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Bob Cannon Talks Family, Entrepreneurship and Cannon Group

Bob Cannon Talks Family, Entrepreneurship and Cannon Group

Interview with Executive Leaders Radio

January 29, 2014

On December 06, 2013, Cannon Group co-founder Bob Cannon was interviewed by Executive Leaders Radio, a show that conducts “elite interviews” of prominent CEOs, CFOs, and Presidents focusing on “what makes people tick.”

Below are some highlights from Bob’s interview. Bob’s hosts were Dennis Powell of Massey Powell, John Lee of Griffin Financial and Bernadette Casey of Gallagher Benefits. Listen to the full interview here, and skip to 13 minutes and 25 seconds for Bob’s interview.

 

About Executive Leaders Radio

The on-air interviews are formatted as informal conversations where guests chat about their background education, influences, mentors and early career experiences. In addition, they are typically asked about their business, what they do and whom they serve. They may be asked about opportunities ahead, challenges they have faced or their senior management team. Interests outside of work, personal turning points and family sacrifices capture the unique human aspect behind these prominent leaders.

The goal of Executive Leaders Radio is to not only showcase companies, but to connect with them. The interview consists of nine questions that are designed to highlight how and why a CEO starts his or her business and how that business creates value for their customers.

To listen to the full interview, click here.
Bob’s interview begins at 13:25.

 
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Bob Cannon

Tell me a little about Cannon Group. What do you guys do?

Cannon Group is a telecommunications management and consulting firm, we’re located in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. We have 36 employees and we basically help large companies manage their telecommunications environments. So that includes contract negotiations with the large carriers such as AT&T and Verizon, and then we help them manage their telecommunications bills and also help them manage their wireless environment, so iPads, iPhones, etcetera.

 

Now, a typical client. What kind of pain would they have, if they came to you?

Telecommunications services tend to be one of the top two or three expense items for most of the firms we work with. So they’re constantly struggling with technology change and managing that environment, the pain of internal resources, trying to be able to do a job that they’ve been asked to do nine other jobs with – So we help augment them. We bring in our team and our good processes and some of the technology and software that we’ve developed to be able to help them do things better and quicker and more efficiently.

 

You’re the founder of the company?

I am, with my brother Chris Cannon. He and I took a retirement package from AT&T in 1995 and started Cannon Group a couple of weeks later.

 

Right. Well, I want to get you to the point where you leave a pretty secure job, and you were doing very well at AT&T, and you decided to jump off the rock into the pond, and do an entrepreneurial thing… Now, you said your father came from nothing.

Yeah, he was a Kensington-raised Philadelphia kid with not much education, self-made, and was in the real estate business in suburban Philadelphia… He was incredibly successful. He was also well-connected, and he was the kind of guy who understood that relationships get you places, and just knew how to relate to people. He was a great salesman.

 

How did your dad teach you those lessons about relationships and building a business and being successful?

It’s funny, as a large family, we had dinner together every night. The table was large with six of us around it and my parents, and we waited for him to come home. And there was just a general debriefing at the end of the day about what he did, what’s good in his life, and how we did in school that day, and you just basically learned from each other the right way to do things.

 

Can you remember one of the first light bulbs that went off in these dinner conversations that would help you in business later on?

He worked for a small real estate development company in Fort Washington, Pa, and so the challenges of a small company doing big things were always discussed. I remember a lot of things had to do with finances, and how he was going to get paid to pay our tuition bills, etc. And so those kinds of things resonate with a guy like me right now, because I’m challenged every month to be able to do the same thing. We never came from a large company mentality, and I understood what it was like to be an entrepreneur.

 

We’ve talked about how you had a lot of success at AT&T…and then you decide to go off and form your own business. Two questions there. One, what did your wife think of that decision, and two, did everything go according to plan when you started your new business?

The jumping off into the pond was a difficult one. My last seven years at AT&T were supporting a company called QVC out in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I was there; I saw them grow from $250 million a year to $2.5 billion during the seven years I was there in sales… It was a great ride, I had a support staff and we worked there, and it was good. But it was clear to me that, after fourteen years at AT&T, I wasn’t going to be able to progress in management unless I moved. I didn’t want to move, my family was here, my support group. So jumping off was an extremely difficult one for my wife leaving the “mothership” of AT&T and all the things that come with it. But we did it; she knew that it was something that I needed to do. It was nice; I had two brothers working at AT&T at the time. I asked both of them to join me, when I jumped off the ship, and one of them did, so it was nice to have another brother there with me as a support structure.

 

How important was it for you to surround yourself with the right people as you started your own business?

The business of consulting is all about resources and people, and the expertise they bring to the table. It’s about selling that, and making sure customers understand that we’ve been through that, and we can help you through it. So we’ve grown very carefully over the 19 years to add people from the client side of our business, we found people at client engagements that have been terrific, that were looking for a change themselves, wanted to go to a small firm and we grabbed them. It’s been a great ride because of the loyalty that these folks have shown us over the years.


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