What if you could choose to love your work? What if you could derive real meaning in the learning and growth achieved through your work and service to others. What if you thought of your work as craft and developed it into art in the service of others? And what if that art and the feeling of accomplishment that comes along with it, brought you more opportunities, happiness, and success?
This is what drives the rock star optician.
On the other hand, if you set your goals high enough, dare to think for yourself, and actually do the work to become the rock star, you’ll find you can earn more, be happier, and make a difference.
“As a rock star, I have two instincts, I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. I have a chance to do both.” – Bono
Alternatives are cheaper,
more convenient and
going to the doctor is not fun.
Who should use the Rock Star steps?
The steps are written with the independent dispensing optician in mind, however the principles can apply equally effectively to corporate opticians, lab opticians, optometrists, or anyone that wants to get the most out of their working life; whatever that may be.
How to use the Rock Star steps
The steps do not have to be performed in order, although you may consider Steps 1-3 prerequisites. Most of these steps are not intended to be “checked off”, but rather thought of as projects that will help you grow personally and professionally. Read through all the steps and choose which ones are appropriate for you at this point in your career. You may find yourself working on a particular step for months or even years. Don’t let that discourage you. Don’t try to tackle it all at once. As with anything in life, it’s about the journey not the destination.
Each step is followed by a suggested action. These actions are intended to get you moving in the right direction. You should use them as a launch pad and come up with actions of your own. In fact, when you do, we would love hear about them and the progress you are making. Shoot us an email!
Depending upon your work environment you may not have the freedom or support to take significant action on all of all 15 steps. Do as much as you can, start small, develop the proper mindset, prove yourself and your ideas over time. If you happen to reach a place where you no longer have an opportunity to grow, it may be time to move on (the steps will help prepare you for that too). But when in doubt, the first step to more freedom is always to take more responsibility.
Revisit these steps frequently. Print them out. Assess where you are in the process. Make notes of what you have accomplished and set goals to take yourself further. If you keep a journal, use it as you work through the steps. If you don’t, now may be a good time to start. Many of the steps require some kind of writing.
The Optician Success Newsletter will help you on along the way by providing weekly content from around the internet, handpicked to give you knowledge, inspiration, and ideas to help you become the best you can be.
Be present and enjoy the journey!
Essential Mindset 1
Essential Mindset 2
Essential Mindset 3
How to put Step 1 into action:
Read Step 1 again.
What does success means to you? Does it mean fame? Money? Travel? Helping others? Supporting your family? Enjoying your work? Feeling accomplished and fulfilled?
Knowing exactly what you want to achieve will give you clarity and purpose on on your journey to optician rock stardom. When you are faced with decisions, simple or difficult, you can look at your most important goals, then ask yourself, “Which option brings me closer?”
How to put Step 2 into action:
This step requires you to know and be honest with yourself. Of course, it’s easy to say, “I want to be rich and famous” …and it’s not that you can’t be either or both. But, the world is full of rich and famous people that lead hollow, unfulfilled lives. So, spend some time on this one. Don’t be afraid to set your sights on things you might feel are too big or too small.
Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
After awhile, you’ll start to have a clearer sense of what is most important and your vision of success. It may not be what you initially thought.
Exercise 4: Once you have a reasonable definition of success, on another piece of paper, write down what you have determined to be most important. Now, since you know these are the most important to you, put a date next to each item, that you now commit to having them by. Put the paper somewhere you’ll see it each day. Over time the list may change, but It will serve as a guide post, helping to fuel your growth and simplify life’s decisions.
All mastery begins with learning the basics. As with anything, there are basic skill necessary to be an optician and a number of ways you can go about acquiring them. You can go to school, study on your own, find a mentor, become an apprentice, join OpticianWorks. Most likely it will be some combination of these. It doesn’t matter if your state requires a license. Licenses, degrees, or certifications may be a step in your path, but none make you a good optician, let alone a rock star. Your skills and ability to apply them are what matter.
