In this episode, Dr. Travis Zigler, the founder of Eye Love, a company dedicated to naturally healing dry eyes around the world, joins Adam Markel to discuss how he reinvented his business model through the use of transformational service. Dr. Zigler created great connections that enabled him and his foundation to meet people’s needs in many different arenas. He shares the story of how their mission came to fruition and how they went from operating a practice to an online business focused on providing a natural product to help dry eyes. Hear about how Dr. Zigler and his wife found the courage to go all-in to reinvent their business model and the lessons they learned that you too could use to pivot your own business.

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Reinventing A Business Model With Transformational Service With Dr. Travis Zigler

A happy new day. I go, “Is it Monday? Is it Tuesday? Is it Thursday? What day is it?” It doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t say it doesn’t matter. Of course, it matters. What’s funny is that all of you out there that are reading right now, it could be Monday. That could be one of those little remarkable, serendipitous things. I don’t believe in coincidences or it could be some other day, morning, evening, night, or whenever. I thought to myself, “We’re always celebrating the new year and saying happy new year for the better part of a month until people stop saying that.”

Some years ago, friends of ours were hanging around at our houses as they want to do from time to time. We were having one of these parties. Loosely, it’s supposed to start on a Friday. People are still leaving on a Monday or Tuesday. We came up with this thing, a happy new day. I am repeating it now that is a brand-new beautiful day or it’s the end of a brand-new beautiful day. Wherever you are, wherever this is meeting you, it is perfect and I’m happy to be here with all of you and happy to have a new day. What a blessing that is. Sitting in gratitude and being present at this moment, anticipating a wonderful conversation with a great guest.

I can’t wait to bring him on and introduce him all to you. Dr. Travis Zigler is his name. He graduated in 2010 from Ohio State University College of Optometry. He graduated with honors Magna Cum Laude, something I also had as a distinction after college, and I haven’t thought about that in a while, but it takes a lot. To get to school with any distinction is a pretty cool thing. I remember when I got out of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with that same distinction, I felt funny about it at the time. I remember my dad would say, “That was incredible what you did. I’m proud of you.” I wasn’t a great receiver of that compliment back then. To me, whether it’s with honors or not, getting through four years of college or any formal education is not necessarily easy. There are many places where you can come off the track or find that it’s not worth it. Maybe it’s not even something that you can see the value.

I know that now statistically, only 1/3 of the people that go into college are graduating, which is shocking. The cost is high. It’s an intense situation. When I went to school, it’s a little while ago, I had student loans and all that, but it wasn’t nearly as expensive. It certainly didn’t mean that I was going to carry this debt, this burden, or this load of debt afterward that so many young people are facing right now. That’s not going to be the subject of our talk, but who knows? The work that Dr. Zigler does in many ways is meeting people in a different arena and meeting their needs. I’m going to get into that. He’s the Founder of Eye Love, which is cool. In fact, his website, which I don’t typically talk about websites on the show, but it’s an incredible foundation.

I want to shout out to it right out of the gate. It’s EyeLoveTheSun.com and I am an eye lover of the sun. Their mission is to heal one million dry eye sufferers naturally. Dr. Travis and his wife, Dr. Jenna Zigler, use the profits from Eye Love to fund free and low-cost clinics in Jamaica and in the US. They also started a charity called Eye Love Cares Foundation, which provides exams, glasses, sunglasses for those in need, free education scholarships for students that align with their mission. Interestingly enough, a long and winding road to the introduction may make some sense. First and foremost, Travis, it’s great to have you on the show. Thanks for being with us.

There's a reason everything happens to you, but you just got to sit down and listen sometimes. Click To Tweet

I’m privileged to be on here and I loved your whole introduction on gratitude. It’s something we practice quite a bit. Thanks for having me on.

You have an accomplished bio and a lot of people can relate to some of those things. Maybe some people can’t. What’s something that’s not in your bio that you would love for people to know about you?

I love to play the ukulele. That is something that I love to do and it’s something that relaxes me. I play for my son and try to learn songs like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. He sings and I play. He’s only two years old, so it’s a lot of fun.

I know you’ve done a lot of charity work on the island of Jamaica. I’m curious how you ended up going there. What sparked that? I said to you before we started the show, my wife and I, when we first got married, we went there to celebrate that marriage and it was our honeymoon spot for a couple of weeks. I’ve been back ever since and love that. It’s a beautiful place and beautiful people.

