When I’m out speaking in public I’m representing the company I work for so I have to, as my grandmother used to say, “mind my tongue”. It has always been an unwritten rule that you don’t discuss business with competitors but what about being chatting about the industry (e.g. trends, acquisitions, issues, etc.) with said competitors?
On more than one occasion I’ve had great conversations with Dr. Anton Chuvakin of LogLogic and Ron Gula of Tenable Network Security. We’re fully aware of the organizations which we work for, we’re all very proud of our respective products, but we’re still able to talk casually (and sometimes bluntly) about the industry, it’s challenges, and it’s pitfalls.
I believe we get along for a few reasons…we all have similar interests, we all have a great sense of humor, and (I think) we’re genuinely nice people 😛
Let me give you a few examples…
Earlier this week, Anton and I discussed the percentage was of a certain products users actually using the product when it was thrown in for free (A certain company has been known to do this as a value-add to a large customer purchase of its switches and routers to ‘manage’ their newly purchased infrastructure). The jury is still out on this number as we both feel it sits on the shelf most of the time 😉
A few weeks back I needed assistance finding someone to talk to in product management at a particular company. I hesitated asking Ron if he knew anyone there, but he quickly offered to make the introductions.
I recently asked Anton’s opinion on how many slides he would recommend for a 30 minute technical presentation. The answer, in case you’re wondering, was between 15 and 20 depending on content. Anton then told me, jokingly, that he was off to work on competitive slides detailing why my company’s solution sucked. I reminded him to include sections on how great his syslog server solution was (inside joke). We both had a good laugh on that one.
A few months back I was talking with Ron and he mentioned how he was looking for someone in California to join Tenable as a trainer. I happened to know an excellent resource in the area and had no second thoughts about sending the resume along with my endorsement. It didn’t work out but if he asked me again I’d be happy to recommend some additional resources that might fit an open requirement.
I guess, at the end of the day, we’re just a couple of like minded guys trying to help each other out. Granted, the only thing I’ve given Anton is a hard time but you never know…someday, and that day may never come, my colleagues may call upon me to do a service for them. And you know what…I’d be happy to do it!