Dr. Spodak: A Reason To Smile…(even for Tony Robbins)
Known as: Dr.Craig Spodak Originally from: moved to Delray in 1976 when I was 4yrs old from NY
Favorite Delray spot: back patio of subculture coffee My quirk:
Life Motto: “being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity”
Local giving (charity to give to): We started our own 501c3 with athlete and miami marlin Giancarlo Stanton for “all star smiles” where we help eradicate children’s dental disease
You would think that behind the Spodak Group building located just west of I-95 on Atlantic Ave would be a wise old man with decades behind him. Instead, what I found was a wise man with decades of family dentistry behind him - just a young, visually impressive, 6’5 height, blue eyed Doc.
Dr. Craig Spodak (45) is a 3rd generation dentist. His father still works at the age of 75, at his new generation modern, green and environmental conscious facility. “I‘m just hanging to the wing of a plane, it feels like” says his father with a proud and humble upwards stare at his son. You can see that the vision and fire in Craig’s eyes are unstoppable, yet manageable through self-coaching, mentoring and a good network of friends and patients around him, including Tony Robbins, who frequent him to treat their teeth.
The Spodak family moved to Delray Beach from New York in 1976, with Craig being 3 years old at the time. Both his father and grandfather were dentists. When asked if he was forced into it, with no hesitation he confirmed his love for dentistry since he was playing around at his dad’s clinic as a kid: “I wanted to help people through medicine, with no life or death consequences. I didn’t want to see people just when they’re sick. I loved watching my father develop long term relationships in the community.”
The new generation facility, which is a LEED Gold Certified building, is something of the future. A green construction with tall ceilings, open spaces, large windows, modern interiors, surrounded by greenery, and architected with all natural sun lighting throughout, and recycling practices inside. They have a full laboratory facility - printing and making all the dental implants in-house, a surgery area, private treatment rooms, and an open reception space. Coffee stations everywhere, nuts machines for snacks, and a free daily healthy launch for all employees. “Our practice runs on the values of being charitable and giving back. Be there for the community…As you grow, your giving has to grow with it. We have the ability and infrastructure to do it.”
Craig co-founded a charity organization helping children in need fix their teeth. All-Star Smiles Foundation was co-founded with his friend, patient and star athlete, American professional baseball right fielder for the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball, Giancarlo Stanton. The two founded the charitable organization after Stanton was hit with a baseball pitch and was treated by Dr. Spodak. Last month alone, the Spodak Group hosted 186 kids from Lenora B. Smith Elementary School in Liberty City, for screening. Additional screenings are in progress this month. “What most don’t know is that the #1 reason children are heading to ER and missing school are dental problems”, says Craig.
His charitable efforts started 5 years ago while volunteering with his team for Habitat for Humanity, working on constructing homes for people in need. One day on the top of a roof of a house, one of the other volunteers chatting up with Craig mentioned that she was suffering from pain in her teeth. This brought him to the realization that many are suffering with pain and need his help - “putting me to work on a house was a miss-use of my volunteer time and talent”. He decided to support the community and give back by offering free dental days to anybody in pain: “We decided to open our doors one day a week for anyone in pain that couldn’t afford treatment to be able to come in and get treated”. Soon after, as people started sleeping overnight outside the facility, and BMWs started showing up in the parking lot, Dr. Spodak and the team realized that they couldn’t screen through the ones who truly needed care, and the ones taking advantage of the offer, so they decided to direct their helping talent towards the organized charity, Freedom Day USA, helping former and active military families. As a female dominated organization (90% female, with 52 employees while 9 of them are doctors, and only 7 are men), the Spodak Group also started promoting the “Ladies F.I.R.S.T” self-defense classes – a community organization started by friend and patient Kendrick Stephens.
“As you grow, each level of success requires you to develop a new version of you”, he says. “Realizing that growth never stops, we’re never done, was my greatest challenge. If I could tell anything to my younger version, I would tell him to believe in yourself, as long as you pursue something good, and do good. Be patient. Don’t underestimate what can be done with time, and create a vision”. And he doesn’t mean “The Secret” kind of vision…”The Secret is when you believe that if you think or say something it will happen right? (I nodded)….Well, I don’t believe in that. I believe that you can create your plan. You need a vision, you need to believe in it, and you need a plan”. Surrounded by an inspirational network, and Tony Robbins as a patient pal, he doesn’t stop his self-growth: “I listen to audio books, podcasts. Even the 8 minute commute to work can change my day, listening to something”.
Craig had no disappointments in life, as he says “disappointment is an unmet expectation. I look at it as an opportunity to learn more…and it’s not like bad things didn’t happen to me, but over time looking back, I learned that everything works out good at the end. The universe has an intention. I trust in the process. Most of the times, whatever may seem like a bad situation at the moment, ends up being best for you later on”. He proceeded with an example of how at one event he was supposed to be a speaker on the stage. Due to internal politics he didn’t get that opportunity and was an observer in the crowd instead. By being in the crowd he got to meet a new friend that recently invited him to stay for 5 days in Richard Branson’s house, where he’s looking forward to learning how to balance and enjoy life better, the Branson way. “I can learn a lot from how he manages to grow and lead while maintaining a happy life, at times detached from communication and actual work. I want to learn how to do less but give more”. He proceeds with describing three versions of the self: “in the first version of yourself, you do everything. Second version you need other people. In the third version you create ideas, but help people express themselves”.
His greatest accomplishment is his children. “Everything else is transitory. Achievement doesn’t make you happy. Fulfillment does. My children are my fulfillment.”
Earlier in life he developed a fear of flying after a traumatizing experience where his flight had to make an emergency landing. “I quit travel for a few years. I missed weddings, births, gatherings, and I missed travel”. Craig decided to conquer his fear by facing the root of the fear and its cause, and he took on flying lessons - “when you fly yourself you have control. I couldn’t let fear control me anymore”.
Craig has been married for 7 years, after meeting his wife 11 years ago through mutual friends. He has a 4 year old boy and a 7 year old girl named after his grandparents (Sage – for Sonia, and Gavin – for George). He is Jewish through birth but believes in our “human connection” and not in religious division. For a short while he was on the planning & zoning board for the city, but decided to step away from local politics and not get tainted. “Race, religion and politics divide us and create separation”.
The Spodak Group is Celebrating their 40th anniversary with 10,000 regular patients. Although his practice is currently local, he sees the opportunity to create national impact through his frequent lecturing and speaking engagements to other dentists throughout the country and globally. His vision is to change dentistry to have less corporate pressure and be more dynamic.
Craig continues to carry the family dentistry practice into the future with a modest yet grand vision. “I am not interested in growing in quantity and opening more locations. Growth for the sake of growth doesn’t make you happy, it makes you detached from what’s real. I am interested in growing relationships and creating better and deeper relationships”. “Uncontrolled growth is cancer”, he proceeds, “The new world is moving away from corporate. It is a story of being authentic.”
I thought I was going to interview a dentist…. Instead, I met a life coach.