Expert analysis has determined that in the competitive world of entrepreneurship, only 20% of teams reach their full potential.

For the majority of business leaders trying to achieve their goals and build their dream, internal saboteurs could be the thing inhibiting their professional growth. Could your mindset be the thing standing in your way? 

In this episode of The Power Hour, Bethany is joined by Sarah Dau, Vice President of Business Development for the Power Practice and Business Management Coach with over a decade of experience helping optometry practices of all sizes reach their goals and potential.  

Through personal anecdotes and expert insights, Sarah sheds light on the unconscious biases that shape behaviors and decisions and discusses strategies to develop ‘positive intelligence’ to recognize and conquer these internal adversaries. With practical advice on altering neural pathways and fostering productive thoughts, this discussion is a goldmine for anyone looking to elevate their workplace, enhance personal happiness, and achieve professional growth.



November 8, 2023



Read the Transcription

Becca Starks: We have the ear with the students to hear what they’re looking for. They’re very, very few students that we’re working with, with the class of 2023 that will even consider an opportunity that is not private practice.

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Hey, I am Bethany Fishbein. I am the CEO of The Power Practice and Host of The Power Hour Optometry Podcast. And I just want to first congratulate all of the new optometrists graduating this week from the optometry schools across the country. It’s such an exciting time. It doesn’t feel like that long ago since I and my classmates at New England College of Optometry in 1997 graduated. It goes fast. It’s really an exciting time. So congratulations, first of all, and this show is inspired by and dedicated to you and all of the people that you are hoping will hire you. Once you get your licenses and get out there into the world. So I’ve invited a guest, I have Becca Starks, Becca handles Enterprise Accounts and Operations for KMK Careers. And she’s here to help me sort out some of the things that today’s optometry students are looking for, and help educate some of the optometrists who are looking to hire young optometrists about misconceptions they may have or differing perceptions of this graduating class. So, Becca, thanks for doing this your second podcast ever. That’s awesome.

Becca Starks: Yes, thank you for having me. This is exciting. 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, thank you. It’s an interesting time because we work with mostly established optometric practice owners. So most of the people that I’m speaking to day to day are employers of young optometrists, and they have this vision of what today’s graduates are like, and then I get the opportunity to speak with optometry students and recent grads and they’re not necessarily like that perception at all. So hopefully, you can help us bridge the gap a little bit.

Becca Starks: Yeah, absolutely.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So, talk about yourself for a minute here. I want you to just talk about KMK and KMK Careers because when I want to data on students, I knew you were the one to go to. And so I want all of my listeners to understand your involvement with young optometrists today. 

Becca Starks: Yeah, absolutely. So KMK for those that don’t know KMK’s foundation is the KMK board review, which was started 18 years ago by Dr. Kyle Cheatham. And now fast forward 18 years we are inside of all of the 23 optometry schools nationwide. We have a team of optometrist instructors that traveled to all of the schools and we have a relationship with both third and fourth-year optometry students and 98, This is a big number to remember 98% of optometry students utilize KMK to pass their boards. So essentially we have a relationship with almost every single optometry student nationwide from the board’s perspective. And so we now have a new division of KMK specifically on careers which is just a natural extension of supporting those same students and finding their first career.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So you’re initially talking to these students when they’re students studying for boards. And then they hopefully pass boards and you know, move on and take more boards and pass those and move on. So what are the services that you’re providing for these students once they’ve graduated as doctors?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so it’s really fun. Personally, I am mostly an employee you’re facing so those that are looking for these candidates. However, we have a team of career advisors and all day long, they’re the luckiest ones in the world. They get to speak to these upcoming grads. So right now they are around the clock talking to those that are about to graduate here and a couple of weeks or maybe have graduated just recently. And uncovering what they’re looking for in a practice is really it’s a one-on-one relationship, so it’s totally free to students. They sign up to get a career advisor. They have calls with that career advisor to uncover what are they looking for what type of practice is it specific specialties, just anything that may be the true motivating factor as to why they want to go to a certain practice. And then essentially we play matchmaker so the career advisors speak to students all day long. I speak to employers all day long, and then we come together and get to build a bridge between the two and hopefully connect great candidates with a great opportunity.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Maybe it’ll be the next Netflix show after Indian matchmaking, Jewish matchmaking. It’ll be optometric career matchmaking. And be a celebrity.

Becca Starks: I think some of us would watch that, at least your listeners would probably enjoy that.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: My husband and I would watch it so 

Becca Starks: same. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So I mean, you’ve got a line of sight into exactly who today’s optometrists or today’s graduating class, today’s brand new optometrists are, can you give some facts and figures of what that class looks like?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so essentially, from a demographic perspective, it’s highly female. The data is showing 70% female and 30% Male.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: 70?

Becca Starks: 70 Percent.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Wow. 

Becca Starks: Yes. And there’s information I believe you are going to be able to put in the show notes. But there is a really robust report. I believe it’s lots and lots of pages. I don’t remember how many but there are highlights within that on pages nine and 10 that give a really good but really quick summary of demographics of this class, within gender within race. There’s even financial information about how many needed to have financial aid, that sort of thing, and some really detailed information even about by school breakdown.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Are you able to roll through some of the things in there that kind of stood out to you?

Becca Starks: So the biggest thing that stands out to me is female and how as you it shows kind of year over year how that transition has changed from much more female than male as it was in the past. Same thing with race, I believe I don’t remember how many years ago it was but just not too long ago. It was predominantly white for professionals graduating and now that’s shifted to highly other races, whether it’s Asian or black or other races that are included in that.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And what about the financial piece? Because I feel like that’s such a big topic for new doctors. Is this need to pay back student loans? Do you have any stats on the amount of debt that students are graduating with? 

Becca Starks: Yeah, so the report itself shows 85% of students are utilizing some type of support financial aid, loans, and the average for a graduate right now graduating is about $200,000 in debt. So definitely it is.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: That’s just from optometry school or that’s including undergrad debt?

Becca Starks: That’s actually a good question. We just get the stat of 200,000 and I assumed it was just optometry school. But that’s a good question.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So young, female, and any change in like age demographic? Or is it typically right out of college a year or two out of college starting into Optometry?

Becca Starks: Yeah, So typically, it is kind of a typical route straight out of undergrad and to optometry school. There is about of the 16-1700 graduates there are about 150 of those that are considered you know, like other avenues whether that would be part-time or returning back in at a later point in time.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Okay, so out of 1500 you’re talking about? Very typically, right? 1000 young, female, probably non-white doctors. 

Becca Starks: Yeah. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: If you had to say this is what’s typical. This is the majority. 

Becca Starks: Yeah. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: With debt?

Becca Starks: Yes. A lot of it. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Okay. So, when you talk to this typical doctor and are getting into the field of matching into a career of their dreams, what are they telling you that they want? 

