Craig Patterson: Welcome to the latest edition of Aryaka’s Dreamers and Doers podcast series, where we bring together technology experts and business leaders for a very candid conversation about trends, best practices, and lessons in leadership.
By the way, I'm your host, Craig Patterson, Aryaka’s Global Channel Chief. And today, I'm very excited to welcome my friend, and one of the most influential and celebrated leaders in the Channel. He has over 30 years’ experience in our space, he's highly regarded, he's won a lot of awards, and he's recognized as the 2020 Channel Influencer of the Year, a multi-year award winner for CRN, has held many, many exciting roles in this space; Channel Chief at 8x8, CenturyLink, worked at a VAR, and now, he's President of Intelisys. Please join me in welcoming my man, John DeLozier, to the Dreamers and Doers podcast series.
John, my man, I am so excited to have you on here as a guest, you've been a big role model of mine for many years. We've been colleagues, we've been friends, and I couldn't ask for a better guest on the Aryaka’s Dreamers and Doers podcast. So, let's jump into it, my friend. Let's talk about that. Let's talk about what you're up to, what you're dreaming about, and what you're doing to better the Channel.
John DeLozier: Yeah. And this is perfect timing because we're coming right off Channel Connect. You know, we had 2,170 people there, and 1,400 of those were partners, a bunch of amazing suppliers. Let's talk about dreams. I mean, holy temoly, it was amazing. What a great week with so many of us. And we had a great time, I think a lot of people were ready to get out and be together. Like, it was a come-together kind of week. A lot of education, a lot of enablement, but I couldn't have dreamt that big like I had no idea that we would do an event like that in Nashville. Obviously, Aryaka is such a big part of it, and it was a lot of fun. So, man, things are good, the Channel is on fire, and we move forward.
Craig Patterson: That's awesome. I mean, I love that answer. I love the fact you had 2,100 people that went to one of the best cities in North America, which is Nashville. What a place to have an event, by the way.
Talk about vision, talk about dreaming. Let's talk about the fact that ScanSource had the vision way back when, I think, well before anybody else. You know, when you started talking about the acquisition that they made of Intelisys back in 2016, you know, they had the vision of bringing these two worlds together, right? Bringing the VAR community together with the traditional agent world. I mean, they were spot on. I think they were spot on, they were an early adopter of that strategy, and it was really exciting to see Intelisys have the Channel Connect event, which really is kind of the first of its kind of event where you bring the two worlds together.
Talk to me about that vision, talk to me about the event and just the excitement on bringing those two worlds together.
John DeLozier: Well, think about this for a second. So, a couple of things-- and I know you know this. I mean, we've been friends for a long, long time, and by the way, just a privilege to be on the podcast and be with you. Because, you know, this is very personal, and I have always told you - business is very personal. And so, this is one of those times. But, you know, it's pretty amazing. You know, I was ScanSource's largest VAR in the contact center space for a decade, and I transmitted hundreds of millions of dollars with ScanSource for many, many years. And then, of course, you know, I went to the supplier side where we met, and all that stuff. And then in '16, ScanSource goes out and buys Intelisys. Just remember this, public knowledge; at that time, Intelisys was billing $650,000,000 a year. So, to put that in perspective, our last financial report from an Intelisys perspective only, we're billing 2.3 billion. And so, I say that to you because yeah, it's a little bit of a chest thumper and I'm proud of it, but we got there very early. ScanSource was way ahead of the game, Craig, and made this happen, and put it together. Now today, you know we're seeing all kinds of consolidation with sub-agents, and TSBs, and suppliers, and all that stuff, and they're going through all their speed bumps.
We've been through all that. That's ancient history for us. And so, you fast forward and it's really what came together at Channel Connect. It was a VAR community, it was an agent community, it was the supplier community, which 14 months ago, I was one. And so, it was an amazing event, but it didn't just happen. Like, that has been building and accumulating for many, many years, and we never looked back. It was phenomenal, it was very special; a different kind of event.
Craig Patterson: Wow. That's amazing. I mean, those are huge numbers, huge growth numbers, by the way. And you talk about going from 650 million to 2.3 billion. And oh, by the way, I think we're really just scratching the surface of what's possible. When you look at the trends and you pick the enterprise client, you know, Fortune 50,100, large global, I mean, the vast majority, as you know, my friend, are leveraging some sort of Channel partners. So, I think you guys are on to something very, very big, and congratulations on a well-built strategy going way back to 2016. That's amazing.
