Sklar Technology Partners - March 2020

MARCH 2020

7462 Old Hickory Drive, Mechanicsville, VA 23111 • • 804-730-2628


How to Be Your Vendors’ Favorite Client

WHY AREN’T YOU THE FAVORITE? Being a vendor’s favorite client isn’t just about taking them to lunch or letting them use your cabin for the weekend — though I do recommend doing both of these things. Most of the time, your favorite client is the one whose mutual benefits you enjoy in your relationship. That’s why I’ve invited two of my favorite vendors to talk about what makes a client their favorite. Garrett Whitmore – TEKsystems “TEKsystems is the leading service in the country for providing IT staffing. I’ve been with the company for about seven years now.The relationship with our clients mostly revolves around consulting them about their industry and their local area.The best relationships with my clients are true business-to-business partnerships. Vendors are often treated like glorified delivery people. That’s not a healthy relationship; there has to be a mutual benefit to both partners.When expectations are set up by both parties right from the start, it makes the relationship much stronger down the line.” Justin Barden – Comcast “After 20 years with Comcast, I’ve found myself with the title of Comcast Senior Business Concierge. My position calls on me to be committed to providing both our clients and our vendors with a high level of service. In my experience, I’ve found that as long as we are doing the right things for the right reasons, and if we are truly putting the end user first every single time —whether that end user is our client or our vendor’s client — our relationships strengthen by default. “I met Randy in late 2015. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t even my meeting. I was new in Virginia and tagged along to that meeting with a coworker. Randy and I hit it off, and I ended up following up with

Here’s the scene: It’s the middle of the work week and your phone is ringing. For a moment, you think that you’re about to make a sale.Then you look at who’s calling and your stomach sinks. It’s them. Everyone who has ever worked in business has their “them.” It’s your least favorite client, the one who only ever calls to lodge complaints, make demands, and haggle the already low cost they’ve been given. These kinds of clients are almost always more trouble than they’re worth. I never want the vendors I work with to see my name on their phones and get that pit in their stomachs.As I’ve said in the past, I want to be a unicorn company. To many of the vendors I work with, I’m their ideal customer. But for me, it’s not enough to be an ideal customer. I want to be their favorite customer. Being the preferred customer means my vendors and I get exactly what we need and more. THE PERKS OF FAVORITISM I am not my vendors’ only client — far from it.The vendors I work with have a lot of clients, and many of their other clients need the same things I need. For example, a few years ago, I needed to hire four new engineers. It’s hard enough to find one highly qualified engineer, but four? That’s nearly impossible! With advice from my mastermind group, I went to a headhunting agency and asked them to find some good people to hire. I wasn’t the only IT company that needed good people. Plenty of other folks needed good candidates. And, of course, I wanted the first pick of the best candidates, so I turned myself into their favorite client. I was able to get on their good side, and in turn, I got four amazing engineers who helped get our business to the next level.

Randy myself.When I got an opportunity to help one of his clients, I hit it out of the park. I did right by them, and that’s what our relationship is built on. When allowed to help Randy’s clients, I deliver. When I deliver on the things I promise, those clients associate my excellent work with Sklar Technology Partners. In turn, when Randy has the opportunity to include me in a conversation with his clients, he does. It’s a win-win for everybody. “We both know the other person is dedicated to taking care of the end user. In my opinion, it’s important that all vendors deliver at a high level and come through on their promises. Otherwise, it discounts the overall benefits of working with vendors.” A REAL BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP It’s more than a vendor relationship.These guys are advisors and extensions of my business. My relationships with them allow my business to thrive, and I make a point to let them know how grateful I am for our relationship. And because I know I’m my vendors’ favorite client, I don’t have to worry about the service or advice they’re giving me. I know they have my back. By now, you should be asking yourself, “Am I my vendors’ favorite client?” If the answer isn’t a resounding yes, then the real question is this:Why not?

