IAM1712 – CEO Helps Businesses Work Smarter and More Efficiently By Taking Care of Their IT

Podcast interview with Michael H. Drobnis

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Hearing Michael's journey and how things started over the 22 years was awesome. So rarely do we hear of the full journey. It was great to hear how he supports organizations. I really appreciated his CEO Hack which was a way to step away from the business.

I AM CEO Handbook Volume 3 is HERE and it's FREE. Get your copy here: http://cbnation.co/iamceo3. Get the 100+ things that you can learn from 1600 business podcasts we recorded. Hear Gresh's story, learn the 16 business pillars from the podcast, find out about CBNation Architects and why you might be one and so much more. Did we mention it was FREE? Download it today! 

Previous Episode: https://iamceo.co/2019/02/24/am195-ceo-helps-businesses-work-smarter-and-more-efficiently-by-taking-care-of-their-it/


The full transcription is only available to CBNation Library Members. Sign up today!

Michael H. Drobnis Teaser 00:00

They literally will know to the penny what they need to spend on IT. And so for us nonprofits association, small businesses where they're counting those dollars, but they really want to use technology, that is a very important piece and that's what we do.

Intro 00:15

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 are in search of. This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:39

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we are 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, and business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on technology. We're a technology company that does dot, dot, dot. Technology is no longer an afterthought or something that you might do and is actually a core part of your business. If you are a real estate investor, you're using it. If you're a financial firm, if you're a cleaning company, an author, or speaker, you are using technology. If you are in any business, you are using technology, and if you're not, then you are probably going to be disrupted by an organization that is.

So this month we are going to look into purposing episodes that are around technology, whether that be firms or organizations that are actually using and investing in technology as a core part of their products and services or potentially those individuals that are using and leveraging CEO Hacks and CEO nuggets that center around technology and sharing ways that we can leverage it as well. Remember that you are a technology company that does dot, dot, dot. 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 and I have a very special guest on the show today I have Michael H. Drobnis of Optfinity LLC. Michael, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Michael H. Drobnis 02:09

Oh, thanks for having me. Pleasure to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:10

No problem. Super excited to have you on. And what I wanted to do is just read a little bit more about Michael so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. Michael Aros is the CEO of Optfinity LLC – a technology solutions firm, which has received numerous industry awards, including a ranking of the top 250 small technology businesses worldwide.

Mr. Drobnis has over 22 years of technology experience across many different industry disciplines, including but not limited to, records management disaster recovery, business continuance planning, system security, web design and development, project management, and technology and infrastructure design. As an accomplished technology executive and project manager, his vision and expertise have helped hundreds of organizations work smarter and more efficiently through the use and development of proper technology solutions and collaboration tools.

Mr. Drobnis received his MBA with a concentration in technology from the McCollum Graduate School of Business at Bentley University in Massachusetts. He has served on the Fairfax County Information Technology Policy Advisory Committee, the ITT Technical Institute Curriculum Advisory Board, and as the president on the board of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and on the board of the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce. He is an alumni of Leadership Fairfax and the FBI Citizens Academy and is a proud father of three girls, in West Springfield. Michael, are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

Michael H. Drobnis 03:29

I am.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:30

Awesome. Let's do it. So the first question I had was to hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story and what led you to start your business.

Michael H. Drobnis 03:36

It's an interesting story. Prior to living in this area, I grew up in the Boston area, and went to school in the Boston area. I was working for Iron Mountain at the time and doing some work across the United States as well as in London. And honestly, it was time for a change. I didn't exactly know what that change was gonna entail. So I said, you know what? I'll just quit a nice paying job, move down to the DC area and see what I could do with myself. So, I moved down here and really spent about three months looking for a job and saying, okay, none of this really fits what I'm looking for and so I said we'll see what's out there.

