In this episode we chatted with Ryan Deeds about data, technology and leadership. Ryan Deeds is VP, Technology at Assurex Global.

Ryan Deeds
VP, Technology at Assurex Global.

The Digital Broker Podcast:

0:04 Intro
0:10 Ryan's Background
1:21 Passion for data and technology
3:58 Getting buy in
7:47 Technologys role in leadership
11:08 Culture of inquisitiveness
13:29 Mentoring staff
16:09 Delivering effectiveness
17:19 Solving core issues of your workforce
19:43 Innovation
21:46 foundational data elements
32:46 End user education
34:39 Data literacy
36:38 Behavioral characteristics
38:54 Digital nomads and natives
43:00 Social media
46:35 Book recommendation
47:53 Closing

Mentioned Books

Hosted By:

Brian Comerford

Nick Lozano

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Show Transcripts:

Brian Comerford 0:04

Thanks for joining us for another edition of lead dot exe. I'm Brian Comerford.

Nick Lozano 0:09

And I'm Nick Lozano.

Brian Comerford 0:10

Today we've got a special guest with us Ryan Deeds, who is going to tell us a little bit about himself as we embark on a discussion around data technology and leadership. Ryan, thanks for joining us. Why don't you take a minute and kind of walk us through who you are and some of your background?

Ryan Deeds 0:28

Deep existential questions. I dig that you know,

Nick Lozano 0:32

That's all we shoot for here.

Ryan Deeds 0:33

That's right. That's right. You know, I'm Ryan Deeds. I'm the VP of Data and Technology at Assurex Global.

What that really means is, we're trying to find that out, actually, but I spend a lot of time helping CIOs and CEOs figure out data, create data strategy, try to understand how they drive decisions and behaviors with data and how do they use it as

Communication mechanism. I've been in the kind of data analytic space for 15-16 years.

I use SQL and Python as my primary tools, and I'm very good on the Microsoft. I'm very, I know, Microsoft BI stack fairly well.

Brian Comerford 1:21

That's great. Thank you. Well, you know, I know that you've had a number of different roles in your career that have been leadership oriented. Talk a little bit about, you know, what brought you up through the ranks? And ultimately, how is that continue to drive your passion of both technology as well as data?

Ryan Deeds 1:43

It's funny when you when you talk about leadership, I think it's so much more than a title. You know, I've seen I've seen CEOs that cannot rally a flag and drive behavior forward, and then I've seen you know, a receptionist

That has the heart and mind of everybody in the office. And so, you know, from my perspective, I've always followed the kind of servant leader motive. And I've always really tried to dig deep into the emotionality of the folks that I work with so they understand that I'm sincere and that I believe in them and I want to understand what, what drives them to be where they are, and then how do we how do we help them move forward?

I think one of the core things in anybody who's considered a leader and I'm very remiss to consider myself a leader I, I like to think that I'm one opinion and many and sometimes people's opinions coincide with mine and then maybe we can do stuff together.

You know, I, I just feel like today, leadership is not about the person that stands not the tallest. It's the person who communicates the most effective

actively in the most sincerely in can help understand where we are today and where we're trying to go in a communication style.

And then I've used data to underpin that and a lot of cases by showing employees, where they stand today, where the corporation is headed, and what role do they play in the overall growth of that organization. And because when I think of data, I think of data as a employee engagement mechanism, almost more than anything else, when you think about the core goal of data, you know, it's to help distill down what each member's contribution to the greater good is. And if you can help them quantify that and quantify the behaviors that drive that, they will, they will aspire to that I think the vast majority of our employees try to do the best they can and the better guidance that we can lead them, provide them, the better they'll do. And then somebody will say, oh, you're a leader. You're like, I don't know about that.

Brian Comerford 3:58

Well, that's an awesome background Ryan and I really appreciate your perspective on that I resonate with a lot of the things that you mentioned there. In particular, the idea that leadership is an activity versus a title or a role. And, you know, the communication aspect of it, I think is also critical. Similarly, I have worked with a number of leaders over the years, who may be exceptional at setting a strategic plan, but communicating that really getting the buy in and the consensus from those who need to follow. That has not always been a core strength of every leader that I've worked with. So that communication element is one of those, you know, I would rank it sort of as a high EQ, high adaptive type of skill set that it certainly can be trained, but there are some people who are

I think more nationally skilled in that area than others. And

Ryan Deeds 5:05

for me, it's therapy man, I went through therapy for like, 20 years as a kid. And so, I swear that's like I, if my parents did anything it was, they sent me to a lot of therapy as a child, you know. And so, because I think that we're seeing this new movement is its authority less leadership, where it's, it's not leadership based on how much authority you present, but how much consensus you can build and make each individual understand why we're driving that way and what's in it for them. And then how do they move that way? And, you know, I think that that's, those are the leaders that I want to work with to if somebody asked you that folks that understand how to really get at your heart and soul and the best ones that that that I've worked with, absolutely do that. You always feel like yeah, that person's in my corner. That's how I know it's a good leader right.

