Data-Driven Government: The Role of CIOs

Brian Benn
CIO at the Atlanta Housing Authority
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Joe Toste (00:15):

You're listening to the Tech Tables podcast, a weekly Q and A podcast dedicated to interviewing industry leaders from across the world, ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Mixing it up each week with topics ranging from design and product innovation to IOT and industry 4.0. Let's do this. We're back for another week in the world of Tech Tables with me, Joe Toste. I'd love to chat with you behind the scenes on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. There you can even message me questions for future guests coming on the show, but today I'm super excited. We're going to shift our focus to PHA the public housing authority and the mission of not just quality, but quality and affordable housing. Huge thank you to Brian Benn for taking time to come on the show with me today, but that's quite enough for me without further ado, I'm thrilled to welcome Brian Benn, CIO at the Atlanta housing authority. Well, welcome to Tech Tables, Brian, super stoked to have you on today.

Brian Benn (01:07):

Thank you. Thank you.

Joe Toste (01:07):

Awesome. Well, let's kick off a little bit about your background as a NASA software engineer. Now that's super fascinating by the way, only because I went to Space X twice. So I'm pretty stoked that you're at NASA and wanting to know more about your move to the PHA side. What's the story there?

Brian Benn (01:26):

Okay. Well, I can definitely cut my teeth at NASA and this was before I even finished school. I did computer science and math in undergrad, and I was fortunate to be able to work at NASA co-op there. They actually paid for me to go to school. So I was fortunate to be able to co-op there and met some of the astronauts, I worked on a lot of the other projects. We call them USML one, USML two, which was the United States microgravity laboratory, also worked on the Shandra x-ray. The difference with the satellites that we worked on, as opposed to the weather satellites is they look out and the weather satellites kind of look down. So I worked with some of the brightest people. We had this thing where people would always say, "No way, it's not rocket science." But it is rocket science actually.

Brian Benn (02:15):

So that was the good thing about it, but it was definitely a good experience. And the thing you learn when you're working there at NASA is that the stakes are high. If you make mistakes, you have to pay and then you have these deadlines are usually imposed from the top or sometimes by the government, but sometimes even by Congress. And trying to meet these deadlines, you've got these aggressive timelines, but you've still got to produce quality product, so it was good. And then after working there a few years, actually in Huntsville, Alabama, I went to the university of Alabama Huntsville. And that's where the Marshall space flight center was. And I'm after working there I moved to Atlanta and I was with Accenture for a while, I was with Cisco, I was with several of those bigger companies, a lot of those big companies, tall buildings, much different from that government setting, those cold, massive buildings.

Brian Benn (03:11):

But how it got into PHA was kind of a funny story. I was working as a lead engineer with a buddy of mine. And he actually told me, he saw a rack, he saw a job description. He said, "Hey, the housing authority is looking for a systems engineer, looks like it's right up your alley." And I was like, " What the hell, I'll send that out." So I sent the CV them out and I got a call back. So again, I'm still working where I'm working, I think I was working at a Cisco at the time. And so I've worked with the big three, big five Fortune 500 companies. And then the housing authority opportunity came. I went, the interview went well, we kept talking some more. And I remember talking to my wife, I was like, " I really don't think this is a job for me. I don't want to be in the government."

Brian Benn (04:03):

And it was completely different government from the government type job I had before. So I was kind of reluctant to do it. But the guy that brought me in, he was a good guy, came on as the systems engineer in 2012, prayed about it, came in and it happened to be one of the best moves I made. Years later I'm as the CIO, worked with a lot of people, a lot of good people, but the mission is what I really got tied to and got connected to. The mission of providing affordable quality housing, not just affordable housing, but quality affordable housing is what I like to make sure that we identify, amenity rich affordable housing. So eight years with a stint away, I was away for a year, came back, came up through the ranks and I'm enjoying it quite frankly.

