I feel like the guy who has just watched a UFO whiz
overhead. I wonder, “what the heck was that all about?” I speak—of
course—of Mr. De Abreu and Nerds On Site. Out of curiosity, I did look up
”Type-A personality” on Wikipedia, and got the clinical definition.
If that’s all Blair knew about the term, then maybe his ballistic response
made sense. Then again, his reaction could be a case of the third clinical symptom.
Who knows really?
The people I know use a much broader colloquial definition
for “Type-A” behavior. It simply refers to someone who’s very
ambitious, driven, and aware of how they spend every minute of their busy
day. As a result, they don’t have a lot of patience. I tried to
tell Blair that description fits every executive I’ve ever met, but he
took it as a judgment of him as a person. Of course, what I was really
trying to do is prepare him mentally for communicating with me in real-time,
because I have learned the hard way that most executives find it frustrating.
I think Nerds On Site is basically what they claim to be. I didn’t
hear anything in Blair’s presentation that set off alarms in my head. They
do have an one-time $3,500 USD “license fee,” and a $200 annual administrative
fee. Given that the $200 covers the administrative costs, it isn’t totally
clear where the $3,500 goes. Blair did say that it partly served to give the
individual a stake in the enterprise, thereby motivating him or her to be active.
I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on that, because they
are also leasing some rather pricy online services like Ventrio and
GoToMeeting.com to facilitate online meetings. Still, Blair didn’t indicate
how large of a force NOS has so I can’t judge what their capital needs
NOS has more in common with Best Buy’s GeekSquad than
Blair wanted to claim. Both entities even like to use VW Beetles as
rolling billboards, NOS just happens to use red ones. Blair said that NOS
didn’t consider the “break repair’ business as their highest
priority. But then he said that NOS wanted to cultivate long-term residential
and small to medium-sized business (excuse me, Blair preferred the word “enterprise”)
relationships. Those two statements appear to be contradictory to me. Those market
segments upgrade hardware the least often so the only path to build long-term links
would seem to be through break repair.
The real difference between GeekSquad and NOS seems to be
that the latter treats their field personnel as 1099 contractors, not employees.
This approach has its pros and cons.
Since Blair declined to answer any of my emailed questions, I
can only go by his presentation. All of the requests he used in his examples
dealt with hardware so I gather that NOS doesn’t work on software requests.
If that was the case, Blair could have saved both of us time by stating that in
his reply to my initial inquiry.
Whenever I listen to a business proposition, I automatically
compare what I hear against any other sources I have. That’s just being
prudent in my opinion. I didn’t hear Blair say anything that didn’t
ring true except for one thing. He claimed that NOS has a strong working
relationship with Gibson Research, with Steve being on some sort of Nerds On
Site board. Well, I’ve known of Steve Gibson for at least a dozen years,
and he has a well-earned reputation for being a stickler for true honesty. I’ve
also listened to his podcast since almost the beginning so I’m
comfortable in saying that Steve would be announcing it loudly if he was a part
of NOS. The frustrating thing is that I don’t recall all of Blair’s
words so I can’t provide an exact quote. Instead, I made a mental note at
the time that Blair was claiming a close working arrangement between NOS and the
hyper-reputable GRC. Steve did visit NOS during a recent trip to Toronto, and
NOS has a site license for Steve’s SpinRite program. However, those are the
only connections Steve has acknowledged. Otherwise, Nerds On Site is just a
sponsor of Steve’s podcast.
Given the above, I cannot recommend doing business with NOS.
They may be a great bunch of people, but they unfortunately left recruitment—at
least in my case—in the hands of someone who totally mischaracterized
everything I said. Even if Blair was certain that I wasn’t right for NOS,
his claim of transparency obliged him to answer legitimate questions.
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