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Bright Buys, Big City: The Vision Expo East Shopping Guide




INVISION presents the market’s hottest products (and some
up-and-comers) to help you buy right at the big show in New York.

As the largest optical trade show in North America, in the most populated city in the U.S., it’s understandable that visitors might need a few insider tips on what to look for, and where, at Vision Expo East. That’s what were we come in. We’ve done all the hard work for you. We’ve identified the trends you must have, the ones on the rise and a few ways to increase your incremental sales. And thrown in where to find it all for good measure. Often called the Center of the Universe, The Big Apple is the perfect place to get a little lost. But don’t actually waste your time figuring out where to go. Get in, get out, and then go spend some time on the Cronut line or trying to track down tickets to Hamilton.

Story By Deirdre Carroll

with additional reporting by Carol GilhawleY


Forget metal, acetate and injectable plastics, frames made
of wood, stone, leather, embedded flora, and a slew of other
alternative materials, will set apart of a number of frame
collections at Vision Expo. Innovative techniques, specialty
handling and artisans working at the peak of their craft are
all to thank for this latest crop of frames and sunglasses
that are as much artwork as eyewear.

Minotaure sunglasses from Lucas de Stael

Lucas de Stael

BOOTH: G6062

The brand new Minotaure sunglasses collection from Lucas de Stael features two genuine cow leather finishes — raw and smooth. The two leathers are adhered to the stainless steel frames for a look that is both viscerally primal and slickly modern.

+33 (0) 1 43 55 76 01 |



Rain eyeglasses from David Green

David Green

BOOTH: G5582

Designer David Green’s mission is to bring nature to the cities of the world by incorporating real leaves and reeds in his frames. No two pieces are the same and are as unique as the materials found in nature. With the Rain ophthalmic style he’s made the best part of Autumn — the foliage — available all year round.

+27 (0) 86 111 4852 |


Bella sunglasses from Woodone



BOOTH: G6159

WooDone eyewear is handcrafted by South Tyrolean artisans from a single piece of wood with a lacquer finish. This season, the company introduces three new styles in the Sun collection, one the women’s Bella, featuring soft, feminine lines.

+39 (0) 472 613 612 |


Canby Stone sunglasses from Shwood Eyewear

Shwood Eyewear

BOOTH: G5960

The Canby Stone in white slate from Shwood Eyewear would seem downright prehistoric if it weren’t so darn sexy. An aircraft birchwood core is fused with a thin natural stone overlay and finished with polarized optics by Carl Zeiss lenses.

(503) 893-4277 |


Exposure to harmful blue light is now known to contribute to eye strain, sleep disruption and vision loss caused by macular degeneration. Handheld mobile devices and energy-efficient light bulbs mean we regularly interact with three main sources: sunlight, electronic screens and fluorescent lighting. The most harmful bands of visible light fall in the 415-455 nanometer blue vviolet color range. Lenses that block this range are gaining acceptance as electronic device use grows, and lens manufacturers have taken note.



Eyezen+ from Essilor of America.
(800) 542-5668 |



Sensity light reactive lenses from HOYA.
(877) 528-1939 |


Eyeonx clearx-shield blue blocker from EGMA.

(972) 488-3462 |

Luzerne Optical


TheraBlue from Luzerne Optical.
(800) 233-9637 |

The chicest of people may wear a lot of black, but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate color. A strategically placed pop of color makes a bold statement and striking combinations, be it brights paired with other brights or vivid hues coupled with more wearable neutrals, are where it’s at in the latest eyewear styles too.

VES332 glasses from Escada


BOOTH: 5142

The Escada optical frame VES332 is a beautiful acetate piece that delivers fashion-forward color-blocking details thanks to its spring-like raspberry colored brow bar and classic black bottom.

(877) 606-7852 |


Canarsie glasses from Colors in Optics

Colors in Optics

BOOTHS: 3852 and G5452

The Lights collection by Colors in Optics blends retro styles with exciting color combinations and hue expressions and names all the styles after parts of Brooklyn. The Canarsie (C1035) features a vibrant pink front and oatmeal temples.

(866) 393-3374 |


gx by Gwen Stefani GX017 glasses

gx by Gwen Stefani

BOOTH: 4608

Gwen Stefani is a colorful individual; her frame collections would be no different. The gx by Gwen Stefani GX017 from Tura features a statement-making deep shape in a bright teal blue ombré (shown) or raspberry purple combination.

(800) 242-8872 (TURA) |


Leone sunglasses from Res Rei

Res Rei

BOOTH: G6178

Res Rei means “the thing” in Latin and is a nod to the brand’s Italian heritage. Working only with Italian suppliers and manufacturers, including Mazzucchelli acetate, the Leone sunglasses in blue and purple elevates the concept of what a “thing” can be.