I found somebody who was looking for some help and who was the CEO of the Meals on Wheels Association of America. And so I went out there and did some consulting for her and next thing someone else was looking for help and she said I'll talk to Michael. And so I started doing some consulting and I did that for about four or five years where I finally, I mean, I had branded it as a company, but it wasn't really at the time, it was just a lifestyle business consulting with a name. And so at that point, I said you know what? There's a lot of business and a lot of customers, I might as well put some structure into it. And that's pretty much where it all started with.

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Gresham Harkless 04:34

Nice. And so you used to just pretty much, I guess tell the entrepreneurs and business owners exactly what they should do or organizations and then you move towards actually implementing these solutions and also probably provide that consulting as well.

Michael H. Drobnis 04:44

Yeah, honestly from the very beginning, I was doing it all. And so it was interesting. I remember prior to going away for my honeymoon, one of our clients had a massive virus outbreak and

Gresham Harkless 04:53

Oh wow.

Michael H. Drobnis 04:53

This was back in zero four and I literally put in 40 hours over three days because I'm leaving. I have to go. There is no out, it's like this has to be fixed before I leave, so I was working till one in the morning and just getting this done. They had multiple locations, so yeah I think it was at that point where I said I think I need people to work for me because this consulting thing just takes a lot of time.

Gresham Harkless 05:14

Yeah. Yeah. Especially if you're going on your honeymoon. That's, definitely something that could happen.

Michael H. Drobnis 05:18

Yeah, absolutely.

Gresham Harkless 05:20

Cool. So I know we touched on it a little bit and I know you touched on it a little bit more, but could you tell us exactly what you're doing to help support the clients, all these services that you're providing?

Michael H. Drobnis 05:27

Yeah, absolutely. To put it simply, we are the IT department for organizations that either don't have their own IT, are too small for their own IT, or they need something that's gonna go above and beyond what they can do. In a lot of cases, you're a 40-50-person organization. You can hire an IT person to work in the business, but they work 40 hours, they take vacations, they get sick, then you got to buy the software to monitor, to maintain, to take care of everything that needs to be done. Rather than doing that, we provide that.

One, we provide all the tools needed and we provide all the hardware, the file protection, the antivirus, the education, the training, but we also individually, sure, my employees take a vacation, but we're a 24/7 help desk. So if you're working at 11 o'clock at night, you're not gonna call that IT person because they're not on the clock. With us, we're always on the clock. With the exception of six major holidays a year, our help desk is open 24/7. And so what we do is we come in once a quarter, and we work with our clients. We say, all right, this is what's going on, this is what you need to do over the next 6 months, 18 months, 24 months to get to where they want to go. We eliminate all that IT problem, all that IT headache. We just take care of it for them. And we do it all at a flat rate.

They know when we come in, they're gonna get the firewalls they need. They're gonna get the licenses they need, the software they need, all the support they need. We're gonna come in once a quarter to talk about things. Pretty much they can narrow it down and say, Hey you know what, we need it. We're gonna get it taken care of. And that's what we do. It's all at a flat rate. There are no hourly fees. And in fact, if you hire an employee at $20 an hour, just to give an example, if you were to add another 70 cents per hour for that employee, that would cover everything they need, the backups, and so forth. And that's what we do. We just take the hassle out of the IT portion of their business.

Gresham Harkless 07:08

Yeah, and that's definitely huge because IT is literally everywhere, in every industry and every business, every organization. And to be able to think about all the updates, all the changes, this interacts with this differently now because of this update. You don't really have to worry about all of that because you, as it sounds, you can just call you guys and you guys can take care of a lot of that stuff.

Michael H. Drobnis 07:26

Exactly. And it, again, if you hire someone, they're gonna have their expertise. When you hire an organization like us, we have different people with different expertise, so that again, you're taken care of. You don't need to worry about, okay, now I got to go send this guy off to training or this girl off to this training. We take care of all of that.

Gresham Harkless 07:42

There you go, and you're tapping into mini mines so that any organizations can definitely be successful, which is of extreme importance. Now, I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce, and this is what you feel distinguishes you or sets you apart.

