Orrin Klopper is the CEO of Netsurit, which he co-founded 24 years ago during the lead-up to Y2K. At the time, organizations were being ripped off by IT companies and paying a fortune for technology they did not need.
Orrin and his partners saw an opportunity to provide managed services for companies and differentiate themselves by being honest, ethical and fair.
Orrin is always innovating new ways of work. His people-focused leadership leads his team’s incredible, aspirational culture and their dream program. He is a passionate Microsoft Partner and committed to serving both employees and clients by nurturing and helping them realize their dreams.
In addition to his role leading Netsurit, he is active in the Young Presidents’ Association (YPO) and the Entrepreneurs Organization and earned a master’s diploma in Entrepreneurship from the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management.
Once Orrin had dinner with Billie Jean King. Already in her 70s and she had the most amazing positive energy.
Orrin attended 9 schools as a kid. Only got expelled from 3. So 6 out of 9 is not a bad result.
Outside of work, he enjoys swimming, traveling, drinking wine and hanging out with his little Lulu.
What you will learn
- How Orrin’s journey in IT began
- How to use systems and processes to manage growth
- Find out how Orrin landed his very first customer
- Discover the secrets to managing your business through crisis and change
- Learn why your company needs a dream manager
- Orrin shares his bold growth plans for his company
- Discover the very best entrepreneur books to read
- Learn why hiring the right people is essential
- Plus loads more!
00:00:07 - 00:02:46
Hi everyone and welcome to The Jeff Bullas Show where we dive into the stories of successful entrepreneurs and work out how they started and their secrets to growing and managing that. So today I have with me, Orrin Klopper. Orrin’s currently dialing in from Johannesburg, which I have traveled through but haven't stayed at. A beautiful country in South Africa and Orrin is the CEO of Netsurit, which he co-founded 24 years ago. Now in looking at Orrin, he must have started when he was five, so he looks very young and during the lead up to the Y2K, that's when he sort of started at. At the time, organization were being ripped off by IT companies paying a fortune for technology they did not need. We those of us that are old enough to remember the whole Y2K thing, we thought the world was going to come to an end because we hadn't put enough zeros in the code because we were changed in 2000 and 1999. Anyway, Orrin and his partners saw an opportunity to provide managed outsourced services for companies and differentiate themselves by being honest, ethical, and fair. He is always innovating for new ways of work. I've been talking about that. His people-focused leadership leads his team's incredible aspirational culture and their dream program is passionate about Microsoft Partner and committed to serve both employers and clients.
He's active in the Young President’s Association and the Entrepreneur’s Organization, has a master's degree in entrepreneurship from MIT and Orrin had dinner with Billie Jean King once and said that the energy he felt at that dinner was just amazing. Now, Orrin attended 9 schools as a kid, only got expelled from 3, so 6 out of 9 is not bad according to, well, obviously he's had a good go, that's really good to know. And obviously had way too much energy at the back of the class by the sounds of it. So, one of his key achievements is CEO of Netsurit, a $30 million MSP firm. And what we mean by MSP because I hate acronyms is managed service provider and some of you don't know what that is, we're going to explain what that is, but it's got to do with technology. It grew to 100+ plus people, $30M revenue through acquisitions and organic growth. So, welcome to the show, Orrin.
00:02:47 - 00:02:48
Thanks so much, Jeff.
00:02:49 - 00:03:08
So, Orrin is dialing in from Johannesburg, as I mentioned in the bio readouts. So, Orrin, I'm always intrigued by what was the inspiration or desperation to start the company.
00:03:09 - 00:08:16
Yeah, yeah. You know when I was at school, I remember in some classes, I flourished under certain teachers and others, as you say, I was at the back of the class and then a lot of trouble and I started to see that if I really connected with the teacher and they inspired me and I respected them. I was able to enjoy the subject and I did quite well and, you know, so I realized coming to the end of my school in time that I would need to work for a bus that I really enjoyed and found inspirational and what happens if I ended up in a business where I didn't necessarily enjoy that. So from there I went to university, I thought university was gonna be this unbelievably in depth engagement where they wanted to know what you think and all it was, I did a Bachelor of Commerce with the majors in Information Systems, Economics and Econometrics and really all it felt like was they just wanted us to regurgitate what was in the textbooks. And there was very little thinking, I think there was some thinking and information systems. I did Political Science as an extra subject. There was some thinking in that. So I was quite disillusioned early on in, even in the first year of university and I've got a student loan to pay for my studies. And I, very early on realized I have access to some extra capital that hasn't quite been used yet. And how could I use this to make extra money to pay for my studies and pay back the student loans. So we did all sorts of things.
