[PODCAST] AI and Mindfulness in Business Strategy

ai podcast Oct 10, 2018

About this Discussion:

Raj Daniels has made a name in the Dallas area through his consulting background, start-up ventures, and an extremely unique approach to networking.

After leaving his previous start-up, he has now ventured into working in the AI space from a strategic perspective and focusing how enterprise will adapt and adopt AI as part of their future business strategy.

In this episode of Innovation Calling we discussed AI and the impact it’s going to have across various industries, in addition to it’s impact on how we do every day business. We also switched over to mindfulness, and how a once over looked practice in corporations should be a centralized approach to move innovation forward.

You can find Raj’s book, ‘For You, From Me’ over on Amazon here —> For You, From Me, and connect with him at RajDaniels.com


Complete Transcript:

 Erin and Syya:  Welcome to Innovation calling the podcast where we connect the creators for the next big thing where your host Erin Smith and Syya Yasotornat.

All right, welcome to another episode of Innovation Calling.  I'm Erin  Smith and I'm Syya Yasotornat and today we have a very special guest if you are in the Dallas area and you're in the tech, world the startup world....

You know, even if you're in the Dallas area at all, you probably know our today's guest he is a networking extraordinaire has been Consulting for over 20 years and probably one of just the greatest people you'll ever meet and it's Raj Daniels Raj and I met several years ago. We had the same love for Rottweilers.

That's how I met him. I was running networking events here in Dallas. And at the time I think, Raj, at the time you were involved with Open Time, your business your company. Otherwise, it was just directly thereafter and..

Raj: Actually, yeah, I when I was launching Open Time back in 2014 when I first reached out to you.

Erin and Syya:  Okay. So yeah, it's been almost can't believe it's been four years. So you just have a very you-you're probably one of the best networkers I know because you're just genuinely interested in people. And there's so much today to talk about because I know you've now you're no longer with Open Time and you are really working a lot in the AI space which obviously.

The Innovation side is of interest to us. So do we want to start there with AI and tell us a little bit about what you're working on what you're getting involved, and what's attracted you so much to AI.

Raj:  So thank you again for having me on I'll tell you how it started when we were doing Open Time.  We had an AI component on the roadmap. And after I left that little nugget of the idea did not go away and so I spent essentially last eight months to almost a year now just researching and studying AI. And familiar with the technology side of it. I'm not the developer. The... my questions are you know, how is AI going to affect Enterprise small to medium-sized businesses and how is it going to affect  society as the whole so I look at it from both a professional and a personal standpoint. I have three young daughters that are 10 and younger and so I want to make sure that I can at least if not influence and pulling that them as far as what AI is going to do in the future and when I'm talking to business specifically small and medium-sized, you know the conversations around I think PWC said that if a business have not is not implementing some people say I by 2020 or 2022 as part of their business plan or overall strategy, then they're going to fall way behind their competitors. So I'm  having these conversations with different business people regarding what is the AI strategy in their Enterprise and if they don't have how do they can enroll in doubt?

Erin and Syya:  Okay, can we can we back up for a minute because I want to talk about AI because it can just mean so many things. So if I'm a small business if I'm a business and you're telling me I need an AI strategy, what does that mean exactly? Because you know, I've seen it work in so many different ways from customer service to sales to, you know, various ways.

So can you explain a little bit about that as you're talking to companies? You can just be like we need AI like what's the deal?

Raj:  So so so absolutely really good question because as you know, being a small business owner, you know, you're already a fire fighter source, and you're putting out the daily problem.

So one other thing that comes on your plate now is AI, and you okay Raj, what are you talking about? Let's just kind of shelve the word AI right now and let's just look at your business and you as a donor are collecting data. So one of the first steps in implementing any kind of AI, is making sure that you have good reliable data.

And so what I tell them is, you know, you're already taking names and addresses of a client taking an email address, you know, perhaps even incorporate other data, but this data that you're in creates some kind of standard operating procedure around it. So you and your employees are entering the same way.

For example, I'll give so I met a gentleman last week he works with Dell. His name is William and you know people classify them as Will William or Bill. Now depending on the CRM system, you're using, you could classify in three different ways. And if you don't have a standard operating procedure, when you do need to use that data in order to implement something with AI you have to go back and you know..  So it's called either technical debt or organizational debt if go back and reconfigure the data that you've already collected.

So out of the gate..  Especially if you're a small to medium-sized business, you still have the opportunity where you haven't created too many bad habits yet around your data. And so let's just start from the data protection for this are operating procedure. We have a new customer come in. We're going to classify them.

First name, last name, email address, telephone number and this is how it's going to be across the company. So that would perhaps be the first conversation with a small business or medium-sized business regarding data eventually leading to an AI planning the future.

Erin and Syya: So you're thinking so many people to you're defining it for SMB sounds like to me is more of creating better habits to organize raw data.

