Part III: Adam's Saga
Do Who You Are
In the previous episode, Adam accepted his first optometrist job, joining the clinical and research team at the VA hospital in Palo Alto, California.
Patient visits being quite structured made it easier for Adam to display the necessary social skills. But even more key to his success, he customized his job to fit him. For example:
Some children's dentists, at the end of an appointment, give the child a small toy. Adam adapted that to his optometry practice. Whether child or adult, at the end of an appointment, he asked, "Would you like me to play a song for you on the keyboard?"
In the years after being Dr. Van Doren's student assistant, Adam didn't learn much more about penetrating eye injuries but having the degree and experience made him perceived as an expert. A show-off from early childhood, Adam thus was able to land himself public speaking opportunities, first at local chapter meetings of the American Optometric Association, then at its national conference.
Adam's talks were more interesting than the typical academic presentation. For example, instead of just flowchart models and diagnostic checklists, his Powerpoint slides included ones like the one on the right.
|fish hook in eyeball|
And rather than just citing statistics, Adam told stories, remembering that in his own education, stories made the biggest impression, for example, the Obama Messaging Unit story and the Pope and Mussolini story.
With dozens of optometrists attending each of his training talks, Adam indirectly saved thousands of patients' eyesight.
Adam had his talks video-recorded, then edited to two minutes of nuggets, and uploaded to YouTube. Then he sent the link to lecture bureaus. One chose to represent him and got him dozens of speaking engagements at $10,000 to $15,000 a pop. Sure, he keynoted veteran events but also anti-war festivals, general surgery conventions, even a fisherman's expo.
Adam always gave credit to Van Doren and--with Harry's permission--pointed out that he had Asperger's Syndrome yet still made an amazing contribution--"Dr. Van Doren is an inspiration to all of us who are trying to succeed despite a serious problem."
To ensure his heart didn't harden as do many successful professionals, rather than taking standard vacations, Adam spent two weeks each year volunteering for Unite for Sight.
And throughout the year, Adam donated a few hours a week to the Lions, a Rotary-like organization that recycles donated eyeglasses to the poor, worldwide. He felt the need to rebel from his mom who continued to be active in Rotary but his rebellion didn't take him further than another service club.
Part III of Days of Our Work Lives: Adam's Saga, ends with Adam in his optometry office, fitting Ben for bifocals and writing a prescription for Susan: "Too young for bifocals." He had finally developed social skills.
I am now working on Part IV: Linda's Story. AOL plans to publish it and may require that it be original to AOL so, at least for now, I can't post it here. I'll let you know if and when it's available on AOL.