By Kristen Dalli,
Managing Editor, Jobson Medical Information
April 21, 2021
Mike Rothschild, OD, didn’t let pandemic-related restrictions stop him from hosting Leadership OD’s Executive Retreat this year. Though this annual event is typically held in a traditional business meeting venue, Dr. Rothschild got creative and opened up his Carrollton, Ga., home to small groups of just 10 people to facilitate the Executive Retreat.
What was previously a two-day meeting with up to as many as 75 attendees became an intimate learning and networking event where attendees were able to connect with other eyecare professionals to focus on the issues that most plagued them over the last year and work together to create action plans to bring home with them. While the Executive Retreat may have looked different this time around, the crux of the event remained the same: participants engaged in important conversations about challenging issues.
The goal of Leadership OD is to provide support, information and strategies to professionals in the eyecare field so they feel empowered and knowledgeable to get the most out of their businesses. The Executive Retreat was always a way for ECPs to continue that education and foster that community of support. In the meetings, attendees could share ideas, collaborate with their peers and find specific ways to address their businesses’ most pressing needs. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone in the eyecare field to think outside the box – which is exactly what happened with the Executive Retreat.
Organizing a New Kind of Retreat
Dr. Rothschild thought up an entirely new format for the Executive Retreat, and to ensure that attendees got the most out of their time, he had them do homework beforehand. Prior to arrival, the attendees responded to a survey in which they answered questions about their biggest concerns and goals as eyecare professionals. Their answers informed both the topics that were discussed at the Retreat and the groups the participants were assigned to upon arrival. Once in smaller groups, they could freely discuss ways to address these challenges and come up with plans of action. This also meant that no two sessions were the same; while one group discussed budgeting strategies, another discussed the eyecare industry on a whole.
Dr. Rothschild described the new approach: “Our format encourages dialogue between all participants – lecturer and participant alike. We blend physical activity with education to dramatically improve retention and motivation to make change happen. This will prove invaluable as you engage your entire practice in making positive changes happen.”
To maintain safety, Dr. Rothschild kept attendance to a minimum and utilized his space as best as possible. Some sessions and meals were held outdoors, windows were kept open when indoors, and no more than 10 people were at the two-day event. This ensured everyone stayed safe and healthy, and participants could focus on why they were there.
To reach a wider audience, despite the small-group setting, the Leadership OD Webinar was available on a live broadcast for eyecare professionals to tune into from home. This made it possible for many people to gain insights from Leadership OD, despite the limited capacity of the in-person event.
Results of the New Approach
The new format proved successful for Dr. Rothschild and the Executive Retreat attendees. Working so closely with other ODs allowed those in attendance to leave the Retreat with a complete, unique plan to take home to their practices. A key aspect of the final group session included discussing accountability strategies, so participants would feel confident in their new plans. Based on the attendees’ glowing comments following the Retreat, Dr. Rothschild’s efforts paid off.
“Leadership OD Executive Retreat was an exceptional experience! I attended the two-day retreat with my office managers and we all agree it was well worth the investment and time away from the practice. Having the small group of 10 allowed us to be completely comfortable with one another and share our best practices, along with our weaknesses,” said Eva M. Amendola, OD, Accent Vision Care. “Mike is truly a great leader. Through his experience in private practice, he is able to share numerous ideas on how to improve office flow, customer service, scheduling, office meetings and financials. I am excited to implement the many solutions that were presented during the retreat. I am definitely a better CEO and leader for my practice after attending the Executive Retreat with Leadership OD.”
“I just left the LOD retreat and feel I’m on the verge of making some real breakthroughs in my practice,” wrote Chris Owens, OD, Carolina Center for Eye Care. “I’ve been feeling stagnant and I’ve been frustrated with some of the obstacles I’ve been dealing with, and this provided the perfect environment to work through some of those challenges.”
The intimate environment also was a great way for attendees to form new relationships with fellow eyecare professionals.
“I loved this event. It’s such a great mix of serious talk and lighthearted fellowship,” said Brittany Breaux, practice administrator at Accent Vision Care. “I went not knowing anyone and left with some really close new friends. I highly recommend the Leadership OD Retreat to anyone looking for a more fulfilling experience.”
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Though Dr. Rothschild took an unconventional approach to this year’s Executive Retreat, his home proved to be the perfect place to engage with eyecare professionals from around the country.