Complete Podcast Interview Transcript:
Welcome to the Purpose Nation Podcast! Inspiring conversations with Christians in science, technology and industries of the future. For more information or to make a tax deductible contribution visit PurposeNation.org.
Brad Cooper: 00:16
This is Brad Cooper with Purpose Nation. And today we have a great interview lined up for you where I'll be speaking with the CEO of a very fast growing software technology company called Salepoint, Mark McCLain. Mark, welcome to the Purpose Nation Podcast. How are things in Austin today?
Mark McClain: 00:32
Just great Brad! thank you for having me it's a pleasure to join you the podcast looking forward our conversation.
Brad Cooper: 00:37
Likewise. You're based out of Austin not too far I imagine from some of the effects of hurricane Harvey. Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with many of the Texans who lost loved ones who have been impacted by hurricane Harvey. Any impact for maybe people in your company, relatives? What's been any of the impact that you've seen you're far enough away I'mguessing to not be in the brunt of it but some of the things that you've been seeing there?
Mark McClain: 00:59
I think in general for folks who don't know we're a couple of hundred miles roughly a little less from Houston between us and Houston there was bands of heavier rain. Right Austin itself got a pretty heavy rain we can last we could literally nothing that even gave us a real scare. Honestly the only long term impact here in and that's been gas shortages believe it or not. There's been issues getting gas there. There's been so to speak runs on the gas station Circa 1973. You know gas prices, nothing terrible I think it things they'll work that quickly. I think in general for most of us it's hard not to know people in Houston you live in Austin it's like living in L.A. and not know people in San Diego, right? Yes been pretty tough. The number of people who have been displaced. Natalie there was a little more loss of life I think than maybe folks hoped there would be initially after that hurricane initially hit that the. issued been homes and shelters and getting people out of their houses and as they're estimating something like 50 to 70 percent larger impact here than Katrina which was just a huge relief. I've heard on the order of 150 billion dollars of property damage just one report I've heard. So it's going to be a tremendously impactful thing for the Houston area for a long time. Lots of you know rebuilding and people having to get new homes and all that. It's been cool there's been a lot of outpouring of both people wanting to marshal up gifts. You know you see great things happening with those tremendous wealth. You know Michael Dell and down committed to a big number I saw today. A lot of people are putting forth a lot of money to try to help. And they're obviously sensitive folks have had the ability to get over there and help physically everything from get waterlogged things out of homes to help people find places to live etc.. It's a pretty significant event obviously a time for folks to come alongside their fellow community members and do what they can to help. But it's certainly been a higher impact thing than maybe everybody hoped it would be.
Brad Cooper: 02:38
Oh yeah. Well definitely and our thoughts and prayers are with you know especially people that listen but the whole state of Texas and like you said it's great to see so many people responding and just prayers and thoughts with the people of Houston and of your state. Lookingforward to discussing how God has been working your career and life. So just a real quick background on Mark. He's been in the technology industry leading it for over 20 years developing leading some very successful technology companies. He's been the founder and CEO of Salepoint for the last 12 years and Salepoint is a fast growing leader in the software technology with something called Identity Management and I'd like to hear more about what that means. Kind of a fancy term but well you'll have Mark break that down for us a little bit. But and his company have been recognized for having just a great company culture. Not only that just the success of the company but awards from some of the Austin business newspapers and sites around their employee ratings of both Mark as a CEO and then just the company. And he also just has a track record even before that of building and growing really groundbreaking technology companies in 2000 he founded a company called Wave Technologies and that experience a lot of growth. Ultimately the leading to an acquisition by Sun Microsystems also had a career with Hewlett-Packard and IBM in the Bay Area and both Austin and then recently kind of more of a serial entrepreneur. And on top of all of this Mark's obviously just a great Christian and has been active in sharing his faith and leadership strategies with other Christian leaders and CEOs. Groups like the C12 group. So starting off what is Sailpoint all about? What does your company do? What are some of the problems that solve?
Mark McClain: 04:07
Sure glad to. Yeah I think the term identity management is sometimes people in the consumer mindset go to identity fraud, right? The things we all love to talk about today of credit card issues and identity theftthat is not the part of the identity landscape we play and we're in the enterprise identity management. And in that context it really means ensuring that the right people have access to the right things within the corporation or the organization or anybody that's ever worked for any size organization or particularly a large one. In today's world you have accounts and passwords to systems that have important data in business applications like SAP for people you know that or Oracle, Workday and Salesforce. For people to do what they do and the average company today they have in some cases they view and in some cases a they have very large number of what's called access privileges. So I'm Brad, I work in the accounting group I need access to these 12 systems to do my job and I have these kinds of privileges within those systems to either view data, change data, etc. What Salepoint does is to help bring all of that information together because in typical organizations that information is spread out across a number of different systems and different data storage places. It's not all kept centrally we bring it together centrally so we can get a 360 degree view of who you are, what role you play in the organization, what things should you have access to do your job. It kind of a no more no less is the time it's called least privilege right you should have kind of the minimum things you need to do to do your job and ideally nothing more. Right. But over time what happens in every large organization in the world is that gets badly managed. You move around, you change jobs, you transfer. Your organization brings in new systems and people just keep collecting lots of access rights or privileges. We call them but then they don't get taken away and over time quite commonly people have access to things they really should. And in today's world of data breaches and bad hacker things happening there's more and more concern that as good stewards of the data and information in their enterprises, people need to know exactly who has access to what and is it correctly configured or correctly set up and our products help span all those kinds of systems in the enterprise. Bring it together give that central view keep things on track meaning over time these things tend to atrophy and go badly. How do we bring them back to Brad does this job he should have these things and only these things. Now there are audits that companies do to verify this is correct. They have to prove to their management teams that their employees are correctly set up and we do that for the largest organizations in the world. Our company, excuse me our customers are generally what are called Fortune 1000 large large organizations - the banks and insurance companies and then the retail companies that you all see on TV and the Internet and cable. It's the biggest brands out there.
