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December 2004

Lessons from The Apprentice - Competence in the Workplace Isn't Enough

I read an article recently about one of the candidates in The Apprentice, Amy Henry, from Arlington, Texas. She was interviewed about what she learned from the experience on the show and her thoughts concerning entrepreneurs and success. One comment I was intrigued by was her observation that competence in the workplace isn’t enough to assure success. I can’t agree more. We all have employees that are very competent, but for one reason or another, don’t advance or ever reach their full potential. Many of these people, I believe, have good technical skills, but that’s all they have. Some even have good management skills, and although a plus, that doesn’t assure maximum success. In today’s fast-pace and complex business environment, it takes a truly full set of skills to get to the top, or be a successful business owner.

Amy went on to say, “you have to embrace more assertive strategies in order to move up. You have to speak up for yourself, feel comfortable about bragging. Embrace high profile appointments, take risks”. This is very true. Many of you know me personally, but for every one of you that has met me, I find there are many more that know of me. You have heard about me, or something that I accomplished. As most of you know, my dad passed away when I was a senior in high school, leaving me an old VW to keep running, and my stepmom threw me out after I couldn’t pay her rent. I received little college education, and started with one employee and an old car in the repair business. Later, I got into the auto salvage business with about 35 parts cars I had accumulated. The headline, from my experience, is that almost anyone can achieve maximum success. I am self-taught, (or learned from a mentor), on everything from accounting, marketing and sales management, to private stock offerings and real estate construction, sales and management. But, as Amy points out, you have to be more assertive. And in my case, as she also points out, you have to speak up, and be willing to discuss your success. The world is a noisy place, and only those that speak up are going to get noticed. Yes, it offends some. Even some in my industry resent my accomplishments, self-promotion, and assertiveness. I try to not let it bother me, and you shouldn’t either. Every time I issue a press release, or got published somewhere; I sent a copy to my bankers, and sometimes to friends. The bankers drop that information into my file, and it makes my relationship better. How will others know about your accomplishments if you don’t tell them?

Amy gives one other tidbit of advice. She adapts by, “being a strong listener and choosing your battles. If you go out and fight every battle, you will loose most of the time.” Again, I agree; there is a lot of noise out there. You have to remain focused, and we simply don’t have enough energy or hours in the day to do everything, or fight every battle. When I teach clients to use operating metrics (discussed in previous articles and available on my website), I tell them to pick one that they believe they can change, which will make a real bottom line difference, and work on it. Trying to work on too many of them is just a distraction, and creates too much stress with almost no benefit. In any case, although I don’t watch a lot of TV, it seems that I learn a lesson with almost every episode of this show.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Ron's free monthly auto recycling e-newsletter, with news and tips, register at www.autosalvageconsultant.com.

Remember, only you can make BUSINESS GREAT!

Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with 140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002, his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and investments. You can learn more about him at WWW.autosalvageconsultant.com He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, rons@rdsinvestments.com or 817-834-3625 ext 6#.

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