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Secrets of Success: Tonya Lanthier

There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success,” a weekly interview series here at’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative, most successful business owners to share their insights and success secrets with you.

Meet: Tonya Lanthier, the CEO of DentalPost, an online and mobile dental job board and community. Tonya started her career in dentistry as a registered dental hygienist. When she had twins, Tonya started temping and learned that “looking for work in her field was itself a full-time job.” She built up a large database of contacts and started introducing people who needed jobs to dentists seeking employees.

Tonya realized there was a need for service that did this in the dental field and started DentalPost in 2005. The company is now a networking platform for more than 700,000 dental professionals and 37,000 dental offices.

Tonya is very active in dental and entrepreneurial organizations and works with the Georgia Department of Education’s Business Advisory Committee. She continues to work as a registered dental hygienist because she believes “staying active in the field provides her with new insights and knowledge every day.”

You can find her on Twitter @Tlanthier.

Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Tonya Lanthier: Growing up, I always wanted to be Wonder Woman (and I’m still aspiring to that today!).

Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?

Lanthier: I started my own business out of frustration. While temping in over 100 offices in Atlanta, I noticed a clear distinction between offices with a healthy culture and those with a dysfunctional culture. I was determined to find the missing link. From there, I decided I wanted to create a better process to help others find jobs, pay the bills and find a team member who fit well with the office culture.

Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?

Lanthier: Yes, I realized that my purpose is to use my experience (both good and bad) as a gift to help others. When I was 8 years old, I was involved in a traumatic bicycle accident that required the care of a passionate dental team. This experience made me decide that I wanted to be a dental hygienist and embark on a career that involved helping others. Along my journey, I’ve learned that no amount of success or money can ever give me the joy that I receive from helping my patients.

Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?

Lanthier: The best small business advice I received was to find a pursuit that you’re passionate about and build your tribe around it. As the saying goes, “Do what you love and do it often.” Having the right team culture enables you to achieve even greater success in a collaborative and happy environment.

Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?

Lanthier: More entrepreneurs should spend time understanding and knowing their “why.” I strongly believe that this knowledge is invaluable and will help you stay focused on your purpose—allowing you to truly be happy.

Lesonsky: Do you have a prediction for small business?

Lanthier: Small businesses will definitely see a shift and should be prepared to be flexible. With technology continuing to drive all aspects of business, we will definitely see data being used more for hiring decisions.

Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?

Lanthier: My favorite book is a must-read for all: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story, By Miller

Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?

Lanthier: “You never achieve real success unless you like what you are doing.” – Dale Carnegie

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Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.