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The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

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LOVE IS IN SIGHT

7 EYECARE PRO
COUPLES TELL HOW
THEY WORK TOGETHER
(AND KEEP THE
ROMANCE ALIVE)

A

s an eyecare professional, you’re used to looking deeply into people’s eyes
— many, many times every day. But for most of us, somewhere along the line,
gazing into another’s eyes is a labor of love, not work. And when business and
pleasure meet, that can be the most fortunate love story of all.

The 2015 annual office romance survey by workplace
intelligence company Vault.com found that 10 percent
of its respondents met their spouse or partner at work,
and nearly six in 10 report they’ve had a romance with
a colleague. Workplace romances were once widely
frowned upon, but only 5 percent of the people Vault
surveyed disapprove these days. Another interesting
statistic: The U.S. Census Bureau reports that
optometrists have one of the lowest divorce rates of
any profession. It was a mere 4 percent in 2000.

Love knows no season nor reason, but in honor
of this month’s big holiday, INVISION would like to
salute seven sets of visionary Valentines. Read on to see
how they met, how they make it work — and what you
can learn from them if cupid’s arrow (or maybe match.
com) ends up bringing you a fellow ECP sweetheart.

 

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Dr. Katie
McElvaine
and Scot
McElvaine
relax with
their daughter
Grace.

DR. KATIE
McELVAINE
AND SCOT
McELVAINE
SPRINGFIELD
FAMILY VISION,
SPRINGFIELD, MO


atie Robertson and
Scot McElvaine actually
sat next to each other
in anatomy class in high
school, but they didn’t
realize it until years later
when they saw a yearbook
photo. Katie’s family has
lived for generations in
Springfield, MO, where her
parents own an antique
store. Scot’s family moved
there in 1993 and bought a
jewelry store. “Small business
is in our blood,” Katie
says.

LOVE TIPS

DO play to each
other’s strengths,
and be patient with
each other.

DON’T step on
each other’s toes,
and try not to micromanage
each other.

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The couple began dating in 2009 and Scot proposed
a year later in Hawaii, where Katie was doing an
externship rotation. They married in Springfield
in 2011 and have a 1-year-old daughter, Grace. Now
they have gone into business together, too, as the
owners of Springfield Family Vision, which opened
just before Thanksgiving last year.


Katie is an OD and Scot has an MBA. He previously
worked as a supervisor with Expedia; before that,
he helped out in his parents’ store. “I have a retail
background,” he says. “I was ready to do something
on my own, not necessarily in optical. It was the
right time to take a risk.”


For four years, Katie was an optometrist at a
group private practice in town. “There was a structural
change at my previous employer which made
it easier for me to leave,” she says. When working
for different employers, they were both doing shift
work and rushing home to see each other. Working together, especially with a small child, is a change
that simply feels right.


The McElvaines began setting up their practice
last August. They gutted a computer store and hired
an architect. “It was a mad rush,” Katie says. “But we
got everything done in 78 days.” With just the two of
them on staff, Katie runs the clinical side and Scot
does everything else. “She’s the brains and I’m the
muscle!” he says.


“We’re doing such different roles,” Katie says.
“But at the end of the day you’re going home with
that person and you want to live a happy life.” Some
days, their parents help mind Grace. Other times,
she goes to a day care center that shares a parking
lot with their business. After closing shop, they
can walk over together to pick her up. “We need
to remember why we’re doing this,” Scot explains.
“We’re doing it for each other and for our family.”


 


DR. JASON
MacLAUGHLIN AND
DR. LISA GENOVESE
INSIGHT EYECARE/LICATA
OPTICAL, BUFFALO, NY



aughter is important in relationships,
and although Jason
MacLaughlin was a class clown,
Lisa Genovese fell for him. The couple —
she’s originally from Buffalo, NY, and he’s
from Shawano, WI — met socially during
their first year at Illinois College of Optometry
in 1998. Although there were 170 students
in their class, “everyone became close
real fast,” Lisa says.

LOVE TIPS

DO rally behind
each other and
help each other out.

DON’T butt
into the
other’s
responsibilities.

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They worked together during rotation and then
again for 12 years at the same ophthalmology practice
in Amherst, NY. In December 2015, they opened their
own practice together. “We bought a two-location
practice owned by an optician,” Jason says. Their
new business is called Insight Eyecare/Licata Optical
with one location in Williamsville and another in
Lockport, both suburbs of Buffalo.


“People always say to me ‘you don’t want to work
together,’ but I’ve always found it fine,” Lisa says. “It’s
nice to rely on each other and bounce ideas off each
other. We use our iPhones to send each other pics to
get a second opinion.” Both have different talents,
too. Jason is more focused on optics and Lisa on
diseases. She says he’s good at billing as well. “I feel
like we’re different at what we’re strong at and so our
responsibilities complement each other,” she adds.


The couple have two children, a 9-year-old son and
a daughter who’s 7. Owning their own practice now
means Lisa can pick up their children from school
and do more activities with them. “It’s important
to enjoy life,” Jason says. “Don’t take work home
too much!”


