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By Michael McKinney, CTB   This week, I was notified that AM Transport received a longevity award from the TIA (Transportation Intermediaries Association) for 25 years of continuous membership since 1993. I have to admit, it’s pretty cool to be recognized, and it’s hard for me to believe it’s been that long. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun. The recognition comes at a great time. You see, I’m getting ready to attend the 2018 TIA Conference in Palm Desert, California. It’s TIA’s 40th conference, and I’m guesstimating that it’s my 15th or 16th, but to be honest, I’m just not sure how many I’ve attended. Like all great experiences, these conferences have become one long good memory I reflect upon often. Did you know that the TIA Capital Ideas Conference & Exhibition remains the only conference solely for 3PLs? AM Transport has been in the brokerage business for nearly 30 years, and this conference is always one of the highlights of my year because spending time with other brokers rejuvenates my passion for the industry. I could give you lots of reasons for why I attend--I like traveling to new places, meeting new people, and catching up with old industry friends. But there’s so much more to the TIA conference. The energy is palpable when industry leaders mingle, when ideas fly over the dinner table, when newcomers walk into the trade show for the first time!     Let’s talk about the membership. TIA members share ideas. It’s surprising, really, how willing members are to share best practices, tools of the trade, risk issues and their unique take on the industry. It might seem counterintuitive--competitors coming together to help one another. In fact, I’ve heard first-timers express real disbelief at how willing everyone is to share! I always head to the TIA conference with a list of challenges we face, as well as, thoughts I’d like feedback on and questions about industry tools/services. And of course, I like to share too. I’ve learned so much from others in my career, that I’m determined to give back when I can!   Education is another biggie. If you want to learn and grow knowledge, the TIA conference is the venue for you! Industry experts offer educational sessions on a deep and wide range of topics from Sales & Marketing to Technology and Risk Management; from Legal Concerns to Regulations and Capacity Sourcing. Whatever your interests might be, there’s a session for you because the list also includes: Compensation and Personnel, Finance, Change Management, Data Analytics, and so much more.   And let’s not forget the amazing trade show. The TIA trade show is the place to find out what’s new, upcoming, and cutting-edge in the industry. It’s where we go to review and learn about services and tools to boost productivity and efficiency. TMS solutions, visibility and tracking, compliance, insurance, payment solutions, LTL, rail, it’s all there.   I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I like a challenge, and that’s another reason I don’t miss out on the annual TIA conference. Each year, I attend to see and hear what other companies are doing--growth they’re experiencing, new solutions they’ve created, staff development they offer. When you’re hanging with the best in the industry, you can’t help but catch the energy and the desire to do better.  It reminds me of what motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Come to think of it, Goethe’s maxim might be more appropriate, “Tell me with whom you consort and I will tell you who you are.” If it sounds like I’m looking forward to the TIA conference, then I’ve done my job. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t end with the one aspect of the conference that I simply can’t do without. It’s friendship. Over the years, I’ve met some awesome people who turned out to be good friends. This annual conference, is often the only time of the year I see them in person.  Sure, we talk on the phone, but you can’t beat talking in person, catching up on work and life. After all, breaking bread together and relaxing in the company of others who understand is a big part of who we are at TIA.  ...
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A Much-Needed Slap to the Head By Michael McKinney, CTB Often we don’t even know we are sleeping. Let me explain; a few weeks ago, I attended a Small Giants Passport Event in Boston with David Abell. It was a much-needed wake-up call—a metaphorical slap-to-the-head! AMT belongs to a group called Small Giants. Small Giants is a collective of business leaders who heartily believe in making money but “share a passion for values-driven leadership, committing to let purpose and people drive our strategies rather than financials.”[1] Within the Small Giants group, we’ve found other small to mid-size businesses who want to make a difference not only in the lives of their employees, but in the community at large. Passport Events are offerings from Small Giants that bring together 20 values-driven business leaders for intimate conversation and workgroup discussions and in-depth visits to some very successful value-driven businesses. In Boston, we were lucky enough to visit the successful and warm business workplace of Life is Good. I was excited to visit Life is Good as in the McKinney household, we are the proud wearers of Life is Good t-shirts. The highlight of touring Life is Good was the opportunity to hear co-founder Bert Jacobs talk about the company he and his brother John founded in 1994 and to talk to him about what is important to him as a business leader. Theirs is an amazing story about resilience and optimism. In fact, the mission statement of Life is Good is to spread the power of optimism. Bert explains that believing in optimism isn’t an exercise in blindly accepting what is, but rather an empowering belief in open-heartedness and open-mindedness. Being optimistic doesn’t only inspire us to do good, it also feels good. Something I found most interesting about the Life is Good mission is that Bert says that mission—to spread the power of optimism—underlies everything they do in the company. When things have been tough, that mission gives them something to fall back upon. Everything they do must help them spread the power of optimism. What a powerful mission! In support of that mission, Life is Good donates a full 10% of its profits to support children in need due to violence, poverty or illness. The trip to Boston rejuvenated me, and it inspired and continues to inspire me to be more optimistic in my own life. Bert Jacobs gave us an effective method of generating optimism in our daily lives. It’s easy and makes a difference. I’m calling it my new “Get-to Pledge.” Here’s how it works: When my daughter has her fourth ball game in as many days, Instead of saying, “I have to attend another ball game,” with an irritated tone, I say, “I get to see my talented, healthy kid play ball tonight.”  It works across the spectrum—GET TO instead of HAVE TO. Try it a few times, and you will see. And speaking of talented kids—when I arrived home from Boston, I was so excited about the trip that I was discussing it with my daughter Madeline who is a high school freshman and a wonderful artist. We talked about optimism and its power to change lives. Inspired by our conversation, she drew this great picture I will leave you with.   [1] From the Small Giants Website...