Gary Pica 2

Does Gary Pica Matter Anymore?

We’ve all been to the conference keynotes: The same former NFL player or coach, talking about the same play, from the same Super Bowl — and the same motivational conclusion. The problem? Over time, you can only give the same speech so many times to the same audience…

And therein was the potential challenge for TruMethods Owner Gary Pica, a “former” MSP who has been coaching IT service providers since 2008. (“Former” is in quotes for a reason. Stick with me.) Over time, Pica could have become yesterday’s coach. Instead, he went on a so-called hero’s journey of continued relevance.

Game On


TruMethods’ Penland

mindSHIFT acquired Pica’s MSP (Dynamic Digital Services) around 2005 — about three years before I began tracking the managed services provider market for a living. As mindSHIFT, All Covered and other “buyers” continued to acquire MSPs, Pica saw an opportunity: Educate service providers about his business journey — his real-world experience — and the real-world processes that triggered his successful company sale in 2005.

The result was TruMethods — which “provides the playbook for MSP success that helps IT solution providers move forward.” Pica and his lieutenants (pundits like CTO Bob Penland) gradually recruited and coached a strong network of MSPs.

Among the well-known anecdotes Pica often shares: MSPs need to focus on chocolate cake (the overall service delivery and customer experience) rather than the individual ingredients (RMM, PSA, backup, anti-virus, etc.).

Looking Back

But here’s the thing. It has been more than a decade since Pica sold Dynamic Digital Services. Think about that for a minute. The iPhone didn’t exist at the time of the deal. Amazon was pregnant with a cloud idea, but AWS’s official delivery remained more than six months away. Facebook was one year old. Big data wasn’t much of a term.

Translation: Pica’s MSP success occurred long before today’s big four IT trends — mobile, social, cloud and big data — arrived on customer menus. How can a guy who thrived in the client-server and Web 1.0 age teach today’s IT service providers to succeed? At some point, Pica’s chocolate cake thesis and many other best practices he shares could go stale.

What’s Cooking Now?

But here’s the twist. Instead of recounting the same formula for success from 2005, Pica and Penland went back into the kitchen and started working on some new recipes.

For instance, Pica and Penland are partners in Apex IT Group, which delivers IT services to companies in the Delaware Valley. That business allows Pica and Penland to execute and polish some classic best practices, while learning how to pivot toward new IT services opportunities.

Moreover, TruMethods developed MyITprocess — a business automation platform for MSPs. It “helps managed IT providers design, implement, manage and master technology standards for all their clients,” TruMethods asserts.

The Hero’s Journey

michael drake

masterIT’s Drake

Meanwhile, MSPs are shifting their mindsets. The early go-go years — attend every event, pursue every business tip — are over.

Talk to folks like masterIT CEO J. Michael Drake, and you’ll hear far more focus on life-work balance. Much like the software industry itself, Drake and other MSPs are focusing on fewer, more strategic relationships — giving back where ever possible.

Drake and I spoke for about an hour yesterday. He mentioned the hero’s journey that we’re all on — in life and in business. I came away with about a dozen blog ideas — and you’ll see them gradually surface over the next few weeks.

One of my takeaways was the value of peer groups and industry learning. Even as he scales back travel elsewhere, Drake continues to attend TruMethods meetings. He gives back to the peer group. And he absorbs the latest learnings from Pica, Penland and the TruMethods team.

Get Your Hands Dirty

And that’s the lesson. To remain relevant — regardless of your industry — you’ve got to get back into the kitchen and get your hands dirty. Again and again. That doesn’t mean micro-managing everything. It does mean asking a lot of questions, regularly reviewing your service delivery menu, and tasting everything that comes out of your own kitchen.

That’s why Gary Pica remains relevant. It’s why Bob Penland remains relevant. And it’s essentially why we launched ChannelE2E.

We’re not in a position to bake the cake. But we are in the rare position to tell you what the experts are whipping up next. I look forward to visiting TruMethods and Apex IT Group really soon… to see what’s cooking now.

PS: Of course Gary Pica matters. To his family. To his friends. To his peers. And more. That’s my way of saying please pardon the dramatic headline.