How to put Step 3 into action:
Read everything you can get your hands on. Have discussions with your peers. Practice what you learn. Don’t be afraid to fail and always learn from your mistakes. If you are new, it all may seem overwhelming. Try to make it a habit to learn something new every day. Step 3 will take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Of course, joining OpticianWorks.com will give you a leg up!
We’ve been sold the idea that we should do what we love. What you don’t often hear is that we can instead, choose to love what we do. In a field like opticianry, one that combines the technology, creativity, and the opportunity to help others, it’s not even that hard.
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” -Steve Jobs
Did you know that in a recent survey, opticianry received a 100% rating as the most highly recommended of any US job?
The truth is you are going to find it impossible to put in the time and effort required to be a rock star optician unless you can find passion and learn to love what you do. Even if you are not exactly where you want to be, be thankful for where you are. Get the most out of the time and opportunities you have right in front of you. Never stop growing.
How to put Step 4 into action:
The most direct path to loving your work is thinking about how you can make the lives of people around you better. Ask yourself “What difference can I make, that other people will love?” Focus on the recipient of your work—your customers fans; coworkers, who depend on you; leaders, who trust you; the community, who expects your support or others who benefit from your work. When you love what you do, people notice and it’s contagious.
How to put Step 5 into action:
Try to be conscious of your complaining. If you catch yourself whining, immediately turn it into a positive by coming up with a possible solution. Rephrase your complaint, by ending it with “but, next time, I will try to do x to avoid the situation” or “maybe doing y could have resulted in a better outcome.”
Avoid other complainers. Misery love company, yet it is bad for everyone involved, even the passive listeners.
How to put Step 6 into action:
As your skill set and fan base grow, you will begin to see and the value in what you do. Share your experiences through social media. Our profession is in desperate need of fresh voices with new, positive ideas. Try Optical Mentors on FB, OpticianWorks VIP on FB, or your favorite social hangout.
Plan and eyewear “focused” event. Make that change to the store you always wanted. Take pictures and tell us about it.
This one may be tough. So many opticians identify themselves as “healthcare professionals.” At some level, it makes sense. Opticians work closely with and in most cases directly for doctors. Typically, doctors want their staff to reinforce the professional, medical atmosphere people come to expect. Likewise, opticians often believe that being closely aligned with medicine gives them a higher purpose and more respect than “a salesperson that makes pretty glasses.”
But here’s the big problem, people don’t like going to the doctor! To be a rock star optician, it’s kind of important people want to see you. So, you need to work towards creating an experience that people will be drawn to. As difficult as it may be, if you are a “dispensing optician”, start to push the idea out of your head that you are a medical professional; you are not. If that’s a hard pill for you to swallow, think about how you might have a greater effect on people’s lives: in a service that people are forced into by regulations and vision problems, or a service that people want because you help them to feel better about themselves, have fun, and see better. Eventually, you may find the idea suits you. This is important. Remember, you are no longer working with patients, you are building fans!
How to put Step 6 into action:
You may not have the freedom to act on as much as you like. But, when possible, work towards putting as much separation between optical and medical as possible (without defying your boss). Avoid scrubs and lab coats. If you have a medical office, separate entrances are ideal, even if not always practical. Build a unique environment and style for your optical. Refer to and think of your patrons as valuable customers whom you want to become loyal fans, not patients. Think about attracting shoppers and cultivating passion for eyewear, not just attending to people with a “medical need.”
There’s a saying in marketing, “If you target everyone, you attract no one.” In any business, there are customers you look forward to working with and those you don’t. There are customers that are great for business and those that are more trouble than they’re worth. If you take the time to identify who your ideal customer really is, you can tailor your offerings, messaging, and the experience you deliver to attract the good ones and discourage the bad. Basically, figure out how to work more with people that are good for you and your business. But, we really want to take this a step further.
Years ago Wired magazine co-founder, Kevin Kelly wrote an article entitled 1000 True Fans that became the stuff of legend among creatives and freelancers. The idea being that an artist, musician, or craftsperson needs only 1000 true fans to make a living. With true fans being (my definition) those that use your products with pride, talk about you, want to hear what you have to say, buy from you often, and feel like they are part of something. Every rock star needs a core group of raving fans. The best way to get them is to first figure out who they are.
