Andre Durand

Discovering life, one mistake at a time.

Forget About Winning (you’ll win more…)

August 19, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life


I’m competitive. I can’t help it. Growing up, I played competitive tennis, fueled in part by the fact that my father really pushed me. 8 to 12 hours per day of tennis was the norm. As a child, competition and winning consumed me, and it manifested itself in really nasty ways — I lost friends over it.

I never thought about how I thought

With all the emphasis on winning, I spent every minute learning the physical game of tennis. Never once did I ever spend a second on the psychology of competition or the mental game of playing. As a result, I would essentially blow the critical points. I would think, “…this is important, I better not screw this up!” Then I played it safe, hoping to keep the ball in play. Some times it worked, but the result was that I played under my potential. Short-term gain consumed me.

Playing not to lose

With so much emphasis on the outcome, winning, I wouldn’t play to win when it counted most, I’d play not to lose. I had it all backwards. I never really grasped the mental game of competition.

Letting go of the outcome

My breakthrough came when I started to ignore the outcome, and simply focus on how I played. In life, when the outcome mattered more, I started to invest less in the future and take fewer risks.

Realize a higher potential

In retrospect, I wasn’t limited by my physical abilities as a child, I was limited by my mental game, and how thoughts of winning essentially weakened me during critical moments. I essentially beat myself.

Doing the opposite of conventional wisdom.

Lately, I’ve started to let go of the outcome. I’ve started to play every point like it was just practice. (I’m actually losing more right now, but not because I’m beating myself per say.) I’m losing more right now because I’m just not as physically good as I think I am. Given enough practice, I’ll become a better player overall. My limits are now tied to my real limits (physical and mental), not simply my mental limits.

Skooby snacks for the brain.

The key to changing my behavior was subtle. It essentially boiled down to how I rewarded myself. Before, if I won a point, I was happy, if I lost, I was angry. I was mentally rewarding myself on the outcome, not the play. I’ve since reversed this, and it’s made a big difference. Reward yourself when you know you gave it your all, when you risked it, and it mattered. Let go of the outcome, and you’ll play better. Trust me.

Happiness Quotient

August 19, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life


I’ve had my share of good times in the past spending excessive amounts of money in the pursuit of happiness. Nice cars, expensive hotels, fancy vacations. I don’t regret them, and I enjoy the pictures now and again, but I’ve really come to appreciate what I refer to as my Happiness Quotient.

My happiness quotient from any particular purchase is essentially:

Derived Happiness from Purchase / Price

For example, every year I’ve gone to Lake Powell for a 1 week vacation. It’s not expensive, perhaps costing me $1k/year. I derive a lot of pleasure from that vacation, but what makes it even better is the fact that it’s cheap. If the vacation cost me $10k, I’d be 1/10th as happy with it.

Several of my purchases over the years have bubbled to the top of my happiness quotient. My hot tub for example cost me $2,200 on Craigslist. Every time I get in it, it puts a smile on my face. Now, I love hot tubs, so I have no doubt that I would have loved a new hot tub costing twice as much, but every time I get in this particular hot tub, I think ‘what a great deal this was…’, and I’m 2x as happy as if I’d paid double for a new one.

If you’re happiness is somehow derived from ego, and you allow judgment of others into your happiness quotient, well then, you had better make a lot of money, because you’re going to spend it to get to the same amount of happiness per $1 than me!

I for one have learned that the simple, random or unexpected event (because of how my expectations are non-existent) is often where I derive the most happiness. Spending a lot and expecting a lot often produces a less than optimal happiness quotient for me.

Pure Diamond

August 15, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Every now and then I meet a pure, untainted, diamond in the rough entrepreneur. If you’ve ever met one, you know what I’m talking about. These people are bursting with positive energy and an optimistic can do attitude. They are going to change the world, and no one is going to stop them.

Many of these entrepreneurs have a difficult time raising money, so to build their businesses, they’re forced to do it the old fashion way, hard work, revenue and persistence.

Howard Ryan of Desktop Alert is one of those entrepreneurs. He’s worked and struggled for years, but his persistence is starting to pay off. His company, Desktop Alert, provides real time desktop alerts to US Defense agencies, and he’s kicking ass.

I love seeing success stories like this. People like Howard deserve the success they achieve.

Failing one Tweet at a Time

July 27, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Several years back I was talking with Perry Evans (founder of MapQuest) as he described the scramble they had to go through to effectively re-architect their entire service in a weekend because usage was going through the roof.

I reflect on my experience of other major consumer sites as they reacted to ballooning consumer demand and can’t help but think that Twitter is a service destined to fail if they can’t get their act together.


Lance Armstrong Strategy

July 16, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

I asked Nate Llerandi, a world-class cyclist what he felt was Lance Armstrong’s strategy in the Tour this year. We’ll see how his prediction plays out.

His teammate, Alberto Contador is 2sec ahead of Lance in the overall standings right now. The rest of the stages through Saturday probably won’t determine much. Tomorrow and Saturday are basically flat stages for the sprinters. Friday’s stage is considered “low mountains”, but there are 2 Category 1 climbs (2nd hardest categorization) with the 2nd one coming 20km (12.5mi) before the finish line.

