Tony Chiappetta is the CEO of Advanced Microcomputing Concepts (AMC) Modern IT, and his goal is to change the IT game to people-first instead of focused on fixing tech problems. He’s accomplished this over the last years by streamlining his firm and clients to run almost entirely on Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams. As a result, his clients – companies with 20 to 500 people – have been able to consolidate their IT demands into a single platform. To understand how Tony made it to this point, we have to take a step back in 2002.
Two years after graduating from the University of Southern California in 2000, Tony decided to leave the corporate world and become an entrepreneur. He had to face a lot of resistance from his father, who thought his son was taking the wrong business path. But Tony believed in himself and carried on. So, as every new business owner does, he started looking for clients, and it took him 1,000 cold-calls before landing his first client.
Revolutionizing IT with “Less is More”
At the start, Tony’s company, AMC Modern IT, was doing what every IT company does: fixing problems. Over the years, his team grew up to 24 employees in 2014, but things were not running smooth. On the contrary, they were constantly trying to plug tech holes, pull all-nighters, and solve an overwhelming amount of problems. That’s when Tony realized something had to change. What if instead of fixing problems he could prevent them from happening? That’s why he developed a 400-point process to systematically address every IT problem. By continuously reviewing the checklist, he discovered this was preventing 80% of the traditional IT issues. Without reactive issues to solve, he started dedicating his efforts to training his clients on using Microsoft products more effectively, resulting in saving 4 hours a week per employee.
And now here’s Tony Chiappetta.
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Podcast with Tony Chiappetta. Believe in Yourself & Simplify Your Life.
people, work, business, teams, started, clients, tools, felt, tony, roles, journey, creating, security, mike, microsoft, company, problem, realized, spiritual journey, head
Mike Malatesta, Tony Chiappetta
Mike Malatesta 00:02
Today I’m fulfilling my promise to you with another amazing guest. Tony Chiappetta joins me today, Tony, welcome to the podcast. Thank you, Mike. If you’re familiar with Tony already, you have an idea of the amazing insights that are coming your way. And if you haven’t yet heard of Tony, you’ll be happy you did today, and here’s why. Tony Chiappetta is the founder and CEO of Advanced Micro computing concepts, modern it or anti modern it for short. His mission is to change the it game to people first, instead of focused on fixing tech problems heartbeats, not hardware is his trademark, love that. By the way, Tony. Thank you, his journey includes starting MC it only two years after graduating from USC, calling on more than 1000 people before landing his first client working himself and his team to the bone before finally realizing that simplifying his approach, and creating process in his business was the key to faster growth, higher profits, happier employees and more personal freedom, and we’re going to hear all about how he’s done that right now. Tony, I start every podcast with the same simple question. How did happen for you.
Tony Chiappetta 04:30
By believing I could. And then going through my journey through the ups and downs to figure out what my purpose was, and doing what I do, and aligning that to the service to the structure, the outcomes that we create.
Mike Malatesta 04:53
Okay in the believing that you could so that’s something that a lot of people, including me from time to time, struggle with, even though I’ve started a couple of businesses. I know sometimes inside I believe I could but then when I think about all the things that have to happen to make it happen I start to believe that maybe I can’t How did, how do you handle, or how did you know that you could, or how did you know to believe that you could.
Tony Chiappetta 05:22
Mike I was 2324. And there was just something inside me and I was raised to go to school, get a job. Get a good retirement plan and go on but there was just something inside me that that crossed my soul. And I felt like I had such a higher calling or purpose and I didn’t know what it was but I just felt like I needed to do more and and I being inside of. And I had a great job, but work and I traveled and did some really amazing stuff but I just didn’t see myself working up the corporate ladder. For decades, as a 20 to 23 year old kid that had a long way to go and there was a large line in front of them no matter what direction I went and kind of being in a cube and not really being able to get out and do what I felt. I was more than capable and I didn’t know what that was yet but I just felt that I couldn’t I shouldn’t if I was going to do it. That was the time because I was still living with my mom. Just not embarrassed to say or, Maybe I am. Well, it was easier to do because I had a car payment, and that was about it. In some, some school debt but that’s a lot less than, you know, I didn’t have a family and children and a whole lot of major responsibility that pushed me to think that now is the time and if I’m going to do it, jump in with two feet give it my best and if I fail I can live with it.
Mike Malatesta 07:06
And when you so that the mentality that you’ve sort of went into school with or came out with, you know, get a good job, you know, with benefits all that stuff is that something that came from the way you were brought up, or was it something that maybe your colleagues were in classmates were sort of thinking when you were in school.
Tony Chiappetta 07:29
That’s what, that’s what my father did. You know he was born overseas and got a job in the factory at 16 worked all the way through he retired from that job at 36 because they wanted to move back to Wisconsin and all the kids vetoed that so we got another job at a great company and did another amazing job building that company up. And that was the safe move and I would equate that to mean that at the end of the day that’s our egos job is to keep us safe. And that, that puppy pumps out 2000 thoughts a day most of them aren’t so kind to help protect us and I’m air quoting right now. And they don’t creep in to say just do this it’s safe, you don’t want to, you don’t want to be in a spot where you’re not safe, right, and as you get deeper than that as I got deeper that I was going through a little bit of a spirit of a spiritual journey of time to to really understand life on a deeper level. I started tapping in some more of the I could, and the belief that’s, I don’t know maybe a layer deeper than the ego to shine through that and just say you know what I’m going to give that a go. Why not, what’s the worst that could happen.
