Taking Technical Training Virtual

In this week’s The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Mike Pennacchi. Mike is the Founder and Owner of Network Protocol Specialties. His company provides network analysis training, network design advisory, and network problem diagnosis.

Very few people in the industry are providing Virtual Technical Training and our today’s guest is one of them.

In this week’s The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Mike Pennacchi. Mike is the Founder and Owner of Network Protocol Specialties. His company provides network analysis training, network design advisory, and network problem diagnosis.

The conversation started with Mike introducing how he started his company. He said that after 9/11, he and his colleagues went to the Pentagon to rebuild the networks that were on the plane. After this achievement, Mike decided to open his own company.

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Furthermore, Mike shared his entire struggle for traveling around the world and in the US as well for establishing his company. This was mainly for the training he does. Even though physical training was important, Mike soon realized that virtual technical training is the new thing.

This is when, even before Covid-19, Mike started his virtual technical training. And just like that, he got a massive response at the first training he held online. After this, Mike started his virtual technical training all around the world.

Moreover, within a few years of his training, he decided to up his game and got a small setup, with a green screen, cameras, lights, and all such necessities for his training. After this, Mike explained how his virtual technical training works.

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Even though his training requires equipment, what he does is send his attendees an email in which they explain the software they have to download. After this, their virtual training attendees can easily access their tools and also have an up-close look at the equipment.

This according to Mike has saved a lot on equipment amount and also on carrying it. Furthermore, Mike shared that after a few years of training, he had to figure out how to make his clients understand the equipment he uses.

At this point, he found a guacamole ad, which created virtual testers of his equipment. This allowed his trainees to finally access the equipment freely.

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By the end of the conversation, Mike shared a few more pros and cons of virtual technical training. He said that in a virtual event people are more confident to share questions as well. Moreover, he shared an incident where one person asked a question in class and because Mike had all his equipment with him, he easily tested it as well.

So this is the beauty of online training according to Mike. The conversation ended with Damon thanking Mike for his time.

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people, equipment, class, training, tester, network, run, company, travel, problem, plane, called, sitting, camera, put, remotely, question, work, nps, person


Damon Pistulka, Mike Pinnacchi


Damon Pistulka  00:05

All right, everyone, Welcome once again to the faces of business. I am so excited today. Oh God, someone that I think in my world, in my circle of friends that I sit down with and have beers with once a while is the king of video. I’ve got with me today, Mike Janaki. Mike, great to have you on today. So good to have you here. Great to be here, Damon, thanks for having me on. Yeah, it’s it’s so much fun.

Because, you know, actually, you’re, you’re a longtime friend of my wives, you guys went to school, you know, grade school, high school, college, you know, it’s good stuff. But you know, when I, when we were set down a while ago, and you were telling me about the video and the way that you were doing video training, I was like, man, we got to, we got to talk about this. So it’s, it’s awesome to have you on. So, Mike, tell us a little bit about your background and kind of, you know, you’ve been doing this training. Wow, I’d like to hear of a little bit about that. And then kind of how this really evolved.


Mike Pinnacchi  01:12

Well, I started I went to Washington State University got a degree in management information systems became a programmer or sat at a desk. And you know, it’s funny they how things kind of line up sometimes i a group of people started a Toastmasters club there. And I you know, I was about afraid, afraid is anybody getting up a crowd of a group at a talking and I joined Toastmasters and started doing these speeches.

And then I got roped into, you know, they said, Hey, we’re gonna do this thing for United Way Can Can you talk to a couple of people? Sure, I can do that. And like little conference room or something. And next thing I know, it turned into carco Theater down here in Renton, I’m talking to the entire company up with the CEO. And, you know, my heart’s beating out of my chest.

But I found that, you know, I kind of liked getting up in front of a crowd that wasn’t so bad. Yeah, I ended up moving and go into a company that’s focused on network analysis, capturing network traffic, analyzing it, and started going to trade shows and doing classes there. You know, we get 250 400 people on one of these classes, and started doing those. And from there, traveling around the country, doing training classes, teaching people how to capture packets, how to get to the root of network slowdowns. I had some interesting jobs over the way.

Right after September 11, a group of five of us went to the Pentagon and rebuilt the networks that were on the plane. And troubleshot those problems and got things back up and running. So it’s been 2002, I decided to, you know, work for the worst boss in the entire world. And that’s myself, and start my own company. So we’re coming up on 19 years now that we’ve I’ve had network protocol specialists.


Damon Pistulka  03:07

Wow. So I just okay, cuz I’m just, you know, I’m a nerd at heart, you know, this already. So there had to be something when you think about how the Pentagon was compromised, the rebuild the network, because you don’t know where cable got frayed a little bit where it’s completely gone? Where is it that had to be a heck of a thing to go back in and fix?


Mike Pinnacchi  03:28

Well, it was and, you know, like, like, most organizations, people tend to only document things when they really have to, yeah, one of the things that, you know, we’ve really had to go back and my whole career has been reverse engineering things that, you know, people will plug things in, they’ll move things around, and they don’t ever really document that. And then they also tend to build networks that really were never designed to be troubleshot down the road. And I kind of equated to, you know, screwing the hood closed on your car.

You know, they are they put the engine in such a way you can’t get to the spark plugs, that they put these things together. They make them so convoluted that then when they break, they call in trouble and say, you know, we’re we’re kind of screwed here. Can you help us figure this out? And we know it and we can’t figure it out. But we want you to come in and figure it out for us and immediately


Damon Pistulka  04:25

Wow, wow, that’s crazy. That’s That’s crazy. But I never thought of that until you said the Pentagon about how how ugly that had to be. It just flashed in my head with you know, mangled and this and that and stuff. had to be tough, but I just want to say thanks, Kathy. Great to have you around today. Always good to see you when you’re when you’re with us. And if you’re listening on LinkedIn or Facebook, go ahead and drop your comments in and and we are if you got questions for Mike or I just go ahead and drop them in the in the comments.

