You Stop Yourself More Than the World Is Stopping You with Jody DeVere
Hello, beautiful lady. I am really excited to bring to you my conversation with Jody DeVere. She is the kind of woman after you have the opportunity to hang with her for just a wee bit. She’s the kind of woman that you think, gosh, I’d just love to shadow you each and every day and hang with you because there’s so much grounded-ness, power in a really good way, and an authenticity with this real nurturing feel about her.
So, I’m just really excited for this conversation for you to bring it to you. If you don’t recognize her name, you may have heard of one of her companies AskPatty.com. So, Jody is an internationally recognized speaker/trainer. She’s often quoted as an industry pundit. She’s the spokesperson really for women and women in the automotive industry, specifically. She’s been featured basically everywhere, at the highest levels, the New York Times, NPR, Wall Street Journal, CNN, and even in Oprah Magazine and Parenting Magazine. And the list really does go on and on and on.
She is the CEO of AskPatty.com and provides automotive education to women consumers, as well as an interactive online certified female-friendly training program for automotive retailers on how to attract, sell, retain and market to women and her journey to get here is fascinating. Fascinating, because she started out her career many, many moons ago at Packard Bell. And we talk about that journey along with quite a bit of other juicy tidbits and items for you. So, without further delay let’s get started.
Of course, I’ve got one or two cents for you before we get going. You know, I was listening back to my conversation with Jody. And regardless of if you are a startup entrepreneur, maybe you’re in your first or second year ever in business for yourself, or you are the leader of hundreds of people as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, there is some very simple, yet powerful wisdom in what Jody has to share.
And it’s no doubt because of the extensive experience that she brings. The ups and the downs in this season of life and this time period that we’re all living and moving through. I really love, and I want you to listen for it’s in the beginning of our conversation, her attitude and habits around how to move through challenging times. What she is doing and thinking about during the downtime, because there are ups and downs in business.
It’s not just because we are in the unusual times of 2020, but it’s just normal to have cycles in business, especially if you’ve been around long enough. So I think it’s really fascinating to hear how she describes it and what she’s thinking about during this time. And of course I love, love, love her practice and discipline around how she ensures to foster creativity and tap into her creativity on a daily basis. So listen for what she’s doing and her practice around that.
I don’t think you’re going to be wildly shocked or surprised, but it’s going to be a great message for you to hear again. I have a few more things to say on that, but I will make sure to pop back in and share those thoughts with you before we wrap up today.
But the last thing I want you to tap into is she talks really powerfully in one sense around this whole topic of how you show up and that you have a choice and you make decisions and that as a leader, that is your responsibility because, and this is the sentence that I think really sums up this interview for me. Jody says, as a leader, this is your responsibility because eventually no matter whether you’re choosing it or not, your team becomes like you. That’s really powerful. I think that really sums up her attitude around leadership and her understanding that it’s an inside out game. All right, I’m going to keep thinking on that. I’ll pop back in before we wrap up together for today. Now let’s hear from Jody.
Is there anything new on your mind that you feel compelled to want to chat about today?
During this very unusual time in doing business, I think what I am doing is being creative and launching different types of programming that’s going to help people. I’ve kind of taken on a policy early on during COVID-19 where everything needs to be filled with compassion and empathy and care and concern so that you’re supporting folks. And this is not only women consumers, because now car-buying and repair has become a very different type of task to carry out. It’s added more difficulty, but also for my customers, you know, and fortunate for me, I do have a lot of repair facilities and they have mostly stayed open, but their needs have changed. And so, I think pivoting quickly.
And then in the middle of this, I have now launched a consulting network of some extraordinary women thought leaders on different topics that are relevant to the women’s market, including further discussions on diversity hiring during this time, you know, leaders need help right now with challenges that they may not have experienced or have the knowledge base. And so that’s going well too.
That’s interesting, Jody. I really liked this concept of creativity. Let’s talk about that. Like, how do you shift as a leader to tap into your creativity in a greater way at a time a lot of leaders feel like it’s chaos around them?
Well, I think some of that comes from my years of experience in prior to coming into automotive 20 years ago, I spent 30 years. Boy, am I dating myself. In high-tech. And in the high-tech industry, the cycle times of new product releases were becoming faster and faster. You know that now just about the time you’ve gotten used to your new iPhone, they launched a new model, right? And also that market was very circular and they bust boom cycles.