I worked at a flea market on the weekends. I sold seconded stews at the hostels and the rays at our universities and clothing at building sites. I worked as a waiter. And so I was always trying to find alternative ways to make money. Then at the end of ‘94, which was my first year of university, you could take an extra major, an extra subject for free. And that's when I took this extra major Information System. And then a good friend of mine invited me to join his business that he was already selling engineering calculators and computers to friends and family. And that's how my journey in IT started. I loved information systems because it felt like they wanted you to really apply your mind and think. And, so in those early days, we were doing anything, we're selling computers and engineering calculators to whoever wanted them. And we didn't really have a clear vision of what we wanted to do and it was very ad hoc. So fast forward to late 98’ early 99’, I'd failed the subject in university because I wasn't there very often because we were running the business. And I remember even asking my information systems lecturer, we managed, I flew to Sweden to negotiate the rights for some software and I managed to get him to change, to give me a supplementary date for the information systems exam, which is really really unusual. Surprised, I got away with that. And so I was doing computer training in the evenings as well, end user training. And God bless my late mom she would have me come and do computer training with it. It was just to support, she would pay for it but she wasn't really interested in learning but she was there to support the business and then we kind of saw a trend where small and medium enterprises were being taken advantage of. And they were being sold solutions and technology they didn't actually require. And it just seemed that there was a huge opportunity to do something in that space where it was transparent and clear to those businesses, those entrepreneurial businesses which are essentially the powerhouse of growth in any economy and enable them to have a partner that they can rely on to deliver service to them with a predictable monthly amount. So it was in the end of 99’ with a Y2K problems and issues and how these companies are being exploited. We came up with a business concept we have today which, you know, you kind of mentioned an MSP. What is an MSP? We’re an IT department to our customer or we augment the IT department for a monthly amount that is set and is very predictable for them. So that gives you a little couple of insights as to how I ended up with partners starting the business and growing.
00:08:17 - 00:08:34
Right. It's a fascinating story and I'm just wondering why you didn't get a credit for your degree because of your entrepreneurial sourcing product, IT product. You should have got a credit, really.
00:08:34 - 00:09:00
No and I think that lecturer was flexible with me because I think he was in his own way encouraging us, you know, so it was quite, it was Prof. Anderson, I remember his name and he was really cool about it. So I think that was his way of trying to encourage it. Look, eventually I did finish my degree. I still don't know how but, you know, it was great to be able to start at that early stage.
00:09:01 - 00:10:14
Now the thing you did mention was you became aware of a trend that you observed happening in the IT industry in that people were being ripped off using, putting in post technology, expensive technology and services they didn't need. And you said let's make it predictable. I think one of the things I've learned over the years is that quite often timing is one of the most important things in business. In other words don't open a video, VHS cassette shop, that's been really bad timing, right. Good time starting a streaming service. But that takes a lot of money. But I think what is really important what you've just told us is that you observed a trend that and also the other trend I think you observed is that the rise of outsourced IT services to help companies focus on what they do best, which is do business because IT is really the tool to help you do business. So that's really good. So alright, so you started, where did you start? Did you start in Johannesburg?
00:10:15 - 00:10:17
Yes, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
00:10:17 - 00:10:26
Okay, right, so did you start it with a co-founder? Was that just you?
00:10:27 - 00:12:07
Yes, no, there were two co-founders and I think that has definitely been part of our success from the beginning. I always have deepest respect for entrepreneurs that start and do it all on their own. So from the beginning, one co-founder was deeply technical and just had a view that anything was possible and I also on the side of being very, very positive. I'm definitely more of a marketing sales and strategy as far as an aptitude goes. And then my other partner Braun, he is just one of the most inspirational leaders as far as people management, operational excellence and just really the dynamic of building a business, you know, there was something in those early days, Jeff, where we wanted to, it was never a lifestyle business and it was never about just building something that would be a local business. So we registered Netsurit.com in 1999 because we knew we wanted to build something global and we implemented some things that we're sort of ahead of the size of business. We still use the balanced scorecard as a performance measurement system. We've been using that for like probably over 20 years now. You know if you kind of looked under the bonnet of our business, there are some things that we did early on that spoke of our aspirations to be a bigger business.
00:12:08 - 00:12:37
So yeah, one of the challenges is for businesses is that a lot of people have an idea, they go out and sell but then they don't have the systems or processes to manage that growth. So, in terms of that, what did you learn from the importance of processes to keep on top of managing the growth of the business. And were you involved a lot in that or was your partner more involved in that?
