Bradford Benn sat down with Matt D. Scott in the beginning of March for a discussion. This discussion was not focused solely on AV. They covered topics from being a business owner to the impact of social media to how one defines themselves without talking about their job. The conversation went much deeper than expected. They spoke for over 150 minutes, that is 2.5 hours. Needless to say the episode has been edited for length and content.
Matt is a fellow AVNation board member. He’s also the host of ResiWeek on AVNation, as well as being the owner of Omega Audio Video in London, Ontario, Canada. He also has been a CEDIA board member.
Under the media is a transcript of the conversation if you would prefer to read the content.
Bradford Benn 00:40
Now comes the harder questions.
Matt Scott 01:19
The harder questions. Alright, let’s go.
Bradford Benn 01:22
Who are you and don’t define yourself by your job?
Matt Scott 01:28
Can I define myself as a middle-aged white Canadian?
Bradford Benn 01:31
Yes, that would be appropriate rather plain and boring, like most middle-aged white guys are
Matt Scott 01:40
You see that’s tough, because it is amazing how often you tie in your job to your identity. I would always argue that I try not to do that. But now that you asked me the question. I’m not going to say I’m at a loss, but it is tough. It’s because that is such a large part of your life. How would you describe yourself? Let me let me flip the tables on you.
Bradford Benn 02:13
I would describe myself as someone who is a business owner, which is correct. Yes, I realized that’s close to saying what my job is. But it does, like you said, take up a lot of it, and I am someone who tries to make the world a little better and spread knowledge. Because right now that’s kind of my big thing is, you know, I’m seeing how many people don’t know and that sounds bad to say don’t know what I consider common history. But I’m starting to realize like you I know your age. Yes, your middle age, but you probably weren’t alive during Skylab.
Matt Scott 03:01
Bradford Benn 03:04
Exactly. I was alive. And I know about it. I was alive during during Skylab. I know that history.. And there are other people who like all the space shuttle is cool and it’s so easy to go to space. And I’m like, No, no, no space is hard. People ask me, “what do you mean Canada has a space agency? I’m like you don’t know about the CSA and Canada arm built by Spar Aerospace, and Chris Hadfield. So I’m trying to spread knowledge. I don’t like the term social justice warrior because I think it has a bad connotation. But I very much am aware of, I come from a privileged place. I’m a white man in America, that is making money at a you know, is comfortable. And that’s a very privileged place. And that’s where I do stuff like, you want me on a panel, there has to be underrepresented people. As I’m turning out my own podcast, I have underrepresented people on at a higher rate than I have typical people. I believe that, you know, lead by example, and share my knowledge and experience with new people. So that you know, hopefully the world is a little better after I leave, not because I left but because I’ve made a positive impact.
Matt Scott 04:42
But I’d like to say that I identify with a lot of that and that’s a large part of my goal. IMy wife and I were talking the other day, I made mention of the fact that I’ve got, if you don’t know, I’ve got three kids, one’s about it, my oldest is about turned six. And one of the hardest things like I’ve run a business for, , almost 20 years this year. And, you know, we’ve been through a lot of entertaining things, and a lot of vertical changes and all kinds of crazy things that happen when you run a business for that long. But I would argue that the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is work on raising my kids, and trying to teach them how to be better than I am. But also help them understand how the world works, and what’s there for them, but how to do it with grace and compassion. I look at life, and it is shockingly short. How long have you and I known each other?
It seems like not that long, but at the same time, it’s 10 years. Now, you look at how quickly time goes by. and all of the stuff of 2020 has, I want to say almost made me more introspective of just life and you know, who I am and what I tried to do. And it’s something where it’s really easy to get caught up in your job, which is why I love the question. Because it is so easy to say, I’m an integrator. I do this and I do that. But it’s hard to separate yourself from your job without sounding like you’re reading a postcard. And I think that is the that’s the genius of that question is it forces you to look at who you think you are? Without? And at the same time? Because as soon as you said it, like in the pre show? We’ve been talking for an hour and almost 20 minutes now. So in that that early hour of conversation, it’s how do you describe yourself without sounding like a headstone reading?
Bradford Benn 07:58
I say this, with truth of you can say, I am a father of three. That’s a pretty big role for people one understand it. Yeah. Or a mother of six, or, you know, a brother or a son.
