I'm turning over the blog this morning to a guest post from Michael Lauzon, our long-time correspondent based in Toronto, who's taking a rare opportunity to write from the heart.
Here's Mike's post:
I attended an industry gala last night, something I only do occasionally, and I was reminded why industry peers gather together to rub shoulders in an era when most business is done expeditiously and through the mechanics of technology.
I saw many familiar faces, and lots of new ones, as we mingled and got up close and personal, a rarity in today's just-in-time business. The Canadian Plastics Industry Association put out the welcome mat, and many responded by showing up, in person, when it would be easy to avoid such a commitment because we are too busy. No one was disappointed, the company was engaging, the energy sparkling.
I had another reason to talk and dine with plastics industry veterans. My wife, Judith Nancekivell, was one of the award recipients, for Lifetime Achievement. This honor lured me from my usual routine of interviewing people from my home and writing articles about them for a publication that, on first blush, can appear to be a rival to the one Judith managed as publisher of Canadian Plastics.
Judith deserved the award, which is given to recognize and laud the long-term guidance of industry leaders who have helped shape our sector. In her 35 years in the plastics industry she accompanied many people through the vicissitudes of recession. technological shift, trade realignments and evolution of business culture. In each phase Judith helped clients meet challenges and spread the word how they in many unique ways were absorbing the changes and growing from them.
She brought a personal touch to her business dealings and people responded to her warmth. She is from the old school of business, where you treat people with respect, look them in the eye and shake hands on a deal that transcends the nuts and bolts of money, time and labor. She touched them and they touched her, usually in the win-win situations she aimed for.
Some people in the business know we are married and wonder how a woman leading Canadian Plastics could get along with a man who worked for Plastics News. On the surface we might appear to be rivals, but we each respected the other's business life and avoided muddying the waters. We erected a semi-permeable membrane that allowed us to communicate the big themes but which kept the numerous daily issues in our own compartments. We kept confidences and only discussed business that was in the public domain or which would not compromise the other's standing in the industry. Now we don't need to size up and agree on how treat each business situation. Judith has retired as publisher of Canadian Plastics and is devoting the next phase of her life to learn and play music, while I continue to scribble away reporting on the industry and its people.
Naturally shy by nature, I learned from Judith how to balance business with the personal. I was never as adroit at it as she was but her example helped me resist working in a shady nook away from curious eyes like writers sometimes are wont to do. She was the yin to my yang.
So, it takes all sorts to populate an industry and grow it. At awards ceremonies and other events like trade shows you can meet and better understand the movers and shakers at a bedrock level. Where else can you spend a few hours with people who dream and people who develop and sell those dreams to people who could use them?
In my case I have had an inside track because I am married to an ambassador of the plastics industry. If you aren't so lucky, plan to attend an event where you can't help but learn and be refreshed by people who in the background float the boat in which we are all passengers.