39 (0) 42 241 2246 |


Frames that offer minimal panto, little
panoramic angle and flat lenses are on the rise thanks
to advancements in digital lens processing. Feeling fresh and looking fine, flat frames are not only in fashion but have the added boon of guaranteeing a premium lens sale. Metal, plastic, round or rectangle, even the most classic
of shapes looks updated when made completely flat.

Madeleine sunglasses from Mykita


BOOTH: G6052

At first glance, the perfectly round Madeleine from Mykita / Damir Doma appears to consist of two frames, but a closer look reveals the trompe l’oeil construction made possible by its perfectly flat design. Made of one piece, the frame is folded in half for a result that is distinctive, highlighting two delicate circular lenses hovering over solid round rims.

(973) 669-0063 |


Piercing sunglasses from Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen can always be counted on for setting a trend and super flat eyewear is no different. The AM0001S, also known as the Piercing style, from Kering Eyewear, is a totally flat acetate frame with nylon lenses and a metal bar pierced all the way through the brow capped with spikes.

(844) 790-9165 |


GS600S sunglasses from G-Star Raw

G-Star Raw

BOOTH: 4652

The G-Star Raw GS600S from Marchon is a strongly masculine, square-shape frame with geometric lines and straight-cut mirror lenses. The two-tone temples, exposed screws and cut-out temple tips are inspired by the industrial spirit of the brand.

(800) 645-1300 |


PLD D200 sunglasses from Polaroid


BOOTH: 3548

The Polaroid PLD D200 from Safilo, part of the brand’s newly launched optical collection, is a softly rounded and ultra-lightweight stainless steel frame with a modern design for a fresh, contemporary look. A unisex style with a 2-base front is available in matte black, red, blue and purple.

(800) 631-1188 |


Over the past two years, lens finishing technology and equipment has improved enormously. Edgers have become
increasingly intuitive and user-friendly. ECPs who want to control their own costs and separate themselves from online retailers can now offer patients something different with a fast turnaround time. Some of the latest edgers include a milling feature to allow ECPs to offer custom rimless designs. Others are pre-programmed to quickly add Chemistrie magnetic lenses. AIT and Briot’s
edgers even incorporate lensometry into the blocking process by using an innovative Wavefront Power-Mapping technique. Though the price of edgers has remained steady, manufacturers now offer value-added options in more compact models.

WECO E.6 Patternless Edger from AIT Industries

AIT Industries


WECO E.6 Patternless Edger from AIT Industries.

(800) 729-1959 |

Price on request

HPE-810 Patternless Edger from Coburn Technologies

Coburn Technologies

BOOTHS: LP7254 and LP7354

HPE-810 Patternless Edger from Coburn Technologies.

(800) COBURN-1 |

Price on request

L EzFit from MEI System

MEI System


L EzFit from MEI System.

(630) 521-8588 |


(for standard to advanced version with Shape Finder 2.0)

Delta2 from Essilor Instruments USA

Essilor Instruments USA


Delta2 from Essilor Instruments USA.

(855) 393-4647 |

Price on request

Attitude from Briot USA

Briot USA


Attitude from Briot USA.

(800) 292-7468 |

Price on request

LE-1200 from Santinelli International

Santinelli International


LE-1200 from Santinelli International.

(800) 644-3343 |

Price on request

Impaired vision can have far more negative implications for children if not corrected when it comes to the how they learn and navigate the world around them. Their vision needs are more specific, and shrunken down versions of adult frames aren’t going to cut it anymore. Glasses that take into account the different faciocranial structure of little ones’ heads and can take the wear and tear they dole out are becoming increasingly appealing to their parents (ahem, your paying customers).

Munchkin kids' frames from Dilli Dalli

Dilli Dalli

BOOTH: 4520

The Dilli Dalli collection from ClearVision Optical features IntelliFlex hinges, which flex vertically and horizontally. Each style accommodates multi-focal lenses in a frame with a lower bridge and nose pads. The metal Munchkin (shown) offers a silicone Unifit bridge and European cable tips.

(800) 645-3733 |


SA 0003 kids' frames from Kids by Safilo

Kids by Safilo

BOOTH: 3548

Designed for 0-8 year-olds, the Kids by Safilo line offers lightweight, stable styles with a lower bridge and lenses that cover the child’s entire field of vision. Like all styles in the collection, the SA 0003 from Safilo USA, is made from non-toxic, non-allergenic materials and shockproof hinges. Munchkin (shown) offers a silicone Unifit bridge and European cable tips.

