Tim Marcinowski knows how to build a community-centric business; he grew up in one and learned from the best: his father. In this episode of the One Away Show, he illustrates how growing up under his father’s wing sparked his passion for business and innovation.
Early on, these experiences helped Tim Marcinowski establish the guiding principles imbued in the heart of his business and his life. As the Founder and CEO of YetiCloud, Tim is pursuing the ambitious goal of making IT service desks obsolete by leveraging cutting-edge technology.
A Navy veteran and Capital One alum, Tim Marcinowski has a multifaceted background that offers him a unique perspective to stay sharp and competitive in the field.
Words of Wisdom from Tim Marcinowski
A Spark During Youth That Ignited Tim Marcinowski‘s Path Forward
In a time before the dot com boom and the first iPhone release, the legitimacy of a career in technology was shrouded in doubt. Growing up around his family’s business, the only one in town with its own computer, showed Tim firsthand the power of automation to make manual processes a thing of the past.
Embracing new computing capabilities, even in the face of risk or uncertainty, is how to leave competitors in the dust.
One Person’s Power to Inspire Pathfinding
As a small business owner and father of four, Tim’s father did it all and then some. Watching him as a leader at the helm of his town’s local video store while it faced down the monopoly that was Blockbuster at the time, Tim was indelibly inspired by his father’s tenacity and drive. He provided Tim with endless encouragement through every stage of life.
From teenage growing pains to joining the Navy and beyond, forging a new career in his civilian life, Tim Marcinowski’s father was always there for him. His support made Tim feel like he truly belonged, and his pride assured him that his ideas were worthwhile.
Staying True to Yourself in Moments of Severe Doubt
In a time where only traditional career paths were considered acceptable, Tim Marcinowski’s dad was his sole cheerleader. He encouraged him to pursue a career in IT, which was considered a risky move before the dot com era.
In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, doubt and stereotypes abounded around the value of personal computers. Despite his elders’ common fears that spending all his time on a computer would turn him into a “bum,” Tim Marcinowski used this emerging new technology for so much more than video games.
Tim Marcinowski (along with e-sports millionaires everywhere!) proved the doubters wrong. Now, his business is changing the entire landscape of the IT sector in never-before-seen ways.
Top 5 Takeaways From Tim Marcinowski
- In the face of skepticism and even scorn, never doubt yourself or your vision
- Look for ways to innovate beyond what all your competitors are doing, rather than sticking to the status quo
- A principle to never forget: “What good is having things if you don’t share them with your friends?”
- The best advice for younger people: be ready to commit for at least 10 years to the thing you’re most passionate about
- Tim is the most real and genuine person I’ve ever met, and those are the traits I strive to emulate the most
How Tim Marcinowski Turned a Life-long Vision Into a Reality
A prestigious career spanning both the military and prestigious corporations in the private sector equipped Tim Marcinowski with an extensive array of skills and unmatched perspective.
The work ethic his strict father instilled in his son paid dividends. With a finger on the beating pulse of the most critical corporate IT needs, he’s come to realize that heavy hitters in the business sector don’t care how their help desk resolves issues; they want them fixed — and fast.
How better to serve that need than with his company’s groundbreaking solution to do so in real-time?
Tim Marcinowski’s proudest moment wasn’t one of his numerous big career wins or accolades, but rather buying his parents a new house during his 20’s. The people who gave him all they had to give were the first he repaid when he started to gain traction.
Above all else, Tim Marcinowski prizes his strong values and sense of purpose, which he is sure to pass on to the next generation.
I’ve felt a strong connection to Tim Marcinowski based on our shared values since the moment we met in DC, and my admiration for him has only grown as we’ve gotten to known each other. Our conversation illuminates how Tim’s upbringing instilled the values and visions that shaped his path. Check out the episode here and read the transcript below to follow along!
