Catch Bill Treneer on the #PirateBroadcast™
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Introduction: [00:00:00] Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
Russ Johns: [00:00:10] Hey everyone. It's the #PirateBroadcast. And I just want to welcome you. Thank you so much for being here. And if you're watching in the future. Please like it, subscribe, share the channel out because we're always sharing interesting people doing interesting things. And today, Bill, good morning. How are you doing?
Bill Treneer: [00:00:28] Good morning, Russ. Thanks for having me on the show.
Russ Johns: [00:00:31] You know Bill, you have you and I have been connected for some time now and we've always gone back and forth and I met you through a mutual friend out of Seattle. Give a shout out to Morris for the introduction and while I was living in Houston and we worked together you hired me for a number of tasks in the history of our relationship, and it's just been really great to be able to connect with you and learn a little bit more about you. And I wanted to share some of the things that you're doing, because I find it really interesting that what you're doing in business right now. In the technology space and training and teaching people. And I want to talk a little bit about that, but before we do, tell a little bit about who you are for those that haven't met you yet, who is Bill Treneer and what are you doing right now in the world of Bill Treneer?
Bill Treneer: [00:01:23] Whoa, so we're not talking about just business. You're talking about just me now, right? Yeah. The most apt description of me is I'm Bill Treneer and I'm a child of the most high God. That's who I am. I'm a child of God and I'm a believer and a father and a husband. And those are the most important things in my life. And Probably the biggest thing that I enjoy outside of business is I'm involved in a church that has a wonderful ministry helping people do alcohol and drug rehabilitation and they get down and they house them there and give them work and train them for a year. And I'm on the board of directors there and involved. And in fact, they have Sunday services and I'm preaching there on April 11th. So you can all see on YouTube or a Facebook live or something like that. My wife and I both do that and we've been very rewarded outside of our business lives to do that. So that's really what I'm about.
Russ Johns: [00:02:19] You've always been a coach and a mentor and somebody that I've always appreciated and looked up to in terms of the kindness of generosity that you bring to the community. And you're always helping someone do something. So I just wanted to highlight you and make sure people understand. Who the person is behind the business because, we could talk business all day long and it's really important to understand, who is this person that I'm dealing with in the business life and the business world. And it's really nice to be able to learn a little bit more and get to know people at a different level. And, with COVID and the pandemic, it's not necessarily something that we can go out and meet and greet all the time. And so if we can actually learn a little bit, grow and understand and appreciate the people that we're working with, it's really nice to be able to make that connection.
Bill Treneer: [00:03:09] I agree in this world of, the fast paced internet and everything, it's still nice to work, and be associated with people that you have relationships with. It's wonderful to work with you. You've done. Project management tasks for me for years, you're doing them right now for me. We worked together on a couple of projects and you do great work for me. So I'm glad to come on your show and and talk to you in this fashion also.
Russ Johns: [00:03:34] Yeah, it works both ways. The thing that I really want to. To share with the pirate community is the fact that you've been teaching technology at different levels for a number of years. And go into that a little bit, because there's a lot of things that people. It's almost one of those things that you don't know until, and there's a lot of technology out there that runs the internet that allows shows like this to actually take place. And there's a lot of infrastructure that goes behind that. And you've been teaching people about that infrastructure for a lot of years. So go into that a little bit.
Bill Treneer: [00:04:11] Yes, I have. My company, International Communications Management, which I own it now but at one time I was an employee there and the people who owned it, my partners were kind enough to hire me to start teaching Cisco classes. My degree from college, it's in electrical engineering, which didn't have a lot to do with it, except that I was pretty good at binary maths, which really helped out because the whole IP address structure of the internet is based on binary mathematics. So that part I was able to pick up on pretty quickly. The rest of it, Cisco was such a good company, as far as the infrastructure and the equipment that helped build the internet as far as routers and switches and firewalls and that sort of thing. So I've been a Cisco instructor for 23 years. I still am. Although I don't teach as often now because I'm running a company, but that's the background. 23 years worth of Cisco work. And you start to understand a lot of things about the internet. You understand how, what, how it's put together how it originally was put together with May West and May East and all the different companies that connect into it. And then once you understand that structure, and then the fact that the basic protocols that it uses someone can put up a server running HTML hypertext markup language, which then has this protocol called hypertext transfer protocol that has to be transferred around to your computers. And once you've got that down, you understand how the internet works from a functional and framework type of conception. When you understand the basics of it and from that you understand infrastructure. Once you have the infrastructure that goes with it, you can build just about anything. So it's always interesting.