Matt Scott 08:21
I think that, and obviously it differs depending on who you are. But a huge portion of my life, even within work is based around my family. Like I’ve always been asked why I don’t because like, like everybody, or I would assume most people you get offered or hear about positions or opportunities. And I’ve had a fair share, I don’t know. I’ve had a couple of things and every time it comes up, and usually as that conversation changes, it becomes, well, why didn’t you investigate that further and like, well, the whole point of me owning a business is not necessarily because I want to work for myself or I want to deal with the headaches of that. It’s so that like this Thursday, I can make sure that my schedule is 100% clear. So I can take the kids skiing, because we only have so much time to ski up here. That always becomes a bigger part of, at least in my life, my what my job looks like, I do my job so I can have the freedom to do what I either want or need to do with my family and whether it’s you know, helping my parents out with something, helping my sisters or doing something with my wife and my kids.
Bradford Benn 09:59
Not a bad thing. I do think it is a hard question. Like you said, I know I, I did a whole bunch of soul searching when I got laid off last year, thanks to a pandemic of what do I want to do? And very similar reasons for why I decided to start my own company. I want to have fun. It can be seen by my attitude at times, but I also want to be able to go, you know, like you’re taking the kids skiing on Thursday, Jennifer and I are going to the Tampa Zoo on Thursday. Why? Because she starts a new job next week.
Matt Scott 10:38
Oh, congratulations, Jennifer.
Bradford Benn 10:48
Same thing of the, I can take this off. And, you know, I know you and I have talked about it of the false urgency of now of being a business owner of everyone thinks they can call you at nine o’clock at night, and you’re just there. And I’m like, nope, my phone has an off button.
Matt Scott 11:13
I will say, as a small business owner, that is by far the hardest trick to crack, is to even just bring yourself to it, like I looked at today, and had, essentially two originally scheduled things. Plus, of course, this and had two other things come up. And in the last thing before this, we discovered an additional issue that had to be dealt with, somewhat urgently. Iit’s that being there, and knowing that, you kind of have to handle that, you can’t pawn that off. It’s, it’s everyone looks at, when you are in charge of yourself, I guess, about how awesome it must be. And it is, at times
Matt Scott 12:24
But it is it’s those moments of its knowing that you have the freedom to go to the zoo, because you want to, and you can schedule it. But also knowing that there may be that day where you just have to deal with something. And there’s no option to not deal with something, there’s no one to go above and say, Hey, you know, it’s knowing that that buck stops with you, is entertaining and challenging all at the same time. And it gets even more complicated when you have employees. And you know that, there’s going to be that moment where it’s like, if we don’t sell this job, I’m not getting paid, because I got to pay my people. And those are the those are the really entertaining sides of running a business. And if all you’ve ever done is be self-employed. I’m not I’m not being negative on that one. But it is different when you’re self-employed versus when you have employees. You know, we’re both in those situations. Those are tough. And those make life a little bit more entertaining.
Bradford Benn 13:47
Yeah, I think, you know, since we both are AVNation, peoples, We were hiring Tim as our first full time employee. It changed a lot of the decisions we were making.
Matt Scott 14:01
Oh god it went from and don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun. Or Yeah, it was still fun, even when we made that that shift. But you know, you want to talk about the rubber hitting the road. Yeah. It’s all fun and games until all of a sudden, somebody relies on you. And especially like, my wife relies on me, the kids rely on me. The if we had a pet, the pet relied on me to buy food for the pet. So the pet could eat. That’s one thing, but their family. Right? So it’s like, you take that on knowing that’s how it works It’s part of the deal. But when you have employees, especially when you hire that first one, and Gosh, I remember that day. You bring them on and in Instantly you go to, you know, we got to provide for this individual and go holy crap we got to provide for this individual. And then your brain starts going and you go, if we don’t provide for this individual, they don’t eat. They don’t have heat. They can’t put gas in their vehicle. Oh, crap.
Bradford Benn 15:46
Well, yeah. But like I said, when we started this, this is that’s kind of what I want to have is you and I always have fun on a podcast, especially when I’m taking over Tim’s show. And you’re just taking me on.
Matt Scott 16:01
those are the best ones to be on. Yeah, like, This is fun. Don’t get me wrong.
Bradford Benn 16:04
But this is a long form conversation, because I think that’s an important thing. Because now, you know, our listener, both of them will now know more about you and realize, you know, a little more about me and kind of the stuff that I think in social media, and in today’s lack of going out and hanging out with people at trade shows gets lost, but also, just, I like having the conversation. I’m loving people listening. And yeah, we got a little heavy, but it wasn’t planned.
Matt Scott 16:44
It just happened. And yeah, I would agree. And I thank you for doing a long form. Because I know having now hosted ResiWeek for like 260 something episodes?
Bradford Benn 17:01
Yeah, like five years.
Matt Scott 17:02
Yeah, like it’s crazy. There are many times because we try to stick to that 30 minute format, right? And there are many times where we’ll jump into something. And it I don’t wanna say you could talk for three hours, but you probably could.
Bradford Benn 17:19
Well, you and I did it. When it was you me and uncle Richie.