Mike Malatesta 08:43
And where did that. Where did that spiritual journey, sort of come from was it was it like I’m wondering what it was like, what, when, cuz spiritual means a whole lot of different things to a whole lot of different people What did what did it mean to you and what was the journey like then, You
Tony Chiappetta 09:01
know, so I’ll get completely vulnerable with you I was raised Catholic. I went, I went, I was lucky enough to, after I graduated college I went to Europe, and just didn’t, did like a road trip through Europe. And I got to the Vatican. And I saw this beautiful city made of pretty much gold and outside of the Vatican wall there is all these people that were hungry and begging and little kids that were trying to get into my backpack to steal stuff. Right. And so I got through that and I got an I had to go through a turnstile, and I think 9000, or whatever, what is the time to get there. And it just made me question things about my religion that I felt at the time, maybe there’s a deeper sense, and I don’t, I love my Catholic upbringing and the morals that I was raised with and I, and for me though my journey took me to try to understand from a different level and started reading and learning a little bit more about Eastern religions and and coming to the understanding that it’s all somewhat coming from the same spot I don’t mean to turn us into too much of a. I asked. But, but that’s kind of where I was at the time when I was 23 I was questioning what I was brought up with. And looking internally and then started getting into things like meditation and looking for something that was a little bit deeper than what I felt when I went to the Vatican and I saw this facade of all of this wealth and riches and. And I just really struggled with that like I don’t I don’t know why it wasn’t like something happened and it just turned me on this journey to like get deeper into more of a spiritual than a religious quest for myself.
Mike Malatesta 10:52
Okay. It’s, um, so I was raised Catholic, too. And I, at some point after high school or probably in high school I started to be like, you know, I appreciate every, I appreciate the structure and the belief system, but I was always a little bit like I you know I think I’ve heard everything that you say, because I’ve been coming to church for, you know all this time, and it’s soon it starts to repeat itself and I thought to myself, Man, if I don’t have it in my head now of what it takes to be a good person. I’m you know I’m probably, I don’t know, there’s probably something wrong with me so I thought to myself why, and then I just kind of stopped and it’s interesting that you kind of continued, you know, exploring because I just kind of stopped and that was before the, you know, the priest stuffs became really well known and not and then all the others, the extravagance, that you mentioned, I mean just recently the. There were several Vatican officials that were indicted because they stole millions and millions of dollars it’s
weird. It’s heartbreaking.
Tony Chiappetta 12:08
Yeah, yeah. And you know that that’s their intention is pure. I like to believe that at least, but for me it just I wanted some deeper and so that’s kind of what took me down into a place where I tried to separate the ego from kind of my subconscious and listening to my gut and just, just, you know, believing in trusting. And so that’s what, what, you know, my, my, my father at the time, my boss who’s, you know, probably my best friend, as well. Now, was like, What are you doing, this is ridiculous, you need to, you know you’re, I started having some traction I started out, I was working for the large corporate environment and I went, I mean after calling 1000 people and having 999 Yo, knows to get my first Yes. And then to be able to come into, you know, two locations with 50 users a piece for it like I can do that with my hands tied behind my back and I came in and fixed a massive problem that they were happening I felt wonderful about it. and I was off, I was like, I have like I’m building. I have a customer. I’m on my way. I’m doing this right, and I remember that the day my dad said what are you doing this is ridiculous. I didn’t send you to school for you to blow it all, and I was just like, oh, god punch. Appreciate that. No, that that’s coming from a place of love and wanting to protect me. But I’m, I’m getting after this. I can do this, and I just, so I did. And so I got another client, real estate was booming in the early 2000s and an agent would lead to another real estate broker and so they would refer me because I was, I really enjoy just helping people being social and understanding what their problems are and in fixing their business challenge or what’s, what’s, you know, inflicting their ability to live their best life which oftentimes right the problems. From my experience, I would solve that. And I would help them and go my way and so I would get referred to other places and I was often. And that kind of started my journey of trying to figure out how to go from being an engineer to building a business. And as I started, it was just call me when there’s a problem, and the nature of my business was 100% react. And, and so as I grew I needed to bring on somebody and kind of just say alright just be ready because you’re going to get stuff from all over, and while I could draw from my experience, people that I hired certainly could not and so I would have to kind of train them up and they would kind of start and I would come in and finish that necessary and eventually they get okay before they go get another job or what, but I would I would build out this business model and think that if I just started doing some, some practice services like making sure backups are happening every day, making sure antivirus is happening every day. I can keep growing this because I’m being proactive. And so I started doing, and building a business around these proactive tools and services. And eventually, you know that the business model was taking the revenue that came in as well because at the time any revenue was good revenue. And so I learned the hard way that that’s not true. And I built the company with no real set structure I built it with. If you didn’t want to have any monthly contract, we were your guys if you want us to do a project where you guys if you want to have a complete full service flat rate for everything where your guys and everything in between. And it just created this chaos I had hundreds of different tools eventually because I needed to keep solving problems that I thought I could rely on technology tools. And I built it to a point of about 2324 people, hundreds of clients appeared in complete chaos of reactive, as in the reactive spiral of death, because their everyday, it was just a new issue and the guys who would hire the girls I would hire they were. I couldn’t train them on how to just sit there and be ready for anything that comes your way, much less hey there’s a new person starting at this company, set them up the way I have it in my head.
