Shhhh....I'm Trying To Listen!!

(Due to some sort of technical problem, I'm aware that MANY/MOST of you did not get the notification of this post going live. If you got this previously, I apologize for crowding your inbox. But I know many of you were waiting for the second episode with Dan and I wanted to get word out that it had been posted). Mark

There’s a lot that I don’t know.

At least that’s what my daughter and fiancée like to remind me (with an annoying frequency). They like to say that unless we are speaking about tennis or paint, I should listen more: speak less.

Thankfully tomorrow when we wake up, we are making our way to the AllPro show. For me that is five straight days when I get to the do the talking and my family gets to listen! I wonder what my fiancée will think when she sees my lips moving for the first time since the last show? As long as it’s about paint, I guess she won’t see it as a problem.

Still though, while I love the opportunity to exercise my jaw, I find it’s best to do more listening than speaking. My third favorite aspect of these shows (right after the free food and free drinks) are the opportunities to listen and learn.

It’s not that I can’t hold my own on the speaking side of a conversation. But I go to these shows to learn and that never happens when my lips are moving!

What am I listening for? Well for starters, I’m listening for ideas that will make good blog posts. Another dealer’s experiences can easily substitute for my own and make for excellent reading. While we call ourselves paint retailers, we are also entrepreneurs and a great many of us are very successful. In a world filled with Home Depot, Lowe's and Sherwin Williams, independent paint dealers hold their own. We do a great job differentiating ourselves in our markets and so when I’m in a room full of dealers, I can learn a lot just by shutting up.

I like to listen to the vendors too! To man the booths on the floor of a large show, vendors bring in reps from multiple markets (often the ones closest to where the show is being held). Perspectives changed by geography are different from the ones I get from my local reps. Another opportunity for me to listen and learn. There is experience and knowledge in the heads of the reps and other industry employees that orbit our universe with us. If I zip my lip long enough, that experience will spill out and make me either a better dealer, writer or podcaster. I’m OK with any off those outcomes!

Not only do these shows increase the number of dealers I interact with, but it also makes those interactions more intimate: you’re not as likely to share your secrets to success with a local dealer as you are with a dealer from 1000 miles away!

And so for me, it’s all about the listening.