Becca Starks: Yeah. So it’s been interesting to learn that so the things that I came into this thinking people would want my background was actually at LinkedIn for five years before coming on to help launch this division of KMK and I thought it would be very different. I would think pay would exceed everything else. But, interestingly, location is the top deciding factor for these new graduates in determining which practice they want. Obviously, that is the hardest answer because no one can do anything about the location of their practice. But we can touch on this later. Kind of some ideas and tips for those to try to recruit folks into harder locations but definitely the location. Again, before and above pay even this work-life balance coming into play that is much more of a topic. Then I think it has been in years past. Not necessarily meaning, Hey, I want to come in and I want to never work. But this generation is much more just passionate about having that work-life balance of the work to live not live to work mentality. And so location, work-life balance, obviously pay, and structuring pay in a way that is understood to the candidate as well too. So being very upfront about what that pay is so that they know before even applying and putting that in a way that they understand what they actually can make because sometimes it can be hard with percent of production, knowing what that means.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So let’s go into those a little bit more and I want to just go back one to work-life balance because I think that’s probably the biggest misunderstanding between a doc maybe in their 50s and a doc in their 20s. This idea of working to live instead of living to work and it’s respectable and it’s necessary and mental health is important and it’s and life has to work for you. But these older docs, that was not their world. And so when I hear it, it’s complaints. They won’t work weekends, they don’t want to put in 40 hours. They’re asking for a four-day workweek. They’re like it’s coming across as we’re lazy. We’re not dedicated to the practice. We don’t want to be here we’re not going to work as hard as you and it. It creates a disconnect from the start like somebody interviewing, who says I don’t want to work every weekend. All of a sudden has all these judgments thrown on them that they probably don’t deserve. Do you see that with the docs that you’re talking to and you’re matching?

Becca Starks: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it’s the same thing I hear to have. You know, that’s typically the demographic of employers that I’m talking to all day long to have, you know, they came out and maybe cold started or they came out and bought a practice and they’ve been doing it for 20-30 years and like. What?

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Right and they remember, or maybe they’re still working 70 hours a week and they’re there, you know, every day in the practice and their day off there when the cleaning themselves because that’s what the owners do. How do you coach of 50-something and 60-something-year-old practice owners into understanding that it’s not laziness and it’s not to they don’t want to work?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so that is it is a big misconception of the students that it is laziness, and specifically, most students are expecting to work at least one to two Saturdays a month. So it’s not that they’re coming in and saying I only want four-day workweeks, and I’ll never work a weekend. They are expecting a true full work week and one or two Saturdays per month. To your question about how to coach an owner in that situation. I think it’s just taking a step back and looking really high level at your practice as a business and I’ve had this conversation with many owners of I don’t know why we are open Saturdays, honestly, we’ve just always done it and so determined are we doing this because it’s just always been done or when determining this because it is a true business need. And so same thing with later hours or that sort of thing. If it is a true business need 100% voicing that to a candidate that’s a friend and that’s that’s great, but there may be situations where again, it’s just we’re doing this because it’s been done forever. And actually, our patients wouldn’t mind if we didn’t have a late night or we had a late night instead of a Saturday or vice versa.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Do you think docs have like a little bit of that? It’s like that hazy mentality? Like I went through it I put in my time therefore you you need to.

Becca Starks: I think it could be a little of that. Me not being an optometrist. I have to tread lightly because I have not earned my dues. But in the conversations that I’ve had, I think it is a little bit of that at least.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, I worked weekends for 23 years. I’ve never missed it Saturday. I’ve never called out sick. And now I’m going to change my whole practice because this 24-year-old kid doesn’t want to work, like there’s that so what are the students are the new grads thinking about these practice owners, doctors who are in a different demographic from them because there’s got to be misconceptions going that way also.

Becca Starks: Yeah, I don’t get to hear a ton of the misconceptions from the student side. But I think there’s just both sides can teach each other something right like maybe that student can come in and show this business owner who’s been doing this forever, like, wow, I could totally do this differently. And, wow, I’m kind of relieved that you came in and brought up the idea of work-life balance because I as the business owner, really needed that, and wow, my life is different because of it and vice versa. There’s obviously so much that the practice owner can teach and pour into these new grad optometrists. But as far as misconceptions from them, I haven’t heard any to be honest. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I hear that they look at a private practice. They think they’re not going to be paid as much. So they’re thinking that not necessarily that the owner is cheap, but that it’s not. It’s not as profitable, therefore there’s not as much money in it for them. You didn’t mention the mode of practice. You talked about location, work-life balance, and pay. Are students coming out looking for commercial opportunities? Are they looking for private practice or looking for MD offices? I mean, obviously, students are looking for each of those, but what are you seeing most frequently?

Becca Starks: Yeah, great question. So motor practice is very important and private practice remains. Top of the list for I’d say close to 90% of the new grads.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Serious?

Becca Starks: Yeah, because I hear the same thing. I hear a lot from private practice owners that say that almost come to the call with me very nervous, like “Becca, what’s going on? Why might all the new grads want private equity and why do they want retail? And can I really afford to hire them? Because it sounds like they’re throwing all the money in the world with them.” And then it’s interesting because we have that ear with the students to hear what they’re looking for. They’re very, very few students that we’re working with, with the class of 2023 that will even consider an opportunity that is not private practice. So there’s just a handful of folks that have said all maybe look at private equity or retail, but the vast majority say I truly, truly, truly want to private practice and there’s even a really good group that says, “Not only do I only one a private practice, but I already know that someday I want to partner slash buy this practice as well.” 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Do you think though that it’s, it’s like self-selecting a little bit because retail opportunities are so easy to come by? That they might not even consider needing to work with a company like yours? They just need to go on Ziprecruiter, Indeed, and type in optometrists job and the geography they want and they have their choice. Are you talking to them before they’re job-seeking?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so we actually start a process with them a year before they graduate. And so we have them fill out a profile with us it looks just like a LinkedIn profile, but it’s specifically for KMK, and go in and select all of the different types of practices that they’re open to. And so, we have both from the data from what they input on their profile and then they all have a one-on-one call with a career advisor as well. And so that’s where those points come from, both in the data they enter and then the conversations they have with a career advisor.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And is that when a student should be starting their job search is early in fourth year?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so we were really surprised in the timeline as well that a lot of students start having conversations about the fall before they graduate. So this class of 2023 they were starting interviews, October timeframe, and then a lot of them were during their Christmas break, timeframe holiday break, going on visits to practice owners. And then as soon as the New Year transitioned over there were many that were in contract. So definitely, Fall time is like you can feel good. About yourself being ahead of the game, wintertime is still very safe, you still have a lot of opportunity to be reaching out to candidates, and then as we enter into more of the springtime, a lot of I’d say probably half if not more of those that we’re working with are 100% in contract ready to go.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: When you start working with them. Is there any issue with students who are starting the search and still haven’t passed their boards or won’t have the credentials to work when they graduate?

