Can I Ask You A Question?

If the answer is YES, we have broken the ice and I have your attention.

This is a crucial moment, now you/I have one person, willing to give us one minute to hear us out.

What can you say in the first minute to get them to give you one more minute?


Good conversations are guided with a series of strategic and sequential questions. It’s good to get a series of small agreements (Yes’s) while finding out more of what the person needs.

Are you interested in learning how to ask better questions to get a YES?

                                                             “3 questions to why.”

Simple, sample questions

If a prospect told you what they want, where they struggle, and how you can help them.

How can you not help them?

Asking good questions creates a bigger opportunity to learn and connect with someone.  Questions generate conversation. Conversations builds rapport. Rapport leads to clear understanding and mutual respect. People buy from, hire, and promote people they like. Most often people who understand them and/or their business, and people they can talk to.

It all starts and ends with a question.

Do you think there is value in questioning?


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Inspiration: After finishing up a discovery appointment with the CFO of a mid market client, my engineer and I were debriefing when he said

“Mike, you ask better discovery questions than anyone I ever worked with!

I asked him to elaborate. He said something like, “You stay on task, keep the conversation flowing, and uncover the real challenges that the business faces.” Reflecting on the compliment I decided to write this post to help you.

I hope you use this to ask an extra question today and hopefully find you get a better answer.

The College Disconnect – Are students unemployable?

For years parents have come to me with the same concern. Their children are struggling to find direction after graduating from college. The kids don’t know what to do, and their parents don’t know how to help. And they’re not alone.

Consider these statistics cited in a recent Forbes article.

  • A national Pew survey says 57% of prospective college students believe college is no longer worth the tuition it charges.
  • Seventy-five percent of respondents believe a college degree is unaffordable.
  • An Inside Higher Ed survey of chief academic officers revealed that 96% believed their universities “were doing a good job.”
  • In sharp contrast a Gallup survey showed 14% of the American public, and only 11% of business leaders, strongly agreed that graduates have the necessary skills and competencies to succeed in the workplace.

The subject shifted to challenges the parents face communicating with their children about life plans. Over and over again I see good intentions of parents, students and teachers, but the delivery is missing the mark.

why is college so hard


Here is an example: 22 year old female, graduated high school with 104 average. She is in her last semester of her BA at a State University with a 4.0 GPA. Sounds good right?  But in a few weeks she could face the real world and have to take her resume to the market. She has no job experience. No certification or professional license. No clear career path. No job leads. And no plan other than more school…her major of choice, communications. So for 3 months, before school bails her out of the real world for two more years, she will work as a server to pay for beer.  Maybe grad school on the same campus will get her there…what do you think?

I’ve seen this too many times for it to be an exception, it is more like the majority. At the least, we are facing a recurring a problem.

I don’t want to point at the education system and say you suck. But… suck - fix that

I mean I was a teacher, a coach, and a professor. I helped K-12 and University students everyday for years. It’s meaningful work, I’m not knocking the teachers. Education is by no means an utter failure.  But the higher education system is failing many people.

The burden of misguided college isn’t just wasted time, it’s a financial burden for most.

But it’s missed opportunity for all!

While the K-12 stakeholders are preoccupied struggling to establish standardized testing. Our youth need testing that complements the curriculum and facilitates academic success, independent thinking, and creative problem solving. Not testing that drives the curriculum teaching to a test and not the student.

Higher education and academia can be split. Professors who tend to focus on theory, history, research, and publications. College administrators and program managers care about keeping their budget. Education is bureaucratic, change is resisted and slow.

For 6 years I’ve worked in corporate America everyday, working with Fortune 100 executives and private business owners. They are looking for lean, not unproductive. Efficient, not incompetent. Proactive, not reactive. Experts, not rookies.

Since 2002 the entrepreneur in me has been asking questions.

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What are your struggles?
  • What did you do to make it easier?
  • How can I help more people be successful?

Bringing it all together

There is good news, this is not about blame or pointing a finger at the system.


College is not on autopilot, there is no guarantee.

Take control.  Decide how you want to spend your time.

Be responsible. Learn to dictate life and be decisive.

Think about quality of life and your financial needs.

Explore career options and gain field experience.

Take advantage of campus resources


Grab the wheel, hit the gas, and start driving your life forward. Where do you want to be? How will you get there? What resources are available? Who will hold you accountable?

What do students need to transition into professionals? 

Take the next step: Watch a 3 minute video introduction



Michael Spence has teaching experience, parental instincts and a passion for helping others. Michael shares his knowledge and experiences to help students and parents receive all the benefits a college experience can provide.