 


CHRISTOPHER
CAIN AND ADAM
HOFFBERG
OJO OPTIQUE, SANTA FE
AND ALBUQUERQUE, NM


ou know it’s love when someone
will leave a job selling luxury
real estate in Los Angeles to
join a fledgling optical shop. Two years ago,
Adam Hoffberg and his younger brother,
Jed, decided to move back to Santa Fe, NM,
where they’d lived as kids, to realize their
dream of opening an optical store. “We
dragged Chris back with us!” Adam says of
the man he met in L.A. 14 years ago. “He
has joined the ranks of the optical world.”

LOVE TIPS

DO split responsibilities
so you can
excel at different things.

DON’T hold a
grudge when there’s
a disagreement … and
don’t take work home
with you.

Adam has been an optician for over 20 years and
his brother Jed has been one for 14. The two brothers
and Chris are co-owners of Ojo Optique, which they
opened in Santa Fe in 2013 and expanded to a second
location in Albuquerque last July. Adam and Jed had
previously worked in Santa Fe, where they knew
there was an opportunity for an optical shop that was
completely independent. Ojo Optique carries such
designers as Anne & Valentin, l.a.Eyeworks, Theo and
Oliver Goldsmith, and it uses only independent labs.


“Chris brings a great business background to our
partnership,” Adam says. Chris takes care of technology
and finance and works with Adam at the Santa
Fe location, while Jed runs the Albuquerque store.
“As a couple, working together can be challenging,
but for the most part it works,” Adam says. “We have
great communication skills with each other and we
have similar goals — in life and in business. We enjoy
spending time together, which is key.”


 



Dr. Kelly
Raies
onstage with
her husband
Dr. Michael
“Jules” Raies
singing her
signature
song AC/
DC’s “Dirty
Deeds Done
Dirt Cheap.”
Photo by Julie
Bergonz

DR. KELLY RAIES
AND DR. MICHAEL
“JULES” RAIES
PORTSMOUTH VISION CENTER,
PORTSMOUTH, OH



ancing by the Nile, the ladies
love his style … — Steve Martin,
King Tut


Even though (or maybe
because!) Michael Raies was
dressed like an Egyptian for a college talent
show, Kelly Carson agreed to go out with
him. Michael (aka “Jules”) was a freshman
and Kelly was a sophomore at the Ohio State
University College of Optometry when he
took the stage at a talent show to channel
Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live skit —
and the rest is not-so-ancient history.

LOVE TIPS

DO complement
each other in your
work duties.

DON’T let
things get
stale. Have
an exciting hobby
to keep things
fresh.

College was where Michael’s band,
Bad Habits, the EyeDocs of Rock, came
together in 1987. “Kelly supports my
music habit,” Michael says. In fact,
she’s even joined the band onstage at its
eyecare conference gigs. But, he adds,
“I don’t think any of my patients know
we’re these closet rockers!”


Kelly and Michael married in 1990
and worked together for a year in Pittsburgh, PA,
before joining her dad in his Portsmouth, OH,
practice, which they bought in 1996. (Dr. Raymond
Carson still sees patients.) Kelly and Michael share
office space as well as their life outside the practice.
“A lot of people think it would be hard but it works
for us,” Kelly says. “It’s great and we enjoy it. I share
my time between administrative work and seeing
patients. Mike shares all the responsibilities with me.”


“We both complement each other well,” Michael
adds. “I can see how some people might butt heads
especially if they are both trying to run a practice
and not willing to compromise. But you have to
be open-minded and careful not to let business
disagreements have an effect on your personal
relationship.”


Over the years, Michael has worked
more hours at the practice than Kelly,
especially when they were raising
their three daughters (now ages 20,
18 and 16). The family travels together
when the band performs at shows.
“Our whole family loves music,” Kelly
says, “but we keep it separate from
the office.”


 



Dr. Cory
Partlow and
Dr. Jennifer
Partlow,
here with
their son
Harrison,
are balancing
life as
optometrists
and
parents.

DR. CORY PARTLOW AND
DR. JENNIFER PARTLOW
BLACK MOUNTAIN FAMILY EYECARE,
BLACK MOUNTAIN, NC

LOVE TIPS

DO divide up office
responsibilities
between each spouse
so there are fewer
points of contention.

DON’T avoid taking
time off at
the same time to
go on vacation.


ory and Jennifer Partlow
met as optometry students,
though not at the same school.
In 2008, Jen was doing her ocular disease
residency at the VA Medical Center in
Huntington, WV, and Cory was an intern
at the same time. They continued to date
while he went through rotations at other
locations. After he graduated and she finished
her residency, they moved to the
same town in Virginia and worked at separate
optometry offices. They got married
in 2012.

Together they opened Black Mountain Family
Eyecare in Black Mountain, NC — near where Jen
grew up — in July 2013. “As far as opening a new
optometry office with your spouse, one of the biggest
positives is the support you get when things aren’t
going smoothly,” Cory says. “It is also great to be
able to talk about issues of the office with someone
who actually understands those issues.”


On the flip side, it’s sometimes hard to separate
your working life from your private life, and that
goes double when it comes to getting away from
the office for more than a few days to spend time
together. “It can be difficult to take time off at the
same time due to coverage issues,” Jennifer says. “But
it is extremely important to plan for it and to do it.”