Becca Starks: Yeah, Yep. There is information from ASCO also about passage rates. And it goes into detail even of school by school, but it essentially shows year over year the decrease in passage rates, and I think we’re at about 70% passage rate, right now. 73%. And so there’s a huge population of students that don’t pass typically it’s part one where the struggle is and so there are some students that will even graduate and still have not passed boards. And another misconception there is, “Oh, these students are lazy or they’re not understanding the information, and I don’t want those students because they won’t be good doctors”. And completely not true. Those are students that could either be not very good test takers. These are also the population that came into optometry school right in the heart of COVID. There are some that have just had really rough life events around the time that it is to take boards and so but they are all great people that will be great doctors, they simply just need to pass this test. Many of them have had really great GPAs some of them have other degrees that help them with the practice management side and so it’s just a matter of getting past that one test or many of them.


Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And how does, how did they navigate that with the job contract like, will an employer sign something with a student who hasn’t yet passed boards?

Becca Starks: Yes, we are running into that actually part one. Board scores were just released this past week. And it was a lot of that there was a lot of celebration and there was a lot of sadness around those that didn’t pass. And the good news is, I don’t know that I’ve come across a single employer partner that we work with that isn’t at least open to the idea of bringing on someone that’s graduated in kind of a super tech role. It’s kind of how we position it to practice under that optometrist owner until they graduate and we even have some that say, “Hey KMK I know that you, as an organization, do great at coaching them and helping them after they fail boards.” I will even invest in that side of the house to ensure that they can pass boards not only to show that, hey, I believe in you and the hardest time in your life student but also that gains them a really loyal employee that again, is going to be a great doctor has just had trouble taking this one test.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Coming in as a super tech though, obviously, they’re coming in at a lower pay scale and they would come in as an optometrist, and they have those student loans. So let’s talk about compensation of obviously it’s going to vary around the country and regionally and how many hours and all of that but what is it that a new OD is looking for as far as the ability to earn money?

Becca Starks: Yeah, good question. So, specifically with this new grad population, the way that I kind of coach, the employer partners that we work with private practice owners is, a lot of times they’ll come into the call and say why pay 16% of production, but with this new grad population, they aren’t able to really wrap their brains around what that is, you could have a $1.5 million, your practice and they still just don’t, they can’t really understand that. And so the recommendation that we give is to at least have some sort of salary and we have information and concrete data on specific areas of the nation. So by all means, if, if we can support you in any way with that, I’m happy to to make sure that you’re competitive, but having some type of salary listed up front is what’s going to entice these new grad population because they can wrap their brains around 140,000. They can’t necessarily wrap their brains around 16% of production. And so totally understand, then obviously the argument private practice owner, I hear you what’s going on in your head is. “Well, I need to motivate them to work hard. Like if I just give them a salary, then what’s the motivation to work hard”, and so there’s been kind of this really nice avenue that we’ve taken with a lot of partners that’s worked well in that advertising a salary a little higher than you probably would have normally, but then decreasing to a really low percent of production, so that there’s some salaries that’s there that’s enticing to a new grad, but a lower percent of production. So for the first year only, so year one higher salary and lower percent of production, and then having that shift for year two and year beyond your two to a lower salary, higher percent of production. And so what that does is again, entices this new grad to apply, and even want to learn more about your practice because there’s a salary, but that little bit of percent of production will get them to realize in their first year of working well. I’m doing the math, and if I would have went on the percent of production, I probably would have made more than my salary. This is making sense this is motivating me to work harder. And then again, you can even have it in the contract that upon year two that shifts to a lower salary that’s guaranteed and a higher percent of production. So as they’ve gotten their feet wet, they’ve learned they’ve been mentored that first year shifting then into percent of production.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So you’re coaching your doctors to do a salary plus a percent of production?

Becca Starks: Yeah, that’s pretty typical. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And what about benefits and stuff like that is that important? Yes, it is important. Is that something that a brand new grad is going to give enough importance to that it’s going to help them decide one place versus another? 

Becca Starks: Yeah, such a good question. So I’ll give both sides just agree very important. I would say the majority of private practice owners that we’re working with are offering some sort of benefits, whatever that might look like. Some are very comprehensive, some are very “Hey, we will pay 50% of your medical and leave it at that.” But now that we are in this lane of there is competition from private equity and from retail. Those are just a no-brainer. In those avenues. And so to remain competitive from that regard. They will get a full package of 401K’s with matching with benefits with PTO, all of those things, if they’re considering a retailer or a private equity opportunity in comparison to your private practice opportunity. And so, again, I think most I talked to very few that say “Hey, I’m just percent of production and I don’t give any days off you just you if you’re here you make money if you’re not, you don’t but you can take whatever days you want type of thing”. I have a handful of those but for the most part, most private practices are offering the salary with percent of production, at least something towards medical, and then most do have a 401K whether there’s a match or not with that.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Are there other intangible benefits, other things that would make a practice more attractive?

Becca Starks: Yeah. So I think the thing that’s so such a great opportunity with all of the listeners that would have that are trying to hire than our private practice owners that have been doing this for years to a new grad specifically is mentorship. And so those that are willing to do that are excited about that. Well, maybe “Hey, I haven’t really even thought about that. But I’m gonna share over the last 20 years, I really have learned a lot that I could pour into this next upcoming generation”. And so being very vocal with that, even in a job description, or whatever it is that you’re creating, to entice candidates to come your way and some people put a really extensive plan behind, “Hey, we have a weekly meeting, and you get lunch hour with me every week and we will cover XYZ and some it’s kind of informal of just “Hey, I’m going to be with you I’m alongside you. You can call me when you want”, whatever that looks like, or even if you haven’t, some team members that are fairly recent grads, being able to vocalize that to have hey, we’ve got folks that I brought on board as new grads and couple years later looking them go and so the mentorship side is again that intangible free opportunity that I think a lot of people don’t even necessarily recognize they have the ability to give.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Is it mostly clinical mentorship they’re looking for? is it practice ownership? like when you say mentorship, what are they hoping to learn from you?

Becca Starks: Yeah, definitely medical at the top of that, but there are again, those those candidates that just know that they know that they want to be very involved in the practice management, the business side of the house. And so for those candidates that are interested in it, being willing to say “Hey, here’s I’ll show you all of our programs and all of our software and how I design the day and this is how I designed the business side of the house”, and so in those situations for folks that are interested in that side, I think it’s important to have just kind of an open door policy of “I’ll show you all that. I’ll show you that number. So I’ll let you in on this.”