How Moving To The Cloud Can Save You Millions

Ask yourself a question:  How has technology changed your role?  Your industry? 

Technology is changing the way people work.  The ball and chain that once restricted employees to an office and a desk is gone.

Whether you are a founding partner or an employee with a vested interest, then LISTEN UP!

I’m witnessing a new trend in the market and it’s growing fast. Companies are figuring out how to modernize their data infrastructure. By doing so they are delivering a HUGE savings over time.

I see this picking up steam in organizations with:

  • A large… even global… footprint
  • Decades of legacy infrastructure
  • Users in the 10’s and 100’s of thousands (*Cost savings scale)

I wake everyday with a desire to help my clients improve their business.

Can you benefit from a trusted technology adviser for your business?

Together, I will help you execute a business continuity plan that makes your business more nimble, more productive, and more efficient.  Using the steps below I have helped business save millions of dollars per year.

Let’s walk through how it’s done.

Step 1: Perform a file system assessment of your NAS infrastructure

Nearly every assessment I’ve seen looks almost identical to this… so as a rule of thumb consider yours to be 33/33/33 as well.


Step 2: Calculate your cost per GB

Step 3: Find a low cost storage repository

Home directories and networks shares are typically scored as LOW security so you can find many repositories to host them: AWS, Azure, etc.

If there are security, compliance, or data residency concerns… that’s easy to navigate… but it’s also a long conversation.

If you’re at the Petabyte level… consider building a private repository which delivers cloud economics. I find this to be a growing market space in the Enterprise space. One large client decided to build a private cloud storage repository which brought their cost per GB down from $1/GB  to .10/GB.

Step 4: Prioritize your NAS footprint

By doing this you will identify the low hanging fruit – the easiest and quickest type of data you can move. We call this your “quick hit ROI”.

We find that home directory and desktop data is by far the easiest to move. Once that’s moved… go after your team/network shares.

Based on this model… that means 66% of your data is off your expensive NAS infrastructure. The cost savings start to add up.

Step 5: Migrate your data

There are a few ways to do this. Some clients prefer to use the DIY approach. This requires quite a bit of time, development, and actual “work” but they CAN successfully move this data using provisioning and migration API’s.

There is another method that works great and requires the use of special software. We found this requires little to no coding. It even keeps your permissions intact. This is especially effective and fast for moving home directories, team shares, SharePoint, and even non-sanctioned cloud accounts… i.e. Dropbox accounts!


SMB, mid-market and enterprise customers can all learn from this cost structure around home directories and network shares and can see monthly savings.

I’m watching clients follow this methodology leading to HUGE cost takeouts across Mid-Market and Enterprise clients.  I want to help you leverage technology to better service your customers and grow your bottom line!


When you have technology questions, who do you call?

If you need a second opinion or have questions, I’d love to connect.


Michael Spence has worked on the carrier side of the broadband cable industry as an account executive, sales manager, corporate trainer, performance coach, and technical trainer.  Michael credits his industry knowledge to the hundreds of brilliant engineers and network innovators he has been privileged to learn from.

  • Ethernet network design and management
  • RFP and Vendor management
  • Network hardware life-cycle management
  • Data Center and colocation consulting
  • IP Phone Service – SIP, VOIP
  • Telecom audits

What can a diverse team do for your business?

With good leadership, diverse teams set the stage for unforeseen growth and profitability.

I internalized a deep appreciation for diversity when I got involved with the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) at Buffalo State College during grad school. NCBI is rooted in an understanding of individual, community, and systemic change. NCBI leaders work with public and private organizations to further:

  • Cultural competence
  • Collaboration and partnerships
  • Effective relationships within and across group identities

Diversity appreciation helped me build bridges to learn from and connect with people in every aspect of my life.

Before having this appreciation, I was just like you. I heard dozens of brilliant people say “hire the brightest people to fill skill and knowledge gaps in your organization”.

Yet, everyone looked and acted the looked the same. Over the years I rarely saw this diverse team.  More often I find layered management with bureaucracy and biased hiring practices. ‘Good ol boy’ networks and offices run like frat houses. Head count metrics trumping the best hiring decisions. And worst of all, narcissistic managers who are threatened and insecure by others performance.

diversity - mind blown video

Click to view Mind Blowing diversity video

What can a diverse team do for your business?

