Home Automation Podcast Episode #185: An Industry Q&A With Ryan Paddock
In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Ryan Paddock, Chief System Designer at A Mindful Home shares the importance of privacy and technology in our homes.
This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Ryan Paddock. Recorded live on Wednesday, September 1st, 2021, at 12:30 p.m. EST.
About Ryan Paddock
Ryan Paddock is an integrator focused on redefining the industry’s approach and philosophy towards technology integration in our homes. He founded A Mindful Home in 2019 with the understanding of what’s next and anticipating change in the technology, products, and markets. He prides himself on designing and implementing elegant technology solutions focused on lifestyle and wellness to elevate his client’s homes.
- His unique philosophy and marketing position
- The importance of privacy and technology in our homes
- The increasing demand for circadian based lighting and home theaters
- The shift to battery and renewable power solutions
Ron: Hello. Ron Callis is here with another episode of Automation Unplugged. Today is Wednesday, September 1st. This is show 185. This is CEDIA week, and you'll notice I'm not in Indianapolis. I'm here at my home office and coming to you with another episode. I am eager to see who we're going to be able to catch life, who's out there tuning in. I have no idea of the live audience we will draw today because this is a bit of an odd week. However, I'm curious about how many of you have actually decided to stay put versus heading out to Indianapolis for the show. Well, in fact, my guest is clearly not at the show. So without further ado, today we have Ryan Paddock for Show 185, and he is the Chief System Designer and Founder of an Atlanta-based integration firm called A Mindful Home.
I've just met Ryan just in our preshow and our chat. I'm confident in learning about his background that this will be a fun interview that we're all going to learn a lot from in terms of his approach to business and this industry. So without further ado, let me go ahead and bring in Ryan, and we'll get this show started. Ryan, how are you, sir?
Ryan: I'm great. Thanks for having me.
Ron: No, my pleasure. Where are you coming from?
Ryan: Here in Buckhead. Atlanta. Just the northern part of the city.
Ron: You are not in Indy right now. You are in Buckhead. Were you planning to go to the CEDIA show, or was it always the plan not to attend?
Ryan: Three months ago? I was planning to attend two months ago. I was planning to attend. And when I saw what was going on with the spikes, I was like, this is just going to fall to the wayside, probably. So, unfortunately, it's just tough right now to travel and keep everybody safe.
Ron: I know that you are a Savant dealer. I heard that Savant was one of the first big names that announced they were pulling out. But I also heard they've been pretty proactive. They're doing full virtual booth tours. I don't know any of those details, though. Have you tuned in to that? And are you going to be attending some of their virtual stuff?
Ryan: I'm planning to go and check it out definitely this evening. And as time permits over the next few days, with the opportunity to catch up a little bit more with client work, I'm definitely taking that. But I did see some of the pictures from it, and it looks like they just built their booth there on-site in Massachusetts.
Ron: Looks brilliant. They built it in the warehouse. And you're going to see the same thing. It'll just be a little bit different, purely and entirely socially distanced.
Ryan: Yeah, great opportunity for them to do what they needed to do. With Savant Power being launched recently and all the acquisitions and lighting, I think it was a smart move. So, yeah, I'm excited to see what they've got in store.
Ron: Tell us about A Mindful Home.
Ryan: Sure. I started the company in early 2019 as an opportunity to do things the way I wanted to, which I think is how a lot of us get into the industry. We see an opportunity, whether it's to go out and do things in our way or just as a means to create and provide for our clients and provide the services that they're looking for. I had a little bit of a background in the industry about six years prior and a few different faculties—time to hang my own shingle. I reached out to product partners, really spent some time developing my philosophy, developing my processes, which are agile as anything, and then said, it's time to go live and go after some clients. That's how it came to fruition a few years ago. But it was definitely in the works in my head long before.
Ron: I want to dig into that a little bit more if you allow me that that entrepreneurial leap that you took. How how long in advance had you been planning that? And when I say use the word planning, is it to be used loosely or are actually planning? For example, did you put a business plan together and that type of effort?
Ryan: No, extraordinarily loosely for sure. I've seen every opportunity in every job, and every role that I've had in the past is opportunities to learn and educate myself and be more of a generalist in an extraordinarily specialized world right now, just got finished reading the book Range, which I would recommend to anybody in our industry. In terms of looking back, just the right time. Not that I don't mind punching a card or time clock or anything like that, but I wanted to do things better. I'm a bit meticulous. When it comes to making sure that things are done the right way, the right way is hard to define, but in a clear and precise way and easily communicated to clients as to why we do things the way we do. And so it provided me that opportunity.
Ron: Your business today, A Mindful Home, is primarily residential focused or what's kind of a typical type of project you take on?
