Sunrise to Snow Showers

I’m not at home right now.

To be honest, it can feel like I am not at home that much these days, but I know that’s just how I feel when I travel for work. This is my last trip for 2022, though, and soon enough, I will be back with my family and getting ready for the summer/Christmas.

Last week was a whirlwind. From my adventures at Head over Heels to the Sunrise festival in Sydney, it was a week of socialising, networking and letting my mind wander.

It can be hard as a CEO and founder to give yourself the headspace to just ponder the world without the pressures of delivery and last week gave me much space. It was much needed.

Sunrise is a conference/festival run by BlackBird (an Australia and New Zealand-based VC firm). The aim of the event was to connect together investors, startup teams and those pondering their own startups. Once packed into the Carriageworks venue in Sydney, they provided a program to inspire and challenge over two days.

The speaker lineup was excellent, and the range of topics ranged from impact and charitable giving to the future of AI (and where AI meets art). There was something for everyone and, in many cases, unexpected moments of inspiration.

My big takeaway from the week, however, was the importance of heart and impact. Whether it was the confronting puppetry of AIME and their mission to fix the human network or the discussions around dreaming, shared by Melanie Perkins (CANVA CEO), there was a clear theme. None of this matters if you don’t believe in the change you are making.

SafeStack is a very mission-driven company, and there was something comforting in finding connections in a community like this. People growing big organisations but with their mission front and centre rather than hidden in the footnotes.

Perhaps this is a sign of the times when the world faces challenges as we do now – from climate change to politics to global conflict and recession – perhaps it’s the missions that we share that anchor us. That gives us the foundation we need to find our way.

Today I find myself in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for NDC. This is the last software developer conference I will attend this year and my last until Feb 2023. I will be teaching a workshop and getting folks stuck into building their own application security programs, as well as delivering a keynote speech. It can be strange to be in another hemisphere/country and city – both exciting and lonely.

Apart from the weather and the food in the grocery store, it’s not much different from home. Same office blocks and cities, filled with the same companies trying to change the world.

I guess that’s why SafeStack has a global mission. It doesn’t matter where we are, as software folks – we can work from anywhere and build amazing technologies.

It’s snowing outside; such a departure from the Sydney sunshine last week. Though my body clock is truly screwed, it’s comforting to know it’s the same sun I see rise every morning.

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