Light at the End of the Tunnel

The economy is finally getting restarted with restrictions lightening more each week. In a very short amount of time, we will be back to normal; or at least the new normal. Many people have been furloughed for weeks. For some, they have never been furloughed, and have been at it each and every day. At the very least, all will be forced to take an inventory of their life.

Some have spent the last several weeks desperately afraid of catching the virus, and by stopping in their tracks, they have not been able to really live. Assuming they would catch the virus —  after two months of fear driven isolation and hibernation, they would actually be sick for up to fourteen days PLUS the two months they spent in fear.

This is not the end of humanity with some kind of end-all virus. I am not making light of those who have been sick or have died; I am simply stating a point. The point is this; Whatever holds your focus and full attention will grow roots and bear fruit.

Focus on good health and every habit changes to support that focus. Focus on relaxing on vacation, and you will find yourself melting away in paradise without a care in the world. Focus on catching a virus and you will find yourself immersed in masks, social distancing and surfing the internet to find anything that backs up your stance.

For me, I choose to see the light at the end of tunnel. In fact, I saw this massive Corona undertaking as an opportunity to choose what I focus on. It has allowed me the opportunity to zero in on that which has become blurry. I have also intentionally ignored the very things that take my attention away from these important things. I have found a new spiritual focus, a new business focus, a new family focus, and more.

I have been reminded of a time when businesses were closed on Sunday and nothing was open in the evenings. I believe life is more rich with these businesses closed. I have been reminded of a time when families ate at the kitchen table every night and on occasion ate at a restaurant as a treat. I believe family relationships are better off for it. I recollect a time when Sunday was centered on God. Going to church and spending time with family and sometimes friends — and nothing else. No sports, no shopping, no sleep overs, no work, no errands, no appointments, no nothing. I believe life is much more rich because of it.

So as we come out of this dark time, I will be focused at the light at the end of the tunnel and allow my spirit to feel a sense of gratitude for this time we have come through and are still coming through. I have been able to be richer because of it.

All Play and No Work . . .

Okay, let’s face it; the first day back at the office after a nice relaxing vacation can be very challenging. After all, while we were on vacation, we would have taken some time to unwind and refresh and probably slept in and overall we would not have exerted ourselves. Then, the first Monday back to work seems surreal. We are expected to go from a leisurely stroll to a full sprint.

COVID-19 has changed many things but probably the most important thing to notice is our pace at the office. For those of us working in a variable pay environment, we have been forced into a leisurely stroll. Those of us that were not furloughed have had reduced hours, reduced traffic, reduced tasks to be completed and an overall reduction in job related stress. The real danger is settling in and getting used to the results that we are now producing in the slowdown.

Most economists will agree that April was the low point in this economic stand still. Most believe that May will mirror March, and June and July will have a sharp increase, however, even with a sharp increase in June and July, we will be in a recession environment. Not all people furloughed will be asked back to their positions, not all businesses will open back up, and the reality of a long recovery is at hand.

With this said, it is vitally important not to become complacent with reduced hours and production. We live in a capitalistic society that rewards bigger results based on our efforts. It is important to set bigger goals for May than you think are possible and plan for an even bigger June. Do not get lulled to sleep by the March/April business climate. It will only be the new norm if you choose it to be. If you choose it to be, you will be left behind. In fact, for those of us still working, we have people who are depending on us to grow our business back to a resemblance of where it was when they left — and in a short amount of time, so that they can get back to work.

So look back on March and April with gratitude to have been able to hit the pause button in life, which afforded you to be able to smell the roses. But it is now May and we have work to do. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Conversely, all play and no work makes Jack an undisciplined, unproductive member of society. Set your sights high for May and beyond. Reach higher; work harder; FOCUS; stretch; and grow. Learn to have a balance of smelling the roses and being more productive with your time when you are back to work.

All I Can See

I recently saw a documentary about our plastic epidemic and the effects on the planet. Thanks to that one hour documentary, all I can see is plastic, plastic, and more plastic — EVERYWHERE. It is like a cruel game of Eye Spy.

We are currently dealing with COVID-19 and that is all that people can see. On the news or in person, the average human is inundated with stories, facts, news, or otherwise. So, it goes without saying that the coronavirus is all they can see.