BRYAN AND AMIE
FINLEY
ISLAND OPTICIANS,
PALM BEACH, FL


t’s a family affair at Island
Opticians, where Bryan and
Amie Finley will mark their
second year in business on
April 2 — which is also their
wedding anniversary. How romantic is that?
“We met when Amie applied for a job at an
independent optical shop I worked at,” says
Bryan, who’s been in the vision care business
since 1999. “She didn’t have any optical experience,
but I could tell she was smart and was
comfortable in a sales role, so I told the boss
he’d be stupid not to hire her. Three years later,
after each going our separate ways, we reconnected
at another practice, and the next year
we were married.”

LOVE TIPS

DO understand
and play off of
each other’s strengths
and weaknesses.

DON’T let it get
competitive.
Always praise the
other’s efforts and
input.

The Finleys bought a long-standing shop
in Palm Beach and have made it their own
over the past two years. “We find it hard to
not talk optical when away from work,” Bryan
says. “Between work, kids and grandbabies,
we always have something to talk about,
but I’d be lying if I said we leave work at the
office. On the good side, we do at least always
understand and can empathize with each
other when it comes to work topics.”


Both Bryan and Amie are licensed opticians,
though Bryan is at the shop more since Amie
has another job. “We try to both be involved in
frame buying and other large decisions,” Bryan
says. “I do all of the social media stuff and print
advertising, but when it comes to face-to-face
marketing, she does most of that. Let’s face it,
she’s easier on the eyes.”



Accepting
an award
as Florida’s
OD of the
Decade last
year is Dr.
Ken Lawson
with his wife
Dr. Jamie
Lawson.

DR. KEN
LAWSON AND
DR. JAMIE
LAWSON
BAYSHORE EYE CARE,
BRADENTON, FL


en got his future fatherin-
law’s seal of approval
before he ever met his wife.
Ken Lawson and Jamie
Wedel attended the same
large high school in Bradenton, FL, and
knew lots of the same people, but somehow,
their paths had never crossed.

LOVE TIPS

DO use each
other for free
consultations on a
confusing case.

DON’T be upset with your spouse for not
always having the same opinion, especially
on major work decisions.

Taking a year off after college to decide between
medical school and optometry school, Ken was
working as a part-time high school science teacher.
That’s when he met Jamie’s father, Jim Wedel, who
also taught science. Ken decided to attend the University
of Houston College of Optometry in the fall
of 1989. Jamie had begun studies at UHCO at the
same time — and her dad made sure she met Ken
when she came home for winter break. The couple
hit it off, dated the rest of their time in optometry
school, became engaged just before graduation and
got married in 1994 after Ken finished his residency.

Like most young couples, the Lawsons had
multiple goals. Owning a private practice was one,
but paying student loans and buying a house were
on the list, too. So they both worked in commercial
optometry for a couple of years before taking the
plunge on their own business, Bayshore Eye Care.

“We finally purchased a free-standing office on
a busy corner at the end of 1995 and really got going
building the practice in 1996,” Ken says. He was
working at two places while trying to remodel the
new office and finish up their new home. Meanwhile,
Jamie was eight months pregnant with their first
child and working full time. “Whew! It makes me
tired just remembering that time in our lives,” she
recalls. They even opened a second location with
another OD, Dr. Glenn Altman, Ken’s college roommate.
“It did well, but we had little kids and wanted
more time with them,” Ken says. (Altman is still at
that practice, University Eye Care.)

One office suits Ken and Jamie well and they work
on opposite schedules. The couple’s daughter is now
19 and they have a 14-year-old son, too. The hardest
part of working together is trying to take time off.
“We want to take vacations together, but then no one
is at the office generating any income,” says Jamie.
But the best part of working together as a married
couple, she adds, is “100 percent trust in financial
and ethical decisions and complete empathy with
the other after a particularly draining day.”

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Best of Eyecare

25 ECPs Share Their Elevator Pitches

25 ECPs put who they are and what they do for a living in a sentence or two… or three.

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OK… You’ve slipped into the elevator just as the doors are closing. The woman on your left is wearing poorly fitting frames that are totally wrong for her. The gentleman to your right is squinting as he tries to find the button for his floor. You sense a golden opportunity, but the floors are already ticking by. You’ve got until those doors open again to tell these potential clients what you do and how you can help them. It’s time to dust off your “elevator pitch.” Our Brain Squad members are rarely at a loss for a few well-chosen words, so we asked them their best pitches. Here’s what they had to say to those future customers and patients on the subject of… you.

