The Future of Work: Transforming Your Culture by Understanding Organizational Behavior and Values

Tony Batalla
CTO & Head of IT for the City of San Leandro
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In today’s episode we’ll cover:

  • Organizational behavior and values in IT and technology teams.
  • A balanced IT strategy means for the present and future of the organization as a leader and manager.
  • Tony's favorite smart city innovations
  • What challenges Tony's had to overcome in the organization when adopting new technologies for the City of San Leandro
  • A really great management book is “Good to Great” by Jim Collins where he identifies eleven great companies and compares them to similar companies that failed to attain great growth. His main thesis is Good is the Enemy of Great - talks about organizational culture and the process of building a great IT org.


Tony Batalla (00:00):

A balanced strategy is really about innovation and security and having a strategy that gives you both so that you can be innovative and you can put new projects out and you can do things. You can take risks but you're not compromising both your cyber security and also your stability in doing so.

Joe Toste (00:20):

Welcome to TechTables, conversations with top technology leaders. Taking a closer look at the world of IT and digital through the lens of agility and innovation. I'm your host, Joe Toste. Thank you to Tony Batalla for taking time to come on the show and meet with me today. In today's episode we're going to cover the importance of organizational behavior within IT. We're going to talk about what a balanced IT strategy means for the present and future of organizations as we look at leaders and managers. We're going to talk about smart cities. We're going to talk about remote work and IT as a big theme right now. And then we're going to quickly talk about the management book, Good to great by Jim Collins, but that's quite enough from me. Without further ado, I'm thrilled to welcome Tony Batalla, CIO at the City of San Leandro. Hey Tony. Welcome to TechTables. So pumped to have you on today.

Tony Batalla (01:02):

Yeah, man. Excited to be here too. Thanks for having me, Joe.

Joe Toste (01:05):

Let's kick off today with a little bit about you and your background in the City of San Leandro and Northern California and why the leap to the public sector.

Tony Batalla (01:12):

No, that's a good question. My background first started off in the private sector and I found myself at a pretty cool biotech firm in South San Francisco. They have a biotech hub there. And that was a good run, and it was a global company. I got to travel around a bit, meet a lot of cool people, a lot of smart people but when I was looking at... And I started doing an MBA at the same time, and you wouldn't think that you would start doing an MBA and then say, "What I need to do is move into the public sector with this business education." But that's what happened. And so when I started looking at what I wanted to do next, City of San Leandro, which is an area where I grew up. So I grew up in this area. I'm from the East Bay.

I was living in San Francisco at the time. But long story short, they had started embarking on some pretty cool stuff with a fiber optic loop and they had this public private partnership they called Lit San Leandro. And I thought, "Oh, Lit San Leandro, man, is to me something different," when I was growing up to say, "Lit San Leandro." But when I heard about it, I thought it was pretty cool. And I was impressed that they were trying to do something like that and trying to be an innovative city. And then the head of IT opened up and it seemed like a good fit.

And as it turned out, my business education has served me really well here. I've been able to approach it with a more entrepreneurial style. So I call myself now an entrepreneurial bureaucrat which may seem like it's not such a thing. It does provide me with the sense of fulfillment, I think. As much as I liked working in the private sector. And once you reach a point where you're working for a really big global billion dollar firm, you get to do a lot of cool things but it doesn't necessarily bring you the same sense of fulfillment that working in government does. So that's how I got here.

Joe Toste (03:05):

Love that. From our podcast intro call, you were telling me you were pretty passionate about organizational behavior. I'm sure that's definitely tied in with what you just said. Can you just unpack what you mean by organizational behavior?

Tony Batalla (03:17):

Yeah. So I mentioned that I was doing an MBA. This would've been back in 2012, 2013 that time, and a lot of my classmates were similar. There's a lot of people that come from tech who, of course in California, are looking at the MBA as a way to take the next step. And so I was surrounded by a lot of brilliant engineers and they were all really into finance and product management. And I loved the OB class, the Organizational Behavior class. And they were like, "Why do you like that squishy class? It doesn't make any sense. There's no formula that you can just apply and then derive the answer and off you go. It's all about people, and people are irrational and have their feelings and stuff."

