IAM1692 – CEO Improves Efficiency by Leveraging on the Right Technology

Podcast Interview with Victor Calabrese

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Victor understands security and technology and works with a lot of organizations to evaluate that. We talked about the power of “learning” which was a strong part of his story. Victor had an understanding that business can't be separated from technology. It must be integrated. Also, there's not one specific technology that needs to be “recommended.” It's ultimately what's good for the organization. We also touched on what a Technology Service Partner (TSP) versus a Managed Service Partner (MSP) and the importance of security.

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Victor Calabrese Teaser 00:00

The technology itself shouldn't be the thing that we're pushing. I want you to tell me why you want that specific software. So once you understand the business needs and how the business works, that's when the MSP or the technology service provider will go in and say, you know what? For your particular case, you should be using this.

Intro 00:19

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships? Generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:45

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. And if you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes. And we're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call the CB Nation architects, who are looking to love, love their organizations.

This month is around technology. We're a technology company that does dot, dot, dot, and technology is no longer an afterthought or something that you might do. It's actually a core part of your business. And if you're a real estate investor, you're using it. If you're a financial firm, you're using it, cleaning company, author, speaker, you are using technology, and if you are in any type of business, you are using technology. And if you're not, then you're probably gonna be disrupted by this.

So this month we're gonna look into repurposing episodes that are around technology, whether that be firms or organizations that are actually investing in technology and have that as a core part of their mission and vision of what they're doing, or people that just might be using them as CEO hacks and CEO nuggets in ways that you can leverage them. So remember that we're all a technology company that does dot, dot, dot, or a technology organization that does dot, dot dot. So sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I am CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Victor Calabrese of Desk side. Victor, it's great to have you on the show.

Victor Calabrese 02:13

Awesome to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:14

Yeah. Super excited to have you on. And before we jump through the interview, I want to read a little bit more about Victor so you can hear about some of the awesome things that he's working on. And proven problem solver, an uncanny ability to connect with people, He executes and gets results through continuous learning, health and fitness, and an emotionally balanced life. Victor strives to be the best version of himself in order to provide leadership and long-term improvements for his employees, clients, family, and friends.

He is an agile, quality-focused operational, driver, critical thinker, and primary tech leader credited with automating hundreds of business processes. And being a strategically focused executive that values security. Victor has helped companies mitigate risk while improving efficiencies by leveraging the right technology. Most companies don't even know how vulnerable they are, or they can improve many of their processes by leveraging the right tech.

So that's why Victor is here. So Victor super excited to have you on. Are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

Victor Calabrese 03:07

Yeah, Absolutely.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:08

All right, well, let's make it happen then. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit and hear a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

Victor Calabrese 03:16

Yeah, man. So I started back, every time somebody asks me this, it keeps getting one year more, right? So it's been 26 years that I've been in the IT game. I started back and believe it or not, a construction trailer. That's how I got started back before servers were a thing in an office suite. I was working for my dad. My dad's always been in construction. And back when I started, I got out of school. So I was a little more tech-savvy than most of the people that are out there. And they just started getting servers on, at offices. So being in construction offices or trailers, you put them on site, you have a trailer, and they got the server and nobody knew what to do with it, right?

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So they would set it up, it would break, it would come online, it would be offline. So me being a young kid was a little bit into the technology stuff, I started playing with it and I fell in love with it. And that's how my entire technology career started. And I just started learning more and more and more. I became a tech at that point I started doing a lot more technology-oriented stuff. But I was also always enamored with the business world, right? So I love business, I love business operations. I love the financial aspect. So after I finished my Master's Information Systems Management, I went back and got my MBA. And with the marriage of those two degrees, I was able to start my executive leadership career in the IT industry.

Gresham Harkless04:37

I think it's so huge cause I almost feel like, and I don't know if you feel the same way, that there's an art to learning how to learn as well too. So it's almost as if once you start to continuously learn new things, continue to scratch the surface and get better, it helps you to learn how to do other things Sometimes that we aren't really as natural in doing because you learn the art of learning if that makes sense.

Victor Calabrese 04:55

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And there are different types of learners, right? There's auditory, there's visual, there are people that have to experientially learn. So you have to learn what type of learner you are. And then you're absolutely right. You go and you learn something new, something that you may not like.

