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Quitting 101

By Buddy Smith, 2017 MHEDA Chairman of The Board

In this issue, we celebrate sales success stories from our dealers. The sales process has changed a good bit over the last few years. It is longer and more scrutinized than ever before. It seems that a sales person needs to utilize different skills in today’s world such as financial acumen, consensus building, and a lot of patience. While many things have changed, there is one thing that has stayed the same – the thrill of victory. There is nothing like hearing those wonderful words from a prospect – “Congratulations, we are going with you.”

In my role as dealer principal, I am ultimately responsible for everything and as I was thinking about the theme for this issue, I thought about the dealer principal’s success. What are the top attributes of an effective company leader? Is he a good sales person? Financial wizard? Team builder? As distributors, our primary objective is to sell, but there is so much more- aftermarket operations, finances, human resources, and many others. I am no Lee Iacocca or Jeff Bezos, but I have learned one thing that has helped me be more effective as a company leader – learning to quit.

No one has ever taught me how to quit. Most of the seminars and speakers I hear talk about doing more, working harder, working smarter, being more creative, etc. What about quitting? If I ever start a college, I will make sure there is one course offered – Quitting 101. In fact, I am going to teach it.

I want to give you five things I have quit that have made me more effective both professionally and personally:

1. I quit doing things I don’t like and am not good at. Before I replaced my father as dealer principal almost 12 years ago I also replaced him in a local networking group in our city. I hated it. About 100 of us would meet for breakfast every Tuesday morning at 7:30 and eat, socialize and swap leads. The leads did not help my company. It was a waste of my time. I did it because my father did it. Now, these were good people and many of them got a lot out of this group. It just wasn’t for me. How long do you think it took me to quit something that I did not enjoy and didn’t help our company? 16 years. That is 832 breakfasts and 1,662 lost hours. One morning I woke up and decided to quit. It felt great. Why did it take me so long? Because quitting was not in my vocabulary. I didn’t know how.

2. I quit being cheap with people. I am a trained accountant. Because of my training, I am frugal. I watch expenses closely. However I have learned that it is not in my or my company’s best interest to be cheap with the people we hire. I must be willing to pay a premium for good people. Recently we interviewed several people for a key position. We narrowed it to two and hired the one that was 35% more expensive because we felt he was the right fit. My experience has been that the premium we pay for the right people is paid back in short order.

3. I quit neglecting myself. I was 52 when it dawned on me that I was not treating myself very well. I did not exercise. I did not eat well. I had no hobbles. It showed up in my moods, energy and focus. I quit that behavior and hired a trainer and a nutritionist. I took a series of golf lessons. I began to enjoy eating healthy foods, and I loved the increased energy that cardio and strength training provided. I also began to think about taking better care of myself emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. Someone once told me that the best leaders manage themselves well. I believe it.

4. I quit believing that if I work hard and stay busy, success will follow. I do believe in hard work but the real question is – where am I headed? It took me a while, but I began to work more on the future. What is our next level of success and how do we get there? What is our next critical hire? In short, I spent more time working on the business than working in the business.

5. I quit isolating. This may shock some of you but here is the honest truth – I am an introvert. Introverts place great value on solitude. The downside is we tend to isolate and isolation is not healthy. One of the best things I have done for myself and our company is get involved with other dealers and find out how they solved the same problems we have. Dealer focus groups, MHEDA-NET, MHEDA seminars and webcasts are all tools that have helped us improve. It is not enough for me just to show up at these places, I have to initiate, ask questions and seek people out.

So what about you? What is one thing you would like to quit that would make you a better leader, sales person, husband, wife or parent?