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Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella Takeaways

Danny Ryan

Co-Host – Danny Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Sam Marshall

Co-Host – Tommy Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Danny Ryan:Hello, and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone Podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan. I’m here with my other host, Tommy Ryan.

 

Danny Ryan:How are you doing Tommy?

 

Tommy Ryan:I’m doing well. It’s a beautiful day today. The rain has settled down, but the garden has loved it. I’m planting my fall seeds, and having all this rain is making my life a lot easier to keep up with the garden.

 

[00:00:30]

Danny Ryan:

 

What are you harvesting right now? What’s coming out?

 

Tommy Ryan:Tomatoes are right at the end. I’m harvesting a lot of field peas. I’ve never done this before, but black eyed peas are one type of field pea, but Texas Cream and Lady Cream field peas. They’re really good. They’re real tasty. I harvested a bunch of butternut squash, something like 20 pounds of butternut squash.

 

[00:01:00]

Danny Ryan:

 

Wow. Twenty pounds?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah.

 

Danny Ryan:Whew. I know what’s going to be in the office now.

 

Tommy Ryan:The nice thing about the winter squash is it keeps. I didn’t realize this or really think about it, but you’ve got summer squash and winter squash, and you would think, “Oh, you grow your winter squash in the fall,” but you actually grow it in the same time as summer squash. It’s just it lasts through the winter. It’s got hard skin, and that’s your winter squash is like acorn squash, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, things like that.

 

[00:01:30]

Danny Ryan:

 

Nice. Are you growing pumpkins?

 

Tommy Ryan:I’ve got pumpkin but only two that are growing that didn’t do so well. I have at least one, really nice-looking one, and one that’s got a little bit of bug attack to it.

 

Danny Ryan:For folks who haven’t listened to the last couple of podcasts, this is about Iron Mountain Organics, Tommy’s venture into creating a new movement. I’ll call it that.

 

[00:02:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

That’s right.

 

Danny Ryan:Which is getting back to growing your own food and getting to get back to real things like that and knowing thy food, know thy food; is that right?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah. That’s the tagline.

 

Danny Ryan:Did Craig got our feedback?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yes, I got a email yesterday. He’s been working on rev three, round three, and he should be done tonight, so I’m excited to see when it comes.

 

[00:02:30]

Danny Ryan:

 

Can’t wait to see it.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah.

 

Danny Ryan:That’s awesome. Today what I wanted to do is, we just had our last meeting on, our last lunch and learn or our last book club meeting, on Hit Refresh. As with normal things with me, I start off strong, and then towards the end I just fall off. We’ve gotten through the first couple of, we’ve done a couple of chapters, and we spent some good time digging into things with the book.

 

[00:03:00]

Danny Ryan:

 

Part of what I really loved about this book was getting to know his background and where did he come from, understand the person. For leaders, I just think it’s so important to be authentic. I think it’s so important to be yourself. One of the things I was looking for from this book more than anything was just getting to know who the person was.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right.

 

Danny Ryan:I think that really came out towards the beginning phases, and then, honestly, you know me. Once we get started on talking about quantum computing and AI and stuff like that, my eyes haze over, and I start thinking about, what are we doing today, and I know all this stuff is coming, and I know it’s important that Microsoft stays ahead of things, but I just see so many opportunities today to, especially within the collaboration space and that, I’m like, “Let’s nail this stuff that’s right in front of us.”

 

[00:04:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Yeah. Think about doing the internet on Office 365. It’s not that easy, is it?

 

Danny Ryan:It’s not. It involves quantum computing and AI. Ah, gees. Just being in the middle of it, with Project Cobbler, which is what we’re calling our internal project for how we’re using Office 365. It’s not easy. We haven’t nailed it, so I don’t like moving on. In a way, I don’t like moving on to other things and new technologies until we feel like we’ve got a good handle on what’s available today.

 

[00:04:30]

Danny Ryan:

 

Fortunately, Microsoft has the resources to go after what’s coming in the future and to dream up what is coming. That’s a lot of this book, is him projecting into the future about important things like the future with AI and what’s coming down the pike. Some people might say that’s happening today. Part of this was, I started getting lost in the words towards the end.

