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Oprah reminds us of what we do everyday

I don’t know why I watched the final Oprah Winfrey Show yesterday afternoon. I must admit I’d probably seen less than a half dozen shows by this remarkable talk show icon over the last 25 years. But I am glad I was tuned in to this one.

There were no guests. No balloon drops. No flashing lights . . . just Oprah standing on stage alone, earnestly sharing her gratitude with a small live audience and countless more out in TV land. She described her conviction that her shows were always designed to bring out the positives in human experiences — that everyone should find what ignites their passion and pursue it. She took no credit for her talent or astounding success. Rather, in an obvious heartfelt way, she gave all credit to her viewers . . . her “customers” if you will.

It was at that moment my mind related what she was saying to our boating industry. Given the pressures of running a dealership these days, it’s easy to lose focus on what we really do in this industry. But everyday we go to work in our dealerships we, too, are impacting the human experience in a positive way. It makes no difference whether we’re talking about management, the sales team, the mechanics or the boat cleaners. Truth is every job in the dealership is there to do one thing – impact the experience of the customer.

And what a variety of experiences our boats offer. We provide escape machines to get a suntan, wet a line, hoist a sail, go fast or slow, turn left or right, ride skis or a tube, head over the horizon or just rock at the dock. And passion – well, the families whose experiences we enhance share a love and a passion for being on the water. Perhaps, to keep our focus, we need to, from time to time, remember this classic story:

Mr. Mole meets the good-natured Water Rat who invites him for a ride in his boat. They shove off into the river and Mole says:

“Do you know, I’ve never been in a boat before in my life?”

“What?” cried Rat, open mouthed: “Never been in a – you never – well I – what have you been doing then?”
?
“Is it so nice as all that? asked Mole as he leaned back in his seat in the stern and felt the boat sway lightly under him.

“Nice? It’s the only thing,” said Rat solemnly as he leaned forward for his stroke with the oars. “Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS.

“Simply messing,” Rat went on dreamily, “messing about in boats – or with boats. In or out of ‘em, it doesn’t matter Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not,” Rat summarized.

Thanks, Rat, for reminding us why we do what we do in this industry.

(From: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame)

Comments

9 comments on “Oprah reminds us of what we do everyday

  1. Judith

    Norm,
    Thank you for reminding your readers of the positives of boating. I could almost feel the bay breeze, the smell of salt water, the sound of the lapping ripples and the blissful fugue of a rocking boat. Happy boating weekend everyone!

  2. Wanda Kenton Smith

    As always, you are right on target with a timely message that we all need to remember. As I always like to say … we sell BOATING not BOATS. As Pine and Gilmore wrote, we have to put the ING in the THING.

  3. LISA

    EVERY TIME I AM MESSING ABOUT IN A BOAT, I HAVE TO ASK MYSELF, “WHY DON’T I DO THIS MORE OFTEN? THERE IS NOTHING BETTER TO TOUCH MY SENSES.

  4. Doug

    Norm – I never thought I’d applaude a post that starts with something about Oprah. This is a great way to remind all of us of why it is, we do what we do. Times are tough, challenging and in some ways maybe even overwhelming these days – for as great as this business is it’s never been more difficult. However, for those of us left “doing what we do” this is still a fantastic business! Putting families and fisherman on the water to enjoy quality time and get away from it all is truly rewarding! Thanks for the post Norm – sometimes we need to step back and realize the positives of our great industry.

  5. Bee Russo

    Norm – I’m a pretty faithful reader of your postings but have never commented publicly. Most are very thought-provoking, but this one has motivated me to say “thanks” for putting in print exactly what many of us really believe, what probably what keeps us tethered to this business but falls by the wayside all too often during the regular course of business. No -not the part about Oprah – but the philosophy and the passages from the timeless classic -”The Wind in the Willows”. I’ve had that same quote framed on my desk for years but have just relocated it “front and center”. Perhaps Grahame’s book should be included with every Owner’s Manual as required reading – ‘Tis the season -happy boating everyone!

  6. Bee

    Norm – I’m a pretty faithful reader of your postings and most are very thought-provoking but I have never commented publicly. This one has motivated me to say “thanks” for the reminder of exactly what many of us really believe, what probably keeps us tethered to this industry, doesn’t show anywhere on any financial statements and what falls by the wayside all too often during the regular course of business. On – not the part about Oprah – but the philosophy and the passages from the timeless classic – “The Wind in the Willows”. I’ve had that same quote framed on my desk for years but have just relocated it “front and center”. Perhaps Grahame’s book should be inlcuded with every Owner’s Manual as required reading. ‘Tis the season – happy boating everyone!

  7. Rick Spellman

    Even though I recently left the boat business after 25 years, when a holiday weekend approaches I still feel the excitment and anticipation I had working with families getting ready for what was often their first trip on a new boat and beginning a lifetime of advertures on the water. Norms comments and quotes are eloquent in describing why selling boats has very little to do with boats. Especially here in the Northwest where boating is easy and so very accessible. I’m disapointed that the statistics for our area are so poor. I know times are very difficult, but it does not speak well for our local dealers ability to sell the sizzle along with the steak.

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