Raj:  Absolutely and out of the gate habit, you know again as a small to medium-sized business you're taking care of, you know, your daily ups and down. If you can Implement good habit out of the gate then when it does come time to implement, let's say an AI-driven POS or AI-driven CRM or even an AI-driven marketing tool all your data is already clean and clear and usable and you don't need to go back in and hire new people to go in and do this for you.

Erin and Syya:  You know that doesn't look a fascinating thing to think about. So if I am going to be starting a business or I'm already in a.. I have my business established, I'm gonna go with some example here. Maybe I'm thinking small in my head right now, but let's say I do audio-visual installations in the house.

And it started out with AV, right people like want to do media centers. Well, media centers are now all ip-based and there's a huge component of security if I've been trekking along and doing house implementation after house implementation. What you're saying is I've got some point when we look at the demographics of my customers. I may want to look at the areas of coverage.

I am what kind of technologies are getting Leverage. As a small business, you don't think about the aggregate of all your work and the aggregate information of all your customers. This is what you'll see is AI will help do all that heavy lifting. You're already doing your core work. We just do audio-visual for home media entertainment Etc.

But now you're saying by taking collecting this data leveraging what of a program or application out there to better increase your business. Small companies have to think of this play. Is that right? Am I? I'm trying I'm so sorry.

Raj:  Yeah, so so that's the kind of along those lines. Let's take your AV example.

Okay, you've got a small AV company and you've been doing installations for the last five years. You've already got customer data for the last five years. Now, how have you been keeping track of that customer data? How are you even marketing to those customers? Do you even have a CRM? I noticed that so many small businesses haven't even started implementing a CRM because they think it's too complicated.

Everyone knows about Salesforce. How do we start with initially getting the customer data that you already have and then after a time period if you had enough records, then you can perhaps run some kind of analytics or Intelligence on it too perhaps forecast for you. You know what you've had 5,000 customers in this particular geographic area.

What are the geographical area looks like them and you mentioned demographics in the United States, come you can have gender. You can have a house. You can have all the different kinds of data, but it starts out of the gate with being able to collect that bait and organize it in a specific way.

It's almost like when you could do your taxes, for example, if you hang your CPA a box full of documents, and he or she has to do the additional work to go through and file everything and take part everything and cleaned up a few bills you much more than you could have been using, you know, a QuickBooks or Quicken and you actually stayed on top of it on a monthly basis and hand it over to them.

It's much cheaper for you. It's very similar to that. You can start taking care of your data and looking at your data as an asset. Out of the gate, you will save a lot more money in the future when you go to actually use the data to make some Intelligent Decisions for you.

Erin and Syya: So AI is a more of a processing tool a process tool for businesses.

Raj:  So I hope you know AI writing that is there are two kinds I just did what they called general and this called specific. In almost every use case right now. It's very specific and some of the industries are leading. So you're seeing used very heavily in marketing using in healthcare you think of the manufacturing and you see syntax and it's a very specific use cases where they can perhaps do forecasting recommending or analysis on a very specific tool.

And so if you're in retail, for example, that there you go five years down the road and you've grown a significant amount of stores that are you have a 15 store outlet. Particular customer data now you can use that tool to announce on that particular customer data to perhaps it will help you with the supply chain for your inventory will perhaps help you with, you know marketing to a particular demographic.

So it's very very specific right now what it can do it's going to be that way for a long time before it goes anywhere close to becoming within general or what they're told what they're calling like sentient AI or you know thinking to be.

Erin and Syya:  So, yeah, and I think connected to that point. Can we talk about you touched on it? But go a little bit deeper why this is so important. I think it's one of those things and kind of it's it's going to be available, readily available, a lot as we get in the next few years. And why what this can really do not just predictability and marketing and being able to sell more but other areas that AI is really going to have huge implications in.

Raj:  Oh, there's a couple right now. So let's talk about the elephant in the room the you know, you're hearing terms like, we're going to evaporate jobs or going to repurpose, we're going to repurpose individuals, you know, and be able to move these people to a higher level of productivity or perhaps creative thinking. That the the the elephant in the room right now is the fact that some people are afraid of AI and you know, it's because you read the headline, you know, AI beats word go Champion, AI beats both Jeopardy champion. You know, you know AI is beating people removing people and I think the conversation has to shift a little just a little slightly and what I need that the first step in the AI process is going to become an assistant standpoint. So you can think perhaps of a  chatbot helping customers. Okay, so you go to chat about that augmenting some of the work you're doing right now. When it after the assistant is going to move to a peer level to where I think the last year before they found that a human paired with an AI actually could beat the world, you know leading computer in chess.

So that's your augmenting what you're doing and then eventually. We're talking, you know years down the road is moving into class management or you know, from a much higher level in the company. But let's rewind all the way back when you're talking about AI coming in replacing job, there's an inherent fear people have so you know, what do you call the low skilled employees, whether you call them they're doing repetitive tasks in the organization.