 

[00:05:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

I think AI, it’s been there since when we were born, artificial intelligence and things like, it used to be called … This is not exactly the same, but it’s very related, is neuro networks. That technology, I remember talking about that in college. With a lot of things, it’s re-branding the same concepts and trying to push it a little bit further.

 

[00:05:30]

Danny Ryan:

 

I took [LISPEN 00:05:47] at Georgia Tech. I remember the cons of the cutter. It’s just a crazy …

 

Tommy Ryan:I thought you talked kind of funny.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah. It is a language, Tommy. I do have a [lithp 00:06:02]. Yeah.

 

Danny Ryan:I think what I wanted to do for this conversation is maybe talk about some of the takeaways that you took from reading the book. How does this relate to us, because I’m just constantly trying to think of, “Okay, what does this mean to me? What is this taking away? What does this mean to a small Microsoft partner like us, some of these things that are in the book, and how does this, rediscovering yourself …” We’ve been in business for quite a while as well, and this path to rediscovering yourself, I think, happens often with us. It’s like, what did we start this all off for? What are we doing here?

 

[00:06:30]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Right. Where am I? Who am I?

 

Danny Ryan:Where am I? I think it’s good for a lot of companies who’ve been in business for a while to hit refresh. Part of it is coming back to, what’s your background? What was the original intent for why did you start this company?

 

[00:07:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Right.

 

Danny Ryan:This book reminded me of that, and so I think that was important. As far as the big takeaways, maybe let’s start going through some of those that you have from the book. What was one that first comes to mind?

 

Tommy Ryan:The big one for me is getting to know the person, Satya Nadella, the first part of the book. Didn’t know about his son with special needs. Really didn’t know he was wanting to be a cricket player, and that was his goal in life. The type of background that he came from, the type of parents.

 

Tommy Ryan:They always say, when you choose a customer or a customer chooses you or a partner chooses another partner, it’s not always the technology, it’s not always the, quote, “capability.” It’s the DNA and the people behind that. To me, that refreshes, I think, our commitment to Microsoft, knowing the person that is in charge to steer the ship.

 

[00:08:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Learning more about him, you felt that already just from how he spoke and the activities he was involved in early on as he became the CEO, but reading the book gave you a little bit more of the background. Oh, yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, that ties into the things that I’ve seen him do. That was a big takeaway for me.

 

[00:08:30]

Tommy Ryan:

 

The other one is that there’s a lot of work towards changing the mindset of Microsoft. The empathy is the key thing that he reinforced in the book. I think his view of this is more of a heterogeneous world that we’re in. It’s not a Microsoft-centric world and that we’re here to provide value in that ecosystem. We don’t always have to own it end-to-end.

 

[00:09:30]

Tommy Ryan:

 

There’s some companies that take that attitude of, we’ve got to control the whole experience. I think that extreme is like an Apple. Then there’s a services plumbing type organization, like Microsoft, that I think, in a sense, they’re still sticking to that. That’s been the theme from almost the get-go. It’s from their origin story of being an OS company that has evolved into productivity and server and now cloud mobility type solutions and architecture.

 

[00:10:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

I took away that there’s the same Microsoft but a Microsoft that values the person more. I think there’s more of that in the drive of the organization. There’s still going to be a lot of the things that come with being a very large company and trying to hold that together, but the person in charge, I think, is making sure it’s more than just that, that there is a personal component that makes Microsoft, Microsoft, and it’s not just all the things that they do but who they are as a organization. I took those things away.

 

Tommy Ryan:The future stuff, looking at AI and quantum computing, I saw that more as, we’re looking for what’s the future going to look like, that we’ve got to do that, the organization. We want to make sure we’re doing things that will be of value in the future. I think out of most companies that are out there at the scale of a Microsoft, Microsoft probably does the best at creating continuity over time, that they don’t leave people behind.

 

[00:11:30]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Of course, they have things that get sunset. They run a product for ten years and then support it ten years after its end of life, where they say, “We’re done. No more InfoPath,” but then you’ve got a ramp-down that I think really treats the enterprise well and I think serves them well long-term that enterprises have trust that Microsoft will not come up with this great idea, get me onboard, and then jump ship.

