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!"