Brad Cooper: 06:49
Right well yeah. I mean just from my own standpoint I'm in a smaller company now but I've been in bigger companies too. But man like hundreds of passwords it seems like that. And again I think consumers just in general can sort of at least even if it's not the product is not geared towards them can realize just how many passwords that they have for so many different systems and especially with a lot of these things going into the cloud now where it's not necessarily software that's sitting on your computer but now you've got all these passwords to all these different sort of disparate things and yeah if you move around in the company. I think there was one example I heard of him in an interview that he did where there was somebody in a bank maybe in Europe maybe was a guy who went from the I.T. Department to like the trading floor or something and somehow about how he had access to like the I.T. stuff. He covered his tracks. Is that right? I mean is that like an example of what your software would prevent?
Mark McClain: 07:35
Yeah that's that's actually one of the more famous egregious examples in our industry of a guy who moved from one job to another legitimately started doing things that were at first just a little too risky. Andthen later on downright illegal but because he still had I.T. privileges information technology privileges he wasn't supposed to, he could cover his tracks he could literally steal other people's passwords and appear to do trades as someone else. I mean it was it was a classic case of poor identity and access management not keeping track of who had access to what enabled this guy to do a lot of very bad things. And ultimately it came to light and it really had cost the banks something like seven billion dollars in lost trade.
Brad Cooper: 08:19
So your company, just a couple of stats maybe, I don't know what you can divulge. It's a private company and I don't know if you disclosed revenues or an employee size but just some sense of sort of the size of the company and how you're growing.
Mark McClain: 08:25
We're at a point where we're kind of cautious about what we share externally as a private company. We did publish some information last year. Our revenues in fiscal year 2016 which was calendar year for us. We got over 130 million in revenue sort of pretty good size organization and I think at that time we published that we had I think just under 700 employees and we continue to grow very well both on the revenue and the employee and the customer side that's just those are the things that we are talking about quite as up as broadly.
Brad Cooper: 08:53
Got it, okay. Successful company growing. That's fantastic. So now I'm going to take a big shift rewinding and going back into the life Mark. Tell us about growing up and where you grew up maybe a little bit about the environment. And then also what are some of the things maybe that might have led you into thinking about business or thinking about technology and then also you could touch on the faith background.
Mark McClain: 09:17
Okay yeah. I was blessed fortunately growing up in a home with two very strong Christian parents, good family upbringing parents who love each other, stayed married. Good stuff. Very fortunate. I grew up in a suburb of L.A. kind of lower middle class as I like to say we didn't ever want for food that I didn't have a lot of new stuff. You know that kind of a childhood and so grew up kind of not really aware of the business world much. Mom was a teacher. Dad was a social worker so I kind of grew up kind of understanding that social service professions and helping professions and things like that. Got interested in some business things that are after going to college I was an economics major thinking I'm I might do business might do law, that sort of my thinking when I went through the undergraduate world. Grew up oldest of four boys, very close knit. I was the oldest of four boys in six years so it was a rambunctious, fun loving house they have as I say my mom was one of those moms who was happy about that I can see some moms might not have been happy about having four boys bouncing around the house but she really enjoy that. And you know my parents really had a lot of fun with it. And my brothers and I are all so close. We had a great time growing up. There were things we talked about, you know, kinda like did you have a lemonade stand?
Mark McClain: 10:19
It's funny you mention that. I've actually said that people I was not that good. Right. I was the kid going on my way to play baseball with my friends laughing at the kids sitting out with the lemonade stand.
Brad Cooper: 10:30
Entrepreneur background? or business or anything like that.? Or were you just enjoying life?
Mark McClain: 10:35
I was the opposite. I'm like why don't we just go play baseball and get mom to give him some lemonade, right? Why. Why would I do that? A dad in the social service welfare department of the county and my mom teaching right all basically government employees that a lot of exposure to the whole world of business just kind of did well in school. Enjoyed academics and therefore kind of you know kind of gravitated to being challenge to try to be quote unquote a success as I grew up and just kind of gravitated toward well with the sound of the has some interesting challenges and I got a little older and and learned a lot more about it. Managed to find myself starting a career at IBM which was not at all where I was headed when I was in college just kind of a series of circumstances I landed and landed a job there and next thing you know was in the world of technology and really enjoying it. It wasn't well planned.
Brad Cooper: 11:21
No, it doesn't sound like it. You were thinking about a career back then was there like a second path so if there was if it wasn't you know landing at IBM was there some other career you know either as a kid or even later in college that you sort of had your sights on?
Mark McClain: 11:33
You know it's a great question I kind of put my brain all the way back there. I mean it's really tough. I'vementioned this recently I majored in economics because somewhere along the way I'd heard that sort of let you go toward either law or business and that's like well both of those sounds kind of interesting. And it is sort of the old deferred the decision outrider I think well why don't I just do economics as an undergrad then I can make that decision later. I'll either go to law school or business school right. And you know I think that the path then was I ended up applying to law school and getting waitlisted which is a perfectly bad way to verify the decision right? Well I could get in and I might get in I might not. Andso to me I'm kind of get some job searching and also we didn't get into law school. And so as a result of that. OK well I'll just go worked for a while. Maybe I'll go back to school later either law or business and kind of again through friend of a friend I was looking at very various kinds of bigger corporation type business opportunities and just found in a way IBM and again had a little bit of computer science you know. I'm in college in the early 80s so computer science was becoming a bit more of a thing but it wasn't the thing it is today. Programming is not as big a thing yet I did in a programming to know I shouldn't be a programmer. I was you know I can kind of understand this stuff. My brain is more wired for people and business and strategy than it is for technical things. And so I kind of figured out I like technology, I just didn't want to program for a living. So I knew that much when I got it right.
