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The Hardest Thing Any CEO Will Ever Do
Years ago, if you had offered to buy MicroTech right out of my hands, I would have signed the documents, sight unseen, and asked “How much did I just sell my business for?” I simply wouldn’t have cared. Not because the company was struggling or because I didn’t get along with our clients, but because I was so overworked, stressed out, and miserable that it was difficult to imagine any other way out. Today, it’s a different story. I love the work I do and look forward to coming into the office every morning. But it wasn’t always that way. Before I could get to the comfortable place I’m currently at with the business, I had to get to the breaking point. There, I learned a hard lesson that transformed not only my business, but my life, one I think many of my peers can probably identify with. I had to do one of the hardest things any CEO ever has to do. I had to learn to let go. When I took the reins of MicroTech in late 1998, I did everything, top to bottom. From IT to sales, accounting, administrative, and management, a massive chunk of the company’s daily operations stood squarely on my shoulders. At first, I welcomed the challenge, eager to prove my worth and bring this old-school tech company into the modern age. But eventually, I became so overwhelmed, spending every waking moment working or stressing about the business, that it began to affect my personal life and mental health. Still, I couldn’t imagine stepping back from any of my roles within the organization. What if an employee made an error? What’s more, if I didn’t spend 70 percent of my time out in the field, speaking face-to-face with my clients, what would become of those business relationships upon which we depended? I knew if I did something, it’d get done right, but what I failed to realize was the huge toll this “DO EVERYTHING” mentality would take. Over time, every ounce of energy was sapped out of me. When I was at home with my wife and kids, I may have been physically there, but mentally, I was completely checked out. Despite my constant effort in the business, my work began to suffer. I went through some of the most difficult years I’ve ever
experienced, knowing the entire time that this was not how I wanted to live my life.
But enough was enough. Speaking with my peers and a few inspiring business leaders in networks like Entrepreneurs’ Organization, I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to make some serious changes. As the classic business maxim goes, I had to learn how to run my business instead of letting it run me. I elevated talented members of my team into roles where they could really shine and gave them the space to do so. I loosened my grip on key aspects of the business, trusting that those I’d put in place could devote their full attention and do a better job than I ever could while I was juggling everything at once. To put it simply, I began to learn how to effectively manage and delegate without micromanaging an entire company. It’s been an ongoing, slow process with more than a few hiccups along the way. Even though we’re still experiencing growing pains while I solidify a vision and direction for the company, it feels now like I can finally come up for air. Meanwhile, I’m steadily becoming more available to my family than ever before, both in the amount of time I have to spend with them and my ability to be truly present when I’m with them. Now, both MicroTech and I are in a better place than we’ve ever been. Though I wish I would have started this important shift 10 years ago, I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to gradually implement these changes when push came to shove. For all my peers who may be overworked and struggling with a do-everything mentality, don’t be like me and suffer in silence for years. Every day, look at a key role in your company that you’re currently filling and consider the things you have to do to turn that role over to a member of your team. Just know there is such a thing as a work-life balance, but you have to build it for yourself.
MARCH Testimonials “Randy, Stuart, and the entire MicroTech team really get it. They understand what IT means to business. I can’t think of a single time over the years when they haven’t come through for us. They’re responsive, honest, and pragmatic. I truly consider them to be the 12th man on our team.” –Russ Stoddard “Microtech Systems does an outstanding job providing IT services to our company. They are very professional, detail Does your website design look like it’s from 1994? Is it time to spruce up that old logo? Are you ready to kick off a new marketing campaign? If your business needs a visual makeover, an experienced graphic designer can help you create a masterpiece. Here’s what you need to know about hiring a graphic designer. What You See Is What You Get When you go through a potential designer’s portfolio, pay attention to work similar to the project you have in mind. If you love what you see, odds are they’ll deliver results you’ll adore. However, if you don’t feel excited when looking at a designer’s work, consider it a red flag. You’re Making an Investment If you want results that meet your high standards, be prepared to invest in a designer the same way you would invest in any other part of your company. This doesn’t mean you have to spend over budget, but be cautious when accepting lowball offers. If a designer charges far less than their competition, odds are the work will take longer, there will be more hand-holding involved, and the end result won’t be what you dreamed of. Paying to have the job done right the first time will save you from wasting time and money on costly revisions. They’re Not Mind Readers Talented graphic designers can work magic, but they aren’t psychics. They won’t know what you want unless you tell them. Develop a list of things you like and dislike in regards
to the project you want done, even if you don’t think it makes any design sense. A bunch of unrelated information is better than no information at all. This is why graphic designers tend to ask a lot of questions about what you want before they get started. You’re Hiring Skill and Personality Whether you’re hiring someone to work in-house or reaching out to a freelance designer across the country, be sure you want to work with them. You could find someone incredibly talented within your budget, but if something about their personality puts you off, listen to your gut. You’ll never see the best results if you force yourself to work with someone you don’t like. As with any position in your company, when it comes to hiring a graphic designer, it might take some time to find the perfect candidate. But if you’re willing to put in the time, the end result will look incredible, and it could help attract new business while keeping your name top of mind.
