The Possibility Mindset Podcast

#16 Bridging Technology, Entrepreneurship and Personal Growth with Michael Smith

November 16, 2023 Devin Henderson & Michael Smith Season 1 Episode 16
The Possibility Mindset Podcast
#16 Bridging Technology, Entrepreneurship and Personal Growth with Michael Smith
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine the world of technology as a vast ocean, and navigating through it is this episode's guest, Michael Smith, an award-winning global business IT executive. His journey through diverse industries — healthcare, global manufacturing supply chains, and consulting — has equipped him with a deep understanding of global teams and the importance of aligning with different cultures. From the intricacies of technology implementation to leveraging his analytical skills from criminology in his IT career, Michael's insights shed light on the art of possibility thinking that can open new doors.

Curious about the leap from corporate to entrepreneurship? Michael paints a vivid picture of his transition from a Fortune 250 company to founding his own company, Partner for Success. His current role as the CIO of a microbiology start-up adds another layer to his impressive portfolio. Here, he emphasizes the contribution of their products to environmental sustainability by validating the purification of wastewater. We also delve into the realm of Artificial Intelligence, engaging in a thoughtful exploration of its potential and ethical implications.

The episode wraps up with a powerful recounting of Michael's early career days when a simple email to the CIO of Sprint PCS opened avenues of mentorship that shaped his career. His story evokes the transformative power of mentorship and the importance of paying it forward. He also shares his experience navigating the challenges of transitioning from the business side of IT to the technical side, and his use of social media  for personal growth. Join us for a captivating conversation with Michael Smith, threading the intersections of technology, entrepreneurship, and personal growth.

Guest Website: https://www.fortiumpartners.com/

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Sound and Audio Technician: Zack Midyett

Speaker 1:

All right, everybody. Hello and welcome to the Possibility Mindset podcast. I'm your host, devon Henderson, and I believe that something greater is always possible for you, all right. Well, hello, michael Smith. How are you today?

Speaker 2:

Great, great. How are you doing?

Speaker 1:

Doing great. You can see I missed the dress code memo. We're going business today. Michael had a chamber event before this. He's always looking good, but is he always looking this snazzy is what I want to know.

Speaker 2:

Probably not. Okay, but I knew I was meeting with Devon, so I had to dress up.

Speaker 1:

That's right. They had nothing to do with the chamber, that was all for now.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, there you go, yeah, okay awesome.

Speaker 1:

Well, before we get into who Michael is and what he does, I just want to say thanks once again to our incredible ongoing sponsor, egcedra Shawnee, who provides this wonderful space for us and typically breakfast, but you had breakfast today at the chamber, so today we're just doing coffee, yeah. So let me ask you so far, how's the coffee tasting?

Speaker 2:

Great, all right.

Speaker 1:

And they give it to you in these awesome little perisi mugs right, these look pretty classic, man. You got Egcedra on that side showing the perisi side, so very nice man, so we do appreciate that. Thank you to Shannon, the manager, and Sonya, our server. It's always a wonderful experience here, so all right. Well, before I introduce you specifically, first of all, we have a long history together, right? So Michael has hired me for many different types of events everywhere, from like kids, church events to like corporate events with your fellow peers and everything, and then also your company.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Right. So we've done pretty much everything under the sun, and so I was excited we had this opportunity to sit down today and find out more about you, so let's jump into it, man. And if there's any time where I say something that's a little bit off, you'd just be like, oh, let's correct that, ok, because bottom line, michael is an IT expert and so I am not right. A lot of my guests so far have been like other speakers, other magicians, and now it's like this realm where it's like well, I feel like I am going to learn something today at a whole new level, so I'm excited, so let's get into it. So Michael Smith is a transformative and award winning global business IT exec with the history of significant experience enhancing organizational growth and creating sustainable profitability. How am I doing so far?

Speaker 2:

Great, great, ok, good deal.

Speaker 1:

As if somebody wrote that I know you would think like man, this was like written before me and I wasn't residing this from memory. But I like that, the sustainable profitability. We got to be making money, otherwise what's the point? Ok, that's great. Now your experience you've got like a whole broad in terms of industries, a whole broad spectrum, everything from. I've got like health care, global manufacturing supply chain, which of late that's been quite a challenge, right Supply chain I know we've had issues there and logistics fulfillment. And your significant experience lies in the area of global ERP processes, processes or processes.

Speaker 2:

Either way, either way. Now, if you're over in the UK, it's probably processes.

Speaker 1:

OK, you say it a different way. Now I don't know what ERP processes are. Should we get to that later. Do you want to explain that now?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, erp is just a platform that many manufacturing companies use to manage the whole supply chain.

Speaker 1:

Oh, ok, ok.

Speaker 2:

From the inventory management to the sales, fulfillment and shipping and invoicing and all that Got it.

Speaker 1:

OK, the whole thing, man, ok. And then also you have extensive consulting experience. People coming to you being like everything from our computers are down to hey, we need a whole new system overload here for our supply chain. Start to finish. Ok, Awesome man. So Michael also is known for a strategic understanding of best practices. Is that ethics and professional use of tools? Hopefully ethics yeah, that's part of it being a very ethical person, but that's kind of a given in this right.

Speaker 2:

But best practices on just how to have an organization that's running at high efficiency and productivity.

