By Mike Sparks
Last Tuesday, January 30th I called my friend and ‘mentor’ Dan Miller and left a message. I had called to ask if he knew of a Christian book publisher for my friend Marty Luffman who is working a new book. A few minutes later Dan’s daughter Ashley called me from Dan’s phone to inform me that her father had passed away Sunday.
Dan was the author of “48 Days to the Work You Love’. He was a renowned career coach, speaker, and author known for his expertise in helping individuals find fulfilling work. With a background in career counseling and entrepreneurship, Miller has dedicated his career to guiding people through the process of discovering their passions and turning them into meaningful professions. His famous book, “48 Days to the Work You Love,” provides practical advice and strategies for individuals seeking to align their career paths with their passions. Miller’s teachings emphasize the importance of introspection, goal-setting, and proactive decision-making in achieving professional fulfillment. Through his writings, podcasts, and coaching, Dan Miller continues to inspire and empower individuals on their journey to meaningful and purposeful work.
I first met Dan when I attended Christ Church in Nashville on Old Hickory Blvd. I was about 28 years of age. The church was offering a Taekwondo class and my younger brother Matt and I took the class. (Matt went on to be a black belt.) At the first day of class Dan introduced himself to me “Hi, I’m Dan Miller.” I replied “Oh, you’re the Dan Miller who does the radio show.” Dan looked very surprised and said “You listen to our show?” I said “Every Sunday night.” The show was called ‘Career Link with Dan and Joanne Miller.’ The show came each Sunday night on WTN’s 99.7 fm. I would sit in the car before going to my night shift job at Nissan. I had a deep desire to start my own business and leave Nissan so I looked for advice anywhere I could find it. Dan later invited me to join him and Joanne to his weekly career workshop he was hosting at a portable building behind Christ Church. He had developed a workbook for his career coaching business. Dan knew I was wanting to start my own business knew I had been selling cars online and one day he said “you need to quit that Nissan and follow your passion.”
Ironically, the Nissan government relations team were in my office yesterday. I sold Holly her Infinity in her former bedroom. Sounds ‘crazy’ doesn’t it? My former car business, MidTn Autos.com, was once her family’s home on Jefferson Pike in Smyrna. I purchased it and converted it to a business, tearing out the walls and adding a commercial shop at the rear of the property.
Dan knew I had been selling a few cars via the internet. At the time not many auto dealers or individuals owned a computer. I had recently visited my sister Cindy and her former husband Bruce Hagemeyer in Chattanooga and he owned a computer. I was intrigued and recall playing a ‘tank wars’ game that would seem very primitive today. After the visit to I decided to purchase a computer. I had a just purchased a Jaguar XJS Convertible from a local auto dealer here in Smyrna. I had seen the car at the dealership and fell in love with the car. I was friends with the owner’s son and knew the dealership owner from when I was about 15. I would often drive a few cars back from the auto auction for him. I was surprised he asked me to drive the cars from Cookeville since I didn’t have a drivers license.
The dealer said he was taking the car to the auto auction in Murfreesboro and was going to ‘wholesale’ it. I asked what he thought it would bring and what he needed for the car. He responded “$18,000.” That was a lot of money at the time and still is. I wanted that car something fierce. I decided to buy it and went to Bank of America in Smyrna. At the time I had volunteered to serve on the Nissan Banking Board as an employee representative and knew the loan officer Betty Watson.
I borrowed the $18,000 and was a ‘nervous wreck’ because I didn’t want to have any debt. My late father was very adamant about not having any debt and always said “If you can’t pay cash—then you doing need it!” He even ‘kinda’ quit speaking to me since Felicia and I had purchased the house at 101 Brookfield Drive in Smyrna and a used Mercedes. May Dad grew up during the Great Depression and served in WW11. I recall him saying that I was “trying to keep up with the Joneses.” We had purchased that house that was larger than the house on Nissan Drive which is now our business and had no money out-of-pocket. I later sold the Mercedes for a good profit. I really didn’t get that much ‘encouragement’ from my own father, but I did get encouragement from Dan Miller. I never really thought about having a mentor at that time.
I drove my wife Felicia to her Smyrna High School Class of ‘88 in the car. I later advertised it on a website for sale at $22,000. A few days later a CEO of a company in Charlotte, North Carolina called about the car. I told him if he gave what I was asking I would deliver it for free. I asked my sister Vickie if she would follow me—which she did. She would often helped me deliver a car. Sadly, Vickie is currently in a nursing’s home under hospice care.
Above is a video featuring Comedian Russell Brand. Brand is celebrated for his comedic roots. He’s transformed himself as a political commentator and influential figure. Brand frequently engages with topics such as personal freedom and the COVID-19 pandemic on his YouTube channel. His brief marriage to Katy Perry contributed to his celebrity standing. On his website, Brand underscores the importance of positive change and awakening, emphasizing collaborative transformation and collective growth. Brand advocates for unity to drive change. He often draws inspiration from his profound personal evolution. His life experience and strong commitment to humor and self reflection is admirable. Brand shares his passion for growth and empowering others to transform their lives.
The Power of a Mentor
I’ve personally seen the power of having a mentor firsthand in one’s life. A mentor can help you gain keen insights and guidance from their own life’s experience. They can share their wealth of experience and knowledge. These mentors are instrumental in helping you identify the needed skills and knowledge necessary for success in your career. They play a crucial role in navigating your professional journey by offering insights into different career paths and provide valuable advice on how to move forward in your career decisions.
One of the key benefits of having a mentor is the opportunity to receive constructive feedback on your work. These mentors can help evaluate your performance, offering insights that contribute to your growth and development. Their feedback serves as a valuable tool in honing your skills and refining your approach to work, ultimately aiding in your overall professional advancement.
A strong positive mentor can help change the trajectory of one’s life. That’s what led to my legislation about encouraging ‘mentorships’ in our state and community.
The life of Dan and Joanne Miller is one of servant leadership which sadly—I honestly don’t see much of today. I’m reminded of the scripture in Matthew 25:23,
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
I will be adding a few quotes and comment to this article. If anyone wants to add a comment of how Dan and Joanne inspired and encouraged their own lives please email me at MikeSparksTn@gmail.com.
…Dan Miller you are greatly missed.