Andre Durand

Discovering life, one mistake at a time.

Archive for September, 2008

8 second car for $10k? I don’t think so.

September 27, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

I built my first car at 15. An old 69 Camero I bought on my paper route for $250. 18 months later, with a new blueprinted 4-bolt 350, Carter 750, Edelbrock, Mallory, TCI Turbo 350, 12 bolt posi. 4:11 Richmond diff, Pete Jackson Gear Drive and some sweet Centerlines, I was rolling in high school. I used to push it out of the driveway so as to not wake the parents while drag racing my friend on his 125cc two-stroke Kawasaki.

Over drinks last night with some of the newbies at Ping, I got into my desire to build an 8 second quarter miler and race it on Pinks. Sergei, one of our newest (21 years old) says he can do it. I’m not convinced, but happy to be proven wrong. Now I’ve just got to find an old 68 Camero to start with.

Level 10

September 27, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

Many of you know I’ve been attending boot camp since January. Over the summer, there is an all-outdoors class called “Level 10” instructed by an active duty Marine, aptly named, “Major Wood”. Summer is over, and Level 10 is over, but Major Wood was able to squeeze in one last 1 week class (between normal boot camps). You have to love his pep-talk.

Welcome to Level-10. The purpose of Level-10 is to take you outside your comfort zone, physically and/or mentally, and operate outside that zone to overcome whatever obstacle may lie in your way. Anyone who has executed a disciplined exercise regimen over a period of time realizes that gains are incrementally harder to come by, and pushing oneself to their true limit in isolation is often difficult. While this course is only 1-week in duration, it will seek to help you explore the limits of your physical and mental prowess. By reaching those limits, the mind and body are forced to grapple them head on. With the help of a few of your closest friends and experienced instructors, obstacles……limits, are overcome, and you grow stronger, not only for athletic related events, but for life’s various personal and professional challenges. This is the first Level-10 to be run in the fall/winter period and there will be some inherent risks navigating man made and natural terrain in the dark. Ambient light will be scarce and the mornings will be cool/cold.

Please Bring
– Moonbeam (flashlight) or head lamp or bat vision.
– Empty trash bag for dirty or damp/wet clothes
– Change of clothes to get dry quickly after class, to include shoes
– Gloves- every day, full fingered
– NOT your best, prettiest PT attire. If you have multiple sets of go-fasters (running shoes) wear your old ones, we’ll be getting dirty

Retired only — temporarily.

September 26, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

I retired my HP 970Cse Deskjet today. I thought it was broken, but only as my new printer arrived did I realize that the back panel was simply open.

It’s a bit of a sentimental moment for me. This printer has sat next to me since day 1 here at Ping. It’s the same printer I used to create the “PingID Worldwide Headquarters” logo which I stuck on my door the first day of Ping (when we had 2 employees). It’s printed every business plan of mine since then.

It’s not quite as fun arriving places if you don’t get there with the people (things) that you started with. That’s likely been the hardest part about growing Ping from nothing. Missing all the great people I’ve worked with over the years.

Don’t worry little HP, I’m not going to give you away, or even send you to the printer scrap yard. You’re doing the distance with me. I’ll just move you a little closer to the window so that you can enjoy your retirement. Perhaps in a few years, I’ll dust you off and we can go on another road trip!

The Wisdom of “Asimo”

September 25, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life, Musings

About every 3 to 4 years, I see a commercial showing some latest trick that “Asimo”, Honda’s robot, is now able to accomplish. A few years ago, he served up a tray of coffee. Walking it over from the kitchen to a table and setting it down. Today he’s figure skating like Dorothy Hamill in the 1976 Olympics. When I first saw these commercials, I thought, “…what a waste of money. Honda should stick to building great cars,” but as the years went on, and Asimo went from a clunky toy to something of shear engineering genius, I’ve come to appreciate the wisdom and the courage of the people behind Asimo.

What Asimo represents, that I believe we’ve somehow forgotten in America, is the long-term view. It wasn’t that long ago that we did great things here in America, we took risk to pursue what seemed like crazy dreams. Putting men on the moon, breaking the sound barrier, building crazy tall buildings, erected cities in the desert. These were all crazy ideas, but they were also great, because they represented big vision and a ton of courage.

As a society, we’ve gotten so caught up in the ‘today’, living in the moment, that I believe we’ve lost sight of the fact that big dreams take time, perseverance, courage, and commitment. Our society, and in particular, Wall Street and our public markets, demand immediate results. I believe this short-term returns-oriented mentality, when not balanced with a longer term view of investment and long-bets, will belittle what we’re capable of.

Listen to how Honda’s former President and CEO, Hiroyuki Yoshino, describes their vision of Asimo. There is a lot to be admired in these statements, especially considering the fact that they come from a leader within a public company.

More than 20 years ago, our engineers set out to make a contribution to society beyond our existing product lineup of cars, motorcycles and power equipment products. It was a big dream – some thought it was simply the stuff of science fiction – to create a humanoid robot that could walk on two legs and whose main purpose would be to help people, such as the elderly and others who were confined to a bed or a wheelchair. Ultimately, our efforts led to the creation of ASIMO, a humanoid robot, which stands for “Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility.”

