BOB KAMM IS ONE OF THE NICEST GUYS I KNOW. He's upbeat, friendly and, best of all, genuine.
He's a dealership sales veteran who became an industry consultant. He cares about automotive retailing. He helps give it a good name.
Some people say bad things about the dealership world. They fail to realize, mostly out of ignorance, how many truly good people inhabit that realm. Mr. Kamm is one of them. So are the vast majority of dealers. Oh, there are a few bad ones, just like any profession. But nearly all the dealers I know are honest and generous.
Mr. Kamm has written several articles for this magazine. The last one was the July cover story headlined, "Saving prima donnas." It offered good advice on how to handle employees who are top performers, but who otherwise wreak havoc at the workplace and alienate their fellow workers.
Before the article appeared, I was telling a woman in the industry about it. She predicted it would be the best-read article in that month's magazine because its topic hits home for a lot of dealership managers. She's probably right.
Mr. Kamm has lifted his writing endeavors to a new level. He's now written a book, "The Superman Syndrome." Its premise is that overachieving business people, who live and breathe their jobs, often lead flawed lives, neglect their families and lack real productivity.
What's the superman syndrome? According to Mr. Kamm, it's "the inability or unwillingness to throw the off-switch...whether on the cell phone, the computer or our own racing brains."
He adds, "What passes for productive activity has, in reality, created a lot of phantom efficiencies."
He's right. I remember one particular colleague at a former place of employment. He logged long hours. But much of that time was spent shuffling papers. And he stayed at the office so much because he had a lousy home life.
Mr. Kamm says employees can be more creative and effective with work hours that encourage them to spend more time with their families.
But for some people, that requires a major attitude shift. Those are the ones whose cellular phones are on 24/7. (Mr. Kamm says that at his leadership workshops, "clients are practically frisked at the door to shake out their arsenal of cell phones, palm pilots and lap tops.")
He says people suffering from the superman syndrome are likely to spend their weekends catching up on work rather than enjoying some down time or seeing their kids' soccer games.
Just as Mr. Kamm believes that workplace prima donnas can be saved, so, too, can overachievers inflicted with the superman syndrome.
Based in San Luis Obispo, CA, he says he fights daily with his superman syndrome impulses.
But he adds, "At least I know where the off switch for my computer is. I don't take a cell phone with me everywhere. I can walk out of the office at 5 p.m. and be OK with that... If I don't stay centered and balanced, how can I give that to my clients?"
What's his favor pastime? Collecting and polishing rocks with his son, Ben.
Who's loyal, who's not: Detroiters are loyal, New Yorkers aren't. At least when it comes to loyalty to vehicle brands.
Of America's top 10 car-buying markets, the most loyal overall is Detroit, according to a Polk Co. survey.
Detroiters are especially loyal to domestic brands. Nearly 60% of metro Detroit car buyers do repeat business with GM,and the side of DamilerChrysler.
Low in loyalty are New Yorkers. Only 39% of them stay true to domestic brands. It's even worse there for Asian and European brands, according to Polk.
New York dealer Gary Schimmerling, president of Babylonand Babylon on Long Island, told me that New Yorkers are keenly interested in getting the best deal. That overrides loyalty - and a lot else.
"They are looking to take out of their pockets as little as they can," he says. "They want the deal."
So why are Detroiters such a loyal bunch? Alas, much of it has to do with the heavy presence in the Motor City of car companies' employee discounts for vehicle purchases.
Putting your finger on it: In some cases, fingerprints may be incriminating. In the near future, fingerprints may replace keys as a way to start up cars.
Siemens Automotive, an electronics automotive supplier, plans within two years to introduce a fingerprint recognition system. It works this way: A sensor, mounted on a button on the dashboard, can identify people's fingerprints with a touch of the button. If it is an authorized print, the car starts up.
The same technology could be used to lock and unlock car doors as well as adjust seats, mirrors, radio settings and climate controls to programmed driver preferences.
Let's hope cars of the future won't request DNA testing to do those things.