122. Idea – The Power Move Transcript


Tom: 00:00 

From an engineering perspective, we leave college and people think that “Well you’re an engineer, you know everything,” right? But you don’t. College teaches you to learn a mass amount of information in a short period of time. They teach you how to learn. They don’t teach you the codes and standards, a lot about the products. So we, as an industry, have to figure out how do we take that individual and teach them what they need to know and not wait for the on-the-job learning experience. Bring that on-the-job learning experience to them. 

Chris: 00:33 

Welcome to EECO Asks Why a podcast that dives into industrial manufacturing topics, spotlights the heroes that keep America running. I’m your host, Chris Grainger. And on this podcast, we do not cover the latest features and benefits of products that come to market, instead, we focus on advice and insight from the top minds of industry because people and ideas will be how America remains number one in manufacturing in the world. 

Welcome to eco S why today we have an idea conversation, and this is going to be a fun one. I called this the power move. We’re going to be correcting the industrial skills gap. And to have us walk through this conversation, we have Tom Domitrovich who is the Vice President of technical sales at Eaton. So welcome, Tom. 

Tom: 01:20 

Welcome. Thank you. I’m very happy to be here. 

Chris: 01:23 

We’re happy to have you, man. I’m very excited to have you. I’m so glad. You come highly recommended as well to connect with. So we’ve had a couple of our Eaton guests on here and they were like, man, you gotta talk to Tom. He’s got to go on, on, over there.

Tom: 01:36 

You don’t believe everything you hear, 

Chris: 01:40 

I’m really looking forward to this conversation because I feel like everyone that we talk to on EECO Asks Why, when we talk about the challenges and the industry it constantly comes up about the skills gap and trying to get people in these plants and in these manufacturing environments.

And so it’s definitely an exciting topic. I’m looking forward to it and the work you’re doing. It’s just amazing. And for our listeners, we’ll have all the links to Tom and what he’s doing, because I know you just do phenomenal videos and content that you’re putting out there and maybe start us off the, why do you think it’s so important to teach others about these topics and to raise that level of awareness?

Tom: 02:15 

Where I come from, from my perspective it’s all rooted in electrical safety. My end goal is a passion around safety, and I think it starts with an education, but I do like to share information and I like to create platforms and environments for that. And that’s sort of, you know, why I do what I do in regard to all of the videos that you’ve talked about, but yeah, I think it all has to have an end goal of increasing electrical safety. 

Chris: 02:40 

I hear ya. I mean, increasing safety and you’re pretty innovative with how you’re doing it and maybe share with us how you’ve gone about that because the virtual things that I’m seeing you do online are just amazing.

Tom: 02:51 

Well, I appreciate that. I’ll tell you what, usually I’m in the air. I usually travel about 85% of the time. And I’m either with customers or if I’m not with a customer, I try to do educational programs with organizations like the International Association of Electrical Inspectors was very involved with that organization.

And they have meetings and all that good stuff. So I would do a lot of traveling, but then when COVID hit. Here I was stuck in my basement in my house, I’m not allowed to go into work a lot, not a lot to get into a plane, not allowed to go to a hotel. I felt like if I didn’t do something, I was going to be disconnected.

And I’ll tell you, I learned a lot about how to share information on the web. I was doing first a what do they call those a WebEx? We used to do use WebEx. We’ve moved the teams and we’ve got zoom and all these different platforms. So I was learning that well, and when I did my very first program I had 950 people on a WebEx.

And you try to hold and mute people. We know, because what happens is, you have that one hot mic and then they’re talking and then they’re moving and you hear the clothing. And you’re like, “Aw man.” So I was playing whack-a-mole with that. And I had the concept that’s I wonder about YouTube. And I started to learn from kids who were streaming.

I found out that there’s a whole group of individuals out there that a game and they stream their games. You can learn how to do that. And it’s free. I mean the YouTube site, it was free. The software I was using was free and I had all the material. And then when I learned Chris was, there are a lot of people out there that have never seen my material.

I’m teaching on a national electrical code, safe work practices. And when I would travel, if I did a chapter meeting for the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, you pretty much saw the same people who were there. And I learned that there are a lot of people that sit in there at their jobs that aren’t allowed to go to those meetings because they’re on a job site and I don’t have time to record and edit. So I just say, “I’m going live.” I’m going out on a limb and and just share information. So that’s how it all got started. And I tell you what, I’ve created a lot of material over the year. And I’ve watched my first few videos again, embarrassing.

