Zina Hassel is the founder and CEO of ZLH Enterprises. With over 35 years of experience in the industry, Zina is a true expert in her field. She is also the author of the book "My Armadillo Skin - How I Made It As A Woman in the Field of Telecom".

ZLH Enterprises began as a telecommunications business solutions provider more than two decades ago and has since transformed into a technology consultancy dedicated to assisting small, medium, and enterprise customers in navigating the continuous disruption in the technology industries. 

Zina Hassel was inspired to write the book "My Armadillo Skin" by her experiences in the telecommunications industry, which has long been male-dominated. In the book, she shares a lifetime of experiences watching men rise in the ranks and how she vowed never to be left behind. She wanted to provide a rare roadmap to the C-suite for other women in the industry who may be facing similar challenges.  The book is a light and quick read, and Zina Hassel is open, honest, and to the point. 

=== Links for this podcast

ZLH Enterprises Website: https://www.zlhent.com/

My Armadillo Skin: How I Made It as a Woman in the Field of Tech:  https://amzn.to/3VyGDzG

Keeper Security Joins Pax8: https://tinyurl.com/4d252zz5

Splashtop Partners with Pax8 : https://tinyurl.com/2k23km2e

A Million Bees Swarm Interstate after Florida  Man crashes: https://tinyurl.com/mucpsvne

=== Pax8Beyond: https://www.pax8beyond.com/

June 11-13 at the Gaylord Rockies Hotel in Denver Colorado

"One Community, Infinite Innovation"

The conference will feature keynote speakers, including NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Peyton Manning. 

Tickets on sale for $499. 

=== Techcon Unplugged 2023: https://techconunplugged.com/

September 7-10 at the Delta Hotels in Woodbridge, NJ. 

Tickets on sale for $299.

=== Show Information

Website: https://www.itbusinesspodcast.com/

Host: Marvin Bee

=== Show Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor: NetAlly - https://www.netally.com/

Live Show Partner: Computers Done Right - https://computersdoneright.com/

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=== Support the Show

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One-Time Donation: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/unclemarv


A Florida Woman in Studio

00:00 Marvin Bee Hello friends, Uncle Marv here with a special edition of the IT Business Podcast. Welcome to the show. I have an in-studio guest with me today.

00:25 Zina Hassel Zina Hassel from ZLH Enterprises, a fellow Floridian. Zina, how are you? Oh, I'm very good. I am very happy to finally have met Uncle Marv. You've met me. I met you. Yes, when I came down here, but everybody said you have to go on the podcast. You have to see Marvin.

00:49 Marvin Bee So I'm very happy to see you, Marvin. Well, since you are a Florida woman, I guess it would make sense.

00:56 Zina Hassel And you live, what is it, about nine miles from me? No, it's a little more than that. It was more than that. Okay.

01:04 Marvin Bee Yeah, it was about 20 miles, I think. I have a client that lives off Coral Ridge Drive, which is about nine miles. So you're on Parkland, which is the other side of Saugriff.

01:14 Zina Hassel Right. That's a large street.

01:16 Marvin Bee I have to tell people Florida is a large state. We have large streets. Yes, it is. And no matter where I go, it always takes me onto the same highway. Yeah. Well, I mean, there's only really, what, three?

01:31 Zina Hassel Well, four, if you count the turnpike. My car loves the Sawgrass. It doesn't matter where I am. My car will point itself to the Sawgrass. If I have to go south, it will take me north to get onto the Sawgrass.

01:48 Marvin Bee I don't know why, but it does. Because you live in that weird little space called Parkland.

01:52 Zina Hassel Yes, yes. But it's a very nice, weird little space. But it is very weird.

01:59 Marvin Bee Some of the things, you made me look some stuff up and I was like, whoa. So Zina and I, just to give everybody a little bit of background.

02:11 Zina Hassel Well, first, let me go with the thought that you finally did the migration to Florida as most people who are from the Canadian, New York, New Jersey area do. Right. But it took us 18, about 18 years to figure it out. Because we've had a house down here for that long. Really? But two years ago, we flocked down here with the migration. Right. And you are fully fledged Floridian residents? Absolutely. Thank you. Yes, we are.

02:47 Marvin Bee And my family has been here for years as well. All right.

02:52 Zina Hassel But you still maintain offices. Well, we cover the New York metropolitan area. So we do have the corporate offices still in New Jersey. And that's where many of our people sit. And we do have one person that sits in New York as well. But yeah, the corporate office remained in New Jersey. All right. But you had to come to Florida. I had to start getting away from where it was a little bit too chilly, too long. I have no idea what you're talking about. So you got the chilliness in here because you got the air conditioning. We have that.

03:36 Marvin Bee Yeah, but it's going to heat up. It's going to heat up because I had to turn it off, which is why we have the fans blowing in this studio. My husband would love you with fans all over everything. So folks, as I mentioned, a very special live edition. Zina is here in studio. Had to do it. And it is a continuation of my Florida theme. So all April and all May, the goal is to have somebody representing the state of Florida on the show or here in office. So Zina was very gracious in coming to the office. Now it was a drive. So thank you very much. You're very welcome. Let me go ahead and get some of the commercial stuff out of the way. This is the IT business podcast presented by NetAlly, your number one ally in the industry, providing handheld network testing solutions. Basically, they help you simplify network testing and deliver actionable insights to ensure optimal performance and keep your business running smoothly. Our live show is presented by Computers Done Right, your one stop shop for all your computer data. The team of experienced professionals help with computer repair, virus removal, data recovery, and much more. Head over to ComputersDoneRight.com, your trusted IT partner. And as I mentioned, our newest partner, Instant House Call. If you are in need of remote support and you're not yet ready to jump up to the full fledged and stuff, Instant House Call will fit the bill. They do remote support software that's perfect for small businesses. They give you just about all the features that the big boys do supporting PC and Macs. They give you personalized branding. You can transfer files to unattended access, a whole bunch of stuff. And they also provide auto PC repair. So go over to InstantHouseCall.com. You can try it for 15 days with no obligation and best of all, no credit card required. Tell Cory that Uncle Marv sent you. He'll like that. All right. So Zina, I usually start off with some either some rants or some stories.