Hi, My name is Diana Canto Sims. I am an eyeball doctor turned eyewear designer for the diverse and the bold. What do you do? — Diana Sims, Buena Vista Optical, Chicago, IL

We help you create a look that is as unique as you are. — Doreen Erbe, Snyder Eye Group, Ship Bottom, NJ

I create complete custom eyewear by hand in Glenview. This includes the frames as well as the lenses. — Kevin Count, Prentice Lab, Glenview, IL

I am the owner and doctor at an eyecare office focused on pampering our patients.  — Nytarsha Thomas, OD, Visionelle Eyecare, Zionsville, IN

I can easily knock 10 years off your look and I promise people will notice! — Jennifer Leuzzi, Mill Creek Optical, Dansville, NY

We sell unique eyewear from all over the world.” (Then give a few specific examples of exotic materials. However, never oversell or seem pushy. Just plant the seed!!!)”  — Scott Keating, OD, Vision Trends, Dover, OH

You know the eyes are the windows to the soul right? Sometimes the windows cannot see; I help with that. I am an optometrist.” — Selina McGee, OD, Precision Vision, Edmond, OK

I refine one of your five senses. I give you vision and insight into your health, with a twist of style, all while having a good time in the process. — Cynthia Sayers, OD, EyeShop Optical Center, Lewis Center, OH

I explain that I run a practice for an eye doctor and that our goal is to make sure each patient sees well and is educated on the products and materials we wear ourselves. — Amy Pelak, Proview Eyecare Optometry, Corona, CA

I help people love their new eyewear, and owning 31 pairs of glasses and sunwear, I know I can find the right pair for you. — Kathy Maren Comb EyeCare & Eyewear, Western Springs, IL

I talk about the unique things our practice offers like sensory and vision therapy. We carry a variety of frames for the whole family. From durable kids, to the fun and funky for mom and dad. We’re not your average eye doctor.” Heather Nagucki, Brodie Optometry, Perrysburg, OH

I compliment someone on their glasses. I may ask them where they got them and always say something nice about their doctor or optician. I know everyone in town after 50 years in Sacramento. If the patient discusses a bad experience then I drop a business card.”  — Texas L. Smith, OD, Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA

I help people see and look better.  — Jason Stamper Eye Care Pavilion, Davenport, IA

I tell them I try not to look like an optometrist! — Dave Schultz, OD, Urban Optics, San Luis Obispo, CA

When I meet people I always try to tell them I’m like a pharmacist for your eyeglasses. — Bob Schmittou, New Eyes Optical, Wyandotte, MI

I’m an optician. Once the eye doctor is done with you I will help you with any optical needs whether glasses or contacts. Basically, I make you look good! — Scott Felten, Fox Valley Family Eye Care, Little Chute, WI

We get to help people see to their fullest potential. It’s the best job in the world! — Caitlin Bruno, Binyon Vision Center, Bellingham, WA

I’m like a pharmacist. I fill the prescription written by the doctor. But in Michigan, your optician doesn’t have to have a license the way your pharmacist does. That’s why there are so many people walking around in ugly glasses that can’t see.  — Dave Goodrich, Goodrich Optical, Lansing, MI

I bend light for a living. — Jon LaShorne, Kirkpatrick Eye Care, Madison, IN

I frame the windows to your soul with beauty. — Frances Ann Layton, Eye Associates of South Georgia, Valdosta, GA

I have no elevator pitch. I just let people know why I love doing what I do.” — Pablo E. Mercado, Mount Vernon Eyecare, Dunwoody, GA

Nice glasses! I bet they cost you a fortune. I’m an optician. Here’s my card. Next time you’re in the market for a new pair, give me a call and I’ll save you money.” — Mitchell Kaufman, Marine Park Family Vision, Brooklyn, NY

Everyone knows what a pharmacist does … so I equate my career as a licensed optician to that. I take a prescription from a doctor and I interpret that prescription. I advise and educate the patient on how to use the prescription written. I generate a product from that prescription and then dispense that prescription as a piece of medical equipment.”  — William Chancellor, Eye Can See Eyewear, McDonough, GA

We help people see the important things in life.” — John Marvin, Texas State Optical Inc., Houston, TX

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Cover Stories

18 Ways to Make Your Team the Happiest on the Planet

Sell more, produce more, be more creative, satisfy more customers… through happiness.

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Traditional management theory has a lot to answer for. Don’t tolerate failure, keep workers emotionally at arm’s distance, discourage individualism, focus on remedying weakness as opposed to playing up strengths, frown at play, motivate workers by throwing money at them, or failing that, wielding a big stick … The list of prohibitions and negativity goes on.


It is perhaps surprising, then, that the realization happy workers also tend to be more productive workers was one of management theory’s earlier discoveries. As part of the famous Harvard study of the Hawthorne Works factory in Chicago in the mid-1920s, researchers observed that employee performance could be greatly boosted by influencing not only the physical environment but the social context within which they toiled. A worker was more than an input. He or she also had feelings. And when employees were in a positive state of mind, they did more, better work.

That finding set off decades of experiments in which bosses sought to boost productivity by trying to make workers more joyful. Yet the results were ambiguous. This was partly because they were measuring the wrong indicator of happiness — job satisfaction (something that can be guaranteed by a paycheck, but which doesn’t translate into improved performance over time) — and partly because happiness itself is such an elusive, mercurial target.

More recently, however, a consensus has started to form on what constitutes the kind of positive mindset that drives performance —and it’s not simply sensory pleasure that comes from a bowl of free M&Ms in the kitchen. It’s about inner well-being.