Ryan: Definitely residential. We're more focused on holistic systems. I talked to you a little bit in the pre-interview about this. We're heavy in talking about how to build systems from the foundation on up. One of the pitfalls for many of these companies and many companies are you become order takers. The client comes to you, they say, I really want this, this and this. Then you're trying to figure out how to scramble and build around it. We've created ourselves because we wanted to look at what really makes these things tick, so in the past, we've talked about the district control was a big piece, and then networks became a huge piece, and they still are. Both pieces are extraordinarily still relevant. But we're kind of stepping back and saying, well, everything that we're doing runs on power.
Power is the foundation for the system. Because of that, how do we build that strong foundation? Usually, it's built backward from what are we running on it? What are we running on it now? What are we going to be running on it five years from now, 10 years from now? How do we ensure that we have what we need to provide good, clean, reliable power to all these devices? Microprocessors being extraordinarily finicky if they don't get a consistent supply. Being in Atlanta, we had to think through how is that going to work? Because our power grid might not be as bad as in L.A. or New York. It's still one that's extraordinarily stressed. We wanted to make sure that everything that we were doing was based on good, clean power.
Ron: I want to go in-depth into your business philosophy and your service offering. But before I go there, I want to go on to the past. Tell us about your background.
Ryan: I grew up in Syracuse, New York, and spent 18 years in that general vicinity of the world. When it was time to go to college, I said I needed to go out and experience something different. So come down to school here at Emory in Atlanta. However, I've lived between Atlanta and Florida for the past 18 years.
Ron: You're aging yourself.
Ryan: Yeah. Right. Starting in Atlanta in 2003 didn't know where it would take me. Ultimately decided to pursue a career or pursue a degree in business. We had a great program at Goizueta and a good opportunity. I took that and ran with it. And then, after I graduated, instead of going to law school or going and working in New York, like a lot of my friends, I took a job with a small marketing firm. When I say small, I was the first hire as a summer intern and worked with a wonderful team there. I watched that grow over my three-year tenure and saw some really cool things happen in marketing, which is a great experience for anyone in our industry. I would say because if you understand how to market yourself and position yourself, you will be poised for greater success. I had a phenomenal mentor. That was a gentleman named Tom Kline, who is now the CMO of MailChimp, the world's biggest email marketing platform headquartered here in Atlanta.
Ron: How in the? I have just to dive deeper if you have me. MailChimp is kind of a big deal. Was MailChimp a twinkle in Tom's eye at this time, or was he running this agency in that? How did that, and how did you become the higher working under Tom?
Ryan: I'll start with that last question first. Tom was actually a BBA from Goizueta as well, I think in the late 80s. He had a wonderful marketing experience with Chanel. Now with Coca-Cola, he worked for a company called the Zeeman Group. I learned a ton from just his experiences and whatnot. But in terms of the MailChimp thing, I think that kind of came later. We knew Ben Chesnut, one of the founders. He ran a company called the Rocket Science Group here in Atlanta. And he came and in his office was, a mile down the road from ours. One of our designers had actually worked for him for the Rocket Science Group. So we knew MailChimp before it was anywhere near what it is now. And he's a fascinating and brilliant guy. If you ever want to follow up with learning about how to develop product development, build a product, and get it in front of everybody, he and his partner are. It was more just that we had the opportunity to meet some of those guys early on and watch that grow and just absolutely explode. They have a valuation now in the billions. It's kind of cool to know some of the people from where it started before.
Ron: There's a neat connection at One Firefly in our early days. We adopted Mailchimp. I can't even tell you why. I don't remember the reason why it might have been their great marketing.
Ryan: They had great marketing and great UI.
Ron: Yeah, great UI. We adopted MailChimp as our go-to platform and not just for us but all of our clients. I think it's now one of multiple platforms we use, depending on the situation. That's such a small world.
Ryan: One of the things that we learned from Ben that I kept with me in the back of my head is when you've got a product, or you've got service. Absolutely, you need to pay attention to what's going on in the marketplace. Focus on what you're doing. Focus on how you're doing it and why you're doing it. If you know it's the right thing and you kind of stick to it, all of a sudden you're going to look, and everybody's going to be 18 months in your rearview mirror trying to develop what you've, and you've already been there for. That's certainly a philosophy we try and put to use in terms of how we think about and design systems.
Ron: How did you transition from that internship opportunity at this agency? What came next?
Ryan: I held many different roles there, just as was necessary because, with a growing firm, you have to wear a lot of hats. I think at the time when I left. There were probably 20 to 25 people there. That was the peak of the recession. I still keep in touch with a handful of guys, but I transitioned out of that and took a job with the top private high school down in Florida, in the northeast Florida area for a couple of years and said, you know what, I got to get back to a big city and get back on it. So while I loved my two years there, I came back and worked with an e-commerce software company and helped develop and build that from the ground up. So when the opportunity came for me to leave, that's when I joined this industry right around '13, 2013, 2014.
