Big Idea: Turning the Questions on Myself

I asked myself my signature question: If you had just one really great idea that could influence these readers, what would it be?

Big Idea: Turning the Questions on Myself

Adobe Stock image by alesmunt

Not long ago, I got a call from one of our readers. This caller had just one question, and it was a doozy: Why don’t you write a column featuring an interview with you?

Since it was months ago that I received the call, suffice it to say that it’s been on my mind for a while. So, I sat down at this computer that I’m writing this column on and started thinking about what I have to say.

The answer to that question didn’t come quite as easily as I had anticipated. In fact, I sat for the rest of that day — and for many more days — just thinking about it. It didn’t come to me, and I kind of put it on the back burner.

However, in the last few days, I had a writer’s epiphany and realized that many dealers are reading this. It probably means they are interested in what I have to say, right or wrong. I took that as a given and started writing. Here is the result.

My Signature Question

Let’s start with my signature question, which I’ve asked almost all interviewees: If you had just one really great idea that could influence these readers, what would it be?

So, there I sat there, once again, like many of our readers have done when I contacted them for their single great idea. And, for some reason, the image of Earl Nightingale and my time at Nightingale-Conant popped into my head.

Disciplines, Question

Contributed photo

Let’s start with a bit about Mr. Nightingale: He was featured on and published in most of the Chicago media outlets at one time or another. He was a prodigious writer, and, in addition to that, he had the longest-running television show on any network. It was called “Our Changing World.”

It had stories of any changing event that was taking place in our world. And, usually, Earl would find something motivating and uplifting in what he was talking about.

As I recall, he was on more than 600 different radio stations daily; he did television interviews and commentaries off and on throughout his life; and he was a great public speaker known for both his wit and the storied amount of knowledge he possessed.

And that voice! Many people made the comment that, if some or most of the great leaders in the world had sounded like Earl, all of them would have had jobs for life. He was that good.

Anyhow, people started writing in for reprints of his five scripts a week (his show was broadcast five times a week). By around 1985, there had been literally thousands of scripts sent to listeners. Of course, that led to recordings on vinyl.

There is so much more I can share with you, dear readers. And, hopefully, I will have the opportunity in the occasional column that I have enjoyed writing so very much. If any of this has piqued your thinking or imagination, you can find out a lot more about Earl just by Googling him.

I tried doing that yesterday and came across about 30 pages of information. There were stories about Earl, and I got to listen to some of Earl’s recordings that I hadn’t heard in a long time. They were just as refreshing now as they had been when I had first heard them.

Difficult Times

My mind goes back to the early ’90s, when our country encountered some bad times. Many of our clients at the time — some of them Fortune 500 companies — were pulling back from their advertising and marketing budgets. It was a bad time for all.

Even in bad times, however, there is always good to be found. I learned this from a person I haven’t yet mentioned in this article because I wanted to write a column on just him: Lloyd Victor Conant.

He was Earl’s partner throughout all the years they were together at Nightingale-Conant. Lloyd had a thriving printing business and letter shop when he first met Earl. They hit it off right away.

Lloyd seemed to be the exact opposite of Earl. For Lloyd, the very thought of speaking in front of a group caused him to break out in a sweat, lose his appetite and endure all manner of other maladies. I guess it’s now called stage fright. And Lloyd had it — bad.

We started talking about different things you could do in front of a group and tricks that speakers used to quiet a noisy audience. Despite the difference in our ages, he became my mentor and close friend. In fact, his son, Vic, and I still see each other socially and talk about the good old days. Vic is, and always will be, one of the nicest human beings to walk the face of the earth.

And those are the things that I learned during my career: Care about people; go out of your way to make them feel good about your relationship with them; always compliment them; and always do something nice for them at least once every year. If you do those things, you will have learned some of the most important things that Lloyd taught me.

You might be wondering why I chose to write about this, and why I will probably do so again. It’s because my relationships with Lloyd and Vic were more important to me than anything else I learned during our time together.

Something Else I Learned

Lloyd has since passed on. Vic still runs the company, just as his father did, and with the same attitude toward customers and employees alike. That is something else that I learned and am sharing with you.

And, frankly, the lesson doesn’t really depend on what business or industry you’re in or you came from. Always look for some good — somewhere, somehow. You’ll be a much better and happier person for it.

By the way, if you look on Google for the company Nightingale Conant, you’ll see lots of ads or offers to obtain Earl’s recording of what he calls “The Strangest Secret.”

When you hear it, you’ll know what it is, and if it applies to you. You will have learned what many consider to be the greatest secret of the universe.

Happy hunting!

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About the Author


Ron Davis is the founder and president of Davis Mergers & Acquisitions Group, Inc., a firm that specializes in acquisitions and mergers. He has more than 40 years of industry experience.

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