Today we are joined by Harry Brelsford who shares how to innovate yourself as an entrepreneur moving forward. If you’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur the Pocket MBA is a fit for you. Perhaps you have found yourself unemployed (or underemployed) and are looking to recreate yourself fast – this is your book.
Are you over 50 years old and looking to capitalize on your experience to make a great living – this book is for you. Are you new to business but unable to find a rewarding career opportunity? This book offers prescriptive guidance on how to be a successful entrepreneur! Based on the Finder, Minder, Grinder professional services framework, this book is for everyone, young or old, who is considering being an entrepreneur in ANY INDUSTRY.
Harry Brelsford is the founder of SMB Nation (www.smbnation.com) from Bainbridge Island, Wash. He is a long-time entrepreneur who has served customers and mentored others.
He holds an MBA in Project Management from the University of Denver (and numerous certifications such as MCSE, MCT, CNE, et al) and is the author of 23 books on business and technology topics. His 20 years of small and medium business (SMB) business and technology experience were supplemented by teaching 12+ years at night as an adjunct professor at Seattle Pacific University and other higher-learning institutions. He served as the Dean in the Graduate School of Technology at Aspen University (where he was awarded a PhD in Letters).
Harry is an in-demand speaker at industry events. Harry’s recent books include the “How to Be an MSP” and he has published over 400-articles in business (Washington CEO, Colorado Business, Alaska Business Monthly) and technology magazines (ChannelPro, Microsoft Certified Professional magazine, etc.). An active entrepreneur, Harry is the force behind the Pocket MBA, Telephonation, Cloud Nation and XPmigrations.com.
Tim Kubiak 0:03
Hi, welcome to bow ties in business. I’m your host Tim Kubiak. Today we’re talking to Harry Brelsford, who’s a friend of mine. He’s been a longtime entrepreneur and he served customers and mentored others for a couple of decades now is an MBA in project management from the University of Denver, countless technical certifications. And as 20 years of small and medium business experience, he is at the risk of using a cliche term, a bit of a serial entrepreneur. And right now, a lot of people have to reinvent themselves. We’re going to talk about his new book, pocket MBA, you can find it at a pocket dot NBA. And with that, I’d like to welcome my friend Harry to the show.
Everybody again, I’d like to welcome my friend Harry to the show, we’re going to talk about a lot of things. He’s a well regarded, well published author. And in his new book, the pocket MBA, which we’re going to focus a lot of today’s conversation on, is about helping entrepreneurs find a place whether they’re starting early in their career, or they’re making that 50 plus transition. So, Harry, thanks for being here. Oh,
Harry Brelsford 1:10
my pleasure. And that’s it fun that we met in a different walk of life and became friends. And here I am on bow ties. You know, last
Tim Kubiak 1:19
time I saw you in person, I was in a purple bow tie. And we were sitting in Orlando.
Harry Brelsford 1:23
Yeah. Yeah, boy, the world has changed since who would have thunk it? It has, right?
Tim Kubiak 1:29
Yeah. And there’s a lot of bad things going on. But the point of your book, there’s a lot of people that are establishing great careers right now. So do you mind sharing a little bit of your own story so people can get to know you?
Harry Brelsford 1:42
Yeah, yeah. So uh, let’s, let’s roll back. Um, I grew up in Alaska. My dad was a lawyer with portobay in the pipeline. So and we’re all from Texas, both sides out of Austin, off to Alaska, we go grew up as a kid because of the puto Bay era. That’s significant, because I worked on the pipeline during college is the security guard and put away enough money to buy one of the early Apple two plus computers. So this would have been 1981 when it was uppercase, 40 characters, right. And I found my passion. I mean, me and computers, just, you know, hand in glove. And that has been my career ever since. And so off to Seattle, I go 30 some odd years ago, got an early Microsoft is a friend of the family for small business server. Okay. I mean, everybody always comments on this. This is about 1992 93 was in T Advanced Server to give you a little reference, but my my career took off with small business server, and I wrote a bunch of books on it, that are behind me. And it was my vertical in my niche. And it had the enthusiasm of the Macintosh community, right. It was a really tight community and a lot of fun. And that was all fine and good built, this community called SMB nation peaked at about 60,000 members with a monthly magazine and four major conferences, all funded good until about 2014. Because Microsoft in 2012, and announced end of life for small business server and then it cycled out over a couple years. And Tim, I got my hat handed to me, I underestimated and you have a product background. I underestimated how a community can kind of pause when the underlying product goes away. Okay. Yeah. I, I learned my lessons. And we’ll get to why this book exists. It everything helps everything in the storytelling. So I had to recreate myself right in my community. So I did a couple years in the afternoons, basically, analytic startup in Seattle by the Space Needle, got retrained. In fact, Tim, I got paid to get retrained, it was gorgeous.
