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Leveraging Technology with Steve Miksta

George Grombacher October 6, 2023

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Leveraging Technology with Steve Miksta

LifeBlood: We talked about leveraging technology, the dangers of too much information, what you need to focus on and prioritize in order to create effective processes, the role intent plays in selecting and implementing software, and how to get started, with Steve Miksta, Founder and CEO of Oppty Unlimited.       

Listen to learn why technology can do anything you want it to, as long as you understand what to ask!

You can learn more about Steve at OpptyUnlimited.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Steve Miksta

Steve Miksta

Episode Transcript

eorge grombacher 0:02
Steve Mike’s the is the founder and CEO of opti Unlimited, their custom platform creator, business analyst, and Salesforce consultant. Welcome, Steve.

Steve Miksta 0:12
Thanks for having me, George. Appreciate it.

george grombacher 0:13
Yeah, man excited to have you on. Tell us a little about your personal life more about your work, why you do what you do.

Steve Miksta 0:22
So yeah, personally, I’m from originally from Chicago area and moved out here looked at going to school out here and then moved out here in 2004. So it’s been almost 20 years, but But yeah, kind of fell into the, you know, mortgage industry and I had a lot of work work, things happen and met my wife out here, we’ve got two boys. Five, almost, almost five and three, so. So yeah, love it. Love it in Arizona, don’t really intend to go back to Chicago anytime soon. So you’re good. So.

george grombacher 1:06
Excellent. And tell us a little more about opti?

Steve Miksta 1:10
Yeah, so. So Aki as as, you know, I was I was in the mortgage industry. And, you know, that’s kind of where we had met. And we, you know, was I was using technology to try and grow my business, on the mortgage side of things. And one of the challenges was being able to, as a loan officer, have those conversations with the customer, and then transition out and allow your team to close the loan. And there’s just all that information in that that specific information to that borrower that, like, you had to be able to put that somewhere because, you know, those questions we’re gonna lose, we know, where’s the money coming from? Why is this on his credit, you know, all those different questions, and I knew all the stories, I knew all the answers, because I have that relationship with the client, but I needed a place to put it. And so that’s where we started using Salesforce to, to centralize some of that information and be able to hand that off. And then I just started to see and learn the ability for, for us to empower people within the organization to really define what they need to see what they you know, it’s just that that creativity and that intentionality of, if you have a role, if you know, what your role is in that organization, what do you need to see in order to perform in that role. And so that whole, you know, shift started back in the mortgage side, and we were able to, you know, intentionally build out a system that created visibility into a very convoluted process. And this was 2009, when I got introduced to Salesforce, and, you know, we ended up investing in building that out in Matt’s office there, you know, was he was the talk talked with, you know, with him, well, I that, you know, I was always the, the loan officer who was building technology, and living anybody knew what I was really up to, but I saw this gap and, and ended up, you know, growing my mortgage business, had great success there. And then ended up spending six years with VIP Mortgage here in the valley partnered with them to build out an end to end platform, so taking what I have built for my team, and bring that to a whole organization of about 450 people and, and that was the next six years of my life, and basically, you know, evolving, really, my role has evolved from, you know, a loan officer, curious business person to, you know, with a background in technology to really understanding technology and architecture and the importance of data and technology and automation, and how it can be applied within the business. And I think that’s really the, like the gap that exists today. And the challenge that a lot of these organizations have today is the tech can do anything you want it to do. Literally anything. But, but what are you going to have to do? And there’s too many options and there’s too much noise and there’s and so, you know, really where it comes in is we partner with organizations and work alongside them and say, Look, we’re here to help because we truly believe that it’s, it’s the people in the organization that that make it thrive and and so we’re Looking at them and their people and saying, Look, you guys know your business better than anybody, you know, the roles in the art, you know, what your customers want, you know, all of these things. So let us work together to get that out of your head and into a system. And, you know, and as we work together, we’re going to solve these problems, creative, you know, an unmatched customer experience, because it’s literally whatever you can dream up in your head, we can do. And so yeah, so that’s, that’s where, where we’re at. So it’s been almost five years, when I started it, and we really over this time have, have invested our time energy resources in building out a process to help these organizations, because it’s not easy to do this, but we’ve invested a lot internally to optimize our systems and allow us to be, you know, productive, and be able to do this at scale. And, and just, it’s just very exciting to see where you know, where the world is at and where the workplace is that and, you know, this, this workplace of tomorrow is what we call like, like to be to where, like, anything is possible. And it time is, you know, like, it’s, it’s just a matter of how intentional you can be with that time. And technology is, you know, has always been and will always just be a tool, right? Like, it’s just a matter of how can the people use their creativity, right? Explain what the tech needs to do. And that’s where true value is, is created within the organization. So sorry, I thought it was the one that was perfect.

