MDCE 2012: Keynote speaker urges new ideas

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Laramar Apartments couldn’t make money on pet deposit collections.

An official with the Chicago-based investment company, which boasts a $1 billion portfolio, was telling team members from around the country that it was difficult to get people to pay the deposits because “people lie.”

It was then that a property manager from Tulsa, Okla., spoke up and said, “No, sir. I get all my pet deposits. But I had to make a little bit of an investment.”

The Laramar executive stopped. “You get all of your pet deposits?”

“Yes, sir. I bought a dog whistle,” the property manager said. “I just walk down the hallways and blow the whistle. Doesn’t bother me, but the dogs go nuts. I hear the dog, knock on the door, the people say ‘What dog?’ and I blow the whistle. They pay me the deposit.”

This was just one story that keynote speaker Robert Stevenson recounted Monday night at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo to a room of about 650 attendees.

“The reason why I share this ludicrous story with you is because Laramar got $5 million in pet deposits the next year,” Stevenson said. “People love complicated. Sometimes the solutions are simple.”

Stevenson gave several anecdotes during his talk, “Moving You Beyond,” to illustrate the reasons that managers and business owners should be open to every idea, particularly from the newbies.

“You change the rules or you won’t be around,” Stevenson said. “The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2012 did not exist in 2004.”

Stevenson emphasized that having a sense of humor is critical in business. In an industry that sells fun, a lifestyle, it’s crucial that people embody the fun they seek to sell.

“There isn’t one dealer I talked to that isn’t passionate about what they do,” Stevenson said. “I talked to several of you on the phone and I’ll never walk into your showrooms because I’ll walk out with a boat. And I’m good at this.”

Stevenson, who has authored the books “How to Soar Like an Eagle in a World Full of Turkeys” and “52 Essential Habits for Success,” has owned several companies and has spoken to 2,500 companies worldwide.

Fred Pace, with Florida-based Legendary Marine, called the presentation “extraordinary” and Chris Lufkin, founder and president of Marine Industry Advisors LLC, said “that was great” as he left the hall.

The dealer conference continues through Wednesday and is jointly produced by Boating Industry magazine and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.

“When you associate with people who have integrity, character, intelligence, discipline and drive,” Stevenson wrote in one of his top 10 tweets, “good things will happen.”

— Reagan Haynes

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