Tim Kubiak 4:05
That’s the best deal ever. Yeah,
Harry Brelsford 4:08
yeah. It’s like going to grad school and data science and, and not having to pay. So did that for a couple years faster than exited and then pursued. Another opportunity that is rapidly accelerating. It’s not the focus of today. But the last three years, I put a fair amount of time in the afternoons in the Canada tech area. And as you know, I mean, that’s not for everybody. But that is a healthy sector of the economy. With some very unique security requirements, compliance, traceability, it’s very serious. We’ll leave it at that. So at the beginning of the pandemic, I had, you know, arguably a little more time on my hands than I hoped for, and I took one of my prior books that in 2000 lesson three, I wrote a book on how to be an SMB consultant or how to be a small business server consultant based on the professional services model, finder, minder grinder. And Tim, I use some of the early days of the pandemic to downsize from three mini storage is down to one and this, that and the other. And I found the CD ROM that had those text files, the Word files, so I just like thank goodness, so I don’t have to type, you know, a new, and I turn that into the pocket MBA instant entrepreneur book, 90 days to cash. And I, I’ll end on, I feel I’m living that right. So I’m living and breathing the reinvention story. So hopefully I’m qualified to tell the story.
Tim Kubiak 5:57
I know for a fact your art just for the record.
Harry Brelsford 6:01
So, you know, the idea being a couple other data points on why this book is here. And why I did it was in consulting with another author in the industry, he did sort of a cartoony book, much shorter, downloadable on, you know, becoming an entrepreneur or starting a business. And you know, there’s everybody should not only have a book, but should read multiple books. But his whole idea back in March, April was, you know, he’s gonna kick out this cartoon book, because when the payroll protection program funds start to become exhausted in July, and August, there’s going to be a whole lot of curtains going on for certain out there, and people are going to have to reinvent themselves and you better start now. And so I drafted behind them in this book came out in early September. So that was another reason to write this book was to help people. Because you know, Tim, bottom line is, we got to innovate our way out of this one’s okay.
Tim Kubiak 7:11
So for everybody listening in, I know I have mentioned it in the opening, but it’s pocket dot MBA is the first place you can find the book start to get your arms around, we’re going to talk a lot more about that. You talk about innovating your way out of this one. And one of the things you call on really heavily in the opening of the book is and statistics if you do some expanded reading, tell the story globally right now, right 50 Plus, there aren’t jobs, you’ve got to create your own world. And you know, my story is, is I left the corporate world back in January of this year, and plan to go do my own thing for many of the reasons you listed in the book. The thing I’ll tell you is is you sent me the book as I was getting involved and and AI ml company as well, in addition to things I plan to do, so it’s that multiple revenue streams, multiple things and reinventing yourself. But I used in the beauty of this is if folks get nothing else from this, is when they read this book and they get through it. You literally say Okay, stop and do this. Yes, right. Yeah, open a PowerPoint, do X, create a parking lot? Do Why can you talk about the logic behind that prescriptive nature in your book? Yeah, what
Harry Brelsford 8:25
what I wanted to do is provide guidance now. Not Not Not, again, let me emphasize one point that there are a lot of books on the market about you know, being an entrepreneur, there’s a lot of shows, and so on. And my feeling is you should read them all and listen to many of the podcasts. So because you need perspective, right? When you’re an aerospace engineer in college, a student, it’s not like you had one textbook, okay, you’ve probably had 20 textbooks from different authors with different perspectives. And you get a liberal arts and that’s probably even worse. And so I just, I just want to be on the playing field I want I want to be one of the books that you read. And so what I did, was thinking of, you know, who could the readers be? And I wanted to have very prescriptive guidance, you might recall Brelsford rules of 12. And you follow these rules. And that by the way, that’s how you get awarded a PhD in the academic community, you got to kind of make something up. So it’s rule to 12. And, for example, fiscal quarters just over 12 weeks, but close enough. So I’m suggesting that you give out 12 cards in a fiscal quarter and collect 12 cards, and it builds momentum that night and Tim, that’s a realistic actions. That’s a realistic verb. I’m not suggesting 100 calls a day. That’s quite frankly, not sustainable for most of us.
Tim Kubiak 10:00
You’re certainly not talking to anybody.
Harry Brelsford 10:02
Yeah, yeah. So slowly just build up that momentum. And by the end of the year, what are we talking 50 business cards roughly, right? You get to the end of the year, and you built your base. And that’s going to let you do a lot more now. Maybe what I need to do is we then the idea, the personas for this book, right, so we talked about the over 50 crowd over 50 and fired in corporate America. And there again, I and I believe there are no jobs. Let’s just make a basic assumption that there are no jobs for those individuals. So they have to create their future. The other one would be students. You know, one of the popular curriculums is the Center for Entrepreneurship at different colleges right of University of Texas University of Alaska. So ideally, this book would be on the shelf in the academic community, and I kind of wrote it that way. For for, for it to be a textbook. Another persona is going to be the laid off worker at Boeing in Everett Washington’s okay as an example. And you have a technician in Boeing is accelerated those layoffs. Tim, initially, it was 15,000. It’s now up over 25,000 because of how the aerospace industry has been hit plus the 737 problems. And so conversation I’m going to have probably after the first of the year, is go to the Boeing HR department and say, Hey, can I sell you 1000 copies of this book as part of the outplacement package, right, you get the resume writing service, you get the book, you get this and that. So we’re really talking about four or five personas. And the fifth one would be just anybody. Anybody can benefit from this book.
