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DOWN THE YEARS, tattoos have served to ward off evil, keep the gods happy, advertise tribal membership, generally show off — and occasionally as a form of punishment. Throw in the biker’s declaration of love for his mother, and that list basically holds true today.

Similarly, the options for bodily adornment haven’t changed that much either: what we wear, the cut of our hair, jewelry, and — boldest of all — marking our skin. But that’s something the best eyecare providers understand intuitively; tapping that ancient human need to express oneself is a great way to ease customers into the eyewear they need. 

In that spirit, we asked a few readers to share the stories of their tattoos: why they got them and — more importantly from our perspective — what their customers think of them.

Erik Lawrence

What is the story behind your optical tattoo?

This office is my life, it’s more than just my work, more than my second home … this place is everything to me. This place is my passion in every way possible. I’ve slept here, my kids have slept here, it will forever be a part of me in more than one way. The least I could do was get it tattooed on me.

How many tattoos do you have?

7 or 8. One of them wraps around my arm and connects to another, so I’m not sure if that’s 1, 2 or 3! 

How long have you been in the optical industry?

18 years.

Do you have an optical related tattoo?

Yes, I have the logo for Roadrunner Eyecare on my inner wrist, so does my wife.  

What is your favorite tattoo?

My favorites are the ones on my inner forearms, one for each of my kids. A monkey prince holding a football for my son, and a bear princess wearing a tutu for my daughter. They are my world, and they love those two tattoos. They show them off to their friends and ask, “Does your dad have you tattooed on him?” Next, would be my wedding ring tattoo — three lines showing my past, present and future with my beautiful wife. Luckily, she has that one as well.

Do you have any fun customer/patient stories regarding your tattoos?

I was worried about my visible tattoos offending customers, but in reality, they love them. It helps that my visible ones are for my kids, and the office, so it takes the edge off. More conversations have started because of my tattoos than I would have thought. I haven’t had a single negative situation come up from them. We’ve had a few patients take their shirts off to show off theirs as well; they can create some interesting situations. I wouldn’t hesitate to get full sleeves, and have them visible here at work.  Why not show people who I am instead of hiding that from them? What else could I be hiding?

Future plans?

I have plans for many more, including some more optical related ones. I just need to find the right inspiration. I know I will.


Nancy Revis

What is the story behind your optical tattoo?

I have always loved peacock feathers. My husband and I eloped eight years ago and I wore a peacock feather in my hair. That actual feather is in a vase in my shop. I have random peacock feather bouquets around the shop. Since I always usually wear cat eye shaped glasses, I thought it would be cool to shape two peacock feathers into the shape of a vintage cat eye. My tattoo artist and I worked together on the design and it turned out perfect. When he was finished with my tattoo, I stood up, looked at it and cried. It signifies so much for me. My life — work and love. 

How many tattoos do you have?

I have only one but it is kind of large.

How long have you been in the optical industry?

25 years or so … 

Do you have an optical related tattoo?


Future ink plans?

Yes … the other arm at some point. Currently working on the artwork for that.  It’s in my head for now. I understand the desire for more though. I loved the experience. The creation. The culture.

Do you have any fun customer/patient stories regarding your tattoos? 

Not yet. It’s still pretty new and mostly under a sleeve. My tattoo seems to pop one eye out for a look here and there. 



Heather Harrington

What is the story behind your tattoo?

Yin and Yang, the sign means so much. It describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, which allows you to see a great perspective on almost everything. The “S” design shows how they curve together in relation to good and bad rising together to be one. The ideal is the beautiful balance. They are not completely black or white, just as things in life are not completely black or white, and they cannot exist without each other. My tattoo means everything to me.

How many tattoos do you have?


How long have you been in the optical industry?

Three years.

Do you have an optical related tattoo?

Not yet! But definitely will!

Future ink plans?

An optical-related vintage looking frame for sure!

Do you have any fun customer/patient stories regarding your tattoos?

No, but I get compliments all the time! I love it. I love that people accept me for who I am and that my bosses allow me to do so.


Lorelei Morris

What are the stories behind your tattoos?

My first tattoo was at the age of 18. My earlier ones don’t really hold much meaning. As I’ve aged, each one has a story. My left arm is a dedication​ to my favorite books and authors, eventually it will be completely sleeved. 

How many tattoos do you have?


How long have you been in the optical industry?

9 years.

What is your favorite tattoo?

My favorite tattoo is on my right wrist. I combined the first two letters of my children’s names to create one word — Midali (Mikal, Dasia and Lilith). My kids are my reason for everything. #singlemom

Future ink plans?

I plan on getting a Game of Thrones piece done on my back after I get my left arm finished.

Do you have any fun customer/patient stories regarding your tattoos?

Most of them stay covered, but on occasion I will hear “Oh my gosh, is that the Lorax?” He peeks out of my lab coat on my left wrist.



