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Staying on the Pulse—How Dave Sobel has committed to keeping MSP owners in the loop on industry changes and dynamics.


Dave Sobel S2F Podcast Image

Helping Cut Through the Bullsh*t for MSP Owners & Other Advice with Dave Sobel

I invited Dave Sobel onto an episode of Stride to Freedom podcast for three reasons: he’s cool, he’s an entrepreneur, and he wants to help managed service providers (MSP) owners. And isn’t that what we’re all about here? Getting business owners into their zone of genius and figuring out what they’re placed on this earth to do? Yes it is.

Dave Sobel is the founder of MSPRadio and host of the value-packed podcast, Business of Tech. Dave is all about creating short, actionable, zero-fluff content to support MSPs and other IT professionals. So, let’s dive into what this episode was all about!

Hey MSP Owners: It’s All About People

One of Dave’s superpowers is that he cares about people—it’s why he started MSPRadio. Dave saw too many MSPs and IT service companies treating clients as products rather than as respected audience members.

That’s why Dave is all about creating highly curated, concise, valuable content that brings people in. His core tenet is: “If you provide good information, people will be interested in that.”

Take ads, for example. If you’re focusing on your audience and what they need, ads bring value. But if ads are just there to make a few bucks, people turn away.

Dave also likes to talk about how important it is to see people as people. He himself is a father, traveler, and gamer. All these things make Dave, well, Dave! And it impacts who he is as a professional and business owner. Seeing people as complex beings helps you understand and serve them to build a stronger business.

  • Bottom line: People matter. Focus your services, products, and content on serving and helping unique, complex individuals—and your audience and market will come to you!

Concise, Quality Content for MSPs and IT Services

I asked Dave, “If you had access to the Business of Tech podcast when you were running your own MSP, what would you have done differently?

His answer? Cut through the bullsh*t more. There’s a lot of noise in the MSP area, with new and competing vendors, products, and services fighting for your attention. Because of that, MPS owners need to know two things:

  1. What’s going on in the MSP and IT services world? What are the current news stories, trends, products and services, or information that impact MSP owners?
  2. Why does it matter?

Through his work with MSPRadio and Business of Tech, Dave distills information, news, and ideas down into bite-size pieces: what’s happening and why it matters. To do this, Dave focuses on a few things:

  • Getting granular with marketing strategies. His podcast is a product to market. So, Dave gets specific on who the target audience is and how to reach them with curated content.
  • Respecting time. This is central to all Dave’s work and content creation: respecting the audience’s time delivering concise, highly curated, short-form content.
  • Differing between content and context. Content is what you produce, context is why it’s important—both are essential!

Dave is passionate about helping MSPs and IT service providers grow, learn, and develop! Make sure to keep up with him over at www.businessof.tech.

You’ll enjoy this Podcast episode with Dave—He shares more about his story and how he got started with MSPRadio. Here are some takeaways: 

  • Know what you want and go for it! (You’ll have to listen to learn more about what happened to Dave on February 14, 2002)
  • Focus on people in your business and you’ll see it grow.
  • Respect people’s time by creating high-quality, succinct, value-packed content.

And if you want to know more about us at Stride Services, contact us today. We offer back-office accounting and CFO services, including stable and efficient bookkeeping, cash flow management, and actionable analytics for growth.

Listen Now

We are fortunate to have Allen available to spend time with us on this edition of Stride 2 Freedom. If there is a speaker you’d like us to interview, click here and let us know. Stay well. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Show Notes and Links From Episode:

Dave Sobel: LinkedIn

MSP Radio: Website/LinkedIn

Dave Sobel: dave@mspradio.com

Episode Transcript:

Russell Benaroya: Hey, everybody, welcome back to another Stride 2 Freedom podcast. I am your host, Russell Benaroya.

What is the Stride 2 Freedom podcast? Well, the Stride 2 Freedom podcast is designed to help business owners achieve their highest and best use; get in their zone of genius. What is your zone of genius? It is that thing that you do where you lose track of time, that feels effortless for you, where people say, “How do you do it?” And you don’t know because it is so ingrained into what makes you so unique. We bring folks onto the show that are in the business of helping other leaders achieve their highest and best use.