Tim Kubiak 11:56
Yep, yep. The catch all.
Harry Brelsford 11:58
Yep. So I mean, I hope that answers your question. But But back to your main point. Yeah. I in my writings. Let’s let’s just pick one a show you I’ll take another stab at it. So where I’m coming from. It’s like this was a book back in the certification era yesteryear. He became an MC se, it was kind of a thing. Yep. And this was basically an exam cram book in so you had lab exercises, right? These were very active books. And hopefully you saw that in this book that I have steps for you to take, if that makes sense. You do.
Tim Kubiak 12:39
And one of the other things, since you talked about the personas is you talked about what a person who might not be a successful entrepreneur values in their work. Do you mind talking through that for just a second?
Harry Brelsford 12:50
See, are you referring to where I have a section on who should not be an entrepreneur? You okay?
Unknown Speaker 12:56
You got it? Right?
Harry Brelsford 12:58
Yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s, that’s my oldest son, Jeff, who is an aerospace engineer in the Mojave Desert at an undisclosed location. And he is always, you know, he was the kid at four years old who was lining up the Lego cars in a straight lines, right. He’s, he’s that guy. And he is an employee, he, and happily so and, quite frankly, makes more than me, in terms of what I report to the tax matters, W two wages. every entrepreneur likes to minimize w two wages, wink, wink. And we’d like to take dividends and draws. So he literally makes more than me and is doing great. And he’s locked and loaded. Okay, so he’s a d, o d guy, and he is not an entrepreneur. And that’s just his, you know, myopic view. The other one would be a, you know, maybe my sister’s husband, a career medical doctor in Seattle, you know, just wicked smart in his specialty in this field, but probably not the right guy to go open up a food cart or a boat tourism company, right? That just would not be a natural act. And, and I hope what I accomplished in that section was I give you permission not to be an entrepreneur, it’s not bad. It’s not bad not to be an entrepreneur. You know, it’s, it’s just it’s Tim, it’s not for everybody.
Tim Kubiak 14:31
No, no, right. And one of the things you talk about is entrepreneurs have to realize whether it’s two weeks in or two years and how much time you actually have to spend selling and creating and building those contacts. And if you don’t have the fortitude to do that, and I’m a career sales guy, right? So I’m like, Yeah, okay, I got to talk to people, no big deal. Um, the other thing though, that I like that you called on is a lot of it is actually about the inner Money, certainly a motivator. But it’s doing things that are interesting having that diversity and routine, getting, you know, frankly, this kind of thing. I do the podcast because I love talking to people. The fact I’m getting to talk to an old friend is a double bonus. Right? But I love talking to different people who are starting different companies. So for me that works, you know, but for a lot of people to your point in the book, you know, if you want to go to the office, have a day, log off your computer and walk away. entrepreneurships probably not the path for you.
Harry Brelsford 15:31
Correct? Right. Yeah, yeah, a friend of a friend’s mom in Central Texas. So she has a career and God bless her works harder than I do. I don’t know her super well, but she works at Chase Bank in a call center. Right? I mean, that’s real work. I mean, these calls are coming in and in and in and in and in. And she’s not an entrepreneur, right. She likes the structure of her job. In fact, she was saying the other day that she doesn’t like work from home, right? She likes to go into the cubicle at Chase. Her social life is the co worker, she misses that. But she has a lot of rigidity. And that’s not a bad word. That’s what she does into your point. With work from home when she’s off duty at 4pm Central, the computer goes off, right? You know, versus the use of nice, man, I’m I’m always writing a little stickies on a Saturday morning, write new ideas and something kind of creeps into the wetware. And I write it down on the sticky and a lot of times it goes into the pile of unused ideas.
Tim Kubiak 16:40
I have a few jobs of those. I get it.
Harry Brelsford 16:43
But yeah, you know, back to your point about just the interaction and personality. I want to give a shout out. I think it’s Tremaine. Matt curry. I don’t know Matt especially well, we’ve traded notes. He’s an author, keynote guy. He wrote a book that’s pretty popular called the ADHD entrepreneur. And he says, having ADHD is your secret weapon is an entrepreneur. Right? So ADHD is like Tu, Tu, Tu Tu, you know, versus, and I mean this respectfully, but you know, a musician who maybe is on the autistic spectrum like the Asperger syndrome, writing and respectfully, yet brilliant, brilliant musicians. It’s actually a distant family member. I’m not an entrepreneur, right. I mean, just so laser focused on the music, and I love listening to him.