We’ll be happy to answer. So you’re hitting sitting here in 2002. And now you’re You’re gonna start training, you’re going to be training, training people in network analysis and troubleshooting like you do. At that time that had to be, you know, you were getting on planes and going to conferences and things like that, right?


Mike Pinnacchi  05:14

Yep. In fact, the two analyzers that are sitting on the shelf up behind me, the first version of that had come out in 2004, networks up in Everett, had released that, and I, you know, I was talking to them, we’d been doing some work with him, I said, Well, you know, what are you doing for training on that? And they said, Well, you know, I don’t know, do you want to put the training together for it? We’re about interested in doing it internally. So I put the training together, and started going out and doing that. And what’s kind of funny is, I’m still doing it. This is the fourth revision of that product, and I can’t even buy it anymore.

So they don’t even sell the product anymore, but they still offer training to their customers that are paying support on it. And so I do four classes a year on a product that I’ve been teaching on for 21 years. That product, got me to southeast. I’ve been to Manila, I’ve been Kuala Lumpur. I’ve been to Singapore. I’ve been to Bangkok a number of times, I’ve been in embassies, consulates, businesses all over the world, going in and doing training on that product. And it is it and so I had 20 laptops.

I had a few of these. I had hundreds of pounds of equipment that we were shipping all over the place. The ups guy hated me. Because these cases, laptops weighed about 100 pounds each. Oh, yeah. You know, it cost a lot of money. Yeah. When you look at airfare, you know, airfare going up and down rental cars, hotels, yeah, a lot of money involved in going out and doing this. In addition, a lot of the classes were held and hotel conference rooms. And so you’ve got food.

Yeah, I remember I did one myself down in toquilla. And I saw they were charging me $40 a gallon for coffee. And it’s like no decaf, you know, so once decaf I can go to Starbucks and buy it. Yeah. 40 bucks for a gallon a decaf that nobody’s going to drink. Guess you know, in a lot of large companies. That kind of stuff just kind of gets rolled up with everything else. Yeah, you know, it’s just kind of this accepted way I go to these conference show, yo, I’ve been doing interop, the Trade Show in Las Vegas, New York, Atlanta for the last 25 years. In fact, that was really where I got my start as I went to their show in Atlanta in 95, and became hooked on protocol analysis.

But what we pay, you know, you go to get an extension cord, put it and you know, you’ve got to pay an electrician at $80 an hour to run an extension cord for you. And I found out you really don’t want to run it without those guys, because they’ll come after you. Yeah. But it was. You know, there were a lot of expenses and is a very, very, very small business. We couldn’t spit you you had to watch all of those that Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  08:21

yeah. Yeah. It’s not like you’re a llama at rolling it up into the, you know, a margin error of the petty petty account somewhere like it like it is in a smaller businesses doing it. But yeah, those trade shows. I’ve done a few in Chicago with companies before and yeah, you don’t mess around. You don’t mess around within just plugging something in yourself. That’s for sure. So you, you’re there. You’re flying all over. I mean, you had to have, I mean, you had to be on the road a lot.


Mike Pinnacchi  08:51

Well, you know, we were talking before this, let me bring up this camera. So I just gotten this habit of throwing, you know, the hotel room cards into my bag when I got done, and I left. And I just throw them in a box. And one day, I started stacking them all up. And I looked at, you know, this pile of cards that I’ve got it in here. Yeah, these are all roof cards. And those cards, you know, those card keys. That wasn’t just one night. I mean, in some cases, I was standing in a place for five nights.

Yeah. So yeah. I spent a lot of time I was I had gold status on a couple of different airlines. You know, when you get it like with Alaska, yeah, you kind of like the you sit down and I always liked when they would come down the aisle, though. And they’d go, you know, thank you for flying with us, Mr. And you know, they’re looking at my last name. Yeah, then they go Yeah, cool. Thank you. Yeah, cool. Yeah, there’s the glamour wears off. At some. Oh, yeah. You’re on the road all the time.


Damon Pistulka  09:59

Yeah. I had a couple years like that where I was Platinum on on Well, the old airlines now because it was before as in thankfully as long time ago. But yeah, just because you get a set in front doesn’t make the flying every single day of the year any better.


Mike Pinnacchi  10:16

One of the things that really hit me is, you know, before we got started, we were talking about some of the yard projects I’ve been working on. Yeah, my wife and I were driving the my suburban with our trailer behind it down to go pick up some Park. And when we come over the hill, on the top of the Kent hill there you look across, you can see planes taking off from the SeaTac airport, and it was a Sunday afternoon. And I could feel this tension in my chest of, you know, how many times had I been make, you know, driven, and it would be a Sunday? And I’d look at that and think, Oh, I gotta get on the plane.

You know, I’ve got a 6am flight tomorrow morning. And yeah, to make sure you check in I got to think about waking up on time, I got to get to the airport and park I got to get through security. And it was kind of strange to see that and think, you know, I’m doing a class this week. But we’re doing it online. Yeah, I’m not I don’t have to do I don’t have to get on that airplane. I don’t have to worry about I’ve gotten to Boston, no cars. So yeah. Have you run out of cars? And did you have a restaurant? I feel like Steve Martin and planes trains. I had a reservation.