george grombacher 6:51
It was perfect. I saw it, I saw on your site, it talks about the gap between closing the gap between technology and people. And I think that you really summed that up, because I think it’s kind of abstract people that have had experience with Salesforce know it to be this, like a spaceship. It’s like, okay, you know, there’s parts of this, that make sense to me, and that parts of the have nothing to do with me at all. And then it’s cool that, you know, that technology says, Well, if you can dream it, we can do it kind of a thing. But here I am trying to just create my widget or do the service and keep the lights on and keep everything moving. How much? How much of an investment is it from a time from a headspace and attention standpoint to to do the learning of this was let’s kind of start with that.

Steve Miksta 7:38
Yeah. Well, I mean, I’ve been on Salesforce since 2009. So, you know, like, and I’m still learning every day, you know, so, I mean, from the technology side, you know, there’s obviously there’s learning the technology, and there’s certain things, you know, you can do with, you know, basic education or a certification from Salesforce. And then, and then, you know, there’s, there’s the application of that within the business. And, you know, that’s where I think our team has, we’ve worked with more organizations. Like, I mean, that we’ve learned more, we’ve learned more like the people side, and how to how to how to apply the technology and how we can help people like we will learn exponentially more there than and so much more valuable than anything you can do with the technology. Like creating value in people’s lives, through technology is a lot more, you know, getting my contacts into a system, like, okay, yeah, we can do it, but what’s your intent? What are you going to do with that? Right? And? And how are you going to leverage that? And where does it need to go to to do that, you know, all of those next questions and forcing the user to think okay, cuz he, you know, if you’re gonna, if you’re going to invest in it, you better put thought into what you truly wanted to do.

george grombacher 9:21
That’s really yeah, that’s, I’m sure that the amount of time and effort you’ve spent on your end learning how to use this wonderful technology, I can’t even imagine how much time that has been. For somebody who’s listening. They say I am. I’m a business owner service provider. What is that is is there a typical like, you’re going to need to we’re going to need to talk about, really, I need to get into your head to know what you know. And then you need to figure out what would it look like what what would you like to create and what is that exchange kind of look like? What does that mean? Conversation Intel.

Steve Miksta 10:01
Yeah, yeah. So I mean, that’s where, like really weak call, I mean, we call it we call that like the optic experience, right? Like, it’s very hard for us to say what we do. You just have to experience it. And, and so our typical engagement is a first 90 a 90 day, like, engagement, onboarding discovery, right, where we just, we implement our process, right. And so, you know, we do have some great business people on the team where, you know, we can do in a 90 minute session, we can understand the core concepts of the business, right. And, and from those, you know, whether it’s processes, people, systems, whatever that is, like, we’re starting to get an understanding of, you know, the key, the key things that that the processes within the business, the outputs, right, that matter, right, like, what is the order amount? Is it you know, what, like, what are we measuring, right? And with that, like, now we have a, we have a starting point, and then, you know, over that next 90 days, we’re looking at, Okay, now let’s start to break this down, who are the key people that we need to work with? And, and we just, we, we start having those meetings, and then and then putting in a cadence, really of prioritization? And I think that’s the big thing that a lot of these smaller businesses, especially like, you’re so stuck in the business, that when are you going to work on the things that are actually going to improve the business? You know, and no one has that time, especially in today’s day and age, you know? And it’s like, yeah, I want to do technology, but there’s 1000s of options. So how the heck do I do it? Which one do I choose? What do I do and, you know, and that’s where it’s like, just let us come in and experience what we do. Like, like, we have a lot of experience on the tech side, but we, we understand the business, we understand the users, and we’re gonna listen, and we don’t know the answers, like, we’re, like, empathy is a very, very important skill that I’ve had to learn to truly understand and put my shoes in that user, right, envision me as that user in that system doing that thing. And all the frustrating things that are going to, you know, come their way and, and being able to, you know, envision that, and, and then it’s a matter of, you know, during that 90 days, we start to understand that, so now it’s okay. We’re starting to get these, the people in the organization to also see it and believe it, you know, what if what if your day was like this? What if instead of reacting via email all day long, like, in the morning, you blocked two hours to do your most productive work. And then in the afternoon, like you make the schedule, you create intent, right? And you put all of that requires definition of what is it I’m supposed to be doing? You know, and with a lot of these companies, they don’t even have roles defined. So, you know, how do we measure success of the people in the organization if they don’t have a role? Now, hopefully, to find the role, we did find what they’re doing now we got to start to put metrics to it. And in the long run, like reward, compensation, performance, you know, like those are all the things that excite me about is not about leveraging technology to eliminate jobs by leveraging technology to elevate people, empower people get more work done through other people. And that just creates, I mean, creates true true social progress, right? When people are obtaining more and more skills to do higher and higher level work.