 

[00:12:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

I think it’s easy to get frustrated with things that they try and try to get traction but maybe don’t get traction. Some things get traction, like Teams. Some things don’t get traction, like To-Do, but Microsoft puts those things out there, and when something gets traction, it feels like they stand behind it. They might not be creating the best version of that from an innovation standpoint, but I think they’ve worked on making sure that they can keep it relevant as long as possible.

 

[00:12:30]

Tommy Ryan:

 

I think going to the cloud is big for them. It’s turning a big ship. I think they’re at the beginning of that ship being in the right direction. It’s something that I think we’re going to see a lot of benefit from the cloud being real today and customers ready for that. The whole AI, quantum computing, I try to just understand what is that and don’t really worry about it day-to-day but be aware of it.

 

Tommy Ryan:As we’re talking to customers, we might have a sense of, how does that relate to what we’re doing today, and don’t get anxious, because that will naturally come, and Microsoft will integrate that in a way that gives you more value in what you’re investing in and infrastructure and content, that that will have new features for you. Those are going to be the exciting, shiny new things, but we need to focus in, like you said, what is today, what’s real today, because you’re trying to solve a problem today. You’re not trying to solve a problem necessarily that’s ten years from now. Those are my main takeaways. A lot of detail in between, that the one last thing that they had was talking about the future and how automation impacts that.

 

Tommy Ryan:I was just talking yesterday to Pete. There was a comment of, “We’re talking to other services companies, and they’re struggling with getting good-size projects, because they’re doing things in Flow and Power Apps. It really is a lot of the same stuff, again. I think we’ve embraced it well to say, “That’s great. There’s going to be out-of-the-box things, but there’s always going to be a need to do it in a way beyond what tooling allows a Power user to create.”

 

[00:15:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

I think you look at, “Well, I could lose my job at McDonald’s, because they’re going to automate things within the store.” You can lose your job as a developer, because they’re automating a lot of things that developers do, a lot of code-generation that’s been out there for years, to be able to use Wizzy Wig tools, let’s say, to be able to generate the code for you. That will just get better and better.

 

[00:15:30]

Tommy Ryan:

 

I think we’re all, it’s not just necessarily the low-end, let’s say, low-end, and that’s probably a bad way to say that, but the low-skilled work that doesn’t require, let’s say, a college education. That has an uncertain future, but I think we also have the uncertain future.

 

[00:16:00]

Danny Ryan:

 

It’s affecting both white collar and blue collar.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, I think it is. You just want to embrace it in a way that keeps the spirit of, we want to add value in this world, and however we get there, we don’t know. There’s a lot of extreme in different ends of the spectrum of ideas of, how do you handle that when you get to that situation.

 

[00:16:30]

Danny Ryan:

 

I think the idea of focusing in on learning, being able to learn and adapt, is very important in this world and will continue to be, even … You’re just being able to reinvent yourself and being open, not having to feel like, “Well, I’ve done it this way for years, and I’ve done this for years,” and being open to, and, hopefully, you’re growing as a person, doing new, probably more exciting, having different types of opportunities that you can go after. There’s two ways of looking at it. “I’ve lost my old job,” or, “I’ve got a great new job.” I think it’s a part of that that it’s up to the individual to make their own choice as far as …

 

[00:17:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Yeah. It’s the anxiety of the unknown that’s in front of you and takes some courage to break through that over time. The same with us.

 

[00:17:30]

Danny Ryan:

 

I think some of the things that, one, is, I echo your getting to know him better. Also, I think there was a part of this that, I was glad that he has an engineer background. He’s a problem solver.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, yeah, he’s part of our team.

 

Danny Ryan:He definitely is involved in sales and all the different functions within the company. It’s nice to have somebody who’s a leader who’s been in the trenches.

 

[00:18:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Right.

 

Danny Ryan:I just think that’s such an important thing for somebody who you’re looking up to, that they’ve been there and done that. I think that was one of the things. As I look at the book and see some of the things I was amazed with, was their move from trying to go to the new subscription model of things.

 

[00:18:30]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Right.