Point. Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  11:27

yeah, that’s that’s just the galo it’s in the global trial that you did. I’m sure that’s just a smattering of what can happen when you’re trying to move because you also had to move your equipment ahead of you and had to be there ready to go. And sometimes I’m sure it was you were coming in there, you know, the day before, and you need that equipment the next day and tough deal.


Mike Pinnacchi  11:48

Well, you know, that’s where one of the woman that works for me outta hurt, you know, sometimes I wonder who works for who but outta and I’ve worked in California together. We’ve known each other for a very long time. And she is one of the most wide procedurally driven people I’ve ever met. And I mean, she does things a particular way. And she just, and so when we knew that we were going to have to start shipping all this equipment and make sure that we had people signed up for the classes, and that the hotels and all that. It just so happened that aiuto called me and we’d worked together before and she said, Okay, I’m changing jobs.

Can I use you as a reference? I said, Absolutely. I’ll tell him you’re the worst employee I’ve ever had. And she said, Why would you say that? And I said, because you have to come work for me. And so she came to work for me. If they one of the local news stations a little bit on her, she runs basically a hospice for animals with the South King County Humane Society. And she knits hats for kids that are Mary bridge for kids that have cancer. So she does all these great things.

But her superpower over the years has been making sure that our equipment ended up exactly where our equipment needed to be. And I know what my strengths are, and I know what my weaknesses are and make and that making sure that everything is lined up like that is really not my strength. And so having outta there, to keep an eye on all that. And also somebody that when somebody needs to get ahold of me, they always know that they can contact her and she’ll get ahold of me and we can make whatever needs to happen happen.


Damon Pistulka  13:35

Yeah, cuz that’s kind of like if she calls you it’s the red phone. It’s the number you add.


Mike Pinnacchi  13:42

There was a hotel and they get the hotel front desk person came in, they said, Hey, who to call, and you need to make sure to get this equipment up to the front desk before three o’clock. And I said, Look, I’m trying to get it all together. So do you call outta and tell her just to hold on? He goes, I’m not calling her. You can call her but she made it pretty clearly equipment had to be out there at three.


Damon Pistulka  14:03

Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. So here we go. You’re running down and you’ve been doing this, you’re traveling and then all of a sudden you you started to think about virtual training before COVID. Right? You were thinking about it ahead of that.


Mike Pinnacchi  14:19

In fact, I was I went down to do a class. And we had one of the things was it had a lot to do with the different sales people were working with some of the classes I go to the class and I somebody would say I’d say so what brought you here? And they said, Well, you know, Peter told me I had to be here. So Peter back in the Kansas City area. He would fill these classes up. And what he knew was that when we did the classes, it usually resulted in sales.

When people saw how to use the equipment properly, they went back and they knew what they needed to buy to be most efficient what they were doing. But as time went on, it was getting harder and harder. To get people to come into the class, and I looked at what was the overhead, you know, there’s this, two thirds of the cost of the class was shipping equipment and hotel and all that. And the one that really got me was we went to do a class in Portland, and I get there, and there’s one person in the room.

So I have all this equipment down. And that person worked for a company that they had a warehouse in Longview. So I said for the next day go, so why don’t we just go to your company and just do the train, you know, you and I’ll work on your network and do the training, because it’s just the two of us. But that’s when it really hit me that, you know, we need to get, not everybody within a particular area is ready to get the training.

But people throughout the country in the world need the training as soon as possible. So by doing these classes, in the hotel rooms and so on, it was it was nice, I missed the you know, seen a person when I’m training because I could look around the room. And I could see when I answered that question, even if they didn’t know they had it, I answered that question that they they needed the answer to. And everybody always had one. And yes, he that that look on their face. It’s like, that’s it.

That’s what I needed to know. And I joked I should have a little flag I can set in for me and say, okay, Damon, I answered your question, you know, and finally, at the end of the week, get down to that last person, you know, what is it you need to know? And, but so it’s so I started looking at, you know, how could we offer training in such a way that if you bought a piece of equipment, you could get trained within a month, two months, and be using that properly? And that really would there’s no way to accomplish that by traveling around and doing it. And companies really don’t want to fly their people in to have them do it.

So I talked to the company I was working with, and I said, you know, why don’t we try doing this online. And we did it online. And we went from having six people show up for an in person class, to having 70 people sign up for the class. And 35 people show up at that particular class is offered for free to the customer. So there’s no obligation to show up.


Damon Pistulka  17:19

Yeah, and that’s good. That’s a good result.


Mike Pinnacchi  17:23

Now we’re getting 35 people. And what it allowed me to do is I did some classes on European time. So I’d go to bed like at 6pm at 12:30am. Yeah, come out, built. So I saw that it all started out, you know, I sit at my desk doing it. And then I made some space out my workshop, put up a green screen, started doing it out here. And then a couple years ago before COVID. My wife said, Yeah, you know what, you gotta step it up a bit.

So we took and cleared out the workshop, I built a just a little stage on to about to bite for high, carpeted it, we’ve got a grid up in the ceiling that’s made out of inch and a half PVC pipe that we’ve got all the lights, cameras, the you know, speakers, microphones, everything hanging from and started getting it set up. So now I can walk out here. You know, as you saw with that one camera, we’ve got a, I’ve got a multi camera setup going. So now when I go in and show somebody how to do something, we can show that piece of equipment. Yeah, you know, we can zoom in on that piece of equipment show exactly. You know what’s going on with that?