Joselle Stumph

How many tattoos do you have?

At this point I am not sure there is a number … A lot sounds about right.

How long have you been in the optical industry?

Over 15 years.

Do you have an optical related tattoo?

Yes, I have an old military pair of frames on my wrist. 

What is the story behind your optical tattoo?

I went to Portland a few years ago and visited my favorite rep (Shelley with Prodesign) and we went out and got glasses tattoos together!

Future ink plans?

I am now working on my left arm with birds and girly things. I recently got tiny portraits of my cats on my hands and I really love them.

Do you have any fun customer/patient stories regarding your tattoos?

I don’t have an easy name to pronounce or remember so I think it’s funny that patients will call and ask for the “Tattooed One.”

What is your favorite tattoo?

I really love all of mine. The one that I think is the most amazing, just because of all the time that went into it, is the sleeve on my right arm. It is the whole story of The Wizard of Oz. It has been my favorite movie since I was a small child. I still look at it and can’t believe what a beautiful job he did.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].




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PR In The DIY Age




Traditional PR used to be one of the few ways — other than paid advertising — for a small business to get noticed. But increasingly, public relations means finding your own voice through traditional media channels, visibility in the community, and social media.

“Today, there are so many ways that you can get noticed that do not require going through mainstream media,” says David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules Of Marketing & PR. “You can create your own original content in a blog, or images, or videos. The whole world of public relations is open to us with the tools we have available.”

The first step, according to Scott, is to ask yourself, “How do I best reach my potential customers?” Start with the idea of who you are trying to reach and then figure out how you can understand and reach them.

Scott says keeping up with media requires a lifestyle change. “It can become … transformational to your business, but you can’t do it just by dabbling,” he says. “It takes time.”

Dr. Selina McGee, OD, of Precision Vision in Edmond, OK, gets this. “I could make PR my full time job, but who’d have time to see patients? Consistency is king. I am active and visible, even went so far as to participate in a local “Dancing with the Stars” — I was one of the stars. The PR game has to have a goal, and a consistent roadmap to get there, or you can wind up in the weeds with a lot of money spent.”

It’s also easy to get so wrapped up in social media and online reviews, that you forget your basic people skills. Take on social media with enthusiasm, but don’t do it at the expense of traditional media channels or of building relationships offline.

“Local talk and referrals,” are where it’s at for Elevated Eyecare in Denver, CO, according to Heather Harrington. “Word of mouth has brought us more business and the most loyal patients we could ask for.”

In a nutshell, PR should be both your bullhorn and your buffer. As author Ed Zitron writes in This Is How You Pitch: How To Kick Ass In Your First Years of PR, you need both to get out the good news about your brand and to protect your reputation.


Get to know local media representatives, says Lydia Baehr, a PR professional in Houston. “Remember, with PR, you can’t tell the media what you’d like them to say. They draw their own conclusions. The best thing to do is get to know them. If they can count on you to have a good story idea and you are easy to work with, they will get in touch with you.”

Becoming the eyecare authority in town has worked for Chicopee Eyecare in Chicopee, MA. “My partner and I are the go-to experts on eyecare,” shares Dr. David Momnie. “I was interviewed on a local morning TV show when we had the solar eclipse two years ago and I am one of twenty health care leaders asked to write an article about the next decade for (see “Vision 2020”).”

Dr. Adam Ramsey of Socialite Vision in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, is also no stranger to the TV cameras. “I have done a few TV news station spots over the years and they’ve interviewed me in store a few times as well. Most recently, when my billboard went viral and piqued their interest.”

Especially in small markets, the TV and print media are always on the lookout for stories that are positive and community-minded and once you get to know the reporters, it makes it easier to pitch story ideas. The best way to do that is to send out at least one press release per month and always be prepared to go on camera.


The time to prepare for a bad review is before you get one, Scott says. If you are regularly active and responsive on review sites, you can build a good reputation for customer service and create a following. “If you are reviewed on a particular review site, where you have zero positive reviews and a negative review comes up, that can affect you. But if you have a lot of positive reviews and a single negative review comes up, I think that’s a good thing. It shows that the reviews are real. If they are all positive it can be looked at as fake, as being too good to be true.”

“If you’ve done a good job online and somebody says something negative about you for whatever reason, others will come to your defense and say, ‘Oh, this person isn’t really like that,’ or ‘I love their products.’ That can only happen if you are already active and present on that network.”

If bolstering your number of reviews is task number one, take a cue from Bee Cave Vision Center in Bee Cave, TX: “We do a Google review sunglasses giveaway every quarter and it’s really increased our reviews,” shares Gayle Bergthold.


Well attended, high-traffic events can be a business-building gold mine. Most places have some event that brings people and media out. To boost impact and lower costs, find businesses and vendors to partner with.

