As the SBS world turns…


A little while back I decided not to play a role in the neverending SBS world drama and perpetual line of jackasses posturing for attention and influence (but seemingly uninterested in doing any real work). I’ve done so primarily to optimize my time spent at work but mostly to give myself some focus and stick to the plan – what I’ve found out is that the most successful people in this business do not play in the drama either, they are taking money to the bank and Friday’s off.

But a part of this gig and keeping the conversation open is talking to my partners, my employees, random person that guessed my work extension or got the bat phone from one of my IT friends. And so even indirectly I get to feel some of the drama. I am going to share just the three top jackasseries of the week so you can see just what you get when you become rich and famous in the SBS land and everyone brings you their dirt. Here are the three mini-blog stories:


Congratulations to the SBS team for releasing SBS 2008 to manufacturing! Although we’ve made a business decision not to make SBS a part of our business going forward, you can’t say no to free training and we should be familiar with the product regardless of whether it’s going to be raised in a support request twice or make $20 mil a quarter. So I sent the link to a few folks:

What is shameful here is that all the seminars are free and that the negative commentary came from my own team. The complaint was that it was a very basic and at best a sales presentation for SBS. Now this is shameful for two reasons: 1) Of course it’s a sales presentation, Microsoft’s webcasts are always dripping with sales junk and worthless notion of “market size” and “opportunity” selling the dream of fortunes to those only clinging to the hope of success and 2) most SBSers are not highly skilled IT engineers that will ever concern themselves with anything out of the scope covered by a wizard. So Microsoft designed the first training to target it’s core SBSer base – stop whining, it was free and you got paid to learn. Worth checking out.

Successful Sale of Jealousy

Got plenty of jealous (some even angry) commentary about Arlin selling out to Microsoft. Oh dear god no, more people will try to use Grove now! 🙂

Personally, kudos to Arlin. He has done what no other SBSer organization has been able to – to sell Microsoft on committing some serious support to the SBS community and actual business training. In a single step he’s set a bar to entry into the training and an application to make sure people really focused on growing a business aren’t stuck in a conversation with guys like Geek Squad Dave pounding their chest at how great of an ethical consultant they have become.

Seems like a good deal to me. Personally, I feel this one is more about jealousy that someone finally managed to bring Microsoft to the table and put their pen to the checkbook. To be honest, I’d throw some of my people into this if we hadn’t already packed our schedules. Worth checking out.

Triumphant Ignorance

This one belongs in a class of its own so I’ve saved it for last:

No matter how you want to score this, my request for comments from those who found the last Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference to be worth the effort has yielded no responses. What it did get was yet another Inner Circle member, who reported that the 2008 event was a waste of time. There haven’t been many reports from smaller VARs. But if I were Microsoft, I’d worry considerably about the number of award winners and Inner Circle members who said they only sent skeleton crews, or even just one person

If you are going to the Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference for presentations you’ve failed. Miserably. At concept and at understanding the opportunity:

“Let me see. The richest, most successful IT company in the world. The most successful IT companies that have partnered or won with Microsoft all in one place for a week. The $2K entrance fee keeping out the riffraff. Ability to communicate and try to find opportunities in this pool. My god, a person could transform their company through the relationships made there. So much business, so many relationships to st..

But nah, screw it, I’m here for the great breakfast and PowerPoint slides I can watch later!!!! I am here for Microsoft!!!” FAIL.

Folks, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and I will keep on repeating it no matter how many of you don’t have the balls to admit the following to yourself: If you want to be the best, you have to strive to be like the best and the only way to do that is to learn from the best. So another fall comes, another collection of riff-raff festivals where people will fall over one another bitching about the exact same problems they had the previous year, at the exact same point in business maturity as they had last year, with the exact same process they had the last year and next year they will come back to the same place, albeit marginally richer, to bitch and moan about the same troubles they have had for years without an ounce of motivation or ability to make something better of themselves.

You gotta aim higher. There is no shame in being successful. But for that to happen you need to let go of your insecurities and the need to be the king of the wadding pool and maybe strive to be the last person in the Olympic race. Not everyone is destined to be IBM. But don’t sell yourself short either.


This is the life and times of SBSers. Is it any surprise that the more successful people don’t pay attention to it? As you can see, not really.

