Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ohio Sky

I have devoted many words on my various blogs to Ohio Sky. April 18, 2009 I was at their record release party for their first album; 'Apophis'. I knew then that I was in for a treat especially because they named their record after a near Earth asteroid. Heck yes.

Last night was another record release party and it was great. Great is a poor adjective, but I looked in a thesaurus and I couldn't find anything suitable so great it is. I mean outstanding is a good one. Excellent I guess, but every word in the English language cannot come close to an Ohio Sky experience. 

Admittedly I felt very selfish leaving my very pregnant wife at home with the 5 year old. When she said to go, I heard sirens going off, "It's a trap!". She assured me to go, it wasn't like I go out all that often, and a lot of bands do not get me off the couch to spend money. Ohio Sky did, does, and will probably continue to do so. She even said she would have gone had she not been, you know, been almost 9 months pregnant. 

There are some things I don't get about concerts. I was going to pre-order tickets, but the prices online were $16.75. So I decided no, I'm not going. When I did decide at the last second to go, I walked up to the box office and got my ticket for $12.00. Does it really cost the House of Blues that much to process the transaction online? 

Anyway I walked in and went right to the merch table and grabbed the new record pressed into clear vinyl and I got the CD and I entered into the room, record in hand and just listened. 

What I love about Ohio Sky is that they shed the delusions of grandeur. Their first demo recording of 6 songs under the name THE Ohio Sky I picked up at the first Cleveland Ingenuity fest was really good. I knew right then and there that there was something special about this band, but the band's myspace page at one point had a phrase; "changing the face of rock." but when you played their music, as great as it was, didn't offer anything in the way of a change in the face of rock as they professed. It fit the current popular rock music, big vocals and catchy hooks but it just sounded like everything on the radio. I think their rhetoric regarding their talent was a product of the narcissism of the now former front man. Maybe, I don't know, but as talented as he is as a singer and songwriter and he is, his lyrics and his sound didn't push the genre as much as I knew he could. THE Ohio Sky was just a rehashing of a band they might have been before, repackaged, and re-released.

When Rob departed and Vinny took over the lead vocals and added a keyboard player (Patrick Finegan) and a rhythm guitarist (Michael Bashur). The addition of the keyboardist and Vinny on vocals gave the band and completely different sound and then they dropped the "THE". Vinny's tenor voice coupled with all the neat sounds the keyboards come with made for a completely spacey journey. This was the genre pushing I knew this band had in them. This is when things really started to take off for me. They got rid of the flashy myspace posturing and just made great music. This was when they transformed into Ohio Sky. 

Apophis is as much groundbreaking as it is a space odyssey to those recesses of your mind you could only enter when you were asleep. Opening an album with a 7 minute instrumental is as much genius as it is risky. 

Ohio Sky established their sound with Apophis and made a statement. Their second album, Curses, took that space rock sound and polished it, packaged it up with radio friendly tunes and crazy hypnotic riffs. It is best you listen in a dark room with your stereo turned up to 11. It truly is a visceral experience.  

"This House" is a further exploration of what kind of range Ohio Sky has. Taking it slow and methodical, the songs sound as much improvised as planned out. They clearly have a desire to be kept out of a box. Scratch that. The box, smash it and say to hell with boxes. 

Their new album "The Big Distraction" sounds like they know exactly who they are and who they want to be musically. They are unabashed to rock you so hard you're trembling and then take you down and just relax. 

It's hard to think back to a band in recent memory that has gotten continually better, creative, and didn't get into the genre definitions that come with being a band in the world of classification. I literally have them sorted into their own genre on my phone. They aren't rock, they aren't acid rock, they are straight up, Ohio Sky. 

Ohio Sky keeps getting better. Each person brings something to the table. With Michael moving over to bass when Mike Drury left, the foursome has never sounded tighter. Michael at one point uses a bow from a string instrument on his electric bass. The sound is just hauntingly delightful. 

This show opened with a black out on stage and nothing but a projection of snow, stars, and smoke in the background and the lights never came up. They were back lit like shadows on a wall, letting their music speak for itself and it happened to rock your face off. Their stage presence is intoxicating. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This new album is worth a dictionary and the hour break in your day to listen to it in its entirety. This is what rock can truly be. 