Nick Lozano 6:00

You are the second guest of ours to say that you are a servant leader. So, I mean, that seems like that's a growing trend here right Brian I believe Jensen Hendriks, who was our guest about SEO he said he was a servant leader as well. And, and I know what he said that Jocko was a huge influence on him. You know, the whole dichotomy leadership, the Extreme Ownership thing.

So, it's pretty interesting to hear you say that.

Ryan Deeds 6:26

Yeah, I'm an avid reader, you know, and I think that you pick up nuggets from these books. And there's this book called The Fifth Discipline that talked about the unforeseen consequences of a decision that is made and how we lose the ability to track back root cause because we deal with the ripple effects of those decisions. And I think I you know, when I look at how we make decisions today in leadership roles, ever since I've read that book, man, I'm always like, trying to understand what problems Am I gonna cause by this? Yeah,

I mean, because you know, you may solve one problem, but you may create five others. And so, and I think as you build consensus, and as people can understand your motivation, you know, and then I preach, I preach judge on intent, not execution, execution always gets screwed up, you know, you didn't mean to yell at that employee, you didn't mean to have, you know, have a bad day. But so, I'm always trying to coach my people and you know, myself to judge folks on intent, instead of execution because obviously, I've failed oftentimes in execution. And so, I think those are kind of core things and then self-deprecation, you know, you have to me you got to be able to understand your weaknesses and your flaws and really drill into that and so and make fun of it, you know?

Brian Comerford 7:47


Certainly, having that ability to have self-reflection as well as the self-deprecation. You know, that's, that's another key trait that

You know, some of us are better than others being able to look in the mirror and, and read it for what it is, you know, those ripple effects that come from decision making. Again, that is something that I think comes with that higher EQ, that higher sense of holistic awareness. And that is also to me one of those really key leadership characteristics. And it's refreshing to hear someone, you know, reference, a book like you did that has that sort of orientation. Because honestly,

particularly when you're dealing with the type of work environments that we do, where technology has an increasing role in every industry, that you can imagine, and there's greater and greater complexity that comes along with it. There are downstream impacts that are potential with any decision that is made and to not have that holistic mindset.

As a key driver, through that decision making process, I've seen come back to haunt many different functional leaders who may think from beginning to end in their little domain. But they don't think of all of the other potential ramifications that making changes and decisions can ultimately have within their environment.

Ryan Deeds 9:25

Yeah, I mean, and I think it's so weird because we have these tech leaders, you know, and I not absolutely say, you know, I'm a tech leader. But there's been a transition from technological a strategic vision to, oh, now the corporations’ kind of setting a strategy based on what you hope to bring or the scale that you hope to attain or profitability is tied back to utilization. I mean, you know, we've been we've been thrust into this Limelight now. And I was lucky because early on, firms put me in their executive leadership teams, and

extremely early. And I think I was 27 when I first started being an executive leadership meetings. And so oftentimes I get CEOs that ask like, hey, how do we go find IT person like you, you know, that understands the business and I'm like, the person's probably sitting in your closet. But maybe you never offered that role. Maybe you never train that person up, maybe that person never thought to, that you they'd be accepted. You know, and so it takes to it takes a an IT professional that wants to grow, and it takes an organization that's willing to help that person and, you know, sitting through 16 years of executive leadership meetings, has really changed the way that I can perceive technology and business problems and the whole nine and so had I not done that had I not been with those firms that were progressive, and I wouldn't, you know, I wouldn't be whatever I am today and so I'm just

Been thankful and lucky that I landed where I did. And then I tried to maximize those opportunities as I could and sometimes, I failed, and sometimes I did. Okay.

Brian Comerford 11:08

I want to touch on something that you just mentioned there, Ryan. So, the

I think having a culture of inquisitiveness is another, you know, core trait. really having that path of discovery with some of your hidden talent, you know, in your current workforce. Questions don't always get asked. And, you know, I think a lot of times folks tend to think of themselves in very dynamic way, but others that they may work with in this very static, you know, it's you are whoever you were, when you started the organization tends to be the mindset that settles for a lot of folks. And that that can, you know, back to the communication that can diminish, really mining for that hidden talent within your workforce.

Ryan Deeds 11:59


Brian Comerford 12:00

if you don't take the time to ask the questions, or really have all that orientation around what a career development path can look like.

