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“I Have This Idea I Want to Share…”

November 18th, 2016 Comments off

While I am still only a few weeks detached after deciding to leave my position with Cylance, I’ve been getting an endless flood of inquiries about the trajectory we had been on as a team, how the company had achieved some of the major milestones it had, as well as whether there were any lessons that I was taking with me and would carry with me into the next chapter. It’s true that the pace had been insane from the very beginning and that the success we had achieved as a team may never be replicated…at least not without the synergies the team had realized early on. I also know that Cylance will not be easily replaced as the experience has been nothing short of amazing. It’s not about finding a job. It’s about reflecting on what has been a life changing 4.5yrs and the desire to reflect on that experience and share with those that have been asking. I’m not sure how many “chapters” there might be, but this is certainly my attempt to kick it off..
While Stuart and I had known each other for a handful of years prior to Cylance, we never knew the depth of each others professional capabilities. I knew he was involved in Security and he know my background was in Finance….end there. What we did know about each other was the relentless nature in our personalities and the ability to suffer for extended periods of time on a bike…think more than 12 hours. Think dehydration, severe cramping, horrible weather conditions, and perhaps all at once. Situations that truly test your personality and whether you have the vision and commitment to see it through. With that said, Stuart shared his idea of a new generation of security and one that he had a team committed to solving. This new initiative was not just about the tech, but about changing the way people thought of security. Fortunately, I had a mentor of almost two decades that came from the security space and he quickly validated Stuart’s knowledge of the space and where he was headed. Combine that with two investors who had prior interactions with Stuart and I know that this was not going to be any ordinary start-up.
Start-up. That characterization that seems daunting to some and terrifying to others. You’re not coming in and inheriting a team…or for that fact, even a company. You have to build it with the team. There’s no other way around it. We had found early on that there were a number of people that were just not capable of surviving in a start-up environment. Whether vision, discipline, experience, inability to build their own client book…or whatever the element might have been, some fell victim to an ongoing exercise in Darwinism. It was truly survival of the fittest. As I had started as employee #7, or for anyone starting in the first 50-100 people, there is no place to hide. You were either getting it done…and getting it done right…or you knew it was time to move on. There was no coddling, no hugs and “it’ll be ok..”…but a relentless push for achieving the results. As I had learned and practiced at so many other prior companies, you delivered on what you promised. Period.
However, at that time in the company, there was also a deliberate avoidance, and an absolute disdain, for politics and silos. We all recognized that if we didn’t have a sense of cohesion in place, a commitment to an end goal, and the support of our respective team members, then we were going to fail. Period. It was in these early days that the support was absolute. Whether someone was getting married, selling a house, establishing new households, moving across the globe…that these conditions were supported…to ensure that we were going to be successful and that everyone was going to be along for the ride. We knew we were going to be on the gas and the pace was going to be relentless. The pace was going to have to be relentless if we wanted to establish a billion dollar company inside of a 3-5 year window. Now keep in mind, while the term “Unicorn” now is common, if not overused, it was not in existence until being coined in 2013. So in 2012 for Stuart to say that in a handful of years he wanted to establish a commercially successful company with a billion dollar valuation…he was dead serious and it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. His vision, while aggressive, was not part of a herd mentality of wanting to be in some hyped “Unicorn Club”. His view was not about creating a tech that would get sold on the hope of establishing commercial success…NO…he wanted to establish a truly disruptive technology that would turn the security space upside down. He wanted to see the team create a tech that would just eat the lunch of first generation AV vendors. Period.
After having done a number of turnarounds, the thought of a start-up certainly was not intimidating. Considering the quality of the team we had, the wealth of experience that each of them was bringing to the table, as well as the collaborative personalities that each one of them shared, I knew that we had a very high likelihood of success in the launch of this company. The most difficult balance we were going to have to achieve was being fiscally responsible to mitigate burn, continue hiring the right individuals, and ensure we had the resources in place that would allow Stuart and the product teams to stay laser focused on their obsession to disrupt the security space. The team that had been assembled would absolutely be able to do that. There would be a further challenge in determining what the necessary resources were that should be put in place. As an example, I had just finished an SAP implementation at my prior company and clearly that was not going to be our platform of choice, but it certainly wasn’t going to be Quickbooks or some other bottom tier platform. The challenge would be to find the Goldilocks solutions for the first 12-18 months. No reason to buy the F1 race car when you couldn’t afford the pit crew and the track hadn’t been built yet…
After a number of emails, a few phone calls, and finally settling on an offer letter, it didn’t take much convincing to join this new start-up. I saw the vision, I believed in the vision, I believed in the team, and I trusted the team at the table. With that, and a few weeks later, Stuart gave me my laptop, let me know it had Quickbooks on it, and if I could get the payroll done that day. With that, as well as a payroll processed that day, I knew we were off to the races… 🙂
Looking forward to the next chapter..
Jeffrey Ishmael

Success Story – Manager of FP&A

February 19th, 2010 Comments off

     One of the more satisfying posts I can make is when a direct introduction within my network results in an offer letter. Whether it’s a Senior Accountant, Controller, or even a Sales or Marketing position, it’s great to see one less open job on the market. This week I was extremely happy to see a former colleague receive an offer letter for a Manager of FP&A position within a consumer products company. Knowing how this individual works, his skillset, and his commitment to the development of his career, he was well deserving.  It looks like there might be a few more in the works right now as I continue to see more opportunities opening up in the market. Funny….I haven’t spoken to a single person in the last few 6-months or more that secured their job through an online posting….hmmmm.

Thanks for reading . . . .

Jeffrey Ishmael

Opening Your Network to Help Others….

July 23rd, 2009 Comments off

                Aside from getting an email or phone call about a job offer, there’s no business communication that has a higher value than receiving notice from somebody in your network that an introduction you made for them culminated in a job offer.  The one thing I learned through my “transition lessons” is how important your network can be for securing the next opportunity. In my case, it has been equally helpful as a sounding board for pressing business issues. In fact, one mentor specifically, has really helped me navigate some pretty interesting business dilemmas.

                I was recently asked to provide some advisory work in the securing of additional working capital, as well as the implementation of a broader finance function for a new company. Although the company was well down the road for product development and patents, they were still start-up from an operational perspective. It became clear, and rather quickly, that they needed an immediate infusion of cash and had put too much faith in other advisors who were not able to deliver. I also knew that I was not going to be their next “rainmaker” and needed to pull in some expertise from my network.  Coincidentally, I had received a call from a classmate telling me about a change in his working situation.

                We met up for coffee and went through what had recently happened with his company. He worked for an OC-based software company and coordinated the majority of their M&A and business development transactions. He had grown tired of their empty promises, inability to execute, and the increasingly high level of politics. Exit….stage right. I knew how he worked and felt that the technical knowledge that he had with the other company would be a great fit for this start-up. Fast forward a few weeks after the introductions and I learned he had been offered a F/T position as their Director of Business Development.  I’ve been able to get 4 people in my network placed over the last year and each placement is equally satisfying. Who in your network have you offered to help lately and are there any folks who might benefit from you opening up your little black book? It’s worth the effort…..

Thanks for reading . . . .

Jeffrey Ishmael

Success Story #2

July 7th, 2008 Comments off

     I recently introduced a prior team member, who wanted to get serious about his search, to an Orange County-based recruiter.  I’m very happy to say that as a direct result of that intro that he has secured a position as a Sr. Financial Analyst with a major logistics firm in O.C..  Congratulations & Good Luck!!!!!

 It really is gratifying to see my network being able to help out!

Here’s looking forward to SS#3 !