Friday, 14 October 2016 08:00

Ringer Radio Episode 20

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Monika
Good afternoon Atlanta. This is Ringer Radio with Gabe and Monika Meacham.

Gabe
Hey all. How is it going?

Monika
So forgive me first of all with my little scruffy voice. I’ve had a…

Gabe
She’s been yelling at me…

Monika
...I’ve been yelling at him. Yeah…

Gabe
...constantly.

Monika
So I lose my voice when I yell at him.

Gabe
Yea. That’s how it goes. Now you know.

Monika
This is me saying: “Gets stuff done”.

Gabe
Right. She’s been working me like a...like a … like a little daughter or something..it’s not cool.

Monika
Well you gotta work so what else am I supposed to do?

Gabe
I don’t know.

Monika
I can’t tell you nicely apparently.

Gabe
No. When you’re married and you’re in business together you can skip all the niceties and like: “You look. Project gets done”.

Monika
Right.

Gabe
Right. It’s that simple.

Monika
Yup. It works that way.

Gabe
Yeah you have no… you know... you don’t get to have hobbies. You don’t get to have free time.

Monika
You get to have hobbies. It’s called a business.

Gabe
Right. Anyway. So welcome to Ringer Radio. That’s our little inside scoop at …

Monika
Yes.

Gabe
Right.

Monika
We have Mike Russell here with us today. From ETS Solutions. Welcome Mike.

Russell
Thank you very much. Happy to be here. It’s a great beautiful day outside but yeah…

Monika
Yes. It’s a beautuiful day but one thing that just doesn’t get me, I swear, is the drivers here.

Gabe
Are you really gonna talk about…

Russell
She is.

Monika
I have too… I want to educate people.

Gabe
How you gonna educ…

Monika
When you are driving down the road and you see a…

Gabe
People get in their car and shut off their brain.

Monika
Well they shouldn’t. Because you shouldn’t sit in the middle of an intersection just waiting for something to move in front of you. Because that’s when the l… the intersect … the light goes red and you’re stuck. And then everybody else gets messed up and they can’t go through the light because you can’t go through the light. If you see a giant house sitting in the middle of the road…

Gabe
There was a giant this morning…

Monika
There was a giant house in the middle of the road and people are still sitting their trying to turn and sitting in the middle of the intersection as if this giant house is gonna move all of a sudden.

Gabe
Right.

Monika
And I mean the giant house took the entire road. You would think you’d sit back and wait till the ...house moved and you’re like: “Oh, okay. Now I can go”.

Gabe
This short car is trying to go ….

Monika
… I don’t wanna sit in the middle of the intersection. You sit there with all the intersections and it’s all … people don’t sit in them idle of the intersection, wait. Wait until you have a chance to go.

Gabe
Is that like your lesson learned…

Monika
This is my life-tip for the week.

Gabe
This is OK. That is enough for you

Monika
It’ll help. I’m telling you. If everyone listens to this in Atlanta it will save our traffic.

Gabe
If you let your blood pressure go up every time traffic gets nasty around here you’re gonna live to like 35. That’s it.

Monika
Oh no. I’m dead. I’m older than 35.

Gabe
I’m just saying. Alright. Well.

Monika
Alright. We’ve digressed enough.

Gabe
… as they say: “The more you know the more you grow”.

Monika
The more you know.

Gabe
So yeah.

Monika
Yup. So. Anyways. Welcome Mike. We’re glad to have you here. I’m sorry for the digression. I just… wanted to give everyone a tip about driving cause I think it will help… I think it will help Atlanta.

Russell
Well, there’s a reason I was silent. So you did a great job and spoke for me too. OK. Thank you Monika.

Gabe
We only have to fuss about it because, honestly, on a day to day basis we live and work like within…

Monika
A mile. Not even.

Gabe
A mile. So we get out on Holcomb Bridge for just a sliver of time… you know. So when we come down to Atlanta to do the show… it’s always… oh no.

Monika
Yeah. See? Doesn’t… doesn’t turn off his ringer tone.

Gabe
So.

Monika
So anyways. Mike you’re with ETS Solutions. So tell us a little bit about what you guys do.

Russell
Absolutely, we do technology consulting for businesses in three areas. Three areas that every single business has to have. They have to have phones. They have to have internet. And now they have to have cloud services. In the past they used to have a server. They used to have a workstation. They used to have a file server. We just talked about FTP a little bit before we got on the radio. Little old technology there… yeah. But now they have to have cloud services. They have to have access to email and cloud is a buzz word but cloud has been around for many many years. I’m holding up my Samsung edge, my new edge phone. That’s cloud.

Monika
Yup.

Russell
That’s a cloud computer right there. Everything on it is in the cloud. So how do you transform those services from your server, from your workstation, all the documents that you need and we help consult with companies on best practices in phones, internet and cloud services. We work with … we represent for like a better term of broker, over sixty different companies and carriers throughout the word.

Monika
Sixty?

Russell
Sixty. Yeah. So if you came to us and said: “We have 75 locations across US, with five locations international and we need these types of phones and this mini-phones at each location and we also need each location connected via the internet along with the server and the cloud, and maybe four servers and fourteen virtual servers in the cloud running these applications”. We would take all those requirements, put together a solution for you, shop those services out with all the different companies we represent and bring back and present to you, as a business owner, five or six different solutions with the prices, with the advantages and disadvantages of each…

Gabe
Yeah.

Russell
... then you as a business owner can make that selection. We will then negotiate a contract for you with the addendums that you’ll never see in the industry. If somebody walked in from Comcast and sold you Comcast business services, there’s certain addendums that I can get that they can’t get. And so we will make sure those addendums protect you as the client.

Gabe
Can you tell me what… some of those might be?

