Get all the experience you can in life, leadership, and business. I hope you enjoy this video with encouragements and personal examples of how I gained experience. By Gary Shotton #000080
By Gary Shotton
Experienc | ikˈspi(ə)rēəns | “Knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed, encountered, or undergone.”
Experience. “How important”. All I can say about experience, get all that you can get. Every day ask yourself “Am I gaining experience?”. I’m gaining experience in life. I’m gaining experience in the job I have. I’m gaining experience in interacting with people. I’m gaining experience in dealing with my spouse. I love it. One young couple says … After about a year of marriage this young lady says, “Hey, I’ve just about got it figured out.” Well, guess what? She doesn’t because she’s going to gain more experience, experience, and more experience because that is so vital.
I think I’ll just tell you a few stories about how I gained experience. I hope that helps. I was 14, my dad owned a farm and ranch. We had plenty of work to do. We drove cattle, rode horse, and branded cattle. It was a great upbringing. One day, my dad says, “Get a little bit better jeans on, Gary. You’re going with me to town.” I go, and I’m obedient. I get in and change my pants. I go riding this 45 minutes down the road to this town, our major town. I’m just a typical 14-year-old. I’m thinking about girls and sports, have nothing else on my mind. About ten minutes before we get to town, my dad starts talking. He says, “Gary, go into the bank and get a loan for the newly-formed Shotton Brothers Partnership. We want to buy 300 head of cattle.”
What? I had no idea what he was talking about. That’s virtually all he said. I’m thinking, okay, another five minutes we’re there. He’s going to do all the talking, I’m just sit there. We pull up to the bank, in front of the bank. It’s one of those times my brain is imprinted with that vision. I step out, take one step and he drives away. He was getting me experience. I fumbled my way into the bank. I asked for the person that he told me to ask for. I proceed to tell this person all I know about raising cattle in feedlots, which was not much.
Now obviously this banker knew Dad, but I know my dad did not tell him, “I’m sending in my son.” This banker was friends with my dad. He figured it out real soon because that’s kind of the way I was thrust into the idea of getting experience.
A few years later, I’m married. I’m in the state of Wyoming. I have a full-time job. I decided since I’m in the cattle business, I’m thinking I know all about the cattle business. I decide I’ll just go ahead and get a loan and buy some cattle, put them in the feedlot. I don’t have to feed them, I don’t have to water them. They’re just going to raise in a feedlot. I’m familiar with it, I think. I get my loan. I start buying the cattle. I’m telling you what, I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t able to buy the cattle I needed. I need to get a hundred. This is taking weeks, two, three, four weeks.
Finally the man at the feedlot … The way this works, you just pay your feed bill at the feedlot, they take care of them and you take the entire risk. He was so nice. He was a gentleman and he said, “Gary, why don’t I buy you out and you get out of the cattle business?” That was really nice. I didn’t choose that route. I swallowed my pride and lost lots of money on that, but you know what? I gained some experience.
Now, 15 years later I’m in my new town. It’s in the early 90’s. I’m aware of a close friend of mine, in this case a relative that came to me with an idea. He said, “Listen, here is a one-page ad on this new franchise called Subway.” I’ve never heard of Subway. That’s interesting. Looked like a good plan. It took about $20,000 to invest into a Subway at that time. You know, I told this gentleman, I said, “Listen, why don’t you go there. Don’t sign up to buy, don’t be the first one that signs up for a franchise.” There’s not one franchise in Tulsa. I don’t know how many are in Tulsa right now but there’s a lot, but there wasn’t even one. I said, “What I suggest is go there, learn all about that you can, don’t buy a franchise. Find someone else that bought a franchise and go to work for them for six months. Forget what they told you in the seminar. Go work at a Subway and gain experience.”
You see, experience is something there’s just no way, there’s nothing that you can do in a book, in college, through your parents, and you have to do it. It’s a little bit of a freedom, a little bit of a fear factor that you’re going to fail, but guess what? You are going to fail. I’m going to fail yet again. You are going to make mistakes. Forget that! Just don’t make such a big mistake that it causes you to heartache or a divorce or an entire change in life. Make your mistakes on the small scale. Make your mistakes when you can recover. Learn, that in itself is gaining experience. That in itself is learning how to gain experience without going overboard. I’m always fearful of someone that says, “Boy, if I can just make this 30 million dollar plan work.” I say, “Well, where are you working now?” “Well, I’m not minimum wage but I’m on a salary less than 30,000 a year.” Well, you know what, you might want to go step by step by step, gain that experience before you chunk off that 30 million dollar business plan.
You might be saying, “How else can I get closer to the business I want to own?” Well, I’d say if you’re really focused on experience and you want to gain experience in a particular area, you kind of know where you want to work or where you want to be in business. Let’s say you’re a hairdresser and you want to open a hair salon. Let’s say you’re a restaurant owner, want to own a restaurant and you want to have a restaurant of some sort. Here I am, I’m in my machine shop, okay? I had experience in life, in business, but I didn’t have that much experience in the machine shop business, but I had other experience I need.
If you’re in a job that’s not related to what you want to do, look for a job related to what you’re going to do. Drive truck, drive forklift, and get close while you’re working. Don’t try to steal their customer list. That’s illegal and unethical, but learn what they’re doing in that field. Look for a niche, look for something that’s related. Look for something that will fit you but gain experience. I just cannot overemphasize that you can be focused on getting experience in life, in marriage, in raising a family, in dealing with people. Volunteer at church. Get experience working with people! It’s just a life full of experiences. That’s what life’s all about.
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