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Daniel Tramontana

My week with James Luo, BGL’s Head of Development

By CultureNo Comments

I was recently privileged enough to travel with James Luo to Singapore’s Big Data and AI world conference.

It was a great adventure on many fronts. It was the first time I travelled with James, and we also got to showcase BGL Smart Docs 360 – our new product in the making that turns unstructured data into structured data. Simply upload a photo or PDF of your document to Smart Docs 360, and it will convert the content into meaningful data that can be used in any setting or context. Really powerful stuff.

What I loved most about our adventure was spending time with James. I learnt some very valuable lessons and insights that would help any business or business leader in any setting.

Here is my list:

Take an interest in their story: It was fascinating to learn about James’ upbringing. Coming from a small village in China, where his parents worked the land to live and education was a dream, helped me identify with James.

Involve people in the journey: Get input. Provide clarity. Link their efforts to the business outcomes and client experiences. Create meaning.

Express gratitude: We can all do more of this!

Show them the problem they are solving: Mindless work leads to unengaged people. Developers love it when users adopt their features to help solve their pain points. Provide the opportunity for them to engage with clients. Trust me; insight is powerful.

Listen: An art that most of us have forgotten. Engage intentionally and without interruptions. You will be surprised by what you learn.

Provide context: Clearly articulate the space you are trying to own. Through context, you develop meaning and purpose.

People love showcasing what they own: Take the time to allow people to show you what they have created. People want the opportunity to show the value they are creating and the differences they are trying to make.

Let people step into your world: Make yourself vulnerable. Drive connection. Humanise the relationship. Ultimately, our job as leaders is to serve, facilitate and guide people to their full potential. Paint a picture of what you see and the plans you have for them.

Create moments: Chilli crab ain’t what it is cracked up to be – that’s my view but not the view of countless. So much effort and mess for such little return. But the experience and joy on James’ face while watching me struggle was worth it. Sometimes you need to try different things and create memorable moments. Such times only strengthen relationships.

A memorable week that I will never forget. Thank you, James!

Sunday. The last game for the season. A moment I will never forget!

By Culture, Tramma Time, WellnessNo Comments

Sunday. The last footy game for the year. I had the honour of thanking all the players for their efforts, commitment and development over the season. I was so proud of each and every one of them.

At the beginning of the year, I challenged them to become better men before becoming better footballers. The foundation for this would be a commitment to taking responsibility, showing respect and keeping things real. Responsibility for their actions. Respect for their teammates, parents, friends and all humans. Real, not being afraid to put their hand up and reach out if they need help.

While we finished at the bottom of the ladder, in so far as growth and personal development, in my eyes we finished well on top. For me, this was a far more significant achievement than any other accolade.

I want to speak about a moment that took place on Sunday that will remain with me for life. A dad of one of the boys waited for me outside the clubrooms after the game. He approached me, put out his hand and said thank you. He became quite emotional. This dad who was hurting. It took courage to express such emotions. Placing my hand on his shoulder, we distanced ourselves from the people, to talk. He couldn’t stop thanking me for the difference I had made in his son’s life and for the support given.

The family had been through a very difficult time. The mother confided in me a couple of months ago detailing her concern for her son given the gut-wrenching circumstances that devastated the family. She asked me to look out for her boy. To which I made a commitment to.

I am no medical professional. I do not have qualifications in any form of psychology. This situation taught me that you don’t need much to make a difference. You only need to be you. Genuinely caring and following through on what you say makes the world of difference. During the year, this boy progressed and at times regressed, but the constant was the right support.

There are many people grieving and going through difficult times. Behind every troubled person is a concerned parent, relative or friend. The impact goes beyond the individual directly impacted. Remember this. Wholeness and well-being require us to look beyond the person.

So, I write to remind you of this, we all have an obligation to each other. Never be short in extending a hand. Embracing a human. Be on the lookout and be courageous enough to ask the question, “How are you doing?” It could be the start of a life-changing moment…

Celebrating 25 years of service

By BGL Update, CultureNo Comments

Today marks 25 years of service at BGL Corporate Solutions. That equates to 53% of my life being involved with a business, team and community that I love. Stop trying to guess how old I was when started. Ron Lesh says 15! I will take that.

As an individual, I am truly humbled and grateful to be able to be involved in and to serve in an organisation that is truly a remarkable success story.

From the greatest of moments to the darkest of times, central to all of this is people. And today it is the very people who have helped define me, believed in me, mentored me and stood by me that I want to celebrate.

