A few hundred managed services providers (MSPs) are attending today's Schnizzfest conference, hosted by TruMethods in Philadelphia, Pa. Sure, we'll hear some cloud computing and cloud services chatter. But the real chatter here involves business leadership. This is a live blog.

Joe Panettieri, Former Editorial Director

July 20, 2012

5 Min Read
Schnizzfest Live Blog: Managed Services Provider Highlights


A few hundred managed services providers (MSPs) are attending today’s Schnizzfest conference, hosted by TruMethods in Philadelphia, Pa. Sure, we’ll hear some cloud computing and cloud services chatter. But the real chatter here involves business leadership. This is a live blog. Check back every few minutes for updates.

1. Entrepreneurial fatigue: Mike Drake, CEO of master IT, opened the conference by saying he has overcome “entrepreneurial fatigue” — working more closely with TruMethods peer groups to drive monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and profit margins higher. Drake and at least three other master IT team members are here.

2. Taking the stage: TruMethods CEO Gary Pica and CTO Bob Penland are on stage now, keeping it loose. Remember Fonzie’s “Ayyyyy.” Time for the TruMethods “Schnizz…”

3. Know Your Mission: Before you make any business move ask yourself, “Is this what’s best for our customers?” In TruMethods’ case, the discussion is “Is this what’s best for our members?”

4. Who’s here: 140 companies, generating more than $3.3 million in new MRR. Top 10 average more than $105,000 in new monthly MRR since joining TruMethods.

5. Line of the Day: Pica and Penland say they are “a lot taller” when you meet them in person.

6. In the Game: Pica and Penland have an investment in a local MSP… though TruMethods remains their core priority. “Very few [coaches] in this industry have built an MSP once. Even fewer try to do it again.” – Pica.

7. Content Portal: Better. More focused. Packed with content for members.

8. Beyond Chocolate Cake: Focus on more than your IT ingredients. It’s how you deliver your solution that really differentiates you, and believe in your company way.

9. Another Next Big Bang?: TruMethods is working on something called “SuperNova.” Stay tuned.

10. Four Focus Areas: RMM offers centralized services, PSA is essential for customer management, but TruMethods sees opportunities to fill in the holes for vCIOs and network administration. TruMethods is launching something called myITprocess, a cloud-based service to address the vCIO and network administration opportunities.

11. Inflection Point: Six months into Pica’s first MSP business, he realized he didn’t know how to lead people or how to read a financial statement. The alternatives:

  • Go work for a big software company (friends had joined Oracle, SAP) and enjoy the ERP boom (1997)

  • Stick with it, push beyond his sales management expertise, and focus on this reality: “If I don’t take this to the end, I will regret it for the rest of my life.”

  • Pica’s point: Make Schnizzfest a turning point for you. Everyone has a clean slate here. No matter how many times you’ve tried and failed, let’s press resent and set a new goal.

12. A Shout Out: Tommy Wald, formerly CEO of White Glove Technologies, isn’t here this year. I miss him… one of the smartest MSP leaders I’ve met in recent years. Wald sold his MSP business to White Glove last year. And a few weeks ago, Best Buy’s mindSHIFT acquired White Glove. Friends tell me Wald is now taking some time off and focusing on music. Sounds cool. I wish him well and look forward to humming some tunes down the road.

13. Set a Goal:

  • What will define success 12 months from now and how will you measure it?

  • Name up to three obstacles to your goal. Are they external factors or within your control?

  • What specific actions will you take to overcome obstacles to reach your goal?

14. Don’t overestimate the value of knowledge: Success in business is 90 percent attitude and 10 percent knowledge. The smartest people often aren’t the most successful people.

15. You Need Fanatical Discipline: Planning, execution, accountability, results and self-improvement = success.

16. Success requires: Belief in yourself, your plan, your team, your company way.

17. Seven Areas to Concentrate Your Time and Money: How to sustain 20 percent growth of profits and revenues for five years. Coming soon… stay tuned.

  1. Have a strong sense of purpose: It’s not about wealth accumulation. Wealth is a byproduct to fidelity of a worthy purpose. Purpose always precedes process.

  2. Outstanding Market Intelligence: Do two things well at the same time. Recognize and adapt to fundamental change. In your company, in your community, in this industry and within yourself. Proactively do something about it. Don’t always listen to customers. Examples: Customers say they want low-fat, low-oil potato chips but always opt for the high-calorie options when blindfolded.

  3. Have Effective Growth Planning: Has to be updated on an as-needed basis. Only 8 percent of privately held companies have a written, organized and updated plans. 80 percent of the fast-growth, sustainable privately held companies (20+ percent revenue and profit growth for five years) have such a plan.

  4. You Have to Have Customer-driven Processes: Don’t internally define if you’re customer-driven.

  5. Sorry, I missed this one… Anyone care to fill it in in the comment section?

  6. Find and keep the best talent possible: Recruit, train and retain the best and brightest people possible.

  7. See the future: We can’t predict the future but we can master the macro forces of change.

18. MSP CEOs and Sales: If you’re the CEO of your business and you’re still the best salesperson in the company: Shame on you. Anyone who reports to you (including the head of sales) should be smarter and better than you.

19. Look Outside Your Industry for Talent: To find great people… look outside your industry. And over-hire and sometimes over-way. If you find a super-star. You don’t grow so that you can afford good people. You hire good people to grow.

Keep checking this blog all day. It will be updated every few minutes. -jp

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About the Author(s)

Joe Panettieri

Former Editorial Director, Nine Lives Media, a division of Penton Media

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