Thursday, April 15- “The more we can learn, the better we can serve them as clients and future clients in the industry.” Chris Isaacson joins the show to talk about our Client Solutions team and all the exciting things happening at EWN.
Jim Schauer: [0:26] [laughs] Good morning to this week’s edition of Coffee with Jim and James. James, before we get started, I need to tell a story of how Chris and I actually met. True story. Well, maybe.
[0:38] Years back, I was in the swamps of Oklahoma. The swamps of Oklahoma. I was out there for days, maybe weeks. I was down to a lantern, pocket knife. I had a Hershey bar. I thought, “This was it.” The alligators were coming in, the whole bit, then all of a sudden, I heard this noise coming.
[0:54] It was loud. It was a motor. It was turning, and I’m like, “What is that?” All of a sudden, through the horizon, I saw a Ford Bronco. Jacked up, big wheels, the whole bit. All of a sudden, this person comes driving up through the swamp with a trusty dog in his seat. He said, “Are you OK?” and I said, “No, I’m not OK. What are you doing here?”
[1:14] He goes, “Well, we heard that somebody was lost and I’m always here to help somebody.” I said, “What is your name?” He goes, “Chris,” and then Chris looked at me and he goes, “What’s your name?” I said, “Jim.” He goes, “Well, how did you get in this debacle?” I said, “That’s a long story.” I’m not even going to go there with that one.
[1:29] That’s how Chris, and I met. Maybe. Maybe not. James, with that, I’m going to hand it over to you to bring in our special guest this week because that story, even for me, is a little far‑fetched.
James Cross: [1:40] We’ve had a lot of requests of maybe us changing out, me going first, but I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s better to chase that or to lead that off. The swamps of Oklahoma.
[1:53] Chris, welcome to the show. I don’t even know what that means, but it was true‑ish because I’ve seen the Bronco. I’ve driven the Bronco, actually.
Chris Isaacson: [2:04] There you go.
James: [2:05] Never the same.
Jim: [2:07] That’s why I brought [?] in. Chris is a huge car aficionado. He loves cars, he loves dogs, so I wanted to bring in the two things that he’s passionate about.
James: [2:15] Yeah, so Chris, what is the make and model? Give us the lineup on the Bronco.
Chris: [2:23] There’s been a couple, but the current one is a ’74.
James: [2:26] We’re going to get a picture, and Amy’s going to put it in the corner down there. I already know it.
Chris: [2:31] How to drive over, yeah. Anytime. Anytime you want to work on it, turn some wrenches. Let’s go.
James: [2:36] I don’t know anything about that stuff. I trust you.
Chris: [2:39] [laughs]
James: [2:39] Chris, it’s really not why you’re here today, but it is something cool about you. Chris, instead of me talking about you, I know you like to talk about yourself.
Chris: [2:48] [laughs]
James: [2:48] Fill our guests in on what you do, obviously, you’re with Energy Worldnet, what you do for the team, and then a little bit of who Chris Isaacson is.
Chris: [3:00] Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here. Energy Worldnet, I am the director of Client Solutions. Our whole job is making sure our clients have the best solutions, and working with them, and taking care of their needs. I love it, the team loves it. It’s sometimes late nights, early mornings, but that’s what we’re here for.
James: [3:23] [?] Heck yeah.
Jim: [3:26] Chris, you have a passion, and being serious, you mentioned the term Client Solutions. I think it means a lot more than just two words.
[3:35] Our clients these days are very diverse with their needs, wants, and desires. Maybe give us a little insight as to how you, your team, as well as the whole EWN team, works together with you to help meet the diverse needs and deliver the results that are what the clients are looking for.
Chris: [3:54] That’s a good point. We could probably sit back and say we develop all these great solutions, but at the end of the day, it comes from the clients. Working with them and listening and seeing how can we help their business be successful. When they’re successful, we’re successful, right?