Speaker 1:

OK, got it, and that's for implementing and maintaining technology to address all kinds of challenges that organizations face today, which there's too many to try to list right here right now. It just goes on and on, so maybe we'll hit some of those. As a talented executive leader, he thrives on changing and challenging environments. Do environments really change? Are they really challenging? I don't know if I buy this, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, one thing that's always constant is change.

Speaker 1:

There you go. I like that. Ok, perfect. So that's a business experience. So you're drawing for. You mentioned the UK. Yeah, do you travel? Yeah, I used to.

Speaker 2:

I used to, so I worked for a Fortune 250 company in the life sciences industry and was responsible for a global team Just a little over a thousand individuals that were across North South America, europe and Asia.

Speaker 1:

OK, wow, wow. So how many continents have you been to? Have you been to all Seven? No, I've been to Antarctica.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, been to North and South America, been to Europe. I haven't been to the Middle East or to Russia, but to Asia and so to China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines.

Speaker 1:

Well, so, before I go on there, what do you have like a significant international experience where, because you went international and opened your eyes to something big in terms of IT, oh yeah. You didn't know until you got there for some reason.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't know if it'd necessarily be with IT because, again, when you think about technology, how it's implemented and utilized is very similar. It doesn't matter really what the industry is Granted. There's different applications for different industries and companies. But probably the biggest challenge was just understanding the culture when you go into an organization. So, case in point, when I was with that Fortune 250 company and fortunately for me, I wasn't overseeing this team, but a team implemented SAP in Japan, and one of the cultural items in Japan is that when you're meeting with any individuals from that country, they'll nod their head. Yes, that means that they hear what you're saying. Doesn't mean they agree or disagree, they just you know. That is their way of demonstrating that I hear what you're saying.

Speaker 1:

And I understand it, but I'm not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing.

Speaker 2:

While the individuals that were implementing, of course, were from the US, and whenever they had asked a question, the person would say yes, so they thought that's the answer. So, of course, what they implemented was nothing of what the organization needed and it was an absolute disaster and they had to send in a whole another team to start from scratch, and it was probably a 15 month delay because they just didn't understand the culture of working with individuals from that country.

Speaker 1:

Also then to learn from that experience, when that is, now that you know that's the cultures, whose responsibility then is it, once they realize okay, now this information is absorbed. Now, how do we make sure whether they accept or decline?

Speaker 2:

Right, right, because that's what was missing, yeah, exactly exactly, and I mean the best practice that I always use with my teams is it's everyone's responsibility. If you're going to go now, granted the company that you're working for. If you're going into another country, a lot of larger companies have divisions that will kind of help prepare you for the culture you're going into.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and kind of go through some types of training and stuff.

Speaker 2:

Not everyone, but there's a lot of companies that do that. But yeah, I think it's everybody's responsibility, is that? You know? I think US citizens sometimes can be very arrogant when they go to other countries that everyone is just like them. And I think we have to have respect for the cultures we go into and definitely understand how to interact and communicate with them.

Speaker 1:

Okay, I've never been abroad, but even I know that we can be arrogant. I've been to Canada and Mexico, but I have not yet been overseas.

Speaker 1:

Well, thank you for the insight. I appreciate that, which, by the way, and yes, this is us still working through your bio and your intro Longest bio ever. But I like it because I didn't just want to read through it and then just miss a bunch of awesome things, because I know there's gold even in this, so good as a launchpad. So you know, when some people think it, they think of the person in the back room, right like working. No personality.

Speaker 1:

I'm just saying general stereotypes here from what I've heard, you know I've spoken to a lot of different groups, but I've met a lot of it people. They do not fit that stereotype, the ones that I mean, and for sure you don't meet that. So do you ever feel like you're under that stereotype and what would you say to people who believe that way?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, I can tell you that when I went to college, the one degree that I knew I did not want was computer science, and the reason why is a lot of the students and of course I graduated in 1993 from college and a lot of the students that were in computer science it was kind of in the very latter stage of many of the training, still being on card readers. So you would actually work on a mainframe. It would you generate cards and then you'd have to put the cards in a specific order so it would compile an application.

Speaker 1:

Wow. Very very archaic if we think about that now. Some of the people in their 20s right now are going like what, what is a card? What is a card? Yeah, totally.

Speaker 2:

So, but all the students many of them had long hair, were very introverted, enjoyed talking to machines more than people, and they would generally work in an area where there wouldn't be any windows, because, of course, all the machines were taking up the entire room, and so when I would look at that I was like, well, I have a very outgoing personality. I think I'm an extrovert and I enjoy being around people and I like sunlight.

Speaker 1:

And so.

Speaker 2:

I just thought, you know that's not for me. And so I ended up majoring in a number of, or taking a number of different classes, but eventually majoring in criminology. And I just happened to fall into the IT industry about four years outside of college. That worked at a bank where I was kind of responsible for it sounds more important than it was but responsible for the automated clearinghouse. This would be where all the wire transfers are coming in, where a lot of large transactions are being processed, when people would be moving money around from one account to the next, and so my job was to kind of monitor that to see if any type of money laundering or any type of investment was occurring.

Speaker 2:

And pure signs of that would be you'd have a large transaction and lots of smaller transactions going to all these different accounts.

Speaker 2:

So it just kind of raises a red flag while money is moving around that face.

