Optical Retail Success 173


Tasty nuggets of random goodness; tips, stories, and science hand-picked to help you find the most success in your life and optical retail business/career.


Don’t just teach your children to read. Teach them to question what they read.
Teach them to question everything.
—George Carlin


The Robot Overlords of Our Future Can Make You A Better Optician Today


How The Robot Overlords of Our Future Can Make You a Better PERSON Today. 

Ten years ago, no one (i.e. optical industry professionals) believed people would buy eyeglasses online. Today, according to the very same optical industry professionals, we find it happening all too often. So, now that we can design an artificial intelligence to drive a car through crowded streets or fly an F-16 well enough to out-perform (and kill) “the Stig” of fighter pilots five out of five times,  is there any reason to believe that technology—not even AI, but something much simpler— can help a customer choose her own frame/lens combination better than most opticians? 

It’s possible right now, but the coding of that technology is still somewhat expensive, so both inertia and economics are keeping us safe. But very soon, AIs will write the code for us (in fact, they already are),  at which point the technology will essentially be free. What then?

As we move ever-faster toward telemedicine, AI, machine learning, and robotics—thanks in no small part to the pandemic and our newfound inability to rely on cheap labor overseas—what does the future hold for opticianry and even optometry? Machine learning is already being employed in freeform lens design and selection.  Yet, our gut instinct is likely to be the same as it was 10 years ago. We’ll sit back content in the belief that it will never happen. Of course, time after time, industry after industry, across decade after decade, technology eventually turns everything upside down. 

If you watch any of the dogfight trials video in the article linked above, there’s a fascinating section (at 3:15:00)  where “Animal”, the DARPA program manager, compares fighter pilots of today to horse-mounted cavalry of 1935 who when presented with the new German tactic called Blitzkrieg, believed they could effectively trailer their horses to the front line, unload them, then encircle and handily defeat the Nazi armored units. Fortunately for them (and us), the War Department decided it was time to put horse-mounted cavalry to bed.

One thing is certain, if any profession is to survive the coming of our robot overlords (I write that only half-jokingly), we’ll need to emphasize and get better at the aspects of our jobs that are uniquely human. For opticians, that doesn’t mean learning more about ocular diseases (In many cases AIs can already detect them better than ODs.),  memorizing more optical formulas, or pasting more credentials on the wall.  It means being more human, more helpful, more empathetic. It means being more creative. It means emphasizing and improving upon the art and the craft of opticianry. It means learning more about your customers (after deciding who you want them to be), curating on their behalf, and delivering an amazing experience. Most of all it means never stop learning, growing, and becoming better at being human.

It just so happens that the same abilities that will keep us employed or in business in the not-too-distant future will not only help us become more successful in the present, they may also help us survive it. 


Another Brick In The Wall

Some of the best advice I’ve ever come across also happens to highlight the problems that still exist today with an education system designed in the time of the industrial revolution, to produce “docile, agreeable workers” fit to labor in the factories day. 

So, if you want to be happier and more successful in your life, here are 5 things you were taught in school that you should work very hard to unlearn today


Education Vs. Learning

Education is the hustle for a credential. It exchanges compliance for certification. An institution can educate you.

Learning can’t be done to you. It is a choice and it requires active participation, not simple adherence to metrics.

Learning is the only place to find resilience, possibility and contribution, because learning is a lifelong skill that isn’t domain dependent.

—Seth Godin

I once had a karate ‘sensei’ tell me he would take my belt away if I didn’t stop training Brazilian Jiujitsu on the side. 

I laughed unintentionally. I thought it was the most absurd thing I had ever heard. When he asked me why I laughed, I apologized and told him, "I’m not studying martial arts for a belt. I am studying martial arts to learn. "

He let me keep the belt. But, later that week I left karate to devote more of my time to jiujitsu. 

Never stop learning. 


OpticianWorks Video of the Week: Understanding Frame Fit

An overview of the basic concepts behind proper eyeglass frame fit


Through the OpticianWorks free videos, Laramy-K Optical is making every effort to provide better and more accessible (and yes, even free) education for opticians everywhere, but we’re only able to do it with your support. 

You can help keep it going in two ways: 

Become a paid-member of OpticianWorks.com for access to the best in online optician training (The videos are only a small portion). 

Or, even better, open a Laramy-K Optical lab account for the very best in independent lab work and we'll throw in the OpticianWorks memberships for your entire staff for free! Your customers and your staff will thank you!

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Optical Retail Success. Please share with anyone you think might benefit from it. If someone shared it with you and you would like to receive future updates, join over 15,000 optical professionals and sign up here.

Until next time, stay safe, be strong, and don’t forget to love one another.