Brad Cooper: 12:58
What other, is there another talent maybe that you had either growing up or now that people wouldn't expect from a technology CEO, playing the guitar or maybe sports or sort of. Is there a special talent that you might have that maybe people wouldn't expect?
Mark McClain: 13:10
I'ma little bit of a master, what is that saying jack of all trades master of none? trying to remember that phrase there. in that. I was pretty good at a lot of stuff but not excellent at anything mean a very strong academics. I had good grades but I was a good athlete but not great you know kind of a good high school. Maybe I could have played at my small college probably but I was no division 1/ pro athlete. I was musically inclined. Mymom was musically inclined so I played some instruments, you know play the guitar. So again, not ever the caliber of a professional musician. You know. So I kind of enjoyed a lot of things. And if there's a talent there that I think God gave me that sort of that ability to relate to a lot of different kinds of people in a lot of different types of environments. I'm uncomfortable around really technical people, uncomfortable and really artistic people, I'm comfortable around really nerdy business types, whatever. You know I've I kind of can can relate to a lot of different people and in a in a general management/CEO job that is a very useful skill right. To understand the different ways people think and how they how they look at the world. I always joke Microsoft simplify the world for us a number of years ago, right? Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.right? Are you are you a words person, pictures person, or a numbers person?
Brad Cooper: 14:25
That's a good analogy. Yeah exactly. Yeah.
Mark McClain: 14:29
I kind of again like a little of all those things and I'm probably a little more oriented toward pictures and words but you know I can have a decent facility with numbers but I'm not as good as anybody and any one of those things. I'm just kind of broadly capable in a lot of them.
Brad Cooper: 14:45
You're the Office suite.
Mark McClain: 14:45
Yes I'm the Office Suite. There you go, perfect!
Brad Cooper: 14:51
And then again as you said you know it's also good for somebody who manages all those different types of skill sets so out of college went to IBM and I guess HP in the Bay Area is a little bit of a culture shock or what was that like?
Mark McClain: 15:03
I'd been seven years working for IBM in L.A. and I was in the field, what we called the sales engineers, systems engineer which is basically the technical, you know, engineer and my title was always funny to me. Just it's the technical part of the selling organization right I was not an engineer. That I switch or become an actual rep which we called a marketing rep back in IBM. But the sales rep kind of decided I didn't like the whole living on a quota, living in the sales force forever. That's when I got my MBA at UCLA and kind of leverage that to go into marketing at more the product program kind of marketing that kind of marketing. And I did that at HP so I moved to the Valley from L.A. to work at HP and so my Valley experience which by the way it was whatever 92 to 95 right. So my valley experience was not kind of the the crazy startup of the valley. I was working for a big corporation, right? at HP. I did pick up on some things about the valley but honestly it was later in my career where I either was at a startup and or working with companies that were in the thick of the Valley I would call it I really got to more of a sense of the Valley mindset. I think when I worked at HP I could have been working almost anywhere in some ways it was just a big corporate setting. You know HP as you probably know, Brad,has historically this is less true than it was 20 years ago they seeded a lot of the Valley. It was a very entrepreneurial innovative culture to a lot of people if you trace their roots. It started pretty interesting tech companies a lot of them actually made it made a sojourns or HP so it was a good place to find them. More so than IBM it was a good place to kind of develop some entrepreneurs. I learned some great things at IBM. I learned kind of some really good discipline and planning and structured way of approaching things. IBM was a machine, right? And HP was more a collection of innovation and entrepreneurs those really interesting kind of two different backgrounds to blend. But it was out of those that I can see that going into my first come startup world. When I left HP actually came to a company I wasn't a founder of called Tivoli laner later bought by IBM so it was just going public but in a day when people went public much smaller so it had a couple hundred people I think that 200 people when I joined you know the smallest company I worked for was HP with 90000 right into a pretty big culture shock to go to a 200 person company but it was fun. It was energetic and lots of flexibility and as I now call it lots of whitespace. Kind of go figure it out you know not a lot of pre-determine go execute something someone else thought of you got to go figure it out. So it was very invigorating. And then we got bought by IBM literally the first year we were public right after I got there. So kind of went back into IBM through that acquisition but not really sort of the way I describe it because IBM to its credit kind of let Tivoli run as an independent company. And so I still got to watch kind of a fast moving entrepreneurial company growth through those years kind of this is 95 to 2000 roughly. It was interesting it was both some really good and some not so good lessons of things to do when you're growing really fast, kind of market adoption was crazy and we we couldn't even keep up with demand. It was quite a ride but I learned some good and bad things that I thought about and then to your point I went up with some buddies in 2000 and actually co-founded a company called Waveset that was the name of the first one I actually found it.
Brad Cooper: 18:14
And as that in Austin? When did you move to Austin?
Mark McClain: 18:14
Yes I moved Austin for Tivoli in 95 so IBM bought it in 96so that four years ago with IBM. Tivoli was all in Austin so my early career was IBM in L.A. out in the field kind of classic traditional IBM. My my second stint to speak at IBM was after Tivoli got bought and I was in a very different kind of a role as basically a market leader who ultimately became VP of Marketing and ran the marketing group there for Tivoli and it was just a very different experience and my first time with IBM. I was in this entrepreneurial part of IBM we were growing really fast, doing a lot of crazy things trying to change the way IBM thought honestly about how to be aggressive and entrepreneurial. But eventually it just became very challenging to do that. Inside the IBM machine and culture so that's when I decided with some buddies to go to to launch out on our own.