06:04 Zina Hassel I want to start off with a weird little story and see if you know about it. Oh, God. I know you've done your homework. You know how I know you've done your homework? Well, how? Because the picture that you posted is not the one that I sent you.

06:20 Marvin Bee And I swear to God, I was not flipping anybody the bird in that picture. There were two fingers up. So we'll do that later here. So I want to know if you've heard this. This was actually from a couple of weeks ago. It's not a Florida man story, but the owner of an MSP in the San Francisco area has been booked on suspicion of murder in connection with the stabbing death of cash app founder Bob Lee. Did you hear about that? Who didn't? Apparently I didn't. I was I missed it. So the San Francisco Police Department arrested Nima Momini. This was a couple of weeks ago. So whatever Thursday this was in Emeryville just outside of San Francisco, he owns a company called expand it. Oh, that part I didn't know. Yeah, that's what I didn't know. So yeah, they provide like field services. Are you going to give them a commercial? I want to find out what this dude was doing that he got to the point where he could stab the cash app owner and apparently they were friends. That's what they said that they knew that they must have known each other. So now a couple of weeks ago, so the site was down when I first went to look them up, the site is back up. So they expand it website and it is described as a group of local expert enterprise it professionals dedicated to providing solid, reliable and efficient technology solutions and cost effective support services to valued SMB and enterprise clients. So very interesting. So they actually it wasn't just that they said this person was they said an MSP owner. So that's very interesting. They tagged them. So very interesting story there. Let's see. I feel like I'm getting a social studies quiz.

08:26 Zina Hassel So they still call it that? I don't think they do. And they don't have recess either current events. No recess.

08:35 Marvin Bee You know, they don't have recess in schools. No, really? Haven't had that in years. They had rid of PE anything to keep people in shape there. So here's some news. You've heard of Pax8, right? Yes, I have. So Pax8, of course, they've got press releases going out all over the place. Apparently they won Best Place to Work by the Denver Business Journal again. So that was something. But here's another one. Keeper Security joins Pax8 to aid MSPs in mitigating password related cyber risk. So I got to get my glasses out because this is tiny print. So Pax8 is excited to have Keeper Security as a new vendor providing a distinct and innovative strategy for mitigating password related cybersecurity threats, said Ryan Walsh, chief strategy officer at Pax8. So Pax8 is, you know, they just acquired some other stuff. They just hired two new people. Rob Ray is now there. What else is Pax8 doing? They were doing something. Oh, Splashtop, company that I, so I sort of bashed them. I did. That wasn't good. So we had a gentleman from Splashtop on who was supposed to be expanding Splash 8 in the channel and then they let him go.

10:09 Zina Hassel And they said they weren't going to be doing anything more in the MSP space. Well that's interesting. Well come to find out they lied. I was going to say that's not necessarily true. Because Pax8.

10:18 Marvin Bee But people in this industry don't lie? No. Why would you do that? I don't know. So Splashtop is now added to the Pax8 marketplace, providing cost effective and powerful remote access support and endpoint monitoring and management solutions. So it's hard to explain. They got rid of the guy, but then they went up and partnered with Pax8. So I'd love to find out from Mr. Rob Ray. You know. You'll have to get him on the show. Yeah. Well I got him on. It would take me another year to get him on again. That guy is busy. So Pax8, busy, busy, busy.

10:59 Zina Hassel Now I'm going to be going to see Pax8 at their upcoming conference. Well good for you.

11:07 Marvin Bee It's not just me. No, no, no. There will be, I'm sure, hundreds of people. Yeah.

11:13 Zina Hassel Are you going? I am not.

11:16 Marvin Bee You are not? I am not going. So Pax8 Beyond is the conference.

11:19 SPEAKER_02 And you know what? I've got a little video commercial for us to tell you all about it. So sit back and enjoy. We've always defined ourselves by our ability to provide solutions. To do more with less. Build something from nothing. To make the unknown known. But we've only just begun. And we must never forget that our greatest accomplishment cannot be behind us. Because our destiny lies beyond. All right. So Pax8 Beyond, June 11th through the 13th. I have my ticket. I have my ticket. I have my ticket. I have my ticket.

12:21 Marvin Bee I have my ticket. I have my ticket. I have my ticket. And I have reached out and confirmed that Mike Wise should try to be available to hang out with me. So if you are in the Denver area, reach out and let me know. If you are going to the conference, reach out and let me know. We might have a little Uncle Marv after party somewhere and see how that goes. So Denver, I'm traveling west of the Mississippi. All right, Zina, back to Florida. Okay. So why don't we first explain to people, because most people are just going to assume you're a managed service provider. I am not. And you're not. So first of all, let's get that out of the way.