Russ Johns: [00:05:48] It's fascinating to me. And when I learned all of this stuff and, back in the day when we had to write modem scripts to connect servers together and switches, they were hubs. They weren't even switches at that point in time. And some of the things that we had to put together to build connections and communications for computers, and that became the internet. And what's fascinating though, is as a result of you going through this whole process and learning all this infrastructure and the details and delivering this information to thousands of people, literally. Now, one of the things that I'm excited about, and one of the things that I wanted to talk about was the idea of how you're taking this training technology and teaching veterans on how they can actually learn the same process and teach them to become more in tune with what is going on in the technology world and then creating employees essentially. So dive into how that process works, how you're stacking that training process to develop individuals that then can work for you and provide services to other companies and organizations to help their infrastructure.
Bill Treneer: [00:07:07] Excellent question. That's an excellent question to begin with. Here is the process about three or four, maybe, probably more like four years ago. Now I started to look at the training business that we were in and realizing that training business was different. No longer do people want to take a five day course from Cisco or VMware or Microsoft or AWS or whatever like that. They can't be gone from work that long. And then there was this plethora of other training functions happening similar to Udacity and you to me. And some of those that were really inexpensive, nobody wanted to spend three or $4,000 per week to send their someone when you can get something for a hundred dollars on you to me, or less, maybe. Some of them, sometimes they rent sales and it's $10 or something like that. So that kind of changed the training market. It's still out there, but we're not filling our classes with twenty-five people anymore, every single week. So we started looking at that and saying we're this great training organization. It turns out that trainers, which we had access to lots of trainers, make great consultants. They make excellent consultants because they're consulting every day in the training room. Anyway, they've got 24 students who come in and they say, hey, could we draw your network on the board? And so you end up working with students on their networks and giving them suggestions and putting them through lab exercise and things like that. So it was quite simple to then train them up to become consultants. And then we started looking at that and we ran out of consultants because we put all those people out and we put all those people out on work on short contracts. So we said we got to build up the bench and rather than do it the way everybody else in the industry is doing it, which is they go to career builder or one of these companies that says, hey, I'll find you the needle in the haystack. That's a common thing. I'll find you the needle in the haystack. Yeah, that doesn't help anybody. Who's not the needle. You know what I mean? That there's still a whole haystack of other people out there who still need work. And so I wanted to be a bridge between companies that needed work and trainees that were maybe not the needle in a haystack. They weren't the perfect fit but they could be, give me three to six months to get them that way. And I couldn't make them that person that everybody was looking for. So we started to turn all of our training programs internally to train up a bench, rather than trying to get a bench from a local college. Go get high school kids or go get college kids that have degrees in computer science. Those people aren't gonna work for me. Everybody who has got a degree in computer science is getting snapped up by Amazon and Apple and Microsoft and Google. And that's about it. Those and a few more. So where was I going to get all this talent base? I started to find them in non-traditional places and one of the places I found them from that's a great steady market is veterans that are returning from the military and starting to move into private life. Who are really good solid employees or contractors but are not quite the exact fit that an it company needs. So you need somebody who knows protocols and you need somebody who understands applications and understands cloud and things like that. And the person is really good. They're on time. A solid person. They understand some basic technology, but they don't have a bunch of certifications yet. And what did they do with this technology? They loaded... one was an ordinance officer, which meant he loaded bombs onto planes on an aircraft carrier. How does that translate to an IT job? Yeah, it does, but not one for one. You know what I mean? So this is a person who is really solid, organized, you can't load a bomb on a...
