ORLANDO, Fla. — A record number of marine dealer professionals gathered for the 2015 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo Monday night, taking in a fiery, animated keynote speech from bestselling author and motivational speaker Steve McClatchy.
During a lengthy (80 minutes) but fast-paced address, McClatchy kept the audience of 1,200 at the Orange County Convention Center engaged with simple advice about how to become better leaders in business and in life.
“The first job of a leader is to lead themselves — you ever hear that expression?” said McClatchy, 47, author of Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress and Lead by Example, which debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times Bestsellers list and also was named a New York Times Bestselling Business Book for February 2014.
“What does that mean? Go after what you want and demonstrate that we can do all the things we have to do … and accomplish the things we want to do.
“What do you sell? You sell happiness. You sell celebration. You sell great experiences. You sell desire. If you get burnt out, you can resent the very people who you are trying to give these experiences to. If we don’t take care of us, we can [resent] other people. That’s a recipe for disaster when it comes to relationships. So when I say ‘personal leadership,’ I mean you.”
The four-day MDCE began Sunday and will continue through Wednesday. The event has nearly 1,200 registered conferees, more than 100 exhibits, four educational tracks and two keynote speakers this year (the other is Mike Abrashoff, author of It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy.)
“We have folks from almost all of the 50 states, as well as Canada and even Australia, at this year’s convention,” said Liz Walz, vice president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, which co-hosts the MDCE with Boating Industry magazine.
As of a few days ago, participation numbers were stronger than ever — 624 dealership professionals had registered, said Walz. MDCE attendance has risen steadily since the Great Recession, climbing from 198 in 2008 to 431 in 2009, 740 in 2010, 950 in 2011 and 1,000 or slightly more during the past three years.
The theme of this year’s show is “Made New By You,” the result of organizers’ decision to survey MRAA members before and after last year’s show and again in the spring.
This year’s event, which is taking place at the Orange County Convention Center, Rosen Plaza Hotel and Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, features 12 pre-conference workshops and four concurrent educational tracks, including sessions on leadership, sales, marketing and service.
There will be a “State of the Industry” luncheon today, sponsored by Volvo Penta. Smoker Craft sponsored Monday night’s keynote.
McClatchy, who grew up outside Philadelphia and was one of 12 children in his family (he now lives in Malvern, Pa.), told the crowd to think about “what would make this business better; what would make this relationship better; what would make my life better. And then get out the calendar and start to schedule these things.”
His message hinged on understanding two forms of human motivation: moving toward gain or preventing pain. “Gain” motivation and tasks pertain to goals that improve your life and business (running a marathon, writing a book, helping your company grow, volunteering); “pain” tasks are necessary, prevent problems in life and maintain the status quo (paying bills, meeting work deadlines, taking medication when ill).
“Gain tasks are those you don’t have to do, while pain tasks are tasks that must be done,” said McClatchy, who works with Alleer Training & Consulting in Malvern.
The key to success is making time to squeeze in some “gain” tasks among the slew of pain tasks that must be done in everyday life, he said.
And the best way to achieve gain tasks is to schedule them on a calendar, follow through with those appointments (“defend them”) and be willing to play catch-up with “maintenance tasks while you work on improving your life, relationships and/or business.”
McClatchy’s client list includes Google, Under Armour, Pfizer, Microsoft, Disney, Comcast, Accenture, the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, DHL Europe, Tiffany and Co. and Wells Fargo.
He said Google and Under Armour “might be the two most exciting clients I work with. There is so much excitement on those two campuses. Why? Because they continue to get better. The excitement goes with it."
Businesses often falter because they don’t improve, said McClatchy, citing the woes of Blackberry.
McClatchy said he does not “discount management. Think about how difficult it is to keep your business where it is today — wow. But it’s not leadership. What is leadership? Make it better.”
Derryck Turcotte, of Legend Boats in Ontario, Canada, liked the simplicity of the speaker’s messages.
“I like the practical approach,” he said after the speech as he waited to meet McClatchy. “I like the message and the ease of its implementation. You run into a lot of speeches where there are no practical applications of what they are saying.”
Tech shortage addressed
Before the keynote and the opening address by Walz, a special workshop was held — “The Technician Shortage,” moderated by Valerie Ziebron of Yamaha Marine University.
She highlighted five strategies to overcome the tech shortage in the marine field: Tap into existing techs, hire seasonal help with intention, sponsor your techs, create a mentorship program and “Get the Word Out” by increasing community awareness of career opportunities.