Lessons from the Auto Business

So I went to a sales training meeting today and figured it would be just like any other sales training meeting: energetic but the "same ol same ol".  It can be stale, boring, and viewed as a waste of time.  As a manager, I know that any training is, for the most part, good training.  But today's was a little different.  Here is what I learned.

You have to become a little uncomfortable to bring change. You see, we are going through a change in the way we sell cars.  We hate putting customers in a position of perceived pressure.  So we are changing.  We don't want it to be that difficult to buy cars, it shouldn't be!  We are changing the way we are doing things but change is difficult.  Change is messy but in the end change is good.  This concept also sounds a lot like life to me.  We are resistant to change, in general.  And when we do need to change something in our lives, it is uncomfortable.  We need to embrace that!  You have to become a little uncomfortable to bring change.

Make a big deal out of the small things.  Sometimes we (in the car business) overlook the seemingly unimportant things.  We are around cars all day, every day.  I realize that this car has 9 airbags, but how much does that matter, right?  This is a small thing to us, but can be a huge thing to a customer.  And we need to make these small things big!  We need to emphasize them.  I think in life we overlook the small things, too.  The old adage of "Stop and smell the roses" rings in my ears.  I think we tend to overlook the small things in our daily routine.  We forget to tell people we love them as much as we should.  We rush around possibly missing something amazing in creation.  But what I think is important is that every once in a while we should make a huge deal out of small things.  You never know who's day - or life - you might change.

Your attitude creates the perception.  Simple, but true.  My sales guys will never sell anything if they don't have a great attitude, all the time.  Once you have a positive attitude, you create energy.  Energy creates enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm creates an event that you will never forget.  That's exactly what we are going for here at my work - to create a customer experience like no other one in the business.  But you know what?  I believe the same thing about life too.  Attitude leads us down all sorts of paths that can become unforgettable - good or bad!  But we wake up every single day and have a choice: good attitude or bad attitude.  What is your choice going to be?  Your attitude determines almost every thing you do!

This is truly about relationships.  This business, in the end, isn't really about price, trade in value, or interest rates.  It isn't about thinking you scored or got taken advantage of.  It is about relationships.  I am in the distinct position of having the opportunity to be in this business for a long time, and possibly own it.  I know first hand that relationships matter.  We sell a car one day.  But if we treat that customer right, they will hopefully be a life long customer.  Our sales people don't necessarily realize that because they come and go, they don't care as much as I do.  But I am teaching them to.  I am teaching them that relationships matter and are crucial.  Treating people right is all that really matters.  Sounds like life right?  Sounds like Jesus too, to me.  Jesus is really only about relationships.  He just wants to be with us and us with Him.

The thing about the car business and life is that at times things can be applied here and there interchangeably.  I look for these things daily and more and more am finding out just how much I like this business.  I like the challenge of it and I love the challenge God has laid out for me.  Now I just have to take advantage and listen to Him.

Until next time, attitude, relationships, and small things.  What are you going to learn today?


Yo, Momma!

She was there on October 17, 1982 (when we gave birth to me!).   She was there when I broke my arm jumping over a couch in our basement and was there when I sliced open my hand opening the dog food can.  (ER, both times).  She was there when I crapped my pants countless times.  She was there when my beloved frog, Slimer, died.  She took me to every single modeling shoot I had as a kid and sat there for hours on end.  (I think she kept all the money.  But she deserved it!) 

She was there thru the awkward stage of my youth - braces, headgear, short shorts and high socks - and told me I looked good despite the fact that I was (still am) a huge dork.  She took me to middle school jazz band (even through I was in elementary school) at 6:15am every morning.  She let me play golf all day long and charge egregious amounts of food on the tab at Illahe.  She drove me from Salem to Klamath Falls, up the Oregon Coast and back to Salem for 2 golf tournaments to watch me play like garbage.  She flew to Colorado when I qualified for a big one because she didn't want to miss a step.  She flew to Hawaii to watch my brother and I compete in a music competition for 3 days (OK, not too impressed with that one...).  She has proved that she will truly go to the end of the earth for me.

She didn't let me to to AC/DC because George Carter fell through our ceiling while climbing around where we shouldn't have.  She taught me discipline on that one.  She buried my cat Karen in the front yard (had to fold her tail in half to make her fit in our man made grave...).  She cooked for and fed hungry teenagers just about every night of the summer for years on end.  She has short-sheeted my bed numerous times.  She went through the worst time of her life with just me, and made it out a better person.  Through that, she taught me how to grow up, love when it's ugly, and keep you eye on the positive things.  She took me on trips, just the two of us, until the year I was married.  I will forever cherish the Mom-and-me trips and hope I get at least one more!  Heck I hope I get like 10 more, she pays!