The people that I have come to know, love and serve are the greatest part of the story.

BGL Corporate Solutions team, I thank and admire each and everyone one of you. Your relentless commitment to each other, our products, clients and community is amazing. You are the reason we are where we are today.

Matthew Crofts, Adriana Cavallo, Warren Renden, Jeevan Tokhi, Anthony Costa, S. Adrian Muscan , Ashley Avileli, James Luo + Dubi Laviati (so many more I could add) your friendship and support allows me to do what I do.

To the many great clients, prospects, partners and Ecosystem members that I have come to know and crossed paths with, it is an honor working with you and being of service to you. Your belief and support of BGL Corporate Solutions is an important part of who we are today. I applaud you.

One of the greatest joys has been, some of the friendships that have evolved. Friends that will be for life. You know who you are. Your constant check-ins, chats and trust are something I dearly value. Thank you!

Danni Tramontana my wife + friend, you are my rock.

Ron Lesh. I am grateful for your belief, loyalty, support, encouragement and friendship. You are an incredible #leader. You have been and continue to be an important figure and influence. You have helped define me, making me a better person and servant of the people. You have also positioned me for an exciting future that I look forward to stepping into knowing that I have had the best example and mentor.

And now, let’s bring on another 25 years! Yes, well past 65 years of age but with CAS 360 (Australia), Simple Fund 360 + Simple Invest 360, I will have most of my compliance matters automated so I can spend time doing that which I love and that is working at BGL Corporate Solutions.

Check out our video!

We had a lot of fun making this video and hope it makes you smile! Enjoy!

We have an endemic of leadership in this country

By Culture, Industry, Tramma Time, WellnessNo Comments

We have an endemic of leadership in this country. The biggest threat to our nation and people is not the virus. It is in fact many of our leaders.

As a 1st generation migrant, I was so proud to call this country home. So proud when I traveled overseas to boast about the beauty of our landscape, freedoms and wonderful opportunities available to all. Friends and family would engage with me with a sense of envy of the beautiful country of Australia.

Today I am not so proud. Today I am disappointed that the fabric which once distinguished our very country from the rest of the world has been torn apart.

In my VIEW, the deterioration of our society across this nation is directly attributed to our leaders. Many of our leaders have forgotten that their purpose is to serve the people. To set the stage, creating a society that is united and overflowing with opportunity. A society that is inclusive, considerate and respectful. One where differing views are accommodated, respectfully discussed, and embraced. One where an individual is not mocked or shamed for communicating a deeply held belief.

Instead, many of our leaders have caused a deeply divided Australia. One where people’s choices have been eroded and mandates have been forced. Compliance has been heralded and bragged about as great leadership. I instead view it as an abuse of power and coercion to force outcomes. People forced to make a choice between putting food on the table and or going without, is not a choice. For some, it may be, but for many, it’s about dignity, provision and survival.

Consider the recent protests in Melbourne where those who attended branded extremists. A small % may well be, the majority however are not. They are normal everyday Victorians who are appealing to the tone-deafness of our leaders. What I can not believe is the government officials not presenting themselves before the people to hear their cries and address their needs. Instead, with arrogance and contempt, they press on because the preservation of their pride and the need to be right is far more important than doing the right thing for the people.

Countless decisions by many of our leaders and their behaviors leave much to be desired. For many in power, their experience and qualifications (huge lack of) to hold a position has me questioning the validity and competence of those elected to run a proper economy, education and health system. Let me ask a question, would you let an accountant perform a knee reconstruction? Absolutely not. The reality is, many of our leaders are elected on personality, popularity, spin and how big their budgets are to run good campaigns. Being friends with those in power also seems to be an important checkbox to be ticked when assessing the suitability of a candidate. Very obvious is the fact that qualifications and experience are not part of the recruitment equation.

We need an overhaul of leadership in this country.

We need people to step up who are competent, qualified and most importantly invested in this great country and its people.

People who will push aside the narrative, take a stance and truly represent the people that trust them to lead.

Tramma Time: The Great Mitigation.

By Culture, Industry, Tramma Time, WellnessNo Comments

The great mitigation.

There has been a lot of talk and publications across the world talking about the Great Resignation. For various reasons, it is estimated that a significant percentage of the workforce is looking to switch jobs when things go back to the new version of normal.

