Jay Myers of ISI: “Don’t Take Your Eye off the Ball”

Don’t Take Your Eye off the Ball If you’re committed to taking chances and changing the world, don’t get distracted by investors, talk about mergers and acquisitions, or the value of your business. Focus on creating that change. Your business’s value is not based on what you think it’s worth, but on what someone is willing […]

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Don’t Take Your Eye off the Ball

If you’re committed to taking chances and changing the world, don’t get distracted by investors, talk about mergers and acquisitions, or the value of your business. Focus on creating that change. Your business’s value is not based on what you think it’s worth, but on what someone is willing to pay for its success.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jay B. Myers, an entrepreneur, author, mentor, and the former Founder/CEO of Interactive Solutions, Inc. (ISI), a firm that specializes in videoconferencing, distance learning, telemedicine and audio-visual sales and support. With a background in sales, and a heart for entrepreneurship, Jay and his team grew ISI to a 25 million dollars company before selling it in 2018. Since then, Jay has spent his time mentoring other entrepreneurs about the ins and outs of business ownership. Jay will be releasing his third book, Rounding Third and Heading for Home, this spring.

When not writing, Jay spends his time sharing advice and anecdotes of his career to business schools and professional organizations, mentoring young entrepreneurs, spending time with family, and catching a Memphis Tigers baseball game whenever possible.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I started my career in corporate sales selling printing equipment and then years later selling copier-duplicators for Eastman Kodak. My first introduction into technology was when I joined Hewlett Packard in the late 80’s and sold mini-computers. It was at that time that I recognized that there was a lot of opportunity in the tech industry which lead me to accepting the position as the data products manager for a regional telecom company. That company introduced me to videoconferencing in mid 1990 which changed my life and career forever. In December 1995 I was fired from my job (on my 39th birthday) and struggled for several months to support my wife and two children. With my back against the wall I made the decision to go out on my own and subsequently started Interactive Solutions(ISI) in March 1996. I started ISI primarily to earn a living and feed my family but I also was passionate in my belief that videoconferencing was going to change not only the business world but education(distance learning) and healthcare(telemedicine) as well. Fortunately my instincts were right!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

When ISI had been in business for about 3 months I got a very unexpected call at my office. The person at the other end of the call identified himself as Kemmons Wilson. At first I really thought one of my friends was playing a prank on me. And i thought to myself..sure, Kemmons Wilson, the business legend who started Holiday Inns was interested in talking to me about videoconferencing… Really? When I took a deep breath and verified it really was him we arranged a video demonstration the next day. Although he didn’t buy anything he did give me some priceless encouragement as he was leaving.. He told me “You hang in there..you’re going to make some money with this business” Well as a practicing Catholic i thought the Pope had just blessed me! And it turned out that once again Mr. Wilson was right!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I started my business (ISI) three months after I was fired from my job as the director of videoconferencing for a regional telecom company. I put my heart and soul into building the video business for this company and grew the revenue for my department to 5m dollars when the technology was still in its infancy.. After I was fired, I not only felt betrayed by the telecom company I was angry that they had been put into such a difficult and vulnerable position And all of this happened a few weeks before Christmas! I remember my father giving me some priceless advice at the time that I still think about almost everyday. He told me that he understood that sometimes life is just not fair and that I had a good reason to be angry at my former employer. But he followed up with “if you want your company to be successful you need to get control of your emotions and recognize “that people don’t like dealing with angry people”..” they like dealing with people who have a positive attitude and project optimism about their company’s goods and services etc.” That advice proved to be not just be a business lesson but a valuable life lesson as well.

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 about that?

When I was working for Eastman Kodak I met a man named Jim Murphy who was the manager of copier services at FedEx . Jim was one of those hard nosed, demanding type of customers but I could tell down deep he really had a heart of gold. At the time i was really struggling and had lost my confidence which was a bad place to be as a salesman Thanks to Jim’s encouragement and support my career at Kodak finally took off. I learned so much about business and life from him. Among his “pearls of wisdom” include 1) Always know your numbers whether it be in dealing with contract negotiations, pricing options, sales commissions, revenue/ profit totals etc. 2) Its ok to trust but always verify! 3) Don’t take no’s from people who can’t say yes 4) Look at every job you have as an opportunity to improve your skill set that can help advance your career in the future.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I feel that by bringing leading edge technology to rural areas for education and healthcare we were bettering people’s lives. People in small towns all across the MId South had access to specialized healthcare and educational support that they never had before. To me it was never about just making money but more importantly improving people’s lives and leaving our mark on rural communities for years to come . Also, I have to say I always took a lot of pride in my 50+ employees who grew their careers with ISI. So many of my employees joined ISI when they were single and lived in apartments and years later got married, bought homes and had children.. ISI truly was one big family! Through the years I have to say that it also gratified me that my employees had enough confidence in both me and ISI to invest in their future. You cannot put a dollar value on that! FYI- I never felt burdened by the pressure of having to support so many employees.. In fact I was inspired by the challenge to be an even better leader each and every day and successfully guide them into the future.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

ISI was one of the first purveyors of video conferencing equipment in offices. The ability to meet with remote offices or international partners via video conferencing to host meetings without physical limitations means that people can progress in every way. More efficiency, better communication, and a chance to be as “in-person” as possible without a doubt has shaped the world of communication.

