The Books That Inspire Quick Lube Leaders
Ernest Hemingway said, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” Perhaps it’s because the best books are often close at hand, ready to be picked up again. The lessons stay with you wherever you go.
Reading is a very solitary, internal exercise, and those lessons are your own. But one aspect common to really good books is that they’re often shared. And when you’re talking about business leaders, that kind of shared value system can lift a business’ culture to new heights.
That’s the goal with NOLN’s Quick Lube Book Club. The magazine asked industry leaders to share the books that inspired them toward success in business and their own personal growth. This is one way to pass along those lessons for the benefit of more operators.
"Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable" by Tim Grover
Justin Strickland is a basketball fan. The owner of the Strickland Brothers 10 Minute Oil Change chain is also a competitive person.
In Relentless, Strickland says that he learned about how to hone that competitive spirit into an effective leadership tool.
“My biggest takeaway from it was just that it helped me understand myself a bit better,” he says. “Because I'm such a competitive person. That’s what drives me—the competition.”
The author of the book is trainer and speaker Tim Grover, whose client list includes Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade and the late Kobe Bryant. In his book, Grover uses those clients as examples of a relentless streak that led them to greatness in their craft.
“Getting better, whether it's myself personally or my business or implementing new processes to make the service better for the customer,” he says. “And just being relentless in that pursuit of perfection, understanding that we’re never going to reach perfection.”
One idea in particular stuck with Strickland. Grover writes about The Cleaner, who is someone at the height of a competitive, relentless drive. He describes it as the “ability to trust their instincts, shut out doubt and fear and keep going when everyone else had given up.” And Cleaners do it over and over again.
Running a quick lube (or many quick lubes) certainly requires a bit of a relentless spirit, and that’s why Strickland recommends it for any others looking to explore that competitive drive.
"Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't" by Jim Collins
Collins’ 2001 book is one that’s been read multiple times and shared a bunch over the years for Ken Voelker, CEO of the Mighty Distributing System of America.
“It’s a kind of forever book for me,” he says. “And I have picked it up and put it back down and read it. Given it to people and discussed it.”
The book grew out of Collins’ deep study on what makes businesses succeed and thrive over the long term. The big takeaways for Voelker were the principles of hard work to benefit the larger group—being part of a team and being an asset.
Voelker says that the book showed how the organization is bigger than one person. And while there are some high-profile examples of narcissistic executives in the world, the book showed how the alternative makes for a winning recipe. Collins shows his work to make the point.
“I would say this is the opposite of narcissistic,” Voelker says. “I do think that book is well researched. It makes you think about your business. It’s really steeped in good, quantitative research.”
Some of the conclusions in the book are prepared as little Collins-isms. Take the Hedgehog Concept, for example.
Visually, it’s a venn diagram with three spheres. One represents your passions, the second represents what you can be best at and the third represents that which drives your economic engine. Going from good to great requires a “deep understanding” of the center of that diagram, according to Collins.
"Fear is My Homeboy" by Judi Holler
Danielle Lacroix, who runs Stop & Go Instant Oil Change in Vermont, says that she saw author Judi Holler during a Women in Automotive Leadership conference in Detroit. The presentation was excellent, she says, as is the book, Fear is My Homeboy.
Lacroix describes it best:
“The book is about becoming the boss of your fears whether they are big or little and making the conscious decision to face your fear and be a #Fearboss.
“I’m enjoying the book because it is inspiring to realize even the little things we do, such as falling into bad habits, take a bit of courage to overcome and by overcoming each one we become part of the #Fearboss tribe. She has inspired me to reach out and do more in my community, whereas I was previously really afraid to put myself out there in fear of being rejected.
“Recently I started working with a group to introduce car care clinics that I had always wanted to do, but previously put off. We have one scheduled for May!
“I also have become involved with a business development group that is helping me to get in contact with the local high schools where we are planning on having me talk to a couple small business entrepreneurship classes about being a woman in business and what it takes to run a small business.”
"The Go-Giver: A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea" by Bob Burg and John David Mann
Jordan Mosley, who runs six America’s Oil Change locations and three Kwik Kar locations in Texas is a believer in a philanthropic mindset for leadership. By helping others achieve, you’re reaching your own goals, too, he says.
That’s why he recommended The Go-Giver, which is another fictional business parable that tells the story of Joe, a motivated businessman who doesn’t seem satisfied with this achievements. Joe learns through examples that the real success stories come from those who help lift up each other.
The book, in turn, helps business leaders like Mosley learn by example.
“Connecting people with a common need for each other has built many friendships for myself and I’ve helped so many along the way,” he says. “I didn’t realize I was building a ‘Rolodex’ of people who are professionals in their own right.”
Those relationships help push along his own success when he’s in need of a part or a tech here and there, he says. Few success stories are made alone.
“Providing goodwill to others will prove to pay dividends for yourself,” he says. “We’re in a dog-eat-dog world, but helping others even in our own industry is OK and encouraged.”
"The Ideal Team Player" by Patrick Lencioni
Lencioni secured another recommendation from another industry leader, Integrated Services Inc. CEO Steve Barram. Similar to The Five Dysfunctions, The Ideal Team Player breaks down the process into a few categories.
“The core principle of the book is around identifying the three virtues that ought to be present in somebody you’re hiring on your team,” Barram says. “And it’s humble, hungry and smart.”
Lencioni distributes these principles visually in a venn diagram, the intersection of which personifies the ideal team player.
Barram says that humility in a team context is the antithesis of an ego-driven member. Smart is more than just brainpower; it’s about being emotionally intelligent and working well with others.
“Hungry being self-motivated to learn,” Barram says. “Being challenged to learn. Being challenged by yourself and not needing someone to push you.”
Barram is the youngest of five boys, and he says that he learned these values, often while playing pickup basketball with siblings and friends. He took a lot of those lessons with him when it was time to found ISI.
“When you start a company, and you build it, you have an opportunity to establish a culture that you think carries on,” he says. “And we’ve been very blessed with people who fit well within the culture and have stayed a long time.”