221: Be personal. Be yourself. - with Ian Reynolds
Meet Ian Reynolds
Ian Reynolds is a Partner and Chief Solutions Architect at Zibtek, a software development firm focused on helping businesses of all sizes in the US solve their core problems with software. They empower entrepreneurs, growth companies, enterprises and visionary firms to achieve greater profitability and efficiency, valuation and ultimate success by building the right tools through custom software.
What is it that your company is doing to innovate and stay on top of the latest technologies?
We have a select group of engineers who are just looking at a sort of smattering of the biggest and sort of most available trends and technology, mostly AI and these sorts of things. Just dedicated research to see if they can come up with any sort of projects that are going to be interesting, going to solve problems for our clients that we can then turn around and present research. We see the market going this way, here is something that we really feel will be of benefit to you and hopefully, of course, a benefit to us internally as we sort of provide services to the workplace.
Can you talk a little bit about the types of clients that you help?
There are three major categories that we serve. The first category is small businesses in the United States, which accounts for 90% of those firms as maybe 20 to 25% of our business. And these are folks who either have an idea or have a need for a piece of software that doesn't exist, and they're sort of bringing something new to market. Then we have midsize businesses, which account for the majority of our business. And they don't necessarily have that team in house that can solve that complex engineering problem that they have, that would resolve the core issue in their business or would basically allow them to focus more on operations. And of course, we have enterprise clients like Google and Adobe, that we serve, and we're building and supporting enterprise projects for them in house. And those are those are much more structured.
Can you describe the process of building custom software and how a company goes about doing that?
So building custom software is very much like building a house, you have to have a plan. You also have to have certain access to certain things. So we start with really sitting down the client understanding their needs. We had people come to us with literally just napkins where they have an idea. And so we have to take that translate that into a formal or textual document. We then go into a design and architecture phase, where we're actually reviewing the technologies that would be best fit for the solution. And then we're designing it. Sometimes we'll do a discovery phase, that's a couple weeks to really kind of test and make sure build what is called like a POC a proof of concept to see if this can be done. We then go into principal engineering where we pair a team that has built something before together. And then depending on the nature of the project, you have QA teams to make sure that the quality is sort of meeting our standards.
Can you help our listeners by sharing your one of your favorite or most successful networking stories that you've had?
I was actually revisiting a college campus. We were doing some recruiting. And I had bumped into a colleague that had basically made a pretty wild transition in their career and we just caught up very briefly. That conversation sparked a chain of referrals, which I found out later, where I had just sort of talked about what I was doing. And I took rather a sort of unconventional career path, started a chain of conversations on that person side. And then I find out years later, that they had actually come into also my circle of work, doing engineering, largely because of this conversation that I had with him.
How do you stay in front of or nurture your networking community that you've established?
I've taken an approach of trying to write very thoughtful pieces. And share those directly with a group of individuals, to a select group. I'll send it to people that I feel would be most relevant for just to share my thoughts on a topic. And what I find is real engagement, rather than sort of community or social engagement. It generates real conversations and lends itself to deeper, more meaningful, more thoughtful discussion about certain topics. And it's a lot more work I'll say that, but I would say it has generated much deeper sort of friendships.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's looking to grow their network?
My advice would be determine what type of communication you're comfortable doing. Then try to leverage that and get really, really good at that one type of communication, that one type of network communication that you prefer, and do that do that on steroids. And if you can, do it consistently. It'll work better than trying to be a man for all seasons.
Digital networking or traditional networking – which do you find more value in?
I'd say the, the digital networking is much more valuable. And I'd say by and large, because we have an increased sort of transaction philosophy in society with the use of technology people are out and about and they can be anywhere when they're working. And so it's much more, I guess, kind of consumable to present yourself digitally, than I think it is to even go to or be present at some of these networking events.
If you could go back to your 20 year old self would you tell yourself to do more of less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
If I could go back in time, I would probably tell myself to start a business sooner than later. Working in a professional environment was helpful, but not necessary. You can learn pretty much everything you want to learn if you just kind of jump feet first into the problem, and sort of make the problem your own and want to go consume the material.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation, who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with? And do you think you could do it within the six degree?
it would probably be the Seth Klarman at Baupost Group. He's an individual investor guy living in Boston and totally unrelated to the field that I'm in. But he wrote a book that is no longer in print. And just a pretty interesting guy. He's got a unique perspective on the market, and has a long term view of where things are going. So I'd love to have chat with him if it could ever be arranged.
Any final word of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Being personal being yourself is the most valuable thing that I have done and the most valuable thing I would encourage people to do and be comfortable in your skin. Just be comfortable with who you are. Be a little goofy be a little nerdy. That's me. And just put yourself out there.
How to connect with Ian: