What does "passion" mean to you? There are obvious meanings – strong affection or desire, an outbreak of anger, or an intense feeling or conviction. The Christian religions refer to "The Passion" as the suffering of Christ between The Last Supper and his crucifixion. When I think about my passion, I think about ardent affection and intense conviction. This definition is how I embrace passion and how I've used passion throughout my career.
When I was nearing college graduation (back when they were still etching stone diplomas), I participated in the usual campus interviews. I still remember most of them – Kroger Grocery manager, Computerland (long obsolete retail chain), Reynolds business forms (relevant way before Al Gore invented the internet and digitized everything), and New York Life Insurance. There were a couple of others, but the one I was most likely to pursue was life insurance sales – not because I had a passion for that career option, but because, at the time, it seemed like the greatest income return in the long run.
I was working at a retail sporting goods store while going to school. As I neared graduation, the store managers called me to the office (it was not the first time), and I got that sinking feeling of "what did I do this time?" It turns out they were planning for my departure after graduation.
One of them asked why I didn't go to work for Outdoor Sports Headquarters, at the time, the biggest distributor in the nation and probably the first actual national outdoor sporting distribution business, and they just happened to be hiring a buyer. Who knew?
I sent in a resume with my OSHI rep, that came in every Tuesday (when road calls were still a thing). I got a call, did the panel interview, and got the job.
That first job was likely the lowest-paying job I could have taken, but I had a passion for the outdoors, mostly camping and fishing at that time. So I worked as the young new buyer in the fishing division. My passion for embracing the job and my eagerness to learn was recognized by an early mentor (Tripp Thomasson – many of you have crossed his path through the years), and he moved me to the shooting side of the business where they needed help, and the rest is history. I never looked back to the fishing side of the company again.
My passion and eagerness to learn and grow led to new opportunities at distribution businesses in Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina. I even had a short tenure selling to the distribution channel with a couple of different lines before settling where I am now. I never have a problem rolling out of bed for work because I love what I do. I can't imagine what I'd be like if I took the NY Life job of selling death benefits!
I look around me and see all of my competitors (most of whom have become good friends because of our shared love of what we do) having that same passion. A passion that keeps us focused on finding better and more efficient ways to grow our businesses, a passion for lobbying efforts to protect our industry, and a desire to leave a legacy with our children and grandchildren.
So, what are you passionate about, and how can you channel that inner desire to take your business to the next level in 2023? Let's not waste that inner drive on activities that don't help us grow.
Channel your energy to make new connections, to win by strengthening your relationships, and to show your enthusiasm to others so that they, too, can follow your example!
As we enter a new year of challenges and opportunities, resolve to use your passion for this great industry in ways that are beneficial to your business, family, and others around you. You may already be following your passion, and I would love to hear how your passion drives you.
As we head into 2023, keep up with the SCOPE developments happening very soon! We've got some exciting things on the horizon that our passionate SCOPE team has been working hard to finalize. NASGW has many great initiatives that we are passionately developing to help your business and bring all channels of this industry together in the face of our greatest threats.
Happy New Year to all, and see you soon at SHOT,