Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?
Daniel: I don’t measure success by revenue, number of employees, customer count or store count but rather by helping people achieve what they consider to be important to them in the context of our relationship.
Adam: How did you get here? What experiences, failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Daniel: I was a college student while working in a variety of roles for a national, optical retailer when I observed a broken process in the way people purchased eyeglasses. As a result, I made it my mission to make eye care easy ‒ offering customers a vast selection of eyewear and an affordable, accessible, and efficient eyeglass shopping experience at Stanton Optical and My Eyelab retail stores. Additionally, we recognized customer and optometrist pain points regarding the eye exam experience and researched the remote refractive concept. Automating the process in the My Eyelab and Stanton Optical stores in 2016 through ocular telehealth technology provides them more flexibility. The experience also delivered the convenience of walk-in appointments. Over the past three years, Now Optics has administered over 800,000 vision tests nationwide with this proprietary telehealth technology.
One of the difficulties was planning for future business needs with a limited budget and resources. Trying to be forward-thinking and proactive yet realizing there were constraints. Also, time management and developing a balanced schedule with time spent on the customer, associates, and running the business. I learned that placing “people first” was essential in helping to tackle the limited budget and resources. The people we had on the team were committed and loyal in helping to move us forward. Several are employed with us today. I believe Now Optics’ success is the result of building a foundation with the right people in the right roles. As new associates joined the team, we not only supported each other but also focused on our customers first.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Daniel: An effective leader is a listener. They are patient, kind, and thoughtful. They understand the audience and what that audience is looking for in a leader. Aspiring leaders can grow with a little humility, a great circle of mentors, and a passion for leading people to be successful.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives, and civic leaders?
Daniel: Dream big, manage small, and share success.
Adam: What is your best advice on building, leading, and managing teams?
Daniel: Interview a lot of people. If you don’t learn more about the positions you’re looking to fill during the interviewing process, you didn’t interview enough people. Be flexible with the job description but don’t fit the position to the person.
Never underestimate the investment needed in building your team. It will be your best use of time.
Give your team the room to contribute to their capabilities while also creating space for them to make some mistakes. Be patient with the process, but hold them accountable.
Be transparent with your goals, expectations, and style.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Daniel: A mentor once told me to surround myself with great people, and that’s the best advice I’ve ever received.
Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
Daniel: Invest in kids to improve the future of society.
Adam: What are your hobbies, and how have they shaped you?
Daniel: My hobbies can be seasonal, which I like as it offers new inspiration and challenges. That said, today, one hobby is playing tennis. Over the last three years, tennis has helped reduce stress, made me more focused, introduced me to new people, and created an interest for my daughter to play, and now it’s a favorite pastime we share.