Russ Johns: [00:10:51] No, you can't miss a few things, right?
Bill Treneer: [00:10:53] Yeah. You can't miss couple of things on your checklist when you're loading bombs into a bomber, that's running off an aircraft carrier. You've got to get everything, right? So this person has skills. And it turns out there's a lot of those. There's a lot of people like that.
Russ Johns: [00:11:06] I think the average, Bill, I think I heard a statistic that there's over 270,000 veterans coming back every year into civilian life.
Bill Treneer: [00:11:20] That's true.
Russ Johns: [00:11:20] Transitioning back. And then a number of those have to have transferable skills.
Bill Treneer: [00:11:25] They do, but they're a little bit of a square peg that needs to fit into a round hole in private industry.
Russ Johns: [00:11:32] The naming conventions and some of the things they use and how they talk and their language and everything else. The military uses a lot of different terms.
Bill Treneer: [00:11:39] Acronyms a lot of acronyms and it uses a lot of acronyms. I know sometimes we get it, we get an acronym that fits in both and then they get confused, but it's not the same acronym. Yeah. It's like IP is intellectual property and it's, they said, how could it be intellectual property? IP address, that doesn't make sense? Internet protocol, intellectual property, it's the same acronym. So there's a bunch of crossover like that in the military. Yeah.
Russ Johns: [00:12:04] Having a veteran, hire the attitude, train the skill is the foundation essentially. And a lot of companies, especially companies right now that are working virtually there's a lot of contract work going out there. A lot of projects are team-based and they don't necessarily need long-term employees. They just need somebody to get on a team, create this project, finish this project, complete this task, and then they're onto something else. So filling that gap, that kind of mortar between the bricks is what you're doing and putting that in a position where other people can find a lot of value and provide a lot of value to a business owners out there working on projects. It sounds like.
Bill Treneer: [00:12:51] Yeah. That, in fact that's an excellent description. I don't think I can add much to that really. That's exactly what it is. It's the idea of taking a veteran who doesn't need to go to school for four years. In fact, if there's 270,000, let me have all of them. I'll take all of them. And then we need to find work for them on the other end, because there's a lot of companies who could use them, but you find these resumes out there or not resumes. I should say these job descriptions. That's a better way to put it out there. There are these job descriptions that are out there that want somebody who's got seven years of experience, a master's degrees in computer science. And they're looking for what I call unicorns. Those people who have all of that, they've got jobs. You're not going to find those people, or at least you weren't pre COVID and now you run a business. Or they're running their own business. They're not coming to work for you. They've been snapped up. Those people are all working for Google and Amazon and Apple and Microsoft. So they're all busy but the task that you have, the task that this business has if you really look at the skills needed to have that task, A veteran with a really good work ethic and an on-time attitude and a can-do attitude, too, not one that accepts failure. They find a way to, to get the job done. You take that with some base technical skills, give them more advanced technical skills with training that's provided and they can do that job incredibly well. And and that, so that's a perfect fit. Now. Now the other thing that's interesting is that. With remote work COVID has pushed the whole world to remote work. And I don't think, I don't think that trend is going away. I don't think, I think it was start, I w we're in agreement there. I work remotely all the time and almost everybody in my company does. But that was a trend that was happening pre COVID and then COVID just accelerated that. So I think post COVID. We are going to see a remote work and that means contractors. You're going to have more contractors, more of a contractor model than an employee model. And I think as companies get used to that, that there are some major advantages. One of the things, a lot of the contracts that we had Pre COVID we needed to downsize those. And so the company that was working with us, that where we have a lot of people out there on doing consulting contracts, they trimmed them down a little bit because they were in a COVID environment. They their revenue stream had dropped, maybe 20% they cut us back 20 or 30%. Which is just fine. That's what you do when you have consultants and contractors. And then now we're seeing that start to grow. So we're gaining back that 20 or 30% and they could shift with us. You can't do that with an employee workforce and employee workforce. You have to fire people. And who wants to do that?