“Happiness isn’t just about feeling good every moment of the day, and it’s not just about pleasure,” says Dr. Annie McKee, director of the PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program and a co-author of Primal Leadership. “Happiness at work is a deep and abiding pleasure that is fueled by a sense of meaningful purpose, hope and friendships.”

McKee’s list reflects much of the PERMA acronym developed by Martin Seligman, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the foremost experts on the study of happiness.
The acronym, which he sets out in his bestseller Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding Of Happiness And Well-Being, stands for just about everything you need to know about fostering happiness:

  • Positive emotion (optimism)5 Engagement (feeling in the flow at work, when workers are using their strengths)
  • Good Relationships (the importance of friends and feeling a part of the tribe)
  • Meaning (feeling that the work being done matters, including to the bottom line)
  • Accomplishment (the sense of making progress)

Seligman’s research suggests workers are happiest when they’re lost in a meaningful project, working toward a higher goal, or being helpful. Those factors also happen to be aligned with a productive workplace.
Happiness, then, should be light but not trivial. Get such a workplace ethos right, and the benefits are significant.

In a meta-analysis of 225 academic studies, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King, Ed Diener and the Gallup Organization found that happy employees have, on average, 31 percent higher productivity; their sales are 37 percent higher; their creativity is three times higher. Other research has shown happy workers take one-tenth the sick leave, are more loyal, more likely to satisfy customers (who is not drawn to a happy worker?), and more likely to engage in safe workplace conduct. They deal with stress better, manage complexity better, are more engaged, motivated, resilient, energetic, and make smarter decisions.

“Every business outcome shows improvement when the brain is positive. I call this the ‘happiness advantage,’” says Shawn Achor, a Harvard researcher, in his book of the same name (The Happiness Advantage).

“It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive,” Achor says.

The reason is because unlike fear or anger or anxiety, which cause our nervous systems to close down and inhibit rational functioning, positive emotions that go along with being happy, like enthusiasm and excitement, joy, and pleasure, actually help us to think better. “Our minds open up; we can take in more information; we can process it more quickly. Ultimately, we can make better decisions. Those conditions allow us to be more successful at work,” says McKee.

With such a strong case for happiness, it is perhaps surprising that most workplaces are anything but joyful. According to surveys done by the Gallup Organization, upwards of two-thirds of employees are either neutral, which means they don’t care about their work, or are actively disengaged, which suggests they are hurting the interests of their employer.

In many instances, the lack of cheer in the office, on the factory floor or in the shop is because of an entrenched suspicion of levity, that it somehow signals a lack of professionalism. Or in the case of high-end retailers, a lack of sophistication (rich people don’t need to please anyone, so why smile?).

Even in cases where companies try hard to boost happiness levels by investing in happiness coaches, team-building exercises, gameplays, funsultants, or Chief Happiness Officers, the record is not great.
As such programs have found, the frustrating thing about positive emotions — happiness, but also awe, wonder and love as well — is that they can’t be forced. It doesn’t work when you tell yourself to be happy — and when the pressure comes from others, especially when it is top down, as in a business setting, it’s worse. There’s something in the makeup of happiness that requires it arise freely; indeed, focusing on happiness can actually make people feel less happy.

There is also a problem with workers themselves, actually with all humans; it’s as if we are wired to resist lasting happiness.

Pay someone more money or celebrate the completion of a big project and after a fairly brief period, their level of happiness returns to its less-than-satisfactory base. Psychologists refer to this as the hedonic treadmill — no matter the effort applied, we end up in the same place.

Evolutionary scientists theorize this tendency serves as protection against complacency in a world of risk, but for a manager in 2018, it’s just really annoying. (Interestingly, research shows that the one time money does make people happy on a lasting basis is when it improves their social rank (i.e., makes them richer than their friends and work colleagues). But that’s not a sustainable remuneration strategy.

So what to do? How to build an army of happy worker bees?

The first step is to hire for attitude. The idea that a happy demeanor is to a large extent genetically determined is one of psychology’s most firmly held beliefs. Harvard social psychologist Dan Gilbert estimates genetics account for about 50 percent of your workers’ disposition.

That leaves a lot that you can work with.
“The goals you set, the culture you foster, the habits you cultivate, the way you interact with workers, how you think about stress—all these can be managed to increase your staff’s happiness and your chances of success,” says Achor.

The good news is that the No. 1 factor that will lift spirits is progress in meaningful work. Help your workers do their jobs better and they become happier, thereby laying the foundation for even better business results. It’s called the progress loop.

“Understand that people matter, feelings matter, and it’s the No. 1 job of a manager to create a climate where people feel good about what they’re doing, where they’re happy, engaged and ready to share their talents,” says McKee.

Too fuzzy and warm for you?

Consider that even workers participating in the most serious work — from finance to nuclear submarine crews to firefighters — perform better when they are in a good mood.

Developing new habits, nurturing your employees, and thinking positively about stress are good ways to start (and next up we’ll provide more ways you can support a culture of happiness among your team).

But perhaps the best part about building a happiness culture is that managers needn’t fret about trying to read the psyches of their workers, or manipulate complicated incentive schemes.

Ultimately, happiness can be cultivated by setting a clear direction, giving people what they need to do the job, nourishing a spirit of positivity … and getting out of their way.