Joe Toste (04:58):

Yeah, no, I love that. I was actually reading when I was reading about, I think in May also, there was another podcast around you mentioned HUD, and then I was reading this weekend with the passing of John Lewis and his impact on affordable housing and obviously being from Georgia. And so I think there's a really great story in there. I'll have to go find and dig up the article. I couldn't remember if it was wall street journal or Bloomberg or something. I read so many news articles, but it was really great. And just to see obviously that mission impact of not just affordable housing, but quality affordable housing, as you mentioned. It's a great mission, super impactful and you're touching, I think with software it can sometimes become hard, we grow stale a little bit, but there are actual real people behind those numbers who are moving in and going through the program and things like that.

Joe Toste (05:52):

So I love that. And speaking of actually real numbers, we actually have fun connection through Yardi systems. Yardi systems is a big player in the property management software world. I actually used to work there for two years and we were talking on our pre podcast call, I saw you wearing the Yardi t-shirt and I just wanted to call out one of my buddies, Jeff Bishop. And we talked about it pre, you know him. Yeah you love him [inaudible 00:06:18]. And so shout out to Jeff. But actually when I think about, going back to, I think the podcast was there are 60,000 participants with their families involved?

Brian Benn (06:29):

Roughly probably somewhere between 65 and 67,000 participants that we support. So that's roughly about 23,000 households, but in totality about 66,000 participants that we're supporting with our programs and services.

Joe Toste (06:49):

Yeah, no, I love that. And it's so much more than, if folks are familiar with SQL, it's so much more than a SQL database of numbers and names and things like that. There's actually real people behind the numbers.

Brian Benn (07:04):

People's lives being impacted and being changed. And quite frankly, changing the trajectory of some of these lives is what we get excited about. And when you hear those stories, I mean we have people working here in the agency that came, some of them worked or lived rather in one of those facilities. And it's just exciting to see the story, see the transformation and know that you're helping somebody and it's definitely rewarding.

Joe Toste (07:35):

Yeah, no, I love that. I love that work. You definitely have to keep that up. So from a podcast I was recently listening to, I think you mentioned yourself as an undercover nerd. So I know digital transformation is a buzzword, but I did want to push back a little bit because everyone said they had a digital transformation plan before COVID and then they got really blown up earlier this year. Gary Brantley and I, we were laughing that no one had COVID in their strategic plan into 2020, where's the Atlanta housing authority at with its digital transformation journey right now?

Brian Benn (08:12):

Well, I guess the biggest thing I'll say is, digital transformation is very broad and that's like you said, sometimes it's trite and overused, but there's real value in that terminology. And then once we understand what we mean when we say digital transformation, well, we like to look at it as, kind of bridging that symbiotic relationship or creating a symbiotic relationship between people, processes, and technology. If we can get those to work together, that's at the core of our digital transformation. Also at the core and at the heart of it is data. So to use something similar to what the capability maturity model is, to be quite honest, we're probably, with five being the greatest, five being optimal, I wouldn't say we're probably at a two. Now, that's not dissimilar from most organizations if they're being honest with themselves.

Brian Benn (09:11):

And so that just means we're just trying to reduce the number of disparate systems to different sources of data. If we can centralize that as much as possible, and of course, business processes have to be sound, the people have to know what they're doing, where they're going, where they're headed, what their mission is, what their plan is. And then, and only then can technology sufficiently support that. But again, if that data is all over the place and we have a responsibility where we've got numbers, we have to produce to HUD at the end of every fiscal year. And then also it's incumbent upon us as technology practitioners to make sure that we're giving our internal customers, not even external customers, internal customers, giving them the ability to make data driven decisions. So right now we're in what we consider the infancy stage, or maybe slightly more mature than that though, again, maybe a two out of a five in terms of optimal positioning.

Brian Benn (10:19):

And we are working on what we consider an EIM. I know we throw slogans left and right. So I'll definitely say EIM means enterprise information management. And again, that goes back to reducing the disparate systems, getting the data, people start talking AI and some other things, I'm sure we'll get to talk AI, and they talk predictive analytics, they talk internet of things, machine learning, all of those things. But before you can run, you have to walk. So if we can, again, if we can make sure that we have control of our data, custody of our data, we're able to secure the data and we're able to ensure the accessibility and the accuracy of that data, now we're cooking with gas. Now we're able to start talking some of those things and then making sure that the business has their processes in order, that the people know what their JDs are, their job descriptions, know what they're doing. And then we, again, make that connection between people and processes and technology.