BRYAN WISH: Welcome to The One Away Show. I’m here with Tim Marcinowski, the founder and CEO of YetiCloud. Tim is a software engineer who recently left Capital One’s Tech Fellow program to make IT service desks nonexistent. Tim has over 10 years’ experience in large scale operations, product, and open source communities. Before founding YetiCloud, he worked for Puppet, Finra, and the U.S. Navy.
We’re going to dive into your One Away experiences. For you, that person that we’re going to discuss today is your father. I’d love to know a little bit about your father and how he has supported some of the decisions that have defined you.
TIM MARCINOWSKI: My father, most of his life, was an entrepreneur where we had our family video store. When I was growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, before Blockbuster hit our home town, we had a couple of video stores and I got to grow up interacting with customers. My dad hadn’t been a highly successful entrepreneur but a local business owner that I really respected growing up. He was a very tough father, having raised four sons, and I was pretty much smack dab in the middle. I know how frustrating it must have been to raise us while running the business; my mom also worked a second job. The main reason I respect him so much was because growing up, there was a lot of negativity around IT. There were so many paths I could have gone forward with in my life to make something happen, and my father was my sole cheerleader and advocate for what I was doing at the time with IT. He helped with propelling me forward in the Navy and supported me after the Navy in dealing with a lot of different applications and infrastructure for many different companies. He’s always been there for me, from going through the growing pains as a teenager and my early adulthood.
BRYAN WISH: Did your father push you down the path into the technical route? How much of technical components of working in a video story in your early days motivate you to pursue new experiences?
TIM MARCINOWSKI: During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, our business, which was called Fast Forward Video, was one of the only ones in our county that actually had a computer. We used it instead of regular bookkeeping and accounting on paper. When people took out rentals, most stores essentially used little Paper Mate cards or some other archaic tracking system. Being one of the first computer owners in our county for running our business, was my introduction to interacting with MS-DOS and early Microsoft technologies. We used to use the big 5 ¼ floppy disks. That’s where technology started out for me; in the video store. I used to play Wheel of Fortune on our company computer.
BRYAN WISH: Something I’ve often seen is that a lot of people fall into who they are during their trajectories. I think I’m so passionate about storytelling because I grew up writing journals when my mom had me in therapy from a divorce. Today, a big part of my work is helping people craft that. It’s neat how that work with your father launched you into what you’re doing now and put you in your path. You said, in some of the notes before the call, that when nobody else really cared or supported you in what you wanted to do, your father did. I’m curious, what did your dad do that made you feel so supported, that you belonged, and that your ideas were worthwhile?
TIM MARCINOWSKI: This was before the .com era, so most people didn’t understand what a personal computer really was or the power behind it. Oftentimes, other family members or friends saw I was spending a lot of time on the computer, so they thought I was just playing video games. The common refrain was “Hey, isn’t Tim going to grow up to be a bum if he keeps playing with computers?” The same argument was made for video games, and now a lot of E-sports players are millionaires. There was just a lack of understanding in the time period before the .com boom. A lot of parents and other people couldn’t imagine that you could create a lucrative business or make an income just writing software for computers or helping people fix or maintain them. In the late 80s and early 90s, nobody really understood how big personal computing would become. Most people were still using Apple II computers. The full potential didn’t become clear until the iPhone was first released, and Steve Jobs gave his famous keynote.
BRYAN WISH: Are there any vivid stories or memories where your father came and said, “Tim, I am fully behind what you’re doing” or “I’m extremely proud of you?” What moments do you remember where you felt you could be completely safe around your dad to pursue the things in your life you’re closest to?
TIM MARCINOWSKI: Growing up, my father always supported me, but he was still very tough. He wasn’t right off the boat like our grandparents, but I saw his Polish and German heritage emerge when he was very strict and had hoarding tendencies. In the environment he grew up in, you never knew what was going to happen. He was a very tough father. The moment for me when I knew he 110% supported me and was proud of me, was when I got my first offer letter outside of the Navy for working at General Dynamics. At the time, I had gotten an offer there for 65K which is a huge deal for back home when the average household income is 28K in a small, Polish town. After seeing me coming from playing with computers to doing my four years in the Navy with IT and engineering resources, my father was thrilled to see me now landing my first job two months outside the Navy making 65K a year. It was that proud son moment, and even though he said “I wasn’t the greatest father and always there,” the amount of support he gave me was enough to get me to the point in my life. That was a big moment for me, and I think also for him, too.