Golf draws impassioned supporters and Dr. Texas L. Smith of Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates in Citrus Heights, CA, knew that when the PGA came to town he needed to be there. “I teamed with a local Lasik surgeon at a Senior PGA event and worked with Alcon to give away contact lens solutions,” he shares. “All the people that came to our booth wore contacts and many were interested in discussing Lasik surgery and what was new in contacts. I got new CL patients and co-managed those patients that got Lasik surgery.

“The ophthalmologist paid for the booth, Alcon supplied the solution, and I gave out eye charts with our name on them. It was a three day event with thousands of people paying several hundred dollars to attend. Many of them had vision insurance to cover their eyecare. It was successful beyond my wildest imagination. Best PR event I’ve ever created,” he concludes.

INVISION’S Tips for Writing a Press Release

  1. Be yourself. Be real. Be honest.
  2. Explain who you are and what you do.
  3. Make it easy for the reporters. Include quotes and photos in case they aren’t able to do an interview.
  4. Include all the information — who, what, when, where, why — especially about events.
  5. Include a way to reach you directly.
  6. Spellcheck!
  7. If you’re not sure if it’s news, ask, so it won’t be mistaken as an advertising pitch.
  8. Follow up. If you say you can send additional information, do it, and do it quickly.
  9. PR is not as scary as it seems.
And make the most of advertising partnerships, too, to connect to editors. If you advertise regularly in any local papers, magazines or radio shows, ask your ad rep to arrange a meeting with editors and reporters in the style, health, and business departments. Let them know you can be a resource for information about shopping trends, retail, eyecare, health, entrepreneurship or small business.


MAKE THE MOST OF 2020. 2020 is the year of vision and that right there is enough to hitch a media pitch to. No doubt that’s a reason otherwise PR-shy Modern Eyes in Austin, TX, has switched up their approach this year. “We usually do minimal PR but 2020 will be different,” offers Dr. Sonja Franklin. “We are participating in the Google Wellness Color Expo which spotlights minority-owned businesses and where we’ll get to market to Google employees.

WRITE A HELPFUL/FUNNY BLOG. “Business owners make the mistake of writing about their own products and services, but consumers are looking for information that’s going to help them or be funny or interesting,” says David Meerman Scott. Do blog, says author David Newman in DO IT MARKETING, because blogging is forever. A blog continues to sell your company and your value day after day and year after year.

USE REAL PEOPLE’S PHOTOS on your website, preferably happy clients, says David Meerman Scott, to give your site and your business authenticity.

RESPOND IN REAL TIME TO COMPLAINTS. Be prepared to respond immediately to customer complaints or feedback. “It used to be you had time to react, to respond slowly,” David Meerman Scott says. “Today, when someone says something, they expect a response RIGHT NOW, not tomorrow and not even this afternoon. If you are quick, you have an advantage.”

RESPOND TO REVIEWS. Listen and respond to everyone, says Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Local. If you see a negative post, rather than freak out or ignore it, react in the most constructive way possible. Respond publicly, indicating you are going to solve the problem privately. Remember it’s never too late to respond. If you have a lingering complaint you initially ignored, go back and answer it NOW and do your best to resolve it. Most visitors to Yelp or Google won’t even notice the gap in time between complaint and response.

GO AFTER THE KIDS. “We live in a community with four high schools, so we do our best to participate in as MANY things as possible,” says Dr. Cynthia Sayers of EyeShop Optical Center in Lewis Center, OH. “Yearbook ads, sponsorships for sports teams, little league, local parades, etc. When the parents see your brand over and over and know you support their kids it makes you someone they refer to friends.”

PARTICIPATE IN ALREADY HIGH PROFILE EVENTS. The best strategy is to become active in your community,” insists Pam Housley of Texas State Optical of Nederland in Port Arthur, TX. Participate in health fairs. Work with your local Chamber of Commerce. Run or Walk in support of fund raising efforts.” And of course, make sure the entire team is wearing matching shirts, jackets or hats (all three even) with the name of the business clear and easy to read. For the modest investment in gear the ROI in visibility is immeasurable.

FIND PARTNERS. It is never too late. That’s the lesson Jennifer Leuzzi of Mill Creek Optical, in Dansville, NY, learned with last summer’s event “Wine Glasses and Eyeglasses” after 23 years in business. “We are adjoined to a small coffee shop and she made treats and let me use her tables to set up three companies to display trunk show style. It was an overwhelming success and everyone had a blast,” she reports. “We heard about it for weeks after and had people stop by saying they heard about it and want to be invited next time. It was a great injection of excitement to our store and a nice boost of revenue.”

THINK OF SOCIAL MEDIA LIKE A COCKTAIL PARTY, says author David Meerman Scott. “Do you go into a cocktail party and ask every single person you meet for a business card before you agree to speak with them? Do you try to meet every single person, or do you have a few great conversations? Are you helpful, providing valuable information to people with no expectation of getting something in return?