Russell
Yeah. Things like… you know we grew so fast a year and [5:49] through your contract we now have to move. That’s gonna cost you 2 000 dollars to move.

Gabe
Yeah.

Russell
We’ll do a free move addendum for you.

Gabe
That makes sense.

Russell
Every single carrier… what are they doing today? How many times have you gotten your cable bill a year after and there’s been a little bit of a price increase. We’ll do price guarantee addendums so that your price is guaranteed throughout the term. There’s other business downturn clauses. So if you have a hundred locations and you need to close eight of them. We’ll be able to close eight of them and you’re not paying those termination fees for those. So those are just three examples of addendums that we request on behalf of our clients for a contract. So we present them … you tell us your needs, we present to the carriers, we negotiate in your behalf, we’re your advocate not the carriers. We’re your advocate then you sign the contract. Will think we walk away and you don’t see us ever again? Nah that’s not the case. So I build this company and one of my four core values is customer service. So we will hand-hold you through the entire implementation process. We’re not gonna be physically doing the work, we’re not gonna show up and plug the phones in. We’re not gonna show up and make sure the internet is working. But we have… we work to make sure all that gets done because it can be a very complicated process. Especially moving to the cloud services these days.

Monika
Alright.

Russell
So … we will hand-walk you through and let you understand. More importantly, there’s any issues that arise we will take of it and make sure it’s fixed for you. Then you’re all installed, you’re up and running, you get that first bill, it’s not quite right… do you call an 800 number? No you call a local number here and you get a specialized customer service manager that’s assigned to your account which will handle all those things for you so…

Monika
Well that’s nice. &T, Verizon for hours…

Russell
Many of our listeners have probably been on hold with carriers… AT

Monika
Oh I hate being on hold with them. Especially Comcast…

Russell
Yeah. Then you get transferred… how many times? Three if you’re lucky…

Monika
More than that...generally…

Gabe
Yeah.

Russell
You know how…

Monika
And then they don’t know the answers to anything…

Gabe
So how does somebody as a liaison for you doing that has always…

Russell
That’s about you [7:33] ad… And my competitors charge for everything I just said.

Monika
Right.

Russell
I don’t.

Gabe
Yeah.

Russell
And if I would have charged 14 years ago, I would be owning this radio station instead of being on ..

Monika
Right.

Russell
So I probably could have retired or at least something, but I didn’t wanna do that because I wanna build value. I wanna be a value add to you as you are my client. And more importantly, Monika want you to tell everybody about me? That’s more important to me than making an extra 2000-3000 dollars for consulting services.

Monika
Right. So the referral bases and building relationships.

Russell
Absolutely. We… fourteen years… I have never ever made a cold-call… I take that back I did one. My first year, you know… as being a new entrepreneur I did the networking thing but then I took a call… a class called cold-calling for dummies. Joined the class motivated, got back to my office, made those first 10 calls and got shut down bigger than ever.

Monika
Oh no.

Russell
I said I would never ever make a cold-call again. I think I shredded that book that I got.. the manual I got so.

Monika
Cold-calling

Russell
Cold-calling…

Monika
They’re t… that terrifies me. It made me sit there and we talk about it and I’m like: “I can talk to somebody all day long...”

Gabe
Depends on the I guess... you are… I mean if you’ve gotten … I don’t know.. if you’ve gotten… so well…

Russell
Well I don’t cold-call. I’m an extrovert an A type # perosnality. I can meet and talk with anybody. I can talk to this wall and sell them phone services. But making that cold-call … just not my thing.

Monika
Something about it.. yeah.. it’s just…

Russell
Yeah. I want that warm fuzzy referral… you know… want somebody to feel like: “Hey, this guy really knows what he’s talking about”. So…

Gabe
Sure.

Russell
So.

Monika
And that you know that they have a need and everything like that as well.

Russell
Absolutely.

Monika
Yeah.

Gabe
Yeah.

Monika
Yup. Yup. We deal with the same thing. I hate cold calls so… it’s just not very fun to do so… So how did you… what did you do then… you didn’t do cold calls, you didn’t do the… you tried the networking thing…

Russell
No no no…

Gabe
Let’s just back up for a second. I mean… our audience still doesn’t know like how long… when did you start the business and…?

Russell
Fourteen years ago.

Gabe
Fourteen years ago?

Russell
Fourteen years ago. Yeah. I got a little story behind that if you want to hear that.

Gabe
Well, let’s save that till after the commercial break.

Russell
Perfect. OK.

Gabe
Cause you know… it’s gonna take a little bit of time but… so in fourteen years… do you have any kind of one general piece of advice … you know like top number one thing that you would give just to somebody starting out...in your shoes fourteen years ago?

Russell
Yeah. Eighty hours.

Monika
Eighty hours!

Gabe
Eighty hours! That’s reality.

Monika
Yup.

Russell
Reality is. If you… if you’re starting a business and you think you could start a business working forty hours a week you will fail. And so… there were many times that I worked Saturdays and Sundays doing the accounting, and doing the book work, and doing the administrator work and the filing so that Monday – Friday from 7 AM, I was at a breakfast meeting, at 12 PM I was at the lunch meeting and at 5:30 PM I was on the networking event and I attended every single event I could and met so many people. And fourteen years later we’re up to 7 000 contacts that we know, that I know personally in the business community and it’s really getting out there and getting your name out there. Branding yourself as letting them understand what you do so that when I meet Monika at a metro Atlanta chamber event or wherever I might meet her, tell her about what about I do, when she meets Fred down the road and Fred’s like: “God my phones just do not work well”. You need to call Mike. And that is how we built our business over fourteen years. Networking and then something called ‘business referral partners’. So I really have a hundred people out there right now that send business to us on a regular basis.

Monika
Very nice.

