Charting My Journey: The Integral Role of Peer Groups in Shaping My Story

I’ve recently taken some time to reflect on the significant role Peer groups have played in my life and the ongoing value they hold for me.

I started participating in Peer groups when I owned an MSP many years ago. They helped me stay on the right track, hold myself accountable, and focus on what mattered as an MSP owner.

While I no longer operate an MSP, I still find Peer groups extremely helpful. In fact, I joined a local one not too long ago. I’ve been in this group for nearly a year and already developed strong personal bonds and gained invaluable perspectives, connections, and insights that have enriched various aspects of my life.

To get the most out of the group, I make it a point to attend every meeting and come well-prepared. Before each meeting, I review updates from others and jot down notes on insights I can offer — aiming to give more than I receive. I also try to be a good listener and thoughtful about my comments.

I’m on the Peer group’s membership committee. Serving in this capacity allows me to interact with potential members, distinguishing those who share a genuine interest in contributing from those merely seeking to take. This role has also deepened my understanding of managing our TruMethods Peer groups effectively.

Above all, I’m thankful for the role that Peer groups have had and continue to have on my journey. Consider joining one if you haven’t already done so. We all stand to gain from a bit of support.

The Emotional Cost of Business Decisions: Navigating Facts vs. Feelings

Many people base their business decisions on emotions instead of facts. While I’ve been guilty of doing the same in the past, I’ve always been a fan of crunching the numbers, which has saved me more often. You see, I like using math to deconstruct problems and find solutions, but many people don’t, and even when the numbers are telling them to go one way, they take a different route. That’s how emotions can cost you thousands of dollars.

For instance, I spoke to a small business owner who owns a contracting business the other day. After talking briefly, he said he recently bought some trucks for his employees and paid in cash. When I asked why he paid in cash, he replied with something I’ve heard plenty of times over the years, “I don’t like debt.” I understood his perspective but decided to use the opportunity to push back and add some value, so I said, “Okay, you don’t like debt? Do you also not like money? By paying in cash, you’re giving it away freely!” Of course, he looked at me with a confused look, so I suggested we sit down and run the numbers. When we did, we found better ways of acquiring the trucks. But the story doesn’t end there! Even though we did the math, he was still hesitant. Why? His emotions continued to cloud his judgment.

Here’s another example. The other day, I watched a brief video of Dave Ramsey, a financial guru known for his staunch opposition to using debt in all circumstances. In the clip, someone asked if he would borrow a billion dollars at 0 percent interest for ten years if it were an option. Now, if you run the numbers, your answer can’t be anything other than yes, but to my surprise, he answered, “No.” Even though Dave tried to make a point, the math didn’t add up.

We also see how our emotions can sway us when making other financial decisions, like the common belief that renting is financially inferior to homeownership or the decision-making process involved in selling a business. While it’s true that these decisions affect more than just numbers, the mathematical aspect often gets overlooked or overshadowed by emotional biases.

My point is this: Even though it’s difficult, we must dissociate our feelings from the mathematical realities to make more informed, rational decisions.

3 Major Takeaways from the Schnizzfest 2024 Main Stage

This year’s Schnizzfest was my favorite of the twelve member conferences we have held. There are many reasons why I enjoyed Schnizzfest 2024. The primary reasons were the excitement, determination, and results of our peer members. The ratings on the content were the highest ever. Also, I was able to use my keynote address to share all of the lessons I have learned about success over the previous year.

Here are three major takeaways from Schnizzfest’s main stage.

Success formula: 90% attitude and discipline, 10% knowledge

You’ve heard this from me repeatedly, but it’s one of the most important statements in my life: “Success in life is 90 percent attitude, self-image, and self-discipline, and 10 percent knowledge.” Without it, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.

When you think about it, it’s nearly impossible to accumulate all the knowledge in your field. You simply don’t have the time. Because of this, someone will always know more than you, whether in tech, business, or life. That’s why competing on knowledge is a failing business strategy.

For instance, I wouldn’t have launched my first MSP if I had been focused entirely on acquiring knowledge. (At the time, I was barely knowledgeable in technology or being a business owner!) While there were plenty of MSPs ahead of me, I instead focused on my attitude, self-image, and discipline, which paid off tremendously in the long run.

Another example is when I launched TruMethods. I wasn’t an expert on peer groups, public speaking, or coaching. All of that I had to learn “on the job.” It wasn’t easy, but what kept me moving forward was the foundation of self-discipline I had built while running my MSP; it kept me on track and moving forward.

