Mechanics Corner - Dec 11
“The Gift of a Car Show”
By Mike Godwin
Recently I had lunch with a friend who is the CEO of a medium sized manufacturing firm. The company was founded by his father and grandfather just after the end of WWII. Over the years, it has continued to grow and is still doing well even with the downturn in the economy.
As Jeff knows my passion for the Mustangs of any year, he inquired if I had any plans of buying a 2014 Anniversary Edition of the car. I explained to my friend that I would be more inclined to invest in an early convertible than to purchase a new car. One that could be built in the resto-mod category, with modern brakes and a fuel injected motor. That comment led us into a discussion about car shows.
We talked about people bringing the younger generations into the hobby, and how that action would keep the hobby and the vendors thriving. I then explained to him that I make a point of encouraging my eldest granddaughter to answer questions about my car whenever she attends shows with me. Jeff felt that this was a great learning tool, as it built her confidence in speaking to people, and more importantly, built her communication skills.
He noted that many of the people that his hiring managers and HR team interview, lack the ability to sell themselves. The post interview discussion almost always includes the statement that the applicant was nervous about talking to strangers, and had limited, if any, experience in presenting a product or selling their skill set.
I never thought about that aspect of the car show scene, but it has a lot of potential in helping our youth develop those skills. The best part is that the cost is absolutely zero. No matter where you show your car, no matter the condition the youthful person that rides along, can have a great day and learn a few things that will serve them well in the future. Imagine learning a new skill and taking part in self improvement without even realizing that it is happening. Hey, we can be smarter than the fifth grader!
As the New Year rushes at us, take a few minutes and think about a child, kid, or young adult that you would like to mentor. Then approach this person with the idea of attending a couple of car shows later in 2012. Teach them a few things about your car. Have a few common questions at the ready that they can practice answering.
If the car is a work in progress, teach them what is needed, and explain what your plan is to accomplish the changes or repairs needed. Of course, with younger children, don’t over load them with details. This has to be fun and interesting so that it doesn’t become a negative experience.
Slip a little history into the conversation from time to time. If you have a 1969 car, remind your protégée that this was the same year that the first man walked on the moon. If the youngster is a sports fan, you can always ask them to find out who won the World Series the year your car was built. Don’t be disappointed if they use the internet to answer that question, instead of your traditional paperback sports history reference guide.
All of these little things can help us grow a hobby that is important to us, and those that support the aftermarket industry. Take a moment and think about the fact that the very youth that we get involved in the hobby today, will be the teachers of the next group of youngsters. The person that will be a young adult or adolescent new Mustang fan today, will be the mature mentor when the car celebrates the 100 year anniversary of the Mustang. It is up to us as we approach that magical 50 year mark, to keep the hobby alive. That means we must bring the youth of today into the hobby and teach them every aspect and historical footnote that we can. Only by us doing our recruiting efforts correctly, will the hobby survive another 50 years.
So this year instead of electronic whiz bang toys that take batteries and provide little physical activity, give consideration to giving a younger person the gift of your knowledge about Mustangs. A day spent learning how to clean wheels and vacuum a carpet, is far better than a day of pushing and pulling a joystick, or only using your thumbs to defeat some imaginary electronic form.
Good Luck in 2012 and may your mentoring gift bring you many hours of pleasure. Merry Christmas to one and all and May your New Year be memorable and productive!