Sales—Is It For You?

Not that long ago, when my dear brother was announcing my ascension into the rarefied air of corporate executives, somebody commented that he or she would appreciate some perspective on the sales profession. Our commenter said, “I just don’t know if I’d do a good job at sales or like sales.”

I have been in sales in one form or another since I was 13 years old. In a tale that I’m pretty sure has been told here or somewhere else, Jack and I ran a mail order BMX shop out of our mother’s home for much, much longer than anybody had a right to—especially when those two someones are 19 and 13, respectively. It’s one of those things that made a lot of sense at the time, but seems downright impossible now that it actually happened.

Our mom would answer our home phone with the name of our shop when I was in school, write down whatever somebody requested, and then she would send a page to my Motorola Gold Flex with the details of the order. I would come home and then call the various distributor networks and place the order. Somehow, none of our customers thought this was weird. And we actually even made a little money!

Unfortunately, we had made an arrangement with a local bike shop to share some of the financial burden, and the owner was an unscrupulous Brooklynite who had somehow made it to Hilliard, Ohio. I don’t remember exactly all of what happened, but the long and the short of it was that our partnership was discontinued, and thus, so was our mail order shop.

That small taste of money and the thrill of the hunt led me to working at a musical instrument store after school in high school, and then another one when I was in college. I’ve been in some form of a sales role ever since, whether it was in front line sales, sales management, sales coaching and training, sales leadership, leading a national sales force, and now, as the VP of Sales for the largest privately held media company in the world.

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Twenty Tips for Traveling For Business, Bark Style

I was 31 years old when I started traveling for a living. I had just taken a promotion to be a Regional Training Manager with Cricket Wireless, and I was supposed to be covering a fairly small territory of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. I had a very young family—my son was barely two, and my daughter was not yet born—and although the travel would be tough on them, the increase in pay was too much to turn town.

Plus, I was finally escaping retail! I know that the prevailing theory on the internet is that the Baruths are silver spoon brats who’ve never worked a day in their lives, but, boy, nothing could be further from the truth. I worked in wireless retail stores for a decade, with Verizon, T-Mobile, and then Cricket. And none of those motherfuckers on Twitter who claim I’ve had it easy could have survived a month doing what I did, much less a decade.

I had a gun in my face twice. I had a guy show up with a gas can and a blowtorch, trying to burn the store down. I had multiple people pull down their pants and take shits in the middle of my stores. I discovered child pornography on phones and was told I couldn’t report it. I was the first manager on the scene when a customer was shot dead in a store. I worked 60-70 hours over at least six days a week for that entire time, and I don’t think I actually took a real vacation once—partially because I couldn’t afford to, and partially because I just couldn’t be gone that long.

So when I was given the chance to get out of the stores, I probably would have done just about anything else to do so. But I was getting to do something I really loved, and that was coaching and training salespeople. I had taken multiple stores to top ten rankings at T-Mobile, and then took my market at Cricket to the top spot in the country. Whenever people across the company asked how I did it, I replied with a simple answer:

“I coach my people.”

And it was true. I somehow had a nose for identifying talent, hiring, and coaching people, and I was convinced that I could teach others how to do it, too. And ever since 2010, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing. I switched to the automotive industry in 2012, becoming a sales trainer at (now Cox Automotive) and then other automotive tech companies.

But anyway, back to the original subject of this post, which was effective business travel recommendations. I’m not talking about the type of business travel that automotive writers do—that shit is easy. Somebody else books your flight and your accommodations, and you just show up and ride buses from the hotel to the restaurant and the “track” (which is really a low-speed autocross course with an instructor sitting shotgun).

No, I’m talking about real business travel, the kind where you’re sitting in the bowels of O’Hare airport at 1:43 in the morning on a Thursday, thanks to the combination of inclement weather and a missing light bulb in the bathroom of the CRJ-200 that you and 49 other weary travelers are about to be shoved into against your will, only to find out that your pilots have timed out—but don’t worry, they’re rolling out carts of mattresses for you to sleep on until 6:00 am. That flight is completely full, so you’ll be on standby, and we’ll call your name out very quietly at the same time that three other announcements are being made, so make sure that you absolutely do NOT miss it or else you’ll be here until Tuesday. Oh yeah, here’s a $10 restaurant voucher for your trouble, but all of the restaurants in this terminal are closed.

Here’s Bark’s list for minimizing headaches when traveling, and maybe even enjoying yourself a bit.