Ultimately, concentrate on what’s within your control, which is invariably yourself.

Securing the ideal client at the optimal price

I’ve always said that acquiring customers at the right price is critical to becoming a world-class MSP, which is true, but what’s also important is finding not just any customer who’s willing to pay the right price but the right one.

Good customers respect you and your team. They also implement your recommendations and, most importantly, pay on time. Bad customers not only do the opposite but can also destroy your company culture and kill the morale of your employees.

For example, Tyler Sanders, CEO of PACE Technical Inc., shared a story with me at Schnizzfest about how one of his customers would disrespect his employees, putting undue stress on their service desk. This led to Tyler losing a top employee. Fortunately, PACE fired the client, and luckily for Tyler and his company, the employee returned.

Remember this: Our employees don’t make enough money to be treated poorly by our customers.

Finding the right customers at the right price can make all the difference to your bottom line and your organization. It’s your responsibility to vet prospects for potential bad customers.

Heroes are leaders who choose not to be ordinary.

Sometimes, we don’t recognize the everyday heroes in our lives until we look in the mirror. There, we see all the people who’ve helped us become who we are for the better. Those are the heroes we should strive to be.

Motivational speaker Kevin Brown spoke at Schnizzfest to remind us of this. He talked about how we can all be heroes in the lives of others if we learn to own the moments that matter. Being with a group of people is an opportunity for you to add value to their lives. Will you own the moment by being present and making a difference, or will you keep your head down and miss the opportunity to give? You never know when your world colliding with someone else’s can make a significant difference in the lives of others.

Kevin shared a story about meeting an executive chef at Disney World who took the time to learn more about his autistic son’s dietary needs and made the appropriate accommodations. Kevin was amazed by the chef’s compassion and willingness to go above and beyond that he shared the story during many of his talks. But it wasn’t until many years later that he realized the moment his son shared with the chef made a difference in not only the lives of Kevin and his son but also many of the other guests at Disney World. After learning everything she could about dietary restrictions for children with autism, the chef created programs explicitly designed to meet their needs, impacting an insurmountable number of future guests.

Great leaders are heroes. They pour everything they have into the lives of others. Bring everything you have to the present moment because you never know if something you say or do will positively impact another person’s life.

Turning a Missed Call into a Teachable Moment: My Encounter with a Car Salesman

Recently, I was helping my daughter buy a car. I researched what we were looking for and called the local Mazda dealership to speak to a salesperson. But the conversation went differently than planned.

Once connected to a salesperson, I said, “Here’s the car I want. Here’s the stock number of the car from your website. I want to make a deal on the car. I am ready to buy.” He replied, “Hey, I have a customer coming in. Can I call you back when I’m done?” I said sure, but I never heard back.

The next day, I called the salesperson back and said, “Hey, you never called back.” He responded by telling me how busy he was and simply forgot to return my call. I took it upon myself to make this a learning opportunity for him.

I asked him, “Are you the top salesperson in the country for Mazda?” He wasn’t; according to him, he wasn’t even close. “Okay, then,” I said. “Can you send me your to-do list? I want to see what’s higher on your list than calling back a prospect who told you he was ready to buy today.”

Of course, I’ve asked MSP leaders this question many times over the years, especially after I noticed something that could make an immediate difference in the business, and it just wasn’t getting done. This concept separates achievers from others.

Most people aren’t lazy. We’re all busy all day long. The difference is what we spend our time on. In the case of the car salesman, he doesn’t have a process to manage how to do the most important things first — do you?

Every Job Is Like Sales

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to present to more than 1,000 account managers at the Kaseya sales kickoff meeting in Miami. Thanks to the group’s vibrant energy and eagerness to learn, it was as enjoyable as any talk I’ve given.

I shared stories about the struggles, fears, and wins I experienced as a young salesperson. I introduced them to what I call my ‘Success Process.’ It’s a straightforward approach, focusing on three things: creating a clear vision for my life, setting meaningful goals, and being consistently accountable. This approach helped me see the clear link between my actions and outcomes, showing me just how much control I had over my career and life. It’s not just a sales technique; it transformed my entire approach to business leadership.

I always enjoy speaking with sales teams because the Success Process directly applies. Either you meet your activity goal or you don’t; you hit your quota, or you don’t. The direct tie between what you do and what you achieve is clear, straightforward, and incredibly powerful.

But let’s be honest: Every job has elements of sales. The challenge is to define what success looks like and set clear markers for accountability. The principles I’ve shared are universal — they can help anyone excel in their business and career.