She taught kids how to play piano, how to sing and how to have fun in church choir.  She has impacted thousands of lives in Salem through her volunteering and time spent in the community.  She laughs a lot.  She kicks ass on the tennis court and runs marathons.  She is now a grandma.  She still cooks the best cookies and banana bread.

It's May 13, 2012 and she's enjoying life as wife, friend, grandma and mom. 

She's MY mom, and for that, I am so thankful.  Happy Mother's Day, I love you, Mom!


Morning musings.

Have you ever wanted a relationship with someone?  I'm not talking romantically.  I'm talking about maybe someone you've idolized from a distance, or think is really cool, or is new in town?  I know I have.  And sometimes when it doesn't work out, I  get a little disappointed.  But sometimes it does work out and it turns in to something really amazing and fruitful.  All it takes is a little persistence and sticking your neck out there.

There is a story in the Bible about a guy who was in this exact position.  He was someone who was not liked in his home town - he was the dreaded tax collector whom everyone didn't trust or like at all.  Well Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming to town and wanted to meet him.  In Luke 19:2 it says that he was "wanting to see what sort of person Jesus was".  You see, he idolized Jesus from a distance.  Zac wanted to know about Him, what His life was like, and who He was.  Jesus rolls in to town and Zac climbs a tree to get a look at Him, thinking Jesus wouldn't realize he was up there.  Well Jesus is Jesus and He knew. He could feel that someone wanted to know Him.

So what does Jesus do?  He stops everything and invites Himself over to Zac's house for dinner.  All Jesus wanted to do was strike up a relationship with Zac and get to know him.  On his turf.  In his kitchen.  Over his dinner table. You see, Jesus is consistent.  He comes in to our lives and does the same thing.  He never forces him self on us and says that in order to know Him we have to go to church or be a missionary or go to Catholic school.  He just says "let's hang out every day and do stuff together".  He wants to go through this life with us, not above us.  Jesus just wants to be with.

My question to myself while I was reading this was two-fold.  I asked myself that if Zacchaeus wanted to know what kind of person Jesus is and I was living in his time, am I showing him with my life who Jesus is?  That struck a chord.  Am I living out what Jesus wants me to be as His follower and friend or am I doing my own thing?  Would Zac know who Jesus was if he met me?

I also asked myself, Am I walking through life, doing stuff, with Jesus everyday?  Or do I just invite Him to certain things?  You see, Jesus wants to be a part and THE part of everything!  He doesn't care.  He just wants to be with us and do stuff.  All of our stuff.  Not just the stuff that we want Him to see or know about.  I mean, come on.  He's God and knows about it anyway, so why try to hide??  Just let it all hang out and let Jesus in on the inside.

Lots to think about for me on this one.  Lots to do about it.  What about you?  Until next time, don't be afraid to seek out a new relationship.  You never know where it might lead you.


Pinched Nerve

Have you ever had a pinched nerve? What about in your neck? Let me tell you, it is no fun. I was working out 2 weeks ago doing pull ups (manly, I know) and all of the sudden I felt this incredible pain in my neck. Ashley must feel this all the time with me! Anyway, I initially thought it was a cramp but quickly realized it was much worse: pinched nerve. This puts you on the disabled list for about 2 weeks and it is no fun. Even a simple move such as getting out of bed hurts - you never realize you use your neck for nearly everything you do.

Time passed and I am fine now, but I did realize something about pinched nerves. They put you through something that you don't want to go through. They are painful. In the end, however, they probably make you a little stronger because you've built other muscles around it. They also strike you all of the sudden and don't let you forget about it.

This reminds me a little of how God works, I think. I think He pinches nerves in our lives. I think He puts things on our hearts that constantly remind us of Him. I think He pinches our nerves to get us moving, also. I have been pinched by God in a number of areas, and although at the time they seem painful and confusing, in the end He knows what's best. Sometimes He just has to pinch a nerve in me to get me to trust Him more or to love more.

What nerve is God pinching in you? Are you feeling the tug somewhere in your life to do something, love someone, go help someone somewhere? Are wondering what that is? Maybe it is God pinching a nerve in you to get some action, some movement, some more love. Because as my friend Bob says, love does!

 Until next time, don't do too many pull ups or you might pinch a nerve. Or is that a good thing?