BRYAN WISH: It’s this consumption in the video store pushed you down the technical route and it enabled you to buy the first house for your parents. What did that moment feel like? Beyond your parents being proud, what did that feel like for you?
TIM MARCINOWSKI: It gave me a sense of freedom. I had always told myself, “What good is having things if you don’t share them with your friends?” A friend once told me that and I’ve always applied that to my life after the age of 23. It made me reflect and really think about my parents gave me as much as they could growing up. How can I give back? My mission to give back in my 20s. At the time, my mom had a house that was okay, but it was falling apart and it held a lot of old, bad memories. Purchasing my parents a new house really gave me the sense of freedom that I can go and do anything from now on. I felt like I kind of cleared my conscious. I felt bad my parents gave me everything and I hadn’t given them anything back. That was my give-back.
BRYAN WISH: I’m not there yet in my personal career, but I know the feeling of what it’s like when parents support you after going your own way for a while. It’s the greatest feeling in the world and what it can catapult you to do after. You mentioned this moment where you bought your parents a house. It completely changed maybe what you thought was possible for yourself. What’s gone on internally, inside your own mind, that this moment has brought to you in a sense that “I can go take on this next thing” or “I can go achieve this?” What’s that been like for you since you were able to purchase their home?
TIM MARCINOWSKI: Some days I wake up and I’m feeling I’m ready to go get it and other times, it’s like, “Hey, in my life, I’ve done all these things and I provided for my family, it’s time for me to also relax.” There’s that internal struggle, with this particular venture, to stay motivated. I think every founder has a small sense of that trouble, but over the last year and a half, it took me the first six months to just really tell myself, “Hey, you need to take this seriously. I know you just bought your parents a house and I know you want to start this venture, but you can’t give up just because you fulfilled this lifelong goal. Now it’s time to double down and really make this venture something that’s long and lasting and can provide value to our customers.”
BRYAN WISH: What is that venture that this experience pushed you towards leaving your job at Capital One to do?
TIM MARCINOWSKI: As with most technical founders, we often get really obsessed and really crazed about the problem we’re trying to solve. When I was at Capital One and even before that, working at a market leader as a vendor who offered IT automation solutions, I realized that there wasn’t enough vendors or products out there solving these core problems. Why do companies’ infrastructure and applications go down constantly? How can they invest so much money in the tools and technology and people and not necessarily get the benefits out of those vendors or tools that solve their core problems? Just solving that problem, for me, was enough to say, “Hey, I’ll put my personal capital to work and go and solve this problem. If we’re able to make new friends along the way and make a buck, that’s all great. If it doesn’t work out in 2-3 years then I had a really awesome story and I met a lot of great people and hopefully my next venture, we can do business with like-minds that we’ve either connected with or continue to connect with outside of our networks.”
BRYAN WISH: That is a good strategy. It’s something I relate with, from my first venture, and I think you’re well on your way. Not to go too deep on the business front, I think there’s something really interesting in your story. Let’s go back to the central moment of buying your parents house. I can do anything type of feeling. All of a sudden, it’s “I can do anything. I can start a business. I can build something that would be very successful.” In the process of that, you were let go from Capital One for making the decision. You were seen as a threat. What did that feel like? How did that process go down and do you regret anything along the way?
TIM MARCINOWSKI: One time being let go, that was actually for my first venture several years ago, not at Capital One. When you’re fired for coming off as somebody that could be competitive with a particular line of business or product or even a feature of a product, that’s kind of what really motivated me years ago to start my first venture. It was, “We’re obviously onto something.” My partners at the time and myself. It was like, “Let’s double down.” Obviously, these guys were scared of the progress and the company that we were creating. We were just like most people who leave their jobs who are either unhappy with their manager or their current workplace whether it’s the environment or culture. We wanted to build a better culture and environment for people. Unfortunately, we never came to be as big as the vision that we had, but we had to take that leap of faith and double down.
