Leaders Often Need Help To Hone Their Raw Talent -

Leaders Often Need Help To Hone Their Raw Talent

A coach’s “outsider” perspective can often make the difference in your decision-making processes.

If you can recall, there was some serious talent taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. Baker Mayfield went #1 to Cleveland and Sam Darnold went #3 to the Jets. Then, with pick #7 the Buffalo Bills selected Josh Allen.

Many “expert” pundits quickly decided that the Bills had wasted a pick! “It’s the same old Bills,” they said. “I guess they’ll just need to wait until next year to improve.” Admittedly, Allen came out of Wyoming with a cannon of an arm but was highly inaccurate. He didn’t have the pedigree of playing for Ohio State, Michigan or Ole Miss. His throwing mechanics were terrible. Yet, if you are an NFL fan, you know how the story goes.

In Allen’s first year, the Bills snapped their playoff drought, though had a loss to Jacksonville. Now with Allen, over the next 4 years, they have won multiple playoff games along with appearing in the AFC Championship Game. In 2022 the Bills are a Super Bowl favorite and Allen is one of the top MVP candidates. 

Here’s another guy who didn’t seem to be all that impressive: Tom Brady, arguably the greatest QB of the modern era, was selected at pick 199 in the 6th round of the 2000 draft. Things seem to have turned out better than expected for him.

So how did a 1st round supposed bust and a 6th round nobody become such excellent players? They got help from the outside. They had to! College ball doesn’t have the resources either inside or outside the organization to draw out and hone the raw skills and gifts the player has.

A look in the mirror

Let’s connect the dots. Allen and Brady wanted to be the best and were willing to seek input, invest in self-analysis, ask questions and continue to train relentlessly with peers, even competing QBs, looking for that minute improvement.

Ever wonder why it always seems like certain people or teams dominate a particular sport or field? There is a common thread; in the NFL today many of the top teams are coached by individuals who can be traced back to Andy Reid, Bill Belichick or Bill Parcells. But no matter the sport or industry, you find a common thread if you look for it.

You’ll often find that people at the top of their game hang out together. Early in my career, I had the honor to be associated with many of today’s legends of drag racing including Don Garlits, “TV” Tommy Ivo and Tommy Grove, just to name a few. Looking back, Top Fuel and Funny Car racers often spent a lot of time bench racing and sharing what are known today as best practices. 

In business management training for shop owners, you’ll find it as well. Many of today’s coaches come from or were touched in some way by Bob O’Connor, who many call the pioneer of repair shop peer groups. Coaches learned from Bob how to hone our fundamentals and to look at our shops – and now your shops – from a different perspective. We’ve adapted these fundamentals and the drive Bob had to this century’s shop owner. 

We work with the same passion he had to help you, the shop owner, become the best you can be. A coach’s “outsider” perspective can make the difference in a shop owner’s decision-making process, which gives insight that often can’t be seen when working too close to a challenge or life-changing shop decision.

A Fresh Approach to Recruiting

Adopting a different perspective related to hiring can open up the door to a broader pool of candidates. Some of the greatest untapped resources are military veterans returning from active duty, transitioning to civilian life. I recently had a conversation with Jason Rainey, VP of NAPA AutoCare. Jason is a key advocate for the betterment of shop owners and a key leader in the auto repair business.

Jason Rainey, Before and after

NAPA’s commitment to veterans is inspiring, and they donate millions of dollars to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund which supports the treatment of PTSD and TBI.

During our conversation, I found out that Jason became a Marine with the intent of making it a career. But after his third deployment, he decided to return from the Middle East and pursue a career stateside. Jason explained that when vets move through the discharge process, not a lot of thought is given to life after service by the government. He says he felt he was pretty much on his own to find a career; law enforcement was an option but not the direction he wanted to go. Fortunately for Jason his father-in-law owned an old gas station which was rented to NAPA, and so began his career in the parts business. As of this writing, Jason is celebrating his 25th year with NAPA!

His story isn’t an exception, he says. Jason said veterans who progress through their career in the service develop all of the traits that a business – especially an automotive shop – should be looking for. Discipline, attitude, work ethic, process driven, loyalty and more – Uncle Sam spent a lot of money developing these fundamental traits, which are the core of a strong employee.

Each year approximately 200,000 men and women are discharged from the military and return to civilian life. Taking a different perspective might open the door to a candidate who is mature and has critical elements you need in any employee. 

While the jobs they hold might not translate exactly to what your business might need today, vets have demonstrated the ability to learn and follow instruction. Some training may be required to adapt military job skills to civilian opportunities, but job skills are far easier to train than attitude, work ethic and loyalty! Looking at the labor pool differently, and including returning service members in your candidates, will open the opportunity to add massive value to your team!

Here are some resources that may help.

If you’re looking to place a vet, create a listing at

Want to support servicemen experiencing the invisible wounds of war?
Check out www.fallenheroesfund.org

Shop owners, are you interested in a complimentary coaching session? Email me your shops details for a no obligation 30-minute session.

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