Optician Success 57

“Wherever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the way it’s ‘supposed’ to be done, following the same old trends, well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.” — Mark Cuban


Our industry is full of “the way it’s supposed to be done” and its zealous defenders. Be very careful not to mistake zealotry for being on the side of what’s right or what matters. Question everything. Look what is going on around you. Pay attention to other retail sectors, and think what might or might not be working a year, five years, ten years from now. Chief in my mind is that medical (as it exists today) and retail optical will not be able to successfully coexist, at least on the independent scale without some major upgrades in customer experience.


“University administrators are the equivalent of subprime mortgage brokers selling you a story that you should go into debt massively, that it’s not a consumption decision, it’s an investment decision. Actually, no, it’s a bad consumption decision. Most colleges are four-year parties.” —Peter Thiel


For decades our culture, economy, and society have been telling us, there is one path to success in life, and that path includes higher education. When you’ve been told something long enough, it becomes extremely difficult to let go of—even if it’s no longer true. While not everyone realizes it yet, 4, 5, or even 6 year degree programs are no longer a justifiable expense for most people, not only in terms of cash/debt, but—perhaps more importantly—in terms of time and opportunity cost.

There are too many ways available now, not only to learn, but to do!


“You don’t have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream.” —Michael Dell


In the world of Wal-Mart and Amazon, you have to be able blow away your competition. This is where conventional wisdom can be really dangerous. You’re not blowing anyone away by doing things the way they’ve always been done.


Think about everything you learn in school, in the workplace, or from the common sources of “this is how you do business in optical.” All of those lessons are the same for everyone. It’s not that there’s no value in them. They can serve as foundations upon which to build. But if you feel like you’re only muddling forward—or worse yet, like you’re stuck on the tracks and there’s train barreling toward you—it’s probably time to shake things up and start challenging your beliefs about how success works.

Let’s look at a simple 2-year opticianry program. Again, not that there isn’t much to be  learned from a good program, but is there really anything that a committed person couldn’t learn on her own in two years, while working as an apprentice or even an optician, all while making money instead of giving it to someone else? Even if you couldn’t find someone to hire you right away, you could certainly study for and pass an ABO exam and depending on your State requirements, maybe even get license.

Okay, so here’s something that will probably sound insane or even blasphemous, but for less than the cost of a two year degree, you could go out and buy an old edger, a lensmeter, a few tools, an OpticianWorks membership (of course!), find some old frames, and maybe hook up with some local opticians, and teach yourself the trade. Then, when you get hired, turn around, sell your equipment. At which time, you’re out absolutely nothing. Or better yet, if legal in your State, use the equipment to make some extra money on the side that you could eventually turn into something bigger.

I did something similar almost 20 years ago. I quit a well-paying mechanical engineering career to take a $12/hr entry-level computer network repair job, working for one of the biggest a$$h0l3s on the planet.

I learned a few things in this position, but I only had the opportunity work with small office and home equipment. I never got to work with the big carrier and enterprise stuff that could bring me a larger salary. So, instead of waiting for an opportunity, I took action. I took on several thousands of dollars in credit card debt, to buy some large network routers and switches. For months, I worked late into the night, becoming proficient at configuring the equipment, and designing/building networks in my basement. I also studied for and passed several industry certifications. Then I sold the equipment, paid off the credit cards and wished my favorite boss adieu. I moved to a larger metropolitan area where there was more opportunity.

I soon found a better job, but couldn’t afford to live close to the city, so I made a daily 2-3 hour commute in traffic. Through it all, it took me two years to go from from $12/hr in the worst job I ever had, to 6 figures in one of the best.


Look, I’m not saying, if you’re just starting out, that you should go into massive credit card debt buying optical equipment. I am saying that you should never be afraid to invest in yourself and that conventional wisdom will almost always yield mediocre results, at best. If you want to move beyond average, beyond mediocrity, you have to be willing to think differently and do things most people are not willing to do.


Consequently, if you’re in that crowd that thinks mandatory licensing and college degrees are the answer what ails opticianry. Stop. That ship has long sailed. At best, you’re passing buck, trying to put the responsibility onto someone else. Instead, take a look in the mirror. If you care at all about the future of your profession, you are the answer to what ails opticianry. Become a rock star and lead others to do the same.



“If people are not laughing at your goals, your goals are too small.” —Azim Premji


"I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story." —Jeff Bezos



Video of The Week:  What Is MBS and How Do You Calculate It?


More of your questions answered: A lens blank must be large enough to be cut to fit a specific frame while also allowing for decentration. The larger the frame and the more decentration required, the larger the uncut lens blank that will be required. The MBS or minimum blank size calculation lets you get a good estimate on the blank size that will be required to get proper lens cutout. Watch and work through the calculations to determine lens minimum blank size or MBS


Our goal is to provide more accessible and a higher level of education for opticians everywhere. If you like Optician Success and the weekly video training, and would like to support our effort, please consider becoming a member of OpticianWorks.com for access to even more high-quality optician training. Better yet, open a Laramy-K Optical lab account for the best in independent uncut work and we'll throw in the OpticianWorks memberships for free! Your staff and your customers will thank you!


I hope you enjoyed this issue of Optician Success.

Until next time,

Thanks again for reading!



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