13:10 Zina Hassel Explain to people what your company is and what you do. So in a nutshell, we are carrier agnostic consultants. We work with and collaborate with many MSPs in the industry. We work with businesses. A lot of the companies we work with are in the SMB space. And we evaluate what their technology requirements are, whether it be for VoIP or network services, SD-WAN, security, awareness training. We do not provide semen sock. We help people migrate to the cloud, whether it's private or public. But we don't do it. We act as facilitators, helping customers.

14:00 Marvin Bee We're sort of like a matchmaker and a facilitator. Interesting.

14:06 Zina Hassel How did you get started with that? Well, my background is back in the early 2000s. 1970s, 80s. I worked for New York State and we did an evaluation and purchased the first PBX for the New York State Office of Mental Health. That got me interested in technology. From there, I went to a CPE company. And they were nationwide, did a lot of PBX installation, key system installation, infrastructure building. My position was corporate troubleshooter. And I ran the offices from South Jersey down to Maryland, Virginia. We did acquisitions and then I would go in and do asset disposal after we did the acquisitions because it didn't always work out well. So after the stint with the CPE company, I helped co-found a CLEC, which was a very boutique in New Jersey.

15:23 Marvin Bee And then after we sold that, my share in it didn't give me enough money to retire. So I started consulting and then wound up in the agency business. So you said a bunch of things that I'm sure the younger audience may not know. I'm sure they've heard of PBX but not the key systems and the CLEC and stuff like that.

15:49 Zina Hassel For the younger listeners out there, explain the origins of that. Okay, explain Lucy. Here we go. A PBX is a private branch of stage. It's a big phone system. A key system is a smaller phone system, usually 50 stations or below. Sometimes they went to about 100 stations. So you had the big telephone system is the PBX, the small phone system is the key system. And you had to be nice to anybody because you didn't know who the key system people knew because maybe they knew a PBX person. So it's very similar to the marketplace today. If you're in the SMB space like we are, we don't turn customers away just because they have five employees and they only need a coax circuit as opposed to a fiber circuit with a backup and SD-WAN device and all of that other nice stuff. CLEC. CLEC is a competitive local exchange carrier which is, AT&T actually is a CLEC in Verizon territory. Verizon is a CLEC in other territories. But a CLEC is somebody that basically, you folks know SpectraTel, New Verizon, MetTel,

17:20 Marvin Bee those are CLECs. Now, from the PBX and key systems, obviously back in the day, all on-prem. Oh yes. And were these now, let's see, so the old AT&T, Lucent, the big Mitel machines that hung on the wall, those we knew as PBXs, but is that about the size of the systems that

17:45 Zina Hassel you guys were dealing with? No, I mean you had, excuse me, you had the largest, you had some systems that took up the size of this room actually. Those were large, very large PBXs. But a key system could hang on the wall the same way that a PBX, KSU or a cabinet. Back in those days there were cabinets and the cabinets started like everything else in the computer industry getting smaller and smaller and smaller.

18:16 Marvin Bee Right. Okay. Then you co-founded a CLEC and then through thick and thin you now ended up getting into the master agency side of the business. So does this, I'm probably going to be treading water here. So does this put you in the…

18:34 Zina Hassel I'll kick you if you do. They can see that on the… No, they can't see. So does this put you in the Sanders, Telarus, TCG category? We are a much smaller version of those. We actually have relationships with a number of the, I think they call themselves TSDs, TS something. I call them master agents, that's what I always know them as. Okay. The proper political name has changed.

19:07 Marvin Bee I don't know what it is anymore. I just know that I call up somebody at Telarus who took over TCG as who I was with and that's where we get all of our stuff from, except for the few that we're direct with. Now, you work with MSPs like me. Yes. To resell internet?

19:29 Zina Hassel We don't resell. No? Nothing is written on our paper, excuse me, unless we have a consultant agreement. The only… What we do is we prepare, present, provision, and care for third party agreements. So the customer is always contracting with the carrier, not with us. Okay. Well, then how do you make money? The carriers pay us. How do you make money? Customers pay me. Okay. But in certain instances… Okay.

20:05 Marvin Bee Well, if I'm going through, it's like if I resell Comcast through Telarus, Telarus pays me. Okay. But Telarus doesn't pay you. They may. Oh, so you could work with them. I could. Or you could go direct.

20:20 Zina Hassel In some instances, I go direct. It depends on who the carrier is. Okay. In the instances where we don't have a direct relationship with the carrier because I don't

20:30 Marvin Bee want to carry two, 300 agreements that we put through different master agents. Okay. So, when I come to you and say, hey, I've got a customer that needs a Comcast fiber,

20:42 Zina Hassel can you help me? We could. Okay. And we would help. We would go to Comcast and get the contracts written. My folks go into the Comcast portal on coax orders. They write the orders on fiber. It's a different…

20:58 Marvin Bee Now, could I get paid by going to you and doing it? I get paid from you or from Comcast? You get paid from me. Okay. Well, not from me personally, but from my company. Okay. And if I want it now… And there are MSPs that are under our umbrella. Okay. Telarus, you might want to think about that. Give me a call.

21:22 Zina Hassel I may have a new… I'm in trouble. We do work with Telarus as well as a few other master agents.

21:33 Marvin Bee Okay. Now, obviously, you're in New York, New Jersey, and Florida, but I have to assume that you

21:40 Zina Hassel can work pretty much across the country, or do you have regions, or how does it work? No, we work internationally, actually. Internationally. Some of our largest customers are international. Okay. There are no boundaries. There are no territories. There are no restrictions because the field is just full of carriers that if a customer needs service outside of the domestic United States, that really is not a problem. We've put circuits in Europe.