People have this fear of what is AI going to do and you also have the human component of the IT manager or the VP in IT saying okay. I'm going to bring AI into my company, how can I message it correctly where I don't start developing a fear in my employees or in my coworker where they start pushing back. Because we often forget that, you know to every one of these titled calling IT manager or VP, there's a human being there now he or she is got some experience and some you know time in this company in the developing.

And if the CEO said hey, we need to start exploring AI he or she's going to have this fear about even my friends people I work with is this what I want to do and so a lot of times and Erin you and I both talked about this before in Consulting is that you know, this is change management concept that people are either going to get on board or they're going to resist they're going to resist and they're going to resist very strongly. I was giving the example a few days ago in a company was providing other people's projects because they were afraid that they were going to lose their job. And so once you start, you know, putting human behavior, natural human behavior, instinctive Behavior, survival Behavior, you can start actually jeopardizing some of your project.

So that's the that's the fear around what you're seeing within some this organization on AI taking away jobs.

Erin and Syya: Well, what about to like the whole I think the fear also is that conversation about remember Facebook like they started talking to each other the chat Bots and then created their own language and they had to shut it off.

I think a lot of people get freaked out about the robots are going to take over the world

Raj: And the gentleman named Martin talk s about that a little bit and that goes back to the into your point, it's a black box. So if AI essentially allowing the machine to make a decision without any human intervention and that's where the problem happens.

So Facebook us on Facebook had the issue. Microsoft had the issue with their assistant. I don't remember it was either earlier this year or late last year where they launched it and very very quickly people are able to game it where it started developing like racial slurs. So you're going to see these issues start happening and that's the problem with black box and you have this data and people start manipulating it especially from the outside you start seeing more and more results like this.

So, You know, I heard a great term the other day where they say a company should start what they call Lighthouse. Lighthouse project essentially the put a small project small team and they can try and one particular area before releasing it out, and if they're able to succeed in one particular area, then the company can look to them as at Lighthouse and see how they develop this project.

What were the learnings from that and how we how can we release it in a safer method but to your point, I mean even right now we're getting to the point where you know, we're getting very close to the midterm elections and already conversations around, you know how much of these midterms are being manipulated already. Def con and I think 25 was about a month ago.

And I know some people that were had people on the ground over there and said that you know, they're already able to hack some of the rotor boxes and you think influence from outside the world. So I think there's still a lot of people a lot of conversation with those very very early on in this conversation.

But to your point is definitely a fear. If we allow the machine to make a decision about human being involved, what is the machine going to do and I think some of that goes back to the data again is that you know, what kind of data have we collected and what kind of bias have we put into the data that's going to allow the machine to make either safe or unsafe decisions.

Erin and Syya:  No, I was gonna say well and sometimes it's so hard because even like on the medical side if you want to be uncomfortable with a robot making the decision of medically what they should do, but otherwise, you're leaving it in the hands of one person. Who is it? I mean, I don't know what I feel better about... Marketing on the death of great medical. I'm not sure ma'am,

Raj:  But that's a great point because the research around that very interesting. So they've shown that if you can show a Dermatology scan or a radiology show an x-ray to you know, five different radiologist does come back with five different opinions regarding, you know, what they see.  And it also depends on the time of day you show it to them if a certain person the morning differently later in the day, they're hungry later in the day they're Tired. Whereas in AI,  you know has the big didn't get hungry to get tired and has the same view all the time. So the first step and this to the particular area specifically in health care that they're looking at right now, one is Radiology the other pathology. And so because these people looking at the same test over again, there's current augment with AI and they've actually found a couple of occasions, I think Google had one last year where their AI was able to look and identify a skin cancer lesion better than a leading dermatologist. And in Radiology specifically they found that AI they seem a little bit more accurate than a human being. But to your point the human being insures, or gives that level of comfort to us as people that you know what this is not just a robot making decision about me and my health is also a person involved somewhere.

Erin and Syya: It kind of pulls back to,  at least for this particular example is all those TV drama shows on the you know, the those Hospital shows House, for example, right. Where he since found an obscure disease or something that no one thought about I can see where AI would have that benefit of saying Hey there, you know a patient is indicating all these different, you know, Symptoms these are the considerations. I can see where that actually makes Health Care.

Actually, I can potentially improve it especially for unusual, please. Yeah. Absolutely. I guess, you know, you know you touch on that and from an Enterprise perspective, we're looking at automation. We're looking at creating operational efficiency, you know making you know, streamlining the way we do business Etc.

And then you're kind of moving into the personal side of you know, how our culture s going to be affected by this. And I think you know, I always say it, you know, our worst fear is potentially building a robot type AI being.  You know, I make fun of Boston Dynamics all the time because they're creating these things these robots that you know, once not only are you got the creating an intelligent and their computers right in their system their head if you will. Now they're coming in too much more human form factor.