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So for practice in a particular geographic area, if you can get your salary and benefits close, but they don’t necessarily have to be higher. They just have to be within range and you can kind of check off all the other boxes. Is there a type of practice like heavy medical versus refractive versus specialty that people are looking for?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so definitely looking at highly medical. And then what I would also say is kind of another somewhat intangible, but if practice owners are open to new specialties that maybe you don’t have in your practice right now. But hey, if there’s somebody who comes in and is passionate about whatever it may be, and they want to bring that into my practice, that’s a really enticing thing for a candidate to really see themselves. They’re in the long haul of “Wow, I’m passionate about myopia management and this practice says, by all means bringing that on.” That’s such a great thing to be able to offer to a candidate and so definitely, medical and specialties are really where the candidates are wrapping their brains around of how do I see myself there.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And what if you’re in rural Wisconsin, where there’s just not a huge population of optometrists looking to settle? What’s the best way for a practice like that to set themselves up to find somebody to join because so many of those are great opportunities to become part of a community to ultimately partner buy a practice have a really low cost of living like it’s how do they make themselves attractive or show how attractive they are I guess I should say.

Becca Starks: Yeah, and I think that so often because I get the luxury of talking to these practice owners in some of these more rural areas. And every time I’m just like, Wow, if I could just record this and let all of these candidates see this owner care about the type of patients they get to see a lot of times it’s the smaller communities that because there’s not a nearby ophthalmology or another office like those are the most medically focused practices. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Absolutely. 

Becca Starks: Yeah. And so, so often I feel better. Oh my gosh, if I could just package this up and get a candidate to truly wrap their head around it. So one of the things that we do on the candidate side is our current advisors do as soon as a student comes in and says, “I only want Miami in New York and LA”, we try to mentor as well and show your kind of cost of living and let’s truly take a look at this and let’s look at your lifestyle and look at

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Miami, LA, how about rural Wisconsin?

Becca Starks: Right? Yep. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And consider Minnesota.

Becca Starks: Exactly. We play that game all day long. Yep. And then to the practice owners, a lot of what I tell them is, they’ll tell me I say they get to brag. So give me your brag book, when they come on as a partner to me, tell me what’s so great about your practice. And then they’re typically ready to end the call and I say, “Okay, based on your area, we also want you to brag on the geographic location just as much as the opportunity and so getting a candidate to truly understand what their life is going to be like, not just when they’re at work with you all day, but once they leave work, and what does this community look like and what can I do there? Is it great for hiking, is it great for the music scene, and the art scene? Is it great to raise a family and maybe I’m not thinking about that right now. But in the next couple of years, I will be.” And so I always say “Somewhere in your job description, however, you want to do it. It’s a post that you’re putting on to kind of an Indeed or an AOA. Having information, just typed information about your geographic area and what makes it so great. And then also, the other added thing you can do is you can always create videos.” Videos are I feel like that’s kind of how we’re all digesting content at this point. And especially this generation of these new grads, and so if you can even do a quick it doesn’t have to be professionally shot but videos of you just speaking informally, almost as if you’re speaking to a candidate who wouldn’t be right in front of you talking about again, envisioning their life there, the more that a practice owner can make a job description or job post about the candidate instead of themselves. The better that that’s going to relay to the candidates have just really getting to understand “Okay, this isn’t what I thought I was thinking Miami, but now I can kind of envision how my life could be in Wisconsin.”

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: That’s a really strong and valid point. Because when I think about a job ad, it’s all about what we need and what we want. We’re looking for an optometrist to work these hours to do this and when I’m interviewing candidates for Associate optometrist, but really for any position I’m always sensitive to an applicant, who all they’re telling me is what this job is going to do for them. Right. So I’m very critical of it as an employer when they’re like, I’m looking to build my clinical confidence in myopia. I’m looking into, you know, whatever. And I think what are you going to do for me? But in the ad, maybe it should be the other way off, Here’s what I’m going to do for you so that they’re interested and intrigued by the post enough to then come in and want to tell me what they are going to do for me so

Becca Starks: Absolutely 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Cool. 

Becca Starks: We even have one it’s a Power Practice member that wrote a personalized it looks just like a letter you would receive from your grandma in the mail and it was so different and so eye-catching and so engaging. It was truly just a personalized letter, Dear Candidate, and then it just spoke really informally like, Hey, I get it. Words are hard, school is hard, but here’s what it would be like living here. Imagine if you could leave work and go out and do this, this, and this and your two hours within this big city so you can go catch a basketball game and be back home at night. And so it was just very, again trying to get that candidate to envision their life not only with that practice but in that geographical location. And so that was an incredible example. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Did it work?

Becca Starks: We’ve gotten some interest. We don’t have anybody signed on yet, but it has enticed interest.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And talked about KMK a little bit again, just before we close. So if a practice owner is looking for an associate, they can reach out to you or how do they go about tapping into this database network matching service that you guys have?

Becca Starks: Yeah, absolutely. Yep. I would be the point of contact Becca Starks. And I’m sure you can put my email in the show notes, but it’s just And yeah, we typically just do a really informal introductory call and learn about the practice, learn about what they’re looking for. And then go over kind of our offerings. We’ve got two different offerings to choose from, just depending on what the practice owner is looking for. And then yeah, we just go from there. It’s really simple. It’s free to be in agreement with us and having us promote a practice. And so basically, we get that agreement going and then our current adviser starts promoting any of our partners that we’re working with. And then essentially once we have a student that is a great fit, we play the matchmaking game. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I love it. Thank you. I think this is valuable information for new grads to help them understand what they’re going out into and some of the misconceptions they might be facing. But hopefully, we did our part today to try and reduce some of those and really give today’s employers a more real picture of new grads who are looking for jobs. So thank you so much for taking the time to do this and give this service to all of the optometrists out there.

Becca Starks: Absolutely. My pleasure, Bethany. Thank you. So much. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Thank you


Read the Transcription

Sarah Dau: Shirzad really in his book he outlines and all the training I’ve been through that he feels that only 20% of the teams out there reach their full potential because of these saboteurs and negative thought patterns in our in our minds.

Bethany Fishbein: Hi, I am Bethany Fishbein, CEO of the Power Practice, host of the Power Hour Optometry podcast. And I am here with my guest and colleague and friend Sarah Dow. Sarah is the Vice President of Business Development for the Power Practice and she is one of our extremely talented practice coaches and has worked with many, many practices over the last 10 years. So I’m excited to have the opportunity to do a podcast episode together. Sarah, thank you so much for agreeing to do it.

Sarah Dau: Thank you so much for asking and for having me here. I’m really excited to talk about today’s topic.

Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, there’s nobody else that I would rather talk to on this topic. And I’ll give you the background of where it came from. In last week’s podcast, I was talking with Gavin Rebello, and we were talking about mood hoovers, which are those people who just seem to suck any positivity out of a situation. In the US, people will say, oh, you know, she’s a cancer in the practice and things like that. But in the UK, they call them mood hoovers, which is much nicer terminology, right?

Sarah Dau: I agree. Yes.