Let’s not sugar-coat this. This is a potential threat to business. Let’s face it, losing good people is hard at the best of times. Given the current shortage of labour right now and the difficulty with recruitment, losing good people will have an impact on us, our clients and the businesses that we run.

While there is a focus on the resignation, I want to turn this on its head and focus on The Great Mitigation.

What do I mean by this? Simple. I would like to explore how we as business owners and leaders can work to minimise resignations and keep the people who are key to our business.

We cannot control the external environment; we can control our internal one. This is the place of our greatest influence and control.

As I reflect on what we have done at BGL and from my personal observations, here are my top 10 tips to help you retain your people.

  1. Culture – great culture attracts and retains people. Define it. Be intentional about it. Dedicate time to it daily. Culture is not set and forget. It requires hard work, resources and intent.
  2. Training – all team members need a training plan. Clearly defined and documented. By investing in people, you will grow and retain them.
  3. Know your people – it’s all about relationships. Take the time to know your staff. Invest time in them and let them know you care. Ensure that you are accessible and present. Take the time to have conversations and reconnect with your people. Organisation company-wide and smaller team events is also a good way to connect with people and will ensure people are connected again.
  4. Flexibility – it is fair to say that going back to the office 5 days a week, is a thing of the past. Speak to your team. Involve your people and come up with a plan that supports a good balance and meets the needs of your business.
  5. Review salaries – undertake a review of all salaries. Make the necessary adjustments. Get on the front foot and don’t allow salary to be the determining factor why good people leave. Of course, there are limitations but engage in the conversations openly.
  6. Eliminate fear – communicate your commitment to employee well-being and safety. Make clear the resources and investment you are prepared to make to help them through and support them in the best way possible.
  7. Recognise and reward – you, your team and your clients have endured a lot over the past 18 months. Recognise and reward the efforts of those who deserve it. Take a moment to also recognise your clients in a small way.
  8. Measure engagement – I do not see many organisations do this. It is so important to know how invested your people are and to what extent they believe they are part of the journey. There are many great products out there that not only make it easy for you to measure engagement, but they also provide guides on how to improve it.
  9. Language – eliminate negative talk. Minimise the time spent living in and talking about the past. For many people, this will trigger responses that can be negative. Inspire hope and optimism by using words that bring life, hope and the aspiration for a better future.
  10. Define your why – make what people are coming back to exciting. Articulate a picture of the future that is exciting, inclusive, full of opportunities and at the same time challenging. Capture the hearts and minds of people by believing in them and allowing them to be the best version of themselves.

I just want to encourage you that the possibility before us really is limited to our thinking. Our actions, behaviours and belief in people will make all the difference as to the culture and ultimately the business we build.

Your investment in your people and culture makes a difference.

What are you going to change today?

Divided we fall. United we stand.

By No Drama with TrammaNo Comments

Divided we fall. United we stand.

We have all heard these words. I believe them to be the very fabric of what makes us, our families, friendships, organisations and society great.

Never have these words been more relevant, real and alive. Just look at the events taking place across every area of this great nation and the people who chose to call it home. Never have I seen such division and hatred amongst fellow Australians.

So much for the “We are ONE and free” in our national anthem. Words proudly sung, but sadly have not foothold in the heart.

So often I hear words uttering the importance of inclusion. Dishing out high fives for embracing diversity and taking a stance against discrimination. Model citizens everywhere. Yet, division has never been greater over what in the end will be trivial matters.

In speaking to so many people, I have heard of many great stories and also many heartbreaking stories. To hear of great examples of people extending a hand to those in need has inspired hope and brought out the best in humankind. From people paying for coffees for a day at the local cafe, to those dropping off food parcels and care packs to those in need, these actions have given me a great sense of hope that we can bounce back and do so strongly.

I have also heard of heartbreaking stories. People going hungry, not being able to pay their bills, being stripped of their pride and dignity. The list tragically goes on and on.

The most difficult one for me to understand though is the ending of lifelong friendships. Friendships brought to an end over differences in opinions and personal choices. People quarrelling with the very friend(s) they have done life with for so long. The very friend who stood by them in the times of adversity and celebrated alongside them for special milestones and achievements. I simply do not get it.

People should be doing all they can to protect and preserve their friendships. Instead they allow senseless matters to destroy them.

The time will come when we look back at this and reflect on these times. My view is that it won’t be too long before we will look back AND say to ourselves, “What was all of that about?”. We will question the friendships we ended. The choices we made. The time we lost that we will never get back.