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Ask Bark: Buy Now or Buy Later?

In this week’s installment of Ask Bark, we hear from somebody who likes us!

Hey, Bark!

Have enjoyed you and your brothers work for some time now on all the various sites you guys post on. I have not purchased a new car in quite some time, like 15 years.  I do have a stable of older cars that include a e28, e30 a mini cooper, and the odd van etc. I have long been a Golf GTI admirer and feel it is getting time to purchase a new car.  My question to you is, should I try to purchase before the end of the year?

Can I afford to wait until the MY 18’s start appearing on the lots?  Of course, finding a 6MT S and lighting package could be more and more difficult.  Also any advice on securing the best deal would be helpful, like I said, I’m out of practice on the new car lot.

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas and look forward to reading you in the new year!


Hey, Rolf! Loved you in “The Sound of Music.” Let’s talk a little bit about the pluses and minuses of buying at the end of the model year versus buying at the beginning of the next model year.

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Ask Bark: FWD Fun Or Depreciated Deutschland Delight?

Ask Bark is, for now, making its home here at Riverside Green. If you’d like me to tackle a question about car buying, or anything else, for that matter, shoot me an email at I’m always happy to help!

Let’s get to this installment, which comes from a gentleman with a bit of a quandary.

Paul writes:

I am 54 years old with two kids in college.  The 2012 focus titanium has hit 200K.   I am looking for a car.  I have potentially narrowed down my options to a new Golf GTI (~$27K) or a used 2015 BMW M235i xdrive ($29K).  The BMW would have one year certified BMW warranty.  I drive my cars until they die or until my kids hijack them.  Both are automatics (wife requirement).


Do you have an opinion?   Thanks.

Do I have an opinion??? As Liz Warren might say, do you know who you’re messing with?

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Ask Bark: There’s a Big Bubble Coming, and a Man Asks About a Mustang

When I started doing Ask Bark columns, I feared that every week would turn into “What’s the best sporty car I can get for under $10,000?” Since I no longer work there, I’m sure it’s completely fine that I tell you that the most popular search on that big, orange auto classifieds site is “Any make, under $10,000.”

Why? Well, anybody who’s anybody knows that used car prices are skyrocketing (yes, there was a dip in February, but that was an aberration). But why? After all, if used cars are lasting longer than they ever have before (and they are—the average age of the car on American roads is 11.4 years, and that’s after Obama paid $2.8B to take nearly 700,000 working vehicles off the roads), then why do prices keep going up? Shouldn’t there be more cheap cars on the road now?

You can thank the lease bubble. There are going to be 7 million lease returns flooding the marketplace this year. All of these cars were dumped on the market to keep the SAAR climbing and climbing to numbers that were completely unsustainable. Well, those cars are alllllll coming back now, and the residuals are too damn high. So all the lease returns going through the franchise-only auctions are being sold with insane reserves, but if the dealers want to have late-model, low mileage inventory, what choice do they have but to pay? And you know that they’re passing those savings right along to you, the people.

As a result, used car prices now average 60% of new car prices, the highest in history. Thanks a lot, you douchenozzles who leased $99 Cruzes with zero down—you’ve killed us!

There’s a whole article on this to be written, but since this is my blog and not something I have to write for a deadline, I’ll do it another time. Now, to the man with the Mustang question!

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Ask Bark LIVE with the Boost Brothers!

I’m thrilled to bring you the first of two Ask Bark LIVE installments with our good friends, the Boost Brothers. Today’s installment features a letter from a gentleman who’s looking to get a new car for his growing family (and he also has a RAV4 project car!). Somehow we manage to discuss the Crazy/Hot index, Craigslist personals, breast pumps, and Obamacare along the way. Check it out!

Ask Bark: Where Should My Boys and I Go For “Guys’ Weekend?”


In what should become a really awesome regular feature on this here blog, I am taking a question from a reader. Here it is:

Dear Bark,

Long time reader, first time writer here. Im looking to go spend the weekend with some friends of mine somewhere fun. We are all about your age (mid-30’s) and some of us are single and some are not but have been given a “hall pass” for a weekend. They’re all thinking Vegas but I think that’s kind of cliché. Where would you go if you could pick somewhere in the US to go for a guy’s weekend and do it relatively cheap?



Oh, dear Redacted, I have just the answer for you. But you’ll have to click the jump (or look at the above picture) to find out.

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