No Excuses


This weekend, I attended the Georgia School Board Association annual meeting.  (Now, that is a party.)  And I had the opportunity to hear a great motivational speaker, Kyle Maynard. Kyle was born with arms that ended at the elbows and legs near the knees. Yet he has wrestled for one of the best teams in the Southeast, set records in weightlifting, fought in mixed martial arts, and most recently became the first man to crawl on his own to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.

Kyle is a very down-to-earth speaker who seems to just tell you what’s on his heart.  He has obviously had some tough obstacles and keeps a good attitude about it.  He seems to be very wise and has a lot to give to everyone he meets, even though he only 26 years old.

The lessons he talked about really resonated with me as he pointed out that many of us tend to focus too much on what’s wrong and too much on our problems.  We all have the inclination to concentrate our efforts and our energies on the reasons that we can’t obtain everything we want.  He encouraged us to look past what’s wrong to what’s possible.

Kyle told the story of how he lost all of his early wrestling matches.  He wanted to quit, but his parents enforced the family rule that if you begin a sport you must finish the season.  So he kept going, kept trying new moves, learning from mistakes and kept losing.  Finally, he won and the obstacle was crossed.  No longer was his disability a barrier to victory and he began winning.

He shared with the audience stories about the people who felt sorry for him and wanted him to quit.  These were people who cared about him, felt sorry for him and wanted to protect him from more failure, to guard hem from more embarrassment.  He talked about how he is now very aware of people always trying to project limitations on others, often with the best of intentions.

He told stories of his struggles and triumphs and how he often felt ready to give up.  He spoke about having a successful motivational speaking career and griping about the aggravation that comes from that same success.  Kyle learned that you have to put energy into taking care of yourself before you help others, before you can lead.

I realized that we consistently make excuses to protect ourselves (and others) from failure.  “It’s too risky, it’s too expensive, it’s not the right time or it won’t work here.”  I wish I had a nickel for every doctor I have heard say, “I could never get my staff to do that.”

Kyle made me see that as a leader, I sometimes try to change others when it is me and my attitude that needs to change first.  I need to grow before I can effectively bring about positive change in others.  Do you ever do that?

Kyle has written a book titled No Excusesthat is on the New York Times Best Seller list.  He has been on Oprah Winfrey and Larry King.  I had the chance to meet him after his presentation and got two signed copies of his book.  

It is time to start thinking about a theme for the upcoming year.  “No Excuses” is sounding pretty good to me right now.

Have a great week,


I am thankful for my optometry family

I come from a long line of optometrists.  My Uncle Buddy and his dad, my grandfather, practiced together for a while and his daughter and I were classmates at SCO.  I am a fourth generation optometrist and somebody said that there were 22 of us in the family.  I am an optometrist because my grandfather made me feel the joy he felt as he dispensed a pair of glasses and “watched her face light up as she saw things that she had never seen before.” But really we all come from an optometry family.  We all benefit from the chances taken and the battles fought by those who came before.  Whether it is being called “doctor” or treating glaucoma, we owe it all to someone who took a chance on our behalf.  I am thankful for them all.

I am thankful for those who continue to go up against “Goliath” for our profession.  Some are fighting on Capitol Hill both in Washington and on the state levels.  We have people who are working hard with the bureaucracies of insurance companies too.  There are others who continue to work to improve our standing within the medical community.  It is an on-going effort and I know many people who do far more than their fair share and I benefit.  Thank you.

I am thankful that I am finding my way to contribute to the profession and how you are allowing me to do that.  Bureaucracies and politics, it turns out, aren’t my thing.   I like a good fight as much as the next guy, but my passion is helping the dial spinners, one at a time, who are just having a tough time figuring out what to do next.  Those doctors who take such great care of their patients, but may be having trouble making ends meet at the end of the month.  I love watching a young doctor’s face light up and she sees her practice and staff from a perspective that she’s never seen before.  And helping them all figure out how they can give back to our profession.

I am thankful to all the doctors and students who come to me after a presentation and say, “I really liked your message and think it is just what I need at my office because this is my problem…..”  And I particularly like hearing that you tried something I suggested and it actually worked.  Especially when it meant you took a step that was bigger than you thought you could handle.

I am thankful for those who invested time and money in the development of the BluePrint™ when it was just a collection of ideas on a legal pad.  Your trust in me to create a tool to make a difference in practices is a gift I will always cherish.  I am thankful for the developers of the program who convert drawings and abstract notions into something that actually works.   I am thankful to those of you who are ready for whatever is next.

I am thankful for my team at WGEC and the patients that trust us to care for their vision.  I do push and I do want more and I know that I am relentless in making our practice all it can be.  And many times, I throw out an unrealistic challenge and move on to another project before we see it through.  But we always accept the challenge and consistently work to become a better practice.  We sometimes lose our way, but never for long. I am indebted to you for continually striving for the best for our patients.  We are West Georgia Eye Care!

I am thankful for my health and my friends.  I take both for granted far too often and sometimes need a knock in the head to realize how precious both are.

And I am thankful for my family.  My wife, Christy and our two wonderful kids, Caroline and Samuel, are everything to me.  We are a family committed to laughter, togetherness and love for each other.  Too often I let the things that matter the most slip away because of what I have let sneak up on me.  I have made so many mistakes and taken so many chances and every time I am encouraged to jump again.  I know that I have been blessed with a family that loves me no matter what.  Who could ask for more than that?

And I am thankful for you, the readers of this newsletter.   I know how busy you are and it means a lot to me that you take the time to read these messages from me.  I hope you will click here and share with me what you are thankful for today.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Mike Rothschild, Leadership OD

My Hair!

In the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, Ulysses Everett McGill played by George Clooney was always worried about his hair.  He declared himself a "Dapper Dan man" because of his loyalty to a brand of hair grease and he always grumbled "my hair" whenever he roused awake.  In the movie, the point is well made that Everett is grateful for his gift of a thick head of hair and is committed to taking care of this precious gift.

I have had a good run with hair myself.  As a child of the 70's, I grew up in a time when haircuts where seen as "over-rated."  The men all wore polyester leisure suits and had long sideburns and the boys all had hair well below our ears and bangs covering our eyes.  Then there was high school and college in the 80's.  Now it is called a "mullet," but then it was a "lady magnet."

On to the working world and professional school, so the time came to get serious.  I already had business in the front, but I had to finally let go of the party in the back.  My part moved gradually from the center to the side which is more appropriate for grown men.  This is the hair that served me well for the last 20 or so years.

