The nomads put a new spin on the tech genre by shining a light not only on technology but also on the human side of the digital age. Tune in if you find yourself thinking about how to integrate into the digital landscape and be a part of the evolving industry.
For over two decades, Phil and Nabeel have provided a powerful catalyst for organizations to create a vision of the future and the will to innovate. As futurists, they deliver a dynamic and entertaining vision of change, blending technology, economics, demographics, culture, and human nature.
With real business experience and a deep understanding of technology, the two nomads know the difference between science fiction and useful forecasting. Rather than focusing on the distant future, they devote themselves to scanning the horizon for emerging technologies and disruptive shifts in human behavior, thereby sharing a compelling vision of tomorrow’s opportunities.
Pivoting Towards the Future
Being a successful serial entrepreneur requires a combination of abilities and character traits: Innate curiosity, the ability to assess risk, the ability to identify opportunities, the desire to meet customer needs and an informed fearlessness that leads to decisive action.
In this #NomadFuturist interview with Anthony Wanger we get a rare window into the thought process and trajectory of a dynamic IT entrepreneur, whose career journey traversed corporate law, real estate and datacenters, to understand how he achieved success.
Wanger’s combination of business acumen and common sense, his ability to discern value and stay present to changing marketplace conditions has informed his choices and actions in the critical infrastructure space over the last twenty years. With an ability to think outside the box, he is able to see a tremendous and ever-evolving potential to generate revenue in the digital infrastructure space.
Wanger hails from Chicago. As a young corporate lawyer, he joined Sterling Partners, a private Equity firm. There he became aware and committed to the idea of tangible assets. He also became fascinated by the Internet.
“I did not come of age with an IT background, but I threw myself into it because of where I saw the opportunity. I realized that there’s nothing virtual about the virtual world. It’s a collection of tangible assets.”
An opportunity presented itself to acquire a building in Scottsdale, Arizona. Wanger decided to strike out on his own and started a business with two engineering partners, financing, developing and operating a large-scale data center complex and carrier hotel. They grew the business successfully staying on top of trends and consistently pivoting to the next opportunity.
They ultimately sold the business in 2006 and in 2007 Wanger launched a second company IO Data Centers.
Wanger discusses his absolute commitment to customer service.
“The reason we were successful in the data center space is that we were obsessed with customers, period, full stop! … If you are really good to your customers, they’ll grow with you.”
Wagner talks about the huge transformation created by the pandemic, how it has forced near universal acceptance of and reliance on the digital world. “I think we are underestimating where this is headed and how great the demand is.”
At this point he sees that the risk is in not being in the technology space.
“It’s never too late to pivot towards the future!”
He advises young people starting out to keep a book of lessons learned on every deal and interaction.
His parting recommendation:
“Find people that you love and that you want to work with where you don’t mind their bad days and they don’t mind your bad days and you’re just all in it together. That is the key to success!”
Anthony Wanger is a 3X founder, serial entrepreneur, operator and investor with a record of accomplishments in the digital infrastructure market. His many successes include the founding of IO, a pioneer in modular data centers, which was acquired by Iron Mountain in 2018. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Wanger is a frequent speaker at CAPRE and other industry events. He holds a J.D. from Boston University School of Law and a B.A. in Political Science from Emory University.
A Natural Tinkerer
Being true to your lights can lead to a successful career.
In this #NomadFuturist podcast, Phil and Nabeel interview Sagi Brody, the Chief Technology Officer for Webair, a leading Cloud and IT Infrastructure solutions provider headquartered in New York.
Brody was a natural tinkerer from childhood, moving from Lego to disassembling and reassembling his first Gateway computer at the age of thirteen.
“I’d open up my machine to upgrade memory or just to poke around and I’d break it! And I’d keep frying the board because I’d do it wrong and I’d call them up and they’d send me a new one. Fortunately, they had a great warranty!”
While in high school he became interested in coding and networking, moving on to working at a hosting provider as a side job while he was in college.
That’s where he met his future business partner Michael Ohayon who invited him to join his nascent hosting company. Brody left college to work full-time at Webair where he has worked since 1998.