When you look back to footage of bands that started a movement, last night could have easily been one of those shows. Playing to a packed room, shoulder to shoulder on stage and in the crowd, Ohio Sky took you along on their musical journey. All our hearts beating with every smack of the drum and strum of the guitar. Our heads bobbing as one. Live shows are amazing and if you miss your chance to see Ohio Sky live, you are wasting your life. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


A person's a person no matter how small - Dr Seuss
It is early on  a Tuesday morning and here I am typing away to you. I am confused. Confused by what happened in Ferguson, MO, confused about the national conversation, confused about everything.

You already know what has happened in Ferguson, MO. You already know what happened in Cleveland. If you are looking for answers here, you aren't going to get them from me. I'm afraid all I have are more questions.

A questions that has yet to be asked in this mess is; why is a black person's life only worth anything if they are killed by a white person?

I don't see protests for injustice when there is black on black crime. Why do we need to classify it as black on black crime? Why do we need to classify it? A human being took the life of another human being, yet we aren't protesting in the street. Outside of the police shootings crime happens daily, in those places you only talk about but rarely go. There are hundreds of thousands of cases that are open right now that are more violent, heinous, and disturbing than what happened in Ferguson, MO. Still no one is protesting about those because people write it off as that the victims were just victims of their environment.

What is happening in Ferguson has been smoldering for years, and this shooting was the lightning rod that lit the powder keg. There isn't just perceived injustice in this city, it is real. I have seen it with my own eyes. I lived not far from there when I lived the St. Louis area. I left there for two reasons, I missed home and I didn't like the racially charged atmosphere that was there. It was on both sides.

I had a friend who lived in Ferguson, I would visit her and we stopped at a Denny's in Florissant and you could hear people on one side talking about the crooked cops, and the cops on the other talking about at the <insert you favorite racial slur here>. White dudes who hated black dudes, black dudes that hated white dudes. This was back in 1999-2000. The most ridiculous thing I heard while living there was; if you were a black guy driving through Missouri, fill your car up in St. Louis and don't stop til Kansas City. It was crazy.

But what we are missing is that we need to stop meeting violence with violence.

Somewhere in this whole mess we stopped respecting human life. As a species we are a flawed bunch. We have contradictions that make no sense; but we also have each other. No matter what we think, a human was killed by another human. That is a tragedy. It always is. But I ask the question again; why does a black man's life only mean something if they are killed by a white man?

Dr. Seuss was right. We need to realize it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


wanderlust - 

[won-der-luhst] noun 1. a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about. - source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
It write a lot. Not here as much, but in my trusty Moleskine. I find myself that I write more when I feel the need to escape or feel burnt out. I go back and read my entries and it seems I only have been writing when I have this sense of wanderlust. Where this desire comes from I don't know, but it nags at me when I get stressed out, when I get overwhelmed, but also when I am happy. The desire to just go somewhere is always something I love to do.

When I get these pangs of innate desire to rove, I usually turn to Netflix. Actually Netflix can be a catalyst for these things too. In March I found the documentary series, "The Long Way Round". It chronicled Ewan McGregor and Charly Boorman around the world from London, across Europe and through Asia eventually making their way across America to New York City, then back to London. Sounds awesome. What made this whole endeavor exciting is that they did it only on motorcycles. They had chase vehicles and a support team, but in the end, they rode their motor bikes as far as they could. Across terrain that you could barely walk. They stopped when they got tired, met interesting people. I was so enthralled, but at the same time telling myself I could never do that.

I guess this is the ultimate exercise in futility. I want to do these things, I want to experience traveling to all these places, but never actually try to plan, save, reduce money drains in my life to do any of these things.

Another documentary I was very curious to watch was "Tiny". It was about people who sold all their possessions and reduce their living area to about 200 square feet. The people love it, they talk about not letting their stuff take them over. I was so into this movie, all the while drowning in a house full of stuff we can't seem to let go of. Stored baby clothes. Stuffed animals that all have names and birth dates. Knickknacks with memories and sentimental values tied to them. Supplies for the art studio my wife and I would love to have. Dishes for a dining room we don't have. Wall art for a movie room we don't have.

Everywhere I look I am surrounded by stuff. Stuff we can't seem to ever put away. Stuff we don't really need. Stuff.

This past week I have been watching documentaries about sailing. See, on Labor day some friends, Justin and Jessica Mason, invited us out on their sail boat. They had just purchased the 39' vessel and this was the first big weekend they were taking it out. The wife, Addison, Audrey, and I met them at the dock, loaded the provisions we all brought, cast lines and off into Lake Erie we went for the day.