I could not believe I had 900 people who were actually watching that, but 

Chris: 05:15 

We have to learn, man. We all have to learn you know?

Tom: 05:17 

You know what, and that’s the thing. So you look at that and say, you have a lot of information that people are apparently are liking, right? Because I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback about not just, like the platform and whatnot. It’s the actual material, because it’s material that. It has grown over the years because whenever, you do an educational program and then someone comes up to you and says, “I like that but,” and then, and you listen to them and then you improve it or they’ll tell you their stories. And then you share those with others because we learned from each other, if you ever think that you can live in a vacuum and progress, that’s just the wrong attitude, especially with what we do.

Chris: 05:56 

Sure. So it sounds like a lot of your topics and the things that you’re talking about and that you are want to create. You’re taking that feedback directly from your audience and from your, the people that’s consuming it and your custom tailoring it a little bit? 

Tom: 06:09 

Yeah. So what happens is I’ll give you one example photovoltaics. So years ago I was driving from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And there was a whole bunch of us in a vehicle when I get a phone call and a guy says, “Hey, can you come up here to Michigan and do a program on photovoltaics?” And I’m like, “sure.” And he’s like, great. So I hung up and the guy sitting next to me, he goes, what do you know about PV? I’m like, “Not much right now, but he doesn’t need me for about another six months. So we’ve picked the date and I got six months to learn PV.” So I’m going to immerse myself in that topic I know enough to be dangerous. And then I called Dan Carnavale up at the experience center and I said, “Hey, Dan, what do you got going on PV?” and he’s “Well, we have a class coming here from Penn state. Why don’t you come on up?” 

So I sat in that class and then I found an electrical inspector and I started going on inspections with him on roofs and whatnot. And we were looking at, and he was teaching me. And then I just take all of that information. I go back to the house. I write it down. I take really good notes and I’m learning. And then what I do is I share what I’ve learned. And then I might have somebody in the audience who knows even more. And then I give that person, the platform. I’ll say, here’s what I know.

And does anybody else have any feedback and then you start to get the audience sharing their information and I’ll tell you what, there’s nothing better than hosting an educational. Platform where you’re teaching somebody and then you can sit down at the front of the class and watch another student who’s in the audience, stand up and share their experiences.

And then you watch the dialogue in the room. It is a magical moment because now. You’re not the teacher and that’s, the thing. I always tell people I’m not here to teach you something. I’m here to facilitate everybody learning together. All right. And we’re all going to walk out of this room a little smarter than when we walked in, including me.

Chris: 08:04 

Man. That is so awesome. That is great. It works. It was work now, since you’ve made that, you’ve had to. Make a pretty significant adjustment because with the pandemic, you’re doing a lot more virtually now. So what feedback or metrics are you looking at to see what’s really working to help give you an idea of where do you need to go next?

Tom: 08:24 

So I have bounced around the metric thing. I originally was looking at how many people I have. Like how many people are subscribed to the YouTube channel? How many people are following me on LinkedIn or Facebook? And I’m learning that. I don’t know that’s a good measure cause just.

How many people you have in the audience is not good enough in my opinion. So now what I’m trying to do is try to, I need that engagement, when I’m in a room and whether it be, 30 people in the audience or 300 people in the audience, what you want is you want everybody to start communicating.

So I trying to drive more chats because in the YouTube platform has some pluses or minuses. The pluses are that I don’t have to play whack-a-mole and mute people. The minuses that I can’t talk to people, they can’t voice what they want to say. So I have to watch the chat.

So, what I’m trying to figure out are, what are the ways that I can get people to engage on the other side so that it’s not me just talking to a camera, it’s more of a conversation. I can’t see them, unless I bring the whole WebEx thing in. And if you have two people you’re doing a presentation with it’s a little easier. 

So the chat box, I’m trying to measure how much dialogue we’re getting, how many, what kind of questions? If I do a presentation and there are no questions. Then you really have to question whether or not you’ve done anything. So I’m trying to figure out tools to get the dialogue up. I know I’m seeing more emails come in with questions, I have a, you I’ll get the, I’ll get the email, “Hey, I’m working on a project and the one line diagram.”