Imagine this: It’s 8 am Monday morning. Several small teams are in virtual break out rooms collaborating and trouble shooting progress from the past week. At 9 am all global team members are online for a quick kick off . Cross functional leadership drives challenging questions, propose action items and refocus’ the groups attention on desired outcomes. Delegation of tasks seem effortless as people volunteer and offer suggestions. Engaged employees drive project execution throughout the day. User feedback is analyzed weekly to make informed improvements. Team members high five, showing customers appreciation and being proud of “kick ass” work! The office often caters lunch on Fridays to recognize goal achievement.

*When you get employee buy-in, you can quickly establish a routine and a culture that boosts team productivity exponentially.

I didn’t take full ownership until I experienced the benefits of a diverse team first hand. A diverse team of hard working, cross functional professionals can knock down walls, open doors, and help every member of their tribe grow with a multiplier effect.

Challenge to Consider: Group Think takes effect almost immediately in group settings. Group Think occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.

Solution: Collect feedback and coach team members during 1 on 1’s. Share agenda before group meetings. Set clear expectations for each persons contribution. Frame and reinforce clear outcomes.

In my humble opinion, I owe much of my success to the diverse group of friends and colleagues that have helped me stretch my mind and my heart to appreciate people and spot opportunity with no boundaries.

How to start building a diverse team:

  • Get outside your comfort zone. Explore new cultures, markets, and skills. Stretch your mind and seek new adventures
  • Commit to lifelong learning. Learn from everyone, be curious, open minded and genuine
  • Be helpful and likable, and you will soon be a connector with a large network
  • Seek out experts, mentors, and advisers that you respect
  • Seek out meaningful experience that let people see your work

Leave your comment below: What is your experience with diverse teams?

I love my readers to share and engage in the conversation. Others connect with your comments. Share one of your lessons — good, bad, ugly, or an a-ha moment.


Michael Spence has been a student of self-help and professional development since first reading “The One Minute Manager,” back in 1995.” Serving as a father, teacher, professor, coach, sales leader, and entrepreneur, Michael shares his knowledge and experiences to help others succeed and collaborate with like minded people.

DOCSIS 3.1 vs. PON

This post has generated some great buzz on other platforms and is worth sharing again.

There is a perception that the only way broadband cable can compete with the likes of CenturyLink, Google Fiber, and others, is to adopt a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network architecture. Before accepting this perception as reality, one should first consider the networks of these competitors.

Legacy telephone networks were built with twisted-pair copper cable, which is approaching the hundred-year mark in some cases. Digital subscriber line (DSL) technology has enabled competitors with telephone company roots to provide high-speed Internet access over these copper legacy networks. Yet, DSL technology appears to be nearing its limits, and practical delivery of data rates that approach 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) is unachievable. Realizing this dilemma, Verizon began replacing their copper networks with FTTH over a decade ago; CenturyLink and other comparable companies have followed suit.  Google Fiber is building their networks from scratch, so choosing FTTH network architecture makes sense.

The common denominator among these competitors is their networks are obsolete or non-existent. There is no debate that an entire network built with fiber-optic cable is the way to go if you are building a network from scratch or replacing a legacy copper wire network. However, in addition to fiber-optic cable, FTTH architecture requires in-network installation of optical line terminators (OLT), optical distribution network (ODN) devices, and optical network units (ONU).

The hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) network architecture, used by broadband cable in conjunction with Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS), has many years of useful service left. Operators currently using DOCSIS 3.0 to provide high-speed Internet access have elements in place to provide downstream data rates of 1 Gbps. With the certification of DOCSIS 3.1 modems and cable modem termination systems (CMTS), downstream data rates over 10 Gbps are feasible. Each version of DOCSIS is compatible with previous versions. This compatibility means customers experience minimal disruption when a migration to the next version is necessary.

Conversion from HFC/DOCSIS network architecture to PON/FTTH architecture requires a “forklift” approach- the old network and its elements will have to be lifted out and replaced with the new network elements. This requires operating two parallel networks until all customers are successfully transferred to the new network. In addition to replacing the coaxial cable with fiber-optic cable, the CMTS will need to be replaced by an OLT and DOCSIS modems/gateways replaced by ONUs.

Any concern of DOCSIS becoming obsolete should be minimal.  DOCSIS was developed to leverage the flexibility of HFC networks.  Each version adds features and value that have enabled the broadband cable industry to be the leading provider of high-speed Internet access. Compared to switching to PON/FTTH, DOCSIS is less disruptive for customers and the expense to migrate to it is relatively incremental.


Michael Spence has been working on the carrier side of the broadband cable industry as an account executive, sales manager, corporate trainer, performance coach, and technical trainer.  Michael credits his industry knowledge to the hundreds of brilliant engineers and network innovators he has been privileged to learn from.