Andre Durand

Discovering life, one mistake at a time.
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Archive for June, 2008

Wisdom has its price — sometimes failure.

June 24, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

I met a really nice gentleman last night who worked for one of the large computer storage vendors. Quite by random, he shared one of the big lessons he learned after his company made what could in hindsight be called a fatal blunder, the consequences of which ended up being that the company was sold to a competitor.

This company, call it Company X, relied 100% on their channel. They were basically, OEM’d storage, just a piece of a larger puzzle. Wrongfully, they created this self-image of themselves (pride & ego at work), that their brand meant something, that they could compete on ‘value’, not price.

They were wrong.

If they had sold direct, perhaps that would have been the case, but as an embedded component of someone else’s brand, while ‘value’ was important, it wasn’t the fundamental competitive driver / differentiator.

By the time they figured this out, it was too late, they had effectively alienated their customer (their ‘channel’) and opened the door to their competitor, who was willing to put their ego aside, and realize that they were competing on price.

The lesson in this story is to never let your pride and ego cloud your better business judgment. This is especially tough to maintain as a culture when a company is successful, and as new, many times young people join, full of spit and vinegar.

Whether it’s true or not, one should always assume that your customer has a choice, and while corporate paranoia can act as a decent proxy for corporate humility, it’s not a culture I would ‘strive’ to build.

My Transformation is Complete

June 22, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

I bought a Mini Cooper S in New Orleans last week, flew down there Friday, and drove it back (1,400 miles), crossing six states in about 20 hours. It was a crazy thing to do, but I had been sick all week, going stir crazy, and a bit overdue for a change of scenery. The trip back to Denver gave me time to think, and was a good eye opener. I’d not visited many of those states in 20 or more years. Of course, it was fitting to have had passed so many oil refineries along the way, doing 80 mpg and getting 32 mpg.

The Mini replaced my extra large, extra gas guzzling GMC Denali XL (which I really loved). My transformation to a more fuel efficient family is now complete — the Mercedes S500 sold for a Honda CRV, the Denali sold for a Mini, and the RV sold for car camping. I figure, if you’re going to make a change, don’t do it half-ass.

I didn’t make the change to save money. On the contrary, becoming more environmentally conscious cost me a fair amount, and quite frankly, gas could go to $10/gallon tomorrow, and I still likely would have spent less driving around my other roaming zip codes over the next 5 years. I made the change because it’s the right thing to do, and I’m tired of complaining about our predicament, and not doing something about it.

I had a lot of time to think about all the changes this country needs to go through on my drive home. As a nation, we are without question, both completely dependent and emotionally addicted to oil. It’s almost as if we’ve created another dimension to our freedoms. We not only have taken for granted our freedom to move about, but we’ve added to it, the freedom to move about carrying around our living room. That is a luxury that will change. We’ve had 100 years to sprawl in this country, and have we sprawled. Combine this with lax consumer credit, a constant programming of ‘bigger is better’, effectively free gas for the past decade as a percentage of income and you have a recipe for disaster.

I doubt a Mini got even an occasional glimpse down South more than 6 months ago, it is big truck country down there, but as I passed all those super-sized trucks on their daily commutes to wherever, most took notice with more than a glance of envy.

A few observations:

  • People are awfully nice in this country, but, it’s not just the cars that have gotten big. Our ability to reward fast food has few limits. And it shows.
  • The people who will need to change their oil consumption and/or driving habits the most are the ones with the fewest options. Moving and changing cars takes a certain level of liquidity, and I’m afraid most are likely already upside-down in their super-sized trucks, a result of our lax consumer credit over the past decade. This is our optimistic nature as a country, and our consumption and spending habits working against us. I fear many have already mortgaged their future one too many times, and without public transportation as an alternative, many are going to be spending a larger and larger portion of their income just getting to work.
  • A few photos taken on the drive home.