Mike Malatesta 16:38
Yeah this is mostly
Tony Chiappetta 16:39
straight up do it perfectly for my head. Oh by the way, I’m not in the office today so do it from my head and just pretend and then I’ll wait for the person to call and I just would get yelled at. And the chief apology officer. And eventually, an employee came crying or came to me and I just gave him a raise and he kind of shoved it back, like, proverbially across the table and said keep, you can keep your money. Boss, there’s no side, I spent the last two weekends in a server room different server rooms. I can’t deal with this. I don’t want to be responsive, I just want to go back to my old way of not being responsible for the outcomes for every one of our clients, and that became a huge inflection point for mags I have it on my wall because it was seven 720 14 which is the day of this recording like
Mike Malatesta 17:31
no seven years later, seven years later Oh cool.
Tony Chiappetta 17:35
Yeah, interesting. And so, so I wrote on my wall it’s still there, it’s bright etched on my window. Marker boys now completely permanent. Our turning point I said, this is the day that we have to change things. My purpose at the time was to, to improve the lives of those around me, and inspire others to do the same. Starting with our employees and I was killing them. So I had to figure out what to do there. That was, that was part of the journey.
Mike Malatesta 18:06
Okay, so you said so many great things there I want to just explore a few of them if you don’t mind. First off, 999, noes, to get the first yes now you started this you answered the How’d it happen question by saying that you believe that you could by believing that I quote or something along those lines and I’m wondering, along the path of those 999, noes, was there a point or were there points where you began to question whether you believed, or were you just like that’s the thing that’s the thing I wonder who’s going to do 999 things to get the one thing that they actually want. Not many people are going to do that.
Yeah, and I don’t know if it was exactly nine I know that’s fine, all the way through, are in the yellow pages of everything that looked like a business in the yellow pages I looked like I can use it simple before I finally came
to where I needed to be and so yeah when I picked up the phone, I experienced this belief because I was on the other end where people would call me asking for help now I’m calling and reaching out to them which was helpful for me.
I felt like I was that sales guy that had a stigma. And then as I as I call him I didn’t know what even I was, I was even asking for talking to the receptionist saying, do you need it support wasn’t working so I had to figure out that I need to make sure that I’m calling for the person that handles it.
so that was frustrating because I was burning dials and I didn’t when I finally got somebody on the phone I would I would cramp up and be nervous about it even. And then eventually finally got to finally started getting to decision makers and they would say no and I’d be like, okay, and I just keep going down the phone as I didn’t have a CRM I didn’t have anything. I literally was just going through the yellow pages with my finger.
Mike Malatesta 20:07
Just write notes to
each one, just looking. Alright, next, next, and then it was tough because I was, I was already being told you can’t do it. All right, you know, I wasn’t sure in my own head. If I can do it, like the ego takes on thoughts I believe that in my gut, but my head starts having different thoughts and so yeah, like of course. But then you get the little breakthroughs that reaffirm where you’re going, finally some guys, wonderful guy just recently passed away, said yeah you know I’m having some problems, I’ll give you a shot. And I was like great how does. I’m free next Tuesday which I had nothing in my calendar whatsoever but I tried to make it seem like they did. They had words to me so I wouldn’t talk to him and he just said you know what kidding he was a little Italian guy like little, little sausage fingers like hairy. Scary. He’s just like the sweetest like, man, he’s like you know I can you remind me of myself when I was your age, I’m going to give you a shot. That’s how I got my first customer, and he, his company called me a few weeks later when they’re having some issues. Finally, and I was off and then bam, we’re off we’re off and running. One of the,
Mike Malatesta 21:25
that’s a cool story was he so with the fingers was he have a construction company or Mason or something like that or just. He’s a real estate guy. He’s a real estate
broker, but he was like, you know like that. Yeah I know, like old my old Italian might have a pinkie ring or something. He couldn’t have been more like he was all a 5253 with some boots on. And just like the nicest
older man that just just said, All right, I’ll give you a shot prior, he brought in anything better. The saw that I just came at the right time
but he did give me a shot. Yeah, I owe him a ton of, he was what started it and a lot of ways.
