Manuel Ignacio Vejarano Restrepo was born in Popayan, Colombia. After high school, he went to medical school in Colombia and graduated as a surgeon at the Universidad del Cauca. He later earned a degree in ophthalmology at the Fundacion Oftalmologica de Santander, after which he studied and specialized in refractive and anterior segment surgery at the Fundacion Oftalmologica Vejarano, also in Colombia. He then specialized in oculoplastic and reconstructive surgery at the Asociacion para Evitar la Ceguera in Mexico. Dr. Manuel Ignacio Vejarano Restrepo has also completed multiple courses abroad, expanding his skill set to include a wide range of techniques and specializations in ophthalmology, oculoplastic surgery, and more. Dr. Manuel Ignacio Vejarano Restrepo is the medical director and chief of anterior segment and ophthalmic facial plastic surgery at the Vejarano Cosmetic & Laser Vision Center in Mexico, which conducts an average of 200 surgeries per month of various types. He is also the chief of the ophthalmic facial plastic surgery service of the Fundación Oftalmológica Vejarano in Colombia. Dr. Manuel Ignacio Vejarano Restrepo travels to Colombia approximately every two months, but lives in Mexico.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
The idea for Vejarano Laser Vision Center was born out of necessity—the need for fundamental ophthalmic services in Mexico. When I started in medicine 25 years ago, there was a significant need for ophthalmic services, which was not being met. I worked to meet that need in Mexico, and 25 years later, here I am.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
On a typical day, I wake up, and quickly check on my meetings and plans for the day. I answer business emails and chats, then get ready to go to the office, where I arrive at 8:00 am. I spend the day on various medical activities, which can and typically do vary from day to day, until 8:30 pm, at which point I go home.
How do you bring ideas to life?
To bring ideas to life, I first analyze the ideas and projects that I’ve come up with, or that have been placed in front of me, to determine which ones are viable. After deciding what projects to work on, I proceed to make a plan. As that plan comes together in my head, I write it down, and I find the ideal team to develop it. From there, I develop the project alongside my team, to ensure that it will meet success. The key factors in this process are persistence and discipline until the idea or project has come to fruition.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The constant advancement of medical technology really excites me. New technologies enable new diagnostic testing methods, new surgical instruments, and new, more effective techniques. These technologies allow us to make faster and more accurate diagnoses, which we can treat more quickly and more effectively, enabling better and better outcomes for our patients. Medical technology continues to advance at an incredible pace, and we have to work tirelessly to remain at the forefront of our ever-advancing fields.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The habit that makes the most difference to me is that of maintaining my mindset toward my work—I maintain my tenacity, my persistence, my intensity, and my vision in bringing the best ophthalmic care possible to the people of Mexico and Colombia.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I think I would tell my younger self to learn more languages, and to start early. Such a skill would certainly have helped me grow my practice earlier, and more quickly. But besides that, I do think that I would have done everything else exactly the same. I’m happy with where I am now, with the progress I’ve made, and with the progress I’m continuing to make as time passes.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe we should make ophthalmic services available to everyone in society via fundamental and specialized medical service, and not as it is usually done—in a consulting room and in an overgeneralized manner. Patients need rapid and easy access to specialized services tailored to them, and to experts in their specific field of need.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I would recommend that others follow their dreams with the same passion and dedication that I did, so that they can find success in whatever it is they choose to do. And in pursuing your dreams, don’t be afraid to travel. If the resources or infrastructure that you need in order to forward your goals don’t exist in your area, remember that you can travel to other places, even other countries, in pursuit of success.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Early on, I recognized the need to diversify my services, to attract more and varied clients. I reached out to insurance companies, and formed other strategic alliances to ensure that my services are attainable and affordable for those who need them. When seeking to grow a business, never forget that your efforts rely entirely on your clients—you have to make it as easy as possible for your clients to reach you, and expand your services to appeal to as many clients as possible.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early in my academic career, there were a few times that I should have asked for assistance on some issues, but I did not. The reasons why I did this are trivial and irrelevant, but suffice to say, I paid a price for not reaching out to my mentors, professors, and peers. I overcame this problem by forcing myself to learn to ask for help when the situation warrants it—a practice I continue to this day.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I am currently developing an app that will be able to perform an evaluation of a patient’s eye condition in order to facilitate more streamlined contact and less wasted time for both the doctor and the patient. So, I suppose my advice would be to keep an eye out for new and previously unknown ways to streamline whatever business model you’re involved in, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of those opportunities when they arise.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I’ve spent recently was taking my two daughters to see a film at the theater. I love spending time with my family. Moments like those are very important to me, and I will always remember and cherish them.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
All of the medical equipment at Vejarano Laser Vision Center uses electronic records, and we utilize digital electronic record keeping to make our services more efficient. These electronic services reduce our waiting times by as much as 50%.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend that everyone read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I believe that the law of attraction is very strong, causing everything you desire and profoundly think about to become true. Everyone should read this book, so they can learn to tap into that power as well.
What is your favorite quote?
“Vision is a common right.”
● To become a successful entrepreneur, you need to diversify your thinking and your approach to your profession.
● You need to maintain good, productive habits that will keep you on the road to success.
● Always look to share your experience and provide help to your community and those who need it.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.