A Little Ditty About Jack & Diane

by · August 21, 2012

This week marks my 11th year working in the auto industry. Yay! Thought I would celebrate with a little ditty about Jack & Diane.

Don’t Know Jack

For starters, I don’t know Jack. There was a time when I thought I did, and so I blogged ferociously about all the things I thought I knew. But after a while everybody else began talking in the blogosphere about everything they know and eventually I realized I wasn’t the only expert out there. I just happened to take up a new medium before most of the real experts did.

The blogging (for me) began in the summer of 2006 when I launched BlogPro Automotive. At the time I was working as COO for Jesse Biter at HomeNet and my taking to the blogosphere was a bit controversial to some of the managers.

Today, that new medium is the norm and I personally am quite comfortable with the art and practice of it all. Blogging and social media have become routine for me. Not as a tool or a resource or a technology, but as a form of expression. Blogging is a lifestyle. It’s a choice, not a necessity.

I love it!

Nowadays I try to be more empirical about what I write as opposed to vomiting my expertise all over the place. I also make a point to write about things the bees haven’t swarmed yet. This can get tricky. I don’t seem to have mass appeal but I am on the map and I have a loyal tribe that has solidified and grown more true over time. For this I am grateful. You know who you are…and I thank you.

The “mass appeal” thing is a funny one. There is so much attention-getting and narcissism out there it practically turns me off from even wanting to be in the blogosphere. But I have learned to use this as a barometer for my own drive and motivation. It’s a boundary for me, like a reality check. Hopefully this post is as narcissistic as I get.

Some of the things I ask myself now when I write is, “why do I want to write about this, “who will it benefit,” and “how will it benefit those folks?”

This leads me to the second part of this post…HOW I FOUND MY PASSION!

A Little Back Story

About a year and a half ago a friend invited me to a little workshop called Ignite Your Life! It was being put on by business and life coach Robb Holman who had recently founded his purpose-driven coaching and networking company Business Vision Network. This workshop was the very first one being put on by BVN.

The workshop blew my mind. It was a big SMACK in the face because it made me realize how far off the path I had gotten from my original purpose of going into business for myself. As a result of forgetting, I had lost my passion and my business was in retrograde. It was a difficult time for me. My business was in its fourth year and a 5th year was looking bleak.

Being smacked in the face the way I was however was not an instant cure. I spent months trying to figure out what my passion actually was, like it had fled from me and left me with none at all. I knew that I had a passion for several things, but how could I convert one or more of those into a livelihood?

Diane is My Girl

When I first went into business for myself back in 2007, I knew that selling blogging and social media for car dealers was going to be a stretch and I knew I would face limits within my own ability convincing dealers to let me blog for them. My initial approach was to train dealers how to leverage these new emerging technologies, you know, share my expertise with them. I named the business AutoConversion so that I could play in automotive but not restrict the company to automotive.

What I found rather quickly however was that few dealers were online to drink my Kool-Aid. Most of the people that were drinking it turned out to be guys like me trying to generate a livelihood around their expertise. They were probably trying my Kool-Aid to see how they could make better Kool-Aid. Some of them did.

The dealers were not even online to drink. Some were at trade shows and in magazines, two places I did not prioritize, but most were just caught up in the day-to-day business of running a dealership. This discovery led me to concentrate on a software solution that I could more easily sell than my expertise and full-service marketing.

That software solution is AutoConverse.com – a site where auto shoppers, owners, and enthusiasts can network with one another about their commerce needs in a way that is sensitive to each person’s control of their own privacy.

AutoConverse.com took about a year to build out and as we introduced it to dealers over the first few months we began to encounter roadblocks here and there that were making the solution more difficult for people to use than I anticipated. Very quickly did I come to the realization that in order to pull this off I was going to require far more human and capital resources than I had planned, let alone to which I had access.

Looking back, the major life lesson I learned from this is that success is not a solo flight. Success hinges around harnessing the hearts and minds of others, specifically of other talented people that can and will buy in to your dream, i.e. your passion.

It’s all about the SHOW, baby!

In October 2011 I had an opportunity to work for HookLogic, an e-commerce software provider that in June 2011 acquired funding from Bain Capital.  This helped the company to launch its Automotive division with David Metter at its helm as President and Jeff Kershner as VP of Sales. Initially I came on board as Director of Business Development for Automotive but about 6 months into it we moved me into the role of Director of Automotive Business Operations where I am today.

As my one-year mark with HookLogic approaches it is time for me to take a step back and reflect on what has been accomplished in the past year and how that has impacted me, my career, and those around me. Considering this post is now already ridiculously long, and kudos to you for reading it all, I shall retire my pen for the day and leave you with a promise to do a follow-up post.

In the meantime, shouts out to everyone that has been a part of my journey. From my early days in this space with HomeNet to the now five years and running with AutoConversion to my first year here with HookLogic, thanks to everyone that has supported me and made things possible for me. I am grateful to be part of what is a seemingly large family of people, businesses, and experts but that the more I get to know and be a part of the smaller and more interesting it becomes.



Discussion7 Comments

  1. Ryan,

    You continue to provide insight into automotive digital marketing ahead of the curve. It can be a lonely place at times, but I suspect your in good company with Jeff and HookLogic. Only the best for you and yours, DTG

  2. Robb Holman says:

    Hey Ryan!

    I love this article! Although our destination is extremely important, it’s embracing and being present in the process that makes all the difference. You are one that lives a life of passion and purpose and I’m so glad to be on this journey with you. May the days ahead be filled with even greater purpose for you and the lives you touch!

  3. Mark Dubis says:

    How, where and when we communicate is more important than ever. We are talking more and saying less everyday. I still like the quote from the CEO at 1-800 Flowers. He said, “Build relationships first, do business second.” Ah so true. You have learned some hard lessons over the years, as have most pioneers who blaze new territories. Smart Dealers are the ones using technology to build relationships not the ones using it to dis-intermediate relationships.

    I look forward to more good stuff from the heart of Ryan Gerardi. All the best.

  4. Erik Wood says:

    You are a young and old soul all wrapped into one! Life is the journey… keep it coming!

    Erik Wood

  5. James Posca says:

    Ryan, I remember those days when you first started and together we signed a few dealers. You were definitely a pioneer but sometimes your mind was closed to outside suggestions/direction. I really thought that you had what it took to create something great and I only hope that you get the fire back someday to continue on.

  6. Ryan G says:

    Jim no way man I always like to hear other people’s ideas. I just don’t always like them. Haha. But seriously thanks for chiming in. You have been a significant part of my journey. Everyone here has actually. Thanks to all of you. Really.

  7. I still like the quote from the CEO at 1-800 Flowers. He said, “Build relationships first, do business second.Thanks for sharing it.