00:12:38 - 00:15:16
No, we were all involved in some form or another. And, you know, we've been through many phases of growth where our systems and processes were robust enough and allowed for the scale and allowed for some scalability but there have often been times where it just didn't allow for it. So we put emphasis on that very early on. But we were trying to figure it out, I remember when I signed up to do an MBA and I remember reading some of the theory and this is crazy how is it that they already have documented all of these things that we're struggling with and we have no clue about. And so it was really amazing for me. So I think we saw the importance of it early on but we didn't really have a clear view. So we would try something, it would fail. We would re-look at it and I think one of the benefits, one of the things I took from attempted in which I never finished because I was too busy and I wrote so many notes to the university saying this is the excuse why I can't complete this sign that this is the excuse why I can't make this exam because we're running a business eventually they kicked me out. But I got through all the modules. I just couldn't finish my dissertation. But the one thing that I learned was a strategic planning process and so we've run that each year for some years. I think we've overdone it, Jeff, where we've probably, we wasted too much time on other years. I think we've underdone it where we didn't get enough buying an engagement but I think we've arrived at a place where we have quite an agile approach to strategic planning and in that we do just a simplified internal external analysis where we look at a SWAT and then from there each year it will highlight what is failing, what is working, what do we need to do in the year ahead. So yeah the importance of process became quite clear but we've, you know, so just take, for example now, when we first entered the US in 2016, we bought a business in New York. The officers were in Brooklyn and so we were only a South African business until then. And now we have two officers in New Jersey, we have an office in Manhattan. We have customers on the West Coast, we have customers in various locations in the US and we definitely went through some serious growth pains trying to adapt our systems and processes to deal with that next level of growth.
00:15:16 - 00:15:47
And that's where it becomes really important if you need, if you want to scale you need to have good systems and processes. There is no other way. So now the other thing that I'm always curious about is how did you get your first few customers? What, obviously you said you're more at the sales and marketing side. So a lot of people are always very curious about, okay, I've got this idea, now I've got to sell it or got this product. I now have to sell it. I've got a solution, I need to sell it. How did you get your first few customers?
00:15:48 - 00:18:54
Yeah that's a great question. So one of our partners Rian, his parents are doctors. And his dad is a gynecologist, his mom was an anesthetist. So he had an unbelievable network in the doctor community. And at that time which was kind of 98-99, a lot of doctors were embracing technology and seeing how it could have an impact on their business. So we were selling a lot of computers to them. So that came through Rian’s family. And then what's transpired was from just selling computers. Now they wanted them to be connected and networked. So that was the next need that kind of rose up. And then from there, we started getting referred to other doctors. So to other doctors and then out of that kind of business, I'll tell you a short stories, so we ended up getting referred to a set of doctors and I'll tell you another piece of it afterwards. They were based at a hospital in two neurosurgeons. Two of them were in the hospital called Sunil Hospital. Another two were in another hospital called Olive Dale Clinic and they wanted to connect their practice. So they had, so they sat down and said can you do this and the salesman that I am, I said yes we can and we've never done it before. So at that time, technology wasn't yet in a place where they had a good way of doing this, Lanex was. So we had some really bright friends from our university that had built something called leveraging the Lanex technology. So we set up a wide area network between these two hospitals and it leveraged almost like an exchange server between them, you called OCS leveraging Lanex technology. So at that time, the only way to do that was with ISDN technology and in South Africa at that time you got billed for a minute, every time the call connected. So every time an ISDN connection came up they got billed for one minute. So there was something wrong in the server, it would connect and drop the call 20 times in a minute. So in one minute they were being built for 20. Anyway, long story short, we ended up with the hugest bill and these doctors were unbelievably stressed and we just confronted the reality with them and said look guys and we went and dealt with it with the local telco provider eventually getting it squashed and from them, they referred us to our biggest deal ever which was a school that his daughter was attending and, or son, I can't remember and we ended up doing like a huge deal that selling them all their computers, networking everything and that ended up being a flow of cash that enabled us to do some other things and this was before we actually started doing annuity, which happened, that kind of started happening late 99’, early 2000.
00:18:55 - 00:20:46
Right, it's interesting. You mentioned the connectivity issues, ISDN has high speed internet back in the late 90s. In the mid 90s, you were cobbling together modems that were, you put two modems together and you get an almighty, I think was what, 56K. Right and ISDN, then we went, wow ISDN. Today I'm operating from doing a bit of a digital nomad experience in Lake Como, we've got a satellite connection here and we're talking about 30 megabits per second, that means I can do a podcast. So a lot of people don't realize that you couldn't do a lot back in the late 90s, early 2000s. What we can do today is just amazing. I can upload a 300 mega file in a couple few minutes here, talking high definition video. So that's, you know, I think I'm always very grateful for the technology today that we didn't have 20 years ago or sometimes even 10 years ago. So, that's interesting how you group. Now the other thing that I'm interested in is you obviously as a managed service provider which looks after maintenance of people and outsource maintenance provider, you talk about digital transformation. Now, the interesting thing is that I think a lot of people are moving towards. Not everyone's doing it, but a lot of people are, is putting together digital dashboards that give you the data on growth, conversions, other things as well. So does Microsoft have a solution for that or do you customize that or do you do it at all?
