Put Your Phone Down

Over the last few years, I have learned that time management is of the utmost importance.  Being a father, a husband, and a business owner are all full time jobs.  When you add in my ridiculous social calendar (it’s tough being so cool and having so many friends), monthly WWE pay per view events, semi regular hilarious Facebook postings, and bi-weekly golf outings, there isn’t much time left for…..anything.  And oh yeah, Jen and I are welcoming our second child next week.

Father. Husband. Business Owner.  Three full time jobs, each listed in descending order of importance.  The issue is at times (and if you ask my wife, WAY too many times) I prioritize running the company at the expense of being present for family time.  The key word there is present- as in- not checking my email at Chuck-E-Cheese or while we are relaxing in front of a family movie. 

It is very difficult for me to detach from the company.  Every email to me demands immediate response and is THE most important email of all time.  I’ve found myself telling my wife more times than I can count that I will “come back” to the present just as soon as I finish another email.   If I don’t reply to an employee concern immediately I cannot shake the guilt.  What will they think if I don’t get back to them within 5 minutes?  Will they think I don’t care about them?  Will a potential teaming partner rescind an offer if I don’t get back to them ASAP? 

The answer is….it can wait. 

Unless one of my kids starts the next One Direction, chances are I’m going to be working for the next 30 years.  This means 30 more years of employee emails, customer complaints, and proposal data calls.  Unfortunately, Jake is only going to be 4 years old for another 6 months.  I have roughly 3 years left before he realizes I am not as awesome as I think I am. Our new son is going to have so many “firsts” over the next year…moments I don’t want to miss because I am preoccupied with another email.

I won’t change overnight, but I will try. It will make me a better Father, a better Husband…and ultimately a better Business Owner.




Furloughed….Looking Back

When things are going well for integrateIT, I have the opportunity to interview somewhere between three and five people a week.  When you take that number, and multiply it by the three years or so I have been conducting interviews….that’s a lot of interviews.  While each experience is different, the same questions pop up from the candidates.  Common points of discussion include the direction of the company, current status of existing contracts, and integrateIT’s total benefits package.  But over the last few months, everyone has asked me the same thing…what did your company do for its employees during the furlough?

First, it is important to look back at the landscape of the times….all of three months ago.  Over the past eight years, there have been several threats of work stoppages, each seemingly halted with a last minute deal.  It had gotten to the point of the boy who cried wolf, so no one really believed a furlough would come, and if it did, we’d all be out of work for what would amount to a snow day.  The first day off, I think about 90 percent of my company played golf.  Everyone was in a good mood, laughing and joking.  By the third day, people were starting to get jitters, and the laughter turned nervous.  By the fifth day? Well, people were starting to worry about how bills were going to be paid.

This was the first time an event on a national level personally impacted me.  By no means am I comparing the furlough to a catastrophe such as Hurricane Katrina where lives were lost, as obviously these events are on two different spectrums.  But to me, the furlough was huge.  I was in the one percent of people that was affected, while everyone else was able to carry on with their lives.  I was incredibly stressed out….stress that I have never felt before.  I had no way to decompress.  Each day I spent hours refreshing my web browser to see if there was any movement towards ending the shutdown.  As the shutdown entered into the second week, I became more depressed as movement seemingly was halted…and status updates were pushed further and further away from the front page of the news.  As stressed out as I was, I could only imagine how worried our employees were.  They had heard stories from their peers about salary freezes, about benefits no longer being paid.  As cliche as it sounds, and I’ve mentioned this before, Geoff and I recognize the leap people take to work for a small company.  We have promised our staff that we will do whatever we can to take care of them, and we mean it. As such, Geoff and I decided to pay our staff during the shutdown.  No matter what it took, we were going to figure out a way to make it work.  But as the shutdown entered the third week, we knew we couldn’t keep this up much longer, else there wouldn’t be a company for anyone to come back to.

Fortunately, it never came to that.  The shutdown ended, and everyone went back to work.  The whole thing seems like a distant memory.  Except it isn’t, not to me, and not to the people that experienced it.  Every day is a reminder to feel grateful to be able to make a living.  Every day is a reminder to work hard, or else someone could replace you. I don’t feel entitled.  I feel lucky.  And I hope everyone else feels the same way.   I hope the people that we interview that ask about how we handled the furlough feel the passion we have towards our company and the loyalty we have to our staff.  And….I hope we never have to deal with this again.


My First Time….

Blogging, you silly geese.

My name is David Baldini and I am the Vice President and CFO of integrateIT LLC. Unless you and I have been friends for a while, you have probably never heard of my company. We are an IT consulting company with a niche in portfolio management based in Northern Virginia.

So who am I and where did I come from?  I graduated from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia in 2003.  I believe I finished somewhere around 310 of 330 students, but I’m okay with that.  After graduation, I moved to Northern Virginia and worked for some big consulting companies such as KPMG, Accenture, and Booz Allen.  After realizing that working for multiple people was miserable, I decided it would be easier to work for one person, and joined integrateIT where I met Geoff Keller, our President and CEO, in January of 2006. It seemed like a great idea to join a company of two with a single contract, seeing as I was getting married about five months later.  This is probably a good time to mention Jenny, the other (and most important) CEO in my life.  Jen runs our family and without her, there is no chance I could do what I do on the company side, because she literally takes care of everything else.  Outside of integrateIT, I am the father of Jake (age 4) and future Son (age 8 months in belly). I am a huge sports fan (Redskins and Wizards), music fan (Bon Jovi, 80s hair metal, Creed, and other bands no one else respects), and fan of degeneracy (casinos, professional wrestling, my idiot friends).  I will supplement future columns of this blog with tales of the aforementioned awesomeness.

And now, the company.  integrateIT has been in business for 10 years, and has grown to 22 full time employees, which in itself is a great success. Geoff  and I take great pride in our business.  It is our baby.  It is our goal to nurture, grow, and sustain our business no matter what the day or state of the industry brings.  We care about our employees.  The commitment they have made to trust their careers in our hands is one that Geoff and I would never take lightly.  I truly believe that we work for them as much as they work for us.

But with all great successes come great challenges and obstacles.  I can honestly say that no two days of running this company are alike. Running the company is more than a full time job.  You never have to “turn it on” because you never really “turn it off”. Other than our families, it is the first thing we think about in the morning, and the last thing we think about at night. When you are a small business owner, you truly are accessible 24/7/365, wearing whatever hat is needed at the time.  There is always an employee that needs assistance, a meeting that needs taken, a call that needs returned, an interview that needs conducted, a bill that needs paid, or an email that needs written. Oh yeah, and I need to work my full time job on client site as well.  And the industry? Well, that changes daily too, what with the next furlough, sequestration cut, administration change, hot technology, and the like.

So what is the point of this blog? To make you read about me as much as possible of course.  But other then that, it is to communicate with anyone who is interested in any aspect of business, whether it be how to operate a business, lead a business, grow within a business, or step away from a business.  I hope to learn more about myself in these posts, just as I hope you all learn a bit about me.