#29: Security in a Cloud-Enabled World, with Dan Mannion of Armor.









Security is a wildly important topic today given the risks and the number of security threats from bad actors and nation states. Security in a cloud-enabled world requires a new approach as organizations transform. Solutions that address multi platform needs are more important now than ever before.

My guest for this podcast episode is Dan Mannion, Vice President of Partners & Technology Alliances for Armor, a Security Platform Company based in Richardson, Texas. In this interview Dan addresses the new realities of security in a cloud-enabled world and how Armor solves for them.

As the First Totally Secure Cloud Company™, Armor sets the standard for managed cloud security services – delivering protection, detection and response for data workloads and applications no matter where they’re hosted.

Dan is responsible to all aspects of business alliances with vendors and Armor’s reseller channel for this fast growing Cloud Security company. He has been responsible for creating a trusted, predictable indirect sales channel that will soon generate the majority of the revenue for the company and shifting the previous channel business from SMB focused and reactive, to proactive and mid-market/lower enterprise focused.

In this interview you will learn:

  • The importance of security in today’s heterogeneous, multi cloud platform IT environment.
  • The “Three Types of Threat Actors”.
  • Armor’s Security Platform – Spartan – secures over 1200 customers in 45 countries today.
  • The Shared Responsibility Model – accountability when customers move their apps and data to the cloud
  • How he balances his business focus across two hyperscaler vendor partners – Microsoft and Amazon Web Services or AWS.
  • The three classes of organizations he partners with to sell and deliver his solutions.
  • How he enables Armor’s partners to successfully identify, qualify and sell.
  • Where he sees the growth – Armor Anywhere, international expansion and partner growth.
  • What makes a great partner.
  • Dan’s career journey including career advice and great books he recommends.

You can listen to the podcast and read the transcript of this episode below.

As with each of my interview and articles, I appreciate your feedback. You can reach me on Linked In or on email at vincem@cloudwavepartners.net. You can also review this podcast by going to iTunes and searching “Ultimate Guide to Partnering” and clicking on the album art and hitting the ratings link. This helps others find the podcast.

Thank you for following and listening.

I hope you enjoy this episode!

Vince Menzione


Vince Menzione:             00:36                  Welcome to the twenty ninth episode of The Ultimate Guide to partnering my guest for this episode is Dan Mannion the vice president of partners and technology alliances for armor armor sets the standard for managed cloud security services delivering protection detection and response for data workloads and applications. No matter where they are hosted in this episode Dan talks about the importance of security in today’s volatile I.T. environment. The three types of threat actors armor’s secure platform and how it secures over 1200 customers in 45 countries today how he thinks about partnerships alliances and channels and how channels will be such an important part of armor’s growth moving forward. I hope you enjoy this episode and thank you for your support and for listening to The Ultimate Guide to partnering.

Vince Menzione:             01:30                  Dan welcome to the podcast. I’m delighted to welcome you here today. You and I have known each other for quite some time. You’re the vice president of partners and alliances for armer a company focused on manage cloud security services and your organization Partners with the hyperscalers. Some of our partner listeners and customers to deliver world class solutions. So welcome to the podcast.

Dan Mannion:                 01:52                  Well thank you Vince It’s a pleasure to be here and we got very excited when you invited me to be able to participate on this. So  looking forward to speaking with you and sharing some of our journey with your listeners to start off.

Vince Menzione:             02:06                  Can you tell our listeners a little bit about armer the company’s value proposition and mission and how that’s evolved?

Dan Mannion:                 02:13                  Sure. Happy to. So armorers been in the market since 2009. We were founded to be the most secure virtual private cloud hosting company on the planet and did that very effectively for the first five years of our existence. Grew from nothing to over a thousand customers in 45 countries. And then we decided to look at what’s where’s the next leg of growth going to come from. And we looked at going after federal business we looked at investing more in an international expansion but we couldn’t ignore that giant sucking sound that came from the Seattle area which was the Amazon cloud as well as the Microsoft Azure cloud. And when we saw what was happening in the industry coupled with some of our top customers coming to us and saying hey we really love what you do in your environment by security. Some of our most important applications is our most critical data but we’re still going to take some of our applications to Amazon over applications to Azure. Can you productize your security and take it with you. And that was really the inspiration for us to go down a new path which led us to our second line of products in the market. So today we a managed cloud security services provider. Think of us as a security SAS firm that deploys solutions into a customer’s environment wherever that environment may be. And then we provide the 24 by 7 manage security services behind that with a world class military grade security operations center staying at our headquarters in Dallas Texas. So

Vince Menzione:             03:40                  Security is such an important and complex topic and it’s top of mind for so many people today. Can you take us novices behind the curtain a little bit and break down what the aspects of security are and what the solutions that you provide do?