Ryan Deeds 12:10

Well, and I think it's changing so drastically today, because everybody wants an innovation unit, right? Like that's like the thing like, everybody is all about, and we need an innovation unit. And really, they have had an innovation unit for as long as they've been in business because their staff understands what they hate to do. And they've probably figured out ways to do it better. But the agency or the organization probably hasn't listened. And so, once you don't listen two or three times you stop getting people to submit requests. And if you do, listen, and you don't act on it, it's not going to happen, you know, and so, I think that, absolutely, if the if the leader of an organization figures out a path, out the, the end users

pain points, they will have an unending list of things to innovate over. And as soon as they start to deliver on that, and they then you hold somebody up and you say, hey, this person created this solution, and this is the result. And it's all them. All we did was help enable that vision to come true. Everybody's hand goes up. In a year, everybody's like, wow, you're the most innovative company we've ever seen. And you're just kind of sitting back like, I'm just solving their problems.

Nick Lozano  13:29

And so how much of that is mentoring, the current staff you have currently kind of allowing them to take on projects or different roles that they haven't done before and kind of allowing them to fail?

Ryan Deeds  13:41

Man, I mean, it's huge because it really you can't approach it's very difficult to do that top down because to get top down by and, and that is very hard. So what I did was just as the kind of technologist I am, I always tell my guys, you're going to be around those desks, I don't care if they're if they if they need help or not, because I don't want them to acquaint you with problems. So two or three times a day, you need to walk around the floor, you need to talk to people talk about Mary's dog and Betty's cat and Bob's freakin son, you know, get human with them build trust, because as you do that, we stopped getting acquainted with being the prop that just the only time we ever show up is when there's an issue. And if they'll allow us to sit with them for a little while, you know, and as if you sit with somebody for five hours, and you start watching how they work and what they're fumbling with, they don't even know they're fumbling with it, right, but they're just struggling with it. Well, you can come back and say, Hey, man, what if we did this? What if we try this? And a lot of times, they're very receptive because it's affecting just them. And so typically, how I would approach is always go to the accountant and the kind of the lowest rung on the totem pole, the ones that are doing the most numerous amount of work, figure out what they hated.

Do, I would build small projects that would, that would show, hey, this might work for you. If they bought in and they could get five of their peers to use it, we would then start iterating through that, once we did that two or three times now, I mean, that's when our innovative culture kind of was born. And we could go to the CEO at that point and say, this is what we're doing. This is what innovation looks like this is this is really the future because you're doing, you're creating employee engagement, employee empowerment, your salt, you're taking the stuff they hate away to do. And you're getting more efficient. And so that's a win, win across the board. And it's really about building trust, though it has nothing to do with anything else. It's, it's taking an idea that you know, that you can do quickly, providing some small POC on that, giving it back to them. And sometimes it would be in a day like I'd have a problem on a Monday morning and by Tuesday afternoon, I was like, here's a very brief solution. What do you think? Use it let's take a look at it. And that kind of speed of action changes the way that the corporation functions.

Brian Comerford 16:09

I don't know of many organizations that work as nimbly as what you just described.

But I do appreciate that that is, you know, in terms of delivering effectiveness, that that's really a critical skill set to develop if it's not something that's already in your wheelhouse as a leader.

Ryan Deeds 16:31

No, absolutely. I mean, but I think it's, it's all about like you said, it's almost about worldview, how open to new Are you as an individual? And how setting your truth are you I mean; my whole reality can shift tomorrow. And really, my best nights ever come from discussions where my truth is challenged. And maybe I learned something new, right? Like maybe I come away from this communication, a different person, my perceptions been shifted. I live for those moments. And you know, because I think that

it's growth.

growth and who we are as individuals. And so, when you see leaders that are very locked into their myopic worldview, regardless of what it is, they're at a disadvantage. And so, you know, I think that openness to new is a huge, huge thing you look for in progressive leaders. You know,

Brian Comerford 17:19

You know, and I think you also, you know, kind of touched on that, when you were talking about, if you're just solving some of the core issues of your workforce, then that's ultimately, you know, what's driving that innovative change. Some of those things are not exclusive to whatever's, you know, being a challenge on the internal side. And some of this starts to factor out into more of those client facing innovations that are really, you know, trying to solve some of the bottlenecks from, you know, whoever's working at the desk and whoever they're serving on the client end. Would you agree with that?

