Stay in Business Forever by Building Deep and Meaningful Relationships

Stay in Business Forever by Building Deep and Meaningful Relationships

People have asked me on multiple occasions, how I can come up with something to write about every week on my blog. They ask me what my thought process is, and what my creative process is. Here is my answer. I enter the mental conversation that is going on my head at that moment. On Friday, for example, I was thinking about how IT leadership is still severely unbalanced in terms of gender representation. By the afternoon, I was thinking about the most effective ways to work with douche-bags. By the end of the weekend, the mental conversation that was going on (today) is recognizing how to connect with people, by building deep and meaningful relationships. It applies to people in your career, marriage, and among your peers. This is truly the secret to creating longevity in your career. This is truly how to stay in business forever.

I’ve been reading John Maxwell’s ‘Everybody Communicates, Few Connect.’ John reinforces the fact that communication is passé. Building longevity in your career and in your relationships requires you to connect. This applies to whether or not you’re delivering a presentation, or if you’re chatting with your kid. Here’s a glimpse of the mental conversation that normally goes through people’s minds:

  • “Why aren’t people listening to me?”
  • “What are they thinking about me?”
  • “Why aren’t they following me?”

Notice a commonality? Yep. Me, me, me. So if you want to want to get into somebody’s mental conversation, you have to first get out of yours. As John Maxwell wisely wrote, “Everybody communicates.” Even my dog who can’t speak a word of English or any human language for that matter can communicate. “Few connect.” It’s connecting with people that counts. It’s going that extra mile, remembering their name. It’s remembering that they don’t like eggs and not serving it when you bring breakfast in for your team. Actually, when I think about it, dogs are great connectors. Connecting doesn’t actually require verbal language. Dogs can connect just by cuddling up beside you when you’re sad. They’re such amazing creatures, and so pure in spirit.

As Zig Ziglar so famously pointed out, “Help enough people get what they want, and you will get what you want.” One of the stories that I stood out for me from that book was a short anecdote written by a nurse. She mentioned in her second year of nursing school, she was writing an exam. She blasted through the questions. Then she reached the last one. “What is the name of the lady who cleans the building?” She thought it was a joke. She left it blank and handed in her exam. Someone in the class asked her professor whether or not that question counted toward the final grade. To her dismay, her professor replied, “Absolutely. In this world, everybody is significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.” That lesson stayed with her forever and to this day, she remembers that the name of the cleaning person was Dorothy

Joe Gagliardi, of Recruitment Partners, tells me that after interviewing a candidate for a job, he will always go to the receptionist and ask Ashton what she thought of the individual. It’s like watching how people treat their server in a restaurant. You can tell a person’s true character and how much he values people over himself by how he treats someone who is serving him.

Even Small Moments of Connection are Significant

Often it doesn’t take a huge conversational event to create a moment to connect. The other day coming home from our Chinese Lion Dance lesson, my 5 yr old asked, “Mama, does the world have a brain?” This to me is a glimpse of what goes through his little preschooler mind. And it’s nothing short of philosophical. So we spent the next few moments discussing the collective intelligence of the entire world’s population. I illustrated how each person has a mind and the ideas that they invent create amazing things in the world. That is how the world has a brain. Even the plants and soil and animals all work together to do their part. Everyone works together; everyone contributes. Because everyone in the world is connected, everyone in the world is part of the world’s brain. He sometimes astounds me with his thoughts.

Enter the Mental Conversation of your Audience

At the time of this writing, I’ve been taking an internet business course from Jeremy Frandsen and Jason Van Orden. One of the first things that they teach is to find a problem in the world and solve it. The question becomes, how to find said problem? What solution would solve it? How do you deliver the solution in a manner that is best digested by your audience? All roads point to “Enter the mental conversation. Act on it.”

More easily said than done. I know. The million-dollar question is, “How do you even go about doing that?”

What Would You Do?

In 550BC, the Chinese philosopher Sun Szu wrote in the Art of War, “Zi gei, zi bei, back jeen, back sing,” which means “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

Sometimes all it takes to understand the problem is to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. It requires empathy and a little bit of elbow grease. Scott Schertly tidily illustrated in his article on

Do your Homework:

This is also related to number 4 below. It takes effort and preparation to enter the mental conversation of your audience. Start with the easy stuff: demographics, commonalities of why they are all here. For example, in one of my keynotes that I delivered for the CPA society (back then it was CMA), I gazed into multitudes of people. I realized that they had the following things in common:

  1. They’re all CPA’s.
  2. They all live in Alberta
  3. Most of them worked in industry (as opposed to being an auditor)
  4. Everyone had to go through the grueling examination process and professional program to come out with the CPA stamp on their foreheads.

