Masterclass moment in business networking: Gratitude

I often describe networking as my oxygen. It’s how I breathe, I do it daily and naturally as part of living. It’s not in my DNA, it’s a decades-long learned skill. workthepontAfter dozens of books, hundreds of sessions given and thousands of networking meetings later – it often returns back to one team and one book. Work the Pond. This book has been at the top of my list for a decade. It can be read by anyone, business people, students, anyone who is trying to learn how to connect with people to build relationships. Years ago I reached out to the Shepa team, Judy and Gayle responded and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Sure I promote their book every chance I get and mention it in my many presentations and articles but that’s because it’s the best. I have no expectation of recognition or return from them. Wonderfully, Gayle and Judy keep in touch and have even mentioned me kindly in their weekly networking tip ( which I highly recommend you subscribe to, click here ) – but their gratitude was raised to a new level recently. It was a random afternoon at work, a phone call: ‘you have a package at the front desk’ which I wasn’t expecting. Upon opening I found this: What’s up with Olives you say? See, every once in a while I share with my network in conversation or social media things that fascinate me. Sometimes in frustration I can’t satisfy my curiosity about things like men’s style, pop culture and … the history of olives! For years I searched and have never seen a book or information about the history of this hyper-popular part of food culture. Here’s where the networking learning comes in. Listening, actively will give you insight into how to master gratitude. There are so many people we are grateful to but it is in the unexpected moments where we can surprise, delight and be of value that we make an impression that will last. Gratitude is a hidden business tool too often forgotten.pond2 This is a business lesson, this is a life lesson. It’s why their book is a best seller the world over for more than ten years.  One of SO many lessons this team teaches me.  Am I saying thanks for saying thanks? Yes, but I’m also applauding the teachers for walking their talk. You rock Shepa team! Paul Shepa2011

Cadillac #CTSDrive Klout Perk Review

People know me as a social business enthusiast. So I’ve used the social influence platform Klout to keep track of the digital reach of myself and my network for a few years. Recently they have launched Klout perks, a way to engage users and of course create social influence about products those users love. Speaking of love. Sleep I have always loved the aesthetics of cars, not so much the power but the practical creature comforts and use of a vehicle. Cup holders make or break a car. And the Cadillac CTS is a car I’ve had my eye on for years. Imagine my surprise and delight when one day Klout reaches out offering me the chance to drive the brand new 3rd generation CTS for a weekend. When I share with people the return on time invested in social media I focus on business and career benefits. I try not to share the fun and unique stuff to keep expectations realistic. But I won’t lie, I was excited. I have considered the CTS to be the pinnacle of North American business vehicles. You can keep your refined European lines, when this car arrived I knew aggression could fit into a Hugo Boss suit. It’s name is was CTS. The car showed up at my office ( nice touch Klout team ) and it was a long Friday knowing that this beast was waiting in the bowels of the Bay St. garage waiting for me. I had set up a drive for a few friends in the car after work and to honour that grill that means pure testosterone to me – we hit a steakhouse for some rare meat and then, oggle the car. HapticSeatI’m a family guy with a family car but I never miss the Auto Show in Toronto so I’ve kept up with what’s out there. And this car lives on the cutting edge of technology, power and drivability. Sure there’s horsepower to spare but it was the amazing features that blew me away. The Audi A3 that won ‘world car of the year’ supposedly for it’s tech and has a haptic steering wheel. Big deal, the CTS has a haptic drivers seat! The seat vibrates when there is a car in your blind spot, or when you’re backing out of a spot both which is helpful and could save your life. Same thing goes for lane change warnings, awesome. HUD_CTS2The head’s up display projected into the windshield was connected to the GPS. Sure the Bose sound system was amazing but it was things like the seat cooling system, intelligent tech connection to your phone and automated everything that made the interior more like a cockpit than a car. You’ve heard about the parking assist on many new cars, the CTS actually helps you hunt for a parking spot and then parks for you. I think we parked maybe 25 times, every single person screamed the first time. Even the luxury car owners were freaked out by the technical advance in this feature. That weekend was both Mothers Day and my little boy’s birthday so I have to say a big thanks to Cadillac Canada and Klout for giving me a chance to spoil both of them. But it was me who was spoiled the most. Getting a chance to drive it for a few days showed me the difference in daily driving – my morning drive was transformed. Gone were all the bumpCadillacKlouts and bothers. I’ve been in BMW’s, Mercedes Benz’s and I love Audi’s but this is a stark reminder that the North American car is back.          With a vengeance. My favourite part of the weekend was taking a couple business peers and buddies who owned BMW’s, Audi’s and Mercedes out for a drive. There was some grumbling – ‘I was specifically told Cadillac’s don’t have this, don’t do this’ said one. My own family has owned only North American cars and even my own father admitted he wouldn’t have thought about a Cadillac until he saw how affordable something of this level would be. If you are in the market for a luxury vehicle, you owe it to yourself to just check it out. The tech, the drivability, the usability is incredible. It even survived a trip to Costco.cts3 Thanks again Cadillac Canada and Klout, I know many of the #CTSdrive folks valued the drive too. As a social business enthusiast I LOVED that you threw the hashtag on the back of the car! People asked me about it all over town especially where I work on Bay St.. It gave me the opportunity to actually talk about the difference between social media and digital business. Besides the usual commercials and promotion, I leave you with this great review of the car which I totally agree with. What a weekend.