Ryan Deeds 17:56

I mean, all day. I mean, think about this. This is the best person

Project ever, probably ever had. I mean, the one that I feel like changed our organization fundamentally when I was at Crichton

was, as this account manager named Brian said, hey, there's gotta be a better way to get builders risk data. He told me that late on like a Tuesday night, I didn't, I had no awareness that he was struggling with that. So, I went home. And I was like data collection, you know, googled it and obtained a thing called form site? Well, I was like, Okay, cool. He sent me the PDF. I went ahead and created the fields and forms site; I map the answers back to the PDF. And I sent it to him the next morning, I you know, and I was like, what about this, and he was like, dumbfounded. He was just blown away by it. And within like, three months, man, we had had 200 forms created, we had clients using them on their own internets, because we would create, like, incident tracking stuff in it. So, you see this, like evolution, and then they started to understand what was possible. You know,

You know, I think if you can bring like a zap here knowledge into your organization, they're going to understand that there is no problem that's unsolvable. It's just how do we work the process to make it make that problem be better be more effective? Too often right now, people are just like, Oh, yeah, there's no solution to this. And so, my whole goal was not so much specific technologies, that has a limited ramification. Moreover, I want to open your eyes, the possibilities of the world by showing you use cases for these different things. And then I want you to leverage your creativity to solve problems without me, because that's, that's, that's the leader, right to be able to pass that on. That's where you get the impact.

Brian Comerford 19:42

Oh, sure.

Nick Lozano 19:43

I really agree with you. You know, and I know Brian, I've had had this conversation before that innovation doesn't necessarily mean technology. When people think innovation nowadays, they're like, Okay, what cool technology is Google or Apple or Amazon going to do when innovation on a small screen

could just be a business process or use case.

It's mainly sharing your end user, your customers suffering from something and you can solve it very easily just by making it an easier business process.

Ryan Deeds 20:10

Oh, yeah. I mean, I think innovation is subjective. And I think it's a problem because I think a CEO of a, you know, $30 million firm looks at Elon Musk and says, Wow, that's innovative, but he can't get electronic forms filled out.

And so, from my perspective, you know, innovation is, it is a very specific to company kind of thing. And there's an innovation and maturity that will come with it. But the main thing about that is, is prompting individuals to be able to out their ideas on solutions, and to be able to articulate problems effectively. And those can be, you know, very big programs, or they can be, you know, just kind of Agile processes, you know, that you have, but no, I actually give a presentation that talks about,

Don't look outward for innovation look inward for problems. I mean, I may and I use this term all the time, but I make my managers have the list of the top five soul sucking tasks that they have. Because that's innovation, if you can, if you can then look across the board and see all the different problems that you have and identified one that might have a systemic effect and you that you solve that? Well, then now you're innovative, right? I mean, you know, you do that two or three times. And so, and you didn't have to come up with an app on iPhone or use blockchain. You know it.

Nick Lozano 21:33

Well, you mean blockchain won't solve all our problems of the world?

Ryan Deeds 21:35

No, man. Blockchain is just funny to me, man.

Nick Lozano 21:41

Hey, you and me both, I not gonna touch that.

Brian Comerford 21:46

Well, on that note, let's pivot and go a little deeper on the data side. So you know, I know initially, we had talked about, you know, really just touching on what are the top three foundational things related to having a an understanding of data, that's going to be critical to, to leaders at all levels, not just technology leaders, but when, when you're working with other leadership, trying to help them understand one of those foundational data elements that are critical to your business and can help drive maybe in this case of innovation? What are those foundational pieces to your mind?

Ryan Deeds 22:28

I mean, first and foremost, I think we have to come to a consensus of what we hope to deliver with data, you know, because from my perspective, it is communication, that and that's when you're leveraging data as a communication mechanism for something.

And once they understand that, you know, any, and they've experienced that, I mean, they've gone to a dashboard, they've looked at things they've been communicated to via data. But I don't think they conceptualize it in the same way, you know, and so that's kind of the first thing is like, we're using data to communicate, you know, as we look through what we want to communicate, that's going to drive what we need to get out of our data, you know.

And then I try to bring, you know, a foundational understanding of the elements that tie back to those communication pieces. You know, if it's, if you have kind of a

swagy, a number that doesn't work in there that you need to true up, and that's something they're leveraging all the time, or if you have a look back number that they're trying to use in real time, you know, trying to understand the nuances of the data elements that match up with what they're trying to communicate is important, because once that's done, then it's all about data correctness, how do we audit that effectively against, you know,

normal limits? What does a data management strategy look like? How do we have the accountability in place to drive, you know, real time audits of that information back to the end user, and I try to set an expectation of the time like, this is not an easy button kind of thing. This is a maybe 18-month process, it's going to that at that 18th month is when it really will start you, you may be able to start netting some gain out of that. But the more planning that you put on the front end, discussing the data elements, what they mean, what they're driven to communicate, how they're audited, how they're, you know, what ties back and what are we missing from that? Those that those that's where my discussions are always based the unfortunate part. Their discussions always want to be on what tools should I use to show the data?


Nick Lozano 24:40

That's the wrong conversation.

Ryan Deeds 24:41

And it drives me and it really does, like either call like, Hey, we're looking at Domo. I'm like, Well, okay, what

Nick Lozano 24:50

do you tell me that little 711 monster?