Dan Mannion:                 03:56                  Sure. Well anytime you’re talking about security the first thing you need to understand is what are you trying to be secure from. And so from a strategy perspective we always take a focus on what are the threat actors out there doing what kind of threat actors are coming after us and what kind of tactics and data are they after. And you know the industry has changed quite a bit.  Ten 15 years ago none of what you see happening today was in the newspapers or was even considered. And over the last really five years it has completely evolved to be a very profitable very strong business model for threat actors and cyber criminals around the world. And so what we’ve seen is that there are three types of threat actors in the market today. One we call this the threat actors their commodity threat actors. There are people just starting out in their careers their kids on campuses they’re downloading free software and and running scans against your environment and trying to figure out if they can use common cyber techniques to try to hack into your environment. Sometimes they do it for profit. Most times they’re doing it for fun. The challenge for most security firms is that that causes a lot of noise and distracts them from protecting against the really bad guys which are the B and the actors.  The actors are the ones that you read about in the newspaper. And that’s the timing of our podcast is very germane because this is the week that we all learned about the Equifax for each hundred and forty three million personnel records and private information from U.S. citizens have now been leaked to to a criminal gang and that criminal gang is going to be using that data for some time to their profit. These are highly sophisticated very well-funded criminal networks coming now from all corners of the planet used to start out of Eastern Europe and Russia. We now see these these types of gangs coming out of Brazil Indonesia China India you name it there are these these gangs are executing every day 24 by 7 and they run highly efficient almost call center like businesses in order to to drive profit to their to their bottom line.  And then the last. Are they a threat actors and most of us don’t need to worry about the threat actors because those of the the tax payer funded the right actors those the NSA operators Israeli intelligence German intelligence the British intelligence these these are the right actors that are after nation state secrets the the intellectual property of the next aircraft carrier. So as long as you’re working with customers that don’t have that kind of super secure and important information those are threat actors that you don’t have to worry about unfortunately. Those are the most sophisticated because those are the ones you’ll never read about in the newspaper because they really are good at not only just getting in but getting in undetected and getting what they want without anybody ever finding out.  So in summary there are three types of threat actors out there. And what is most important for us to understand is what kind of data do you have and what type of threat actor would be after that data and then you start to construct your security program based on that knowledge.

Vince Menzione:             07:02                  So you mentioned that Armor has a security is in the security platform business. Can you explain what that is. And take our listeners through how that solves or some of the threat actor as you just discussed?

Dan Mannion:                 07:15                  Absolutely. So as we decided to develop our security program and strategy to protect customers from A B and C threat actors we found that treating every customer as a snowflake was going to be a very challenging way for us to go about this. If we try to secure every single customer differently you don’t get an A cost efficiencies and you don’t get any scale efficiencies in terms of how you can protect all customers from threats you see across that environment. So we decided to go down the path of not investing in security tools and trying to build the next generation of security tool of a particular compute stack layer. But instead we decided to invest in building a security platform. We call that platform Spartan what Spartan enables us to do is to secure over twelve hundred customers. They are using the same exact security stack and then we can manage and orchestrate that stack using the Spartan platform where that gives us great advantages as if we see a let’s see we say a banking customer that’s getting attacked with a certain type of malware. We can reverse engineer that malware using our threat researchers and our incident response team. And then when we figure out how to block or remediate that now where we can then write the signatures into our security tools for all 12 hundred customers almost immediately.  And so you get a great benefit of being able to understand what’s going on from one attack doctor and then protect all of the customers that are protected by that Spartan platform fairly seamlessly and it’s all included as part of our standard service for our customers.

Vince Menzione:             08:56                  So as a service you’re able to replicate it very quickly and provide it out to all of your customers. It’s amazing. Absolutely.  So I’m moving to the cloud you talked about a lot of your customers moving to the cloud moving to Amazon moving to Azure and the like.  And what happens now from a security perspective once I moved my data my applications to the cloud?