Ron: What drew you into this industry? How did you even know that it existed, or how did you find out about it?
Ryan: I'm probably like a lot of the guys that you bring on. We all love the gear. It was obviously more focused on the AV side then because that's kind of the allure, and that's what draws you in. Since then, I've found more excitement, and we build systems how we design systems and integrate all of these things so that they work together fluidly. But, yeah, I was definitely drawn by the cool stuff we get to play with on an everyday basis. Oh, look! This is a thirty thousand dollar amp or a hundred thousand dollars pair of speakers. What's not interesting about that or fun when you're a gear head? But it's totally changed.
Ron: What was your first role? When you joined the industry, what were you doing?
Ryan: I took a very entry-level position, and I would say I was in sales and operations for a company, and sales is a little bit of it, but going back and looking at what I sold versus back then versus what we're selling now is a very different experience.
Ron: Is this your little one?
Ryan: That's my little guy.
Ron: He's three, right?
Ryan: He's home from school today. He's got a cold.
Ron: You should bring him on camera. And all of us can meet him.
Ryan: I'll get him towards the end.
Ron: There you go. If the opportunity strikes, yeah.
Ryan: I looked at it as an opportunity to drink from a fire hose. I did anything and everything I learned about all the companies we were doing, we were selling. And I saw great opportunities to, you know, expand and grow our horizons. And then also, you know, the company that I was working for, focusing on the bottom line, how do we, you know, turn this into a model that makes us money? And at the same time, of course, and most importantly, delights our clients. So I saw it as a great opportunity to merge my business past with a passion that's here. Jackson, you come to say hi, bud?
Ron: He's like, no, I want to play. I'm going to play.
Ryan: That's really where we kind of that's kind of how I cut my teeth in the industry and learned and did that for a few years before moving back to Atlanta and working with more foot retail for this operation here for a little less than a year.
Ron: Little less than a year. That's when you gained the confidence, and I guess, the inspiration to go jump out on your own.
Ryan: Yeah. It was time, needed to, you know. I loved the place I worked out here. It was a great opportunity. I met some wonderful people and continued to drink through the fire hose. But from where we were heading and where I wanted to build a company, I always said, I've got this idea. I wanted to pursue it. And I spent probably three months really fleshing it out. Then we launched.
Ron: I'm going to share here on the screen. I'm sure if I can get technology to behave. What I thought was super interesting. This is your website, a mindful Hongkong, and you've got a tab right in your main menu that says philosophy. You've got a page stating your philosophy. I'm curious about getting inside your marketing mind about how you were thinking about positioning your company. Tell us about that.
Ryan: In terms of the website, I'm actually back it up just a little step, too. Our website is about a five-minute read. I wrote all the content myself, designed, built it myself. That being said, we're about to undertake some changes, but I made it that way because I didn't want it to be overwhelming to start with. I wanted us to focus on what really mattered and say this is the core of who we are. If you look at our tabs across the top, it starts with our promise, philosophy, process, partners, solutions, and how we ultimately get to your happiness. It's those five things for your happiness that we amalgamate together to create that. In talking about our philosophy, because really, it is the core of who we are. It's design base. Our industry talks heavily about how we speak to designers, how we speak to architects, and how we speak to builders? Why do we want to target those groups? And it's because they're the people in the rooms making the decisions. I recently got interviewed, and we had a cover story in The Atlantic magazine talking about how I now see us in our industry is the fourth pillar of home design built, and we should be brought in. We've been saying it for years, but we must market out to everybody else to say, hey, if you're doing this project, this person will be extraordinarily important as you build out what you're your own.
How you're going to be living there because they're going to give you, they're going to do what is necessary to make sure you have these experiences, whether it be circadian bait's lighting or a wellness-focused home or voice control, or you pick any of the hot topics biophilic design. Our industry gets tied into that is we should be leading those conversations and not being brought in as an afterthought. For us, design is a huge part of who we are and what we do. I've broken it down into the five facets of design and how we design this experience for our clients. Certainly, the most palpable and the one that people understand the easiest is product design. We work with and are tied in our a lot of our product partners are heavily focused on is the aesthetic of what we're providing to the end-user and whether it's something that where the technology is extraordinarily in your face, or it's something that the technology is gone. Invisible speakers have become a huge category for us. Voice control, where we're activating with Josh.ai, is an area where we see more poised for tremendous growth. Things like that, where the technology is inherent, and it's not overwhelming in the space. Now, that being said, theaters are still a huge piece of the pie right now. We're seeing a lot more growth back into that because of Covid, because of what we've all been going through with the past year and a half. We look at product design as a huge component.