Brad Cooper: 19:05
So you were you the business guy then of Waveset? How did they break down in terms like your buddies and the co-founders that started that company?
Mark McClain: 19:12
Good question. It really was kind of a two and two. So my buddy Mike was the CEO I was the President. We were kind of in a box really. But you know we had to split the titles and Mike was a very business minded engineer and I was a reasonably technically minded business guy so we were a good match than our other two co-founders. One was the VP marketing, Kevin, who ended up becoming my co-founder at this company. Theother was a VP of engineering so we sort of had two guys that came more from the product engineering development side and two that came more from part of a marketing product marketing and management side and then also as the company started to grow we had to add in sales and finance and operations kind of peopleto round out the management team. But the core was kind of a product development product management kind of core.
Brad Cooper: 19:59
Gotit, okay. And that company pretty fast success, it seems like and was bought by Sun when it was a 2003. So about three years?
Mark McClain: 20:05
Yeah. Three and a half years as we really got bought. If you know the world of startups and I'm sure you do buy general policy so you start with a four year stock option thing and in four years we've really got old and money thirty five hundred forty seven right literally right before the month before we would have fully vested it was hilarious. You know it was a fast run and as I look back at it now that was 200-2003 And so you know the market right. The tech bubble the first tech bubble kind of blew up in late 99 or early 2000. And so we had just started this company no sudden everybody was crashing and burning that were start up tech companies because most of them were Internet bubble right eyeballs. I'm just going to get a bunch of people to my Web site and I'll figure out how to make money later and all of sudden people went I'm not sure that's a good business plan. And all those companies started imploding and we weren't that kind of company but because we were just a new tech startup, we spend a lot of time explaining to people we weren't that kind of company. No no no we're. We're building enterprise software we're helping big companies do stuff in the back office. It's nothing like Internet consumer. So once we kind of got through that initial choppy waters of the first couple of years we got through that started to really get some nice momentum and then it turned out there was a handful of startups in that space and a bunch of the big tech companies Sun, Oracle, IBM others decided they sort of wanted to play in that market and all the startup community basically got acquired so far started predators all got acquired by our other big company competitors. We got acquired my Sun who as many folks knows now part Oracle. But back then Oracle, Sun, IBM, Novell, HP all these tech big titan players went off and bought all these startups and entered the market that way.
Brad Cooper: 21:40
And that was it seemed like a pretty successful sale and then how long was it between that and you said you know what that was a pretty crazy experience let me do that again.
Mark McClain: 21:51
Yes, you are inside my head Brad. Those are the questions. No I think what we did we stayed about a year, year and a half. We had kind of a you know kind of a reason to stay as they say at Sun. They've kind of locked us up with new financial incentives stay so we stayed and we tried to help make this a successful inside Sun and it really was. But ultimately you know as often is true when you're an entrepreneur at that point I'd shifted into an entrepreneurial mindset. You find yourself back in a big company after acquisition you go you know this isn't really what I signed up for. I don't want to be the head of a division of the company. I want to run another company so a year and a half. We stayed at Sun took a little bit of break and then two of the four co-founders Kevin and I and then we added a third co-founder who we've known and worked with quite a bit in our past, Jackie. The three of us started this company Sailpoint in basically the very end of 2005. Soabout a half year after we left Sun.
Brad Cooper: 22:41
Okay. And so I guess even there 12 years as successful as the CEO it sounds like a lot of your customers are on the technology side. You'veobviously dealt with your your your co-founders and executives at your companies and programmers so good exposure to both the technical and the business side. What are some of the things that you would say are good skills for a leader in a technology company to have?
Mark McClain: 23:00
Oh good question. You know I'm a big fan, Brad, of this concept. Thebook is called Strength Finders but it's kind of a concept that's going from attraction up there this idea that kind of figure out what you're good at and instead of spending much of your energy trying to pick and shore up your weaknesses kind of focus and develop even more what you're good at and then complement yourself with people who are good at the things you're not or surround yourself with folks like that. And I'm a big adherent to that thought process. So what I would say is there's a lot of different kinds of people who can successfully lead companies in general and technology companies in particular. I think the secret is being both self-aware enough and to be blunt humble enough to admit where you're not good at and to ensure that you have people who are good at those things so that ultimately your team is well balanced. As we were saying earlier I have some good strengths around kind of people skills and people culture has some good skills around strategy. And my background was kind of sales and marketing. I've got a good understanding of markets and market dynamics and sales and value propositions and all that. My background is not as strong even though I've worked around them in true product development and engineering and hard core you know great financial management. So the skills to be a CFO, the skills to be inVP of Engineering or a CTO, the skills to be a great sales leader I have to ensure that I have people on my team who are excellent at those things and the overall team is stronger as a result. So it's very much in my mind a team sport in that sense more like football than basketball. I played basketball but my son is a football player and the thing I learned is you know basketball has become even more over time kind of a swappable thing. People move all over the court the guy who's out front shooting can get underneath and rebound. But in football you know lineman and quarterbacks don't swap. There's a specialization there that says for the nature of that game you need people who are very good at what they do. And I think of business more like that. You do need some generalizations when you're young right. There's a lot of wearing many hats and trying to figure it out early on with a small team. But as you get any amount of traction at all and start to grow you really do have to think in terms of have I got all the right players in the right position kind of the old Jim Collins you know right people in the right seats on the bus. I'm a big believer in that way of thinking.
Brad Cooper: 25:17
Well and so for people listening so they hear the trends in technology and how big of a player these big companies are you know the apples and the Googles and the Amazons and they spend lunch much power they have and how much they're growing in influence and you know everybody thinks now on gosh make my kids have to be programmers now even though they don't want to be. But I mean you and yourself and as well I'm sure other of your companies are a good example of you can still make an impact and be part of these trends and technology but not necessarily want to love to be a programmer.
