Report from Breakaway

It is late February, and that means another CompTIA Breakaway show. This one is in the great city of Montreal and it’s the system builder version.

Now, the system builder community is a disparate channel in Canada. You have the very large companies such as Elco Systems, you have the innovative ones such as Voodoo PC, you have many who serve a small town local market, then you have others such as Pro Data and Samtack that also distribute components to other system builders, and finally you have the storefront and mom and pop shops across Canada.

This show has always been well attended and this one isn’t any different, except this show for CompTIA Canada is a sea change for the not-for-profit organization.

They have learned, like this vast channel has over the years, to add value. Gone are the days of having a party. Vendors and system builders are strapped for time. Attending this show means delivering some sort of ROI for both vendor and system builder, and the organizing committee here is trying to do so.

They still have private vendor sessions and hospitality suites, but sprinkled all through this conference are money making and money saving strategic sessions for the system builder community.

The most intriguing session came from Jamie Broughton from the VAR School of Business. He calls himself a business coach, but I think he is more of a motivator.

He talked about the stainless steel room: Imagine you are in a stainless steel room with no escape. There are two eight-foot holes. One is filled to the top with cess and the other is only half filled with cess. A light then flashes and the walls start to move in on you.

Broughton’s frightening vision is meant to convey something called the ultimate choice.

The stainless steel room scenario forces people to face a fear. It makes you assess your options and can also make you feel sorry for yourself. What it does is makes you think outside your comfort zone.

A real life example he gave of this scenario was Peter, a reseller with revenues of about $750,000. Peter’s goal was to more than double that the following year to $2 million. But, Peter feared telling anyone on his staff about this goal because he knew he would be held accountable for it. Peter, Broughton said, did not believe he could do it.

In this situation, Broughton told the audience to ask themselves these questions:

What don’t I have to face by avoiding the event or task?

What comfort do I get in staying where I am?

What image do I get to preserve by playing its safe?

And, what is the next step?

The answer inevitably is courage, he says.

Broughton closed the session by telling a true story of his wife April, who visited both extremes before she was 25. (Broughton called her a Maserati to his VW Bug).

Five days before they were to be married, April was involved in a horrendous car crash. She lay in a coma for 28 days. After that, the doctors told her she would be able to walk one day with the aid of a cane. The next day Broughton went to visit her. When he entered her room, April wasn’t there. In a panic Broughton searched every floor and was unable to find her. Eventually Broughton spotted her in a stairwell clinging to the railing. She was pulling herself up the stairs in an attempt to change her situation.

Broughton’s message is you need courage to get what you want. “That’s the stuff that grows businesses, and lives. That is the conviction to take that action step. Stop playing it safe because life is too short,” he said.

In a sense CompTIA Canada is taking one of its keynote presenter’s advice and has stopped playing its safe and will try to deliver more value to the vendor and system builder communities.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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