Learning From Others

Being a Gen X kid and growing up without computers, cell phones or the internet most of my memories came from being outside and doing things to fight boredom. Being able to sit and talk to the “geezers” was something I sought out to enhance my tradecraft as a young adult. People who came before me and ventured into the unknown, hunters stalking their prey, fishermen plying their skills, construction workers building homes, you get the gist. There is knowlege that has been lost due to the digital age and with so many young people today seeing all older people as clueless “boomers” it only gets worse with every meme or video.

I was in a meeting with a particularly difficult man to deal with that’s a couple of months older than me when the geezer topic came up. I said “I kinda like talking to old people, they have so much to teach anyone willing to shut up, listen, put their phone down and learn.”. The person I was in the meeting with said, “That’s why you and I get along, you can see past the BS and learn something from someone who knows more than you, of all the people I’ve met in my life you stand out the most in this regard.”. I was gob smacked! It was a compliment from a guy of very few words that most people just dismiss as a mean scary grumpy guy. This mean grumpy Gen Xer is pretty unmatched at being an outdoorsman, every time I’ve had the opportunity to go with him, I’ve been amazed at his skills. I won’t go into details, but I’ll give credit where it’s due, and it’s very due to him, his legend status is verified.

When we got around to talking about what was happening in the boat world Mr. 7 continents of fame asked me about IBC’s Captain Ron and how he was doing. “Oh, you know Captain Ron?” I asked. Was I learning anything from him, was I paying attention and so on. Well, the answer was yes, I’m learning a lot, and I’m continuing to learn from him every day. Ron, Captain Ron, inflatable Ron or the Zodman as I’ve heard him called has been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale. I feel lucky to have opportunity to talk to him, to hear his stories and to compare his results to mine. When I get asked questions about Zodiac this or dangerous waters that, I can give answers based on real world events and lived experiences to help the customers make the right decision instead of being driven by a sales quota.

Ron has been just about everywhere I have, and he’s always taken a Zodiac with him to go off and adventure the fabled lands on his own. RESPECT!

I was grabbing a Zodiac Cadet 270 ALU from the other room for a customer driving up from California and walked by the old picture boards hidden from view in the storage area. Without thinking I flicked on a light and started grabbing phone pics of all the old, faded, and curling pictures glued to them. Seeing Zodiac helo ops after Mt St Helens erupted, rescue training, white water racing, offshore racing around the world, and lots of fun stuff made me appreciate how lucky I am to be able to talk to a veteran Zodiac user like Captain Ron. I have gained very valuable knowledge from Captain Ron and others I’ve met in my personal journey with Zodiac inflatable boats. I learn from our customers new and old every day and add it to the growing knowledge base, I learn from the repair technicians, I learn from the Hawaiians and kamaainas. I take it all in and draw upon it every day to make our customer experience better without a bunch of BS.

I’ve always been fascinated by Zodiacs and the people who use them from Cousteau, GROM, GIGN, fire rescue, sailors, scientists, et al. I don’t see that ending anytime soon if I follow Captain Ron’s example. I still get to enjoy his company, listen to his stories, and share the shop events of the day or week from the customers varied mission sets and the boats or outboards they are asking about.

We’re lucky people with ideas and passions came before us or the digital age we’re living in today, otherwise we’d believe everything the AI driven interwebs tells us is true. Next time you have a chance to spend time with someone a bit older than your usual clique give it a try. Put your phone away, ask some questions and listen, you might be surprised what that “boomer” has done or seen. You can go back to your normal life a bit richer than before.

Now to those pictures!
Thanks Captain Ron for setting the tone!