How do you want this experience to look and feel? Sonance has a great tagline. How do you want your sound to look? What a great pitch. Product design is fast at one of these. The next is a system and architecting system. How do we make these components work beautifully with one another? And if we're not, why are we not? Some people may want to run their house on twenty-seven apps. Personally, most of my clients do not. They'd rather have one or two that will be sufficient for running everything and doing it effectively and efficiently. How are we architecting and designing systems and a means to create that user experience that's as flawless as can be? Nothing's infallible. But as best as we can provide that opportunity for our clients, we certainly want to focus on it. We're not just a whole batch of goods. We think of how does this actually plays well together. The next piece being, on the bottom there, that interface design. How do you want to interact with your home? Do you want to be fully tactile-based? You won't touch screens on walls. Do you want remotes in your hand? Do you want voice control? I mentioned Josh before. What a great platform.
Getting away from big companies like Apple, like Google, like Amazon, where we don't know exactly what they're doing with their data. Privacy is paramount to a lot of clients. How are we providing that that means to interact with the technology, or do you want it just to go away entirely? I do want it just to be fully automated. That's a great conversation that we have as we go through the process.
Ron: That just triggered a random thought.
Ryan: I saw your eyes.
Ron: Yeah, I was going to say that I talked to my wife at the dining table the other night. We were it was after dinner. We were having a conversation. And over off to the off the dining table is the nook where my son's been doing. It's like his office where he's been doing remote schooling. In that area is a Google device. I don't even know if they call it. But the Google thing. It was like a pod thing. He talks to it when he's doing schooling. He talks to it and asks it math questions and random world history questions. And it gives him answers.
My wife and I were in a conversation, and nowhere did we address it. It literally inserted itself into the conversation and started answering or speaking on a conversation topic. But we never addressed it. And I thought it was such a darn voice for me, so maybe it's my age or just because I didn't grow up with it. It's so odd. For me, the Josh story around privacy is so strong.
Ryan: Oh, it's extraordinarily compelling. Privacy is probably the biggest thing in the homes that we're in today, and our clientele is certainly more affluent. It's a luxury based clientele because that's who wants to really go in and delve into a lot of this technology, these areas of tech, and the ability to say, hey, look, whatever your data is, it's not going to be used to pitch you product X, Y, Z, you're not going to be spammed with any number of things. This is a little parable about a couple arguing, and both of them got Amazon ads or Google ads or whatever about divorce attorneys. I really like this, but that could be where some of this can be heading if we're not paying attention. Not to say that some people don't mind. They're like. I have nothing to hide. Totally agree with that. It's not about hiding. It's about to do you really want your home sending all of your data elsewhere?
Ryan: Yeah, that's that's the beauty of Josh and what they're trying to accomplish. And not only the fact that it's an extraordinarily smart AI-based device. I always liken it to like a Jarvis from Iron Man when I talk to my clients. But it's a private conversation. So it's always is a nice one to have.
Ryan: It's definitely got a Jarvis component to it, that's for sure. It kind of sounds like Jarvis. I think it might be by design, but I don't know. We will have to ask Alex.
Ron: Back to your discussion point around your philosophy, though. I think you are moving on to support.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. Support is just what it sounds like. I mean, we can call it maintenance. We can call it maintenance or support. I like to talk about how we're basically partners for life with our clients. If I'm doing your system, I want to be your partner for the next five, 10, 15, 20, 25 years, as long as you have that system. We want to make sure we're on top of it and designing something that makes sense. We're designing a system that we have, you know, a plan for. There is planned obsolescence with these technological devices. You're going to get X amount of years out of a really high-end network. Right now, you can expect to get X amount of years out of TVs and speakers. These are not devices you're going to buy and have for the rest of your life, probably. So it's important to say how do we prioritize that?
That moves into the last piece, which is the future. How are we planning? How are you preparing and giving them the product life cycle on these pieces that we're putting into their home? How do we make sure that when we're running wires and talking about infrastructure that we're doing, we're doing well for our clients? I don't think I've run a prewired job without fiber since we started the company. Even if it's just a base level, it's because I know that we're going to have those data needs down the pike. I would much rather say, look, let's invest a little bit more here on infrastructure and then you're ready to grow and build in five, 10, 15, 20 years. It's really thinking through this, designing these systems, architecting these systems, engineering them to do in ways that just make sense for our clients, just makes it just makes good sense for everybody. It helps us. It helps them. We're ready for the next phase whenever that comes.
Ron: By the way, we have several people commenting, and Eddie just caught my attention. Thanks, Eddie, for tuning in. I'll put it on the screen. He says, "Good discussion today." Thanks. I appreciate that. I'll give a few more shout-outs. Jackie says, "Hi, Ryan, go Jags." I guess that was from your Jacksonville days, and Wes says hello, Tomas says hello, and Angel says hello. Thank you, guys. You're out there tuning in. Drop a note. Say hello. I flipped over your website to the Solutions tab, and you have a pretty cool graphic here. I don't know if you grabbed this from somebody or if this is kind of your brain and how you position this. But I love it.