Dan Mannion:                 09:17                  That’s an incredibly important question and something that’s really misunderstood in the industry.  We actually encourage our customers to move to the public cloud because if you if you look at the investments that Amazon Google Microsoft and others are doing to build those data centers secure those data centers create the role based access to ensure that none of their employees have access to your environment. It’s really phenomenal the kind of security controls that they’ve been able to invest in automate and put in place. However there is this thing called the shared responsibility model that all public cloud proprietors have and the share of responsibility model states that the cloud provider will secure everything up to the virtual machine that your application is setting up.  Now the virtual machines that you sit on your application servers your database servers and then all of the network ports that you open up in order to access your environment that is 100 percent the responsibility of the customer to provide those security controls. And unfortunately it’s that’s very mis understood. In fact when I give talks at technology conferences around the world. Alas the room how many we are moving to the public cloud today and invariably 70 percent of their hands go up in the room and then I ask how many of you understand the share responsibility model and what that means from a security perspective. And usually only two or three hands stay up.  So it’s a very important concept but fortunately a very misunderstood concept in the market

Vince Menzione:             10:44                  That’s amazing and I thought I thought all along that the cloud providers provided all that security kind of embrace the application in the whole stack. But what you’re saying is it’s that’s not the case so what are customers then need to do once they have this shared responsibility?

Dan Mannion:                 10:58                  Well there’s there’s always three customary three choices for every single customer’s going into the cloud. One do nothing. So maybe you’re just putting up a public Web site and it doesn’t matter if it gets hacked and the data there is a public anyway. Don’t don’t invest in securing something that doesn’t need to be protected and that’s fine for two you’re going to build your own security model. Now that requires you to understand how you do security in the cloud which is different than you’re going to do it in your own data center and then it also requires you to go out and try to shop through the marketplaces of the public cloud providers and figure out which solutions from which vendors are going to be best served and in your environment. And you’ve got to build integration hooks in between the different solutions that you’re going to stack up into your environment to protect you.  And then you have to go out and hire those super smart security professionals that are incredibly hard to find and very expensive to to retain and build a 24 by 7 Security Operation Center team. And then the last choice you have is you can partner and that’s the area where where armorers been incredibly successful with customers especially in the mid-market and going all the way up into the enterprise because doing cloud security is a new muscle even for grizzled veterans in the security business.  And so deliver security and 24 by 7 monitoring services very very quickly that allows customers to still take advantage of that public cloud flexibility and the gelati that they’re they’ve really been promised from most providers.

Vince Menzione:             12:26                  So who would be an ideal customer of your organization?

Dan Mannion:                 12:30                  Yeah we do incredibly well in mid-market companies up to the lower enterprise space just for my size. The reason why we do incredibly well there is they are large enough to have data that threat actors care about and they also know that they could be at risk but they’re not funded enough to replicate the kind of 24 by 7 Security Operations Center team that we have for that maybe you know a Fortune 50 company like J.P. Morgan might. We also do incredibly well in any kind of financial health care or any regulated industry. So those companies that have PIII information that have a credit card information that have financial data for customers healthcare information on individuals. Anybody who has that type of data that really really needs to be protected because that’s core to your business model and to the trust that you have with your customers. Those organizations are are through and through a large percentage of our wealth on our customers.

Vince Menzione:             13:32                  So you’re the V.P. of alliances and partners. Can you take our audience through what the outcome and the mission for your role is?

Dan Mannion:                 13:40                  Absolutely. So we treat the alliance relationships and the partner relationships a little bit differently. I have a small team focused on a relationship with Microsoft and Amazon. And really the way that we approach that is how do we first use those relationships to give brand differentiation to Armor. So anytime we can have the Armor brand and the Amazon brand or the Armor brand in the Microsoft brand show up together in front of our prospective customers it just quickly adds credibility to the to that Armor brand. Second thing we try to do is work with those companies to create technical differentiation in our platform. So if I can more deeply integrate into the Azure cloud or into the Amazon cloud and provide features and functions that differentiate me against my competitors the Mac gives me great value in the market. And then lastly we look at those relationships to start to drive revenue and opportunities for us.  So how do we craft our up our value proposition so that Amazon and Microsoft Sollars understand why Armor can accelerate their customers move to the cloud and remove that fear uncertainty and doubt security and compliance on the partner side of the business. We have worked hard over the last year to really understand what is the best profile of partner for us and we’ve really started to settle on three profiles. One are the cloud migration consultancies out there and there are large companies going all the way up to Accenture down to you know small 5 10 percent regional shops that have a really bright people and great expertise and particular area. So cloud migration consultants these are great for us because at some point as you’re moving to the cloud you’ve got to answer that question for the customer.  Hey what about security and privacy and the cloud and armor can be the easy button to continue to accelerate those migrations. We also work with the board in the cloud and espies who are actually managing the Amazon and Microsoft have a structure on behalf of customers and simplifying that process. They also get asked about that security and privacy question. And then finally we work with security and infrastructure resellers because those resellers who grew up usually selling a lot of gear into a particular data center colo facility on behalf of a customer. They’re shifting into helping customers move to the cloud as well. And so we also have a great value proposition.