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    Stuart Crawford:

    Joe..great headline…this is how you get readers in 🙂

    This is something many of us struggle with. As you know I sold my MSP “IT Matters” in 2008 and started Ulistic in 2010. 5 Years now I have owned the company and everyday is a struggle to stay ahead of the curve…a constant rebirth so to speak. I often think about starting another MSP and then have my morning cup of coffee and let the idea fade away again. But I would even do that differently now.

    Thanks for everything you do.

    Stuart Crawford
    MSP Marketing Professional
    Ulistic LP

      Joe Panettieri:

      Hey Stuart: Thanks for reading ChannelE2E and for all the guidance/feedback over the years. I hope the content we deliver more than lives up to the headlines we write.

      In terms of your journey… The point is you didn’t sit on the sideline and wax poetic about the way the market used to be. You got your hands dirty again. You’re in the kitchen again, baking up marketing programs for the MSPs. And the ingredients are a mix of what you already knew with what you continue to see, hear and experience.

      It’s fun to watch the game from the sidelines. It’s fun to eat the meal out in the dining room. But being in the game? Being in the kitchen? Now, that’s where the fun really starts.

    Josh Kotler:

    Of course Gary Pica matters. Great coaching always matters. Just ask Michigan football fans if they think coaching matters. Gary is the Jim Harbaugh of the MSP world, without the inevitable burnout.

      Joe Panettieri:

      Does that mean Gary Pica has a brother running another coaching organization on the other side of town?

    Rob Rae:

    Great piece. Something that has been argued and debated by us all long into the late nights in those lobby bars. I think you got it right.

      Joe Panettieri:

      I gotta admit: The piece was an open letter to all of us. Gary was the poster child.

      What are we all doing to stay current? To be forward thinking? And what noise/distractions get in the way of that journey? That Hero’s Journey discussion with J. Michael Drake was filled with “a hah” moments for me… including the one about Pica & TruMethods. More to come. Thanks so much for reading ChannelE2E, Rob.


    Raj Khera:

    Joe, this article will resonate with every entrepreneur. Life and work are very intertwined. I also had a successful exit over a decade ago. When I built my tech first company, I worked all kinds of crazy hours. It was easier then – no kids in the picture at the time. For me, I’ve found that attention to balance came after I hit certain milestones in my business and personal life.

    To your point about staying current, my old mentor used to tell me “if you’re not planning to grow, you’re automatically planning to die.” So accurate.

      Joe Panettieri:

      Hey Raj,

      First… and apology. I know I owe you call catch-up conversation. Second, thanks for reading ChannelE2E and for weighing in on this. That “attention to balance” definitely involves the milestones. The inflection points and moments that force you to ask “why am I at my desk at 1am?”

      When Gary Pica and I spoke on the phone about two weeks ago, it had been our first conversation in perhaps one or two years. His opening words: “How’s your family? How are you?” Of course, we got down to business after that. But his inquiry was sincere. (PS: I’m freakin’ great. Thanks.)

      Please keep the feedback coming. And I look forward to talking soon.


    David Cross:

    If I ever get out of the Managed Services business and start a new business in a different industry the first thing I’m going to do is find a peer group. I sure hope it will be as good as Gary and TruMethods.

      Joe Panettieri:

      Hey David,

      Thanks for stopping by. In terms of peer groups outside of the MSP space, I think HTG Peer Groups Founder Arlin Sorensen is in touch with numerous vertical peer groups…

    Amy Katz:

    Well Gary – I think you should be going into the weekend with head held high. Clearly the market really appreciates all that you continue to offer. You should be proud, and I hope that you are… ABK

    Steve Harper:

    Great Article Joe:
    Well written and a true tribute to an industry icon. Gary’s willingness to give back (a true go-giver) and his passion to share the secret sauce of success with today’s entrepreneurs is refreshing. TruMethod’s has assembled a team of industry veterans that can help new and existing MSP’s of all sizes. Gary continues to reinvent the MSP model and change the course of our industry for the better! I so miss it.

      Joe Panettieri:

      Steve: No need to miss it. There’s always a seat for you in this house. Stop by anytime. And thank you for all of the conversations over the years.

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