Ryan: Brain and basic Photoshop skills.
Ron: Brain and basic Photoshop. Well, our video listeners can see the screen, but they can't see the screen for our audio listeners. So describe to us what you've done here.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. It's almost like Maslow's hierarchy of needs for our industry. It goes back to that conversation that we had about power as the foundation. It's effectively a large triangle that powers on the bottom network are the next rung. Then we break the rest of the fun stuff that we do into three different tiers, and you know, the conversation I had with every client right at the beginning references this graphic, and we say, you know, power is the foundation. If it's not clean, if it's not good, everything else will have problems if it's not consistent. It's the way we approach networks. 5-10 years ago, we said everything was coming online. Everything's going to be tied into your network. If power is that foundation of the home, the networks are kind of more like the walls and the roof. Once we have that that frame built, everything else is just decoration. How do you want to decorate your space? And we've broken that up into three different areas: comfort, AV and security.
Just to give you a brief overview for those just tuning in via podcast. Comfort, I break into climate, lighting, and shading, which is really an area where Lutron is one of our brand partners and loves them to death. I know you have a little bit of a history there right out of college. We just chatted about that, but how are we controlling the climate of this space? Obviously, everybody's got their own smart thermostats, lighting and shading. Lighting is a huge opportunity in our industry. We talk about that ad nauseum, which is good because we didn't do that 5-10 years ago in circadian beds and circadian rhythm-based lighting and then shading as well. So that's the comfort section. AV is pretty standard audio-video. We do both sides audiovisual. It's got to be part of what we are. But it's certainly it's a more commodity's space. We do focus on more in our company. We focus on more specialized solutions. Some of our product partners, like Leon, are great companies. It's created a really great whole concept around how your sound should look and feel in your space. Same thing with wisdom. Another one of our product partners focuses on a modern look and feel for a sound that just fits into a space and makes a lot of sense. AV is always going to be a part of who we are. Video is more commoditized, but we have specialty providers that we really like partnering with our residential. Some of those top-tier guys are just doing amazing things. What Tim's done in that space for Barco is nothing short of spectacular. I had an opportunity to meet him and had a little on a project over a year ago. We've got another project going with them right now.
Ron: We're going to get him on the show. We haven't. I know my team has reached out, and I need to do some follow-up there. We're going to get Tim on Automation Unplugged.
Ryan: He did Cinelux here last year, he and Sam Cabot. That's another good channel to check out for people who are listening. Suppose you're really into the home cinema space. Then security is the last little piece of the upper triangle access, lighting and surveillance. We talk about lighting theft deterrents, especially in a home, and also to access control, smart locks. Gates, things like that and surveillance security systems as well? It's something we don't delve as much into because we don't do active monitoring. But we'll wire and clean up and make sure that we've got a great partner for you. And then sitting outside of this is how do we control, automate and monitor this space? Yeah, it's really our secret sauce. And why we're better. It's the ability to integrate all these different things. How does it all work together? How does it form that cohesive solution for our clients? I appreciate you bringing those up. I'm sorry for that Photoshop. But it is the foundation of who we are and why we built things the way we do.
Ron: Less is more. I actually thought it looked pretty cool is like the whole minimalist Steve Jobs Apple sort of look to the design. I thought it was quite effective in terms of power. What sort of power solutions are you leading with? You have power is the base of the pyramid. That means it's coming up in every conversation with every prospect, I'm assuming.
Ryan: Yeah. We're focused on companies that are focused on better solutions. And I say that power is one of those areas that we look at in different categories. There's search suppression. There's energy intelligence. There's power conditioning. There's energy management. There are sustainable power sources and energy monitoring. There are all these different things, depending on what a client may or may not be looking for. We'll have a conversation along each of those. If it's something that's now or in the future, certainly we'd love to shout out to a few people that I think are really leading the charge in terms of great power solutions. Rosewater Energy Hub is well. We have yet to put one of those in. I certainly am talking about them with every project that we're looking at and have them specified down the line for some future projects that we know are coming up.
Taurus builds an unbelievably great power conditioning piece in the line, rather, not one piece, a whole line of solutions when it comes to search suppression. SurgeX acts as a great partner for us and someone who is just doing a phenomenal job. We see that some of our partners are pulling those guys in specifically with their products. As an Access Networks dealer for networks, they recommend SurgeX as the power solution to back up.
Ron: That's what I have, backing up my rack, my network rack over here in the closet.
Ryan: It's all great stuff. And if we can do IP controllable, certainly in areas where I care less about the conditioning, but I want IP controllability. SurgeX has a great solution. It is one area where we do use Wattbox as the IP controllable piece. I don't use any more basic stuff there, but for a TV or for an Apple TV or something where I just need basic IP controllability of a device to reset it. It's a simple solution and overseas a good platform. But certainly, I speak highly of the other guys in terms of what they're doing and the technology they're using. While they are a little bit more money, it's worth every penny in the long run.