Mark McClain: 25:45
Absolutely. A couple of thoughts and as you say even though we have these giants of industry now whatever the stat is right three of the most valuable companies in the world are technology companies are four or five or whatever the number is. Yeahit's hard to ignore the presence and the impact those giant titans of industry have on our industry and frankly all industries. Look at that in our backyard. Amazon just bought Whole Foods right. I mean who knows. Facebook and Google are both effectively getting into the car business itself like Apple. I mean just like industry lines are getting blurrier and blurrier. But by the same token it's still is a very big on. So there's a lot of places to go get into the world of technology that over time maybe some of those guys will get into but they don't do nearly everything that's needed in the world those giant companies. And to your point, there's a lot of places for people to be in technology companies who are not programmed to be in the legal side of it, the sales side of it, the marketing side of it, the accounting and financial side of it. There's a lot of great places to be in technology companies without being a technology expert. I think in general my my sense is especially in what I call the customer facing. Meaning if you're selling if, you're marketing things like that if you're not a technologist who's an engineer building technology it's generally helpful to have what I just call technical aptitude to understand how things work and why this concept and that concept are related or not related. Right I think if you really struggled with that maybe the technology industry is not the best but that's a pretty wide swath. It's you know a lot of people could get their brains around technical concepts even though they may not want to sit down and write code all day.
Brad Cooper: 27:23
And what's sort of your guess? I mean is it just top level but you know like percentage of people employees that you have in the company that are in the more technical programming development teams versus like you said in the other departments and administrative and sales and accounting and if you had to break it down?
Mark McClain: 27:38
Yeah every tech company will different. We're a kind of a company where the technology is also fairly complex and therefore we have a lot of what we call support and services people that are either helping customers you know deal with issues or help them implement the product in the first place. All of those kind of is the tech more technically oriented jobs and even as we said in the field there's the technical arm of the sales force as opposed to you know our sales reps are generally not programmer. Sure they have some technical. But if I think of a truly technical crowd that's probably two thirds, three quarters of our employees at least.
Brad Cooper: 28:09
Yeah you have to have technical competency to be in sales and talking to I.T. managers about your product but those folks aren't hands on like programming your product.
Mark McClain: 28:20
If you go it that way, Brad, I'd say matter of fact, these are some industry stats and a lot of technology companies the actual portion of the company that is developers is on the order of 20 to 30 percent. Right. Like out of a thousand person company a couple to 300 might be true. Software developers in my area and people.
Brad Cooper: 28:34
Yeah and that's sort of what I was thinking. I mean you know most people out there they think of these technology software companies and everybody is just sitting there behind a computer programming stuff. But to what you just said I mean actually two thirds or more are actually not. They're actually out there in the field working with customers that yes and they have the competency to understand it but they're not hands on you know programming your software.
Mark McClain: 28:53
Let me jump on your point and write it a little bit. So here in Austin right we're kind of generally viewed as kind of a second either high second Some start low second tier third tier tech city right at the Valley is sort of the only top tier in the world arguably. And then Seattle and New York, L.A. and some other very large tech centers. Now right because those are just big cities with a lot of companies. Boston's maybe you know third tier or low second tier whatever right. Well Apple and Oracle and Facebook and Google, all have very large footprints here now right. Apple and Oracle back will have their second largest concentration anywhere in Austin meaning second to the valley second largest concentration of people here. Almost none of those jobs are programming jobs. They are customer service, support, marketing a whole lot of stuff that doesn't necessarily require computer science or your point. These giant tech companies hire tons and tons thousands and thousands of people who are not programming.
Brad Cooper: 29:47
OK. Now talk about the company a little bit in the company culture. And then also kind of going into your faith and your influence on that culture. Your companies won some awards. And what are a couple of things you would say that have made your company have such a great culture?
Mark McClain: 30:00
I think one of the things that I always start with on this is it's intentional. I think what things that sadly true in my experience especially in technology companies and generally a lot of companies. Every company has a culture. A lot of them accidentally evolve into one as opposed to intention develop one. Certain things start to be the norm and pretty soon that is your culture. But it's shocking to me how little thought goes into a lot of those things. And I think we've had a bit of focus on culture now maybe for 10 or 15 years but I think even that's been a little misguided at times because a lot of times people mean by culture..fun. So people think culture equals, if you're a startup free drinks in the fridge andcasual Friday and three tacos or pizza on Wednesday right. That stuff is not culture it's a part of culture in the sense that he kind of says hey we like to have a fun environment. Ialways say to people look culture is about how you treat people and how you do business. Culture is the way we do things around here which has to do with values. You pointed out our values are on a web site pretty visible. Integrity, big value here. Innovation, big value. Impact in individuals-- those are our core values. You know that's the way we think about running the business so it affects who we hire and who it affects who gets promoted and asked to do more. It affects the kind of partners we work with. It affects the way we expect our people to treat and interact with our customers. That's culture. My super simple shorthand to our culture and you recognize it's a bit of a twist on a Bible verse. Is people like adults and a golden rule is treat people like you want to be treated or treat others as you would have them to you. And I say in a company what a lot of people want whether they're people of faith or not is they want to be treated like an adult. What does that mean. It means give me enough guidance and direction so I know what success looks like so I can do it but don't micromanage me and don't tell me exactly what to do and how to do it because competent capable people hate that. They don't want to be micromanaged and told what to do all day. But they also don't want to be left so wide open they don't even know what success looks like. What I stress to our leaders and our managers is hey treat people like adults. Give them clarity and guidance as to what you want them to do,, then let them use their gifts talents and abilities and experience to do it. That's generally what makes people very happy workers. If they think they have interesting things to work on and a lot of freedom to do that, that's satisfying work for most people.