Sure, the hairline is going back a little but I have plenty of time before I have to make another hairstyle change.  I have been passively doing some research.  I notice the Hair Club for Men commercials and have paid attention to the availability of Rogaine and other medical products.

I have asked my friends what they knew about the procedures, the products and cover-up methods.  I watched with some interest as Matt Lauer cut his hair really short and pretended nothing had changed.  I have been using expensive shampoos for years and scrubbing hard because a barber told me a long time ago that it helps scalp blood flow.

But again, I have plenty of time.  Right?

I mean - I have seen lots of pictures of myself over the years and I usually pay attention to my hairline in the photographs.  But it turns out that I am always looking at the camera, usually with a big toothy grin and the hairline looks ok still.

And then there were the videos.

Recently the Mike and Amir video series from Review of Optometric Business was released.  I asked you to watch and you went in record breaking numbers to see the discussions.


I watched the videos myself.  Like always, I was watching for ways I could improve on communicating the points I am trying to make.  The videos were set up kind of like a friendly debate, where your strategy is to keep talking so the other guy never has a chance.  But you have to breathe sometimes.  And during one of my breaths, Amir starts talking.

So naturally, I turned to him, ready for when he stopped for a breath and there it was!  My forehead was sticking out so far - I thought Amir was in danger of being knocked out of his chair.

The saddest part is that I have all of these people who I call friends and none of them told me that I looked like the biology professor at LaGrange College that we called "Dr. Forehead."

You have got to tell a brother!

When did this happen and why didn't you people tell me how bad it had gotten?  Now this important decision has turned into an urgency.  Where is the phone number for the hair club?  How much does that cost?  Doesn't that Rogaine stuff burn?  What am I going to do?

I can do this.  Let's do this like the OD that I am.

Which is better?

1. Shave it all off like Mr. Clean or Michael Jordan,


2. Comb it over, covering the bald area

I remember learning about my dad's baldness as the wind blew his comb-over straight into the air.  I was devastated I could never do that to my kids so the "comb-over" is out.  "1 is better than 2."

How about now? 

3. The "Matt Lauer," really close haircut, but not shiny


4. Rogaine

Rogaine requires consistent application from now on and is not guaranteed to re-grow hair.  "I choose 3."

And one more time....

5. Plugs


6. Transplant from the back of the head

The most dreaded answer in all of optometry -

"I don't like either of those."

So (1) is cut it all off, like Mr. Clean.  And (3) is cut it so short that you still need shampoo but not a comb, the Matt Lauer.

This has been a big deal to me and I am even having dreams about haircuts.  But now that I have made up my mind how I am going to face this problem and I can move on.  Not deciding is a nagging issue that won't go away.

Making a decision allows you to start moving ahead.  And often, you find a lot of unexpected benefits, like freedom to ride with the window down anytime and head rubs from just about everybody.

So if you are trying to make a decision about an issue that you know you need to address, make the decision and move on.

Right now, you are trying to decide if you are coming to the Executive Retreat in January.  Just decide now to register and start making plans to be there.  You will be enrolled in the BluePrint™ and can start improving your practice right now.

Just do it because you know it will be great and you need it.

See you there,


p.s. Oh Brother, Where Art Thou is full of great lines and you should watch it if you haven't seen it in a while.  In addition to "My Hair," another quote from the movie I like a lot is "Damn, we're in a tight spot."  If you find yourself in a "tight spot" from time to time, I have an answer for you.  Click here to see how to get out of your "tight spot."

Moving Past "Old School" Conferences

I love practice management conferences.   I have been to a lot "traditional" conferences as both an attendee and as a speaker.  I always leave with some good ideas from the presentations I hear but mostly new ideas come from the conversations with other people in a situation similar to my own.

Do the ideas fit my "Vision?"

My vision is the master plan for why I am in practice in the first place.  What the final picture of my practice looks like.  My vision is where my time, my energy and my passion go.  Sometimes the ideas from the conference are a fit, and sometimes they would work if I put in the time and energy and more often than I like, the idea just stays an idea.

The typical sequence after an "old school" practice management conference is we leave with 100 new ideas that would make our practice better.  Most of them are scribbled on a notepad from the hotel.  We keep hearing new ideas, from different speakers and they all seem to offer similar ideas.  But every once in a while, they contradict each other.  So, who's right?

Then on the flight home, hopefully we sort through the ideas and try to develop a plan.  But Sports Center is on in the airport and I'm really kind of sleepy so the plan waits until I get home.  Then my attention turns to my kids who I haven't seen in a couple of days and they need homework help or I am late for this or that, and next thing you know I am at the office.  So I plan to go in early to sort through my Marriott note pad sheets with all the ideas but there are several "fires" that I need to put out before patients start.  And you know the rest of that story.

It is time for a new type of practice management conference. 

Times are changing and it is time for us to change with them.  For a practice management conference to truly work there has to be an inventive, modern method to tie it all together with what you are already working on.

We created the BluePrint™ about one year ago to give practices an affordable way to get an intense consulting program that involved the entire practice.  Very personal, very individual.  But what's missing from that model is the collaboration with others in your same situation.

So in comes the Executive Retreat which is designed to join the ideas with the vision  CE from speakers that are talented and proven, who still actively practice and deal with today's issues.  Not only do they live through the same issues you do, you will be able to show them your vision and let them help you incorporate the new ideas into a workable model just for you.  All by the warm comfort of the campfire.

It's about what works for you.

And every practice will be included in the BluePrint™ program and will have a strong handle on the current direction and plan of their practice. 

Truly, Mike

More Smoke Alarms

Earlier in the week, I shared with you our concept of "smoke alarms" that we set up to let us know  when things are not going the way that they should.  My favorite is our dirty sidewalk. Dr. Gina Wesley from Minnesota tells me that the light in her lab is her "dirty sidewalk."  She says, " sometimes I come in on Monday morning to see that it's been on since Friday evening. Sigh. Then, I start thinking, what else is being missed?"  

Now I want to share with you a few other "smoke alarms" we have set up.  I admit, the dirty sidewalk thing, as I am sure Gina's lab light, became a "smoke alarm" by accident.  But these we set up on purpose and they serve us well.

Low Daily Deposit (use with caution) This is the most common and arguably the most real "smoke alarm."  We all know the pain of not having enough money in the bank.  To determine how much you need to put in the bank every day, I simply divide my annual budget by 250 (5 days a week, 50 weeks a year).  It's not perfect, but plenty close enough.