Navigating Success: Understanding the Process Matters More Than You Think

My keynote speech at Schnizzfest was meaningful because it represented the first time I could deliver a pure message on what I’d learned about the process of success, achievement, and, most importantly, fulfillment.

Without a doubt, the process of setting and achieving goals and being intentional about my self-image has shaped not only my career but also my life. How would things have turned out if I hadn’t started studying success?

Through the years, I felt people expected me to deliver new wisdom or perspective on the MSP business. But the truth is, more than a proven process like a TruMethods framework is needed to ensure you fulfill your potential.

Understanding the process of how we become effective at anything is more critical. Diving deeper into why we don’t do what we need to do is central to personal growth. The reality is that most people don’t understand the process of setting and achieving goals. Luckily, you can make progress in most things by setting goals, even if you’re bad at it.

During my speech at Schnizzfest, I noted a few common mistakes people make when setting and achieving goals:

  • First, goals must be specific and quantifiable with a completion date; this piece alone will lead you in the right direction.
  • Second, you must break them down into smaller goals you can control.
  • Lastly, and here’s where people really fall down: You need regular accountability, including the activity you control, the assumptions you’ve made, and the progress toward the end result.

The only way to succeed in your personal life and business is by understanding how to set and achieve goals effectively.

I encourage you to step back and take a moment to review your goalsetting process to ensure you’re setting yourself up for future success.

The Hidden Impact of Security Tools on MSP Ticket Volume

With the proliferation of more tools, specifically in the security space, MSPs are seeing an uptick in the average monthly tickets per end user — so, what’s going on?

If your monthly ticket numbers haven’t changed much, you may not be tracking them correctly. Also, a point of clarification: When I use the word “tickets,” I’m talking about all tickets (this includes support tickets and alert tickets). By getting an accurate count, you can more effectively evaluate your situation.

Many MSPs overlook the importance of examining monthly tickets per end user at the micro level; however, small changes in this metric can impact your cost significantly. Consider this: If you manage 1,000 seats and your monthly tickets per end user increase by .25, that’s an additional 250 tickets per month (or about 11 more tickets per day). For many MSPs, this means needing an additional full-time technician, and for some, even two. Does that sound like a sustainable strategy in the long run?

Of course not! But many MSPs realize this only after they run their numbers correctly. I cannot stress this enough: You can only gain command over your business (meaning control of your key metrics and KPIs) when you’re using the right numbers; Otherwise, you risk making misguided decisions that could severely impact your profitability.

Get your arms around your monthly tickets per end user by ensuring that you’re reporting your tickets correctly.

Embracing a Slower Pace in 2024

Since the beginning of the pandemic, it feels like time has sped up. Most people I speak to feel the same way. Life is just moving faster.

Looking ahead to 2024, I’m setting a goal to slow things down a bit. Admittedly, with Schnizzfest coming up at the end of the month, it’s not the easiest start. I’m committed to making it the best Schnizzfest ever. However, there are a few things I’m considering for 2024.

I plan to protect my schedule and time more carefully, both in business and personal aspects. For me, this involves declining more offers. It also means scheduling workouts, reading, dog walking, and lunch breaks.

I want to be more disciplined in communicating with others and how they communicate with me. It’s about encouraging people to maintain a ‘Gary list’ and to arrange a 10-minute meeting with me when it accumulates instead of calling me multiple times a day as issues arise. I plan to adopt a similar approach to those I interact with regularly.

Next, I will be more intentional about spending quality time with family and friends. This means having gatherings that aren’t necessarily centered around an event or activity. Growing up, my parents frequently took me to visit my aunts and uncles, and they visited us, too. We would gather around the kitchen table, enjoying coffee and dessert while chatting. So, in 2024, I’m looking forward to visiting some family and friends.

I’m also starting to spend more time away from my devices. I often find myself with a phone, an iPad, or a computer, maybe even more than necessary.

I’m not saying that everyone should do exactly as I do; we’re all in different stages of our lives. But, I’ve found that taking steps to decelerate the pace of our lives and becoming more present can be beneficial.

7 Must-Read Blog Posts to Empower Your Business Mind in 2024

The beginning of the new year is an excellent time to shift your focus from the daily grind to overall business strategy. This time of year often prompts us to reflect on our achievements, plan for what’s next, and hit the ground running with goals and tasks.