Truth be told, all I can see or you can see is what we fill our thoughts and imaginations with. I suggest we fill our thoughts on love and not hate. On faith and not fear. On hope and not despair. We are in complete control of what we think about but what we fill our minds with will either propel the thought or starve the thought to the point of filling it with something else.

So, maybe you need to starve your thoughts that fan into flames a negative overall mindset, and replace them with something productive; such as thoughts and words of faith, attitudes of hope, and actions of love. Let’s share good news and an overall message that lifts us and others to a better place. After all, if we focus on these things, it will become all we can see.

An Inside Job

Personally, I have peace and joy during this very trying time. I am continually sharing with my staff and my family that joy is an inside job and not dependent on, or slave to our circumstances.

If we take action through a lens of fear, it is bound to increase the feelings of anxiety. It is usually an act of defense if we act at all. Survival mode if you will. When we act out of faith, it is driven through hope and thanksgiving and most always proactive.

Our inner circle needs leadership, not pandemonium. Our communities, co-workers, family, and staff need leadership and vision, not more fuel to a wild fire.

Leadership is the ability to influence others. So in essence, we carry around two buckets at all times. In one hand, a bucket of water and the other a bucket of gasoline. Wisdom and leadership teaches us when to use each one. One puts a fire out and one makes even a small ember a huge flame. In a situation like what we are currently living in, leaders must asses the facts and lead from a position of strength. Those who are throwing fuel on a fire in a time of crisis are not leading at all. This is the time to use the bucket of water to calm the fears of those around us.

This does not mean that we need to like our circumstances or ignore them. In fact, we can down right hate our current circumstances. But rest assured this too shall pass. With the exception of death and taxes (and Tom Brady going to another Super Bowl with Tampa Bay), everything passes. So, use this time as a time of reflection; as a time of goal setting; for being more prepared when we go back to “normal”; for smelling the roses; for more quality time with those we love; to maybe facetime those whom we do not see or speak to often; as a time to reconnect with friends once close; an perhaps more important than all, a time to pour the bucket of gas on our spiritual life.

Last night my daughter made her very own home-made hibachi grill for our family. The fried rice was super! Her recipe included rice, and egg or two, salt, pepper, and stir fry sauce. The chicken was outstanding and so were the veggies. She even had a water bottle to squirt in everyone’s mouth and she tossed veggies into our mouths from her spatula. She is refusing to bow to the fear, because joy is an inside job.

Cake, Less Eggs, Ain’t Cake

You have to excuse the grammar; I heard this saying once and it jumped out at me. Building a team in business is like making a cake . . . so to speak. Just the right ingredients mixed just the right way will produce an outstanding cake.

I recently have been interviewing for an open management position I have available, and all of the candidates are good at some things but not good at all things. Some have 20 years worth of experience but their overall automotive IQ doesn’t support it. Others have only a year of experience but have quickly seasoned and have a very high automotive IQ.

Picking the right person for the position can be a challenge as it relates to overall  experience. However, I feel it is even more important is how they fit in with the overall recipe of the store’s culture. Think about it; when you make a cake, you have eggs, flour, sugar, flavoring, butter, and salt. If you put too many eggs in, or not enough sugar, or only use a bowl of flour alone, it will be a cake to forget — if a cake at all. Eggs in and of themselves are not bad at all. But a bowl full of eggs alone will never get you the end result you are looking for, if the end result is a tasty cake.

When I interview, I am asking myself if the candidate will compliment the overall feel (or recipe) of the existing team. I wonder if they will be what we are looking for as we move into the future. I wonder if they will challenge and nudge the team members to be better or will they be argumentative and hostile in general. I am probing to see if I actually like the person, as in, are they kind/well groomed/well spoken/professional/humble/confident. It is even more vital that my existing management team will be assisted to even greater heights by the new hire and not fall into discouragement or worse; discontentment with their position based on the new recruit. It is not always about how many mountains you have moved on your resume or how many awards you have collected. It is also important that the fit is right interpersonally, because when putting a recipe together; cake, less eggs, ain’t cake.

Tune in Tokyo!

In business there is a chain of command and a way for managers to share a message that has been communicated behind closed doors to everyone on the staff.

It is interesting when the message that has been communicated is not the message that gets passed down. The antenna’s job is not to change the channel or change the message. Its job is to make the message more clearer.