Stride 2 Freedom podcast is brought to you by Stride Services. What is Stride Services? We are an outsourced bookkeeping, accounting, and fractional CFO firm serving the professional services industry, working with agencies, and working with MSPs. And what is our genius zone? Our genius zone is using data to help business owners make better business decisions.

Okay, let’s jump in. We have a great show for you today. I am so excited to introduce you to
Dave Sobel. Dave, how are you, buddy?

Dave Sobel: I’m awesome. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me, Russell.

Russell Benaroya: I’m absolutely thrilled. A little bit of background on Dave: Dave is the founder of MSP Radio and the host of The Business of Tech podcast and YouTube channel. He also co-hosts the podcast Killing IT and authored the book Virtualization: Defined. This guy is really energizing and incredible.

He operates the premier journalistic outlet for IT solutions providers with five media properties, over 8,000 listeners, and he provides a treasure trove of insight and action. So you might be wondering, why is this guy on the show? Well, Dave, number one, is cool. Number two, Dave is an entrepreneur. And number three, he gives first, and he hustles. He wants to help 1000s of IT business owners around the country stay informed so that they can make smarter decisions in their business and their life.

Did I get that okay, Dave?

Dave Sobel: That’s a great version of the description. High school me would be flabbergasted that somebody called me cool.

Russell Benaroya: Well, that is a perfect segue, which we did not script, but my first question for you is, who was your best friend in high school?

Dave Sobel: It was a guy I knew who, I went through private school and he went to a public school. We had just met and I don’t even remember how I met him. But we had so much in common and we were the two guys always hanging out. We crossed the barriers between schools and groups and brought some people together and played role-playing games and video games and, occasionally, three-on-three basketball, which we were awful at.

But it was that little sort of high school bit and he went one direction through college and I went another. I am not close to him now, but I know where he is. I’m friends on Facebook and we have talked occasionally.

Russell Benaroya: What would you think he would say about the Dave Sobel high school kid? What kind of kid were you?

Dave Sobel: I was a big nerd. Just a big video game and computer nerd but I owned it. I’ve always owned who I am on this stuff. I was the student body president when I was a senior with a small little community in my school. So I probably was better liked and more comfortable than I, teenage Dave, realized. And you learn a lot about yourself through those awkward teenage years.

I like to always say I tried to be a good friend, and it’s one of those things I’d like to think I still do to this day.

Russell Benaroya: What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken that comes to mind for you without overthinking it?

Dave Sobel: On February 14, 2002, I’ll never forget it because it was Valentine’s Day. I lost my job in the morning, proposed to my now wife that evening, and made the commitment during the day to strike out as an entrepreneur. That all in a day. So, I think that would be my biggest, boldest day. You know what, do all the life decisions on the same day.

Russell Benaroya: That is a big trajectory shift.

Dave Sobel: It really was, but at the same time, I knew what I wanted. I planned on proposing. I lost my job and I proposed. I planned to not do it on Valentine’s Day because “that’s cliche,” but smart me said, “You just lost your job, two expensive dinners is not a smart call.”

Russell Benaroya: The analytical economical guy.

Dave Sobel: Totally. Make a smart, savvy move, so roll that thing together but don’t doubt the decision. I knew I was going to propose. That still was the right decision. So why would I stop?

Russell Benaroya: What is one thing that’s on your bucket list in the next one to three years, something you’d really like to do?

Dave Sobel: I want to go to Japan. I love to travel and I love going on adventures with my wife. I desperately want to go to Japan and I’m still working on convincing her. I’m not done exploring Asia. And as a child of the 80s and some of the anime, I’m not a big anime guy but that’s the entryway with something that I know from my childhood. I was like, “Oh, let’s start there and then go from there.”

So that’s a bucket list bit but I always sort of smile and go. I don’t keep a long bucket list because I try to churn through things. For a long time, going to the Olympics was on my list. Not as a participant, but attending. I’ve already done it. I’ve been on a safari. I’ve done some of those things because they become rather than a bucket list of things, they’re like, yeah, make that happen. If you have this good idea, let’s go do it.

Russell Benaroya: Another phenomenal segue. You’re clearly a man of action. Let’s talk about MSP Radio. What is it? Why did you start it? Why did it matter? And what’s this journey been like for you?

