Monday, June 24, 2024

Member Profile: Bryant Harrison of Seventh Wall

Q: Where did you grow up and tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Atlanta GA, but moved to the sleepy Northern Neck of Virginia when I was 7 years old. This move gained me and my older brother, two new stepbrothers and a stepfather! My stepfather was a jolly sort of drill sergeant. He WAS actually a drill sergeant. But this was helpful with 4 boys.

I did well in high school and went to UVA as a Rodman Engineering Scholar. Given this new freedom, I made the very best of it by not going to class and failing almost every class my first semester. I decided to re-evaluate my decision-making paradigm…

Soon afterwards, I finally found a job I excelled at. I was a camp counselor at a YMCA summer camp. I quickly rose to the level of teen leader… then camp director… then to the Branch director of a newly minted branch of the YMCA in Northumberland County. I even reported to a board of directors! FANCY! This job taught me so many things that I’m not sure how else I’d have learned them. Tools of communication that I still use today with the Seventh Wall team.

I decided to go back to UVA to finish my degree. I got 3 years in and got busy fixing people’s computers for extra cash. I hired a guy… then another guy… then found myself with a tech company. That wasn’t intentional. I was supposed to be a cognitive scientist specializing in AI. WTF??!!

That all brings us to today! I have 5 grown kids and 1 still in school and I currently have good relationships with all 6 of them, so that is a blessing indeed! Also, I enjoy my work and love spending time with my supportive family, kind friends, and exciting fiancée!!

Q: Who inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

A: What a great question. My Dad. Not my drill-sergeant stepdad, but my birth-dad. He was a serial entrepreneur and amazingly supportive of any of my efforts. Also, he didn’t have a risk averse bone in his body. He’d try anything regardless of the consequences. This trait has pros and cons, as you might imagine. 🙃

Q: Please tell us about your journey to become a CEO.

A: Well, I was broke and trying to pay off UVA when my dad said, “Well why don’t you fix people’s computers, you’re always fixing mine.” I gave it a try and was amazingly successful. I was kind and patient with people and, as it turns out, being able to fix a computer problem is only half the equation.  Communication, caring, diligence, and responsiveness are the other half. Also, to be fair, in 2004 you could change someone’s wallpaper and they thought you were a computer god!  🤣

I got busy and hired a guy to help… then another. Eventually A client came to me and said, “My home computers work better than my business computers, can you help me with my business too?” I agreed and ended up hiring business engineers to help scale the business. Now we are a full-service Managed IT and Cybersecurity company that is ALL ABOUT that human element. When you call us, the phone will ring maybe 2 times before you get to talk to a real person.

Q: How are you promoting leadership development at Seventh Wall?

A: It starts from the time they apply. At the first interview, we tell them that almost no one that started in a position at Seventh Wall has stayed there. Our director of finance used to be our dispatcher! Our goal is to find the things people naturally LOVE to do and help them move in that direction. Empowering people to articulate what they want, and then outlining a path for them to get what they want, usually helps bring out the leader in them.  

Q: Are you working on any new business ideas?

A: Yes! You know when your IT security team says, “We’ve done all these great things, and you should be totally safe!”  Now we no longer use “should”.  We can say, for sure, what would happen if ransomware got into your business because of our new Simulated Attack Service. It’s amazing. This simulated attack uses malware programs that have had their teeth removed. So, instead of ‘biting’ they generate a report showing what they could get access to. It’s mind-blowing and can sometimes pay for itself with cyber insurance savings so yeah… I’m excited by this. 

Q: Are there any national/business authors that you follow? What is it about them or their message that resonates with you? 


Simon Sinek

  • Business leaders today need to create a culture for their teams. It’s not just about pay anymore.

Alan Watts

  • Gosh, what do I say? Alan Watts got me through my divorce. I feel like he is the closest to the ‘truth’ that exists out there in the world.  

Q: When you are not leading Seventh Wall, what do you like to do? 

A: I like tons of stuff!  I love good food and dining experiences. I love to spend time with people who are life-learners. I just have such good conversations with these types of people. I love board sports like snowboarding, kiteboarding, and skateboarding. I like building things too. My work is so very virtual, fixing plumbing or electrical, building a shed or chicken coop is just soothing for me.

Q: You’ve been championing connecting events in Charlottesville for our members and other CEOs. Why do you think it’s so important to connect socially?

A: For tens of thousands of years, we lived in small communities that supported each other. Only very recently has this changed in society. But people haven’t changed. They need community. At Seventh Wall, every person on the team could work from home every day and we could get rid of our office space. Yet, people come to work every day. After work, they hang out at the office and watch a few YouTube videos while having an after-work drink or maybe tell some jokes or play darts. Learning to enjoy life and work isn’t just something that’d be “nice to have”. It’s CRITICAL for humanity. 

The types of CEOs that come to the Charlottesville events are the lifelong learners that I described above. They are thoughtful, fun-loving people who are trying their best and seem to genuinely want good things for their families and their teams and value connections with others. It’s good for these types of people to spend time together. I also plan the Cville meetups because I want to hang out with fun people and do fun things 😁.

Q: Tell us how you are involved in the community.

A: When my kids were little, I did the “dad with young kids” thing and was a Cub scout leader and planned kid parties and attended sporting events and generally took them all over the place. Now that my kids are mainly grown (only 1 of the 6 is still in high school), I have so much more free time. I think I’m rediscovering my place in the community and that much of my efforts to plan these CEO hang-out times is part of that journey. I’m certainly having a blast!

Q: You’ve been a member for 3 years. How have you grown as a CEO? 

A: It’s been a superb journey. To sum it up. I’m now looking at appointing a company president to run the whole thing on my behalf. This would get me completely out-of-the-weeds and let me focus on the thing I do best: Being an evangelist for the Seventh Wall mission and vision of helping business owners build a culture of calm for themselves and their teams.

Posted by Aida Pehlic at 4:07 pm

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