PROMOTE GOOD PRESS ON YOUR WEBSITE. A website is not like a business card. Websites are organic and need to constantly be updated, Baehr says. “Share the links of the press you do get. Have a press room on your website, to which you can refer journalists or bloggers looking for images that are ready to go. Invest in great photography.”

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22 Ways to Close the Gap Between Knowing and Doing For Eyecare Business Leaders

Actually implementing change (rather than merely talking about it) is one of the more frustrating aspects of business management.




There’s a chance you’ve stood here before: on the cusp of a new year, pledging to yourself that this time, things will be different. You’ll implement those best practices you’ve read in business books or heard at trade show seminars. You’ll knock your inventory into shape, bring your marketing up to date and fire up your staff. Come the end of 2020, you’ll be sitting atop a thriving business practice that will not only ensure your future is financially secure but showcase your business acumen. Only the odds suggest it’s not going to happen. Numerous surveys done over the last three decades suggest that at best you’ve got about a 30 percent chance of succeeding in implementing such change. It’s more likely that in a year, you’ll find yourself pretty much where you are now, doing things much the same way as you always have.

The inability of most businesses to effectively implement change — even when they know what needs to be done — is one of the more curious and frustrating aspects of business management. Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, two Stanford Graduate School of Business professors, famously coined the term “the knowing-doing gap” to encapsulate the divergence between what corporate best practices and management science say managers should do, and what they actually do.

The knowing-doing gap afflicts businesses of all sizes and in all sectors. And despite increasing awareness of the issue, companies are getting no better at closing it.

Some businesses mistake talk for action; they perfect their plans and presentations, yet follow-up is feeble. Still other businesses get locked in the past, sometimes because their identities are too strong to adapt. A great many workplaces are cowed by an intolerance of mistakes that discourages feedback and paralyzes initiative. Conversely, some organizations are just too comfortable, creating a situation that no one genuinely wants to disrupt.

Many, if not most, enterprises rely on faulty yardsticks of performance, favoring financial benchmarks that are easy to track but that do not truly capture the drivers of transformation.

One thing that can torpedo even the best-laid plan is the unknowability of the future. As Mike Tyson succinctly put it, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” It’s impossible to know what lies ahead. Markets, staff, and customers don’t react the way you expect, and most change programs lack the agility to deal with the unexpected chain of events that may be set in motion.

To be sure, change is hard. It’s difficult to get other people, like your staff, to do what you want. It’s often as tough to get yourself to follow through on a commitment you’ve made on December 31. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Hollywood movies are often about change and redemption, and often the trigger is a rousing speech by a dying uncle, wounded comrade, or aging sports star. In the real world, influencing people’s behaviors requires a lot more than words. You need to make what is often perceived as undesirable desirable, you need to harness team spirit, and you need to offer rewards and make it structurally easy for the person to carry out the changes through routines and skills training. You need to hold people accountable to the new ways on a day-to-day basis, and you need to be prepared to pivot and change approaches when something is not working. Finally, you need to be ready to communicate your message over and over again.

In the pages that follow, we will provide tips and ideas to set you in motion on your year of change. There’s a good chance you will know many of them. That’s the thing about the knowing-doing gap. The secret is to invest in as many as possible, celebrate any progress that you make and keep moving forward.

22 Tips to Close the Knowing-doing Gap

1. Get Staff Buy-in

To succeed, a change strategy must, at least in part, be shaped by the people who will execute it. They are the ones doing the work, so they need to be involved from the beginning. Moreover, they are best positioned to codify experience into usable rules, which they can phrase in a language that resonates for them (creating such in-house terminology is often one of the first steps in building a successful company culture). And besides, they may actually have some good ideas to share. “Often the best strategies don’t come from the top of the organization. The frontline can be a well of ideas. New ideas pop up from the pressure of trying to solve a problem for the customer,” says Robert Simons, author of Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach For Better Execution.

2. Be a Little LESS Positive

Positive thinking has its place, especially when it comes to conceiving goals, but when it comes to achieving them, it can actually be a hindrance, says Dr. Gabriele Oettigen, a New York University psychology professor who has been studying the effects of positive thinking for over 20 years. “When people only think about a positive future, they’ve already attained this future in their minds, so they have little motivation to actually act on it,” Oettigen recently told The Atlantic. In her book, Rethinking Positive Thinking, she recommends a procedure called mental contrasting — that is, examine the barriers that stand in the way of us actually attaining that goal and map out detailed strategies to deal with them. “Visualizing the desired future and then imagining the obstacles can actually help us be more successful than positive thinking alone,” she says.