[4:13] It’s really around why we named the team Client Solutions is the collaboration with each one of them, and how can we help them, their team, their external teams is what we’re here for.
[4:28] The passion comes from every day waking up and saying, “Hey, what can I do to help that next person?” and that’s going to be infectious to how they can help their team, and so on so forth. There’s only two words, but it means a lot to everybody at Energy Worldnet and our team specifically.
Jim: [4:48] I want to jump in real quick. One thing, Chris, I’ve heard from the industry in regards to you specifically, and I’ll share this, and it’s come up a lot lately that you, I’ve been told that you just ask a lot of questions, and that’s not a bad thing. That’s a great thing. People like that you ask questions and questions and questions, and I bet that that’s a driving force with you, that desire to learn.
Chris: [5:17] Yeah. I think every call or every discussion, or every chat or every email, it’s about learning twice as much as you’re feeding back. We’re here and we have great products and great solutions, and it’s not just a platform. It’s everything that we do for ’em.
[5:36] The more we can learn, the better we can serve them as clients and future clients in the industry as a whole. That’s what’s exciting about where we’re at today is we have a very core and solid client base that I look at as an extension to our team.
[5:56] It’s not just Energy Worldnet as who we are as an employed by our group, but it’s more every single one of our clients is a part of that. That’s what gets me excited is, “What can we do to help them, in return, helps us?” because we’re learning probably even more than what they’re learning, so that’s what’s exciting.
James: [6:18] There’s a lot of momentum there, Chris. When we get closely in one of those relationships, we’re working very closely with a client or even a potential client, we find a lot of momentum there too once people get in there. I know it’s something you were going to talk about probably here in a bit.
[6:42] There’s a campaign, a mantra, an internal mantra, and even external in a way at Energy Worldnet that came out as we came out of our rebrand, and that’s the “Be Brave” mantra. Chris, do you want to talk a little bit about that?
[7:00] It sounds funny the brand guy asking you, but I think your team personifies that and that collective “Client Solution” thought. That mentality if you will. I think you encompass that and your team and our collective teams too. Do you want to talk on that little bit, what that [?] means to you and your folks?
Chris: [7:23] When the whole “Be Brave” came out, I was super excited for just the tagline, “Be Brave” because that’s what we talked about at every conversation we have with clients, [?] internally discussions, external discussions, is that’s the way it is today, but that’s not the way it has to be tomorrow.
[7:41] It’s around, we provide great solutions in this aspect if it’s operator qualification or safety or whatnot, but think how could that adapt to different departments within that organization, other industries that we’re currently not working with or maybe working with a very small bit.
[8:07] The “Be Brave” initiative for me, as a company, and especially our team, is, always think, “Maybe they’re bringing this up because there is a better way.” As we talked internally, we’ve done things a certain way so many years.
[8:25] I’m not saying that the way that we’re doing today is bad or wrong, but being brave to say how we thought about this way. That’s what gets exciting is [?] if we embrace that, I feel like it’s instilled in all of us across every department is it’s OK to raise your hand and say, “What about this?”
[8:48] If you’re a new hire or if you’ve been here for 10 years, that’s exciting to know that we instill that in our company. I truly believe that it radiates to our clients naturally when we have these conversations. They’re like, “Wait. You’re not just saying, ‘No.’ You’re saying, ‘Let’s talk about it.’ “
James: [9:10] We’ve heard no for the last three years with our current vendor,” or whoever, right?
Chris: [9:14] Yeah.
James: [9:16] It also shows off a bit of our diversity within our groups. We have such a diverse team to where…
[9:25] Sometimes in companies, you get a little more in a hiring rut where you’re bringing people into the hive, kind of. I think we’ve broke that a bit with our group. We have amazing people, that’s the common thread, but they’re all so diverse and what they bring to the table, and strengths and passion, and whatever it might look like.
[9:48] When you bring that forward and you have the permission to be brave to go out there, when you couple those things together, it’s pretty impressive with your group being one that spearheads a lot of the new ideas, but also collectively. Again, it’s hard to look across our teams and not see somebody who is eyes wide open for opportunities to help clients.
