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From the Trenches - A Deer in the Headlights


Have you ever felt like a deer in the headlights?  I’ve often wondered what is going on in that deer’s mind when standing frozen in the middle of the road with a car rushing at him.  I got to experience that feeling today here at AutoCon2012.


Before I go on, I have to say AutoCon is fantastic.  I’ve had the pleasure to meet Brian and Glenn Pasch , Carrie Hemphill and Bill Lovejoy, formerly a leader at GM and GMAC.  And I have had the opportunity to meet up with my friend Ralph Paglia  and his wife Elizabeth and watch Jim Ziegler give an absolutely outstanding keynote speech as he accepted a “lifetime achievement” award... sitting next to Chris Saraceno from DealerElite BTW!


I arrived Wednesday feeling slightly apprehensive.  My father-in-law was to come home from the hospital after having a stroke and I missed his arrival by a few hours.  On that same day, GM changed their incentives and I knew I would have to knuckle down and change the information on our websites, landing pages, etc. from my laptop in the hotel room.

The hotel, by the way, is gorgeous.

My plan was simple.  I checked in and got online.  I checked my powerpoint presentation and all the shortcuts to the various online illustrations.  I then went down to the opening session to watch the “Alpha Dawg” and Bill Lovejoy.  I reluctantly skipped the AWA awards so that I could get a little sleep before what I knew would be an all-nighter.

The alarm woke me from a deep sleep at 1:00 AM.  I ordered a large pot of coffee from room service and started going over my presentation.  When the coffee came, I started looking over the new GM incentives.  I worked on them for several hours, drinking cup after cup of coffee.  Then I went back to my presentation, making last minute alterations.  Finally, I went back to bed and slept for an hour or two.

I called my Assistant Manager, Dan Little, and asked him to check my work from the night before.  He called back and told me of a few errors he found.  I fixed them and then wandered down to the AutoCon area but had missed breakfast.  I checked out the room where my workshop would be, looked at all the connections, and thought, “No problem.”   As my friend Keith Shetterly would say, “ ;-) ”

I went back to my room and ordered more coffee and toast.  I wondered what my friends at Carbucks were doing… my favorite place on Facebook.  Then it was time to practice my presentation one last time.  Good.

I arrived at my workshop 30 minutes early and began connecting my laptop to the connections for the projector.  Nothing.  I tried connecting to the Internet.  Nothing.

Ben Freedman from PCG Consulting kindly came to rescue me, but to no avail.  Eventually, he went looking for a different laptop and came back with an Apple Mac.  …???!!!  I’ve never used a Mac and neither  had he.  We put in my flash drive and had the powerpoint but couldn’t figure out how to get back and forth from it to the Internet.

Have you ever wanted to just cut and run?  It really crossed my mind to tell the attendees that were sitting there patiently, “Sorry folks.  Due to technical difficulties, we are unable to give this presentation.”

Then I remembered an article by an inspirational speaker I admire named Rory Vaden.  It was called, “Do it scared.”  Whatever your fears, sometimes you have to do it anyway.  I know my presentation was less than I intended it to be.  I know I was rattled.  But I did it, just like the first time I had to talk to a customer way back in the 1990s.

I want to thank the attendees for being patient and kind enough to stick it out.  And when you clapped at the end, I remembered what one of our sales staff said to me before I left Chicago.  He said, “Tom, when they clap at the end, is it because they loved your presentation or they’re just glad it’s over?”

It doesn’t matter in the end.  What a great experience!  And as you can see, my laptop is working well again back in my room... How perverse!  Thank you to Mr. Ralph Paglia and all my friends who have been supportive!





Written by
 Tom Gorham

Editor, From The Trenches

Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community

Views: 75

Tags: AutoCon2012


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