Russell
So yeah, they trust us. We’re their trusted advise [11:02] data. Everything from IT companies to commercial real estate brokers to accountants. Everything across the board where you just meet people. We have a hundred people that we… that we work with, that we market to and that we.. that we take care of on a quarterly basis that really send us business all the time.

Monika
So it’s building relationships. At the end of the day it’s building solid good relationships with people that are around.

Russell
Absolutely.

Gabe
And… you know… it’s not a free time business knowing that you’re gonna put in twice as much time as ...body that gets to go and punch a clock.

Monika
Yeah. I was… I was gonna … I get amazed by some people that are like: “Oooh. I’m gonna do a business but I’m only gonna work 20 hours”. Or the…

Gabe
That’s the newest trend these days don’t you know?

Russell
It is.

Gabe
Four hour work week… it’s like it’s not gonna happen.

Monika
I mean if you wanna sell everything and move overseas I’m sure you can live off a ten grand a year, that’s great. You know?

Monika
But living here and trying to have a business and have … you know.. not live in a tiny house or something like that...so.

Gabe
Alright.

Monika
Alright. We’re gonna take a quick break and we will come back and let’s go over maybe how you started your business.

Russell
Sounds good. Thank you.

Monika
Alright.

Gabe
Welcome back Atlanta. This is Ringer Radio. We’re in the middle of the interview right now. We’re just getting to the good part. We’re just gonna step right back in where we left off and hopefully that… you know… if you didn’t leave or fall in love with the sunset or change the channel by God. So anyway … let’s jump right back in with Mike.

Russell
Thank you.

Monika
So Mike. Tell us we.. you started in the beginning fourteen years ago you said you have a great story on how you started your business, what got you to say: “I’m gonna become an entrepreneur. I’m gonna go out on my own. I’m gonna … I’m gonna do this”. How did all start?

Russell
Yeah. Well I moved here in 1985 and my very first job was making 11 000 dollars a year as a paralegal for one of the largest law firms here in Atlanta. So I worked my way up. Went back to school and got an MBA in accounting and finance and at the time was making six figures … very happy doing accounting type work and then … I had a family tragedy... happened. My son Holden was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 5. And it was operable. It was treatable but at the same time the doctor said that he would go through chemo every Friday for two straight years at the children’s healthcare of Atlanta. So I went in and talked to my boss and said: “Boss-man, you know I work 50 hours a week. Sometimes 60. I need every Friday off to be with my son but I’ll work every single Saturday or Sunday to make up”. And I was told I couldn’t do that. So…

Monika
Wow. Really?!!!

Russell
...never knowing that I was gonna… ever work for anybody again. I walked out of the office and don’t really kind of remember that day but I just know that I think I quit so.

Monika
You think you quit? So you don’t even know if you actually quit?!!! You just walked out and never came back.

Russell
Fuck that. Never came back

Monika
Oh… I’ve had one of those second thoughts like that but where I’m like: “Did I quit or did I not quit?”

Russell
So six months, seven months later, eight months later I just took a lot of time off but I knew that I would never work for anyone else again. I knew that being with my family was more important than anything else, in the short time that I might have with my family… you never know what’s gonna happen, is more important than anything. So …so my thought was I was gonna sell tie dyed t-shirts at the seashore. Said that…

Gabe
Nice.

Russell
Yeah. I was like I didn’t care what I was doing but I knew that I was never gonna work for anyone else again. So I had an opportunity to learn about selling phone services through a company out of Greenville South Carolina and they hired me and they … I met with them in Charlotte and they said: “We’re gonna pay you. We’ll teach you how to sell phone and internet but it’s gonna be commission only. You only get paid if you sell”.

Monika
Sure.

Russell
They said: “So if you wanna do it we’ll train you. It’s not gonna cost you anything. So I drove from Charlotte back to Atlanta, got back here late, got on the secretary of state’s website and I want to … let’s see what’s available. I’m gonna be Elite Telecom Services. It’s available. Boom. I want a company.

Monika
Wow.

Russell
It’s how it started. Had no idea what I was doing. Never marketed myself. Did accounting and finance, I knew the books, which is huge for entrepreneurs. Especially young ones. But I started a company. Fourteen years later we have won two national awards. We have been recognized as one of the top 25 in the nation for doing what we’re doing by our peers. Which are tens of thousands of companies. We’ve won metro Atlanta Chamber awards. I’ve been entrepreneur of the year finalist with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce for two years. And in Cobb County we were one of the top 25 small businesses of the year for two years also. So we won national awards. So when I formed the company I formed it on four core values. Number one being family. Family is most important than anything else in my life. And in anybody’s life. And honestly in your work environment you spend more time with that family than you do your blood family.

Monika
That’s one thing that I’ve always suggested to entrepreneurs… is to… make sure that you treat your employees like they’re family. Employees are the most important… they’re the life blood of your business and you should respect them just as much. They are giving up their time to be there… you know.. they don’t have to work for you, they could work for somebody else, easily. And especially working for an entrepreneur. They know it’s a little bit more risky. So yeah.

Russell
So I don’t … I’ve never called my... for a lack of a better term employees... employees. They’ve been team members or family members. And we call them… we have team meetings. We have family lunches once a week… once a month where someone cooks from our office. You know if it’s a guy you might get a pizza delivery. If it’s a woman… in the office you might have a very nice chicken casserole. We grill out but it’s a team… it’s a team and family atmosphere in our office. And have fun … we pick on each other… we have a manikin in the office that might show up in somebody’s office… when you open your door the manikin might be there with its arms out and reach you and scare you. And I am definitely horrified of snakes and there’s rubber snakes all around the office and I will find them underneath my desk…

Monika
Oh lovely. % healthy…

Russell
… I’ll find them...so we have fun. So that’s why I formed… that’s why I formed the company. I’m proud to say that fourteen years later my son is 100

Monika
Wonderful.