(800) 631-1188 |


ZB 1010 kids' frames from Zoobug


BOOTH: 5342

The Zoobug model ZB 1010, part of the TR90 Ultralight Everyday Range launching at Vision Expo from Mondottica USA, features a lightweight construction in a classic round retro shape. Offered as a unisex style, technical features include adjustable rubber tips and adjustable silicone nose pads with no metal parts. SA 0003 from Safilo USA, is made from non-toxic, non-allergenic materials and shockproof hinges.

(866) 666-3662 |


New Baby kids frames from Miraflex


BOOTH: 3309

Miraflex’s signature flexible Italian-made frames have no metal parts and are BPA-free, rubber-free, latex-free and hypoallergenic. They also offer an anatomically designed bridge that eliminates the need for nose pads. The New Baby frame (shown) comes in four sizes.

(866) 647-2359 |


Thanks to an increasing number of options that allow the ECP to customize a frame, every patient
can leave looking like no one else out there. Have you ever looked at a frame and thought “this would be perfect, if only…”
Well, wonder no more. A millimeter here, a flatter bridge there, that style in this color — all of these options can be yours …
and more important, your patients’.

TD Tom Davies

BOOTH: U6205

The TD Tom Davies Made to Order program makes it easy for opticians to customize a frame in five sizes and any TD color for just a small upcharge over the original price of the frame.
+44 (0) 20 8392 0555 |

Price on request

Silhouette Shape Kit


BOOTH: 3646

The Silhouette Shape Kit is a
collaboration with LUXE
Laboratory to offer fashion-forward shapes with Silhouette rimless
chassis to a selected group of
Silhouette customers interested
in reaching new demographics.

(800) 223-0180 |

Price on request

Handmade iGreen frames from Thema Optical.


BOOTH: G5766

Anyone can customize a handmade iGreen frame from Thema Optical. Thirty styles are offered with customers able to select which color and texture they’d like from 500 different options, including shiny or matte, added nose pads and more, and have them in four weeks.

(786) 803-8881 |

Price on request

Handmade iGreen frames from Thema Optical.


BOOTH: G5879

Sasura takes the popular interchangeable bead jewelry trend and applies it to frames, allowing the wearer to change beads and charms to coordinate with her mood or outfit. Here, model A200-02 from the company’s Lifestyle Collection and a Dream bead in sterling silver, one of the many pairing options.

(855) 922-2547 |


includes two sterling silver accent beads, additional beads $40 each

Now your customers can rely on their accessories to set themselves apart. Thanks to the renewed popularity of necklaces, cords and rings that solve that frustrating question, “Where did I put my glasses?!” by securing them very close at hand. But these aren’t your grandmother’s chains: Premium materials, semi-precious and precious stones, and full of tech, frames can now stay put in style.

ARC Endless collection from Croakies


Croakies offers a full range of products and patented designs. The ARC Endless collection features five coated cable colors, an articulating joint that keeps the cable off the neck and collar, four different interchangeable end options, and a compatible Float Kit for on-water security.

(800) 443-8620 |

ARC Endless, $14.99 – $16.99

Float Kit (sold separately) $5.99

Skull style Turchin Eye Ring


BOOTH: U6216

Turchin Eye Rings are really something special. Handmade in the U.S., the styles adjust in length to suit the wearers’ preferences. New for spring/summer 2016, the Skull style features American braided leather and all sterling silver metal accents with 18K yellow or rose gold overlay. Also available in rhodium, the eyes come in black onyx, diamond and a variety of other gemstone choices.

(305) 778-9559 |

$170 to $800

La LOOP 162P

la loop

BOOTH: U5819

The La LOOP 162P is an updated version of the very first La LOOP, the 001LP, introduced over 15 years ago. The small oval links are made from an ivory color hand-finished Italian acetate resin that resembles animal print. Great for casual weekend wear, at 25 inches long this made in the U.S. style plated in silver, translates
well to a professional setting also.

(877) 505-1500 |


La LOOP 162P

Corinne McCormack

BOOTH: 4434

Corinne McCormack has been making jewelry just as long as she has been making eyewear. Though her readers and eyewear collections have taken off, her extensive eyewear chains and rings collection offers ECPs the perfect add-on sale to complement her, or any, eyewear collection. The Cozumel line features a metal chain and large glass beads to keep glasses stylishly within reach.

(212) 561-7504 |


Long, lush eyelashes are what lots of people aspire to, and many will try whatever it takes to achieve them. But, not everyone is blessed when it comes to full, flirty fringe, and aging, illness and environmental factors can also cause their thinning. A touching back story on the RevitaLash brand, Dr. Michael Brinkenhoff developed it in 2006 for his wife whose lashes had become stressed and dry after going through chemotherapy. Additionally, the FDA-approved Latisse as a prescription treatment for hypotrichosis (inadequate or not enough lashes). The health implications notwithstanding, it seems that all sorts of natural remedies and cleansing products for lashes and lids are on the rise for the general public, as well.

