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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Runnin' On Empty

Runnin’ on Empty
The good ole days, remember them? Jumping in the V-8 coupe, and with Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild in the background, you got your motor runnin’ as you headed out on the highway. It was Saturday night. Gas was 35 cents a gallon. Your car was the center point of entertainment.

But this is now. 2010. Gas is pushing $3.25 in the hardest hit economic areas of the United States. Places like Upstate New York and my hometown of Detroit are injured again by the continuing rise in gas prices. And it is at $3.00 or more across the rest of the country. Is it artificially priced? I certainly believe so. Speculation and the increase of fuel usage in both India and China have created this current increase in oil prices and that has pushed our local prices pump prices way up. Speculation pushed prices up in 2008 as well. Remember those days?

This is very big country. According to, the average commute to work is 37.5 minutes. Americans naturally need larger, safer vehicles to drive coast to coast. This is not England or for that matter the rest of Europe. Look at this year’s sales increase in large SUV’s. Up 41% as announced today on CBS Radio; the most interestingly overlooked fact is that the small SUV is down 2.1% during that same time. This is not rocket science. We need bigger and more comfortable. We have families and extended families, business trips, vacations, kid’s baseball practice, and work. Try stuffing all that in a Prius.

We must remember that when the U.S. fell off the economic cliff in September, 2008, it was $4.00 gas that shoved the hardest. Confidence died and America stopped spending on anything. Our economy to this very day is still a big ugly rock. It will not move unless we push it with consumer confidence, lower bills and renewed spending. But that is just not happening, especially now. With gasoline hitting that “mental” mark of three bucks, we again start brown bagging more and we increase our visits to the grocery store. Most importantly, we stop spending on virtually anything else. This is again at the expense of a multitude of small businesses that include coffee shops and mid-priced restaurants. Small businesses suffer. And they are the ones who employ the majority of the workers. They are the heartbeat of America.

Now, I heard today that the reason the price of gas is skyrocketing is because of the stronger economy; the stronger the economy, the higher the gas prices.
If the economy is such a simple math game then why is that not adding up when we look at daily reality. What are these economists thinking?

Now, we are indeed at the cusp of an economic turnaround, but the rising price of gas will be the principal ingredient to keeping us where we are. This is a BIG deal. We drive less now. We drive less than we ever have before. Consumption is down. We combine trips and we carpool. Why? Because gas price increases come directly out of our wallet and our budgets. And the increases happen with real money in real time, more this week than last.

Gas prices are the biggest villain in the current hampering of the local economy. It is not about the big car or the SUV. It is not the car business this time. Drop gas back to $2.50 and the market will take off like a rocket making 2011 the “Year of the Comeback!”

As you pump that next tank and as you use your credit card because you do not have an extra 60 bucks in your pocket, remember it is because of the that stronger economy!

Jim Vogel is the owner and founder of VTR Consulting LLC; VTR is a motivational sales training company located in Apex, NC. Jim spent over three decades in the car business; first with Ford Motor Company, and then with Hendrick Automotive Group, before launching his small business to help make organizations more successful.

Monday, December 13, 2010

No One is Perfect! But You Better Be Good!

Being at your best every day at any one thing is not complicated. You must first physically take care of yourself. You cannot have a six pack of beer and a pizza every night and be on your A-Game.

Mentally, here is how to maximize opportunity, especially if you sell for a living.

1. Come to work to work; socialize at work only for the benefit of the customer.
2. Have a definable plan. Goals and objectives are essential.
3. Know your product and services better than anyone else; what is in stock and what is coming.
4 Always be there to lead, help and serve. The customer notices stuff like that.
5. Actively listen with minimum distraction. Be very active, have eye contact, and lean into the conversation. SMILE!
6. Never have anything less than a POSITIVE attitude from within you. Anything else is mentally unacceptable.

People buy from smiling, listening, organized, energetic, and knowledgeable individuals.

People buy from people like themselves.

Jim Vogel

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

HOHOHO! But Be Careful!

Apex NC 11-30-10

Tis the season to be careless... fa la la la la la la la la...

There is nothing as cool as a live Christmas Tree. It looks good. It smells awesome. Decorated, it is a work of art. A Rockwell painting right in the corner.

But trees are like pets and kids, they need to be watched by responsible adults. So please plan to water your tree regularly. Make sure it sits in the stand right. A falling tree in your living room is simply dangerous. Do not place the tree near a heating vent or too close to the fireplace. Get new lights every two years. They are cheap. But cheap can be a problem when there is a cracked wire or an overextended electrical outlet.