22:13 Marvin Bee We've put circuits all over the place. Interesting.

22:17 Zina Hassel Now, obviously, we've got… I don't know what the right word to call it. A lot of our carriers have had some issues. No.

22:30 Marvin Bee I hadn't noticed that more than that. Were you talking financial? A little bankruptcy here, a little merger here that turned out not to be a merger, and all of that stuff.

22:43 Zina Hassel Do you keep on top of stuff like that? Oh, yeah. You have to. I mean, I like to know where my next check is coming from. Yes, you have to keep on top of that. Sometimes, though, we are as surprised as the next person. Yeah, that can happen. It has happened without naming names. There's at least one carrier that has canceled an agreement multiple times because of bankruptcies.

23:11 Marvin Bee I'll name a name. I won't. I will. Okay. Windstream. Oh, my. Who are they? So, Windstream used to be… God, who did they used to be? They used to be…

23:22 Zina Hassel They used to be Broadview Paytech. Paytech, USLEC. Oh, my God. That's going back many, many, many years. I mean, they weren't USLEC. They folded USLEC into them. Well, if you're talking about legacy Paytech, yes. I mean, legacy Windstream.

23:42 Marvin Bee Legacy Windstream was USLEC. Okay. I couldn't remember which is which. All I know is that I think it started out as USLEC, then became Paytech.

23:51 Zina Hassel Although, wait a minute. Some place in there was…

23:54 Marvin Bee And Paytech became Windstream? Broadview was in there, too. Okay. I don't think I dealt with the Broadview contract.

24:00 Zina Hassel Okay. Broadview is the office suite product. Oh, is it? Oh, yes, it is.

24:05 Marvin Bee Interesting. Oh, what happened to their all works?

24:09 Zina Hassel I never sold all works. I was never a fan of all works. I haven't heard of all works in many, many years. So, I'm going to guess, and I may be wrong, that all works was replaced by the office suite product. Office suite. Because that is the UCAS product. Yeah, that's what they're selling now. I've got 147 phones with one customer on the office suite. God bless. God bless. We have many customers on office suite. One of the folks in my office actually does a lot of configuring so that customers don't have to call in to any carrier.

24:59 Marvin Bee We do that in our offices for them. You do that for the clients? Mm-hmm. So, I just dealt with Grandstream. What's the name of their thing? So, a customer I just picked up. Grandstream is equipment. Well, yeah, it's the Grandstream, but it's Grandstream, UCAS, something. Some internet company is selling the phone system. They all do. And nobody knew how to, so the tech is gone, and we've come in, and we've got to learn the phone system. And I got into Portal before, and I figured out some things, but little things like you couldn't change the name on the phone or the extensions and that sort of stuff. So, I needed somebody to walk me through.

25:48 Zina Hassel And the gentleman at this company who started the company is still the owner, but is semi-retired and living in South Carolina had to call me because apparently nobody local could do it. So, wait a minute, they had a server on-prem? Yes. Okay, I don't do those. I would prefer not to either. I don't do those for that very reason. And we had that situation many years ago. One of our clients had 3CX systems, which were not cooperating. They don't have them anymore. Yeah, so I think that this is one of those that's probably all he's done for all these years, and it works. And I don't know when their agreement is up, but I will certainly be talking to them about changing. That would be a very good idea. And what we suggest oftentimes to clients when they're faced with, we do the cloud or do we do server with sub-trunks, and I'm sorry, a lot of the MSPs that are out there won't like this.

26:58 Marvin Bee When you do something like that, you're sort of almost locking yourself in to limited replacement vendors, depending on how the system is configured. Whereas if you're in a cloud-based system, you have more options, depending on which cloud-based system you go to. I have a feeling that because this customer is a single site, they don't care.

27:24 Zina Hassel It was probably the cheapest option. It's possible, but when it's time to replace the server, it's cheap. Probably not.

27:31 Marvin Bee So I'll call you and we'll sell them a new phone system. There you go. All right. Let's see here. So we've been talking Internet and phones and stuff, but you mentioned some other stuff that you consult with. What are some other types of projects that you would help either an MSP like me or your direct customers with?

27:56 Zina Hassel Well, we do bill auditing and we have recovered a lot of money over the years, seven figures. So you go into companies and say, hey, let us see your bills and we'll find money that you're misappropriating? Well, those aren't the words that we use. It's not that it's been misappropriated. What we do is… What's wrong with that word? We tell them if we find money that you've been paying that you shouldn't have been paying, we call that a recovery and we take a recovery fee. It's completely contingency based. If we don't find anything, we don't charge anything. Oh, so kind of like those personal injury attorneys down here. No, we're not sleazy. You only pay if we win. And I'm not sure that I don't know if I can recall a time that we never found something. I think we have always found something. Okay, so in a sense, this is a company that's just so big that they just might be overspending and not know it. Correct. Or no one has looked at the bill and not that they haven't looked at the bill. What a lot of people do is they say, well, the bill has been the same, so it's got to be right. But the issue is maybe the bill was wrong the first time you looked at it. Okay. So if it was wrong the first time, it's going to continue to be wrong. Or you may be on an old plan. So we take a look at that as well. Now, is this only related to tech stuff or can you look at other bills and other accounts that they're using? Well, we limit ourselves to technology. But there are companies out there that will do utility bill auditing. We don't do the full bill audit. We have people that we can refer to for that. But we don't hold ourselves that as utility bill auditing.