Ron: The reason you landed on this show is that you know, a new member of our team.
Ryan: I'm remiss in talking about two other power products, but I wanted to talk about them as battery backup.
Ron: Yeah, no worries. I'm curious because there's a theme you mentioned Rosewater battery for the house, and there is Sonnen, and there's a handful of other battery-type solutions. So I was curious, what role do you see that fitting into your ecosystem?
Ryan: We are looking, and we're looking down the line in terms of the next five to 10 years. I want to be putting some type of a big power solution into every one of our projects. When I say a big power solution, something like a Rosewater or a Sonnen or Racepoint. What we're starting to see is everybody's, coming up with their own solution and. Those three really seem to be leading the pack in terms of the solutions they provide, and their integration into other areas of power just spun off of Racepoint energy. It's the same company I see, but I know they did that because they've got some new products that are probably coming to market.
I think they're going to be showing up at CEDIA, which it's going to be a big battery backup that's a little more comparable to the Sonnen Ecolinx, like the Rosewater. Rosewater is an interesting piece because Joe's just created a more robust and clean power solution. It can do critical loads beautifully. It can do anything that it touches beautifully, but it's certainly for higher-performing systems. I view the Racepoint of view, which is it's about power. I view the Sonnen as more of we're looking at a whole-home solution that we can then tie into solar and truly take off the grid. So yeah, it's going to be a huge part of our business. Certainly, we want to get to the point where something at some level has a piece like that specked into almost every job.
Ron: Alright. I'm curious, with batteries, are you seeing solar panels are part of that discussion or are you seeing it as you know, fill the battery up from the house power source and have it available to you? Or are you seeing it as a solar story as well?
Ryan: We see it as an opportunity for both. Georgia's an interesting state because we're not California. We're not New York. We don't have the same laws around needs for power creation or costs associated with those states. We don't have the incentives. That being said, Wall Street Journal front page, a week and a half ago, there was a thing that was saying Georgia is making this jump for some reason. And I have to think that it has something to do with the fact that there are some great solutions. They're right local. Now, I was mentioning to you ahead of time, if I look out the window 20 miles that way is where Sonnen's headquarters is for the U.S., And I think that makes a difference. Rosewater is just down here in Florida. We're going to be seeing more solar solutions, and we're finally seeing where the cost is much more effective for our clients. I'm excited to see where we can get into the roof tiles and some areas where we don't have such a big array because Atlanta lots are relatively small. We don't have the room for these things that some of the other areas might be a little densely packed here, at least within the city limits.
Ron: Ryan, your business was born in '19. Just before the global pandemic. I can empathize with you a little bit. My business was born in '07.
Ryan: Right before the global recession.
Ron: Right before the Great Recession. Timing is funny sometimes. What's changing for you right now?
Ryan: I mentioned this a little bit, but we're seeing the same stuff that everybody else is. People are asking for really great quality networks. They're working from home. We see a rise in the number of theaters requested or theater spaces because the ability to stay home and watch a movie and still get that amazing experience is something that people are paying attention to. Certainly, we see changes across the board in almost every category where people are investing more in their homes and because they see it as their haven and their safe space. I don't necessarily think that that's going to change anytime soon. Investing in your home and your wellness and well-being will always be something I think people will want to do. We just have to make the case that what we do is better than Category X. Whether that's other areas, people will be spending money in their homes for us. And I lost my train of thought here.
Ron: No, that's alright. I was saying, what else changing for you right now? And you said home theaters.
Ryan: Home theaters, networks for sure, circadian-based lighting. We cannot get into the lighting discussion a little bit. Talk a little bit more about why it is that important. And you made a good recommendation on a book I just acquired.
Ron: We'll mention that to the audience. Anyone that's out there, I think I've mentioned this on a show or two, but if you're out there and you're presenting and wanting to talk intelligently about circadian rhythm. What is a circadian rhythm and circadian rhythm lighting or tunable lighting? The book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker gets into a lot of the science behind it. If you're one to talk intelligently with your customer prospect about why this new marketing term has suddenly hit us as an industry, and we're now hitting the design space and consumers, I think there's a lot of neat science behind it.
Ryan: I'm excited to pick it up. I would also offer as an integrator and somebody putting my marketing hat on for a minute. You've got an interested client. Bring them a copy of the book. Why not? If it's that good.
Ron: It's that good. What are you seeing? You mentioned Lutron, so you've got Ketra. You mentioned Savant. You have The Savant solution with USAI. What has you excited about? Are they the same thing, or how are they different in your eyes right now?
Ryan: One of them works for Savant. One of them doesn't.
Ron: Oh, okay.