Mike Malatesta 22:13
You said also that when you first started taking on business, you know, you basically one size fits all, like if you have something, I can, I can do it right, no matter what you need, I can do it and it resonated with me because when I got started my first business I was 26 or 27 years old, and my partner and I were just really dedicated to doing whatever we had to to make it a success and I remember thinking, so we had a real hard time saying no to ever to anything because we always equated saying no to being lazy you know so if you said no to somebody, it was like, you didn’t try hard enough and it that that thinking was, you know, got us. That was the thinking that, you know, helped us make the proverbial 999 calls to get the yes but it also backed us into a corner later because you start to get traction on like you described on saying yes to everybody and all of a sudden you’ve got a lot of stuff going on, and you begin to resent actually some of the stuff that you’ve invited into your life. It’s not like somebody, you know, put it on you, you kind of invited it and then there’s too it’s too much, right, it’s too much on you too much on your people and in a lot of, I think a lot of companies get there and then they don’t solve it like you did. So I want to talk about that transformation in your thinking. And the third thing that really resonated with me when you were when you’re going through that Tony was this. I call it, I call it leading by osmosis you you refer to it as sort of it’s in my head. Why can’t you see what it is and actually do it the way I would do it. I, I had that like an illness. And I, I was always like, well, first of all, can’t you read my mind, right, and then second of all, can’t you model what I’m doing, like, can’t you see that I see this needs to be done and I do it, you know, and if you’re paying attention, you should then see that that needs to be done and do it. And now sir treating everybody as if one they were a mind reader and two they were exactly like I was and then I was getting frustrated about it because I was like, Man, how can you be so you know you fill in the Word, and that was a real, real struggle for me and it took me. It took me really getting into a bad place before I started to figure out what, what I was doing and what and all the flaws with it when it came to that kind of like, just give people the information they need to do the job and they’ll do it or not, but it’s very hard, very hard for me, how did you, what, what happened, besides the you know the guys sort of pushing the race back at you what else was going on where you finally etched into your window with that marker and said this has got to change.
It was the combination of just conversation after conversation with clients that you know Tony. When I used to work with you. I knew, like, everything just happened and it was obvious I would go into a company and I’d be able to say, Oh, this needs to happen this needs to happen this needs to happen. And let’s just do it. Like here’s a proposal and they be like great, why don’t we wait a year problems for this. And, and so, you know I was hiring people to be me, just like you were saying like, and that is the exact wrong way to set up people for success. There’s no clearly defined expectations of what success even looks like
leading by as most as I, as you’re explaining just sounds silly, right, and I’m sure if, as people listening to this, it just sounds like how can I even do that. But when you say that but, but getting to that point, and having to apologize for setting up this new person your company and screwing that up and then having that their new experience at their company is to call us three times because we forgot the printer forgot to add them to the email group we forgot to add them and I’m giving you some specific details. We didn’t set the scanner to PDF instead of JPEG and I remember these conversations, been mighty after 10 years. How do you not know how many times I’ve said I’m sorry I’ll try hard, I couldn’t try hard. I couldn’t fix it with me exerting. I had gone as far as I could with me doing. Being ultimately responsible for everything. And I knew that I had to, so I, I realized, being a good engineer doesn’t make a good business. I need to figure out how to make a good business and I just stopped and I started my journey just reading. Reading business books. So I started reading, Jim Collins get the grain I thought it was wonderful. But how the hell do you do that. I thought it was like, sweet I want all those things
right people right see. I want the flame I want all those things, hedgehog
concept. How do we do that, and then came across. Vern Harnish who’s a rock, you know, he wrote the Rockefeller habits really like that. So I getting into Pat Lencioni and his fable style stories about were absolutely amazing.
came across traction. By Gino Wickman, and it was a blueprint right so as an engineer I can follow a blueprint like crazy and and was able to say, This is it. This is where I’m going to focus my energy on building a company with, with a strategy with a plan. The simple plan on two sides of one piece of paper that outlined where we’re going and we’re going to do. We’re going to create an accountability chart with clearly defined roles, there’s going to be core processes for those people to follow in those roles. And so it was kind of interesting, I thought that it was just this company of just, you know, no matter what it’s always just going to be reactive. That’s it. And as I realized we started creating structure just by looking in these 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of issues that we’ve supported. Well, which ones took the most time to fix. Can we have prevented those, you know if I would have just checked this box here on this screen. I could have completely prevented this 12 hour issue of downtime. And so I just started creating a checklist of things that we could have prevented, and make sure that this box is checked the next time. And so I created a role that just just goes through this checklist we created hundreds of these, these checks yes or no, is it set up this way if it’s a yes good if it’s No, we got to do something about it. And so as we created roles that were that were designed to document a new user setup to create a new user welcome letter, God forbid, doesn’t seem like it we’re not fixing stuff we’re drafting a welcome to the company, we’re so excited to have you create an experience. I started realizing that I can use system and structure to then which is my engineering mind to then come into creating an experience for people to feel some joy or excitement. And then that I love that. And so we just started going deeper on that and as we had, as we as we started this journey I went from hundreds of clients down to, I realized, to do this process, and then to have another role that just goes through it from a business strategy. A process takes time, takes people that aren’t inexpensive, and we have a minimum that we got to charge if you’re not subscribing to our monthly minimum, I can’t do this process if I can’t do this process. I can’t prevent issues are set up, meet your users correctly, you’re going to be upset. I’m not going to meet your expectations, no matter what. And so, of those hundreds of clients we had 19 said alright well, we believe in what you’re doing it sounds good. We’ll stay
Mike Malatesta 30:29
hundreds to 19
Yeah, it sucked. But I knew that that was the only way that we were going to start creating an outcome and end result. Through process through roles and responsibility. And knowing that because I went I tried every other way I had every tool you ever found them for monitoring for proactive this for that. Every I tried to engineer the heck out of this mike and it engineering does not fix or do roles and responsibilities. And so I had to switch it and fit that into roles and responsibilities. and once I started doing that. And people started having better experiences. I realized, alright this is where we’re at and this is, this is what I got to keep going and I’m going to keep working to create an experience that people are happy and excited about their technology and that that’s what created space for them for me to sit back because I wasn’t running around like a chicken with my head cut off just apologizing and reacting to stuff. As, and I had to do both for a while, and find time to strategize and react because there’s both went on as we, we started leveling down the noise and the strategy started taking effect so it took a lot of effort, not just for me but for my team which took a lot of convincing. But then I was able to start seeing more of where the industry is going and how what we’ve been doing is fundamentally flawed. And then I started understanding why it can’t help people because we’re so busy with these tools. And these security updates and these patches, and really started going down another different path and started taking our journey to the next level.