Bethany Fishbein: I love it. So Gavin was was talking about this and talking about how sometimes it’s just someone’s own mindset or their own unconscious bias that makes them react a certain way to a certain person or a certain situation or gives them a feeling. And it really made me curious to learn more about what creates those unconscious biases and where those come from. And so that led me to one of your areas of keen interest, which is the field of positive intelligence. And that’s what we’re talking about today. So just define a little bit what it is. What is positive intelligence?

Sarah Dau: So positive intelligence, or what the author of the book Positive Intelligence called it is your PQ muscle. And what positive intelligence does is measures the percentage of time your mind is servicing you versus the time where you’re in that sabotage mode or survival mode or as Gavin coined it, mood hoovers, when your brain is not serving you.

Bethany Fishbein: So this is all about just kind of how you are within yourself. Like, it’s not even reacting to others at that point. It’s it’s kind of what your own brain is, is telling you.

Sarah Dau: Right. So whatever scenario or situation that you’re in, and if it’s triggering to you, you go into that survival mode or that saboteur mode, and you’re going to feel things like anxiety, anger, disappointment, shame, guilt, regret, blame, just to name a few. And we don’t always perform or communicate or act in our best self moving forward because of that.

When we’re able to kind of calm those those triggers and think a little bit more forward focused or in a positive light, that’s what this approach calls your sage. And you’re not in survival mode anymore. You’re in that thrive mode where you’re feeling emotions like curiosity, empathy, joy, creativity, peace, calm, resolve, gratitude, again, just to name a few. And we all have the ability to switch from survivor brain to that positive intelligence, sage type of brain. It’s just training. It’s first recognizing those thoughts when they’re happening, and then how to refocus so you can be more productive, but also have less anxiety.

Bethany Fishbein: So you talked about the, this as a percentage of time that you should be spending in positive sage mode versus negative saboteur mode. Is there a number like a percent to shoot forth?

Sarah Dau: So based off of Shirzad’s findings, we are performing at optimal levels, both professionally and personally, when we’re operating at about 75% or above in that, that sage mode, and he find or found that with an increased PQ, people are far happier, less stressed, but also professionally speaking, more productive.

Bethany Fishbein: And you and I learned about this together at the same time, because we, through power practice, we’re having a conversation about why some people seem more able to effectively execute change than others, and why some people seem to just be able to move forward, and some people are just stuck. And so it was a training that we did internally. When you first heard about this, what was it that resonated with you that got you like, I want to do more, I want to learn more? Because you took this way further than any of us.

Sarah Dau: Oh, I was super excited. And I apologize in advance for those of you listening that are spreadsheet lovers, and don’t like to get into the emotional side of, of leading a team and business ownership, I get it. But I’ve always been fascinated how the brain works, how it influences our actions and our productivity. And I’ve been with power practice for about 13 years now.

And one of the issues that I found that really prohibits doctors from achieving their goals, really is that what Shirzad calls that inner judge, that negative thought process that starts to go into a circle there, and spirals, and it holds them back from implementing, it holds them back from leading their team, it holds them back from making those recommendations to the patient.

So I was a psych major, you know that Bethany, I minored in business, I’ve always loved that combination of the two. So when you brought this to to our attention, I watched Shirzad’s video, I took the assessment on my top saboteurs. And I was all in on how I can navigate my own saboteurs, we all have them. So I can be more productive, but also a better, better team member, and happier in the long run, personally, for sure.

Bethany Fishbein: And you sound very credible. But just to establish credibility, talk about the process that you did from there that you went on to learn more.

Sarah Dau: Yes. So I absolutely wanted to learn more. And I’m constantly looking for tools on how to best help our clients move forward. And I’m certainly not a neuroscientist, I do not have my PhD in psychology or industrial psychology. But this tool that you brought to us as a team, I said, I want to learn more so I can help our clients identify some of those saboteurs, not only within their own minds, but also help to work better as a team. And so I what I did was I actually enrolled in a six-week course on identifying my own saboteurs, Shirzad believes first and working on yourself, and then helping to apply it to others in your team.

So I went through that six-week program, did daily exercises to strengthen my PQ muscles to get myself out of that, that saboteur mode and into that sage mode. And it takes work. This is not a quick fix by any means, but it’s so well worth it in the long run. So once I was done with that six-week course, I still wanted to learn more.

Then it becomes, how do we take all this knowledge and teach it to others? How do I take this and apply it to my clients? How do I teach them to calm their own judges, their own saboteurs in their mind, so they can be more effective leaders within their practice and they can implement and actually get things, things done. So I went through an additional year course to earn my certification to now teach others on how to do that. And it’s been a journey, but one that I’m very happy that I chose to take.

Bethany Fishbein: Me too. So one of, I mean, one of the things that I think is interesting about this is it’s not, it’s much more specific than be happier, right? Eliminate the things that make you unhappy. Like there’s lots of advice out there, but this really gets into a process of understanding your own brain. So you talked about this main saboteur being the judge.

Sarah Dau: Yes.

Bethany Fishbein: And so talk about that. And then like the more specific saboteurs that differentiate one person from another, that mine are different than yours. And probably each person’s listening are a little bit different.

Sarah Dau: How long do we have?

Bethany Fishbein: Maybe some of the big ones. I guess there’s a lot of them, some of the most common ones that you see.

Sarah Dau: So Shirzad in his book, and there’s also some video content out there as well. His thought process is on, on the saboteurs that we have in our minds. And we all started out these young babies full of life and positivity. We laughed at everything, right? Everything was fun. But then as we started to get older, we subconsciously develop these saboteurs in our minds that start to protect us as children within our childhood.

They’re basically defense mechanisms against real or perceived threat. So the keys are to recognize them and know that you actually can control them. And the interesting part to me was how that judge and those saboteurs can affect others around you. When our master saboteur or that judge is in full force, we’re in total what I mentioned earlier, that saboteur mode, that negative thought process.

Unfortunately, what happens, whether we realize it or not, we start to find fault within ourselves, within others that we’re talking with or communicating with, or the actual circumstance. And that causes disappointment, anger, that regret and guilt, shame, anxiety. And the first step is understanding, acknowledging it. When I talk about this to people, they say, well, this sounds like nothing more than toxic positivity. And I totally understand that comment.

What I am not saying, if a client were to call me and say, okay, I have a staff member that stole $50,000 from me. I am not saying, hmm, I need you to take a deep breath. Let’s think about where that person’s coming from. Absolutely not. This is really understanding how we can be, we can recognize them, pull ourselves out of that negative mindset where we can be more productive and happier for it. Shirzad identifies the judge as the ultimate saboteur, but then there’s nine subsets or nine saboteurs underneath that judge that we can identify that helps us to understand where that mind goes in a given situation.

You and I can be in the same scenario, but have completely different reactions to it based on what saboteur takes over our mind. Does that make sense?

Bethany Fishbein: It will, I think with a little bit more information.