Don't let the kids run around the tree. Glass Ornaments are gorgeous; yet if they break they can easily injure dogs, cats and youngsters.

Fraser Firs, found in our beautiful NC Mountains, are value priced and hold their water and their needles very well.

Many homes during the holidays are very accident prone. And they must be protected from fire. AA batteries in every smoke alarm will save a life.

As your Inside 919 Insurance Guy, I want you around for the New Year!

Enjoy your tree! But as with anything, enjoy responsibly. Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Halo Everybody!

Halo Everybody Halo!
First heard on 1940’s CBS Radio, and then continuing through the T.V. Seventies, Halo Shampoo featured the famous jingle that still dances in the heads of most Baby Boomers. It is as familiar as “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should” and “Oh, I’d like to be an Oscar Meyer wiener”; now, before you head to YouTube to play these jingles, please note that this article is not about shampoo, tobacco, or hot dogs. It is about the simplicity of selling. I just want salespeople to be remembered by their clients like those famous jingles of old.

Training people to be successful has always been my passion so I have developed a new sales strategy, Halo Selling, named in honor of that famous shampoo. This is a sales seminar focusing on the systems approach that I have been working on over the past few years. I wanted to introduce the process right here in Carolina Business Connection. Now, since angels are known to wear halos and to be near perfect beings, successful salespeople must be the same, especially in this economy.

A near perfect selling strategy is the only way to have eternally happy customers whose referrals generate even more referrals. It is that simple. This Halo Affect not only minimizes the problems of the cold call, but creates the strategies that can help make the salesperson so popular with the client base that customers will be singing loud praises just like the church choir. In sales, success always brings more success.

Here are the Ten Halo Selling Commandments that should indeed help put your sales into the heavens.

First Halo Commandment: Thou shall always listen more than thou speak. You must always remember that you can upset many customers by over- talking, but you can never hurt a deal by over- listening. Out-listening your customers is the key to sales prowess. You must plan and control your message. Active listening is critical. Listening for purpose is indeed a learned trait that is sometimes difficult to master.

Second Halo Commandment: Thou shall always be enthusiastic and passionate in public. No matter what is going on in your personal life, you are always on stage with your customer.

Third Halo Commandment: Thou shall always control the fear of asking for the business by being prepared. Consider ASK as an acronym for “Applying Strategy with Knowledge”. The order is often yours if you simply ASK for it.

Fourth Halo Commandment: Remember the customer is never wrong when profit is the central variable. Serve the customer; no matter the cost or sacrifice. It is about winning for your customer.

Fifth Halo Commandment: Thou shall not covet commission. Your share of the revenue is the byproduct of your satisfied client base and your individual effort.

Sixth Halo Commandment: Honor your smile and sense of humor. If you have a great smile, use it. If you are funny, use it. No one wants to listen to a boring sales presentation.

Seventh Halo Commandment: Remember to always be patient. Use your sense of urgency and persistence with great care and control. Pushy is never a positive customer satisfaction ingredient.

Eighth Halo Commandment: Remember that the customer can eliminate you at any moment. No sale is a certain one. The customer controls all the decisions, and you are often the only deciding factor.

Ninth Halo Commandment: Thou shall always remember trust is everything in a relationship. If the client trusts you, the sale is a certain one if the needs and wants are met.

Tenth Halo Commandment: Honor the power of attitude. Attitude is a learned skill that only grows with practice. Customers are naturally attracted to positive, upbeat professionals.

The Sales Commandments should help determine your message and your plan of action. These two factors are everything in the sales game plan. You build a customer base just like you would build a congregation. You do it one seat at a time and one pew at a time. Soon both sides of the aisle will fill. Pay attention to your customers in a positive way and involve them in what you do. If you want heavenly sales and near perfect customer satisfaction, use these Ten Halo Commandments. Talk about them at your next sales meeting. Discuss the importance of being the best. You are in sales to serve others. You create solutions. These things must never be forgotten.

Good luck. Visit and take advantage of the specials you see on the site.
Have fun and happy selling!

Jim Vogel is the owner of VTR Consulting LLC, a sales training, recruiting, and career services organization that customizes retail sales training to fit the needs and wants of the sales professional. VTR Consulting LLC offers classes and seminars of every length and sales purpose.