    Red Rocks in the Morning

    June 13, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

    We have a beautiful natural amphitheater called Red Rocks in the Denver foothills. This morning, our Boot Camp was to hike to the top, with 80lb backpacks. Major Wood and Sergeant Rodr lead the way. Between gasps for air, I was able to capture these killer shots with my new Canon G9.

    Boot Camp with Major Wood & Sergeant Rodr

    June 13, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

    I’ve been doing boot camp every morning at 5:30am since January. It’s the longest, and by far the hardest stint of exercise I’ve had in 10 years, and I love it. For only $200/month, these guys will kick your ass for 75 minutes 5 days a week, and if that’s not enough, just drop in for one of their Saturday classes for only $12 and they’ll do it again.

    About a month ago I joined the toughest class, Level 10, taught by Major Wood, an active duty Marine in charge of recruiting for the state of Colorado. Major Wood is a major hard ass, who gives us a thorough mental and physical work out every morning. But he doesn’t just make us do it, he shows us how its done, Marine style. The dude is in shape. When he’s not giving us the 300 workout, his partner, Sergeant Rodr is running up the hill, telling us to pick up our feet, lift our heads, and pick up the pace.

    The people in my class (mostly women) are tough. I mean really tough. Complaining is not allowed and everyone is there to get the toughest workout they can. Wood and Rodr in the morning. Yea, need I say more.

    It’s all about the money…

    June 12, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

    I emailed a bunch of people about having won the Morgan Stanley CTO award. Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson wrote me back,

    “Great. Now see if you can turn that into revenue. Tim”

    No ambiguity there.

    Ping wins Morgan Stanley Award

    June 11, 2008 By: Andre Category: Ping Identity

    MorganLogo

    Not that we don’t appreciate awards, but we haven’t spent much time pursuing them. That said, when a customer like Morgan Stanley, at an internal event, selects you and your product as helping to transform their business, and prior winners include VMware (2005 winner), and you are the only one selected out of some 200 companies that year, well, that’s special. Only 5 companies have ever received this award.

    Every year, Morgan Stanley receives 200 applications from companies to present at the Morgan Stanley CTO Summit. We presented back in 2006. A year or so later, Morgan Stanley became a customer, using our technology to secure and integrate their employees use of on-demand applications such as Salesforce.com.

    With respect to the award, Morgan Stanley internally votes on which of those 200 companies get to present and then sends out only 36 invites. Of these 36, only four (roughly 12% ever go to contract) and of those, only one receives this award. The award is given to those companies that provide innovation that holds the potential to transform their business into the future. On a more personal note, it’s great to finally see federation receive the recognition it deserves for enabling companies to secure their virtual borders, especially in an era where SaaS is the new delivery platform for enterprise applications. Thank you Morgan Stanley for giving Ping the opportunity to work with you. Thank you Ping Identians for building and supporting such a stellar product.

    MorganAward
    After receiving the award, Patrick Harding, Ping’s CTO had a photo opp with Jonathan Saxe, Managing Director, Global Chief Information Officer of Morgan Stanley

    #2

    June 04, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

    I rode the 65 mile portion of the Elephant Rock ride with long-time friend Frank Cardello and 7000 of my closest friends.

    Don’t let my big legs or my fancy bike fool you, while I might look like I know what I’m doing, I’m lucky if I finished in the top 2000. But hey, at least they liked my picture enough to list it #2 in their coverage of the event.

    Big Sky

    June 03, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

    In complete shock and awe, (while standing in my underwear on my front porch), I was able to capture these incredible photos of the evening sky as the thunder clouds just exploded above me.

    Less of a Pig

    June 03, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life, Musings

    I’ve been complaining about America’s consumption of gas for the past 2 years. Yet I drove a Mercedes S500, a GMC Denali XL and a 30′ RV. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t drive their house around if they could afford to?

    Even before gas prices started their climb, I had decided to change things, to downsize my footprint, and it’s not just with cars and gas, it’s with everything. I’m embarrassed by the amount of garbage our family creates in a single week.

    As a country, we’ve got to overcome our ego associated with the luxury of driving around dinosaurs. That, and we need a breakthrough in energy technology.