When we were students, my wife and I went to Ecuador and did a mission trip down there. It’s all about 2,000 patients down in Ecuador. There was a moment in those clinics that my life changed forever. We helped somebody that had extreme glaucoma. Glaucoma is where your eye pressure is high that it causes blindness. He was already blind from the side, but he was in a lot of pain and we took his pain down because we brought the pressure of his eye down. This was like an 80-year-old farmer, hard-nosed, hardcore guy. He fell in tears, grabbed me, gave me a hug and said, “God bless you.” At that moment, I knew I was addicted to the mission work and that’s what I wanted my end goal to be in life. It was something that I thought I would get to around 55 to 65 years old after practicing 30 years.

We decided that we wanted to shift that earlier. Now we get to go down to third world countries three times a year. Now we don’t practice actively anymore. We do everything online. The online presence has allowed us to focus more on the mission work and focus on a bigger mission of helping one million people heal their dry eyes naturally. To answer your question, to go back to Jamaica, a random ad. I was reading my optometry magazine one day and in the optometry magazine, there is an advertorial in there and it talked about mission trips in Jamaica. We were like, “We haven’t been on a mission trip in three years.” Ironically enough, when we graduated and got into practicing, we stopped doing the mission trips because we didn’t have time. We went four years without a mission trip and that one popped up and I was like, “We need to go to this.” We went down and we’ve been back seven times since. Our mission in life was the mission trips. We got away from them because life got in the way and we wanted to get back to them. Now we try to go on 2 to 3 a year now. That’s allowed us to do that.

In many ways, this show is about reinvention stories, about pivot stories. It sounds as though you reinvented the business model for yourself a bit. A lot of people that come out of school with a professional degree in part have to work to pay for the loans. Seeing why it was that that showed up earlier in my thoughts was this idea of it is expensive. There’s a lot of political conversation around making college free or doing something to alleviate this debt load that a lot of people have. You come out of school, whether it’s a lawyer or a doctor or some other thing or accountant or whatever, and you’ve got to pay for those student loans and malpractice insurance is expensive. All these kinds of things weigh into it.

PR Travis | Reinventing The Business Model

Reinventing The Business Model: Whether it’s online or in-person, people crave connection.

 

Maybe take us down that road a piece that you were working a more traditional model, which we all know what that’s like, 70, 80, 90, 100 hours a week to get something going in a startup business or even maybe working in someone else’s practice. It’s a traditional thing. You’re going to see your patients, your clients as many as you’ve got in a given week. Clearly, that does not leave a lot of room for a lot of other things. Maybe a family, time for yourself, time for mission work, the work that you said was important to you and your wife early on. Take us into the belly of the beast a little bit there because I’m sure it didn’t reinvent itself. I’m sure it didn’t happen overnight. I’m sure it didn’t happen without a certain amount of pain or a certain amount of prayer or both. If you could give us a little bit of the gory details there.

It started back in 2010 when I graduated from optometry school. My wife graduated in 2011. We thought our whole career was based in Columbus, Ohio. My uncle had a practice there and I was working for him when I was in school. Right when I got out of school, I started practicing with him. My wife came in as well. My cousin came in as well. We had Dr. Zigler, Zigler, Zigler and Zigler at this practice. I love seeing patients and I still love seeing patients, but there was something missing and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I did the three things you’re not supposed to do. We quit the stable job of working for my uncle. We moved across the country. We moved to South Carolina and we bought two practices. We started two practices across the country, all alone, and we loved it. We loved every second of it.

We were the business owners now. Our first pivot was going from employee to business owner. It came with the new practices and the practices we took over the doctor was going downhill fast. He was an alcoholic that got a negative rep in the community. We had to revitalize the practice a lot. With that comes a slower time. I went from seeing 4 to 5 patients an hour to seeing maybe one an hour. I had a lot of time on my hands to think, and a lot of times to do other things. I came across the course called The Amazing Selling Machine. I took it and bought it and taught us how to sell on Amazon. We started selling sunglasses, of all things, hence the name Eye Love the Sun. We became a sunglass company and the sunglass company started doing pretty well. We doubled our practices year over year.

After 2.5 years of being in South Carolina, we were at this point that we were like, “We have two successful practices. We have one successful online business. We need to get rid of one of them. We don’t have time.” We wanted to have kids too. We did a cost analysis of where is most of the revenue coming in with most of the stress and figure out which one we would like to do more. We sold one of our practices in June of 2017. We sold the second practice in January of 2018 and went all-in on our online business. Around August of 2016, we started to have a shift in our online business too. We liked the sunglasses side, but there’s no meaning behind it. You’re selling eyewear to people to protect them from the sun. We knew we were destined to do something more. That’s when our dry eye company started.

