It would not be a stretch to say that everything I needed to know I learned from the Harley-Davidson business. I was always a Harley guy. I grew up in an area where Harley-Davidsons were very popular, knew people who rode, and even in college many of my projects, papers and productions had something to do with Harley-Davidson.
After college, when I was looking for a job, I answered a blind ad that read: Public Relations/Service Writer: $30,000 a year.
Well, I knew what public relations was; I had just received a degree in it, after all! But I had no idea what a service writer was. Still, it was 1987, and I knew I wanted $30,000 a year.
I got the job, and I still remember it like it was yesterday …
On my second day at Hannum’s Harley-Davidson in Pennsylvania, I met Rita Hannum — who stood about five feet nothing and often came to the dealership directly from her tennis workout. She stood intentionally close with a burning, intense demeanor that only a dealership owner possesses and said, “Mark, here at Hannum’s, you’re only one of two things: You’re either an asset or a liability. Which of those two will you be?”
Needless to say, that conversation left quite an impression on me, since I’m still talking about it all these years later. To be an asset (and, hence, to experience success yourself), you must acquire the necessary skills, become an expert at their use and seek out opportunities to use them in ways that maximize your return.
In any business, you’re either an asset or a liability. Which of those two will you be?