Russell
… and is doing great and I’m so proud of my daughter who is now becoming a child-life specialist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta working in the Aflac cancer center. She just started her volunteer work with them this weekend.

Monika
Very cool.

Gabe
It’s amazing how everything kinda comes full circle….

Russell
Absolutely. Absolutely. But part of the comp… part of the reason I think that I’ve also been successful is I also gave back to the community. So one of the very first things I did when I had no money was I sponsored the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Spring Classic for Kids which helped which helped the Aflac Cancer Center. And by giving back to the community and becoming involved in non-profits... I still do my networking but I have been on … I wanna count back … I probably should say 20 non-profit boards over the last fourteen years. Giving back to the community, I think that’s more important than anything else.

Monika
Absolutely.

Russell
You’re not have to… you’re not in that environment to get business. Does business come from it? Yeah it does. But….

Monika
But you shouldn’t be going there with that intention.

Russell
… you’re not in… you’re not going there with that intention.

Gabe
Right.

Russell
Absolutely. So I think that that’s very important. So now I do your 80 hours a week [18:29] networking but you gotta give back to the community. And I think with the awards, the community service, giving back to the community and then networking that’s what made me successful in the last fourteen years.

Monika
Awesome.

Gabe
Awesome.

Monika
Sorry. I was doing Facebook live at the same point… I just saw that that was a great point to kinda just end what … what we put out there on Facebook. So for those of you that wanna go back and watch the little clip we have of Mike going over everything. But Mike I wanna set back a second. How many … do you mind me asking how many… how big your office is? How many employees you have?

Russell
Yeah. Absolutely. We have seven employees. We’re getting ready to hire another one cause for service manager we have grown to the point where we need that. As an entrepreneur we make...you know as an entrepreneur we… the saying is you throw ten ideas on the wall and two will stick and one will be good. So, you know.. we have tried different things but what we finally found is that we’ve grown so fast and we’ve grown to the point where I really need somebody dedicated to my existing client base of 400 clients so will go… and call them and take them cookies and say: “Are you happy?”. So we are growing. So we’ll have eight soon. Probably by July fifth we’ll have our eighth person on board. And I have the best family team that I could ever imagine. Has it taken a while to identify the right hiring process to do that? It has.

Gabe
Sure.

Russell
I have made the worst hiring mistakes and my… you wouldn’t… I could tell you horror stories.

Monika
So let’s actually … let’s ...let’s dive into that because hiring and getting to the point of… of expanding your business is a very tricky point right?

Gabe
Yeah.

Russell
Yeah.

Monika
A lot of… a lot of entrepreneurs fall and trip there and they don’t know what… exactly what they’re trying to do. They don’t know the culture they wanna foster. There’s a lot of different factors there so you started fourteen years ago, when did you first make your first hire?

Russell
Well, I had three employees for eight years. That was me myself and I. Yeah. So there’s three employees after me myself and I got way to busy… I was eight… I think eight years probably. Almost… about seven or eight years when I hired my first person. The first person I hired was an intern just to say: “Twenty hours a week - do I really need somebody?”. And that twenty turned to thirty, then turned to forty and then it really… I hired my first full-time position and that was a c...I call it customer service manager because she did everything. And you find in my company as you come through the ranks you end doing everything in the company so…

Gabe
Do you have any like… little… little tricks of hiring? I mean for example I used to have one and it doesn’t … I still think it works great but it gets overwritten a lot of times but I would only have.. interview on a Saturday. And the idea was out of… you know… in our… in our… in our industry you put on an ad for something we’re gonna get 150… 300 the next day. So trim everybody down just by saying: “OK. We’re gonna do a group interview on a Saturday”. Those who show up I know at some point, especially in our business, people gonna have to work on Saturday. You might even get called in on a Sunday. That’s just the ugly truth of.. if somebody’s service goes down, somebody’s gotta be there to take it.

Russell
Yeah.

Monika
Yup. Yup. Customer service is important.

Gabe
So do you have anything, either anecdotal or practical like that?

Russell
I… for many many years I hired from my gut. And a lot of the decision I make are gut decisions. You know for those of you listeners that are NCIS fans you know Gibs had his gut. What does your gut tell you? My gut is correct except for hiring. My gut is the worst in hiring.

Gabe
Is it?

Russell
Oh my gosh yes. So, here’s what I’ve done. There’s a book called: “A – the Who Method for Hiring”. If you’ve not read this book, listeners please do. It’s a short book…

Gabe
Say it again though.

Russell
A the Who Method for Hiring or the Who Method for Hiring A... yeah something like that. But it says don’t look at a resume and don’t take resumes. And what I have found is … also social media… I will post an annual social media. I will not post it on a job search site.

Monika
But why?!!

Russell
I want Monika to say: “I know a guy named Mark that would be a perfect fit your company cause I know you”.

Monika
Ahh. OK.

Gabe
That makes sense.

Russell
Will it take three months to find six candidates? Yeah.

Gabe
Absolutely.

Russell
But that’s okay. You have six good candidates opposed to 150 that you don’t know.

Gabe
Somebody has vouched for them… somebody that probably knows… yeah.

Russell
Correct. Correct. So that’s the first. The second is we interview purely on culture. Will you fit in with our family? And they’ll come in and say: “Where’s the job?”. We’re not telling you what the job is.

Gabe
Doesn’t matter really.

Russell
Will you fit in with us first? And if you fit then we’ll talk about the job.

Monika
So do you do a group interview? Does everybody have a say so in the team?

Russell
Yeah. Right now I’ve been... as the owner … I’ve been overruled and my team now interviews first and they fit… they make sure it’s a good culture fit then they will interview for abilities and then when they narrow down to two then I’ll come in.