Joe Toste (11:26):

Yeah, no, that's really good. That comes to mind. I was having a conversation with a CIO and he was same thing, he was talking about the foundation. And even the foundation he had just moved from one company to another. And at the new company it was all about foundation, all about the foundation and making sure everything was in place, walking before you take off running. So I really like that. That's really great insight. So I'm curious, how do you think about innovation and leveraging cutting edge technologies on the PHA side?

Brian Benn (11:58):

And I love that question and I can answer it two ways because we have to keep the lights on, keep everything running, keep everything going here, but we've got to also make sure, I don't want to forget about our mission and that's to bridge the digital divide for those 66,000 participants that we talked about. But before we can get there to make sure that we're leveraging the cutting edge technologies here, I think it goes back to data. So whether we're talking, whatever the mechanism is, whether we're talking about Tablo, whether we're talking about power BI or any of these technologies that allow you to access data, we want to harness that data and use it to make those data driven decisions. We want to be able to push the decision making power down to the lowest level, as much as possible.

Brian Benn (12:53):

And that means that they have to have the right data. We want to make data driven decisions. We want to be in the place where we're using data to drive the decisions and not making those decisions and then trying to come back and say, "Hey," and justify that with the data. So if we can harness that and then we can put into all of our users, our practitioners, give them that ability, give them that interface where they can use that data and they can make the determination that, "Hey, these programs and services are helping us provide for our participants by using it." Now we can start talking about leveraging predictive analytics, because eventually we want to make sure that we're getting our participants off the program. We want them to graduate from the program. We want them to be self-sufficient.

Brian Benn (13:49):

And the way we determine that is of course, you have those touches, whether it's the programs that some of the many people in this organization do, they may just have a wealth of programs beyond the real estate [inaudible 00:14:01], whether it's tutoring, whether it's help with resumes, whether it's help with a job or whether it's just wellness checks. And so many of the programs or services that they provide, we know those things are there, but we also want them to be able to look at that analytically and say, "Hey, when these things are in place, or when three of these four things or when two these four things, we have this percentage of this better opportunity of making sure that our participants graduate." So if we can look at that data, we can look at the historical data, then we can start leveraging that to be more predictive at it.

Brian Benn (14:35):

And this is just from a participant side. This is not even talking in terms of the real estate, the best deals. And then also even looking at a map in terms of where the pockets are for the best places we should develop land, how we should develop the land. So there's just a plethora of things that we can do where we can use that cutting edge technology to harness data to provide the opportunities or afford the business the opportunity to make those data driven decisions, if you will.

Joe Toste (15:14):

Yeah, no, that's really great. I think the other thing too is, it probably helps you to make the case to whoever you make the case to. I don't know who you make the case to, but whoever you make the case to, as far as, "Hey, this is what the graduation rate looks like for the participants. Here's what it's looking like throughout Atlanta, here are the different sub pockets throughout Atlanta." So that's super, super powerful. And for those of you who are listening to the podcast, there's actually a really great book out. I think her name is Nancy Duarte, and I'm totally blanking. I'm trying to Google this right now, live on the podcast. Most people are probably laughing that I'm doing this, but that's okay. It's so, so good. I'm trying to look up her book. Data story, that's what it's called. I haven't read it, but it's on my list and it's really, really great.

Brian Benn (16:11):

Data Story?

Joe Toste (16:13):

Yeah. A data story. I'd recommend that, its on my list.

Brian Benn (16:17):

I guess you'll text me.

Joe Toste (16:19):

Yeah. I'm going to send it to you. I'm going to send it to you. It's really great. I've had a number of people recommend it to me. Some highlights explaining data through the lens of empathy, spark action, through story structures and just really, I think everything I've heard has been, it's an amazing book. So I think taking that data and then really painting a story over it, especially with residents is super powerful. So thank you for everyone who's listening to the podcast for not skipping through. Sometimes I like to just live Google. So let's talk about the narrative with CIOs like yourself, who experienced from the C-suite that IT is simply a cost center. You had some great talking points in your last podcast on changing the narrative along with a new mindset and shareholder, like buy-in. I'm an investment guy so I really like the shareholder buy-in analogy. So can you expand upon that for us?