Sales Recruiting is now fast and easy with VTR’s “ad to inbox” interview process. Career Services includes resume writing and simple steps to write quality blog posts and articles for social networking.

Jim is also an Independent Insurance Agent for Woomer Insurance in Downtown Apex, N.C. Woomer Insurance is a full service agency located on Historic Salem Street. Its motto is: “Independent for you since 1932.”

A native of Detroit MI, Jim was an editor and internal communicator at Ford Motor Company for over two decades and spent almost 10 years with Hendrick Automotive Group in sales, sales training, hiring and recruiting. He has taught writing and public speaking classes at both the University of Michigan and the University of Phoenix.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

May I Have Your Attention Please! Part Two

Apex NC

With constant stimulus all around us, add in the voluminous amount of instant information we have access to 24-7, we can get overloaded very quickly. Remember that ADD thing I talked about in Part One, ALL DATA DUMPED. We just have too much to pay attention to, to pay attention.

If you are like the majority of us, you need to get your business message out there and have it heard and hopefully remembered. I firmly believe we must get noticed to be successful today. I also believe that it is NOT who you know. It is NOT what you know; it is who knows you!

Everything is relationship. It is all things. Everything human starts with relationship. To steal and change a phrase, all success is local. Look at Inside919. We are family in here, not with DNA, but with commonality.

Look at Twitter. It is also a friendly, helpful place. If you are friendly and helpful on Twitter, you get followers. If you are friendly, helpful, and funny, you pick up friends on Facebook.

So use these three sites as social tools to get the message out. You will not stand out until you get out (there).

Blogspot. Word Press. Slingshot. Merchant Circle. There are numerous other places to get noticed as well. The more people who know you, your product and services, the better they know your message. Cut a video with Alex Ferguson of Inside 919 and get your human message out. Use your smile, voice, and actions. People love to see who they might work with. Join LinkedIn. Most importantly, be active in the sites you belong in. Ask Pat Howlett of Inside 919 to consider you as a sponsor. Join the Chamber of Commerce. Join a community service group like the Kiwanis. Join networking groups. Meet someone who you really would like to meet for breakfast once a month.

Know you are "googled" before you are met... I think that's a good thing. Success is a numbers' game.

There is an African Proverb that goes something like this: no one is truly a person until he or she is with other people.

So go to bed tonight having smiled, helped, and supported just one other person. Do it again tomorrow. Over time, this action creates reaction. And one day, you will not only be successful, but you will be relationship rich.

And you will own a powerful message of service.

And you will have our attention!

Monday, October 25, 2010

May I Have Your Attention Please!

Apex, NC 10-25-10

We recently attended the always spectacular North Carolina State Fair. It was the last day of this huge event and the weather was absolutely perfect. Naturally, thousands poured into the gates from every parking lot and every direction in the early afternoon. The Midway was packed completely full with people as we inched along. On both sides of this main walkway, the barkers were shouting their various services and wares. With each step, there was a different message with a continually changing volume stuffed with the background of music and non-intelligible noise. From a stimulus perspective, it was as humanly saturating as it was overwhelming to assess the reality of all of the things going on. Focusing was simply impossible; all we could do was forge ahead.

In this ever changing world of 24-7-365 information immediacy , our minds are continually at the State Fair of instant messages. I call it ADD. Everyone has this type of ADD today. It stands for “all data dumped”. We are so stimulated by everything from voice mail, to internet, to gadgetry, to satellite radio, that we miss truly important information; or we forget it passed our eyes and ears. Many of us get 50 phone calls or more a day, and we review hundreds of e-mails. Add in texts and chat, blended with the numerous face-to-faces, and it is a wonder we do not simply implode from all this daily toxic mass information.

I am still hunting for an e-mail from two weeks ago I simply just missed it from the flood of them that I get from five different accounts. I now only read a couple of lines of a long-winded e-mail before I blow it away mentally; too much information please. Just the facts Jack!

Looking back just a few decades ago, when our lives had no cell phones and computers and television had only three channels, we could tolerate the stimulus. If stress was a term back then, it wasn’t used in my family, even at Christmas. Overload back than came from the Sunday sermon, an overused party-line or from kids on the porch and in the backyard. Things were simple then. You could drive to the store and back with both hands on the wheel and without the distraction of anything more than an AM radio on the dash.

Since you probably stopped reading awhile back, I will continue this discussion very soon as a two- part article.