–Randy Sklar


You have two options in front of you. They both sound great, are backed by research, and could transform your business for the better, but you can only choose one. Which do you commit to? When you’re faced with two equally worthwhile options, science says the best way to make a decision is to flip a coin. When you flip a coin, you’re not really leaving the decision up to chance; you’re actually calling on your intuition to guide you. The practice is often regarded as unscientific, but there’s a lot of research to support making intuitive decisions. Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann, authors of “The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, Happier,” explain how we develop that “gut feeling.” Intuitive decisions are driven by two structures in your brain: the basal ganglia and the insula. The basal ganglia are connected to movement and building habits. The insula, part of the cerebral cortex, becomes engaged when you experience pain, feel love, listen to music, or even enjoy a piece of chocolate. Neuroscientists believe the insula is responsible for self- awareness, particularly for recognizing changes in your body. The Scientifically Smarter Way to Make Business Decisions Heads or Tails? When you have to solve a problem, your basal ganglia start working on a solution, even if you aren’t consciously thinking about it. If you make a conscious decision that agrees with the subconscious solution of your basal ganglia, your brain gives off a subtle reward. The decision doesn’t have to be logical to feel right — that’s your gut feeling. However, if the conscious and subconscious parts of your brain don’t agree, your insula detects the discrepancy and registers a threat. It’s the “I have a bad feeling about this” response. Fabritius and Hagemann note that gut feelings “represent the most efficient use of your accumulated experience.” According to the authors, flipping a coin is the best way to really listen to your basal ganglia and insula. Your subconscious brain has If the coin lands on heads and you feel relieved, then heads is the right choice. However, if the coin lands on tails and you’re uncertain or want to flip again, then that’s your intuition saying the other option is the better choice. So, the next time you’re caught in a pickle, grab the nearest quarter and put your intuition to the test. already made a decision; flipping a coin helps you test your intuition about each option.

For over two decades, Helen Lee Bouygues, founder and president of the Reboot Foundation, has helped struggling organizations turn things around. She teaches people to address organizational problems by improving their critical thinking. “Too many business leaders are simply not reasoning through pressing issues [or] taking the time to evaluate a topic from all sides,” says Lee Bouygues. “Leaders often jump to the first conclusion, whatever the evidence.” These poor thinking habits can lead to declining profits, lost clients, and low team morale. The good news is critical thinking is a learned trait. Anyone can improve their critical thinking by building three simple habits. 1. Question Assumptions When the stakes are high, Lee Bouygues encourages business leaders to question their assumptions. This doesn’t mean second-guessing yourself but instead double-checking the foundation of your beliefs. If a retail chain assumes its customers have more disposable income than they actually do, they can overprice items and lose out on millions in sales. This is when marketing research or “secret shoppers” come in handy. When you’re sitting down to come up with a long-term plan for the company, make sure you’re building that plan based on facts, not your own assumptions. 2. Reason Through Logic Over 2,000 years ago, Aristotle introduced the formal practice of logic. If you’re about to make a decision based on a given argument, pay attention to the logic “supporting” the argument. Is the argument supported by evidence all the way through? Does all the evidence support and create a strong conclusion? If not, then the argument is not logical. Sound logic is key to critical thinking. 3. Diversify Thought THINK SMARTER, NOT HARDER 3 Simple Steps to Improve Your Critical Thinking

In other words, step out of your echo chamber. We like to surround ourselves with like-minded people, and while that may help make sure everyone is working toward a common goal, it can also mean you’re not getting different points of view. This can cause you

to miss a potential mistake or error you simply cannot see. Reach out to different branches of your company or connect with different levels of the team to escape your usual thinking. This can help you gain better insights. While some decisions can be made on gut instinct, it pays to be critical about those decisions in the long run.

