B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro
B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro

Episode · 3 years ago

The Future of Visionary Leadership & Small Businesses

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

One definition of a visionary leader is someone who has...  

“... a compelling vision for their business. They can see beyond the ambiguity and challenges of today to an empowering picture of tomorrow.” 

Visionary leadership is a concept Steve Meek, founder and CEO of the Fulcrum Group, puts a great amount of value into.  

Steve sits down with us to discuss how he implements visionary leadership and what that means for small businesses and the future of technology. In this episode, we cover security threats, IT industry trends, and more. 

Follow Steve Meek on LinkedIn.

That's been so important to us just to stay aware of their con may stay airbreast of things that are going on and and try and keep up with, you know, the rapid pace of business and life and tools and and so forth in our industry. You're listening to be tob tech talk with Ingram Micro, the place to learn about new technology and technological advances before they become mainstream. This podcast is sponsored by De Link. Technology make your home smarter, safer and truly seamless. Let's get into it. Welcome to be to be tech talk with anger micro. I'm your host, Carrie Roberts, and our guest today is the founder and CEO of the folkrom group, Steve Meek. Steve is a twenty plus year technology veteran and has served as the VP level or higher in his past three roles and has earned multiple technical certifications. He founded the folcrom group in two thousand and two a Fort Worth, Texas based managed service provider and managed security service provider, where he uses his degree in business to focus on company vision, the client experience and their management framework. Welcome Steve. Thank you for being here today. Well, thanks so much. Care I appreciate it so today we are talking about the role technology plays and small businesses and how it has evolved volved over time. But before we start with that, I want to talk about something that you wrote, Steve. You said that early in your career you got frustrated with the answer it depends, which led you to starting your company. Can you talk about what that answer was referring to and why you set out to change it? Sure so, at the time I was managing some technical people and it was before I had turned to the dark side and become more technical myself. So, being an operations manager at the time, I'd asked about the best way to proceed on believe as a network upgrade. And you know this is back in...

...the novel days, but I'd asked a very pointed question and I got it depends answer and that was it. I was just kind of stuck and as a manager I'm thinking, you know, I don't need to know the technical details, but I just need to know the implications. If I go left, what happens? You know, what are the cost what are the benefits? You know what happened. Or if I go right, you know the same thing. And I just felt like I was really held hostage by the answer of it depends and they'll follow up information and so out of that I just and even that's the source behind the folking group name. There's a lot of different ways that you can develop, implement deploy what you select for technology, but where the value comes is how people go about that, implement implementation, how they how they choose to do things, and so that just kind of became one of those lifelong lessons for me and my career in technology that they don't leave the other party hanging. Be Very clear about the implications of doing one thing or the implication of doing, you know, the opposite, because there's vastly different possibilities and the whole point is to arm the the person, the casual listener and what's the best way to proceed. Yeah, I mean that's something I think we all need and I love that you brought that to our attention. And when you think about, you know, the last twenty, even ten years, can you tell us how technology has changed for small businesses in your opinion? I think one of the biggest changes that even the the smallest organization can appear to be an extremely large organization. You know, we've got smaller firms have access to much better tools than a long time ago. is to every small organization and have to make a lot of investments and servers and equipment and infrastructure, and it took it took a long time. Originally the fulcrm group was just me because I was trying trying to hide...

...the fact that I was a one man show trying to service these organization. So I was the group when when the company first started. But now companies don't have to go through such links to do that. With cloud based technologies and share to everything, it's easy for a single organization in this GIG economy to appear like they're much larger organization or at least provide an extremely quality client experience without a significant investment than in their business just to get going. And as most businesses know, security is an important issue and it's a growing topic of concern and you know, we hear all the time about big ferns getting breached, but it can happen to small businesses as well. Can you speak to this and give maybe some suggestions on how a small business can have better security? Sure there's a lot of different tool sets out there that can help the organization. Some of them are generic, like the the government entity, the the National Institute Standards and Technologies. Their associated with the Department of Commerce, but they were created by federal executive order to kind of help organizations protect critical infrastructure. But the great thing is they're generally applicable to all organizations. So then nest cyber security framework, or sometimes called the nest CSS, is associated with five different pillars identify, protect, detect or respond and recover. But out of those five pillars are your provided kind of different strategies and how to protect your organization and so on. The protect phase, when I first start, when I first gun started in technology, is all about firewalls and anti virus, and so in the protect phase you have firewalls and anti virus, but around that you now there's more effort and energy put towards things like, in the identify phase, folksing on things like risk assessments, vulnerability scans, or in the detect phase, things like having a sem device, a...

