Thursday, February 4, 2016

What Is The Best Motorcycle Business Advice You Ever Got? PT1

We all have received and are still receiving pieces of advice about the way we should act, think, conduct ourselves in both our personal and professional lives. Each of us perceive some of these opinions, values, recommendations as more worthy than others and we try to use them as a beneficial guide to action.
I was curious to know, and I guess you too, what was the piece(s) of personal and/or professional advice that the motorcycle industry leaders, manufacturers, custom builders, etc received and that they follow in their daily lives. In this series, possibly each week, I will ask some of them to answer this simple question “What is the best advice you ever got”. And yes, at the end of this series, I will tell you about me.

Billy Lane, Custom Builder, Choppers Inc.

“The best business advice I ever received came from a friend who works outside the motorcycle industry. He told me to separate my emotions from my business decisions. He said that how I feel doesn’t matter, and that I need to look at business in much the same way I look at a diet. What a calorie is to a diet, the dollar is to a business. To grow a business, more money has to come in than goes out. Emotions can present disruptive obstacles to the flow of money. So I learned how to isolate my emotions, which allowed me to get serious about business. Which allows me to do work that stirs my emotions…”

Ted Sands, Global Business Development, Performance Machine.

“I guess some of the best advice I have received is from my Brother Perry Sands when I first started working for Performance Machine. He always said “strive for constant improvement”, We applied this idea to everything we did from product development, marketing, sales, customer service, basically saying what we did yesterday will not be good enough for tomorrow, to move us forward. I have lived with this advice starting day one working for Performance Machine and I think we have a culture here at PM that believes in constant improvement and it shows in our products / manufacturing and marketing, sales and customer service. It has made us a leader in the aftermarket motorcycle parts business.”

Russell Mitchell, Custom Builder, Exile Cycles.

“The best piece of advice I ever received came from a person I had never met before. It was my birthday, 1995, and I was having a party at my home. One of my friends brought along some of his buddies, and one of them spotted the bike I had just completed. He literally grabbed me by the collar, pinned me against a wall and said “You have to do this – you have a gift”. The following weekend I was riding the bike to the DelMar Classic near San Diego with that guy’s words running through my head and I thought to myself “why not?”. I promptly registered my new company name and that bike went on to be featured in “Easyriders” magazine. Exile Cycles was born. I was about to forget: I once received some very important advice from my buddy Dave. He told me to never place my cup of tea on a metal work surface. It sucks the heat right out of it!”

David Zemla, Vice President Marketing S&S Cycle.

“In high school I worked as a pressman. The guy I worked with was easily in his sixties and no matter the challenges he always seemed content with his job. One day I asked how he could be so satisfied with what I had already come to believe was a low level job. I remember it like it was yesterday. He paused, looked me straight in the eyes and said “You will spend a huge part of your life at whatever job you choose. Find something you are passionate about, something that challenges you and you’ll live a happy life.” That still resonates with me today. It’s such a simple concept, so obvious that it often gets overlooked. I took it to heart and that conversation remains a key driver in my life to this day.”

Bill Dodge. Custom Builder, Bling’s Cycles

“When you asked me the question, whether it is about motorcycles or even life, I would have to say it is Indian Larry. I first met him on a TV show while working for Jesse (James). We were on a cross country ride to Sturgis. Jesse’s bike broke down and the situation was tense and bleak. It looked like the show was over, the heads on Jesse’s motor had came apart and the bolts were completely stripped. I decided to borrow a car to go into the next town to round up tools. Larry saw that I was leaving and jumped into the car with me. After getting the proper supplies, I heli coiled Jesse’s heads back together to the motor on the side of the road. It was a very hard situation. Larry was there with me the entire time. Somehow, we became the best of friends. He was like a Dad to me. We just got along like that. Our friendship grew as he always seemed to give me great direction through his seemingly, wise words.

Cris Sommer-Simmons, Author, Cannonball Rider.

“The best professional advice I ever got was back in the 1980’s when I was co-publisher/editor of Harley Women magazine , (the very first motorcycle magazine for women). I had the chance to meet Malcolm Forbes when he presented Elizabeth Taylor her purple Sportster, which was how she also launched her “Purple Passion” perfume. He was very kind and even gave me his number if we ever needed anything. Well, I actually called him and asked his advice on magazine publishing. We were struggling to pay our printer bill each month and made little money. His advice was to build up the readership and advertising base and sell it! I was rather surprised, but he insinuated that one does a magazine because you love it, but there’s little money to be made. Boy, was he right. (at least for us.) Years later I did sell my half of the magazine, but still love the writing part. It’s a tough business, especially in today’s market.”

Holger Mohr, President Of Kuryakyn

“I got so many great pieces of advice through my career from some great people. Below are my top 3. 3. Double of zero is still zero” (from Mike Corbin) Put things in perspective for me when I thought I was on fire in the 90’s. Still quoting him on this one as of today. 2. Don’t believe your own bullshit (from John Reed) Hanging with John keeps you grounded 1. No matter how hard business gets, don’t ever lose your sense of humor (Joe Piazza Sen.) My first mentor taught me many great things about business, including that there are more important things in life” - 

Quoted Article: What Is The Best Advice You Ever Got? (Part 1)