Remember Who You Are

ImageOriginally Written by Tonia Allen Gould for

Simba: Father?!
Mufasa’s ghost: Simba, you have forgotten me.
Simba: No! How could I?
Mufasa’s ghost: You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the circle of life.
Simba: How can I go back!? I’m not who I used be!
Mufasa’s ghost: Remember who you are.

My father was a salesman. I don’t think I realized it when I was a kid growing up in the Midwest, but, still he was one, even though he worked as a foreman for the Indiana State Highway Department. Back then, I’d spend time with my dad who was always looking to supplement his income to make an honest living. On weekends, Dad would drive me around in one of his old, beat-up cars or trucks he fixed-up himself. My family and I wouldn’t get too used to whatever vehicle he was driving at the moment, as it generally wouldn’t stay around long. The car merely served as a short-term means of transportation, and a roving billboard that advertised its own sale. While he didn’t have any long term relationship with the vehicle, he did have a certain attachment to it that came from having pride in his work, through his mechanical abilities, which enabled him to fix things that were broken.

On any given Sunday, Dad and I would be out on a mission, looking for other “For Sale” signs on tractors, lawn mowers, cars, trucks, boats or trailers parked haphazardly in some stranger’s yard. We’d spend hours-on-end in search of whatever we could find that suited Dad’s liking and matched his mechanical skills to buy, fix-up and sell again for a profit.

On any one of those days, my handsome dad would pull our car into some random driveway, climb out, smooth back his hair, hoist his pants and walk confidently up to knock on the stranger’s door as I stayed lingering, paces behind. “I’m here about the lawnmower you’ve got for sale out front,” he’d say, and then he’d follow the owner out to the yard to look the product over, while I stood quietly nearby. I learned a thing or two about the basics of selling alongside my dad back then. After all, he was the master of the “wheel and deal,” and one of the best negotiators I’ve ever met. But while my father would sometimes negotiate the terms of the sale or offer a barter or trade when he didn’t have just enough money, the biggest lesson I learned back then was that my father didn’t mind paying a fair price for something he wanted.

Part of my father’s “business plan” included his self-reliance on his mechanical knowledge and his ability to fix-up something that was broken, while still keeping in mind its full potential or value. This is what differentiated him from other buyers and sellers in the local area. He understood the cost of parts and labor as well as what was involved in buying something that needed to be fixed for resale. He’d buy it, if he felt he could breathe new life into it and if he was guaranteed a profit for it when he turned the product.

Looking back on all this now, I realize my father would have made an amazing entrepreneur/business owner. He had the right mindset and business acumen. He never compromised who he was or deviated from his goal of turning a profit to put food on the table or to simply provide for his family. He’d buy something. He’d fix it up. He’d resell it. And, then he’d start that process over and over again, honestly and fairly, always being mindful of his profit margins along the way. If he were still around today, and if he had an actual business, I know that he wouldn’t have wavered from his business approach much along the way. After all, he was in the business of making money.

While all of this may be nothing more than simple lessons I learned early on in life, they made a fairly significant impact on me, nonetheless. In this crazy, mixed-up economy we are experiencing today, it’s so easy to become desperate and to sell yourself, your qualifications and your talents short. If you devise the perfect formula for success, it should include differentiating yourself to create value, to make an impact and to stand out, while still minding those margins to make sure you get fairly compensated in the process of all of that hard work and steadfast determination. Rely more heavily on what you know: Buy a product, fix it up with your client’s brand and sell it–at a fair and honest price. Showcase your skills and knowledge, and this will differentiate you from the masses. “Remember who you are,” but most importantly, don’t compromise yourself along the way.

Tonia Allen Gould is President/CEO of TAG! The Creative Source, a consumer promotions and marketing agency headquartered in California.

Author: Tonia Allen Gould

Tonia Allen Gould is the CEO of Tagsource, a 25-year-old Consumer Promotions and Marketing Agency, she's founder of the Finding Corte Magore Project, and children's book author of Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore. Here, on this blog, she writes about whatever compels her at the moment. In her book, she explores the concepts of perseverance, hard work, bullying, and finding a place to call home for young readers. The impetus of the Finding Corte Magore project stems from Tonia's background - growing-up below the poverty line, in rural Indiana. A product of Indiana's foster care system, she is the first to say that books, a solid education and teachers, taught her there was a life for herself, tangible and within her reach, she just had to reach out and grab it. After publishing her first book, she decided she wanted to find an island and make it real, by naming it after the fictional place in her book, “Corte Magore,” and utilize it for social and environmental good. Today, the 29-acre island of Corte Magore at Hog Cay, Nicaragua- through a joint partnership with Ambassador Francisco Campbell, the Nicaraguan Ambassador to the U.S.-will be utilized by the Finding Corte Magore Project to work to keep Nicaraguan children in school. The Finding Corte Magore Project works virtually to connect a global community of students and institutions with the plight of educationally and economically repressed Nicaragua. The project involves showcasing and managing one of the country's own beautiful islands in its educational and environmental initiatives. The goal of The Finding Corte Magore Project is to create social awareness coupled with building a sustainable, positive and long-term educational impact on the country's children who have an on-average fifth grade dropout rate. In addition, Tonia is a promotional products industry veteran. She is the founder and CEO of 25-year old Tagsource, LLC (AKA TAG! The Creative Source). She currently serves on the BOD for the Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC), is an "Industry Voice", a recipient of a PPAI Golden Pyramid, and has been named on ASI’s Hot List. She is the recipient of Supplier of the Year award through the Women’s Business Enterprise Council West, as nominated by Fortune 500 companies.

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