I just heard from Rick Bentley, a Berkeley physics alum – he’s back here in the good old Bay Area from Iraq, trying to get back into CEO stuff at his security startup. Talk about “culture shock” – from meditations on bullets and murdered colleagues and finding yourself alone and unarmed on the wrong side of the Green Zone, to Silicon Valley startup and bizplans and product specs. Yet that’s the way it is nowadays – the world is a much smaller place.
I like the weblog he’s done talking about his experiences. So many startup execs today are extremely narrow in their outlook – maybe Stanford biz school and a few preppie connections, or perhaps locked up in an academic lab creating some new RFC. It’s rare to find someone (especially in security) who actually learns what it’s like for most ordinary people to survive in an unsafe world.
Personally, I prefer dealing with people who have developed some empathy for their profession through real-world experience, such as when the doctor for my daughter’s broken wrist talked about his family’s history of scoliosis while he was binding her injury and said “that’s why I became interested in orthopaedic medicine”. It’s living life that matters most.