriate pictures, so I felt super uncomfortable to even try that platform. But because I did it authentically and I used that platform to showcase behind the scenes of what dentistry is--to answer questions here and there that people had--I made it into something that worked in my favor."
Rubinshtein became famous on social media for transforming people's smiles and often dancing while he does it. Once he was well established on Snapchat, Rubinshtein was given the moniker, Dr. Snapchat by the media, but he took his own advice about pivoting to the platforms that were most current and useful to him and he now has nearly half a million followers on Instagram and more than a million followers on TikTok.
"As Snapchat started to evolve, another platform came into play and it was Instagram," he says. "And that really revolutionized relationships because you had profiles. You saw what the other person was about. And you could really build strong relationships. I don't care what business you're in...business is nothing without relationships. And these platforms help build relationships."
Here are some of my favorite bits of conventional wisdom in unconventional places (like TikTok, or Instagram)
Listen to Your Gut
One of the lessons I take from Dr. Daniel is that once you know your goal, brand, and direction, just try anything you can to make that work without hesitation, doubt, or fear. For him, he wasn't killing it on social media right off the bat, but he was trying things. He was pushing toward a goal and that ended up paying off for him.
"Even before, I had people in my circle that were like, 'why are you sharing all of this information? You should be charging for it!' Information is everything," he says. "At the end of the day you want to bring value to people. Don't be cheap about value. It will always return itself tenfold."
You might look at Dr. Daniel's career and think that it was all smooth sailing, but the truth is it wasn't always easy. He tells me that at the start he wasn't really even sure how to create content on social media and to make matters even more difficult, he got some push back from his father who felt that his son wasn't focused and was spending too much time in the practice on his cell phone.
"In the beginning I didn't even know what I was doing," he says. "I was just providing value. I was providing things that might help other people. The content wasn't perfect. The pictures were definitely not perfect, and my videos looking back are cringey. In the beginning I had had colleagues that would be like, I don't want to get on Instagram! I don't want to get on Snapchat! It's not for me, I'm too old...Now they're asking me, how do I join it so I can start building my brand?"
Try Something New
Dr. Daniel never expected that he'd be dancing on TikTok or Instagram, but he found a way to connect with people and get his message out there to the masses. Sometimes showing your humanity can help build a professional reputation that is approachable and connective.
"Sometimes, you know what? Come out of your comfort zone and try something different," he says. "You never know. That corny little dance that you were like, I'm too old to do, might put you on the map and get the attention of viewers that might not actually be interested in what you're doing otherwise. I never danced on the apps. That wasn't a thing I used to do and there was this song by Drake called Keke, and a lot of my friends and patients said, Doctor you should try! You would seem so cool to try it! I was just like you guys, I was embarrassed, I was like, what are they going to think of me? I'm a doctor and I'm dancing, but you're a human being you can live life and you can dance. So, we did that dance, and it went super viral on Instagram. Everyone was reposting it. The news picked it up and at the end of the day as long as you're authentic, as long as you're doing it with a big heart, enjoy the process."
Showcase Your Personality Authentically
One thing I really appreciate about Dr. Daniel's spirit is that he's not afraid to wear many hats and to authentically be himself. It shows on his social media channels and it is one of the reasons he has such a devoted following and is so beloved by his patients. He's a dentist who decided to dance on TikTok. And as silly as that might sound, it's worked for him. And honestly, he's a pretty great dancer in addition to being a pretty great cosmetic dentist.
"You can do whatever you want to do," he says. "You can be a doctor and an actor, you can be a doctor and a marketing guru...you know, combine all your loves and passions and it showcases it. You don't have to be just one type of person, and I think that's what makes especially social media so special is that you can showcase who you truly are and the people who appreciate your offering and your personality and your talents, those people will come to you. At the end of the day whether you're doing dentistry or whether you're creating a car service business, the factor is always going to be relationships."
Watch the full interview with Dr. Daniel Rubinshtein here: