Working Geek: How a Marine Corps credo drives Audian CEO Brandon Bazemore

Brandon Bazemore, CEO and founder of the telecom company Audian, on vacation with his wife, Sandi, and daughters Isla (left) and Noelle. Bazemore now also has a third daughter, Eli. (Photo courtesy of Bazemore)

Brandon Bazemore joined the U.S. Marine Corps while in high school for two reasons: to pay for college and because they offered him the chance to learn more about engineering and math. Bazemore, who is now the CEO and founder of a telecom company called Audian, said the service delivered on those promises — but it also gave him something more.

Bazemore took to heart the Marine’s ethos that you “do what it takes” to get a job done. “You don’t have to be the hero,” he said. Rather you “figure out as a team how to get to the end.”

The strategy helped Bazemore start his first business, a financial company, with a group of friends when he was 25. They sold the business, which eventually folded, but that experience inspired the creation of Kirkland, Wash.-based Audian in 2013. Bazemore had been looking for telecom support for his company and couldn’t find what he needed at a reasonable price. So he decided to build it himself.

“With a lot of Googling and time, I got it figured out,” he said, using an open-source phone system. “We can do everything these hardware-based systems can do, but on a software-based system,” Bazemore said.

The Marine Corps philosophy is still in play at Audian, he said, where employees at every level will jump in to lend a hand when a customer needs service. And those values also helped him decide to have Audian become a sponsor for TeamsCode, a student-led software engineering program and contest in the Puget Sound area.

High school students themselves built TeamsCode, recruiting sponsors, planning events and inviting speakers and judges.

“The fact that these kids are doing that in high school, I’m sure jealous of it,” Bazemore said. “I think it’s great.”

We caught up with Bazemore for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

When Audian CEO Brandon Bazemore couldn’t find the telecom support that he needed, he launched his own company to build it. (Audian Photo)

Current location: Kirkland, Wash., just east of Seattle

Computer types: We are a Microsoft Partner, so for the most part we are a Windows 10 shop. That said, our dev team and I are all using Macs, but to really confuse things we use Microsoft Visual Studio on the Mac, which has really become an indispensable tool. Needless to say, with the changes Satya is making at Microsoft, the lines are becoming more blurred, and we love that.

Mobile devices: iPhone X Max. FaceTime, Find my iPhone and iMessage are just too compelling to move away from. Being able to reply to text messages from my computer saves me hours a month.

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Dashlane for password management between my devices is indispensable. We use Slack and Teams within different divisions and really enjoy both – threaded vs. non-threaded conversations is currently a hot topic here. We’ve used Odoo (an open-source ERP program) for years for everything from sales, to accounting, to inventory management and it has allowed us to scale and adapt our business amazingly well.

Bazemore in the office at Audian. (Audian Photo)

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? I have one large curved 34-inch Dell monitor on a hinged arm. I’ve got it set up to where it is pretty close to where I’m sitting. I noticed a few years back that when I had three or four monitors further away I’d get headaches from squinting, so having this new setup has allowed me to work much more comfortably. Also handy that I can easily move it out of the way for meetings or flip it around for impromptu demo sessions.

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? Use a calendar — and I mean really use it. Wake up in the morning, look at the calendar and do the math on whether you can make it all work. Don’t be afraid to rearrange meetings, and most importantly schedule time for yourself and your family. I use a different color and my wife also has shared access so she knows exactly what I’m doing and can add family events as needed. It was tough at first, but now we can’t live without it.

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? For work, LinkedIn is the best way to keep connected with colleagues, and learn about potential partners and people we are looking to hire. For personal we use Instagram — less talk, more pictures!

With strategic use of his calendar, Bazemore carves out time for the slopes with his daughter Isla. (Photo courtesy of Bazemore)

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? Zero! I’m obsessive about keeping my inbox as close to zero emails as possible. I use my inbox as my “master list” of things I need to do and it keeps me focused.

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 27, although four of those are birthdays. This has been a busy week and most aren’t nearly as busy. I’m a big proponent of not getting too scheduled in which doesn’t leave time to interact with my team.

How do you run meetings? I actually do my best not to run the meetings and love to give my department heads that task instead. I find it is good practice for them, and keeps the meetings more intentional as they are required to prep prior. If I’m running the meeting I like to have a prepared “CPR” which is my Context, my Purpose and a list of Results I’m looking to see.

Everyday work uniform? T-shirt and jeans — this is Seattle after all!

How do you make time for family? I feel that more important than making time is to be very engaged with the time I do have. I spend one or two days a week away from home, so when I am home I do my best to be completely focused on them. It is amazing how easily your kids can tell if you aren’t paying attention to them, and how much of a difference it makes in their behavior.

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? I’m an avid skier and love to be outdoors. At night or when I get a quick second alone at home I love to play music (drums/piano/guitar), which gets me into a creative frame of mind.

Bazemore meeting with Audian Chief Operating Officer Janae Smith. (Audian Photo)

What are you listening to? I’m all over the board on this one. I’m a huge fan of The Classic Crime and Foo Fighters, but I also listen to a lot of Beethoven, John Powell, Hans Zimmer and John Williams. Big fan of listening to movie scores while I work — nothing beats the feeling that you’re being chased around by a T. Rex to get you past a deadline.

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? I love The New York Times Daily Briefing that gets emailed daily. I get a good sense of where the world is at in a 10-minute read.

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey A. Moore

Night owl or early riser? Naturally a night owl, and if left alone I’d probably be up all night when I’m most productive. In actuality, once the kids are asleep I’m generally in bed around 11:30. I wake up without fail between 7:02 and 7:06 when one of the kids comes crashing into the room.

Where do you get your best ideas? Driving and while talking to peers. I’m in several peer groups where I’m fortunate enough to spend focused time each month and these have been invaluable in growing my business and myself personally.

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? I don’t think I’ve got anyone in particular, but I’d love to be better about creating routines and being methodical about those.

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