Brad Cooper: 32:21
And it sounds like you also, in terms of hiring, have remember what the three were but one of the things that you look for in people was competency and humility was one of them. And yes that's also I like sort of a hard thing to find and I know just hiring people in and for a technology company too. You've got your stars and you've got you know people who are real nice but they're not not as good. But you know so I mean that sounds like one of the things that you you use as a guiding principle as well.
Mark McClain: 32:43
And to be fair I am always quick to give credit. I stole that set of concepts at least those three word concepts from Patrick Lindsay who's a Christian author who writes some really great books about culture and companies. But his words are hungry, humble and smart. The book is called "The Ideal Team Player" and it's like look you want people who are hungry. People who are ambitious want to get better or want to learn to stretch themselves. You want humble and that's humble as in not stuck on themselves. I always want to tell people the greatest quote I've ever heard I think it's a tribute to C.S. Lewis. I hope that's right. Is that humility isn't thinking less of yourself than you should. It's thinking of yourself less. I think you have to be falsely humble in the sense of oh I'm really not good. We work with a lot of really talented capable people. They are good but they're just not prima donnas. They're not stuck on I'm the center of the universe and everybody has to get out of my way or kowtow to me. That'sthe kind of people we don't want here. We don't want the people that while they're incredibly capable or very difficult are damaging to their teammates. And as you said a second ago but unfortunately we also don't what really really nice people who aren't very good at what they do because this is a job. You have to deliver real results and we need you to carry your part of the load. It is that balance of very capable people but people who you enjoy being around because they're not jerks and then his last third item is smart. And that's just simply both I.Q. and E.Q. like intelligent but also emotionally intelligent right know how to work with people give and take share the glory share the disappointment that share the responsibility writers team players who get that. If I'm going to succeed in a company I've got to understand myself and my teammates and make sure I'm contributing to the whole. So it's just those are the big concepts we focus on. And in general I think this culture stuff is not hard to understand it's hard to do. It's just that the concepts are that difficult is that people just don't do that. They start to let the jerk who is really talented stay and then other people get ticked off about that guy being around and they leave or things get off kilter and so people start the micromanaging thing right them to grab the wheel and tell you exactly what I want you to do because I'm nervous that we're about to have a problem here. Well again that drives good people away from it.
Brad Cooper: 34:47
As I was hearing you talk about your business and what you do and then hear you talking about how you get that amazing culture of integrity and team players and people you can count on, it almost seems ironic that your software is sort of built to prevent things that are becoming more prevalent with bad insiders you know doing bad things like if you had some good people on your company maybe there'd be a need for your software but I know a lot of it's it's more complicated and then there's a lot of people phishing attempts and all kinds of things don't have anything to do with people being bad people to inside the company. Anyway, but yeah I've seen it in Silicon Valley too. I mean just anybody can just look at sort of these stories that they've heard about Steve Jobs or any of these other kind of high flying CEOs even. Now terms of their personalities and kind of not really the most humble of leaders or people not setting the best example.
Mark McClain: 35:35
To get to your point there are very successful people who don't meet those criteria. But I also say look success is often not measured only by money. Manyof those people have quote successful careers as defined by wealth income etc. not necessarily successful lives as defined by healthy relationships. You know healthy marriages, healthy adult child relationships. Unfortunately I know lots and lots of very wealthy successful people at this point in my life who don't have the kind of lives they wish they had. I'm pretty sure there in their marriages or their children haven't gone the way they would have liked and that's because they were so busy chasing success they they missed some of those other things.
Brad Cooper: 36:10
Well that's a great lead into what I was just going to ask next which is I mean what are some of those challenges you know you obviously could spend 15 hours a day in the office and you probably travel a lot and I'm sure there's a lot of challenges. Being the CEO of technology a fast growing technology company how do you balance those things. Betweenfamily and work and integrity issues and you know so being a Christian and a pretty fast paced and sometimes challenging environment?
Mark McClain: 36:34
There is no simple easy. I actually give a talk on this recently at church with my buddy who's our senior pastor and we said that in some ways life is a series of temporary healthy imbalances. Youhave times when work is very demanding and you have times when someone is sick, a child, a spouse or yourself and there's an imbalance where you have to get your health right or there's an imbalance where you know when you have a brand new baby. If you're going to be a good parent you're going to spend extra time at home or you have a teenager who's going through issues so there is in some sense a overall imbalance at various points in our life. And I think the secret is over time are you striving toward balance meaning I'm trying to be a good parent. I'm trying to be a good husband. I'm trying to be a good leader at work. I'm trying to stay healthy. I'm trying to make sure I'm serving both maybe in a church context or in a community context is just being conscious of those portions or those wedges of our pie shape of our life. And if your life is a bunch of pie wedges are you consciously thinking about how am I doing in all of those things. And if I'm not where I should be what do I have to do to kind of reset toward getting that right. Sometimes you can only do so much to reset. We joke about the accountant in April right. His life looks very imbalanced in April but it does look that way all year you'd say. That's a problem but it's OK if it's temporary for a good reason. There's kind of a sense of are you looking at your life as a big picture over time and striving to achieve the right balance of what you think you should do with your life. How God needs you the things he's telling you to do. That is all we can strive for.
Brad Cooper: 38:07
And so with with technology companies we talked about some of the big ones you can see all these people out there and not many that you can sort of point to. You'reone of the rare ones that I've been able to find in Pat Gelsinger who you know I've talked to as well not as many out there you know out there in the front forefront at least that we know about with their faith and their Christian faith. Any idea and what are your thoughts about that. I mean is it is it that there are fewer people in these companies that are willing to come forward with their faith and what are your summer thoughts thoughts on why that is?