That’s what I was able to determine even without doing any real homework.

Get Personal

Get to know your neighbours. I’m not telling you to go and creep their facebook page. Simply engaging in conversation about their life outside of work or their interests is effective. With all of my teammates and clients, I have come to know their family situation: how many kids they have, where they grew up. I sometimes even know what their kids’ names are. Now, I know that it’s not until you’ve reached a certain level in your relationship that people will tell you their kids’ and spouses’ names. So, it’s actually an honour to know the names of their family members. It means they like you and trust you enough to share something that is near and dear to their hearts.

Probing Questions

Have you heard of a comedian named Milton Berle? (I hadn’t until Scott mentioned him. I actually had to Google him.) He was famous for his one line zingers: “You can lead a man to Congress, but you can’t make him think” and “I just filled out my income tax forms. Who says you can’t get killed by a blank? “ are but two glimpses into his brilliance. Milton Berle was especially good at testing the waters of his audience by asking probing questions and then delivering appropriate one-liners from his mental inventory.

Know what They Know

Nothing substitutes for doing recon for the subject on which you’re asked to consult. If you can’t offer any more value than your audience already knows, what good are you? The same thing goes for perspective. If you can’t offer a fresh perspective for your client, what value do you serve? In the wise words of Sir Winston Churchill, “If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.”

Here’s another way of looking at it. In my own experience in building an internet business, I live by this philosophy: In my mind, free advice (especially from a reputable source) is accessible to anyone who seeks it. Therefore it’s the standard. It’s not premium because premium costs money. Hence if you’re not employing the free advice in some manner, or worse yet, if you don’t even know about that free advice, you’re substandard. I know what you’re going to say, “But there’s a lot of BS out there.” Yea, there is. You still have to sift through the BS to find the gems. But not doing it makes you fall behind.

Don’t be a Star

Nobody cares about your mental conversation. They’re all too engaged in their own. They’re not here to see you. They’re here to extract information from you in order to make their lives better. So you will do well to remember that it is always all about them. Case in point: Back in the early days, when I pursued becoming a motivational speaker, I was engaged to deliver a seminar on relaxation and achieving peace of mind at MacEwan University. In my naiveté, I hadn’t bothered to use any external sources in my research. All of my anecdotes, all of my material and exercises had come from my own experience. For the full 90 minutes, I had regaled a number of stories and examples only from my own life. I got crucified in the reviews. They absolutely hated it! They thought that I was completely self-absorbed, and spent the entire 90 minutes talking only about myself. That pretty much marked the end of my short-lived pursuit as a motivational speaker. Lesson learned: Focus on them. It’s all about them. Even Scott agrees with me. If you focus on the material, presentation, and how the material applies to their life, you keep the spotlight on them. This works 100% of the time. And you won’t look like a pompous twit.

What if I don’t have a Team?

Leadership aside, this, my friends, is the key to building relationships in any area of your life. Whether or not you trying to build a dream team in your organization, or even finding the love of your life, 10 times out of 10, when you enter and engage in the mental conversation of your audience, you will connect to them.

I think that motivating your team is more than just high-fiving them on a job well done, or bringing them food as bribery… though food has always had a good success rate for me. It’s entering the mental conversation in their heads and engaging it.

At the time of this writing, Malala Yousafzai was just awarded an honourary Canadian citizenship. “I am Malala” was one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Despite her young age, she addressed the Canadian Parliament eloquently, with humour and a powerful message. Her message to the children of Canada was that you don’t have to be as old as the ‘very young Prime Minister Trudeau’ to make a difference. You can lead where you are. I echo this message. No matter where you are in your life, in your career, you have the opportunity for leadership. As long as you’re working among people, you have an impact on them.

Cat Lam
Human Performance
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Catherine (Cat) Lam, CPA-CMA is the founder of, a leadership and professional development blog. Energetic, ultra-positive, and having a genuine approach to ... Click for full bio

Rosie the Robot, Amazon, and the Future of RAAI

Rosie the Robot, Amazon, and the Future of RAAI

Written by: Travis Briggs, CEO at ROBO Global US

It’s tough to find a kid out there who hasn’t dreamed about robots. Long before artificial intelligence existed in the real world, the idea of a non-human entity that could act and think like a human has been rooted in our imaginations. According to Greek legends, Cadmus turned dragon teeth into soldiers, Hephaestus fabricated tables that could “walk” on their own three legs, and Talos, perhaps the original “Tin Man,” defended Crete. Of course, in our own times, modern storytellers have added hundreds of new examples to the mix. Many of us grew up watching Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons. As we got older, the stories got more sophisticated. “Hal” in 2001: A Space Odyssey was soon followed by R2-D2 and C-3PO in the original Star Wars trilogy. RoboCop, Interstellar, and Ex Machina are just a few of the recent additions to the list.