3. Be Outright Negative

Postmortems are useful, but even better is if you can take action before your dear project dies. Hence, the increasing popularity of pre-mortems. The process is simple: Unlike a typical critiquing session, in which project team members are asked what might go wrong, the pre-mortem operates on the assumption that it’s already over. Everything went as badly as you could have feared. Now: why? Asking the question this way, explains the psychologist Gary Klein, has an almost magical effect. It removes the pressure from those who are worried about seeming disloyal by voicing concerns; indeed, it turns things into a competition to find ever more convincing reasons for failure. “It’s a sneaky way to get people to do contrarian, devil’s-advocate thinking without encountering resistance,” Klein says. According to Klein, using prospective hindsight can improve people’s ability to predict the reasons for future outcomes by 30 percent.

4. Put Staff’s Skin in the Game

There’s another reason you want to involve your staff: When people feel the ideas were partly theirs, they have skin in the game and feel accountable for the plan’s success. It wasn’t just the boss’s idea. “People do not change their minds through being told, however open and inclusive the communication may be. It is an oft-forgotten feature of human nature that if you want to influence someone, a good start is to show they have influenced you. If you are open to others, others tend to be open to you. Influence comes through interaction,” write Alison Reynolds and David Lewis in What Philosophy Can Teach You About Being A Better Leader.

5. Identify Your WIGs

To win any war, you need to pick the right battles. In their book The 4 Disciplines Of Execution, Chris McChesney, Jim Huling and Sean Covey call these targets “WIGs”, short for Wildly Important Goals. A WIG can make all the difference, but will require you to commit a disproportionate amount of energy to it. “In determining your WIG, don’t ask ‘What’s most important?’ Instead, begin by asking ‘If every other area of our operation remained at its current level of performance, what is the one area where change would have the greatest impact?’” they write.
The truth is that it is hard to do more than two or three big things at a time, no matter how large your organization. “Saying no to things that you really want to do is the telltale sign of a good planning process,” the investor Fred Wilson recently told a recent INC founder conference.
The final benefit of a WIG is clarity. According to some studies, only 15 percent of employees at corporations actually know their organization’s most important goals — either because there are no goals, or they have too many goals. A WIG will ensure everyone is clear on what critical activities provide the greatest leverage to achieving that goal.

6. Play Planning Poker

One of the main drivers of resistance to a change program is when staff don’t feel they have been heard or the amount of additional work they may be asked to do is not acknowledged. A fun way to show you’re interested in your employees’ perspectives is Planning Poker. It goes like this: Each staff member gets a set of numbered cards and the manager describes the new task or role they will be asked to do under Program Revamp. The employees then choose the numbered card that represents the amount of effort that they believe will be required to achieve the outcome. As the cards are revealed — some with high values, others with lower values — it quickly becomes apparent who’s not on the same page. “Planning Poker sparks productive discussion and speeds up clarification of what’s expected,” says Dave Bailey, a business coach and tech entrepreneur.


7. Create Small Steps

Set big, ambitious goals. Just be sure to add deadlines for the small concrete steps that will get you there. In his book One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, Robert Maurer suggests taking almost absurdly tiny steps, day after day. It enables you, in Maurer’s words, to “tiptoe past fear”: our monkey-brain, it seems, is fooled when we tell it we’re embarking only on something minuscule, and it stops putting up resistance. By making your steps too small to fail, you and your staff can make those initial, small changes on which to build a new way of working and doing business.

8. Be Clear About Everyone’s Role and Place

Gary Neilson, a consultant with Booz & Co., which over the last decade has surveyed over 1,000 companies for a strategy study, says failures can almost always be fixed by ensuring that employees truly understand what they are responsible for and who makes which decisions — and then giving them the information they need to fulfill their responsibilities. With these two building blocks in place, structural and motivational elements will follow.

9. Six-Week Sprints

“Agile planning” should be viewed as a series of box sprints with the objective of moving forward, testing the waters, learning, and refining the strategy based on the results, says business coach Dave Bailey, who recommends six-week stretches. Brian Moran and Michael Lennington, authors of the 12-Week Year, recommend a longer period, as the title of their book suggests. The exact number isn’t important, just so long as the stretch is long enough to allow your team to make significant progress on a key front, yet short enough to stay focused. The problem with thinking of life in annualized 365-day units is that a year’s too big to get your head around, Moran and Lennington argue, and there’s too much unpredictability involved in planning for 10 or 11 months in the future.

10. Try a Brainwriting Session

Traditional brainstorming sessions have a rather spotty record. This is because only one person can speak at any one time and it is easy for some personalities — and their ideas — to dominate, so few good ideas are actually generated. A new study suggests something called “asynchronous brainwriting,” whereby participants rotate between eight-minute individual writing sessions and three-minute group sessions to read over each other’s ideas. The researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington found that participants using this method thought of an idea every two minutes on average, a much higher rate than more traditional brainstorming sessions.