And so, I guess I adapted to a thought life, a thought leadership that you don’t wait. During the downtime is when you are the most creative, because when the market comes back up, then you’re leading again because you have not sat back and waiting for the market to change. You’re developing through that. So, part of it is that that know-how and learning that these downtimes or these really bust boom cycles, or can actually be the best time to build.
And second to that, I’m a market watcher. In other words, the market maker has to be a market watcher and want it. I say this all the time, and I don’t know if people really get it. Why do you start a business anyway, because you see a problem that is not being solved in a marketplace or not being solved well. And so I see markets as organic, moving, changing, and I’m always looking for that opportunity with my knowledge base and my skill, my staff, of problems that we can solve that are not being solved.
And that takes a lot of creativity. Certainly I think all of us were paralyzed for a few weeks because this was so crazy and unprecedent, but then what automatically kicks in is, okay, where are the opportunities to be a service and help people solve problems? So, I think that, you know, my creativity comes from watching the market and boy it’s quite a three-ring circus watching the market and how people are responding and reacting in all areas. But there are a lot of opportunities out there I believe. And you just need to be able to hone in on what can I do to help people and businesses and my clients to weather this and come out better on the other side.
Yeah. I think it’s a natural tendency for people to want to pull back. And what I hear you saying is to really lean into it.
Maybe this cycle time of, you know, there’s some grief cycle that you go through. And I think my level of maturity in business, I have owned many businesses. AskPatty, I have owned the longest, but still my business experience. I can go through the cycle time, move through that more quickly than maybe less experienced folks. And for some businesses that have been really stable and you can count on it’s a shock, and they may not have had to climb through a lot of cycles.
Even the automotive industry back in 2007 to 2010, we had a big downturn. If you recall, you know, they were bailing out the auto makers and the industry was reeling, but I actually, and I’m not bragging, I’m just sharing. I sense the market was changing before the big boom. And I started making changes. I started cutting back.
I’m like Madonna. I always say I can reinvent myself at any point in time to meet the needs of the marketplace. And I also mentor a lot of other business owners and especially women business owners to help them see those opportunities. And so, part of my makeup is not only to be creative and to keep my pulse on the market and to move quickly, but also to share the wealth because we’re all in this together. We’re impacting each other. We all need to be successful for the market to stay strong here in automotive.
Yeah, no, that’s a great point. Do you have any favorite ways to tap into your creativity or is it just a matter of washing your hair in the morning?
I’m a pretty disciplined sort of person. And I take an hour every morning to meditate and to quiet my mind, and to spend time in mindful thoughtfulness. I know this sounds very basic, but I also take really good care of myself. You know, I do the whole exercise, diet and I’ll tell you, I just turned 65 years old and that has bode me well.
So, maintaining as a business owner, because you have so much responsibility maintaining just these basic things, I take the proper vitamin combination. And I think that these basic building blocks help my brain and my body respond better.
There’s been additional stresses. I think taking really good care of yourself and that lends to being able to take care of your people, who may not have those disciplines and that infrastructure and you kind of, your team kind of becomes like you after a while. And so, I want to influence them and I believe I’ve taken really good care of them.
And it’s such a testament of a very great leader. And really what I hear you saying. And I’ve heard a lot of women now on this show talk about, you know, the inside out aspect of leadership and taking care of yourself first so that you can come from a place of full instead of trying to give, give, give what you don’t have. It shows that you take care of yourself, as well. I mean, you look vibrant, you look vibrant and present and strong.
And instead of being ostentatious about it, I’m grateful. I’ve been able to take those things that have built my character and who I am today through that prism when your vision and your vocation is helping people in many ways, it’s much more easy to stay focused on that light at the end of the tunnel versus just making money. That was not enough to motivate me.
As I approached my 50th birthday, more money was not going to make me feel more satisfied and fulfilled. If I was going to give advice, and even prior to that, I was doing a lot of cause marketing cause working with foundations and charities and so forth. But I think that in today’s world, if your vocation, your profession does not have higher purpose and goals, it’s easier to get discouraged. It’s easier to give up, but I have high vision and high goals. And that keeps me really focused, as well.
Yeah. I’m really glad you say that. I think that’s so true. Well, for the women that I chat with as well, they’re looking for something more in the legacy land, something more of soul type of work.
Yeah. Often when I mentor, I ask them this question, what do you want to be known for? What do you really want to be known for? And with that, you crystallize that thinking and that vision for yourself, everything else becomes easy because that is the goal. What do I want to be known for? And by the way, that could go way wrong. But for most of us, we’re trying to make an impact in some way. And we have visions of being here or there. And we’re frustrated because we feel stuck, stay on course.