For some of us, we will be more isolated and alone than ever before because we didn’t stand for what is important. We will ask ourselves, to what avail? Let me tell you, none!

For me, my friendships have never been more important and or more valued. I simply would not be able to do life without them.

Please work to be united with your friends and loved ones. Don’t allow what is going on to divide you.

At the end of this, we want to be able to stand tall and united, surrounded by those dear and important to us.

I’m not cancelling anything

By No Drama with TrammaNo Comments

I’m not cancelling anything

This week my grandma Vincenza passed away. She was 90 years old.

As I sat beside her while she lay breathless, I couldn’t help noticing her hands. These hands were worn out. They were tired. These hands contributed much to our society, generation and in helping make Australia the lucky country. The hands gave so much to give us a better life and helped set us up for a future.

Born in Sicily and migrating to Melbourne in the 50’s. Having survived World War 2, she understood, pain, famine, fear, bloody hard work and the need for grit. Going without was common practice and selflessness was the only way through. From the toughest moments in her life, she learned resilience, strength, courage and a can-do mindset.

When I think of her life and the countless that have gone before her, I am not going to cancel and or forget what was given, done and or built. While they didn’t have any platform to amplify the good, they did, they quietly went about building the stage. The stage that we at times mindlessly perform on heralding ourselves as heroes when the really, the pain, suffering and at in many cases the sacrificing of one’s life was done by those who went before us. When was the last time we thought of those who went before us to give us what we have today?

Let’s apply this to business. Great businesses are not an overnight success. They take years to establish and all have a foundation. We build up from this foundation to establish culture. We may get some things wrong, but we learn from them. We get many things right. From both right and wrong we develop. We evolve. We build greatness. We don’t however forget where we came from and or deviate from the foundational values that have allowed us to thrive and survive.

The countless efforts to dismantle the stage of the values and principles that make this country great are the biggest threat to our society and the generations to follow. To do the same for our businesses would be of great detriment.

What we and those who went before us have built is something we should be proud of. It is something our leaders place less and less merit on. Not perfect but it has served us and set us up well. As we prepare to hand over the batten to the next generation let ensure that our efforts and those who have gone before us are not in vain.

Lockdowns truly suck

By Homepage, In the MediaNo Comments

Lockdowns affect our entire country. They hurt every sector.

Really disappointing to hear and see people in Victoria and in other parts of the country taking swipes at those in lockdown which are taking place in NSW and across Australia. Those who are should have a good hard look at themselves.

What we have been through in Victoria over the last 12 months is not something I would wish upon anyone. We should be the last to applaud lockdowns given our experience and taste for the devastation they cause. Ron Lesh and I speak often about such matters. The toll is heartbreaking and real.

How short are our memories? How quickly we forget that over the past 15 months, we in Victoria have been locked down for over 170 days with restrictions right through and with us today.

We would have gladly exchanged place with our friends in Sydney to experience the freedom they had at the drop of a hat.

Are we not one Nation? One, people? One hurts, we all hurt?

Lockdowns affect our entire country. They hurt every sector. They hurt people emotionally, financially, socially and physically. No one wins in lockdowns. They are draconian and crippling on all fronts. The hit on mental health is far-reaching, affecting generations to follow well beyond the life of this virus.

The leaders across our states have a lot to give account for and we should all be questioning the harsh, disproportionate measures. The last thing we should be doing is heralding lockdown as great leadership. It is not!

The biggest threat to our country is not the VIRUS. The biggest threat is that we have forgotten what it means to be truly Australian.

Working from home: My observations. For your consideration.

By Culture, HomepageOne Comment

The last 14 months have changed the way we work. With many of us forced to work from home. We have had to adjust by force.

While many employees claim how amazing the arrangement is, cracks are appearing and we are to be concerned.

While in many cases yes productivity has increased, my view is that true engagement has decreased. The glue that keeps people together and helps organisations build great culture has taken a hit and it is a threat to our organisations and people.

On the people front, we have much to be concerned about. The risk of losing team members has never been higher. Firstly as a result of people shortage. Secondly, people are isolated, disconnected and more vulnerable to being poached. Thirdly, they have missed out on much training and development, which takes place professionally and in learning from and in working with their peers. Many are simply just doing their jobs, the same thing day in and day out. Bit by bit, as their skill set remains stagnant, they are becoming detached and concerned about their career advancement.