This was around August of 2016. We started a group on Facebook called The Dry Eye Syndrome Support Community. With this group, it started growing. The impact we were making on people is huge. We didn’t have any products for dry eye, but we came out with our first product in July of 2017. This was a result of a product that we sold on our shelf in our practice. It was a $30 product per month. You sprayed on your eyelids and our supplier decided to up their prices from $30 a month to $300 a month. The patient’s cost was even more. A patient came to me that was like, “Can you make this product?” I said, “Let me look into it.” We made the product and we released it in June 2017.

People want to do business with businesses that they have that relationship with. Click To Tweet

It’s our best seller now. It has made an impact on thousands and thousands of lives. We shifted our whole business into being more of a dry eye company to help people heal their irritated, dry eyes naturally. We don’t use chemicals in our products. As much as we can, we try to minimize preservatives and we’ve had many pivots over the years, but we feel like we finally found what we’re put on this Earth to do. That’s to heal people of their dry eye naturally. To go into that story a little bit more, the reason we went down that route is that when we were trying to have kids, we were battling infertility. We did everything in the Western medicine world.

How long, by the way?

Three years.

I want people to take that in because we’ve already covered a lot of territories. It’s perfect because frankly, I want to dig into the dry eye thing a little bit more. There are probably a lot of people that are maybe even unaware that that is such an issue or what to do about it if they are themselves struggling with it. There are too many cases, too many people. I’ve met a number of people that have had trouble conceiving. I’m sure we all know somebody that’s had that. In many ways, there are a lot of emotions involved in something like that. To be wanting to start a family and to not be able to see that happen for a period of time, three years, or sometimes longer even. Especially in a new marriage, you guys weren’t married that long to begin with. You were in business together right out of college. That’s a lot of pressure.

The infertility journey does tie back into the dry eye journey as well because we were in it for three years and this was why we were starting our three businesses as well. They all coincided together. We went through all the Western medicine things that you’re supposed to do for infertility, except for IVF. The day of our IVF appointment, something told me that we weren’t made to do this. We canceled our appointment and we explored Eastern medicine. We went down the acupuncture diet and herbals. We went down that route and we were pregnant in three months. It made us question everything we were taught about dry eye management, about how you have dry eye, you give them my drops. You have dry eye, you give them this.

We thought, “Why can’t we heal everybody’s body?” Our book is called Rethinking Dry Eye Treatment. The reason we did that is, what if we rethought dry eye treatment to be more of a symptom of overall systemic inflammation in our overall body? If we treat it that way, then maybe we don’t need the eye drops. Maybe we don’t need any of those products. That’s where that pivot occurred. We started teaching people how to heal their dry eye naturally through diet, hydration, decreasing stress, affirmations, gratitude and sleeping better and all these other things. The results have been far superior to any eye drop that’s on prescription out there. It’s all tied together. We’ve had many pivot points in our business journey, but we feel like we finally found our niche. It’s healing dry eye naturally. It’s all a result of things that happened in our lives. There’s a reason everything happens to you. You hear that all the time, but you’ve got to sit down and listen sometimes too. We always think like, “It happens for a reason,” but we never listen. You never sit down and listen to see what that reason could be. That’s what we did a great job of and we’ve shifted as a result of that.

In three years of infertility that resolved in three months of changing an approach, and again, I don’t believe or think there are too many coincidences. It’s always possible to connect the dots when you look back at it. It seems like in your looking back now at what was going on, then as soon as you began to shift mindset, as well as things that you were ingesting, the foods you were eating. I don’t remember if there was this in your timeline that when you decided to focus more on the one business, the online business, and look to sell those other practices. Did that coincide as well with that three-month period where you were able to conceive?

PR Travis | Reinventing The Business Model

Reinventing The Business Model: It’s not all about the winning, it’s all about serving.

 

I want to find out the idea that you were creating a release valve, so to speak, for the stress. I can only imagine when you’re running three startup organizations. It doesn’t leave you a lot of room. I don’t know what the fill in the blank is, but for conception. In this context, we’re talking about there becoming the procreation of a child, but conception is in many ways about everything. You’re conceiving ideas, you’re conceiving solutions to challenges. You’re conceiving things that produce resolution in your life and heal the areas where there are challenges. Conception is a metaphor. That’s the way I’m interpreting it at this moment. What was it that you were doing to increase or in hindsight to look back and say, “This is what produced that conception?”

