Harnessing/embracing a restless nature. I’m very restless and always thinking of new ideas. I’ve learned to make best use of this by being choosy about what ideas to pursue and by being clear to those around me who find it difficult to keep up. I’ve learned to be respectful of their time and remember that not everyone goes the same speed that I do.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sean Wallbridge. He is a dedicated Consultant, relentlessly working with his team to help solve all the business technology problems thrown at his company, Regroove
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in North York, Ontario in 1972. I grew up in Malton in Mississauga, Ontario and spent most of my free time playing music and sports like baseball and soccer. At age 19 I travelled through the US and Europe with a musical preforming group called Up with People. When that tour was over, I moved out to Victoria, BC Canada to start my adult life.
I have a wonderful wife and two fantastic kids. Besides mucking in SharePoint and preaching the word of Office 365, I’m also a dedicated Consultant, relentlessly working with our team to help solve all the business technology problems thrown at us through my company, Regroove. We’re based in beautiful British Columbia, in the capital city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. I am a 10-time recipient of the Microsoft MVP award and work to build awareness for SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 in Victoria through the Victoria Office 365 User Group.
I’m always open to learning new things and have an endless curiosity for technology and its application in our everyday lives. At Regroove, we’re focusing on revolutionizing the way businesses work by helping them migrate to and utilize cloud technology. Say goodbye to patching, security updates, and manual backups! We don’t babysit servers anymore, and you shouldn’t either. We’re selecting meaningful, cool, or unique projects to dedicate our time to, and working with clients who align with our values.
When I’m not making trouble at Regroove, hanging out with the family, or pretending to have other hobbies, I’m also a drummer in the band SuperSauce. — and we recently created not only a fun weekly event called “Rockstar Nights”, but we also built a complete Music Bingo service to support it called Rockstar Bingo. Check us out sometime, we don’t suck.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Tell the truth, it’s easier to remember. While I was never one to tell lies, I learned this quote from a friend long ago and realized by always telling the truth that I don’t have to carry the burden of a lie that could grow and grow and grow and I’ve seen others who have struggled with that.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I have listened to the audio book Goodbye Things three times and have encouraged my entire family to do the same to embrace at least some of the idea of Japanese minimalism. The less you own the less you have to worry about and clean. It’s very freeing.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
For the last 17 years I’ve owned and overseen a technology consulting company that helped businesses maintain their technology. In more recent years our focus had shifted to Cloud technology and moving those systems to the Cloud. My whole adult work experience outside of a few initial jobs has been in consulting within Microsoft Technology for business.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
While we expected Cloud technology business to pick up, initially that wasn’t the case as most budgets were frozen. Around the same time, I was looking for opportunities to help my band secure more gigs. In bars and pubs you’re only usually welcomed back if you draw a large audience of friends and our band is very good, very professional but also very introverted. I wanted to experiment with a concept of live band bingo a concept we call “Rockstar Nights” which is music bingo but the numbers are replaced by songs and portions of the songs are played by the band. However, during a pandemic handing around a piece of paper and daubers wouldn’t be safe and is also time consuming to administer. As I had a talented design and development team, I tasked our team with creating a web mobile based app to replace the paper and dauber concept.
We very quickly discovered that people were loving this idea and that it would also translate to being played over Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings. In December, we decided to make the platform free to use for the month for businesses in British Columbia so they would have a way to connect to enjoy music bingo integrated with Spotify for their holiday parties. Due to the overwhelming response, we have since introduced Rockstar Bingo to the market and are getting interest from bars, DJ’s, event coordinators and online influencers. We’re very excited to see where this goes.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
I didn’t have a specific Aha moment, it was actually an idea I had parked 4 years ago. Rockstar Nights in an earlier form was initially karaoke with a live band but we only did it for about 2 months because of how much work it was. I always thought that if I were to try it again I would want something that was more random, more fun and engaging with the crowd and less work preparation wise for the band.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Rockstar Nights is growing every week and that’s exciting and really a personal side hustle with friends. Rockstar Bingo is growing rapidly with more and more venues and hosts that work within venues requesting demos and signing up to be professional hosts. Also, several online hosts have adopted the Rockstar Bingo platform to incorporate into their shows. Most notably several related to fans of Disney.
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?
Naturally I always thank my wife and family for their support and putting up with me and my restless nature, but also I have a very talented team. Specifically, Matt and Gemma on our team have been absolutely instrumental in building the platform and getting the platform into peoples’ awareness.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
We’ve been amazed at how people are finding us even before we were trying to be found from places like Israel, South Africa, London, Ireland and places in the US. On the more personal side with Rockstar Nights, we’ve created an outlet for several of us to meet every week to get out of our little COVID cocoons. The whole production crew looks forward to it every week.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1) Why sales is so important to grow your business
For most of our company’s existence I thought sales were icky and preferred to get all new business from referrals. This however, leads to very slow growth and becomes impossible as you try to grow larger. I learned that selling really is just being passionate about something and being fully committed to it and that enthusiasm leads to sales happening. I don’t need to be pushy, I just need to be available.
2) Harnessing/embracing a restless nature
I’m very restless and always thinking of new ideas. I’ve learned to make best use of this by being choosy about what ideas to pursue and by being clear to those around me who find it difficult to keep up. I’ve learned to be respectful of their time and remember that not everyone goes the same speed that I do.
3) Developing an App is expensive, but putting it into the marketplace is more expensive
It can be expensive to build an app and require great talent, but if you don’t explain, market and sell that app, nobody will buy it. The ratio of development to marketing is probably 20%/80% in my experience.
4) Separate the rules of entrepreneur, specialist/expert and manager
I read a great book whose name now eludes me that talked about how you can’t be the entrepreneur, expert and manager if you want the business to grow healthfully. There are different rules for different approaches in work and mindset.
5) Hire for emotional intelligence, then resume
In our primary business in Cloud technology, we need people with good attitudes, good communication skills and a desire to learn something new every day. Skills change rapidly now, therefore it’s more about your approach than what skills you’ve learned and probably already forgotten.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
Staying in the present and taking it one day at a time. I often don’t know what day it is, but that might also be because I own a business. Taking time for naps, meditation, walking and constantly asking myself what’s most important now and making decisions based on that.
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?
Be kind to one another.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I would like to have lunch with Mats Sundin, a retired hockey player and former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. I really admired his style, work ethic and quiet confidence. He never complained, even when he had to carry the team at times.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!