I’ve actually been debating whether or not I’d tell this story for most of the weekend, because, frankly, it’s a bit embarrassing. However, after going back-and-forth quite so many times, I finally decided that I’d share it with you so that maybe you’d end up being not quite so bull-headed and mistaken as I was.
You might know that I originally started Archistry in 2006. At the time, I was living in Ireland, I was speaking at a lot of conferences – on security, international standards, and technology leadership – and I was also convinced that I had a potential solution to a “really big” problem that I wanted to work on full-time—and I had a plan on how I thought it might work. I kinda saw it as a technology start-up, but I didn’t want it to be the typical one—and I had a lot of unanswered questions to figure out.
But I knew that the only way I was going to do it was to set out on my own so I could run my own show.
By 2009, I’d put in enough time – and thought I’d solved enough of the technology issues – to test things at scale, so I started another company – a spin-off, really – pulled together a team…
…and failed. Not spectacularly.
Sure, there were issues with the underlying technology. But I knew what those were, and I knew how to fix them.
And there were other factors that had a pretty significant impact on my lack of success with that particular venture, I knew.
Fast forward a bit more, and I decided that I’d addressed the biggest problems I had, so it was time to start again.
I’d revamped the technology implementation to fix the biggest issues.
I’d built more of a support network and had access to a really big pool of people and talent.
And I’d managed to stockpile a big chunk of money so I wouldn’t have to worry about things for a while.
But, unsurprisingly – despite thinking I’d addressed all the problems that had previously prevented the level of success I was expecting…
…I still struggled.
Sure, there was forward progress. Some successes. A lot of setbacks.
However…it was still a lot harder than I expected.
I mean, I’d studied. I read.
I talked to people who’d done it before.
I had people working for me.
I had great advisors.
I had cash.
But I still had a problem. And it turned out to be a problem that was simple enough to solve – laughably so, in fact – but…
…it was a problem that took me waaaaaaaaaay to long to fix.
And, it’s a problem that had the single, biggest impact on my ability to deliver what I was trying to accomplish.
This is the problem I’d like to help you avoid yourself if you let me. Because it’s a problem that has nothing to do with running companies.
It’s a problem that has everything to do with accomplishing what you want to do.
Because if someone had come up to me (which, in fact they didn’t—not really at least, and not as explicitly as I’m saying to you now). If someone had come up to me and said,
“Hey Andrew. You know that thing you’re trying to do? Well…before you’re really going to be able to pull it off, you’re first going to need to learn X, Y and probably a whole lot about Z.”
…where at least X, and maybe Z were things I thought had nothing whatsoever to do with what I was trying to accomplish. Or worse, they were things that I thought I’d learned, but, as it turned out, I wasn’t even close to being able to do in practice.
Now if someone had actually said this to me, the way our funny, squishy and complicated human brains work, I probably wouldn’t have believed them.
I probably wouldn’t have listened.
I mean, after all. I had it all figured out. I had resources. And I had a commitment to making it happen.
I had drive, damnit!
So you’re probably also not going to believe me when I say it to you now about what it really takes to be a successful architect either—or what it takes to really build a successful security program overall.
We often bitch about the things we think we don’t have:
We don’t have the people on the team.
We don’t have the budget.
We don’t have the tools.
But how often do we really bitch about not having the right skills—in ourselves?
How often do we really recognize that as a problem at all?
And I mean not in a superficial way. I mean in a way that really makes us think deeply about what it takes to do what we need to do.
What it turned out I was really missing was a set of key skills that it took me far too long to realize were actually missing.
And during that time, those skill gaps were what was really letting me down. It was what was behind some bad decisions. And it was behind a lot of false optimism about how things “were supposed to work.”
In the end, it cost me a helluva lot of time. And it ultimately cost me a helluva lot more money.
Personally, I’d like to have a lot of that time back. Sure, some of it was valuable and educational and all that…and it made me who I am today, writing you this email.
But there was a really big part of it that was me just fucking around, getting trapped in blind alleys and pouring sand down ratholes—all of which seemed perfectly reasonable and relevant at the time.
However…I still wasn’t putting my effort in the right place.
I wasn’t putting the effort I should into truly becoming who I needed to be to be successful in achieving what I wanted to do.
Now, maybe you don’t feel that your chosen role of security leader or security architect is that important. Maybe you don’t feel that it’s worth all that introspection, self development and effort.
And that’s perfectly ok.
What I’d like the opportunity to do is help you be smarter, better and more effective at getting what I wanted than I certainly was 25, 14 or even 5 years ago…
…to save you some time
…to save you some stress
…and to ultimately help you be more successful, faster than I ever was…
…and doing it in a role that you feel is important enough to have invested whatever it’s taken you so far to get where you are right now.
That’s ultimately why I created a program like Building Effective Security Architectures in the first place—to short-circuit all the crap and focus on “getting it done” instead of talking about it and getting lost in theoretical fantasies.
To take the first step, you need to be enrolled in the next cohort starting in just a few weeks. And to do that, you need to visit this link:
Then scroll all the way to the bottom, and press the big, fat, yellow button.
If I can help you be smarter, faster and more effective than I was, I will certainly do everything I can to do it. But I can’t do it alone.
Andrew S. Townley
Archistry Chief Executive