I ran an auto repair shop for over a quarter century. What did it teach me? Patience. Financial awareness. Planning. Listening. Discipline.
These qualities served me well as boss, husband, teacher and father. I was reminded that as we age and keep an open mind, we will be presented with new ways of displaying the traits of a mature adult. Young people will learn from you and sometimes comment when they see the actions match the words. In a world of constant BS from politicians, con-men and scammers … a little truth can go a long way. Just an honest answer, short and to the point, can help guide young people to their truth.
Case in point. Deb and I spent two weeks in Europe, both learning and teaching. I meet over 100 college students at three different Dutch schools. One young man approached me after a one hour lecture plus Q &A and made this statement; “How can you be so passionate about EVs and so calm in how long it is taking to get more people to buy them?” My answer “It takes a long time for any new technology to catch on. We will get there because the answer to sustainable transportation is electric drive. There are no other good solutions.” He seemed OK with that. I also asked a question that I have asked hundreds of American auto technology students and that is “Will you stay in the auto repair business after you graduate?” That answer is all too revealing. 60% say “No”. I understand that 18 to 21 year olds don’t know what career to enter as everything seems possible. But 60 % is a big number. One Dutch student that I have gotten to know well when he visited ACDC a few years back took some advice I had given him “Do something that helps a social problem”. Deb and I had lunch with him on our trip last week and he was excited to tell me how he travels to South Africa as a crew leader installing a Dutch designed water treatment plant that is the size of a tractor trailer. In some parts of that country the drinking water is polluted. He used his automotive repair skills and his passion to help others to do something good. He is 24. This small plant runs on a diesel generator. This new generation, in America and many other countries, want to help. They want a meaningful job. They are not “tricked” by money as one man my age put it. Will electric cars be that motivation? Will the new technicians see fixing electric cars be that “social problem” that a tech can feel good about. I will keep asking the new men and women at the colleges I visit. I will ask their teachers too. Will this make the answer 90% “Yes I am staying in the business!”