Superhero, Kel Videll, celebrated his third year with Smart Dolphins IT Solutions on January 9, 2022
“Heroes are made by the path that they choose, not by the powers they are graced with.” — Ironman
Kel Videll, is one of Smart Dolphins IT Solutions own marvels. He is faster than a speeding ticket, more powerful than a local modem and leaps stalled bufferings in a single bound.
The path he chose may have led him to Smart Dolphins, but like many things in a superhero’s world, stuff happens fast.
Smart Dolphins hires for fit first, then technical aptitude second.
Asked about his start with Smart Dolphins, three years ago, he responded, “[it was with] absolute trepidation.”
“From finding the job listing, perusing the SD website, and applying directly, it was fast. Then, to the interviews, to the offer and the acceptance, it was all within the scope of about one business week, a little less if memory serves.”
The Videll advantage
Kel fit in right away. Yet, he had never worked in a bona-fide IT situation before and possessed no formal education in it — he just happened to grow up in the right place, and at the right time.
However, he shares, “[growing up] technology was like a brother to me.”
He knows it well, understands the nuances and can see problems coming before they arise — which for those who remember the prime time smash sitcom, M*A*S*H, his superpower is a little Radar O’Reilly-like — Radar was a superhero, wasn’t he?
This Spidey sense of Kel’s gels well with Smart Dolphins proactive approach that governs all that the company does.
Kel simply possesses an innate feeling about Windows and other products, which is very powerful here. And not so paradoxically, all his experience is “garage-honed.”
His father Glen was a systems engineer for a satellite monitoring firm and “a tinkerer of all definitions.” Meaning, he tinkered with all manner of machine and electronics.
Regardless, Kel had no idea what he was getting into. He claims that he had no idea what a managed service provider was, which is spelt “MSP” for short. Smart Dolphins just happens to be a world-ranked MSP.
Kel also claims that he had no idea that the niche even existed — but it started making sense to him in rapid fashion; once he worked his way out of the unique education process that Smart Dolphins ascribes to.
Superheroes are superheroes for life, they are born into it. So, father Glen, now in his 70s continues down the technical path as a volunteer educator and curator at a computer history museum in Sacramento that will be opening soon.
Kel’s grandfather worked at the NASA AMES Research facility on a contract from the US Air Force in Mountain View, California as a Learjet technician.
In 1839, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “the apple does not fall far from the tree.”
So, as it turns out, Kel is deeply immersed in educating himself to get ready to lead the CloudRadial deployment for Smart Dolphins, “and our clients.” In the liminal spaces though, he continues to help the Support Team to keep the active ticket count down, helps with communication, and tackles any particularly sticky issues, should they arise.
Like Ross Speirs, he is a musician. Or Kel is re-aspiring-up to be a musician again.
“I played upright bass in an orchestra for four years or so, and I also like to noodle on an electric fretless bass. I am in the process of trying to select one to buy, then will be signing up for bass lessons.”
Asked who is or was on his musical-cultural play list he mentioned the likes of Oingo Boingo, Prince, Talking Heads, and The Chemical Brothers among others.
“These would be the defining inspirations in my youth that got me in to playing instruments.”
“More current would be Hey Steve, Janelle Monáe, The Hip (I’m trying to assimilate, damnit), Tool, Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples, JID and Boombox Cartel.”
“This is a big question. Music is, with zero uncertainty, the number one largest passion in my life, and with it, other cultural mediums.”
Kel’s love of the Tragically Hip — as an American who is not from Detroit — endears himself to his adopted Canada.
“I had been aware of them before immigrating and had them in some of my usual rotations. I don’t think I realized they were Canadian at the time (I didn’t really dig into that stuff when I was younger) so it was fun when I moved up here and suddenly it’s all over the place, and my mother-in-law is absolutely nuts about them. She cried all the way through Gord Downie’s fare-well concert.”
Superheroes humble brag and help others
Asked If he had a spare $250,000 USD laying around, which spaceship would he choose as his mission around the planet? Would he sign up for Jeff Bezo’s Shepard, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, or Elon Musk’s Starship and why?
“I don’t have high hopes for many of the planet’s current billionaires to do the right thing for the world on a global scale. But he’s at least shown up for, and tried to do his best, when it comes to actionable change. That said, I’d rather spend it locally, or in the community I grew up in, help in a more close-to-home sense.”
Superheroes don’t need spaceships anyway.
The practical benefit of garage learning
There was a case where a law firm who Smart Dolphins manages the IT for, had a unique issue with a laptop that left techs scratching their heads. At one point, the computer was unresponsive when the lawyer attempted to remotely connect from home to work. Things were getting serious.
“I looked at the ticket one day while clearing the Dispatch Portal and thought that something else is wrong here.”
“In my call center days, we had a phrase, “Trust but Verify” essentially, we trusted our clients that something is wrong, but we were the experts, so it behooved us to verify the root cause of the issue.”
“So, I decided to take on the challenge of this unique ticket and spend a bit of time looking through system logs. Luckily, lawyers, being officious as they are, we had a long list of timestamps that the client provided with times when they had noted the issue. After some digging, I discovered the issue wasn’t anything to do with what appeared to be the problem. We created a temporary solution, ordered another computer, set it up, deployed it and all is good — but it was quite baffling.”
On meeting clients
“A great moment for me was meeting a client of ours, “Shelly” at a not-for-profit service and having the opportunity to gab with her about video games.”
“She and I — even though there is a bit of an age difference — fell in love with gaming around the same time and we were both immersed into the same video games: Diablo 2 and Half-Life 2. The stories of these games captured us and made us realize that a game can be just as much of a storyteller as any book or film. It was also at that moment that I realized how much of a connection is possible with our clients as IT is. It’s not just a user on the other end — these are real people with real needs, trying to do something great for our community in whatever facet that is. And it’s not to say that I didn’t realize this in my previous retail or experience, but this was more personal. I get to spend a lot more time with our clients here at SD than I ever did before, and the fact that our culture can mesh so well is what allows that. It’s a unique situation to be in, and I’m delighted by it just about every day I come to work.”
Asked where does he see himself when he is 64? You know, older, losing his hair, many years from now.
“I’m just over half-way there! I’ve always struggled to answer questions like these — looking back, things change so rapidly given pretty much any level of resolution, it doesn’t seem to matter what slice of my life I pick — I can always see some growth and development,” he shared.
Reads a little like Dr. Octopus who famously said, “Intelligence is a privilege, and it needs to be used for the greater good of people.”
“I would like to think that I’ll still be involved with community building, and teaching people about culture, experiencing cultures I’m less familiar with, and helping those closest to me thrive. There’s so much languish around us, it seems like no time has ever been riper (in my lifetime) to help those around me stand as tall as they can, and hopefully in doing so, I can do the same for myself.”