Ryan Deeds 24:55

I mean, what's the difference? So yeah, just right. But the vendors don't do us any favors, because

The vendors pitch, a put our solution in place, you're going to see the data and everything's going to work. And it's just not that way.

Brian Comerford 25:08

Yeah, no one is selling a, an 18-month timeline of boring soldiering work to get to a starting point. And that is a key challenge from the communication perspective of being in a leadership role, where you're trying to convey that message back to the business. That can be an incredibly hard sell. So, help walk us through what is an iterative approach so that you can have some milestones along the way so that you're celebrating successes, it feels like there's progress, and it's not just like, you know, a year and a half slog to get to effectiveness.

Ryan Deeds 25:47

So, it's funny because I actually have a timeline as I've been helping some of my companies because their expectations or a we went out and bought this product. We did this thing and now why don't why aren't we Why isn't our revenue Increasing?

Hold on. I mean, you guys are just starting. And so, and I told him, I was like, well, maybe I didn't set the expectation correctly for you, you know.

But I think that there, it's different for so for each organization, because it depends on what they where they are. But I think for me, step one is to almost identify, we're not using data at all, you know, we may think we are but we are actually not using it strategically, we don't leverage, we, we use it for reports, but we don't use it as a focus mechanism to get everybody rowing in the same direction into be able to identify key areas of that we could improve on what in whatever context that is. And I mean, that is a very big wake up call to have that kind of discussion.

For a firm to realize that, you know, and it doesn't come easy, because oftentimes they're using reports and they'll tell, you know, our data is good, then my question is always, well, how long does it take you to generate a report? Because typically, if they say, well, it will take four days, well four days is a lot of human intuition that goes into that report that's doing all the data, correct, right. And so, I can kind of drive back to that and say, Look, the reason your automated stuff doesn't work, and your human report does is because you don't have the intuition of the human that's doing the massaging in the tool that you're doing the visualization, visualizing it. So, and if and if it's a four- or five-day thing, there's a ton of work to do, because there's a lot of massaging going on, that's locked into a human's brain and we have to change processes. But I think that is kind of the first like, step of understanding. Okay, so we're not using data, you know,

we think that there is some form of, we know, we can do better with it. And we want to do it. And I think that's where a lot of firms are right now. And that's where they get lost. I mean, because everybody offers kind of easy solution, they want to solve a problem, they bring it in, and they get burned by it. And they're like, Oh, my God, this is terrible. I mean, that's why I think, you know, between 2002 and 2010, you just had BI project after BI project fail over and over again. And it was because they kept just laying tools on top of crappy data, the expectation wasn't set effectively. And now they're a little more sophisticated and they I do see them being more reticent to just buy product. I get a lot of calls on it still, but they're way more willing to say Look, don't, don't do it, use Excel. Let's, let's do data validation verification first.

We identify that we want to start using data, then it's like, what problems can we solve with that data? You know, and as we look at it, is there are there some big problems that we could solve? Are there small problems? How do we want to bucket that out? What do we think we want to leverage that for? And I think that's another critical piece. Because so often people just think data is the magic thing. Like, once I get data, all my problems will be resolved. And when I came into Assurex, you know, that was what all the firm said is, hey, we want we want data,

we want Assurex to do a data project, something like that. And it made me real scared, because what they see as a data project and what I visualized as a data project, and what you can actually bring to fruition with multiple firms is very different and difficult. And so, you know,

trying to explain that to them was it was an interesting process. You know,

then once you once you can identify some of the problems that you have with data. Now it's like what data do we actually have access to, you know, what can we actually use in our system? Can we identify elements that that we want to use? And that's, you know, and that's kind of the way I see it is you'd have your, you know, your problem at the top. And then in a line, you'd kind of write out what your data elements that you are going to leverage, hey, this is the transaction date of the transaction. You know, this is what when it happened, this is the amount This is who the salesperson was.

what those are the elements? So, if you're doing a new sales report, and you want to automate your sales report, then you would obviously have to go through and identify where are we capturing that data today? And are we doing it effectively? Do we have that?

The next I mean, there's, this is it's about a 13 step processes I see it

and so, for me, if you start this, you know, you're in your right now you're like, the eighth month, maybe, you know, if you're doing it if you're doing and you might be experimenting with things and doing different stuff, because now it's time to figure out how do we get to that data? You know,

if it's not being filled out correctly, how do we get it filled out correctly? You know, do we have to backfill that data, but a lot of this discovery will take you through those questions and those processes.

Nick Lozano 31:28

It's almost like a cyclical process to you, right? Once, once you hit the you gotta, you know, iterate and go right back again to and make sure that, you know, you're not being led down a false road.