It's really the study of people in organizations, and it just sung to me. I was really interested in this idea of the psychology behind why people do things. Now I had come from, like I said, I was at working at a global firm and I saw a lot of different dynamics. So you saw the dynamics between managers and subordinates, between peers, between executives, and you could learn about executive presence and the idea that we could understand the psychology underneath that was just fascinating to me. That's what drew me to organizational behavior.

Joe Toste (04:48):

Understanding that there is the organizational behavior piece, and then on a deeper level, organizations are made up of people, right? So talk about what a balanced IT strategy means for the present and the future of organizations as a leader and manager.

Tony Batalla (05:04):

So balance is something that I've come to really think of as this overarching philosophy and it applies to IT organizations, but it applies to organizations as a whole. I can't think of a place where it's more applicable than government because in government a decision is going to be made. A policy is going to be put in place. A project is going to be approved, a housing project or parking or whatever. There are going to be people who are mad. "I don't want this thing. I hate it. Just don't take away. Don't change my thing here that I got." And they're going to be people who love it. Who say, "This is what we need to move forward."

And so you're going to always have these competing interests. And so this idea of balance, just to me, perfectly encapsulates what you need to do as an administrator in government. But I think it applies more widely and broadly, not just to these issues of politics, but when you think about IT there's a balance. And so really what drives the balance is a tension. And you can always find tension. And this is part of organizational behavior, as well, as you can always find tensions within your organization. Tensions between people. The finance people are saying, "Oh, well, you have to follow... You have to do an RFP and you have to do all these things, and you have to do it this way to ensure that we're not wasting money and that there's no corruption." And the people trying to get the project done and say, "Oh, we got to move fast. And there's a great opportunity right here. And how can we get our procurement through faster?" And so when you look at that, you see a tension.

And so when I talk about balance I'm really talking about these two tensions and figuring out what the right... How much of this side do you want, and how much of this side do you want? And where's the medium that you can find, the middle ground to achieve a balance. And so in IT a balanced strategy is really about innovation and security and having a strategy that gives you both so that you can be innovative and you can put new projects out and you can do things. You can take risks, but you're not compromising both your cyber security and also your stability in doing so. So that's what a balanced strategy is. It's finding enough innovation that you can be nimble and you can try new things but you're doing it in a way that if it fails, it's not going to take down the whole company.

Joe Toste (07:32):

Yeah. No, that's really great. So can you maybe go a little bit deeper on the medium between the procurement and the IT team specifically with how you've been able to balance what the finance team is looking for versus the innovation that you're looking for?

Tony Batalla (07:47):

At first let me say that I completely understand where the finance folks are coming from, and it's easier when you hear it, "Oh, procurement is just this big problem," and talk to any vendor, they're going to give you all kinds of gripes about it. But at the end of the day they're doing a service and they're protecting the integrity of the finances. It's their job. They can't allow corruption to seep in and so this is why they have these processes. So first you try to understand those processes and you try to understand why they're there, what their goals are and what they're trying to achieve. And then you can start to say, "Look, I think I have a project with a vendor that I've done a procurement with in the past. It was a competitive bid. They did great work. I'm super thrilled with the outcome. Can we skip the RFP this time and go with them because it's a very similar scope of work for a similar project with a firm that has proven themselves and already gone through our process?"

So, and they were saying, "Yeah, that's fine." You find a way to justify what you're trying to achieve but in order to do that, you have to understand what their goals are, what they're trying to do, and then you can come up with ways to maybe streamline it. So that's just an example, but really it's about understanding what the goal is, which is to prevent corruption and prevent profit spending. And so then if you can demonstrate that you can do that, you might be able to find some flexibility in there.

Joe Toste (09:19):

Yeah. It reminds me of, I'm sure you've read the book, it's a business guy, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Number one, seeking first to understand. So understanding procurement, where they're coming from. So one of the topics that's super fun for me is smart cities. I know from when I was researching and getting ready for the podcast, I know smart cities is pretty fun for you too. I'm actually stoked because usually every year I go to CES in Las Vegas and they've got a giant smart city floor. It's huge. And they always have the latest, new, cool tech, shiny objects. I don't want to dive too crazy to the shiny objects but I always love walking the CES floor. And actually, future episode in season two, I'm actually going to interview the president and CEO of CES. So that's going to be super exciting. But I was curious, what are some of your favorite smart city innovations that you've seen to date?