Middle management is hard enough to handle in and of itself, but when the message gets distorted from its original intent, I assure you that the middle manager will have even more to handle, especially after the leader discovers the intentional communication faux pas.

The leader depends on the middle managers in the organization to communicate the vision or message clearly, and trusts the managers to waive the banner and plant the flag so to speak. The leader does not expect to find the team they have invested in, twisted and in poor spirits because a middle manager flakes out. Actually, the leader is trusting the manager to be a good steward of the business and a good steward of his or her vision.

If the antenna doesn’t do its job and make the content clearer for all to see, sometimes the leader throws it away and invests in a better product — like cable or streaming.

Saints Wanted?

How can we shine the light brightly then, if we are placing objects in the way that diminish it?

The notion that nothing good can be learned from a human being unless they have an impeccable and uncheckered past, is preposterous. It is just as crazy to assume that everything they have to say, or do, is now somehow void due to a checkered past. I recently had a friend challenge a quote I posted of MLKj – “the time is always right to do what is right.” He mentioned MLKj’s numerous affairs as if it somehow voids the wisdom of the quote or makes his efforts, vision, and life mission and empty endeavor.

I understand the overall concern, and recognize he was not perfect. But do his shortcomings need to be restated in an attempt to nullify the wisdom of the statement? I certainly don’t agree with some of his actions, but if we threw away wisdom based on the sin of the person, we would be left with nothing. Heck, even Solomon had 300 concubines, which is much more than Dr. King; presumably. We wouldn’t discount his wisdom based on his sin.

The Word of God states in Romans that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

How can we shine the light brightly then, if we are placing objects in the way that diminish it? Therefore, I recommend edifying the wisdom, the mission, the cause, or the character (if possible), and staying away from finding the shortcomings of something that has already been discovered – because the time is always right to do what is right.

7 Intentional Sales Steps to a Great 2020

Follow me here through the steps: Pun intended. All kidding aside, if you follow the seven steps outlined below, you will have a better year in 2020 than you have had in 2019. Remember, your steps must be intentional, not an accident. What are we waiting for? Let’s get started today and everyday thereafter.

Decide to Have a Good Attitude — Always

I use the word decide, because it is always a choice, and certainly cannot be a byproduct of your circumstances. Learn to have a good attitude in all situations. Trust me: it can always get worse. And if it were to get worse, you would wish that you were back in this present situation. I am not saying you have to like a bad situation. But learning to control your emotions and your attitude in spite of the situation you find yourself in will pay dividends.

Read Positive Material

Your mind is like a sponge. The same sponge that can soak up clean and refreshing water, can also soak up damaging and dirty chemicals. Your brain is no different. Feed your brain positive material by people just like you and I, who have succeeded or have overcome a tough situation. Read about others who have won awards, or have accomplished something wonderful. Read success stories, testimonials, spiritually nourishing books, and more. Stay away from the negative, such as the news or newspaper — as they all preach that the sky is falling.

Find Positive Reminders Every Day in What You Do

Maybe it is a reoccurring calendar reminder or a post-it note with an inspiring message or quote from a leader you look up to. You can print articles or pictures where you can see them that inspire you. You can keep the thank you cards from your happy customers or family/friends. The method does not matter, but the principle is a crucial step in keeping your focus on your goals.

Focus on Opportunity, Not Failure

Every customer is your opportunity. The town you live in is your opportunity. The state you live in and the country you live in is your opportunity. The world-wide-web is your opportunity. What you decide to focus on becomes your reality. Focus on failure, and get more of it. Focus on opportunity, and the more of it you will see available to you. Think it through; the person who has the money to spend on your product is asking you to help them spend it. They are never a nuisance. Ever. Yes, customers can be a royal pain, but if you can only sell to nice people, your pool of opportunity shrinks dramatically. Think of it another way — picture walking down a very long corridor with hundreds of doors that are all closed. Many are locked but some of them are unlocked. If there was a hundred dollar bill behind every unlocked door, you would simply run down the corridor twisting door knobs. You would never stop at the first locked door. Therefore, just start twisting the proverbial door knobs, as sales is simply a numbers game. Some doors are locked but the reward is only found behind the unlocked ones. Focus on the opportunity.