Vince Menzione:             15:57                  So tell me a little bit more about working with both of the door to the top hyper scalers. How do you split your business between Amazon and Microsoft?

Dan Mannion:                 16:07                  That’s a great question. We initially split our business 50/50 so we try to go after those guys at the same level of investment time and energy and then as we developed relationships with with those providers and we saw the direction that they were both going into. We’ve started this shift about a 70 30 split so 70 percent of our time in investment has really invested in AWOS and about 30 percent of our time investment is invested in Microsoft and there’s really two core reasons for that. Number one on the one of it’s customer driven. So as we go out and engage customers and talk to them about their cloud journey 70 percent of the time they’ve already made the decision that AWOS is their destination of choice and only 30 percent of the time we’re saying that that Azure is winning that conversation. So we have to go where the customers are asking us to go.  And then secondly when we look at the partner eco system we found that while we love our Microsoft partners they get torn in different directions because of the breadth of offerings that Microsoft has. So for example you could be working with a or one day on an azure project the next day they won’t return your call because they’re doing all this 365 migration and the next week they’re working on Windows 10 deployment and the week after that they might get back to the azure business. Whereas when you work with an AWOS committed partner there’s only one thing for them to do. It can only sell AWOS that can only sell that cloud infrastructure and help companies migrate into that environment. So we found it’s just been a little bit easier from a go to market perspective to work with the aid of the ecosystem. And

Vince Menzione:             17:41                  You mentioned the three classes of partners.  You have a pretty complex solutions. How do you and how do you enable those partners to be successful?

Dan Mannion:                 17:50                  Wow that is the that is the million dollar question for us right now. It’s been a lot of heavy lifting in the short term. I have a team of partner and development managers around the country. So two per regions so six total and then I have one guy in the U.K. We have a dedicated partner solution architect in our business. And  so for the first hundred partners that we’ve onboarding over the last 12 months it’s really been a manual process. We have a very formal onboarding process but it requires either us traveling to the partner or the partner traveling to us and then going through a series of trainings where we teach them both from a sale that they will get perspective as well as a technical sales perspective which is a super important thing we’ve learned over the last 12 months really how to identify and arm more opportunity how to help qualify that opportunity. And then when to bring us in as the security experts to help them bridge that gap as we go forward I’m really looking for new solutions on how I can take that to scale because I can’t get from the first hundred partners to the next 300 partners. I’m using that very manual model today.

Vince Menzione:             18:58                  So do you have your own certification process?

Dan Mannion                  19:00                  We are evolving that. Absolutely. So we’re completing the technical sales enablement and working with our solution architecture team as well as our security team to ensure that we understand what we want people to be proficient in. And then 2018 we’re going to take that on where we can actually create certifications test individuals for those and have tracking mechanisms to know who’s done what and where. So

Vince Menzione:             19:26                  I’m one of those three classes of partners right the size the MSP and the security firms that provide solutions. Why  would I want to partner and align with Armor?

Dan Mannion:                 19:37                  It’s a great question. So couple of things. Number one generally these companies want to partner with Armor because they’re looking for a way not to slow down their core business which is either the selling of security services the migration of workloads to the cloud or the management of those workloads.  And the number one blocker that we hear from these companies is this fear uncertainty and doubt that customers have around security. And unfortunately these companies aren’t security specialist either. So often times they’ll have these migration consultants these will stop and they won’t be able to deploy their cloud architects for another three months another 12 months as the customer tries to investigate internally. How are you going to be secure in the cloud. So the number one reason we get chosen to do this is because we removed that blocker and remove that fear uncertainty and doubt long term. The feedback that we’ve been told about why customer why our partners are excited to continue to partner with us is we have a very unique stance in the market where we can actually provide security for a customer. One of our partners customers in any environment that they want and that’s very unique.  Most of the solution providers we compete against might be specialists in AWOS or they might be specialists in Azure or they recommend going into Rackspace because that’s where they’ve done most of their business. The armor value proposition and how we productize what we our security solution it’s called armer anywhere we can literally take it to any data center to secure any workload that you want and that’s a great value proposition for Migration companies crowded mess fees and security resellers to embrace now you talked about the 100 moving to 300 partners.

Vince Menzione:             21:24                  Can you talk a little bit about the company and where it’s headed and where do you see the growth?