Tony Batalla (10:10):

There's definitely a lot out there. And there's been a lot of things that fall under the umbrella of a pilot. There's a lot of pilot projects, a lot of [crosstalk 00:10:19].

Joe Toste (10:18):

A lot of pilot projects, yeah.

Tony Batalla (10:20):

Pilots and this and that. We're still not at a place where this stuff is widely adopted. So I think internet of things and that's its own umbrella of technologies, but there's a tremendous amount of promise there, not yet realized promise. It's latent potential. Where you can envision a day in the future where there's just sensors built in a built environment that are really delivering on a goal, not just tracking everyone and trying to understand and all the big brother stuff, but actually deployed in a thoughtful, ethical manner that achieve certain goals whether it be in transportation or in pedestrian, bike.

So I think that there's certainly a whole host of things that can happen there. Some of the most experimental things that I thought were really interesting was there was one technology that was a pothole prediction. Where they would actually be able to predict where the pothole is going to come so they could do preventative maintenance ahead of time. That was in Kansas city. I don't think that ever moved from pilot to production, but it's a really cool idea. I think when you look at a city budget and you see how much money they spend on roads and maintenance of roads you'll be pretty surprised, I think, just to know how much money it takes to maintain roads and infrastructure. So this pothole prediction service could be something pretty cool.

There was another one I saw where it was a blight index and this was in LA, and they drove around with a car just like Google. Driving around and taking pictures and stitching all the pictures together and then they created an index score so that they could see how much blight there was. And this gets at the question of you'll have people complain how the city is so dirty, so it's a kind of a gut feeling. You don't have data to tell you, "Is it really more dirty than it was a year ago?" Or if we've put a lot of effort as the city organization into cleaning things up, how do we measure that and know if we've made a difference besides just walking down the street and saying, "Hey, it looks pretty clean to me. The sidewalk looks great." Which we do, but this was actually a quantitative way of achieving it and I thought that was just brilliant.

And I think that one's live. The City of LA has this blight index of that they maintain. So those are a couple. I think chat bots hold tremendous potential but the challenge with those is the backend integration, obviously. If you can get a chat bot to where it is as efficient and good at answering calls as a human is and it knows the organization as well. It really knows that when someone calls and says, "I got this parking issue in front of my house and people keep blocking my driveway and I can't park in my own driveway because people are blocking it." But what they're really asking about is, "Maybe can I get a little red stripe on my curb that would prevent people from parking right there?"

And lots of cities have that, but you don't know who, or is that an engineering or a public works or is that community development. Who even administers that? A lay person wouldn't know so they call in. And you just need a human who knows the organization to answer that and say, "Oh, you're really looking for the engineering group. They're the ones who do that." If you could get a chat bot to be that smart, that knowledgeable, that would be huge because we're all short staffed for customer service. There's no shortage of calls coming in. So I think that potential when it mature or that technology when it matures could be really valuable, but we're not there. I haven't seen it get there yet.

Joe Toste (13:59):

Yeah, no. Okay. You brought up a couple of things. So I think the preventative maintenance piece is, and it was huge for manufacturing company. Just when I talk to executives on that level and then taking that to the public sector whether it's potholes or whatever, I think is huge value add, and being able to actually gather and make those data-driven insights. Super powerful. Chat bot, they've come a long way. And then there's some companies out there doing a lot of custom work.

Tony Batalla (14:27):

Yeah. One of the challenges with the chat bot is if you're Amazon, you've got that backend so well integrated already that you can hang a chat bot off of it. And it gets you pretty good information because you've got an account and it ties in and it knows all your history, and we just don't have that in government. Our services tend to be very fragmented and they're not unified on the backend. So until we have that unified backend, we can't make the same gains with the technology. At least that's my experience. I think there is, I believe, that there are some governments out there that are going to steam ahead on this and really make some gains on it because it is hugely valuable if you figure it out.

