What Is The Best Advice You Ever Got? (Part 1)

JeremySumpter AdviceWe all have received and are still receiving pieces of advice about the way we should act, think, conduct ourselves in both our personal and professional lives. Each of us perceive some of these opinions, values, recommendations as more worthy than others and we try to use them as a beneficial guide to action.

I was curious to know, and I guess you too, what was the piece(s) of personal and/or professional advice that the motorcycle industry leaders, manufacturers, custom builders, etc received and that they follow in their daily lives. In this series, possibly each week, I will ask some of them to answer this simple question “What is the best advice you ever got”. And yes, at the end of this series, I will tell you about me.

Billy Lane, Custom Builder, Choppers Inc.

“The best business advice I ever received came from a friend who works outside the motorcycle industry. He told me to separate my emotions from my business decisions. He said that how I feel doesn’t matter, and that I need to look at business in much the same way I look at a diet. What a calorie is to a diet, the dollar is to a business. To grow a business, more money has to come in than goes out. Emotions can present disruptive obstacles to the flow of money. So I learned how to isolate my emotions, which allowed me to get serious about business. Which allows me to do work that stirs my emotions…”

Ted Sands, Global Business Development, Performance Machine.

“I guess some of the best advice I have received is from my Brother Perry Sands when I first started working for Performance Machine. He always said “strive for constant improvement”, We applied this idea to everything we did from product development, marketing, sales, customer service, basically saying what we did yesterday will not be good enough for tomorrow, to move us forward. I have lived with this advice starting day one working for Performance Machine and I think we have a culture here at PM that believes in constant improvement and it shows in our products / manufacturing and marketing, sales and customer service. It has made us a leader in the aftermarket motorcycle parts business.”

Russell Mitchell, Custom Builder, Exile Cycles.

“The best piece of advice I ever received came from a person I had never met before. It was my birthday, 1995, and I was having a party at my home. One of my friends brought along some of his buddies, and one of them spotted the bike I had just completed. He literally grabbed me by the collar, pinned me against a wall and said “You have to do this – you have a gift”. The following weekend I was riding the bike to the DelMar Classic near San Diego with that guy’s words running through my head and I thought to myself “why not?”. I promptly registered my new company name and that bike went on to be featured in “Easyriders” magazine. Exile Cycles was born. I was about to forget: I once received some very important advice from my buddy Dave. He told me to never place my cup of tea on a metal work surface. It sucks the heat right out of it!”

David Zemla, Vice President Marketing S&S Cycle.

“In high school I worked as a pressman. The guy I worked with was easily in his sixties and no matter the challenges he always seemed content with his job. One day I asked how he could be so satisfied with what I had already come to believe was a low level job. I remember it like it was yesterday. He paused, looked me straight in the eyes and said “You will spend a huge part of your life at whatever job you choose. Find something you are passionate about, something that challenges you and you’ll live a happy life.” That still resonates with me today. It’s such a simple concept, so obvious that it often gets overlooked. I took it to heart and that conversation remains a key driver in my life to this day.”

Bill Dodge. Custom Builder, Blings Cycles

“When you asked me the question, whether it is about motorcycles or even life, I would have to say it is Indian Larry. I first met him on a TV show while working for Jesse (James). We were on a cross country ride to Sturgis. Jesse’s bike broke down and the situation was tense and bleak. It looked like the show was over, the heads on Jesse’s motor had came apart and the bolts were completely stripped. I decided to borrow a car to go into the next town to round up tools. Larry saw that I was leaving and jumped into the car with me. After getting the proper supplies, I heli coiled Jesse’s heads back together to the motor on the side of the road. It was a very hard situation. Larry was there with me the entire time. Somehow, we became the best of friends. He was like a Dad to me. We just got along like that. Our friendship grew as he always seemed to give me great direction through his seemingly, wise words.

Larry told me, if I ever stopped working for Jesse, Get To The East Coast, where people will care more about what I was doing. He said, “YOU make things how You think they should be,” as well as, little things like covering a shitty tattoo, “Heck no don’t cover it… it is a piece of your life!” it was some of the best advice I have ever got. I did what he said and now I am here today because of him. When he got hurt, Jesse and I was a Guest at a show in Alexandria, LA. I ended up driving the truck back to California, the next day. I was in shock, it was a hard trip, my friend and mentor was gone yet. his advice and memories live on through me.

Cris Sommer-Simmons, Author, Cannonball Rider.

“The best professional advice I ever got was back in the 1980’s when I was co-publisher/editor of Harley Women magazine , (the very first motorcycle magazine for women). I had the chance to meet Malcolm Forbes when he presented Elizabeth Taylor her purple Sportster, which was how she also launched her “Purple Passion” perfume. He was very kind and even gave me his number if we ever needed anything. Well, I actually called him and asked his advice on magazine publishing. We were struggling to pay our printer bill each month and made little money. His advice was to build up the readership and advertising base and sell it! I was rather surprised, but he insinuated that one does a magazine because you love it, but there’s little money to be made. Boy, was he right. (at least for us.) Years later I did sell my half of the magazine, but still love the writing part. It’s a tough business, especially in today’s market.”