Michael H. Drobnis 07:54

Our secret sauce honestly comes down to customer service. In reality what we do is not rocket science. I'd like to say we're a, I don't like to say we're a diamond dozen, but in reality, everyone out there is saying, oh, I can take care of your IT, I can take care of your computer. What makes us different is, one, we focus on customer service. We're not really focused on the IT problem. Anybody can do the IT. We're looking at the business, we're looking at it and saying, okay you're a nonprofit organization, what do you need to do in order to succeed? And then we're gonna apply that IT solution to it.

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So we're not out there saying, hey, let us be your geeks on call. You want geeks on call, go get geeks on call. What you need is somebody who not only understands the technology, but understands the business, doesn't talk down to you. The biggest complaint we get from clients that we take over is they call the help desk and the help desk is like, you don't know what you're doing, let me just show you and they're done. That's not the approach we take. So between the customer service and the fact that we do it all at a flat rate, so you can literally look at your budget and say, you know what? It's gonna cost me $30,000 for all the tools, the IT support, whatever for the year.

Plus, we're gonna give them a breakdown of these are the machines you need to replace. They literally will know to the penny what they need to spend on IT. And so for us, nonprofits association, small businesses where they're counting those dollars, but they really want to use technology, that is a very important piece and that's what we bring.

Gresham Harkless 09:12

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. Now I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. And this is an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but it's something that makes you more effective and efficient.

Michael H. Drobnis 09:22

Sure. So there are a lot of ways to go about that. Obviously, as a technology provider, I'm gonna stick with the technology aspect. I will say that, and it's not even a CEO hack, but to take it back a step, the most important thing I can recommend from that perspective is to get away from the business. So before we can get to the whole technology, as I was telling you right before we started this, I just went on vacation. I took my kids and we went overseas, and While yes, I did check my email once a day to make sure that nothing blew up. I wasn't working. So that when I come back, I'm focused on it.

Before we get to the actual technical hack per se, that would be the number one thing I'd say is you need to get away. You need to set priorities, you need to really focus on family. If you don't have a family, focus on your personal life. Focus on just something else, because otherwise you're gonna become useless. Eventually you're gonna stress out burnout or you just not gonna be able to figure those things out.

Now that being said, as a CEO the important thing you have to do is you have to have accountability. You have to know what's going on. So from our perspective, you need a good CRM-based system. You need a system that does it. Now, the hack I'm gonna provide isn't gonna be a great one because it's really IT-focused. We use a system called ConnectWise, but I think for any good CEO you need something to manage a calendar. You need something to really go out there and say, what is my day gonna have.

What I do every day as a CEO is, and I'm an IT guy, but right next to me is my yellow Line paper book. It literally has, these are the issues I must deal with every single day. And although I'm gonna be living my life via my system and via my emails and so forth, I look at that halfway through the day and say, oh, you know what? I got to stop. I got to do that. So from that perspective, I think time management and prioritization are the most important things you can do as a CEO. And again, what good is running a successful business if you can't enjoy the fruits of it? So again, that's what I would say would be my CEO hacks.

Gresham Harkless 11:07

Yeah. I love those. And you said the software tool was Connect Device?

Michael H. Drobnis 11:11

It's Connect Wise. it's an IT-based tool, but any tool, whether you use Salesforce, whether you use I don't even know if Acting Goldmine is still around, but I'm updating myself there. But yeah, anything to manage yourself and to set prioritization of what you're doing, that is the most important thing you do.

Gresham Harkless 11:26

Awesome. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And you might have already touched on this, but this is a word of wisdom or piece of advice you might tell your younger business self.

Michael H. Drobnis 11:35

I'd say, I know younger vision business self should have been really put together that vision before you get started. I went into it and I said, okay, you know what, this is what I'm gonna do. And I just sorta went by the seat of my pants. Yes. There are reasons for that. I had a bootstrap, I invested in. But I never really looked at it and said, where am I going with this? And then here I am, six years into it, and saying, I could have done this a whole lot differently. And so I think you need to look at it. You need to stop being pain-wise pound foolish.

