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No More Small Talk

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I’m not much of a small talk person. It’s just not my personality. I’m a genuinely curious person, though (that’s the journalist in me), so for me, it’s usually all or nothing—I’d prefer to really get to know someone, or simply enjoy a comfortable silence. 

I say that for context as to why one of my social pet peeves is the question, “So, what do you do?” There’s never an acceptable answer to that question. No one can, or should be able to, sum up what it is they “do” in a succinct, small talk response. It’s not possible. At best, you can give an ambiguous answer, like stating a job description that, more often than not, means nothing to anyone outside of your organization’s hierarchy. At worst, you sell yourself miserably short, and diminish all you’ve worked to achieve by listing off a 40,000-foot description of your role in the world.

I cringe when I hear it, and I want to dig deeper—I want the person answering to dig deeper. Sure, tell me “what you do,” but tell me all you do, tell me how it impacts others, tell me why it motivates you to keep doing it, tell me why you do it, tell me who you are. 

Again, you can see why I wanted to be a journalist, and why those here at NOLN followed a similar path to me. 

We’re very excited about this issue of NOLN; as you likely noted on the cover of the magazine, this is our “awards issue.” In the past, we’ve handed out a handful of awards to those making a true difference in the industry, albeit in a slightly more sporadic way. NOLN has, for years, honored both an Operator of the Year, as well as a Best Looking Lube winner (given to an operation with an outstanding facility). This year, we’ve elected to put them together in a larger package, along with a brand-new award: Technician of the Year. 

Read the profiles and learn more about each of our winners; they have great stories to tell. Granted, we can’t tell their entire stories in the space we have each month, but we try to get at what truly sets them apart. We highlighted everything from their exceptional performance within their businesses to their work in their communities, in helping others, and trying to have a greater impact on all those around them.

One of our hopes in honoring folks with awards is that it will help inspire others in the industry to push themselves in a similar way to those profiled. We hope that people will look to these winners as an example, or template even, as to how they can achieve another level in their careers. There’s a lot to emulate, and there’s a lot to learn from.  

Sure, if you were to ask any of them “what they do,” you might get a short answer from them about being a business owner or a technician or whatever it might be. But that misses the point. There are tens of thousands of other people in the U.S. that could, and likely would, say the same thing. So, what sets you apart? What is it that you do? Here’s to having long answers.

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