Holger Mohr, President Of Kuryakyn

“I got so many great pieces of advice through my career from some great people. Below are my top 3.
3. Double of zero is still zero” (from Mike Corbin) Put things in perspective for me when I thought I was on fire in the 90’s. Still quoting him on this one as of today.
2. Don’t believe your own bullshit (from John Reed) Hanging with John keeps you grounded
1. No matter how hard business gets, don’t ever lose your sense of humor (Joe Piazza Sen.) My first mentor taught me many great things about business, including that there are more important things in life”

27 Responses to “What Is The Best Advice You Ever Got? (Part 1)”

  1. 1 P. Hamilton Feb 4th, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Met a couple of these people. Interesting to know how they think their life should be.

  2. 2 Joshua Feb 4th, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Some interesting advice.

  3. 3 Seymour Feb 4th, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Good stuff

  4. 4 Ray Mansfield Feb 4th, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Enjoy this kind of “let’s discover them from the other side” Cool feature. More, please.

  5. 5 SoCalPhun Feb 4th, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Excellent reading!!!

  6. 6 Martin Schleck Feb 4th, 2016 at 11:53 am

    A cool idea, Cyril. Will email a selection of names of people I would like you to interview. Curious…

  7. 7 Feb 4th, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Hey bill dodge! Your dropping names like crazy.. But where’s the advise?

  8. 8 Patrick Manson Feb 4th, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Some interesting answers. I like Holger Mohr “Don’t believe your own BS”. Ha, ha,

  9. 9 B. Garner Feb 4th, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    My preferred is B. Lane. In business, isolate yourself from your emotions. Builders are very emotional guys who can’t resist spending too much on parts and custom bikes for themselves. Just a reminder to not use your business for entertainment. Business is for profit.

  10. 10 rebel Feb 4th, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    not that anyone cares to hear it but, buying a piece of land without close neighbors and building your own shop as soon as you can in life is one of the best pieces of advice anyone can give.

  11. 11 john reed Feb 4th, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    moi aussi

  12. 12 domino Feb 4th, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    …………I liked Russell ………….

    ………. Domino Dave ……..

  13. 13 SaltwaterJoe Feb 4th, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    My 2 cents is 1=Bill Don’t need to drop names,2=learning that the men I respect in the craft i love run into the same fucked up , out of no where problems I do, but you don’t ever quit and you get the Job done….there’s your advice kid.

  14. 14 Feb 5th, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in

  15. 15 Feb 5th, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Don’t DUI. and dress for the crash not the ride. ..Z

  16. 16 george Feb 5th, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Holger Mohr – “Don’t believe your own B.S.” I think they forgot to add the rest of that quote… “Don’t believe your own B.S. but, make sure everyone around you does!”

  17. 17 Knucklehead Feb 5th, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Some things are better unsaid.

  18. 18 Davis Feb 5th, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    And good stuff in these comments.

  19. 19 BadMonkeyMW Feb 6th, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Good idea for an article and interesting responses from those interviewed. Insight from successful people can go a long way in helping a regular guy accomplish his own life goals. Good stuff.

  20. 20 Feb 6th, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Don’t marry that stripper. I forget who said it and I paid no attention. Turned out to be very good advice.

  21. 21 bigalyts Feb 6th, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    What a Great Topic and Advice is something that I always listen to especially If I respect the Person giving it. My favorite piece of advise was taught to me by my Mentor, my Uncle Irv. He was in the top 3 of his field in the Country, yes it was Sales and he was the greatest Closer I have ever heard or saw. He told me that ‘Marriage is the kind of thing you should only do Twice…….First and Last” !

  22. 22 nicker Feb 7th, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    My first supervisor starting on my career path admonished us:
    “..Work isn’t a popularity contest.
    Its a market place competition of ideas.
    Act accordingly….”


  23. 23 Feb 8th, 2016 at 8:47 am

    hey dj

    Larry was the one who told Bill to move to the east coast and do his own thing.
    since then, Bill has skyrocketed into the custom bike world. Bill does not name drop… he IS a Name as well.

    yur pal,


  24. 24 Jay Horton's Private Shop Feb 8th, 2016 at 9:11 am

    The best advice I ever received came from an old Sailor I met when I was about 16:

    “The only people who don’t fuck up are people who don’t do anything”.

    And another I have come to appreciate more and more the older I get:

    “The sweetest of all sounds is praise.”— Xenophon


    Later Jay

  25. 25 Feb 8th, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I’ve been Rich & I’ve been Poor, Rich is much better! Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS)!

  26. 26 Feb 9th, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    GREAT STUFF Something to sink my teeth into.

    Love hearing lessons from real life. Wisdom is just a conversation away.

  27. 27 KneesintheBreeze Feb 10th, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    If you will……
    “I have wined and dined with kings and queens and I’ve slept in alleys and dined on pork and beans.”
    -Dusty Rhodes

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