...network device that collects logs from all your equipment so that you're able to instantly report on things. But you know, work working all five pillars of the NEST CSF an organization is better able better equipped to protect themselves and even within specific industries, there's other tool sets that help within if an organization's bound by HIPPA, hippo compliance, the organization that runs hippa actually came out with a scale down version called Hiccup HICEP, but basically they scale down cybersecurity into a smaller number of areas like a cookbook to help you work through and just pick up the things that you'd like to do first or that you find easiest and just keep working your way down. There's a another organization, the Center for Internet security, also has what they called their CSC twenty, the most common twenty most common threats and which ones have the highest impact. And basically I think there is an estimate that if you work the first five it eliminates something like fifty eight percent of risk for a small business. So so for small business is trying to figure out where to start is very difficult and you know, the guidelines provided by these organizations kind of help to get there a little bit quicker or a little bit easier. And when you say small business, I mean one. Should a business be thinking about this type of security when they're a business of one or twenty or five hundred? What are your thoughts on that? I think that there's threat to every organization. If you're if you're a small business and you only have two clients and one of those clients gets breached because of you, then all of a sudden you've lost all of your business. And you know, if you think about the the target threat or the target breach that happened recently, that was all. That organization was compromised through their HBAC vendor, and nest recently came out with guidance targeting third parties as a threat. So if you're a small company trying to grow,...

I think you have to have some sense of security from day one. I'm not saying you spend the bulk of your budget on security, but I think you can take a basic level of security just with how you do credentials and you know, how you keep up with permissions and how you enable and disabled users. You know, there's a lot of low cost things that you can do that are more process arinted that can help you protect yourself, which in turn helps protect your clients from threats against you. In our own world, I guess in two thousand and seventeen assert an organization associate with the government came out and warned us that the Chinese are actively targeting MSP's. So the past couple of years the ful grum group has taken a lot of extra measures to help make sure that we've got additional security levels in place, you know, reviewing our information and and just making sure that, in addition to all the great things that we do for our clients that were following the same strategies for ourselves, that we're conducting risk assessments, doing vulnerability scans, that we've got monitoring in place twenty four seven to kind of help us know if somebody is trying to get into the network or attacking the network. It's a scary thing. You know, five hundred of top five hundred organizations have been breached. So if they've got all this budget, resources and time and experts and they're still getting breached, then you know, small organizations like myself and others need to make sure that they're paying at least a little bit of effort towards protecting themselves. Yeah, I know for me, the more I learned about it, you know, there's just so much out there. We had another guest on this show that even talked about. You know, things within your office. You know the front desk person, how that can be a security issue. You know if they give out information over the phone, and so I think the more we talk about this, you know, just the more we become aware and the more we need people like yourself to help us stay educated and have the right tools as well. Yeah, I think for a small...

...business owner, if they if they want an idea of how easy it is to reach an organization or to get access to information in one of the things I would recommend is there's a cyber security expert. You know he was a former black hat hacker, if you will, but Kevin Mitnick had written a couple of books, but reading ghosts in the wires, which is kind of it talks a little bit about his life and in more detail about what happened, you know, back when he was the world's most wanted hacker, but it just gives you a sense of he really wasn't trying to attack or get the was a trying to make money off of being a hacker, but just his ability to interact with people socially, he was able to bypass some of the best security tools and best security practices and compromise federal organizations and large companies, and it was just at will. If you think about it, what I came away from the book after reading it was just that with time and the right people on the other end of the phone, you can get access to pretty much anything, and I've tried to use some of the lessons from this in our in our own organization to protect ourselves against social engineering efforts beyond what comes in via email or or other technic Cole Systems. HMM, yeah, that's definitely a book I will be checking out because I think you're right. Just the better we're educated, the more we know, the better we can kind of protect ourselves from all of this. Hey everyone, we hope you're enjoying this episode of BB Tech Talk With Ingram micro. Let's pause for a moment to recognize our sponsor, dealnk systems. Our network speed slowing you down or security risks top of mind talk with De Link Systems, leverage award winning products and deployed networks that are second to none. With d link wireless surveillance and switching solutions. Contact Ashley Ruggerio at Ingram Micro today. That's Ashley...

...as HL Ey Dot Rugerio. Are you, gg Er io, at Ingram microcom? Also, before we jump straight back to today's episode, we want to share with you another resource you're going to want to check out. Did you know that you could start your guided journey through partner track today? It's D tool that eliminates uncertainty in the IT channel. You can access meaningful content, get trained on new tech and attend networking events, all while getting rewarded. Register now at Ingram micro partner trackcom. All right, let's get back to the show. I want to move forward just a little bit because, besides technology, there are some other important things that you've suggested a business should do to keep evolving, and you're a huge fan of structure and process, and an organization which is structure in process look like for you, well, for the for the fulcrom group. We might my degrees in business and so I thought I knew a lot, but, as you know, when you when you first challenge yourself with starting a business, you realize how woefully underprepared things like schools and programs can actually get to ready for being an entrepreneur. And one of the things that we became associated with Vern Harnish wrote a book called Mastering The Rockefeller Habits and I think he released an update to it called Scaling Up, which I also read. But he goes through and just talks about how to run a small business and what he did. He got a lot of his experience from being associated with a with a small business development center, and he noticed some commonalities between those organizations. You know, organizations that are growing struggle with some different areas, and he talked about people and strategy and cash and execution as kind of the for key areas. We also created...