Monika
That’s great.

Gabe
That’s clever. I like that.

Russell
That’s what I’m doing now that is very successful. Our last several hires have been that way and it’s worked very well.

Gabe
Right on.

Monika
Something we gotta think about.

Gabe
Sounds like… you know how they say that organizational Christmas Tree… I’ve always respected those who just turn that upside down a lot of times and .. you know.. let the decisions flow the other way. Cause us as owners are really just facilitators.

Russell
Correct.

Gabe
And we’ll make sure that the people that we have around have everything they need to be successful.

Russell
Absolutely.

Monika
Absolutely.

Gabe
So put that Christmas Tree… alright with that we’re gonna go to break. And when we come back we’ll give a little more wisdom and insight as we go. So bye.

Gabe
Welcome back Atlanta. This is Ringer Radio. If you wanna give us look on the old website get on the internet go click click click …

Monika
Click click click click click.

Gabe
Click click… Yeah look at hirearinger.com and while you’re at it go ahead and check our guest etssolutions.com. Did I say that right?

Russell
Absolutely. You got it.

Gabe
Right on. So … you know…

Monika
Also … before we continue if somebody wanted to get a hold you how would they… what’s your phone numbers that …

Russell
Yeah. We answer our phones. We do not have an auto-attendant unless you call after six. So it’s (770)425 9898.

Gabe
You telling me if I call right now somebody’s gonna pick up the phone?

Russell
If they don’t… you call right now and somebody will pick up the phone… so you’re live on radio, (770)425 9898…. up and test it.

Monika
Hold on.

Gabe
Oh you’re actually gonna test it?

Monika
Yeah…

Russell
Let’s see who answers.

Gabe
… 429…

Russell
425…

Gabe
Oh sorry.. yeah that won’t work.

Monika
We gotta dial the right number first.

Russell
9898

Gabe
9898

Russell
We are a telecom company and we do answer our phone. They better not be at lunch.

Gabe
Let’s see… let me check this out… what’s going on… what’s going on…

Monika
You’re gonna confuse the poor person. What are you gonna tell them?

Gabe
I don’t know if anybody’s gonna hear on the radio anyway so…

Monika
They’re not. You are not even on speaker.

Gabe
Hey we were just challenged to see if we actually call ETS Solutions... if a human would pick up. And it sounds like a human is here…

Monika
Only you can get…

Gabe
You’re live on radio, do you have anything to say to your team leader?

Phone
Mr. Mike Russell?

Gabe
Yeah.

Phone
We call him Michael Elizabeth in the office.

Russell
That was not funny. That has to be Amy.

Gabe
OK. So Michael Elizabeth is the new name on the radio.

Monika
Alright.

Gabe
Very much appreciate you taking this call live with me. Thank you.

Phone
Yeah. He’s the best boss I’ve ever worked for.

Monika
Best boss you’ve ever worked for. Awesome. That’s great. Alright thank you.

Russell
That ten hours will be on your next paycheck.

Monika
So Michael Elizabeth. What’s with the Elizabeth part of the Michael? Why… why...do they joke with it?

Russell
We all have nicknames in our office and one of our nicknames for Claire is Nae Nae…

Gabe
Nae nae?

Russell
... cause at our company retreat she wanted… she is teaching everybody how to do the Whip/Nae Nae dance.

Gabe
The what?

Russell
The Whip/Nae nae… you don’t know… Monika knows the Whip/Nae Nae dance.

Monika
Oh no. Why?

Russell
I told you we’re a family, we like to have fun. So we do the Nae Nae together. We have a … we have [26:27] we have the knockturnal guy… he likes to sleep later. He comes in later than anybody else. And stays later than anybody else but comes in later. And we have the Elizabeths. It’s Amy Elizabeth and Michael Elizabeth. We’ve both been named… I don’t know why we’re named that cause kinda like the mom and dad of the company. But anyway yes, we all have nicknames for each other.

Gabe
Very cool. Very cool.

Monika
Really cool.

Russell
Yeah.

Gabe
So I like to play a little game. We’ll go ahead and do this short and quick… It’s … we’re gonna go ahead and talk to our future selves as.. this time we’re gonna go ahead and pretend that we won the 333 million dollars jackpot.

Monika
333 millions.

Gabe
So future Gabe you got 333 million dollars….

Monika
Well you actually have half of that because taxes.

Gabe
Oh yeah. I mean taxes is gonna take… let’s just say I got a 100 million out of that thing.

Monika
Okay.

Gabe
By the time I take a cash draw and all that jazz.

Monika
Yup. 100 million. What are you gonna tell yourself?

Gabe
I don’t… well I’m not gonna hear it.. because by … then, if I win I’m in a foreign country and the radio …

Monika
Hopefully I get to come with you.

Gabe
Yeah. Come one.

Monika
Alright. Awesome.

Gabe
I got some money. Let’s go. So future Gabe don’t forget the wife.

Monika
Yeah. Don’t forget the wife cause she’s the one that probably bought the Lottery ticket.

Gabe
Yeah well…

Monika
Cause you probably didn’t.

Russell
Yeah. Future Mike… okay I tell you for example I already have a future Mike. 932 days I’m retired. 93… I’ve got a little countdown calendar on my desk. What does that mean? Everybody in my company… there’s my management team is gonna run my company and they’re gonna own a part of that. So…

Monika
Oh nice.

Russell
… if I won a hundred million dollars, I’d give ten million of that to them to help run the company and that 932 days just came down to 2.

Gabe
Hope you guys have what it takes …

Russell
I’ll be gone by the weekend. This is like getting my desk cleared out. And then I would invest the rest for non-profits that really need the money. But more importantly I would be an elementary kindergarten teacher because they spend first three months teaching kids how to tie shoes. I think that’s what I would like to do.

