As many of you know, we lost NER legend Steve Ross back in March. He was a friend, a mentor, and a leader whose impact was unmatched.
Paying it Forward is a term that most of us have heard and probably used. In fact, it has been around forever. It has been the subject of books, movies, YouTube videos, websites, and foundations. There’s even a Pay it Forward Day. An Australian started Pay it Forward Day, which is now celebrated on April 28th by eighty countries. Defining it simply as “an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying the kindness to others instead of to the original benefactor”. Steve practiced Paying it Forward naturally.
If you are new to NER, Welcome! If you are one of our more tenured members, try remembering your first day or NER experience. What was your onboarding experience like? This was mine:
When Betty and I joined NER we knew no one. And I mean no one. Soon after, we met Steve during lunch on a Fall Tour. We quickly became friends and Steve launched into all things NER. He summarized each event or program with his big smile and excitement. And it was genuine. Steve had the natural ability to “sell” without selling. For some, it can be learned. For others, it comes naturally.
Over the years, Steve was my “go-to” guy when I had any questions regarding the car, NER, Porsche, recommendations for events, introductions to fellow NER members and service providers. Sometimes it was those classic conversations like storing the car or not. One time, I talked to him about a rare 50-degree January day with no snow or salt on the road and my regret for storing it. He looked me straight in the eye and said – “you bought the car to drive, drive it!” I felt like I got hit over the head with a 2X4.
At the end of each autocross, Steve would announce the upcoming NER events. Each of them with his Steve Ross smile. At one AX (Autocross), Steve talked about a July DE (Driver’s Ed) event in Mont Tremblant Quebec. Having skied there, I knew Mont Tremblant as a ski resort but did not know about a track. Coincidently, the village of Mont Tremblant hosted the annual Canadian Blues Festival. Steve’s pitch was, “If you are going to do one DE event, THIS IS the event that you need to do!” Betty and I registered that day.
Steve told me about this event called “The Ramble”. Maybe you are one of the 400 people who attend the annual event? If you do not, you need to. Again, we registered late and got the absolute last two tickets. And once again we were hooked. Steve was spot on. The Ramble remains my favorite NER event.
With me, and many others, Steve had the ability to look you directly in the eye and make you feel like you are the only person in the world, and what you were saying was more important than anything else. This is a gift. His enthusiasm was genuine. He was unpretentious, never arrogant, and never demanded something in return. His passion for all things Porsche could be infectious. NER was more than a club to Steve, it was family.
Over the last few years, many of us watched Steve become more and more confused and forgetful. Those of us with family members or friends with Alzheimer’s know these symptoms all too well. When fellow NER member Alicia Kullas came to me in 2018 with Steve’s diagnosis, she suggested that we recognize his club contributions now, before it was too late. I could not have agreed more. I presented it to the board in June of 2018, and we unanimously agreed to move forward with it.
Why did I entitle this article Paying it Forward? Because it was what Steve did. He encouraged and paved the way for many of us. He reached out to many new members welcoming and encouraging them to get involved. Whether you are new to NER or a tenured member, think about your first experience with the club. What was it like? What was your first impression? Did you feel welcome?
Whether you have been with the club for a short period of time or many years, reach out to new(er) members, give them a “hand up”. Be a friend. Be a mentor. Share your great club experiences. Share your connections. Participate in one more event. Help produce a new or established event. Encourage new ideas. Pay it Forward.