Hiring a Graphic Designer What You Need to Know Before
oriented, and maintain an effective working relationship with all of our employees.” –Zeke Johnson “MicroTech has been great to work with over the past seven plus years we have used them. They are quick to solve problems that may arise in the office. All the staff are professional in appearance and the work they provide.” –Tyler Cooper
The Hidden Cost of BYOD
In today’s cloud-based, connected work environment, more and more small businesses are choosing to implement a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. In the interest of avoiding the substantial initial investment required to purchase computers for every employee, companies are encouraging their team to work from their own laptops and smartphones. Certainly, a BYOD saves money — in the short term but in the long run, the early savings are far outweighed by the risks and costs of a BYOD policy. Consider the security of your network, for instance. Every device that is allowed to freely access your business network is a potential access point for cybercriminals. With this in mind, business owners need to ensure that every one of the laptops and phones used are equipped with the appropriate security protocols, whether that’s a specific anti-virus, firewall, the latest software update, or a backup procedure — preferably, all of the above. Implementing any of these procedures could potentially restrict or hamper your employees’ at-home activities done on their device, like Netflix or gaming. If it does, and even if it doesn’t, your employees may decide to switch off or circumvent these vital security barriers without your knowledge, leaving the entirety of your network and data wide open to attack. Many business owners imagine that a BYOD policy will enable employees to work from anywhere. In reality, it’s often a huge hassle getting your employees’ devices to access company resources properly, partly because most are equipped with Windows Home Edition instead of Windows
Professional, which is specifically geared to interface properly with your servers.
What’s more, all the at-home activities your employees (and especially their kids) engage in on their devices can clog up their PCs to the point that they don’t function properly at work. Then, an IT professional is called in, and your business is forced to foot the bill to fix problems that normally would not be associated with business computers. In the end, the money you save by avoiding buying your employees’ machines is later spent on fixing repetitive performance issues, making up for reduced employee productivity, and network security crises. BYOD may work well as a stopgap solution or added benefit, but to use employees’ devices as the workhorses of your company is almost always a bad idea. Colcannon When you think of St. Patrick’s Day cuisine, corned beef and green beer are probably the first things that come to mind. This year, consider adding colcannon to your March 17 menu. It’s basically mashed potatoes on steroids, and it’s utterly delicious.
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• • • •
3 pounds potatoes
1 pound cooked bacon, chopped into small pieces 4 scallions, finely chopped
2 sticks butter
1 1/4 cups hot milk
• • •
1 head cabbage, cored and shredded
Parsley, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Steam potatoes for 30
3. Boil cabbage in water. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to tenderize. 4. Add cabbage, bacon, and scallions to mashed potatoes, gently stirring to combine. 5. Serve garnished with parsley and a pat of butter.
minutes. Peel skins and mash flesh thoroughly.
2. Chop 1 stick of butter into
small cubes and add to warm potatoes. Once melted, slowly add milk, stirring constantly.
[Inspired by foodnetwork.com]
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Overcoming the ‘DO EVERYTHING’ Mentality
Need a Graphic Designer? Remember These Tips!
The Dangers of BYOD
St. Patrick’s Day Cuisine
Book Review: ‘Extreme Ownership’
the boardroom to show that all failures can be traced back to poor leadership. Laws of Combat Simplify, prioritize and execute, and decentralize command. Applied to an office setting, these combat strategies show how simplifying plans and organizing priorities will improve your operational efficiency. While there is a need for clearly designated leaders, junior leaders must be empowered to make their own decisions — To drive their point home, Willink and Babin provide a plan for how to implement and sustain the concepts of extreme ownership. They highlight the importance of decisiveness and show you how to create planning checklists that enable your team to operate like one fluid unit. “Extreme Ownership” differs from other leadership books by emphasizing that there can be no leadership where there is no team. Its main points revolve around the importance of teams, not just individuals. Leaders who embody extreme ownership don’t just take the blame for mistakes — they own them. and their own mistakes. Sustaining Victory
Effective leadership is the most important key to success, and to say that “Extreme Ownership” will empower you as a leader is an understatement. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin use their experiences as former U.S. Navy SEALs to provide a backdrop for their views on
leadership. Their stories drop you right in the middle of the action, both on the battlefield and within the confines of corporate America, in order to teach you invaluable leadership lessons. The book is divided into three main points and designed to make it as easy as possible for you to apply extreme ownership in your own life. Winning the War Within Leaders are responsible for everything and everyone within their purview. Willink and Babin make the bold assertion that there are no bad teams, just bad leaders. They use examples from the battlefield and
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