Ryan: We're getting there. And we talked a little bit about that. I'm really excited to see that QSX integration back into Savant. If we wanted to have Ketra integration, this is our stuff to do it through the old processer. As we're looking at those integrations, I'm making sure that we are doing it timeline-wise? I do have confidence that we'll see it happening. But Savant is really pushing. And I think their acquisitions over the past year and a half can indicate they're pushing to be a lighting company. They're pushing to be a force in lighting. Is it what I want to see as an integrator out of them? Maybe not. But that's not my call. And certainly, I think they're doing wonderful things and a lot of areas. I love what they're doing in the power area, what they're doing with the intelligent breakers. That's such a great space and a good opportunity to bring such a good thing to clients. But going back to the lighting, I truly think that Ketra is the better mousetrap. What I've seen from it, what we've experienced with it, what we're seeing is capabilities. And it's just an unbelievable technology in that.
I think Lutron was brilliant to acquire them three or four years ago. I also like that Lutron acquired them, and they didn't force them to be Lutron right away. We're looking at acquisitions and what's been going on in our marketplace.
Ron: Eddie just dropped a comment, and he says, "The combination of Josh.ai and Ketra is powerful.".
Ryan: Oh, my God. Unbelievable.
Ron: I don't know what I don't know here. I don't have Eddie on the show, although Eddie's been on the show before. You're going to address that, hopefully. Ryan, what does that mean?
Ryan: I would say Josh and Lutron as a general it's their deepest integration, I would say. And they just introduced it last week. Alex and the team were excited about their new little faceplate that allows the new Nanos to sit right there next to the Palladium switch.
Ron: It had my wife; Danielle said she wanted it because she saw it. So, of course, I showed it to her. We know Alex and the team. We're good friends with both Lutron and Josh. And I showed her that device, and her comment was, "That's sexy. That looks nice."
Ryan: Yeah, it is. That's the thing. We say that a lot about a lot of products in our industry. But how often do we say it about a light switch on a wall?
Ron: Not often.
Ryan: That's the cool part about that little architectural microphone. I know the integration will go deeper and deeper, but talking about temperatures of light turn on to percentages and how that has that perfect light coming through, I'm sitting here staring into a ring light. That's 4500 hundred degrees, and it's kind of bright and obnoxious in my eyes that I needed you guys to be able to see me. I'm doing it. If I had Ketra in my space, in my place of living right now, I wouldn't have that problem. It would be just a wonderful experience. But, yeah, it's any that's one of the things that we've looked at as an integrator: how do we look at those pieces that go together? And I would love to see, and I've commented on this to numerous individuals, love to see Savant and Josh play a little nicer together, because right now they're still, you know, we have to look at products that if they want voice control, but they still also want the tactile of us about how do we make sure that we're providing products that can do both and do both well and give the feedback to the others so that we have that seamless experience that we want for our clients.
Ron: Where's the pushback coming there out of curiosity? Is it Savant pushing back, or is it Josh?
Ryan: I think it's more on the Savant side. I know Alex has said several times openly that they'll work with anyone. That being said, Savant is the 800-pound gorilla. I know that it's more of work with us, and I don't know. Maybe Savant is developing their own. Maybe they're not. Bob's built some beautiful things with that company. And all I can hope is that for me as an integrator personally, that they get out of their way and say, hey, look, we'll allow you to pull seasons will allow you to do a little bit more with what we have because I don't think the integration needs to start a super deep. Then they can see what happens and how many integrators are hopping on board and saying, we want to see more. But yeah, there are ways around it, and I know there are. I'm not the only one who's doing this combination.
"Crestron and Lutron came to the table, at least that's my understanding. And now they're great integration partners. I think the dealers are better for it and the consumers better for it."
Ron: Makes sense. Eddie just dropped us a comment, and he says, "Savant needs to come to the table." There you have it. I agree. I can't give Savant credit for that. I know. Just as an example of things can change. Crestron and Lutron used not to be very easy to integrate. Crestron and Lutron came to the table, at least that's my understanding. And now they're great integration partners. I think the dealers are better for it and the consumers better for it.
"A rising tide raises all boats, and let's get everybody on the same page."
Ryan: I think everybody is better at it. A rising tide raises all boats, and let's get everybody on the same page. Savant is, without question, one of the leaders in home control. We mentioned a couple of them ahead of time. It's entirely based on UI and interface on how you want to put together a system. It made the most sense for us. From a design aesthetic perspective, no brainer. I'm always going to choose the product that's going to be right for my client. I'm not going to commit to X number of dollars with any one of my product partners, because depending on what our products projects are, in one specific year, I may end up being a gold or platinum dealer with a certain company and only silver with some of the others. But I will always promise my product partners that if we're bringing in your product, it is the absolute right application for it.
Ron: Switch gears here, Ryan, just in our last few minutes. I know that you are a recent or newer member of the buying group Azione Unlimited. Why did you choose to join a group? What are you hoping to gain out of that?
