Use your resources to thrive in any economy.

World-class success coach and author Jim Rohn says, “Rich people have big libraries. Poor people have big TVs.”

This quote reminds me of a great story I once heard. The mayor of a small town wrote to Benjamin Franklin requesting a significant donation so he could buy a bell for the downtown square. Franklin did in fact send money. However, he included a note that suggested they forgo the bell in favor of buying more books for the town library.

As I write this, I’m sitting in the airport in Indy after leaving the Dealer Expo. I’m a bit exhausted and reflecting on what a great time I had at the show. Tory and I conducted eight seminars in three days and were able to see lots of friends and clients, as well as meet many new dealers.

One kid in particular showed up to a session about 20 minutes early and was asking me tons of questions. He had just opened up an independent store and had come to the Dealer Expo just to attend the seminars. He said he was there looking for answers.

After the one-hour seminar concluded, he again approached me and asked how I had acquired such a vast knowledge of business. “What did you major in college: business or marketing?” he asked. In reality, my primary focus for the short time I lasted in college was on racing motorcycles, chasing women and drinking beer, and the only real relevance my college career has had on my current lifestyle is the fact that my lack of success forced me to gain my drive and education in other ways.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in college and will highly recommend it to all of my children just as my parents did with me. But that’s not where I’m going here.

You see, when the Lt. Colonel and I started MotoSports Honda back in the ‘90s neither of us had ever worked in a motorcycle dealership a day in our lives. In our first five years, we literally made every mistake in the book. However, during that time what saved us was my dad’s resourcefulness. He always believed we could improvise, adapt and overcome. If you don’t have the answers, then you go find the answers.

At times I can remember thinking he was a genius for the things he would come up with. Then he started passing me articles in trade magazines with a slip for me to initial after I read them (you can’t take the military out of my ole man). After I began reading those articles I would be amazed at the tips and tricks I would pick up. I feel blessed and appreciative that I’ve had this type of mentor whose resourcefulness has rubbed off on me. Even though my father is long since retired, he’s still a voracious reader.

At night after Ashley and I get the kids to bed, she watches American Idol and I read. Every morning after my workout I carve out 20 minutes to read prior to getting my day started. When I travel I have at least two or three books with me at all times. I subscribe to well over a dozen magazines, and my truck is an audio university on wheels. Many of my relatives and friends will visit my home and comment on my more than comfortable lifestyle. If you take a closer look inside my house, you’ll see hundreds of books on sales, marketing, investing, management and more.

I’m not telling you about my house to brag; the point is those books are cause, not effect.

When Houdini moved his home from the country to the city, he required five full-size moving vans just for his library of books on magic, performance, psychology, salesmanship, etc. Houdini did not become Houdini because of his college degree, nor did Houdini acquire his library after becoming Houdini. He acquired all of those books while becoming Houdini.

Contrary to popular belief, many of history’s most successful entrepreneurs did so during the great depression. The fact is, due to technology, never before in history have we all had such an incredible opportunity to be resourceful.

For those of you who attended the seminars in Indy, congratulations; you’re exercising a key requirement to recession-proof your dealership. It’s called resourcefulness. For the thousands of dealers in attendance who just couldn’t carve out the time, well I doubt I’ll see you next year.

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