Sarah Dau: Gotcha.

Bethany Fishbein: What are these nine? He names them, right?

Sarah Dau: He does name those nine. The first saboteur is the judge. Then we have the avoider, the controller, the hyperachiever, the hyper rational, the hyper vigilant, pleaser, restless, stickler, and victim. Have I intrigued you?

Bethany Fishbein: Yes.

Sarah Dau: What do these all mean?

Bethany Fishbein: Yes. So talk about, like you’ve done these assessments now with some practice owners. We’ve done them with our team. What are the ones that jump out or what’s one that jumps out to you as this is one I’ve seen a lot?

Sarah Dau: Avoider is a big one.

Bethany Fishbein: So talk about what the avoider looks like when that’s going on in someone’s head.

Sarah Dau: Well, thank you for choosing that one because I have that as one of my top ones. And interestingly enough, when I see that in a practice, that avoider, for instance, let’s say in the doctor’s shoes, they might avoid recommending that second pair of glasses. And they might avoid recommending myopia control or a dry eye treatment because it’s not covered by insurance.

And they avoid it because they’re afraid of rejection. They’re afraid of what the patient might say next. How do I handle that? They go into saboteur mode. What if the patient says no? What if they push back? What do they do? So they’re a little bit less motivated to bring it up and they’ll procrastinate on it.

Another example of an avoider in a personal setting would be someone that does not like conflict. So they avoid it all costs and they don’t truly share with the other person they’re in conflict with how they truly feel. And that’s an issue in itself because we know an issue, a big issue usually doesn’t resolve itself. It usually snowballs and gets bigger and bigger until all of a sudden the explosion happens, right? Because it was never dealt with and put to bed. So within the office and outside the office, how that avoider can present itself and it really gets in the way of progression and implementing something that can move that practice and that team forward.

Bethany Fishbein: And I’m thinking about the interactions that I have with clients and doctors that I speak to. And I think that that avoider is probably what I’m hearing when people say things like, I don’t like selling, I’m non-confrontational, I hide in my office instead of talking to a staff member. I don’t like dealing with these kinds of things.

Sarah Dau: Yes.

Bethany Fishbein: What’s another one that you see pretty commonly?

Sarah Dau: I would say controller is also a big one. I do have some of my clients that will, whether they admit it or not, will say they have a hard time delegating. They have to do it all themselves because the only way that it’s going to be done properly, if they do it. If I delegate this to someone else, they’re not going to do it properly or the way that I would do it. And that holds them back because especially I see it come out even more so when that practice is growing and growing and growing, you get to that point, right? Where you’re spinning a thousand plates at once. It’s not humanly possible to do so. You need to start delegating out tasks to work best as a team and to move that practice forward.

You can’t do it all. But what I see in some of that leadership block is the reluctance to have others help you, a part of that team. Also, when they do say, okay, I’m going to step out of my comfort zone, out of my controller zone and give my office manager A, B and C to work on, you’re going to be a stickler about that and say, hmm, okay, you didn’t do this the right way. And then you try to fix it. So that puts your office manager in kind of a leadership block where now they feel that they don’t want to step out of that comfort zone because they’re always going to feel judged by their boss or the owner or the owner of the practice because they delegate something to them. They do it. And then the doctor comes back and says, no, you didn’t do this right.

So then you actually inhibit your office manager’s ability to lead and to delegate the tasks you asked them to do in the first place. And it happens without you even realizing that it’s happening.

Bethany Fishbein: And in that example, you can start to see how some of these can work in conjunction. Like you talked about that controller and that stickler. That’s a tough combination.

Sarah Dau: Yes. Yes. They’re contagious. We saw that in our meeting, right, Bethany? Amongst the team, we started to talk about, we shared our top saboteurs with one another and explained when we’re in a certain situation, this is how I react and why. It was like, whoa. Like my avoider was triggering a saboteur in one of my teammates and I made her feel badly.

And I don’t know if you remember, but I had tears in my eyes because we’re teammates, we’re coworkers, we’re friends, we adore one another. We would do anything for each other. And I’m making my teammate feel badly because my avoider kicks in. I don’t want to deal with something. And that’s not okay. That was a big eye-opener for me of how our behaviors and actions affect others, affect the team, affect our friends, our families. It really is quite powerful in and outside the office.

Bethany Fishbein: And talk about one more, do hypervigilant because that was mine. Ironically.

Sarah Dau: No, no, no. And you know what? It’s funny because when you said, is that bad? We all had that reaction and everyone does like, oh my gosh, I’ve got hypervigilant or I’ve got a voider on the top of my list. That’s horrible. No, that’s not how we look at it. They’re all not good for our brains, but they’re there. We can’t control them coming in, but we can certainly control how we deal with them and how we quiet them down so we can get back to what Shirzad calls our sage whenever possible.

Bethany Fishbein: So I want to talk about how to get out of them, but talk about what that hypervigilance looks like.

Sarah Dau: I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this with you, Bethany, but I had my entire family take the assessment, the saboteur assessment. And all three of my kids are hypervigilant. I was like, oh my gosh, I never knew. And quite honestly, that has changed the way I approach them as a parent. That’s a whole other topic. But the hypervigilant saboteur makes you feel intense and continuous anxiety about all the dangers surrounding you and that what can go wrong.

So in a doctor’s mind, when I’m working with a client, they’ll say, well, if I do that, what if my staff member quits? You know, that’s a popular one. We have a staff member that’s not performing up to standards, or maybe they’re not, they’re coming in late all the time. I actually had this one recently where a doctor said, she’s showing up late all the time, but she’s a really good staff member. So if I come down on her, she’s going to quit. What if she quits? And the anxiety was rising there, right? So that hypervigilant saboteur was taking over his mindset and not allowing him to address the situation.

So you’re constantly in that hypervigilant mode where your brain cannot rest. So it results in a great deal of ongoing stress that just, it wears you down, but it also wears others down because that stress and anxiety then spills out onto other people. Are you okay? Are you okay? I don’t mean to stress you out even more.

Bethany Fishbein: I am. No, no, I’m good. But I am aware of that and have become more aware of it since we did our training of how that does affect other people. Because just because I have that one doesn’t mean they have that one.

Sarah Dau: Right.

Bethany Fishbein: And so to someone else, it can sound like, you know, I did this thing and I’m like, okay, but did you think of this possibility? And did you think of this reason it could fail? And they’re like, oh, come on, I did this thing like, you know, looking for positive praise. And I just want to make sure that they, they poked holes in it and it’s going to be fail safe, but it can come across as very negative, right? You’re never satisfied with anything. Nothing is ever good enough. You’re always asking a question.

Sarah Dau: Yeah.