Celebrate Your Accomplishments, No Matter How Small They May Seem

When you were a baby, your parents or guardians celebrated your constant attempt at walking, even though there was more falling down than walking going on. They were encouraging you to keep trying, knowing that if you failed enough, you would eventually succeed, as long as you didn’t give up. Take the time today to celebrate your accomplishments and learn to focus on progress, not failure. As I have said in the past; inch by inch its a cinch but yard by yard its hard.

Develop a Cheerful and Outgoing Personality

Simply put — Be cheerful. People like to do business with people they like. AND, they buy more frequently and spend more money per transaction with less hesitation from happy people. Be that happy person. I have found that if you count all of the things you have to be thankful for, being cheerful and positive is much easier. Also, your associates will appreciate the breath of fresh air. It is easy to like someone who smiles, is happy, and is thankful.

Remember to Take Care of the Customer

Do you enjoy the niceties in your life? If you boil it down, the customer paid for it. Without the customer, we all have nothing in a free enterprise market. In my entire career, I have fired less than 7 customers. These customers were not fixable, they were toxic, and they were opportunists who were looking for someone to extort. So, I fired them. Most customers who seem unreasonable just want to be heard and helped. So, take care of the customer. Thank the customer. Appreciate the customer. Honor the customer.

Dick Chitty from Lexus had three rules that he shared with the dealer network to become successful in the car business. Rule #1 – Take care of the customer. Rule #2 – Take care of the customer. And rule #3 — you guessed it.

Happy New Year everyone. Let’s get intentional in 2020. It will be well worth it.

Average + Passion = Above Average

Never underestimate the power of passion. I am not talking about a fabricated rah-rah session; rather genuine passion that come from down deep. Passion always tips the scale. Passion changes history. Passion starts a movement. Passion is a game-changer.

Passion starts from somewhere inside and cannot be hidden. In fact, it is like trying to hide the proverbial elephant in the room. When you are passionate about a thing — it shows. You tend to talk about what you are passionate about; think about what you are passionate about; and dream about it all-the-more. You literally live it and breath it every hour of every day. And when these things happen, the work becomes easy because someone who is chasing their dream never feels like the work load is too heavy. The work never seems to too big, if the dream or reward is bigger — much bigger.

Many average people have been considered great in their field because they lived day and night for their passion and by doing so became great in the process. But what is the genesis? Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team. Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round and was the 199th overall draft pick — meaning no one really thought he would be anything special. Walt Disney was fired from an advertising agency for not having enough creativity. These men had a different idea of who they were, and they were determined to make their dreams come true. Their dreams were fueled by a passion that was deep inside of each of them. And the rest is history.

It is rumored when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor that Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack wrote in his diary, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” The same goes for Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, and Tom Brady — someone awoke a sleeping giant in their life, and its name was Passion.

So be careful not to squash your dreams or count yourself out. Because if you have a measure of passion, the odds just might be in your favor because average plus passion equals above average. Not passionate? Get a bigger dream and get passionate about accomplishing that dream.

Game of Inches

It has been said – inch by inch it is a cinch, yard by yard it is hard. In business, like football, the goal is to move the chains down the field. The primary focus is to keep moving in the right direction inch by inch.

Now, I am assuming you have surrounded yourself with a winning team. If you have not; what are you waiting for? President Calvin Coolidge said “nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.” Complacency is the prime suspect in the death of potential. Sometimes, you need to replace the complacent “superstars” with people that have the desire to move the chains forward. Many of the self proclaimed “superstars” would actually be superstars if they applied all that they claim they know. I would rather have an average but hungry participant than someone who basks in the glory of their accomplishments from days gone by. If you have talented team members that are complacent, you will not be as strong or successful with them on the team. Make the change and make the change quickly. Let them be someone else’s problem.

Fast forward to a team that is engaged and everyone wants the same result. Once that happens, it is the small changes or adjustments that will pay huge dividends. If everyone on the team is committed to get a little better every month, the results will be astounding.

A little better at negotiating, a little better at getting an offer, a little better at making appointments, a little better at follow up AND BOOM: the entire team is well-oiled and having strong results.

So don’t lose focus on moving forward an inch at a time. Do this often, and you’ll have a winning team. Because inch by inch it is a cinch.