In my biweekly blog series, I am highlighting some of the incredible people who work for the Audio Video Industry. In this post, we are profiling John Steinhauer. Here is a brief introduction.
John Steinhauer is Vice President Entertainment Sales, Americas at Barco.
1.Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?
After over a decade in media and entertainment with Sony and Avid driving the paradigm shift from linear to non-linear editing and implementing the FCC mandate for migration to HD for the broadcast industry, I left the broadcast space and joined Lifesize, a start up in the video conferencing space. Lifesize was first to market with an HD solution, which was something I was very familiar with from my broadcast days, thus paving the way for my entry into the AV Industry.
My time at Lifesize taught me about leading edge video collaboration and teleconferencing from a picture quality perspective as well as breaking barriers to entry creating a lower cost model with the goal to make video communication ubiquitous. This stage of my career also introduced me to the AV Channel as we utilized a 100% channel go to market strategy. This impacted me in a significant way, understanding the importance of the value of the channel, creating relationships based upon trust and building valuable friendships along the way that have stood the test of time.
After Lifesize was acquired by Logitech, I fulfilled a retention commitment and then exited and took my time choosing my next endeavor. During that period, I decided that the channel represented the most powerful way to bring complete solutions to enterprise customers. Joining Whitlock provided an opportunity to join a high integrity organization with a legendary reputation for their amazing culture. My mission at Whitlock was to introduce a high performance, structured sales strategy to this very well-established company and drive change through the organization tied to capturing the growth opportunity in the Corporate Global Enterprise market.
I continued to learn the AV industry during my 7.5 years as EVP at Whitlock largely by being surrounded by legendary AV figures, working hand in hand with Doug Hall and Julian Phillips for example. We gelled as an executive team and leveraged each other’s skills and found that balance between growth and a nurturing company culture. This led to our doubling sales during my tenure and ultimately recapitalizing our company and taking on a private equity majority partner. The rest is, as they say, (recent) history resulting in the merger with AVISPL.
After the recapitalization, and before the merger, I chose to exit Whitlock and explore my next adventure in the AV industry determined to go back to my manufacturing roots and apply my deep understanding of the channel from my time at Whitlock. During my search I was overwhelmed with the support from my professional network, both manufacturers and especially my previous competitors in the channel. The AV community is a family and I was humbled by the outpouring of advice, opportunities and genuine interest in what my next step might be.
Joining a great team of people and a company with a strong culture was important to me. Barco’s 5 cultural building blocks are perfectly aligned with my values:
• We think with the customer
• We team up to win, globally
• We look for the better way
• We own our results
• We care, we grow
Joining Barco fulfilled my desire to get back into the manufacturer world and the entertainment space which has always been my passion.
2.What do you think are the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry?
I believe that the best way to gain experience in any industry is by jumping in headfirst. My advice to people joining the AV industry is to take a sales job. A sales position is a great way to learn the industry, exposing you to all aspects of the business. From product development, finance, and supply chain, to channel partners and customers, you really touch everything. Sales positions are a great way to learn the industry, build your career plan and foster relationships that will serve you well for a lifetime! (And if you’re good at it you can make a lot of money!)
3.What are the positives of working in this industry?
Definitely the people. There is so much passion in the AV world and bringing people together through technology is gratifying. From video collaboration in the workplace to informing and inspiring large groups of people at a campus, football stadium or rock concert, the impact our work makes on people’s lives is inspiring and rewarding.
The biggest positive by far is happening now during the COVID19 pandemic when video technology is being utilized in hospitals for telehealth applications, in schools offering distance learning and in the workplace allowing remote workers to collaborate and be productive from home under quarantine conditions.
[RELATED] : If you have missed any of my previous interviews, please click here.
4.What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent?
I’ve been in the industry long enough to see many of the negatives being addressed already. Two prevalent examples would be:
1) Diversity – breaking the Good Old Boy Network. The AV industry has become more diverse in recent years. Many of the strongest leaders I have had the honor and pleasure to have worked with in recent years have been women. I know AVIXA has been vigilant in this area as has Whitlock in my time there. There is still a long way to go but improvements are being seen industry wide.
2) AV being viewed as more ‘mission critical’ like IT. I believe the merging of AV and IT that has occurred in recent years both facilitates the ability to be ‘at the table’ earlier in the design stage and allows standards to be adopted in customers’ global planning, resulting in more stable, reliable and serviceable AV solutions for customers. For many years there was an outlier mentality to AV, it didn’t fit into the ITIL model. This has improved greatly with AV and IT working together more seamlessly. It’s not perfect, but it’s vastly improving.
5.Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you?
I will answer this with my new hat on, as the sales leader for entertainment in the Americas for Barco. Our ideal customer demands innovation and new exciting technology that will captivate, entertain and wow audiences. I’d want our partners to know that they can count on us, Barco’s got your back. The Events industry for example is a very tight knit and supportive community. I think our ideal customers are partners that welcome us into that community, and we treat each other with mutual respect.
6.If you were going to start over, what would you do differently?
From a career perspective I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I love being a self-made man and all the bumps, bruises and lessons that have come along the way have led me to where I am today, comfortable in my skin and as hungry as I have ever been to accomplish more!
I’m always learning and applying experiences and new lessons learned to each new challenge.
7.Describe a typical workday for you. What are your daily disciplines?
I’m BIG on routines and discipline. I’m also mindful of refreshing and tweaking routines to stay out of ruts. I use the night before to get a head start on my daily plan by finishing each workday with a list of priorities I didn’t get to that day. It’s a list system that I learned from a mentor called This Week Last Week reporting.
Each week you list top priorities for the week- things you need to make time for, not your daily to-do’s, but the forward-looking strategic initiatives you must ‘make time’ for daily in order to advance them. Daily, you work that list, the goal is to ‘make that time’, and not have things push to the next week. I’ve taken this practice and installed it successfully at Whitlock, the TWLW list is distributed to your immediate team creating visibility to your initiatives, fostering collaboration and minimizing duplication of efforts or misalignment. Another key element of this discipline is to provide updates on what was accomplished the previous week. Once you get in the cadence of doing this it really brings the team together.
8.Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?
Microsoft Teams is my go-to video collaboration platform, but I also use LinkedIn for professional networking and WhatsApp to communicate with my global network. As a heavy business traveler, I depend upon my Microsoft Surface as a lightweight road warrior tool and Uber to get around when on the road.
9. How do you stay relevant in this industry?
You must be a lifelong learner, being a curious person and geeky about cool technology helps. An open mindset is key, once you think you know it all you are no longer relevant.
To know much more, please connect on Linkedin.
Also please drop your questions in the comments below.