george grombacher 13:52
Lots of really interesting stuff there. It’s super powerful. And I bet sometimes you wish that you were a hammer just looking for nails and you had a solution to sell.

Steve Miksta 14:04
Yeah, yeah, you have no idea. Yeah, it’s definitely been a draining five years on myself, my family. But, you know, what we’ve what we’ve built is, is very special, and in the organizations that we’re working with, like, you know, they feel it more and more every day. And that is just, yeah, it’s very exciting to think about what all this effort will you know, what the payoff will ultimately be just from, you know, just people side purpose side, right, like, like purpose, your purpose, right, and, and how we can help people in this world. So

george grombacher 14:47
it’s interesting how just our relationship with technology is. It’s interesting. It’s interesting how our relationship is is interesting. Some people are afraid of it. They’re like, it’s gonna take my job. But in reality, it’s going to do what you empower it to do. And when you when consumer, you and I, who are users of technology, when we’re using it correctly with intention, it can make our lives so much better. Because we actually can take that big step back that we all need to do that we know, we don’t do often enough to say, what would a great day look like for me? What does a successful day look like for me? And how can I then once I know that, putting tools and resources in place to be able to make that happen for me? And the answer is, is that possible? The answer is yes. The answer is always yes. Yeah, it doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy. It’s gonna take time, but it’s available.

Steve Miksta 15:47
And it used to be, yes, but there’s a good amount of cost, and there’s development and time. And there’s lead time. And is that like, now it’s, yeah, and especially with with Salesforce, and just as technologies evolve, and you know, there’s a ton of tools out there, right, like, I mean, Salesforce, like we obviously, I mean, there’s, there’s a much bigger picture of what we do with Salesforce in designing it to really be the business platform for the organization. But I mean, there’s a million tools out there from a technology side to, you know, to automate and connect and, and very little development. I mean, in the past, it used to be seven 8% of development work, right. And now, it’s literally flip flopped. I mean, we do probably 10% of our time has been, like doing actual development, it’s all about its configuration is its business requirements. It’s understanding the process, the user what’s needed. It’s all that creates creative thought that goes into it. Because the system can literally be configured as fast as you can get the requirements. So the challenge is, you go to most organizations, you say, Well, what’s your process? Right, right. Yep. And it’s, you know, who are the people in the process? How do we measure the performance within the process? Right, like, these are

george grombacher 17:13
questions? Yeah, yeah.

Steve Miksta 17:18
Yeah, and that’s where they experience like, it’s like, you just it just, like a new, you know, the new the new process emerges, right, like, like, what we’ve talked about is kind of like, we facilitate interactions and information within the organization, right. And as we, as we get people in the organization, interacting with each other, and interacting with new information, and ideas, and thoughts, and all of all of these things create this, this energy, right that like is, is able to transform that organization. And so that’s how we kind of envision, you know, our role is like a facilitator of ideas, information entered high right to to get this organization to its future state.

george grombacher 18:09
Is it ever too early or too late?