30:04 Marvin Bee All right. So in terms of telecommunications and that sort of stuff, do you ever dig into like, do you look at an MSP bill and say you're overspending?

30:14 Zina Hassel Not. We have looked at MSP bills to see whether or not things are in line with industry average. Okay.

30:26 Marvin Bee We can look, however, at AWS and, you know, and Azure bills to see whether or not those are appropriate because there's a lot of money there. Well, that could get tricky. Well, you want to you want to be able to optimize those bills. True. Now, I don't sell AWS, but I've looked at selling it.

30:51 Zina Hassel That could be tricky because if you're just doing monthly or annual agreements, that's the one price. But I found that some MSPs have found a way to leverage those long term five year deals. Okay. Is. But have you ever looked at a bill where the usage far exceeds anybody's imagination? No, I haven't. I have no idea. You have bills like that that are out there. And there are companies that can help to optimize those charges.

31:22 Marvin Bee Okay. So when you say usage out, we'll have to come back to that. Okay. You want to go ahead and try to explain it to me because I'm just a little old MSP.

31:35 Zina Hassel Oh, no, you're not. So, you know, people will will will contract with the service and say, you know, here's how much my storage is going to be. Okay. But wait a minute. What happens if you want to pull down stuff? You have traffic going. Yeah, the ingress and egress. Right. Oh, they forgot to figure that one in. Oh, so that can get very expensive. Okay. So that I understand. Yes. What about maybe the over provisioned servers? Is that part of it as well? Anything. So, I mean, we work with partners that have particular expertise in that niche market. Okay.

32:22 Marvin Bee The other thing that we do is we have expense management and inventory system. That's why you looked at my room and said, do you?

32:32 Zina Hassel And I looked at your room and I said, oh, my God, who's doing your quarterly inventory? Lucky if I do it annually. That's how you pick up revenue. What's the matter with you? What eBay's for. But we'll so it's called a TAMS or a telecom expense management system. But within that, we can inventory what what parts lines are used for, what a circuit is used for. We we can put IP addressing. So if you have a multi located account and they want to know what do I have at that location, they can go in and they can take a look at what that is. Why am I paying for 16 IPs when I'm only using one? That system is not looking at that. Okay. But we all know that that everybody is paying for more. I should say everybody. I never use the word ever. Never. You just just did. I just I just retracted that. Okay.

33:39 Marvin Bee I don't edit, by the way. So that's quite all right.

33:42 Zina Hassel I know that we're live, but you know that many people out there order more IPs than they need. Yes. Just in case. Yeah, you never know. That's right. Now, you mentioned pot lines. Yes. Now I know that I've got a client that their vendor is trying really hard to get them off because apparently pots lines are going away. Hots lines are not going away. Copper is going away. Okay. There's a big difference. And I had one customer a couple of months ago called me in an absolute panic because one of their vendors had come to them and said, yeah, you have to you have to get this. You have to get that because your pots lines don't work anymore. And the guy flew into a panic because it was a commercial office building and the pots lines were servicing his elevators and his alarms. Right. And he called me and he said, oh my God, my pots lines don't work. And I said, well, why don't they work? Well, because so and so came and told me that they don't. I said, no, no, no, they work. Your particular pots lines are coming in over cable. Okay. So you have different flavors of pots lines. You can have analog lines coming over set because you put them through an ATA. You can have cellular lines. You can have all sorts of lines that give that same analog handoff that the copper gives when when Verizon or AT&T is coming into locations. I'll talk about Verizon because I know that very well. They'll put their Verizon on T box up and they have ports that come out of it. Oh my God, those are. That's lines. Okay. But they're not copper. But they'll still usually work only sometimes do they have an issue in terms of voltage that that that piece of machinery is looking for. So the way I understood it, that of course, they're not going to put any new copper in. No, they're usually not because they're retiring copper out of the central office. And if they retired the copper out of the central office, there is nothing for the copper at the premise to then connect to.

36:15 Marvin Bee And the copper at the premise gets it's an it's it's antiquated and it has been weathered over time. True. But I mean, are they literally ripping the copper out? Is that the retiring mean they're going to pull it out?

36:33 Zina Hassel Yeah. In favor of. Fiber fiber technology. Okay. Or cellular technology. So. Or coax technology.

36:43 Marvin Bee So I know that right now when we walk into phone rooms, there is still a lot of wires in those rooms. Who's going to pull all that out? Because nobody, nobody ever wants to pull it out. Why not? There's money in copper. I would do it if I knew that. But apparently you're not supposed to just rip stuff off the wall.

37:07 Zina Hassel You can't you can't mess with the telephone company. So there's 66 block. You're not supposed to touch, right? There you are. It depends which blocks you're talking about. If you if you're talking about the old terminal block, no, that that is the phone company. OK. But if you're talking about the block that you've extended it onto, it's your block. And then all the cable, all the wires connected to it. Well, you're not talking about the inside cable because you're still using copper. And so I mean, well, people really aren't using cat three cabling anymore. Could you pull that? Yes. Can you make money on that? Oh, for sure. Really?

37:47 Marvin Bee Make that make that note. My freaking pen. There it is. No, this isn't a pen. This is a ignite multifunction device. I don't know. So it's got the screwdrivers in there. But it was. It's I think there's a light somewhere. I don't know. I don't know. It stopped working. So OK. So cat three copper. We'll figure it out. I've got a phone guy that loves to make money.

