Last month I found myself lost. It was my own fault, really, as I wandered aimlessly and mapless through a ramshackle market in northwestern India.
For me, getting lost in a developing world market is exactly the point. As I step into it, I am immediately surrounded by new sights and smells, the frenetic bustle of commerce, different people, customs and sounds. It’s as close to being Indiana Jones as I’ll ever get. And I love every minute of it.
I’ve been in markets all over the world, from Africa to Asia, and they’re always chaotic places, full of life, drama and color. The markets themselves are usually haphazardly divided into specific areas of commerce: one for leather goods, another for vegetables, another for livestock, another for clothes and on and on. In these giant department stores under rusted tin roofs and tattered blue tarps, you can usually find just about anything. The best markets are dark, bewildering, congested, meandering, labyrinthine places, the kinds of places where it’s easy to get lost. You never know what will be around the next corner. I like to wander and see where the next turn takes me.
The choices one makes when wandering these markets are often like the choices one makes in life: Sometimes I am intrigued by a sight down a brightly lit corridor. Sometimes I am disgusted. Other times, I avoid heading in a particular direction because it’s dark, with shadowy figures. Or sometimes I’m drawn in those directions precisely because of them. And still other times, I am forced down a particular path by a rush of humanity, carrying me away in its wake. Market traffic can be a lot like the swell of an ocean current; it’s easy to get caught up in it, helpless to stop yourself from being taken in directions you didn’t plan to go. But I’ve found that it’s best to just go with it and not fight, to take whatever comes around the next corner, to accept life’s own market and all the options, sounds, smells, experiences and sights that accompany it. That’s the real stuff of life, the unexpected twists and turns it takes, and we with it. To remain stationary is to resist life itself.
My own life, even up to this point, has not been stationary, and so it goes. This will be my last column for Counterman magazine. I am moving on, choosing to take a different path in the market of life. It is a bittersweet decision, as I have become very fond of this magazine, this company, the staff and you, the readers, over the past 14 years. This decision was not an easy one and was predicated by my family’s decision to follow my wife’s career, which is taking us to Philadelphia.
I am not leaving the aftermarket, however. I’ve accepted a position as Director of the University of the Aftermarket at Northwood University. In this new role, I will head up aftermarket executive education programs throughout the industry I’ve come to love. It’s an exciting opportunity to grow my own skills, to take a new path, to see what’s down the next aisle in life’s great market.
There are far too many people to thank, and not enough space here to do it. Those who have played a significant role in my career know who they are. I am deeply thankful to many, many people who gave great opportunities to me. To the Babcox family in particular, I remain in their debt. I also remain grateful for the readers of this magazine, who have always remained loyal; complimentary when warranted and critical when necessary. I’ve been lucky enough to have had my share of the former and humbled to have had enough of the latter. There will be things I’ll miss, and things I won’t, but I can say with conviction that if the next phase of my career is half as rewarding as the first, I’ll count myself among the lucky ones.