In the second part of “May I Have Your Attention Please”, I will discuss how to stand out as a business professional on the Midway of Stimulus Overload…Don't make the mistakes I did. Until then, take two aspirins; quit looking at your device at the light and stop texting! :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

When There is a Will, There is a Way!

I am really surprised at how many of my friends and clients are without life insurance and are without a will. I did an unofficial poll recently by asking that question... do you have a will and a life policy? Most people I talked to are without one or the other.

I recommend term life. It gives the consumer the best value. The policy owner chooses the term (number of years) and the financial limit. This policy pays when the owner passes away. It is again, very cost effective. Most importantly, as responsible people, we need to make sure our loved ones are taken care of if we do die.

Wills and trusts are the road maps to asset management. They do not need to be expensive or complicated. But without a will there is no way to manage your material things and make sure your loved ones are treated fairly. Families do strange things without proper instruction. In July, when my Aunt died up in Detroit, in-fighting took over at the saddest time. I was amazed what the lack of planning can do to relationships.

A term life insurance policy and a clear will lets all family members know that you care about their the most important and valuable ingredients of being here on this Earth, them...

Most of you reading this know me. You know I care about your well being. The coolest thing is the fact that my quotes to you are FREE! Gosh, I love free too!

Honestly, look at all your policies like you do your check book or balance sheet and get the right coverage at the best value. Have a great weekend!

I am at 919 244 6989

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting Pumped Up

Apex, NC 10-21-10

The economy is still stuck in neutral with not much growth. The good thing is that it is not getting worse. Since 2008, the American consumer has changed behavior. We are still in debt in many cases but we do not like it at all. And we are really watching our pennies and using credit less.

With the price of gas again at two dollars and silly, we are really noticing it at the pump and in our wallet. For a number of reasons, none I understand, gas is crawling up and slowly eating more and more of our pocket. When just having a decent paying job in today’s environment is a blessing we just cannot boycott gas stations and stop driving to work.

In the news this morning was yet another discussion of E85 fuel. E85 is not a bad thing; we just need to understand it better. Here is the scoop. You are running 10% ethanol in your tank a majority of the time anyway. A lot of stations add it to increase octane levels. When you pump gas and smell a little sweetness as it goes in, you have corn-blended fuel heading into the tank. That is okay! We can run on it all day long regardless of the engine or the year of car.

If gas gets to 15% ethanol, you should only pump that into a flex fuel vehicle. With about 2000 E85 stations across the United States, there are a lot of good Detroit sheet metal out there that can run flex fuel and these vehicles state it on the back of the vehicle and on the gas cap. E85 is indeed cheaper. But you get less mileage. It is also higher octane, about 95, rather than the 87 we usually pump.

It is important to remember to only put the correct fuel in your vehicle at all times.

To be on the safe side, just use 87 octane gasoline. You do NOT need 89 or 92 octane unless you have to run premium fuel. Running higher octane gas in a vehicle engineered and built to run on 87 is just a waste of money.

You will actually save money by not rabbit accelerating from the light, not tailgating, and keeping the right PSI in your tires. Rotate them with your REGULAR oil changes. And replace your air filter. You will see performance and mileage increases that pay for themselves over time.

Yes, gas is creeping to three bucks. No one likes that. Saving money at the pump is possible by blatant common sense, both in how you drive and how you maintain your vehicle.

Remember ALSO, that I sell car insurance through a number of A rated companies. Hopefully a free quote from Woomer Insurance can bring value to other areas of your budget. Call me at 919 533 9069 in you live in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, drive slower in your well maintained vehicle you will visit the gas station less!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Get Your Business P's In Order

Regardless of whether the recession is over or not, these past two years or so have been quite the professional experience for most of us. If you have been in business for these past twenty-four plus months and have not had a negative change in revenue or an increase in challenge or responsibility, you are the last one standing.

But contrary to many experts’ opinions, applying positive economic change in the Triangle or the country is not rocket science. We just need to take a look at the Business P’s. In core business models, there are certain critical ingredients that always start with the letter P. Organizations today just need to arrange them in their proper order. Some of us might even have them mixed up just a little bit; but even a little out of order is a recipe for failure.

All of us remember what happened in the third quarter of 2008 very well. Lehman Brothers and Wall Street dominated the financial bad news. These out of order P’s were the only reason why our business world changed as we knew it into complete financial collapse.

Here are the Business P’s in the order that they were in back in September, 2008.
Profits, Problems, Payroll, Processes, Priorities, Principles, People.