Latisse from Allergan



Latisse from Allergan.

(800) 433-8871 |

$170-$175 (5ml)

RevitaLash Advanced, Volumizing Mascara & Volumizing Primer


RevitaLash Advanced, Volumizing Mascara & Volumizing Primer from RevitaLash.

(877) 909- 5274 |




Tree Eyelid Cleansing Oil from We Love Eyes

We Love Eyes

Tree Eyelid Cleansing Oil from We Love Eyes.

(510) 740-8003 |

$265 (30 ml)

Lash Advance from MediNiche


Lash Advance from MediNiche.

(888) 325-2395 |

$24 (0.21 fl.oz. tube)

Latisse from Allergan



ZocuFoam & ZocuWipe from Zocular.

(844) 962-8527 |

$49.95 (50 ml)

$34.95 (20-count)




Don’t Lose Patients to Online

In this compelling video, Dr. Mile Brujic of Premier Vision Group discusses all the ways that your practice beats the online competition—hands down! The formula for success? Don’t sell yourself short and acknowledge all the benefits that you, as a provider, give to your patients.

Promoted Headlines

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Cover Stories

How Eyecare Businesses Can Win the Hearts and Minds of Their Customers




Loyal customers — not the ones who choose you because you’re the closest optical, or in the building they work in; we mean the ones who cross town to see you, the ones who are genuinely loyal — bring immense benefits. To name just a few, they reduce the cost of every sale, they tolerate price increases and the odd gaffe by a new employee, and perhaps most importantly in the eyecare business: they generate referrals. But how do you win these mythical creatures over? We asked ECPs about some of the more creative ideas they’ve come up with for winning the undying love of their customers.


The business district in Decatur, GA, holds an annual wine crawl through about 30 businesses, and Decatur Eye Care wasn’t about to let their customers miss out. Held in early March, all the businesses open their doors on the weekends, and put out appetizers and quality wines. “It’s a great way to introduce new people to your business and meet current patients in a more relaxed environment,” shared owner, Tom Brillante, OD. Similarly, Avenue Vision in Golden, CO, decided that instead of the traditional frame show, they’d collaborate with area artists and craft breweries. According to Becky Furuta, the result is “an event with a local vibe and a lot of cross-marketing. It’s an easy way to tap into other parts of the community with whom you don’t normally do business, and to bring a local focus to the business.” Who wouldn’t be back?


Of course, nothing inspires loyalty quite like a reward in the hand. Far be it from us to encourage the pursuit of instant gratification, but an analysis of 20 brands by digital agency Hawkeye found that the most popular loyalty programs have one thing in common: “customer experience [i.e., the reward] is delivered close to the actual purchase.” That’s what Ames Eye Care in Ames, IA, discovered when they started their referral program, which according to Susan Ames has brought them many new patients. “When a patient refers a new patient and that patient has their exam, both patients can choose either a $50.00 credit in office toward glasses or contacts, or they can receive a $25.00 Amazon gift card,” says Ames.


Precision Vision’s Loyalty App.

One of the more interesting trends among ECPs who are serious about locking in customer loyalty is developing a reward program app. Buena Vista Optical in Chicago, IL, asks patients to sign up with their phone number. Every dollar invested in their vision, and every patient referred gets them points they can cash in for their next eyewear purchase. “We have already used it for two-and-a-half years and we feel this app has definitely kept our patients loyal,” says co-owner Diana Canto-Sims.

Precision Vision Edmond in Edmond, OK, has an app with a loyalty program that’s still in its infancy, but owner Selina McGee, OD, is confident it will become a key channel for making meaningful connections with patients and customers. “One aspect that I’m really excited about are the loyalty points that can be tracked with it,” says McGee. “We can reward our patients for investing in their health and education, as well as save them a few dollars along the way.”

Having your own app can allow you to get really creative with marketing: the goal is to get people to register. (Domino’s famously awards pizza points to anyone who uploads a picture of themselves eating pizza—even if it’s a competitor’s. Of course, you have to register to upload.) According to The Manifest tech blog, nearly half of small businesses it surveyed spent less than $25,000 on theirs. There are various ways to go about it: DIY app builders, hiring outside developers and relying on tech savvy staff are the most common options.