“Our dream for the future was to create something that did not exist – an advanced humanoid robot capable of walking and operating where humans live and work. For Honda, the challenge itself was enough reason to pursue this dream.”

To me, all the recent turmoil in our financial markets is simply the next proof point that however it is that we’ve been running things isn’t working. Wall Street, and indeed I think America in general, has become too focused on short-term gains. It’s time to return to a longer view of contribution and value add. In another 10 to 20 years, Asimo might not appear so crazy. But he will exist only because people had the courage to do pursue something really outstanding.

Small steps, long-term outlook.

The “Are you Serious?” Filter

September 23, 2008 By: Andre Category: About Me, Entrepreneurism, Identity, Life, Musings, Ping Identity

We all develop filters for the noise and clutter we encounter in every day life. These filters protect us, allow us to concentrate, and generally shield us from being bombarded.

In biology, there is a concept known as homeostasis. Homeostasis is the ability for the body to adjust what it considers ‘normal’ to the current conditions, giving it an ability to detect changes in those conditions.

If it’s hot, your body adjusts its normal state to account for the heat. It can then detect if it gets hotter or colder. The same holds true for light, sound, touch, taste and smell.

In business (and I’ve found this to be especially true with entrepreneurs), I’ve noticed that people have developed a sort of ‘are you serious’ filter when they hear a newbie entrepreneur describe how they are going to set the world on fire. While friends may be generally encouraging, they are also inherently skeptical. And why would you blame them? ‘Normal’ for them is to hear a lot of talk, but witness very little follow-through. We’ve all seen and heard of plenty of great ideas. But of all those great ideas, how many are ever acted upon? And of those that are actually acted upon, how many of those ideas are really, really pursued, through the inevitable hard times in any startup? The answer is, not many.

Life itself I believe has a way of really challenging the conviction of any great yet unimplemented idea.

It reminds me of a question Phil Becker asked me before he invested in Ping. Sitting in his living room, he asked me, “…are you really serious about this?” That was a wise question.

Cisco buys Jabber

September 19, 2008 By: Andre Category: Entrepreneurism, Life

News of Cisco buying Jabber hit the street this morning. This is a really nice landing for the company and all of the employees of Jabber, as I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cisco as a company that really cares for its people.

Jabber was an incredibly fun (albeit short) ride for me personally, and it’s nice to see this really great technology along with all of the passionate and dedicated people achieve a great outcome.

Congratulations Jabber! Congratulations Cisco!


We all pay… eventually

September 18, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

Companies and even whole economy’s are at their core, simple creatures. If they consume more than they produce, over a long enough period of time, they are at risk of survival.

American’s have consumed beyond our means for perhaps 20 years now. And it’s now time to pay the piper. For the past few years at least, we’ve escaped payment by hiding behind our housing appreciation (home equity) and low interest rates, but those cards have now fallen.

What I find interesting about the recent financial meltdown is the fact that no longer are what used to be separate markets within our economy silo’d, where a meltdown in one would not invariably trigger a meltdown in an adjacent market. But those days are over. With derivatives, factoring and all sorts of sophisticated leveraging and hedging, everything is connected, and strings are wound so tight a mouse fart in Tanzania could trigger an avalanche.

My mission (aka message) is simple. It’s time to live within our means TODAY. It’s time to consumer no more than we produce (in fact, saving might actually be a good idea) and it’s time to stop thinking so short term. I’m all for living in the moment, just as long as I don’t consume all the oxygen in the room at the same time.

I’m not really 400 years old…

September 16, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

I just look it.

Two Peas in a Pod

September 13, 2008 By: Andre Category: Life

Phil Windley & Doc Searls

Caught up with my friends Phil Windley and Doc Searls last week at Digital ID World. I asked them how they were doing, but the picture tells it all.

Ask. But ask the right person.

September 09, 2008 By: Andre Category: Entrepreneurism, Life, Musings, Ping Identity

If you’re a visionary entrepreneur, the last person you want to seek advice from is another visionary individual. What’s contradictory in this statement is that often times, ‘future’ ideas are intriguing to other visionaries, so it’s easy to get their attention.

As a general rule, the smarter the individual, the farther out they are able to project a plausible outcome within any given market. The danger of surrounding yourself with these types of individuals as a startup is that you chase ideas who’s time has not yet come. If you’re part of a larger company, you need to have these forward scouts looking for the discontinuities in the market, as it takes longer for the big ships to change direction. But as a startup, being too early will most likely kill you.

To add insult to injury, when the market does finally break out, you’ll look back and say, “I saw that coming”, but you will not reap the benefit from your insights.

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. The people that I needed to talk to early at Ping were the very ones that seemed near to impossible to get to. These were the people who actually did the work, not talk about it. Typically, these individuals are more introverted and their opinion rarely asked. However, THESE are the guys you need to get to. These people will tell you where to connect your vision in todays reality.

I know, it’s counter-intuitive, like so many things in life, which makes the insight that much more powerful if you realize it.