Lessons from my grandfather, Ralph Eustace Todhunter 1908 – 1999

My grandfather was 91 when he passed away – he was an amazingly beautiful person in so many ways; I wish I’d got to know him better.

He had an innate ability to make everyone feel special, everyone. If you were speaking to him it was like you were the only person in the world.

I learned so many things from him, the two most impactful on my life were his love of learning and the importance of human connection.

One time when I was about 20, I helped him paint his house. Upon finishing I was reading one of his Time magazines when my lift arrived so I asked him if I could take it; in a completely inoffensive way he said “No, I have not read it as yet and I might learn something”. I thought jeez I have just helped paint your house….. and what do you need to learn (at 80ish) but it instilled in me a love of learning, a curiousness and sense of wonder.

The other was once when he said, “Never take a job that can be one day be done by a machine, it is only a matter of time before someone invents it”. He went on to say that he had seen so many “labour saving devices” invented during the course of his life – the microwave oven and computers were his two favourites – he was a very wise man.

The combination of these two conversations confirmed my personal view is that whilst machines and computers (now through AI) can do many, many things, they will never replace the magic that happens between human beings.

The engagement and connection delivered via the voice, smile or laugh; the gratitude when someone delivers or surprises; thoughtful gestures from the heart; all of these separate us as human beings. As Tony Robbins says, “humans are differentiated by our ability to think”.

CRM, LinkedIn (with respect), Facebook, RSVP.com, Instagram, Twitter etc…etc..etc all have their place and can support human connection at a very basic level but AI/computers will not ever be able to replace this magic. More specifically these systems have created a vacuum, where people are:

  • Communicating but not connected
  • Listening but not hearing
  • Looking but not seeing
  • Attending but not present

This in turn creates a huge opportunity for skilled operators to practice the art of effective one to one and one to many communications to stand out and make a difference to others and their own lives that is far more enriching.

Thanks Pop, I cannot express my gratitude enough.

Charlie Pidcock