Tim Kubiak 17:41
Right? Yeah. Yeah, it’s funny. I, I have a bit of a musical background from my youth. And the contrast I actually always used is my sister versus me. My sister was the one who could sight read, everything was very focused on this is the symphonic piece. I was like, hmm, Black Sabbath, put out a new album, what’s learned by lunchtime, play the songs twice and move on?
Unknown Speaker 18:03
Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
Tim Kubiak 18:06
Yeah. So talk about you have in the entrepreneurship in the messaging in this book is largely a facilitative approach to building your business. Yeah. Why do you get why do you suggest that why do you go down that path?
Harry Brelsford 18:25
Well, you know, well, first of all, my career, amongst other things, has basically been to be a service provider or or a consultant, right in that very common in tech. And I’m not a developer, I’m not a coder. And so I literally was a IT consultant for for many years. And again, rewind a little bit love the variety, I always called it dog years, one year of consulting was about five or eight years, whatever the dog ratio is, of working in a W two day job, right? Because a consultant sees like a dozen different clients and scenarios. It’s really cool. So um, that I liked and so it was a natural act to say hey, essentially take an inventory you know, Tim with your your background and the the security space and sales, take a take an inventory, have a look in the mirror, and what domain expertise do you have? So everybody has some domain expertise, even the lady in Central Texas at Chase Bank, well, she’s going to be able to tell you how call center software works, or how it doesn’t. Okay. Especially from work from house. Yep. So the easiest thing you can do until you create the next great thing like a toe clipper that has a little bucket to catch the shavings You know, there’s always the inventor mentality hit or miss but the easiest thing you can do is capitalize on your domain expertise. And, you know, as I was writing the book in doing some research Because I, you know, I’m committed to having a certain amount of intellectual honesty and transparency and research in my book, I found two gentlemen, round my age, you know, present company excepted. And they are in Australia, and they have a site the over 50s consultants, okay, and the one that Mark and I think it’s chasing over 50 is consultant shout out, and they have a system you sign up for. And that’s their whole premise in an icon, what they were throwing, I already believed it, but they articulated it better, that if you’re over 50, and you had a career, you know, Tim lifts Oh, I don’t, you know, event management for technology companies, right? If you had that career, you have expertise, right. And you could probably do event management and other far away fields, it’s sort of the mechanics, the workflow of it. So they do a really good job of talking about that. But, you know, it’s my young son says, Dad, you talk too much. So I hope I’ve answered your question. But that’s why you did a factory start as a consultant. Be because that you, okay, and then, you know, we’ll we’ll create the next widget, or, you know, the, here the little, you know, the the little cheer symbol thing that you can shout at the TV since you can’t get a live football games.
Tim Kubiak 21:33
So I want to go a little further on that just because I know your background and my background, right, in a lot of ways, if I’m a traditional reseller, and I know you’ve worked a lot with people, transforming them into service providers outside of this current project, right, right. These are guys and girls that have been flipping hardware and licenses for 510 1520, maybe even 30 years at this point, right? Yeah. And the word consultant strikes them differently than it strikes a lot of people because they’re looking at it. As somebody that I flipped in, as my friend Simon would say, right. They were consulting all along the way, but they maybe didn’t recognize it as such is their, you know, suggestions or advice you have just from personal experience that if you’re one of those people I’ve sold, PC, I love the PC server status, my stat of the summer, right? They were supposed to decline 8% this year that decline 2% it’s a win, and I’m watching all of my clients are in that space go, Oh, I’m gonna grow that next year. Hmm, guys, you’re not? Right. How do you? How do you have that conversation of you need to transform who you are in? Look at what you’ve done. Maybe through that broader lens?
Harry Brelsford 22:47
Yeah, you know, it goes to the title of the book. Let’s try great questions, by the way, you’re getting anything. So a pocket MBA, okay. And we actually made a run at this. In the 2010 timeframe, we had a fall conference called that we had a you got a bike bag, we had a 16 week on curriculum. And we were too early for my audience, the geeks, we were too early and and again, to be fully transparent, the gentleman that wonderful, wonderful gentlemen, passed away before his time from leukemia, and we we kind of lost momentum, you know, very sad. So we put it back on the shelf, I own the trademark. In the pandemic went and got the trademark back, put it on the wall. And but pocket MBA. So here’s the deal. A traditional MBA would not make sense for the individual you described, right? a fixer flipper, whatever that term was for selling units. In MBA school two year commitment, you can find yourself six figures in debt, that kind of thing. Yep. And so what we did 10 years ago, and I weave it into the fabric of the book, but probably not strong enough is we treated it like a Rosetta Stone language. And you could become fluent business in 16 weeks. Okay, so that was our paradigm to get the geeks to speak business speak. And back then, Tim, we had a overused term that probably will make you cringe, but it was to become the trusted business advisor or a TBA Yeah. Yeah. That it was an era and but it really speaks towards learning the language of business and and, you know, think in terms of a little bit higher level thinking that pocket MBA, right, like I’m gonna, I’m going to think more strategically and so on. And what I’m trying to get you to do is in that case, with with the persona you mentioned, is be invited to what they call it a kitchen cabinet, right? So the kitchen cabinet of a small business is going to have the CPA, the lawyer. And now I want it to be the technology consultant in this scenario, right, where they can sit in on those quarterly meetings in and advise the company about the business purpose of technology, not just sell another 10 units. So that was that that’s that’s my answer.