Gabe
That’s really cool.

Monika
Really? Elementary kindergarten…

Russell
I always said if I won the lottery I would teach kindergarten. My mother taught kindergarten…

Monika
I’ve never heard anybody actually say that. That’s an interesting if I won the lottery.

Gabe
I really like future Mike. He looks like a really cool guy.

Monika
Yeah. Absolutely.

Gabe
Future Gabe, you might wanna hang out with this guy. He’s a class act.

Monika
You’re the one… you’re going off and visiting the world and he’s actually helping kids to tie shoes.

Gabe
No, I’m already gone. Future Gabe does not hear this.

Russell
I do have three months of teaching kindergarten, you know that.

Monika
That’s true.

Russell
So I’ll be gone after those three months.

Gabe
Alright. Cool. Well, let’s go ahead and get back into the… the business conversation if you will. I’ve got no questions right off the bat. Mark can you save here?

Monika
No let’s talk about the cloud. Let’s talk about the cloud. A lot of people…

Gabe
OK. That’s actually a big one.

Monika
...get really confused. And I think this is a great opportunity.

Gabe
Even us internally. I mean we have an internet shop and it seems like we get new definitions of the cloud, you know, texted to us everyday.

Monika
Right.

Russell
Yeah.

Gabe
From an actual … you know.. technical provider… how would you say… I mean .. in terms of maybe benefits to company and ….

Monika
And also the laymans terms of the definition of the cloud. I mean a lot of people are like: “Oh go put me on the cloud”. And we’re like: “What do you mean? What do you mean go put me on the cloud?”

Gabe
I’ll be cloud based.

Russell
Well. Let’s start out with a definition. The definition of the cloud is turn around and look up, see that white thing up there, in the sky? That’s the cloud. No. That’s not the cloud.

Monika
It is a cloud.

Russell
You did turn to look.

Monika
Not “The cloud”.

Russell
So the cloud is your physical hardware instead of it being in your office is in a data center somewhere that’s secured with power redundancy. That is the cloud. It is just not owned by you. So I guess that the business advice I have from a technology level is that as you’re an entrepreneur do things the easiest way. And sometimes the easiest way… when I had to buy that 8000 dollar server for three people. With Microsoft exchange and then they kept crashing and then I had to back it up…

Gabe
You have to have somebody just watch it all the time.

Russell
You have to have somebody watch it. You have to have somebody update it because then it was outdated is that … in today’s environment.. and I’m gonna through numbers out, my team will kill me… you know for 20 dollars a month you can have hosted exchange with everything that Microsoft has to offer.

Gabe
Exactly.

Russell
As a small business owner and having accessible wherever you are.

Monika
Now what do you tell somebody that says: “Oh, I don’t wanna be...”... because there’s a lot out there that just don’t know. They don’t understand. So they are… they just immediately go: “Oh, it’s not secure”. It’s very secure overall. How do you educate that person is don’t be so scared about the cloud and your data and all your important files and people finding all of your contacts and all that stuff. It’s not gonna happen.

Gabe
You’re really not that important.

Russell
Yeah.

Monika
Yeah, that’s true.

Gabe
That’s really what it comes down to.

Russell
We’re not the National Defense. We’re not Homeland Security that… you know that’s gonna have critical data that people going to wanna hack. You’re right, we’re a normal person.. business person. So the data is actually more secure than it would be if it was in your place of business.

Gabe
Yeah. % of businesses fail within the first twelve months. So with everything in the cloud you know that when your cell phone dies everything is backed up to the cloud and you just reengage it now your pictures come down that is the cloud.

Russell
Or we still have those people that are putting tape in their car that is backed up, you know if they get in a car wreck or their office burns down – Lord forbids that happens – but you know, they’re out of business. This is disaster recovery… lack of a disaster recovery plan for business. If you have a catastrophic failure 80

Monika
You don’t have to worry about losing your data.

Gabe
That’s probably, in my mind, as a business user… like we use Adobe Cloud and it’s… you know.. it’s a little bit different, they put their own little twist on it. But the nice part is I log in with this device, all my files are magically there. Yay. I log in with another device, I go visit a friend at their house… they don’t even have.. I can just quickly on their machine, download creative cloud…

Monika
Right.

Gabe
...puts program on, log in with my user name and password and all my stuff is there now magically too. So I think that’s for me kind of… best use cases.

Monika
Well actually… and also if you go back to not so long ago.. this is a great reason why you wanna have everything there is, Gabe’s been doing this for you know… designing website for well over ten years… fifteen years almost and he has branding and all sorts … this big old portfolio. Well back in December he was rebuilding his computer and when he did ... nothing that he did at fault, it was the machinery…

Gabe
The computer caught on fire.

Monika
The computer caught on fire.

Russell
Yeah.

Monika
So everything plugged into it gone. Like gone. Just it was wiped out. If he didn’t have everything backed up in … everything on the cloud he would have lost fifteen years of all of his branding and all of … you know… all of his work really. And you know a lot of that stuff is not live anymore. Because when do… you know websites change every so often so.. so…

Gabe
Especially the source files are… like.

Russell
But a nice thing about our company is... you talked about Adobe... business don’t realize what they really need.

Monika
Right.

Russell
So where we come in is we identify their requirements. It could be a small shop it could be a large shop. We’ve done everything from one person small firms to one thousand people that need email and hosted solutions in the cloud. So we will take your requirements and we’ll look at the Amazons and the Googles and the Adobes and the Rackspace and the Greenclouds and we’ll look at all the different companies that provide their services and put together the best solution at the best price for what you need.

Monika
OK.

Russell
And give you our recommendations. We do the work for you so and I think…

Monika
Will you then set it up as well? % of the businesses have, those services will be discontinued for service in 2018. So the primary services telephone network has the … the carriers have the ability to eliminate those services or not maintain them or not give you the four hour response time that you have. You have to move to VOIP by 2018.