Steve Miksta 18:13
I mean, definitely not too early. Too late, is gonna be a serious question to ask. And that’s where, you know, I think, with these, with these smaller businesses, I mean, that’s, that’s what’s excited me about the Small Biz I truly believe small businesses are. Even before I started off the there’s a book, I read exponential organizations, and it talks about how, in the past you and these bigger companies are always better positioned to use technology. But today, you’re literally not only are you able to afford it as a small business, you are actually way better position to leverage technology because you have less people there’s, there’s less legacy systems, right? And it’s literally like you can you can change an implement with a small number of people and then scale and grow your business. And you don’t have to go through you know, these big organizations. It’s like guiding the Titanic, you got so many people that whose mindset that change versus a small business, I get two or three of the leaders and we’re off in a whole new, a whole new direction.

george grombacher 19:25
I love it. So what are what are great size companies? too small, too big.

Steve Miksta 19:33
I mean, we’ve got a site. I mean, typically our typical organization is probably less than 50 people. I mean, not to say like my old company was 450 We’d we’ve worked with bigger organizations. I think there’s that like there’s something about you know, regardless of the size of the organization, there’s there’s that an initial solution and initial team that like you just you, you need, you need a team that’s going to work together and provide feedback and like build that initial solution out, right? So even with can we working with a bigger organization, like we’re going to work with a small number of users initially. So perfect, what that first solution is going to be right? Like, like, we can move a lot faster with a lot less people and a lot more engaged people in providing that feedback, and then get it to Okay, here’s our beta, right, and then, now let’s roll it out to the users, let’s get some feedback. And if it’s ready to deploy great, if not, let’s go back to that small team. And let’s iterate and let’s, let’s build the next version of this right, and then bring it back. And, you know, just we can, and there’s a lot less impact, obviously, then, too, so we’re not disrupting the guy who’s afraid of technology, who doesn’t want to use it. Like, he’s, you know, he’s one of the last guys we’re gonna worry, like, we’re gonna get that built up to a way and, and in the, in the meantime, like, we’re going to spend time with that guy and understand what is it you really need it to do? Like, why do you not like the computer, you know, like, like, figure out all of those those roadblocks, right? Because all that is is just great. Feedback. Some of the best ideas we’ve gotten have been from the people who absolutely hate the technology, and they’re saying why they, but when you peel back that onion, and they tell you, this is why I don’t like it. Like that’s where the good stuff is. It’s like, Oh, so you’re just trying to do this. Oh, now that makes sense. And, you know, that’s an easy fix. But but you know, again, it’s this get like, they don’t know how to ask for that. You know, it nearby, it’s, it’s as simple as I needed to do, like this particular function, but like, they’re never going to ask for that. They’re so worried about that. They’re trying to be technical. So they’re saying, No, I have to click here, I have to click there. But oh, but you need to do that. Well, you don’t even have to click. Like, we can just do that.

george grombacher 22:04
You mean, I don’t need to click. That’s crazy. That’s awesome. Well, Steve, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? And if somebody is for those who are curious, how can they engage and get a hold of you?

Steve Miksta 22:22
Um, yeah, we So social media, you know, LinkedIn in and, you know, we’re definitely on LinkedIn, I do also have I guess, x or Twitter or whatever, off the CEO that I’ve been starting to, to utilize some more now and, and looking to get some more engagement. You know, with that, I think we’re at a point now where, yeah, like, like, we’ve been building so much the last few years, but you know, now starting to surface and get out there and just know that we can help organizations and I think the timing with Chad GBT and all these other things hitting it’s like the tech is is out there, you know, but But companies needed to learn how to leverage it and we’re here to help. So

george grombacher 23:14
excellent. Give me the website.

Steve Miksta 23:17
That’s www dot opt the opp t y unlimited.com. And then on Twitter’s of that ad, opt the CEO and then you can find me on LinkedIn, just opt in or steal my stuff. So

george grombacher 23:37
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did show Steve your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to opti unlimited.com It’s O PPT, why unlimited.com And check out great resources that Steven is talking about, find them on LinkedIn and x as well. And I’ll link all those in the notes of the show. Thanks again, Steve. Yeah,

Steve Miksta 24:02
thanks, George for him, appreciate it.

george grombacher 24:04
Till next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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