Speaker 2:

And so one of the banks I worked at they had a OS2 operating system running on an AS400 mainframe You'd probably call it a mini-frame at that point because, again, this was the latter stage of the mainframe and there was this administrator that would come in and drive an hour and a half two hours from the area where they were at to work on an issue that had taken about 30 minutes.

Speaker 2:

And they did it probably five or six times a year. And so one day they were there and I said, look, I don't have a clue what you're doing, but why don't you just give me a call? You can walk me through whatever you need me to do. Even if it takes us an hour, you save the hour and a half two hours on the road. In essence, three to four hours round trip. Of course they love the idea. So we did that and the first few times I didn't realize this is what IT was about and I think having that degree in criminology where it was around problem solving and very analytical mind, really kind of aligned well with what IT does, and then I discovered that there's a lot of extroverts that work in the.

Speaker 2:

IT industry and it's not what I assumed it was when I was in college. So, I went back to school and Microsoft was really up and coming at that point. I got a number of certifications and never looked back, and now I've been in the IT industry a little over 27 years.

Speaker 1:

Well seeing. This is why it's great we're having you on the possibility mindset podcast, because I know your journey. I mean, you've already kind of shared part of it with how you got into, how your mind was changed. You had one paradigm, just in terms of what IT meant and what it was and the kind of personalities that fit that mold, and something greater is always possible. When you have the possibility mindset, you say what else is possible? And you just kind of fell into that right, like you just went one area and it opened you up to new things. So we're pretty much into it now.

Speaker 2:

So the bio is kind of.

Speaker 1:

But so, yeah, I mean that is the thing. I mean I don't know how much we're going to learn about IT specifically, and that's not necessarily why I brought Michael on here to be like, hey, teach us about information technology. It was more like I want to hear your story and how you got to where you are, because you're highly successful, you're highly celebrated, award winning. I mean so many people trust you, you've been abroad and so that's why I just wanted to really focus on you know your story and next level success and all that. So we're into it, just so you know.

Speaker 1:

I may come back to some of this because there's some things worth mentioning on here that I don't want to miss. But when you said you went to that other country and there was a communication barrier, I mean that's why I'm saying like that you know, when you're on IT, it takes communication skills, it takes people skills. I mean to really operate at a higher level like you do. You have to be that people person and know about communications and cultures and everything. So I think that's great, that I mean you found your calling, obviously.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I couldn't imagine being in another industry than I do. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely love it. So you worked, you said, for the 250 Fortune Fortune 250 company for a while. Now eventually you kind of got off and let me, you started your own company at some point. So tell us kind of that journey to becoming more of an entrepreneur minded IT professional.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So after coming out of the Fortune 250 space, had a period of time I was working for the American Academy of Family Physicians, and it's an association that's just geared to supporting family physicians. Some people might see that as primary care direct care.

Speaker 2:

And so about 78% of practicing family physicians in the United States are a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and Kansas City just happens to be the home of the headquarters. Oh, all right, with a hub, yeah, nice. So, in matter of fact, there are one of the very few associations that's not headquartered in Washington DC, because most of them are there because of all the regulatory and just requirements and compliance that the government has related to the industry that they support.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so you're talking most of the associations based on some kind of healthcare.

Speaker 2:

No, associations in general.

Speaker 1:

Really.

Speaker 2:

Majority of them are headquartered in Virginia, washington DC area.

Speaker 1:

You know what also is headquartered here, the National Auctioneers.

Speaker 2:

Association who I spoke for.

Speaker 1:

Did you know about?

Speaker 2:

them. I did, I spoke for them many years ago.

Speaker 1:

So they're another one that's headquartered here.

Speaker 2:

Anyway, I just happened to know that Now did they talk, really fast.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I didn't even understand a word. They said I was just going like this. Yeah, but I'm not absorbing what you're taking, but I'm impressed. That's what my nodding meant. Okay, awesome, so you're part of the. Say it again. The A, the F.

Speaker 2:

Well, it used to be the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the acronym is AAFP. So their headquarters is just right there on Tomahawk Creek Parkway in Leewood, between College Boulevard and 119th Street.

Speaker 1:

I mean just almost right there in the middle, If you didn't catch it. Michael is a Kansas City guy here with me on the. Kansas side, so on the good side.

Speaker 2:

Yes, exactly.

Speaker 1:

Whatever, okay, awesome. So you're working with the AAFP, all right. And how'd that go? How was?

Speaker 2:

that it was great. I mean, that was where I mean, I had a lot of success with Thermo Fisher Scientific, which was the Fortune 250 company they're the largest life sciences company in the world and so that's where I had the opportunity to travel all over the world and managed a large global team. But yeah, when I came to AFP, it was a culture shock in itself because, coming from publicly traded companies, very profit based companies into an association that's non-profit and is more mission driven, then it took a while to just kind of adjust, but once I was able to adjust, it probably ended up being one of the best companies I've ever worked for oh, wow, yeah, and it's just family based and really enjoyed it. And that's where we were able to. My team was able to drive an entire end to end transformation in the organization and we were providing a number of awards based on the work that we did, being recognized not only nationally but also globally.

Speaker 1:

Oh, wow. So yeah, it was great. It was great. Congratulations on that, man. That's great. So I know you have this trajectory for where you are now. So during this whole process, were you consciously thinking what's the next level of greatness for me, like, where can I extend my impact? Did you just kind of follow up on these things and people started asking you for consulting?

