A couple of weeks ago I talked about some "fun" identity things - games and comic strips - that I believe serve a useful purpose. Perhaps I didn't articulate that purpose well, but I do know someone who did - Ping Identity CEO Andre Durand. After I wrote about those things, he dropped me a note to explain the background of the comic strip ("The Golden Guardian") and its genesis. I'd like to share his note with you.
“I really appreciate what you do for our industry. We have too few people unfortunately with any stature covering some of the wonderful things we're doing, even if it's taking a long time to realize all of the vision.
"That said, I did want to make a clarification, if for no other reason than I think it's important for us (the collective 'us').
"I think it will be easy for us, in the identity industry, to get discouraged. We've all worked so hard, yet, progress seems so slow. It's easy to become impatient and even discouraged. I know I struggle with this at times. But it's exactly in times like this that we as leaders are needed the most. We're needed to provide vision, direction and most of all, encouragement. The world is built on optimism. I believe this with all of my heart.
"With respect to the Golden Guardian and why I did it. I think the answer can be explained through this personal observation.
"I learned something this year quite by accident. I think it's relevant, not just to Ping, but to life, our industry and perhaps even to the Golden Guardian, time waster that it is. I was hoping you'd allow me to share.
"I've been doing boot camp now for a year and I've found there are two types of instructors. One will say, '...pick up the jump rope and start jumping. Do it for 10 minutes.' Well, as it turns out, 10 minutes of jump rope is like an eternity. It's hell.
"Another instructor will say 'pick up a jump rope, we're going to do 10 minutes' but then a minute into it, they say, 'ok, now jump backwards'. In another minute, they'll say, 'ok, jump side to side'. The point is, by changing things up, 10 minutes fly by and you hardly notice the pain.
"I've been told that Shackleton, when frozen in the Antarctica during one of his expeditions, essentially mastered the same art of making an otherwise boring (or in his case, life threatening) circumstance interesting by constantly organizing things that took his men and their thoughts off of their reality. They all survived, but it was only by the grace of God and his skills as a leader and motivator.
"I believe we're at an important juncture in our industry, one that will require everyone do their part. If we fail, we could become like so many other industries where life, energy and passion have left, and all that is left is apathy. Identity is so important, it deserves our best.
"This isn't to say an industry lacking character is bad. Plenty of money and great companies get made without cartoons, parties or games, which I agree are, in their own right, time wasters. I just think we miss the point if we don't appreciate them for their true intent. I can't speak for others, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, and I certainly know why I do it. It has everything to do with simply keeping things interesting and fun. It's one of the ways I can contribute.
"Of course I understand that at the end of the day, what really counts is that we solve real problems and provide real value, but who says we can't do it without a bit of humor? I believe an industry that's doing well and clearly having a good time will attract more talent, more ideas and more people to the cause.
"With respect to the Golden Guardian, our marketing department had nothing to do with it. The Golden Guardian was actually entirely created by a few personal friends (a Realtor and an art student). It was a labor of love and passion, plain and simple, nothing more or less.
"Like many in the identity industry, what I do is a labor of love and passion. I care about identity and for the people in this industry that have dedicated their lives to solving a very tough problem. I would hate to lose a sense of fun while we pursue these challenges.
"I believe we're in for some difficult times ahead. As a country, as a culture, as an industry.
"It's going to take every ounce of our intellect, hard work and cooperation to work our way back into the growth and optimism which I believe is so powerful. I would like to a positive influence in helping us get there. I'm sure this is going to test my positive nature.”
Very well put, Andre, and a nice note to end the year on. We’ll take a break over the next couple of weeks, but we’ll be back right after the new year begins. Happy Holidays!