Brian Benn (17:15):

Absolutely. So one of the things that happens especially when we're working in government industry or government agencies is, and this is not necessarily bias fault. It's just natural humanity, there's a complacency when you're working with the government, when you're not driven by the competition. So when we're sitting here, for instance, we look at the Atlanta housing authority, we do very good work, but sometimes it's just natural that there may be a complacency because we're not losing participants to the Cab housing authority or not losing them participants to another housing authority and all the things that normally drive private industry. So if you're in a private industry, you're going to have your shareholders say, "Hey, we're falling behind this first quarter. If this is not correctified by mid year, somebody's head's going to roll or something's going to happen."

Brian Benn (18:13):

So what we've tried to do as a leadership team, especially in the IT department, is we've tried to make sure that we change that narrative. That even though we're in an agency where we're not necessarily increasing the productivity and profitability, we should still have that productivity and profitability mindset, yes, we want to increase our productivity, but you also start thinking in terms of increasing the profitability, because you're saying, "Hey, what's happening in the industry? What are our competitors doing? How do we get the edge? How do we jump ahead?" And that's when you start leveraging technology, that's when you have to realize that you have to be proactive. If we're reactive with some of this technology, we're already behind the eight ball. And that's especially true in the private industry when you're losing. So if we can change the narrative and make sure that we don't get complacent, just because we don't necessarily have competitors in the PHA, in the public housing authorities space.

Brian Benn (19:13):

And I think we're already ahead of the eight ball. So all of us to a man are working on that mindset where, "Hey, what technologies can I leverage? What technologies can we use?" Because technically, the reality is, IT is part and parcel to every successful business. You might have a kid right now that's running the lemonade stand and they're going to be sitting there on social media, promoting it. So IT is in all of it. So it's just incumbent upon us being IT practitioners to make sure that we're on the cutting edge. We're on top of our game. We're getting better. We're doing like Jerry Rice on the off season. And we're all honing our skills and trying to make each other better. So that's just a mindset we want to have, even though we're not in private industry, we want to make sure we don't have that complacency that sometimes sets in when you don't have that competition and those shareholders pushing you.

Joe Toste (20:16):

Yeah, no, I really liked that proactive technology solutions versus this kind of more reactive headaches you're going to have. I want to say Gary said something super similar to that on the podcast we shot. And I love the proactiveness and I also love the sports analogy integration in IT. And I love the lemonade stand. IT is going to be everywhere. I'm kind of curious. So on the PHA side, I don't know, is there a CTO specific? Do you have a counterpart? Is the CIO kind of merged or do you have some type of technology leader underneath you? I'm just kind of curious about how it runs on the public housing authority side.

Brian Benn (21:04):

Yeah. So I'm the CIO and SVP actually. So I'm chief information officer and I do have a few directors underneath me. We have a business solutions arm. We have records and information management, which also includes the distribution center. We have the tech ops guys, the ones that keep the lights on. And one of the big things that we added specific to the Atlanta housing authority was we added the IT GRC component, that's the governance risk and compliance. And part of that arm we added, it used to be here before, but we reconstituted it. And that was specifically to address security. And we think we're very good from a tactical aspect in terms of handling security. We have our firewalls up and all those things in place, but we think that bringing in the GRC or reconstituting the GRC gave us an opportunity to be a lot more comprehensive and a lot more strategic, as opposed to just tactical in our approach.

Brian Benn (22:10):

There's a reason why you're a football coach, especially your offensive coordinator, sometimes your defensive coordinator is usually up in the box. They can see the whole field, your skilled position players, your players, they know where they're going. They know we're going sweep, right. They know I've got to block this one guy, and I'm fine, but your coach is up there and he has the whole view. So we just wanted to make sure that we implement that same type paradigm in terms of being a lot more comprehensive and a lot more strategic and not just tactical. And I think it goes together. So I have director for the business solutions department, a director for the information management, a director for tech ops and a director for the IT GRC department.