Dave Sobel: You have to almost put it in the context of my overall career. I knew as a kid, I was going to be in computers. I have a degree in computer science, and I’ve always been very proud of that. I have an actual degree in computer science. I was a developer consultant. I started out with that version of things.

I live in the DC metro area so you almost might have expected that I could have gone into federal contracting and that might have been the trajectory. But it didn’t. I ended up in commercial work and I really liked it. I did two startups. And as I mentioned, I lost my job at a point where we were on one of those downturns in 2002.

And I said, “You know what, I want to try something myself,” because I noticed at the time that the leaders are not the ones that lost their jobs. They’re not the ones that lost their financial stability. I was like, “Well, I can run a company into the ground as well as those morons. I’m smarter than those guys.” It was literally my idea.

I thought I would either do infrastructure or software because I was good at both. And I picked infrastructure, thinking it was easier. And I laugh looking back because that was a stupid choice. But that was my move. So I ran a managed service provider for a decade. That was my first entrepreneurial venture.

I was proud of it. I ran a good regional single-person MSP, and I bought a company. It was a dismal failure and I’ve talked about that. Then I expanded. At its biggest, the company had about $1.4 million in revenue and had a team of 14. It was a solid MSP.

Then I decided to sell it and move on to the next bit. Lots of people were like, “Are you going to be a consultant on being an MSP? Are you going to teach others?” I was like, “But I only ran the one. Why would I go teach others? I feel like I haven’t learned enough.” In fact, I wanted to learn about these programs and the way vendors and I wanted to be smart at that.

I went and ran a community for an RMM platform called Level Platforms. We sold that to AVG and then I didn’t want to stay there anymore. I moved to a little company called GFI. We became LogicNow. We sold that to SolarWinds; a company everyone knows. Then I stayed through the IPO and it was all about learning. All these trajectories were about learning and growing and understanding.

Then that reached its natural course. It was time to move on. I’d been there six years. Then everybody said, “Dave, are you going to consult? Are you going to go out there to teach others?” I was like, “No, I think I want to solve another problem.” And it gets to the “why” because you have to see all of these: what are you going to do with yourself?

So the core problem that I wanted to deal with, with MSP Radio, was the idea that I think the audience matters. And I draw this triangle of media all the time. There are the tech journalists who love gadgets, Silicon Valley, startups, and unicorns and are allergic to services. And you get to the business media, it’s the same thing. They love startups and Silicon Valley, and they love entrepreneurs. But then they’re allergic to services.

And I always looked at the services realm of media and said, “I think they view the audience too much as the product.” Like they’re serving the audience up to their advertisers as a lead, not as a respected audience.

I was like, I remember being the MSP. I remember not getting enough value out of that. Maybe I can work on that. Maybe I’ll go to a very core tenet of if you provide good information, people will be interested in that. And there is a certain classical honor to having an ad. If the ad is relevant and associated with the content, you can learn things in ads.

By the way, we’ve all attended these webinars and long sessions where it’s an ad. But if they go too much to the side of not worrying about the content being any good, it’s a waste of your time. But if the content is really good and you associate it with a relevant ad, you can respect your audience’s attention. And it’s okay to sell an ad.

That was my basic concept because I looked at it and said, “I understand the audience; I’ve been that. I understand the buyer; I’ve been a vendor and I bought those ads. I know what they will wanT.” Smash the two together: let’s go do it.”

Then my core idea was The Business of Tech podcast, which is what I do every business day. And I went back to: what did I like doing best? I really loved the keynote that I would give at all of our events. I would do business analysis and I would talk about all the data and why I think it’s important. I said, “Why don’t I just take that bit?” That was always the best piece of content in my mind. Everyone really liked it. They thought it was reasonably good at it. That’ll be my podcast.

And here we are, three years later. And I laugh and smile every day when people listen. I am always so appreciative that I get up every day and do my writing and put it all together. And they really listen. I am so grateful that I can do that, that I can be a trusted source. I hope I get it right most of the time and I’m okay if I get it wrong. If somebody listens to me and they think I’m 100% wrong, I immediately go, “Please go make a ton of money, knowing that I am completely wrong, and you figured it out.”

Russell Benaroya: What are MSPs or IT service providers broadly seeking when they learn from you? In your opinion, what’s the story in your head about what they’re seeking? What are they looking for?

