From the AV Consultant:
Seeing abundance where others see scarcity


You just never know…

As I started to engage a more formal process of networking I sat down for coffee with a person who would quickly prove to be insufferable. In very short order it was clear to me that, for a variety of reasons, I would not be referring any business to this individual. But there I was, trapped. I sat, politely, determined to make the most out of this train wreck of a meeting, and hoping for at least one nugget of useful information… then it happened!

At first, when I heard the phrase, I chalked it up to another of the grandiose and ridiculous ideas that had been aimlessly flowing. I sat there and began to process it – it was brilliant. At least there was one. I suppose even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and again.

This was an example of how using the “Abundance vs. Scarcity” paradigm yields surprising results in life.

Cloud 9's philosophy is to incorporate home technology at the beginning of the architecture and design process.
Cloud9 Smart gets referred plenty of commercial install projects from their residential "competition".

Think about the various people you know. How would you categorize them based on the following?

- Always playing defense, or offense?

- Running away from something, or toward something?

- Hoarding information, or sharing it?

The first is a position of scarcity and the second is a position of abundance. Once I saw this pattern I could not, and still cannot, “unsee” it. It is everywhere, in everyone, at all times.

I am the Chief Operating Officer of Cloud9 Smart, a low-voltage integration firm specializing in the design, installation, and ongoing service of the various systems in the home and office that keep people connected, comfortable, and entertained. The design-forward approach allows for the best coordination between the end user, design professionals, builders, subcontractors, etc. ensuring that vision becomes reality. I use the abundance vs scarcity worldview to guide my professional and personal life.

Once I saw this pattern I could not, and still cannot, “unsee” it. It is everywhere, in everyone, at all times.

In My Professional Practice:

First, I acknowledge all of the opportunity that exists in the day and just how much business is out there. There is plenty of work that is right for Cloud9 Smart. I pass on business that isn’t the ideal fit for my process and team. We make room for the right projects by not tying up our available capacity with nonsense. As a result, we run a more profitable business and have happier employees and customers.

Second, I ask: how I can add value to the employees in my business? Being a selfless leader requires investing time and energy to help develop your people. Can I make a slight adjustment/improvement to any person/team that reaps continuous benefit? It will make everyone happier. If you want to “Go Big”, make a dream come true.

Thirdly, I share information with my competitors. You want my playbook? Sure! If it is truly going to hurt me it’s because I failed, not because my competitor also won. “The rising tides lifts all boats”.

I made a commitment in 2019 to reach out to competitors I hadn’t spoken to in a while. I also cold called various competitors where I had no relationships. In 60 days I met eight competitors and they handed me two commercial projects, a big residential job and one potential hire. The projects represented $400k to $500k worth of work! In each case the referrers recognized that we had a better skill-set to complete the work.

So what was the genius method I used to reach out?

It will shock everyone in the “social media age” but I picked up the phone and called the people I wanted to speak with. They all called back! I invited them out to coffee or lunch and told them there was no agenda, just good relationship building. They were all skeptical over the phone and even when we sat down to our meeting. That dissipated quickly and we just chatted about common issues and where were headed in our respective businesses.

The "Smart Office" is chic, but also secure. And below, the technology can actually blend with rusticity.

I share information with my competitors. You want my playbook? Sure!

In My Personal Practice:

First, I love giving time to charitable causes rather than hoarding it selfishly. I sit on the board of a not for profit that helps those less fortunate and I personally volunteer my time to assist disadvantaged high school juniors learn to write resumes, practice mock interviews, and secure internships.

It makes a huge difference in the lives of others, it is incredibly rewarding at a personal level, and you won’t miss the time. You can spare two hours per quarter for a board meeting and three hours each across six Saturdays. That’s about 30 mins per week.

Second, I disconnect for 30 minutes at the beginning and end of my day as I am walking in to the office with my dog, Cooper. No headphones, no phone calls, no distractions, just being present.

As I walk, I think through my agenda for the day, align priorities, identify issues, process any stressors, and arrive at the office ready to conquer the day. On the way home, I reflect on my alignment to the agenda, identify new opportunities, prioritize information, and decompress from anything that was less-than-ideal. This small investment in personal time pays dividends in all aspects of life.

Lastly, I avoid the “I’m too busy” thing. Do not conflate being busy (scarcity) with being productive (abundance).

Chris Smith is the COO of Cloud 9 Smart and a Brick & Wonder Member.

Old school and new school AV tech at a recent showroom install.