Right, I think right now for me AI conceptually for a business perspective. I can see the applications of it, but that I don't know if our societies fully ready to embrace AI the way I think you know outside of the Hollywood manifestation of what they think AI is. You know, I think of Westworld I love that TV show but you know I are we really ready for that?

Do we have the ability as humans, too? Embrace being, you know, like a robot or something like that. I guess I think we have to overcome that. So, can you help me understand where you feel where we can from a personal perspective look at AI as being something that can help our lives.

Raj:  So let's touch on what you said first. I think you know Hollywood is done. And I'm not going to say good or bad, done a job of perhaps painting a somewhat dystopian future of what AI going to look like in the future. I had this email exchanges and researcher at Gardner, and he was in a podcast and they kind of said what he had to say, you know, one of the best movie I like about AI and my kids and I watch it is Big Hero Six. And if you have seen it or not but it has an AI component that actually the job of the AI component is the well-being of the human being. And so that painted a much better picture of potentially wouldn't you know what AI would look like in the future. Just to your question, I think we're a long way from that particular dystopian robot future. In my.. One of the questions I have around that is you know.

If we come every culture and country has its own particular set of set of Ethics. If we go back to winning jeans, you know, we said we're not going to do it here in the US that doesn't mean that other countries around the world feel the same way that we do and aren't doing more in that area. So if we that would AI and if they update has a beautiful dog that is jumping, which is kind of cool.

This particular purpose, but we're not going to go any further than that. What's to say that some of the countries that has mal-intent around the world doesn't build, you know a Terminator which is you know, perhaps thinking I was a greater capability to do harm. I mean we can't control it. It's a really hard conversation to have and I think a lot of times it comes down to certain morals and ethics value that each country and each culture has around it because just because we say one of them do it doesn't mean another country, they're not going to do it. So I definitely think that that is a challenge going forward. Again, I wouldn't say in the next maybe five-seven years.  You know, China is actually leaps and bounds leading some of this, you know AI development, but I will say that every country is going to have to send you that we have so I would say that the fear is unjustified.

I would say that we definitely need to keep an eye on what other people are doing also.

Erin and Syya: So that's the perfect segway, so we have to be mindful of our other countries, cultures their viewpoints. So I mean, let's talk about that then so if we're looking at a shift in respective cultures to be mindful of AI how our living our lives and our moral compass if you will.  May I how's this going to affect the way we apply and within business mindfulness and business in general, I guess so kind of tweaking it a little bit help me understand that because I think.. If we are going to look at the way businesses are currently rented a, it is somewhat robotic. It is somewhat heartless. There isn't so much the human factor as much as I think some people would like or some feel should be less. I mean, what do you think of that?

Raj:  So I think that a lot of the business environment s that we've come through to today has been developed under fear and I think fear drives certain behaviors.  You know, they've been moved in mindfulness and empathy in the last year, which is wonderful. And I would actually, you know credit Millennials with some of this because I believe that they are really asking good questions now. In fact, last year on the podcast and the host asked me what am I most excited about. And I said I'm very excited about Millennials because I see this shift in society wherein the Millennials are seeing their parents and the grandparents dedicate perhaps 20 or 30 years of their life towards you know to a company and the company not returning for not showing the same loyalty back to them. And so I think that some of these organizations are beginning to realize as this older Workforce retires and moves on. And if they want to hire and retain this Millennial workforce and even behind the Millennium, they're going to have to change their ways and whether it empathy whether it's mindfulness, you know, what whether it's flexible working hours.

They're they're going to have to readjust I think that if the fear that's been embedded in the I think, I was reading stats just a few days ago about how other countries view the American Workforce the amount of power that our workers the lack of vacation time, friend of mine the other day shared with me that you know being a large company couldn't take paternity leave, even though he had a you know, a brand new baby at home because he was afraid up, you know, leaving your people think about him. I think you know that that operation of fear, and you can't get people don't thrive under the fear. People don't grow under fear. You know, they even show study where brains actually shrink and become stagnant under fear. You know kind of tied into innovation.

Did the conversation about Innovation within companies, but if you're tied between the pillar of you know, P&L and CYA, you know, you really can't think of new ideas because if you're trying to answer to a budget you're trying to save your job, how do you become Innovative? How do you create? How do you how do you bring new ideas to the table if you're always scared of what your peers are going to say or what your boss is going to say. So I think that all tied into this new mindfulness movement that's actually taking place in the American Workforce right now. So how do you work with companies to become more mindful? Who is it? Was it you want?

Erin and Syya:  We were talking last week.. Somebody was talking last week where we talked about like we're companies actually stifle Innovation because if you kind of do your job and work your thing, you're going to be good. Well in theory. But let's say you bring a new idea to the table and the idea doesn't work, your butt could be on the line, right? So why would you bring that my table? So how do companies, how do you change that? Because I feel like. You're right. So many people you just you live in fear that you're going to lose your job, or if you say this, it's going to be wrong. Or I was in the habit where I'd save all my e-mails so I remember, like if somebody would say this happened, I'm like, I can pull up the email and I can show you were wrong and I was right. And I was so proud of myself because I did that. So how do we get out of that? Because I just feel it's so ingrained in today's corporate culture.

