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On February 28, 2016, I posted a blog entitled Passion ( ). The objective of the article was to share my thoughts on one of the most important elements of career and personal success, the inner drive to achieve fulfillment and self-actualization. In the blog, I highlighted the importance of having a “passion’ for what you do. I was very pleased to receive some positive feedback on this piece and to learn that it inspired people to rethink their current positions and move to more fulfilling work environments.

I was reminded of this blog after reading, I left my corporate job, and these 8 things became clear ( ). The decision to leave the corporate world to go in a different direction is not for everyone. I had the desire to move in a new direction several years before I made the decision to become an entrepreneur. Initially, as I started down the path, I was attracted to a new corporate opportunity and pulled back. Finally, I summoned the courage and “passion” to resist the temptation of a corporate job and launch a freight transportation consulting practice.

I am now in the fourteenth year of running my own business. This is what I can tell you about the experience. Every person has his or her own unique financial situation, level of risk tolerance and self-confidence, and set of skills and competencies. Unless one comes from an affluent background, has backers with deep pockets, or has a war chest to fall back on, almost everyone requires some level of consistent cash flow. If one transitions from the corporate world to academia, or to a small business that has an existing revenue and profit stream, this issue is of less concern. If an individual takes the leap into his or her business, or a start-up venture, with others, this issue must be carefully evaluated.

As we all know, there are few guarantees in life. Many new businesses fail. Some combination of poor business planning, weak execution, inadequate finances, and/or insufficient human resources sink many companies. On the other hand, the rewards of becoming a successful entrepreneur are extremely gratifying. The last 14 years have been among the most enjoyable of my career.

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Many thousands of jobs have been lost throughout North America in recent years and the trend will likely accelerate in the years ahead. Some blue and white collar jobs are being lost to cheaper labour in China and/or Mexico. But something far more pervasive is happening in many parts of the world that is a much bigger threat to jobs, namely automation and robotics.

Online banking and self-serve kiosks are replacing bank tellers. Robots are replacing people in the preparation of pizzas. 3D printing or additive manufacturing, the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file, is a growing trend. Each year an increasing number of people are shopping online, reducing the need for brick and mortar operations and retail sales clerks. While some jobs are being replaced by others (i.e. retail sales clerks by customer service clerks), many are not.

Even in professions requiring higher education, many routine or specialized tasks are being automated. Computers can now assemble previous legal cases on particular issues and prepare draft contracts and briefs. Robo-accounting is in its infancy, but it is very effective at dealing with accounts payables and receivables, inventory control, auditing and several other accounting functions that humans used to be needed to do. Ultra-precise robo-surgeons are currently being used for everything from knee replacement surgery to vision correction. For more information on the impact of Robots on jobs, click on this link.

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Last week, I was watching the U.S. Democratic Party Town Hall on television that took place in South Carolina. A member of the audience stood up and asked Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont to talk about what he considers one of the most important traits of a leader. He replied that having a passion for what you do is a driving force for him. He then went on to amplify his response. That question and answer was quite revealing and has stayed with me ever since.

Two days later I received an e mail from Scott Monty who publishes a blog entitled The Full Monty ( ). Scott is an expert in Social Media. The title of his weekly blog was Passion. The fact that these two seemingly random events happened in the same week inspired me to write this blog.

As I reflect back on my over 45 years in the working world, the issue of passion has been a driving force for me. There have been times when I worked for some fine companies and great leaders. I got up in the morning and couldn’t wait to get to work. I was proud to represent my company and I was very driven to see the company succeed.

I am very happy to be running my own company at this stage of my career. I am very motivated to help our shipper clients save money on freight, to help our carrier clients improve their profitability and to help organize and host one of the best freight transportation conferences in Canada. I have a deep passion for all of these segments of the business.

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If your trucking company hasn’t been purchased or doesn’t get purchased by TransForce, will it be in business in five years?  That is the question that came up in a recent discussion with a long time industry colleague.  The response I received was that he didn’t think his company would survive.  I was a bit surprised by the response and asked him for an explanation.  This led to an interesting discussion on what it is going to take to make it in the trucking industry in 2014 and beyond.

We both agreed that while the trucking industry has changed in some ways over the past decade (e.g. more use of technology, better cost controls after the Great Recession, LNG vehicles, greater use of 3PLs as customers), the industry is not that much different from ten years ago.  The slow economic turnaround since 2008 has created a challenging environment and there is little reason to expect a major improvement in the short term.  Rate increases are hard to come by, even with a tight driver situation.  Even more of a concern is the lack of innovation in the industry and the threat that such changes could wreak on so many complacent companies.

The warning signs are there.  As a Canadian, you don’t have to look much further than Nortel and Blackberry to see what can happen to industry leaders that were not able to keep up with changing consumer needs and quality competitors.  At the same time, one can observe what companies such as Amazon and Apple have been able to do to change the paradigm of some long established industries. 

Some of the large trucking industry players are making investments in technology and people.  They are integrating back offices and focusing on achieving economies of scale.  They are thoughtfully expanding their service portfolios and geographic footprints. 

Some of the small players are offering solutions that are very tailored to certain industry verticals and geographic areas.  Companies that are focused on same day delivery, refrigerated intermodal service, pooled LTL service, energy distribution and other emerging capabilities are creating a space for themselves in the industry.

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What have you failed at today?

Posted by on in Economy

On Sunday morning, I had the pleasure of listening to a great interview conducted by Fareed Zakaria, the host of GPS (Global Public Square) on CNN.  Mr. Zakaria interviewed Sara Blakely, the youngest self-made female billionaire in the United States.  Her story is one of personal achievement and success but it is rooted in dealing with failure.

As Sara explained during her interview with Mr. Zakaria, her father would ask her a question each night at the dinner table that you don’t often hear in too many homes.  The question was “What did you fail at today?”  When asked about the biggest influence on her life, Sara mentioned her father and the power of this question.

It is important to understand that Sara started her career working at Disney World and then sold fax machines for Danka for seven years.  She tried to get into law school but she could not pass her LSAT entrance exams.

At age 27, she moved to Atlanta, and while still working at Danka, spent the next two years and her entire $5,000 in savings researching hosiery patents and visiting craft stores to find the right material for her product. Eventually coming upon a solution, she wrote her own patent from a Barnes & Noble textbook and incorporated her company under the name Spanx. Turned away by numerous mills who did not see the value of her idea, she eventually found a hosiery factory in Asheboro, North Carolina, that was willing to make her product.  She successfully pitched her idea to Neiman-Marcus by personally taking the buyer to the ladies restroom to show her the benefits of Spanx in person.  Bloomingdales, Saks, and Bergdorf Goodman soon followed.  

Spanx helps women draw the line on pantylines. The company, which also caters to men, makes footless and footed hosiery, tights, and body shapers to give wearers a slim and smooth look. Spanx now has annual sales in excess of $500 million and Sara Blakely is the sole owner.

Tagged in: Entrepreneur
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