But I argue that this "smoke alarm" comes way too late.  If your having cash flow problems now, it was caused by mistakes you made months ago.  This "smoke alarm" is easy to set up but a bad one to depend on.

That was weak, but here are some good ones:

Optical Scorecard Our mission statement clearly states that we provide value in the highest quality products.  We are also relationship based and sometimes find ourselves not recommending the best because we are worried more about the patients' pocketbooks.  We can't help it.

Sometimes, we lose a patient to an online provider or somebody yells at us about how much we charge them for glasses.  To avoid this, we start leaning toward the inexpensive stuff that makes sure we won't have to discuss money.  We know it is wrong, but like you, we do it.

Since we know that about ourselves, we complete an Optical Scorecard every Monday morning.  We count how many "good" frames we sold compared to how many "other" frames we sold.  We either pass or fail.

If we pass, pat on the back.  If we fail, a list needs to be completed where every person in the optical affirms whether she is following our routine in the optical.  Usually, just the conversation corrects the problem.

Take a look at our Optical Scorecard.

Number of Exams Eye Exams are what keeps our office alive.  But at the same time, we are very heavily medical.  We do so much medical testing that sometimes we let our schedule fill up with OCT's and Visual Fields that we turn away eye exams.  When we do that, we also are turning away glasses sales, contact fits and CRT patients.

And sometimes we are just slow.  Is that because we are behind on recall or another part of our marketing strategy?  Or are our no-shows up?  Or what?

Either way, we look at number of exams every week.  If we fail to hit our minimum number of exams in a week, we immediately initiate a spending freeze.  Because if this is not fixed now , we are going to have cash flow problems soon (See Daily Deposits).

If you would like to know how many eye exams we have to do every week, Click Here.

Exam Time When a patient walks into our office for an eye exam, we have 30 minutes to get them back into the optical, examined and happy.  We have determined that this is really important to our overall success.

Many people will say that 10 minutes in the "waiting room" is acceptable or a long wait is ok if the patient understands that they will get the same time and attention as the other patients.  These are all excuses we tend to use when we are failing to do it right.

Our target is 30 minutes.

To make it work, most of our patients need to fill out paperwork online and it needs to be entered into the record BEFORE the patient shows up.  We need to be ready for the patient and not make them wait at all.  We need to be efficient and thorough, address the patients needs, and get them out in the optical in a good mood.

We have a patient timer system so we can spot check ourselves to determine what part of our exams are breaking down.  We are used to being timed.  When a patient shows up, regardless of appointment time, we click the start button on the timer and at certain points in the exam, the time is recorded.  No math, or synchronized watches - just read it off the timer.  Here is a copy of the sheet we use.

How long is a typical patient in your office?  Have you timed it lately?


To set up some Smoke Alarms for you and your practice, just answer these questions.

  • What are the three parts of your practice that must be run well for overall success of your practice?
  • What is your standard level of performance in these areas?
  • What is the lowest acceptable level of performance?
  • What is a quick, easy and reliable way to regularly measure this performance item?
  • What are some of the things that may lead to decreasing performance?

Now you have 3 smoke alarms.  

That's all you really need.  Any more than that and alarms are sounding all the time and nobody pays attention to alarms that are always going off.

Until next time, Mike

Who is Sweeping Your Sidewalks?

I am going to share a secret with you.  Sometimes, my practice does not run as well as it should.  But when our performance is slipping, I like to know as soon as I can that we need to start getting our act together.  So we set up some "Smoke Alarms" to let me know ASAP that we may have a problem. One of my favorite smoke alarms is an un-swept sidewalk.

Our office is set up so that the staff uses a sidewalk beside the building, to get into the backdoor.  It is a narrow space between the building and a small retaining wall.  We have trees around our office and the wind blows every leaf and piece of trash from a one mile radius to our sidewalk, where it piles up.  If we let it, the trash piles up and it looks bad.  Luckily, our patients never use this sidewalk, so who cares if it looks bad?

Well, I care.  I don't like walking through trash piles to get to work, so we have added "Sweep the sidewalk" to our daily checklist.  Simple enough.

These facts are all very important in the overall management of my practice.  Because a dirty sidewalk is almost always a sign that something else is wrong.  I am going to spell out three problems that are pointed out by a sidewalk that doesn't get swept:

1 - We are not completing the checklists:

We have checklists for everything.  Our exam checklist has items such as Smile, Introduce self to Patient, Ask them to Follow.  In our business, it is the little things that matter.  In addition to our exam checklist, we have daily checklist, room opening checklist, meeting checklist and closing checklists.  All of the little things are listed because they matter.

Every item on every checklist needs to be completed, big and small. We are typically good about the big things, but sometimes forget the small things, like sweeping the sidewalk.  So if we are not sweeping, what else are we not doing?  Smiling? VA's? Asking for Referrals? Taking the deposit to the bank?

Whenever the sidewalk is not being swept, you can bet there are other things being skipped too.

2 - Not training the staff as completely as we should:

We have three steps to our training: 1) Watch me 2) I watch you and 3) I slowly fade away.

Our biggest training weakness is to walk away from someone before they are fully trained.  We even train proper sweeping of the sidewalk.  Everybody knows how to sweep, so if we are going to be weak on any part of our training, we will be weak on training of sidewalk sweeping.

Since our sidewalk extends into the parking lot a little bit, all new sweepers stop sweeping too early UNLESS someone showed them where to stop sweeping.  When sweepers are stopping short - time to re-visit our training program.

Again - Wouldn't you rather know your training program was getting soft when you are teaching sidewalk sweeping and not dilating pupils?

3- We may be losing our "Teamwork" mindset:

Even with the level of attention we seem to give our sidewalk sweepers, it remains a task that no one fights for.  Never once has anyone said, "Who swept the sidewalk?  It was my turn today! No Fair!" It is actually one of those tasks that everybody hopes someone else will do.  It is on a checklist, but sometimes the day gets away and it hasn't been done.  We had a chance before patients showed up, and while the last patient was in the optical for 30 minutes.  In other words, we have had plenty of opportunities, but have not taken advantage of them. When we are acting like a team, we are communicating well and planning ahead.  We are ready for our patients and we look out for each other.  We take care of the hundreds of tasks that must be accomplished every day - including sweeping the sidewalk.