Sailing in Lake Erie off Cleveland on Labor Day (click to enlarge)
I have never felt more alive inside. The satisfying act of leaving a safe place and willingly going into a place that can turn on you is just exhilarating. I was quiet most of the day asking questions when I wanted to learn, but just allowing myself to be present in the moment. I took the camera out a little. Took some photos. We were in the breeze all day. When we got back to the yacht club, Wifey and Addison got off and drove home, and Audrey and I stayed on to help take the boat from Rocky River to Lorain another three to four hour sail. Jessica suffered a slight injury earlier in the day when the boom went hard from port to starboard, ripping the lines out of her hand and causing a slight burn. I know sailing needs lots of hands, and there was no way to get that boat from Rocky River with only Justin's hands especially with a breeze gusting up to 25 knots. So Audrey and I stayed on. I learned a lot about sailing that day. A lot more than when I sailed as a young kid on my Uncle's Catalina sailboat. I was just a passenger back then. When I was out with the Masons I felt like a part of the crew. Pulling lines, trimming sails, tossing dock lines. Cleaning seasickness out of the galley's sink when Audrey couldn't make it topside.

After experiencing the freedom of turning off the engine and being powered only by the wind, I need more of it. I stayed up most of the night last night watching youtube videos of a crew of people who 5 years ago left Seattle, Washington on S/V Delos. They have been shooting videos of their journey for 5 years. I watched every. single. one of the them. These people are living the dream. They didn't win the lottery. They weren't multi-millionaires. They were just some people that wanted to sail to untie from the crap they hated and go do something they loved.

Wifey said when we pulled into the marina that Labor Day morning, "I'd like to have a boat someday."

I would love a sailboat one day too, but is it the sailboat I want or the freedom that casting lines brings? Do I have a dream that involves getting rid of everything I own, distilling my life down to contents of a car and living on a sailboat? Yes. Why that is I don't know, but I look at it this way. Living on a sailboat is like living in a tiny house that travels. Takes both of these philosophies that people who live in tiny houses and sailors and combines it into one. And that is something I would like to work towards. The freedom to do what you want, and the uncluttering of my life down to the essentials.

Sometimes getting there IS the adventure.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Abort, Abort, Abort

ABORT from Zach Shildwachter on Vimeo.

So I was in a movie. I had a great time helping bring this short film to life.

A quick background on this is, BJ Colangelo, and Zach Shildwachter approached me to act in a short film as a submission for Project Greenlight. I was stoked to help out, although I feel much more comfortable behind the camera rather than in front of it. Check it out. Share it up. Zach, BJ, and their crew, which was Shawn Booth (cinematography), Camille Champa (sound), Michelle Sabato (my onscreen wife), and Faythe (little redheaded child). It was great not only seeing how they make movies, but also learning about why they do what they do it. They all have some serious talent and I am stoked they let me hang around them for four hours to put this together.

Please share this with as many folks as you think might like it.

Friday, July 11, 2014


I live in Cleveland.

Yes, I heard. LeBron James is coming to Cleveland. Like everyone 4 years ago I had some thoughts on LeBron leaving. You can see it here

Today just after 12 noon, Twitter, Facebook, and my email started to blow up. 

I saw a lot of folks who were happy that LeBron was coming home. Those folks, 4 years ago, also called him every name in the book. Some call that hypocrisy. I call it something more. 


Hear me out.

Since Cleveland got its heart torn out Clevelanders took a look around and saw something more than 1 player leaving. I saw them take a look around and enjoy some of the best things Cleveland had to offer. We weren't in the nation's spotlight anymore. We thought the world was going to end, and when it didn't we brushed the dust off and started to build something more. The fans that filled stadiums and arenas around Cleveland were real fans. They weren't only real fans of the sports teams, real fans of the restaurants, real fans of the bars, casino, I could go on for days. They were real fans of Cleveland. 

What I saw from the national media, mainly a 4 lettered network that starts with an 'E' and ends with an 'N'. I saw them replay over and over the heartbreak of Red Right 88, The Fumble, The Drive, The 9th Inning, and then The Decision. Every single heartbreaking moment played out in a loop. Every time Cleveland would be on the brink of winning a game, the hosts would say something like, "Cleveland has had so much crap slung its way, *play all the heart breaking moments* let's hope this isn't one of those things."