The funny thing is you bring that up and I’m thinking to myself. I haven’t thought of it in that context, but when we conceived and it was in February 2017. The month after that, we decided to sell our first practice. That was the one that was causing the most stress in us. In January of 2017, we decided we are going to sell that practice and we put it up for sale. In February, we conceived and then we had him in November. We got rid of the second practice shortly after that after we had him. We believe in God. God was good. God was telling us that it’s not your time for children yet. That three years, if we would conceive right when we wanted to, we would still be practicing in South Carolina. I can guarantee it.

The fact that it was delayed three years, it allowed us to build our online business to the point that we could sell our practices and stop practicing to focus on this online business. Now we’re all in on it. It is our business. It’s our only thing that we do now. The great thing about it is I worked maybe 60 hours a week back then, and I worked 30 hours a week, maybe 60 hours a week. I don’t even know how long I work now because I love what I do. It doesn’t feel like work. I love communicating with someone like yourself, a like-minded entrepreneur that thinks like me, that does things like me, but you’re still different. We still have fun conversations around it. This is what I love to do now. It doesn’t feel like work to me every day when I wake up. I wake up jazzed about going to my computer and working, going to my office and working.

Space is a creative thing and creating space is how you get creative. It’s funny, but we have so much clutter in our lives. That can be mental clutter. It can be the physical clutter that’s around us. It could be emotional clutter, even spiritual clutter. When we’re talking about God or spirit, the universe, there’s a lot of clutter in that space as well. I know people that their daily lists of the to-dos are great. Even things that involve our spiritual practice, if they feel like they’re a duty, if they feel like they’re an obligation, they lose the creative juice. There’s something of the juice that makes those practices powerful that get sucked out in the process of it being an obligation or it being a part of a list that you tick things off. There are no hard and fast rules to any of this stuff. It’s fascinating that when you guys relaxed a bit, when you were able to focus on and see that there was an area for you to focus and consolidate your energy and let go of some things that might have been clutter. Extra burden and baggage and dues, things change for you.

We worked for two years, 2018 and 2019, on the online business. This happens to everybody. As we get settled into a routine, we tend to start going after shiny objects or something new or something else that’s different. 2019 was a big, scattered year for us. We tried to get more sales and we focused on the sales side of our business and that scattered us. It scattered our attention, it scattered our finances, it scattered everything. We didn’t grow. We stayed stagnant. We decided that in 2020, we’re going back to how we were before, which was service. We had to let go of a lot of our team members. We went away from sales. If you watch any of our videos from 2019, there’s a lot of call to actions and a lot of, “Go to DryEyeBook.com and get your free Dry Eye book or try our product.” In 2020, we have one call to action at the end and it’s, “Share this video if you want to join us in our mission to help one million dry eye sufferers.” That’s it. We’re focusing on service more and it feels good.

I have chills. I don’t know what that means exactly other than at the moment on the most obvious level of what you’re saying is resonating with me. We talk about sometimes that there’s a difference between closing sales and opening relationships. There’s always a difference between those two things. The idea of what does it take to close sales, which it becomes its own, can dominate and become a driver that dominates philosophy. When it dominates philosophy, when it impacts the culture of an organization, whether it’s small or medium size, huge organization, it changes the trajectory in ways that also show up in the bottom line. You had a firsthand experience of what that looked like, and you quickly pivoted, I’d say. There’s a lot of lagging data and you’ve got to analyze things and that takes time. You can get off track pretty far without knowing it, without enough data to analyze, to determine that the trend is not the trend you’re looking for.

If you serve more, you'll connect more. Click To Tweet

To be able to correct course in a year in business, in four quarters, to be able to look at what you had created or built, you must have scaled up and then scale down. We call it non scale on our side. We love how our business grows in a way that that is more around doing exactly how we want to do it. It sounds selfish. It is, primarily, I suppose. We want to feel good about our work and we want to feel good about the interactions we have with people. That means, to some extent, being able to spend the time and know the people or at least have the experience where you have a sense for us that we do know them. We have some finger on the pulse of what’s helping them or not helping them, etc.

It’s difficult to do that at scale in a service business. Products are maybe a little bit different, but not so much, I suppose, because the whole idea of how you serve the customers and where it is that you meet them with client experience, I assume that’s in part. I’d love to know more. Give us a sense of on a more micro level in the business. What are some of the things that you saw that were driving the boat when it came to more sales-focused? Maybe it didn’t feel good or look good or show good results versus what you’re doing now and what you were doing before that you’ve now gone back to doing?

