I Thought I Would Be An Attorney.
I am most likely the only person you will ever meet whose favorite T.V. show was L.A. Law at the age of 13. My profession of choice was to be an Attorney like Arnie Becker, the character on L.A. Law. Arnie had the nice car (Bentley) and all of the other trappings of success. He also had a big personality, which I was born with.
Competitive speaking, debate, model U.N., and theater class were all on the menu during my days in school as a child. So, the idea was to use my communications and the law to have a successful career. At 14, I got into a law program with one of the largest law firms in the city I lived in, Richmond, Virginia. My mentor was a young lawyer who always looked tired, drove a beat up Mazda, had 200k in student loan debt whose plan was to work 100 hours a week for ten years to one day make partner.
I no longer wanted to be a lawyer, and NBC canceled L.A. Law. 😢
From High School To The Auto Industry.
After “making it out” of high school, I didn’t have the interest or mandate from my family that I needed to go to college, so I didn’t. However, I also knew doing nothing and not making any money was not an option based on my ambitions and goals.
So, in what field of business does an intelligent, ambitious young person with some natural speaking and communication skills go? Sales, of course.
I, like many young men, took on an interest in cars; my grandfather always had a new Lincoln, and my uncle always had cool cars like his BMW and his 350Z (which I learned to drive stick on), so I combined sales and cars and got my first adult job at 18 selling cars.
While many of the things you hear about the car business are true, I was fortunate enough to work for some great managers and with a true cast of characters ranging from true professionals committed to helping their customers to I can’t believe this guy isn’t in jail.
I was doing okay, earning a living, and learning new skills. I had no idea I would be in the right place at the right time for the most disruptive change the auto industry had ever seen in recent memory.
From Retailing To Consulting
Thanks To The Internet .
A new thing hit the auto scene in the late nineties: the ability to search for and buy cars online. Companies like Auto-By-Tel, which once had the name recognition of brands like Coca-Cola, Disney, and Apple, were on the scene, allowing customers to send in “leads” online as an alternative to visiting dealerships.
This new wave forced dealers to create “Internet Departments” to handle these leads, call customers, and engage with them in the process of buying a car.
It’s not hard to guess that the “kid” of the dealership who knew how to turn the computer on would become the “Internet Manager.”
I did. I got good at it. I moved to other dealerships for better opportunities. I learned phone techniques, follow-up processes, and retention strategies and fully grasped the latest digital marketing strategies. I was hired to lead Internet sales and marketing operations for one of the largest Lexus dealerships in the country and helped them become #1 in Internet sales for the Lexus brand. This success also helped me break six figures in income at age 22.
Thankful but never satisfied, I couldn’t quiet the voice in my head telling me I needed to go bigger and reach higher, so I did.
I left the retail car business and launched my own training and consulting company dedicated to helping dealerships and their teams build wildly successful and profitable Internet and Business Development Departments across the country.
I called the reps who worked for the vendors I did business with at my last employer and asked for referrals to dealers who could use my help. It worked, and less than 60 days after going out on my own, I was consulting five days a week. It was time to go bigger!
Dominating An Industry.
The next fifteen years would be a roller coaster ride like no other. Launching 20+ city workshop tours, keynoting the largest conferences in the Auto industry, magazine covers, hosting my own show, releasing my first book, landing my first Fortune 100 client at age 27, calling some of the largest auto retailers in the country clients, training thousands of salespeople across the country and leading initiatives that accounted for record-breaking increases in revenue. We also managed to hit seven figures in revenue as a company as well.
It wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows, though. There is a price to pay for being on the cutting edge and at the front of the learning curve. When you provide products or services that people don’t fully realize how much they need, you can go through tough times while they are catching up. And the business did. Cash flow, staffing, growing pains, and downsizing all came and went like the four weather seasons.
The ride was amazing, and at the height of my work, I was named “the hardest working man in the automotive consulting and training business” by Dealer Magazine, the number one publication in the industry.
My client list became a whose who in the industry, including Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Audi, VW, GM, Chrysler, BBDO, Urban Science, Honda, and more than 13 trade associations.
