As the host of Breakfast Television Vancouver, Riaz Meghji knows the importance of strong communication skills and the benefits that can come from a good conversation.

From interviewing and interacting with countless people on the show, he’s been able to witness firsthand the profound effects that meaningful conversations can have. This led to the creation of his Every Conversation Counts series that spotlights some of the most memorable conversations that fascinating people have had and how these talks have helped them achieve success. Meghji’s own career path could likely make for an excellent episode of Every Conversation Counts. Originally planning to enter the world of business, he graduated from university with a degree in finance. But after an unexpected conversation he decided to take his life in a completely different direction.

This spring, we presented an exclusive Town Hall session with Meghji as part of the Insurance Brokers Association of British Columbia (IBABC) Trade Show and Networking Forum in Vancouver. During his talk, Meghji shared ways that the capacity crowd could transform surface conversations with customers into unforgettable interactions. As Meghji told everyone in attendance, “Meaningful conversations build relationships and strong relationships breed success.”

We spoke with Meghji for Go Magazine about how creative conversations can build trust and leave lasting impressions.

After graduating with a degree in finance, what made you decide to pass on going into business and instead enter the world of entertainment? 

A conversation with the co-chair of a university conference in 2002 changed everything. He had seen some of my moderating work onstage and leaned in with his belief there could be another path outside of finance in my future. His words helped me understand that what I truly loved about business was the presentation aspect. The challenge was to deviate from a safe life and take a leap of faith in exploring the presentation space to see what’s possible. As soon as I did, I entered contests, applied for internships and opportunities were created.

Building a career as an on-air broadcaster is not an easy task. What gave you the confidence to keep pushing forward with your journey? 

I credit having a consistent hunger and focus to learn, grow and fail as something that has helped me to survive and thrive in this business. The broadcast world can be like a game of survivor as the industry has seen many cuts over the years. Early family support was huge entering this volatile space. That said, the emotional rewards from regularly connecting with incredible people still motivate me today.

How did the idea for your Every Conversation Counts series come about? What do you hope people take away from it? 

Four years ago, perhaps my business background came to the forefront as I asked myself what I wanted to build for the long term and how I wanted to impact an audience. Studying all types of people daily and learning what makes them open up, I felt there was value to add to help people connect with others through their conversations. In this era of hyper connection through social media, the goal of this series is to encourage people to remember the benefits of slowing down to connect authentically, without distraction and seeing what can happen when we focus on relationships before results.

What are some of the things you’ve learned from doing the series? 

That things are not always what they seem. Social media can provide a powerful platform to amplify a voice, yet still can mask someone’s true reality. The opportunity to discover what people are really all about comes in our approach to a conversation.

Author Andrew Sobel outlines a simple, yet effective philosophy with his words – “Ask, don’t tell. Asking creates relationships, telling creates resistance.” I think the questions we can ask and the way we can listen without judgement are game changers for establishing healthy emotional capital.

You also work as a professional speaker and teach others about the benefits of conversation. How can creative conversations positively impact a brand or business? 

Audiences buy from people, not businesses. The creativity – and more importantly authenticity – we bring to conversations will help establish trust with our target demographics. When looking at any brand or business, I always ask how they bring hope, help, heart or humour to the conversation. If they bring all four, they will leave an unforgettable impression on their audience.

What are some tips to help people prepare for conversations with clients, business partners, co-workers, etc. that can make these interactions more impactful and beneficial to everyone? 

I think it all comes down to how you can be a good listener. The more you listen, the more impact you will have. Three key factors contribute to effective listening – curiosity, humility and self-awareness.

Curiosity: Doing the homework beforehand about their current reality will lead to a more personalized interaction and valuable follow-up questions. Social media can be our bridge to accomplish this.

Humility: Recognizing that at any point you can learn something new and that everyone has something to teach you.

Self-Awareness: Own your imperfections. Enough said.

When it comes to your insurance needs, do you prefer buying insurance online or through an insurance broker in person? 

In person. I want to know the person who is representing my family’s best interests and that they are invested in our well being. It’s easy to set something up online, but when adversity hits in unpredictable scenarios, I want to know a person, not an algorithm, is there to help.

Learn more about Riaz Meghji’s Every Conversation Counts series here and you can follow Riaz on Twitter here.

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