Chris: [10:16] Yeah. That’s where you see also within our clients that we work with. Right?
James: [10:21] Right.
Chris: [10:22] There are the clients that are regiment, and this is the way we need to get it done. We can work within those lanes. Then there’s the clients that are making the same changes that we are, maybe just in a different aspect.
[10:36] How to embrace their change and where they’re going, only allows us to think outside the box with them just like I said, at the begin is.
James: [10:45] It’s fun.
Chris: [10:46] Yeah, we’re doing this together. We’re a piece in the puzzle of their bigger initiatives just like they’re a piece in our puzzle, but how big that piece is how we determine it.
James: [11:00] It’s pretty much two heads are better than one, but exponential.
Chris: [11:03] Yeah.
James: [11:06] That’s great.
Chris: [11:06] Absolutely.
Jim: [11:07] Chris, you hit on a point there and I want to dive a little bit deeper into it. The point of this is over the last 12 months, we’ve seen a lot of change, needs, wants, desires, whatever you want to call it in the industry, COVID, all these things.
[11:27] For industry, the energy industry, people say it moves very slowly, but it moves and it bop, bop, bop, A to B because…This last year, what have you seen as far as the needs, wants, and desires of the customers, clients, the people in the energy industry?
[11:45] What are the hot buttons that have been knocking on your door where they’re asking for, maybe things that haven’t been typical for them in the past?
Chris: [11:55] The one that is not shocking but just exciting that’s happened here is we might work with a certain division, or department, organization within that group.
[12:09] From that relationship that we built with them, they’ve taken that to other organs, even other companies, specifically other organizations or departments within their company that it’s opening the doors.
[12:21] Where we’ve always done it this way and especially with the last year, they had a think outside the box to say, “We have had to lay off some employees. We don’t have the staff. We have now these requirements of distance and all that.”
[12:39] It’s been exciting to see from the relationships we’d build with, specifically the Gas Department, bringing in other departments and saying, “Hey, what are you guys doing over there? I hear you guys talking about this.”
[12:51] Expanding our services and solutions within the same company has been awesome. Not just on sales and revenue aspects. Now we’re able to work with other groups that have different needs and different use cases. That we’re able to adapt what we currently have or enhance the solutions that we have.
[13:17] The big piece that we’ve seen over the last year is we’re fortunate. I’ll tell you that companies have embraced the technology more so than they might have if we weren’t through 2020.
[13:36] It’s fun but at the same time, it goes back to be brave. When you have conversations, you’re talking different lingos now, and because that’s their lingo for their department. It’s now just learning at the same time. Probably learning [laughs] more than they’re learning from us.
Jim: [13:58] In a very productive way. People want productivity to go up. They want people’s safety aspects. There were safety regimens to increase too. There’s so many things, and when they do see a great thing happening, it’s fun to see where expands horizontally across organization. I know it [inaudible].
James: [14:20] Another…Man, I hate to even call it something positive because of the situation that put us…Obviously, not talking down on the outcomes.
[14:36] One opportunity or byproduct that popped out of it too is that a lot of organizations were scared of change like all of us are. [laughs] We do things [?] at a path of least resistance sometimes for a very specific reason, but this past year forced a lot of us to change in a lot of ways.
[15:02] I feel a little bit is people piling onto that going, “You know what, everything’s dumped on its head right now anyway.”
Chris: [15:11] Exactly.
James: [15:12] We’re stuck in the office. Some people, essential or not, that are in some of these roles, these decision‑making roles, are looking at a workforce that is doing something they’ve never done. They’re looking at numbers, because finances were something that were impacted obviously this year. They’re looking at new ways to do it because now they’re looking at it going, “We’re changing everything we know already.”
