Editor’s Prerogative: Expand Your Circle

by Evan Rapp

Because the game wasn’t racially integrated until 1947, the historical rankings of Negro League ballplayers remains one of the most active debates among Major League Baseball fans. The discussions are fun, albeit painful, because no finite conclusion will ever truly be drawn. We don’t know the answers and never will. Players from the Negro leagues were excluded in such a way that their very existence has often been reduced to anecdotes without a spreadsheet to analyze. Joe DiMaggio said Satchel Paige was the greatest pitcher he ever faced, but because we denied ballplayers of all races the chance to play together, we denied ourselves a full experience – along with an ability to measure the kind of criteria we need to make an informed determination.

We don’t know – because we never allowed ourselves to know.

Unless your business is baseball, business isn’t baseball. The conclusions we draw and decisions we make affect everything from the quality of our operations to the people we employ to our very bottom line. As entrepreneurs within the car industry – we are among the best on Earth at analyzing the information in front of us, and making the kinds of good decisions that make money.

Within the core of most businesses lies a “circle of trust”. These are the people informing your decisions, keeping their eyes peeled and ears to the ground, putting out small fires before they become large, and watching your back at all times. They are dedicated, loyal, smart, proactive, incisive, and have helped your business grow. In some cases, they’re family – others might be lifelong friends, and many got there through hard work or pedigree. They are foundational and valuable and integral to your success.

They might also be limited.

For as much as the business world tells us to make good decisions based on good information, it’s clear that too many of us continue to deny ourselves a look at the entire picture. What is the scope of understanding within your circle of trust – are you consistently asking them to measure circumstances they can’t truly appreciate? We ask each other to analyze data that we can only measure from outside our own reality, and our own life experiences can’t provide the level of insight necessary to comprehend or embody the results of our own findings. We work extremely hard at marketing to outside groups we’ve never truly understood, because we’ve never worked hard enough to bring them inside.

“Look at your leadership and if you don’t have a person of color around the table, you have an issue.” – Damon Lester

A recent Dealer News Today podcast featured Damon Lester, the President of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD). Their primary mission is to encourage real minority ownership within the car dealer industry, but they also remain laser beam focused on upgrading minority participation in all facets of the industry. This continues to be great simple business advice. Don’t just sell to your community – be part of it. Bring in voices you might be missing. Expand your understanding of the information in front of you, while helping to build an industry that looks like our collective future.

It’s time for us to expand our circles of trust, and open ourselves up to a new potential. While we are in the midst of enormous social change, the enlightenment being experienced by many is also good business. If we didn’t get it before, we certainly now know that simply saying the right things might sell the car, but the relationship won’t be earned until we’re doing the right things. Strong managers can come from any walk of life, and investing in their viewpoint can help you deliver better messaging, more appropriate services and informed inventory planning, a better standing and relationship with your community, fewer wasted dollars, and with the knowledge that you’re utilizing the best information to make the best decisions.

Make inclusion the right business proposition. Make doing the right thing by your community the right thing for your bottom line. Make a better industry by helping to expand its horizons.

Let’s all make it – the right way.