Dan Mannion:                 21:31                  Absolutely. So today 2200 customers 45 countries we have about 250 people in market. Most of them are in our Dallas HQ area I’d say it’s about 80 20 split between HQ and and around the country and around the world. Where we really see the growth coming from is twofold. Number one we see a comment in our new arm or anywhere solution and we’re really excited about that because it’s both a it gives us more app x so to speak because we can literally secure you anywhere.  There’s there’s very few customer conversations we can get into or we can’t figure out a solution that works for that customer. So we think that’s going to be a huge lever of growth for us. We also think international expansion is going to be a huge lever of growth for us. And the thing that my board in my leadership team are incredibly excited about is expanding through partners. At the end of the day when I first came on board about 18 months ago the company was doing about 10 percent of revenue through the partners that existed at that time and they were very SMB oriented partners. And so we really had to hit the reset button redesign all the different partner programs so we could go after and work with partners that were focused on that core mid markets of the lower enterprise space since we launched in July of last year.  We’ve now shifted 30 percent of revenue to go through partners. And if our pipeline works out the way I’m hoping to by the end of this year will be up to 50 percent of revenue. And so we’re really putting our our money where our mouth is and demonstrating that we’re committed to building a very robust partner business and working with the top players in those markets to bring security to their customers.

Vince Menzione:             23:11                  Wow that’s outstanding growth from 10 percent and mostly SMB or small partners to almost 50 percent of the business I hear you saying.

Dan Mannion:                 23:19                  Absolutely. Absolutely and we because we have been moving up market with these trusted partner relationships. We’ve also been setting records in terms of the size. So we’re going from average deal sizes of about twenty five hundred a month to deal sizes north of$10000 a month and setting some seven figure record deals.

Vince Menzione:             23:38                  So what do you think are the characteristics or what makes a great partner?

Dan Mannion:                 23:43                  As a fantastic question well when I start to engage companies the first thing I try to understand is culturally are we aligned. Is this a business that does well partnering and or their executives committed to those types of relationships and can they prove that they’ve done that in the past. So you’ve got to have some level of cultural alignment that’s important for these types of partnerships to be successful.  Secondly can we define what our unique value proposition is in the market if we combine our solutions together and we don’t have a definition of what our company and your company can do uniquely that we can’t do with any other of your competitors in the market. And if you can get to that unique value proposition then it’s something very easily for your for your sellers to adopt. And that’s the last area that we really examine which is is this friction free for your seller. Are they talking to the same buyers that would actually purchase and armor solution if we’re asking those sellers to go talk to new buyers with the new value proposition. That’s way too much friction for a seller who is trying to make their quota every month and every quarter. So are we aligned on from a value proposition that unique value proposition. And are we already selling to the same buyer if you can check those three boxes. Then we have the makings of a successful partnership. So

Vince Menzione:             25:05                  When you came in 18 months ago and looked at that 10 percent of the business were there some partners that just weren’t getting it. And what were the characteristics of partners that weren’t succeeding?

Dan Mannion:                 25:15                  It was very reactive. So usually we actually had an Let’s see it when I first came on board we had 291 partner agreements signed only about twenty three or twenty four of those partners were active and we had no way to forecast the business. And that’s because what it usually happened is that partner was looking for a solution on behalf of their customer. They somehow found armor through a Google search or through referrals in the industry. They came to us to solve that one particular customer solution but it wasn’t aligned to their core business.  So just like we talked about the three makings of the great partnership we can we never came up with the unique value proposition. It wasn’t core to how their sellers were going to market already. It was just a we were reacting to a customer demand. Let’s  see if we can find a provider to help them. So that’s where we really wanted to shift gears as we went into 2017 and start to focus on the alignment of those types of partners where culturally we’re aligned we can build that unique value proposition and we’re already talking to the same buyer that’s where we’re really seeing the traction.

Vince Menzione:             26:25                  And you mentioned earlier going to market with both Microsoft and Amazon. And what does that look like. I mean are there any things you’re doing specifically to reach customers jointly?

Dan Mannion:                 26:35                  Great. Another great question. What does that look like. A lot of work is what it looks like right now.  As you know the sales forces of Amazon and Microsoft are driven very hard and there’s ecosystems of tens of thousands of partners that are trying to get their attention. And so you have all these relationships to make them not just about brand or about technical differentiation but to that revenue generation element. It takes a lot of heavy lifting and a lot of hardware. So the two areas that we’re focused on is number one can we construct in a very specific Amazon value proposition. And then a very specific Microsoft proposition because they’re different they’re going to respond to different ways of how you you tell your story. Can we construct that in a way that’s simple for them to understand and very easy for them to consume. And then secondly are we holding accountable our sellers and my partner or develop managers to actually go out there and on the market and build relationships with the decision makers in key leaders in those field organizations if we can do that and if we can continue to show up where Microsoft and AWS show up and we can be consistent in how we engage them and show value to them month over month quarter over quarter and you start to see those become not just those Barnie relationships where we’re swapping brands but they actually become productive revenue generators for a while.