Tim Kubiak 25:24
In that, that’s, that’s exactly right. And one of the things you talk about here, though, is looking at your marketing plan, right? It falls into sort of your sales tips, and you use a drone, as an example. So if you’re an entrepreneur, right, you certainly can work your network first. You can build your contacts, you can follow everything. But ultimately, you have to reach beyond that. Yeah. If you’re doing it for the first time, how do you start to and you have guidance in the book I know, right? But how do you start to find that confidence to ask those questions?
Harry Brelsford 26:01
Those questions as in Give me an example of what questions I might be asking because I went off on drone.
Tim Kubiak 26:08
drone. Hey, you’re the one that wrote drone buddy. No, geeks or geeks. So he talks about to use another modern vernacular, people say find your tribe, right? It’s a lot of times a social media guy. So he’s your tribe. Mine’s on LinkedIn. By the way, I do the other stuff. But
Unknown Speaker 26:25
Tim Kubiak 26:25
right. Mike are like the people I do business with. They’re on LinkedIn. If you’re an entrepreneur, and you’re in that space, right, how do you find if you’re looking at reaching out beyond whether it’s your current LinkedIn network? Or maybe your fitness model and an influencer? I will never be that. Right? How do you find the right place to go start to build those contacts? The traditional way? In the book, you use list brokers as an example? Right? If it’s a real I’m what, what what, what should you be asking yourself?
Harry Brelsford 26:59
Yeah, the real secret is, and I’ve done this, and that’s what accelerated me in both the analytics startup and the canopy tech field was go to the meetup. So meetup.com is this hidden jewel, where it’s actually a really powerful community, and a search engine. So let’s say that, in fact, maybe you’re trying to engage in commercializing drone usage, right. So real estate, videos of houses, that kind of thing. Maybe that’s your passion, you’re really into it, I can assure you and your city or your smsa, there is a meetup on the commercial use of drones. And right now, the meetups are highly encouraging online, you know, assume interaction, but, but when we’re allowed to have events, again, that’s one of the secrets to my success as he go to the meetups. You know, go to this meetup on a Thursday night, once a month in North Seattle, and there’d be 70 people in again, it was in the Canada, Canada tech vertical. But you had you know, CPAs, and you had attorneys, and you had credit union representatives that are allowed to play in that reindeer game. Yeah. You know, it’s this whole ecosystem comparable to oilfield services, right. That’s a big industry, yet security, physical and, and cyber and all that. So that is the the secret to this book. If you take anything away from this book, you know, maybe you take five things away from a book. But one would be sign email@example.com find your tribe and maybe expand a little bit beyond just eating up your passion project. Right. Try some other meetups. But what up? What a underrated, powerful engine meetup.com, as I’m telling you.
Tim Kubiak 29:01
So that, you know, how have they transitioned in the COVID? world? I have to ask the question. Is it as meetup become largely virtually driven at this point? Oh, yeah,
Harry Brelsford 29:11
yeah. And we run a meetup group up here in Seattle. So it is a it is a virtual experience, right? It’s not it’s no longer at the, the one I was in was this thing called the sea monster lounge. It’s fun on a Thursday night, you know, it’s fun. I mean, have a qualified speaker and all that. So we’ve gone virtual and TIMA unfortunately, it’s not the same, right. And we’re hearing that across the board with three day conferences and people are complaining about zoom kister You know, they’re getting sore on the backside from sitting. So So you got to play the hand you’re dealt right and and, and we will get on top of this. Ultimately, so start now. I mean, start this motion now.
Tim Kubiak 30:03
So it’s interesting in the last week, maybe 10 days, I’ve started to have clients and old friends and people, you know, call and say, Hey, is anyone doing a live sales kickoff this year? Right?
Unknown Speaker 30:20
I know, not that I know of either.
Tim Kubiak 30:22
But people are asking the question, which tells you they’re itching right there, they are tired of whether it’s zoom, or whoever’s technology. Yeah. And they’re, they’re looking to get back out there and see people and I’ve had that I’ve had the debate with some friends that are in the software space, they’re like, nobody will ever go back to traveling and will never be the business. It was I’m like, Guys, I may not be tomorrow. But I think in a lot of ways, the world will always be different because of this. But in a lot of ways, we will go back in you and I across the table is way more powerful than you and I across the zoom period.
