Secret number 1 to winning an auctioneer contest: Attitude
Was that a dream?
Just waking up from a power nap on my plane home to Phoenix following 6 days of education, fellowship and fun at the Certified Auctioneers Institute at Indian University (Go Hoosiers!), I feel like I've been through a vibrant dream.
My journey started from my last blog post, filled with excitement, anticipation and fear I hopped on a plane ready to go! Tired from the night before packing, I planned on sleeping through the flight, but...I striked up a conversation with my new single serve friend, Dani Williams younique. She was just returning home from a leadership conference with her nationwide organization, Daniyounique
For the next 3.5 hours we talked about building a sustainable business, life balance, relationships and personal development. She shared some books and ideas with me and I shared some with her...just simple things that have made an impact in our life and business.
From what I thought was going to be a restful flight started my trip of on an inspirational note. I was floating with excitement as I entered the terminal and was immediately reunited with one of my best friends, from that moment we started talking about our goals and expectations for the week. We then met with a few of our other classmates at baggage claim and the love fest continued. Hoping in our ride, I asked the rest of the gang about there aspirations of CAI, some wanted networking, some new techniques, others a new business model and out look. We arrived with a united thirst for knowledge, inspiration and motivation.
Now arrival and check-should be normal boring step for any out of state training seminar, get your room, find the elevator...yada yada...but at CAI, every person you run into is either a fellow classmate, an instructor, NAA staff or a new auctioneer friend. Each is greated with a handshake and a hug, and that look of "Oh crap, I may or may not know what is going to happen, but either way it's going to be awesome!" I know, I know, positivity will fill this post...read on.
Once settled in, unpacked and Facebook checked in...networking begins. To the restaurant we go! What started with 6 friends grabbing a bite, turned a little family owned restaurant, into a 25 auctioneer family reunion! Stories were shared, goals put forth, and smiles were had around. Some of us had to do a little work on our class project (More about that later), but most were catching up on the past year that flew by so dang quick. I was able to connect with a few auctioneers I've followed on Facebook and picked their brains for a few. This is the beauty of CAI, a few minutes of brain picking, could change a life and a few will do that to mine. The evening carried on and on, and ended with an evening discussion finalizing the timeline and details of our project...organizing the 40th Anniversary Celebration Gala of CAI. This took us well into the night.
The next morning we were met with a mixer at 730am, welcome breakfast at 8am and class photos following. The current NAA president started our morning off right with a message of what CAI really stood for...Challenge, Awaken, Inspired. Each of these words means something else to each student, instructor or current designee, and we all will live and feel these words through out the week.
On to class...during the week we were instructed by the nations best auctioneers, speaking on subjects ranging from marketing, administration, utilizing technologies and business planning. As dry as this sounds and the many fields that are covered in class, it's hard to imagine that each subject is relevant...well, each student takes what applies no matter the application. Being a fundraising auctioneer, contract bid caller and performance coach, real estate and personal property did not tickle my fancy right off, but once I challenged myself to awaken to the opportunity that is out there...my mind was blown on many occasions. If you attend CAI and don't have a mind shattering thought or revelation...go home, your skull is too thick to get it. There was so much shared that I have pages and pages of notes to act on. But where do I start?
Many will say the real education from CAI doesn't happen in the classroom, but in the halls and in the extra-curricular activities. This is where auctioneers can mix, mingle and network to really see how things are getting done. You have an idea in class, this is where to work it out. Did you meet an auctioneer in an industry you're curious about? Step up and ask how it's done...they'll tell you. Looking for that kick in the ass to make it happen? Now is the time...There were many ideas that I solidified into my psyche within those hallowed halls and late nights on the town.