 

Danny Ryan:At first, as you and I know, you’re trying to do a product, and, okay, we’re going to charge people ten dollars per month for this product. We made a sale. That model of me being over to a subscription-based model, man, at first it looks like it just … What are we doing here? Why are we doing this? Making the ten bucks today as opposed to one dollar per month forever at first looks like it’s like, why are we doing this? We’re giving up nine bucks today that we could be making today. I think making that transition and them going through that transition was something important that he needed to lead the company through.

 

[00:19:00]

Danny Ryan:

 

Now they see it. Now it’s all there, and they’re seeing the reoccurring revenue that’s coming in. It’s a success, but I think there’s also, there was a lot of having to convince people inside of Microsoft to leave money on the table today to go after more money tomorrow.

 

[00:19:30]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Right. Yeah, yeah.

 

Danny Ryan:That was something that I admire that they were able to do that, because you have to be forward thinking to be able to do that. Some of my favorite parts of the book were hearing about his son. I think that’s where all the empathy, where a lot of that comes from, and seeing how that impacted him, to see an engineer have something that he can’t fix.

 

[00:20:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Right. Yeah, yeah.

 

Danny Ryan:What do we do when things are not playing out like we expected them to, and how does that change you, and trying to understand someone else’s perspective. I think that’s very important. We want our leaders to be that way. We want them to be able to step aside from themselves and understand the people that they are leading.

 

[00:20:30]

Danny Ryan:

 

Some of the other things that, I think the stories were great in here. I think as a, by sort of relate this back to being a small Microsoft partner, I think there were some years where we started forming other partnerships with other companies and started doing some other stuff outside of Microsoft, but reading this book, I think, has helped to say, we’re going in the right direction with them as a, playing a very, probably unique, and a very niche role within the consulting world that we do, but feeling good, like they’re a good partner for us to focus in on.

 

[00:21:00]

Danny Ryan:

 

I think it’s exciting, I think the innovation that’s going on there, you’ve got Ignite coming up and just seeing what’s coming from them with regards to collaboration and things that our clients are interested in. They’re definitely not sitting on their hands. That’s definitely a good thing. I think that would be something where we would be looking, if we didn’t see the innovation there, we would be looking at other partners and what are we doing.

 

[00:21:30]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Right.

 

Danny Ryan:Overall, good book. Any sort of last things you would wrap up with? I have one thing here that I can go through. It’s fine if you don’t, but I wanted to wrap up with something here.

 

[00:22:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

You go ahead.

 

Danny Ryan:This is the last paragraph right before the afterward, and it’s about John Battelle, Wired’s co-founding editor, once wrote, “… that business is humanity’s most resilient, iterative, and productive mechanism for creating change in the world.” Then he says, “He’s right, and we business leaders need to take seriously our responsibilities as change leaders. I don’t say this with the purpose of so-called social responsibility, which is important, but can also serve as little more than good PR. I say it because a better world is better for business. It’s important to be dedicated to creating great products, serving customers, and earning profits for our investors, but it’s not sufficient. We also need to think about the impact of our actions on the world and its citizens long into the future.”

 

[00:23:00]

Tommy Ryan:

 

Cool.

 

Danny Ryan:Good way to end?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, yeah.

 

Danny Ryan:Thanks for doing this, Tommy.

 

Danny Ryan:Thank you, everybody, for listening. We’ll see what the next book is in the book club and continue.

 

Danny Ryan:We’ll want to do one after you go to Ignite. Maybe we have a conversation beforehand, before heading out there, and then you also have, you’re doing a little road trip coming up here, right?

 

Tommy Ryan:Road trip.

 

Danny Ryan:To Texas.

 

Tommy Ryan:Oh, to Texas, yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

[00:23:30]

Danny Ryan:

 

You’re looking at me, “What are you talking about??

 

Tommy Ryan:Road trip.

 

Danny Ryan:Road trip? Where am I going? You’re heading out to Dallas and to Austin, right?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yes.

 

Danny Ryan:That’s the beginning of September?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yes, the first week in September.

 

Danny Ryan:Cool. We’ll have to skip that week and then catch up the week after …

 

Tommy Ryan:Sounds good.

 

Danny Ryan:Thank you, everybody, for listening. Have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye-bye.

 

Tommy Ryan:Bye-bye.

 

Additional Credits

Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

empty.authorHit Refresh by Satya Nadella Takeaways