In our business, the reason we grew the dry eye side is that we started that Dry Eye Syndrome Support Community on Facebook. That was before we had any products. It was all service-based. We weren’t trying to sell anything. It grew fast. We crossed 10,000 members in that as of March of 2020. It’s fun. That grew because all we did was serve. We went live in the community. They asked us questions, we answered the questions. It was full service. We didn’t have any products. If we did have products, we’d mention other people’s products. It wasn’t even our own. That’s how that community grew. That’s how our Dry following grew from 2016 into 2017 and in 2018. We had maybe two products in 2018 and now we have close to ten.

In 2019, it all depends on who you hang out with. I was hanging out with a crowd that was into direct response marketing, meaning advertisement to a page that says, “Buy my stuff.” We’re like, “We need a funnel.” We went away from everything that we had learned, everything that felt good to us, everything that was our values and our integrity. We want to focus on people over profits and we want to serve others over ourselves first. We want to make sure that the customer is taken care of no matter what. You talked about it in a service relationship, but it’s the exact same in a product relationship. People want to do business with businesses that they have that relationship with.

Most of our competitors are pharmaceutical companies and they have a lot of money to put towards. We’re a smaller scrappier organization. We like to focus on the relationship and you can’t get that in a pharmaceutical company, no matter how hard you try. Whenever somebody asks us, “Why should we buy your Heyedrate over your competitor Avenova?” We say, “They’re a pharmaceutical company and I’m the CEO and cofounder of this company and you’re talking to me. You can choose who you want to, but the products are similar. It’s the relationship. Do you want it with us or do you want it with them?” It’s transactional versus more of an actual relationship, a human to human interaction connection. That’s what we’re all here for. We’re all here to connect and everybody craves it whether it’s online or in person. We all crave connection.

PR Travis | Reinventing The Business Model

Reinventing The Business Model: Persistence means you’re doing something every single day that’s going to move you forward, and doing it consistently is key.

 

If you create that connection in your business with your customer, then you’ll win every time. It’s not all about winning. It’s all about serving. If you serve more, you’ll connect more too. That shift going from that funnels, direct response marketing of 2019 where our revenue was the exact same as the year before, but our profits went down. Now our sales are up 10%, our profits almost tripled. We’ve done a complete 180 turnaround from 2019. The best part about it is it feels good again. I’m not stressing. I’m not like, “I don’t like that funnel because it’s too salesy.” I get to go on video, talk to people like you. We did a live video before this. All we did was talk about what we want to talk about. We were talking about ocular realization and we didn’t try to sell them anything. We talked about it. It was fun.

It’s the difference between something that feels and is transactional in nature or primarily transactional versus something that is transformational. The connection is transformational. We are all renewed by our connections to others, the places where we are seen, where we’re heard, where we don’t feel alone, or where we feel we belong. It’s the nature of nature, of not human existence, but existence in general. Things thrive in an environment that is collaborative, but none of us can survive on our own. It might even sound like it’s more on the side of personal development in nature, yet it can be the foundation for a business. More than anything, we want to be able to connect and serve a community of people without there being this constant pressure or hammer. There’s always something coming, meaning there’s always going to be a pitch. There’s always going to be an offer, always a call to action that requires a response of some kind.

What ends up happening is people start to look at other people in those transactional relationships like, “We got 2 out of 10 response rate. We’ve got a 3 out of 10 response rate.” You’ve got a 30% closing rate, yet what happened to the other 70%? What happened to the other seven people? You didn’t open relationships with them. You’re doing something brave. It’s counterintuitive or maybe it’s entirely intuitive. It’s countered to what’s in the marketplace now and what people are feeling like. If they want to grow a business or scale a business, they’ve got to succumb to that mousetrap mentality. A lot of those marketing initiatives, they are in many ways quite manipulative. They’re putting profits before people, for sure. You don’t need me to say this, Travis, but good to you and your wife. It’s wonderful. You can see the difference in the bottom line in your own business, which is proof of the pudding.

Honestly, I want to feel good when I wake up. I want to feel like I’m doing something that’s worthwhile and I want to feel like it’s something that I want to do. I want to go on a video. I don’t want to try to sell. It feels good. We like to focus on the people over the profits and what’s going to happen is going to happen no matter what. Do what you love and the rest will take care of itself. Even on video, even on a podcast, people can feel that passion. If you don’t have that passion because you’re doing something that you don’t like to do, like sell, then they’ll feel that. They won’t connect with you.