And you know how many books I've started that I just never finished, right? And that's okay. You just start, you go through it, and maybe something that you love. There's other stuff that I just fell into that I love that I'm like, wow, I wanna learn more about this kind of this topic. So yeah, you're absolutely right. Just keep learning whatever it is, you'll find the stuff that excites you and the stuff that just turns you off and you just walk away or just keep going.

Gresham Harkless 05:30

Yeah, absolutely. It's something that we didn't learn from school, that you can actually take a book, read it, and realize it's not for you, and put it down and actually try and find ultimately, like what is your thing. So, absolutely love that you've been able to do that. And you mentioned, being able to get your MBA, get your Master's in Technology as well too. And I almost feel like those two worlds are starting to merge together where you always hear that you're the business that does technology. You're this business that does technology. It's not that these are two separate worlds. So I imagine that's a lot of what you help out clients with. So I wanted to drill down more here, a little bit more about what you're doing at Deskside, how you're making that impact with the clients you work with.

Victor Calabrese 06:05

Yeah, and it's actually a really great point. So one of the reasons why we started Deskside, because we had another company, another MSP back in the day that we ended up selling in 2016. It was more of a traditional MSP where they focused more on technology. They actually separate the need for business with technology as you pointed out.

Because one of the biggest things that they used to say there is let us concentrate on the technology so that you could concentrate on what you do best for your business. Well, you're absolutely right. I saw it after we exited that business. I saw that that technology scheme has changed. You can't separate business from technology anymore. It's actually one of the reasons why we built that side. That side has a very big focus on business needs, procedural needs, and the technology that would best fit or best serve that need. So we bring those two together so I can talk business with a CEO or COO, an executive Leader and actually say, tell me about the business points.

Don't worry about technology. Technology, we'll talk about later, but talk to me about the operational needs, the efficiencies, your PML, and your financial needs. Talk to me about those things. And then from there, those are the business needs that we can then plug into technology. Maybe there is a better accounting package. Maybe there is a better system that will automate a process or make your employees more efficient. But that's more of a discovery kind of thing, right? Once you've got all the foundational technology in place, which every single MSP can do these days, what they can't do is then look at the business seeds and bring in the right technology to serve those needs.

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Gresham Harkless 07:37

Yeah, that's so powerful. And I almost feel like it's meeting people or organizations where there are, and it almost feels like, the way that you approach it, technology becomes a tool. We don't get ruled by technology, and we sometimes feel like we have to do this piece of software because this is the only software that there is.

When you have that kind of, it sounds like business foundation focus, you start to realize and figure out what things fit in to ultimately reach your business goals. Am I right, in saying that?

Victor Calabrese 08:04

Yeah, absolutely. And you hit on another important point that really, it's a pet peeve that I have with many of my competitors out there is, I don't care what technology solves the problem, right? I don't care if it's in Microsoft or Google, or if it's Zoho. The technology itself shouldn't be the thing that we're pushing. And I want you to tell me why you want that specific software.

So once you understand the business needs and how the business works, that's when the MSP or the technology service provider will go in and say, you know what? For your particular case, you should be using this. And that's where we should be doing better as a technology industry, not so much serving our margin, but serving the business needs and bringing the right technology to the table to serve those needs.

Gresham Harkless 08:47

Yeah, then it makes so much sense. So I appreciate you enlightening and breaking that down because I think so many times, you want people to walk the walk instead of just talk the talk or do a combination of both. And I think few people actually walk the walk. So I love that you've been able to do that. So, Would you consider that to be what I like to call your secret sauce? And this could be for yourself individually, the business, or a combination of both. But it's essentially what you feel sets you apart and makes you unique.

Do you think it's your ability to, for lack of a better term, it sounds like, empower your clients and customers so that they can ultimately reach their business goals and their, aspirations?

Victor Calabrese 09:20

Yeah. Absolutely. So there are three pieces to our secret sauce. The thing that, made us change from the traditional managed services model to what we call TSP or Technology Success Partner. The one is that vendor agnostic piece where we are truly vendor agnostic. We're gonna look for the vendors that best suit the need of the business, not the vendor that's gonna make us the most money because we're increasing our margin. The other one is all around the technology success partner, where we come in, understand the business, and can actually bring solutions that will make the business more efficient or solve a business problem.