Russell
Absolutely. We don’t set it up, we assist on that set up. So we assist with their IT company in getting that set up. So one thing I’d like to just kinda close with… I think we’re kinda closing out the segment… is that two things. One is don’t buy a piece of server hardware without first consulting somebody like us to say is there a better solution than buying thousands of dollars worth equipment in today’s environment. And the second thing is for all of you that have old analog phone systems even digital phone systems, something called PRI which is Primary Radio Interface which 80

Gabe
Really?

Russell
We’re inundated with void request.. with companies.

Monika
I had no idea that that was happening. &T sellers… you could sell a PRI but we’re not gonna pay to do it anymore. And we’ve already seen longer response repair times for those services. So if you have a PRI or an old phone system, give us a call and let’s look alternatives to the hosted VOIP environment with no capital expense up front.

Russell
Absolutely. It’s a FCC mandate and there are some articles on our website that can talk about the FCC mandate of 2018 that’s coming in play shortly, in a year and a half. We’ve already had level 3 no cell PRI’s anymore. We’ve already had AT

Gabe
Real quick what’s your phone number for that?

Russell
(770)425 9898.

Gabe
Alright. With that we’re going to break.

Monika
We’ll be back. Bye future Gabe.

Gabe
Bye.

Monika
Welcome back Atlanta to Ringer Radio. This is Monika and Gabriel Meacham. We’re here with Michael

Russell
from ...or Mike Russell, sorry… actually it’s Michael Elizabeth but I [35:5]

Russell
When I… yeah it’s Michael Elizabeth. The only time I hear Michael was when my mother was mad at me. It’s a.. but yes Michael, Mike or whatever you wanna call me.

Monika
… with ETS Solutions. So you know… if you’re out there trying to figure out: “Hey...”. First of all working on a business and you want … you know, some advice or whatever. Do you mentor people? If somebody wanted give you call and say: “Help me out. I just have a question in terms of what’s the right solution for me and how do I do the right thing?”.

Russell
Yeah absolutely. All my information’s on my website. Not only do I mentor business but I also mentor young entrepreneurs. I’m the chair of the Advisory Board for the Kansas States University Entrepreneurship Center.

Monika
Awesome.

Russell
And great great university out there. That’s where I got my MBA in Accounting and Finance. I’m actually on three boards for the school but this one of the boards … and so I do not only mentor young business but also mentor students that want to be entrepreneurs. And I’m seeing the love of there’s coming out of these entrepreneurship programs has been very high. I give praise Ross who is my new hire who just graduated this year, actually a couple of months ago. And during the interview process I ask him questions so what question do you have for me and he asked me questions that I went: “Hm.., hold on a minute. I really don’t know the answer to that. Let me think about it”. That’s the type of question I wanna be challenged with by these students and I’m seeing that a lot. So yes I do I mentor. And also mentor young businesses. So if you have any questions, absolutely give my office a call they’ll transfer you to me or one of my team that might be more technically proficient than I am now. Since I am trying to step away in 932 days. But more importantly I would be happy to help anybody. Absolutely.

Monika
Awesome.

Gabe
Yeah. Nice.

Monika
So what do you think of the students that are coming out right now. In terms of what you’re seeing ...are you.. think that in… from before … from your you know…

Gabe
He’s not going public with that.

Monika
He’s not going public with that?

Gabe
He’s gonna hire a lot more people in 932 days.

Russell
I’m gonna hire a couple more but you know… honestly I get back to this same thing on hiring… I want somebody to come into the office that is been referred to me. Because I’ve done the.. meaning look at a resume, interview the person and hire them and they’ll look straight in the face and say: “I wanna work for a small business and I wanna work for a family owned business”. And two months later they’re down at Georgia Pacific… you know… working in cubicle. In a job that in 2018 will be eliminated when the recession hits again.

Monika
Right.

Gabe
Right.

Russell
So, you know, they don’t realize that they have job security with our company. And if they wanna go work for a Fortune 500 company and be a nobody in a sea of 500 people then… I have seen those. But I’ve now… I think I’ve figured out how to weed those out.

Monika
Yeah. Everyone… everyone has their own place. Some people like big corporate world. Some people don’t. I can’t stand big corporate world. I used to be in big corporate world. I worked at AT&T.

Gabe
I can’t even imagine myself…

Monika
You never worked in big corporate world. You’ve always been…

Gabe
No… I mean they’ve kicked me out real quick.

Monika
Yeah.

Gabe
Yeah. It’d be bad.

Russell
And that’s the life of an entrepreneur. That’s why you want to do what you do.

Monika
Yeah. Absolutely.

Russell
You don’t want that environment. And you want a little flexibility to get to your aunt when you want to on Friday.

Monika
When we win the 333 million. I can’t wait.

Gabe
And if you are one of the people won the 333 million and that happen to be us I just wanna personally invite you to share. It makes you feel really good and we’re in a unique position of telling people that you shared which will make you feel a lot better. So…

Monika
Who are you telling them to share? With you or you’re just telling them to share overall?

Gabe
No I mean.. with me specifically. They can share with me. That will work. She’s dying over here.

Monika
Yeah.

Gabe
Oh man.

Monika
It’s getting towards the end of the segment. It’s getting scratchy.

Gabe
Oh no. You gonna make it?

Monika
I’ll make it.

Monika
Alright. Good. So let’s really reel it in for listeners here. Again, tell me … you’ve heard it said a million times give me your elevator pitch, just so people that didn’t hear in the beginning of the segment might be interested.