You talked about a sales call. If you close 3 out of 10, what happened to the other 7? You’re not trying to connect. If you’re a good salesman and you connect with your prospect, you can close 90% of your calls, no matter what. Usually, you’ve got to find their pain point and if you can help solve it. That’s the key thing to sales. You’ve got to be able to open up the conversation to make them realize how big of a problem they have and how big of a pain it is and then make them have the a-ha. The thing I get sales pitches all the time is that they tell me what they’re offering and they’re not trying to learn about my pain at all. That’s what we’ve tried to do with our customers. We try to learn their pain and then we try to solve their pain either with a product, with a video, with a blog post or whatever it is. Even if it has nothing to do with our products, it creates that relationship with that customer. That’s not the reason we’re doing it. We’re doing it to help out. They trust us with everything.

I’m glad we got into this. I didn’t expect that this conversation would take this track. Even in the scenario of 90%, it’s like for us, we call it 100% enrollment. We say in connection with a little different context, we say that it’s 100% enrollment, 100% of the time. With public speaking, we train speakers to get on stage and deliver keynotes or deliver TED Talks and things like that. It’s this concept of 100% enrollment. You enroll 100% of the room 100% of the time. It’s the same thing in sales. If you’re not focused on closing a sale but instead, and this is a small but meaningful distinction, what you focus your attention on is to open a relationship.

Once you love yourself, then you can love someone else and everybody else. Click To Tweet

That’s the point that you want to get to. You can open 100% meaning that if you’re with ten people, you can open relationships with ten people. It doesn’t mean that ten people will feel compelled to buy a product or service from you at that moment. We get people that come back to us years later, months later, weeks later because we were careful to curate and nurture the relationship. They didn’t feel as though they were part of that whole commercial fishing expedition of what gets caught in the nets enough to keep the company going and all the rest of it and everything else. It’s like we could care less. They don’t get caught up in that. They go great. It wasn’t what you were talking about or where my focus was then or what was of pain or of significance to me at that time.

It didn’t lead me to think what you were about was something I needed to get involved with or whatever. Later on, they go, “I am interested in that,” or “I am still curious.” It happens all the time and then it is legitimately a business model to focus your sales team and your sales efforts on how can I open relationships. You’re a testament to this that the sales will absolutely take care of themselves. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a beautiful and effectively constructed online presence. Those are all meaningful things to have. People don’t want to be confused. You’ve got a product or service, make it easy for them to understand what you do, the problems you solve. If they’re looking to get it done, make it as simple a process as you can create.

That’s in part what Amazon does epically well, regardless of what you might think about their own business practices or their employment practices. There’s some controversy for me there as well. As a pure model for helping a person see what they’re looking for and make a quick and meaningful decision, they facilitated that brilliantly. I want to come back to one thing as we wrap up here, Travis, which is in talking with you about the years that you’ve been in business and the different iterations of that business, pivots both personally and professionally, you’ve had to be quite resilient. I’m curious. I know a lot of the folks in our community are resilient themselves. Yet the evolving definition of resilience is important because it’s a skillset that anybody can learn. I know the research is clear. People can learn that skillset and develop those tools at any age. You’ve been resilient. How do you define resilience? What can you share with us about your own understanding of what that word even means?

I’m going to take you down two things with the resilience that I believe. The first one is persistence. Persistence to me means that you’re doing something every single day that’s going to move you forward in some way or another. Doing it consistently is key. To give you a superficial example, we have to do two videos that are live every single week. We have to write two blog posts and come out with two videos every single week. We know if we’re persistent and consistent with that, every single week, our business will grow. It’s as easy as that. Find whatever it is that you need to do for your business and be persistent in it. It could be ten calls a week. It could be exchanging cards or ten connections a week.

It could be whatever but making sure you’re doing that every week, that’s the problem that most of us have. We don’t do it every single week. That’s when things start to fall apart. Persistence is the first part of resilience. The second part is having a bigger why. Our why is to help one million dry eye sufferers naturally. That’s a big number. There are 30 million dry eye sufferers in the US alone, let alone worldwide. I don’t know what the number is worldwide. All we have to do is hit 3% of the dry eye sufferers in the US to reach our one million goal. It is still a very big number and we’re only 4% of the way there. We still have a long way to go, which is the fun part. Having that bigger why is going to get you through the hard times.