38:15 Zina Hassel That's a great way to make money because as people are cleaning up their server rooms, where they're cleaning up, you know, all their backboards, they're pulling out their PVXs or the issues, which, by the way, a lot of people don't do. Why are you leaving it there? It's taking up real estate on the wall. Yeah.

38:35 Marvin Bee So I had a AT&T Lucent box sitting at a client in their kitchen behind the door. For years and not a good place, by the way. I just report and my phone guy is like, oh, do you think they'll sell that to me? I might sell it. Just take it. Yeah. Yeah.

39:00 Zina Hassel The parts are only gray market available. I mean, they stopped manufacturing that stuff 20 years ago. That's that's why he wanted it, because he said, I can't get this stuff anymore.

39:09 Marvin Bee And apparently he had several systems and they had four of those modules. Right. So line cards or station cards. Yeah.

39:20 Zina Hassel Cards, whatever. Yes.

39:22 Marvin Bee Big hunk of boxes that are plugged into the actual boxes. Yeah.

39:27 Zina Hassel Yeah. Well, I still have one of those in my office, actually in New Jersey. And we have I actually run my fax line through there. Yeah. And we use it for testing and I cannibalize it when people need ports. Oh, looky here. Say hi to Giles.

39:42 Marvin Bee And Giles is in the chat. Hi. All right. So well, at least we know there's one person listening. Well, I thought by mentioning at night, our friend Eric would pop in and say hello. He usually watches after his his show, but it's not. So all right, let's do one quick transition here and then we'll talk some other topics here. Conference that I will be attending and actually will be the emcee of this September. TechCon Unplugged. Are you ready to unplug? Are you ready to connect with the brightest minds in tech? Then join us for TechCon Unplugged 2023. From September 7th through the 10th, you'll have the chance to connect with a community of like minded tech professionals who share your passion and drive. Attend hands on workshops and breakout sessions to learn new skills and gain fresh perspectives. It's not just about the work. There's also plenty of time to unwind, relax and have fun with your fellow attendees. Acro says it's where the magic happens. Don't miss this incredible opportunity to unplug, recharge and take your tech career to the next level. Get your early bird tickets now at techon Unplugged dot com. All right, we're back. Little green room stuff here. So I'm going to have to clean up the recording. Hopefully I can do that. All right. So just checking the chat here to see if there's anything we want to talk about. But no. So let's talk about real quick. So, you know, we mentioned this is not the first time we've met in person, although you said it was. We met in Orlando. We did.

41:42 Zina Hassel For the first time in person at the exchange conference. And then we've seen each other often on in the Zoom rooms for ASCII. Yes, we have. So that's wonderful organization.

41:56 Marvin Bee Yeah. So how long have you been a part of ASCII? I can say maybe five years. Oh, that's it. Oh, I'm sorry. That's about how long I've been with them. No, that's it. Twenty. To find them. Twenty sixteen, I think is when I so seven years.

42:12 Zina Hassel Yeah, I didn't know that was a question. I didn't research it thoroughly. It's been several years, though, and it's a wonderful organization. And I like the people in it and everybody is usually welcoming. I just assumed you were one of the veterans, you know. No. No. OK. So if you didn't know them before, how did you find them? Well, actually, there was an ASCII event in New Jersey. There's one every year, isn't there? Well, yes, there is. But I didn't know that because I didn't know ASCII. And one of the suppliers asked if we would come and man the booth with them. Oh, and actually it was Comcast. Comcast. Yeah, we. Well, if anybody has problems with Comcast, we anybody we are everybody. Well, you know what? But sometimes they can be solved. OK. And we are a good friend to Comcast and we are able to solve a lot of Comcast issues. Now, there are some Comcast issues that we cannot solve, but things that are within a technical delivery sphere. You know, if it can be fixed, we fix it. If it can be done, we do it.

43:33 Marvin Bee Well, we got to talk because my audience knows that I am Comcastic. Because we have outages all the time. I think I found out what part of the reason is, even though I'm on a business street, we are connected to a residential area. We share the same Comcast. So it's not really business class, fast, reliable, as the commercial would say.

44:05 Zina Hassel Right. So what you need to do is you need to find out what the situation is with the node. And yeah, you don't want to know any of that stuff. But there are things at least to look into. Yeah. And perhaps it's resolvable.

44:20 Marvin Bee And I'm more than happy to help you. I would love to get fiber in here of some sort.

44:27 Zina Hassel OK. But I don't think this is one of those streets. Well, we can pull a map and see who's here. Light Path actually is making a play now. They followed me down. They followed you. No, I'm being sarcastic. I don't even know who Light Path is. Altis. They were Altis. They were part of Optimum, Suddenlink. OK, I've heard of Optimum. That whole crew. OK. So Light Path is the fiber part and they broke apart. And now they're a separate company and they are making a play in Florida now. OK. But you also have another one of your favorites, probably AT&T. AT&T has been here forever. So they've become competitive again. In certain instances, yes. And there are a number of different ways to purchase AT&T. You can purchase AT&T indirectly, sometimes for less money than AT&T. Yes, they're what is it? The ABF product has come in pretty handy for a couple of customers. I don't know what that means. I just know that it's fiber like speed. It's without the fiber like price. OK. Fios. Does that ring a bell? Yeah. OK, there you go. Is that who? It's the equivalent. Oh, I thought you were going to say it was a rebranded. It's like Lumen has their Lumen Plus product, which I mean, we install it when we need to. It takes a little bit to get it installed. But it's you know, that's the category that they were in. But they're non SLA products. OK, that's of course the big thing. Right. Need that SLA on those products. But right. And if you want to continue to talk in acronyms, what you really want is BAU. Like criminal minds. It's business. Oh, hi, Robin. But but business as usual, regular fiber, business class fiber. Oh, OK. But that's usually twice the price or three times the price. Those prices are also coming down to some degree. There is a race to the bottom with Internet services, which is why, you know, a lot of a lot of the companies are balking about it. Some companies have taken a position that there is a threshold that they won't go below. So they kind of pay those those bonuses and dividends at the end of the year. Yeah, OK. But then they just lower the stock price. Split the stock. Yeah.