 

27 Ways to Make Your Business Happier

Research suggests we have a happiness set point we soon revert to after most events, happy or sad. So, aside from plying your staff with wine, is there anything that can be done to make them more content? It turns out quite a lot. We get you started with several here, but be sure to check out our online extras at invisionmag.com/extras.

1. Set a positive morning routine

Employees’ moods when they clock in tend to affect how they feel for the rest of the day as well as their perceptions of customers and how they interact with them. “We saw that employees could get into these negative spirals where they started the day in a bad mood and just got worse over the course of the day,” says Ohio State University’s Steffanie Wilk. “That’s why it is so important for companies to find ways to help their workers start off the day on the right foot.” Get them anticipating something positive is one good way. Casa De Oro Eyecare in Spring Valley, CA, does this by getting to the office early every day, turning up the music loud and rocking out until it’s time to open the door. Dr. Selina McGee at Precision Vision in Edmond, OK, opts for something more digital. “We do fun quotes, pictures, etc., in a group text to start the day. Adding fun to our workday consists of what is authentic to us, we laugh, don’t take ourselves too seriously, we pop a champagne cork to celebrate when cool things happen.”

2. Deliver progress

In their book The Progress Principle, Harvard researchers Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer make a strong case that of all the things that can boost motivation during a workday, the single most important is making progress on meaningful work. And the wins don’t have to be big. “Many of the progress events our research participants reported represented only minor steps forward. Yet they often evoked outsize positive reactions,” they write. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Amabile and Kramer say the best managers know how to activate two forces that enable progress: 1) catalysts: events that directly drive work, such as clear goals and autonomy, providing sufficient resources and time, helping with the work, using problems and successes as learning points, and allowing a free exchange of ideas — and 2) nourishers: interpersonal events that uplift workers, including encouragement and demonstrations of respect and collegiality and opportunities for affiliation.

3. Write a two-minute email

Achor recommends insisting employees take two minutes every morning to send a friend, family member or co-worker an email to say thanks for something. “We’ve done this at Facebook, at U.S. Foods, at Microsoft… What we find is this dramatically increases their social connection, which is the greatest predictor of happiness we have in organizations.” Texts work fine, too.

4. Count your blessings

The old saying is true: “What you have makes you happy. What you want makes you unhappy.” Yes, it can sound corny, but it’s hard to emphasize how powerful gratitude is. “Showing gratitude for the good things in life is the most powerful happiness boosting activity there is,” says Barker. And according to Seligman, the best way to build it is the “Three Blessings” exercise. Urge your workers to set aside 10 minutes before they go to sleep to write down three things that went well in the day, and — this is important — why they went well. “Your brain will be forced to scan the last 24 hours for potential positives,” says Achor. “This trains the brain to be more skilled at noticing and focusing on possibilities for … growth, and seizing opportunities to act on them.” Vision Solutions in Lamar, MO, does something similar with its end of day meetings. “We incorporate any funny or odd things from the day into our end of the day huddle, recognize staff who went above and beyond, and recognize any team members for outstanding work,” says Bryan Hartgrave.

5. Exercise

What makes people happiest? Sex, socializing and exercise, says Eric Barker, author of the Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog. As a business owner, it’s the last of these you can promote. A Finnish study of 3,403 people in 1999 showed that those who exercise at least two to three times a week experience significantly less depression, anger, stress, and “cynical distrust” than those who exercise less or not at all. Being in good shape also increases learning ability. Enter your store in a fun run, give staff 10 minutes at lunch to fit in a CrossFit class, or play in a social softball league.

6. Do fun things often

Here’s an interesting fact about happiness: frequency beats intensity. Lots of little good things make people happier than a handful of big things because they give people frequent, regular boosts. Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker says the findings lead to a really simple conclusion: The things that make you happy? Do them more often. “Focus on increasing the amount of good stuff in your life vs. reducing the amount of bad stuff,” she says.

7. Hire for a positive attitude

The “war for talent” is a myth, says marketing guru Seth Godin. It’s actually a war for attitude. “There are a few jobs where straight up skills are all we ask for. But in fact, even there, what actually separates winners from losers isn’t talent, it’s attitude,” he writes on his widely followed blog. And Achor’s research backs this up. “Seventy-five percent of long-term job success is predicted not by intelligence and technical skills, which is normally how we hire,” Achor says. Instead, it’s predicted by three categories: optimism, social connections, and the way people handle stress. In The Happiness Advantage, he recounts an experiment he ran with MET Life to hire people based on optimism. The optimistic group outsold their more pessimistic counterparts by 19 percent in year one and 57 percent in year two. They were also much less likely to quit.

8. Focus on strengths

Workers gain a boost in positive emotions the more they use their signature strengths — those qualities they are uniquely best at. “The more hours per day adults believe they use their strengths, the more likely they are to report having ample energy, feeling well-rested, being happy, smiling or laughing a lot, learning something interesting, and being treated with respect,” write the Gallup Organization’s Brandon Rigoni and Jim Asplund in a blog. As their manager, you’re probably aware who does what well. But UPenn happiness expert Martin Seligman says you should ask them anyway. “Identify their signature strengths and then make room to allow them to use their strengths more often,” he writes in Authentic Happiness. For workers, there is intrinsic satisfaction. For employers, a much higher state of performance.