Ryan Deeds 31:38

Well, and what I've always found with analytics is there is no end. You know, everybody wants to get more and more granular, they want more and more information as they start to be able to visualize stuff. I never, I've, I've never got more questions than when I first show something, right. Because like you show visualization that you've been working on for maybe three months, and it's totally

But like when I came into Crichton, and that was a two-year data strategy, you know, I had a two year just to get a baseline benchmark of data. And that's what I mean, when I interviewed with them, I had a five-year strategy with them. But me two of that was to get good quality data, identify what that was, what we're going to use it for all the business rules that coincided with it. And that's a lot more work than anything else. I mean, because and like I think, like you'd said, start small, start with the smallest problem you can find, get your process of iteration down, and then you can tackle more problems as you move forward.

Nick Lozano 32:46

And how much of that is just end user education? I know when I've deployed, you know, any type of data analytics or visualization tool, sometimes there comes a process where you kind of have to educate people how to read statistical, you know, graphs and different charts because sometimes they don't understand just even how to read, you know, the chart that you might have put together a tableau?

Ryan Deeds 33:08

Well, I mean, so for me what and again, I've been building role-based dashboards for users since 2005. So, I mean, I have a bit of experience trying to get my end user to buy in. And so, what I've done is just I do stories, you know, typically for my users, I if they're a sales role or service role, I'll say this is where you were on January one, this is where you are today. These are the new clients that you have. These are the clients that you lost is the clients that got moved out, these are the clients that got moved in, you represent 22% of the agency overall and client count, you push 3% of the overall revenue, your growth needs to be 8%. This year, it's 5% right now, and so if you align it in a story, it's so much more palatable to me. You know, obviously CFO reports because my visualizations are

Very, very user specific, who's viewing this and what the thing I show a CFO, I would never show a CEO, you know, the CFO report is detailed granular is going to get into everything CEO is going to be a topical pretty broad, easy to understand visualization that says, hey, you're doing good. Are you doing bad, you know,

But for the users, for the most part, like it once Power BI came out, man, they, they grabbed on to that stuff so hard, but our analytics were deeply aligned with the problem sets that they had. And so, I think when, when that's the case, as well, you have a lot less adoption issues. You know,

Brian Comerford 34:39

You know, that data literacy is a component of what I'm hearing here. So, you know, the first piece, Nick, to your point, I think, is it's not just a matter of explanation, it's, it's really fundamentally changing the understanding at every level of the organization so that that data literacy is actually a component of how people are receiving and apprehending the information that you're providing to them.

Ryan Deeds 35:07

Yeah, and I mean, I do not think that any data project will work effectively, unless you have real time audit shown back to the people that enter the data, just won't, won't work. So, in my, in my dashboards, they would always have, you know, 16 or 17 audits, and I mean, sometimes they would request them. And whenever data that fell without outside of normal limits was hit, you know, then they would be have an indicator that they needed to go in and fix that problem, which ultimately train them to not replicate the issue much quicker than a end of the month exception report. And so, I dashboard strategies today, hardly ever do that. And I think it's the most critical thing because if you have to say that sales revenue is the number that has to be plugged in all the time, will if you have an audit that says, hey, look, you've got eight of these that are not filled in and in three days, if you don't resolve this, it's going to go to your manager, the

but if you take care of them, nobody will know. And if you take care of them in a timely manner for the next six months, you'll get a free PTO day. Well now.


And so, and that's how the data strategies that I've put in place have always been, it always starts with root elements that are audited, and then shown back to the user that enters it. And over time, you see the error rate drastically decrease because they learn because they don't want to screw up. I mean, they want to do it, if they have some that helps them. And then they ultimately like a ton of different audits push to that, because they feel like it's a secondary set of eyes over their shoulder that helps them move forward. You know,

Brian Comerford 36:38

you just touched on two of the behavioral characteristics that I've been writing about in terms of what, what type of finisher, are you, that's this latest posts that I've been developing and what you were just talking about their hits both of those sort of elements of the psychological profile, right? Some people are driven by rewards, right.

So, getting the PTO day, others are driven by avoidance, right? It's whatever it is, I just don't want X to happen. In this case, it's now this report is going to go to my manager who kept this. So, I love how you're able to identify getting both of those psychological components baked into what your approach is. I think it's ingenious.

Ryan Deeds 37:22

Well, I think the other key part was the account. The folks in our on our teams always would know that the data that was shown on the dashboards was what they were being judged on. Right. Like, it wasn't the sole component, but it was a key component. when we'd look at, you know, who's holding what water who's carrying what weight, and once they understood that if they had, you know, hey, if I have $800,000 of service business this year, or you know, man, it would be awesome if I get to 900,000 and you're showing them that in real time, pretty much. And so, you know, it's not like, like, think about a non-dashboard, agency or group

we did lose quite a few people. I think we lost 10 people that quit over time, after we brought the analytics in because the transparency that it provides is just ridiculous. But, you know, the lions in an agency loved it, loved it, and that's what you want.