Bethany Fishbein: Right. And I remember, hopefully not too personal to share, but that was the way that ours, like ours kind of connected where my tendency is to ask those poke holes in this question, to ask those questions like poking holes in something to just, that’s where my brain goes. And I remember, you know, with, with you as an avoider, we kind of realized that to you, that was hitting your fear of rejection. Like she doesn’t like it and was making it hard for us to communicate on certain things. It was interesting.

Sarah Dau: Yes. Yes. And, you know, another one, you would ask a good question. What I see a lot, another one is, is a stickler. So the stickler has that need for perfection, order, organization, that’s taken way too far. So stickler is top of the list with avoider. Oh my gosh. Right. Like, and looking at my past in my sport, perfection was, it’s all about perfection and being judged constantly in gymnastics, right?

So stickler and avoider, I probably didn’t even need to take the assessment, but I did, but I was not surprised with the results. So, you know, talking about stickler, avoider, controller, let’s talk about how they’re contagious. So let’s say we’re all working on a project together. And between us, we have a strong stickler, controller and avoider saboteurs.

Here’s a scenario that might happen. And as I’m saying this, think about a scenario in, in your offices. So my stickler ignores the hundred good things that you’ve done on a project or that staff member has done, and doesn’t show any appreciation whatsoever and blames you for the one thing or the one flaw that needs fixing or is not working. That triggers your avoider, leading that staff member to feel demotivated, unwilling to share that resentment, and they procrastinate on those issues that really need fixing because of it.

So that procrastination triggers my controller to push you to fix things and fix them my way as I have further lost confidence in your abilities or so that staff member thinks. Is your head spinning? Probably. Mine is too, just going through it.

Bethany Fishbein: But I think one of the things that was really helpful about it was being able to put words on it. Because what you just said in the context of understanding these different things makes sense. Like, and we started to use the words, right? You know, hey stickler, right? Like we were, we were calling each other out, you know, or my, my hypervigilance is leading me to ask the following six questions. So it was received differently with that because it allowed us to understand a little bit where each other was coming from. And it’s very different to say, oh, I know she’s hypervigilant, then she’s just an asshole who hates everything I do. Right. Hopefully, I’m not quoting verbatim, but I don’t know.

Sarah Dau: No, no.

Bethany Fishbein: Having words like we did have a lot of aha moments, like, oh, that’s why you’re like that. That’s what’s happening here.

Sarah Dau: Totally. And that Shirzad talks about how to strengthen your sage and that we have these powers that we can tap into to do that. One of them is empathy. So you’re describing that empathy, that realizing what our saboteurs are, gives us more empathy. Okay. That’s Bethany’s going into hypervigilance stage. I need to provide that reassurance and confidence to her. I need to communicate that to her so I can help her to quiet that saboteur. We just communicate on a different level and it’s not all roses from there. Once you realize it, right? There are, there are smaller scenarios where you’re able to laugh through it and say, okay, stickler. But then there’s bigger picture, bigger scenarios that really push those saboteur buttons. Right. And we need to work a little bit harder on those.

So just when you think you’ve, okay, I’m empathizing. I understand Bethany’s hypervigilance is coming out. There might be another issue that comes up that’s on a broader scale that we go back to our own saboteurs. So it takes practice to recognize it and to best handle scenarios. So don’t get into that saboteur mindset. Shirzad really, in his book, he outlines and all the training I’ve been through that he feels that only 20% of the teams out there reach their full potential because of these saboteurs and negative thought patterns in our, in our minds.

Bethany Fishbein: So this is where you kept going on with training and I was like, all right, we have words for it. I’m good. So let’s talk about how you start to control it or start to quiet that when it happens.

Sarah Dau: Yes. The first piece of this is simply recognizing when they’re happening. So anyone out there, I’m going to give you homework as I do when I’m speaking to my, my clients every month is when you get into a negative thought pattern. Think about when you’re going into your office, something that really gets under your skin or something that you’re avoiding, identify it and say, Oh, this is what Sarah and Bethany were talking about. I think I’m in a saboteur mode. One of my saboteurs are taking over. Just recognize it. That’s the first thing that Shirzad teaches all of us, recognize it.

Bethany Fishbein: Gavin had talked a little bit about this in the last podcast where he talked about just over time realizing that because of things that had happened in his childhood, he was reacting differently to patients or staff in his practice who smelled of smoke because it triggered something for him. And so that self-awareness helped him, I guess, be aware of that, you know, aware of why he was being the way he was. And I guess is the first step before you can change it. You have to know you’re doing it.

Sarah Dau: You do. And that’s, that’s the first step for absolutely. So catch yourself, think about it. After you listen to this podcast, whether it’s in your personal life or when you go back into your offices, once you feel that, that negative thought process, anxiety, anger, disappointment, those negative emotions, just recognize it. And you’ve already learned something from the time you’re spending with us right now. Just recognize it. That’s the first part. Many times we don’t recognize it because we go, we spiral.

Bethany Fishbein: So that’s the first stage. So you’re, if I’m coming into work and I’m just like not feeling super good about it, is it like putting a word on it? Like somebody had recommended to me at one point there is this wheel and it had 80 different emotions. And so I can’t remember what they all were, but you picked a category and then it like, is it, is it about naming it or just realizing like, okay, I’m feeling pretty poopy about work today?

Sarah Dau: Both actually. Great question. And I think it’s both. The first is just saying, okay, I’m on the left side of my brain. That’s the survivor side of the brain, which Shahzad talks about. I’m in saboteur mode. So A, recognize it. B, which saboteur is it? If you’re coming into the office already in that mindset, could it be something that happened the day before or days before in the office? Or is it something from home? We all have struggles in our professional personal life, right? Hurdles that we have to jump through. So personally, is something going on in, in that staff member’s life that’s causing them to feel that way once they walk in the office.

So just acknowledging it and seeing what saboteur that is, is the first step. Going into how to quiet that again is a whole other show, which if you invite me back, I’d be more than happy to, to talk about it. But there are actual exercises that Shirzad teaches us on how to get from that left side of the brain of survivor mode into the right side of the brain, which is what he calls the sage brain.

In his research, he’s actually seen these neural pathways change on functional MRIs. This is where my geeky psychology major brain goes. I thought it was so interesting to learn about. He can actually see it. We have trained our brains, whether we realize it or not, to go into that negative thought process. We’ve done it to ourselves. We also have the ability to recognize it, stop it, and get into our right side of the brain by creating new neural pathways that he shows us how to do through various work and exercises. Can you tell my voice is escalating? It’s so exciting to me. I just love it. We have the power to do it. We just have to apply it.

Bethany Fishbein: Without going into a whole episodes worth here, can you give an idea of what an exercise can look like? Now somebody hears this, they recognize that they’re in it, they name it, and I don’t want to leave them hanging where now they just have to walk around knowing this. At Power Practice, we’re all about finding solutions. So give something.