00:20:47 - 00:23:44
Yes, that's definitely something we do. And Microsoft have got a great technology stack, they call it Power Platform and the particular tool within Power Platform is called Power BI and it's like Excel and pivot tables on steroids if you use Excel and pivot tables at all, that might help just land it. And it enables you to take the front end of a really powerful dashboarding tool and connected to multiple different databases so that you can have live metrics showing how is your business performing and what are those actual numbers, what are the trends and, you know, the one thing I've definitely learned in my entrepreneurial journey is the closer to the actual time I can have those insights, the more informed my decisions will be. So yeah, Power BI is a great tool. That's something we actually do for our customers, you know, in the dynamic of the red ocean that the MSP space has become. We had to do a huge rethink of how we're going to differentiate and find a blue ocean in what is the reddest ocean and for those who don't know what a red ocean is. It comes from the book Blue Ocean Strategy where they say where your market is overly competitive, it's a red ocean and where you've created a space that is less competitive or you're actually on your own in that space, it's a blue ocean. So we took this need of, we saw in our customers like dashboarding and reporting automation, enabling their users to adopt the technology they already have and leveraging that technology stack, they already have to have a meaningful impact on their business. We call the offering innovative and we actually offer a guarantee. So we say to the customers and I'll just use a random number for $5,000 a month, we will find these opportunities in your business, whether it's dashboarding, automation, reporting, adoption, training and we will guarantee that we will find you $60,000 worth of ROI before the end of that first 12 month period. And it talks to your point earlier around digital transformation, where what we believe is digital transformation is not a once off occurrence in a business. It's actually a state of mind and it's something that needs to be perpetually pursued within an organization. That's why we've taken an annuity approach to it and not a project based approach because if you just look in the marks of technology stack the office 365 stack, the rate at which Microsoft releases new tools that can have a huge impact on your business is such a big opportunity and we've kind of customized our innovate service to be able to make the most of those opportunities.
00:23:45 - 00:24:33
Right. That's fascinating. So what detected that as well is that you are primarily almost a monthly subscription product service.
Okay. And what's great about that and a lot of companies that include both products and services moving towards a subscription business model, because what's great about a subscription business model is it's much more predictable in revenue because you're not chasing mock project after project, it is almost, it's predictable. And then the other thing you have to work on is making sure your customers are happy. So you make sure that your churn losing customers is minimal. So how long have you been running the subscription model ever since you started, essentially, or when did that happen?
00:24:34 - 00:27:36
No, it started, the first subscription customer we closed was in 1999. I remember talking to the team and they're saying, but this is crazy what happens if they go, if they just keep on calling us out every day and, you know, there was so much anxiety around it and we sat and we looked at the numbers, we said we've averaged $4000 a month for the last 22 months, there is very little risk here. It's going to make it more predictable for us. And there were a lot of learnings. I mean our initial model, the way we tried to mitigate that risk, Jeff, was we said, okay, fine if you sign an agreement for $4,000 a month and that totals $48,000 in the year. We had a way of tracking the amount of time that we spent looking after that customer and we said to them if you are a good customer and you don't abuse the support and it's balanced. And there is a residual for example, let's say it ended up being $36,000 a month. $36,000 is what you spent for the year. We would now have, sorry not, yeah, $36,000. We would have a $12,000 residual and that $12,000 residual we would give the customer back $4,000. We would give $4,000 to the on site technician that looked after you and then we would keep $4,000 for ourselves. That was our initial reimbursement model. And the way that we've managed this dynamic is of having annuity and making sure that the customer is happy with us. We're obsessed with measuring that to the extent that the customers complain and we've struggled at times to find a balance on every ticket. Every ticket, a ticket is basically a request for support. You can rate your experience, we use the net promoter score for that. And we also have a net promoter outreach that we do across the entire base. And then we also have something based on the American customer satisfaction index where we do a proactive outbound telephone call to our key contact every two months and we catalog that. And then another piece that we do to make sure that our customers are happy is we have an internal audit function where we audit the work that we've done as a quality control function. And we engage with the customer to get a sense of their experience. So I think that's for any business wanting to build a subscription annuity. I think knowing if your customers are happy or not is critically important because it can take two or three incidents. And suddenly the sentiment has changed, the CEO is in a meeting and he's like, I'm done with these guys. They're not reliable. We need to find another provider. So, we're obsessed with that and we still get it wrong, there's some customers that we lose and we're very good at picking it up. But you still can lose customers like that.