Dave Sobel: What I really hope that they’re looking for is somebody that understands their business, that’s looking at the market and trends and news stories and plucking out ones that they need to know about, based on actually being informed on what they do. I’ve done that job, and I don’t sit here and proclaim that I still do it. But I have done that job and I understand it intimately. I’ve thought a lot about it and I’ve thought a lot academically about how the business works.

So I look around and go; what would I want to know about? What would my attention be best served with? Then it’s not just the news, but the why. I do a segment called Why We Care on every story and it’s about, “Well, this is why I picked this. This is the bit of insight I got out of it, or the question it raises for me, or where my thinking is at,” so that you get the understanding of why I thought it was important. Because that’s, I think, the important linkage. Here’s the item: you’ll want to know about it. Here’s why I think it’s important. You might decide I’m wrong. But cool. If you think I’m wrong, that’s okay, too.

But it’s not just the element of, “Here’s the new story,” with no context. “Here’s a new story and my perspective on what I saw from it.” Now you’ve got enough to make a decision on your own about what to do with it. And that’s what I hope that they’re getting from it: somebody who thinks like them, who understands their business, is looking out for stuff and trying to give you warning signals or directional signs of what I see on the market. Now it’s up to you to take that information to do something with it.

Russell Benaroya: When you were running your MSP if you had access to The Business of Tech podcast, how do you think some of those pearls of insight might have influenced how you might have thought about your business opportunity or thought about serving customers or thought about the services that you offered?

Dave Sobel: I like to think I would have tried to cut through the bullshit a little bit more. MSPs, in particular, are sold to a lot. There are a lot of businesses out there that know that they are the path to the small customer. It’s an indirect market. A big software technology company has had a tough time getting out to all of the small companies that are out there. So the best way to do this is to use the MSP. This is generally recognized as the IT channel.

So there are a lot of people who are selling to that group. There’s a lot of noise. I look back on my MSP career and there are a few times I’m like, “Oh, yeah, I got sucked in by the selling.” I got sucked in by the hype, or I got sucked in by the latest vendor trend, or what I was being pushed toward. And, by the way, I did that job. I spun, I sold, I did the bid, I know how the game is played.

I’ve seen both sides of this, which is why I always say, “I expose my thinking so that you know where I’m coming from.” I just want to be transparent now. So I look and say, “I hope MSP me would have said, “I see more clearly what I’m being told or pushed or what the difference between the market reality versus the story that’s told.”

Russell Benaroya: Clarify for me your target audience. I know it’s MSP Radio and we talked about MSPs, and Stride serves MSPs. But does that do a disservice to those businesses and maybe the industry at large that MSP is this catch-all that isn’t entirely representative of what those businesses are or where they want to direct their future? I’m curious if you could comment on that.

Dave Sobel: Because it’s a horribly overloaded term. I actually actively dislike the term MSP, and it’s in my company. My product is The Business of Tech. So I want people to associate the podcast versus the business. The business is MSP Radio. That’s the back office that powers it. The product is The Business of Tech, which actually perfectly encapsulates what I’m trying to do. I think about the business of delivering IT services.

I think about that in a very broad sense. It’s a way to deliver it by trading time for money. We generally call this break-fix. We are generally very derisive of the model. But you know what, there is a business in trading time for money to deliver expertise. For 1000s of years, people have been doing it this way, you can do it in technology, too. I think there are ways of delivering it as a service. I think there are ways of doing it on a recurring revenue basis. I think you can do it in all kinds of layers.

It doesn’t have to just be infrastructure. I could be in what I like to talk about the work layer. It can be in data consulting. It can be in security and that’s a very large category. By the way, it doesn’t have to necessarily just be in small companies. When we talk about MSPs, we often mean small companies, but I have conversations with my government contracting friends who discuss, “Yeah, we do what you call managed services. We do that for the Fed or we do it for this agency or for the military.”

I think about it in all spectrums because there are a lot of these pieces that are very similar. So for me, it’s IT services, the delivery of IT services that is generally required when implementing any IT products.

Russell Benaroya: You also operate a bit on both sides of the market. So you are in service to IT service providers, and you’ve also provided a lot of education to people that want to invest in the industry.