ESPN couldn't fathom why anyone would want to be in Cleveland. People from outside Cleveland couldn't understand why anyone would want to go to Cleveland. I think at one time, we all thought the same thing.

Then in that last 4 years, we started to get national press. Not headline news, but small REAL articles about the culture of Cleveland. The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. They've all talked about the cool things happening in Cleveland. None of it was centered around a sports figure or sports arena. It centered around art, food, our great natural resources.

I think what is really helping Cleveland is its realization that it didn't need LeBron James to be awesome. We needed each other. We liked that we had this oasis in the Midwest all to ourselves. Not being in the national spotlight made us look at ourselves in the mirror and say, we are better. We are way better than a guy who decided to leave.  

Audrey asked me, "Why does it matter so much that LeBron is back in Cleveland."

I tried to answer this question as easily as I could.

To the national media (read: ESPN) we are relevant again. We are a contender again. We are something that can be built up, and if they win it's a big story. If they lose they have just another moment in their slideshow of misery.

We, as a group of people in Cleveland, all forgave LeBron. He told us he forgave us by his actions to come back. He made a BIG commitment to this city. Sounds like bygones are bygones.

But what I told Audrey was this. Cleveland is excited because for years we have been hearing that we are this mistake on a lake, he didn't WANT us; no one wanted us. We are somehow less than other cities for one reason or another. We have been told that no one in their right mind would CHOOSE to come back. The national media said that LeBron left, among one reason or another, to chase the lights of a big city, a big market, or something bigger than what he had at home. How great of a place could it be if a guy born and bred there even left?

Well he came back. The big lights aren't everything. This is the biggest star in the world who is from Akron/Cleveland/Bath/Northeast Ohio yelling loudly and proudly that he is coming home, to where he WANTS to be. He chose. We didn't choose him this time. We didn't draft him and force the issue. He chose. Just like you and I chose. Just like Johnny Manziel chose when he sent a text message to the Cleveland Browns saying, "Come get me."

You know who else chose?

The RNC chose to come.
The Gay Games chose to come.
Progressive Insurance chose to come.
American Greetings chose to come.
Sherwin-Williams chose.
Michael Symon chose.
Sawyer chose.
Reggie Langhorne chose to come back.
Bernie Kosar is still here.
Hanford Dixon is still here.
My older brother left, he came back.
I left, and came back.
My mom left and came back.
My little brother, he left; he might come back....for some games.

As I said in 2010. Cleveland is more than 1 player on 1 team. Over these past 4 years it feels as though we believe it now; but having someone else say, yup, Cleveland is the place to be, makes all of us say;Yes. Yes it is.

I said we deserved better. In the last 4 years, we GOT better. We ARE better.

We are ready to believe our own hype. We are ready to be winners.

Winning is a habit. Being a champion is a mindset.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"129 Cars" in 4400 words

I am an admitted nerd. I mean, I remember when that was a bad thing, but as of late nerd has morphed into something different. I am not writing this to discuss the word nerd or how it applies to me. Although now that I am nearly 3 sentences in I felt like I needed to say that to justify my enjoyment of NPR, podcasts, and things some people might find boring.

Screw it; it’s 2014 and this is my first post, I’m gonna go with it.

Anyway, I am really into this podcast called This American Life. It airs on NPR, but a twitter buddy, Kate, turned me onto it before I ever heard a single actual broadcast on the radio. I was hooked.

Well there was a recent episode titled “129 Cars”. It was a long form piece on a car dealership on Long Island, NY on their quest to sell 129 cars in the month of October 2013 to end the month in the black, meaning in profit.

Kate wanted my thoughts on this one. I saw it sitting there in my podcast app for a little bit, wondering when I would get around to listening. Well today I did it. I listened to all 70 minutes of it.

So now if you have any hope of following the rest of this blog, you should probably spend an hour and listen. If you want to listen and read my notes to every section of it, feel free. I am trying really hard here to not have that Jerry Maguire moment where he puts all his thoughts out there and then is ridiculed and fired for them. I am going to give you my thoughts as I pull from my own, very short time in the car business. Am I the best salesman at my dealership? Far from it, but I strive every month to compete against myself. I will talk more about this later.

Anyway, go here and hit play, and follow along.


So when you meet this manager, I am blown away by his defeatist attitude. How is this guy a leader when he gives it a 50/50 shot at making their goal? I start to believe that he might not believe in the team he has. He might not believe in himself as a leader. I don’t understand how he operates.