00:27:36 - 00:28:56
Yeah, well we're human so there's going to be mistakes made. So, now the thing we also wanted to talk about that is we're in the middle of a lot of change in the world. We've got inflation, we've got a little war going on in Europe, which we want to make sure it doesn't turn into a big war. And I saw your comment in LinkedIn about it and I totally agree, in a modern day and age, we don't leave this stuff. And yeah, it's just madness really is. I thought we’re little bit more grown up as humans lately. So, in all this change and you've been through a lot of it, you've been through Y2K, you've been through the GFC and now we're in the middle of the pandemic as well. So there's been a lot of change. So number one, we've talked about quickly how you've managed crises or change. Number two, the other thing I'm really curious about is remote work. How have you dealt with that? And is it a hybrid model? Is it totally remote and talk to that as well? So firstly how you've managed crises all change and maybe talk about just today. So interested in your thoughts.
00:28:57 - 00:36:12
So, I think there is a further economic reset coming, how severe it's going to be. I don't have a crystal ball and I can't exactly predict, but we have a huge responsibility as entrepreneurs, whether it's our own livelihood or 5 people or 100 people that were looking after to think deeply, act decisively when we are confronted with these situations. So I mean, I think you've seen in the press, a lot of large organizations doing layoffs, a lot of technology companies doing layoffs and cutbacks. And this is I think the beginning. A lot of the sentiment is that the first quarter of 2023 is where it's going to land. And we went through 2001-2002 reset, the 2008-2009 reset, Y2K as you said, 2020 with the pandemic. And then so if I were to maybe just share kind of one short story about 2008-2009, we had, I'd come back from a trip to the US, I always like to visit other MSPs. I visited one in Austin and I visited one in Boston. And when I, this was in 2008 and I saw they didn't have a receptionist and both of them had a sign saying dial this number on the phone there if you want to talk to someone. So and the economy had already started to wobble in the US much earlier than it had hit South Africa. So I got back from this trip and I drafted a note saying this is coming, it's gonna hit us. And these were what I suggested. I sent it to my partners at the time and I went for lunch that same day and I was, we were looking at an acquisition and I got a call from from my partner Brian, he said Orrin, I need to talk to you urgently. So I stepped away from the lunch. And our largest customer, a law firm at the time that was by far most profitable customer had merged with another law firm. And they were going to be letting us go and taking the ITN House. So we lost about 20% of our revenue in that incident. And then two weeks later, our second biggest customer said they want to, we needed to reduce the charge by about a third. But they wanted the same resources or they were gonna hire our people and they were willing to fight us legally with that because our contracts forbid that and it was a scary time. But we confronted the reality, we cut costs aggressively and we look to see how this economic crisis could be leveraged to turn it into an opportunity because like we were rethinking everything. We saw lots of our customers and potential customers were rethinking everything. And that is a phenomenal opportunity we found in our experience to get in front of new customers. So we were able to grow through that, we lost a lot of revenue but we were able to respond quickly with agility and actually turn it into opportunity then to talk about remote work. I think we were very much for a technology company and in office culture until about 2020 I mean probably 70-80%. We never forced it. But it was just like I never worked from home very rarely, even in like whether I was in South Africa or New York. If I wanted to do work on the weekend, I'll go to the office. It was just that was my M.O and that's what I thought, you know, and then the pandemic broke. We had expensive offices in Manhattan, expensive offices in Johannesburg. And we literally had office space for over 250 people in Johannesburg. We have office space for probably in excess of 50 people in Manhattan and Manhattan office space. No, not cheap at all. So we were looking down the barrel of a pandemic, we didn't know how badly it was going to hit us. We had two, again a similar incident, we had two customers, two of our biggest customers. One, they were taking all of their IT inhouse despite how happy they were. We were going to lose them and another customer of ours, large customers that we did a global outsource. They would look, they did a tender for global outsource, we didn't have offices in all those locations. So we're looking down the barrel of that what we were going to do. So now COVID there people aren't going into the office. We've got all of this office space. So we just cut back viciously, very tough negotiation with the landlord in New York. Probably one of the proudest and toughest negotiations of my life were able to get out of that lease we had to settle, but we got out of it and then we sold our business building in Johannesburg. So now we are in a place where we have, we've taken offices again, we have a small office in Manhattan, we got two offices in New Jersey, we've downscaled massively. We have offices in, we took new offices in Johannesburg, but it's really just small space when you look at the total number of our people. And so we've embraced remote work for ourselves and we've embraced it and enabled it for our customers. Because leveraging technology, you can enable it in an unbelievable way. So, but I suppose if I would be vulnerable and honest, Jeff, we haven't found the clear replacement for the magic that we had with in person. So what's the benefit? We've got people that are probably traveling an hour to two hours less a day than they were before they've replaced that time with exercise, time with their families, time for themselves. So if you look at the core premise of ours, purpose, supporting the dreams of the doers, which is really around leading a balanced life while still doing great work. It has had a massive impact on our people's lives. What's the negative? I don't think we're as connected as we used to be and I think we're leaning on the fact that some of us have the majority of the business was around before 2020 and we're still connected. But for new people joining their church now, I think it's harder and we're trying to do more in person stuff. We do not force people to go into the office at all. I think our dreams program has helped. So our dreams program and very short is your top 10 personal goals and dreams visualized and it lives, there is a place where that lives within our culture and we do a thing called a dream connect where you meet with someone you don't work with and you share your personal goals and dreams and get to know each other better. So I think that's helped in the time, but we haven't really figured it out yet. So there's lots of positive, there is some negative, I think the positive outweighs the negative and I think we will innovate around the challenges we've had of not seeing each other face to face and come up with good solutions.