ECPs who believe “discount” is a dirty word, look away now. But while you’re doing that, those flex dollars will be flowing somewhere else. Just ask Robert McBeath, retail operations manager at Edina Eye in Edina, MN, which runs half off all in-stock frames December through January. McBeath has been doing year-end frame sales for a long time, turning those inventory dollars into cash the practice can distribute, rather than pay taxes on. “We stop buying frames in October and run the sale as an inventory reduction sale with reduced prices only on in-stock merchandise. That saves the ‘see-a-different color’ dilemma. We put up posters in the office, add the promotion to the website, push it on Facebook and sometimes an e-blast,” he says. The Dec. 1-Jan. 31 timeframe catches year-end and New Year flexible spending money. Patients have come to expect it and many contribute to their FSA knowing that if they over-contribute they can always use the money for eyewear. “I have a few that routinely come in at the end of the year to use up their flexible spending. It does keep patients coming back,” McBeath confirms.

Edina Eye’s clients aren’t the only ones waiting for the year-end season. Mark Perry, OD, co-owner of Vision Health Institute in Orlando, FL, reports that their end-of-year frame sale —50 percent off, held on a Friday and Saturday — has been going strong for 10 years now “and it gets larger every year.”


At Vision Solutions in Lamar, MO, they call it “top-of-mind awareness.” All their marketing, according to Bryan Hartgrave, is coordinated to optimize this awareness of the practice, and targeted specifically to people living in the communities it serves. One of the best ways it’s found to do this is to implement a social media blitz several times a year, and they’ve also worked on geo-targeting their offices on search engines. “We maintain a daily social media presence with a balance of fun and educational content highlighting different themes throughout the year,” says Hartgrave. They do a frame show twice a year, and social media is a significant part of promoting it and other events and initiatives.

Coming full circle, Diana Canto-Sims at Buena Vista Optical mentions that she’s had good results with Facebook Live, which they do twice a month. She says the practice gets quite a bit of traction with more than 7,000 impressions per video and over 1,000 people reached. “We love this because it is free and 100 percent organic. Some of our videos get up to 40 shares. As a result of our Facebook Lives we usually get two or three bookings per video, not to mention more followers, likes and engagements,” she says. “Our Facebook page has over 4,000 followers. People feel they already know our staff before they come in because they have seen them on Facebook Live and we are very relatable.”


Let’s face it: All customers are not created equal. The truth is, it pays to identify your best customers and do something special for them. Central Texas Eye Center in San Marcos, TX, have moved away from traditional trunk shows to focus on VIP private events every few months. “Our really good customers absolutely love that we close the store for them and make things personal,” says Leah Johnson. Once a VIP show is scheduled, invitations are emailed to all of CTEC’s clients. “The invitations clearly say ‘VIP event; you’re invited! Appointments are required to attend.’ If someone is interested in one-on-one attention, in a party like setting, they will respond and schedule their event appointment. These types of guests really appreciate that we close the doors to the public for the show,” says Johnson.

CTEC experiences better sales at VIP events over trunk shows, because people are committed to purchasing instead of being there to look.
“We weren’t afraid of losing money by closing the doors, and found out these are really profitable events,” she says.

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Cover Stories

Get Your Mojo Back




Burnout. According to retail consultant Vince Rath, it starts “when we experience the world in a way that doesn’t align with our expectations,” leaving us feeling that we’ve lost control of our lives.

Whatever the factors involved in your particular case of burnout — and it affects everyone sooner or later — the basic solution will always lie in making some kind of conscious change. And even if you’re still loving every day at work, don’t wait till you’re tapped out; implement one or all of these fixes now, whether it’s to recharge your mojo, or to just keep things copacetic…


Researchers call it the “helper’s high.” Donating your time or volunteering can release dopamine, the feel-good chemical that causes the sensation you get when you eat chocolate. According to Psychology Today, “Brain scans show a surge of dopamine when we give or volunteer our time.” Annette Prevaux-Matejko of The Visionary in Allen Park, MI, makes time to “donate services and materials to someone who is down on their luck. Making a real difference in someone’s life makes me feel better about everything.”


Melody Wilding, a performance coach and human behavior professor at CUNY Hunter College in New York, identifies “under-challenge burnout” as one of the three main types (the others being “overload burnout” and “neglect burnout”). What does Jeff Grosekemper at Casa De Oro Eyecare in Spring Valley, CA, do to ward off boredom or crankiness when it threatens? “I switch jobs with my co-worker. Right now I’m pre-testing and she is selling.” Caitlin Wicka at San Juan Eye Center in Montrose, CO, tried a different approach.

“Getting more involved with training and with patient interactions helps with burnout,” she says. “Seeing the positive feedback on social media really helps me.” If you’re an administrator, ask your boss if there’s a task you can be assigned occasionally out front. Nikki Griffin, owner of EyeStyles Boutique in Oakdale, MN, gets back out on the sales floor to “do my thing. I get all my energy from fitting an amazing pair of eyewear and lifestyle dispensing. The administration side of owning is a soul suck.”

