Volume 18 Number 9 - September 1, 2020

Bernie Moreno: Right Then, or Right Now?

Bernie Moreno was born into a privileged family in Columbia, but was moved at a young age to Florida with his siblings by his mother to experience bootstrapping and the American dream. A born entrepreneur, he was still relatively young when he owned multiple high-end car dealerships in NorthEast Ohio with $1B in sales.

But things change.

In Fall of 2019, Mr. Moreno, still young by business leader standards, decided to exit the automotive retail business. He saw autonomous and mobility-oriented vehicles taking market share and he saw auto manufacturers continuing to insist on very high-cost dealerships. With those extraordinary fixed costs, and the low margins on new vehicles, he didn’t see a healthy future for the industry. He started several technology businesses.

But nine months later he announced he has bought back into a luxury dealership, again in NorthEast Ohio. So what changed?

His assumptions.

He believes COVID has effectively ended the shared transportation model, whether the subscription business he built as Drive Options, or other methods that require use of a vehicle shortly after someone else – often unknown to you – has been using it. He now believes that people will once again want to own a private car, and will move to the suburbs and the country, areas less crowded with lower costs of living. And equally important is his belief that vehicle manufacturers now see that the cost model they forced on dealers doesn’t work for anyone.

He still has a foot firmly planted in technology, specifically blockchain, as he re-enters the auto dealership world.

Some believe COVID is fake news while others believe it will be an important life force for several years. But COVID is not the only major influencer of human behavior. The rapid learning of recent months has impacted the underlying assumptions of many aspects of virtually every industry. So too have the very different expectations that recent generations bring to our world.

What are the major assumptions made in your business, that if wrong, could change the future entirely?

They may be global socioeconomic factors, or customer demands and expectations, or internal self-limiting beliefs like changeover times on old equipment. It’s clear that not all of our assumptions are right to begin with, and many will be wrong over time. If we don’t voice those assumptions, we cannot be prepared when they are wrong. Nor can we be prepared to fully leverage them when we are right.

What are the major assumptions, that if right, could propel your business to new levels?

Agility is important to success, but without fresh understanding of assumptions it is difficult to achieve. To open your thinking to the possibilities, step outside your business, your industry, and comfort zone. Think creatively about how what you see there could forge a new future.

If your business has been impacted, positively or negatively by COVID, what assumptions were wrong. Or changed, if you like that word better. Not only can change disrupt, lack of change can as well.

I assume you find this thinking valuable to you. But I test that assumption—head-on and around the edges -- regularly.

I encourage you to do the same with your assumptions.

A Reminder:

I am offering a special advisory service at a greatly reduced fee, designed to help you navigate this storm while creating a new healthy future.

For $2,000 I will help you respond to changing conditions, stay focused, and lead through this turbulence with a weekly 30-minute call and unrestricted email access for 60 days. This is not a regular offering of mine, nor will it become one.

Together we can discuss any aspect of your work, such as identifying and implementing top priorities, developing new approaches and partnerships, not feeling overwhelmed, and executing your emergence.

The deadline to sign up is September 11, 2020. I have limited slots; for more information reply to this email.

The Starting Pistol

William Ward:
"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails..."

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"...and he does that knowing that he’ll need to adjust them again and again."

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