Career Notes 8.16.20
Ep 11 | 8.16.20

Stu Sjouwerman: Trying for a win, win, win game. [CEO]


Stu Sjouwerman: My name is Stu Sjouwerman and I am the founder and CEO of KnowBe4. I started a software service company for nonprofits like Greenpeace with four friends of mine. It was my my first startup, this is the current one is the fifth. And I had to train myself. I had to learn sales. I had to learn marketing, learn computing. And that was the first one, really.

Stu Sjouwerman: We sold that and I started a little training company that did training for first time computer users through a little audiocassette that you plugged into the cassette player, click play and then it said what you had to do. It's a forerunner of KnowBe4. (Laughter)

Stu Sjouwerman: Well, I hopped over to system utilities for minicomputers and we were selling to the system administrators who had as their job to keep the network and the systems up and running, learned an incredible amount. And then we started a company called Sunbelt Software, and we were selling system management tools for new Windows operating system that was mid-95 and they badly needed security tools. So that's how I got into the infosec side of the business.

Stu Sjouwerman: What I like about what we do today is that it's a it's a win, win, win game as opposed to a zero-sum game. Zero-sum game, there's no final plus there. Somebody wins or somebody who loses. In our case, the employees and our customers win all the KnowBe4 employees and our investors win. And the only ones you could say who are not happy with us are the bad guys. But that's what we do for a living.

Stu Sjouwerman: We essentially train a human firewall. Keep employees able to make smarter security decisions every day and make sure that they don't click on bad links or open attachments and let the bad guys into the network. If you could predict the future, you'd be so ahead of every anyone else. You just want to create a future that is that is a positive kind of environment where where people can can flourish and have a great job. I would vote for no criminality with the current hat that I'm wearing. The funny thing is that most of my mentors have been books. I know how to study. If I figure it out or if I had to figure out rather how to do something, I just grab the books and and read them and apply them.

Stu Sjouwerman: I mean heck, if I would be 25 with what I know today, man, I could take over the world. (Laughter) Any new area that you endeavor into has its own language, biology, atomic fission, they have their own language. Find out what the words are. Make your own lists, create your own dictionary and learn to speak that language, whatever new area you are trying to get into.