I would expect some overall contenders (GC contenders; ‘GC’ being General Classification) who need to make up time to try something on Friday’s stage on the last Cat 1 climb, the Col du Firstplan. These folks will need to start trying to gain back the time they lost in the first week due to the opening time trial, the stage where the wind split the field and in the team time trial – folks like Carlos Sastre (who won last year’s Tour), Andy Schlek and Cadel Evans. Expect Lance and Alberto to follow these guys if any of them attack.

I predict that Sunday is the day Alberto will gain the yellow jersey. It is the 2nd mountain top finish of 3. Expect him to attack everyone and expect Lance to follow. Lance is 2sec behind Alberto and will be content to stay there and let Alberto shoulder the burden of wearing the jersey. Lance will then help pace Alberto and protect him in subsequent stages. His goal will be to limit any more time gaps and keep his deficit to a matter of seconds.

Then, in the final time trial on the 23rd, expect all hell to break loose. Lance will look to bury Alberto and take over yellow. If he succeeds, then Alberto will be forced to work for him on the penultimate stage which finishes atop Mont Ventoux.

So, that’s how I think this will all play out. If Lance has the legs to win, this is the only way I see victory unfolding for him unless Alberto has a bad day, which could happen.


July 14, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life


Proactive Commoditization

July 13, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Microsoft deserves a lot of props for how they’ve managed through some tight, tricky spots over the years. They are definitely disciplined in how they approach new markets, ensuring that they squeeze every penny out of a dying technology before moving onto the next big thing.

That said, timing markets and competitive chess moves is always tricky. Move too early, you may undermine your existing product sales too quickly. Move too slow, and you may lose an emerging market opportunity to a competitor.

Microsoft announced today that they are going to offer the online version of it’s MS Office 2010 (due next summer) for free. In no doubt a reaction to the threat of Google Docs.

But I can’t help but think that the announcement, which is no doubt in reaction to Google’s disruption, isn’t indicative of a culture that’s not as balanced as it might need to be to capture major potential threats before they are too late?

Clear Demise

June 23, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

This is a real shame. I used Clear regularly, and it was a very valuable service.


Life, Inc.

June 18, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Douglas Rushkoff has a new book called Life, Inc. I’ve not read it (it’s on the way), but Fast Company sat down with Douglas to discuss it recently.

In the book, Douglas claims that currency was invented to prevent transactions and put a brake on economic growth, corporations exist to stifle competition, and banks do not fund competition–they drain it. But he’s no communist: “A true free marketeer, actually,” Rushkoff says. “I’m just trying to point out that we’re not operating in anything close to a free market.”

Douglas goes into detail about how we find ourselves here, and what we can do to get out. I’ve never read Douglas before, but boy do I like him.

So what’s your solution?

DR: There are many. The first is to allow corporations to crumble under their own weight. When they really do get too big to work efficiently, our first response should not be to change the playing field to prevent their demise at the expense of all the great, smaller, more competitive and innovative companies that should be replacing them.

We tend to think of letting big companies die as being cruel to the workers – and this might be so. But these companies wouldn’t have gotten so big in the first place if we hadn’t regulated their monopolies in the first place. And unions are often complicit in this scheme as well.

The easiest ways through this are:
1. promote local commerce – of the sort Adam Smith envisioned.
2. break the highly centralized, bureaucratic liaison between government and big business for industries such as Big Agra, Big Pharma, and Big Oil. Undo protectionist regulations making it impossible or illegal for farmers to grow the crops best suited to their climates and soil.
3. develop alternative currencies (like the ones in Japan that were used to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars of healthcare to elders) and promote business-to-business barter networks (such as , alone transferring over $100-million of b2b exchange annually).
4. learn to actually do something. the easiest way for a business to make money is by providing goods and services. since almost no one does this anymore, there’s a great opportunity here.

Do you think that’s realistic?

DR: Only as realistic as the survival of our economy on a geopolitical landscape that no longer accepts the expansion of our markets as given. We are getting significant “push back” from Asia, Africa and South America. They’re not willing to serve simply as expansions of our markets or World Bank debtors. So we may have to abandon an economic model that was based on the colonial expansions of Renaissance nations, and look towards a more sophisticated, less regulated and protectionist landscape. The rest of the world is no longer going to respect the monopolies our governments declare. So it’s time to compete again. This means America learning how to do something instead of simply outsourcing and creating debt.

It won’t be easy, but it could actually be fun. Imagine competence as a viable alternative.

PingFederate & Amazon Web Services (AWS)

May 29, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Two of our customers have deployed PingFederate in the cloud on Amazon Web Services EC2. Here are the steps they used to deploy on AWS.

Setting up PingFederate 6.0 in AWS was a pretty simple affair, I’m using one of the public Ubuntu 32-bit instances for testing and followed the installation recipe fairly closely, just adapting it in places so that it fit with our deployment strategies. It is still a work in progress but if you are looking to implement a paid/public AMI with PingFed it should be a pretty cut and dry affair.

  • Setup pingfed user
    Install JDK 1.6
    Setup JAVA_HOME path for JDK
    Unzip PingFederate 6.0
  • Adapt init script to point at the pingfed directory and use the pingfed account. At the moment, I have it running on the stock port but will likely change that to use 443 when we go to production as these servers will likely be standalone instances.