Anyone who’s had JEN SHELBY for a boss for more than a minute knows rule No. 1 of the workplace.
“If I ask an employee why they are doing something in a certain way, they are never to answer with ‘Because we’ve always done it that way,’” she says. “Change can be vitally important.”
The Champaign Central and Indiana grad can personally vouch for that. A career in the car business that started 27 years ago, when she (as the lone female on staff) was the top salesperson within two months, eventually led to her becoming president of Champaign’s Shelby Motors following the sudden death of her husband, Mike, selling the business in 2013, then taking ownership of a pair of Vermilion County dealerships.
The Blackburn College trustee, Bobby Knight fan and co-owner of Get Out and Go RV and Ford of Hoopeston took time out to answer a few questions from Editor Jeff D’Alessio in the 19th installment of our weekly speed read spotlighting local leaders of organizations big and small.
The hardest thing about being a leader is ... knowing when to keep your mouth shut. It is quite possibly the thing that trips me up the most.
My philosophy on meetings is ... have an outline, keep things on track and, whenever possible, keep it to under an hour. If you can do it via email or a phone call, then do so.
My single favorite moment of all time in this job was ... the day I convinced Ford that I could handle the franchise. They wanted me to run it for three years before they would commit to my full purchase of the store, but they gave me the go-ahead after 10 months.
I can’t live without ... sadly, that answer is my phone.
My business role model is ... (former Ferrari, Fiat Chrysler and Maserati CEO) Sergio Marchionne. He spoke beautifully, and he didn’t care about inconsequential things like what he wore. He literally had several of the exact same pants, shirts and sweaters and wore the same combo every day. He could not be bothered with trivial matters.
I’m frugal in that ... I cut coupons.
The biggest business risk I ever took was ... buying the Champaign Dodge Jeep dealership in 2008 — and yes, it did pay off.
When it comes to the last luxury in which I indulged ... I have been going the opposite way and getting rid of material possessions. I would have to say it’s my last big art purchase, which is a piece called Not Until, by Markus Pierson.
The most beneficial college class I took was ... one of several of my psychology classes at Indiana University — understanding how people think and the different factors that can drive them or affect how they handle situations.
I’m up and at ’em every day by ... typically during the week, 4:30 a.m.
My exercise routine consists of ... FIIT training three times per week — doing that at home in the basement now. And walks whenever possible.
As far as the worst job I ever had ... my first jobs were babysitting and there was one duo who shall remain nameless that has made every job since seem delightful.