Getting better at the “business game” is a surefire way to success. If we manage our business effectively, we can increase our monthly recurring revenue (MRR) at a decent price in 2024. It all starts with a solid grasp of business fundamentals and being open to thinking differently.

Consider exploring these seven TruMethods blog posts to empower your business mind in 2024.

The Dangers of Perfectionism: When Striving for Perfection Becomes the Enemy of Good

Aiming for perfection might sound great, but it’s a tricky target that can end up causing more disappointment and slowing things down. It’s all about being flawless, which leaves little room for trying new things or slipping up. But there’s a silver lining — if you accept that things won’t always be perfect, you’re setting yourself up for more flexibility, bouncing back stronger, and growing your business in the long run.

What Does Your Customer Base Say About Your MSP?

In the MSP industry, the phrase “operational maturity” is often used to describe the level of sophistication in an MSP’s operations. However, my approach to evaluating an MSP begins with examining its “customer base maturity” rather than just focusing on operational aspects.

An Exercise in Opportunity Cost

The introduction of new technology frequently leads us to make comparisons with existing or past innovations. This is evident with the launch of Apple’s Vision Pro, which has sparked comparisons to Google Glass, a product that debuted a decade ago. While many focus on the technical aspects and distinctions between the two devices, an intriguing dialogue about the concept of opportunity cost has emerged, capturing my interest.

Maximizing Return on Luck: Lessons from New Balance and Coco Gauff

In the book “Great by Choice,” Jim Collins introduces the concept of return on luck (ROL). After comparing good and bad luck events at numerous companies, he found that, on average, the high-performing companies, or as he called them, the 10X companies, had the same number of luck events as their counterparts. What sets them apart? Their superior returns on luck.

Why Every Business Owner Needs a Strong Foundation: Avoiding the Groove of a Lousy Swing

Champions do what others can’t or won’t do daily, making it look easy. This idea has several layers to it. Developing the discipline necessary to reach your full potential requires effort. It begins with identifying the essential elements of the role, task, or skill and then focuses on mastering the basics.

Navigating Through the Haze: Finding Your Way to Clarity and Purpose

Earlier at Schnizzfest, my talk centered on self-awareness, its challenging nature, and its profound impact on our lives. This concept is evident in our relationships, and I’ve observed it among TruMethods members, especially regarding what prevents them from achieving their fullest potential.

Why MSPs Must Welcome Change

At Schnizzfest, I highlighted the fall of the once-dominant ice industry, underscoring the perils of failing to adapt. This fate echoes in companies like Nortel and Blockbuster. A recent Wall Street Journal piece about Intel’s complacency, which led to Nvidia’s rise in graphics chips and now AI processing, further illustrates the crucial need for continual innovation.

Measuring Success: Top 3 Must-Read Blog Posts on MSP Metrics

Understanding and evaluating your metrics is essential for providing superior customer service and generating more monthly recurring revenue (MRR) at the right price. You create a foundation for improvement and growth by gaining insight into your current performance.

In the new year, dedicating yourself to a deeper comprehension of business metrics is critical to advancing your goals. This progress is achievable through thoughtful reflection and a commitment to learning about your strengths and areas for development in your business practices.

Explore these TruMethods blog posts to elevate your understanding of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) in 2024.

The Benefits of Business Metrics for Performance Management and Accountability

Metrics play a pivotal role in driving the success of any business, encompassing various functions and roles within the organization. For those familiar with TruMethods, you’ll recognize my deep-seated enthusiasm for data and accountability. My experience has consistently shown that focusing on metrics — ensuring visibility and accountability — can significantly impact performance. I often refer to this approach as “instrumenting the business,” a strategy emphasizing the importance of measurement and data-driven decision-making at every level.

Why ‘Tickets Closed Per Support Tech’ Is a More Important Metric Than You Think

A concerning trend observed across MSPs, regardless of their size and scale, is a decline in a crucial metric: the number of tickets closed per support technician. This poses a significant issue. In a scenario where all other factors remain constant, a decrease in the daily ticket closure rate per team member leads to an increase in support costs. It’s key to monitor and address this trend to maintain operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

A Minimum Will Get You the Maximum

A key performance indicator for MSPs is average MRR. This metric influences several crucial aspects of business operations, including scalability, profitability, sales efficiency, and the cost of acquiring new customers. Additionally, it plays a vital role in determining the overall value of your business. To positively influence the average MRR, you must first establish a minimum MRR threshold. By doing this, you can have an immediate and beneficial impact on the metric, helping to steer your business toward greater financial health and stability.