by Jim Hinshaw


Just sat thru (actually worked thru) a very large virtual meeting, the Service World Expo that was presented virtually.  Done over three days, it was an incredible undertaking, lots of moving parts needed to be in place to make it happen.  The biggest hurdle is the technology, how to keep the channels open when you may have 400 or 3000 people signed on.


Did it go down?  Yes, briefly on the first day.  We recorded all the breakout sessions on that day, made them available the second day.  It is a given that the systems will crash, even some really big names have had their meeting crash, but we still felt like it was a success.  Instead of flying for hours, renting a car, driving to the hotel (our conference was originally slated for Tampa) setting up the booth, eating an overpriced dinner, then on your feet for the next 3 days trying to out-hustle the other booth people for time with a customer, only to find out over 50% of the attendees did not attend.  Then you still had to pack the booth back up, fly home, and get ready for the calls the next day: how did it go?  Was it a big crowd?  Did the booth get there OK?  How many did you sign up?


So we made a difficult decision to go virtual.  Still had a large group of manufacturers and service providers that met up and offered to do a virtual booth, most with chat function, some had live zoom meeting rooms, a few even had augmented reality.  Augmented reality is amazing, where you could come up to a product and open it up, pull off the panels, look inside, walk around it, sort of like a game where you are first person in the game, camera moves as your eyes do.


One of the opportunities facing a virtual meeting is the fact that they are not traveling to someplace distant, staying at a hotel, and walking the floor visiting booth after booth.  They may be doing something that distracts them from our presentation and may not be focused on us and our solutions.  Actual discussion with a person who attended a booth that I was in today, he was at an oral surgeon’s office, going in to have a procedure right after we talked.   But it was nice not to have to travel and spend nights away from the family.


Sat thru a series of breakout sessions, here are a couple that stood out.  First, Danielle Putnam shared: Entrepreneur or Contractor?  Fight it out.  She told us we need to have systems for every part of our business, even something as mundane as trash pickup.  Her office had a trash pickup disaster, where someone set the trash cans too close to the mailbox, actually picked up her mailbox in addition to the trashcans.  Someone had to go and find a new mailbox, set it back in the ground, took several hours to get it put back together.  She now has a procedure set down on paper that describes exactly how to set the trash cans out, to prevent this from happening again.


Danielle’s description of a business is a company that can be effective and do what they are supposed to do, even if you, the owner is not there.  Maybe you are out training you pet squirrel to water ski, or whatever.  Your business needs to have documented procedures for everything you do, and someone responsible for each one of those procedures.   She is the president of The New Flat Rate ( as well as an industry leader.


The very first day, Lou Hobaica ( shared his story, where he came from, where he is today.  He told a great story of how his father ended up in Phoenix.  His dad, Paul SR was 18 when he got drafted at the start of WW II.  At that time, every soldier got a small bible covered in 16-gauge sheet metal, was told to keep it in the breast pocket over his heart.  He did.  He ended up in the Battle of the Bulge, in a foxhole as the radio operator on the front lines.  During a especially terrific firefight, the guys to his right and left were both killed in action.  He got up, started to run away, then thought that he was the front radio operator, he was needed at his post.  He ran back to the foxhole, got hit as he dove back in.  He was sure it was over, this was the end.  But then he realized that he was still alive, still breathing.  Felt his chest where he had been hit, realized the bible had taken the bullet, and the 16-gauge metal had deflected that shell.  Lou still has the Bible, with the dent in the cover, it is a treasured memento from his dad’s past.


If his dad had not put the Bible exactly where he was told, over his heart, he may have not been spared, Lou may not have been here at all, and Hobiaca’s would not have been a leading company in the Phoenix market.  If you missed the show, you missed an amazing set of stories and business tips to improve your company.


Next month, will share Matt Michel’s keynote, how he started Service Nation, and how he ended up selling it.  We’ll talk then.