Vince Menzione:             28:01                  Then you mentioned prior to starting the podcast today that you’re doing a road show with Microsoft That’s coming up soon?

Dan Mannion:                 28:07                  That’s right. We’re kicking off a 15 city road show where we’ve selected 15 different markets. We selected a regional partner. That’s an existing partner each one of those markets and now we’re working with a Microsoft Azure solution architect to host a three hour migrating to Azure securely event for our customers. And so the registration has been phenomenal. Our goal has been to get to about 25 customers and every MTC and we’re currently exceeding that for let’s say two thirds of the the market that we’re going into. That’s very exciting and we think that’s also going to accelerate how we got to market with Microsoft in those local local regions.

Vince Menzione:             28:51                  So any other advice for partners looking to engage with you or your organization?

Dan Mannion:                 28:57                  I would just say reach out if you have an interest in security if your customers are. Are you are concerned about security privacy and compliance as they’re thinking about moving to the cloud. Reach out to us come to our Web site.  We have a very simple way to get engaged and my team is incredibly focused and motivated to find strong partners that we can go to market with. And that’s I think that’s a key point that I want to make before we close out is just spending last decade of my career at Microsoft and looking at the ecosystem of partners and truly understanding what it takes from a time resource and investment perspective to go from a great idea to actual revenue and market.  We’re not about just trying to sign up 300 partners and have a bunch of logos on our website.  I will turn away more partners than I engage because when we do engage a partner we’re committed to building a go to market plan work have been into doing events together webinars together and we really want to turn that into a profitable relationship for both companies. Otherwise why are we in this business today.

Vince Menzione:             30:01                  That’s a great commitment from your organization Dan. And I hope our partners are listening or paying attention to that. Hey I want to shift gears here a little bit. We are going to provide links to your information in our show notes for sure. So  partners can reach you personally but I do want to spend a little bit of time and as you know from listening to other episodes I’m fascinated with how people got to this particular spot in their lives. And I was hoping you could share with our listeners a little bit more about how you got started and how you got to this point in your career.

Dan Mannion:                 30:31                  Sure. That would be great. So I actually started my career as a technical recruiter on Wall Street. Coming out of my undergrad program at Penn State.  And the only reason I took that role. In fact I didn’t even know what kind of role I was taking to be quite frank.  The only reason I took that role is they had advertised a six month training program to teach new grads about the software hardware and system administrator markets at the time.  What I didn’t realize it was the only reason they were doing that is so that we could sense we being 22 year old kids could convince men and women who are I.T. professionals car payments mortgages to leave their job at one company and take a job somewhere else. But it was a great training both from the standpoint of understanding the market in the industry. And then they spent six months really training us up on how to be very proficient sellers in the market. And I was blessed that that particular opportunity took me to where I live today which is Austin Texas. I moved Austin back in 1996 and I just got caught up in the excitement. That was the Internet boom that was going on there in startups that were popping up all over Austin. I was placing engineers into companies that were going public and they were becoming paper millionaires overnight. Then I called them six months later and they’d say I’d say hey this Dan has a gallon than that said Dan who.  Dan I’m the guy who actually your job and I couldn’t believe that that I was on the sidelines watching this happen. And that’s never been my personality. I like to get in the game. So I talked myself into my first software sales position at a startup called Jack that was successfully purchased by another company. I then talk myself into another software sales job that. And then finally found a really great startup called Higher dot com where I spent the next six years my life. And one of the things that I’d encourage young people to think about when they’re coming out of either college or high school or their grad programs is what type of company you want to go work for and what I really found that first decade of my career is working at small companies gave me an immense amount of exposure to decision making to our executives to how we think about resource investments cetera. I just became a business person not just a salesperson because I was exposed to those types of leadership conversations and choices that we have to make.  And then I was looking about 11 years of my career I’ve Gerren a bag and leading sales teams direct sales organizations. When someone encouraged me to look outside the company because if I wanted to pursue my path which was to eventually lead a software business or become a CEO of my own software company I had to understand that that still 90 percent of all software is transacted through channel partners. It’s an indirect sales model and that’s when the light bulb went on and just through some great relationships and friendships that I still hold dearly. Today I found my way to a referral into a great opportunity at Microsoft where I then got to spend the next 10 years my career really learning how the largest and most successful software company on the planet builds partner ecosystems in order to scale their products around the globe. So that was my last 10 years of my career. Now I’m excited to start to apply those back into those learnings back into smaller companies and hopefully do the same and build armor and whatever next chapters come into my life using the knowledge of the direct and indirect sales experience.

Vince Menzione:             33:57                  And what did you get your degree in?