Mike Malatesta 32:29
How did you feel when you know you’ve got this great idea we’ve got up with bringing strategy process, accountability, all these things into the business. Oh and by the way, we’re also going to I’ll say 8020 The business, you know, go from hundreds of cash I know the math isn’t perfect but go from hundreds of customers to to 19 How did you feel when you started executing the strategy and the numbers of clients started to drop, because I don’t know what your expectation was the number of clients started to drop and you I’m imagining you start thinking yourself. Holy crap. And not just for the customer side they’re like, oh I got a No, but I’ve got a you know a team to support hundreds of clients and now we’re going to have, we’re losing clients essentially intentionally, but still losing them. How would, how did you deal with, with that and how did you keep everybody, how do you keep yourself feeling okay about that. I’m asking you because I love at 20 but I think it’s the hardest one of the hardest things to get most leaders or entrepreneurs heads around because as soon as it leaves the one client that they actually wanted to lose, but they didn’t, you know, they just their mindset has always been to say yes, like you’re saying like mine is say yes so as soon as they start to say no to somebody, it just doesn’t feel right even though, you know, you’ve thought it out and the strategy seems very sound and this has to happen it’s still doesn’t feel good or right
now. I had also found that I’d broken, so my engineers, no matter what I couldn’t get them into the role because they were so burned out Mike. The only time that they could get up and be ready to do something and be was when that fire came was done, they’re too exhausted to then go back and go through this darn documentation and do these things, it’s like the rush of being the hero is there in an APA it’s like. And so I had literally broken so my good friends that had been with me from the beginning that I had to help find other other jobs, and have tough conversations with people that I love, or as we started adding responsibilities and I let’s report our numbers in our huddle, ever, you know, this, these five people or two people are supposed to close 12 tickets a day. All right, you go around I got 10 But I’m gonna bump it up. Alright I got two. Two tickets. Okay, well, team we got to rally around and help out. How about our guy here is only able to close to what can we do to support you. Now what I’m going to do today. Next day, I got to man. Alright well let’s Let’s rally let’s help them out. And then, eventually, you know, within a few weeks of that of like actually having that accountability. He would realize that this new direction we’re taking isn’t right for them. And so they would, they would leave themselves and, and we went through this process we went from 24 employees down to eight at our very lowest point. And it was gut wrenching to go through that in addition to having the conversation with clients that have been paying me 800 And now we’re saying it’s got to be 3000, a month for our service, and it’s ludicrous for them that just doesn’t make sense. Well, I understand what you’re saying, but the outcome you want requires this. Oh, I don’t really care, it’s um it’s not that big of a deal for us. It was a big deal two weeks ago when you’re yelling my ear off and they are off of my staff about how your business is losing 1000s of dollars right now because this person can’t work. Which one is it. I don’t want to be. I don’t want you know, some people would be would say I remember your stock those pocket too big for your britches now. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I just know I can’t hit your expectations and I’m trying to explain it. They didn’t want to hear it. So I’d help all of these people, find a new ID company transition all of our documentation give them all like these, these off boarding projects and I didn’t charge them for it to just get them into a place because I wasn’t able to fit the bill form anymore and help support them off to a new provider and that was tough, we’re doing extra work there and so I ended up losing a lot of money. Over the next as we made this commitment. We, we started hidden some of the lowest points, financially, of the company’s history and it started getting really, really scary Mike. I believed, but, but it wasn’t working out so great from a financial perspective. And then, and then it started working out well and so no this is the right thing to do push forward I know this is the right way to go, what is our life look like more here, convincing my team because when I figured it out I was like, this is the answer. Finally, and I had it all figured out in my mind telling my team to start going down in another new path, because I had already found the answer before wasn’t the answer with this tool, or this new shiny object. Yeah, I had to figure out how to present it to them, how to get, you know,
I’m asking you guys to do a lot ultimately this is, this is for you though. I don’t want you spending your weekends in server rooms. And so, going through the transition then talking to clients talking to employees, trying to explain where we’re going and why we’re doing what we’re doing, and then doing the hard work was really really tough like two years. It sucked. They don’t want to go back to that
Mike Malatesta 38:48
pool along that way Tony were you talking to, I mean who was, who are you relying on because you’re, you’re, you know, you’re, you’re the face of this is going to be fine with all of your people. You know this is intentional. This is part of our plan all of that. But it’s hard, so I don’t know where you’ve got kind of guy that keeps it all inside. Are you the kind of person who, you know, relies on that’s the spiritual journey you would start it on you talk to you. Who do you, who do you rely on.