Damon Pistulka  18:44

Yeah. Yeah, that’s something that’s something because as a technical person, I mean, that they Well, first of all, companies may not want to send them. But second of all, they they can, they don’t probably need that interaction, one on one with you in the class setting, it’s probably just as effective for them to see how it’s done. Because they’re sitting there with their own piece of equipment in their own place. And they’re doing it on their their stuff, which makes it even better.


Mike Pinnacchi  19:18

Now, the optic views that are on the top shelf back there, one of the things that we found with those is 26. People can access that at the same time. So what we do is we set up a couple of them. And we send out an email to folks, when we say hey, before class, download the software, and then we configure it up so that they can access our testers through the internet. Because what I found is these things work so well through the internet, that when I would travel overseas, I would leave them here and we would all remotely access them so I didn’t have to try and carry them through customs and I could reduce the amount of equipment.

So now everybody is Accessing the same thing. And that was that’s been a big important component of this is been that we have the ability for them to click on things and look in there. But we can add some structure to it, where the database I have on there, I know that database, it’s not whatever their network happened to discover. So now we can say, let’s go find this, let’s go do this. And these are the exercises that we do apply for both the equipment that we have, and they can take it back and do those same exercises on their own network.


Damon Pistulka  20:35



Mike Pinnacchi  20:36

So a big part of our business has been doing certification training for fluke networks. And this tester that I just brought up here. When you have a copper or fiber network installed, this is probably the premier tester out there for going on not probably it is the premier tester out there for going out and certifying that. And we just did a webcast this morning on Power over Ethernet. So if I’m powering access points, lighting, cameras, all kinds of telephones, I need to make sure that cat that cables going to support it.

When I’m running higher data rate, you know, applications across, I need to make sure it’s going to support it. So what we do is we certify people on how to use that equipment to certify it. Well, for 12 years, 1010 years, I had a guy day that traveled around and did these classes on site, traveled to different cities and did the class did the training. And we had six Pelican cases weighing about 60 pounds each. So about 360 pounds of equipment that we were shipping all over the country.

And it was good because people got to do hands on training. So two years ago, I started thinking, you know, what can we do online with this. And it just so happened that coincided with when I had a couple of wisdom teeth pulled out. And you know, at mid 50s, getting your wisdom teeth pulled out isn’t fun is no other time in your life, I guess unless you’re 60 getting it. So they, I had a little bit of downtime. And I started looking at could I do to remotely access these testers.

So I found an ad in a guacamole module, or not guacamole and Apache module called guacamole. What guacamole allows me to do is create a web browser interface for these testers. And each person can access a tester. So I have a pool of testers that they access. And I can see the screens of the tester so I can see what they’re doing. They can follow through and do the hands on exercises.

So we were able to take that hands on that they were doing in the classroom. And we were able to allow them to do that with a browser. And in fact, what turns out is their phone because it’s got, you know, close to the same size display works great they can get to it with their phone. So now they see a video of me, they see the PowerPoint presentation, they see they’ve got a tester that they’re using. So they’re able to push all the buttons and do all that and then we just put test results on there that they can review.


Damon Pistulka  23:25

Wow. Wow. So that. So you’ve been able to basically teach these people remotely and and give them the same, relatively the same experience of using the equipment themselves.


Mike Pinnacchi  23:41

Virtually, yes. Now there’s a few things with the fiber that we found. And one of the things that we encourage is go back and you need to go back and practice this. This is one of those things that, you know, I, I lived up by Yosemite for about five or six years. And I was on a volunteer fire department up there. And I’ll tell you, it was a fun opportunity.

But what we would do is we take the trucks out and pull everything out. And for lack of a better term, you’ll play with it. Take the jaws of life and people would donate cars and we chop them up. Anytime we’re you know, whenever we’re doing something we need to work on mastering it. And we need to practice. And so even if you come to a class and you do it once in class, that gives you an introduction.

But it is one of those things where you have to keep doing it. And you have to make that time to say you know what, I’m going to go try this or I’m going to do this. And it’s the people that do those things that really tend to excel in the field because they’re understanding what can go wrong, how to overcome that and they don’t get out on the job and all of a sudden find out that you know, they forgot a part or something like so I encourage them to go practice Yeah, with their own equipment.

Yeah, you know, they can log in, they can go through exercises on this equipment. And, but one of the things that I found with online training that I didn’t really think about, but has been a really good part of it is when you’re in a classroom full of people, and we do classes where we may do a class that’s company specific. We may do a class, it’s public, like the one I did this week, we had people from all over the country, and actually a few people from elsewhere in the world joining in. And people get worried that they’re asking a question that everybody else knows the answer to.


Damon Pistulka  25:43



Mike Pinnacchi  25:44

I’ve learned I just didn’t know. I mean, I’ve spent most of my time over the last 20 some odd years up talking in front of groups, and I am sure I am wrong on a whole bunch of stuff. But I try and figure it out. I try not to be wrong. And if somebody corrects me, that’s great. You know, let’s, I know better now. But most people, you know, they don’t want to ask a question that’s going to make them look stupid.

Yes. And what they don’t realize is not asking the question. So not, you know, not asking the question. So worse thing? Yeah. So by having a chat window, where people can send messages directly to me, what I’ve discovered is people ask questions that they wouldn’t ask in a group of people, and especially within an organization, because oftentimes within organizations, we find that there’s somebody that is viewed as the expert.

And they want to show that they’re the expert. And so they’re going to ask leading questions that they know the answer to they’re going to try and ask a question to trip up, you know, stump the chump trip up the instructor. Yeah. But from a classroom management standpoint, and making sure everybody gets the best information that they need. I’ve really found that with the online training, it’s given us this ability to allow people to ask questions without that fear of looking stupid.


