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Carol Aston wrote:I love reading these profiles Barbara,
there's so much inspiration in them for all of us. Keep 'em coming
OmnivoreInk wrote:Marion Luna Brem
November 11th, 2008 · No Comments
CEO, Love Chrysler, Inc.
Marion Luna Brem was about to give up. Not only was she raising two sons by herself, she was fighting cervical and breast cancer and had been given only a few years to live. She was completely sapped of strength one day when, slumped on the floor, she was too weak to investigate the distinct scent of something burning in the kitchen. Eventually Marion’s son arrived at her side, sizzling pot of macaroni and cheese in hand, and unknowingly turned Marion’s nadir into a new day: “Don’t worry mom,” he said. “Only the bottom is burned; the top is still good.”
Never was there a more perfect metaphor. Marion was certainly singed, but she still had gumption. She picked herself up and started searching for work, weathering rejection after rejection until a car dealership gave her a shot at sales. Relying on her wits, smarts, work ethic and winning personality she rose quickly through the ranks and, after only five years in the industry, opened her own dealership called Love Chrysler.
Today she owns two dealerships, she’s cancer-free and is one of the featured women in the inspirational movie The GLOW Project. Marion never takes success for granted and still smiles at the memory of that first job offer. “I’ve been thinking about hiring a broad,” the manager said. “You seem like the nervy type.” Bogart couldn’t have said it better.
What we learned from Marion: We all encounter forced change. But adversity is something you can use to get ahead. It’s just a matter of what you choose to do with it.
Dying Is Not An Option
If there’s such a thing in life as a defining moment, I had mine hugging the commode. I was terribly sick from chemotherapy, I had no health insurance, my husband had left and I felt like a drain on my family. But when my son pointed out that the non-burned part of his macaroni and cheese was still perfectly fine, I realized that parts of me were fine too. Dying simply wasn’t going to be in the picture.
My Sometime Is Now
These may sound like strange sources of inspiration but I was dead broke, I had a family to support and I wasn’t sure how many years I had left. So I lived with a sense of urgency. I took nothing for granted and never felt like I had to apologize for my ambitions, which is something women tend to do. We take care of everyone else and wait for our “some day.” My “some day” was right then and there.
Lady, Start Your Engine
Cancer had interrupted my education and I was now a college drop-out. I needed a job and at the suggestion of a friend, I decided to try sales. I knocked on door after door until finally I landed a job selling cars. I worked my way up management ladders by being almost like a mad woman, full throttle, pedal to the metal and head down.
People First, Cars Second
I immersed myself in car stats - fuel capacity, leg room, horse power. But I was boring people. I learned to listen to the customer rather than the other way around. Once I understood their needs I could explain the features that would be the most important to them. I’m actually more of a people buff than a car buff.
On The Job Training
I’m so glad I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. Sometimes ignorance, or as I prefer to say naiveté, is bliss. You can’t wait till you know everything. If I had waited to run my own dealership until I understood everything about the car business I’d still be waiting. After 19 years as CEO I’m still learning.
To Make A Difference, Be Different
At night I would lie awake like an expectant mom and wonder what I would name my dealership. I didn’t want anything trite like “friendly” or ‘heritage” or “bay breezes.” Then I thought of “love.” It’s a noun, a verb, and the most positive word in our vocabulary. It evoked the way I knew I would serve my customers. I’m a woman in a male dominated industry. Rather than apologize for that or ape the behavior of men, I was able to use it to distinguish myself.
Hot Rod Homemaker
I still use my homemaker skills to run my companies. Homemakers have attributes that you wouldn’t normally think of putting on a resume. Talents like space planning, budgeting, time management, emotional compartmentalization, negotiating. Women rely on these skills every day without realizing how valuable they are.
Seize The Day
Rituals are essential. For me, seeing the sun rise is very spiritual. Every day is a new day. It’s fresh, it’s a clean piece of paper. I haven’t made a mistake yet. I’m a gourmet bather. It’s girly but it works for me. In order to nurture others I know I have to nurture myself first every morning.
This Featured Lady was profiled by Susie Lacey, Associate Editor, Ladies Who Launch.
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