Harry Brelsford 30:56
Well, that and again, if we kind of rewind a few minutes ago about relationship building, yeah. I have in you’ve met the wonderful Jennifer Hallmark at my core company, SMB nation, you know, started as an event manager in, you know, herding cats, and this, that and the other. she, her passion is events. And she reads the magazine and monitors the industry. And her feeling is is we’re going to have sort of a neoclassical renaissance of events, because we’ve now in they’ll come back stronger than ever. And the reason is, is we now realize, yeah, you know, I can sit here tomorrow, a major distributor, you and I both know, starting a three day conference, and they’re claiming 20,000 attendees, I’m sure they had 20,000 signups. But But Tim, it’s a webinar. I mean, you’re looking at a PowerPoint back. Okay. And we’ve quickly realized that’s not why I fly to Denver to go to a three day it’s not, it’s not the deck, okay. It’s the people. It’s the relationships. And we had to learn the lesson the hard way. But yeah, I love that. I know. Now, Tim, that said, when you and I work together, I was pushing over 50% travel and and it does, you kind of get caught up in it, you know, you just man, this week’s Miami for a security company in next week’s Denver for the big distributor, you kind of get sucked into it. I do believe I’ll modify my behavior to be more selective. I don’t know that I want to go back to 50% travel. But I do see the value of live events.
Tim Kubiak 32:38
Yeah. So it’s interesting, you say that, because I look at as my business is growing and evolving, I’m looking at it as almost personally running it as two regional hubs. Right, and I live in, I’m live in the Midwest, now, my, my children are grown. And I’m at the point in the world where I can live between two cities. So I’m looking going well, if I went here, I could cover these two places in the east and be back in my own bed. And if I went here, I could cover you know, most of the West Coast and a day, and still get back or no more than one night. So I’ve looked at things like that in the longer term, because I know I’m still gonna have to see people. And the other thing is, is you and I both know, the conferences are going to go back to where they work, it’s going to be San Fran Vegas, Orlando, you know, and throw in a smattering of other places from time to time.
Harry Brelsford 33:26
Well, I’ll race E and C, a two on that one, because what I’m trying to do, and again, this this ties in entrepreneurial thinking, a point that I haven’t made is a, I couldn’t make it all back in about 18 to 24 months as an entrepreneur, and and, you know, I’m paying I’m like, everybody, you know, my company peaked in 14, I’ve had better days. Now, the good news is I’m still here. Right? I’m still here. And that is part of the entrepreneur journey. But you know, the kids went to college, little of this little of that. So you know, I need to go hit again, you know, to my satisfaction. Now, when I do, and I’m confident about that, and I’m trying to convey that confidence in the book and my interactions with budding entrepreneurs. Tim might my goal is Snowbird summer birds. So 30 years in the rain in Seattle, in the winter in monsoon season. I’m done with that. Now, Seattle has been very good to me and our summers are absolutely gorgeous. So I’m trying to stitch together I’m trying to be motivated to go get you know, hit the next big thing to have a winter home in Austin, Texas, in the Texas Hill Country because I ride bikes. And then you know, either have a summer rental or summer home in Seattle, in arbitrage the weather patterns, you know, like a Canadian goose
Tim Kubiak 34:51
that’s the best answer ever.
Harry Brelsford 34:54
Yeah. And but you know, Tim, I’m not trying to be braggadocious I’m trying to inspire The listeners that set a hairy, hairy goal,
Tim Kubiak 35:04
Harry Brelsford 35:07
set a hairy goal and reach, you know, reach out there. And for some of my friends who are entrepreneurs, it’s the new Tesla, you know their car people they want the new car, ah to their own, but set set a goal, right? Yep. Yep.
Tim Kubiak 35:24
New carbon frame bike on your list.
Harry Brelsford 35:26
Yeah, actually, you know, no, you know why. And, and, and this is where we’re seeing a lot of innovation. And I think there’s entrepreneurial activity, what is on my list, because every time I do a deal, I buy myself a toy. The last one was like the Ninja foodi. Okay, nice. So I always get a toy, when, when when I hit on something, but what I’m going to do is get one of these probably be, you know, three $4,000 electric bikes. I already have traditional bikes, 100 stripe, electric bikes are amazing. They’re realistic, you know, in the afternoon, you can realistically not drive and go to the the market right there. They’re realistic, there is a place for an electric bike. And I said it shouldn’t be your only bike because he should also strive for cardiovascular exercise. But But Tim, that whole area has just started right electric vehicles, electric bikes, and this that the other fantastic entrepreneurial opportunities are going to come out of that.