00:36:13 - 00:37:11
It really is a change. And I think it's going to take a few years for us to work out this and it's going to be different for each company, but it's, I think it's definitely gonna be hybrid, some are going, definitely totally remote, but I think you're right, that becomes how do you build that rapport with someone remotely, it's breaking bread, whether it's having a glass of wine when it's eating lunch with someone is a totally different experience and you can't replace that with a Zoom call, I'm sorry, so, or they say in Microsoft teams call, so, but it's really the other thing that you've mentioned to is the dreams program, I actually heard of a company interviewed someone I think about a year ago and that just hired a dreams manager, so I don't know whether you've done that, in other words, your goal.
00:37:11 - 00:37:12
Yes, we do.
00:37:12 - 00:37:59
You do awesome, so it's the second time I've heard that and what's really fantastic about that is that you as a company are trying to facilitate their dreams, so you're on the same page together and I think that is, that is awesome because work is such an important part of our lives, so, and to make sure that you are helping them achieve their dreams and that doesn't mean achieving their dreams of surfing all day, but it's the dream of actually growing personally, being healthy, having a great family relationships, good work relationships, so that is really fascinating, so, yeah, that's great to hear.
00:38:00 - 00:40:08
Yeah, we have a dream person that manages our dreams program, we have dream groups, the dream coaches per dream group, and it kind of, there's a whole lot of work that was done in the space years ago where the, it was think that they were advocating the idea that you can actually achieve more in an eight hour day if you're balanced than if you're just incessantly working 12 to 16 hour days. And there's some businesses that do thrive like that, Jeff, and they get away with it, like the banks, some of the banks do that, you know, and some organization cultures are like that, that is not our organizational culture or it's not the aspiration of it. We believe our personal or business lives are inextricably linked. You spend more time working than you do anything else. A great couple of really good books is Tony Schwartz and James Loehr, James Loehr and Tony Schwartz did a book called The Power of Full Engagement, which talks about almost a case study of a guy that's burning out. And then Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness, talks about this dynamic. Matthew Kelly's book, The Dream Manager, talks about it and the idea is that you can really build a culture that encourages people to be balanced and active father or mother and be healthy and fit and still do truly great work. And the balancing here, Jeff, is we are a meritocracy. So as you said, you can't say, look, I served all day because it's my dream books, I didn't get the work done, you have to balance it, you have to still deliver, But it's something that makes me love work that I do and it's something that, you know, we protect and it's also something that makes nature not for everybody because some people really do believe work is work and don't ask me about my personal life and don't ask me to share about my personal life is none of your business, then make sure it's not for you. But if you do embrace the idea of a workplace that wants to support you in achieving what you really want in your life, then that type of culture would be a good fit for you.
00:40:09 - 00:42:21
Yeah, it's fascinating and thank you for those three books and it's very sad that Tony Hsieh is no longer with us. He passed away a couple of years ago in a house fire, so, but Zappos is one of my initial just aspirated, like seeing how he ran the business was just quite amazing and when he sold it, he went and lived in a caravan in Las Vegas and build a community around that, that was pretty cool. But the other thing that you mentioned about, we talked a little bit about mentioned happiness, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh one book, but the other thing that's interesting, I was just in the middle of reading a book by Seth Godin, he wrote it a couple of years ago and he says a really interesting sentence, he says a lot of people say do what you love but he says it's actually more important to love what you do. And I think the, what I get from that is that enjoy the practice of creating whether it's creating a product or service as an entrepreneur or creating a piece of art, but fall in love with the process. Be curious about the outcomes. The reality is that when you reach the outcome it doesn't make you any happier. It just means that you've achieved a goal and goals are good, nothing wrong with goals. But I think enjoying the practice of being a professional and I think we're innately creative as humans and falling and getting to fall in love with the process. I remember a great and also I think it was Steven Spielberg, was it Steven Spielberg or, yes, I think whether it's him or not, but he said that he realized that he's in love with the whole process of creating from the idea to the manifestation to the sharing. And there's another great quote which I found interesting too, was unless you share it, it doesn't count.