Maybe it’s because these stories are such a part of our culture that few people realize just how far robotics has advanced today—and that artificial intelligence is anything but a futuristic fantasy. Ask anyone outside the industry how modern-day robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are used in the real world, and the answers are usually pretty generic. Surgical robots. Self-driving cars. Amazon’s Alexa. What remains a mystery to most is the immense and fast-growing role the combination of robotics automation and artificial intelligence, or RAAI (pronounced “ray”), plays in nearly every aspect of our everyday lives.

Today, shopping online is something most of us take for granted, and yet eCommerce is still in its relative infancy. Despite double-digit growth in the past four years, only 8% of total retail spending is currently done online. That number is growing every day. Business headlines in July announced that Amazon was on a hiring spree to add another 50K fulfillment employees to its already massive workforce. While that certainly reflects the shift from brick-and-mortar to web-based retail, it doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what this growth means for the technology and application firms that deliver the RAAI tools required to support the momentum of eCommerce. In 2017, only 5% of the warehouses that fuel eCommerce are even partially automated. This means that to keep up with demand, the application of RAAI will have to accelerate—and fast. In fact, RAAI is a key driver of success for top e-retailers like Amazon, Apple, and Wal-Mart as they strive to meet the explosion in online sales.

From an investor’s perspective, this fast-growing demand for robotics, automation and artificial intelligence is a promising opportunity—especially in logistics automation that includes the tools and technologies that drive efficiencies across complex retail supply chains. Considering the fact that four of the top ten supply chain automation players were acquired in the past three years, it’s clear that the industry is transforming rapidly. Amazon’s introduction of Prime delivery (which itself requires incredibly sophisticated logistics operations) was only made possible by its 2012 acquisition of Kiva Systems, the pioneer of autonomous mobile robots for warehouses and supply chains. Amazon recently upped the ante yet again with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market, which not only adds 450 warehouses to its immense logistics network, but is also expected to be a game-changer for the online grocery retail industry.

Clearly Amazon isn’t the only major driver of innovation in logistics automation. It’s just the largest, at least for the moment. It’s no wonder that many RAAI companies have outperformed the S&P500 in the past three years. And while some investors have worried that the RAAI movement is at risk of creating its own tech bubble, the growth of eCommerce is showing no signs of reaching a peak. In fact, if the online retail industry comes even close to achieving the growth predicted—of doubling to an amazing $4 trillion by 2020—it’s likely that logistics automation is still in the early stages of adoption. For best-of-breed players in every area of logistics automation, from equipment, software, and services to supply chain automation technology providers, the potential for growth is tremendous.

How can investors take advantage of the growth in robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence?

One simple way to track the performance of these markets is through the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index. The logistics subsector currently accounts for around 9% of the index and is the best performing subsector since its inception. The index includes leading players in every area of RAAI, including material handling systems, automated storage and retrieval systems, enterprise asset intelligence, and supply chain management software across a wide range of geographies and market capitalizations. Our index is research based and we apply quality filters to identify the best high growth companies that enable this infrastructure and technology that is driving the revolution in the retail and distribution world.

When I was a kid, I may have dreamed of having a Rosie the Robot of my own to help do my chores, but I certainly had no idea how her 21st century successors would revolutionize how we shop, where we shop, and even how we receive what we buy - often via delivery to our doorstep on the very same day. Of course, the use of RAAI is by no means limited to eCommerce. It’s driving transformative change in nearly every industry. But when it comes to enabling the logistics automation required to support a level of growth rarely seen in any industry, RAAI has a lot of legs to stand on—even if those “legs” are anything but human.

To learn more, download A Look Into Logistics Automation, our July 2017 whitepaper on the evolution and opportunity of logistics automation.

The ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation Index and the ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation UCITS Index (the “Indices”) are the property of ROBO who have contracted with Solactive AG to calculate and maintain the Indices. Past performance of an index is not a guarantee of future results. It is not intended that anything stated above should be construed as an offer or invitation to buy or sell any investment in any Investment Fund or other investment vehicle referred to in this website, or for potential investors to engage in any investment activity.
ROBO Global
Robotics and AI
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ROBO Global LLC is the creator of the ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation Index series, which provides comprehensive, transparent and diversified benchmarks representing the ... Click for full bio