He shares why he enjoys working at a smaller company:
“When you are a technology provider your customers are asking you to do all these different things.And you’re constantly being pushed to the edge. So, it’s a great place to learn.”
Brody recognizes that the high pressure to learn the latest and greatest technical skills can take the fun out of learning. He believes learning should be driven by a strong desire to achieve a goal or to explore one’s own natural curiosity.
Some guidance for young people entering the field:
Learn a technology in the context of a passion you have rather than learning a tool or coding language because you think it’s what’s expected of you.
Develop skills such as troubleshooting, researching and technical writing, which will become important as you transition from engineering to management.
His final thoughts:
This is a great industry and there are so many aspects of it that are just in their infancy. I think that anyone who is looking to get involved in any of the aspects, if it’s cloud, if it’s security, if it’s networking… it’s all good!
Sagi Brody is responsible for all technical infrastructure, design, and operations at Webair, one of the largest cloud providers in the Northeast region of the United States, servicing the United States, Canada, Europe, and APAC markets. Brody has been involved in all aspects of the hosting and data center industry including: site surveys and selection, data center buildout and upgrades, fiber network design and build, authoring of client interfaces, software design for data center and server automation, cloud computing, green data center technologies, resource management, staffing, and budget planning. Among many other achievements, Brody has built Webair’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) that provides high speed downloads from anywhere in the world.
Building a Sustainable Future
How does a Music Education major end up becoming an internationally recognized leader in datacenter efficiency?
In this #NomadFuturist podcast Kevin Kent takes us on an important environmental journey across the United States and around the world.
Music and arts were a big part of Kent’s childhood and he studied music education in college. He soon realized he would face a life of limited financial prospects as a music teacher and so changed directions. He did a stint in banking where he became aware of data centers and found that he was fascinated by the mechanical and electrical aspects of the industry. He ultimately ended up at Ohio State supporting the data center for the Wexner Medical Center where he worked for nineteen years.
Kent, an avid motorcyclist, saw first-hand the severe impacts of climate change as he traveled across the U.S. on vacations. He became increasingly concerned about the role of the data center as a contributor to the climate crisis.
This concern led him to found Critical Facilities Efficiency Solutions (CFES), a global data center energy efficiency and sustainability consultancy service whose mission is to create data-driven, cost-effective, environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions.
Phil, Nabeel and Kevin have a lively discussion about current data center trends. Kent talks about the challenges posed by an ever-increasing demand including issues of power usage inefficiencies.
“We really have to start looking at where we are building our facilities, climate-wise, how close to the power generation source.”
He discusses the tremendous growth in the APAC region and highlights Africa as the next frontier, with the most projected growth over the next decade.
Kent speaks about the impact of new technologies in achieving greater efficiencies and improved ROI, particularly machine learning which is seeing great results in the mechanical and electrical areas.
Kent also discusses the power of predictive analytics for facilities staff:
“You’re going to have insights into things that you’ve never had before!”
Kent’s advice to young people who may be considering a career in critical infrastructure:
“I think that the most important thing is to keep an open mind. Figure out what is important to you. Find people that you value and talk to them. Allow them to help you map out a plan.”
Kevin Kent, Founder and CEO of Critical Facilities Efficiency Solutions, is recognized internationally as a leader in data center optimization, sustainability, and energy efficiency. He has an affiliation with several U.S. environmental foundations and is a Climate Reality Leader. Kent serves on the international Data Center Institute Board of Directors and is a global trainer for DCPro, providing critical training and certification for the data center industry. In 2020 he was recognized as a global Top 100 Tech Innovator and Influencer as well as the London Edge Conference Innovator of the Year. He is an international keynote speaker and has been featured in many tech magazines, blogs, webinars, and podcasts.
Kent’s commitment to heal and protect our environment can be seen in many ways but none more visible than his donations to environmental foundations where thousands of trees have been planted as an incentive to data center owners who significantly reduce their data center carbon footprint.
Why does one go from being a highly successful video game executive to becoming a catalyst for the use of technology in supporting emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing?
