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July 8, 2022

Letter from YANG Chair, Cotter Collins

by Cotter Collins

Cotter Collins Photo
Cotter Collins, SMP, Inc., 2022-2023 Chair
There are two YANG-related questions that I get all the time. The first being: “How do I get more involved with YANG?” This is the question I like to get the least. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for more people to get involved with YANG, but the problem is it makes my mind go blank. It’s like when people ask you what your hobbies are at a networking event. All of a sudden, you can’t remember your passion for underwater basket weaving and you’re stuck sounding like a simpleton who just binges the next best thing on Netflix. It’s hard to remember all the great aspects of involvement with YANG when “shooting from the hip,” but hopefully I can shed some light as your new chair. Additionally, this edition of the YANG Effect recaps the Spring Leadership Conference, which is one of the best ways to get involved.

But the easiest way to get involved with YANG is to interact with us at the simplest level, by following, liking, and sharing our social posts. By doing so, you confirm what YANG is doing and that folks are seeing our posts. You also help spread the word within your own industry social circles. Hopefully, by interacting with us on social, you’ll also see what YANG’s up to. YANG is a second-to-none, dynamic industry group that is constantly on the move and developing more content. You’ll see our calls to action, plans for meet-ups, fundraising opportunities, and more. When you see what we’re up to you’ll see how our activities align with your own interests and skills and hopefully will even be able to answer your own “how do I get involved?” question. Finally, show up to YANG events—whether that’s in-person or virtual. Leadership Days, Regional Meet-ups, the YANG Professional Series, the Legislative Summit, and everything else YANG does are open to all members—and you’re invited!

Next would be to take on a task. Taking on a task within YANG is not nearly as easy as simply liking our social posts. It’s going to take a little work. However, the second most frequently-asked question YANG receives is: “Can you provide your members with more training on becoming a leader?” All YANG folks are under 40 and most are either working toward receiving a promotion to a management position, or are in the early years of managing others, so the question is very valid. But there’s plenty of “leadership” training out there. You can wear your Audible subscription out just listening to books on the topic. YANG provides you the opportunity to hop out of your comfort zone and take on a professional development task that is specific to the industry you’re already in. So, reach out to a council member and take on one of the many projects we tackle annually: hone your journalistic skills by contributing to the YANG Effect, try your hand as an event planner and host a regional meet-up, reach out to an industry mentor and ask to interview them on an industry topic for one of our YANG Professional Series sessions. These opportunities, and more, are available to all YANG members, not just the advisory council—but know that the council will be there every step of the way to offer advice and lend a helping hand.

YANG’s next mission is to provide structured mentorship programs to our membership. I had the privilege to attend the Automotive Parts Services Group (APSG) show in Grapevine, Texas, two weeks before Spring Leadership Days. The theme of the APSG convention was “Facing the Challenge.” We’re supremely lucky as under-40s in this industry because the generation before us has faced some really tough challenges: COVID-19, supply chain issues, and trying to hire and retain millennials (we’re the worst…kidding). The media loves to call our current situations “unprecedented,” but we know better. The Automotive Aftermarket has always been full of technological changes, supply challenges, inner industry shifts (like acquisitions), and it’s also full of mentors who are willing to offer advice on how to face those challenges. By donating your time to participating in the mentorship program once it launches, you’ll grow in your own professional career, but also lay the building blocks for a program that’s sure to be strong for years to come. 

Finally, the most visible and rewarding way to get involved with YANG is to serve on the YANG Advisory Council or as a sub-committee member. Council members serve for two years before rolling off and are in charge of creating content (like the agenda for Leadership Days, the Pro-Series, and YANG Effect), event planning (regional meet-ups), fundraising (you thought we could do all this for free?), and more. There is no limit to the leadership training and professional development provided by serving on the council. If you’re worried that you aren’t able to commit to being on the council (it is a huge commitment in both time and intellect) you should still serve as a sub-committee member. You can work with the advisory council on events, member engagement, or communications.

When delving into what YANG can do for you, it’s easy to forget that YANG was created first and foremost as a networking group. YANG will help you get exposure in the industry to your peers, future leaders, and current leaders as well. You may just make a best friend or two along the way, like I have. So don’t @ me talkin’ ‘bout what YANG’s gonna do for you until you first ask what you can do with and for YANG. YANG is nothing without member participation, and no matter how you choose to get involved you’ll develop skills in negotiation, delegation, collaboration, social media, building a personal brand, mentor engagement, fundraising, legislative lobbying, and more. So get involved today!

Cotter Collins
2022-2023 YANG Chair


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The YANG Effect newsletter is your quarterly "pit stop" for all things Automotive Aftermarket contributed to and written by under- 40 industry professionals.

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