Note that profits come up first. Now, profits are just fine by themselves. In fact, profits are quite simple to get and quite exciting to manage in ANY economy if our P’s are in the right order. But profits should never be the main focus of any organization. Too much profit attention can create greed and internal conflict.
Greed was the driver of this recession and it kick started the mess we are still in regardless of any recovery headlines we see on the web and in print. Greed affects all the Business P’s and twists them one by one into disorder.

Here is the sequence the Business P’s should be in:
People, Principles, Priorities, Processes, Payroll, Problems, and Profits.

What? Profits cannot be last. Jim are you crazy? Yes, I guess I am. But I am crazy about wanting organizations successful. You see, profits are the BYPRODUCT of all the other P’s. We seldom think of profits in this secondary way. It is not our normal business nature. But the thought is immediately common sense if we look at profits from our human nature with a complete focus on people.

People are and still remain the straightest line to all profitability.
We must take care of our employees and our customers in positive ways (Human Relations Theory) and we must involve them in processes that truly let them contribute to the bottom line (Group Dynamics Theory). If we succeed at these two proven theories we become the leaders within our business orbit. The discussion of these two theories for this article’s purpose is not necessary. But I want you to Google or Bing them and read why they are so essential to the mindset of business. Both theories give us empirically proven strategies for success.

Principles are extremely important as well. Mission and Guiding Values must be solely focused through people. Employees, Suppliers, and Customers are the only reasons we exist as a business. And principles cannot be just words handed out on orientation day in a 20 word mission statement or stuck on page two of your employee handbook. We must back them up with consistent ACTION and complete transparency. Our people and our customers are not dumb. They know when there is shallowness to organizational values.

Priorities must be a blend of both people and principles. If not sure, just ask the people in the business we want more successful. If there is the right organizational climate where risk and work are appreciated equally, the employees will not hesitate to help with ideas that path the business to increased opportunity.

Processes are derived from Priorities. If the priorities are clear, then the processes are definable, trend-able, measurable, attainable and trainable. They become team driven and more easily team implemented.

Payroll is the reward of good people. Pay your employees for what they really do and have them on the same page when performance is assessed. Have a simple and competitive pay plan and be prepared to explain it at any time. A workforce, paid fairly and honestly, will eliminate many organizational problems. The most successful companies have minimized intra-business issues by providing positive compensation and they have converted problems into opportunities.

Finally, let’s look at profits. Remember that byproduct thing I mentioned earlier? If all your P’s are in order, profits will organically and almost magically come. Employees will grow at the same rate that profits and success do. Customers will be more like a referral fan club than just another dollar. Just as health is the byproduct of good living, profit is the byproduct of solid organizations.

Now, I know I am preaching to many of you in the choir. BUT, there are many managers out there who focus on money and profit first at the expense of everyone else and they have employee and customer concerns galore. Such strong emphasis on profits will only create and sustain greed. And it was greed that took down much of what we had in this once strong economy.

I know of many private and one major public institution today, all bureaucratic in nature, that truly need to be walked and quickly to the proverbial shed. For this great country to grow out of this current recessional cycle we must put our people first and our profits last. Our profits will do just fine if all of our P’s are in order.

It simply starts with our people. Make sure they are all good at what they do. Make sure they put the clients first. And that they really care for them. Give employees the tools and the training they need. Treat them right and watch the profits grow. Just remember that this is a major paradigm shift for many, but I urge you to try these ideas and see if your Business P’s can line up and work for the good of the business and in the best interests of both your people and your customers. Your profit depends on it.

Action is the Word

If you take the words hire, employ, sell, consume, purchase and buy and make a simple adjustment, the economy moves off the dime it has been sitting on. Our economy has not moved. It is not getting worse and it is not getting better. And Washington is taking the heat for good reason.

Here is the simple adjustment but it reflects action: hiring, employing, selling, consuming, purchasing, and buying. If we put some action into these aspects of our economic recipe things get better fast.

No, the recession is not over. I do not agree with certain experts that the recession stopped in June of 2009. I know better. I saw it with my own eyes. I was in Detroit that first week of June 2009; it was UGLY, very ugly. General Motors and Chrysler both fell over hard and unemployment was at unprecedented levels in Michigan and beyond.

Now, I agree that the recession started in December 2007. It hit full-speed with four buck gas in the summer of 2008, and continued right into September with the financial collapse and the demise of Lehman Brothers. The Automotive Industry, already deeply wounded by a confused and jittery public that summer, had SUV’s and trucks galore gathering dust as that aspect of the market went bye-bye at lightening speed. Dealerships could not even give away gas hogs. The business was soon on life support.