So I wear it on my sleeve. Okay. All right. So, I did find, finally, a mentor that had done it before, and helped explain the framework to me if his success that I leveraged and put inside of traction. And I, one thing that’s important to point out, like, I had some mentors previously. That led me down the wrong direction. And so I say that because you have to be pretty cautious with who you’re having mentor you, because that sent me down an additional several years of pain that I could have avoided with some non great advice for how to run our company.
Mike Malatesta 40:12
Oh, I’m so glad you brought that up because you know that. And I had not really thought about that but the, there’s this whole aura around the word mentors like oh I’ve got a mentor, which means that you’ve got someone who’s really helping you go the right way. But you just said, you know, Anybody can be a mentor, I guess, and a mentor can take you down the wrong path as well as down the right path I had not I had not really thought about that before.
So the same thing is true with a therapist with a doctor with with. Sure, with anybody, you have to. But when you find the right mentor therapist Doctor partner. It’s amazing what they can unlock, and figuring that out as part of everybody’s journey, right, getting your people picker dialed in, is, is part of. It’s part of my journey. And so that helps and then my wife, tremendous business mind, I begged her to leave her job and come, because she would she had true management skills. I would run things by her, is she, where I am wearing things on my sleeve she can just she processes, I talk she processes.
having her as my, my confidant, and, and my partner and then she came into the business and started running more of the operations and instilling some of these, these frameworks and roles and responsibilities, and around there is when I realized that my technical experience and all those that I put in management roles was actually a handicap to the development of our business, and that we needed people with business acumen management roles, not technical acumen that technical people would try and fix things themselves. The people with business acumen would understand why the issue exists in our process and fix the process, and bam. That was a huge moment for us.
Mike Malatesta 42:34
Okay, so you, you, you’re basically saying that they, you know, the engineers, the IT specialists who were really good at what they did you sort of took them and said well if they’re good at that I can put them in this role to run the business and they’ll be good at that too. And then you said, Oh, well, maybe not, maybe that’s not their unique ability, maybe that’s not what they’re best at
100% Yeah. I learned it over again, because it was counterintuitive for me. How can you be an IT company and manage it if you don’t know how to do the technology, which seemed logical, And it was a leap of faith. Before I realize that it was a huge mistake. And that it’s very difficult because it’s a different mindset a different skill set a different art to manage than it is to, to manage people than technology. And so as we started getting our hands around that and started creating the process. We started building up and eventually got to a point where our journey came as. So as I would bring on new client, I would have to like help, three or four off board. And it was like running as fast as we could on a treadmill, to really go nowhere. But as we got through that in about. I want to say 2018. And we had a client that we brought on board. We didn’t have to double work. Man Mike it was like the sweet like nectar of success of like we, we have arrived. We got through this, and I didn’t have to work so hard and so as I started doing that that’s like 2018 coincides to when I started realizing that our industry, like what we’ve been doing with servers since 1996 that technology has not changed.
to secure it and to have it work, the way people want to work to be able to work from anywhere with any device anytime requires so much tools it’s like putting a square peg in a round hole. It was not built for that. And we were trying to adapt and make this technology platform work to the way people wanted to. And I just, I started adding more security tools and more things to help secure people still because security was such a big thing ransomware was really not started 2014 and 2018 it was a big. Everybody knew what it was and there’s, there was very recently another huge compromise of a large ms, like it, software that’s in millions of computers that the federal government’s involved with now to help identify what’s going on and resolve it, and I just got to this point where I just felt like all of these tools are what was killing my business, there’s got to be a better way, and that’s when I really started seeing that Microsoft is partnering with some of these very sophisticated security tools and I was like well buy that because as Microsoft Office, using or partnering with these security tools or Windows. It’s not their bag, and I started going down the path of understanding what Microsoft is doing and we’re at this interesting, amazing time in technology because what we’ve been doing for 20 years, is no longer valid. It’s, it’s virtually impossible to secure. And if you do try and do it you’re gonna put all of your time into just that and have zero time left over for helping people actually use the technology and all these tools that you set up for remote access VPN to hate, and on and on and on, and so I got into this, this understanding and I started seeing that this new method that Microsoft’s doing with their cloud services instead of servers. Got to take us back to the old days of IBM, and a mainframe. Back in the old days. IBM took care of the hardware it was, It was the company hired the developer and the developer would work directly with the business with open conversations hey can you help me get a report to look like this I need this certain bit of information hey can you help me add this extra input field into our input. Okay. Does it look like this. No, I can’t do that, but how about this and there was this direct line of communication. Right, if there was a problem with the mainframe you just called IBM. And it at the time was about helping the business do things more efficiently, there was a great relationship with it. and with the advent of servers, or Microsoft, we started kind of shifting from. I need to take care of the server I need to backup I need to manage I need to monitor I need to patch, and all of our time and that so that we don’t have any, any downtime any disruption, any disruption is a, it’s like a black dice righ t and so we started getting in this world of. We don’t want people to notice for here we don’t want to disrupt the business at all, we’ll start putting in new systems, just like the old system, so that we don’t disrupt the business but what’s the point of even doing that, the disruption is where most of the benefits would lie and So Microsoft is saying, we’re going to help you get back, we’re going to we’re going to manage the mainframe for you. And we’re going to have it now, turn more of their focus into people in process, because you’re not going to have to upgrade firmware in a system ever again you’re just going to have to understand what technology people are using set it up properly because skills are more sophisticated so you’re going to want to make sure that you’re certified and trained to know how to actually do this stuff. You do the sophistication on the back end so users, people can have it very easy native experience. And then let’s focus on how they’re using it and see how we can improve their day. And so are, once I started seeing that there’s this new fundamentally different way of managing it, and it kind of put me in the spot of. Now that means we can do more what what I truly love is focus on people and so we just started really getting deep into man, for instance 150 million people use teams during the pandemic. I don’t know too many other than the people that I have direct correspondence with that I shouldn’t do. How many of them had any training whatsoever on how to use Microsoft Office.
