A leader with heart. Not the typical description applied to a top-level entrepreneur. But then again, Dave Dyson isn’t your typical entrepreneur.
As the founder of Eclipse, a Chicago-based technology lifecycle consulting and management firm, Dave believes business should make the world better — that it should be driven to help its customers and others.
It’s this basic premise of doing good for his clients that has made Eclipse the success it is today. Make that, a huge success.
Since starting in 2009, Dave has amassed an enviable customer base with the majority of his clientele sitting in the enterprise-grade ($100 million to $5 billion in annual revenue).
I recently caught up with Dave to learn his biggest lessons from running Eclipse, and how a big heart can do remarkable things in business.
Lesson 1: Make Your Customer’s Problem, Your Problem
Many of the companies that Eclipse works with know that they need to be constantly adopting and utilizing new technologies in order to keep up with the fast-paced world around us. But they don’t always have the time or knowledge to make new technology decisions and implement them.
Which is where Eclipse comes in.
As a telecom veteran and previous employee of AT&T, Dave knows his way around the industry. He tends to know what these companies need (although he’s quick to admit that he doesn’t know everything). And it’s with this knowledge that he and his team work to create solutions that extend far beyond traditional telecom.
“I tell our customers we don’t make it any less complicated, messy, or frustrating. We just take it away from you and make it our problem.”
Lesson 2: Focus on Building Relationships
In order to compete in a market that is increasingly commoditized, Eclipse approaches their business with a heavy emphasis on building relationships and adding value beyond the technology.
Finding the right technology solution for their customers isn’t all about specs and costs. It also has to do with the desired end result, the user experience and the human beings interacting with that technology. The right technology has to come from a place that isn’t entirely dependent on numbers.
Lesson 3: Hiring the Right People
A major part of Eclipse’s success can be attributed to its staff. And finding those staff, the right staff, is something Dave is extremely passionate about.
The Millennial Edge
Today, many of his new hires are young Millennials — a hiring trend that he’s noticed has infused a new level of openness and honesty to his practice. Unlike his generation, Dave notes Millennials really strive for balance and seek out relationships. They also don’t feel the need to work killer overtime to look like they’re working more than everyone else.
Millennials, he notes, care deeply about their work, but they also care about their relationships and their communities. And it’s this unique Millennial trait, that’s helping Dave Dyson grow Eclipse into the sort of company he wants — one focused on his customers’ and employees’ happiness.
Hire Outside Your Niche
Eclipse also doesn’t often hire people with telecom backgrounds — a seemingly counter-intuitive approach given the focus of Dave’s business. Instead, Dave looks for people who can think outside of the box of traditional telecom. People who can see past the big, obvious providers and find solutions that really make sense for the customer.
Lesson 4: Work With Those That Align With Your Culture
Maintaining Eclipse’s cultural integrity — and its dedication to leading by heart — is something that Dave is vigilant about. Keeping that integrity means working with people both internally and externally that align with and honor Eclipse’s culture.
Here are Dave’s tips:
- Internally: Foster positive energy within your team — doing so will motivate your staff to go out and do their very best for your customers.
- Externally: Only work with customers, vendors, and partners that align with your culture (those that don’t will poison the integrity of your team). Don’t be afraid to cut out those who don’t jive with the spirit of your company for the sake of lost revenue. Short-term losses will be recouped — what matters is the happiness of your inner circle and the integrity of who you are.
Lesson 5: Become the Educator in Chief
Thought leadership is also a big function of Dave’s role. To him, sharing his knowledge with his company, clients and industry in a major responsibility and one that he’s proud to own.
As part of this duty, he regularly takes on speaking engagements and pens content marketing to educate his clients and the industry at large. Eclipse also regularly hosts fun and informative events to bring together industry players, his customers, and staff.
These events aren’t just about the cool factor, or even about promoting themselves. Instead, Dave sees them as a platform for industry professionals to meet each other and share knowledge and connections in an informal way.
And it’s this sort of Educator-in-Chief thinking, a ‘pay-it-forward’ thinking focused on providing value to his peers and customers, that Dave believes has kept Eclipse growing at a rapid pace (a whopping 40 percent a year).
Lesson 6: Bring It All Together
Overall, Dave says the combination of leading with heart, building relationships, and providing value beyond the technology is how Eclipse stands out in an increasingly commoditized industry.
“I like to lead with love and let somebody tell me they don’t want it if they don’t want it. I think if your clients feel like they are getting love from you they’re gonna say ‘these guys care about us in a way that’s much bigger than the cheque we write them’.”
Lead with heart, bring value and find balance. That’s the Dave Dyson way.
Listen to Dave Dyson in His Own Words
Hear about Dave Dyson’s tips and tricks to throwing effective events without huge budgets, hiring the best employees, profitability strategies, drinking beer and throwing axes, and much, much more. Check out his story over on the Intelisys Channel Outlaws Podcast.