9. Savor the Good Stuff

Old clichés like “stopping to smell the roses” and “it’s the little things in life” are actually profound and effective. Happiness researchers call such strategies “savoring” and have even put a hard figure on it — people who regularly take notice of things that are positive were 12 percent more likely to say they were satisfied with their lives. The point, says behavioral scientist Winifred Gallagher in her book RAPT, is that “you see what you look for. And you can train yourself to attend to the joy out there waiting to be had, instead of passively waiting for it to come to you.”

10. Hold happy meetings

Most managers are wary of allowing too much good cheer in meetings, apparently out of fear it will derail the agenda or distract the participants. But according to a study by psychologists from VU University Amsterdam and the University of Nebraska, humor can greatly boost the effectiveness of meetings, leading to long-term productivity gains. “Humor patterns triggered problem-solving behaviors (e.g., what do you think about this approach?), procedural suggestions (e.g., let’s talk about our next step), and goal orientation (e.g., we should target this issue),” reports Scientific American. “Humor patterns also promoted supportive behaviors like praise and encouragement, and led to new ideas and solutions.” Such humor works best when it is positive, as opposed to sarcastic, when it supports group rapport (joke, laughter, another joke) and when the workers have a certain level of job security. Jessica Brundidge at Clarity Vision in Clayton, NC, adds levity to their weekly meetings with “shout outs” and memes. “We do a weekly “shout out” that is a positive reinforcement to our staff. We go over any new items that may need to be discussed or reviewed and if a patient or another co-worker has complimented an employee we like to “shout it out,’” she says. “We also make some personal things in there such as a birthday or work anniversary etc. and then we always end the shout out with a funny meme of some sort.”

11. Encourage ‘me’ time

Allow workers to really clock off. Their weekends and evenings should enable them to recharge. And besides, people focused on nothing but work tend to be boring and lack common ground with customers.

12. Set them free

Why do business owners outrank just about every other occupation in overall well-being despite working longer hours and earning slightly less, on average, than many professionals? A lot of it has to do with autonomy. People are happier when they aren’t being told what to do. “Once employees have been trained, allow them, whenever possible, to manage people and execute projects in their own way,” says Paul Zak, a neuroeconomist at San Diego State University. In an article in the Harvard Business Review, he cites a 2014 Citigroup and LinkedIn survey that found nearly half of employees would give up a 20 percent raise for greater control over how they work. “Autonomy also promotes innovation, because different people try different approaches. Often, younger or less experienced employees — those you trust the least — will be your chief innovators, because they’re less constrained by what ‘usually’ works,” Zak says.

13. Create a fun environment

The traditional business environment isn’t often conducive to good cheer. Don Gibson, dean of management at Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business, found that working professionals from multiple organizations felt more comfortable expressing anger than joy on the job (they reported expressing anger three times as often). Office décor and furnishings, too, may suggest what’s expected emotionally. Signs with lists of rules and consequences for breaking them reflect a culture of fear. Photos of employees laughing at social events or action figures perched on cubicle walls, Kleenexes stapled to potentially stressful memos, or chocolate kisses taped to boring ones signal a culture of joy.

14. Be a model

A long line of research on emotional contagion shows that people in groups “catch” feelings from others through behavioral mimicry and subsequent changes in brain function. “If you regularly walk into a room smiling with high energy, you’re much more likely to create a culture of joy than if you wear a neutral expression. Your employees will smile back and start to mean it. So consciously model the emotions you want to cultivate in your company,” says the HBR’s guide to Everyday Emotional Intelligence.

15. Celebrate with rituals

Sharing and celebrating successes is a time-honored way to drive performance, define best practice, boost team solidarity — and elevate pleasant emotions. Recognition has the largest effect on emotion when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public, says Zak. Be sure to celebrate small wins with almost the same fervor as the big accomplishments. Visionelle Eyecare in Zionsville, IN, does that with little competitions. “My squad loves competition so I will have a small competition once a month to see who can get the most reviews, or sell a second pair and they win a small prize like a gift card or movie tickets. We also have a daily and monthly goal,” says owner Nytarsha Thomas, OD. “We have a tradition of doing a happy dance at the end of the day when we make our daily goal and if we make our monthly goal, we’ll treat them to something more sought after like a massage or nice dinner.”

16. Ask for help

Realize that you can’t and shouldn’t be Superman. In fact, a boss willing to show vulnerability makes for a happier workplace. “My research team has found that this stimulates oxytocin production in others, increasing their trust and cooperation. Asking for help is a sign of a secure leader—one who engages everyone to reach goals,” says Zak.

17. Find meaning

Experiments show that having a sense of higher purpose — a sense that your work has meaning and is helping someone — stimulates production of oxytocin, the “hug hormone.” Meaning can be as simple as making a useful and high-quality product for a customer or providing a genuine service for the local community. It can be supporting a colleague or boosting an organization’s profits by reducing inefficiencies in a production process. It’s not hard for managers to infuse meaning into the work of their employees’ lives, but it’s also incredibly easy for them to undermine it. For example, Duke psychology professor Dan Ariely and colleagues conducted a study in which participants were paid to build Lego models, some of which were dismantled in front of them upon completion. People whose creations were preserved made, on average, 50 percent more Lego models than those whose models were destroyed, despite identical monetary incentives. Trust and purpose are as fragile as they are important.