When we aren't working together as a team, we let the little things sneak up on us and the undesirable tasks get left for someone else to do.  Anytime the end of the day comes and the un-swept sidewalk causes us stress, it is time for us to visit our communication and teamwork.   If we are whistling while we are sweeping, we are acting as one.


For us, an un-swept sidewalk is called a smoke alarm, because it is annoying but it is telling me that smoke is in the area and there may be trouble.

It is a good one because we all walk on that sidewalk every day and since we keep it clean, we notice when it is not.  Smoke alarms make a loud, obnoxious noise that bothers anyone who hears it.  The noise is a problem, but it is not THE problem.  You probably have a "pet peeve" in your practice.  There is probably a good way to turn it into a Smoke Alarm.  Let me know if you have one that works for you.

In upcoming blogs, I will talk about other smoke alarms and how to set them up and how to make a big deal out of a small problem.

Are you buried? Or is it just me?

I am buried.  The practice is booming.  We are having unprecedented growth and we are gearing up for continued expansion.  New staff is learning what it is like to be on the team, we are using a more balanced marketing strategy that is bringing in new patients from all over the place, and our new systems and processes are finally starting to come together but unveiling new issues.   All good stuff - but hectic.  On top of that, we are bringing out some new advancements for LeadershipOD.  We are planning our first LeadershipOD CE conference, BluePrint is gaining ground as more and more practices are graduating and expanding the program.  We are continuously looking for new ways to expand the services we offer to those wanting to gain a better handle on their practice for a reasonable cost.   All good stuff - but frantic.

Not to mention that school started back in Georgia too.  We have a new 10th grader and 7th grader in our house, and school starts 15 minutes earlier than it did last year.  We are getting back in the groove, but seem to be having an extraordinarily hard time of it this year.   Plus community organizations all seem to want to have a meeting right now.  Three dinner time meetings this week.  

All good stuff - but chaotic.

It may sound a lot like I am whining, because I am.  But I know you feel the same way.  If not at this moment, it is coming - again.  All high achievers, like us, go through periods of time where we are trying to do too many things.  There are only two ways to handle this situation:

  • Try to do it all, and do it all poorly


  • Decide what matters the most and do that

When I catch myself in these times, I feel like I am literally being buried by an avalanche or a rock slide.  (I need you to use your imagination here.)  I see myself standing at the bottom of a cliff, looking up at boulders, rocks and pebbles all falling on top of me.  Each one is a task, something that I need to catch and take care of.  My hands are already full of things I have already caught, and I am surrounded by the ones I have missed and they are stacking up around me.  (I feel my heart rate going up as I type this.)

Traditionally, I keep looking up, catching and dropping rocks as fast as I can.  I only see the rocks that have already hit me or are about to hit me.  Since I am directly beneath the falling stones, they block what is above them.  I have no choice but to deal with the things that are demanding my attention now.  This is a tough place to be and I am not doing anything well.  Eye exams are rushed, staff is not being coached, plans aren't getting made and (worst of all) kids are not being listened to describing the first days of school.

There is a Better Way

Now, as soon as I feel myself being stretched too thin, I step away from the cliff, get out from under the rocks that are falling.  (Please try to use your imagination again.)  By stepping away, I have changed my perspective of all the $#@*! falling down around me.  Instead of just seeing the problems that are hitting me, I can see better what's coming.  How long will this last?  Anything coming later that needs attention now?  What matters and what doesn't?

Now instead of trying to catch what hits me first, I can make decision about what to catch and handle and what I can let fall.  The boulders I catch can be organized, planned and acted on.

Does this mean some things are going to be left undone?  - Yep.

And we will talk about that soon enough .

Please join me while I take a step back, look at everything that's going on, pull out my Executive Summary from the BluePrint program and decide what I am going to get to work on.  After all, the things I am whining about are the things that I love to do.

I am digging out and I hope you are too,


Doubled Annual Supply of Contacts

I know this is hard to believe, but last month our percentage of patients purchasing a year's supply of contacts more than doubled. I expected some improvement because we gave it some attention at our retreat, but nothing like this. So naturally, I wanted to know what we did so right, so we can keep doing it. A little background: Last month, I told you about our retreat - The Best Ever. During the retreat, we were in the final stages of our BluePrint program, and were in the middle of Contact Lens Week, so we were in a contacts state of mind.

And since we had been sharing ideas and perceptions with each other, we all had a really good handle on the overall status of the practice. Over and over, during the retreat someone said, "It's like we said in the BluePrint....".

Why did we pick annual supplies as one of our primary goals? We already have a pretty good system in place and our average supply ratio is above average already. But our biggest problem right now is that we are too busy. And when you are a Service Based practice and you are too busy, some important things start to slip.

So how can we free up some time and keep our current schedule? One big factor was the amount of time we were spending with people in discussions about their contacts - number of boxes, rebates, shipping to home, shopping around, calling to let them know they have arrived, dispensing them, pay now, pay at dispensing. It should not be so complicated.

So we decided to simplify. Big Time. The biggest change was FREE shipping for all contacts, plain and simple. The only downside is that if the patient buys less than a 1 years supply, we have to pay for the shipping.

Now, no reason to wait to pay, no need to call to let you know they have arrived, no return to the office necessary, and no chance the patient will call at closing time and ask us to wait 15 minutes until they can get to the office.

Until now, we offered free shipping if you bought a year's supply, thinking that it encouraged them to buy the year's supply. I now believe it was counter-intuitive because it is too much to think about. Simplify.

Before we made the change we looked at every aspect of of our Contact Lens Process.Then we pulled the trigger and BOOM - big increase in annual supply sales. Plus, a decrease in phone calls being made and less patients needing their contacts "dispensed" in the middle of a busy afternoon.

Megan, the contact lens manager says, "The patients love us making it easy for them. We tell them about the price of the contacts, explain they will be receiving them at work in a few days and almost everyone is saying, 'OK sounds good.' No big deal."

If you would like to see our updated Contact Lens Process, feel free to take a look. Remember - this is a simplified version and it has to match all the related process manuals. And it is specific for our office and is not perfect for everywhere. It only works if you fit it with other aspects of your practice - which is why you need the BluePrint. Alright then,

Mike Rothschild, LeadershipOD P.S. More Simplification? Next time, I am going to tell you about a doctor who got rid of all of his New Patient paperwork and traded it for a "Wish List."

Our Best Retreat Ever

I try to have office retreats twice each year and I have had a number of opportunities to facilitate retreats for other practices. My point is I have been to a lot of planning retreats for optometry practices. And I feel compelled to tell you that the one we had with my team last week was probably the best one I ever ever attended. I always de-brief after a retreat and look for ways to make it better next time. So I am asking myself now, what made this one so good?