Matt Scott 17:23
Yeah. Yeah, it was, gosh, 55 minutes. Yeah. And we really just scratched the surface of it. And sure, you know, was there. Was there just some fun banter back and forth that times Yeah. But you know, I think it’s, I think that’s something that’s lost, especially in the industry of there’s not enough conversate there is so much derisive noise that is camouflaged as conversation and you see it on Twitter a ton. There’s lots of back and forth, then there’s a ton of I’m going to defend my position here is my stake my flag on planting over whatever piece of technology thing you want to discuss. But it’s the longer conversations that make sense. You can’t understand where someone comes from. in 140 or 240 characters, or your missive you post on Facebook, which is why I try not to post missive on Facebook.
Bradford Benn 18:43
I don’t have Facebook. It was hard, but it was like Yeah, because I don’t know what’s going on with a lot of my friends now. Yeah. And people will have call and go Hey, what’s going on? I’ll just check out what’s going on Facebook. I don’t have IFacebook.
Matt Scott 19:02
It It is it is odd how connected we are yet disconnected. If that makes sense.
Bradford Benn 19:12
Yeah, it’s kind of superficial.
Matt Scott 19:14
Which we always knew. We always knew that social media was like that. And, you know, gosh, Instagram is one of those. Now I’m really sounding like a middle aged white guy.
Bradford Benn 19:32
I’m fully with you. And I’ve, I’ve worked at theme parks where people complain because garbage cans have been moved, and it changes the Instagram photo.
Matt Scott 19:58
I will say We were at, I’ve never been so disappointed with the social media life, if you will, then we were down for my father in law’s funeral in late October, and we’re down in Florida. And we had one day where we could do something with the kids so we went to the beach. And we’re down in Delray, go to the beach and we were leaving the beach after being there for a couple hours to go to burger fi maybe, to go get shakes and fries for the kids, and as we’re walking up the beach, and going through the little path through the mangroves, as you come around the corner, there’s these two, probably 14 year old girls, and they have their phone up on the little railing piece. And they’re doing some Tic Toc thing. And completely oblivious to everyone trying to walk past them, ourselves included, to get either to the beach or off the beach. And it’s like, again, I don’t feel I’m that old until that moment comes up. And it’s like, Where are your parents?
Bradford Benn 21:16
But um, you know, I’m I’m gonna get the the Joe Way. retweet on this was we’re gonna name drop on hi but the fact that he had the house fire and how fast and we all kind of go, hey let’s help.
Matt Scott 21:37
That’s the flip. You watch you watch that outpouring you watch the support for, you know, a random person on Twitter who posts something that was, you know, hard to post. Yeah. And you see the encouraging messages, you see stuff. Like, I know, even myself, I’ll, and I don’t post a ton on anything, really. But I’ll have random people reach out like, Hey, I haven’t heard from you while you’re doing okay. Which we are not like you have my cell number, you can send me a text and say something like that. Or we can have a conversation. But there’s people that I’ve met a handful of times who don’t have my direct number, who will reach out over Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or what have you. And that is the that is the plus side. We are friends because of Twitter.
Bradford Benn 22:38
I agree. It’s a plus side. But I’ll also say, it’s freaked me out on occasion, when I’ve been in a trade show. And people have come up and started talking to me, like they know me, and they’ve met me because of how much I’ve posted on Twitter or done on AVNation and stuff. Yeah. And while that’s nice, it kind of makes you take that pause of the what’s the difference between someone you know, online, and a real person? And is that a problem now that not everyone understands? Just because you follow me, doesn’t mean we’re friends.
Matt Scott 23:18
And also doesn’t mean you know me. I’ve had people come up to me, and I’m not sure. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I’ll say it anyways. I’ve had people come up to me, and, you know, at a show and, and we chat for a few minutes. And as they’re walking away, like, you know, hey, I thought you were a jerk. Because of the way I see you act online or tease Tim. Right. And everybody loves Tim. So if you tease him and you don’t understand the relationship that Tim and I have, or you and I and Tim have, there’s a lot of we, we have a couple people that you know, you just you tease different people for whatever reason. It shocked me that somebody would come up who I didn’t know and had never met. Like, I thought you were like a huge jerk. Like me? I’m nothing if not polite. Bbecause I’m trying to make a joke out of it. Because it got awkward really fast. And they’re like, No, no, no, just everything I see with you online. You just you seem like a jerk. It’s like, but do I? You start you start looking back and thinking about what you do. And, you know, wondering, am I teasing Joe Way too, too much. Am I teasing Kev too much? Am I teasing Tim too much.? Because that perception that persona is something that you don’t control. I think that’s the really, really tough part. Because I don’t think I’m a jerk and I don’t want to be a jerk. But maybe I am. I don’t know. Or at least it was through their eyes.
