Commentary: Working With Your Passion in 2022

If you think about what is driving the “great resignation” is our workforce, there are many people who have changed jobs and careers because they want to work in a place and position that fosters their passion. 

That was my motivation years ago. While office work (of some sort) pays the bills and keep down tax bills, they never help me fuel what I am passionate about. Today, I work fully in an arena that I love – the automobile.

That love for the automobile started early. I am very grateful for that. My knowledge of them grew as I started reading further on how these vehicles took shape. Not just design, but of engineering, the basics of how they operate, and the rollercoaster ride of regulation that affected the automobile through my youth and beyond. 

How can a child of a father who worked in real estate and a mother who had to start over after said father left got the car bug so early in life?

A good parent helps foster that interest. If you have a child who bangs on your pots and pans at age 4, you better start looking for a drum set or some hand drums for when they are old enough to play them without destroying your home. If your child love sports, find out which one they enjoy the most and consider investing in their athletic future. That goes for almost anything you child starts gaining an interest in. 

If your child loves automobiles, then find ways to get them exposed to many various types. 

Take them to your local auto show, a car dealership, enthusiast car meets, and just drives around your area for them to spot their favorite vehicle. Let them read up on what they saw. Expose them to websites, magazines, and video channels that talk about the automobile – parental discretion advised in some cases. 

When you take them to physical locations of automotive events, teach them about respect and stewardship of the automobile. Balance that with their curiosity and interest of these machines. Early on, let them know that it is not OK to touch someone else’s prized vehicle or to jump in behind the wheel of them. Always ask for permission – both you and your child. 

As they get older, instill some idea if responsibility. Not everyone will be Travis Pastrana or Ken Block when they get their learner’s permit. Nor should they want to be. Before they even think of drifting your SUV, have them learn the basics. They will need to in order to get their license. 

No one should be shy about talking to someone in the automotive world. If they are, let them ease into the world the best they can. However, if you come off like you know more than Mary Barra or Akio Toyoda – you might to scale that personality back a bit. Some folks might be talking about you and not in a good way. Believe me when I say this: Personality counts. 

One of the lessons I learned from a friend of mine is to have a genuine interest in what the enthusiasts own and drive. Be curious, ask questions, share stories when the time is right. Make a friend. Or, a crew of them. Common ground is where a lot of friendships start. 

From there, the world is yours. You can be fully immersed in the automotive business in some fashion or form. You can be working at a dealership, at an OEM, supplier, social media agency, marketing strategy firm, a media outlet, or just be someone with a cool car in storage for the winter. 

A good education will help you get to where you can truly work in a place where your passion is welcomed and celebrated. When I am asked about how to get into this business, I often refer to this point. By going to college, you should look at courses that are related to your vision of your future.

For example, a budding automotive journalist should take as many related courses in media and writing as one should. A basic understanding of writing is a must. Advanced use of language will also help. If your college or university have hands-on courses in television production – take them! I’m just scratching the surface here. 

What about courses in engineering? Courses in design? Art, perhaps? Business and marketing courses are also ones I suggest, too! I believe that anyone who wants to get into the automotive business must have a 360-degree understanding of what goes into it. You don’t want to be the Ana Gasteyer’s character on NBC’s American Auto – a former CEO of a pharmaceutical company running an automotive manufacturer with absolutely no knowledge of her new industry – do you?

This is a lot to take in. One’s path towards automotive enthusiasm or a career in the industry is different than the next person. However, if you are passionate about the automobile, become a part of the process and consider a career in it. If you find the right fit with the right people and environment to thrive in, you will be celebrated in your work. It will also help in creating a great work-life balance for yourself. 

I know that these points I make are not shared by everyone. They come from a perspective based on my own personal experience and interactions over the past 57 years. In particular, my professional experience that is now two decades in the making. 

While you are making a change for your life and soul, do something that will celebrate your passions – no matter who you are!

All photos by Victory & Reseda

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