From early on in his life, Robert Deck fostered a healthy interest in healthcare and business. In his post-secondary studies, he majored in chemistry and minored in biology at Northern Michigan University. He then went on to attend optometry school at Ferris State University. Upon entering the professional world, Robert worked for other optometrists, all the while gathering valuable experience. After a few years, he was ready to open his own practice, and did so successfully. In the 1990s, Robert expanded his business by purchasing an existing practice from a retiring optometrist, then managing it and expanding it before selling it to another optometrist in 2015. Robert Deck continues to be actively involved with the optometry profession through his management of My Optical Life.
Always interested in new business ideas, Robert began to focus on acquiring sales, recruiting, and training skills. He found employment with Performance Communication Technologies and became their top sales producer as well as a trainer. After that, he transitioned into sales in the renewable energy sector, specifically solar power. Currently a field energy consultant for Powerhome Solar, Robert Deck is involved in recruiting consultants as well as being a top performer for the company every year.
Why did you decide to create your own business?
I wanted to own my own business for the autonomy and freedom it gave me to set my own schedule. As an entrepreneur, you tend to work more, but you also have the freedom to work when you want, and you can steer your business in the direction you want it to go. So, that’s the reason I created my own business, initially.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
What I love about the industries I’m in is that both of them are very dynamic. Both eye care and solar power make use of technologies that are changing rapidly. That part is very exciting to me. Additionally, I’m definitely an extrovert, so I also really like that I have the opportunity to interact a lot with people throughout the course of both positions.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I feel that I am inspired by everything, but especially from God, family, friends, readings, thoughts, other professionals, and mistakes.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
My parents and grandparents were good role models to me. They instilled me with good values and a solid work ethic. Of course, many friends and friends’ parents have had a positive impact on me. There have been other professionals in my field that I have looked up to, as well. For example, Gary Gerber is a top optometry practice building consultant that had a big influence on me when I was managing my own practice. He built a large practice and was on the cutting edge in providing treatment to patients, and his advice was very useful to me.
What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
A successful leader has to be patient and wise. Experience in your field also helps you to lead. I always think carefully before making decisions and I avoid knee-jerk reactions. When complaints occur or there are employee conflicts, I try to think things through and be patient. The more experience you accumulate, the better you become at dealing with issues like that.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
My biggest concern when students tell me they’re considering enrolling in optometry school is the debt load they’ll inevitably incur. It is so high. My recommendation is to take on as little debt as possible. You can help defray costs by attending a junior college and knock out as many undergraduate requirements before going to a major university. Also, perhaps consider going to a public school rather than a private school because the debt load for any student is just getting out of control.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
It is not the mistakes you make. It is what you learn from those mistakes.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Having children is far and away my biggest accomplishment. My optometry practice and my achievements in the solar power business are fantastic accomplishments and I’m proud of them, but all business endeavors pale in comparison to my children.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?
I have been known to say, “Hard work and perseverance rarely lead to failure.” To me, it is just a common-sense piece of advice.
What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
Life knocks you down, so you always have to get back up.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
I no longer do any water skiing or wakeboarding, but I still love fishing, hiking, and cycling.
Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?
What I imagine myself doing in 5 years is continuing to practice optometry part-time and still working in management consulting, although probably not in the solar field anymore. Possibly in the optometry field or the pharmaceutical field.
Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
The proudest day of my professional life was when we hit the million-dollar mark in yearly revenue for a single practitioner. It was a great milestone for my practice.