As a member of Class 2, we were tasked by the Institute to plan the big gala of the week. This gives everyone a chance to mix, mingle and have some fun at the same time raising money for the National Auctioneers Association and the National Auctioneers Foundation as well as a charity of the classes choosing. Ours was St. Judes Children's research hospital. Now this wasn't a normal gala, this was the 40th Anniversary Celebration Gala of CAI, kind of a big deal. Our class worked together for the past year making sure it went off without a hitch. Myself and my friend Sherry Spence were selected as the chair people to lead the planning and implementation of the gala during class last year. We had an amazing team of committee chairs that guided their committees to put on the best show that CAI has ever seen! Now we did have a few hitches along the way...some we could've done better and some that were out of our control. This process was meant to be a learning opportunity for the entire class. We worked together and learned together, succeed and celebrated together! Teamwork, determination and enthusiasm helped us to give the attendees a memorable experience and raised the most money CAI has ever seen...(Although this is not a competition). Personally I learned to trust my teammates, how to delegate things I am not skilled at and how to rally the troops to give their best. Again, I was challenged by this opportunity, awakened to that my capacity and skills have grown as well as inspired to help people learn and put on first class events. We toasted the nights success as a class around 130am...to be in class at 8am:) I love CAI.
Moving from the Gala high and back into classes we were now ready to get to work. Our class project for this year is to create a business plan that we will present next year to a panel of industry leaders to be critiqued and questioned. Now I have never completed a business plan for myself or any one of my numerous business's that I've held...maybe that's why I've yet to have a financial success? (Hmmm...I'm seeing a trend here) The goals I had going into this years class were to create a smooth, sustainable business that allows balance in my life. In our business plan class, they asked us to being with the end in mind. 5 years from now, where do I want to be? 2 years from now, what progress will I have made? 1 year from now will I have this plan completed to present? 1 week from now what are my steps I've taken to set the wheels in motion and what have I already accomplished? This business plan is going to be crucial to my success in life and business and I am happy for CAI to give me the tools to put this together (That and my classmates to gleam ideas off of).
And on the 6th day...there is graduation. Everyone gathers into the big auditorium to see class 3 graduate. Over the year I've grown close to many of the the class 3 graduates. It was great to see them achieve this milestone they have been working so hard for and to be there to share the moment. The program began with a touching song (see below) that showcases how so many from around the world can join together in harmony to make something beautiful, something exactly like we are doing at CAI. As each name was called, hoots and cheers came from the crowd, exhaustion turned to adulation, contemplation into celebration. This is a powerful time for all that attend, especially for myself. I believe I sat in the exact same seat I sat in last year. It gave me a moment to reflect on the year, the successes and growth and now the new focus that has awakened in me to succeed. The examples on stage were fuel for the fire. In 365 days I will be one just like them and setting off into a new chapter in life.
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There is an award that is given out every year, it's the Pat Massart award, given to an auctioneer who is chosen by his class as an example of Auctioneers Helping Auctioneers, one that lifts up his classmates and helps them to succeed. It was so special for me to be in the room to watch one of my best friends and mentors, Tim Luke, receive this prestigious award. He has done so much for me, but also the industry as a whole. Tim teaches a class on interpersonal communication for auction professionals and in just 18 months has helped so many auctioneers get out of their comfort zone and be the best they can be...present company included. Now many think that being a great auctioneer takes talent, a fast tongue and a quick brain...well it also takes empathy, emotion and situational awareness to bring the most effective communication to the interaction...and Tim Luke does just that. No auctioneer ever has deserved that award more than him and I was proud to be there to witness a special moment. I was extremely fortunate to celebrate with him that evening as 2 of the last auctioneers in town!
So sitting here on Easter night finishing up this article, I find myself filled with new ideas, new enlightenment, a renewed passion, but also a calmness that is unexpected. Last year at this time, I was so fired up to get started with my new tools and ideas...I almost burnt up on reentry(we watched the Martian tonight too). This year is much different. I took the last 2 days off and tried really hard not to say the "A" Word..."Auction" Slipped out a few times, I responded to some class Facebook posts and replied to a few quick messages, but mostly I used the time to reconnect with my wife and 2 sons. They are the real reason I work so hard and take training like CAI...in order for us to live better but also for me to live fuller with them. This is my purpose this year, to create a smooth, sustainable business life that balances with my personal life.
In the words of Spanky Assiter..."CAI can stand for Challenge, Awaken and Inspired"
I'll agree with that, but add my own...
"Challenge Accepted, Initiate!"
It was March 2015, I stood in the airport much like today...filled with excitement, anticipation and nervousness. I was enroute to Bloomington, IN for my first year of the Certified Auctioneer Institute (CAI), a 3 year course focused on the business of Auctions and the highest level of training from the National Auctioneers Association. Being in the industry for 15 years...I thought knew it all. How wrong was I...