Damon Pistulka  27:12

Yeah. Well, that’s that’s a big benefit. Because those those questions are the ones that need to be asked that don’t get absolutely, yes. Yeah.





Mike Pinnacchi  27:24

Another part of it is, I’ve got racks of equipment, I’ve got drawers, cabinets, full of test equipment. So if I’m traveling, I can only carry so much with me. And if I’m paying for every ounce of material that’s getting shipped. I’m very conscientious of what I’m taking. We had somebody in the class yesterday asked about, you know, hooking up different types of fiber.

I said, You know what, after we get done with class, because they take a test after class, I always like to make sure they get started on that on time. I said, Well, you’re starting the test. Let’s go check this out. So I started grabbing parts off the shelf, and we put together a little science fair experiment, to test that out. And that’s not the kind of thing that we would really be able to do, you know, in a, you know, hotel conference room or have that equipment with us.


Damon Pistulka  28:19

Yeah, yeah, you don’t have the equipment, you wouldn’t have the Yeah, just know that you were like you can do there, you can simulate things that they might have questions around. Yeah, that’s really cool. That’s really cool. So what do you miss about the about the in person training other than being with people,


Mike Pinnacchi  28:38

I first off I, I miss, you know, talking to people and I missed the interaction that we see between the students, because oftentimes take a break or something, you see a tremendous amount of exchange between people in the class.

And there have been classes where people have done a good job within zoom of realizing that they can send a message to all the attendees, and you’ll see, you know, from time to time conversation, start picking up where people are going back and forth within class, in a good way, you know, not against each other or anything. So that is, that’s a big one. In fact, lunchtime was probably one of those times where, you know, people lightened up quite a bit you know, there were some exchange of information.

So on my website, you know, we’ve put a discussion board still trying to get that you know, some momentum behind that but getting people to share some information in there. I miss, I miss going to place it I I’ve been to I went to a steel plant in Mobile, Alabama, or Montgomery, Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, that makes sheet steel and they bring in these big blocks for oil and from Germany.

50,000 pound blocks of steel, heat them up for a day and then roll them out into sheet metal. Wow, I love that. I mean, I love that stuff, I went to a plant having been on the fire department. So they made pumps for fire trucks, I made fire hydrants, they, I’ve been to nuclear power plants, I’ve been to, you know, all these places that, you know, there’s a network, and they need some to, you know, connect them up for troubleshoot their problem.

So, I’ve gotten to the opportunity to get out and see some pretty cool places I can tell you, I probably would not have been in Manila, had I not been doing this type of work. And yeah, they’ve got these things called jeepneys, down there, and they took the surplus jeeps and stretched them out. And that’s, you know, buses. So all those kinds of things, wouldn’t have seen it had I not got had a chance to get out and do the traveling.


Damon Pistulka  30:57

Yeah, that is that is cool. It is the interesting places that you’ve gotten to visit because of it, because most people don’t realize that a facility like that, or, or something is, is just one big data set. Or really, when you look at any of those that you mentioned, just the information, if you if you did nothing more than the computers that are spread around, and one of those places, there’s a lot of data moving, but then when you think about all the monitoring systems and everything that have that have to use, move that data around.

And then when you look at the chemical processing, and some of the other kinds of food processing, where you’ve got continuous flow, you know, I look at anything like I’m making potato chips, french fries, you look at, you know, making a chemical of some sort, even in a small, you know, 40,000 square foot facility, you can have a very complex network system that that has to run flawlessly. If you want to make good product, or if you want to keep people safe.


Mike Pinnacchi  31:59

Well, that’s, you know, a lot of these organizations we went into, there was zero downtime. Yeah, there, it wasn’t that we could take a switch down or a router down or create a tie. I they were up, they had to be up 100% of the time. And, and so a problem became becomes critical very quickly. And that’s I remember, early on in my career, I went to a paper mill in southern Georgia, and the mill was shut down, because they could not download the jobs.

And so we started digging around. And I found that it was a cable that had been pinched underneath a floor tile. And we pulled the cable out, he replaced it, all of a sudden, they’re able to log in start running jobs again. And, and so it’s those types of things that can shut an organization down. And, and this has kind of been the balance of you know, going out and doing troubleshooting jobs is always fun.

Yeah, but one of the challenges is it becomes like being a fire department. Now you don’t want you can’t schedule, you know, you’re not going to schedule a heart attack or something. So you don’t know when you’re going to have it and you need resources available that are capable of taking care of that problem immediately when it does happen. And so for a small organization, from a scheduling standpoint, it’s very difficult to have a group of highly talented people around that are waiting for a problem to occur.

And there’s a movie that my my oldest son really enjoyed myself hellfighters with john wayne, and they run around putting out oil well fires, well, they’ve got all this equipment, you have to have enough oil well fires to keep all those people employed. And yeah, you know, be able to purchase that equipment. So what we found was that, you know, training goes a long ways toward preventing those problems. Yes, making sure people are properly trained on the equipment, and capable of using that equipment.

just buying it putting on the shelf isn’t going to help you, you got to be able to know how to use it when and you have to continually use it. And that’s where one of the things that we found with online training was, you know, when I first started my career, we were doing these five day classes, and you could see like gray matter pouring out of people’s ears by day three. Yes, it’s just information overload. So one of the things that we found is that when we do training, and I do for even companies here in Seattle, we do it you know, doing quite a bit of remote training where we will do iterative training every month, we’ll do a few hours.