It is true that car salesman work on commission, I think this is the way it has been since the dawn of time. I think working on commission enhances your strengths and weaknesses very very quickly. Mentally you either feast or you famine.

This manager talks about his frustration regarding the ever changing goals they get to make this “bonus” from Chrysler. Again this goes back to my opinion of this guy’s attitude. I don’t understand how he is letting someone/thing else dictate their level of success.

This particular dealership says that there are many car dealers around them. Competition is tough. But again he is playing another man’s game. He is playing someone else’s game. He isn’t setting his own rules. Of course they are in a do or die situation. They are only thinking one month at a time.

This isn’t just car sales. This is sales in general. This gripeing and carrying on is common across every single sales position I have ever had, except the one I have now. Where I am, I don’t ever get that defeatist attitude from my managers. These types of excuses can put you out of business very very quickly and hurt your bottom line.

Act One:

So the idea of going to a car dealership for one car and leaving with another is actually quite common. Let’s think about it for a minute. A sale is when value exceeds perceived cost. No matter what you buy, this will always be the case.

So in this case a salesman did his job. He sold her a car. Great, but they keep you in the dark about how he did it. Was the car she went there for gone? Was it that she looked at the car that pulled her in and found out it exceeded her needs or didn’t fill them at all? They don’t expound, and this kind of sets up a typical scenario that paints the car sales industry with a negative light. I think this is all intentional. It is a produced radio show.

Act Two:

I think in every sales team there is a certain dynamic that involves some level of tongue and cheek kidding. Lots of times, in a male dominated industry, the level of kidding is a bit over the top. See also firefighters, police officers, and the military. Car sales is a male dominated industry. Why? No idea.

There is a certain truth to the fact that when a customer comes to a car lot, they are looking to buy a car. There are so many tools out there that let customers “window shop” at home. So when they get in a car, set time aside, and come in, you can understand the perception that the customer is ready to buy. When you get that customer, there is that stupid popular acronym, ABC (always be closing). Thanks Alec Baldwin for putting that out there for every sales manager ever to shove it down the throats of every salesman out there.

They talk about loading lips. I have heard this slung around. I haven’t had coaching like this, at least not phrased like this. Anyway, this particular dealership is a “negotiating store”. I have ZERO experience in this type of sales. Where I work we are an “UpFront Price” dealer. So our prices are set at the lowest we can sell them. What does that mean?

You can probably get a better deal down the road, but what you have to go through to get that deal is more than likely not worth it. We would rather give every single person the same deal, than make one person happy only to have to screw someone else to make up for it. I say screw a customer, because at anytime you try and trick, add in money, or not be as transparent as possible with your customer you are screwing them. The customer may never even know it, but the sales guy does know it. How you can do that to people is beyond me. How places like this even exist in today’s social media landscape is, again, beyond me.

One of the hottest points of contention with almost every single car deal is the value of the trade. Always. There are tools out there like, Autotrader, and, and N.A.D.A., and of course your Uncle “who knows cars”.

Here is how I handle trades. I am honest about it. I  look over the car with my customer. Acknowledge the dents together. Understand what it is we are both looking at so when I give it to my manager to appraise, we both know the condition, so when he goes out there to put a number on it, there aren’t surprises. Also having the customer understand how you do business. How do we do appraisals? Well this is exactly how we do it. We don’t make things up. We look at what this local market is doing.

You’ll hear a lot in here about what the cars are “doing at the auction”. Why do you hear it? Because those are the folks writing checks for the cars. Call up Kelley at to write you a check for the value they placed on it. KBB is a tool, but not the Bible on car values. But in the end, being honest to your customer is the only way to do business, the only way I will do business.

This idea that it is us, the car dealer, against them, the customer, is just a crappy way to do business. Who wants to come to work every day and look at everyone who walks through the door as an enemy? God, I don’t. Customers literally write my paycheck. They only pay me when they buy a car. Why would I treat them like an enemy? I want to them to come back eventually and buy another car. Maybe this US v THEM idea is why this dealership is in trouble.

Act Three:

So every team has a guy who has the least amount of sales. No matter how many sales there are, unless everyone is tied, then someone will always have more sales than everyone and someone will have the least.