Russ Johns: [00:15:30] Yeah. And there's a certain cost associated with onboarding an employee versus a contractor. There's a substantial cost and an investment for a company. And when you have a contractor workforce, especially as it relates to projects and you have that physical work, that bench, I think there's a huge opportunity for a lot of organizations to utilize remote workers. Flexible workforces and also expand their project base with contractors as well.
Bill Treneer: [00:16:00] Yes, everything you just said is absolutely correct. I'll add one more thing to that. The not every company, once they get somebody can train their people well, and if they have an employee workforce, that company is involved in training. Whereas if they contracted with me or, with our company, I international communications management, we do the training forum. So when that contractor hits the ground day, one, they're pretty ready to do the job. Now, sometimes that requires the company to tell us here's what we need. Here are the things that they need to be trained in. And here's what, so we function as that training. Port portion for them as well. But there's a huge cost in acquiring. Talent that's W2 talent. And then there's a huge cost in training, W2 talent. And you don't have to talent go employees. Yeah. Great employees, salaried employees, whereas contractors or 1099 talent, basically.
Russ Johns: [00:17:00] I just want to make sure people understand.
Bill Treneer: [00:17:02] Yeah. I should have clarified that. That's the acronym world. Yeah. That's the tax form that's the IRS tampered organization. That's the IRS forum. So you also have their own acronyms as well.
Russ Johns: [00:17:14] So talk a little bit about the range in some of the topics that you provide organizations with teams and talents. For their projects, because I know it's primarily focused on technology, so let's define that a little bit more for people listening in on this.
Bill Treneer: [00:17:34] Okay. Let me share my screen with you. Let me see if this pops up.
Russ Johns: [00:17:37] We're doing this live folks.
Bill Treneer: [00:17:39] Do it the best we can here.
Russ Johns: [00:17:40] We'll Get this out.
Bill Treneer: [00:17:42] Can you guys see this? Okay, Russ.
Russ Johns: [00:17:44] No, you haven't shared it yet. Okay. There's a share screen at the bottom and then you have to share it.
Bill Treneer: [00:17:53] Okay. There we go. I think I see that.
Russ Johns: [00:17:58] Yeah.
Bill Treneer: [00:18:01] Okay. It's all about the technology, right? Okay. So now I go to the, this, how about now? Now, can you see it now?
Russ Johns: [00:18:08] Now we can see it. Let me take this off.
Bill Treneer: [00:18:11] There you go. Okay. So this when you're getting into this, we're starting to talking about what we train in and what we provide. And it really gets into our whole strategy of what our business is different than everybody else. And the whole concept of us finding a bench or finding a bunch of consultants and contractors and then putting them out to work. It's all part of our vertical integration business plan that we're going to work with people from the beginning to the end. So we don't go recruit people. We're not just a middleman who goes and recruits people and then sends them out to do consulting work. We do everything in between. We do the management of those people. We do the training of those people. So it's a lot more to it. So here you see in this, in, in this slide a little bit We've got our contract consultants and trainers, which is what we do. These are the main areas we do consulting in. We are, we still do training and consulting in Azure and ADA, and we just started in AWS. We got our first person started in AWS, so we still do training. We still do training, so we teach training courses, but now we also do consulting in the two cloud. Products, Azure and AWS. And we have a multitude of courses that we teach, which also CWS is Amazon and Amazon web services. Yeah. Infrastructure. Yeah, Microsoft cloud and Amazon cloud, basically those two. And we teach not only the servers, but we teach security like AC 500 as a security course. And then we also do a data science Artificial intelligence courses. So we get into some of the deeper courses in those security for sure where we're well known in security. That's been one of our key areas for a long time.
Russ Johns: [00:19:52] We're going to be sharing some of your security courses as well.