People’s mental health has taken a hit. In Melbourne, the latest lockdown, while not long, was the hardest. While finally stepping into a sense of normality our freedoms were once again taken from us. Many are suffering. Many in silence. Much of this has been heightened by isolation, fear, the erosion of a sense of belonging and comradery that keeps people engaged, interested and connected.

Human engagement is so important on many fronts. As leaders, our role is to set the vision for the team and to excite and inspire your team towards it. This cannot be done virtually. Social aspect aside, human engagement also allows us to get a better gauge of where people are truly at. Observation is such an important part of encouraging and building a culture of wellbeing.

I am all for a balanced working arrangement. One where there is flexibility that provides a healthy balance of working from home. One that includes enough touchpoints with their peers and the greater team to ensure they are connected and where culture can continue to be built. Human touch has never been more important and failure to encourage it will cost us both the short and long term.

Mental Health: No judgment. No shame. No bias. Just listen.

By Culture, In the Media, No Drama with Tramma, WellnessOne Comment

The last 14 months have been tough. The impact is widespread. The effect on people’s personal and emotional wellbeing has been enormous. It is not something you can just throw money at and hope it goes away.

Mental health is a topic that I am passionate about. Having the support of Ron Lesh to pursues this accreditation is something that I am very grateful for. When I undertook the MH First Aid course, one of the great takeaways was that my role is not to diagnose but to simply come alongside people and point them in the right direction. This was empowering and showed WE can ALL make a difference. People often ask me how we in Victoria are faring in lockdown. Personally, while frustrated and limited at times, overall, I am doing okay. I have an amazing role and blessed to be a part of an incredible business. For this I am grateful. I do however have my days and to counteract this I do my best to live my life with the greatest level of normality. I regularly touch base with those most important to me. I do my best to watch my self-talk, exercising, taking breaks, get fresh air, limit my time on the media, create tasks and projects to keep me occupied.

However, my mind is NEVER far from those that are not doing well. The reality is that millions of people and across this state are suffering emotionally, mentally and financially. Businesses and lives touched devastating ways. Let’s add to this loneliness, lack of access to health care, 3 previous lockdowns, fear-mongering media and language, separation, home-schooling and the list goes on and on and we are pretty much beyond the tipping point of a mental health tsunami.

To back my observations, I read an interesting article in The Age on Saturday 5 June titled – “‘I can’t be bothered’: Victorians battling ‘compounding fatigue’ of lockdowns” by Wendy Tuohy, where Rhonda Andrew’s CEO of Barrington Centre, a corporate and wellbeing service provider, provided some very interesting data.

From 27 May to 3 June:

  •  82% ⬆️ in demand for support
  • 40% ⬆️ family conflict
  •  55% ⬆️ workplace issues
  •  82% ⬆️ mental health requests

The sentiment in this state from many that I speak to is that the idea of “We have done this before, we will do it again” or “We have got this”, simply does not cut it.

Many are tired. Many have no more to give. Many just want to get on with our lives and live. This is the reality that we as business leaders, managers and people across this state MUST acknowledge, work with and help navigate people through.

Each of us is touched by what is going on. And if we personally are not, then someone we know is. These lockdowns hurt and it is more important to be on the lookout for each other than ever before.

Please, if you are struggling, please do reach out. It is okay to not be okay. There are times where you will be trapped in thoughts of negativity or feelings of hopelessness. The reality is that it is hard not to be. It is normal. However, do your best to not stay in that space too long. If you do however find these thoughts and feelings lingering, take action. Speak to someone. Call your doctor. Early intervention works.

Make sure to look out for others also. Look for signs that they may be struggling. Be on the lookout for things like withdrawing behaviour, social media activity contrary to their normal behaviour, slow to or no response to messages, negative language, letting go of their appearance or hygiene. Pretty much, any behaviour outside of their normal selves is a window for you to ask the question “R UO K?” or “I have noticed this, is all ok?” Believe, it can make all the difference.

Be informed and across the resources like R UO OK?, Beyond Blue, and Headspace, to name a few. There are many great tools available to not only better understand mental health but to come alongside, and help others along their journey.

Finally, I cannot help but emphasise that you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to put your hand up and say you need help. On the other hand, if you are doing okay, don’t be afraid to extend a hand and reach out to someone that you know is not and let them know you are there for them.

No judgment. No shame. No bias. Just listen.

Just genuinely care!

We can all make a difference.



Reference: Wendy Tuohy | The Age