An intimate conversation about a life dedicated to building healthy minds, bodies, families and businesses
It’s been 13 years since entrepreneurial wunderkind Robert Zed was inducted into Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEO Hall of Fame. At the time, he was chair of Crothall Services Canada—a provider of outsourced management solutions for hospitals and schools throughout North America—and chair of event-production/platinum-concierge-service-provider, The Zed Group.
“I am motivated by the possibility of things that could be, and being able to have a positive impact on those things,” he told us back in 2005. Not much has changed.
Fast-forward to 2018 and Robert Zed—owner and lead of Triangle Strategies—is still involved with strategic healthcare planning and consulting related to clinical, administrative and nursing services. In addition to continuing as a partner in ZedEvents, his other business interests include FANFIT (an online fitness and nutrition portal that encourages participants to “live a healthier, happier and more athletic lifestyle”) and Carnegie Properties real estate. What really speaks to his soul, however, is his work in the mentorship sphere and the grand possibilities of what young people can achieve.
“The future is wide open for the next generation,” says the man who was named Canada’s Top Mentor Rockstar in 2013. “They have exposure in grey matter, like Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies; I have experience in grey matter. I want to help emerging leaders find their space, and I believe in putting my money where my mouth is.”
It’s not often you hear a person of Zed’s generation speaking so… enthusiastically… about millennials. What about the rumours that they’re entitled? Hard to work with? Self-absorbed? Maybe even a touch, dare we say it, lazy?
“Look,” says Robert with a hint of impatience, “that`s a very short-sighted attitude, in my opinion. Millennials are the next generation of buyers, so it`s imperative for businesses to understand and embrace the way they think. Personally, I see no truth to the millennial myths. My work with emerging leaders has been nothing but rewarding. It’s stimulating to see how this generation thinks, how they solve problems and create solutions. They challenge the status quo and it’s very exciting to be part of that.”
By way of example, he references his advisory work with NovaSight Consulting Group. “It was founded and is staffed by university students (Christopher Stone, PhD and Saif Syed, MBA). And they’re working to find solutions to complex healthcare issues right here in Atlantic Canada!”
From his formal education (he has a master’s in health administration), to Zed’s extensive volunteer commitments (nine of the 17 are specifically healthcare-related), to his award-winning professional background (too many regional and national recognitions to mention in an article of this length), the healthcare sector has been the underlying theme to Robert Zed’s life—but never more than it was in 2017.
It was “a year of complex health issues,” says Robert Zed with deliberate understatement. So much so that it forced him to slow down from his normal speed of “200 miles an hour” (thankfully, he now has a clean bill of health).
Asked to share was it was like to be on the “client” end of the healthcare spectrum, Zed was circumspect in his response. “Yes, we must integrate as many high-tech efficiencies as we can into the system, but we must never lose high touch.”
Pressed further, he said that the funding and sustainability of healthcare as we know it in Canada is, and will continue to be, an ongoing challenge. “That said, the institutional care I received was phenomenal. The nurses, doctors, all the hospital staff and the care they provided, was exemplary. Community care? We need to do a better job.”
How will the ‘possibility of what community care could be’ motivate Robert Zed’s ethos in the years to come? We’ll have to check in with him to find out—only, we won’t wait 13 years for the next update.
Looking for a unique conversation starter? Ask him what W.O.B.H. stands for (it’s not as bad as it sounds )
“I’ve never had a business plan or a job interview. My life has been tied to moments of luck.”
Average number of flights per year now that he’s “slowed down”
“Plan for the future; live for the present.”
HIS BUCKET LIST CONTAINS…
“Experiences, not things. Spending time with my wife (Dr. Joanna Zed) and three sons (William, Geoffrey and Gregor) is critical. The boys are becoming adults and we’re creating a whole new relationship with them on that level.”
“I’m not retiring; I’m re-wiring. I have no idea what’s next—that’s the point. Not knowing how I will reinvent myself is the fun part.”