That’s where creativity comes from, by the way, if I want something bad enough, suddenly my body and my thoughts. And if I have that clear vision of it, what it’s supposed to look like, what do I want to be known for? Then everything aligns with that. And as I move forward, that’s what happens. You know, you can’t create a house unless you know what it looks like.
You said something I want to go back to. You said that can go way wrong. What did you mean by that?
Well, if you are not clear on your capabilities, you will stall out. Or if you set your sights too low, or if you set your sights on things that what I call soda crackers, that just crumble in your mouth. I have had to start over within my business. A few times! Is what I’m saying. So, the vision that you have and your internal drivers have to be very clear and very pure in their thinking. And I just don’t think making money is enough. I say that, at least for me, I’m not going to say, especially for women, but I will say that many women have negative self-talk and I call it the shitty committee. And it’s constantly telling you.
I’m going to totally use that sometime. That is very good. I’ve never heard it.
And there’s all kinds of players in there telling you different things and being able to manage that because we may oftentimes talk ourselves out of our vision by telling us we cannot do that, or you’re not capable, or you don’t know enough or this and that.
Boy, if that had been who I’d been listening to, we would not be having this talk right now. I have that vision for me is really important. Focus is very, and sometimes reminding myself, why are you doing this? Is it still as valuable? You know, you can change yourself a little bit and you can set course. I’ve had to say to a business I’ve had, no it’s not happening. I don’t want to do this anymore. I need to move on. Or I need to reinvent within this box, make the box bigger.
But I think it’s many people, women that I’ve talked to especially, talk themselves out of big, audacious vision. Because they feel that they lack something. You stop yourself more than the world is stopping you.
Absolutely. And I loved, you said sometimes it’s because we’re thinking too low. We’re thinking too small for ourselves. Do you have more to share on that?
Yeah. You know, I think that one of the difficulties that people run into in business ownership is that they won’t have enough money. They won’t have enough money and I’ve counseled a lot of folks about their concept of money. So, to me, and I’m not going to talk about what everybody else says, but for me, money doesn’t have the weight that it did in my younger years, money to me is like gasoline. It is just fuel, purely fuel.
You need to have it, don’t put any more weird thinking or thinking that’s going to stop you around it. And it is available. In fact, there’s probably $50,000 bills floating right in front of you. You just have to reach out and ask for it. And when you have that freedom to know that money is just fuel. I can have as much as I need.
I just need to continue to ask the right questions and ask the right people. I’m perfectly capable of having enough money to fuel my business and my life when you really believe that, that’s what happens. At least that’s what’s happened to me. And I think there’s a lot of misconceptions with people about what money is all about in terms of fuel versus shortage. You know, zero-sum supply, I think there’s an oversupply of available funds.
Now I have some stats to back that up, too. You know, women are starting their own businesses at about 10 times the rate of men. And one of the reasons that they’re doing that is glass ceiling problems, and also being stuck in certain roles or jobs because their skillset is not being acknowledged. And so, I’m really a champion of women entrepreneurs because, you know, they have to work through a lot of what I call generational thinking about money and roles and capability and success and things like that.
Personally, for me, I was just a mother, a single mom with three kids many years ago. And I went, that’s not going to stop me. I loved my kids. I want to just support them. I kind of overshot the mark there a little bit.
Yeah, you think so.
And then later, after they were raised, I saw that I wanted to do things for my industry or others. I had stuff that I needed to get done and I needed fuel to help me get it done for some reason that has always worked for me.
Yeah. So, you started to go down the road that I was curious to ask you about. How did this whole women in automotive, just initiative, and now really a huge part of your legacy? How did that even come about?
That’s a great question. So, I had sold a high-tech company.
That was your first business?
No, no. I’d had several companies. It was another, it was a .com actually. And curiously enough, I sold it five months before the .com crash. I sensed something coming. And so, I made out like a bandit, where other people lost everything.
And I had decided to take a break from having so many employees. And I was consulting. It turned out that many of my peers who hired me to consult had moved into automotive at that time. And this is back in 1999 and 2000. And many vehicles were starting to be more high-tech and computer modules. And the industry, you know, this is way back in the beginnings of things like Autotrader and online offerings of cars. So I got introduced to the industry. I fell in love with it.