11. Use the Right Metrics

How should you measure progress toward your goal? According to Pfeffer and Sutton, companies with huge knowing-doing gaps tend to measure things that don’t really matter, such as hours worked, rather than overall customer satisfaction. Or lag indicators rather than lead measures. It’s the data on lead measures (for example, number of phone calls or mystery shopper scores if your goal is greater customer intimacy) that enables you to close the gap between what you know your team should do and what they are actually doing.
It’s also important not to overemphasize traditional performance such as sales, which can impair execution in another subtle but important way, says Donald Sull of the MIT Sloan School of Management. “If managers believe that hitting their numbers trumps all else, they tend to make conservative performance commitments.” Trying new things inevitably entails setbacks, and honestly discussing the challenges involved increases the odds of long-term success.


12. Don’t Substitute Talk For Action

Substituting talk for action is perhaps the most common way businesses fall into the knowing-doing gap, say Pfeffer and Sutton. Many corporate teams spend so much time creating strategies and setting goals, they don’t actually implement anything. Systems can help. One system that’s currently popular online goes by the name “No Zero Days.” The idea is simply not to let a single day pass without doing something, however tiny, towards some important project.

13. Enough Talking Already… Launch!

To overcome resistance, launch new initiatives with a lot of hoopla, following through immediately to sustain momentum, and singling out those doing good work for compliments (in addition to raising morale, it sends a message that management is watching closely.)

14. Keep a Compelling Scoreboard

People play differently when keeping score. “Great teams know, at every moment, whether or not they’re winning,” say McChesney, Huling and Covey in The 4 Disciplines of Execution.

15. Praise More

Most of us have our favorite method of trying to influence people’s behavior: pass a law, threaten a consequence, offer a training program. But it’s too simplistic. It takes a combination of personal, social and structural influences to get people to change. The first thing that needs to be done is to ensure that vital behaviors are connected to intrinsic satisfaction, such as associating what we’re doing with a sense of greater purpose (“These are our customers’ most important moments”). The second is the social environment, such as making people accountable to the team, and finally come the rewards, such as bonuses. A big part in all of this is feedback. Many managers act as if praise is a finite resource. It’s not and lack of recognition is usually the No. 1 complaint among staff.

16. Use Fear Judiciously

There’s a good chance that your desire for change is linked to the disruption going on in the marketplace, and few industries are being “disrupted” as drastically as the retail industry. Andy Grove, the former Intel chairman, liked to say that fear — fear of the competitor, fear of failure — was essential to fueling a desire to win in the marketplace. But fear is often counter-productive. In business, Pfeffer and Sutton report, managers who try to lead through fear cause paralysis more often than action. And trying to motivate yourself with fear is like screaming at a child, “Do something, dammit!” You’ll either freeze up or act in an impetuous way that makes things worse.

17. Craft Simple Rules

Ultimately, it’s detailed execution at the employee level, and not strategy, that gets things done. And execution requires rules. Rules set boundaries (as in inventory buying), assign priorities, tell you when to fold (that staffer not paying her way), and “how to” do something (as in, “Every initial interaction with a customer must end in an open-ended question.”) In Simple Rules: How To Thrive In A Complex World, Donald Sull and Kathleen Eisenhardt make the case for — as the title of their book indicates — keeping it simple. There’s just too much information in the world for a rule to address every situation. And besides, while specificity may make frontline employees’ jobs easier, too much eliminates their need to think and diminishes their sense of ownership. Most customer-facing situations in business are generic anyway and have a standard solution (or an adaptation of one). They don’t require the intervention of the boss. This has another big benefit — it frees you up to focus on the decisions that are important and move the needle. As for how to devise those Simple Rules, Sull and Eisenhardt have some simple guidelines: Users suggest the rules, data trumps opinion, and give the rules a test drive.

18. Deal with Dissent

It’s possible, and even likely, that some of your frontline employees will voice objections to your strategy. They may think the leaders have chosen the wrong approach or have decided to play in the wrong space. If this happens, listen carefully and sincerely. “Every failed strategy had people on the frontline who expressed concerns,” says Simons. It’s a manager’s job to allow bad news to bubble up to the top of the organization. Simons urges though that once those concerns have been heard and dealt with, then people need to fall into line with the agreed strategy, regardless of their opinion. For those who seem determined to play the game of “Yes, but” (offer a solution, and they’ll find a reason to reject it), the right response is to refuse to play along, because their real motive is to prove the situation is irresolvable. Break the cycle by agreeing sympathetically. Or ask: “What do you plan to do about it?” says the entrepreneur Trevor Blake in his book Three Simple Steps.

19. Take Care of the High & the Low

Humans typically don’t like change. And the two groups most resistant tend to be the lower performers and — surprisingly — high performers, says Neilson. The low performers because they fear they will struggle, and the high performers because they have found a way to succeed in the existing system, so they tend to see the problem as other people needing to get it together and be effective. As a result, change seems like unnecessary overhead that is liable to get in the way of their actual work. “Essentially, low performers need to know the ‘what’—what the expectations are in the new order of things — while high performers need the ‘why’ of the change explained,” Neilson says.