And it gets a, to be honest it’s well, I can’t handle the volume of emails. So what I’m doing now is I’m getting some of our field sales people involved that I know are very educated on the different topics. So I take that and I say, “Hey, you know what? I don’t know if I can answer this right now, but I know a really smart guy who is like right in your backyard and I marry those people together.

And then eventually I’ll get that email back that says, “Wow really appreciate it. Thanks for connecting me.” So I say I’m only as smart as the slowest person in my Rolodex. 

Chris: 10:42 

Right. So, Are you doing this, these videos and stuff on your own when you do this? Is it you running the show or do you have somebody there helping you monitor the chats?

Tom: 10:52 

I am a one man band. I’ll tell you what. So the first one I did, I had my laptop. I have a little HP laptop. That’s one of those real thin ones because I travel a lot. So I had it propped up and I weld, so I welded up a metal platform. So I could prop it up and t’s magnetic because they have one of those magnetic pens. So it was nice because it would magnetically hold itself to the steel. And I would put my monitor up and I used that, but I learned, like flipping through screens because I had that monitor and an extra monitor. Actually I had two TVs, I grabbed two flat screen TV, and I put them into the little hub that they give you with the computer.

And so I had the two televisions and my monitor. It became hard to flip between screens and play whack-a-mole with everything. So once I went to YouTube, I bought three monitors. I bought a desktop computer instead of a laptop. And then I bought this thing called a stream deck that lets me flip between screens.

And now I really don’t need, I don’t need somebody with the camera because I’ve got my camera and I’ve got my green screen. And it’s really simple as it is so easy to go live and record stuff. And I think it’s just, I don’t know. I wish I would have learned it a long time ago because I could have probably have been sharing a lot more information with people who won’t go to events or can’t go to an event.

Chris: 12:24 

Exactly. 

Tom: 12:25 

You think about it. If you were looking at a bunch of electrical contractors in your audience, do you think they are the first year apprentices? That were worked for those organizations. Now you’re talking to, you’re talking to the owners, you’re talking to a lot of individuals who you would think, from an Eaton perspective, those are the people I want to build relationships with because they’re the ones with the wallets.

They’re the ones who are going to buy things, but I am more focused on electrical safety. So you want the person who is going to be turning the screwdriver who’s on that job site. And, you’re hoping that you teach the owner or the people that are more seasoned and they go back and share that information.

But getting to that person, who’s on a job site who probably wouldn’t get paid to go to a, what do we call those boondoggles, right? To go to some nice hotel and get CEU credits or whatever those are the other guys who you really, if you want to impact electrical safety, you want to get to the guy who’s carrying the belt, or the electrical engineer.

The young engineer who’s out of college, probably didn’t get a lot of power systems training, knows the fundamentals, but doesn’t know the national electrical code. We don’t get taught the national electrical code in college. If the design engineer takes a safety by design principle, it sets up the electrical worker to leverage, whatever was put into the system. So if I can get to those young engineers who are laying out systems who probably won’t travel to a hotel to watch an event, I think I’m, doing something right. You know? 

Chris: 14:02 

What about, you know, success stories, then? I’m sure you’ve had some with the pandemic and you’re out there so much. And what have you heard? Any feedback that you’d like to share about, where you were able to connect the dots for some individuals may be watching it around a certain topic and it helped them get past maybe a problem they were having with a project or something? 

Tom: 14:20 

What I’m learning is when I went online, I’m talking to a lot of younger engineers who are very appreciative of a lot of the materials around power systems, because like I said, they didn’t get a lot of that. Now I’ve gotten a lot of questions on projects about some of the safety by design principles that I’ve put in place that I’m teaching on. 

I’ve gotten some, customer or a sales office who said, “Hey, this customer wanted to buy our product because he’s been watching your YouTube channel. Good job,” but I don’t measure, I don’t know. I’m odd. I’m vice president of sales. You would think I would measure my success on sales. 