00:42:22 - 00:42:23
I love that.
00:42:24 - 00:42:52
So I think what you've done with, you know, having a dream manager is pretty cool. I think what you're doing and have done for 24 years. And that's the other part of being an entrepreneur is it's a long game, isn't it? Yeah. And you're 24 years in, so what's next or are you continuing to grow the company enjoying that process?
00:42:52 - 00:46:38
Yeah. So, you know, you said a couple of interesting things and I was in, you know, I'm a member of Entrepreneurs Organization and I was in my forum meeting last week and man, I cannot recommend this enough for any entrepreneurs out there, Jeff. I'm a better entrepreneur and I'm more successful because of Entrepreneurs Organization where you meet with other entrepreneurs and share and the one entrepreneur in my group, his name is Yazeed Hassan, just a phenomenal, like really inspirational entrepreneur. And we were talking about the idea of as an entrepreneur or CEO, you sometimes lose passion and like you arrive at a place where you're not as excited or passionate about it. And he spoke of a book that I haven't read yet, which I have downloaded, which I'm going to listen to. It's called The Great CEO Within by Matt Mochary or Mochary, I'm not sure how you pronounce that. And he spoke of an exercise that you do as an entrepreneur, anybody in their role actually when you look at your calendar and even if you want printed out and go and highlight green, the things that give you energy yellow, the things that bore you a bit and maybe read the things that absolutely are like an energy vortex and I just thought that was the most amazing share to do because if we are enjoying what we're doing and it's energizing us it's going to have an impact on the rest of the business. So this is an exercise that I'm definitely going to do and then what's next? You know, I've been doing this literally full time since 97’ and I absolutely love what I do. I just never ever can do everything on my to do list. There's always more ideas and opportunities that we have time in the day and I am balanced. I've been balanced since 2007 and I protect that viciously because I know, you know. that Kobe's sharpen the sore if I burn out. It has an impact on too many people and it's also me dishonoring my own self love. So what's next? We want to build a huge MSP in the US and we're doing that through both acquisitive and organic growth and I am unbelievably excited about that journey and it is a function of timing as well. A lot of the MSP owners in the US are either in their late 40s, late 50s have spent their adult life building this business and they're looking to have a next chapter in their journey and potentially have a liquidity event. So it's a market that is right for consolidation there, 30,000 to 40,000 MSPs in the US alone depending what stats you look at. So I'm probably the most excited I've ever been. So that's what's next for us. We have these very very bold growth plans and what I want to do as we grow. Number one I want to protect the culture as we grow because if that goes good people leave and with that good clients go and number two protect the quality of service because if we get that wrong, it's the beginning of the end. So those are the two balancing pieces. But I really want to build something very significant. It was my birthday last week Monday so I turned 48, I don't ever want to retire. Maybe I'll get fired one day. I could think of lots of reasons why I could have been fired in the past but as long as the business will have me I'll stay around.
00:46:39 - 00:47:56
Right. That's awesome. I just love all of those tips and I look and check out that book as well, The Great CEO Within that sounds great and I do love and I've been mentioned quite a few times and that's certainly in mind is what gives you energy and what sucks your energy and if it sucks your energy, I think you've delegated and part of one thing that does give me energy is creating, writing and as I write I learn which then feeds into the business strategically and also contribute to the content as well because we're a media publisher effectively digital media publisher. So yeah, exactly right. What gives you energy? That is and also what do you do when you forget time? I think that's the other part of that equation. And that's called Flow, which is a great book by an author called Flow Cienski didn't pronounce it correctly, but that is worth reading. So now, just to wrap it up a model of your time and so just a few tips that you've learned on the way as an entrepreneur that you'd like to leave with our viewers and listeners that you think are really important on your journey as an entrepreneur.
00:47:57 - 00:48:13
So the one is fresh and more amplified because of a book I read. And the book's name is the $100 Million Offer by Alex Hormozi.
00:48:13 - 00:48:17
I read that actually six months ago. Awesome book.