Brian Benn (22:59):

So the four directors I have are more than capable and part of my leadership team. And then one thing I've learned is that I don't have to know everything. I just have to know that I don't know everything and be able to rely on good leaders and good practitioners. And we've got a good mix of guys, there's not just leaders, but they've actually rolled their sleeves up themselves so they know how to do it and when it needs to be done. So I like that kind of hybrid leader, one that can see what needs to be done, but one that's actually been out there and doing it themselves. Now, not every former player makes a good coach, but I do like that mix

Joe Toste (23:43):

I love that analogy. It's kind of the can't see the forest for the trees, but if you've got someone up in the box who can see what's going on, it's really, really great. Definitely similar to watching tape on the whole game again, and you kind of start seeing, "Oh, wow, I totally missed that."

Brian Benn (24:00):

The eye in the sky doesn't lie Joe.

Joe Toste (24:04):

It doesn't. The ESPN 360 camera playback. So yeah I love it. So what's your technology vision for the public housing authority post COVID if post COVID is a thing right now? We might not be post COVID yet.

Brian Benn (24:18):

And I hope that's here sooner than later, God knows. So we've talked a lot about what we want to do internally and how we want to make sure that we're affording our business units the ability to make those data driven decisions. And we want to push those decisions down by putting these things in the hands of the practitioners, given them the data, the ability to manipulate it, use it and make those decisions that will guide the organization, all in support of our strategy, mind you. But one thing that I think is important, and I think one place where we can really push the envelope and move the needle as a leadership team, especially IT, is to go back to bridging that digital divide. We have 66,000 participants that we're supporting or we're supporting the business units that in turn support them, but we want to make sure that we also, part of what we talked about earlier that amenity rich quality affordable housing means that we've got to start talking about what you and I talked about.

Brian Benn (25:28):

We're talking about smart cities, we're talking about smart homes. We're talking about what's the other little camera that they have outside your door? And that's what we're talking about, we talk about IOT, internet of things. And so in order for our participants to maximize their potential, the kids growing up have to grow up with the things that my kids grow up with. They have to have access to those systems. Then once they have access, once they have the physical hardware, the laptops, the computer systems in their hands, then now they also have to have access to the internet.

Brian Benn (26:06):

So we have to work with partners. Sometimes Comcast is one of them, for instance. We have to work with partners to make sure they have access. Gary Brantley is doing something big in the city where he's trying to make sure they have these smart cities and access to wifi throughout the city. So if we can leverage that and then make sure, so now you have this system, now you have access to that wifi, so the third component is to make sure they're trained on that. So that's whether we're able to push apps and so forth to their devices, their laptops, their smartphones, their thinkpads, what have you, whether we're able to push those apps there, whether we're able to provide some training virtually these days. But anything we can do to bridge that digital divide and not forget that while we're providing the brick and mortar, we have to make sure that they have access to technology just like everybody else in order to make sure that we really maximize the potential.

Brian Benn (27:07):

So we're thinking about some programs and initiatives and partnering with some different groups that will allow us to not just take care of the things here at home internally, but just to make sure that all of our participants and not just the young ones, sometimes we forget about the seniors also that raised us up and put us out in this world, showed us how to be successful, and now there's sitting there. If you're playing Sudoku or Bingo, why not play it on a tablet? Why not make sure they have the training and they have the access to the wifi and they have the systems as well? And we have some of those initiatives going on right now with some of those programs for our seniors. Hey, it's IT and resistance is futile. So we just have to make sure that it's in the hands of the workers and the participants as well.

Joe Toste (27:59):

Oh man. That's really great. I'm kind of laughing. My grandfather who has a PhD from NYU failed this iPad class that he took. He's now like 80 something. And I'm talking to him in his chair, I'm like, "How did you fail an iPad class a five-year-old can do? Don't you want to play your bingo?" And he's like, "I hate this iPad." Which is so funny. And so I said, "Well, you're in your chair." Then even during COVID I'm like, "Pick up the FaceTime call and you can FaceTime like 32 people now, you can get the whole family on." He will not use it. And I've got some little cousins who are five or six and they're unlocked in the house door.

Brian Benn (28:45):

[inaudible 00:28:46].

