I’d love to see a global movement, starting locally, and morphing nationally to ensure every kid that comes onto this earth has a shot at appropriate early childhood development resources. This is truly an investment that has been proven to pay dividends and as they say, it takes a village. Simplistically, a child from birth would be identified as a potential “at risk child” for a variety of reasons (financial, social, familial), and qualify for very targeted early childhood development involving people, not just government programs. We spend so much time, money and energy on fixing kids and young adults after they are broken instead of investing up front to try and prevent the missteps in the first place. This would impact every single one of us today and in the future as we are investing in our future neighbors.
I had the pleasure to interview Christopher Claudio. Christopher is the CEO of the leading national Managed Service Provider (MSP), Logically.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Sure, I was a sophomore in college majoring in Political Science and I helped some friends convert their paper resume into a digital resume with a picture and post to their online profiles at the University of Maryland. I was dialing up from an off-campus location on a 2600 baud modem and getting connected to what was the early version of the internet in the mid-nineties. As I immersed myself into the technology, I realized I had a passion for all facets of IT, from the fundamental compute platforms, to code development, to network architecture. Marry that with a little bit of God given talent and that launched my journey into tech entrepreneurialism starting my first business that same year in college. From there I was hooked and couldn’t consume enough of everything tech related which ultimately led to the formal launching of Logically (formerly Winxnet) in 1999 as a full services IT support and software development firm.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
There were so many early challenges from making payroll, to not being able to make a mortgage payment, to simply not vacationing for years as we were getting the business going. Reflecting back on the early days there were certainly numerous challenges but really one of the earliest setbacks was not only financial, but also equally emotional. As you know the first few years of a start-up are the riskiest and the time when most fail. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I was keenly aware of the data here and both my business partner and I refused to become a statistic. That said, in our second year of business, I was working on a three-month long web platform re-architecture project for a client which included a complete rebuild of not only the technical architecture but also a re-homing of the web hosting platform. This was one of the dotcoms that barely made it through the late nineties and eventually died in the early 2000s. By all measures the project was a grand success being on-time and under budget, but the client refused to pay on purely emotional and rather ridiculous grounds. I pushed and pushed but there was no getting paid, and it was the first and fortunately one of the only times we have had a client just outright take advantage of us. The financial pain was acute, but the emotional pain of injustice was excruciating, and I recall it being one of the few times throughout the history of the business that I re-considered my entrepreneurial choices.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When you grow up with very little, your perspective on “real problems” is quite different and consequently this was a minor set-back in the grand scheme of life problems. This perspective has always helped me push on with whatever problems I may be facing on a day-to-day basis simply because it can almost always be worse. In addition, every experience is truly a learning moment, and potentially a teaching opportunity. In addition, I believe the drive to continue pressing forward regardless of the hardship is a requirement of leadership.
So, how are things going today? How did grit lead to your eventual success?
Today things are rather incredible as we are now a nationally recognized and leading Managed Service Provider (MSP), with offices throughout the country and executing on a strategy that is transforming the MSP industry as we know it. Our innovation through Care Teams and OpLogicTM, the industry’s first and only intelligent MSP platform, is fundamentally shifting the way end-to-end IT support is provided for organizations of all sizes. While we have been in business for nearly 20 years, we are endeavoring on a transformational journey in our space that is just getting started so it truly feels like a startup environment all over again and the energy is palpable.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Sure can, that’s an easy one. Early in my career I was testing user profiles on quota management software for a 2500-person company and foolishly tested on a live environment. Classic confident/cocky IT professional move! It was early on a Monday morning and I had installed and configured the software over the weekend ready to roll-out in pilot form on a few of my colleagues. Being the humorist I think I am, I gleefully applied the quota and associated warning message to what I thought was a small group of 3 users in IT. Nope, people started logging in across the company and received the popup message “Your quota is over the limit, you’re fired!” The policy had been mistakenly applied to the profiles directory for the entire organization so anyone that logged onto their computer that morning was going to get the message. Fortunately, after the first few calls, I shut the software down, but we did catch about 20 employees. Big lesson here is test in a testing environment whenever possible, and measure 5 times before cutting. Very humbling.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
There are several tangible differentiators that allow us stand out from the crowd of not only technology companies, but businesses in general. First and foremost, our people are some of the most talented and genuine professionals on the planet and I am fortunate to be surrounded by such an extraordinary group. Second, over the past 10+ years we have developed an intelligent MSP platform called OplogicTM that automates and manages nearly all facets of the foundational elements of IT. Whether in the cloud, on premise, or a hybrid model of compute, OpLogic is a fundamental shift in the support model for MSPs that minimizes security risks, decreases IT costs, and drives uptime metrics up significantly. We are the only company with this technology, which powerfully differentiates Logically in a very crowded market.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Surround yourself with great people. The influence of colleagues on your daily attitude is proven so the importance of surrounding yourself with people that not only share your core values, but actively exhibit them, is key to not burning out. In addition, do what you love and find a way to leverage that passion to be the driving force behind your every move. Without passion and energy in what you are doing, it quickly can become just a job.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
This is a long list, and I am truly blessed to have had the many people in my life at different times to be there as a mentor, a friend, a colleague, a disciplinarian, and at times a simple ear to bend for advice. I have to start with my wife Alyson who has been there since nearly the beginning and seen (and experienced) the good, the bad, and the ugly. Next would be my older siblings who not only had a hand in raising me, but consistently acted as both grounding advisors and relentless support vehicles. Lastly would be a man named Chris Emmons who is now retired, but the former President and CEO of Gorham Savings Bank in Maine. Chris taught me the importance of the tight alliance between business and community. Not only did Chris mentor me on being a better CEO and business leader, but he consistently raised the bar in engaging the community and I continue to be in awe of his life’s work including present day as a retiree.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have been actively involved in my community in the greater Portland Maine region for over 20+ years. It is never enough! I have been fortunate to be able to financially contribute to many organizations and truly made it a personal mission to support organizations that focus on helping kids. I served on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters for many years, which as most are aware is an organization that matches at-risk youth with mentors or “Bigs”. In addition to financial support, I’ve made an effort to stay involved with local schools and organizations in the form of mentoring, program support and advising for emerging community leaders. If I have a regret, it is that I don’t have more time to spend with great organizations like the United Way of Greater Portland, where unbelievable work is being done on a very local level to improve the lives of so many people. Perhaps not surprisingly, it is the one area outside of Logically and my family that I wish I could devote more time to and to do so in the coming years.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Hire slow and target the best talent
- Surround yourself with people that can challenge and teach you
- Learn to delegate early
- Invest in people/culture
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Referencing my earlier community focus, I’d love to see a global movement, starting locally, and morphing nationally to ensure every kid that comes onto this earth has a shot at appropriate early childhood development resources. This is truly an investment that has been proven to pay dividends and as they say, it takes a village. Simplistically, a child from birth would be identified as a potential “at risk child” for a variety of reasons (financial, social, familial), and qualify for very targeted early childhood development involving people, not just government programs. We spend so much time, money and energy on fixing kids and young adults after they are broken instead of investing up front to try and prevent the missteps in the first place. This would impact every single one of us today and in the future as we are investing in our future neighbors.
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About the author:
Carly Martinetti is a writer and entrepreneur who previously founded two award-winning pet tech companies. She loves to explore the intricacies surrounding what makes a successful business leader, their passions, and motivations to improve the world as we know it.