Son Nguyen, OD, recalls a radical change in the optical that shook things up at Bakersfield

Eye Care Optometric Center in Bakersfield, CA: “Adding mostly independent frame brands to our practice. Our opticians were skeptical at first about eliminating some of the biggest name brands in our business, but, as a result, we’ve been told it has made them fall in love with their jobs all over again.” Mark Perry, OD, of Vision Health Institute in Orlando, FL, finds renewal by trying “to focus on some new and different aspect of optometry.” This has included accepting externs from two different optometry schools into his clinic.


Paula Hornbeck at Eye Candy & Eye Candy Kids in Delafield, WI sums up her revitalization strategy in one word: “Silmo!” Similarly, William Chancellor of Eye Can See Eyewear in McDonough, GA, tells us that, “Trade shows rejuvenate me. Attending Vision Expo West was a big exciting show that made the heart fonder!” Learning something new is another popular way for ECPs to find their second wind. Christine Howard at Attleboro Vision Care in Attleboro, MA, says, “Networking and attending conferences always ‘refills my cup’ when I’m feeling drained.” Sometimes, just nosing around another optical will do the trick. BJ Chambers at Carrera Optical, in McQueeney, TX, will occasionally visit a competitor, “and then I feel better about myself.”


Burnout isn’t always a function of too much work. Repetitive or unstimulating work can land you in the same psychological territory as doing too much — feeling numb. “I’ve found coming up with a new project or marketing campaign to be rejuvenating,” shares Carissa Dunphy at Duvall Advanced Family Eyecare in Duvall, WA. “It brings the excitement [back] into what we are working on and it’s great for workplace morale.”


Jeff Migdow, MD, an integrative physician in Lenox, MA, told the Everyday Health blog in a recent posting that even a few minutes of physical movement serves as a powerful stress reducer, forcing us to breathe deeper and helping us “feel more like ourselves.” You don’t have to wait for the weekend or even until you get home: “Burnout is usually a sign that your work and your life outside the office are no longer in balance,” says Becky Furuta of Avenue Vision in Golden, CO. “I have always made sure to plan an hour in the middle of every workday to go for a run or a ride. I come back happier, more productive, and feeling good about where I am.” Robert M Easton, Jr, OD, in Oakland Park, FL is surely the gold standard bearer among ECPs in this category: “I do kickboxing, bodyworks, walk on the beach and weight lifting to lift the stress,” he tells us.


We think of electronic devices as stress inducers, but your phone just might be your ticket to peace of mind. “I meditate and practice mindfulness daily, sometimes at work, using the Calm iPhone app,” says Vlad Cordero at Focus Eye Care in Hackensack, NJ. Sometimes burnout can edge into something more serious. A 2015 University of California study suggests that nearly half of all people who start a company say they have struggled with some form of mental illness. Don’t be afraid to get outside help. Tom Brillante, OD, of Decatur Eye Care in Decatur, GA, champions his “Regular visits to my therapist. Can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Billy Isgett at Eyecare of Florence in Florence, SC, shared what works for him: “Prayer.”


Jen Heller reminds of us another sure-fire way to get your mojo going: “I read INVISION! It gets me excited about frames, fashion, new developments.” Sorry, we had to. But okay, she has more: “I’m also rejuvenated by just sitting and entering claims payment, or reconciling the books. Somehow looking at all the details of everything we do calms me down when I’m stressed, and reminds me that we’re superstars on a daily basis.”

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Cover Stories

21 Tips for Motivating Your Team




Behavioral researcher and author Alfie Kohn likes to tell a joke that many small business owners can no doubt relate to:

An elderly man who lives near a school is regularly harassed by a group of students. So, one day he approaches them with a deal: He’ll give each one a dollar if they’ll all return the next day and yell insults at him at a pre-ordained time. They do so eagerly and receive the money as promised. But the old man also tells them he will only be able to pay them 25 cents the next time. More or less still happy to be paid, the children are there again the next afternoon to taunt him, whereupon the old man explains that, henceforth, the daily reward for hurling abuse at him will be one cent. “A penny?” The kids are highly offended. For such a pathetic amount of money it’s not worth the effort. Forget it, they say, and never bother him again.

Like all good jokes, there’s more than a little truth in Kohn’s tale. Humans just don’t behave in seemingly rational ways, never more so than when it comes to money and the energy they are willing to exchange for it. Rewards work in some cases, but in others, they seem to not only deter quality work but bring out people’s worst sides.