I try to measure my success on other things, safety, really, for example, for this whole pandemic I, like I say, I was doing, going around teaching, and I had an electrician come up to me after I presented one time and he gave me this and I have it on my key chain. I still have it on my key chain. He gave me this cross, he made out of a ground wire and he says, “I want you to have this”. And I said “why?” And he goes, “you saved my life.” And I said, “wow, I saved your life. How did I save your life?” And he goes, “I was on a job site,” and he stopped, went back to the truck, grabbed at GFC because he remembered, he says, “I remember you were talking about GFCI protection. You were talking about the cord and the portable GFCI that are out there. And he goes, “and I knew I had it in the truck.”

So he says, “I go back to the truck. I got it. Went out to the job site,” he was working in some sort of pit or whatnot. He didn’t really describe it that much. And he says he was in a position and the tool failed, it was energized. And he says the GFCI tripped. And he goes, he was in a position where he would not have been able to let the tool go.

And in his mind, he’s sitting there saying you saved my life. He goes, cause I would not have been thinking about it when I was out to that job site. And he gave me that little cross and I think about him every time I grab my keys because that doesn’t happen to you every day. And I sat down, I think, if that is the only time. That I could actually say what I do save the life now. 

I don’t know. You can’t prove that he would not have, you know what I’m saying? You can’t prove that you would not want to say, “okay, let’s go ahead and do that again,” right? But, you know, In your heart, you’ve got to think maybe that did. Maybe what you do makes a difference and how many people don’t tell you about it, because it’s that subliminal message in your head.

You’re not going to tie that to a discussion except what’s her name? She was an admin at Eaton. She called me one day was it was around Christmas and she was putting holiday lights up and she says, “I’m putting the lights out in the yard.” She goes, “Can I do that? Is that safe?” And I’m like “Well, if you’re plugged into a GFCI,” I says, “make sure you look at the lights, make sure it’s rated for that application and all that.” She just, “can you come over?” I’m like, “okay.” So I went over and I had my indicator and I plugged it into the receptacle outside and it was not a GFCI protected.

So I followed it back to the panel board. So I ran to the store and got her a GFCI. We put it in, ran the test and everything’s good. We plugged the lights in and then I looked at the lights and they were all the right lights and so I go home and she called me about two hours later and she says, “Oh my God, you saved my life.”

I’m like, “How did I save your life?” And this, and these were like relatively close together. So I’m like, “Okay, how did I do this?” And she says, she has her back porch was wood wrapped in metal. Or like what do you call it? Like siding, but aluminum. So she says she’s hanging her lights up and she was nailing the lights on to the siding and she hit the wire and she says, it tripped the GFCI. 

She goes, “You saved my life.” You don’t know if you did or not, it’s those little things where you go, okay. You know what? Maybe. Maybe I did, I’ll be a hero for a day. I don’t know, but you don’t really know, but, and she’ll tell you because of what we do as an electrical manufacturer, because of all the education that we get and everybody’s aware of this, and she used to work in the residential products and I know, her and I knew each other because of my time with GFCIs and AI’s and things like that.

And she thought about it, “Is what I’m going to do, is this right?” And then she knew to make a phone call, to find somebody who might know. And that’s, I think what training does, I like it to a culture. You went to an electrical worker guy to think about it. And then if you cause them to pause and go, “I should go back to the truck and get my PPE.”

You’ve done something because now at least they didn’t just walk out to the job site and do whatever they did. They knew that A. what I’m about to do is probably not going to be a good thing if I’m not protected. Yeah. And you can’t measure that. Yeah, I wish I could. I wish I could. You could have a little ticker and it’s like, from a safety perspective, they try to say, we should be measuring close calls while what’s a close call. You don’t know. It’s hard to, it’s hard to measure that stuff. 

Chris: 19:36 

Now. From a aha moment, it’s easier sometimes I guess I would assume it’d be easier when you’re actually teaching a class in person. And like you said earlier, when you had that engagement and they’re there back and forth to class has taken over, you can see the aha happening. The dots are being connected. So virtually is harder to have that aha moment. So, I mean, do you have any signals or moments that tell you that, “Hey, the what’s you’re teaching the audience. They got it.” 

Tom: 20:03 

Yeah. The only place I can get that as from a chat box where people are starting to either ask the right questions. Cause I think asking questions is a good indicator, right? That you are getting that person to think. Like I did a program on circuit breakers and right off the bat I’m getting a bunch of questions. Now you know that the person came to that event or came to that program, wanting to learn something because they’ve got questions in their head.