But we are a resilient bunch in the car biz. We will come back. We have weathered recessions in the past. 1958, 1962, 1966, 1973-74, 1980-81, and 1991 were tough years. We had a great stretch from 1992 to 2007… record years for gosh sakes. But this newest recession, 2008-2009, was extra special. It knocked us out with a left and right hook and we saw stars as we hit the economic canvas.

Consumer and hiring confidence are the keys to our country getting permanently out of this mess. I know there is cash out there. But people are sitting on it and paying off their charges. Businesses have cut payroll and cut hours. Raises are on the endangered list. Is it a wonder that we are still refusing to buy like in the good ole’ days of zero percent and $1.68 gas?

Detroit, Ford Motor Company in particular, is making great small and medium-sized cars and solidly built larger vehicles right now, but there is less revenue and profit overall. Trucks and SUV’s are selling somewhat better but with much tighter margins. The car business still has the challenge of debt to deal with.

A critical month for the car business and for the American public is the next one. November, 2010 will set records for political change. This change can only help bring an array of positives to this challenging climate. A number of politicians will soon understand what being out of work is all about.

Things should get better fast with new faces in places of political power. I plan on this renewed confidence to steer holiday purchasing. In fact, a friend of mine, much smarter than me, calls 2011 the “Year of the Come Back!”

Let’s get this industry and this economy back to employing and consuming. It is the kind of action we all really need.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Division is Subtracting the Addition of Multiplication

3-29-10 Apex

Confused... So am I.

I cannot remember when our country was so divided politically. There are very, very clear sides. The "Progressives" and the "TEA" (Taxed Enough Already) people just do not have a lot in common right now. And let's just think of a Republican loving a Democrat and vice-versa. Just look at Facebook and other social media; we see people every day lobbing the right and left bombs that create unpleasant thoughts in multiple categories.

Here is the main multiplier. The government simply is not earning public trust right now... And I mean politically. I am just completing my taxes and really dragging my feet. I do not want to give Washington and Raleigh any of my money right now. The violation of law is the only thing I have motivating me. I am an honest citizen. But we leased a new car in December and now we cannot deduct the sales tax because we did not "buy" it. What? Why would I take out a 60 month loan on something that depreciates as soon as you sign the papers? But again, division; the leasees nope, the buyees yep... I tried to stimulate the economy and get kicked for it. A payment is a payment danged it... That sales tax I still pay!!

As my darlin' wife said as she walked out this morning, "They got us again!" It never ends...

With over 11% unemployment here in North Carolina, and know this; if we add the people who gave up and are not receiving unemployment we are easily at 15%, man we still got issues bringing tissues.

How about foreclosures? How about the way too high price for gas? Too many things to list out here. And are you now doing the work of two people because of the cuts at work?

If we would just focus on every level and fix the economy with job stimulation, people would get health care from their new employers. I like simple. Now it will be way more complicated with a trillion dollar health care bill, I simply cannot read or comprehend. No matter where your political thoughts lie, you just have to be a touch worried.

I am very weary of both high level politicians and commentators with personal agenda on any side!.

But bouncing Obama and Congress makes as much sense as having Limbaugh move to Canada. It is not about those people here. It is not about Nancy or Harry. It is about US! We are who they work for... Yet, we are affected big time as we try to pay our bills and pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

Please Mr. Obama, make us feel better about our future. Make us feel better about our economy. Stop the taxing and more taxing and still more taxing. Keep your campaign promises. But alas, the hits just keep on coming.

Have you looked at your grocery bill lately. There are as many as three separate taxes on it. And is this tax money used like it really is ours? Like it belongs to the people? Just walk into an ABC store to see our tax money efficiently at work.

Stop corruption at the local and state level. The Governor still has a lot of explaining to do. Stop the backroom deals in Washington, and start working for the people again. It is the only way we head in the right direction... or the left direction... Gosh I am so divided! But as Americans it adds up to our growing commonality. We all are getting the short end of the stick.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Issues of Bureaucracy

Apex, NC 3-5-10

As a native Detroiter, I take no solace in the fact that Toyota is in deep doo-doo. It hurts the entire industry. Slow moving reaction to customer issues is not untypical of any vast bureaucracy. Back burning an issue until it goes away is a common strategy in these organizations. Slow reaction is usually successful when issues need to go away. I know. I have a Master’s Degree in Organizational Communication and my grad thesis was on this very subject.