I was last at one point in the past two months. I mean not last last at the end of the month, but there was a time I was the only person that had yet to sell a damn car on the 15th of the month. Why is that? I have the skills, I have the desire, but did I execute? Did I lay back somehow? Probably. If I could identify specifically what I did wrong I would love to see it. Some managers might have told me I wasn’t being challenged enough. Some managers might tell me I am not applying myself. Some manager might tell me I am a fluke. Or is it me telling myself that?

Most of the time when I get in a rut, it is 100% my fault. No one elses. I stopped doing something, or something I was doing that made it so easy the month before isn’t working this month. Instead of trying to change my approach I might start to make excuses. In the end, I get into my own head. This is when you need a good leader to help you out of your funk. A meeting behind a closed door. A colleague recognizing you’re down. In this case a manager basically says to the guy in last place, thanks for playing.

Many people respond to different things. I don’t respond to getting yelled at. I respond to someone taking the time to help me learn a new skill. 90% of sales is a mind game. 10% is skill.

What this sales guy is experiencing with his sales desk is something everyone who is new will ultimately experience. The manager gets a lead, he wants his best guys on the case. If you can’t prove you are one of the best guys, you won’t get it. Instead of looking at the sales managers and getting pissed, ask them what you need to do to get a lead like that. Learn, understand the expectations. In the corporate world they have these “coaching sessions” where the manager must communicate his expectations. They are pointless meetings. I hated being a manager giving one, I hate being the salesman in them. You need to understand what is what, ask questions. Then when they say, you need to step up and sell more cars, up your game.

Act Four:

This is where they show you the mental dichotomy of the worst guy in the place from the best guy in the place. It is 100% mental. You go from having a guy who isn’t tight with his sales desk to a guy who is on board with his desk, but in reality, he just sets goals.

This is when you will hear me refer to sales as a game. Once you mentally tell yourself you are just playing a game, sales becomes so much easier. The best guy in the dealership just plays his game. He puts on his blinders and goes to work. I am sure he does things his manager’s don’t like, but when you are the best, you may get some latitude to do what you want.

The best guy in the building doesn’t pay attention to the schedule. The best guy is always there. He is always hungry for the next one. The first week in the car business the General Manager of our dealership told us that the best feeling in the world is getting a customer to sign the buyer’s order and leave with a car. You get a high. Your brain gives off the best chemicals ever, and once they are gone, it shuts it off, and you turn into a junkie looking for the next fix. You see that whole thing at play. If you aren’t this passionate about your profession then what is the point?

The money they are talking about with car salesman isn’t far from the truth. Is it possible to make over $100,000? Yes, but you need to really want it. Is it possible to step out of the gate and make this money? Yes. But you need to hustle and want it. You can’t come in, punch a clock and make that kind of money. Impossible. You also can’t make that type of money in the real world without college degrees and year and years of student debt. If you can, you are the exception and not the rule.

This also moves you into the mantra you HAVE to say to yourself. Car sales is not a job. It is a lifestyle. You are fueled by adrenaline and caffeine. Most are also fueled by nicotine. Why? You are constantly stressing yourself out. Not in a bad way. I enjoy the level of stress I place on myself. But some people want to come to work, do what they need to do and go home. They want structure, they want the constant security blanket of a steady paycheck. Their paychecks don’t change no matter how much they work extra. I can’t do that. Maybe that is why I got so damn bored at the bank. I could work 55 hours a week and not get paid anything extra. Yeah sure the bonuses they gave you was extra, but to me, it wasn’t worth it. It didn’t satisfy my needs.

I when you talk to car salesmen enough, you will also find this type of theme throughout everything.

Act Five:

Mistakes happen. They do. Some dealers have checks and balances. There are a few levels of approval that need to happen. Do things like this happen? Sure. Rarely, but they do happen.

At our dealership here is how it works, no real big secrets. You come in, once you test drive and want to take that car home, we will fill out a buyer’s order. This is a contract. So when I sit down we fill all out together. I always ask name spellings. No matter how easy it is to spell Mark, I always ask. I might know your address and phone number and county, but I ask. Why? Because that way if something gets messed up we can look at each other and say, well we both got it wrong. When it comes to numbers, I like to work them directly in front of the customer. First of all, they know exactly what we are looking at. There are no secrets. Transparency. The customer can say, great looks good, I want to sign up and take it. I always always have the desk check the math first. Before anyone signs on the dotted line, I want someone to check me. 99% of the time I am dead on accurate, but that 1% can cost me, the dealership, and the customer a lot of money.