Joe Toste (15:07):

Yeah. No, that's really great insight. I was actually just reading the other day about the death of the call center. And it's not the same, but I know call centers around the globe especially with COVID right now, is just killing them. So I'm sure one of the cool things is innovation is booming right now. It'll be fun to keep our eyes open on the chat bot world just to see, especially in the public sector, how cities, states and other local governments starts to deploy that. It'd be really fun. Okay. So let’s. Go for it.

Tony Batalla (15:37):

A great example of how I might measure something like that, state of California is being killed right now for its unemployment claim. They have this 45 year old system to manage unemployment claims. The day that chat bots can answer calls and be effective in helping people get information on a program like that, you'll say they've arrived. You know what I mean?

Joe Toste (16:02):


Tony Batalla (16:02):

That's the highest bar I think. Something that massive, but there's no reason that can't happen. We're just not there yet.

Joe Toste (16:10):

Great. So let's jump back into the organization. What challenges have you had to overcome when adopting new technologies for the city?

Tony Batalla (16:18):

In general, I think there's a strong appetite for new technology as a means to deliver a better service. I mean, there's certainly no shortage of sales pitches out there directed at different business units about new technologies that can help them. So there's lots of great technology out there. Where the challenges are, one, is there's always more human time costs than is spelled out in the implementation. Meaning that there's always going to take more work on the staff to really adopt and implement and benefit from a technology than just putting it in place. You do the initial project, you scope it out, you get it, you've implemented it, it's running, but then there's a learning curve. And there's an adoption where all these staff people now have to use this new technology. That can be a tough transition and that can be difficult and that can be painful. Where I've seen some things go sideways is not having the full buy-in of all the other departments who are using this.

So you've got an enterprise system and you've got multiple departments using it, but one department is just, "We hate it. It's junk. We didn't like it from the gate." And essentially it's hard to get them back on board once you lose them, and then the perception changes. And this goes back to organizational dynamics about perception. And a lot of it is how do people see what's happening and what are the judgments they make about it? And then how do they communicate those feelings to their counterparts and their colleagues and their coworkers. And before you know it, you've got a whole department who have a certain view of something which you may say, "That's not the view that I have," but it doesn't matter because they're not on your team anymore. They're not supporting the implementation of this technology. So that's, I think, probably the... And that's not just specific to us here, but that can be the biggest hurdles when you're rolling out this brand new technology and you have to get multiple disparate players on board. Losing some of the support can really sink the whole thing.

Joe Toste (18:47):

Yeah. No, that's really great. When I interviewed Gary Brantley, there was a big one. It's focusing on people in the organization and it's almost never the technology and the challenges of the human being involved into it, the time cost and the not effectively accounting for that. And the implementation is, yeah, it can be a huge headache, it can be a huge challenge. When the coronavirus hit, most IT teams had to transition to a remote work model. How is your team handling the transition both for yourself and for the services across the city today?

Tony Batalla (19:20):

First and foremost, the transition to telework went really well. I mean, I was super proud of my staff but super proud of everyone involved. So we were able to convert more than half of the organization to telework in matter of a week and a half, which is lightning speed. And it was pretty much... After a few months we surveyed all the telework staff and asked them, "How are things going? We're introducing new services." So we have different ways of connecting, different VPNs and different connectivity services. And of course we're pushing out information about Zoom and Office 365 and Teams and everything else, and they were hungry and asking us. And so we put out a survey, "How are we doing?" And the results were really good. People were super happy with the technology they had, with the support they got from IT, both remotely.

So I overall felt that transition went really well. What on a deeper level, what the whole thing gave us. Now, the coronavirus, the pandemic, on one sense has been just a tremendous tragedy, but on another sense what it gave us was this amazing sense of urgency that I had just frankly never... I hadn't seen in my near seven years in public service. I did not see that sense of urgency in the organization before, and it was there. People wanted to act now, they wanted to respond, they wanted to make things happen. So now the question really is like, "How can we maintain that urgency? Are we going to use this to really push forward and do some breakthrough type of digital transformation that's been moving along for quite a while but never really had that momentum? Are we going to use it now or are we going to go back to our status which was where if it takes nine months longer than we thought that's fine?" So that's where I'm looking at things is, "How can I maintain this urgency?"