Tim Kubiak 36:30
I actually I’m laughing as you tell story, I had a friend came up through the cyber world kind of got to the point where and he had moved to the valley right near San Fran proper, actually. Right and kind of just said I had enough and literally went into the power assist bike business. He had ridden one to work to downtown for five years lost 50 pounds, was as healthy as he was when he was 20. And that’s he said, I’m going to fix and sell these things. Yeah,
Harry Brelsford 36:58
Yeah, yeah. And you know, it, let’s let’s go down that rabbit hole. My son, the aerospace engineer, who again is God in the Mojave Desert, but one of his interviews was with track out of the Bay Area, I think, is Morgan Hill or Concord, somewhere in the Bay Area. They have a big office. And they were hiring aerospace engineers for exactly that, to have a fresh perspective on electric bikes and that kind of thing and the aerodynamics, you know, I mean, there’s a lot of engineering that’s going on. Yeah, and and that’s so cool. Now my son, you know, probably have wiser mind. Not Not Not sure he wanted to be a bike builder with the the depth load he’s carrying. And he made the right decision to go to DMV, yeah, yeah.
Tim Kubiak 37:48
I own a couple of truck bikes. So I think I will say the if you haven’t bought a bike recently, you don’t know the difference between your old frame, new frame and the gearing and everything. It’s even in the low end and the entry point is just light years different.
Harry Brelsford 38:06
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Speaking for myself, what was the Schwinn varsity in my childhood? the you know, the 40 pounds? Yeah. Yeah, we’ve come a long way.
Tim Kubiak 38:19
Yeah, I just got a 24 year old mongoose, because I had busted a lower bracket on one of my bikes and said, I can ride this for a couple weeks instead of putting something else out. And yeah, it was more cardio. That’s for sure. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 38:34
Yeah. Cool. Cool.
Tim Kubiak 38:36
So you do a whole bunch of other things. Do you mind sharing with the audience? You know what they are? where they can find your all that sort of thing?
Harry Brelsford 38:43
Yeah, yeah. What Why don’t we start with sort of my, we’ll start with good Harry. Okay. And what good Harry is, is, and I joke, you know, that I’m trying to be less evil in my new life. I was only a little evil. I wasn’t big evil. And it’s, you know, the tech space is rough and tumble. You know, Microsoft right there. There are some not nice people over at Microsoft Redmond. Yep. Got a few. Yeah. And it’s, it’s tough. It’s, it’s, but you know, I’ve had a good career in tech and my interest are starting to move on. I’ll always be a geek and probably have one or two side hustles going on in tech. But what I’ve been really passionate about, since the pandemic is two projects that I was able to get with all due respect kind of spearhead. One was the recommendation of a good friend at Microsoft Canada. She wanted to send my 90 year old mom a greeting card at her nursing home in Seattle, right just you know, just in the car and because My mom can’t have visitors in the pandemic, right. And so we collaborated and that grew into a campaign called 1 million smiles. And the idea was, and it’s still alive and kickin. The idea was, I still have about 50,000 members of SMB nation in each member would send 20 greetings cards to an assisted living center or nursing home. Like they could make it a little family project. You know, the family around the table filling in cards, little secret, you can go to Dollar General, and you can get cards for a buck. You know, at the grocery store. They’re like seven bucks, go to Dollar General or dollar store, buy some cards. And if we could get the the 50,000 people to send 20 cards, we hit 1 million smiles. And so Jenny and I in this lady, we put together a spreadsheet of participating Assisted Living Centers. And you typically mail it to the activities director because of privacy. You know, 10 you’re starting to bump into HIPAA health care, see, like, ya know, the name of my mom. Okay, right. So 1 million smiles. We started that in March. And I gotta tell you, it’s been a hoot, I probably with the holidays, I probably need to emphasize that again. But I had some neighbors come over. And we felt that we had a card parties, and we felt comfortable in each other’s orbit in it. One bottle of wine led to two bottles of wine, which led to three and if the cards got sillier, like you know, 2020 spin a flop, I can’t wait till we can dance the bunny hop. And, you know, these these things take on a life of their own. And but the point is, Tim, I also see that his cause marketing and business development, right, that’s where, while I’m trying to be less evil, I also the projects I’ve taken on, there’s a business purpose, and that’s okay. Right, that’s okay. And then the other thing is, I’ve been working with the National Kristina foundation to rally the troops, the tribe, the SMB nation. When I cleaned out those many stages, I found about 12 old laptops and some printers and monitors. And we all have that, right. Every computer person has the closet. Yep. And there’s a handful of dusty old laptops. And I went through the process. And I’ve been promoting the national Kristina foundation. And it’s a lady who comes from our industry, got out of tech and runs it out of Minneapolis. And they have a nationwide network of volunteers and refurbishers. So they came to my house in a van, a not for profit, picked up all this stuff, refurbished it and got it out to low income families, because of the immediate need for learn from home. So Tim, you know, you’ve read about this, that all the sudden, you had all these school kids learn from home and the low income and underserved communities can’t afford, you know, you and I arguably could order a laptop on Amazon, a lot of families can’t. So they’re getting these, the, you know, you get the point they’re there. They’re getting these into the hands of people that need the help. And that’s an ongoing thing. And they are quite busy. And so here again,
it’s it’s goodness, it’s a cause marketing thing. I feel good about myself, but it’s also in my wheelhouse, right to redeploy tech assets. In the deeper and deeper and deeper we got into it. Again, to reiterate, maybe down in your mini storage or shatter garage, you probably have a handful of computers. You’re in tech.