Speaker 2:

work. Yeah, no, it was probably the latter of kind of looking at what's the next challenge that I would like to tackle, and so, through the latter part of my time with AAFP, I decided that I wanted to start my own company, and so my company is.

Speaker 1:

Is that terrifying? It is To make that to okay, all right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and started a company's name, p4s so. Partner for Success. So it's initial P number four letter S Okay.

Speaker 2:

And so it's an LLC company and provides strategic technology advisory and transformation and fractional CIO work, and then also had the opportunity to join Fordium Partners they're the largest service in the country that provides fractional CIO services. But also I'm involved with a microbiology startup company and was brought on as their CIO and I started in March of 2022, and they're based in Drexel, missouri, and they have just an absolutely amazing story where they've been around since 2009, predominantly with the military, department of Defense, nasa, and they're in the sample prep industry. The products they produce are sample air quality samples fluid samples, so it could be water, beverage wastewater.

Speaker 2:

So they provide their products in a lot of municipalities with wastewater treatment facilities, because I assume most people know this but maybe they don't you take a shower, you turn on your faucet, you even flush your toilet. All of that is going into a treatment center somewhere.

Speaker 1:

A facility Specifically in an urban setting. Yeah, but I was like in environmental science in Johnson County Community College. They took us to the wastewater treatment plant. I still have nightmares about it.

Speaker 2:

So everything is coming into there and then they go through a purification process where they can recycle that and push that water back into residential homes.

Speaker 1:

That water is coming back too upside, but it's all clean, right.

Speaker 2:

In most cases, it's probably what you're going to have in your shower or your toilet and stuff like that.

Speaker 1:

Well, because there's the wastewater treatment plant, but then there's the water treatment plant.

Speaker 2:

Correct.

Speaker 1:

And then it was kind of going through a two-step filter trick.

Speaker 2:

Correct, I mean it's basic.

Speaker 1:

Yes, when everything is said and done, you can drink and it's healthy.

Speaker 2:

Yes, but where they use our products is through the process of validating the purification. So they'll do a sample of that wastewater to make sure that all the bacteria, pathogens, viruses that may be in the waste itself then is all been removed and now it's safe for consumption once again. And then it's recycled.

Speaker 1:

Wow, so it's working up like well whoop my water so what was that like? What kind of things did you find? Were there a lot of times where it didn't pass the test.

Speaker 2:

Oh no, I mean, our products have been incredibly accurate.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so it was your products that was doing the cleaning. I thought you were just testing.

Speaker 2:

No, no no, Our products oh, you're talking about when?

Speaker 2:

it depends on what's phase and what stage, but I don't know if there would be any surprises, because they'd have multiple stages of that testing. Sure, so you would expect in that first stage you're still going to find paths, pathogens and bacteria, but they're going through a quality test to make sure that everything that is designed to purify the water is actually happening. So then, when it comes to the final stage, then it should be able to strike a result that would say, okay, this is now safe for consumption.

Speaker 2:

So, if somebody were to ingest that water right and drink it, then they wouldn't get sick and they wouldn't die. And so, yeah, we're in there. We also have customers in the beverage industry. So Molson Cores is one of our customers, where they utilize our products on their QC line to test the batch of beer before they then go into mass production to make sure it meets all of the requirements of what they have. That needs to be achieved, which I'm not an expert in all of that.

Speaker 1:

So, when it's all said and done, you're testing things. People drink yeah, yeah, is the water coming back?

Speaker 2:

And that's one side, but the other side is then air.

Speaker 1:

Air okay.

Speaker 2:

So we'll have a lot of scientists that will utilize our products in the field and do an air sample again. It could be around pollution. It could be around picking up any type of viruses or pathogens in the air During COVID it was used a lot and being able to test the air quality in buildings different things like that. Okay, one of the really neat and cool stories of an over prep is that our products are on the International Space Station.

Speaker 1:

Oh wow, remember that.

Speaker 2:

So NASA uses our products to do sample testing as well as air quality testing for the astronauts, wow, and part of that is to kind of drive just the understanding of how bacteria and viruses live in zero gravity.

Speaker 2:

Because the goal for NASA is to build manned stations on the moon and, of course, you cannot just automatically create gravity on the moon. Right, you can create pseudo gravity within the buildings that they've established, but when you have bacteria and viruses that are floating around in zero gravity, nasa wants to understand how long do they remain do? They stay intact? Do they kind of come apart because of zero gravity? So yeah, they do lots of different tests on the International Space Station with their products for that.

Speaker 1:

Are you going to get to go to space anytime soon? No, probably not. No, Would you go if they didn't sit here? Oh, they would yeah.

Speaker 2:

I think so. I mean there's a lot of risk. But yeah, I think that would be incredible. It would be amazing they might need you up there, I know we need your help.

Speaker 1:

We need you on the field, in the field. I don't know if you're in the field anymore, if you're on the moon, no, no. It's a different term for that, I'm sure. Okay, great. So it sounds like right now you have your own company, but you're also part of a bunch of other things right. So I mean, are you just incredibly busy?