Joe Toste (21:30):

Yeah. No, that is a really great insight and I think being able to maintain... Because if you think about the government and typically how slow the government moves, it's really just a mindset shift and you have this kind of external shock and now people are moving faster than they ever thought. I like the story that, not to keep dropping in Gary's name, but they moved the whole city of Atlanta to a paper, I think it was less than two weeks or something. And if we didn't have the coronavirus, it may have taken nine months. And so how can you remove the mental barriers for your team? Just maintain that urgency and thinking, "Hey, how can we just keep breaking through? How can we keep the innovation going at the city?" Is really great insight.

Tony Batalla (22:17):

Now, one of the things that I've seen now and that I'm doing is to identify these really motivated business unit leaders, department heads, who now see digital transformation as the key to their operations. They see it now. And so identifying them saying, "That as a motivated partner. Let's get with them and let's make it happen," because there's a demand now for digital transformation that wasn't there. So that's my strategy to maintain it, to sustain it, is to identify these department heads and these leaders who are now saying, "This is my number one priority." Whereas maybe before it was their fifth or sixth or if that happens, but now they're like, "This is the number one thing." So those are the opportunities that I can't squander. If I miss those opportunities of this really engaged, ready to go department and I don't act on that and convert that into an actionable project, they're going to do it on their own anyway. But if I don't help lead that and make it happen then that's going to be the biggest missed opportunity for me.

Joe Toste (23:26):

Yeah. No, that's really great. I think that leads into my last question. So a really great management book is Good to Great by Jim Collins, where he identifies 11 great companies in comparison to similar companies which failed to attain their great growth. His main thesis is "good is the enemy of great." Talk about organizational culture and the process building a great IT team.

Tony Batalla (23:47):

All right. No. I wholeheartedly agree with the thesis as you've interpreted it as, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good," if that's what I'm hearing. Absolutely, and I can share something about that. On the book itself though, I am a little familiar with it and I would have a criticism that the way that Jim Collins, the author, measures Good to Great is in the stock market performance. And so number one, it doesn't really have any... it eliminates public sector. It's a nonprofit from even being considered, although I'm sure he would argue that the lessons still apply which is fair. But the other thing is the stock market is highly manipulated. There's stock buy backs, and there's all kinds of stuff that organizations can do to make their stocks more profitable or more valuable but doesn't necessarily mean that they're a great organization.

That said, Joe, I do totally agree with you there. "Don't let good be the enemy of great." And I think the example in tech, it's really acute because there's a danger when you develop a technology for a business unit or in an organization custom, and I've seen it firsthand. It's because something happens when you tell a business unit, "We're going to build a technology for you," that they suddenly just start thinking, "We're going to get the perfect thing. It's going to do everything we ever wanted." Well, if you just bought some SaaS solutions, some COTS system and just put that out there, they will just take it. That's what it is. "You guys selected this one out of all the other ones and the system is the way it is. It's built and it's done." And they would use it and that would be it. But when you say you're going to customize it for them, you're going into some dangerous territory, Joe.

Joe Toste (25:43):

That could be a rabbit hole for sure.

Tony Batalla (25:45):

And the reason is, and I thought about this because I've experienced it, is that what ends up happening is you end up having the subject matter experts who are absolutely... have expertise in the process and what needs to happen for that business unit and then whatever service or process they have designing the technology, but they're not designers. They're not thinking about, "Where's the best place to put the form box and how many questions should I have on the form? Is this form too onerous or does this really work well for the end users who need to fill it out to get me the information?"

They're just thinking about, "Me getting the information and processing it and boy, wouldn't it be great if I had 55 different forms, questions all on the same page." And you say, "No, that wouldn't be that good." So that's what happens, is you end up getting into this situation where the subject matter experts are trying to dictate the design and you end up having a less than ideal design, a less than ideal outcome. So that's a perfect example to me of where I've seen projects take months to develop a form like that, that could have been done in a day, but it was because you had this constant back and forth of, "I want the dropdown to be here and I want this to do that. And this should be here." And you're like, "Is that really going to make the difference between somebody sending you the form online?"