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Rethinking Dry Eye Treatment: Lifestyle changes to control dry eye

We’ve been sued by a pharmaceutical company and we were in a lawsuit with them. We lost $140,000 in one day as a result of a coupon code gone wrong on Amazon. We’ve gone through different team members here and there doing things behind our back. We’ve had people attack us. We’ve had other lawsuits come after us. If you don’t have that bigger why, you’ll fold at the first thing like, “This isn’t worth it. They were right. I should have never started.” You’re going to start listening to those naysayers that come at you because whenever you come out with a new business idea or something else, there’s somebody that’s going to say, “Why would you do that?” or “You can’t do that.” When I told people that we were going to stop practicing after seven years of practicing, people thought I was crazy.

It started in 2010. When I graduated, I told people that I wanted to stop practicing at the age of 40. We did it at the age of 33, but everybody laughed at me. My financial advisor laughed at me, which is why I found a new one and then a new one, and then a new one until I found the one that didn’t laugh at me. When he didn’t laugh at me, that’s when I knew I found somebody. Having that bigger why and then having the persistence to focus on that bigger why is my definition of resilience.

I love the way you put that together and persistence and that consistency. If you’re persistent, but only in fits and spurts, you’re persistent for a week and then not for two weeks, but then persistent for a week, you lose something that Einstein called a miracle and that was the compounding effect. The compounding effect requires both of those things, the persistence, as well as the daily consistency. With money, you see that all the time. A little bit, but consistently investing in something that produces an interest rate over time. You get to see the hockey stick effect of it. Thank you very much. I don’t know that we would have found our way into those spaces had you not volunteered that.

In many ways, we’ve all faced lawsuits or the threats of lawsuits or the bullies have shown up. Bill Maher calls it cancel culture where people use their own platforms, be it large or small ones, to bash people when they don’t agree. They threaten them and speak unkindly in many ways to folks that are doing their thing. There’s a tremendous amount of judgment out there in this space. To wake up in the morning and feel the energy that’s required to deliver your best performance, your highest performance for the day, it’s tough to do that when you’re carrying the weight or unnecessary weight. It would be like, “I’m going to run a marathon.” You go, “I’ve been track training and I’m ready. My body is equipped. My mind is equipped.”

They say, “You’re going to run the marathon. We’re going to put a backpack on you. I’m going to put 50 pounds of bricks in the back. Now you’re going to run your marathon.” You go, “I didn’t prepare for that. That’s insane. There’s no way I’m going to be able to do that.” That’s what it can feel like when you get a letter, an email, a threat of something, an actual lawsuit, or any number of other things, even getting bullied on a social platform. Thank you, Travis, for sharing that with our people. That is in many ways what resilience is. It’s many different things for many people. My last question for you, to piggyback what you said about resilience, is what’s one thing you do on a regular basis, on even a daily basis that would help you to develop those resilience qualities?

I heard you talking about this in one of your previous episodes and it’s funny because it’s something I do every single day. I have a seven-minute meditation and it’s an om meditation. I put my headphones in, I listen to that for seven minutes and all I do is repeat back to myself, “I love myself.” Everything starts with loving ourselves. Once you love yourself, then you can love someone else and you can love everybody else. We have to constantly remind ourselves. It may sound crazy to sit there for seven minutes by myself saying, “I love myself,” to myself, but it gets my mind space right to tackle the day and to love other people and to serve other people. I wake up every morning after I do my 50 pushups, crunches and squats. I then sit there, quiet my mind, put my headphones in. If you don’t have your headphones in, it makes a big difference with meditation. I listen to that and I listen to the same one every morning because then I know what’s coming and it’s consistent. I say, “I love myself,” over and over again. That sets me up for the rest of the day.

I’m a spiritual person, not a religious one, but in the pursuit of my interest in spirituality, I’ve read a lot of things in that arena, including passages from the Bible. This is one that regardless of your interest in spirit or not, we’ll know. It’s the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” That whole ‘do unto others’ has a lot of meaning to me in what you said, which is that to love yourself, which many people find selfish. Even the response to my TED Talk was quite interesting. It was more overwhelmingly positive. People got it and they loved it and shared it. That was terrific. There was a good percentage of folks, 10% to 15%, even maybe 20% of people that push back on that that said, “If you knew what my life was like, you wouldn’t love your life if you lived my life. Who are you?”