Speaker 2:

Oh, yeah, yeah, but I enjoy the challenge and that's what I think. That's what's kept me involved in IT. Yeah, I'm not in the weeds as much as I used to be from a technology perspective, because it was sort of like keeping up with where technology was moving and it was constantly evolving. Sure, it was sort of like being in a rat race, right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So you're on that wheel that's just constantly spinning, and so I had an opportunity to move into leadership roles, probably close to 18 years ago, and then been more so in the leadership side. But I still feel like I can hold my own with a technical person, and I have to take some of those roles with the startup company that I'm with, because it's still a relatively small company. So, even though I'm the CIO and establishing the technology strategy, sometimes I have to also be involved in addressing and correcting and designing and implementing things as well, okay, okay.

Speaker 1:

So you got a couple awards here that I want to mention because these are too good to pass up. I think 2020, there's a year for you. Michael was named one of the 100 most innovative CIOs globally by CIO Executive Council.

Speaker 2:

That's amazing 100 globally, wow.

Speaker 1:

Cio, chief Information Officer. Correct, okay, perfect, well, that's great, congratulations, thank you. The year after that, in 2021, your team was recognized as one of the 100 best organizations to work for in IT in the US by Insider Pro and Computer World Magazine. That's incredible, wow, congratulations on that too.

Speaker 2:

In that year we were the only company you recognized in Kansas City. Is that right Across the country? So yeah, it was amazing.

Speaker 1:

So not only are you able to do this IT work, you're able to build a team of people who love the culture and want to follow you and believe in the work that you're doing.

Speaker 2:

I mean that's what's always right there. No, I've been very fortunate and blessed no-transcript.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's amazing. Okay so, and then in 2021, you were also a finalist for finalists for CIO of the Year in Kansas City by Inspire CAO and the Orbea Awards. That's amazing. Oh man, congrats, that's so great. Thank you. So let's make sure that we get the best parts of the story here, because I know you could talk to us all day about your journey. You know where are you now. What are you excited about? What's new? What's shaken? Yeah, what's next?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, for me. I've just I've never been a technical person that really loved the widgets, and you'll find a lot of IT individuals that love gaming and stuff like that. Sure, that just has never been something that I've been really interested in. I think what drew me into IT and I think part of that was I started my career outside of IT and then moved into IT, so I was more on the business side and then moved over to IT Was how technology can transform organizations, and so every single company requires some type of technology to run their company, but not every company is successful in how they utilize technology.

Speaker 2:

And so that's where my passion has been and every organization I've been at I've had the opportunity to be a part of or lead a significant transformation in the organization, taken advantage of how technology can not only drive efficiencies and productivity but can reduce costs, increase revenue and make the organization not only poise for growth but for significant profitability as well.

Speaker 1:

I think from what you just said, I found a parallel between your work and my work.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

And that is the sense that you said you weren't into widgets. You're more about transformation and helping create transformation. For me, when I'm speaking on stage to an audience, my widgets might be a magic trick, a joke, a story, right, but really it's that stuff is met, it's necessary, but it's really meant to serve the audience. Like, how are these experiences that I'm, that I'm showing you right now, going to help you transform the work that you do in your organization as a whole? So me, I don't.

Speaker 1:

This is my behind the scene secret. I'm not that into magic anymore, it's okay, but I do it because I know how it makes people feel and how it's a great metaphor for how people can be amazing in their work and break past mental illusions that are keeping them from next level greatness. So I can relate to you on that level where it's like, yeah, there's this great stuff, that we have stuff, but we're not. It's just not about the widget, it's about what kind of impact are we making? And that's, I think, why you've seen such success, because people, you're making change happen. I mean, you're part of NASA.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's cool.

Speaker 1:

That's crazy.

Speaker 2:

That's so awesome so but you are an incredible magician, Well thank you. And, like, like Devan had mentioned in the intro, we'd known each other for a number of years. But yeah, when my two boys that are now grown and married when they were young kids, we happened to be in one of the places where Devan was performing and that's how we got to know him and, yeah, our kids were absolutely flabbergasted and amazed at some of the tricks, and I have to say, my wife and I were too.

Speaker 1:

Yeah well, thank you, and I mean we. That was back in the days when I was working at Fizzoli. That was one of my first restaurant gigs. And I'm finishing my 20th year performing and speaking professionally. So that had to be close to 20 years. Oh yeah, 19, 20 years, which is wild to me. You know that's and then at the last performance you had, you had me right after COVID, I think, at your church maybe during, and I met.

Speaker 1:

Quinn, I think your oldest was there and I was like you know, it's just one of those like wow, I just remember you being this little yeah, I think we met you originally, even before you were married.

Speaker 1:

Oh, oh, yeah, for sure, yep definitely I've been married 17 years, so yeah, before that man. So wow, yeah, that's, that's wild man. So okay, so what you know, what would you offer to people then like from your story, from your, I mean, you've obviously have there been big setbacks. You know things that have made you go. Maybe I, maybe this isn't for me, maybe I should quit or maybe I don't have what it takes. How did you work past that? You know, because anyone can relate to that story.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think they have a term for is called imposter syndrome.

Speaker 1:

Ah, yes.

Speaker 2:

And so you know you're always going to find people that are much more talented than you are in whatever your expertise is.

Speaker 1:

Sure.

Speaker 2:

And so, yeah, there were times where I'd find myself that, you know, am I really actually good enough to be able to do what I'm doing?