What’s next? More one-to-one connection. Zoom is already allowing video backgrounds and AI-based filters. Collaboration tools will become more mainstream and go beyond a simple chat function. We’re not meeting about the work anymore, we’re meeting to get work done Also, .Companies like PEXIP are leading the way for cross platform connectivity as well as integration with healthcare EMR platforms like EPIC.

How do you think this might change the world?

The explosive growth of video connectivity is going to force so many businesses, schools, hospitals etc. to rethink what the workplace really needs to look like. I think there is going to be a big change in the commercial real estate market and that the days of building or leasing large offices is mostly over with. I do think there will be more hybrid environments in the future with people working in both their office and from home. I also think technology providers who focus on “at home” solutions have a massive opportunity for growth.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

The biggest drawback to the widespread deployment of remote connectivity and videoconferencing solutions is that while it helps solve the problem of slowing down the spread of COVID 19 and has allowed companies to keep doing business, it has also created a lot of serious isolation issues. For a lot of people working from home has the potential to be psychologically damaging for many years to come. One of the dynamics of working in an office is not just doing the job but getting to know people better by socializing, coffee breaks, lunches etc.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

Certainly the pandemic has been the biggest tipping point for widespread adoption of videoconferencing technology. I myself have been in the industry for over 30 years and I can safely say that NONE of us ever imagined that the day would come that videoconferencing would be so widely deployed and that it would be viewed as a NECESSITY and not a LUXURY. It is also very gratifying to see vendors like Zoom go from being a novelty a few years ago to becoming a household name today. The same can be said for telehealth with so many doctors and physicians conducting virtual versus in person office visits in light of the pandemic. That being said I hate that it took a pandemic for people to start realizing that videoconferencing is not only a great tool that saves time and money and increases productivity but truly does represent a better way to work.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

There needs to be more vendors that offer video meeting and calling platform solutions in order for organizations to simplify dynamic video collaboration at scale making it possible to schedule and host meetings instantly on any device. Cloud based videoconferencing solutions need to be infinitely scalable. It is also important to be able to add capacities as an organization’s needs change with no need for multiple deployments or complex licensing. There needs to be more vendors who provide a flexible scalable video conference platform that enables interoperability between video conference systems including Zoom, Cisco, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Meet & Skype for Business as well.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

If I could have shared my crystal ball vision with others, this is exactly what I had in mind when video communication was being developed. The ability to connect regardless of location, to work together, and to get a bit closer to that in-person collaboration than a conference call ever could.

As we’ve all been stuck in our homes, apartments, or remote locations, video conferencing has proven to be necessity, to facilitate human interaction. From family calls, keeping in touch with friends, or keeping work moving, video conferencing has been front and center.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Don’t Take Your Eye off the Ball

If you’re committed to taking chances and changing the world, don’t get distracted by investors, talk about mergers and acquisitions, or the value of your business. Focus on creating that change. Your business’s value is not based on what you think it’s worth, but on what someone is willing to pay for its success.

2. We All Need a Mentor

Mentors have background knowledge, and more importantly experience, to understand your journey and help you see things from a different angle. There’s great value in listening to someone who has been there, done that. Seek out a mentor you trust, and when the time is right, pay it forward and become a mentor to others.

3. Don’t Burn Bridges

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my career is that you never know where people will end up in the future and when your paths may cross again. Don’t burn bridges for a few moments of selfish gain. Your reputation is your biggest asset in business.

4. Reinvent your Business Before it’s Too Late

A successful company can never rest on its laurels. If you’re too afraid to grow or evolve, you’re telling your employees and colleagues that you’ve had enough success. The result is being left behind. Focus on the future, listen to what your customers want, and don’t be afraid to fail.

5. Customer Service can Make or Break Your Business

Your Customer Service sets the tone for your brand, and business reputation. Consider the resources invested in keeping clients happy versus gaining new ones, and build your reputation based in loyalty to your customer base.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Human connection and the understanding that relationships are the most valuable — with ourselves, with our colleagues, and with our family and friends. I’ve learned great life lessons through relationships and mentors that can’t be learned in business school.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My new book Rounding Third and Heading for Home is available in eBook format now, and will be published in June 2021. More information can be found at www.JayMyersCEO.com

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


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