Location: We found the greatest spot to have a retreat and lucky for us, it is in our backyard. The environment was beautiful, there were many activities available for us and the facilities had everything we needed. It is a new sporting resort in our area and has jumped to the top of our list for retreat locations. I am even looking at family activities out there. They have horses and fishing and ATV's and bicycles and hiking and horseshoes and I don't know what else.

The location is 30 minutes from the Atlanta airport so if you ever host a meeting where people fly in, this place has my full endorsement. It will be the location of the first ever LeadershipOD conference.

Oh, it is called Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club.

Weather: It was perfect. Sunny, 72 degrees and low humidity in Georgia. I will plan for that next time.

Guest speaker: Dr. Jason Miller from Ohio happened to be in town doing some lectures for Alcon. I asked my rep, Larry Savage, if he would bring him by and they both said "Yes." If you have ever heard Dr. Miller speak, you know how talented he is. He graciously allowed us to present to him our findings from the morning and asked him how to fix it. An outside expert is always a plus. We owe Dr. Miller and "Larry the Contacts Guy" a big thanks.

The BluePrint: My office is the first one to repeat the BluePrint program. The first time we went through the program, it was the Beta test. We have made many improvements, but still a lot of it is the same. Currently, we are in Week 6 - Responsibility Grid. We had such a head start, because the entire team has been contributing to the retreat for the previous 6 weeks.

I was able to say, "Here are your responses to the survey in Week 1," and "These are the goals we set early in the program." Much of a retreat is compiling thoughts and we had already done that. (We will be looking at our recommendations about following up on the BluePrint with an Office Retreat.)

Plus Week 6 of the BluePrint is Contact Lens Week and Larry got to take a look at that.

The Best Staff is our History: I honestly believe that right now we have the best team of professionals in optometry. We know that we have a lot to learn and a long way to go but we are determined to learn it and to get there. Right now, we have the right people and they are in the right seats.

We re-dedicated to excellence: I led a very frank discussion with the premise that maybe we are making this too hard. Maybe all this work to be better is not worth the trouble. There are a lot of mediocre practices that seem to do just fine. (There is always a risk when you take a group down this road.) I said, "We could just see a few more people, take care of them quicker, give them the minimum, and quit with all this extra stuff."

But our collective stance was summed up by a brilliant comment from Aerial, who has been with us for just one year. She said, "You might see more people, but it doesn't mean you are taking care of them." She is exactly right.

Practice: Maybe it's like playing piano or baseball, you just get better when you do the same thing over and over.

Thanks for reading this and I hope it doesn't sound to much like I am tooting my own horn, but this is really exciting for me.

Truly yours, Mike



P.S. Dr. Bazan is not giving up. He sent me a very well-thought out retort about our Facebook article. I will share that with you soon. I am still recommending the Marketing Calculator to find balance in your marketing strategy.


Everybody "likes" getting "poked" sometimes. But....

I am talking about Facebook here. What did you think we were talking about? Facebook is really big and it is growing, I get it. But I think there is a lot more to effectively marketing an optometric practice than having an awesome web presence. I agree that it helps, but it is a piece of the puzzle.

Last month, we featured Justin Bazan's follow-up to his bold decision to make his Facebook page his practice web-site. It seems to be working well for him. I will not be converting mine and recommend you don't either.

We have been putting a lot of time into marketing studies at LeadershipOD and have learned a lot about this new age. It is getting tougher to know where to put you time and your dollars in this area. Every practice situation is different and a marketing strategy needs to be balanced to meet your specific needs.

To help find a good starting point, we just released a Marketing Calculator. This unique app gives a general recommendation for your marketing strategy. But be careful, it budgets money and time. To check it out for yourself, Click here and sign up for the e-mail series. We will be talking more about it later, but back to Facebook.

Social media is a really good conversation tool but I am not sure it is a good for conversion, which is the true purpose of marketing. It is a good place to let people "poke" you and "like" you and "friend" you. But in order to convert them into a patient, people still want substance and assurance you are trustworthy. Facebook is good for the surface, but for someone to really check us out, they still want a traditional web-site.

10 reasons that Facebook should not replace your web-page:

  1. Branding: Simply put, you are driving your business to another brand.
  2. Control: They have control, you don't. Have you ever read their Terms of Service? Read them, but make sure you're sitting down.
  3. Ownership: You don't OWN Facebook. It is not a "public place." It is owned and led by some guy named Zuckerberg.
  4. Closed Network: Sure it's a big club, but it still requires membership.
  5. Revenue Conflict: Facebook really doesn't care about your business. Their revenue comes largely from two things: selling ads and selling user info.
  6. Search Engine Optimization: You don't have any say over "being found" online.
  7. Analytics: Data is extremely limited.
  8. Layout and functionality: Here today, gone tomorrow. You're at their mercy.
  9. Distractions: Facebook is very distracting. They are fighting for eyeballs on every square inch.
  10. Customer interaction: Their access with your brand may be easier, but not more meaningful. Which do you prefer? (Hint: they didn't get on Facebook to talk to YOU.)
  11. (Bonus) Future: Anyone ever heard of MySpace? Yeah, they used to be a social media giant.

Bottom Line: Facebook should work with your web-site, not be your web-site.

Alright then, Mike

P.S. I asked Justin what he thought about my opposing view and he said, "Your patients need to be your fans". I think that its not about balance, its about analysis and adjusting. If things were balanced and all parts were equally, you strengths would be undeserved and your weakness would be over emphasized. Its about finding the right marketing mix right?"

The debate continues..... Let me know what you think.


What are you doing tonight?

Good afternoon, Tonight I am planning to attend a webinar by Justin Bazan from Brooklyn about social media. Justin is making a name for himself in the world of internet marketing mostly because he is not afraid to try unproven methods. I like that attitude.

Carrollton, GA and Brooklyn have their differences and so do Justin and I. But I have enjoyed keeping up with his progress and trying "some" of the things that he recommends as I continue to refine my own marketing balance.

So, I thought this would be a good time to share an update from Justin. Several months ago, I read an article that he wrote detailing his decision to make his Facebook page his primary web-site. I was intrigued, but not enough to try it myself yet. Mostly because I think that Facebook is the devil.

I had a chance to visit Justin's practice on a recent trip to SUNY College of Optometry. I asked how his experiment was going. Below is his answer. I hope this helps you find your own balance in this new marketing world.