Speaker 2:

And you really have to fight that battle that mental battle of the fact that something has got you to this point, and it wasn't just luck. Right, there was, there was skill and and the ability to connect either to what you're doing in my case, technology but also to connect with people and make sure that the people that you were supporting understood the technology that they were using. And and with any industry there's there's the risk that you're going to go in and you're going to start talking in a language that individuals don't understand.

Speaker 2:

So if you're dealing with an executive and you're trying to talk about, you know why the token ring is not working and DNS is not being able to be resolved and you don't have the correct IP address scheme or the subnets it's like you may as well be telling me all that they're talking right over the head, and one of the best advices that I ever received from an executive early in my career was that they said make sure you know who your audience is when you're communicating with them, because not only is it going to establish credibility that you can communicate to them in a way that they understand it, but not to do it to. It makes it look like you're talking down to them, yes, or?

Speaker 2:

making them feel inferior or dumb, because they may not understand that. Because all of us were in a position where some point in our life we didn't understand something, we had to be educated and trained. And so, yeah, I think, just fighting through that imposter syndrome to know that you know if you've been successful, you have had a part in doing that and, granted, there's lots of other people that have helped you be successful and for me, I'm very strong in my faith that God's blessed me incredibly. But you just have to fight that urge that says you are good enough to do what you're doing and accept it, adopt it and have that mindset that you are successful.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, and there's another parallel between you and me, you know, knowing your audience. Now, not that I'm ever speaking a language that people, like we, don't understand these terms, because mine aren't technical like yours but it's important for me to know, because when I'm speaking and telling maybe the same story to a group of educators, and then go tell that same story to a group of health care professionals, there's gonna be a little bit of a different twist on what this means for them, right? So so, yeah, that's huge. So do you remember any any big moments where the imposter syndrome hit you in a way that paralyzed you? Or was it just kind of an ongoing slow grade, like, okay, always overcoming this every day, or what did that look like?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't know if it would be every day, but for sure every position.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so every position that I had, even though I'd be promoted in that position. So apparently there were people above me that felt like I was qualified to do that job otherwise I wouldn't be promoted, unless I was only one that applied and they were desperate. But yeah, I think, going into any new position, new opportunity, you fight that urge of saying am I good enough to actually do this? And if you fight through that and show up every single day to do what you're hired to do, you might surprise yourself that you're actually far more Talented than you even realized yeah, you know, we were talking about this right before before we hit the record button.

Speaker 1:

That, um, you know I told you I had my having my best speaking year ever, but that you never. When do you feel like you've arrived? And I remember I asked a speaker who was years ahead of me. I was like, when did you arrive? Because in my eyes he had arrived and he goes. I'll let you know what I do.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and it kind of just made me realize, you know, we arrive when we decide we have arrived, you know, and when we, when we say hey, I'm, I'm happy, I I feel gratitude for where I'm at. Like you said, enjoy the journey, enjoy the process. So I think there's always this deeper part of me that's like when is this gonna stop? One of the calls for speaking engagement is gonna stop coming in it. No, man, even the things are going really well right now that that can still kind of hit you. Oh yeah, every position. You experience that.

Speaker 1:

So you know, I know the listeners, you know maybe thinking like, how do you, how do you demonstrate that kind of Resilience? You know, for you you said was just an awareness, right, right, just just remembering that. You know, like you said, you had faith in God that he put you in this position. So you're, you're equipped, or you will become equipped, for this, and I might sound like a broken record to some of the audience, but I call it the illusion of insignificance, when you feel like someone else is further along than what you're doing. But but the whole idea of it is that's just an illusion, right, you still can have Impact, mm-hmm, where you are, you know. And so it's like, let them be good at who they are, be good at who you are, and don't worry about being the best. Just be your best, because your best is the best of the people that you're meant to serve.

Speaker 1:

Yeah and it seems like that's the possibility might say you've demonstrated, you've looked at who's the audience at hand. How can I best create transformation with this crowd? Using with this organization Right, I say crowd because I'm a speaker, that's about it but using your skills. So, so that's great. So what would you say? Like is your top? Like people come to you for this over and over again, like this is your deepest area of expertise within the IT space.

Speaker 2:

Well, if it's in an industry, it's going to be in manufacturing or healthcare.

Speaker 2:

Okay, if it's in technology. It's going to be around Transforming how an organization utilizes technology right. So you can. You can implement the technology and, again, all the widgets that go with that and and go through the practice of utilizing that technology on day-to-day. But if you don't understand why this technology is being implemented to meet whatever the business is trying to achieve and their objectives, then you know it's going to do what it is designed to do, but it's never going to be able to achieve any more than that. Okay, versus if you go in and help an organization Develop an IT strategy, a roadmap, and then also look at just the transformational side of how technology can change how an organization operates, and, and I would say Across all industries and across the United States, there's probably about 30% of companies that actually do this. Well, the other 70% of the companies they have technology because they have to have technology, but they're really not utilizing it to its full potential.

Speaker 1:

Well, you know, I'm actually support. To me, 30 sounds high.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, to be honest, I thought if you would have been like 15, 20 billion? Yeah, that's probably right, because I know for me I'm not using technology to the best of its ability, you know. So, which takes me to the question I it's hard to have you on here not ask you about AI, where things are going, how that's impacting you. I mean, I don't even know with the best specific question to ask on that, but what do you? What are your thoughts on AI? That's my question, um.

Speaker 2:

Well, first of all, most people don't realize AI has been around since the 1950s. Yes, it's just popularized now.