PocketStyle : It’s not business, it’s just personal

So the time has come to share.PocketBanner Let me clear up front, I’m sharing this with you because you’re part of my network and NOT because I want you to buy something. Frankly, it’s because you dear network that this all started in the first place. It’s no secret, I love pocket squares. But I’m often asked, WHY?! Underlying it all, it comes down to three things:

  1. I’d like to bring back the idea of a civil gentleman
  2. In a suit since 19, I am tired of “the uniform” look
  3. As a networking enthusiast, this is about walking my talk. Being well groomed says you care about details

But there was three barriers to raising my style game:

  1. Working on a nonprofit/fundraising salary means I can’t shop at C-Suite retailers (who I respect and adore; Harry Rosen, Brooks Brothers are the Titans of men’s style and new players like GotStyle and events like the Gentlman’s Expo are rewriting Canadian style for men)  but the average price is $30 and some as high as $150!
  2. Canadians aren’t really into pocket squares, there isn’t a lot of affordable selection in Canada
  3. I didn’t have the confidence

In the past several years Tom and his son at Tom’s Place in Kensington Market have helped me dress better on a budget. They took the time to teach me so much about dressing well. Tom Jr. has even come out to speak at my networking events about dressing for success – I’m eternally grateful to both Toms! I’ve also discovered some retailers who sell cheaper squares so I go on an annual road trip once a year to buy all my work clothes. But – my own network was pushing me to do something entrepreneurial that focused on my personal passion and not my work in philanthropy. pic4I’ve been mentoring and helping several young men in my network to raise their style game for career and confidence. But they too can’t afford the $30, $60 and $100+ price on what is ( let’s be honest here ) a napkin with no table. So as Seth Godin, a personal business hero says. If you care about art that no one else is making, ship it. Not really for profit, but for the sake of making something you’re passionate about a reality. Right at this time having another baby my wonderful wife took some time off (to have said baby ) MADE me a square for our anniversary. After some number crunching I realized we could pick out the designs make them at a cost that would be affordable and cover our costs. I know, many peers of mine have given me a lecture about not making big profit but I’ve been blessed withposter-image-3---5-x-7 one of the coolest jobs in Canada working with people I respect and admire. This is something that is 90% my wife’s and I’m just the conduit for. We’ve been quietly selling them in Toronto thanks to the fine folks at LEN4ALL in the trendy Danforth East area. Stop in any time to browse and pick up other cool locally made stuff! But it’s time for me to share. Especially with Father’s Day coming up! So if you’re interested in knowing more:

For my personal network I’m discounting our usual 2 for $29, 3 for $39 and 5 for $59 price and will meet you in person to drop them off. Feel free to drop me a line. I’ll also be hosting a pop-up shop really soon too! In the end what I really want to do is thank you dear network. gpocketFor constantly pushing me, inspiring me, pulling me towards my dreams.     With great gratitude,                       Paul