How to put Step 8 into action:
Spend some time thinking about and writing answers to the following questions as they pertain to your ideal customers who you would like to be your biggest fans. Be very specific.
Who is my ideal customer in terms of age, gender, education, location?
What other products do they buy that relate to mine?
What do they wear?
What activities do they participate in?
Where are they most likely to get their information about brands? Online? Print? Television? Friends?
How did they find me?
What do they value?
What do they think of the value of my product(s)?
To gain additional insight, when you encounter an ideal or near-ideal customer, spend some time getting to know them and ask them some of these questions.
Now, write a personal profile, sometimes called a buyer persona. The profile should be a detailed description of a single individual that embodies the answers to the above questions. The person you describe will be the focus of your efforts in the next step.
Forget for a moment recalls and new Rx sales. These are important, but to be a rock star optician, you need to go beyond that. Work towards building an experience that will be enough for people (in particular, the person you described in step 8) to visit your store. Think about what you could deliver on a daily basis, that might make people go out of their way and bring their friends on a Friday evening or Saturday afternoon. Hint: Wearing scrubs and being all, “Let me tell you about the importance of your medical device.” might not cut it.
How to put Step 9 into action:
There is no way to overstate the importance of building relationships. There have been volumes written on the subject. The old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” pertains to so many areas of life. Care about people, be generous with your time and attention.
How to put step 10 into action:
If you’ve not read the timeless “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, that would be a great place to start. On the other hand, if you think you might struggle with the language of 1937 (it’s really not that bad), here are the cliff notes.
All of retail is going through massive change. Look to other sectors for businesses that are finding success. The issues you face with customers and sales are not unique. Online sales, showrooming, falling margins, customer education are all being struggled with and handled successfully and unsuccessfully in other retail sectors. Learn from both.
How to put Step 11 Into action:
Fast Company and Wired magazines are great sources for keeping up with trends in business and technology. I also suggest seeking out information from the general retail trade to keep up to date on consumer trends and ideas for building a more successful optical. Podcasts are another amazing resource for learning new things and being exposed to people and ideas you might not otherwise be exposed to.
The most fun… go shopping! But, instead of looking for what you want, look at your surroundings, watch how you are treated, look how the merchandise is displayed. Leave your comfort zone. Find business that are doing things differently and doing it well.
How to put Step 12 into action:
Read trade magazines, go to trade shows, talk to vendors. Look beyond the marketing hype in search of real innovation. If you do this for awhile compare what you find to things that are working outside of optical, you’ll be able to anticipate trends and even get out in front of them.
How to put Step 13 into action:
Start a free blog. You don’t have to write every day. You can start with once a week. Don’t know what to write about? Write what your are passionate about. Remember those complaints from Step 5? Offer solutions or effective ways of dealing with them. Now, there’s a healthy way to vent! Write about things you learn each day or resources you discover that others might benefit from. Write about the new things you’ve tried from Steps 11 and 12 and how they worked or how they totally didn’t. Include pictures of amazing eyewear you helped to create and the happy people wearing them. Write about your successes AND your struggles on your journey to optician rock stardom! Then, if you are so inclined, share the good stuff with your optical friends on Facebook.
How to put Step 14 into action:
Think about this, “What can I start or build that would somehow make a lasting difference in the lives of my family, coworkers, customers, community, business, or future generations?”
Find some time and teach something you’ve learned to someone else.
If you’ve made it this far, you certainly have what it takes to become an insanely successful rock star optician, and this step is a no-brainer. You have the desire to become more than you are, so never stop growing, never stop being curious about the world around you, and never stop giving to others.
How to put Step 15 into action:
Try new things, inside of optical and out. Travel, read, paint, sculpt, dance, hunt, fish, whatever! Most importantly, share what you learn with others (remember your platform!). Who cares if you aren’t great at it?
Make a living, be proud of your work, and enjoy what you do. Most importantly make a difference in the lives of the people around you. It will come back to you.