Speaker 1:

I just learned that from listening to. Sadie St Lawrence, who was a keynote speaker. I just don't know if you've heard of her, but yeah, I just learned that. So no, it's been around for decades.

Speaker 2:

But machine learning has as well right. I mean in the early years of mainframe. You know the mainframe was had opportunities where there no computer or machine and knock on wood is ever gonna become self-aware right, so don't worry about the Terminator movies and everything.

Speaker 2:

Whatever you mean, there's okay, not whatever humans put in and program for a machine to do. That's what that machine is going to do. Okay, now there's a responsibility by mankind to make sure that what's being entered in there right is being used for purposes of good Right and not nefarious or evil purposes.

Speaker 1:

Is that supposed to bring me some kind of peace?

Speaker 2:

Oh, Well, hopefully man, I know hopefully mankind will do the right things and there's lots of consortiums now that have been established to kind of establish ethical rules around Utilizing AI. Yeah, but probably the explosion has been in the last few years that, even though AI has been around for the fifth since the 50s, it's been more in the back office and in the machines where now that power has been given into the hands of individuals through chat, gbt, other other front-end interfaces of where You're allowing the, the machine, to make predictive Decisions right based upon historical data right, yes, so whatever it's been able to whatever you fed in there from a Dataset perspective and it looks at that from a trending perspective, whether that is to make a decision specifically around analytics or to make a decision that looks like there's some cognitive ability.

Speaker 2:

It's all going back to data and what's happened historically and what that machine is predicting it's gonna happen in the future. Yeah and so? So, yeah, I think AI is extremely Important in the next phase of evolution within technology. But, like every other technologist, come before there's again the ethical side of making sure that we're governing that technology Effectively and in a in a right way. So how?

Speaker 1:

confident are you that we are governing, governing that in an effective and ethical way?

Speaker 2:

I'm pretty confident. I think we do have a small percentage of the world's population, and some people might call that as the dark web. Okay, the bad actors of the world right that would look to take advantage of some of that technology to To do things that would make them much more Prosperous, whether that be in in wealth, whether that be in power, whether that be in anything.

Speaker 2:

But I think for the majority of the world's population it's people like you and I right very ethical people that are going to make the right decisions Majority of the time and even if they make the wrong decision, they're making the wrong decision with the best intentions right, they're not taking it right to say why I want to do something to really hurt this person or this group of people, so I think mankind will ultimately come out on top.

Speaker 1:

As it relates to the ethical Behavior, yeah, I don't want to get too far down the AI rabbit hole because I know that's not. I want to hear more, couple, more things about your story, but I know one thing Sadie st Lawrence said who's a keynote speaker, focuses on AI is that there was some kind of test. I can't remember the name of the test, but the test was once you start talking to a computer and feel like it's a human talking back to you, then it, then it passed whatever test that was, and we feel like we've made some headway with AI and they just passed that. And I Don't know the last couple years, maybe the last decade, so I thought that was interesting. But thanks, thanks for letting me take you down that little Side. Travel, I mean, it's the hottest thing right now. Everyone.

Speaker 2:

Oh, yeah, so so what if?

Speaker 1:

what if we miss what significant holes that we leave in your story about your journey to getting into what you do, or what, or anything about your passion, about now as we wrap anything that you want to share?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think one would be, because I've spoke at a number of events and one of the topics that I've spoke on is this concept of Pay it forward, right? So how do you prepare the next generation of leaders to come in and and to take over the mantle, when Myself and other peers, you know, kind of exit out of our careers and stuff?

Speaker 2:

Yeah right and one of the best stories that ever had is I. My first job in IT was in 1997 and it was for a company that doesn't exist anymore but people would probably remember is sprint PCS. Okay so this was the cell phone side of sprint, and so Sprint PCS and sprint organization, next telling all that kind of created the original CMDA technology. That's what cell phones use, right? So they were the first to market, and so I had an opportunity to go and work for sprint PCS, but I was not an employee.

Speaker 1:

I Wasn't a contractor, I was a subcontractor.

Speaker 2:

So, I'm like multiple levels removed from the PCS culture.

Speaker 2:

So I was hired by this company that the prime contractor was EDS, and this is when EDS was owned by Ross Perot, okay, and?

Speaker 2:

And so they owned the contract to build out the overall infrastructure Network infrastructure connecting computers and locations to each other by EDS was doing that leading, and so EDS then had a lot of subcontractors that also helped them in that area. And so if my first job was in help desk and decide support, now I've always felt I'm a pretty confident person and I would be willing to step out of my comfort zone to do something. And I knew that if I went into this industry of IT, I wanted to eventually get into a position where I could drive change right, even though I was young, very, yeah, wet behind the ears. I knew that right, and so I. I made a dare to myself that I emailed the CIO for Sprint PCS and this individual his name was Glenn Toward at the time and he was the CIO for PCS. Now I was expecting to get no response because, number one, I'm not an employee at PCS, I'm not even employed by EDS, which is the prime contract.

Speaker 1:

I'm the snow-named small organization that is a subcontract. It's a bold move. I like that.

Speaker 2:

Well, I did get a response two days later from this gentleman, and the question I'd asked is that hey, I'm new to the IT industry, but at some point in my career I'd like to do what you're doing as a CIO. Can you give me any advice on what I should do and what I should focus on in my career? So he responded. Not only did he respond, he said yeah, I'll be happy to talk to you. He scheduled a 30-minute meeting for me to come to where his office was at.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because this is before the days of Zoom you actually had to go meet with Chris. Oh yeah, you had to physically go.