One thing I can say is that if a mistake is made in the customer’s favor, like this one, obviously we try and explain it, but if the customer pushes back, we make the customer happy especially if it got through a few levels of checks.. Easy as that. Isn’t that the way it should be? But this is why I have someone check it. Then once I know it is right, the customer knows it’s right, then we sign off on it and send it into the finance office to bank approval. It is really as simple as that. Seriously.

But mistakes happen. We are human. But selling the same car twice is something I never experienced before. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but where I work, our sales managers are on top of what was sold to whom. We put every deal a glass door so we all can see it. But in this dealership in this broadcast is a little disoriented by always having to scramble because they aren’t slowing down and playing their own game. They are playing someone else’s.

Act Six:

This is the last day. This dealership needs 9 and the GM is scared it won’t happen? I want to scream at him. I am just a salesman, I know, but I work in a dealership that wants to set the trends, not keep up with them. That’s why we have the largest inventory across all 5 of our dealers than our next 5 largest competitors combined.

This goes for any industry. Stop competing with the ghost of your competitors. Don’t be limited by anything but your abilities and desires. Put on the blinders and play your game by your rules.

At this point in the month this dealership is giving away money to their customers just to get them to move units. This is why the general public likes to come in at the end of the month. This is why at the beginning of the month the showrooms are barren. They know they get a better deal at the end of the month. What kind of business is this place running?

Again, we don’t do business this way. The only change in our prices from the beginning of the month are if the manufacturer changes the rebates or incentives. Really. No really. Even with all that, car dealers really don’t make all that much per car. Our dealership is no different. Where we are different is that we sell a large volume of cars. How do we do that? By treating the customer right. Being upfront. There are dealers who use this “UpFront” pricing as a gimmick to get you in, but if you push them, they cave. This is not a gimmick to me or my dealer. People enjoy buying cars from us. I haven’t heard a single customer of mine tell me they had a terrible time when they came to buy a car. Quite the opposite.

Act Seven:

This whole act talks about the lifestyle of selling cars. It really is a lifestyle. You have to live and breath the business to be successful. Some people can’t take this. Divorces happen. Disagreements happen. But then this goes back to your communication level with the spouse. I am sure there is a time and a place where my wife wants me to take the day off and I can’t. But if there is an agreement upfront about what each other wants, then I don’t understand the problems. But this might be where my naivety comes in because I got into the business after a solid 1 year of unemployment. My wife is just glad I am working and making money, no matter how sporadic it might be.  

But I think this is an important aspect a customer might need to know when coming into buy a car. Understand the person trying to make your car dreams come true is missing something with his family. Maybe you the customer don’t care. That is fine. But if you are a manger and don’t live and breath the car dealership, don’t do it.

I love my job. I clock a lot of hours some weeks, and I don’t mind it. But this career drains me so by the time I get home, I am so drained. This is how I know I am doing it right. If I come home with tons of energy, it means I missed something at work, I could have put just that much more into the day to make a sale, make that extra phone call, return that extra email. When I get home, sometimes I have an hour maybe 2 before I am in bed to rest for the next day. It sucks that my wife works and conflicting schedule than mine, but I think that is for the better. I put the kids in bed, and then go to bed. I don’t feel guilty going to bed early when the wife is at work. I feel terribly guilty when I go to bed early when she is home at night. I feel like I am missing something, so I fall asleep on the couch trying to stay up for her.

Again, I stress, this is a lifestyle.

Act Eight:

Finally this is how sales should work. If you wait for a customer to come in, like it seems this dealership is, you will fail, like this dealership is nearly doing.

You need to get on the phones, work the social network. Our general manager says we are always running for election. Don’t ever let your friends and family forget what you are doing. This is how you make money. Are people tired of hearing that I sell cars? Probably, but that is why I try and mix it up. I get excited about things. I want to share them. I try and make sure you know I love my job, and people like to talk to people that love what they do. I really really love what I do.

Don’t be limited by the number of times the door swings. I can tell you with complete conviction that most of my sales come from you. My friend, who by this time might still be reading this epic blog. Not many folks can hang in for 3600 words, but you’re doing it well. You are the reason I can sell cars. If I was dependent on the number of times the door swings and I am there to help, I would be broke and unemployed.