Raj:  It's a long ongoing process and I think certain companies are going to be that way until leadership changes, goes away. You know, and I want to make sure that we're talking about because this innovation in this iteration, right. Iteration is you have something that you do already you make it slightly better, which is not bad, but it doesn't allow you to make you grow, you know Leaps and bounds. Innovation when it really happens and I think as long as you have not oh not fear. Not only do you not innovator iterate people want to speak up if they see things going wrong. And I think that's when you have the issues like and if we go back to the data perhaps, you know Worldcom or Enron. And if we fast forward to today, I think you know, there are three large Fortune 500 companies that have been caught recently with financial engineering systematically laying off people that are over 40 or 50 years old. And so, you know people know these things are going on within their companies, but they're afraid to speak up. They're afraid to say hey, you know what, this is wrong. We should be doing this because you know, their jobs are on the line and livelihood on the line. They can't speak the truth. It's kind of like if you go to a friend and they have spinach in their teeth, you want to go tell them, hey you've got spinach in your teeth, right? I mean you want to go tell them this but if they're going to they're going to shun you for telling that you're not going to say anything. I feel like a lot of creative environments for people just can't tell the truth about perhaps their product perhaps their Market perhaps what you know executives are doing because it's the fear that's ingrained in the I'm going to lose my job if I say something.

Erin and Syya: That is so true. I can't tell you how many times we walked in and talked to in talk to Executives regarding specific business initiatives and though maybe conceptually at the business level, they can justify it. When the actually execute and apply it again, the team members would be lollygagging if you will or finding excuses or creating roadblocks because there's that perception that they're going to lose their job security. And it's again, I think that is a huge shift in our own cells to figure that out. Do you believe that you mentioned the Millennials... Do you believe that we really can achieve that mindfulness or have that work-life balance that we that we all want. Do you think this is really can truly embrace that?

Raj:  I think the word balance throws people off, you know, and when we think of balance we try to think of I think it gives this image of all things being equal. And I don't think all things are ever equal. I think that you can give people the opportunity to do their best work and some people. Are going to choose to you know be at work more than other people.

And so the people that aren't at work as much as the other people shouldn't get, you know chastise or punished for doing that. Especially if they besides if you know prioritize their family or prioritize their life. I think if you allow people to live congruent with their personal values, I think, Syya, you and I talked about this is that you know, if I if I were going to hire someone I would askquestions likee, you know, tell me from your personal value. But tell me some of the habits that you've been, you know, maintaining the years because it'll give me a better understanding of who you are and you maybe bring a particular skill set to my company is marketing for example.

Your values lie with your family tell me when they had to go with my daughter's soccer game I'm not going to punish you for that. I'm going to understand that. I think I think going back to the word and work-life balance, I think I think I think that would balance has been over- used. I don't think there is such a thing. But I think giving the if you give people the opportunity to live closer to their value, I think you'll attract a lot more.

You know, perhaps a class Talent then if you just tell people to be a certain way, I think one of the things you and I talked about too was, you know, when when you walk into a building and you badge in. Let's say you're an employee at AT&T, this is an example and you badge into an AT&T building, you now get ..Your physiology commands.  And if you have to put on a mask, there's only so long you can maintain this mask.

Now if they allow you to be who you are,  be that parent. Be that father. Be that mother, and to get your job done. I think the less masks you have to wear, the better. You can perform in any area of your life.

Erin and Syya: Yeah, and I'll bet this is a conversation that we could have for years because I'm I always I always use the example so I work for Accenture out of the gate. And I remember this woman. I still remember everything about it. She was a mom right and in truth,, let's be honest the work that I did. It was extremely boring. I was constantly begging for work when it came down to the truth. I probably maybe worked an hour and a half of good quality work. Not because I was lazy because there was nothing to do I begged for work, right?

So the point of that is in essence. It wasn't like she needed to be there 8 to 5, right but we were so programmed. And I remember her leaving at two o'clock three o'clock not once or twice but all the time because you always have to go get the kids and always will have to do something and I guess it becomes like as a 21 or like yeah 21 year old, I was a little bitter.  I'm like, I want kids. I want to go home at 2:00 3:00 o'clock every day, right? Like how come she gets to. And she got could I couldn't go and be like, you know, I have nothing to do today so, can I just go do some yoga or something? Like can I leave because I'm begging you you got nothing for me to do.

Do I have to really sit here till 5:00? Okay. I guess how does that perception change because there's still a part of me that feels like I don't think yes, I have two kids but I don't think it's fair for me to go to my employer and be like, all right. I know I'm supposed to be getting all this stuff done.