Justin's response to the question, "So how's it going?"

Wow. Nothing but positive things has been happening since implementation.

Utilizing google voice has been wonderful. Our patients in the office are getting direct and uninterrupted care and service. There is never the need to say, "excuse me for a second, I have to answer this phone call". There is hardly ever the need to give somebody the finger, the #1 finger, signalling that I need one more minute to finish up this phone call and then I will be right with you. We have further reduced our front desk staff to 1 FT and 1 PT. With the use of email and txt confirmations, our no show rate is single digits.

The online scheduler has proven effective. Our patients are able to see all of our open spots. There is no more going back and forth to check availability. They simply see all of our open spots in real time. They are loving the fact that they can make appointments at anytime. We have seen so many people make appointment's during hours that we are closed...these might have been lost opportunities before we utilized our online scheduler.

Our facebook page and our yelp page web traffic has exploded. We have seen our fan base continue to grow. The reviews keep piling up. We are coming up on top of the google search results. Things have really just been awesome.

Latest Developments from LeadershipOD

LeadershipOD has begun an in-depth study about the effectiveness of a long term and consistent marketing strategy.  As you recall, it was one of the Basic Fundamentals for Practice Success.  Of all the fundamentals, I feel this is where we are most inconsistent.  All of us. We can market ourselves and we have all had some success with this program or that.  But very few of us have developed a strategy to be consistent in our marketing and even fewer do a good job in following our plan for very long.  The truth is we get slow, run a reactionary promotion, get busy, and stop actively promoting our brand.

Primary Eyecare Network has recently commissioned me to a series of webinars about marketing that begin this Wednesday (3/28)  at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern Time).  It is titled, "Your Practice Personality" and is the first step in launching any branding efforts.

The other webinars in the series are "Creating a Balanced Marketing Strategy" (May 16) and "Building Loyalty with Internal Marketing" (July 25).  They are open to non-members and I would love to see you there.  Click here to register for the PEN Webinar.

We continue to make improvements and expansion to the  BluePrint.  This revolutionary program is really taking shape and continues to evolve.  We have made it easier to get started in the program and easier to explain to those on the team who just don't get it.  If you have been on the fence for a while with the BluePrint, please take the time to check it out again.

We have also been getting some exposure in the video world.  Look at these two videos recently released about some innovative things we are doing in the practice.  (Ignore the fact that I am wearing the same tie in both videos.)

  • "Getting Staff off to a Great Start" Video from MBA Program.  You will need a login and password to see this.  If you don't have one, it is worth signing up because it is full of great insight from a number of experts.
  • "Seeing the Big Picture" Video on the Review of Optometric Business website.  This shows a simple solution to a big problem for me.  I like to spread it all out to get the big picture, EHR made it harder for me to do that.  Now I can again, find out how.

Loophole Found in the King-Sized Snickers Crisis

Thank you all for your kind words of support at the mention of the loss of the beloved King Size Snickers.  Further research has led to some news about the Snickers that is both disturbing and some that is comforting.

First, this directive is straight from the top.  First Lady Obama is the one killing the King Size Snickers with her Let's Move campaign.  We all admire your drive to make Americans healthier, but keep your laws off my Snickers!

However - there is a loophole.  The Snickers 2 to Go has all 440 calories of its King Size predecessor.  It even has a convenient twist-able wrapper to save the second half for later.  "Later" means when you finish the first one.

King Size Snickers lives on.  Just a different name.........Good try, Mrs. Obama.

Remember, "You're Not You When You're Hungry"

Basic Fundamental #6 - Strive for a Stronger Team

To effectively build a strong team, you need to be committed to building individuals on that team. How do you "build individuals"? Building individuals involves all the tools to make them a strong member of the team. There is unlimited variety in what this means.

All practices that are successful have made a significant investment in the building of a strong team. Team building requires constant attention, much like marketing. With the best plan in place and a strong history, some neglect can go un-noticed for a little while, but will eventually catch up with you.

First is the need to create a "desire" to improve. 

I have never been disappointed when asking someone to commit to a self-improvement program. Because I wait until they are ready to receive.

Second, determine the needs of the individual as it relates to the team. 

A powerful tool is some form of a personality test. At LeadershipOD, we recommend CPT 260 or a free version,HOTS.  A tool trusted by some guest writers for LeadershipOD, including Carole Burns, is the Personality Plus. This forces people to take a strong look at themselves and hopefully demonstrates that others may do something better or that they have areas to improve.

Third, incorporate the programs. 

There are again many opportunities to guide individuals in this self- improvement. I've used 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Meta-MORE-Phosis and developed our own, The BluePrint. Participation in Optometry Meetings or local leadership seminars are also great opportunities.  The trick is to constantly find what people need and find a way to deliver it.

It is important that the programs you choose include information about finding entire life-work balance because personal influences cannot be fully separated. To be effective, we must offer the chance to help them find the balance.

Fourth, strive to put the best person in the best place to be most effective. Make everyone the best they can be, then put them in a position to shine. When this combination works well, a person will be fulfilled and give all they can for a long time. They will give with joy and always look for ways to make it better. However, making someone better and leaving them in a less than ideal situation will lead to unmet dreams and a desire for something else. Eventually, this will show with decreased results, defiance or the loss of a good employee.

Basic Fundamental #5- Consistently Market

Marketing advice from a very successful OD in his 70's:  "Have one of the (staff) start at the A's, pulling down each record off the wall.  Open it and if they haven't been to the office in two years or more, call them and tell them it is time to come back.  That's what saved my practice." Marketing advice from an enteprising 50-something year old doctor with several practice locations and a multi-million dollar business: "One word - Radio."

Marketing advice from a 20-something year old associate OD working for a small two doctor practice:"Social Media and Search Engine Optimization.  It is the way of the future."

And remember last month, the example of the doctor who felt the secret is accepting every vision insurance plan available?

Who's right?  Everybody.  They are all correct in their own way.

While few of us would be so inefficient to pull a paper record down and call one at a time, you can't deny it would be highly effective and highly reliable way to stay in touch.

In my study of long term successful practices, they all have a strategic method of continuing to attract new and retain existing patients.  Everybody markets, but the successful practice has a strategy in place and sticks to the plan.  Many practices participate in "knee-jerk" marketing by simply reacting to reduced practice activity.  Others focus on the "one thing" that they are convinced is the secret.


