top of page
Blog: Blog

I’ve come to learn in my career that the world is a smaller place than we tend to think it is. People are paying attention not just to the work you produce, but also to the person you are. To recent grads, you may not know it yet, but you are constantly being evaluated for roles that may not even exist today, but could be a next step — or even your dream job — tomorrow. Here's an example: a few years ago, I was given the news that I had to close a business that I had poured my heart and soul into. But that very night, a CEO in my industry invited me to dinner to discuss what was next for me. That dinner resulted in me taking on a new role, one that continues to be a career highlight.

Every vendor, every colleague, every customer could someday be someone you may be working with, or working for. Make every effort to really connect with people, and recognize that the sales rep calling on you today may turn out to be the account executive you hire a few years from now to help scale your business (which happened to me) — or the CEO who wants to hire you. The Golden Rule applies in life and at work; treat others the way you want to be treated, with respect. You don’t know how your career may progress and could unfold unforeseen opportunities with friends or former vendors and colleagues.

I was inspired to write this post because of this recent photo taken of me with my colleague, Tony Marques. Over the years, Tony and I have worked together, within different organizations, both directly and indirectly. There's a mutual respect we have for one another, and as team members within the same global parent company, it was fun to run into one another and still want to ask each other, “What can I do for you?”.

We celebrated my daughter’s eighth birthday this week, and like most parents I know, I took an enormous number of pictures that day on my phone. As I watched my daughter scroll through the images, I marveled at how she worked my phone like it was second nature, effortlessly zooming in and out to see the faces and smiles on each picture. She’s just like most kids in this Generation Alpha — walking around with an innate knowledge about how to traverse the continuously changing landscape of technology. When the technology changes — and we all know that it does in the blink of an eye — our kids don’t sweat it. They roll with it as if the updates and changes have been there all along.

It struck me that day that setting goals is like this. Just like the shifting nature of the technology our kids navigate, the goal post that we strategically set for ourselves is constantly in motion. When we recognize this, it’s time to evaluate how and when to move the goal posts. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we change our goals, although it might. Usually though, it means that we are malleable enough to shift a bit, and to adopt the growth mindset of an eight-year-old, who is excited by the challenge and the invitation to explore.

I work in the automotive industry, which is deeply rooted in tradition, and yet aspires to set the pace for the future of evolving technology. The goal post is always moving in auto. Not only will dealers now buy a used car online, without kicking the tires, some dealerships are outsourcing their inventory acquisition and retail readying services. Auctions are now aiding dealers in the direct acquisition, reconditioning and delivery of inventory to a dealership’s front line. All of this would have been hard to imagine 20 years ago, but today, inventory fulfillment options help dealers compete in a new tech-focused automotive world.

As a former dealer, it would have been hard to imagine outsourcing inventory fulfillment. Fast forward to today though, and companies are willing to leverage dealership data and predictive analytics to fuel confidence in data-driven inventory outsourcing. We’re getting more comfortable with predictive analytics each day in our personal lives too. Netflix isn’t just making a wild guess on which series you’d enjoy binge watching next. The same technology that has propelled the success of companies like Netflix and Amazon will drive the dealer of the future.

As we move forward, the most successful folks in auto will be those who understand why the industry works so well with all of its traditions — and then marry that with the technology that is coming at us at the speed of light. Think Tesla and their development of electric cars, solar panels and battery storage systems. Think about how you can’t read automotive news without reading about autonomous driving. The goal post is continually moving in auto and in order for sellers to remain competitive, it is critically important to understand your target customer and align the right inventory in front of the right buyer to keep customers coming back. It’s all about driving the customer experience. You can have the greatest marketing team on the planet, but if you don’t have anything good to market, you don’t have anything good.

The dealership of the future will require you to continually move the goal post and embrace evolving technology that not only affects our operational and promotional processes, but also allows predictive analytics to influence root decision-making — and it will require us to do this again and again. We’re already embracing the changing technology in our personal lives — ordering groceries to our front door, setting up next Saturday night’s date. If we stubbornly refused to roll with these changes, we’d still be schlepping to the bank to make a deposit or waiting for days for to see the pictures we took on vacation. Embracing the familiar is comfortable, but if we want to flow with the moving current of creativity and innovation in auto, we must challenge ourselves to adopt a growth mindset and embrace the same technology that we adopt into our personal lives. Be okay with moving the goal post — this will be the future.

As we approach Fourth of July festivities this week, I’m feeling patriotic, and I’m reminded of how much entrepreneurial spirit is at the heart of America. Being an entrepreneur is about as patriotic as you can get — as American as apple pie, fireworks and lemonade stands. As Americans, we have a strong collective work ethic and a deep desire to make things better for the next generation — being entrepreneurial is simply who we are.

When I was 11 years old, my parents bought me a popcorn machine. That summer, I set up shop in the company my dad ran and sold popcorn and Snickers candy bars. Running your own business at the age of 11 is no joke: I had to keep the books, manage the concessions inventory and follow my dad’s spot-on advice:

1. Treat everyone with respect.

2. Give them more than they asked for.

So I made sure that the popcorn was overflowing, and for every tenth bag of popcorn I sold, I gave one away. My little popcorn stand was so successful that the company went on to build their own, permanent concessions stand by the following summer — and I was out of business, having learned a very early lesson in capitalism.

Though I have had many stops and starts along the way, the entrepreneurial spirit I acquired at the age of 11 is still a part of who I am. Like many people who possess an entrepreneur’s spirit within, I still look for opportunities to not just work for something great, but also to build something great, and to creatively innovate to solve problems for people. But I’ve had to learn how to discern when the right time is right to leap into something new and unfamiliar.

Maybe you’re digging deep to find your inner entrepreneur right now. Perhaps you’re contemplating the start of a new business, licensing a franchise or taking on a new position. Besides just trusting your gut, how do you know when the time is right to leap and not look back?

Several years ago, a business that I had poured my heart and soul into abruptly came to a halt. I found myself exhausted, with a skewed decision making compass, and an uncertainty about where to reinvest, refocus and recharge. After pausing for reflection, I was able to determine a set of criteria that I could stand any future opportunity against and gauge when to leap. I came to the realization that any future endeavor would have to meet three qualifications:

· The right market timing

· The dollars to support sustainable growth in a reasonable timeframe

· The right people to partner with

I viewed these things like a three-legged stool; if all three weren’t present, the entire opportunity would be out of balance. Being out of balance meant that I would eventually have to overcompensate for the imbalance and the opportunity wouldn’t be as successful. Over the years, this three-legged stool has never let me down.

My patriotic self is betting that you have your own version of a three-legged stool — one that allows you to take control, find your inner entrepreneur and set yourself up for on-going opportunities. With a little self-reflection, you can find it. I’m certain it will bring you back to your all-American roots and waving a red, white and entrepreneurial flag. Happy Independence Day!

bottom of page