Your security scars are the key to innovation

Ben Johnson, CTO and co-founder of Obsidian Security, lines up for a Security Slap Shot on driving innovation in security and business based on experience.

Your security scars are the key to innovation

Scars are an interesting aspect of life. Visible scars — like the one I have over my lip from a dog bite — are a reminder and the opening for a story. Ask me about it sometime. Other scars are harder to see, gained from experience.

Not all scars are reminders of entirely negative or painful experiences. Often our scars are earned and adorn us as a badge. They signal our experience. And that experience leads to better judgment.

Maybe your security scars are the key to better innovation.

That’s what Ben Johnson (LinkedIn, @chicagoben) thinks. He’s the co-founder and CTO of Obsidian Security. He co-founded Carbon Black before that. A leading voice in the world of cloud security, Ben’s traveled the world speaking and working with people to talk about their concerns.

It's safe to say he’s compared security scars with a lot of people.

Here’s his Security Slap Shot.

Your security scars help with innovation and business

It’s always nice when you can pause for a moment and look back on the path that’s brought you to today. I had the opportunity to do just that after recently launching Obsidian Security with two former competitors, Glenn Chisholm and Matt Wolff.

We’ve found that our backgrounds as security practitioners have given us the ability to understand the needs of the security community in a way that may not come as easily to other security vendors. We like to say that we’ve “earned our scars” after years on the front lines. We understand what it’s like to sit on the other side of the table — to buy products, to talk to vendors and to focus on security operations on a daily basis. And as vendors, we’ve stumbled and been punched in the face and are now better professionals because of it.

For other security practitioners thinking about a move to the vendor side, my advice is to build your networks, get close to other startups to learn from them and try to gain a better understanding of the business and marketing side of things. But don’t discount your technical experience. The scars that you earned every day as a practitioner will likely be the differentiator that helps you relate to the day-to-day needs of security professionals in a way that others can’t.

While most vendors today seem to want proliferation, real security practitioners today are focused on consolidation. They want tools that integrate easily and give them a single view into their networks. As Glenn, Matt and I work on building Obsidian Security technology from the ground up, we’ve found that our past experiences are helping us focus on delivering a product that will be embraced by those fighting the good fight in the trenches.

My analysis (color commentary)

For many, scars are a rite of passage. Maybe not when the wound is fresh, but over time, our scars often serve us well. As Ben points out, the scars you earn in security turn into assets when you change positions. In my experience, that works when you take positions in leadership, too. If you remember what it was like — and the lesson you learned when you earned your scars, you’ll be better off.

Your turn — react

Do your security scars guide you to better innovation and leadership? Are you proud of your scars, or do you wish you could trade them in? How about the role of our scars in driving innovation forward to focus on real needs?

Share your scars — and your thoughts — with me and Ben on Twitter (@catalyst and @chicagoben).

Ready, set, react!

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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