Mark McClain: 38:33
Ithink you have the two highest ones. I think there's not a lot of folks who consider their faith such an important part of their lives. Unfortunately and I think that's true in a lot of the world but particularly in leadership and particularly in the technology industry and that I think for those that are in that mindset it's a you know sometimes it's challenging to decide how much you want to be out there. I'm not oriented to be an evangelist. I'm very clear about that. I don't think my job is to use my bully pulpit or something to pound people with the gospel. I think my job is to live the salt and light passage, that's what I want to live in such a way that I'm treating people in a way that is comparable to what my faith says I should do and that they appreciate that. But they don't ever feel like I'm trying to convert them or I'm trying to force them into something at work that they don't appreciate because I develop relationships with people sometimes I get to have those kind of conversations but it's based on a trust and a relationship at that point it's not just because I'm going to use my authority or my position to do that.
Brad Cooper: 39:32
Right. So you know I've been at some of those big companies and some of them actually had prayer groups or Bible study groups. You know even an apple when I was there you know that I will say. So I don't know if you have that at your company if anybody started those. But for people who are other companies too, there's some like you're saying you don't want to be out there in front and evangelizing but still also there's this feeling like you have to compartmentalize is kind of the word you hear often of when you're in church on Sunday and not the rest of the week. What are some of the things maybe yourself personally that you've done to make sure that you're kind of keeping your faith and God and there's prayer a every scripture indeed for you personally or maybe some things you've seen at your company or other companies for people to make sure that faith is still more integrated and not completely separated on Sunday and the rest of the week.
Mark McClain: 40:16
Yeah and I think it's both you know for me personally it's me taking time in the morning generally but as best I can throughout the day to kind of pause and stop and think and reflect and either read or pray or things like that. I think for the company it's it's kind of creating that environment. We have some Bible studies with some prayer times. We we are. We provide those we don't trust them on and when we make them available we have a program called Marketplace Chaplains where there are people who are available to counsel with people. Again not necessarily about religious topics. Could be about a struggle when their marriage, struggle with aging parents, struggle with a difficult teenager that can just talk to people and say how can I help you talk through that. So I think we try to provide a lot of opportunities and avenues for that while never making it feel as if it's expected or required to be at Sailpoint. These things are available to you. We care about you as a whole person. We want you to succeed not just at work but in life and to the extent we can help you with that. Great. And we're not trying to replace a psychologist or a pastor or whatever in your life but we're trying to treat you as a whole person you are and do what we can to make you a better person while you're with us. That's that's kind of how I look at it in that flourishing mirror that turn. You know how do we help people flourish. Whatever day of life they're in.
Brad Cooper: 41:33
Absolutely. That's great. Yeah. And so for people who are out there listening maybe young people entering college or maybe going to be graduating this year and entering the workforce what are some things you would recommend for them to do. Let's say to prepare themselves for a job that your company at Sailpoint or some other high tech company what are some things that they should be sure to do to prepare themselves for a career in a high tech company?
Mark McClain: 41:54
Ithink being self-aware you know talking to friends,, family counselors whatever that using you know guidance counselor or career counselors that help you figure out are these your aptitudes are these your skills do you enjoy these things and then if they're interested like you said you know that doesn't mean they have to go become a programmer. They may go into finance or marketing or sales or other functions but enjoy doing that in the context of a tech company. And then I think it's just sort of being available and flexible. How do you open yourself up to opportunities again more and more. All companies are becoming somewhat tech at some level rather than talk about digitally enabling businesses now. The company retail company a manufacturing company all of them have large technology capabilities and I think it's how do you handle that. Thatpeople have to wrestle with.
Mark McClain: 42:40
As far as Austin goes. You know as a city as you said it's a pretty tech you know enabled city at this point a lot of big companies are moving there. There's other centers around the country. I mean do you have to be in a big city or I mean you probably have some satellite offices who and what are some of your thoughts on the trends as far as locations of technology companies and people who think that they might join these industries. What are some thoughts on that.
Mark McClain: 43:00
Austin is a great place to be because there is so much tech activity here. And we mentioned some of the others you know Seattle and are in the valley obviously in L.A. in New York and Atlanta. You know there's a lot of places where there's a lot of tech things happening now. I think as a young person it's sort of figuring out what part of the functional world you want to live in. Are you again a programmer, a marketer, a salesperson, a finance person. And I would good people. That's the content 06 content and context. What the content you want to work on what kind of stuff and in what context do you want to do it in a five person company or a 50,000 person company very different traits if you want to be a sales person selling large enterprise software. SAS solution is very different than selling used cars. You're still selling but it's an incredibly different job. I think if that where do you like to spend your time and energy what kinds of functional things and then what context do you want to do those things.
New Speaker: 43:52
Mark, so I have Christian parents who tell me you know I'm concerned about you know what my kids might experience if I do send them off to become programmers or maybe they're just getting in the business side of a technology company in either Silicon Valley or Austin or other places. You know the perception they have is sort of this high tech is sort of the land of atheist, materialists kind of high driving, fast driving type people with different world views potentially than we have as Christians. And with your experience in high tech What would you say to them maybe address some of those concerns?