Yeah. And they can bring their problems in. And when it’s their problem, it means a lot means that much more to them than a problem I make up here. Yeah, we work on that problem, we solve it, they build their skills a little bit, they take that back, they apply it, then they come back the next month. And we go in, and we do a little more training, and we do a little more training. And they’re able to bring questions in. And we’re able to experiment with things, and work on getting things better and better.


Damon Pistulka  35:24

Why you really become part of their their overall improvement process by addressing those problems, and then helping them resolve them and and use the equipment better, ultimately, but it is to resolve their problems and make things work better.


Mike Pinnacchi  35:38

Exactly. Yep. And what’s kind of fun is when I can when I can get into the role of sitting back and being almost more of a mentor. Yeah, and sitting back and saying, you know, I want you to go work on this. So one of the things is, I’m always looking at, you know, how can we push this forward a little bit more. And this friend of mine that I borrowed this Kubota from while we’re redoing our yard, his son has gotten involved in doing 360 video. Yeah, so they just they shot a they did a video for Washington State Department of Health. And to give this the staff at a facility an idea of what it what the what it’s like from the patient’s perspective.

Yeah, they shot it in 360 video. And so they use a VR headset, they actually send these VR headsets out. Yeah, the people put them on, and they’re immersed in that. So what I did was, I figured out how I could load zoom on here. So now when I’m working with some of these clients, and we’ve got a zoom meeting, and it’s really less on video on me, but them showing me, I can put this on and join the zoom meeting.

And I’m looking at an entire wall of their network traffic, I can see a video of them. So I can sit back in the chair here and be sitting back watching their environment. And in fact, on some of these testers back here, we have cameras. So we can send somebody out in the field and say, hey, go out to this wiring closet. And, and show me that server right over that, you know, to your right, and they can move the camera over there. Wow, there’s a company called reel aware that I got to play around with a little bit of their equipment. They have a head mounted Android device that has a camera has a head mounted display.

And so the idea is that you can look right over the shoulder of the person that’s doing the work. So now, if I’m not sitting on an airplane, or in a hotel room, if I can do a training class where I can come out here, I do the class. Yeah, either after class the day before I can, I can work with somebody. Now I’m taking that time that I normally would have been sitting on an airplane or traveling. And I can make better use of that time in working with clients. Yeah, so that’s the other big piece of it is there when you’re traveling? There is a tremendous amount of lost


Damon Pistulka  38:21

time. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I guess and I didn’t travel travel nearly like you did but in one of my heavy travel years, I figured it out that I spent over 90 days in the plane time in the plane when you look at how much flight time you have, you’re on a plane and and when people are on and and the other thing that people if you don’t travel a lot, you don’t understand business travelers until you’re one of them and you’re like the the you know the sheep going into the into the pan into the Chow into the plane on Monday morning. And and back on Thursday or Friday.

Because the people in first class are usually pulling out a laptop getting their stuff or starting to work because that’s their office for part of the year. Yes. Yeah, it’s crazy.


Mike Pinnacchi  39:06

That’s always been a hard one for as much as I would love to be able to work on the plane. I just, it was always hard because at the after I’ve been teaching all day and you get to the airport, and you get on the plane. It’s like I just want to sleep or I want to watch a movie or you know, and that’s where actually having these I could watch a movie and you know, yeah, be immersed in my own little world. But it’s been you get the person next to you that wants to talk and yeah, I mean, I love to talk, but I became very antisocial on the plane. It’s like I put on my my Bose QC things. And yeah, you know how many people I I had to get new ear pads.

I wore the ear pads off of my Bose headphones. But it’s Yeah, it’s it’s, it’s fun. Yeah, I remember watching up in the air with George Clooney. Yeah. Things hitting way, way too close to home. Yeah. And it’s. So I think that by doing this one, even I mean, what I do is we start the class like this this month, we do start the class on a West Coast start time. And next month, we’ll start on an East Coast start time. So we start at 5am. Yeah, but I’ll tell you, if I fly to the east coast, and I have to get there, get to the hotel, then wake up at you know, not 5am. But you know, 4am. Yeah, West Coast time.


Damon Pistulka  40:41



Mike Pinnacchi  40:41

there’s, there’s that jetlag in there. Yeah. Well, if you get at it, if I get out of bed and have breakfast, make some coffee and come out here to do the class. It’s not as bad. Yeah. And I can do that day after day after day. So it’s, I think, I do a better job on that first morning. Yeah, because I didn’t have that travel day before as well.


Damon Pistulka  41:05

Yeah. So that’s, that’s cool. Because it is, you know, when when we look at, and we talk about, you know, COVID, all the remote and all this other junk, there’s, there’s a lot of people that that are, you know, are really liking the remote work. And a lot of people really poopoo the remote, you know, there’s a lot of different around it. But really, technology is enabling us to do so much more remotely, that it’s hard to deny that this is going to that remote work or remote training like this is going to be effective, because I’ve thought a lot as you talk about augmented reality.

And I’m, you know, I’ve spent time in the oil fields, I spend time in a lot of different places looking at work, and I think about think about Okay, I’m in the middle of nowhere in an oil field, and I’ve got a I’ve got a a bulldozer that doesn’t work for some reason. And am I going to wait 14 hours for for the technician or four days for the technician to come out?

Or do I put that Android device on like you’re saying, that looks at the thing, and my technician back at Caterpillar, where it was where you probably want them the smartest person in the room to help you that they’re on the phone with the with a guy that knows what this end of a wrench looks like and can fix things. Let’s not get not an expert says this is what you do. And the augmented reality part of it can even be overlaying diagrams and junk like that. And you you think about what this could really how it can change the way that we work in a positive manner. And to help, you know, really everyone be able to do their jobs better. It’s it’s phenomenal.