One, because from a high-tech point of view, I was eons ahead of them. I had a lot to offer, but I started noticing something. I started noticing that there was this big disparity between how women felt about their car buying experience and how the industry addressed it. And also, women in general and a pivotal thing.
For me during a consulting project, I worked on with this company that needed to be known and I met a female NASCAR car driver. Her name is Deborah Renshaw. She is no longer a driver. This is way years ago. And I talked them into sponsoring her for a couple of years and the reaction that all the men had to her and to this situation, by the way, it did work having a female NASCAR star, but how they treated her and viewed her for any, even for her, was quite disturbing at times.
And I began to see this real gap on how women are perceived in automotive and what role we play. And that was the beginnings of it. I also had gotten involved in what’s called the Women’s Automotive Association International, headed up by a woman named Lorraine Schultz, who passed away about two years ago. She was my mentor. It was the first women’s organization in the whole automotive industry. And by the way, she launched that when she was 60 and she passed away shortly after her 80th birthday. And again, I began to grow in my knowledge of this sort of gap.
I called it between knowledge of what women were capable of and what women wanted, versus what was being offered. And so, I became very outspoken. This was during the period of time, by the way, when the blog is fear was on the rise and women were finally getting a voice that was being heard by more than just the women in their circle.
And AskPatty exploded out onto the scene, literally, as the voice for women in automotive, wasn’t quite expecting that, but it was pretty crazy, you know, being featured on CNN and on TV and radio and all that. And it was just a time, one of those swings when women were starting to gain a voice and feel empowered and gathering groups and having an impact on brands in terms of how they were being marketed to. And that wave has sort of, the woman’s market is really funny because the next greatest thing, and I kind of go to what’s the next greatest thing.
And, so I had been, who knew when I started, I always joke around that I could be in business for another 30 years before that gap is completely closed, but it has been a great ride for me in terms of being progressive right now. I’m doing a lot of work in hiring more women and encouraging more women to join our industry. It’s a very exciting industry, but it still has that little, what I call malaise on it, that why would a woman want to work there? She doesn’t want to go to a dealership and buy a car.
So I have partnered with numerous large brands. We’ve all joined together, on a mission to make our industry a place where not only women want to work, but know that they can break the glass ceiling and work at the highest levels.
That’s fabulous. So, I’m curious if you recall your very first car buying experience.
Wow. Wow. That’s really going back there. My very, very first car was a ’49 Packard with suicide doors. I grew up in near Van Nuys, California. And if anybody is a Californian, you’ll know that that’s infamous for Putnam Boulevard, you know, Cruz 9 on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Yeah, that was me. So I grew up in a car culture and actually there was a Chevrolet plant there. It was at the Sam Denna Valley and the LA area was really a big car club culture. And I grew up in that. First, I had a ‘49 Packard. I didn’t buy it. I don’t even remember how I got it.
So, I’ll talk about my first actual new car, which was a Volkswagen Beetle. It was in 1979 and it was bright orange and it had houndstooth. I’ll never forget it. Houndstooth, cotton coverings. It was the great pumpkin. I called it. And they were really very nice to me, during the car buying experience. And I don’t recall having any troubles, actually. It was only later. I’m kind of car fickle to. Did I mention that?
No, this is, of course you are. That’s perfect.
I fall in love with a new car all the time, so I could go back and go, I wanted this, and then I want to, and I’m like that now, right now I drive a Jeep Renegade. And the reason I got that car is because when I was 60, I started doing off-roading with a group called the Rebel Rally, an all-woman woman’s rally. I’m actually a staff member.
So, I needed a Jeep. And I think this was gonna last a while because that really gets very capable. But, even when I bought that vehicle, I ran and I never announced who I am when I go to buy a vehicle, right. I ran into some difficulties and I actually had to escalate it to the owner of the dealership to get it resolved. So, and by the way, I think things have gotten much better for women.
There’s so much more information. We are much more armed, well-armed. The internet has proven to be a great resource for us in researching and gathering the information. So, we feel we can’t be taken advantage of, but there’s nothing you could do if someone is lying to you. I think it’s, for me, it’s like that beautiful bag that you carry, you know, that kind of tells you what your lifestyle is. Your vehicles definitely depicts your lifestyle.
And so, I’ve had a lot of different ways that I want to be seen, I suppose. Cause I’ve had a lot of different vehicles and that’s the fun part of owning vehicle and vehicle ownership. That it’s so much a part of your lifestyle, especially here, where I live in Southern California, we drive a lot.
