Friday, May 6, 2016

Shared Experience...old guys at the table....

I attended a group session yesterday afternoon. 6 retired business guys ranging in age from 65 to 73. All married and half of us have wives that are still working.

We all have common problems, first and foremost is a profound loss of self worth. All of us have spent our working lives defined by our work. Now with the work gone, we are all wondering, who the hell am I?

One of the group, the oldest at 73, was a guy who ran a large manufacturing operation in LA. Bored, he decided to get a job at Home Depot. He knows tools, he know how things work and he knows how to work with his hands. He lasted two shifts, at the end of his 2nd shift, he walked out and didn't bother collect his pay check. The moderator asked him why he quit. His answer, "I knew within an hour of working there, I knew more about the department I was assigned to than my supervisor did. I pointed out several ways we could save time, effort and not inconvenience our customers by blocking off aisles to restock or move displays during prime shopping hours. He said the supervisor looked at him like he was crazy.

We've all been to big stores like Home Depot in the middle of the day and seen an aisle blocked off with signs and a fork lift moving around in the aisle. When I was buying stain for my porch project at Lowes, the paint counter was blocked for a half hour while they restocked a paint display at 2 in the afternoon.

Here's the story I told the group:

When we got our Volt a couple of years ago, I spent time on line and on the owner forums before we ever physically looked at the car. We decided what we wanted and off we went to a local dealer to talk to the "Volt Specialist". I knew more about the car than he did. It was a miserable experience.

With this in mind I arranged a meeting last year with the GM of a big auto group, I've done business with him in the past and know him slightly on a social level. I pitched him on becoming his Electric Car Guy. Both Chevy and Cadillac sell hybrid electrics, the stores are next door to each other, the technology in both cars is exactly the same. I wanted to field all inquiries of the electrics for both brands, I'd make appointments with the prospective customers, meet them, demonstrate the car, answer their questions and close the deals.

I told him I'd work on straight commission, I didn't require any benefits and I'd work whenever I was needed. I mentioned that as a former Corvette owner, I might be a big help in that department as well. I'd researched the business enough at that point and learned salesmen don't like to sell low volume models like Volts, ELRs and Corvettes. All those cars take a lot of time to sell and the customers are usually well informed and more difficult to deal with. It takes well over three hours to sell a Volt and the money the salesman gets is rather short compared to a standard car, pickup,an SUV or a used car.

The Corporate car guy thought my concept was a very good idea, he said he'd bring it up in the management meeting the following week. He did. The sales managers and the Caddy and Chevy GMs turned it down. Why? They didn't want a guy they couldn't have sitting at a desk 6 days a week and a 'lack of control".

There were plenty of stories in the room yesterday, different in some respects, but in many ways the same story. I'm going back next week for another 55 minute meeting.


  1. But do these meetings propose to solve the problems or just act as bitch sessions?

  2. Time will tell, it was the first meeting of the group, set up by Kaiser Permanente.

  3. Interesting group. There is of course a lot of that going around. Sadly our culture is not wired to revere or even respect sagacity. We are in a constant churn of generations and new market models where expediency is valued. New corporate culture is pretty rigid and narrow. I think it is part of the decline. Keep us posted on this group...sound like men I know.

  4. Time to pass out the "old guys rule" T-shirts.

  5. Unlike us Bobby their work is not their life, they just wanna get through the day without making waves. What they do outside of work is what they long for and they don't care if the company wins or not so they just follow the rules. Charlie who is Candis' husband works at the Post Office where his supervisors are there for reasons other than knowing how to do the job. It makes him crazy because the rules make no sense.