Dan Mannion:                 33:58                  Great question I actually went into college to be a surgeon. I was a pre-med undergrad until I was my junior in college when I had a very heartfelt decision and decide not to pursue medicine anymore. And then I got a marketing degree with a psychology minor. I actually thought about becoming a psychology major. And then I said you know what I want to sit around and listen to people’s problems all day. So then I went into sales and you know what I started doing sitting around listening to people’s problems all the way.  I also was a marketing major so I could relate to that.

Vince Menzione:             34:28                  So what is the most fun aspect of the job for you?

Dan Mannion:                 34:31                  Oh it’s it’s the journey.  Frankly it’s you know I came here and there was two people actually three people in my team. One person is still a great contributing member of the team. She’s been fantastic. One person I moved into in account management role and she’s really excelling there.Unfortunately one person we had to move out of the business pretty quickly it just wasn’t the right fit. We’ve been able to build a terrific team with diverse sets of skills and to see that team come together and create this set of partner programs which is now getting the kind of momentum in the market that we’ve talked about. And that’s really that’s really what it’s all about to be able to work with great people to give them an opportunity to do their best work and then to see the impact that that work has not just on our business but in all the businesses of the partners. And you know what they’re investing in order to build these giant businesses together. And that’s been that’s been the most rewarding part of this journey.

Vince Menzione:             35:27                  So it was the best piece of advice that you received when you got started?  Maybe you impart to others that you mentor.

Dan Mannion:                 35:34                  Let’s say I’ve gotten a ton of great advice in my career. So if I could if I could boil it down to one nugget the one thing that I always try to do that I think is is to be super important no matter what stage of your career as in is just be great every day of what you do. You need to wake up every day and try to be the highest level of excellence. Be dependable be reliable do what you say you’re going to do. Understand how to manage and set expectations appropriately so that you can always exceed those expectations and just try to be the best possible individual contributor manager executive. Whatever level of your career as long as you just wake up every day and try to be great at what you can do that day. I’ve found that your career and frankly your life has worked out just right.

Vince Menzione:             36:23                  That’s an awesome piece of advice it reminds me of the saying by John Wooden who I admire quite a bit. Make each day your masterpiece.

Dan Mannion:                 36:30                  That’s funny that I agree 100 percent. It’s funny that you mention John Wooden because one of my favorite quotes that I use with every team that I have had the pleasure and privilege to be able to manage and lead is one or one of his quotes which is he used to tell his players every day your actions speak so loud I can’t hear your words.

Vince Menzione:             36:50                  You know we talked about a very successful career in technology three startups I bet each of those had their unique stories.But what about hurdles. Did you have to face any hurdles in any of these organizations and how did you overcome them?

Dan Mannion:                 37:05                  Wow that’s a long list. On I’m not sure if we have three more hours. We might send this into a series as you go down the main obstacle series there. Every role every company every every week frankly of your career you’re going to face hurdles you’re going to face obstacles. Some the ones that that were most not challenging for me to overcome but important I think for me to overcome was in those transitionary time. So when you’re trying to go from being an individual contributor to a manager and you’re trying to go from a manager to be an executive understanding how to be self-aware and realize that what got you from A to B is not the same set of skill sets that will get you successful from B to C. And so I think number one trying to figure out how to become the most self-aware individual that I could and be honest with myself and and realize what I’m good at and what I’m not good at and try to steer my career in areas that I can that the role can and maximize my strengths and not try to steer my career into roles where I’m not fit well for that particular job. I think that’s been really the best learning for me over the last 21 22 years is really understanding yourself understanding what you’re capable of and then find roles and environments with the types of people and managers and leaders that you’re inspired by so that you can do your best work. So

Vince Menzione:             38:32                  what advice would you give your 22 year old self?

Dan Mannion:                 38:38                  The first thing I would say is you’re not as smart as you think you are. My 22 year old self is pretty confident pretty smart. And what I realize now looking back is that was just more ignorance than anything else.  And so I’m glad that I had leaders and mentors throughout my career that could help me become more self-aware and see that in myself and teach me how to better apply my my confidence my energy my passion that I have and in every job that I’ve I’ve ever applied myself to. And then the second thing I would tell my 22 year old self is just keep going. People underestimate the power of just keep running and keep moving in a forward direction through whatever obstacle that you face during every challenge last job. No company that gets by. Now you’re reporting to people you don’t like where the case may be.  Just keep going keep driving forward and that’s going to work out better than you probably think it is.

Vince Menzione:             39:43                  Yeah I like to refer to that as persistence right grit determination and persistence all those kind of words come to mind when you mention that the Grit become one of my favorite words are you 100 percent me too.

