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Don’t Make a ‘Pretty Woman’ Mistake During Your Next 5-Minute Conversation

A long-time optical sales rep offers poignant advice from the front lines that everyone can put into practice.




(Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in ROWT Magazine, titled “Make It Or Break It In Five Minutes.”)

You only have a few minutes to make a lasting impression. The clock is ticking. What do you do?

This is one of my favorite soapbox topics. As a 42-year optical veteran, I have had thousands of five-minute conversations. Thankfully, I learned early on how profound an affect a short conversation can have, not only on your day, but on your career.

First, a little background on me. I love being in an optical. I am at home there. I love meeting and sharing the business. It just makes me happy. And, while it is my name, I am as far away from the let-me-talk-to-the-manager-type Karen stereotype as anyone could be. (This “Karen” phenomenon will not seem to go away!)

However, I recently stopped in an office to introduce myself and inquire about their process of adding new lines to their optical. During this five-minute interaction, I was met with resistance. I didn’t turn into a “Karen.” But I didn’t leave quietly, either.

I pride myself – as many reps do – about being very cognizant of an office’s time and process. It is out of both respect and courtesy. I was a buyer and administrator for numerous practices for more than 25 years. One thing I would say is I always took five minutes to chat if a rep took the time to stop by and get out of their car. That takes guts, especially these days. So you will not find me dragging in a bag of anything to an office unannounced. I normally carry a small case with a small representation of the lines in a shoulder bag which typically afforded me a great conversation.


Unfortunately, there was no great conversation during this office visit. As I introduced myself while holding my card and the proverbial box of candy, the young man interrupted me and said, “We are not buying.”

“Game on” I thought to myself as this girl was on top of her game that day. I responded politely, “That is great, as I am not selling. I stopped by to inquire about your office process that would allow me to present two frame lines that would make you one of few stockists in your area.”

Brain bubble: What process? Blank stare and again, but even more rudely, he stated, “I said, we are not buying.”

I politely set my card and candy down on the dispensing table as I spied some business cards nearby. I picked one up and I asked, “Is this your card?”

I waited until he responded “Yes.”

My reply was, “No problem. After being in the optical industry for a very long time as trusted advisor to many, I have gained respect and know many people. I have had thousands of five-minute conversations that have forged long-term relationships and even changed my career path.”


I held up his card. There were no patients around so I left him with this passing remark: “These last five minutes could have been different. You just never know where it may take you and who will ask for a reference. I also know and have worked with the great owners of this beautiful practice, have a great afternoon.”

As he stood there with a very different blank stare, what popped into my head was Julia Roberts and the famous line from the movie Pretty Woman: “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”

While we may not be able to choose what comes our way in a day, we do have a choice in how we respond.

I will leave you with this last thought. Opticians and reps are in this together. We are a team. And we do what we do for our patients and customers. Please “JUST DO IT” with care and compassion. Everyone is a customer!

(This article was written by Karen A, Michaelson, ABOC. You can find her at Kare Consulting, LLC, | LinkedIn.)



ROWT stands for reps and opticians working together. It was established in 2021 to initiate conversations about topics that have affected the way reps and opticians work together. ROWT Magazine features articles from the industry’s up and coming reps and opticians. Each issue highlights industry obstacles, offers advice, and acknowledges those who go above and beyond.


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