Let's talk about you, John. So, we talked about your career path, being on the VAR side. Obviously, you transitioned over to be a Channel Chief at CenturyLink, and Level 3, and just that timeframe, plus then you went on to do big things at 8x8-- and oh, by the way, I'm leveraging some of that playbook myself in my current role. And then you've obviously decided to take on being one of the top TSBs and just, you know, running that whole organization, which is amazing. What led you to Intelisys? Like, what got you fired up to leave the provider world like, I'm sitting in to go over to the TSB world?
John DeLozier: Well, one of the things that I've always told you and anyone in my circle is, I am anything but common. So, I never want to be common in anything that I do. And, you know, I went down the path of owning my own business for many, many years, and selling those businesses, and being successful in that space, blah, blah, blah. Went in the supplier side, CenturyLink by Level 3, that was a great run with so many of our dear friends. To this day, you and I were talking about it before we went on camera. You know, we love those people very much, and we've known them our whole lives, and then 8x8. But for me, it was a kind of interesting thing. I did so much business with ScanSource in my early days and then went to that supplier side in 2016. I joined CenturyLink as their Global Channel Chief, and I walked into the office of my largest partner, a company called Intelisys, who I'd never had heard of before. And when I walked in, a guy named Jay Bradley, who is a dear friend of both of ours was standing at the door and said, "Hey-"
Craig Patterson: Great guy. Great guy, by the way.
John DeLozier: -great. The best of the best. He said, "Hey, JD, you got to sign this Non-Disclosure Agreement, we're selling the company." I was like, "What? I just got here." Like, I'm meeting my biggest partner, and we're selling the company. And by the way, you've never heard of them, it's a little company out of Greenville, South Carolina, called ScanSource. Craig, I literally thought I was being punked. It was unbelievable. I'm like, "What?" And so, we ended up sitting down, I knew more than anybody in that room about ScanSource, et cetera. So, fast forward, after a really good run on the supplier side, they came to me and said, "Hey, JD, we are looking for a president, and we want you to bring together not only Intelisys, but our modern comms division, and all this software, and hardware, and cloud services, and we think you're the guy."
So, for me, it's like coming home. You know, I grew up on the streets as a kid, of ScanSource, and then just had an amazing run with Intelisys, and so, it's been phenomenal, Craig. Like, it feels so natural, it's so organic for me to be here, it's amazing. And I get to deal with all my friends and it's just pretty awesome stuff.
Craig Patterson: Yeah, that's awesome, man. Congratulations. I couldn't think of a more perfect role for you, my friend. I mean, it's an absolute perfect fit. And congratulations to ScanSource for picking up one of the best human beings and Channel leaders on the planet. So-
John DeLozier: Yeah. That's kind.
Craig Patterson: -yeah. That's awesome. So, let's talk about some of the trends. I mean, you guys have a very interesting perspective. You work with a ton of providers, right? And so, you have the opportunity of really seeing some insights that we don't, because you get to see all the different providers and what they're doing. What are some of the current trends you're seeing in the Channel? Where are you seeing the most growth post-COVID, and what are some of the impacts that are being had within the Channel community?
John DeLozier: Yeah. Well first off, it plays right into Aryaka. As a firm that specializes in all kinds of different things, but obviously, your reputation in SD-WAN and your global footprint, and the things that you have done way before I got here, you know, very impressive. And very much committed to the Channel, which is very cool, and now they've brought in, in my opinion, one of the best Channel leaders in the industry. But you got to think of it this way, the TAM is ridiculous. Like, we haven't even scratched the surface. Somebody told me that if we added up every single supplier on the SD-WAN network, UCaaS, CCaas side, that based on the global TAM, we would be at about 14.7%, and that came from Forrester. So, that's not like just somebody anecdotally made up. So, to your point, it's early innings. Like, this is an amazing opportunity for our partners to get in there and demystify this thing, work with great suppliers like Aryaka, go through great TSBs like ScanSource-- and again, it's an awesome opportunity. So, I just don't think you would want to be anywhere else right now in our industry. It's early, there's great opportunity. This pandemic, Craig, obviously, obviously we're not happy about it, but the pandemic accelerated everything. Somebody told me that in the first 90 days of the pandemic, that there was 15 billion a week being pushed through in digital transformation, that 65% of that went through the Channel. So, it's pretty amazing.