Do not get me wrong here. Detroit has screwed up in the past too. There is no perfection in the car business. You want perfection you have to look WAY up. The Ford Pinto, pick-up trucks with misplaced gas tanks, and Firestone tires are a few examples. But today, news flies at web speed. There are no places to hide information. It is in on blogs and on TMZ before you realize it.

We have a 2003 AWD Vibe in the garage that features an engine that river dances; the tach sticks at 1800 RPM. It then shoots up and back down to 550-700 RPM. Gunning it for the split second in neutral to get the RPM’s down simply does not work. It has a mind of its own. And that is never good. My guy at the GM dealership says possible vacuum leak. I am not so sure. But I do now how to brake slam and I can go neutral in a split second and I can shut off the engine with lightening speed. I have practiced this maneuver. I have only one life to give. And it is not in the driver’s seat of a car with Stephen King novelistic tendencies.

Toyota needs to fix what is broke. Remember the Pontiac is not even a complaint car. But how many more vehicles have a mind of their own? You must wonder. This story of over eight million recalled vehicles is a lesson, a case study, in not doing it this way again. My Dad told me years ago, you mess up; you fess up. Delays serve no purpose.

Toyota is changed forever. Their reputation for quality and safety took a major kick to the fanny. No one in the business disputes that. And you can bet that on the 12th Floor in Dearborn, over at the Ren Cen, in Auburn Hills, and across both ponds in Tokyo, Seoul, and Stuttgart; there have been formal white boarding sessions going on left and right on a daily basis.

Over time the industry and Toyota will recover. But understand the throne Toyota has been on is packed away and replaced by a desk chair. It is now more than time for them to get back to work to save the lives of their customers. A Congressional Hearing is very serious business. And there have been three of them. Remember that bureaucracy is always slow to change. But I know Toyota will do the right thing. It has to or it is the end of Toyota.

Monday, March 1, 2010

It is not by Accident

I wanted to announce to all the salespeople, managers, and F&I producers I helped train over the years, as well as to all my friends who I met when I did sponsorships last October, that I have joined Woomer Insurance Group in Historic Downtown Apex NC. As an Account Executive, I now have NC Insurance Licenses in Property, Casualty, Life and Health. I hope to help a number of families and businesses over the next several years as I build my client base.

I still will do sales training and career services and, I still will teach at the University of Phoenix here in Raleigh. This gives me a brand new avenue to help others. And I believe that is why we are on the planet.

Call me at 919 290 6000, and drop me a line... jim.vogel at

Go on for a free quote!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Idle Thoughts the Early Years

Apex, NC 1-12-10

This will really date me...

I remember ...

Being sprawled on the basement floor playing cars.

Rushing across the living room to turn the TV station; we had four to choose from.

Riding on the Twin Pines truck around the neighborhood as the large blocks of ice inside melted a wet trail down the middle of the street. How I loved milk chutes!

Hopping on my bike and going to Little League practice two miles away. I was nine.

Using the Carl Yastrzemski rookie cards to make noise on my bike wheels. Didn't like the Red Hose.

Staying out until the street lights came on. Had to go home then.

Trick or treating for two hours blocks from the house and eating all the homemade goodies on the street corner.

Looking at the asbestos ceilings in my grade school.

Playing with mercury. Those little silver balls were pretty cool.

Seeing how scuffed up my hula hoop could get.

Loving my banana seat on my Sting Ray.

Being close enough to the players at Briggs Stadium to hear them swear.

Thinking the fender skirts on my Dad's Black '57 Merc were "neato".

Talking to and being polite to strangers.

Listening to the war heroes talk about the last war ... Korea.

Having a Top 40 song card to look at from WKNR Keener 13.

Knowing what a 45 really is.

Wearing white socks every day.

Sporting a Princeton or a Butch haircut; my Dad gave me a choice.

Wearing HUGE and THICK eye glasses.

Not using my seat belt because there weren't any.

Lifting the big black phone in the hall and listening in on the party line.

The adults using a metal can opener on their beer.

Thinking the hood ornament was pretty swell.

Still loving the sweet sounds of Rosemary Clooney.

Getting an allowance ONLY if I did something.

Those were wonderful times... surprised I didn't kill myself!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Idle Thoughts the Frozen Variety

Apex NC … 1-07-10

Where did global warming go? It is 18 this morning.