Sarah Dau: Yes. Okay. So he goes into exercises being very aware of your breath, aware of your touch. We’ll do some exercises guided by Shirzad with touching your thumb to your pointer finger and really putting your thought press to that sensation, what you’re feeling. Everyone kind of has a different exercise I feel that resonates with them. So for me, it was the breath. I also meditate. So for some reason, maybe that’s why I went to the breath. So he’ll go through a guided exercise, being very, very aware of what you’re feeling during the inhalation, the temperature of that breath, and during the exhalation.

So taking a deep breath, closing your eyes and just saying, for instance, that hypervigilant, everything’s going to be okay. I’m okay. While you’re breathing in and feeling that cool air on the in inhalation, and then slowly exhaling and feeling that exhalation, probably a temperature, a little bit warmer than the inhalation and focusing on that, at least that’s what I felt.

It breaks that thought pattern of survival brain mode and focuses on that breath. So it stops that pattern and helps you to get on the right side because you’re not focusing on, oh my gosh, what if this doesn’t work? You’re focusing on your breath and you’re getting back to that sage brain.

Bethany Fishbein: So the breath, the touch, these are like just mindfulness.

Sarah Dau: Yes, being mindful. And I want to, I think it’s important to point out, we’ve had this in our studies together. I was studying under Shirzad with a group of people and this question came up quite a bit. Well, what if I just got some horrible news about a family member? They have cancer. They’re in a car accident.

We can’t make those very unfortunate scenarios in our lives go away. No breath can take that away. No sense of touch can take that away. And I think it’s important to acknowledge that. It’s about what we do with those emotions is where positive intelligence can come into play.

For example, Shirzad talks about the founder of MAAD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Candy Lightner lost her 13-year-old daughter due to a drunk driver who swerved and unfortunately had killed her daughter. And as traumatic and devastating as that is, she took all of those emotions, all of those feelings, and put it to help others. So she took a very, as I said, devastating life event and is using and choosing to use this to help others. We can somewhat call that sage, but I’m sure that that helps her to cope with such a devastating loss. So that’s just an example of how we can take that, this concept as a way of coping also with something that’s quite traumatic.

Bethany Fishbein: And you mentioned that idea of that argument of this is toxic positivity before.

Sarah Dau: Yes.

Bethany Fishbein: And so on one hand, I’m hearing a little bit of that, right? You have a negative feeling, take some breaths and don’t feel it anymore, right? Or just, you know, don’t be, don’t let your saboteurs take over, switch gears, right? Where I feel like sometimes those negative thoughts have a purpose. So just go into that a little bit more of the difference here and how, like, is there a part of this where those can be good for you?

Sarah Dau: I’m a strong believer that we can learn from our mistakes of today to be better tomorrow. I do believe that. So can you give me an example? I want to be able to apply it to a real-life scenario in office. So give me an example of where you feel doing this could be toxic positivity. Does that make sense?

Bethany Fishbein: Yeah. So my hypervigilance, I am making sure that everything is going to work the way that it’s supposed to.

Sarah Dau: Right.

Bethany Fishbein: And although that may be rather annoying to the people around me, the alternative, like if I just stuff that away and say, I’m not going to be like that, I’m not going to care how things turn out, then I feel like I’m less likely to get a good result. So I feel like it’s good to understand it. It’s good to know how this affects people. And at the same time, I really have a tough time believing that I just need to shut that down.

Sarah Dau: Right. Your hypervigilance, it’s your desire to be successful. Right. That requires you being a good leader and your team and having a team that produces. So you have a successful business that grows. You’re reaching those milestones and those goals that you have for your practice. So it’s important to feel that way. It’s important to want it to be done right.

Sometimes if your hypervigilance is kicking in and you’re saying to me, Sarah, I need A, B, and C done right now. And I go into that avoider mode because I felt you’re a little too confrontational. So you demotivated me because I’m afraid to implement because it’s not going to be right. It’s okay. Because what I need to do as the receiver on that end, I know where your mindset is coming from now. I know you might be in saboteur mode, but my avoider and my ability to address that says, Hey, do what she’s asking for. Because you know what you’re doing, have confidence in your work.

So it’s a two way street of calming those saboteurs to work and communicate better as a team. I feel it’s unrealistic to constantly be in the sage mode. The key is when you get to that saboteur mode is to recognize it and to try to stop it and minimize it the best you can. So you can get the best results from your team. But then when your team is aware, yeah, sometimes we have bad days and we might be a little bit more abrupt than other days, right? You might not say, Hmm, so I’m going to trigger Sarah’s avoider by this, but I’m going to ask her. No, we’re aware of it already. Right? So I know where you’re coming from, where the angst is coming from. And the key is to have those right people on your team and go back to having people on your team that believe in your mission and your core values and willing to carry them out.

So this is again, a whole other topic. And we get into this quite a bit with clients, too. Do I have the right person in the right seat on the right bus? Is that person on the right bus, but in the wrong seat? Or does that person need to get off at the next stop? So finding a team that is willing to work well together to bend and flex when you’re having maybe some of those off days where you’re like, Yeah, I’m not tapping into that. I’m just going to say, do this. And them understanding that. And that’s for the highest good is, is a winning combination. In my book, we have to give each other grace, that sometimes, whether it’s in the office or at home, sometimes we need to empathize with that scenario. Did I answer your question fully? Are you still skeptical? Be honest.

Bethany Fishbein: I’m hypervigilant. I’m always skeptical.

Sarah Dau: Yes, right. Trick question.

Bethany Fishbein: Sarah, I have felt and I hear the value of this. I hear your passion for it. If someone wants to learn more about themselves, you mentioned a self-assessment that people can take. How do they find that? And then if someone wants to really take this next level and utilize this as a tool to work better with their team and to become a better leader and a stronger group, how do they, what would they do next? There are a few ways that people can can learn more.

Sarah Dau: The first I would recommend is going on to You can read about the science behind the program, the saboteurs. There are some videos on there. And you also can take yourself the self-assessment. Also, I’d like to think of myself now as positive intelligence for optometry. Perhaps I’m giving myself a little too much credit, but I saw such a need for this for as long as I’ve been with power practice. What I see holding doctors and their staff back from reaching goals, this gives me that tool to help work with the doctor and their team so they can be more productive. They can understand the way their communication, their actions affect others and how we can tweak that when need be for the best productivity possible.

So for those that want to learn more about applying it to their own practices, please feel free to reach out to info at Put saboteurs or saboteur in the subject line. They will make sure that I receive it and I’d be more than happy to reach out to you and have a conversation about what’s happening in your office and how we can apply positive intelligence and some of the amazing, all the amazing other tools that we have through our over 20 years of experience in helping other doctors. We can talk about how we can apply positive intelligence and some of those other tools to help you and your team reach your goals as well.

Bethany Fishbein: Sarah, thank you so much. You gave a great plug there, so I don’t even need to. So I will just thank you for being here and thank everyone out there for listening.

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