Dave Sobel: That’s a funny little business.

Russell Benaroya: Tell me about that.

Dave Sobel: Well, I look at myself and I say I am this island unto myself at a certain degree. I try to put on a journalist’s hat although I’m not a journalist, I’m actually a little bit more comfortable with analyst as the description but it’s both. So if I have independent expertise, there are people seeking it out, and one of those groups happens to be investors. And it happened by accident.

When I went independent and started throwing content out of the web, investors found me. And I found that they would happily pay for my time to explain things to them. And I love it. I just started creating more content. I have a little web series called What I Tell Investors, which I literally don’t promote. I just put it on my YouTube channel and I don’t promote it at all. I learned these questions that they always ask And so I just make videos of it.

And these investors then continue to hire me for more and more questions. It’s a nice slice of the revenue. I look at it the same way as if you’re trying to understand this space, coming to somebody who just spends their time immersed in it is a perfectly reasonable bid to do. I may not answer to those actually delivering it but that doesn’t mean that I can’t provide that same set of insights for people that are trying to potentially put their money into it.

So I’ve done that. I do both the consulting and I do some of the content generation on it because if people want to hire me from that perspective. I’m always happy to do it. I make the same statement for a little MSP. Do you want my time? I’m always happy to give it. My first call is always free; I don’t mind talking to people. But if they want to get into recurring calls, then I have a link on my website. You can book a consulting call if it really is important to you, and I’m happy to give advice. Then what you do with it on all fronts is entirely up to you.

Russell Benaroya: I wonder if the way that you have built your business, which is a lot of social media, you’re out there, you’re consistent, you’re a voice, you deliver a lot of quality content, you also spend energy building awareness. I wonder if just watching how you have built your business, the tools that you use, and the way you outreach is itself interesting learning for business owners that think about the greatest problem to solve, which is top of the funnel, generating leads?

Dave Sobel: It’s funny because I always think of the podcast as a product. You have to get it in people’s hands. You cannot assume that they will magically know about it. This is not a build-it-and-they-will-come. Don’t get me wrong; I try to be incredibly proud about every single bit that I do and every day I agonize over writing and getting it right. But I can make the most perfect piece of content ever, and if no one knows about it, it does not matter.

So I have to get the product into people’s hands. And that means a systematic approach to marketing your product. My product is a podcast; get out there and you have to do it. You have to get it out there. My call to action doesn’t involve a credit card, the way that most people’s product does. That doesn’t mean there’s not a call to action. There’s a reason every YouTuber in the world says, “Like and subscribe.” That is our call to action for you to convert. And if I don’t ask for the business, you won’t give it to me.

I always say, “Please listen to my podcast. I hope it brings value to you. I hope it becomes part of your bid. The only way you’ll know is if you try.” So you’re exactly right. I’m very systematic about the way that I think about getting that out.

You asked who is my audience? I have thought about it not only from the perspective of if they’re delivering IT services. But the typical marketing questions, as a general rule, I am looking to target people in North America that are interested in digital consumption or that are interested in consuming either YouTube video content or podcast audio content. And I think they generally are going to be business owners or involved at managerial and leadership levels.

You think about all these marketing traits to build your audience. Then, again, I go out there digitally. I’m doing it both organically through the regular sharing of content that I find relevant to my stuff and then additionally, I’ll go out there with a paving engagement. I spend money on Google ads. I spend money on YouTube promotions. Why? Because that is my product that I need to get into people’s hands.

Russell Benaroya: What I appreciate about The Business of Tech, and maybe it’s your MSP Radio thesis, which is short form, succinct content, and highly targeted. And that’s what we as business owners need to be thinking about.

Sometimes we do verbose explanations about our value proposition and we go on and on and on and on, and people just switch off after about two minutes. But you’ve created this condensed content structure. I’m curious if you comment on that, and how you’ve thought about it.

Dave Sobel: I almost should print it and put it on the wall because I think about it all the time: respect their time. I think about that all the time. And there are two parts to that. The first part of that is my stuff had better be good. I better be proud of it. I don’t write filler. I don’t write extra. I try to be judicious with my thoughts because I want to respect the investment that they want to get something out of it.

