This past weekend, I attended the Charity Benefit Car Show in Simsbury, Connecticut. Now, I’m not a car buff, but I am married to one. So I went along for the ride. (Plus I thought they might have kettle corn for sale!) I was overwhelmed with the passion, pride, and determination of these vintage car owners. The attention to detail was extraordinary. The engines were pristine, the paint was waxed, the chrome was polished – everything in top show order. I was like a child snapping photos of the interesting parts of the cars. I put together a few collages for this blog. Many of these vintage cars had photo books on display, showing the dire condition of the car at the start of the project. The owners had captured the progress along the way. It was clear that this was not just a hobby to pass the time, but a personal mission and a dream fulfilled.
I had the opportunity to sit inside a World War II army jeep. I was surprised by how comfortable the seat felt (although we were not driving on dry, dusty, bumpy,rocky roads, feeling every pot hole along the way.) The owner, who had meticulously restored this relic, explained that if you were a tall or large person, that it would be a very difficult vehicle to get into, not to mention, to drive.
Fit and Finish
At one point, my husband saw a 1983 Porsche 944 model that was for sale with low mileage and a decent price. When he started talking to the owner, I got a little nervous. When he asked if he could sit in the car, I started to worry. When he asked the owner if he could fire it up and listen to the engine, well then I started to calculate the financial hit, not to mention the impact on garage space. This could be a very expensive day indeed!
As we walked away, I asked my husband if he was seriously considering buying this automobile. Thankfully, he said “No.” He commented, “It looks and feels ‘old’.”
Compared to the other vintage cars on show this day, this 1983 model was hardly old. My husband explained to me that finding the right car is more than just about its mechanical features or even its performance. He told me that the vehicle must have “fit and finish.” When I asked what that meant, he explained that “fit” means that the body panels fit well together, the interior and layout works well with your body type, and the car’s “personality” fits your own.
The “finish” is how everything looks: the details, the shine, the upholstery, the choice of the rims, the chrome, the paint color, clarity and quality.
“This car is nice, but it hasn’t been ‘loved’ lately. Those seats are old and past their prime,” he commented. And while the car was a desired “brand” and was priced right, it wasn’t enough to compel my husband into bringing this little baby into our family. Oh thank goodness for mediocre fit and finish!
Employment Fit and Finish
This made me start thinking about people and jobs and the economy. What are the ‘fit and finish” aspects of landing the perfect job? Or in recruiting and hiring the ideal candidate?
Your resume might get you into the consideration set, but the final decision of the hiring manager will be largely influenced by whether or not this company thinks you’ll fit in.
Are they comfortable with you? Will you fit the company culture? Do you get along well with the team? How are your communication skills? What are your work habits? Do you have good energy? Are you designed well? Have you paid attention to the important details…or are you old, scratched, dented, thrown together…and in need of restoration?
Antique is a state of mind
Metaphor: Cars and Careers.
Driving your talent forward.
Employees as vehicles for progress.
How well do you show?
Do you feel like a relic…or do you consider yourself a classic? Is your skill set rusty …or have you continued to polish and refine your professional skills, staying current with the times?
Are you still road worthy or are you more comfortable tucked away in a safe, temperature controlled space?
Are you too expensive to drive?
Are you worried about getting into an accident? You know, those other drivers can be real jerks!
Are you difficult to steer? Are your tires deflated? When was the last time you changed your oil (or your attitude)? Are you well taken care of?
What condition are you currently in? How much restoration will be required to make you a one-of-a-kind classic?
Are you willing to do the work, put in the hours, make the investment…in you?
How much overhaul will be required to bring your workforce up to show standards?
Or will you just drive it into the ground. Run it hard until it wears out…and replace it with something newer. Then do it all again?
A good paint job goes a long way
As we were leaving the car show, my husband made the comment that a good paint job goes a long way. Whether it’s cars or houses, a new coat of paint, professionally applied, makes the investment look so much more valuable.
Once again, that made me think of people and how we show up at work. Are we aware that our professional appearance communicates loudly? Are we sufficiently groomed, tailored, rested, and nourished (physically and emotionally), so that we can bring our best selves to the workplace? Or do we look like we are worn out, like an old beat-up car?
I encourage my readers to take on the mind set of a vintage car collector. You know the value that can be created in taking excellent care of vintage collectibles. You’re willing to invest the sweat equity and financial resources in restoring something to its full glory.
We are all vintage collectibles in the making. (aka the aging process). We need to and want to stay relevant, valuable, and have that Wow factor!
Take pride in yourself. Buff out what needs buffing. Retool what needs retooling. Sandblast what is rusted. Find the replacement parts that you need to keep you and your career driving forward.