Developing a Successful Marketing Strategy 

1 - Identify Tools

List every avenue you can think of that gives you an opportunity to spread the word about your practice.  Think of signage, internal systems to show off new equipment, advertising, recalls, phone calls, emails, asking for referrals, and social media specifics.  Look through old notes, read articles.  Visit ROB for some very good ideas.

2 - Choose

It is not a good idea to try to do everything you can.  Categorize and decide where you want to concentrate your energies and money.  But make sure to spread it out and not put all of your eggs in one basket.  Sometimes it is easy to get excited about something new and neglect effective marketing tools.  Care needs to be taken to make sure the strategies match the vision of the practice. You don't have to implement every good idea.

3 - Delegate

One person in the office needs to be given the responsibility of making sure that all things on the plan are done as scheduled.  This person should be empowered to make things happen and everyone should have a role and understand the importance promoting the brand.

4 - Re-Visit

Maybe the most critical step.  Plan to plan.  Things are changing so fast and new methods are constantly emerging to help us stay in touch.  No matter how perfect your marketing plan is today, parts of it will soon be obsolete.

Every strategy will be different and will depend on a number of factors: practice personality, budget, age of practice, demographics, personnel availability, etc.  The point is to concentrate on marketing and be consistent year round and year to year.

Basic Fundamental #4 - Face the Facts

There is an objective reality out there, but we view it through the spectacles of our beliefs, attitudes, and values.  ~David G. Myers, Social Psychology

I recently received a pearl of wisdom from a collegue at a practice seminar. "The secret to practice success is being on every vision insurance out there."  It's not a terrible concept, when he explained his logic:

"It is a ticket to get them in the door, find out what they need and find ways to get it to them.  If they have medical issues, we can bring them back for medical testing and we can always offer them something in addition to what they cover."  He understood the lower exam re-imbursements and the lack of profitability on covered materials, but he stood his ground.

But does it work?  Exactly how much does it cost you to do an eye exam?  How much must you collect to break even?  What percentage of your full schedule is made up of these free exams and how much for that profitable medical testing? And how profitable is that medical testing anyhow?

This strategy almost always works to fill up the books and that usually brings short term benefits.  Those benefits are often enough to convince us that it was a good idea that we need to continue.  But often, the books are full of un-profitable visits and we are again un-fulfilled.

This is one example of an idea sounding good, making sense but maybe coming back to burn you.  There are some facts that need to be faced logically to know whether or not this strategy is working.  And you have to go get the truth.

Fundamental # 4 - Successful practices face the facts

Successful practices seek out the facts by watching the trends of the business and looking for problems and for opportunities.  Many times they are found at the same time.  Practices that are growing, that are thriving are consistently looking for ways to do things better.  But the truly successful ones can face the facts about decisions and look at it from every angle.

By far, the biggest struggle for facing the facts is pride.  If I decide to make a change and it turns out to make things worse, how quickly can I say, "My bad."?

Steps to Face the Facts 

Try to keep emotion out of it

This is much easier said than done.  You will be surprised how many big decisions you make based on an emotional attachment to a person or a method you thought up or worked well before.

Inquire before sharing your opinion

Nobody likes to disagree with the boss.  So by making a habit of asking for input from the team, before sharing your views, you will get better input.

Avoid seeking real input via e-mail 

If you are truly interested, get the facts from a face.

Be systematic in gathering data

Find the way that you best analyze data and design a system to put it in front yourself routinely. Plan for a date to follow-up and when you do follow-up, set another date.

Case Study 

This is a real world example for my practice.  I am sure many of you can relate.  First you should know that my practice is based on relationships with my patients.  We strive to build trust with our patients every day.

Many of our patients are communicating by email and text and we have been working for a couple of years to find the best tools to use to stay in touch through this medium.  Does this sound familiar?  We finally implemented a program that automatically reminded our patients about upcoming appointments via email or text message.  They loved it.  We got so many great comments about our tech savvy methods.  We celebrated these comments that made us look better than our competitors.  I was proud of our innovative efforts.

Fast forward six months.  At a Leadership Team meeting, we notice that our no-shows and cancellations have been on the rise.  We began pointing fingers at each other.  Looking for the cause, we decided it may be the internet making the reminder calls.  We defended the system, because it was so much easier, people talked about loving it and it was a great idea.  After facing the facts, we couldn't deny that it is a lot easy to cancel your appointment via email.

We reacted with a quick study:  A person called the patient and says, "We are starting to prepare for your visit, and wanted to call to see if you had any special concerns."  No Shows went away and no one complained because we didn't send them a text.

People call from my office now.

Basic Fundamental #3 - Find Opportunities in the Barriers

"Every cloud has a silver lining," is a well known idiom that can be traced all the way back to 1634. This of course is a common metaphor for optimism and looking at the bright side of things.  If storms and clouds represent barriers that come to us, the silver lining is the opportunity that is waiting on us when the cloud fades away.  And the clouds always fade away. Successful practices have made a habit of focusing on the silver lining rather that the dark cloud.

 Fundamental # 3 is Finding Opportunities in the Barriers.

This is easier to follow if you are already practicing Fundamental #1 - Not Placing Blame and Fundamental #2 - Having a Vision, a Plan.  #1 helps the team feel safe to make you aware of the barriers sooner, so they can be dealt with.  #2 gives us clear direction as to how we need to re-set our direction after the barrier is dealt with.  Without a clear vision, the barrier may put us in a completely different direction.

Barriers can come in the form of a storm that rolls in without warning.  This can be a break-in, a complete staff walk-out, or a large local employer changing insurance plans.  They can also come in the form of a depressing haze that lingers for an extended time.  Maybe decreased staff morale, extended periods of depressed economy or an appointment book that just won't get filled.

How often are you thankful for a problem that arises within your practice? When you find yourself welcoming barriers because you know something good will come of it, you are practicing Fundamental #3.

Here is a little example that illustrates how simple this can be: Patient brings back a pair of progressive lenses complaining, "I can't walk in these stupid glasses.  They give me a headache and make me want to throw up."  If you are working with your optical team to become experts on matching a person to the proper progressive lens, you have just come across a real life case study. What luck!

We all will experience barriers in practice and in life.  Looking beyond each problem, to find the opportunity it presents gets easier with practice.  Next time any problem arises, likely today, look for an opportunity to improve rather than focusing on the problem itself.  If you succeed in finding the silver lining, look again next time.  Before you know it, you will be practicing Fundamental #3.