...similar like we talked about with Cybersecurity, that it helps the kind of have things to start with. He basically created a whole bunch of tactics and I love reading business books, for for history, but I do enjoy business books and you know, some of the great thing is that I took away from his book, as opposed to some of the others out there, is I came away with instant tactics that I could deploy in whatever order I preferred and that would help me start managing our organization better. So first to started off with something simple as morning huddles, you know, stand up huddles that are in typically associated with agile. That, you know, evolved into parly themes and all kinds of other tactics within our organization, including annual planning, and it basically took us five years, but after five years now, you know, vast majority of the things recommended within scaling up we started to ploying within our own organization, including things like something as simple as start, stop keep exercises. Once a year we pull our team and honestly and say hey, what what things would you like us to start doing? What would you like us to stop doing and what would you like us to keep doing? And you know, through that simple exercise it gives us a whole bunch of ideas from the front lines on. You know how we can be hassle their lives and make things easier. And you know, I think it helps our team members buy in our organization because if they make a suggestion that we actually take on, then it feels like you're you're part of the management process and that's always one of the most important things with engagement is feeling like you're you're part of the process and that people take your advice as a as an employee, I love that and along those same lines, you know, great leadership is crucial to a successful company and you like to call it specifically visionary leadership. Can you kind of expand on this and you know, what does it mean and how can small business leaders promote forward thinking in their organization? Well,...

...for for me, I guess being a twenty year veteran and it you know, I catch myself saying fairly regularly, Oh, you can do that now, just because it seems like, you know, the industry and technology changes so rapidly. You know, every three years, my business partner I comment it feels like we're running a different business or focusing on different outcomes for our clients to keep adding value. And I think for for visionary leadership, it's it's easy to believe your own stuff. You know, early in our existence I think there's something like twelve cognitive biases and you know, I definitely felt victim to the confirmation bias that whatever I believe to be true, I would try and implement that because the fact seemed to support it that, you know, I was maybe not being honest with myself. You know, it's just a natural thing that happens to leaders. It's easy to follow victim to your own beliefs. And so for us, you know, we've had to surround ourselves with experts. You know, we've got an expert you know, HR and legal and accounting and tax and selling and and management in general. But you know, people we can bounce ideas off of and seek out our own biggest critics on how to do things to try and make sure that we're making good decisions in our own best interest. As you were saying, you are part of the Trustex community, which is part of something that Ingram micro does. Is there something that you feel you really gotten out of it in the last couple of years as being a part of it, something that you're just so grateful to be a part of it? I think there's a lot of things. You know that the the relationship with Ingram micro on the TRUSTEX alliance, it's kind of a it's kind of a three legged relationship between partners. So, you know, I've got a relationship with other partners that are like me and you know I love Ingram and they've been a big part of our business and so that's one of the legs. But out of the partners I've got kind of that untainted truth speaking peer that will tell me like it is.

So you know, I love everything that Ingram does, but it means so much more when another partner says yes, Ingram. And here's why, you know we've had this great experience. Is just that confirmation that you know, hey, it's not just somebody trying to promote something, that you know they're really still stand up for what they're doing, they really offer this service and it's just an extremely helpful for steering me through the you know, the vast majority of technologies and tools and products and solutions and and vendors. Now you know through this whole interview and for people that know you are read about you, you obviously are very passionate about what you do. You are constantly learning trying to grow. When you look at technology as a whole, where do you see it going within the next year? But in the next year I think security is going to continue to to drive a lot of a lot of our activity, just trying to protect that data that we have, trying to protect our clients from heaven things happen to them through our relationship. One of the form of directors of security for the government said something like it's not a matter of it's not whether you're going to get breached anymore. It's more of a matter of when. So I think we always have to keep an eye to the the security areas and you know how to how to limit the you know that the plane of exposure to to all the threats that are out there. And if people want to get in touch with you personally or with your company, where can they find out more about you or your business? Via social media or a website. So I'm pretty active on Linkedin. Some of the research and readings that I've had were around social media and so my understanding is at the top three things associated with Betab commerce is the top three social medias are going to be linked in, twitter or and you tube. So within our organization we're trying to stay active on those in those three areas...

...and if you look up for me and Linkedin, you should be able to find me, and my nickname is a doctor around our organization. So look for Steve Making, a doctor and you should be able to attrack me down perfect well, this has been wonderful. Thank you so much, Steve, for being here. Well, thank you for having me carry at like I said, I am very passionate. I still love what I do and feels great to get up and feel like I'm making a difference in companies lives and helping helping our associates grow personally and I just absolutely love it still. If you like this episode or have a question, join the discussion on twitter at Ingram Tex soul with the Hashtag be tob tech talk. Thank you for tuning in and subscribing to be to be tech talk with Ingram micro. You've been listening to bedb tech talk with Ingram Micro, hosted by Carrie Roberts and sponsored by dealink technology. Be Tob tech talk is a joint production by sweetfish media and Ingram micro. Ingram micro production handled by Laura Burton and Christine Fan. To not miss an episode, subscribe today in your favorite podcast platform.

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