But I got Johnny's got a school play Sally's got this, you know, John has this so I got to be gone all the time when I have my counterpart with no kids and no obligation who can't have that that luxury. How do we navigate that? Because I really I'm a mom. I work my butt off and I still don't feel I deserve preferential treatment.

Raj: Yeah, I don't think it's preferential, but it's about where balance comes into play, but I understand what you mean about the hour and a half. I think of study just came out showing that the average employee works between two and a half to four hours a day, but they have to be there for eight hours or then hours or whatever. It might be and I think that some of these corporations are going to have to reconsider. And I mean if we look at these large corporation, they've only been around a hundred years but was not very long at all times. And so, you know, I think we've learned a lot where we've come and I think maybe going forward, you know, the same corporations already cut back to perhaps, you know full day work week. Well, you know three and a half day or four and a half day work week. Or Flex work, but I think the point about you know, having children, not having children. I think that is an important recognition because there are going to be some people that children either not to have children and don't have children and say, you know, well, I'm here all the time and that is going to be an ongoing conversation regardless.

But I think that allowing people, you know, as long as you are performing and doing your work, the idea of having to.. With the idea of having to show up. I mean, you know, you and I are fortunate in the sense that we haven't had to drive the freeways for a long time during rush hour. You know, we see these cars and I drive an SUV what eight seats in it, you know, you'd rather I see we have an empty seat and we're looking at what are we doing?

Like who thought this was a really good idea right to all be commuting at  the same time of day going to one building. We could be doing so much from this at home. In fact, I just heard yesterday. I think it's Virginia DC that is now instituting an additional congestion tax where it's going to cost you an additional going to cost you the individual individual an additional $40 just to get to work because you sat in congestion.

Wow, so I think a lot of these large companies are going to have to reconsider their entire business model and have to focus more on just delivering work and getting work done and not necessarily who is coming into the office.

Erin and Syya: So if but okay so there was a big shift, especially in 2000 as a bubble was bursting to you know, telecommute work from home huge shift to save on that brick and mortar having to maintain air conditioning and all that stuff. I'm noticing, you know, even my time. With HP, the shift was to move back into the office for the purpose of collaboration that we were becoming a little too isolated telecommuting. Could you argue that we had to we've had a good ten twenty years experimenting with that concept of telecommuting and for whatever reason, we're shifting back.

That's kind of what I meant. Are you arguing that that can be done still,

Raj: You know, I I guess I'm saying that it's going to be on a case-by-case basis new study that came out last week that said that these office, these open Office floor plans have been failing miserably. People are getting a lot less work done because they keep getting interrupted.

So, you know, the last 10 years has been the move to everyone sit out in the open and do your work cubicle to cubicle, but they found that productivity has dropped significantly. Now, I think depending on the job you're doing specifically, for example, you can come up with okay, you need to stand up with your team every day.

And that's the end of could be in person or could be on the phone depending again if you've got a distributed team or team in the off. There are certain things need to get done within face-to-face environment. I think you know what we need to play in participate in that. But I think just holding to a one-size-fits-all, I think I think that the best bad news. In fact, I heard I'm going to say the name of the company. This is a really large insurance company recently opened up an office here in Dallas. And one of the real state representative told me that you know this company every week their employees come to work, the employees have to move desks. That it's a rotating desk system and she said the employees a miserable they hate doing it because they can't ever say in one place and feel like they're at home more comfortable.

Erin and Syya:  You know, I think again, that's a human I think psychologically speaking we have our you know, when you go to school when you went to school did we all not sit at the exact same desk day in day out, even though we would go maybe one day a week or three times a week everyone eventually over the course of the semester or school year.

What always said that exact same task so the idea of an office, you know evolving where no one has any permanent seating. I think that has some semblance of transients like we don't belong or we don't feel connected. I see where that mentality is will do I really belong in this company then is the thing, I'm producing going to be a value to anybody.

Raj:  You know and again we get back to the point of the point of physiology. I think sometimes we forget how much our physiology determine our emotions and our well-being. They and if you're making people feel physiologically like their unwanted or if they uncertain they will behave in the same way.  Their emotions will be driven in that direction based on the physiology.

Erin and Syya:  Yeah, I would agree so wrapping into what you help a lot of people do like on the Consulting side, how do you navigate this as you go into companies and help them from the AI perspective, from the mindfulness perspective from really turning around their companies to be Innovative and to stand, you know amongst the crowd. I think now is a really great opportunity for companies to there's a lot of change coming to a lot of change, and you better grab on and embrace this, or you're going to be left in the dust.

How as a consultant do you navigate that and help companies?

Raj:  So I met with a VP  of a technology company last week and you know, he used this word with me about, you know, reallocating resources. And it kind of vetoed the time outside and I said look, I've seen that your material because his challenges that look we're kind of going to come to see we're trying to open a present are offering but we're getting a lot of pushback.