Joe Toste (28:47):

Yeah, exactly.

Brian Benn (28:50):

I'm glad you mentioned that though because one thing that also comes to mind is while you're talking about that, we have to be really sensitive to the devices that our participants use. They don't necessarily always have the access, which is something we're working on as part of bridging that digital divide. But erstwhile, we have to understand that, hey, you may just have something as simple as this as opposed to having a tablet. So all of the programs or software that we develop now, we're still doing it, we have to make sure that it's mobile friendly. Now that's fundamentally different from a mobile app. A mobile app is one thing. It's one thing it's a little more involved to develop a mobile app, but everything that we develop in terms of our website and things that you can access, if we can develop it, if we can have that sensitivity and we can develop it so it's mobile friendly, that's at least a start before we get to the place where, hey, now with developing these apps that you can download.

Brian Benn (29:47):

But even then when you're accessing that website, we have to understand that you may not have a tablet, you may not have a full blown computer system, but we do want you to still be able to do the same things you can via the smart phones. So we are all the things that we have to make sure we're thinking about. And we do that by using our business units and the different parties that engage with our participants and just being aware so we can be helpful.

Joe Toste (30:12):

Yeah, no. It's a really great mission and even what you said about Gary and the wifi. I'm in Southern California and I used to commute to our office in San Jose and wifi was just a given. You pull your head out of the sand and you realize not everyone in the country has access to wifi. Schools are going remote. The first instinct is like, wow, everyone can go remote, this is great. And then you start to realize, well, some people don't have a computer, they don't have an iPad. Kids didn't grow up with an iPad and then you got to be able to deploy that. And especially the size, I think Gary was laughing at me, Santa Barbara is maybe a hundred thousand people and he was laughing because he's like, "Yeah, Atlanta is not that." I know. Oh, I know. Oh, so tiny.

Joe Toste (30:58):

And then I don't even know how many kids Atlanta has, but the fact that you would have to deploy that seems incredible. I'm sure there's just hundreds of thousands, if not a couple of million. So love the mission. Last question. What's the number one problem that you're trying to solve right now? And I know it's a loaded question. It's also terrible because you probably have like 27 problems, but if you had to distill it down to just one problem, what's that one thing that you're trying to solve right now?

Brian Benn (31:30):

Just to corral all of our data. Now of course that's a much deeper discussion, we can do the entire podcast on that and it still wouldn't exhaust it, but just control and just corral all of our data to reduce, get down to a single source of truth, reduce the disparate systems and ensure the accuracy and accessibility of our data. All of it.

Joe Toste (31:56):

I love it. That's awesome. Okay. So I don't want to run out of time, but I used to call this the 60 second Tech Tables, three questions in 60 seconds. No one ever gets it in 60 seconds, I got to figure out something better for season two. Okay question one, what do you know now that you wish you had known at the beginning, whether it's personal, business or a blend of the two?

Brian Benn (32:20):

Couple of things. One, how integral to leadership self-reflection is and introspection is. And so how that emptying of yourself, how integral that is to leadership. And I've been on that journey lately. And I think I get it now and if I had known that at 16, 17 that'd be dangerous, but it's kind of a plan. And definitely that self introspection and self-awareness and how integral to leadership that is. And other than that, stock tips. If I could go back and make some plays in terms of some stocks.

Joe Toste (32:58):

Oh man, we're going to have to talk stocks offline. I love it. I used to actually run an investment company, which is pretty funny. I started one, it flopped terrible. It flopped terribly because I had to learn when you start an investment company, you're really in sales and I wasn't that good. And I was 20 years old. So imagine a 20 year old version of me running around trying to sell people into giving me their money. It was highly difficult. Had the passion and the brains part, but did not have the salesman skills to get that off the ground. Okay, big question. LeBron James or Steph Curry?

Brian Benn (33:39):

For the last shot? Just to start a team?

Joe Toste (33:43):

Oh man, this is good. Okay, let's go last shot. You want Steph or LeBron?

Brian Benn (33:49):

Last shot I'm going Steph all day.

Joe Toste (33:52):

Oh let's go.