You need to look at it and say, you know what? I'm gonna invest in this. Yes, I know it's a risk, but anytime you start a business, anytime you run a business, you're gonna have those risks. And you have to make those risks, especially before you get married before you have kids before you have those reasons why you've got to not take those risks. I wish I had done a lot more of that and I'd probably be at a much, probably progressed a lot further than I have so far today. Not to say I'm doing poorly, I'm doing quite well. But on that token, I think I would've been a little less stressed a few years ago.

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Gresham Harkless 12:31

You want and have a vision. Sometimes you just have to be able to quote and quote, and take care of certain things. So to be able to have that vision, I guess in the beginning you're saying might have been able to help you maybe accelerate some things, maybe at a certain level?

Michael H. Drobnis 12:44

Yeah. I would've been where I am today, five years ago. And, five years ago I was still working those 80-hour weeks. Now I'm down to 60, which for a CEO is pretty good. But, again, that's where it is. You have to look at that. A lot of times I was like I'm just gonna work on this when I finish it. I guess another way of putting this is, Work on the business, not in the business.  I spent the first 10 years of my career working in the business where I finally said, you know what? I need to look at the vision. I need to look at where I'm going with this. Not what am I doing tomorrow.

Gresham Harkless 13:15

That's powerful. Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on the show. But Michael, I wanted to ask you, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Michael H. Drobnis 13:26

That's a multifaceted question. Some people ask me what I do and I tell them I'm a janitor. And they're like, what do you mean you're a janitor? I say I have to clean up everybody's mess. So on some days, that's what the CEO means. It's okay. And again, going back to that vacation, I was on there and I found out somebody did something that wasn't the smartest thing to do. And I said you know what, tell them I gave you approval. Let them blame me and we'll go from there.

So in some cases, that's what it is. But I think the biggest thing is, and it goes back to the time, whether it was in Fairfax, when I was in Leadership Fairfax or otherwise, being a CEO is being a leader. It doesn't matter whether you're a leader of the business, leader of your family, or leader of the community, it's about making sure that not only have you created something that's going to succeed. But all the people that rely on you, depend on you, work with you, again, whether that's your kids, whether that's your employees, they need to succeed.

The business doesn't succeed if they don't. And so you need to put in place ways that they can succeed. And so to me, a CEO is about leadership. And if you can help the people within your organization, within your family, succeed. You're going to succeed as well.

Gresham Harkless 14:29

Michael, I truly appreciate you for taking some time out. What I wanted to do was pass you the mic just to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and our listeners know, and then of course, how best they can get ahold of you and get in touch with everything that you're doing.

Michael H. Drobnis 14:40

Yeah, absolutely. And let me first say thank you for having me on the show. I enjoy having the opportunity. Obviously, I've gotten to know you a little bit over the last year, but I always enjoy the opportunity to talk and I won't say preach the business gospel, but, to really get out there. But, honestly, yeah, the most important thing I can tell anybody is you got to pursue your passion. If you're not passionate about what you're doing then you're doing the wrong thing.

Now I'm not gonna go into the whole work-to-live, live-to-work thing. I do both. Some days I'm trying to get away from the kids and I wanna come to work. But other days, my focus is that, and as I wear ties with my kids' pictures on them. I'm not wearing one for today just because I didn't leave the office at all today. You have to have a reason for doing what you do. So that's really all I got to say to your audience there.

But as far as getting ahold of us we're here in Springfield, Virginia. We have clients all over the East Coast. Our website is optfinity.com. Our phone number is 703 790 0400 . But that's it. Just give us a call. Look us up. Be happy to talk to anybody.

Gresham Harkless 15:31

Absolutely anywhere across the United States. Can reach out to you?

Michael H. Drobnis 15:35


Gresham Harkless 15:36

Awesome, awesome, awesome. And what we'll do is we'll have those links in the show notes and the information in the show notes just so that anybody can follow up. But Michael, truly appreciate you again, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Michael H. Drobnis 15:45

All right. Thank you and have a great 2019 and a happy New Year.

Outro 15:49

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts. Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. Grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co.

This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. 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(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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