This entry is fairly unique as it doesn’t have any technical knowledge to share. To be honest, I’m more writing this for myself than anything else. I hope this isn’t my personal Jerry Maguire mission statement moment. Although I’m certain this will come back to be somewhat uncomfortable to a degree in the wildest of ways at some point in the future. Anyways here goes nothing…
I’ve been trying to find a word to describe what our students mean to us. I had used the word “tribe” for a long time but was told that some people may find using that word is questionable in today’s world. Then I saw Marc Benioff use the word Ohana in a tweet. Having never heard of this word before, I looked it up. In short, it is Hawaiian for family (including an extended expression of family). That’s what our students are. They are our Ohana.
Now I know this word is likely going to be taken over by marketers as a new buzzword in short order, if it hasn’t been already (sure enough there’s a company called Ohana that does hotel influencer marketing – go figure). Soon, it will be Ohana this and Ohana that. They aren’t sincere of course. I am. I always have been, and I always will be. Their use of the word will soon fade and will be replaced by the next buzzword that comes along. I’ll continue to use it because it’s an honest use of the word that captures my beliefs.
Take the CCSK training for example. I have trained this class since it was released. This was originally a 1-day course. After a few deliveries of the course, it became obvious to me that there wasn’t enough time to deliver the material and have people actually understand the material. So, I changed our delivery to 2 days for the foundation (lectures) and 3 days for the Plus (lectures plus labs). This doubled our delivery costs, so did we double the registration fees? Not even close. Ohana over profits.
Another issue the CCSK had was a lack of exam preparation material. Aside from the CSA guidance and ENISA core documentation, there was none. No pre-test exam questions, no course videos, nothing. This is something our students needed, so I made 200+ test questions, a set of videos for the course and another set of videos for exam preparation. Why? Ohana. It sure isn’t as promotion because we don’t do a very good job with that. So many students have no clue this is included as part of their registration. It’s actually kind of embarrassingly bad marketing. As long as it helps our Ohana, it’s all worth it.
There are three tenets I have and always say when teaching, and expect our trainers to have as well. They are as follows:
- This is your class. I am merely a trainer, presenter, sherpa…whatever you want to call me. Ohana.
- Nobody is left behind. This applies for lectures and more importantly the labs. Ohana.
- I am available anytime during and after the course to help you succeed. Ohana.
Another example of Ohana? We won’t cancel a class if there aren’t enough people to make a profit. You commit to us, we commit to you. This is unlike other places that will prioritize profits over people. In fact, I am still haunted by the one time this did happen over 10 years ago (June 1st 2012 to be exact. I still have the emails.). The class was scheduled for Boston and we could not afford to run it. I don’t mean that it would have lost money, I mean I didn’t even have enough room on my credit card to afford the gas to Boston, let alone the meeting room space and hotel. I doubt you’ll ever see this, Scott, but if you do, know I still regret failing you. It wasn’t by choice.
Look at our blog entries. How many promotional blogs stuffed with SEO keywords do you find? How many cheesy bandwagon jumping posts do you see that have zero knowledge sharing? None. Why? Ohana. I know that I could launch an SEO campaign that does nothing but impress the great Google engine, but I refuse to. Why? It feels sleezy. Almost anti-Ohana.
These blogs lead to McGraw-Hill reaching out to me about being the author for the CCSK All-In-One book they were considering. If you should know anything about the money side of authoring a book, it’s not a fast track to riches. If memory serves, the average book sells less than 1000 copies. I knew this going into a months-long process. What drove me while making the book? It sure wasn’t fame or fortune. It was hoping that one person trying to provide for their family would benefit. My “target reader” was an imaginary person named Rajesh. It could have equally been Larry or Kim, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I honestly hoped I could help Rajesh achieve what they wanted, which was helping them obtain a rewarding career in cloud security and financial stability for their family. I mean, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Ohana.
There is just one more thing I really want to do but can’t figure out the best way of doing it – some form of scholarships. I’ve reached out to numerous organizations, and they have zero interest in running a program for their clients. They all just want cash. If you have any thoughts on this, run a business and want to give back like I want to, or know of groups that actually care about the people they claim to help, I’m open to suggestions.
In conclusion, they say you should have a singular purpose and laser focus for starting and running a company. I can honestly say the reason for Intrinsec’s creation and continued success is Ohana. I’m just glad to have finally discovered the right word to express my feelings and our mission, even if it took more than a decade to stumble on it.