Mike Malatesta 49:23
I didn’t have any. Yeah, we use it I didn’t have any training or just click the link. No, it was there.
Yeah, it popped up on my computer looks like it’s showing the productivity, I’ll give it a shot. And it is a phenomenal tool that replaces so many other tools and costs, it replaces our file server, 7060 to 70% of my email has gone away because I’m able to just have synchronous conversations through chat, my video conferencing service, my webinar service, my phone system, and it is really, really, really difficult to get ransomware if you have your file server in teams, so the security is much better to. There’s no VPN required. I’m not digitally chained to my office in some server anymore I can access it from any device anywhere anytime at a much higher clip of security. If some sort of ransomware does happen, God forbid, I click a button to set up an automatic artificial intelligence detection to say wait a second, you usually change 10 files might you just change 10,000 That’s not right. I’m gonna roll back those changes I’m gonna block your user account I’m gonna start scanning your computer I’m gonna notify it that there’s a problem, before anybody else gets up and prevent this from impacting the business and then I’ll let you know when Mike’s computers clean and tell you where all this stuff came from what email the academic clean. And so, if I’m not worried about that stuff all the time I can turn my focus on two people and started, we started creating roles that are just on training and helping people say oh wow I didn’t know I can do that. And that became addicting. That’s when we started having an impact on the people that we serve because now we’re doing the things that save them time at work, and ultimately leading to that spiritual journey I had when I was 23 security goes into your best like get your stuff done at the office, easier, faster, better so that you can you can focus on the other things that you’re passionate about in life. And now I’m honed in on what my purpose is as a person because I’m not just fixing a computer and waiting for this reactive spiral to take me down I’m literally having an impact to help people have better lives.
Mike Malatesta 51:48
So you’ve, you’ve, by the way, you went through a bunch of things features there in teams that I had no idea about I know how to use teams for meeting but I had never thought about half the things you started saying teams as was provided. Well could do first of all and then provided superior security for I didn’t. Thank you. So I know I gotta, I gotta up my education on teams but I love how you, you know, so many people I think in it, that it’s, it’s sort of like how much complexity can we build in not how much simplification can we do and I don’t think that’s intentional. I think there’s a mixed sort of way, Maybe you said you know your clients think oh I need this because my friend runs this and they say it’s great so I want this okay so you get this and then it has to communicate with all the other things, even as something as simple as your phone system as you mentioned with teams you know if you have a separate phone system it has to play nice with everything in it, all of that stuff ends up being, you know, there’s nothing that doesn’t impact the other thing right so you. So you’re taking the opposite approach and you’re saying, hey, all of those things are great, but you know this tool that Microsoft has or the suite of tools that Microsoft has really does all that stuff. Let me show you how. And you can simplify your life, reduce your expenses increase your security, not need me at the worst possible time probably you know with, you know when super inconvenient for your people and for me, be able to do, you know, work at home or flexible work or whatever and not have to worry about anything that’s, that’s, it’s a, it’s a unique game changer is a game changer. Yeah,
and so that’s. So, and this is what so my business journey was, I started adding tools to solve a problem. That’s every business is journey. I have a problem, I need some sort of project manager, I’ll get Asana, or Trello. For Life Project Manager I need a phone system, I’ll get RingCentral I need a webinar I’ll get an meetings, I’ll get zoom I’ll I need security I’ll get antivirus software I need a spam filter I’ll get some third party spam folders and you eventually just look like this giants ladder of so many different tools that kind of work together.
A little bit.