So if you’re getting questions, that means that whoever’s asking the question is thinking. It’s better to us to see the person and you know, what happens, you talk, and then you take a break and you walk in the back and everybody’s hovering around you, “Hey, I want to ask you one. I want to ask you this and I want to ask you that.”

And I think that the online experience facilitates that they can ask that question. And not have to wait to say, “ah, I couldn’t get over there because there were three people asking him a question or there’s one guy out of question and it took him 20 minutes to answer. And then the break was over,” they could post those questions up there. So I, think people just need encouragement to do that because your name’s associated with it right? But I’m learning that I look at the, on the chats on YouTube and I don’t see Andi Thrower or Thomas Domitrovich, or Chris Grainger asking the question I see Moby43256 or JackRussell1, all of that good stuff. So you get the little handles and that adds a little bit of anonymity. And they can ask their question comfortably. 

Chris: 21:36 

I mean, It sounds like to me engagement, if you, if, when you have that engagement from your audience, you’re all over it. And that’s when you know, you’re hitting it. I am curious since you do so much live streaming where does that live at, so is it all through YouTube? Because I noticed you go live on LinkedIn as well. 

Tom: 21:52 

When I first went live, I learned how to do it with Facebook because Facebook live they like I don’t know how they govern. And then they just basically said, “Hey, you can go live.” I’m like, “oh great.” So I would be in a, this was even before COVID I would go to our trade show, like at the IEEE Electrical Safety Workshop and I had my phone and I’d go, “Hey, we’re live on Facebook.”

And I talk to people, walk around the show and show people things who weren’t at the show and, or be in our Eaton booth, and record stuff. And then I learned how to go to YouTube. And then I learned that I can stream to them both at the same time, I have the software on my computer that sends it to a website and then that web browser, or that website sends it to the two separate channels.

So I’m only streaming one out of my house and then it goes, and then that server sends it to two other locations. And then I got an email from LinkedIn and it said, “Hey, you can go live if you want to on LinkedIn.” And I was like, “oh my gosh. That’s like giving an alcoholic a drink, man.” I’m like, this is perfect. So I started to stream to LinkedIn. So now I was going to try to only do YouTube because trying to monitor chats is like trying to mute people on the live stream, but what I learned is I use this site called Restream.IO and what they do is they’ll stream to all three platforms and then whatever chats come in, they send them to you and display them all in one link.

So now I can stream to all three. So I stream to YouTube LinkedIn and Facebook. And I will see the chats from YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook in one screen. So it makes my life easier. You don’t want somebody to ask a question, then you ignore them. And then go, “Oh man, I didn’t see that.” 

Chris: 23:48 

On YouTube does that live evergreen once you’re done streaming? So it’s there for people if they search that topic, they could land there and check it out. 

Tom: 23:56 

Absolutely so they can go out and I try to group them. So I’m starting to create, I forget what they call it on YouTube, but like little groups of videos. And what I do is I’ll put all of my transformer discussions in one link, all my power systems analysis in another and motors in another. So I’m just trying to group them all. And they’re almost like playlists, and I’ve used them from other people’s sites. Where I just, it goes from one video to the next and they’re pretty much in a logical order.

So I’ve been trying to do that on that channel. But yeah, it’ll stay up there until until I take it down. And there are some that now what I’ll do also, if I have the one contractor wanted a private event and they liked the YouTube environment because I think people can get it on their phones. They can chat and they don’t have to worry about the microphone issues. I do a private, hidden video that it’s not public, but it’s still on my YouTube channel. And then I streamed it for that customer and we did the little Q and A thing and all that good stuff. And then I leave it up there and then they know about it and they share it with each other. Right. They can get it. Yeah. But it’s not out for the general public. Yeah, and that works too. 

Chris: 25:05 

That is so cool time. It’s just, you’re doing awesome. Oh, just a great job. I love this topic of the skills gap and the ways that you’re approaching it. Just the two stories you gave us where it’s proof that this stuff is working, man.

And so I tell you we call it EECO Asks Why it’s the heart of the show. And I love to get your why on this man cause you’re so passionate around this topic. Why do you think being proactive about helping others about, learning power is so important to closing that skills gap that we’re seeing?