We're trying to convert a paper form to an online form and it takes nine months because there's this back and forth about what the form should look like as opposed to just saying, "Let's just make a simple form and put it out there." And then the other big shift that happens when you're building these kind of custom things is iterative design. Getting organizational folks to think about it. "Hey, I can put it out." Put out the first iteration of it and if it's not perfect, that's fine because we can always revise it. We can always change it. "Hey, here's version two. Oh, we've got a new update. We're happy to say we've changed this form location from here to here based on all the feedback we got." I don't think a lot of organizational people have made that leap yet. They're still thinking, "It has to be perfect before I can release it otherwise everyone is going to complain."

Everyone is going to complain anyway. So he might've put out the first version of it, call it a beta and then get their feedback, and tech companies figured this out. Internal tech teams working with business units, I don't think have figured it out to that level yet. So that's the next leap we need to take, is we need to get to where business units feel comfortable even with the internal services releasing the first version even if it's not perfect. Knowing that you can iterate on it and maybe nine months from now, we'll have it and it will be really nice, but they want to wait and keep building on it for nine months before they even open it up because they want it to be perfect. So it's a shift. It's a mindset shift. Just like we're talking about everything else, trying to get people to see that it's probably better to just put it out there and start using it than wait and make it look perfect.

Joe Toste (28:56):

Yeah. That's, I think, definitely one of my favorite pieces in the tech world of, "It didn't have to be beta. Let's just ship an alpha." And it's really what you think the software may or may not land but you start to get feedback from the marketplace and in the case of fits your own users or the city or its residents, they'll provide you with feedback and they were going to provide you with feedback anyways. So yeah, you might as well ship it and everything will always get better. I'm trying to think. I'm shooting two of the podcast, it goes with anything.

If you were to go listen to the first episode versus episode 40 at this point, I don't know, episode one is way different than episode 40 because I started to figure out things along the way. I could streamline the process. I was able to shoot more podcasts. I got the questions dialed in. I get even more of an understanding and no one remembers episode one. And I always laugh to this day because episode one didn't even have a podcast name. It didn't have a title. I just recorded the first podcast, but no one goes and listen to episode one. No one listens to episode one.

Tony Batalla (30:00):

I got to have you come in and do a persuasive presentation to everyone to demonstrate why you learn as you go and you put out the first version and it'll grow as opposed to you add the analog here would be you recording all these without releasing any of them and learning all this information until you finally felt like, "Oh, now it's perfect." It's spending two years perfecting your craft before you ever even publicized it. So yeah, maybe you can persuade everyone. And I don't think, again, this is not a criticism. I don't want anyone listening to take this as a criticism. It's an observation that I think people's mindset is still, "If I'm building a custom service for internal use, I want it to be perfect before I can release it."

There's a real fear and resistance to just put something out there that they don't feel is perfect. But as we've just discussed, there's real trade-offs. Again, going back to the whole thing of balance. Where's the balance? You don't want to release it when it's too young and it's going to be a big failure, but you don't want to wait too long to where it's too mature and you've lost months of time as you could have been gaining from having a service out there.

Joe Toste (31:09):

Yeah. No, that's really great. We're close. I'm in Southern California in Santa Barbara. So at some point we'll definitely have to connect. And actually I was just in the bay area, just flew there for a meeting this week. So travel is starting to pick up. It's coming back a little bit. It's great. This is the third or fourth time I've flown since COVID and I haven't had an issue. The airplane basically smells Clorox as they clean and sanitize the whole thing. It's fine. The airport is empty SFO is a ghost town for sure. And so that was an interesting experience going from just seeing it packed to just dead empty, but I feel safe.

I don't have an issue with it. I've taken a couple of Ubers, totally fine. I think Uber just requires you need to wear a mask and the windows down in the back and it was great. So it's slowly coming back and yeah, that's the experience so far. So pretty good. I also love to travel. So I've really had the itch to want to get on the road a little bit but it's fun. It's fun. I'm really hoping that we can get a vaccine and have this thing come roaring back. So to wrap up season two, I got a new question that I'm asking every guest, and so here it is, "What's the nicest thing someone has done for you, Tony?"