Tim Kubiak 43:53
Harry Brelsford 43:54
Yeah. Yeah. So that’s, you know, and again, that needs to be part of the conversation in the pocket MBA, maybe to check off on the goodness talk. When I got my own MBA at the University of Denver and project management. The school was just transitioning to the Daniels School of Business, and Bill Daniels was an early cable pioneer. So you may remember Denver, Colorado, had helped start the cable industry, right Jones and Daniel’s and some other, you know, way before Comcast and at&t and that kind of thing. They were still real
Tim Kubiak 44:33
operators back then. Yeah,
Harry Brelsford 44:35
yeah. Yeah. And what the University of Denver did, and I was already out the door when they rebranded but they had a course on a required course on ethics. Okay, and it was like, groundbreaking and this was coming out of the Michael Milken era in Charles Keating and the SNL scandal, right? Yep. And and so ethics. Were It took off in curriculums. Right. And so that’s what I don’t want to get too far afield from our conversation about, you know, other things I’m doing well, part of it’s driven by I’m trying to practice what I preach.
Tim Kubiak 45:15
Always a good thing.
Harry Brelsford 45:17
Yep. Yep. And maybe to check off on to better answer your question what this startup will do. So this is going to become its own entity in 2021. We’re in development right now for a system or a kit. And every industry has that right? That, yep, how to become a realtor in 90 days signed up for the cat. We’re, we’re going down that rabbit hole. So we can build a community that will have, you know, bonus materials, you can download podcasts, you know, exclusive lectures, that kind of thing. Instead, I consider this a start up, and I’m likely bringing on a partner after the first of the year to assist me. But you know, I, I guess I just share that with you. Because we got to reach scale, we got to be relevant. We got to be creative. And hopefully there’s these over 50s and other personas that will pay us money to help them pivot to become an instant entrepreneur, because there ain’t much left out there for a lot of us, man.
Tim Kubiak 46:28
Yeah, and but one piece of the market if my business has taught me anything, and I’m sure you know, these folks, as well as it’s the folks that have done it for 20 or 25 years that are now in that over 50 and need to be an entrepreneur again. Right.
Harry Brelsford 46:41
Yeah. Yeah. And and and I’ll tell you, it’s even worse, a younger friend of mine fact, I remember his first day at Microsoft had to age him. And I was deep into the SPS era, he finished a Peace Corps in Bolivia. And he said, Boy, that was a that was a hoot to spend two years in that country. So he starts at Microsoft and the Small Business server teams call it 99. We stayed in touch. He’s now at a I’m going to call it a data warehouse company in the Bay Area. Splunk. Oh, no, I’m sure. Yeah, yeah. And he’s, you know, he’s moved up the ranks. We got together a couple years ago. And he was joking that it’s even worse here. He’s like, I’m about to reach my mid 40s. And I’m going to be a dinosaur in the Bay Area, it’s even worse. So he’s already worried.
Tim Kubiak 47:37
Yeah, well, it’s funny, I went to dinner, and San Jose, probably a year ago or so. And we walked in, and there was a 22 year old kid and a bunch of folks our age. And naturally, the waiter assumed the 22 year old kid was the CEO, not the CEO. Right in there was a bruised egos in the room, but it’s a great story, because everyone looked and said, the dinosaurs are helping the kid. That’s great. Yeah, yeah, that’s
Harry Brelsford 48:05
the world we live in. But it’s it’s really true. I’ve had some friends who’ve been laid off in the pandemic, again, if our generation without a respect and they they’re, they’re struggling to get a corporate job, their report card lines up to be a corporate person, right. And, and I’m offering words of encouragement and wisdom where I can but it’s HSM is, is real, Incorporated, and there’s no question about it is t legal? And it’s real.
Tim Kubiak 48:39
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s an interesting thing. I watched my father fall out of a corporate role at 56. So I’ve had that on my head since I was 19 years old. 20 years old, right? Yeah. Is it’s gonna happen. So be ready. So I’ve had that advantage if you will, my whole life.
Unknown Speaker 48:57
Yeah. Yeah. Hey, I’m
Harry Brelsford 48:58
getting the high sign. I’m gonna have to hop
Tim Kubiak 49:01
over. No problem.
Harry Brelsford 49:02
meet up with an analyst. So Sir, I thank you, and let me know how I can help you. You’re you’ve got a couple side hustles we’re gonna get you on over on my media network. How’s that sound?
Tim Kubiak 49:15
I would love that. So let’s, let’s reconnect. Let’s get that going.
Unknown Speaker 49:19