Ryan: Sorry. I've got my littlest one crawling towards me. I am hoping to gain the wisdom of crowds. These people are all the industry leaders in the different buying groups, and certainly, the Azione was the right choice for us. It had great overlap in terms of product partners. I had a good friend here who's also a top-tier integrator, Randy Massie with Electronic Home, who encouraged us to look at it and was my conduit for coming in and joining the experience. For us and me personally, it's how do we become better at what we do? We are, you know, I pride myself in that. We're always learning.
"We're always striving to what is that next level, and how do we get there? And by joining a group such as that, it gives us a great experience and an opportunity to get in front of those who are the top tier in any number of areas."
We're always striving to what is that next level, and how do we get there? And by joining a group such as that, it gives us a great experience and an opportunity to get in front of those who are the top tier in any number of areas. They may be the best lighting and shading, professionals. They may be the best in networking, best in power. We're excited. I knew it was on the horizon. I just had to get there in terms of size and opportunity. We've now reached that. I'm thrilled and hoping that Covid allows us to get to Nashville.
Ron: That was going to be my question. We have the conference in a couple of weeks, two or three weeks. Nashville, your current plan is to attend?
Ryan: Yeah, I'd like to. It's a four-hour drive and one hour flight from here. It's an easy one for me to jump over to. We've got clients over Nashville, so it never hurts to visit the city, and I would love to. As long as it's a safe and good environment for everybody and I know Richard and team are working hard for that. I think it'd be great to take it out and have this experience. Yeah, fingers crossed.
Ron: A lot of our listeners, Ryan, are newer businesses as well tenured businesses. But you've had a couple of years now out on your own, getting you're putting your own shingle up and growing a very successful business. What is a word of advice that is something you've learned along the way, either you knew going in or maybe you learned over the last two years that you could share with others?
Ryan: For me, it's always going to be your team. I'll go back to Jim Collins and Good to Great, another really good business book. Chapter one: Get the right people on the bus. You've got to have people you can trust, who you can rely on, who will deliver on the experience you want to deliver. It's a really tough market out there for that. Everybody's feeling that pain point, but that is going to be the number one. Take good care of them, and the rest will be a lot easier. Getting those people and keeping them. That's one area where I'm looking to learn even more.
"Come up with the plan and write it down, and if it's not written down, it's not a plan."
Ron: I think that's wonderful wisdom. Versus focusing on the what or the things you're going to do, if you focus on the who and getting the right people on your team, then you're what's become a lot easier to accomplish. I think I've read all of Jim Collins's books, but I just listened in the last few weeks. I never actually heard him interviewed. I listened to a podcast. Yeah, I've read his content, but I had never heard his voice. And I listen to a podcast. I'll drop it into the show notes. In fact, I'll drop this interview of Jim Collins into the show notes. It was great. It was a reminder of that point you just made about people and 10 other wonderful points that intimately linked.
Ron: It's a must-read for any business owner. Yeah. Great job, Ryan. Thank you for joining us on the show here on episode 185. It's been a pleasure to have you on. Thanks so much. Yeah. No, my, it's been a lot of fun. How would you advise the audience, get in touch with you if they want to learn more about you or your business?
Ron: Awesome. Well, Ryan, I hope I meet you in person here in a couple of weeks in Nashville. Fingers crossed. We'll make that happen.
Ryan: Awesome. Looking forward to it.
Ron: Thanks, Ryan. Be well, sir. Alright, folks, you have it: Ryan Paddock, Chief System Designer of A Mindful Home in Atlanta. Great guy. Clearly smart and intelligent and driven and running a really successful business. I love his unique approach. He's really taking a mindful approach to how he's positioning his business. And it's clearly showing dividends, even though he's early and is on an entrepreneurial journey. On that note, I want to thank you all for tuning in. This is CEDIA week. We at One Firefly. This is the company that pays the bills here. They are our primary sponsor for the show. One Firefly is running CEDIA show specials.
If you need a website or marketing or want to talk about marketing strategy, definitely don't be a stranger. Give us a call. Reach out. A member of our team would be happy to to to talk you through whatever your questions are and see if we can potentially work together so you can visit us at onefirefly.com. You can give us a call as well. We will see you next week with another show, another episode. We're going to keep this train rolling. And I hope you all have a great rest of your week. This is the first day of September. What is this, the first day of the third month of Q3? Let's make it a great month, and I will see you guys next week. Be well, take care.
Ryan Paddock founded A Mindful Home in 2019 with an understanding of what’s next and anticipating a change in the technology, products, and markets. He prides himself on designing and implementing elegant technology solutions focused on lifestyle and wellness to elevate his client’s homes.
Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly become the leading marketing firm specializing in integrated technology and security. The One Firefly team works hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution Mercury Pro.
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