Craig Patterson: Yeah, that is amazing. We're seeing the same trend, by the way. We're seeing things hyper-accelerate in terms of timelines. You know, I look at a lot of KPIs like you, every single day, every single week, we look at trends, and, you know, our pipeline today is as high as it's ever been - almost to a factor of 10 to 15 times the amount of pipeline we're seeing, these aren't transactional onesie-twosie-type deals. I mean, we're talking six-figure, seven-figure opportunities, and oh, by the way, we're winning them together, so, thank you for that.
John DeLozier: Thank you.
Craig Patterson: So, what advice would you give to providers like Aryaka? I mean, obviously, we're trying to embrace the Channel, we're a channel-led organization, but what are some of the other things that we should be doing, or other providers like us should be doing to help us stand out in that crowded space, the providers, that all the TSBs work with?
John DeLozier: Well, one of the things about Aryaka that I love-- and there's many things; not just because I'm on the podcast, not just because I love you, but, you know, you guys show up. That's the first thing. Like, you are always there. You're at all the events, you're at all the education-enablement scenarios, we're past the booze cruise days, dude. We could go get beers on our own. We don't need that, right? It's about enablement, it's about education. The thing I love about your company is that not only do you show up, but you all commit to these kinds of things, and I always felt like, you know, the movie, Field of Dreams, ‘If you build it, they will come’, if you educate them, they will come. And I feel like that you guys have done a great job with the partner community, and helping them understand trends in the marketplace, trends in technology, and the right places that they want to be. So, you know, it's fun. It's a fun partnership with you because we have all kinds, obviously, a great following of partners, but Aryaka continues to step in and step up, which I love.
Craig Patterson: Yeah. Thank you for noticing, and we appreciate that feedback, for sure. And you know, for us, everything that we do, we keep the partner in mind. So, every opportunity, every investment, every program, every engagement, every strategy within our company, we always consider, "What does this mean for the Channel community?" And oh, by the way, I don't know if you've seen it, we just launched our brand-new ACE certification, so we're creating ways for our engineering community out there to get certified on selling Aryaka. It's been highly successful, by the way, we're getting tons and tons of engineers in the Channel community taking that certification every single week, which has been super impactful.
Well, let me ask you this. I know this is something that's very near and dear to your heart, I know it's been something that you've really focused on along the way, and that's culture. You know, I know how incredibly important that is for you, how present that is within all the organizations that you lead. Talk to me about that. What are some things that you do around developing culture within your organizations, and how do you really create that winning mindset for your teams?
John DeLozier: Yeah. My mentors early on were just so hyper-focused on people, and, obviously, you know this, and the world knows this; I'm very naturally a people person, and I gravitate towards Sales and Marketing. And as an organizational leader, I got to do a lot of different things, but for sure, the foundation for me is People, and Marketing. But I always think of it in simple terms. Two things; one, my mentor, when I was early, said to me, "JD, remember three things. This is all you’ve got to know about anything you do in business - it's about the people, it's about the people, and it's about the people." So, that's always stuck with me, never left me. And I feel like, number two; people equals relationships, and relationships equal culture. And so, if you hire the right people and you bring them into the org, the culture will take care of itself.
I always tell the story, which is a quick one of the bride walking down the wedding aisle in this beautiful dress that she picked out and spent hours getting ready for, and she's walking down the aisle and there's an inkblot on the back of her dress. It's the only thing you'll see. You won't see the wedding, you won't see the dress, you won't see the people, you'll see the inkblot. And that's the risk when you bring in the wrong people. They will stick out, trust me. So, my advice is always, you know, just build around people, and relationships, and the culture. Obviously, they've got to be skilled. I mean, I'm not saying bring in people that don't know what they're doing, and the rest will take care of itself, it always does.
Think about this for one second, how long we've known each other - a decade, and here we are on a podcast together. Why? Why is it you and me right now? Because those people find each other and they remember, and they know it's not just nostalgia, it's Aryaka, it's ScanSource, it's all those things, but it was built on this, and that's how it always is.
Craig Patterson: John, I got to tell you, I absolutely love that answer, especially around the three things focusing on; number one - the people, number two - the people, and number three - the people.
I mean, that aligns with myself as well. I always believe that if you create a culture that people want to be a part of, and you're relentless about supporting your people and helping them be successful, the results will come. The results will come. And for me, it's interesting now when we open up a position, an open position here at Aryaka, it's almost like an avalanche. An avalanche of people. And oh, by the way, you know I love the Avalanche. So, there's an avalanche of talent now looking to come into Aryaka, and I think your words are absolutely spot on.