Before we wrap up, I want to go back to, this might feel a little disjointed, but it was something that was trickling in my mind around just being so supportive of women. And just wanting to ask you, did you have a time in your life where you didn’t feel that women were very supportive of you or within the environment that you were in that fueled that in any way?
In high-tech? Again, I spent 30 years. I was at the top of my field most of that time. I mean, most of you probably won’t even remember, but I was the third employee of Packard Bell Computer of all things.
Oh, that’s like a claim to fame right there.
That is, and it was run by a group of Israeli gentlemen and lucky for me, women in Israel serve in the army equal to men. So, they saw a lot of promise in me and they helped me develop that all. I’m ever grateful for those gentlemen. They helped me launch my career and they helped me hone many skills. No, I think I always had women working for me. And in fact, that worked out really well.
So, there wasn’t a moment in time where I said I’m for women or I wouldn’t even consider myself woman like the NOW women, the National Organization of Women or any kind of militaristic kind of, I wasn’t angry. I think that this actually grew out of who I had become. I wanted to do something to help that was meaningful.
And this opportunity I fell in love with, you know, working on this problem. And by the way, we’re at the 20-year mark for me in automotive. I am just as passionate and jump out of bed every morning, just as a committed and energetic. In fact, following this call, I’m meeting with the Women In Automotive board. I can’t wait. It’s exciting.
How do you find your vocation is probably the question you’re really asking. And I think for me, I’ve had different things that I’ve been passionate about, but I had been the most passionate about this particular topic. And I’m going to make you laugh now and just close in saying, you know, often your, how you are is how you are.
When I was a little girl, I was always the defender of the weak in my neighborhood. You know, I was the girl that would go beat up the kid, the bully on the block because he was picking on the little kids. So, I think that this is part of who I am. And then I went through different iterations over my life. And then I found a focal point for that of me that wants to defend the weak and helpless. Not that women are weak and helpless, but I think you’re following my train of thought and it’s a gift. It’s a gift to have something like that, that you can apply your passion to.
In all of your experience, it’s almost like you were uniquely curated just for this.
Exactly. And it has been a very good fit for me and creatively. And also 20 years later, I am still as passionate. And that is pretty remarkable to me that I’m still at that point, I’m going strong, you know, and we’re making progress, too. And that’s part of the encouraging. I don’t think I could have done it for 20 years, had I seen no progress, but you know. Some of it kind of pitiful progress, but that excites me. So I want to do more.
And I also have a very large network of really amazing women. It’s not just about me anymore. It’s about the network of women who are with me and equals to me. And some of them, even smarter than me, that are moving this mission forward and what a delight and an honor to be able to have those friendships and to have those partners in crime in our mission.
That’s a great story. Thank you so much, Jody, for being on the show.
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Michelle.
Did I tell you she is the kind of lady who just she’s oozing the wisdom and it’s no doubt all of those years. I mean, not just 20, not just 30, maybe 40 plus years of experience and wisdom that she’s bringing to the table. So graciously, so very graciously. And there’s two things I want to say before we move on for our day together. You know, I think that again, I said it before, no matter where you are, whether you’re a startup entrepreneur business owner or leader of Fortune 500 organization, it’s about building the muscles.
And Jody talks about this. It’s about making the choice to make space, to care for yourself, the choice to engage in a daily practice, to be tapping into that creative space, the choice to give to yourself first, come from a place of overflow, instead of lack for yourself, for your family, for your team, you know, it’s all about you and it really does start with you.
And that’s one of the things that I took away from my conversation with Jody. And the second thing I took away, you know, is to give yourself some compassion because she did talk about building the muscles and maybe you’re just not as far along, maybe you’re not 40 years into your journey. Maybe you’re only 20 years into your journey, or you’re only five years into your journey and just know that some of the resilience and that power that you really feel from her, just some of that does just come with time and building the mental muscles or going to the mental gym. I love to talk about, but it is always about choice. And if you are just tuning in on this and joining us for maybe the first time, or this is the first episode you’re listening to, many of the other women have talked about this just in a different way.
And certainly, I have been sharing my thoughts around it in the M Sessions. So, I encourage you, if you’re eating this up and you’re wanting to engage further, to go back and listen to some of the previous interviews and episodes of the show, because there’s a lot more where this came from. And of course, beautiful lady, as we’re wrapping up together for today. I just ask you to share this with one person, because there’s somebody out there that needs to hear this message today, and you could be the messenger who delivers it to her. All right. We will talk to you soon.