Mark McClain: 44:19
Abig question that I think my framing of this whole issue even goes back to folks who kind of wrestle with where to put their kids in school like home school, Christian school, public school. And I think a lot of this is just trying to be thoughtful about your situation. Certainly you know listening to God and getting good counsel from friends and others. But my general answer to these kinds of questions is the whole salt and light issue right. I think we're not necessarily called to run away from the darkness we're called to the darkness. And I think in some degree yet it can be a kind of an area that's challenging at times based on some of the mindsets and attitudes there science and tech by science in some ways as much or more than tact. But I look at either the arts I look at various fields it's you know a lot of secularism in education today. I'm not sure there's a lot of places where people go where they won't feel like their fundamental worldview is under some level of attack or certainly disagreement. And so I think it's a business you're gifting right if you're if you're it in tech or science or even as a business thinker, finance, marketing, sales think or are attracted to that and I think you should follow that and just know that there will be challenges there. But honestly I'm not sure they're are dramatically worse than other fields in today's culture. To my view as you know got wait in there and that's when you're called to be I think you're going to feel the confirmation of that pretty clearly and if you're not then don't. But I think that's what we do I think we try to figure out where God is calling us to be and do what we're called to do and if we've missed those signs somehow then we usually get clarity pretty quickly like oops this doesn't seem like it's working the right way. Maybe I've misread that so I'm not certainly a fan of gosh you need to go where it's safer and more comfortable I don't think that's our calling as believers to go where it's safe and comfortable.
Brad Cooper: 45:58
Right. And was that an issue at all for you personally. Did you ever run into. I mean even ethics issues you know in the various you know things that you've done whether with vendors or partners or employees you know work with or wasn't it wasn't so much a factor in like you said you know not not any different than any other type of business or environment?
Mark McClain: 46:14
Exactly yeah. And my point would be yeah we've had in the companies I've worked hand in the companies I've had the privilege to lead there's always been some number of issues to manage. I think in our companies the last two that we've led You know I think less than some because we had a very strong set of values were very clear and vocal about those values so there was a bit of self-selection you know a certain set of people who might not have shared those values as much just didn't choose to be here. And conversely the people who did share those values whether they were Christians or not I think would find themselves more comfortable in that setting a you know kind of high integrity kind of setting. But we're certainly not been without issues because of that. And so every so often you get a Managed to ethical, legal, H.R. or whatever kind of challenges. And I think you know we do that with grace and do our best to stay true to our world view on our values. But it certainly doesn't absolve us of those challenges for you personally.
Brad Cooper: 47:03
Mark, how has God sort of work you through those challenges but also just decisions in your career? You know whether you went off to law or business as you said or were there some key either decisions or turning points for you where you saw God at work in your own in your own life?
Mark McClain: 47:20
Truthfully Brad, I say there's a lot I'm much better at seeing it in the rearview mirror than out the windshield. It's certainly easier to look back and say Oh I kind of see how those things work together for good. That's the passage I feel like there are times when I bumped into a wall in parts of my career felt like things weren't going as well and that caused me to take a different path and now I look back and say that was maybe some level of frustration or even quote trial. But it led to making decisions or choices that lead to places that were very good. So I think sometimes we get confirmation of things or we get the opposite right we sort of see that things aren't working they're not jelling as much as we might like and that sometimes assigned to take a different path or do something different. I feel like I've tried to be sensitive and open to both the counsel of scripture or the counsel of fellow believers and just even you know trying to listen to God in my head which again I'm not a big audible voice of God person. But I think I felt guided or prompted in certain directions at times and I think if I look back some of those things lead to very clear directions that I felt were in the right place for me to be. Then I can tell you again as I sit here where I am looking out the windshield. I'm not really clear on the next step now. Right. It just it's very hard to know exactly where the path is leading in the future and therefore I'm trying to be careful to not get ahead of myself for God on those kind of things. Just take a step at a time and keep walking step by step.
Brad Cooper: 48:39
Along those lines of what what's next for you. Whatshould we pray for for you and for your company. What sort of coming up in the next year or so here?
Mark McClain: 47:59
You know the company continues to grow. I,t's got a lot of great potential. You know we see it having the potential to continue on a town or a privately held today that could continue for a while. We have the opportunity we think at some point to consider a public offering and we have the opportunity to consider M&A kind of opportunities where we're at some larger tech company might decide we're a good fit. So we we see multiple healthy opportunities in front of us. And I've always kind of told the team don't get too hung up on what the ownership of these are different ownerships of the company right. Are we owned by venture capitalists or private equity folks or public investors or private investors. The end of the day those things have less impact day to day on most people's lives than they want to believe. Most days you know you're a marketer, you're an engineer, you're a sales person, you get up and do your job and I feel like that's our job is to build great products take care of customers, compete effectively in the market and let the let the ownership issues take care of themselves over time. I don't have a set plan for where the company needs to be by some certain date. I think we just continue to do the right things with customers and products and markets and a lot of that stuff will take care of itself. I try to hold that view and encourage all of my team mates to hold that view as well.
Brad Cooper: 49:58
That's great. Well Mark thank you so much for your time today. You've been so very gracious with your time and we've learned a lot. And just wish the best and blessings. Pray for you and your company and your family. Thanks so much for your time with us today.
Mark McClain: 50:10
Thanks Brad appreciate it. I think you know if you if you're inclined to pray I always tell people for wisdom and clarity. Those are my two favorites. I like to make wise decisions. I'd like to have as much clarity as possible but sometimes we aren't given clarity and we have to forge ahead and some a level of fog. I'm OK with that too but I think just trying to make the best decisions we can with the limited visibility we have is all we can do here. I appreciate it.
Brad Cooper: 50:33
Thank you. I'm also going to, just based on this conversation and trying to get my stuff set up for this interview tonight, to go back and look through all my passwords and my identity management I think today. I have too many things going on on my computer so that alone you know it's going to help me for today. So thank you for that!
Mark McClain: 50:50
There you go. That's right. Let's keep you from getting hacked. That would be a good outcome.
Brad Cooper: 50:55
Alright Mark, thank you so much again for your time.
Mark McClain: 50:57
It was a pleasure. Good luck and thanks for taking the effort to put this together. I hope it's helpful.
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