JOURNEY INTO THE UNKNOWN Best-Kept Secrets for Affordable Outdoor Gear T he days are longer, the weather is warmer, and it’s time to get back into the great outdoors. But before you venture into the unknown, make sure your gear is still does 65% off a Patagonia jacket sound? Visit and start looking for deals. GearTrade

in top shape. Have your hiking boots seen better days? Or maybe you’re finally ready to try stand-up paddleboarding this summer. If you need new gear this year, there’s good news! Gear doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Experienced outdoor athletes use these websites to find top deals on quality outdoor gear. Backcountry is one of the premier online retailers for outdoor athletes. They feature the best brands for skiing, running, training, and whatever else calls you to the great outdoors. Backcountry also knows how to curate top bargains. Steep & Cheap is Backcountry’s “sister site” where you can find extra discounts on quality clearance items. How Steep & Cheap (Powered by Backcountry)

Are those skis you only used twice still taking up room in the garage? You might be able to swap them out for a camping tent at GearTrade. com ! GearTrade is basically Craigslist for outdoor gear. Buy gently used secondhand gear, or sell the gear you don’t use anymore for extra cash! This website has gear from top brands for a wide range of activities. It also offers a large selection of guidebooks and DVDs to help you master any new hobbies you might pick up this summer.

same wakeboard from evo for a cheaper price on another site, evo will beat it by 5%! This includes the company’s large selection of sale items. And with free shipping on orders over $50, evo lives up to its mission to offer the best gear at the best prices. The quality of your gear can make or break your summer activities. Get reliable gear while keeping your wallet happy at the same time.


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Inspired by

Pesto Chicken With Blistered Tomatoes

Brighten up after a cold, dark winter with this fresh and flavorful springtime dish.

Ingredients •

• • • • •

1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted 6 tbsp spinach pesto 2 cups cherry tomatoes 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced 1 tsp red wine vinegar

2 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided

4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, pounded to a 1-inch thickness

• • •

Salt and pepper to taste 1/4 cup whole-wheat panko 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

Directions 1. In a large ovenproof skillet over medium- high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil. 2. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and add it to pan. Cook chicken for 5 minutes on each side, then remove pan from heat. 3. In a bowl, combine panko, Parmesan cheese, and butter. 4. Spread pesto over chicken and top with panko mixture.

5. Broil chicken for 2 minutes on high heat until browned. 6. In a skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. 7. Add tomatoes and cook for 6 minutes. 8. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. 9. Season tomato mixture with salt and pepper, and add red wine vinegar. 10. Serve tomatoes with broiled chicken.

7462 Old Hickory Drive Mechanicsville, VA 23111 804-730-2628


Inside This Issue

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Why Aren’t You the Favorite? The Science Behind Gut Feelings 3 Habits to Build Critical Thinking 3 Ways to Save on Quality Outdoor Gear Pesto Chicken With Blistered Tomatoes Get Fit With Fido



Wellness and Whiskers

3 Ways to Work Out With Your Pet

C reating a healthy lifestyle is often easier with support, but if you’re struggling to find someone to join you on your path to wellness, then look to your furry friends instead. Read on for some ways to get active with your pet, and learn more about their wellness and health at

with your bike — but after a few loops around the trail, your pet will be begging to go again. And how can you say no to that face? Plus, this idea isn’t just for dogs. You can find leashes and harnesses for cats, lizards, ferrets, and other pets that love to get fresh air.

Going for a Swim

Racking Up the Miles

If you have a dog that appears to be more fish than canine, swimming might be the workout for you! Swimming is a joint-friendly cardiovascular exercise that works your entire body. If you’re not one for a dip in the pool, then kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are great for your arms and core. Meanwhile, your pet can enjoy a relaxing ride or an exciting game of fetch. Just be sure to secure your pet with a life jacket before you and your four-legged friend splash away! If you want a good full-body workout while entertaining your pet, then consider including them in traditional exercises. Entertain your pup with a game of fetch and drop down for a burpee every time it runs away. Balance your bird on your shoulder while you squat and lunge. Mentally and physically stimulate your cat by dragging a string around your body during Russian twists. With a little creativity and a few of your pet’s favorite things, both of you can work up a sweat. Keeping It Traditional

A simple way to get moving with your pet is to go for a walk. If you’re looking for a bigger challenge, then try running, biking, or hiking with your pet. Anything beyond a walk may require extra obedience training or equipment — like a specialty tool that prevents your pet from colliding

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