47:21 Marvin Bee There's something else. Oh, my. So I want to get to one question here before we run out of time. We're going way off script here. But I did want to ask you about being a woman owned business. I have tried to make an effort to talk about diversity and equity in the tech industry. I've had some some female business owners on wanted to ask you. And there's going to be a little bit of a flavor to this question because you were up north and now you're down south.

47:52 Zina Hassel OK. And but I'm still a woman. It doesn't matter which state that I'm in. Up and down. Still a woman. So over the years, how has it been in our industry being a woman owned business? Oh, absolutely miserable. Yeah. But I you know, a number of years ago, actually, it's I've been with asking more than five years. And Robin Miller probably knows how long. Hi, Laurie. I did a little stem panel discussion for some high school girls. And I looked at those statistics from all of those years ago. And when I was at the exchange conference and I looked around the conference and actually in the room that we were in, the older woman that was in the room came to me and she said, Did you notice how few women are at this conference? And I said, yes, because my my eye just usually takes a visual head count of who's there. So years ago, women in tech or women in STEM were like 13 percent. And I don't think it's it's I don't think the bar has moved much from there. That's pretty good. That's pretty stinky. Well, I'm just saying compared to, you know, the blacks. Oh, well, and if you're a black woman, I guess you're in trouble. Yeah. But but no, but the you know, the point is that the needle has not moved. Young women still seem to be hesitant to come into the field. I don't know if it's intimidation or I don't want to look like a geek or I don't know what it is. I'm not a statistician or I don't go around doing, you know, all of those studies. I was at a conference the other day. There were about 25 people in the room. There were three women and one black. Oh, God, I don't remember. It's that's usually the way they were Hispanic people. Does that count? Well, it's probably 50 percent Hispanic down here. But but, you know, the the point is that there. I don't for for for women in in technology. I think it's terrible that we have to call it out and always call it out separately. Right. Hey, Adrian. And. You know, I would just like to be. Part of the, you know, we're all in technology. What's the difference if we're purple or black or brown or a woman or who who cares? But the point that we have to call it out tells you that there may be an issue of some sort. And then even within that statistic of women in technology, how many of those women or women business owners in technology?

51:11 Marvin Bee Well, that's that's what I was getting to more because I mean, there are women in our industry. A lot of them are geared towards sales and HR and marketing and stuff like that.

51:24 Zina Hassel But finding an actual female tech is rare. Finding a female tech business owner is I don't want to say rare. That's probably not the right word, because it's unusual. Right. And and in my particular instance, I am very happy to say it's even even rarer because I have a two generation because my daughter sits with me in the business. So I've that's my exit strategy. Will she continue on? Absolutely. She she she has ownership in the company. Well, she does. She does have to get her mommy, maybe a witch with a B.

52:09 Marvin Bee But I'm also fair. OK, we are not going. We are not going there. Oh, my goodness. All right. Well, oh, you have to read with Diana said we did. I put it up while you were talking there. OK. OK. Yeah. On the bright side, there's no line for the bathroom at conferences. That's like her go to line now.

52:35 Zina Hassel She's been saying that for the last two years. Oh, OK. I thought it was original. I thought it was really funny. All right. Well, it is that time. Oh, what I said. You did do anything.

52:52 Marvin Bee You actually did a lot because you were one of the few people that prepared for this segment, Florida man or random question. And you were sending me.

53:04 Zina Hassel What the hell is a Florida man? What is this? You've been here a couple of years now. You know, I never heard of it. I had to reach out to people. And then actually, when I sent you the first one, I was like, oh, God, it's like really morbid. So the second one. Yeah.

53:20 Marvin Bee And it's and it's tough for you because here's the thing. So you live in Parkland. Yes. Now you came after. Yes. The school shooting. Yeah. But it's prevalent again. They're they're still doing what are they doing?

53:35 Zina Hassel It's not a court. They're not in court right now, but they're doing they did. They did the whole sentencing. They did. OK.

53:40 Marvin Bee The sentencing. Yeah. So that is prevalent. But you did bring up the story that I was going to talk about. And I have another one, but we'll just do the one that you the third one you submitted, the second one. How many did you submit? Oh, I don't know. I was just like flying. I was I didn't want to get caught not doing my homework. But the title is A Million Bees Swarm Interstate After Florida Man Crashes Big Rig. So, of course, you know, we're always used to stories down here of, you know, accidents and truck spilling stuff. Beer, corn or whatever. But a truck in Florida spawned a swarm of a million bees after it broke its load following a collision on I-10. And for those that do not know, I-10 is at the north end of the state, basically going from Jacksonville to Tallahassee east to west. So a semi carrying the bees was traveling westbound in the early hours of Tuesday morning when it was hit by a big rig truck merging onto the highway. Following the crash, the trailer of the semi broke open, releasing its cargo out into the highway. But, of course, rather than simply spilling across the road, the bees on board swarmed the highway. So, yes, more than one million bees, one million bees were released into Duval County. And I think they had to call in just about every professional beekeeper around to wrangle the bees. I don't think it's all done yet. I think they're they're still missing some bees. I have not kept up with it. But you've heard that expression who let the dogs out. Who let the bees out. All right. And then, of course, I shared a non-Florida story earlier when I wanted to talk about the MSP owner because I thought that that was much more important to talk about than a Florida man story. Right. Of which there are tons of Florida stories.