I think as friends, we all want each other to succeed. I don’t want to be friends with a failure, and I want to support my friends and family, so it seems natural you need to make sure everyone knows what you do.

Act Nine:

Oh the model of calm. All hell breaks loose and there is always that guy who is calm, cool, and collected. This is the perfect example of why it is important to play your own game. Set your own level of success. This guy likes to take car sales and dilute it down into digestible tidbits relating to war. Whatever you need to do to understand how to play your game, then so be it.

This guy talks about getting a customer to do what he wants. I like to think he is just giving his customers options. He is understanding what how his customer wants to be sold something. He is just being attentive. This is something you have to do. Not the same approach works every time. You have to be able to listen and respond. In the end if a customer doesn’t buy a car from you, it has nothing to do with whatever excuse you give yourself. It has to do with you. Your customer just didn’t like you, trust you, or maybe a mixture of both.

If you can relate to your customer and can make a friend, then that is all you need. Bend over backwards for them. Don’t walk to get the keys to the car. Run. Don’t just put them in the car. Educate them about the car. Don’t slam a competitor. Competition is good. Be nice. You are selling not only a car, but yourself, your dealership, your excitement, your knowledge, but this isn’t the car business. This whole podcast is not about cars. It is about people. The people who buy cars and the people who sell them.

I must remember that if a customer walks away without buying a car, they just didn’t like me. At least that is how I feel. Is it the truth? I don’t know.

Act Ten:

If you got this far, thanks for hanging in there. This is where they wrap up the podcast. Yay the dealership made their goal. But they have a team that can hustle, imagine if they hustled like that every day and not just the last week of the month?

I am not the best salesman in the world. Hell a colleague of mine might even look at this and say, that I am full of shit by this point and that I might not practice what I am preaching here. Hell I might read this and say, hell if I did all of this, then I should be doing better.

But the car business isn’t about cars. It is about people. December 2013 I ended the month with 8 cars. The month before 4.5 (split a car deal with a colleague for helping me out). The month before that I sold 7. These aren’t the best months I have ever had in the car business, but I did learn this past month that I can sell cars without the need to check in with the desk. My process clicked. Now that it has, watch out. But then again my new found skillset might just be a false positive. But how I approach my days is on me.

Cars aren’t thought out purchases half the time; 90
5 of the time they are impulsive.. They are a phone call saying that they might need a car. My goal is to find you your next car when you come and see me and have you leave with it. I will tell you this upfront. It is up to you to tell me that you are ready or not.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. Let me know if you want to buy a car. I’m ready to help you.


In reality, customers are numb to advertising about cars. We could advertise a free car, you won’t car. Look at Kia, they give a free car away half the time. If you think it is all free, well, yeah it isn’t.There is a cost somewhere.

Any additional questions you might have, please ask in the comments, I am an open book.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


It's been one hell of a ride, and it feels great. This time last year, I was at an all-time low. Despite all the good that was happening all around me, I was in the darkest place I have ever been in my 32 years. A year later, oh how it all has changed, and for the better.

As everyone who has come within 100 yards of me knows, I started a new job this past April. It probably comes as no surprise it's a sales job, but I am selling something I use everyday; cars.

To say the journey into an industry that gets nothing but a bad wrap has been comfortable is a lie. It has been jarring at times. There is only one thing that identifies your weaknesses and that is a 100% commission job. My new career only depends on me. What someone sitting next to me is doing doesn't effect me one bit. My success and failure comes from one source. Me.

I have had great months and I have had months I cursed the Gods. Instead of cursing the Gods I needed to curse myself. "Look in the mirror" I told myself. November was a month I wish I could forget. Selling 4 cars was a terrible month. I didn't get paid. My ex-wife made more in the child support than I made wages that month. But I am working my ass off to bounce back.

I work for a great family, I work for a place I feel like I belong, I work in an industry I am excited about.

Motivation doesn't come from a manager, it has to come from within. I am right on the cusp of something big, but to get there I have to believe in myself. I have to trust the process. I have to struggle so when I "make it" what ever that means, I know how to appreciate it. I feel like I have struggled for every single year of my adult life, and maybe that struggle doesn't ever go away. Maybe it does.

Maybe I need to feel worthy of success.

This next year is going to rock. You all will have a front row seat. Wish me luck, because my success is a testament to your support through out these crazy years.

I thank you for everything.

And I wouldn't be a good salesman if I didn't mention; reach out to me should you or a friend need a new ride.