Brian Comerford 38:54

And, you know, getting that command of understanding, I think goes back again to now. It's something that is this interactive layer within your business, right? It's not just give me a report all the things that you just referenced. Now there's, you know that data literacy is driving the interaction with it and where it's seen as this is a component of how we do business. This is a component of how we make decisions. And once you've got that kind of fundamental understanding and my experience, that's where you can make the transition and to helping everyone fundamentally realize that this is just part of how we run business today. This is not a project that has a finish. This is a continuous cycle for us where it's ever evolving and improving.

Ryan Deeds 39:40

And after and after a little while, you don't have to, because they, they just do it. I mean, the Gen. The Gen Z folks, the Gen. The millennials, these guys are actually pretty data literate because they use metrics every day. How many likes Do I have versus person? I mean, you know, my kid, my six-year-old knows YouTube likes, subscription rates.

Nick Lozano 40:01

Oh, yeah, they do.

Ryan Deeds 40:02

It's, it's data everywhere. And so, I think it's going to be up to the companies to try to leverage that that kind of behavior. Going forward. I think that data literacy is not going to be a hard thing if we can illustrate things. This is bad, this is good. This is to a like in your business. This can praise to a not like, thumbs down. And so, I mean, I and I think it's a really interesting time for analytics because we do have so many people that are so used to leveraging all kinds of analytics on social media.

Nick Lozano 40:34

And I agree with you completely there, you know that the next generation coming up, like you said, you know, your six year old I've seen you know, that they all want to have YouTube channels where they unbox toys and this is like evidently some big craze that like every you know, six year old wants to do because they're, they're making tons of money. So, they're already way ahead of, you know, some of the previous generations because they're already you know, talking about exposure rates and like counts, and impressions and it's just so much more advanced. I feel like you just kind of need to start somewhere now.

Ryan Deeds 41:07

Yeah, I mean it's funny man like we have we do goals every year for the family and we sit down and we do we review the goals from the last year and in and we put our goals forward for the new year. And so, this year, you know, Tori, my six-year-old she's like, my goal at the end of the year is that 100 followers on YouTube, because she likes to stream games, she's a video game like nut bro. I mean, she does just a ton of video games. And so, we'll set the six that sit next to each other for hours and she will stream this stuff and she'll be looking at the viewer analytics as it moves forward. So, I have no idea what that does to these kids because they she can learn so that's the biggest difference here is, they can learn so dang quick, man I mean you know my kid asked me a question about Roblox. I'm like I don't know shit in three minutes she is on YouTube looking up that answer.

When I was a kid, if my dad was like, hey, this I don't know. Why the sky is blue? Oh, cool. I'm gonna go play in the mud, you know?

Nick Lozano 42:03

Yeah. It's that difference between being you know, a digital native and a digital nomad. They're, they're kind of digital natives.

Ryan Deeds 42:11

I mean, it's crazy. There's so many experience and it's interesting I have a 16 or 17-year-old now and a six-year-old. And there's a gigantic gap between their technical ability I mean, my 17-year-olds more technical because she's older, but my Tori is going to be a damn nightmare, man. I mean, it's going to be the crazy because like, she does, like I asked her to spell something. She had a spelling quiz, and I was like, spell tomorrow. And she was like,

Siri, how do you spell tomorrow?

Brian Comerford 42:44

Well, that's, that's what Ray Kurzweil is written about as the singularity. Right? It's at that point that we are fast approaching, where human augmentation with technology is, it's just going to be a given, it's part of how all of us will interact

Ryan Deeds 43:00

Everywhere, right? I am such a huge augmented reality fan man. I mean, and so you know, I picked up a Magic Leap glasses dev kit, I definitely am playing with Unity some with it because I see in the corporate world, just a ton of utilization for that. And so yes, I totally agree that, you know, ultimately, we will have a HUD that we're using to navigate life.

And, and we're, you know, we've seen different executions of that fail. But when you look at the car, like the cars today and how valuable that information is being right there in front of you, that's common that's going to be here. And so, I'm super I like, I don't know if you just saw where Snapchat put out their new like, augmented reality kind of kit for business. And I mean, I think that this stuff is going to be wild. So yeah, I definitely believe that by the time that Tori's, you know 20 she'll be all up in that thing, man, it is gonna be nuts.

Brian Comerford 43:56

I think we probably still need to define Snapchat for some of the folks that I work with who are an executive leadership, I'm not sure they even know how it works.

Ryan Deeds 44:06

If they don't, they should for sure, right?

Nick Lozano 44:12

I think all the kids are on Tick Tock now.