18. Manage in micromoments

A mission statement is one thing; day-to-day work life is another. “It’s not enough to codify emotional culture; it must also be managed and enacted in the ‘micromoments’ of daily organizational life,” writes Andy Westmoreland on the productivity blog Elevator Up. “Small gestures rather than bold declarations of feeling; little acts of kindness and support adding up to an emotional culture characterized by caring and compassion,” he says.

19. Hug more

In the post-Harvey Weinstein era, this may be dangerous advice, but try to touch your workers more (handshakes and back pats work just fine). Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks “increases happiness big time,” says Barker. “Touching is incredibly powerful. We just don’t give it enough credit. It makes you more persuasive, increases team performance, improves your flirting … heck, it even boosts math skills,” he writes on his blog. Don’t want to risk it? Offer a massage as a spiff for good work. According to a review of studies by the University of Miami School of Medicine, massage appears to increase your brain and body’s levels of serotonin.

20. Get a light box

If you live in the north of the continent, get a light box. According to research from UBC Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, light therapy — it provides the kind of bright rays that elevate levels of happiness-boosting serotonin in your brain — is effective at combating seasonal affective disorder. If you live in other parts of the country, be sure your employees get outside regularly. A study from McGill University in Montreal has shown that by spending at least 30 minutes a day outdoors should be enough to offset your seasonal drops in serotonin.

21. Stress people the right way

People are happier when they are active. Don’t be afraid to push your people hard. “Frankly, a little bit of stress is a good thing. It pushes us to be innovative and to do things differently and to push harder,” says Annie McKee, director of the PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program and a co-author of PRIMAL LEADERSHIP. One of the most famous longevity studies conducted, the ongoing Terman Study, found those who work hard are healthier and happier.

22. Tough guys finish last

Gen. George S. Patton more your idea of an effective leader? Consider this: researchers found annual prizes for efficiency and preparedness in the US Navy are far more frequently awarded to units whose commanding officers are openly encouraging. On the other hand, the squadrons receiving the lowest marks in performance are generally led by commanders with a negative, controlling, and aloof demeanor. Psychologist Barbara Frederickson says her research into fostering a state of flow in workers has shown a critical three-to-one ratio is required; we need to have three positive interactions for every negative one in order to thrive.

23. Foster friendships

The brain networks that light up in response to social contact are evolutionarily old, implying that such behavior is deeply embedded in our nature. Yet at work, we often get the message that we should focus on completing tasks, not on making friends, even though science has shown repeatedly that when employees intentionally build social ties, their performance improves. People who care for one another give generously of time, talent, and resources. Gallup found that close work relationships boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent and that people with a best friend at work are seven times as likely as others to engage fully in their work. You can help people build social connections by sponsoring lunches, after-work parties, and team-building activities. It may sound like forced fun, but when people care about one another, they perform better because they don’t want to let their teammates down. “We love to blow off steam late in the day, that’s why our fridge is always well stocked,” says Jim Williams, owner of Eye to Eye in Mexico, MO. “On a recent Tuesday, we hung a sign in the window, and announced on Facebook that we had an ‘offsite staff meeting.’ We rented a big pontoon boat and spent the day on the lake with food drinks and fun. A day well spent!!”

24. Encourage staff to leave

Allow workers to really clock off. Their weekends and evenings should enable them to recharge. And besides, people focused on nothing but work tend to be boring and share no common ground with customers.

25. Remove hassles

While it’s true happiness comes from the small pleasures in life, it’s also the little hassles that are most apt to get people down. The same is true in the workplace where little hassles are a reliable predictor of job satisfaction. Make it a habit to ask your staff for tweaks than can be made to the way things are done around the store.

26. Set goals

Have staff set written goals. Writing about goals makes people happier and more likely to follow through with them.

27. Institutionalize fun

According to a case study of Vail Resorts in HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW, the culture of joy has been incorporated into the annual review, which indicates how well each employee integrates fun into the work environment and rates everyone on supporting behaviors, such as being inclusive, welcoming, approachable and positive. Management tactics, special outings, celebrations and rewards all support the emotional culture. Rather than asking people to follow standardized customer service scripts, they tell everyone to “go out there and have fun.” Resort managers consistently model joy and prescribe it for their teams. At an annual ceremony, a Have Fun award goes to whoever led that year’s best initiative promoting fun at work.

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An Eyecare Pro’s Visual Guide to Making Better Choices in 5 Critical Categories

Making decisions is hard, we’ve made it easy.

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RUNNING OR MANAGING a business means you are constantly making decisions. Some are easy, many are hard, and others are just plain messy. We thought we’d help you take a little bit of the work and stress out of it by creating some very scientific* decision trees for a few of the most common questions you may face running an optical business. By INVISION Staff

* By “scientific” we mean not scientific at all.

 

 

 

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