Speaker 2:

We did have phones, but my communication device was a pager. You'd get a page, then you'd have to go to a phone to make a call, and so I went into his office, and not only did I meet with him for 30 minutes, he ended up meeting with me for two hours.

Speaker 1:

Wow.

Speaker 2:

And he shared with me, kind of like this is the roadmap you really need to kind of focus on taking, and if you want to move into leadership roles, you're going to have to get your MBA. And so that was one of my goals. So in 2006, I started my MBA, finished in 2008. And it was an executive leadership. And then he also said whenever an opportunity comes up, take advantage of that opportunity.

Speaker 2:

You may not think that that's really what you want to do, but you never know what avenue that opportunity takes you to ultimately get to where you want to go.

Speaker 1:

You just may not see it at this very point in time.

Speaker 2:

And so I have followed a lot of his advice and here back when I was with Thermal Fisher Scientific was a what they would kind of consider a divisional segment CIO, based on how they were structured, and then took over my first full-time CIO role when I was with the AAFP and have been a CIO since Wow. And so I think about the amount of time that that individual invested in me and I remember walking out of his office and saying if I'm ever in a leadership position, I want to be a leader like that, and so I've always kind of talked about that pay it forward type mantra that when there is individuals that are new into the career, whatever that career is then when you have an opportunity to mentor them and to really kind of share with them what you've learned throughout your career, take advantage of that, because it will reap a massive amount of benefits.

Speaker 1:

I love that story and my question in is let's say, if someone's not as ambitious as you are to reach out and go out on a limb and reach out to you know, a head honcho like the CIO of. Sprint PCS right. Did I get that right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I was probably crazy and young and dumb, but it worked.

Speaker 1:

Well, what if you see, as a leader, potential in someone else who does not come to you do? You draw them in and say, hey, meet with me, I see something in you. Yeah, right, would that be the answer? Yeah, because and again.

Speaker 2:

It's kind of looking for those opportunities. If you're not a mentor and you have an opportunity to be a mentor, become a mentor.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And there's tons of organizations out there that provide that ability for you to get connected with young professionals that are in search of a mentor. But, yeah, if you work in a company and you lead individuals and you see that there's someone that's very promising to move into a leadership role at some point in their career then, take them under your wing and give them that opportunity, because at some point you're going to end your career and you're going to retire.

Speaker 2:

And if there weren't people like that long before my time then maybe I wouldn't have the opportunities that I have in my career, because other people kind of blaze that trail and mentor other individuals to become great leaders. Because I've had an opportunity to work for a lot of bad leaders and bad managers, but I've also had an opportunity to work for some pretty remarkable ones that have molded my career.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, that's interesting. Both have made you who you are right the good and the bad.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's amazing. I can relate to your story on many levels. I've had people pouring to me, some that just sought me out and some that I sought out, and I think if you are younger and you're going to seek someone out, you're not always going to get the positive response that you did, where the person goes above and beyond. But does that mean? Quit there? Go to the next person right. Find the next person who is willing to invest.

Speaker 2:

So that's great man. Thank you for that story.

Speaker 1:

Any other closing thoughts or anything big we overlooked?

Speaker 2:

No, no, I think the only thing. I would add again my love and passion for technology. I also would love to help other organizations, to be able to help them achieve what they're trying to accomplish through the use of technology and, like I said, one of the organizations I work for, fortium Partners, is a company in the United States of the largest company that provides fractional CIO, cto and CISO services. So definitely reach out to me if you're in need of any type of fractional advisory technology services.

Speaker 1:

Okay, great, and what's the best way they can get a hold of you for that, michael, if they need your services, yeah, so the best way is michaelsmith at fortiumpartnerscom.

Speaker 2:

I know that's kind of a long name.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and we'll leave the website for sure, but so that website will be in there, and then it's just michaelsmith at, and then the website. Okay, perfect. Well, if you need Michael, there you go, you have it. He's the man for the job, he's at the goal and he's qualified. That's great. Okay, and you said that you love technology, so I think we should end with one of my favorite quotes about loving technology, right after I say thank you again to etc for sponsoring this episode, thank you to Shane and the manager, sonia, our server and all of the support staff, and the coffee was great.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

So we appreciate that. Hey, by the way, if you were inspired at all today in any way about Michael, please let us know in the comments you can go to. I'm on Instagram, I don't Facebook YouTube, you know. When you see this post just at Devon Henderson Speaker, let us know what are you going to do differently? Maybe because of something you heard, maybe you're going to pay it forward, maybe you're going to seek out a mentor. So, yeah, please let us know. Remember to also go to YouTube at Devon Henderson Speaker, subscribe so you never miss an episode. And with that we do believe something greater is always possible. But I want to end with my favorite quote about technology, and here it is. It's Kip from Napoleon Dynamite. I love technology, but not as much as you, you see, but still I love technology, always and forever. All right, thanks so much. See you next time.

Possibility Mindset Podcast With Michael Smith
Journey Into the IT Industry
From Corporate to Entrepreneurship
Transformation and Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
AI's Impact and Ethical Considerations
Mentorship's Power in Career Development
Instagram and YouTube for Personal Growth