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On February 28, 2016, I posted a blog entitled Passion (http://www.dantranscon.com/index.php/blog/entry/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 (http://www.businessinsider.com/i-left-my-corporate-job-and-these-8-things-became-clear-2017-6 ). 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. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-jobs-robots-take-first-shelly-palmer?trk=eml-email_feed_ecosystem_digest_01-hero-0-null&midToken=AQFnovDZTVxr9w&fromEmail=fromEmail&ut=2kUJfciiejvTE1

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Yesterday I had the distinct privilege of watching President Obama bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with distinction, the highest U.S. civil honour, on Vice President Joe Biden. President Obama referred to him as “the finest Vice-President we have ever seen.” Coming a day after President-elect Donald Trump’s bizarre news conference, it was an extraordinary ceremony. It highlighted some key elements that are part of any successful business or personal relationship.

Eight and a half years ago, President Obama asked the then Senator Biden to become his Vice President. It should not be forgotten that Joe Biden ran against him to become the democratic nominee of his party. In selecting Biden, President Obama undoubtedly was looking for someone with extensive government experience but also someone with extensive life experience. Yesterday’s remarkable tribute said a lot of about their relationship and about the components of a truly successful relationship. Here are few take-aways from the speeches of the two men.

Shared Values Created a Strong Bond

The two men came from modest beginnings. The president was raised by his mother and her parents. His father played a minimal role in his life. He initially worked as a community organizer on the south side of Chicago. President Obama is a devoted husband and father.

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Last night, history was made in the National Basketball League. For the first time in the long history of the league, a team came back from being down 3 games to 1 in the Championship Final to win the series. This is a remarkable achievement in view of the fact that their opponent, the Golden State Warriors, had the best regular season record of all time, having won 73 games and lost only 9 times. The Warriors had an excellent team with two of the best “pure” shooters that the league has ever seen. Moreover, they had only lost 3 games on their home court in the entire season. On top of that, one of their players, Stephen Curry, was the league’s most valuable player.

The Cavaliers managed to win two games in Oakland during the series.  How did they do it? What are some business lessons that one can take away from this astonishing victory? Here is my take.

Change your game plan when it is not working

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Finding your “Lane” in Life

Posted by on in Career Advice

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This is a follow up to the blog on “Passion” (http://www.dantranscon.com/index.php/blog/entry/passion ) that was posted here a few weeks ago and is published in the current issue of Canadian Shipper. While the blog on Passion was inspired by Bernie Sanders, this blog was inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author and star of the hit Broadway play “Hamilton.”

On Sunday night, during an interview on Sixty Minutes, Lin-Manuel and his parents were asked by Charlie Rose about their son’s early school experience. Mr. Miranda mentioned that he was sent to a school for gifted children. At first he felt intimidated by the school and the intelligence of his fellow class mates. Mr. Miranda then mentioned that once he found “his lane,” or calling at the school, Music, he felt totally comfortable with the institution and his career path.

Hamilton, based on the life of former U.S. treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, is the hottest play on Broadway. On Sunday night it earned 11 Tony awards, the second best performance ever for a new play. Mr. Miranda created a brilliant hip-hop musical to tell this story. Some critics are calling Hamilton a trans-formative play that will have lasting effects on the future of Broadway.

Lin-Manuel Miranda was very fortunate to find his “lane” as he described it. Not everyone does. It is interesting that by finding his lane, Mr. Miranda was able to reach extraordinary heights in his career. Here are some thoughts on the key steps in finding a successful career lane.

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I grew up in the Muhammad Ali era. Back in the 60's and 70's, heavyweight boxing was a major sport. The Championship fights between Ali and Frazier and Ali and Foreman ranked right up there with the Super Bowl. I have great memories of Don Dunphy and Howard Cosell calling the top boxing matches on radio and television. I had the privilege of seeing many of Muhammad Ali’s fights on television and watching many of his interviews.

There is much to learn from his life. Muhammad Ali was a very gifted boxer, perhaps the greatest of all time. He had a unique blend of size, speed and power. At six feet three inches, two hundred and ten pounds, he was a formidable presence in and out of the ring. But Ali’s success came from far more than his boxing skills. It should be noted that he was not a great student and never learned to read well.

However, he was a very intelligent fellow who possessed a quick wit. His success can be attributed to a number of key factors.

He had a set of principles and beliefs that guided his life

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These are tough times. In a recent issue (February 22, 2016) of the Journal of Commerce, the headline was “Is the US in a Freight Recession?” If a freight recession is defined as two or more consecutive quarters of year/year declines in freight volumes, parts of the US and Canadian transportation economy are certainly there. While we aren’t back into the Great Recession of 2007-2008, there has been a pronounced slowdown in business activity. Trucking industry executives confide that business volumes have tapered off.

This is when leaders are put to the test. Here are some thoughts on how to lead an organization through tough times.

1. Be Visible and Communicative

Don’t hide in your office all day in closed door meetings.  This is sure to unnerve your employees. Be visible and try to maintain a “business as usual” demeanor. Employees pick up on every change in behavior by its leadership team.

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Two developments over the past five years have reshaped the Canadian Freight Industry. The Great Recession in the late 2000s caused many Canadian trucking companies to shrink in size or leave the freight industry. During the past couple of years, there has been considerable consolidation in the small parcel, domestic LTL over the road and Intermodal segments of the Canadian freight industry. Shippers looking for a national courier or LTL carrier now see many familiar brands in the hands of a small group of companies.

Shippers worrying about whether there will full and fair competition in the Canadian freight industry in the years ahead can take solace from what is happening south of the border. Our American friends experienced the same economic downturn in 2007. Some experts believe that as much as fifteen percent of the freight capacity in the United States left the market during the Great Recession.

The good news is that as this capacity left the market, several emerging trends suggest that new strategies and business models are providing increased competition in the LTL sector.

Build a Carrier Partnership Network

Some significant carrier partnerships and alliances have been formed to provide more competition on the national and regional level. In an effort to compete with the national LTL players (e.g. YRCW, FedEx Freight, Old Dominion etc.), The Reliance Network was formed. It brings together:

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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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