The second part is to respect their time and not waste it. If it can be done in three minutes, do it in three minutes. It does not need 15 minutes. It doesn’t need an arbitrary hour. I’ve been that guy on both sides of the traditional webinar. Like, it must be a 30-minute webinar. Why does it have to be 30 minutes? I have four minutes of things to say. The rest is filler.

And by the way, for everybody who thinks about this, it is hard. It is way harder to get your four minutes of excellence than it is to just fill. You’ve got to think about it and write and edit and be precise. I’ll give people insight.

I use a teleprompter; I do multiple takes. I edited it out. Heaven forbid there’s an um in there that I didn’t want. I’ve got to respect their time. So respecting their time is always a mantra for me.

Russell Benaroya: I really like that. We do a lot of editing on this podcast. The amount of post-production editing is out of control. We get rid of all the ums and all the pauses. Your comment motivates me to like to end this podcast in the next 30 seconds because we’re over 30 minutes but very on point, which I appreciate.

What is something people don’t usually ask you that you wish they did to get to know you better, the business better, your why?

Dave Sobel: It’s a hard question because you want to go like, “I don’t think in business, we understand enough about who people are outside of business.” I say I’m a husband and I have kids and two cats. I live just outside DC and I love it. I love being by the nation’s capital.

There are a lot of people who work really hard to be really smart and work on big issues. I love that. People around me do cool stuff. I’m into baseball; we were riffing about that a little bit. I’m a video game guy. I love video games. I’m into the classic retro stuff and into the modern stuff. I love to travel. I like food and drink and it’s one of my vices a little bit. And I come from a really complicated family. I’ve got this epic story of my parents’ divorce and all that kind of stuff.

All of these things go into making a person and it makes you why. Why do I work? Because I want to feed some of my hobbies. I don’t get up every day just to do IT service. I love this space. I think it’s fun. I think it’s super interesting, but I also do it because I want to buy the new Xbox. I need income to do that. You have to have enough financial security to do that stuff. And those pieces all matter and it’s really important to think of people as a holistic thing.

I struggle with this myself with others. When somebody else stumbles, nine times out of 10, it’s because of something not related to work. They’re having a bad day. They got into a fight at home. Their kids are being really difficult. There’s a sick family member. You have to remember the person. So it’s hard when you ask, well, what do people want to know? I want people to ask me about all the other stuff that I get jazzed about because it is what makes me a person and it drives all my thinking.

Russell Benaroya: I appreciate your response. And as you may or may not know, I wrote a book on this topic that was published five months ago, called One Life to Lead: Business Success Through Better Life Design.

It’s all about how you take off the armor and acknowledge that how you lead your life and the behaviors and the patterns that you exhibit directly correlate to how you lead in business. And your willingness to humanize the entire experience and those around you: your employees, your vendors, your clients, and your partners, makes the journey a whole lot more interesting and typically, a whole lot of lower drama because we’re not so busy creating this villainization or victimization, which often pervades the business environment.

Dave Sobel: Also, I’ll add that you have to remember that you come with your own baggage too. It’s okay to own that. By the way, that culturally may mean we may be bad at talking about our feelings or talking about those elements. But we come with a certain perspective. We also come with certain blind spots. You’ve got to know that. You’ve got to know you have blind spots to those things in order to be better about it.

I think owning those identity things isn’t a bad thing; it actually gives space to grow, to be better, and to be more effective. You can be a way better leader the moment you realize you have these areas you don’t understand.

Russell Benaroya: We talked about the distinction between content and context. Content is what you hear, the circumstance. Context is what’s underneath it. But I’m going to get back to MSP Radio and The Business of Tech, which really seems to be how you approach the product. Yes, there’s content here, for sure, but there’s also context. There’s the why: why does this matter?

Dave Sobel: Yeah, and that is how I think about it all the time because these are all data points. It’s all how you interpret them. I have always thought that one of the things that I think I’m particularly good at is looking at a series of data points and identifying the trends. I’ve always thought I’m pretty good at that.

So for me, when you talk about the product, The Business of Tech, what I’m hoping I’m doing is providing whatever my superpower. “Here you go. This is what I do. This is how I put all these trends together. This is what I see. Here’s my analysis of it.”