The third one that is really big these days and that a lot of my competitors out there are really not able to solve is the technology security piece, right? There is a split within the MSP market where there's now an MSP, which is a managed service provider, and there is an MSSP, a managed security service provider. And those two are actually two separate companies and they'll actually work with each other. So one will contract the other to work as the security arm, where now the client has to deal with two separate vendors. This side solves that problem by doing both. So we are both an MSP and an MSSP, and we understand security and we not only understand security where we're pitching all these things to the client. But we're actually doing that stuff ourselves. So we are a hundred percent, it's one of our core values.

Security is actually something that is one of our core values. We talk to our employees about it. We live it. I have a yubi key that, that accesses every single thing that I have. MFA is foundational for everything we do. So we understand security, we understand how it's a layered approach, and making sure that we have these different layers within the organization ourselves as well as our clients. It's really important to make sure that they're secure.

Gresham Harkless 11:08

Yeah, that makes so much sense. And I appreciate you sharing, each of those aspects of your secret sauce. And so I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. This might be an app a book or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Victor Calabrese 11:23

So with me, it's all about preparation. So, the traditional Monday to Friday doesn't work for me. I like to be at least the day before, so I end up starting my week on a Sunday. I prepare on that Sunday where you don't have all the emails, you don't have all the employees bothering you later on, and this is not something that other CEOs aren't doing. I know a lot of CEOs are doing this stuff. So you start on a Monday and I end up ending on a Saturday. So I'm working seven days a week.

But it's not truly work because I do enjoy it, but my hack is actually being ahead and after the fact of everything that's happening, I'm always trying to get some sort of list, some sort of thing going, making sure that my emails are all done. My checklists are all done. So start early plan. I like starting my day at least two hours before anybody else does. And I end up ending my day an hour after everybody else does. That's my little hack.

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Gresham Harkless 12:16

Appreciate you for sharing that. And so I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. So this is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something that you might be packing away in your book or something you might tell your younger business self if you were to hop into a time machine.

Victor Calabrese 12:31

Yeah, that's awesome. It is absolutely in my book. But the one piece of nugget is to take care of yourself. That is one of the things that are so overlooked because I see so many very successful people dead at 55, dead at 60 years old, or not happy, right? So one of the things that I tell everybody is you have to take care of yourself with nutrition. With working out with continuous learning there are so many different facets, but all those things do such a great service to you being able to access what I coined your true potential.

And being able to access your true potential will actually get you to where you wanna be faster than if you're trying to just grind all the time and just get all that work done by just working, working, working, working, right? So take care of yourself first. And then from there, you can start accessing your true potential. The true potential will allow you to do so much more with less time. And then you'll see everything else just start flowing into place.

Gresham Harkless 13:29

Awesome, awesome, awesome. So, wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote CEOs on this show. So, Victor, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Victor Calabrese 13:39

To me, it's being the number one educator in the organization. The leader is the one that is able to teach. And I spend a lot of time just teaching everyone else because the reality of it is if you are doing all the work, you're never gonna get anywhere, right?

And trying to give work to other people that don't really understand it is not gonna get you far either. So what you wanna do is be there, teach them. Get them to a point where they're doing more than you can ever do. And then you just start replicating that and replicating that, and replicating that before you know you have a crew of people that are doing way more than you are able to do by yourself, and that's when you start being successful.

Gresham Harkless 14:18

Absolutely appreciate that, Victor. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I want to do now was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best people can get ahold of you. Find out about your upcoming book and all the awesome things that you're working on.

Victor Calabrese 14:34

Yeah, absolutely. So the best place to, find the about the company is We're on every single social media platform as deskside tsp. And again, I wanna be a resource for those people, even if it's just to have a conversation. My MSP told me X, Y, and Z. Well, that sounds right, but that doesn't sound right.

I'd love to be there for that. But again or LinkedIn is another platform that we use as deskside TSPs is where you can find us. Please reach out. Be awesome, for me to help.

Gresham Harkless 15:02

Yeah, absolutely. And to make it even easier, we'll have the links and information in the show notes as well too so that everybody can follow up with you. Thank you so much for empowering so many organizations today as well and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Victor Calabrese 15:13

Yeah, absolutely. And thank you for having me on the show. Love the show, and listening to a bunch of episodes. Thank you so much.

Outro 15:19

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Check out the latest and greatest apps, books, and habits to level up your business at This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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