So, John, I know you've been very active in the Channel. You're very well respected, you’ve won a lot of awards, it's always really interesting to look at those awards, especially the Channel Influencer of the Year. I know that means a lot to you, and I know you've worked very hard. And, you know, you've kept a relationship, and you work with integrity and honesty, and you're authentic, right? And you've done it for a long, long time, and that's the reason why you're winning these awards. Tell me about that. Like, what does that mean to you personally? And who are some of the people that have helped you along the way?
John DeLozier: Oh yeah, man, there's so many. I will tell you that first off, awards are only representative of the team, and you know that. So somebody's got to steer the ship, I got it. That's normally me. But you know, the ship gets the award, and we have so many people in our careers that have contributed so very much along the way. And so, I think about all those people, not only in the early days of ScanSource, people like Mike Baur, he's our CEO and Chairman of the Board, who just influenced me. I just wanted to be like him when I was a kid. I think of guys that came along and gals that eventually worked for me, people like Bobby Hall, who you know and love and, Lisa Miller, and so many of the others, Garrett Gee, you know, from our days back in the day, ”Big Burma” at 8x8, Janet Schijns, one of our dear friends, who is a stalwart in the Channel. Jim Glackin, who we're both tight with, there are so many that you can name that have influenced me.
All that said, that Channel Influencer of the Year award was pretty important to me. That's the big one. And, you know, it's not a popularity contest. You don't get to put your name in a raffle, and so, I love that one. I won that award, and I think it was 2020, or 2021, and then the pandemic hit. And so, Craig, you'll love this. I went out, I won that award, I was notified about it. So excited, I bought a new suit, I bought a new shirt. Like, I probably bought a bottle of Armani cologne-- who knows what I bought? I became so excited about it. And two days before Channel Partners, the show gets canceled, just like that. I feel like the Lord just said, "Okay, JD, you've got your moment of fame, and now I'm just going to humble you."
So, it was good. Now, we got to make it up because Janet, and Jay, and I, got to go on stage, and all that, but that was a big one for me. But the awards, you know, they come and go, Craig, it's all about the team, man. It's all about effort. It's all about how you move forward with those people.
Craig Patterson: Yeah. I love that. It's always all about the team. So, let's talk about this; I know you're a huge music fan, I am as well. I'm a diehard eighties rock fan, by the way, and I've influenced my 11-year-old twins, where now they're giant Metallica fans, which I love. And so, we listen to Metallica now on the way to their games, and it's usually like Ride the Lightning, or Battery, or some of the old Metallica albums, which are amazing, by the way. And I know you have a lot of friends in this space, and you're very well connected to Rob Shanahan, who is sort of this rock photographer that's really had an amazing career just being part of all the major milestones throughout rock history. Talk to me about that, man. Tell me about a good story around Rob, or just, you know, a good thought around music, or Rob, in general.
John DeLozier: So, a couple of things. One; yes, I am, as you know, an incredible fan of music. I have played guitar since I was six years old. I showed you earlier, in my free time, this is always out (shows guitar).
Craig Patterson: Love it.
John DeLozier: -and so, Rob, specifically, you know, he's a photographer of the rock stars. The guy was on tour with every major band you know, for many, many years. Best friends with Charlie Watts from The Rolling Stones, the drummer of the Stones who passed away-- and Rob, that was a hard year for him last year. But one good story is that-- I mean, there's so many; I've gone and watched his band play at The Viper Room, in LA, and he's been backstage with The Rolling Stones before they come out to do their concerts, Motley Crue-- and I always carry his equipment. So, I'm like, ‘Just let me come and be the guy that carries the equipment’, so I get to meet people with them. But my favorite is, he came to Channel Partners last November, and when he came, he brought one of his dear friends, a guy named Gregg Bissonette, who was a drummer for David Lee Roth, and a drummer for a bunch of others. And so, Gregg-- now, remember, I'm a die-hard Van Halen fan, that's my group, those are my people. And this is when Sammy took over, and then David Lee Roth, it was a competition, right? It was a Sammy Van Halen-led crew versus David Lee Roth’s Eat 'Em and Smile on a single tour. And Roth hired Steve Vai and these amazing session musicians to go on tour with him, including Gregg Bissonette.