Comparing my education in auctions to a big breakfast (I'm hungry) I found out I actually knew less than a piece of bacon. My eyes were opened to the world of possibilities and opportunities available for me to succeed. Not only the tools and training, but also the network of like minded colleague's and many now I consider life long friends, were provided from those 6 chilly days at IU. Those days, relationships and training forever changed my year, my business and my life. In the year, my business has grown exponentially, I won the World Automobile Auctioneer Championship, traveled around the nation selling auctions and have a whole new perspective for what lies before me...
So standing here in line for my SWA flight after rearranging 83 pounds of luggage, (it takes a bunch of gear to be awesome), I'm filled yet again with that excitement, sense of wonder, and nervousness. I'm almost scared about the potential opportunities that would be presented to me this next week and how it is my decision to grab them and succeed. It's chances like this now we have to step outside of our comfort zone to meet new people, to learn new things, and get a fire built under our ass.
Watch out world, Bobby D. is headed back to CAI!
"He who would learn to fly one day, must learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying"
There are days in our lives that we look back on and see where we made a choice to be something different than what we currently are. I look back on a few key days, the day I asked my wife to marry me, the days my 2 sons were born, the day I broke my elbow off in Sedona mountain biking and the day I graduated from college. I also remember the first auction that I got paid to do, the first fundraiser I ever did and the first classic car I ever sold...but there is one day that stands out as that day of choice that changed my professional life forever.
It was that day in December I was sitting in the Advanced Auctioneer Academy listening to John Nicholls(our current NAA vice president) he was talking about what it meant to be a professional auctioneer and how to get involved in your industry and how that can change your life. He said to join your local and national professional industry associations, he said to reach out and ask for help from more educated and experienced auctioneers, he said to mentor and share your experience to lift up new auctioneers. This was a huge light bulb moment for me...ding! And that is where I decided to take my Auctioneer profession seriously and has skyrocketed since.
As I sit on the airplane flying over the Grand Canyon on my way back from instructing 23 of the worlds newest auctioneers at the Western College of Auctioneering, I just realized I gave a similar presentation on Professionalism and Ethics in the Auction industry. We had a conversation on what it meant to be a professional, how you are expected to act and present yourself, how to treat your sellers and buyers, how you carry yourself in public and being a part of the industry organizations. We also talked about finding a mentor and guide, but also giving back to those that are just coming up. One student auctioneer, who I believe will have a great auction future posed a statement..."You're a professional once you make that choice to truly be one." With that statement, I saw 23 light bulbs go off...very similar to the enlightenment that I had while sitting in class just 5 years ago.
Throughout the day I was able to share my knowledge, love and passion for Auto Auctions, Fundraising/Benefit Auctions and what it means to be a Professional Auctioneer. We also worked together on improving the students bid call chant, along with stage presence, confidence building, ringman work as well having fun while auctioneering. I saw so much growth in one day from these 23 student. From first hearing their chants in the morning where some were still stumbling over their numbers and erratically waving their hands in front of their faces to seeing quite a few give a smooth auctioneer performance with confidence and control. Others were way ahead of the class and were ready to go to work right away after class, some still had some progress to make but their hearts seemed to be filled with the potential in business and in life. I'm so proud and honored to be a small influence on these future auctioneers and hope they take that light bulb that went off to help them light their path to the future in the industry. The final message I left them with is:
Be awesome, Be your best and go forth and change the world!
It's moments like these that re-inspire me to look back and take my own advice...
"Today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!"
As I sit on the plane to Billings to instruct at my 3rd session of the Western College of Auctioneering, I'm thinking about the leap of faith that the students I'll be interacting with have taken. What a crazy thing this Auction Industry is...the personalities, the potential and the fun! In the past 15 years since I've graduated, I've seen the nation, made some amazing friends and said SOLD thousands of times. Each auction and interaction is just as exciting as the first, but even more so now...I see the potential for growth that this industry offers. I wonder if the students I'll be enlightening even have an idea...can't wait to see:)
Thank you for taking a few moments to invest in your Auctioneer future!
I'm so excited to be offering help to auctioneers from around the world from brand new, fresh out of auction school to seasoned veterans looking to bring their skills to championship levels. I love teaching and talking about auctioneering, the auction business and how we together can change the world!