Bellini runs one of the few companies that is a market leader and still family owned. He has an interesting philosophy that is not about generating excessive profits but about helping technology teams in an ever changing and challenging environment
ET: Who is your inspiration and why?
Arnie Bellini: Elon Musk is not only my inspiration, he is my hero for all the obvious reasons such as the fantastic technology that he is putting out to the world. But, mostly, the value of that technology. The forward thinking use of technology to solve big problems that the world has today, renewable energy, electric vehicles. Yes, sooner or later, we’re going to use up the resources on this planet. We probably ought to become an interplanetary species, right? These are all really forward thinking concepts but he’s using today’s capabilities and today’s technology to solve those problems, problems that no one would commercially think could be done.
These are problems that you would think only a government could solve or a regulatory agency. He’s taking a very proactive approach because he knows that technology holds the hope for a better future. He knows that if it’s applied in the right way, that we can solve these problems. What is really inspirational about Elon Musk and all of his companies is he’s actually doing it in the form of a corporation. It’s not a foundation. It’s a for-profit corporation. I think that he is an exemplar for companies and for business leaders because he’s taking a very socially responsible approach to his businesses and the problems that he’s choosing to solve.
He’s very admirable and it’s not about making money, it’s about solving the big problems. I mean, what’s the stated purpose of Tesla? To cause the world to adopt electric vehicles and renewable energy and to reorganise and rethink the entire transportation system.
ET: How do you describe your leadership style?
Arnie Bellini: Inclusive.
ET: What are your personal challenges for the next 12 months
Arnie Bellini: I want to complete another Ironman in the next 12 months.
ET: That’s impressive. What was your darkest business day?
Arnie Bellini: It was losing a key employee that I had mentored for so many years and had great admiration, love for. It wasn’t that I was upset that he was leaving the company. It was that I was upset we would no longer be able to work together because I enjoyed that so much. He was a key employee, key colleague. Colleague, not employee, key colleague. I get very attached to people. I’m very loyal. And, that still hurts, believe it or not. That still hurts.
ET: What was your proudest moment?
Arnie Bellini: My proudest moment was the birth of my children, that’s easy. Can’t be much prouder than that. To see another human being be created that’s pretty good stuff.
ET: Can you share a tip for founding CEOs?
Arnie Bellini: Yes. stay optimistic, stay enthusiastic and lead by example.
ET: What was the latest business book you read?
Arnie Bellini: The latest one was Zero to One by Peter Thiel. Brilliant book. As a venture capitalist, he asks this question and I think it’s the question that every business leader and every CEO should ask. That is,
“What valuable company is no one building today?”
I think that’s a great question.
ET: What’s the worst and best decision you’ve made as a CEO?
Arnie Bellini: Worst decision was an acquisition of a software title that never went anywhere. The best single business decision I ever made. Well, pretty easy, starting ConnectWise.
ET: It’s easy to talk about what and the how. What is Arnie Bellini’s why?
Arnie Bellini: That’s easy. I believe technology teams are the superheroes of the world because they drive technology forward. I will do everything in my power to assist them in their mission. That is my why.
ET: What’s on the radar in terms of future technology for ConnectWise?
Arnie Bellini: Machine learning, artificial intelligence.
ET: What are the key business challenges for the next 12 months?
Arnie Bellini: Man, I really don’t have any. I know that’s an unusual position to be in and I would not have said this last year or the year before or probably any other previous year. But, there are always challenges even of the good type. So, one of my greatest challenges in the next 12 months will be growing. Honestly, it’ll just be growing the company fast enough to accommodate the demand for our solutions. That’s a great problem to have but it’s the problem we got. We have to hire 250 people this year. That’s not easy. So, that is my biggest challenge.
ET: What keeps you up at night.
Arnie Bellini: Hiring the 250 people.
ET: How do you approach the challenge of international growth while maintaining culture?
Arnie Bellini: We over communicate. We’ll repeat our marketing, repeat it seven times. We’re putting in infrastructure specifically the Cisco Spark system worldwide so that distance no longer matters. We can all be in meetings at the same time. The other way that we overcome it, is we fly everyone into Tampa headquarters, usually for a month or two at a time. They start off in the culture from the root of the culture and then, they take it with them.
ET: How do you prioritise your day? On what? And, how much time do you spend in different areas?
Arnie Bellini: I’m very accessible to my management team. I’ll respond (to them)… they will typically text. The first thing I will do is handle texts because I know I can keep the management team moving forward. My job is really pretty simple. I am a resource to my management team and I am available 24/7 and they know that, even when I’m on vacation. I encourage them to reach out whenever they need to. The resources that they need, the information they need, and the decisions that they need. I make sure I give that to them in real time. That is the number one job.
A large portion of the rest of my time is innovating, research and development and reading everything. I’m a voracious reader. I look at what’s happening in technology. What are the trends? Where is technology going? And, where will the problems occur for our partners? Not now but a year from now, two years from now, three years from now.
ET: What are the influences that you think would influence or effect MSPs most in 2018?
Arnie Bellini: Managed service providers are managing the on-site computing infrastructure, for the most part. They’re on the hook for security whether they’re charging for it or not. Many of them are finding this out when they getting phone calls from their clients saying, “Hey, I’ve been breached and it’s your problem.” And, their answer is, “Well, I’m not charging you to manage your security.” It’s like, “Hey, you’re managing my infrastructure, you are responsible.”
That’s the big Ah-Ha moment. If you’re managing the infrastructure, you need to be building out the ability to manage the security as well. That’s the big imperative. Laws, regulations, nations, everything is pointing to the fact that we’re gonna just have to do a much better job with securing the information and securing computer technology. That’s the next big wave and it’s huge and it’s being pushed in every direction.
ET: Which competitor do you most admire? And, why?
Arnie Bellini: ServiceNow. I think they’ve done a brilliant job of helping enterprises drive technology forward. And, we are on a mission to do the same in small to mid-sized businesses.
ET: What’s the one question you’d like to ask another CEO to answer?
Arnie Bellini: I’m a Simon Sinek fan and, by the way, I caught him on YouTube when he first gave that TED Talk. We had him that year as our keynote speaker at IT Nation. I got to spend time with him. It was really amazing. That would be my question though. What’s your why? I want to know why CEOs. Is it the money? Are you really driven by a vision? Is it financial? I want to know the CEO’s why’s. I know mine, I gave it to you. But, I want to know what theirs is.
ET: Thank you very much.
Arnie Bellini: Thank you. It was great talking to you.