When I was fired, they said, “We love the work that you guys do. We’d love to keep you around, but you have to dissolve the business.” Why would we dissolve the business? We’re not even talking to their customers or in the same market segment. We’re not even targeting the same type of buyers or personas that they were. We were primarily focused on the SMB market which are usually underserved customers. We continued to just stick to our guns.
BRYAN WISH: There’s a lot of lessons in that, that pushed you in the face of resilience. Let’s go back to your father, the person who gave you a couple of valuable things that will be stuck with you for the rest of your life. Your dad taught you how to listen. You talk about this being a tool that is more valuable than many things that you have at your disposal. What made your father such a good listener and how did you adopt your own ability to listen into your life?
TIM MARCINOWSKI: My father didn’t have much to give supporting us growing up as far as financially. When I reflected, in my 20s, why my father was impactful to my work that I was doing and why it was so motivating, I really thought about how good of a listener he is. Everybody that would meet would talk, talk, talk or there’s always them trying to one-up or share a story. When you get in that cadence, you get used to it and you just put it off, but when you really reflect on the people that care, most of the time, they listen very deeply and they’re not saying, “Yeah” or “Okay” after every sentence. Some just listen and you can dump whatever on them. That’s such a valuable skill. I didn’t learn from that skill until I was probably about 24 or 25 when I stopped being as arrogant personally and started doing a lot of reflection on, “Hey, how can I be a better person?” Not just to myself but potential people that I’m either working with or employ. That’s a quality that has stuck with me ever since. I listen. I try to deploy listening every day and I constantly remind myself, “Hey, stop talking. Just listen.”
BRYAN WISH: One of the things, when I first met you, was we just connected. We connected over community and people and bringing people together, but there was a vibe about you that it was easy to connect to you because there was this nurturing kind of listening component to who you were. It doesn’t come across as aggressive. You can be the biggest hustler in the world and have the greatest ambitions but if you don’t have emotional tact to how you come across, it can be a turnoff. It kind of smells really t thick and heavy and people don’t want to be around it. That characteristic about you is very appealing and something I really admire about you. Men, in business, not trying to stereotype, but that’s not too common you find that.
TTIM MARCINOWSKI: There’s definitely a lot of people who try to push, push forward. I get it. You can get a far away pushing forward and you get a far away talking people’s ears off. It’s to a certain point where people don’t want to pull the trigger on why would they want to do a transaction with you? Why would they want to build a long-lasting relationship with you? For example, why would they want to spend time at the beach together with both of your families? There’s a certain point where you can’t build a relationship by pushing forward and by talking your way in or out of a situation. It really comes down to, would you want to work with this person or do you look at this person as somebody that could potentially be your boss and respect? That kind of comes to listening. At the end of the day, we all want to be heard. The people that want to talk the most are usually people that are either underserved or they don’t have somebody who can sit there and listen. It goes a long way.
BRYAN WISH: Your father taught you so much. He gave you the hope for yourself and confidence to pursue the things that you have done. What’s some defining experiences about this person that maybe you look back at the way you were raised or how you grew up and say, “If my dad didn’t do blank, I wouldn’t be blank.”
TIMTIM MARCINOWSKI: I’d definitely say if my father wasn’t as hard on me. I’m not saying hard as in pushing me forward with my goals but hard on me as making sure I stay committed with myself. What I mean by with myself is when I’m talking about what I want to do, when I’m in the 9thgrade, and it’s easy for a parent to say, “Yeah, that sounds great. You should go do that.” My father wouldn’t even say that. He was very silent. It was very, “Sounds good. I’m here if you need me. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” That’s very powerful. If I didn’t have that type of tone and type of “let me figure it out on my own. Don’t push me too hard, but keep myself accountable for what I’m saying” is very powerful. If I didn’t have that, I probably would have said 1,000 things that I wanted to do in life and never stuck with one thing. Or it would have been a jack of all trades and taken me a lot longer to figure out who I am or the passion in my life that I found solving these problems for organizations.