Vince Menzione:             39:55                  So if you had a personal billboard and this is somewhat of a metaphor but what would you share on it?

Dan Mannion:                 40:03                  What would I share on my personal billboard.

Dan Mannion:                 40:06                  I went through an exercise at Microsoft a long time ago which was you had to go through 52 values and get to what are your six core values. And that really had an impact on my life because it got me to stay focused and understand what do I care about and what’s going to be core to my character to my to my spirit to my mind.

Dan Mannion:                 40:27                  And if I can continue to find ways to apply those values into my work and then find organizations that value similar things then I will be successful I will be able to make an impact and I’ll feel satisfied at the end of every day. And so if I had that board up right now I’m confident it would have those six values on it.

Dan Mannion:                 40:47                  Do you remember what they were. Yes. So number one by you is family. Number two value is health. Number three value is passion. Number four value is a risk. I like pursuing things that have an opportunity for growth and an opportunity for failure as well. Number of face value is fun. And outnumbered 6 value is challenge nice.

Vince Menzione:             41:18                  Very nice. And what do you do for fun when you’re not working.

Dan Mannion:                 41:23                  I chase after my kids who are now 10 year old daughter and 8 year old son and just embrace every moment that I get to have with them and and see them blossom into a really super cool fun people that that we get to hang out with as much as possible.

Dan Mannion:                 41:36                  And then the one area outside of my family that I’m still super passionate and committed to is I played soccer competitively. So I actually run and over 40 premier team and in what is a very competitive soccer community here in Austin and we have set our targets on winning the league championship this year.

Vince Menzione:             41:55                  Very good. So how about books. Do you get to read often and is there one book that you’ve read and gifted often in terms of books.

Dan Mannion:                 42:04                  Some of the more foundational books that I read that I still recommend to people in their 20s are some of the Carnegie books How to Win Friends And Influence the old.

Dan Mannion:                 42:14                  That was incredibly meaningful but that I actually read towards the end of my college career and really taught me a lot of great principles of how to interact with people how to be a value added person.

Dan Mannion:                 42:26                  Back then I was a big fan of and Rand Atlas Shrugged is a fantastic book I’ve read tried it probably every solution selling book from the mid-nineties to the end of 2010 when I finally stopped reading them realizing they were all just repurposed versions of the same process.

Dan Mannion:                 42:44                  So those are some of the books that that I’ve embraced and really been enjoyed. And just in general I find that I’m a more of a nonfiction reader than a fiction reader. You know there are the other ones I would that I really love and will go back to actually if you’re if you’re in the technology industry you got to read the Jeffrey Moore books. It started with crossing the chasm than inside the tornado.

Dan Mannion:                 43:08                  And I’m actually I just recently picked up his latest one which is called Escape Velocity that they wrote maybe five years ago. But if you are in technology sales and marketing having the foundation of understanding how technology markets cycle is incredibly important because it helps you see where your company is in the market. These are your competitors and it’s just it’s I think it’s foundational if you ever want to lead a technology market and then personally I always try to learn more about people and have a deeper understanding of people and so I continue to read books and magazines about psychology and social psychology. So I love the Malcolm Gladwell books and I’ve always thought Malcolm Gladwell just frames things really interestingly and teaches you about applying the way that he looks at the world. He teaches you about how why we behave the way we behave. And you can use that to your advantage as you continue to grow in your career.

Vince Menzione:             44:03                  Any last advice for our partner or listeners for our audience out there?

Dan Mannion:                 44:07                  Before we conclude I don’t know if I have advice just encourage you to go. Be the best you can be every single day. And if there is an opportunity for us to work together please reach out to me and please reference this blackcaps a love found find that there are more and more great partners out there WASN’T been in the great work that he’s doing in the market today and that would be if this conversation could be one spark of interest that would be special to me.

Vince Menzione:             44:36                  Thank you Dan.. And for our listeners to find you what’s the best way.

Dan Mannion:                 44:41 Daniel.Mannion@armor.com

Vince Menzione:             44:45                  And there’s two ends in Mannion M-A and and Ioan. Right. Right. Right. And are you on social at all.

Dan Mannion:                 44:53                  I am. You can reach me at @DMannion for Twitter. And I am on LinkedIn and have been a little more active this week on LinkedIn. I don’t think I set off a firestorm by stating something about Equifax. That’s an interesting. Wow. You can reach me on Twitter LinkedIn. I would love to interact with anybody socially as well.

Vince Menzione:             45:17                  Great. Dan thank you so much. You’ve been a great guest. Delighted to have you on and on the podcast such a great topic to talk to our listeners about as well.

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