Then not getting so hung up on it. I don’t have to be right. This is where I’d put my bets. This is how I’d execute it. By the way, I’m betting on a bunch of this stuff. But if you think I’m wrong, go forth, kick my advice, and come back and tell me about it. I look forward to the day when people come back and tell me, “Dave, I listened to you, and God you were wrong, and I made so much money.”

Russell Benaroya: What’s a recent podcast episode that comes to mind for you that you’d share with us why you chose that as being the topic of the day?

Dave Sobel: I have a fixation on the return to work stuff. I’ve been covering a lot of who’s going back into the office. I just picked out a story recently where Activision Blizzard employees pushed back really hard when the company tried to lift the vaccine mandate in the organization. They pushed back really hard and not only did they push back on that, they then had added a list of demands of things they wanted. And there was a small walkout and the leadership rolled that back.

I look at that, and I go, “Yeah, this, this is leadership getting out over their skis, thinking they have more power in these situations than they really do based on the current situation.” There’s a lot of employee power right now versus employer power. The last few years have exposed a lot of lies that managers have said. My favorite lie is, “Well, you need to be in the office.” Well, we proved that one isn’t entirely true, didn’t we? We all conducted a massive worldwide experiment on that one and proved it’s not true.

So employees are saying, “I wonder what other lies they’ve been telling me.” This is not a great time for leadership to BS their way through this stuff. It’s okay to not know; own that space. I think there are tons of opportunities in this space to innovate.

I think small companies can come up with really clever answers that work for them, for their employees, and the kinds of people that they want to appeal to. Particularly as I like to think about smaller companies, you don’t have to appeal to everybody. You just have to appeal to the right ones, both the right employees and the right customers. You just have to be the right ones.

By the way, I recognize that the issue I just brought up may be politically charged for some. Own it for what your reality is. Again, if you think I’m wrong, own it. Go be competitive and go in a different direction. Now, in this one, I happen to think I’m right. I’m going to stand by it and I’m going to make my bets there. But that’s okay.

That’s an example of one where I looked in and said, “Yeah, this is proving to be my thesis that leadership does not have the power they think they have.” I said I think all of these return-to-work declarations are lies and it will not play out. Now, I do think that these executives believe what they’re saying. They just do not have the power they think they do. And this will play out really quickly, particularly, as competitive organizations will start giving very going, “I’m not fighting that fight. I’m going to win those employees.” In a tough labor market or a dynamic labor market, you pick the battles you want to win, not the ones that are just superfluous.

Russell Benaroya: The second half of the global experiment continues. To be continued.

Dave Sobel: And may you live in interesting times. And this is the dichotomy of IT guys. We’re in an industry where things change all the time and this is a group of people that constantly bemoan change.

Own the roller coaster. Just go with it. It’s so much more fun to own the roller coaster and go up and down and just go for the ride. I get having an off-period. You’ll vomit if you ride the roller coaster over and over and over again, but that’s also what vacations are for.

Russell Benaroya: Well, your message is a good one; a provocative one that’s applicable to anybody that’s in a position of leadership, not just IT owners. I want to give you some space to let people know the best way to find you and the best way to plug into your content. How do they do it? Where do they do it?

Dave Sobel: Everything is linked to www.businessof.tech. There’s a big blue button. You can find my Business of Tech podcast on all your favorite podcatchers. If you prefer the video version, there’s the YouTube channel. All the links are right there.

I’ve even got written versions of my stuff for those that like to read it. It’s available that way. That’s the way you get started. And I’m easy to find. I’m also linked there on all the socials if you want to find me. And I post my calendar and my email address. So I’m easy to find.

Russell Benaroya: Dave, it has been an absolute privilege to spend time with you. You are gracious to be so responsive early on and to connect. I think we built a fast friendship, a fast connection, which we would have the same conversation if we weren’t even on a podcast. That’s what makes you special, magnetic, informative, and connected.

I’m just grateful to learn more about MSP Radio, The Business of Tech, why you do what you do, the impact you’re trying to make, and for the 1000s of people today that is benefiting from your work. Thank you.

Dave Sobel: Well, thanks for having me. This has been great fun. Great connection

Russell Benaroya: I really appreciate it. Okay, everybody, have a great week. We will see you on the next Stride 2 Freedom podcast. Talk to you soon. Bye.

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