Tony Batalla (32:31):

Easy one, most obvious one is all the support I have from the people closest to me like my wife in particular. I know it's hard enough just going through marriage and life and all that, but doing it in this time and we're all around each other 24/7 can be really tough. But we continue to figure it out and help each other grow. So she helps me grow and I hopefully help her grow. But first foremost, I have to thank her for just every day being here with me through this. But the nicest thing, I don't know if it's a nice thing anyone's ever done for me, the other day my daughter made a little... she drew a little picture. There was a little heart, and I went out, I came back. And my computers right next to hers.

We both work on the kitchen table and she had put this little picture of a heart on mine and said, "Oh, you seem like you... I wanted you to be happy or whatever." So she drew me this little picture. That's little things like that are super sweet. So it's not any one thing. I think actually that's not unlike Jim Collins' theory and Good to Great which is, there's not one thing, but it's this buildup of all these things over time. So all these little nice things every day help you get to where you are. So you started off by saying you were excellent and you are. So I'm sure you have lots of great little things every day that helped keep you there.

Joe Toste (34:04):

Yeah. No, I love that. I love that. I also shout out to the wifey. Great, big super supportive. And then we have a daughter also and yeah, it's super fun. When I have podcasts, I can't be home because we also have a toddler to run around. So it makes it impossible. But when I'm home it's a lot of fun and actually one of the coolest things now is with the apple watch update, you can now have apple watch family. She doesn't have a phone, but she's got the watch and so she's constantly texting me all these little cute emojis and all that kind of stuff. So it's fun. It's fun. So I was trying and figure out what I'm grateful for and yeah. So typically every day is a pretty good day. Can't complain. Awesome. And so where can people find you? Where do you hang out at? LinkedIn Twitter? What's your spot?

Tony Batalla (34:52):

Mainly LinkedIn. LinkedIn. I'm on Twitter too. I'm not using it as much actively, but definitely on LinkedIn. You can find me online there.

Joe Toste (35:03):

Awesome. Awesome. And then, okay, right before we leave. So you can find Tony on LinkedIn. Tony, you're getting your PhD, right? Did I get that right?

Tony Batalla (35:10):

It's a doctorate.

Joe Toste (35:11):


Tony Batalla (35:11):

Yeah. It's not a PhD. It's a Doctor of Business Administration. So it's intended for seasoned business folks who are looking to add, do research, but it's not like a PhD where it's more, "You're fresh out of college and you're going to go straight into a research career." This is more like, "You have years of experience and you've really observed interesting things and you'd love to put some research theory around that."

Joe Toste (35:39):

Love it. Yeah. I saw that when I was scrolling on LinkedIn.

Tony Batalla (35:43):

Yeah. That's another thing where my wife will tell you, "That didn't just happen." That's something I've talked about and she's heard it for 10 years. "Oh man, I want to do a doctorate. I want to do a doctorate." And I'm just planning, thinking about it. Always researching, reaching out to schools, reaching out to professors, trying to find the right fit, trying to find the right time. "When do you think it'd be a good time? When our kids get a little older and I can spend more time?" And then finally, now was the time. It happened to coincidentally be during the pandemic. But yeah, that's something where she's been really supportive and had to listen to me talk incessantly about this for 10 years. So I better go f'n do it now.

Joe Toste (36:24):

Better execute.

Tony Batalla (36:26):

Yeah. No, that's a really good example right there.

Joe Toste (36:29):

Awesome. Thanks for coming on TechTables Tony. I appreciate it.

Tony Batalla (36:31):

Yeah. No, thanks for having me Joe.

VoiceOver (36:33):

If you're interested in seeing what Nagarro, a digital product engineering company that excels at solving complex business challenges through agility and innovation can do for your company, you can email Joe at joe.toste, that's T-O-S-T-E, @nagarro.com, or message Joe on LinkedIn. For all information on the Nagarro checkout nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O, .com. You've been listening to the TechTables 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 Podcasts app and leave a quick rating for the show. Just tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. To catch more TechTables 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. Joe's last name is T-O-S-T-E. Thanks for listening.

Joe Toste
Joe Toste
Host of TechTables Podcast

Host of TechTables 🎙- Conversations with Top Technology Leaders