In this engaging #NomadFuturist podcast, Nichol Bradford, Co-founder of TransformativeTech.org, shares her deeply personal journey.
“I grew up as a little black girl in Texas in the 80’s and was interested in Star Trek, where you had a future where mankind had decided that they were all on the same team…where diversity was celebrated.”
Bradford graduated from the Wharton School of Business and after unfulfilling experiences in banking and consulting, decided to pursue a career in the video game industry.
“I was interested in the next evolution in human story telling…Games are a combination of play, narrative, community and exploration.”
She ultimately spent six years with Blizzard in China as Head of Operations for World of Warcraft and Starcraft China running both the front-end and back-end of the business.
Bradford loved the work but ended up feeling incredibly lonely. This led her to the practice of meditation and eventually to a ten-day meditation retreat which was transformational:
“In ten days, I was unafraid, incredibly happy and I felt deeply connected to everyone.”
Bradford realized that most people do not have the resources or time to experience that kind of transformation. This became the impetus for her to explore ways in which technology can democratize access to things like therapy and child development resources, what she calls “the good stuff about human growth and development, about how we learn, about how to feel, be, and become.”
“I’m working with founders, researchers, innovators and investors to catalyze the Wellbeing Tech category…where people are really pushing into this inner layer… What I am really looking for are things that are helping with social wellness, emotional well-being and self-regulation.”
Bradford asserts that the goal is not to replace humans. She believes the very best examples of these products are ones that have humans in the loop where the technology brings a human, either live or virtually, to help with an overall program.
Though she is aware of some of the pitfalls of the virtual modality, Bradford is highly optimistic about achieving authentic human connection via technology.
Bradford co-founded and built Transformative Tech.org, a global ecosystem dedicated to educating, gathering, and activating wellbeing tech founders, investors, and innovators. The organization has members in 72 countries and 450 cities. She also curates the Transformative Tech Conference -- the most important event at the intersection of tech and wellbeing (www.ttconf.org).
Prior to Transformative Tech, Bradford served as senior interactive entertainment executive with responsibility for strategy, operations and marketing for major brands including: Activision Blizzard, Disney, and Vivendi.
Bradford speaks extensively on Human Transformation, Transformative Tech, the Future of Health, Work, and Human Excellence, and Flourishing Cities. She is a lecturer at Stanford University, has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, and attended Singularity University’s Global Solutions program. She is the author of The Sisterhood, a work of transformative Afro-futuristic fiction. In her spare time, her favorite activities are meditation and combat sports.
People Drive your Business!
How does a successful CEO create value for both customers and investors? Raul Martynek, CEO of DataBank, shares his twenty-year journey and his modus operandi with Phil and Nabeel in this #NomadFuturist podcast.
Martynek discusses his accidental entry into the world of Critical Infrastructure. After majoring in political science, he spent his first years out of college trying to find his way. His natural curiosity led him to learn programming languages and begin coding for various clients. This in turn led him to involvement with the telecommunications industry.
“When the telecom opportunity presented itself, it didn’t feel like I was going into something that I wouldn’t be able to understand... Instead it aligned with my strengths.”
Martynek went on to hold C-level positions in Telecom and in Critical Infrastructure. Throughout, he was driven by a desire to have a well-rounded understanding of all aspects of business and went out of his way to find situations where he could learn. “I started off as COO, CEO but coming out of that operational sales side. The finance side was the side that I had the least exposure to…that’s when I found a senior advisor role with a five-billion-dollar hedge fund and was able to sit on the principal side of the table and understand how they looked at deals.”
Martynek talks about the importance of fostering and maintaining a healthy company culture so that all employees can feel like they are on the same team.
“Are they satisfied, are they engaged? Are they passionate about what they are doing? Because people drive your business. They drive the relationship with your customers. Your customers are interacting with people, not with APIs.”
Martynek sees no end to growth in the Critical Infrastructure space:
“We are underpinning the adoption of technology…humanity has decided that we are going to embrace technology and we are going to use it for everything that you could ever imagine. And our industry is building the foundations to enable that technology.”