Mike Pinnacchi  42:50

Well, and how many, and that’s one of the things that we point out with these, like the fluke analyzers, and the net ally analyzers, and the netscout analyzers that we work with, is that they do have the ability to remotely Pete, somebody can view the screen. Yeah, so that whole idea of that, that I could be out there, we can take an entry level person and have them out in the field.

And we could set it up so that I could jump right over their shoulder and be looking at what they’re doing. And now they can get that information. So that guy at cat that is helping we can have that that person has all that knowledge. How many people can he help in a day? her she can help? Oh, yeah. Yeah, that’s, you know, and that’s one of the things is, we, when we have that that person sitting on an airplane, we are misusing, we’re not under utilizing that resource. And, and so and we’re burning that resource out.


Damon Pistulka  43:50

Yeah. Yeah. Cuz they don’t last you don’t last years and years and years on, on, and those kinds of things. And, and you are right, and even, I even go back to when I was running manufacturing plants, and you’d have CNC machines, or you’d have, you know, lasers that were cutting metal and those kind of higher dollar machines and those technicians that that had to fix those, they were flying in the air on the road all the time.

And if they could be more, you know, you figure out the way that remotely do even a portion of that it’s a huge savings on on everyone, because oftentimes, they’re in Elgin, Illinois, and you need them in, in new in New Mexico tomorrow. And they’re not going to be done for two days. But if you gotta if you got a problem that’s really simple that they could diagnose and say, Okay, get these pieces coming. And when I get there, we’re going to fix it or show them how to fix it without it. This is everybody wins. Everybody wins.


Mike Pinnacchi  44:49

And the other part of that is that you can’t develop that knowledge without experience. Yes. And so so it’s it’s you know, am I never go To travel again, no, absolutely, I will probably I will travel again.


Damon Pistulka  45:05



Mike Pinnacchi  45:05

Am I going to travel like I did before? No. And it’s, you know, you have to get that experience, you have to go out work on the problems,


Damon Pistulka  45:15

yes. But also,


Mike Pinnacchi  45:16

I just, I’m waiting for a shipment of fiber, you know, that I ordered today, or you or a few days ago to come in today. You know, we’ve got these little splitters that you know, that are used for fiber to the home, well, we talk about them, but I go out and buy that stuff. And I take time when I’m not teaching developing material, to set up tests to try things out.

And that’s, that’s part of what is important for me to do is to constantly be pushing my abilities forward. And again, can I do that when I’m sitting on an airplane it’s a lot harder I’m a very hands on got to do it kind of person. So spending time building some little experiment that then I can record make a video out of. And that’s the other part is realizing what is it that we can create a video youtube video, I do these really short how tos, because when I look at my stats on YouTube, most people watch, you know, two minutes, maybe five minutes, maybe if it’s really good, the first seven.

Yeah. And that’s that’s where having live training becomes really important is Oh, look at you know, if we do a webcast, people stay on, stay on for four hours. You know, for some of these, we these trainings that we do, they’re free, doesn’t cost them anything, they could leave any time. But you know, we have to I have to be engaging enough. I have to show them enough things that they’re going to stay. But if we watch it, how long somebody watches that same video on YouTube, it’s 10 minutes. Yeah. And and so I, we don’t want to go all the way to where we just record everything and say, Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  47:13

no, no, I think you’re right. And you have to you have to get it in, in the short, they have to be short, impactful and doing like that. But yeah, yeah, that’s it. That’s an interesting look at it, too, is that the live stream and the people will stay on for hours and hours? And you’re right, it still has to be interesting. You still have to do it. So you have you have work in in different ways with video than you do in person, that’s for sure. And Yo, well,


Mike Pinnacchi  47:43

I mean, we were talking before we got going with this, just how you split all that up. There’s some people that want to hear it in audio. There’s some people that may end up listening to this, I you know, through headphones. And that’s one reason why, you know, when I first started doing this, having a good microphone. Yes, having good audio, because not everyone’s going to watch it and boy, you can lose people. Good internet. Yeah, everything’s got to the videos got to be good.

The audios got to be good. Watching TV, we have very high expectations. Now what we’re looking at, I’m looking at, you know, how do we roll it in? Is I’ve got companies, you know, here in the Seattle area that are more than happy to let me come out and play at their facilities, you know, do some testing. So what I’m starting to do is bring that video camera in there with me where I’m allowed.

And yeah, cord things out in the field. So instead of it all being me standing up here talking, you can interleave some you know, video and we joined in Rick Steves does a Yeah, a little thing from up there and Edmunds every Monday and we sat in on the one that he did this week. And a good portion of it was him playing YouTube segment segments that they had recorded in various countries and then talking about Yeah, and that turns out to be a pretty good way to deliver some of that.


Damon Pistulka  49:09

Yeah, I’m writing that down. Yeah, yeah, that’s more ideas or that’s why you don’t like it’s just awesome said here you get to talk to you about this cuz I mean, from watching you build out your studio to talk about it. I still have my my I’m still cool.

Like I’m a lighting doofus here because my lighting makes me look, I mean, I’m pale, but I’m not this pale. But it’s just so cool to hear how you’ve taken this and built the technology around doing it and then you’re weaving things like you’re just talking about actual video helping people troubleshoot their own problems and and how you’re transitioning it into something that actually is better for the end user by giving a more personalized approach.