55:52 Zina Hassel It's amazing. We have a lot of crazy stuff.

55:54 Marvin Bee We do. And just to show you how many I'm going to scroll to my phone here. What? How many crazy? And just when I do a search for Florida man. Let's see. Here's what came up today. Well, this is from yesterday. Florida man charged with throwing explosive at the Capitol riot. Now, Florida man for some reason was at the forefront of that missing Florida man found dead in San Francisco. Lake. Let's skip that one. Oh, Florida man 74 accused of grabbing flight attendant by the crotch. Well, it probably would have been more interesting if she grabbed him by the crotch. Don't you think it would have been. Let's see. Florida police charged Florida man with indecent liberties. Here's a great one. Florida man. And this is for Chad, my Canadian friend.

56:48 Zina Hassel Florida man doesn't remember taking alligator on his blacked out beer run. Oh, somehow I think I would have remembered that.

56:57 Marvin Bee But it's a good thing I don't drink beer. Yeah. So that is a story I'll link to that. Let's see.

57:04 Zina Hassel And who reclaims this Florida man designation Florida man accused of killing girlfriend. You know, we have something up in New Jersey. I think it's called Weird New Jersey. Yeah. And if you take a look at that, I mean, they have books and magazines on it. And one of the things is not too far from where my office is, which is the old Marlboro Psychiatric Center, and that closed down and the kids go and hang out and do all sorts of. So New Jersey has it too. I guess if you Google Weird New Jersey, you'll come up with stuff. Every state has it. Yes.

57:41 Marvin Bee I mean, there's stuff all the time. It's just the whole idea that Florida for some reason, you could literally Google Florida man and a date. And there will always be a story. That's how it came to be.

57:56 Zina Hassel Just like you can Google a date and somebody was born on that date.

58:00 Marvin Bee Yeah, that's that's different. Anybody can be born. Anybody can have a baby.

58:06 Zina Hassel You can't find a naked person riding on the top of a semi down the interstate every day. No, you can't. All right. Well, Zina, I want to say thank you for coming to hang out. Well, you are more than welcome. I can't believe I'm I'm finally here with Marv. You say that like it means something like you've arrived at the Dave Letterman show here at Studio B. Now, I was told you've got to go down and see more of you've got to see him. You've got OK, I'm here. Well, you know what you're going to remember is the feast. Yes, you have that very hospitable and Kim was very nice. Yes, which she does all the time. And there's dessert waiting for you. I'm on it.

58:53 Marvin Bee So we are going to go ahead and end off the show here, folks, before the food gets cold. And I want to say thank you to Zina Hassel for making the trip down here. Joining me for the show, continuing our focus on Florida for the IT business podcast. Folks head over to the website and catch any of the past shows. You can go back and replay this. And if you want to always be alerted when shows are released, audio and video, go to ITBusinessPodcast.com slash follow. Find your favorite podcatcher. We're on just about all of them. And you can listen to us on the go. Remember to sign up for Pax8 Beyond and for TechCon Unplugged. Links will be in the show notes and on the episode page. And we'll be back with an episode next week. Enjoy yourselves. What? You got to plug my book. Oh, your book. Oh, you forgot. Well, it wasn't in the notes. My Armadillo skin, how I made it as a woman in the field of telecom. It's available on Amazon. I'll get the link for that and put that in there. When did you write that, by the way?

01:00:06 Zina Hassel That was that was what I did over my covid vacation. It was like two years ago, officially. Right.

01:00:11 Marvin Bee Yes, two years. OK.

01:00:13 Zina Hassel And is it an easy read? Oh, it's very easy. Yes. Big pictures, big words, no pictures. No. I use the English language. I've been told that it's a very helpful book and it's an easy read. I think even my husband read it and he doesn't read books.

01:00:31 Marvin Bee All right. What was the name again? My Armadillo skin, how I made it as a woman in the field of telecom. Man should have plugged that right after I asked you about being a woman. Oh, who remembered? All right, folks, use my link. Go get the book on Amazon. That'll help support the show. And we'll see you next week. And until then, holla.

Zina HasselProfile Photo

Zina Hassel


Experienced business executive with more than thirty five years of high level positions in both the private and public sectors and 25+ years in technology consulting—woman owned business providing white glove consultancy and advocacy for businesses to technology carriers. Committed to excellence in customer experience, with a strong sense of business ethics and integrity, recipient of the 2019 LEAD award for Leadership from Association of Channel Women; 2019 Bronze Stevie Award for Woman of the Year, Business Services (American Business Awards); 2016 Telecom Channel 360 Award; 2007 AT&T Award for Best Customer Service; 2021 Gold Stevie Award for Entrepeneur of the Year (Telecommunications); 2021 Silver Stevie Award for Woman of the Year (Business Services Industries); 2021 Bronze Stevie Award for Best Business Book (“My Armadillo Skin – How I Made It As A Woman in the Field of Telecom”);2021 Executive of the Year Award from NJ Business and Industry Association; 2022 Channel Partners Technology Advisor 101 Honoree.