Because you know we're bringing in what they call  RPA which is Robotic Process Automation,  which is similar. It's got an AI component to it. And we're trying to remove some of their service level individuals to other jobs in the company. And I said to him look, you know, I can tell you from a highly technical standpoint you made a phenomenal product. But going  back to early in this  conversation, you know when you're talking to the IT manager and you're using words like repurpose individual within the company.  I think, you know, you're leading with the wrong foot, in my opinion. You know again, there are you know me I'll I lead from an empathetic standpoint and from a value that I feel like sometimes when companies are trying to make these changes. They're looking at just you know hard cost s, hard skills, or you know crossing T's and dotting I's. Not forgetting sometimes that there are individual human beings attached to each one of these conversations. They're having to be talking about jobs, you know, it's not jobs that people if you're talking about real estate it's the people. If you're talking about the autonomous vehicle, it's not autonomous vehicles, its the people. Ultimately common denominators are  always people. So I always tend to lean towards the empathetic side of things and kind of start with people and you know, how are you talking to the people what the messaging like to  the people. And again recently I listen to another podcast, ah the Gartner Podcast, and they had a gentleman on his name is Seth, I believe and they talking about digital transformation leadership. And he's going to be speaking at their keynote, and they said what's the key to all this. And it's going to sound really like he said love. He said love is the bottom line is the key to all this and I know it sounds really Airy fairy and touchy and you know, what are you talking about?

I don't to touch that. But I try to emphasize to any company. I need to write a very individual within the companies, they' re just trying to make some kind of change that if you don't convey this with authenticity with empathy without realizing the people at the end of this, you know, what this one particular initiative might succeed. But from the entire company perspective, it's only going to be cut is it only a matter of time before this entire thing falls apart. And I think we're seeing there sometime, something that right now and some of the companies that we won't look upon like from the Good to Great  perspective are showing cracks and issues right now because it had this command and control mentality.

A lot of what I talk to people about is about the people and how to talk to people and engage the people at the ground level. How to convey the messages and then work their way back up. Not saying they should shove your initiative to try to get as many people involved drawing board first. And then present your initiative. And there's  always going to be attrition to those can be someone that doesn't like what you're going to do that just matter of life. And me and my wife anything that you know, either one feel like to do not just medical issues and human beings, but I always say, you know to start with the people.

Erin and Syya:  So I think you hit something that I don't I didn't think about before its authenticity. You know, the the fact that a lot of companies are having to evolve now. They all are having to address the fact that you know, our culture is shifting in a lot of different ways. It is much faster time to do business and the expectation to execute has narrowed in the last I'd say 20 years easily 30 years, and it's natural. But  I guess my question then is are we arguing then guys to say that if a company is mindful if there is a segment of empathy as  a deliver on a particular plan that they need to execute in essence those that leave companies for whatever reason if this is what you're arguing is. Don't you think at some point people who don't stick around with businesses as they try to evolve potentially could be missing out on missing the boat somewhere? Meaning attrition is natural and I get it. But there's a certain segment of the population. That's always going to be jumping off the boat if you will and not want to change.

Raj:  Absolutely, and I think you know these days isn't had about teaching  your old dog new tricks. People say, you know, depending on how far along you are in your career. There is the thing about it's always been done. It's always been like this. I've been done like this and you know, if you study history you look at any great Imperial Dynasty or any great country.

Real tangible example that I had a conversation recently with a friend of mine. He does what they call contact center Consulting. He works with companies that have 1000 1000 to 5000 seats and they do call centers eventually call contact centers now. So he said, you know, I do Call Center consulting,

and I said, you know at one point is an example of the Zappos employee who kept a customer on the phone for seven hour s. And he wasn't aware of his story and he said, you know Zappos was sold to Amazon, and they did so well.  I said they were known for being empathetic in the  industry.

That most call center the contact center say hey how quickly can you get you off the phone. How quickly can get a problem solved. You know, how can we move on people number going and I think there's going to be the shift between the company that you've been with the old way and the new way. And it you see it now, you know, perhaps the chat bots and you take it with you when you call your cable company you're seeing that the ones that you like to interact with you don't mind calling. But I will call Go Daddy. You don't have to rush to get off the phone when you  have a problem. Whereas if you do call your cable company the messages to help me 24/7, but they don't help you. So I think the companies that are going to really make the shift going forward and how they treat people and how they treat their employees for their employees and treat their people customers better.

I think we're seeing a significant shift and I think getting those the new company that is going to be the good to great and not the ones that have been around for the last 50 years.

Erin and Syya:  It's interesting. So I think it's a good place to wrap it up because I think a lot of people are a lot of companies need this. A lot of companies need to look at it differently versus getting stuck in the in the black and white but really find the gray area where they can work and they can Thrive.