The things that we humans tend to pursue with the most care and deepest motivation — like preparing dinner for a family reunion, coaching a Little League team, building a treehouse or running a marathon — are things that are challenging and complex and sometimes even painful. This suggests the things that motivate us — and which sustain peak performance — are things like a sense of achievement, progress, the welfare of others, what other people think of us — the intrinsic stuff. It also implies sustained performance is a result of people acting because they choose to — not because they feel they have to.

The final thing to appreciate about motivation is that it flows and morphs. Sometimes a surprise slice of free pizza will get the best out of an employee. Other times it is a heartfelt one-on-one talk. To unlock every employee’s fullest potential, you will have to experiment — every day and every week. In the following pages, we present a few ideas to help you on your way in this most vital and often mystifying field.


1 Success in guiding employee behavior happens in the thousands of daily interactions and decisions between you and your staff. “Great managing is about release, not transformation,” says Marcus Buckingham, an author, talent expert and founder of The Marcus Buckingham Company, a strengths-based management organization. “It’s about constantly tweaking your environment so that the unique contribution, the unique needs, and the unique style of each employee can be given free rein. Your success as a manager will depend almost entirely on your ability to do this.”


2 “As a rule, money tends to be a poor motivator. You have to look deeper if you want to understand what motivates people. Leadership is not about imposing your will on others, it has more to do with understanding people,” says Dr. Steve Vargo, a business consultant with IDOC and author of Eye on Leadership, An Optometrist’s Game Plan For Creating A Motivated and Empowered Team. Buckingham concurs: “A manager’s most precious resource is time, and managers know that the most effective way to invest their time is to identify exactly how each employee is different and then to figure out how best to incorporate those enduring idiosyncrasies and how to translate them into outstanding performance.”


3 The psychology of motivation has moved away from the big goal approach in recent years and much more toward the idea of small wins. Indeed, Teresa Amabile’s research at Harvard has found that the most motivating thing is “any” progress in meaningful work. Says Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at the Fuqua School of Business: “The question for your staff should be, ‘Can I do one small thing to get better today?’ And the answer to that question is always, ‘Yeah, I’m sure I can.’”


4 Logging certain aspects of your life can be a surprisingly powerful practice — not because there’s much value in the record you create, but because the very act of recording exerts an interesting psychological effect. Get staff to spend a couple of days recording their time use in detail, productivity experts advise, and they’re likely to find themselves using it more efficiently. The first observation is likely the discovery that they are frittering away many hours.


5 The Protestant work ethic basically equates labor with discomfort and looks darkly at levity in the workplace. But there is little in the way of science to support it as an approach to doing good work. Indeed, berating oneself for not working harder runs contrary to establishing a mood that gets things done. A fun environment, on the other hand, promotes innovation, healthy risk-taking, good morale and improved social connections.


6 Promote positivity, says Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, explaining that an optimistic mindset boosts intelligence, creativity and energy levels. “In fact, we’ve found that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed, and 37 percent better at sales,” he says on his widely-viewed TED talk. Much of the reason has to do with a better ability to deal with challenges and setbacks. But just how to do it? Achor recommends meditation, gratitude lists, more exercise and acts of kindness like sending a 2-minute “thank you” email every morning.


7 In 1965, Howard Leventhal, a psychologist at Yale, wanted to see if he could scare students into getting a tetanus vaccination (still rare then) with a presentation of lurid images of patients struck by the disease. The students were duly alarmed — but not enough to get vaccinated. Leventhal found there was one intervention that made a difference, prompting 28 percent of students to get a shot, compared with 3 percent of the others. It was a campus map, showing how to get to the clinic and the hours it was open. Subsequent research has underlined the remarkable power of such step-by-step plans. Got something you want your staff to do? Give them a figurative baby-step map to get it done.


8 In Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, Dan Ariely cites the case of different European countries’ success in getting their citizens to sign up to be organ donors on their drivers’ licenses. The disparity is huge and much of it comes down to a simple tweak in form design. In countries where people have to actively opt out, the willingness to donate is much higher. “It’s not because it’s easy. It’s not because it’s trivial. It’s not because we don’t care. It’s the opposite,” Ariely says of the study’s findings. “And because we have no idea what to do (in such a case), we just pick whatever it was that was chosen for us.” Design a work place where the default option is work, and people will be productive.


9 There’s no shortage of apps to help your staff boost their productivity and stay motivated. One of our favorites is stickK (, a free goal-setting platform created by behavioral economists at Yale University. Make a resolution and then if you don’t follow through, a pre-agreed amount of money will be sent to an organization you really detest. You then decide what’s worse, getting to work on time 20 times in a month or handing your cash over to Bernie or Donald or whoever else gets your hackles up. Another,, will remind you by email about anything you want, but does so at unpredictable intervals so that your brain can’t easily adapt to ignoring the prodding.


