Fulfill Your Inner Dragon-SlayerBy Kim Phelan
Article Date: 11-01-2010
Copyright(C) 2010 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
The fight is far from over, and you’re going to need good weapons.
If you read this page of CED, you already know that I tend to draw my thought pictures from my own backyard, so to speak. Now, you've heard a lot of talk about Wall Street versus Main Street – my place is actually (and philosophically) just to the right of Main Street if you're heading north, if you get my drift.
And so, it's a busy fall here on Charlotte Street, USA. I've been a travelin' fool and kids are begging me not to go. Here I am, home for a weekend between trips, and, well, what'd ya know, a movie for which we've been waiting to come on DVD since last March has finally arrived for us entertainment-starved households: I'll admit it, I'm not ashamed – "How to Train Your Dragon" is now playing in the main "theatre" of my home. Now, I'm no movie critic, so I'll get quickly to the point. This movie, for all its clever twists of plot, not to mention original 3-D wow, in this editor's humble opinion, boils down to one main one thing: The transfer of family business from one generation to the next generation.
If you're unfamiliar with what the heck I'm talking about, here's the summary: This hulky-bulky, redbearded and horn-helmeted village of Vikings has a regularly scheduled clash with attacking, flying dragons the way Midwesterners do with end-of summer, angry wasps – though clearly on a grander scale. But the skinny, wryly intellectual son of the Viking headhoncho discovers there's a softer side to dragons and, in the end, crafts and executes the master plan that solves a problem way bigger than anything these warrior maniacs have ever encountered before. And he does so with the most singularly unorthodox weapons his father's generation have ever witnessed.
Now, why do I speak to you of dragons and generations? I don't think it's over-sensationalizing to compare the prolonged and painful battle that dealers have been waging for the last two years to a dragon assault. And while past generations of distributor executives certainly have seen their share of business warfare, the current generation is leading their companies through unchartered territory, and that takes courage. It takes courage to run a lean and efficient dealership; to beat the bushes for new opportunities; to market your company creatively, to drive profitability in a climate of loss; and to do all this while maintaining a safe environment for the employees on your payroll.
If you're a next-gen dealer principal or if you're preparing to hand off the baton to that next-gen leader-intraining, how are you sharpening your sword for survival? If you're relying solely on mentoring from within, you may want to broaden your scope of resources. Your local group of dealers is an excellent place to begin, but don't stop there. Multiple layers of offense are your best assurance of success. The dealer executives I admire most model those courageous activities I itemized above, and they do so, I believe, because (1.) they read good books about business and history and people of great character; and (2.) they are active members of AED – not just remote dues-payers, but engaged participants in the whole industry networking/continuous education/ best practices/legislative-grassroots package that AED offers.
I'm worried about dealers who, for whatever reason, remain distant from their industry peers and overlook the professional advantages that their association makes available for the taking. But I'm also troubled about the AED dealers who have been active members in the past but have not transferred the knowledge of AED business resources to their successors, communicating the relevance of AED tools and events to their everyday management strategy.
If you forget everything else in this message, please get this: AED is reinvented for and by each new generation of dealer leaders – yeah, maybe it's still your father's AED, but it's yours, too, and you've got too many dragons around your head to ignore the perspectives of peers and experts you'll find at your side when you get into this place.
If you've been out of touch with AED for a while, or perhaps have never taken advantage of the AED experience, you're in luck – the mother-ship of AED events is about to dock in January, and have we got a show for you! AED Summit in Orlando is a phenomenal networking, business education, and executive planning experience, and I hope you will consider registering. Have some questions for our speakers or suggestions for us? Send me an e-mail – I'm wide open.
Thanks for reading.
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