“Before you try to introduce any kind of ‘performance management’ to a team, the first step is to bring in standards, support, and accountability. Once you have that, you can clearly communicate where people need to develop, give low performers the help they need, set them up to be successful, and if it still doesn’t work out … let them go,” he writes in Results: Keep What’s Good, Fix What’s Wrong, And Unlock Great Performance.

For high performers, it will be hard, but it will be extremely effective, so take the time, he counsels. Hone your explanations on them, hear them out, and work to earn their trust. They usually wield outsize influence in the workplace. Once you have their support, other employees will quickly get on board.

20. Aim, Fire, Do

The traditional top-down approach to business strategy has been “Plan-then-Do.” The organization would invest heavily in creating a detailed plan that specified roles for all employees based on how the market was expected to react. Should the plan falter, employees would invariably be faulted for failing to execute, leading to demands that the plan be followed even more closely with ever greater micromanaging. The results were rarely pretty. An alternative approach popularized by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman in their bestseller In Search Of Excellence was a “ready-fire-aim” go-to-market strategy. This agile, test-and-learn approach, which has become the standard in Silicon Valley, is better suited to today’s volatile environment. Instead of thinking of strategy as a linear process, consider it as inherently iterative — a loop instead of a line, in which the situation is constantly reassessed: Plan, do, assess, replan, redo. “Success requires identifying the next few steps along a broadly defined strategic path and then learning and refining as you go. This approach makes execution easier and increases the odds of delivering great results,” says Michael Mankins, co-author of Time, Talent, Energy: Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power.


21. Do Retrospectives

In addition to the daily meetings, it’s important to end the six- or 12-week sprints with retrospectives, which bring together staff to gather answers to three questions:

  • What’s working well?
  • What’s not working well?
  • How can we improve?

Note that retrospectives require psychological safety that may mean cultivating a new set of skills at the top, including empathy and transparency, that build trust. Improve your process every cycle.

22. There is No Finish Line

Lurking behind most schemes for transformation is the unspoken notion that change is something you achieve, once and for all. But it doesn’t work that way because a day when everything is “sorted out” never arrives. If you continuously stare at the gap between where you are and where you think you should be, you’ll exist in a space of debilitating discouragement. Instead, observe and appreciate how far you’ve come. Sure, you aren’t where you want to be, but you aren’t where you were, either. “Treat strategy as evergreen. The best companies see strategy less as a plan and more as a direction and agenda of decisions,” says Michael Mankins in a paper titled “5 Ways the Best Companies Close the Strategy-Execution Gap” in the Harvard Business Review. Focus on getting better rather than being good, and before too long, you might find that you’re actually pretty great. Not only does this encourage you to focus on developing and acquiring new skills, it allows you to take difficulties in stride and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

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Cover Stories

Stealing Time




Are you harried each day, knowing that you have more to do than fits in 24 hours? Do you find yourself wasting time through the day, constantly distracted and interrupted, wondering what you set out to accomplish in the first place?

One of the best pieces of crowd-sourcing advice by INVISION’s Brain Squad is to take a minute to put that stuff rattling around in your brain in some sort of order. “Create a schedule with strict time cutoffs … and stick to them,” says

Leisa Lauer of Dr. H. Michael Shack in Newport Beach, FL. “It is always more efficient when you balance your inside- and outside-the-office activities. There is really not very much that cannot wait until the next day.”