[15:40] There’s been a little bit of momentum for change within our industry and beyond technology as a whole and adoption because, why not? We were worried about having to do this. We’re having to do everything else. We’re stuck in the office or whatever that looks like. Let’s get to work on making better processes and questioning it.
[16:05] I’ve seen a lot of momentum in our industry and a lot of people hitting that big red button and go, “I don’t know. Maybe we should consider.” This person isn’t saying no, right?
Chris: [16:20] Yeah. What it did is it kind of leveled the playing field for all employees. Now everybody got pushed into the same situation, working from home. I have a dog ‑‑ that’s my kid ‑‑ but I have friends and family that have kids. Now they went from working 40 hours a week to now they’re a parent, a teacher, still have their job. There’s a lot of things…
James: [16:53] Working 60 hours a week, but never leave their house, right?
Chris: [16:57] Yeah.
James: [16:57] That’s reality.
Chris: [16:58] It leveled everybody where it’s like, “Guys, were in this together. How can we make changes for the betterment?” Personally, for the company, it’s like you said, turning on your head. It’s not like this is how we do it anymore. It’s like anybody have an idea being brave. Everybody needs to bring ideas to the table because this is new. It’s all of us, right?
James: [17:26] For sure.
Jim: [17:27] It’s very new. An interesting aspect of that that I would argue that teams, in a lot of ways, had strengthened from it. Meaning that there used to be a comfort. Let’s say you had a team of 10 people. Those 10 people went to an office every day.
[17:42] They waved to each other, went to their office, their cube, wherever it is and did their own thing, waived, “Oh yeah, James is over there. Chris is over there. Jim’s over there.” Then also we disbanded. Then people were like, “Well, I need to make sure I’m in contact. I got to let people know, see what they’re doing.”
[17:58] All of a sudden, the communication increased. I would argue that a lot of extreme positivity and team‑building got even deeper and stronger because of it.
James: [18:13] Jim, you’re a product of that. Really, you were dislocated because of being remote. The pandemic has allowed us to connect obviously a lot more, which is weird since we kind of pulled back from the industry. You’re a result of that.
Jim: [18:29] Absolutely.
James: [18:31] Chris, we finish the show. I hate to wrap up our time, but we’ve been on enough meetings together to know how long this could go. Chris, we always wrap our show with a question. You deserve the same question. Chris, do you love what you do?
Chris: [18:49] Love it. Absolutely.
James: [18:51] Can’t leave you off the hook. I mean, you can’t just answer, “I love it,” and say that.
Chris: [18:56] Yeah, I definitely love it.
James: [18:56] Why?
Chris: [18:57] Why? I don’t know. I would say the simple fact of helping people, it’s internally and externally. I give the most passion and excitement by having those one‑off conversations with employees across departments.
[19:14] We sit there, and we started realizing, “Man, there’s so much passion because we’re all here for the same thing. We’re helping our clients, but we’re helping each other as well.” That’s what I love, is the camaraderie with internal and external people. Yes, they’re clients, and they pay us. That’s the separation, but we’re always collaborating across…
James: [19:41] Chris, you are awesome about…I mean, you’re a solutions provider within our building, if not more so. We just got off a meeting together where we were building the future out. I love how it’s not just an external money‑making gimmick that’s something you guys do as a team, guys and gals do as a team effectively every single day. It shows. It shows.
Chris: [20:11] Appreciate it.
Jim: [20:12] Chris, thank you so much for joining us today. It was a pleasure having you on. I can attest to Chris’s passion in the industry. Having the pipeline industry in my home, our home here, I know that he’s made many a calls to the other party of this home about pipeline initiatives and such at all hours of the night.
[20:30] Anyways, thank you, Chris, for joining us today. Please follow Chris if you’re on LinkedIn. If you’re on another form of the podcast, hit the like button. Follow us. We appreciate each and every one of our audience members. Until next week on “Coffee with Jim & James.”
[20:47] [background music]
Jim: [20:47] Stay safe, and have a great week. Take care, everybody.
Chris: [20:50] See you, guys.