6 Responses to As the SBS world turns…

  1. Vlad

    A few of the folks from HTG notified me of your post regarding “selling out” to Microsoft. First let me say thanks for your comments and support. I don’t have or spend much time worrying about what people think of what we do because like you, I understand that not everyone will agree with it anyway. Being an entrepreneur causes one to just get it done and not worry whether it is popular or mainstream. Success comes to those who do – not those who sit on the sidelines as commentators.

    Microsoft has stepped up to help us offer something that is of value to those partners who want to grow their business. The online version of HTG is not designed for the masses, because the mass of partners in the channel don’t want to really grow their business. There is an overwhelming majority that want to be lifestyle partners – have enough business to make a good living and be content with that. Some days I sort of wish I was one of them. But because of the entrepreneurial seizures I continue to have, that doesn’t fit me. Having spent 10 years of my 23 year career in this industry as a sole proprietor or with only one employee – I know how hard it is to grow and made a lot of bonehead mistakes trying to figure it out. And I certainly don’t claim to have that done yet but we have grown to over 17M in revenue with 80 employees so we do have some clue what to do.

    This program is designed for those partners who really want to grow their company. From my experience, you don’t do that alone. You need to have strong vendor partnerships and leverage those relationships in many ways to be successful in growing. I don’t really consider that selling out – to us it is partnering with the companies we are building our business around. At HTS that is Microsoft, HP and Sonicwall. We go to market everyday with those three and that relationship has treated us very well. Some would say it is selling out – I would tell you it is part of the secret to success.

    Microsoft has stepped up to make the online version of HTG possible. No other vendor has been willing to do that. They have basically provided us the backend resources we need as well as rewarding partners who complete the course with enough value to make it FREE (at completion with the copy of SBS2008 you will recieve). I am not sure how that can be a bad thing.

    One of the problems in the channel today is partner profitability and growth. We saw it last year in the pilot program we ran (again with Microsoft so this is not new at all – we did it last year as well). We started with 132 partners last year and a mere 68 completed the course. Some would say that is pretty good but certainly not for HTG standards and not in running a successful program. When someone drops out or fails to fully participate it robs the remaining members of the group of the value that spot needs to provide. HTG is about sharing – not getting. It is totally based on the pricipal of giving more than recieving. If you want to somewhat understand our philosophy – read the little book called “The Go Giver” and it will give a glimpse of the attitude HTG members have to have to succeed. So there is a bar to participate that we hope is high enough to keep all but the totally committed from signing up. We don’t make any money offering this – it goes to pay the facilitators, the content development, the administration and the costs of our celebration event next summer at WPC. But our goal is to build strong partners and give to the channel because I have seen over and over in my life the impact of living that principle. Good things come to those who give.

    I think the real focus should be on the fact that a multi-billion dollar corporation that has really little to gain is making investments in small partners in SBSC. Let’s be real, and Vlad has pointed it out before, we cause a lot of issues without selling a lot of product. Even at HTS our sales are miniscule in the grand scheme of things for Microsoft. I realize they really don’t need us. But I am very grateful they allow us to build our success on their products and are willing to partner with us to train, market and drive sales. I will continue to “sell out” to Microsoft because that is how good business happens. To me, it will be called partnering and that is the spirit in which it will happen so it can be a win – win for all.

    Thanks again Vlad for all you do to help drive the community.

  2. karlp says:

    Making money by building the right partnership with Microsoft is not selling out.

    More comments on my blog

  3. Being a proud HTG member for 2 years and also a facilitator of the Online experience last year and the Canadian Group, HTG is the best business decision I made in the past two years. My company grow $1M top line revenue in 2007 and we are on pace this year to blow that number out of the water.

    I agree with Arlin that business is all about relationships, positive and committed relationships. Yes, it is OK to voice your concerns and improvement in a constructive manner to help grow something better.

    Microsoft, SonicWALL and DELL are my strongest business relationships. We provide whatever we can, pipeline (yes, Pipeline to DELL) and we receive the rewards of this strong relationship.

    Read “The Go-Giver”, it will change how you view the world.


    Stuart Crawford
    in Harlan, Iowa (right now)

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  5. vlad says:


    I really hope and wish you actually read the blog post instead of yet again spamming it with a link to your web site.

    The comments on selling out were not mine, they were rumors that I have been hearing from my partners.


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