This body of work also resulted in me being named recipient of the AWA Lighthouse Award for my contributions to the Automotive industry.
The National Speakers Association also accredited me as a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), the highest accreditation you can receive as a professional speaker.
Having become a “big fish in a small pond,” it should have been smooth sailing from here, but that would’ve been too easy and sane.
That little voice started talking to me again, saying you can do more. So I went for it again.
New Calling & New Challenges .
There began to be a massive shift in my passion and interests. I wanted to help more people, particularly small business owners and entrepreneurs. Still, I was terrified and uncertain about how to enter a large global market untethered from a single industry.
As I moved away from pursuing additional Automotive business, I began focusing on the entrepreneurship community. I took that stage at events like Inbound, managed by marketing juggernaut HubSpot and StartUp Grind.
I released my second book, Entrepreneurship Confidential, and began appearing on media outlets sharing the tips and tactics from the book to help business owners grow.
Essentially, applying the same strategies and principles that help grow dealerships and operations across the Auto industry. We launched a first-of-its-kind event for small business owners featuring experts in marketing, banking, and legal protections, followed by my private Business Breakthrough events where we broke down someone’s business in real-time in front of them and then helped them identify their most profitable growth opportunities.
Then the pandemic hit. People were at home, businesses were being shuttered, and people were panicking. Our consulting business slowed tremendously; navigating the waters was challenging, particularly since we didn’t take EIDL or PPP funds.
To compound things, I also took the reigns as president of the National Speakers Association Virginia chapter. Yes, I was in charge of leading an association of people who earned their living traveling to conferences and workshops to speak at a time when you couldn’t travel.
I took to the airwaves, appearing frequently on broadcast TV and streaming networks, providing tips, advice, and guidance for business owners uncertain about their future.
The desire to help people instilled in me by my grandmother led me to launch a coaching program in June 2020 to help people survive, pivot, and thrive through the pandemic. We helped business owners nationwide, including restaurants, consultants, real estate brokers, B2B service providers, software companies, medical labs, coaches, and more. It was a proud achievement and created a six-figure business for my company as we navigated through the pandemic as well.
The NSA Virginia association also managed to thrive, resulting in a net membership gain, more positive cash flow than the previous five years, and a vibrant community that stuck together, resulting in me being named Chapter Member of the Year.
The pandemic also offered an opportunity to follow my own advice and continue to “skill up” by doing coursework at Wharton’s School of Executive Education, resulting in certification in business scaling and accelerating growth.
With the pandemic in the rearview, it was time to step on the gas.
The Mission Continues .
2023 marked the launch of my new business network, RVA Small Business Network and Thought Leadership Studios, which produces business growth content and provides a platform for experts and thought leaders to build their audience and authority in the marketplace.
Our state-of-the-art studio is also the recording home for my new podcast, Grow! Business Podcast is helping business owners across the country, and all of our content is 100% free to learn from.
I have revamped the coaching program that helped many businesses during the pandemic and branded it as my Business Accelerator Inner Circle for action-oriented business owners wanting to grow.
Our Business Breakthrough Weekend workshops have resumed to help deliver accelerated strategies for business owners to identify their most valuable revenue-generating opportunities.
I am currently accepting a limited number of speaking engagements to share my latest business growth content and techniques based on my 5 Pillars of Business Growth proven framework.
I am also part of an ownership team in the food franchising space that is expected to have a record year, creating business opportunities for well-capitalized professionals wanting to pursue their dreams of business ownership.
I am blessed and excited about the future and want to help as many people as possible create their best life matched to their ambitions and goals. 🚀
A Network Of Business Titans.
My desire to serve and support was instilled in me at an early age by my family and grandmother in particular who has always been a giver. My heart has always been drawn in particular to causes that relate to children, education, and animals. I hope to continue giving and supporting organizations with missions to serve and impact communities.
Work With Cory.
Cory’s business growth presentations and keynotes educate, motivate, and activate audiences.
Get the support you need to grow your business by joining Cory’s Business Accelerator Inner Circle Program.
Attend A Workshop
Unlock new profit centers and accelerate your business at Cory’s Business Breakthrough Weekend Workshop.