Boating Industry

November 2016

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Page 7 of 51 INDUSTRY NEWS 8 | Boating Industry | November 2016 BY JONATHAN SWEET At this year's Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, Josh Linkner of Detroit Venture Part- ners will be delivering the opening keynote. His talk, "The Gravity-Defying Leader: Innovative Approaches to Hyper-Growth Leadership," will help dealers understand and manage the disruptive factors influenc- ing growth. The 2016 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo will be December 5-8 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. MDCE is produced by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Boating In- dustry. We talked to Linkner about his plans for this year's keynote. BOATING INDUSTRY: What do you hope dealers take away from your talk? LINKNER: What I'm hoping dealers take away from the talk is two things. No. 1: I want them to be inspired. We live in an era in which we're always being beaten down by something: taxes, regulations and difficult customers. But I'm going to get people fired up so they're re- energized and ready to take on the challenges of the day. No. 2: I want to arm people for battle with some practical tools — new frameworks, new techniques, new ideas that they can apply directly to their marine dealerships in order to drive better outcomes. So it's going to be part inspiring, part practical, a whole lot of fun, and I really can't wait for the event! BI: You talk about creativity and innovation being the most important attribute of a business. Why? LINKNER: So many of the advantages we've had in the past have been commoditized. You have things that are difficult to control like geogra- phy and global markets. On top of that, the stakes are increasingly more and more difficult with the addition of complexity, competitive threats, etc. So, what can we do to rise above all that? I truly believe that creativity and innovation is the currency of success. If you think about it, it's the one thing that can't be outsourced or automated. Ultimately, it's our one source of sustainable competitive advantage. Now, dealers might say, "Creativity doesn't apply to me – I'm not the one designing a new marine craft, I'm the one that's selling it." But I'd argue that we can apply the same principles of creativity and innovation to the ways we sell, how we lead, and how we serve. It's not just about product innovation, I'm going to talk about, everyday innovation, ways that we can inject creative thinking to drive our dealerships to the next level. So I believe in these challenging times, creativity and innovation have become the most important attributes to ultimately harness and deploy our dealerships. BI: Is this more important today than it was in the past? Why? LINKNER: In the past, things were very dif- ferent. We lived in local markets instead of global ones and competition was way less fierce. Business cycles elapsed over months or years instead of weeks in some cases. The complexities are higher, the stakes are higher, the difficulty is higher and the competition is higher. So we need to elevate ourselves to rise above that. Many of the competitive advantages that we've had in the past have become anti- quated. My argument is that creativity and inno- vation is more important now than ever in these fist-fighting times. One thing we learned from the economic disaster of 2009 is that we can no longer rely on models of the past and still expect to win. We know that today, we need an entirely new approach to drive successful out- comes. Innovation and creativity are untapped, natural resources that, when harnessed and injected into our dealerships, will help facilitate terrific success. BI: How can dealers get better at this? LINKNER: There's a myth that one out of a thousand of us are given creativity at birth and the rest of us have to suffer from lack of creativity. The truth is – and the research is crystal clear – is that all of us as human beings have enormous creative capacity. It's a skill that can be learned and developed, although most of us are far behind in leveraging it as adults. I'm going to share some specific ideas and approaches that dealers can immediately use to drive momentum and progress in their businesses. In other words, these are skills like learning tennis or learning a new language that can be quickly built, deployed and turn important competitive advantages. So, the good news is that all of us can build and learn these skills. We just need an approach, we need a trainer, we need a coach. And that's exactly what I'm going to bring to you in Orlando. Q&A with MDCE keynote speaker Josh Linkner Josh Linkner

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