Attention all Prius Owners. Your car has been recalled by Toyota to remove the Obama stickers. How many HUMMERS still sport George Bush on the back? It is now time…

I saw a “stay off the tracks” sign near the railroad passing. It really first read “please pay attention and keep your phone on your belt or in your purse”. But that message was probably too long.

How many of you have heard this phrase? “Football is on AGAIN?”

Brine is all over the main streets two days early. It is because of the DUSTING we will have tonight. Who says the government does not react quickly to solve problems.

The weather guy is pounding the term “flurries” this morning… Scary weather…

How many of you like the new format on WPTF? We now have real news in the morning and hard news at 5 every night. Losing Limbaugh to 106.1 FM was the reason, but I love the new 680 AM. Finally there is a focus on the local news.

Did you notice drivers still text. Can we report them like we do drunk and reckless drivers?

Research in Motion is moving to the Triangle. Will that eliminate all the BlackBerry hiccups?

Dragnet was the only TV show in the 1950’s that used the TelePrompTer for scripting. The actors read their parts. What President delivers his message like Jack Webb? Hmmmm…

Have you noticed all the new Fords running around the Triangle? Fusions and Edges, a number of Lincolns… This is a historically import-driven area, mostly Toyotas, Hondas, some Kias… This is a great sign for the Detroit car and a clear sign the economy has a crack of sunshine in the clouds. Thank you for buying American.

I am flying to Detroit for a week in February. If it warms up, I am heading through security barefooted and in my undergarments. This should really quicken my time in that line.

Have you noticed? Umemployment in the US is still a problem. In China and India, the problem is employment.

My kid found a Dollar General grocery Store in Knoxville. I want one here. I say it is perfect timing.

I want to thank Rex Healthcare for bringing the Blood Bus to Downtown Apex last week. We helped save 51 lives over the Holidays. We have another Kiwanis Rex Blood Drive on March 19! Please mark your calendars; 3-7 at the Peak City Pharmacy.

How about the Big 10 beating up the ACC? It has been a good bowl season with a ton of exciting games.

The Detroit Lions are looking for a left tackle. So if you know anyone seven- foot- three, 500 pounds, who runs a 5.5 40… send me his name please!! It is the only way Stafford stays off the DL!

Have a great 2010!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Idle Thoughts Hitting the Windshield

Idle Thoughts Hitting the Windshield? Kinda bugs me...

Apex, NC 1-03-10

Summertime. It is 90 and you are doing 70. It is evening. And you are collecting a multitude of flying objects in your line of vision. You can’t stop this unique collection. It keeps building.

Just like Idle Thoughts…

Welcome to 2010ish.

In China, it soon will be the Year of the Tiger. In the US, that was last year.

Unemployment is still out of control in this country. Watch for a trade war with China and India. The employment went to these fast growing countries.

The car business is BOOMING in both of those countries. Not here…

As cold as it is in early January, I credit climate change. My wallet still is frozen.

We are truly a divided country. Some people think 2010 is the new decade; others insist it is not until 2011. I guess we better watch the decadence.

Decadence? How about the major theme from 2009? Philanderer.

Philanderer... Yep, there were plenty.

The larger theme central to the last decade? Greed. Greed created issues in a multitude of economic arenas. Oil and Banking are just two. You can think of several.

Smokers are freezing their buns off with the new law. I thought this was North Carolina? Tobacco Road is still a very cool song.

Politicians will get theirs in 2010. The people will speak in the mid-terms and bring common sense back to both parties. Whatever goes around will come around. Watch for some famous faces being escorted to the shed.

Although some mysteries still exist for me, like why didn’t Miss Landers have a first name and what did Ward really do, I enjoyed my four days in November with Jerry Mathers. From the time I picked him up at RDU until I dropped him back off, I found Jerry to be genuine, appreciate, honest, and caring. It was the highlight of my Peak City Film Festival experience. Meeting a celebrity without ego problems is a very rare thing. And to chat, have lunch and dinner with the Beav, and just generally enjoy his company was a prime highlight of my decade. Thank you Jerry!!

I wish all of you a prosperous and wonderful 2010. Time is your best friend in a Recession, and we are slowly getting out of the funk we have been in. Remember local is everything.

Now, I wonder what greedy individual will want the credit for ending the recession.

Wait... I can see him now.

Please make critical thinking and common sense your New Year’s Resolutions. We don’t do enough of it.

Your focus this New Year should include helping others get better… Best wishes! and @SalesTherapist