BRYAN WISH: My mom was similar. She always supported me with what I wanted to do. She didn’t push me too hard to go do it, but she found the resources to help me get there. That is motivating because you don’t feel this, “You’re not going to be good enough for your parents.” You just feel you have parents behind you. Part of being a kid and growing up is you want to please, at least I did, because they’re giving you an opportunity and you want to make the most of that. It’s really neat that your dad was able to create that environment for you because I’m sure, in the professional setting, personal setting if you have kids down the road, you’re going to instill some of those same qualities into how you raise a kid or how you manage a team. That’s really neat and haven’t heard it put like that.
If you can give advice to someone in their mid-20s or kids in high school in how to foster a relationship with someone they look up to and to develop a more long-term relationship, what would you give them advice to go do? How would you suggest they start that conversation?
TIM MARCINOWSKI: That’s a tough question for me. I typically don’t like giving advice just because most people like to self-discover a thing for them. Everybody is different in a sense of what really works for them. There’s a lot of formulas and a lot of tricks, but the biggest thing I can say, especially to someone younger, is if there’s one thing you’re passionate about – it could be something as stupid as collecting model trains. Something that people make fun of you for or people look at you different. I’d say, whatever that thing you’re passionate about, you should double down and stick with it. Stick with it for more than 10 years. Anything of value that you build personally typically comes from building something from over 10 years. Over a decade that you spend nurturing something and seeing it come to life and sticking with it and not giving up because somebody says something or somebody thinks it’s stupid or it doesn’t fit in the world in how it works today, just stick with it. Don’t spend your time trying to demystify it for them either. They don’t get it, that’s fine. Let them move on. There will be a time in your life where you’ll find that this group of people or people who believe in what you’re doing will want to get behind you. That only happens if you commit, make it something, and invest the time over 10 years whether it’s a career path, a hobby, or even a side hustle that you’re doing. People can tell right away if you’re serious or if you’re committed to something. If you’re really passionate and you show up, people want to work with you whether or not the promised solution matches. People just still want to be around you and feed off your energy because a lot of times people miss those opportunities in life and they’re looking to work with you because you have that energy and focus and determination for the thing that somebody at one time called stupid or didn’t quite understand it. That’s my advice to somebody younger. Be ready to commit for 10 plus years to something you’re very passionate about.
BRYAN WISH: They say when you’re talking to someone and you get goosebumps, that’s how I feel. When we’re creating content that creates goosebumps, it’s not just doing it for you and me. It’s doing it for the people who are going to listen and take part in this audio/video experience. Where can people find you? What’s the one liner for why a corporation should use YetiCloud? How should someone reach out to you?
TIM MARCINOWSKI: I have an office here at Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia. I’m typically here half the week if I’m not grabbing coffee or lunch with somebody. I spend most of my time on LinkedIn rather than other social platforms, just because the people I want to work with and connect with are typically on LinkedIn. For companies who are looking to work with us, especially larger enterprises, at the end of the day, they don’t care how their IT problems get fixed. They only care that they do get fixed, and right away. We’re the only solution on the market today that addresses those complexities and issues in real-time. Hopefully, we can prevent these outages before they happen but if not, at least we can fix them as soon as possible. Any company that believes in that, we should definitely talk and work together.
BRYAN WISH: That’s Tim Marcinowski, the guy who has been behind computer technology for more than two decades. If you’ve been listening, this guy has what it takes to make it happen. Thank you for being so raw, vulnerable, and real with us, Tim. I appreciate who you are as a person above all else and admire what you’re building.
TTIM MARCINOWSKI: I really appreciate you taking the time to hear my story. Check out Bryan’s content in the coming weeks. Great stuff.