Blair Tolbard is the Co-Founder, Principal and CEO of MiCORE Solutions, a dynamic and innovative company providing IT consulting and management services in the Washington, D.C. area.
With over 30 years of information technology experience, Blair brings passion and leadership to MiCORE Solutions. Blair’s forte is building and nurturing highly effective teams. He prides himself on creating relationships that have enabled him to deliver consistent results throughout his career. He has held positions at Oracle Corporation and IBM, where his experience included sales, sales management, executive management and general management.
Blair is a graduate of Penn State University, where he earned a Bachelors degree in Computer Science and Marketing. When he’s not working on MiCORE, he enjoys riding his Harley and traveling with his wife, Sharon. To date his greatest accomplishment is helping to raise 2 creative, well-balanced and contributing children into adulthood.
Prior to his career in the information technology sector, Blair proudly served in the United States Navy from 1975-1979 as a member of the Atlantic Fleet aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher.
What are you working on right now?
MiCORE’s focus is on the Oracle Technology solution set. Right now I am focused on growing our remote managed services offerings, which is to say, remotely managing and optimizing Oracle databases for companies of varying size and industries while nurturing a nascent government services business line.
Where did the idea for MiCORE Solutions come from?
Kent Kofman and I worked together for years at Oracle. Together we helped create the install base of Oracle products we service today. We spent years talking about starting our own company, and now here we are. We knew our individual skills and styles were very complementary. We knew we could attract top-level talent based and we believed the market needed an alternative to Oracle consulting. Thus, the premise for MiCORE Solutions was developed.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day in the office involves a lot of time listening to ideas and issues and promoting a dialog with my team. Communication is key to our business. Our goal is to operate in a state of continuous improvement. It always helps to resolve our roadblocks and refine our strategy through collaboration. We have built our company around having experts in a variety of disciplines and find that the different perspectives make for bright and energetic discussions.
I really enjoy going on calls and visiting current and potential clients, so that is a big part of my routine. Relationships matter here, both internal and external, and I like being in the middle.
Operationally, I’m immersed in coordinating the financial aspects of our company. We started and built a successful business in the worst economy our country has seen since the Great Depression. Our financial stability and growth can be attributed to careful planning, tough decisions that I have made with Kent, our fellow stakeholders and advisors and executing flawlessly.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I listen to my business partner, Kent, who is a creative fellow. He has a keen eye for seeing the gaps in solutions offered to prospects and customers by us and other firms. Typically he will say something like, “I noticed that…and I think if we …” From there we sit down, map out the opportunity, then build the MiCORE solution that leverages the resources we have invested in.
3 trends that excite you?
Hmmmm. Tough one. I find the world we live in fascinating. If I have to narrow it down to 3 then I’d have to say:
- The dramatic impact of broad-based affordable access by just about anyone anywhere to information that can change his/her life and the lives of those around him/her. I’m amazed by what has happened in the Middle East this year.
- The rush toward finding alternative energy sources. It seems like the world is getting behind the idea of using fewer fossil fuels. It is great to see so much creative talent spending their personal energy on developing viable solutions.
- The increase in personal freedoms and the desire of people to be free. It is exciting for me to see people stand up for themselves.
What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The summer of my sophomore year in high school I worked at a leather tannery. As background, you need to know that leather hides are actually painted to make the leather the color a particular customer requests. The paint arrives at the tannery in 55-gallon steel drums which, when empty, need to be cleaned inside and out in preparation for the trip back to the paint vendor for reuse. My job was to lean inside the drum that was partially filled with acetone and, using a brush, scrub the paint residue from the drum interior surfaces. If you have ever worked around acetone you know it is extremely smelly, caustic and just down right nasty. To avoid permanent brain damage, I was required to wear a gas mask. Tough work but a great experience. My take away from that summer was that I couldn’t expect things to be handed to me in life. If I wanted to be the boss and have an impact then I needed to pay my dues, work hard and differentiate myself.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’d let my inner entrepreneur take control earlier in life. The good news is that I am loyal. The bad news is that I tend to care about people and jobs more than others. I have no regrets but I should have spent less time at the large corporations and more time starting companies.
What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?
Without a doubt it has to be picking the right business partner. I say over and over again that MiCORE has realized success because my business partner is everything I am not and vice versa. Starting and running a company is tough. You need to be 100% compatible to succeed.
Tell us a secret…
I like to read … a lot. My favorite genre is science fiction. I think I have read every book in print.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Don’t go down with the ship. Patch the breach and set a new course. It is tempting to fully execute the plan as written without deviation. We have changed what MiCORE stands for several times since we started the company. Ideas are just ideas, the execution of the idea is where the money is.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. It reminds us that life isn’t all about the individual but about the way we treat others.
If you weren’t working on MiCORE, what would you be doing?
I would be volunteering more and traveling more.
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Five minutes ago–watching my son’s dog Remy just being herself.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Steven Hawking, the famous theoretical physicist.
What would you tell people interested in entrepreneurship?
The same thing a good friend and mentor told me, “Don’t do it! Stay where you are. UNLESS you are ready to work harder than you ever have, be more frustrated than you have ever been, handle more issues than you can ever imagine and be more satisfied than you thought possible.” This was from a man who worked at IBM for 30 years, retired and started a company in his mid-50s. It was the first of 3 he would start–and at age 76 he is the president of a 4-year old information security startup.
Why are you successful?
The secret sauce for me has been trying new things early in life, figuring out what I am good at and then working like hell to be the best. Starting at the age of 8, I delivered groceries, stocked shelves at a food store, cleaned store rooms, delivered newspapers, mowed lawns, pumped gas, worked at a tannery, did body work at a car dealership, painted fire trucks, shoveled asphalt to build driveways, cleaned car interiors at a car wash and joined the Navy – all before I was 19 years old. Turns out my strength is understanding how systems and processes work. I have been very good at surrounding myself with the best people who are also really good at those processes.
Company site: www.micoresolutions.com
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.