Raul Martynek joined DataBank in 2017 as the Chief Executive Officer. In this role, he provides overall strategic direction of the company and its operations. Martynek is a 20+ year veteran in the Telecom and Internet Infrastructure sector. He most recently served as a Senior Advisor for Digital Bridge Holdings LLC. Prior to this, Martynek held senior leadership positions in multiple companies including Net Access, LLC, a New Jersey-based data center and managed services operator, Voxel dot Net, Inc. a global managed hosting and cloud company, Smart Telecom, an Ireland-based fiber carrier and InfoHighway Communications Corp, a telecom and Internet provider. He also served as a Senior Advisor at Plainfield Asset Management, a hedge fund. Martynek earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Binghamton University and received a master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.
Bridging the Digital Divide
In this time of digital acceleration, the digital divide is growing. Tune in to this #NomadFuturist podcast and learn how David Neeman and James Patrignelli, agents for good, are stepping up to the problem.
David Neeman worked for ten years as a prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office, motivated by a desire to help people, especially young people. During his tenure he became deeply aware of the tragic dimension of so many people’s lives. As he became involved with community service programs, Neeman came to understand the need for underprivileged youth to have access to technology. This realization led to his establishing The Loyalty Foundation.
“The future is technology. If you don’t have access to the technology, you don’t have access to the future.”
At the advent of the Covid crisis, Neeman decided to help a student who didn’t have a computer. “I was able to purchase a refurbished Chromebook for one hundred dollars. We moved money around in the budget to be able to buy it. …he was so happy…he was in every class, doing everything, pushing hard, amazing!”
This initial success led to an ever-growing outreach both to community organizations helping underserved youth as well as a network of donors who wished to help. The need to find affordable computers led to Neeman’s association with James Patrignelli, the Northeast Director of Sales for Liquid Technologies, an IT asset disposition firm based in Connecticut.
Patrignelli explains the issue of proper handling of personal data on legacy machines.
“We want to provide a path for people to be able to donate their assets and feel comfortable and secure.”
Neeman talks about the complex challenges that he and his partners are facing, including issues such as lack of broadband access as well as parents who may be both financially and digitally challenged.
“The digital equity issue is so massive, It’s not just the computer or the device. It goes into many different areas and we try to be a trusted community guide and partner, someone they know that they can rely upon.”
Neeman’s excitement and passion are infectious. He and Patrignelli are entrepreneurs for good, sharing a deeply felt mission. They have tapped into a community of like-minded people – a network of good actors who are trying to make a difference and change people’s lives.
Neeman’s guiding principal:
“Keep finding the way back your heart, to what matters.”
David Neeman is the Founder and Chairman of The Loyalty Foundation, established to introduce and augment technology education programs in underserved communities ensuring all children, irrespective of race, gender or socioeconomic status, have equal access to critical educational opportunities. By inspiring and instilling a love of technology, the Loyalty Foundation helps students develop the knowledge, skills and self-esteem they need to succeed in today and tomorrow’s economy. Prior to this, David served as Prosecutor at the Manhattan District Attorney for ten years.
James Patrignelli is the Director of Sales, Northeast for Liquid Technology. He joined Liquid in 2011 as a Senior Account Manager. James works with executives to develop and implement end-of-life IT asset management programs for Fortune 500 companies with a focus on data security and maximizing the return of IT hardware. He has worked in the IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) field since 2005 and has advised CIOs, CTOs and data center managers across the globe about best practices for end-of-life IT asset management. James received a B.S. in Business Administration and Management Information Systems from the University of Connecticut and studied overseas in Italy for his second degree in International Economics.
impactful, motivational and inspirational tech guru
The journey to success is different for everyone. The obstacles we overcome along the way are often what make us who we are. Nabeel’s inspirational story and the chilled demeanor will inspire you to power forward in all that you do. As he often says - live life is there is no tomorrow and of tomorrow comes live again.
Great! Phil is a hero!
Tremendous insight throughout. A whirlwind tour of technology. Great fun. In my life, I’ve dealt mainly with the past, so hearing about the future was a treat.