And how do you train your people on all those things. How do you onboard and off board people, how do you make sure you get rid of all of those licenses, it’s very, very time to manage all these different tools and very expensive. And that was really the source of that, if you ask me was, kind of from the windows, Sir, you had to add all these opponents to it in order to make all these different things happen, it was really complex to do these things with Microsoft stuff. And so we just started adding different tools, and you get to a point where you realize this is actually weighing me down I’m paying more. I’m less secure. And I have full time people that are just basically dedicated to just managing these tools that there may be good at some but you can’t be great at all of them. And so that’s kind of in Microsoft can’t really advertise this right when, when they have a Superbowl commercial for teams they can say oh did you know what this and this and this. It’s too much too much. And so that’s really what what this amazing time of it is about it’s helping businesses see that we can drastically simplify have less stuff, do more with it, and then actually because we have less stuff we can show your people how to use these amazing it’s productivity software it’s the world’s foremost productivity cloud designed to make people more productive. Let’s show them how to use that. And watch what happens to your organization. And we’ll get pumped up when I started talking about
Mike Malatesta 55:51
that, I can tell and I’m not I’m not you and I’m a little pumped up by what I’m hearing, so that, so So here’s what I want to know Tony from 772 1014 to today, which happens to be 772 1021 What’s been the difference in your life and your business and your approach to life. And how, what’s the impact then
in 2014 My day was planned for me. No matter what I had on my calendar, my day was gonna hit me in the face with whatever was coming my way
My financial well being was mysterious. Because some months will be maybe good some months, not so good. I didn’t really know it was coming, which creates stress as I as I had, especially as I as I had children I started putting a lot of energy into wanting what’s best for them, and concern and that ego would creep in about keeping them safe now and it’s more than just me. Right. And so, I went from a lot of mail. Plenty of sleepless nights, Mike of wondering and worrying. And, and it’s nice because your mind when, when I smell and I plays wonderful stories about your kid, you and your children are going to be homeless on the side of the street. And it just starts, you know you’ll ramp news it’s like this beautiful symphony of terrible things that’s coming your way and he’s kind of stumped. Which is easier said than done. So juxtapose that with now, not just as my day and week plan but my, my quarters planned my years plan my next three years my next 10 year, I have a target of where I’m going. Everybody in our organization knows where we’re going, because we, we share our vision with everybody. Regularly, they all understand how important they are and what their the imperative nature of what their role brings and their responsibility and how their success contributes to our own success and how we can reward them for helping us all achieve our goals we’re all working towards something together which, at the end of the day is making people more productive when we do that they have better lives and when we’re hitting on that, everything just flows so well, that energy flows through us in such a positive way that good things just come our way. And so, it’s a lot less stressful. They’re still stressed or humans still read Mike as we grow and scale and we’re doing a much better job than we did it’s still stuff that happens that we have to work through. But of course 17 Now it’s capable of doing that, that we’ve got leadership in our company that is owning and running their departments. And so,
it feels good.
I’m happy and I’m gonna take off a little bit and go to watch my kids they have a swim meet at two o’clock, which I couldn’t done before, right now working every weekend, every night reading, enjoying life I’m enjoying my wife I’m enjoying. You know, What we’re doing together.
Mike Malatesta 59:27
It sounds like you’ve created the freedom that being an entrepreneur is supposed to create freedom of time freedom of money freedom of purpose. Right, that’s, that’s what you’ve been able to do
a heck of a lot more so than I have some and, and I have the mentality of, like, I’m never satisfied. I’m always like, there’s always a new target. So, yeah, nothing wrong with that. I look back, but you have to look back like, like you just made me do that every now and then say, Wow, always come a long way. Yeah, I push, I push and I push and we can never get there fast enough, that will never change. I can’t change who I am an elite, but, but as we look back, it’s as a team because it’s not just me, I’ve got a great, great group of people here. It’s worth celebrating. Because we’re building something awesome.
Mike Malatesta 1:00:29
Well Tony, this has been a fascinating conversation I’m so glad that we got to go on this journey together today, and I know my listeners will be really inspired by cuz so many of them, you know so many of them so many of us so many people face the, you know this, to the exact same scenario of, you know, just getting in over your head and where it’s always, where you’re always on a you know a hamster wheel, you’re always putting out fires and it just becomes who you are until you can’t take it anymore and then you don’t know what to do. And you’ve given us all a path as to what you did, that worked, and took a lot of courage to do. But, but maybe, it gives us gives, gives us all the opportunity to sort of live vicariously through you with our thoughts and say, How bad could it be, let me, you know, this is bad when I have now is bad. So, how bad could it could it be if I put some structure into my life I knew where I wanted to go. And if I just started on that path and I was committed to it. How bad could it be.
So, yeah, and kind of finds you. It’s like the you know the universe that throws like pebbles at you say hey, yeah, maybe, check this out over here then it throws like a stone. And it recently drops a boulder. Stop doing that. Try this. Yeah, if you can listen to those pebbles before they turn in the boulders, that’s wonderful. But thank you for that. That was extremely kind of you to say that and I had. I’d be happy to help any listener that that is on the same journey because I love this stuff and seeing the difference and looking at it from my technical business as a business instead of a technical organization or providing technical skills. It’s a journey for. I think pretty much every entrepreneur. You are an engineering whatever your craft is, as you’re building out your business. Right,
Mike Malatesta 1:02:30
right. How do people, how do you want people to connect with you, Tony.
So the best way to connect with us is to join us every Tuesday for teams Tuesday. This is where we offer an IT person is probably my favorite thing I get to do. We offer training for teams and we design this for our clients. But we realize that everybody benefits if they just come and see a little bit of how Microsoft Teams is intended to be used for Microsoft. It’s really intuitive, with a nudge, so we give you that. Oh, that’s how we’re supposed to use it. Oh my gosh that’s gonna save me so much time so if you go to AMC modernI t.com slash teams Tuesday. You can come register and get get live, interactive training with me, and our modern education manager, and, and few other people from our team are always there and join us for. Let us give you a little bit of, Oh, that’s awesome.
Mike Malatesta 1:03:37
I am going to sign up for teams Tuesday because as I said I need some help there so much for that for that offer and for what you’re doing and, and thank you so much for sharing your story. On today’s show, Tony was really, really, really enjoyed it a lot of fun. It was my pleasure, my honor. Thank you.