What was that direct feedback, let’s call it. What you said about loving yourself is it’s we get it and yet it’s so surprising how that is one of those things that people will think is either not something they can wrap their arms around because it doesn’t feel true to them. On some level, people say it’s being self-absorbed to selfish. I go back to those profound words of the golden rule. How can you do onto others as you would have them do unto you if you’re not willing to love yourself? How can you love others? How can you invite love for yourself if you don’t practice it yourself? It’s difficult on a good day.

It goes back to that whole victim mentality of you can say everything’s happening to me, but Tony Robbins says this all the time. Instead of thinking that things are happening to me, I started thinking about, what if they’re happening for me? I alluded to this at the beginning of the show. We don’t take time to think about what happens in our lives to us or for us because we don’t listen. When you start to listen, that’s when things start to show up. We’ve had some tragic events that happen in our lives. A lot of people would fold up and everything would go away. What happened in November, then December, then January, and then we moved in the middle of January on top of all this stuff happening for us. If we didn’t sit there and listen to why this is happening for us, then it would probably have broken us down completely. It made us shift our business model. It made us shift a couple of things in our life again. If you start to think about how everything’s happening for you instead of to you, then you get rid of that victim mentality, and then you start listening and then you’ll move your life forward. You’ll create the pivot that you need to create in order to move your life, business, marriage, your relationship with your children forward. It’s happening for us instead of to us.

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It’s the get-tos. How often we look at things and go, “I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to do that.” I still catch myself all the time with that. It’s good ten years since I first heard that. They come from places like Emmet Fox. I remember reading Awaken the Giant Within and looking at some of the footnotes in that big tome of a book and it led me. I am still grateful to that book and to the reference to a little pamphlet called The 7 Day Mental Diet by Emmet Fox. There’s no question that these are principles that have been around for a long time spoken about again and again and yet until we breathe life into them ourselves, they are just conceptual.

The last thing I would say about that is language is important. Watch your own language. Me, I do it all the time and things slip through. They slip through the filter, even being aware and the got-tos. To be able to turn that around and somebody says, “Do I get to? Is this a get to? Is this truly a got to? I can’t feel like I get to do it.” Maybe this question as to whether or not you ought to be doing that. The obligation is not energy. At least in this phase and stage in my life, I don’t want to feel obligated because the love isn’t there. There’s not a lot of love in that activity when it feels obligatory versus something. That’s a blessing. With that, Travis, thank you. What a blessing it’s been heavy on the show. I love this conversation and I appreciate you for it.

I appreciate you having me on. It’s been a blast and I love your show. I’ve been reading it.

Hopefully, keep up the good work and good conversations. A quick reminder to myself, to all of us, that we have a choice when we wake up tomorrow. When we wake up collectively, that itself is an unknown, and yet I’m going to take it right now not for granted, but as a fact that we will all get to wake up again tomorrow. We have this choice to make at the beginning of the day of how we want to begin that day what it is that we will set into motion by the first few seeds of our thoughts that we plant. For me, that’s going to be gratitude. It’s where Travis and I began this conversation. It’s where I find a constant resolution.

There’s never any doubt. There’s nothing that isn’t rectified and reconciled when I shift whatever my focus is in the moment to the acknowledgment and the realization of gratitude for that moment. Tomorrow morning, we wake up, potentially you can feel grateful for something as you’re taking that first breath of the day. Those four simple words that take ten seconds for me. I say these words every morning when I wake up, “I love my life.” That’s what you said, Travis. You get quiet. You listen to your meditation and you think about how you love yourself. It’s powerful. Four simple words and they don’t have to be those words. They can be words you want. My prayer is that more and more our world collectively is setting these powerful intentions at the start of the day that involves us being more loving and kinder to ourselves so that we can ultimately give that gift. That’s the way we can do unto others. We can’t give something to someone else that we don’t except for ourselves. Travis, thanks. I appreciate the time.

Thanks for having me on.

You can find out more about the foundation that Dr. Travis and Dr. Jenna have created. You can go to EyeLoveCares.org and find out more about that as well as EyeLoveTheSun.com. We’d love to get your comments, get your feedback, get your questions for myself or Dr. Travis as well. You can leave us your feedback, which is valuable. It’s like oxygen to us. We love to get it. Go to AdamMarkel.com/podcasts to do that. We’ll see you and hopefully hear from you soon.

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About Dr. Travis Zigler

Our mission is to help 1,000,000 dry eye sufferers naturally by the year 2030. Join the mission at eyelovethesun.com