“Sh*t Sandwich,” a book by Steve Stauning, is a guide on how to be more successful in both business and personal endeavors. Its basic message is that you’re not going to get ahead in your career, or life in general, unless you are willing to make concessions and do a lot of things that you aren’t crazy about. Or, as the author bluntly puts it, eat a sh*t sandwich.
He does this in an in-your-face, yet very entertaining, style, through anecdotes and observations after decades in the business world.
What sets this apart from other self-help books, for automotive professionals, is that Stauning has an extensive background in the industry. He is the founder of automotive consulting firm Pladoogle, a board member of Dealers United and the host of instructional videos on his website that give tips for dealership success. Past experience includes leadership roles at Asbury Automotive Group, Reynolds & Reynolds and Dealer Specialties. His longtime service as a Marine also comes through in the book’s tone.
Nearly all of the tips that Stauning gives in the book can be applied toward any business industry, but he strongly displays the relevance of automotive culture. After all, workers at dealerships have to regularly eat a pretty big sh*t sandwich.
In recounting the best car salesman he has ever met, Stauning talks of how this person regularly ate the dish in his book’s title. When he asked the salesman, in his 20s and not quite eight months into the job, how he was able to sell more than 30 units in a month without a customer database: “He smiled and replied, ‘I never listen to the customer.’”
Sure, the salesman ate the aforementioned sandwiches served by Ups, and heard that they were “just looking” or “gathering information.” But while potential customers said this, he gave them firm offers on their trade ins and continued to be diligent, closing deals at a 50-percent rate. “Customers loved that he took charge and helped them buy a car. They never felt sold; that’s what made him the best ever.”
Commissioned salespeople must be “relentless” in their follow ups and diligence when making a sale. One of the sandwiches they will more than likely face daily is failure, and Stauning suggests that these are to be eagerly eaten because without failure, the drive to achieve success is not possible.
“If you ever wonder why some people are just better at something like selling cars or meeting potential mates than you – or just better at getting what they want – it’s likely because they have a higher tolerance for failure.”
At the same time, he encourages, as well as other tips, kindness, empathy, smiling and forcing yourself to positively interact with superiors that you might not like or agree with, if you expect to obtain your goals.
“The very first secret that many people don’t learn until it’s too late is simply to eat a sh*t sandwich. The sh*t sandwich here is the one you must eat when someone expects you to yield to them, their expertise, their status and/or opinions. There is some sort of gene that blocks many people’s ability to yield to others, even when these ‘others’ control their future.”
At the same time, Stauning is also funny as hell when talking about why workers and leaders need to eat said sandwiches.
On the perception of hard work alone being good enough to succeed, he writes: “If you’re thinking ‘Gee, Steve, why can’t my superior work ethic and output be enough?’” My, aren’t you precious.”
On people who think that just being themselves is good enough to succeed, and that others will adapt to them: “The sh*t sandwich here is to grow up – we’re not in high school anymore, Toto.”
On how one’s physical appearance definitely defines how they are perceived in the work world in a chapter titled “Nothing Says ‘Don’t Promote Me’ Like a Neck Tattoo”: “Hey Buttercup, I’m sorry if this lesson offends you, but there are realities about business that you need to understand today…before it’s too late.”
“Sh*t Sandwich” is a succinct, informative and entertaining read. Stauning’s voice is strong enough to make you want to suffer, and enjoy it, to further your career and overall life. Reading it is one of the smallest sandwiches you’ll ever have to endure eating.
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