Tom: 25:37 

So the trades are a little different. The trades, you have somebody who’s coming in as an apprentice. I say a little different, but they’ll usually get in with an organization they’re going to tell you, “Okay, you’re going to work under this gentleman and or this lady, and they will teach you and you start with installing receptacles and work your way up, right?

From an engineering perspective, we leave college and people think that well you’re an engineer, you know everything right? But you don’t. College teaches you to learn a mass amount of information in a short period of time. They teach you how to learn and they give you a platform of some of the basics, but they don’t teach a code. They don’t teach you the codes and standards a lot about the products and from an installation perspective and what a tradesman is. So we, as an industry, have to figure out how do we take that individual and teach them what they need to know in and not wait for the, on the job learning experience bring that on the job learning experience to them. 

You know it’s like this. It’s just I wish that, Ford and Chrysler and GM, I wish the design engineers on the vehicle had to change their own oil, change their battery and do their own work on the vehicle because when you were sitting there working on a vehicle, you’re scratching your head thinking, what was this guy thinking? Look where they put the oil filter. I can’t get my hand in there. I can’t get a tool in there. 

So it’s that type of concept to say, can we bridge the gap with technology to expedite the transfer of knowledge between trades from the seasoned person to the younger person. Because we’ve got a lot of seasoned people that are probably going to get ready to leave the workforce if they’re not already in that mode.

And you’ve got a lot of young people coming in and we need a transfer of knowledge and that’s the hard part. You know, what happens, you take any company, you take your seasoned guy and he says, “Hey, I’m retiring. I’m gonna I’m gonna go buy a house in Arizona and enjoy life.” And then you got to think. What about all these other guys? 

 I just had a, I’m an HVAC guy here today. Bill, he comes out to the house. We had a guy in yesterday who thought we fixed the problem, but he didn’t fix it. Now Bill came out and Bill’s the seasoned guy, he’s the manager. He comes on and he goes, my sharpest guy, couldn’t figure this out and we’re going to figure it out. And he spent three hours here and we think we got it solved. And. Now when Bill retires, then what? 

Chris: 28:06 

Man, what? 

Tom: 28:06 

You know. So we got to transfer that knowledge and when it comes to safety, I think we’ve done a lot of good from a safety perspective. Just if you think about like when I was young, literally we had, my uncle had a contract business when he wasn’t working in the steel mill and we had a drill that we used on the job site, it was, I’m talking, seventies. And it was an old drill then. So it was all metal.

And it was one of those drills that you had to tweak the cord to get it to go, okay? And if you tweaked it wrong, you got it to go, boy. I mean, you got a nice jolt of 120 volts, right? So we had that drill on the job site and we’d get another relative. One of our cousins come help us or something and we would sit down and we’d go, “Hey, I need you to drill some holes. Here’s the drill.” And we would sit back and watch until he got it. And if you think back at it now, “Wow. We were putting lives in danger,” and you know, something serious could have happened. And we were playing with it, right? 

You wouldn’t do that on a job site today. I wouldn’t get in a car without putting my seatbelt on today because we’re changing that culture. And that’s something, those bad habits, aren’t the things you want transferred, right? That’s right. The troubleshooting skills and all of that knowledge transfer, but you want that younger worker that younger engineers just coming into the industry to understand the right safety principles. That’s how you change culture. 

Chris: 29:40 

This is great. I mean, You’re doing a phenomenal job again, and we’ll make sure in our show notes for our listeners and everything is there all the links to check your YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, everything there. 

Tom: 29:52 

Oh, you know what? I just did. Last Friday, I needed a calendar. I created my own website, ThomasDomitrovich.com. 

Chris: 30:01 

Okay. I have it there, man. We’ll have it there for the listeners to go straight there and connect with you. That’s awesome. That is outstanding. This has been great, Tom. Thank you so much and you’re a wonderful guest, a wonderful idea. And I know you connect the dots for so many people, and I know once they start following you, you’ll be helping them even more. So we thank you for coming on and hope you have a wonderful day, sir. 

Tom: 30:25 

I appreciate it, Chris. I appreciate what you do too. So it’s all part of the, we’re all working together. 

Chris: 30:30 

That’s it, man. Thank you so much.

Tom: 30:32 

Sure thing.