Russell
Absolutely. ETS Solutions is a technology consulting company focusing on three different areas. We call it voice, data, and cloud but what does that mean to you? It means phones and internet and now cloud services such as Microsoft Office 365. What is the best solution for your technology requirements? Instead of googling it and finding the answer yourself call us and we will take our knowledge and our expertise and provide solutions and let you pick the best solution…

Gabe
I would totally…

Monika
And look at charges… business doesn’t get charged cause you make your money from the…

Russell
From the carriers. Yeah.

Monika
… from the carriers. So …

Gabe
From… from.. somebody that is very used to just dropping online and figuring out in his own solutions, I tell you this is one of the unique places where you would rather take his opinion on what’s happening because he’s seen it roll out one time before. Whereas if you never actually seen some of these technologies roll out and don’t understand how they roll out… it’s the langauge can be overlapping at times and unless you have somebody that really knows what you’re trying to end-game accomplish you can find yourself on rabbit trail a hundred miles away from where you wanted to be.

Russell
You know. The best call I ever… the best calls are like together the one-man companies and also the thousand person companies that said: “I tried to do this on my own. Please help. Fix this”. We’d love to help. We’d love to help you. We’d love to show you the right way. We try to do the cheapest way. You pay for what you get right?

Monika
Right.

Gabe
Sure.

Monika
Absolutely.

Russell
So we’re not the most expensive. We’re not gonna provide the most expensive solution. But we’re gonna provide you the most economical solution that provides you the services… reliable services that you need.

Monika
And you deal with business all around the Metro Atlanta are or…?

Russell
World wide.

Monika
World wide?

Russell
World wide. Majority of us are based in Metro Atlanta but we have a client in every state except from Hawai and Alaska. If we get one in Hawai I will personally show up for that installation.

Monika
Nice. I… I’ll come and keep you company if you want.

Russell
Absolutely.

Monika
So. Alright. So Gabe’s making funny pictures and .. and..

Gabe
That means we got four minutes left on this show. So let’s make the four minutes count.

Monika
Oh yeah. We’ve been told by our producer.. .we’re not allowed to go over because we went over each segment before so…

Gabe
Yeah, we’re a bunch of blabbermouths.

Monika
Yeah, we are.

Gabe
So let’s … let’s break it down also. A question I like to ask is what would you have told yourself fourteen years ago?

Russell
Wow. That’s a very good question. I would have told myself to not try to do as much. Because I’m a financial person and I think all entrepreneur need to look at cash flow, I tend to be fiscally conservative in making purchases. But I think I oughta gone out on a limb a little bit more. I will tell you that when I started my business I was a quarter of million dollars in debt. But I started… it was zero cash or zero capital. No investors, no outside money whatsoever. So I had to work my way out of that. And I think by working my way out of that has made me fiscally conservative. So I think that right when I’m tell… what I’m saying is that the fourteen year mark… you now need to take a chance and if you think you need something and you see the requirements you might have to hit a the line of credit to do it but do it. But make sure you have a plan in place to pay that off and go forward. Do what you do best and hire people that would do a better than you. I say that when I’m hiring: “Are they better than us in the room?”. They’re not better than us in the room they’re not….be hired by the company. No.

Monika
Absolutely. It’s a good… that’s a good piece of advice. Absolutely.

Russell
And one of the other pieces too… and I think we talked about early we didn’t really hit it... if we got enough time is conferences and continuing education.

Monika
Oh yes. I remember to hit that.

Russell
So we didn’t really talk about that one. The very first things I did… even though I didn’t have the money I went to the conferences and made sure that I was aware of the technology. Cause the worst feeling you can have in the technology field, or any field, is walking into a clients office and saying: “I heard about this on the news. What are your thoughts?”. And you’d be like: “Ehh.. I really don’t know what you’re talking about”. Whether it’s a widget you’re selling, whether it’s a product you’re selling or whether it’s technology you’re selling, you really have to be kept up to date. So spend the money to do that and make sure that you attend those and stay up to date.

Monika
OK.

Gabe
Our producer’s telling us we have z minutes.

Monika
Z. Not two.

Gabe
Now that we have z minutes left, I’m gonna go ahead and show a quick shout out to one of our customers. It’s … we just launched their new… shiny new responsive site… it’s a huntsouthwind….

Monika
For those.. for those of you that are hunting enthusiast it’s a great great place. Corporate companies. Great place to take corporate retreats to… they’re actually doing weddings and stuff as well…

Gabe
Yeah. It’s a beautiful place.

Monika
It’s a beautiful beautiful facility.

Gabe
They keep on building new facilities and stuff like that.

Monika
Down in Bainbridge Georgia.

Gabe
Right.

Monika
But yeah. We just launched the website…

Gabe
World forum… world famous quail hunting…

Monika
Quail hunting.

Gabe
That’s right so…

Monika
But … but one of the features of the websites, real quick just to highlight, is the parallax scrolling new technology.

Gabe
Yeah. I’ve been playing with some new scripts and just making the… oh we got I minutes. So… the scripting got a little bit fat. I want talk about that a little bit...if you got a website that is … you know it’s taking a long time to download. There are a whole lot of things we can do get in there. We can geez up the header files that go out, we go through optimizing images and that is one of the places … we launched a site and somebody tweeted me and said: “You know that site’s 49 MB download”. 49 MB for the first page. That’s craziness. We got a bunch of picuters and they are all oversize and stuff. Oh we got oo minutes. Bye.

Monika
Bye? Thanks again for listening to Ringer Radio. Gabe went on and on. Mike thank you for joining us.

Russell
Thank you.

Monika
Again etssolutions.com or your phone number one more time.

Russell
(770)425 9898. Call and get a smiling face.

Monika
Alright. Wonderful. And Ringer Radio. Thanks. Bye future Gabe.

Gabe
Bye.

Read 386 times Last modified on Friday, 14 October 2016 08:14

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