Bill Treneer: [00:19:55] Yeah, we've done a few videos on on different things with security and cybersecurity, and those will be popping up on our website pretty soon. We also do Gigamon consulting, Cisco consulting and others. In order to get these consultants and trainers up to, full ability to be contracted, they have to go through some different training and you can see we have a. Some basic technical training here, which is down here, number three, which is A-plus Linux operating system, Microsoft operating system, and then introductions to Azure and AWS, and also security plus through comp Tia. That's the basic stuff. And then we do advanced training and this advanced training has really taken a big jump during this last COVID year during 2020. And then this quarter, actually in 2021, we've added we've added an instructor who is got her own intellectual property as far as courseware on Java and Python and Ansible. And those are all, especially, The Ansible, the Python, the Ansible really fits in with our history of Cisco and Gigamon and infrastructure equipment and things like that. So as well as just being generally good programming things it's something that a lot of people want. And of course, Java is universal everywhere. So that's really nice. We have also found just recently a and we have a course that's just about half done now for a data analyst. And I'm really excited because everybody needs a data analyst these days. So we're teaching beginning, intermediate and advanced SQL. Or SQL, depending on who you ask, they call it sequel or SQL. So that's that's a one I'm very excited about about once those graduates hit being able to send them out for consulting work and then traditionally our Cisco certified network associate. Gigamon certified professional and Azure and AWS more advanced, the more advanced sections of that, which get into the security DevOps artificial intelligence data data science, those sorts of things. We've got some people who specialize in those higher levels of AWS and Azure. That's really interesting. Now, one that has been, when I talk about vertical integration we we also own a side business that does math tutoring and this math tutoring business was just totally separate from our business on. Infrastructure in it and security and cybersecurity and things like that. And we've started to now get to the point where we've added some things to math tutoring, and we've added curriculum for teaching kids. How to code. And teaching kids robotics and we, yeah it's very interesting stuff.
Russ Johns: [00:22:30] So now you can teach them Ansible and a Java script, robotics and starting out really young.
Bill Treneer: [00:22:38] Really young. We've got junior high and high school kids now that are our bath students also that are math that were tutoring in math also on Saturdays working with teaching kids how to code and robotics, but an even more interesting thing is what I ran into accidentally just a little while ago was I had one of my best math instructors who I was paying probably $12 an hour or two at the time or something like that. It's just a college job. He was getting a degree in mechanical engineering. And he wasn't finding it and he was about to graduate and he wasn't finding any work at all. And I knew this young man as being an excellent math tutor for us. And so I said would you like to go into it? And he picked it up from he, he didn't really have any background in it, but he was obviously smart.
Russ Johns: [00:23:23] Just like yourself, you were good at math.
Bill Treneer: [00:23:26] I was an electrical engineer and I went into it. And so he picked it up very quickly. And now he's one of my best guys. You know him he's our chief guy on, on the. The I can't say the name of the company, the major telephone company that we do work for, one of those top three or four, I, which one I'm talking about, but I can't say the name. Because it's secret stuff that we do. But he turned out to be an amazing contractor for us. And so really. I've started to take all my math people who are my good math tutors. And I've started to have, I've have them cross over and learn how to be tutors for robotics and kids coding. If you really want to be a good kids, coding instructor, you should take Python. Okay. So now they're starting to take Python. And so really I can, I'm getting, instead of just thinking about paying them, I'm now through them, through the kids coding. I'm training up instructors who are later now are going to become my consultant staff. So this is a, this is a true vertical integration of feeding the the bench basically through starting really young with kids who could eventually come up through the program.