So if somebody wanted to let's talk first about getting a hold of you and then I also want to bring up that you are an author and...  So tell us about your website and then tell us about your book because not just the title of it and where they can buy it. Can you give just a little brief history of your book and how it came to be

Raj:  sure so you can find me at RajDaniesl.com I think I'm one of the lucky people that have their own unique name, or you can put in Raj Daniels in Google and you'll see my contacts and things are done here in Dallas. The book is a very crazy story. The book actually came to fruition. I started in 2015 December. A  Client that I was speaking to and giving them business advice along as well as some life advice ask me if I'd ever considered blogging or sharing my advice and I said I haven't but you know, maybe if I  had time. He said you know I really think you should, and I heard it back to back in December of 2015 a couple of times.

People are asking why aren't you sharing? What are you scared of what's to fear? And so I made a commitment to myself in January 2016 to start writing some of my thoughts and ideas to think that I was sharing. But I needed a muse or an audience don't want to speak to in order to write the messages.

And so I've chose my daughter s, I have three young daughters that I mentioned.  And so I started writing what I call my messages to them that you know just life advice. I think that perhaps they may not want to ask me in the future. I don't know where I'm going to be in the future. If  I'm not around they can look back and see some of my thinking of the blog messages to them.

And so I  titled it in For You, From Me and I started blogging. By August 2016, I had over 22 thousand words written and then at a small audience. And the audience started asking have you considered creating a publishing a book with some of your blog posts, we really we like what you're writing. And so I said no I had n't but again, thank you very much for the idea. And then last year after Open Time, I said, you know what I'm going to do this book idea. And so I took a segment of my blog post the one that were the most popular and resonate and then created this book last December publish ed, self- publish ed the book. And what's been interesting this year is that I've actually been come to ask to speak a different organization and have brought copies of my book.

So it's kind of created on the life of its own but it all started from you know, people asking me to share what I've been kind of sharing with them already, and then these messages to my daughters.  So the book is, you know, attributed to my daughter s that I feel like I've been on this mindful journey since about 2000, 2001. And after I had my daughter in 2008, it just really  amplify the kind of person that I want to be. And the Legacy I want to leave with them. And so that all encompasses what I've done the book.

Erin and Syya:  All right, of course, we put it in our notes page on our site at InnovationCalling.com.  Where if somebody wanted to find the book where can they get it?

Raj: At Amazon, put in Raj Daniel or just type in To You, From Me. And if you're in Dallas, give me a ring show, you know, send me an email have coffee. I love having coffee with strangers and I'll bring you a copy of the book.

Erin and Syya:  You' re going to  buy a lot of coffee, sir. I just hope you got a budget for it.

Raj:  I'm good. I'm,  I love meeting people especially here locally. And you know, we say we have a big playground in Dallas, but I think it's really small and Erin and mentioned the beginning about you know, getting to know people and networking here. I don't have a very strong online presence. I'm not big on social media, but I try to meet or interact with at least three new people a week.

I'm agnostic the vertical I'm agnostic to what they do. I kind of sit down and meet  more people in can understand and learn that, you know, ultimately we conducted we all country want the same things in life.

I love it, Raj thank you.

Raj:  Thank you so much Erin. See I really appreciate you guys know. I really appreciate your time.

Erin and Syya:  Thank you for because I've been bouncing other ideas off of you and you. You're so helpful to help me. Remember that there is a human component and and it's really all about, you know, a lot about values of the individual what they can do to contribute to a corporation or a business and an effectively because of this if a business can achieve that level of empathy that will truly Foster and promote that level of creativity.  The idea around Innovation. They want to be part of the team and the business objectives. I think Raj you're kind of nailing on the head that we don't talk about enough. Yeah, we can talk about so-and-so invented a new way of doing business etcetera. But what you're proposing is is it's a Grassroots from the human holistic perspective.

And I think I've had such a huge message that we have to think about, you know, as we evolved, you know with embracing new technologies new ways of doing business. So thank you very much for reminding us that there's a human element to all of this. And if it wasn't for she ready for lunch if it's up, you know for the for the human element we are going to you know evolve.

It's absolutely great. Thank you very much. Appreciate. Thank you. Okay, great. Thank you. Bye. Bye.

About Raj:

Raj Daniels is a well-known Dallas business evangelist, community builder and Strategy consultant. In his immediate past role, he served as CEO of the OpenTime SaaS platform. He is the author of “For You, From Me” describing his philosophy for being mindful and connecting with others.

Raj is an experienced business consultant and for over 20 years has been involved in business ventures across several verticals as a consultant, owner, investor and advisor. Raj has a personal passion for strategy and vision building that has allowed him to lead successful strategic initiatives for both profit and non-profit organizations. Raj is also an evangelist of the Dallas startup ecosystem and community builder. He is firm believer in contributing back to society and gives back by mentoring MBA students and entrepreneurs. He has also served on the board of for profit and non-profit organizations. Education, BA in Liberal Arts from UNT with a concentration in Business and International Studies and an MBA in Global Leadership. Raj lives in Lewisville TX with his wife and 3 daughters with whom he is head over heels in love with.

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