Mike Pinnacchi  49:56

Yes, yes. The tricky part is that you know, They’re there that COVID gave us an opera gave us a big kick, right? Yeah, luckily, we were we were already ready. I mean, this was when it came to doing it remotely. We were working on doing it before this happened. Yeah, um, you know, people talk about getting back to normal people talk about, you know, never getting back, there’s gonna be we’re gonna find something in the middle.

What was it, one of the banks, or one of the investment companies, the CEO, kite came on and said, everyone’s gonna be back by September, we’re paying for office space in New York, we’re making a new york salary, you’re going to be back in New York. And I, you know, they understand that on a case by case basis that needs to be adjusted. And some people I think, you know, that, that hands on in person learning cannot be beat.

And that is something I will always address and take care of, I think that I can guarantee you that if you buy one of these testers, within three, four weeks of buying the tester, I can get you trained. You don’t have to wait for me to come to do to some city in in New York or something to do the class.


Damon Pistulka  51:21

Yeah. Four weeks. We’re doing a class. Yeah. Yeah. And so.


Mike Pinnacchi  51:29

Yeah, it all depends on what you’re looking for. And yeah, I mean, at the balance of that,


Damon Pistulka  51:33

yeah. And I look at it, and we look at this kind of what I believe will be an that’s, that’s kind of extreme back to the way it was everybody coming to work, I look at someone like you, you look at a large company, and we see them here and Amazon or Microsoft or something like this, if I was them, I would figure out how to get a hybrid workspace, you know, work week environment and drop down to, you know, two days, one week, three days, the next week, something like that, people sharing spots where you you, you slide in you and I have a spot we share we know each other we we you know maybe one day a month we’re in there together, but just kind of high five and and stuff.

And, and you know, and just they couldn’t you could do on a company like that in square footage that you need to use on an annual basis. And then you go, not just that, but you look at if companies are trying to get environmental, take your workforce off the road, three days a week. And what would that do? Yeah, yeah, livid, livid here, you just saw. So look at somebody really wants to go green, right?

You got to go green. And I’ve got I’ve got half a million people working for me across the world. I just cut my you know, they’re not going to they’re not going to work in so many days a year. And you figure Okay, so many of those people drive your own car. And then you look at a place like here in Seattle? How much would it be if you took 1/3 of the people off the road? Every day? This this, the impact of this thing? Overall, globally would be insane.


Mike Pinnacchi  53:05

Well, and then there’s all those things were just, Jennifer and I were just talking to somebody about, you know, that they said, Hey, you know, it used to be when I took a break at work, I’d go, yeah, maybe go walk around the building, or I go talk to somebody in their cube. Now when I’m working from home, and I go to take a break, I might go through the laundry and you’re it’s dry right now I’m going to run out and mow the lawn.

Yeah. And so I’m going to come back, I’m still waiting to get the work done. And I’m using that break. So and then at the end of the day, you’re not thinking Oh, man, I got to get that laundry done. I gotta Yeah, you got to do that. And so but not just like, not everyone learns the same. Not everyone works the same.


Damon Pistulka  53:49



Mike Pinnacchi  53:50

And there are a lot of folks that that really want that structure I go in. There are folks that that time in the car, I I would rather i’ve i’ve said for the last 25 years, I would rather get on an airplane fly somewhere, stay in the hotel where I’m teaching, walk down, do that then sit in traffic. I commuted for a while.

It just it sucks the soul out of it is that there’d be that guy that would come zip it up on you know, you’d be in the right lane waiting that I live south of, you know, down by Federal Way. You’d be sitting there waiting to get off on 405 and then there’d be the same guy every morning would act like he didn’t even know that. You know, that was where the turn was. And then it up to the front and cut in front of everyone. It’s like you do this every morning.





Damon Pistulka  54:48

Yeah, that traffic get rid of it. I think it’d be good. We’ll see what happens. But, you know, Mike, it’s great. Great to have it having you online. And the how If people want to get ahold of you want to look up your training, where should they go?


Mike Pinnacchi  55:05

So where they should go is if they’re interested in the training that we do on the fluke equipment. It’s called the certified cable test technician. So it’s cctt training. COMM is that one, so there’s three T’s in the middle. And then my company website is NPS dash llc.com. And unfortunately, the National National Park Service had grabbed NPS when I started the business. They had gov, and they eventually let go of.com but it’s NPS dash llc.com and that’s my website and we got links to videos and things like that out there. You look awesome. And on YouTube, what’s your what’s your channel on YouTube? Mike benaki


Damon Pistulka  55:46

Mike funaki awesome man, or no, let’s see YouTube, YouTube is packet analyzer, that second analyzer There we go. There we go. So we got that so if they want to go out and look at your your network analyzer videos and things like you have their packet analyzer on YouTube as NPS hyphen LLC for yours, and your training is cc two T’s and then training comm


Mike Pinnacchi  56:13

Yep, yep, that’s where we do all of our fluke certification training.


Damon Pistulka  56:17

Awesome. Awesome. Well, thanks for being here today. Mike has been awesome talking to you. And you know, still in awe of the the studio that you’ve built for for this training. It’s awesome. And I’m I can’t wait to see that next time and get to see the upgrades and everything else is going on in your VR headset next time.


Mike Pinnacchi  56:36

Well, mass, you know, putting 180 degree cameras, right. So I want to feel like they’re right here.


Damon Pistulka  56:43

Oh, good stuff. Good stuff, man. Well, thanks. Thanks, everyone, for listening to us on the face of the business. Hope you enjoyed this. Come back again next week. We’re gonna have some more awesome guests talking about this interesting stuff. And we’ll come back. Thanks a lot. Bye, everyone.

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