00:48:17 - 00:50:01
Yeah, I've been listening, I'm doing audio, I've been listening to it again and again and I think is entrepreneurs, if it's particularly for B2B, because I'm B2B and, you know, that's kind of my experience in the frame of reference here when looking at sales and marketing, if we can make sure that the nature of the offer is very, very compelling or so compelling that they almost cannot say no to at least that first meeting, it has an impact on all your investment and all your growth and like I shared the story earlier when we first committed to doing a sort of a capped monthly annuity, it was scary at that time and we're like oh my gosh, what happens if they call us out 100 times a month and most offers that have some type of guarantee, we'll scare you like that, but you can you can figure it out live, so I'd say put a lot of energy into the way you package your offer because it's going to have an impact and open doors, so that's the one thing, so, and if you want to go and have a practical book, you can read to make you think about that deeply and applied, I would say that Alex Hormozi’s $100 million Offer. Secondly, I deeply, deeply believe in the dynamic of finding the right people and I was blessed from the beginning to connect with unbelievable people and always trying to protect that, that the people that you are like how can you limit assholes in your business, you know, literally.
00:50:02 - 00:50:08
That's interesting, life's too short to work with assholes right away, that's it.
00:50:08 - 00:51:57
That's it and, you know, you look at it and I know many of friends that have gone into large enterprise businesses and so forth and that, so what often you'll find in larger enterprise businesses. They said this guy hits his numbers every year. So that's it, we're keeping him, we're promoting him etcetera etcetera. Where if you read Marcus Buckingham’s book and that huge gallup research which they've continued, and it's on the gallop website, the book’s called First, Break All The Rules where they interviewed now, I think it's over a million staff and over 100,000 companies and the one in primary insight that came out of that people work for managers,so I might be working for Google, but my manager is an asshole and then I work and then my friend is working at a smaller consulting business and his manager is empathetic, cares about him, looks after, he will stay as long as they're looking after him, he will stay. The guy Google if he can't see a way of moving away from the manager will inevitably leave and that's the dynamic, make sure you're employing good people that connect with your culture. The other thing out of that book is they come up with 12 questions that if their answers to those 12 questions are positive, you can Google this, you just galloped 12 questions employee engagement 12 questions. If you want to go and see what those 12 questions are, and one of them is, do you have a best friend at work? That's like someone think like this, that's a ridiculous question, but so that's, so the first is think about the office that you're building to win as a growing entrepreneurial business and Alex Hormozi’s book and then the people. I cannot stress enough who you hire, fire and promote has the biggest, biggest impact on your business. And First,Break All The Rules, for me is a great, great book so I could care for them for a long time, but those would be two turfs that I would share right now.
00:51:57 - 00:52:30
Yeah, I love it when you talked about hiring the right people and then get out of their way and actually make it easy for them to actually do their job. And I came across a statement recently which said that your job as a CEO and entrepreneur is to make sure people can do their job and get out of the way, number two because then they will actually be able to serve the customer. So it's really, it's just quite simple but sometimes hard to do.
00:52:30 - 00:53:01
There's an amazing last book I just want to reference called Multiplies by Liz McKeown and Liz Wiseman, sorry and Greg McKeown, and it profiles exactly that what you just said, managers getting out of the way of talented people amplifies the quality of their work and the quality of their thinking and it actually does case studies of talented people that are micromanaged and how they really, really struggle. So I couldn't agree with that more.
00:53:01 - 00:53:10
Yeah, and it's so important and I think the pandemics taught us to trust more because you can't manage by walking around.
00:53:11 - 00:53:52
It doesn't mean that they're not accountable, like this is the goals you want to hit and how can we do it? But I'm constantly amazed by the ideas that come up by my team. And I, there's one guy I was chatting to, he said I was losing all my team every year within 12 months. So our HR guy came in and said let me look at what you're doing. He was micromanaging and the employee said you don't need me, you're doing it all I'm leaving.
So, Orrin, it's been an absolute pleasure mate, as they say in America, buddy.
00:53:52 - 00:53:53
00:53:53 - 00:54:14
To have a chat and thank you for all those books, this Amazon is going to get about $100 hit in the next 60 minutes. But thank you very much. It's been an absolute pleasure and I've learned so much and thank you for sharing because that's where we make a difference. Thank you very much.
00:54:15 - 00:54:37
Yeah, only a pleasure and I've enjoyed this time with you and your story, for those who don't necessarily know, you go online and actually look at your episode zero and some of your background, I think your story is an inspirational one that will resonate with a lot of people. So yeah, I've really enjoyed this time. Thank you, Jeff.
00:54:37 - 00:54:50
Thank you very much, Orrin. It's been a pleasure, and I look forward to catching up with you and in a corner of the world, maybe when you're doing a Lisbon digital experiment next door, wherever. Okay, buddy, thank you very much.
00:54:51 - 00:54:53
Okay. Thanks, Jeff.
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