And so, Bissonette came last November to Channel Partners and, you know, he came up to my suite and he did basically a storytellers. I invited 30 partners; they sat around in awe of him telling stories. Him and Rob kind of going back and forth. But my favorite thing from that whole session, you'll love this because you're part of it, is Bissonette looked at me when everybody was leaving, he goes, JD, he said, "I've been on tour with David Lee Roth. I've opened for every band you know, including Metallica, by the way." He said, "I've never seen a group of people in this channel that parties so hard." He goes, "JD, I got to get home. I cannot believe the way you guys do it in this industry." And, you know, it's true. It's crazy.
Craig Patterson: Oh, it's beyond true. I love that. That's amazing. Good stuff. So, let's talk about just some advice. Any favorite life or Channel hack you want to give the listeners to this podcast?
John DeLozier: Yeah. Just look, I always say it, and everybody knows it, and I've actually been criticized for it, and that's okay because I can take it. But business is always personal. Always, this is what it's about. And keeping business personal matters. And I think that your integrity-- I've got daughters, you know, my daughter is now coming up in the business. I've got children, and friends that have children that are coming behind us now. And I know your kids are little, but someday they're going to look at their daddy, and they're going to remember what he did, and they might end up here. I think one of your sons is going to be a professional hockey player. That's a whole ‘nother conversation. But in all truth, you know, business is always personal, and you're going to leave residue, Craig, no matter what. It's going to be good, or it's going to be bad, guaranteed.
And I think that's always been really important to me, that I want to leave a good legacy. And no matter how it turns out, no matter what goes down, it's always about the people, and it's always personal. And, you know, go do your thing, whether you're a hybrid distributor, like ScanSource, or you're a leading provider of services, network services, and software like Aryaka, do what you do, but always be true to yourself, and remember, it's always personal. That's what I would say.
Craig Patterson: That's amazing advice. I know this is going to be a fun answer here, so I know you're a die-hard Buckeye-
John DeLozier: Yes.
Craig Patterson: -and you love some football, right?
John DeLozier: Oh yeah.
Craig Patterson: -and so, there's a big game coming up, right? A big game on November 26th, where the Michigan Wolverines are going to be heading in to play the Buckeyes, right?
John DeLozier: That's right.
Craig Patterson: And so, let's get a prediction. What's the prediction on that score, John? What are you going to say is going to happen there? What's your prediction?
John DeLozier: Well, first of all, they disappeared for 17 years, so let's keep that in mind. So, it was amazing to me last year when my Michigan friends won the game, how many phone calls, and texts, and emails I got from them talking some serious smack like after just getting pummeled for almost two decades. So, I want all of you that know me, and that made those calls, to know that I have not forgotten that. That's number one. Number two, they're coming into Columbus, and I don't know if you've been watching-- actually, I know you for sure, you've been watching, but whoever's watching this podcast, just go ahead and look at what's going on in college.
This Buckeye team is ridiculous. They are as good as I've seen, and I'm going to tell you, they're going to come into Columbus, and it's going to get super ugly, Craig. This is going to be one of those games where the Buckeyes will definitely be favored, and I will definitely be betting on the spread because it's going to be an ugly game in Columbus, write it down: Buckeyes 42, Michigan 17. That's my prediction.
Craig Patterson: There we go. You hear it loud and clear, the prediction from the man, John DeLozier.
So, everybody, it's been an absolute pleasure having my man, my friend, John DeLozier, on. You know, he's just an amazing thought leader in the Channel space; dedicated, devoted, culture-focused, relentless person, focused on the three P's - People, People, and People. I love that, I'm going to use that, going forward. And I love the fact that he's focused on leaving the Channel better off than when he started. That is his mission in life.
And John, there's only one thing left to do. You know, I'm going to give a little 1, 2, 3, and then I want to hear a, "Let's go." We're going to hear a, "Let's go Intelisys and Aryaka." You ready?
John DeLozier: So, Intelisys, and Aryaka, on three.
Craig Patterson: On three.
John DeLozier: All right. You do it. Let's go.
Craig Patterson: All right, here we go; 1, 2, 3,
Craig Patterson and John DeLozier: Let's go, Aryaka and Intelisys.
Craig Patterson: Boom! I love it.
John DeLozier: I love it.
Note: The transcripts of the podcasts may not be fully accurate. Please excuse any grammar and spelling issues.