Brian Benn (33:55):

To start a team, I'll probably go LeBron, just because of the sheer size, brute, strength. But that last shot, Steph is... And this is not taking anything away from LeBron, but Steph has that killer instinct. But start a team, I'd go LeBron. That's an easier answer. Start team, LeBron. Last shot, Steph.

Joe Toste (34:29):

I think one-on-one, I'm probably taking a LeBron I think just in the team sport, man, Steph and Clay together, just so deadly. I should've worn my Steph Curry...

Brian Benn (34:44):

Size is size, it is what it is.

Joe Toste (34:47):

Yeah. I semi have felt bad for LeBron just because as his timing came, basically the Warriors. And then I think Gary Brantley said they cheated when they got KD. You're the best player on the playground and there's nothing you can do. It's like your team was, I can't even remember the last finals that they went to. I can't remember, Jr. Smith right?

Joe Toste (35:17):

Yeah I was reading about that. I don't know if you'd pick up Jr. I don't know how LeBron recovered after that one finals where Jr was running around with the ball. Maybe he had some reflection. Okay, top three personal development books that you'd recommend right now?

Brian Benn (35:32):

Absolutely. So there's Start With Why, by Simon Sinek. And there's Crucial Conversation, I think that's McMillan, Switzler and I can't remember the, I think there are two other authors, but Crucial Conversations, that's a good one.

Joe Toste (35:54):


Brian Benn (35:55):

And I'll have to plug my buddy, The Art Of Organizational Transformation, Seven Steps To Impact And Influence, and that's that's Gary Brantley. So yeah, I read that one. But the thing about all three of these books I mentioned, you can keep reading them, they're like handbooks and guide books. It's not a one-time put it down.

Joe Toste (36:16):

Yeah, there's definitely an internalizing of what you actually are reading. I think a lot of people love to read through a bunch of books, but actually internalizing what you're reading and reflecting on it is huge. And so did Gary sign your book by the way?

Brian Benn (36:33):

He has not signed my book actually.

Joe Toste (36:38):

Come on Gary. Well, you let me know because I just bought 25 of them and he's signing them all.

Brian Benn (36:50):

After COVID I'll give him a [inaudible 00:36:50] in there.

Joe Toste (36:51):

Oh I love it. Okay so I won't send you one. I'm going to send it to some other CIOs I know. But if you want a signed copy, I've got 25 of them right now. Awesome. Well thank you for coming on. Where can people find you? You hang out on LinkedIn. I think you're on LinkedIn, right? You got a pretty big following on LinkedIn, that's your place.

Brian Benn (37:12):

Yeah, I'm on LinkedIn. I just got on Instagram about two months ago and somebody actually called me this morning, so I had to report it. So yeah, I'm new to Instagram. Twitter, not so much. LinkedIn is probably it. My kids tell me Facebook's for old people.

Joe Toste (37:34):

And what's your handle on Instagram?

Brian Benn (37:37):

Instagram is N as in Nancy, M as in Mark, N as in Nancy, U, P as in Paul, E, so N-M-N-U-P-E. I'll send it to you.

Joe Toste (37:53):

Awesome. Love it. And you can find Brian Benn on LinkedIn, where he hangs out. Thank you for coming on Tech Tables. Appreciate it.

Brian Benn (37:59):

It was a pleasure have a great one.

Joe Toste (38:03):

If you're interested in seeing what Nagarro, a high-end technology solutions company to some of the world's leading organizations can do for your business, you can email Joe at joedottoste@nagarro.com, J-O-E dot T-O-S-T-E at Nagarro dot com. Or message Joe on LinkedIn. For all information on Nagarro checkout out nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. You've been listening to the Tech Tables podcast. To make sure you never miss an episode subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you have an iPhone, we'd love for you to open the Apple podcast app and leave a review. Thank you so much for listening. To catch more Tech Tables episodes, you can go to techtablespodcast.com. And to learn more about our sponsor, please visit nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. And of course, you can find Joe Toste, your podcast host on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. That's Joe Toste, T-O-S-T-E. Thanks for listening.

Joe Toste
Joe Toste
Host of TechTables Podcast

Host of TechTables 🎙- Conversations with Top Technology Leaders