  • But do get those lists out of your head and onto paper. Dave Allen, the time-management guru and creator of the Getting Things Done system, estimates people keep 100 hours of distracting undone stuff in their heads. Allen advocates creating lists and then coming up with “next actions.” The danger with this is you can become so obsessed creating lists you lose focus on that important thing you wanted to devote all your energy to. Our take? Make focusing on one thing at a time your No. 1 philosophy, and use systems like Allen’s GTD to support you.
  • Also, list your to-don’ts. Jim Collins, author of Good TO Great, wonders whether you have a “stop doing” list. Think of all the harmful, unproductive behaviors you engage in … and put them on your list. Let your “stop doing” list help you focus on the things you need to do.
  • Delegate stuff that’s not mandatory for an owner to do, says Maury Kessler, OD, of Eyecare Plus Scottsdale in Scottsdale, AZ, and Ted McElroy, OD, of Vision Source Tifton in Tifton, GA, who goes so far as to say: “1. Delegate 2. Delegate 3. Repeat.”
  • Treat information consumption like an addiction. Begin by silencing those notifications to allow better productivity, says Tina Smrkovski of Reed Optical in Claremont, NH, and deleting games off your phone like Dr. Erika Tydor of Shoreline Eyecare in Shoreline, WA. Next, block time for communication. You may even consider scheduling email, social media and IM collection during limited periods of the day. If so, you could have “Open for Email” hours listed in your email signature. And try this tip from Dr. Robert M. Easton, Jr, OD, in Oakland Park, FL, to keep on top of social media: “Outside the office, I go to the gym and respond to social media posts in between sets.”
  • Pretend you’re 2, and just say ‘no’. “For the next two days, do as all good 2-year-olds do and say ‘no’ to all requests,” suggests Timothy Ferriss in The 4-Hour Workweek. “Don’t be selective. Refuse to do all things that won’t get you immediately fired.” In this case, the exercise is designed not only to eliminate things that waste time, but to get comfortable with saying “No.” “Potential questions to decline include the following: Do you have a minute? Want to see a movie tonight? Can you help me with X? ‘No’ should be your default answer to all requests. Don’t make up elaborate lies. A simple answer such as, ‘I really can’t — sorry; I’ve got too much on my plate right now’ will do as a catch-all response.” Jim Williams of Eye to Eye Optometry in Mexico, MO, agrees, “Saying NO is the most important lesson one can learn. Sometimes I feel that I say no too often, but it is a good habit to have.”
  • Force yourself to complete a task: Stress sucks, but it can be motivating, writes Kristin Wong on If you’ve ever put off a project, then miraculously finished it in record time, you can probably relate. Contrary to popular belief, stress does not make you perform better, but you can steal something useful from it. Entrepreneur Dan Martell calls this a “forcing function.” He writes: “A forcing function is any task, activity or event that forces you to take action and produce a result. A few times a week, Martell brings his laptop to a co-working space or coffee shop and leaves his power cable at home. This gives him a few hours of battery life to get stuff done. “That’s when I slam through a bunch of emails, get some serious planning done or design some new product features. There’s something magical about a three-hour forced completion work session.”
  • Chunk it. To save you a few minutes a day and take back some control, try “chunking”. This refers to completing similar types of work at the same time. For example, you’ve got calls to return or accounts to chase up: Set aside a block of time to get them all done in one focused hit. It’s a better use of your energy than bouncing randomly from one management task to another.
  • Slow down, says Nichole Montavon of Oskaloosa Vision Center in Oskaloosa, LA. “If I’m going at 150 percent, I make mistakes, then I’m spending more time fixing those mistakes.” Rick Rickgauer of Vision Associates in Girard, PA, subscribes to the same philosophy. “I take a deep breath and realize I don’t have to burn the wick at both ends … which often results in mistakes and more work to get things done.”
  • Don’t manage time, manage tasks and do the important work first. “I don’t manage time, I priority manage. If a task takes an hour, it still takes an hour. I do the tasks in the right order and allow the time to manage itself,” says Adam Ramsey, OD, Socialite Vision, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Susan L. Spencer of Council Eye Care in Williamsville, NY, buys in to this approach too. “I prioritize everything and only focus on what must be done now!”
  • To that end, limit daily goals. From The 4-Hour Workweek, “There should never be more than two mission-critical items to complete each day. Never. It just isn’t necessary if they’re actually high impact. If you are stuck trying to decide between multiple items that all seem crucial, look at each in turn and ask yourself, “If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?”
  • That flies in the face of our belief that multitasking gets more accomplished … But it’s OK to combine simple activities. Like Kim Hilgers of Monson Eyecare Center, Owatonna, MN. “I love organizing frames while the patient is looking for their frame … It looks like I’m trying to find just the perfect frame for them but I’m satisfying my OCD need for organization!”
  • Practice the art of non-finishing from The 4-Hour Workweek. “Starting something doesn’t automatically justify finishing it. If you are reading an article that sucks, put it down and don’t pick it back up. If you go to a movie and it’s worse than The Men In Black reboot, get the hell out of there before more neurons die. More is not better, and stopping something is often 10 times better than finishing it.” Ivy Elaine Frederick, OD of New Castle, PA, is a fan of this approach. “Don’t feel like it all has to get done today, just do a little bit at a time and you will catch up.”
  • Cut to the chase. After hanging up, have you ever looked at the “duration of call” display and thought, “10 minutes! I really can’t afford to waste that kind of time…” If so, consider these tips from business consultant Jo Soard to improve your phone efficiency: Get to the point. If you’re the caller, say: “Paul — hi, I need two questions answered and I know you are the only person who can help me.” If you’re receiving the call, cut to the chase with the reliable: “Hi Lynn. Nice to hear from you. What can I do for you today?” And to avoid never-ending phone tag: Leave short instructive voicemails, telling the person you’re chasing the purpose of your call and what you need. That will equip them with the information they need to respond promptly.
  • When all else fails … hide. “I hide in my office and pretend I’m ‘on a call,’ shares Cynthia Sayers, OD, of EyeShop Optical Center in Lewis Center, OH.

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