Russ Johns: [00:24:34] What this reminds me of bill, this reminds me of 200 years ago, when you used to have craftsman. Teach the mentor they're individual people that would replace them eventually. Sure. Yeah. It's just okay. Teach them exactly the skills they need to do in order to accomplish the goals they're working towards. And it's just amazing to me. On how you've developed this. And I just thought it was a fascinating story and I wanted to share it. So
Bill Treneer: [00:25:06] it's very similar to that. And really I'm starting to get the idea that's the way it should work. If you're waiting around for four years to get them out of college by the time they graduate, everything they've learned is almost obsolete anyway. Yeah. I, we can take people and I can tell you that the companies have to get used to the idea that. That you got a lot of good it, people who can program and do code, but they're not going to have a degree in computer science. And if companies get to the idea that they're going to get excellent people that are going to be able to do exactly the job that the company needs, they just won't have a degree in computer science. If they can get through that, you're going to S you're going to get everybody you want, because they're, I'm not the only person doing this. But yeah, but I think the vertical integration. Process that we've come up with is somewhat unique. I don't think there's a lot of groups or companies that have that.
Russ Johns: [00:26:01] So the degree that I've seen you do it, and I think it's, I think it's brilliant. And as we've had many conversations about this and how you can develop skills and it's real time, as the technology evolves and new things evolve and come up, you can actually teach them in real time. So it's much quicker than actually. Sending them off to a college for four years and finding out all of the things that they don't need to know and teaching them specifically what they can focus on and bring the most value to a company in our organization.
Bill Treneer: [00:26:35] Yeah, exactly. So we've got kids, we've got instructors, we've got veterans who were popping in right here during this basic technical training. And some of the veterans actually become. Tutors as well, although they're just doing that on the side. So what you're speaking to is exactly true. Let's like, for instance, let's say we wanted to add Ansible to the Python track. So here's Python and then there's Ansible. You want to create an Ansible curriculum? You can do that. We could, we were so good in training and so experienced with it. We could probably do that in 30 days. So now all of a sudden Ansible becomes a thing. How long is that going to take to get trickled into a college curriculum, four years or something to figure out that's where it belongs. And by the time we get done teaching a hundred people and Ansible may not be the thing anymore. There might be a new language and there might be something else that everybody's using some other open source thing. And 30 days later we'll have that. Yeah, that's exactly right. I think this is a model that. Would appeal to a lot of people. We're obviously looking to come to fill in our bench here as with more people and integrated work, we need to finish our learning management system. We're working on. We need to finish that to maybe make some of these transitions smoother. And ultimately of course we need more. People to give us contract and consulting work. We need more people for that too. So I'll stop sharing. I'll stop sharing here. Now. We don't
Russ Johns: [00:27:51] know. Yeah. Before we wrap up today too, also, I want to make sure that people know how to get ahold of you your what's the best route. Put the links and everything in the The show notes and there'll be up on Russ Johns dot com later on. But Bill, how do you like people to connect with you? What's the best way for them to connect with you? What's
Bill Treneer: [00:28:10] I think through your show would be through your show would be just fine. You have my email address, right?
Russ Johns: [00:28:15] Yep. We'll put all that in the show notes and people can reach out to you because there's a lot of organizations that need assistance. They need support. And I think it would be great to have a conversation with you. So we'll get people out there and send them your way.
Bill Treneer: [00:28:30] Yeah, that would be great. You'll probably send them to my website. We didn't put the website up. We could do that, but you have it right? I have it.
Russ Johns: [00:28:37] I'll put it up in the show notes, but I know we're out of time today. So I just wanted to make sure that you have an opportunity to share this because I love the idea and I love what you're doing. And I just wanted to highlight you today and make sure that you have an opportunity to share what you're doing with a few other people.
Bill Treneer: [00:28:56] Yeah. It's a lot of fun. I can tell you that. Yeah. It's fun working with you. It's fun. It's fun working with the vets. It's fun working with the kids and it's fun making all this successful. Yeah. Great to be on your show, Russ. Thanks so much for inviting me.
Russ Johns: [00:29:09] Thank you so much. And everyone, if you like, and you have somebody in mind that needs to hear this information, share it. Please put it out there. Cause the way it works. It's just, we got to share great information. And that's because #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree and I want you to #enjoyyourday.
Bill Treneer: [00:29:29] Absolutely.
Russ Johns: [00:29:29] Thanks. Bill.
Bill Treneer: [00:29:30] Thank you. You have a great day.
Russ Johns: [00:29:32] Bye.
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