Ryan Deeds 44:16

So, and it's so scary, like Tick Tock just scares the hell out of me, man. You know, I'm on it because I like to experiment with new technology, but man, it is a scary, scary place you know.

Brian Comerford 44:31

we'll define that a little bit what's I have my own understanding of why I think it's scary but I want to say

Ryan Deeds 44:36

Anything that brings old men and young scantily clad women together. Yeah, I mean, it's right it's right for abuse. It permeates this this show culture for women I think, you know, the more I show the more views I have the more scantily clad so it's, it pushes the sexualization of women that drives me nuts, and maybe it's because I'm a parent of two girls, but I mean, it's something I struggle with heavily and I see it all over the place and on Tick Tock. It's, it's like the it's the purest form of that that you can see today. Because it's totally driven by in my opinion a lot of this this youthful full kind of sexuality that's happening. And it sucks I there's some real cool artists on there. There's some people that I follow. But it, it is something that drives that behavior and then doesn't that has, you know, older men on there as a father of young women that are on that platform. It's something that makes me nervous.

Brian Comerford 45:39

I don't know where to go next with that.

Nick Lozano 45:42

Let's talk about Chat roulette, you guys.

To me, tick tock just another iteration of that, but it's on an app.

Ryan Deeds 45:52

Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, it's it. You know, if you scroll through Tick Tock at all, obviously, there if you try

categorizing data what you see? Yeah,

Nick Lozano 46:03

You know Instagram's kind of the same way to when you look at everything that's super popular it is all the things you know, the guys with six packs and you know, scantily clad ladies you know, ladies and everything and it's, it's kind of going that way too.

Ryan Deeds 46:17

Yeah, that's funny because I never really got into it. I've almost totally pulled off of Facebook. from a personal standpoint, I really LinkedIn is like the only social network that I use now. And I'm on Tick Tock a little bit. And then when anything pops up, I get it for a little while just to play with it.

Brian Comerford 46:35

Well, I know that you referenced an influential book earlier on in our conversation, but I'm kind of curious, are there? Is there another book that has been a difference maker for you, as you've come up to the ranks as a leader in technology?

Ryan Deeds 46:50

That just sounds wrong and just doesn't resonate with me but yes.

I think that though,

Nick Lozano 46:57

It could be a Kindle book, you know.

Ryan Deeds 47:00

best book I've ever, like, the one that I've probably taken the most away from was good to great, you know, and its cliché, and everybody's read it. But I mean, damn, every time I read that book, you can take something else away from it. You know, I believe in the core competency theory, there's so much about that book that I feel was accurate. I love the data that they leveraged when they did the comparative between those places. Then I also thought it was interesting as you read it, and some of those places fall out from other competitors to be able to, to look at that, you know, and so I love that I love Malcolm Gladwell stuff. I'm a historical nut. And so, I think there's a ton of business, accurate stuff that you can learn from history, just because of the strategies that are involved. And so, but good to great was probably the most influential.

Brian Comerford 47:45

That's great. Thank you.

Nick, what else you got for us?

Nick Lozano 47:50

I don't know You stole my question, Brian.

Brian Comerford 47:53

Well, I'm sensitive is a time I know that you said you needed to scoot here about now Ryan. So, I just I didn't want to keep dragging us on.

Ryan Deeds 48:02

No worries, man, I appreciate you guys having me on. I was a little wide ranging, but that's always how it kind of goes with me. So

Brian Comerford 48:09

that's what we were looking for and you delivered.

Ryan Deeds 48:11

There you go. It's all over the map.

Nick Lozano 48:15

So, Ryan, if people are looking for you on social media, or I mean, you said you're on LinkedIn. So where can they find you?

Ryan Deeds 48:22

Ryan Deeds on LinkedIn. That's the easiest, you know, that's, that's, you'll they'll find me. And I will answer them if they need if they want to talk, for the most part.

Nick Lozano 48:32

And you do have your own podcast as well called the digital broker.

Ryan Deeds 48:35

I do I have a podcast called a digital broker. We talked about insurance agency operations stuff, and it's odd because I never thought that they would, they would, I would,

It's been fun and we're, we're about to hit our year anniversary and some cool stuff that gets released on Tuesdays every morning at like eight or something.

Nick Lozano 49:08

No, it's been cool to see your, your podcast grow and I've seen on you know, LinkedIn, it's like oh, finally meeting Ryan deeds from, from the digital broker. So, it's, it's been cool to see you guys grow that over the past year.

Brian Comerford 49:20

Yeah, absolutely. And it's great content as well. So, thank you for all you've delivered with that.

Ryan Deeds 49:24

Well I try guys; I appreciate it well I appreciate that I am I gotta run and go get my kiddies so you guys have a good afternoon.

Nick Lozano 49:31

All right. Thank you. Appreciate your time.

Brian Comerford 49:32

Thanks, Ryan.