Bradford Benn 25:15
I’m in the same boat. There are people who think I’m a jerk and a pompous person. I know, for me, at least it’s changed what I posted how often I post and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. But I’ve also seen people take online way too seriously and some of this stuff gets a little out of hand. I’m not gonna come to this argument, just because you invited me, doesn’t mean I’m going to show up.
Matt Scott 26:03
So we have a rule in in omega. Where if we have to have a dare I say, a confrontation with a client. Right? Or if we’re dealing with a specific issue, we are not having that conversation over phone. Or likely in person, we are doing that conversation over email. Because I want it documented. We’ve been in too many situations where someone was upset and they said stop something or they approve something, to take it to the other end. And then all of a sudden, they’ve forgotten that they approved said thing so when the bill showed up; It was I remember that. And even though we had it documented, and we had a signature, and we had all this stuff, it was so loose, in that, you know, move this that over here, sign, right, that they all of a sudden wanted to debate it or if they were unhappy with the bill it was we’re definitely debating that that thing. So we went to a position where all of a sudden, everything we do in that realm has to be signed off via email. Or you have to get an actual like, we’re not handwriting a change order. We will handwrite it, we will then send you a digital copy. Yeah, a produced change order that you must sign in and return before anything happens.
Bradford Benn 27:36
It’s like I’ve kind of been joking for 20 plus years. If it’s not in writing, did it really happen? Everyone is likepictures or it didn’t happen. I’m like, text or it didn’t happen. Not in writing. It didn’t happen.
Matt Scott 27:51
I somewhat long for the time where a handshake meant something.. Again, I’m really old.
Bradford Benn 28:08
I did an entire attraction on a handshake is a change order to a design built and installed. I used to get change orders like make this room sound better, not to exceed $1,600.
Matt Scott 28:28
I miss those times.. But at the same time, I get why it’s changed for multiple reasons. But the hardest thing with even you know, doing those conversations over email or having debates online, is that nobody gets context. Right? There’s no, there’s no context. There’s no visual cues. There’s none of the typical things that if you and I were hanging out in a hotel lobby, at infoComm, teasing each other or teasing Tim, for example. Anyone who was there in that circle, or sitting around the table, would totally understand that we are joking.
Bradford Benn 29:23
Because we are all laughing together.
Matt Scott 29:25
Yeah, we’re all laughing together .No one is laughing at anyone.. But online, you don’t. You don’t see that. I’ve used this example a couple of times and hopefully he won’t mind but I tease Kev a lot. And I was harassing him one day over something online and I had someone DM me, who I know peripherally, and they were calling me out for my outrageous behavior over teasing Kev. I instantly apologize to them that they were offended at that. And so I am sorry. I’ll lay off I guess it had to explain that. You know, Kevin, I are friends and well, we are teasing each other online. He’s teasing me about Toni Braxton. I’m teasing him about his shoes. We have a backdoor conversation through the about the jokes we’re telling and it’s not a big deal. But on the outside, not knowing myself or Kev, they thought we had taken it too far. So hey, I applaud them for, you know, thinking it went too far in trying to call me out on it. But that’s the downside, or one of the downsides of social.
Bradford Benn 31:03
I agree with you. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to you. And it also I think, is one of the things a lot of people have learned through this pandemic, is like you and I, and Tim, and a lot of these podcast recordings, we do as video, and you’re very few people watch the videos, I’m not complaining, Ingest it in the media, you feel best. But if you and I weren’t able to see each other, some of the pauses would be cut off the body language and all of that stuff. Twitter not having that, or Facebook not having that real time feedback, because it’s the half duplex conversation with a huge time lag. Yeah, it’s like, you know, trying to talk to the Mars Rover, you can send a message to Percy, but he’s not going to answer for another 14 minutes. Having that and understanding that is a huge issue.
Matt Scott 32:08
It’s the same as your typical debate over whatever it is, it doesn’t matter whether it’s politics, whether it’s personal, whether it’s technology, it doesn’t matter. When you when debating was quote unquote, debating, it was trying to answer what you said. So if you and I are going to debate, canon versus Nikon a true debate would be me, listening to your comments on canon, for example, and then trying to refute them what you just said with information about Nikon and why that’s different. But especially with social it’s, I’m just for the most part waiting for you to finish. So I can then respond with whatever I want to say. And it it continually reminds me of because we’ll see debates over AV over IP or AV as a Service or whatever thing you want to throw in there in our in our Twitter work world. But it’s just noise back and forth most of the time. There’s not a Point CounterPoint.
Bradford Benn 33:24
I don’t know anyone who’s ever had their mind changed by Twitter.
This is where we ended to go to Part Two.