10 One of the most predictable and poignant (or pathetic, depending on your viewpoint) things about humans is our need to bathe in the warm glow of a compliment. Our brains light up even when we know the flattery is insincere. Think then of the power of a sincere compliment. Be on the lookout for chances to praise your team members.


11 For the most part, people want to work; they gripe when things like meetings stop them from doing so. Indeed, a 2006 study showed there’s only one group of people who say meetings enhance their wellbeing — those who also score low on “accomplishment striving.” In other words, people who enjoy meetings are those who don’t like getting things done. The key question for distinguishing a worthwhile meeting from a worthless one seems to be this: is it a “status-report” meeting so employees can tell each other things? If so, handle it with email or paper. That leaves much fewer “good” meetings, whose value lies in the meeting of minds, for example, a well-run brainstorming session.


12 One of the reasons slot machines are so addictive is the unique power of “intermittent variable rewards.” As Pavlov showed with his dog, random rewards are more motivating than predictable ones. Make a bonus guaranteed, and it loses its power to motivate. Give employees a perk out of the blue, such as free lunch instead.


13 The power of words tends to be fleeting, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to harness their uplifting power. Whether it’s on the notice board, a store Pinterest page, or the fridge door, look for places to adhere words of wisdom. Update regularly.


14 “Acknowledgment is a kind of human magic,” Ariely says. Indeed, some neuroscientists go as far as to say we need attention almost as desperately as we need food and warmth. Studies suggest that almost 50 percent of people who leave jobs quit because they feel underappreciated. Therefore, simply acknowledging a team member’s contribution can go a long way in making them feel appreciated and motivated.


15 Recent research says there’s something behind the bad apples theory: If a toxic worker sat next to a nontoxic worker, the toxic worker’s influence won out, with proximity increasing the probability that one of them would be terminated by 27 percent. Firing someone is, of course, a last resort measure. But if you have provided training, counseling and patience and the person evidently does not have the inclination to be there, it’s time for you to go your separate ways. And there’s also the sobering impact it has on other staff; firing the least productive employee serves to show staff that their jobs are not sacred.


16 In her book, The Gratitude Diaries, Janice Kaplan cites a recent survey of American workers:

81 percent of respondents said that they’d be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss.

70 percent said they’d feel better about themselves and their efforts if their boss thanked them more regularly.

And yet, gratitude at the workplace appears to be a pretty rare thing, with just 10 percent of the survey respondents saying they were regularly thanked. Want a more motivated staff? Be more generous with the thank-yous.


17 Define excellence vividly and quantitatively. “Paint a picture for your most talented employees of what excellence looks like. Keep everyone pushing and pushing toward the right-hand edge of the bell curve,” says Buckingham.


18 Kind words and deeds count when it comes to motivating colleagues. According to research by Dan Ariely, complimentary remarks and pizza outpaced cash bonuses as ways to encourage workers to put forth more effort and show greater productivity. The results mirrored previous research by the London School of Economics and Political Science showing that people will work harder if they believe their work is appreciated.


19 Don’t assume employees know that you think they’re doing well or poorly. You have to tell them. According to Gallup research, employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not. “To get the best coaching outcomes, always have your 1-on-1’s on your employee’s turf not yours. In your office the truth hides,” says Buckingham, who recommends you spend at least 10 minutes with each employee each week, asking them just two questions: What are your priorities? How can I help?”


20 Spend the most time with your best people. Talent is the multiplier, says Buckingham. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield. In one example from First, Break All the Rules, they studied great employees in data entry roles. Initially, they found that top performers were 50 percent better than average. However, after investing in them, they were nearly 10X better than average. “Ever get bogged down trying to squeeze passable work out of a bad employee? How did it feel?” he asks.

Spend the most time with your best people. Talent is the multiplier, says Buckingham. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield. In one example from First, Break All the Rules, they studied great employees in data entry roles. Initially, they found that top performers were 50 percent better than average. However, after investing in them, they were nearly 10X better than average. “Ever get bogged down trying to squeeze passable work out of a bad employee? How did it feel?” he asks.


21 Consultants Brian Moran and Michael Lennington aren’t big believers in the value of a year, at least when it comes to setting goals. A year’s too big to get your head around, they argue in their book The 12-Week Year, and there’s too much unpredictability involved in planning for 10 or 11 months in the future. Besides, it’s awful for motivation: the New Year surge of enthusiasm fades rapidly, while the feeling of racing to the finish line — that extra burst psychologists call the “goal looms larger effect” — doesn’t kick in until autumn. In its place, they advocate dividing your year into quarters, and to think of each 12 weeks as a stand-alone “year” — a stretch long enough to make significant progress on a few fronts, yet short enough to stay focused.

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