Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, German Philosopher
At Tigerpaw, we have five core values that we hold dear. They are:
- Passion – Perform our roles with purpose, pride, and a positive attitude.
- Performance – Strive for excellence in all we do.
- Teamwork – Drive success with strong collaboration and communication.
- Integrity – Uphold our ethics and principles with every action and every decision.
- Adaptability – Be flexible and embrace change.
This month, we are focusing on Passion. It’s no coincidence that Passion is the first item in the list. Passion is what happens when your activities and responsibilities align with your being, your true self. When this alignment takes place, you come alive! No barrier seems too high and no river too wide; you simply won’t accept setbacks as failures. Without passion, it’s pretty difficult to find success in what you do, and all of your actions will suffer for it.
Relationships make the world go around. They build businesses, blossom into friendships, and even make babies! Developing strong relationships quickly with strangers is something that I’ve often found challenging. My nature is to have a relatively small number of very close friends, and therefore I often keep my private life private. This means I also don’t ask others about their private lives – and that’s what keeps people at a distance.
One of the challenges I have is that I am often giving a presentation as an evangelist for my company Tigerpaw Software. The simple fact is, that no one wants to listen to a vendor give a sales pitch in a presentation – including and especially me!What I’ve learned to do is provide value to the audience in the form of education – while highlighting my product in the process. If you take the role of teacher rather than “sales guy”, people pay attention! When you see heads vigorously bobbing up and down and people quickly reaching for their notepads, your presentation is resonating with the group and you are doing something right! When you get off the stage and people earnestly thank you for your presentation, you nailed it!
I have spent the last year reshaping our executive leadership team at Tigerpaw. Not a day goes by where we aren’t discussing leadership, culture, and the myriad things that go into building a great organization; people are always a central thread in these discussions.
When we were smaller, we primarily hired individuals based on the skills they brought to the table – could they get the job done? As we grew, we realized that skills alone aren’t enough – job performance simply was not enough. As our new leadership team began to implement a shared vision, we found ourselves terminating some employees, “right-sizing” others to more suitable roles, and (most excitingly), hiring new team members. Throughout this process, many questions arose – why was this person not a fit for their current role? Why was this person viewed as a good employee for some time, but no longer a fit for the organization? What qualities should we be looking for in new candidates?
As a result of this questioning and reflecting, we identified the key attributes exhibited by our best employees. These became our core values.
The world of a technology provider is an ever-evolving soup of acronyms, technology, products, and business methodologies. Whether it’s adding new services such as data back up and disaster recovery, or completely changing your business model from break-fix to managed services, staying current may seem impossible. Today, a lot of talk centers on “owning the customer”. This typically means owning all the end points on a network, such as displacing copy companies by offering managed print services. With so many choices, it can be difficult to know which bandwagon to get on – you have to balance your time and money as you invest in technologies that will add value to your existing business and generate a profit.
The nature of data is changing.
I was recently asked how a business can generate more revenue from existing customers. The most obvious answer is to educate your customers on what you offer, and dig deeper to find more selling opportunities within their organization. In my opinion, this “easy” approach is the wrong approach.
Become the trusted advisor to your customers…
My wife likes to tell the story of how her prom date, in the middle of a very nice expensive dinner, proceeded to lick his knife clean. My wife was horrified, and that first date became the last. The poor guy probably had no idea why he never got another date, as she certainly didn’t tell him. Many businesses treat their prospects as dates during the sales process, and if they don’t “lick the knife”, they might get them as customers. However, as with marriage, you have to continue to “date” your customer. This means you have to be thinking about making the customer happy, and treating them the way they want and need to be treated. If you fail to do so, your customer will leave you and probably won’t say why.
I was recently asked to comment on how an IT manager can most effectively build partnerships with the business side of the company. Having a very technical background and a business background as well, I have had the benefit of sitting on both sides of the fence. To the IT director, the IT department is the heart and soul of the company; without IT the company would grind to a halt. To the rest of the business, IT is often looked at as a necessary evil. They don’t really understand what IT does, and they often don’t care. They just want their computers to run quickly, their printers to print, and they want their reports to contain accurate data that they need to get their jobs done. This dual perspective can create tension between IT and the rest of the company, with IT feeling unappreciated and the other departments feeling that they are at the mercy of IT.
For an IT director to be successful, he or she needs to bridge the gap between the technical side of the house and the operations side.
The following are some techniques that an IT director can use:
Late last year, it was my pleasure to co-facilitate two peer discussion groups regarding protecting your customer base at the CompTIA event in Las Vegas. I found the experience to be fun and enlightening. CompTIA did a great job of setting up and educating the facilitators on running the groups. I was paired up with Gennifer Biggs from Business Solutions. I have known Gennifer from numerous other industry events and thoroughly enjoyed working with her.