Basic Fundamental #2 - Have a Plan, a Vision, a Blueprint

Call it what you want, but all successful practices know what success looks like. In other words, it has been defined, explained and is clear to every member of the team.

It is not uncommon for us to have an idea about the practice we would like. I believe that everyone thinks about what could be before they start or purchase a practice. I also think we do it when we accept a new position within an organization. But for some reason, it usually doesn't make it beyond the idea stage.

I wrote the first "Vision" for my practice before I started it. It was called a Business Plan and it was a requirement from the bank. To me, I thought this was a waste of time because it was common sense. Why was it necessary to spend all this time putting it on paper, organizing my thoughts? That document is still re-visited from time to time.


Seeing into the future is possible, but it takes practice. When you visualize what you want, you can start taking the necessary steps to make it real. It involves using a part of the brain we aren't used to using. Many of us start "what if-ing" when we try to create a vision. We start looking for all the reasons it might not happen. "What if I don't get enough patients?" "What if a competitor moves in next door?" "What if?" is a defensive question that stops us.

But what if it became a hopeful question? What if we opened our minds to what could be? "What if" is now hopeful and empowering. It is an action phrase. "What if I had a well established reputation in my community as the doctor that truly listens?" "What if I became the first in the area to offer sports vision services?" "What if every patient sends me one new patient?"

How to start

You can start developing your Vision simply by completing the Defining the Dream form on It is designed to draw out of you, just what you want the practice to look like when you are "finished." Whatever finished means to you. This is always the first exercise I go through with any client I have. Why start going, if we don't know where we are going?

Basic Fundamental #1 - It Doesn't Matter Who is to Blame

There are many excuses for why our practices are less than perfect.  Plenty of reasons they are not successful.  Yet some of us are able to succeed in spite of these challenges - these excuses.  Some are able to thrive BECAUSE of these excuses. Those who succeed watch trends, look at the industry and study new concepts not to find reasons or explanations for their short-comings but so they can adapt when necessary.  These are some of the things that some have thought would put an end to optometry as a profession:

  • Pearle Vision - The first big, national eye care franchise that many thought was the end of optometry as we knew it.  Others have come, they scare us too.
  • VSP - The first big, national vision insurance that caused some wide-spread panic about choices of our patients.  Others have come, they scare us too.
  • Auto Refractors - A machine that does what we spent years learning how to do with a retinascope.
  • Provider Discrimination - If we don't have access to our patients, we will not be able to take care of them.
  • LASIK - If none of my patient's need glasses, I will starve to death.
  • MultiFocal IOL's - See LASIK
  • The Economy
  • El Nino
  • This list is endless

"None of these will end our profession and the only thing that will allow our practice to fail is ourselves."  The Basic Fundamental is firm belief in that fact.

In The Traveler's Gift, Andy Andrews describes this decision by teaching that "The Buck Stops Here."  In the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey says that we "Act or be acted upon."

There has been a lot of talk lately about the effect of Health Care Reform in America.  "What is going to happen to us?"  "What are we going to do?"

My answer is that I don't know, but I will adapt, I will learn and I will move on.  Right now, I know that the AOA is acting on my behalf and I need to show my support.

If we stop using energy to find our who to blame, we can get busy solving the problem.  So to truly become competent at this Basic Fundamental, we must work to stop looking for a reason things are they way we want and start looking for ways to make our vision a reality.

Can I get an AMEN?

Thinking Like a CEO

CEO's of any company set the direction of the organization, make major decisions for the company based on educated counsel from others and provide encouragement and motivation for those he/she leads.  Unfortunately, the natural progression of practice growth leads to the doctor role growing (thanks to a full schedule), the manager role becoming bigger (due to more staff/business "fires") and the CEO part of our job fades into the background.  The day to day business gets to the point we neglect planning, we stop listening to the concerns of the team and our decisions are urgent and made without much consideration. Our inner CEO role shrinks so much that it is no longer effective.

When the CEO of an organization is not effective, there is a lack of direction, a lack of inspiration.  We go from proactively building the practice of our dreams to reacting to the daily concerns of the business.  I call it "putting out fires." (In later issues, I will discuss Fire Prevention vs. Fire Detection vs. Fire Extinguishing.)

Bringing the CEO Back

Justin Timberlake said he was bringing sexy back.  I don't know if we can do that, but I do know that we can bring the CEO back.

To effectively receive the benefits a CEO can bring to your organization, you have to carve out time just for that.  Many start by blocking one half of one day without patients.  I have recommended this to many practices. Most hesitate,arguing that they are too "busy."  But none, who have made this commitment say they have felt it was a bad decision.  Being the CEO when you have time, does not work.  Being the CEO between patients does not work either.  It is worth it.

Make good use of this new time.  Schedule CEO tasks that need to be accomplished during this time.  The CEO is the visionary, the proactive thinker.  This is the time to work toward the future of the practice.  Some typical CEO tasks will include:

  • Re-Visit the Vision, consider updating
  • Evaluate Practice Goals / Compare to Responsibility Charts
  • Develop / Marketing Strategy (Yellow Pages vs Facebook)
  • Write a Budget - Look at Financial Benchmarks
  • Improve Staff Development Plan

It is easy to see how time spent on these tasks can be beneficial for the long term health of the practice, but also how tough it is to concentrate in small bursts.  So step one in Becoming the CEO is to schedule time to perform CEO tasks and make good use of the time.

Fostering a Teamwork Culture

For any team to be successful, everyone has to be working toward the same vision. The entire team needs to clearly understand the vision and be motivated to get there. Do Your Part - On successful teams, every member of the team does their job the best that they can - every time. They work hard consistently because they have a desire for the team to succeed and they understand their role and feel appreciated.

Pep Talks - Teamwork requires constant motivation. Great coaches give "pep talks" more than once a year, but before every game, at time outs, half-time and when the game is over (win or lose). Motivational talks are given at practices and team meetings too.

Stay Positive - Teamwork also requires feedback on performance. Most leaders, including myself, tend to concentrate on giving negative feedback, correcting mistakes. That is necessary, but I find it to be most effective when I concentrate on giving positive feedback, congratulations and gratitude for outstanding work. Try to give three positive comments on performance for every correcting comment. It is important not to get caught up in how often "reviews" are given. But have a habit of saying "thank you" and "great job."

Trust - True teamwork is achieved when everyone on the team trusts that everyone is doing their job. Trust comes from faith in each other that can grow, with time, into a strong comradery that is felt among the team.