Nick Buchanan

Stay focused and accept that what seems like failure is simply one step on the path to success.


Nick Buchanan is a customer-focused technology visionary with a history of playing key roles in product management, program management and business development. He is a well-established thought leader in the identity and access management space with previous experience deploying highly critical global systems with 100+ projects in banking, logistics, healthcare and government industry sectors. He has a track record of security product excellence at companies including IBM, Taos Mountain, SecureAuth and KPMG. His commitment to a data driven and scientific approach to problem solving, combined with a desire to protect customers, inspired the name of Armor Scientific, the world’s first frictionless identity management solution, where he is currently the CTO.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

The idea for Armor Scientific came from direct experience with the frustrations that security and identity teams struggle with. While I was involved in many successful projects, there was nothing available on the market that delivered a complete solution.

Customers were frustrated dealing with multiple-layered solutions that kept incrementally evolving while the industry was rapidly changing. So I became an entrepreneur and decided to create a disruptive and customer-focused solution from scratch.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

To be productive, I have had to learn where to put my focus. As a co-founder of a startup cybersecurity firm, I face many distractions. I’ve had to train myself to not chase all the ideas or opportunities that I see each day. When possible, I delegate and enable my team to tackle tasks themselves.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I typically bring an idea to life by having a small goal that is anchored by “why” questions around customer needs. As a developer, I prefer to go to my lab and focus on solving the problem at hand. I challenge ideas about things that aren’t possible or that we haven’t been able to deliver on due to some limitation.

I try to not get overwhelmed by the details and boil down the actual value of existing solutions to remove feature bloat and innovate from that baseline.

What’s one trend that excites you?

It is an awesome time to be a serial entrepreneur. There are great resources — technical and financial — that help accelerate success or failure.

There is also a sense of cooperation between different entities that in the past were competitive. This willingness of others to cooperate and partner together drives innovation.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I rely on making and prioritizing lists. I think in terms of what is urgent and what is important and put items into a 2×2 matrix. It is easy to get consumed by urgent but not important tasks. Instead, I make time and focus on what is important and not urgent. This practice helps me build momentum.

I also like to have a long term plan in place and take calculated risks. I think it helps to have a bias for action versus analysis. I make the best decision I can with the information at hand, then take action. I course correct if a situation changes or new information becomes available.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Life is 20% about what happens, and 80% about your response.

The more you focus on what you can’t control, the less effective and efficient you become. Stressing about what you can’t control is not productive. Focus on what you can control, and you will feel and be better.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Every human is capable of being extraordinary irrespective of circumstances.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Don’t give up. Some days and projects will result in success, but many don’t.
The key is to not to move from your viewpoint. Stay focused and accept that what seems like failure is simply one step on the path to success.

It is important to take responsibility and grow from failures. There is always a valuable lesson that can be internalized from every experience. Be self aware, thoughtful and open to feedback.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I surround myself with people who believe in a customer-centric vision when solving problems. With the right team in place, product can go where it needs to go to make our solution stronger.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I learned that as an entrepreneur, product is only a part of what you are building. You need a viable business including product, but also must have market need, access to customers and the ability to execute and follow up. All of these things need to align to get a good idea off the ground.

In my work experience, I’ve learned how to frame conversations with investors better. It’s important to paint a picture of how their investment will be used to make money by showing concrete steps. Communicating with investors and building products are both key to success.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Universal print driver for printing to applications. Print data from PDF to any application.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

A new replacement strap for an existing briefcase. I paid more for the nice leather. Best money spent. I’ll have it forever.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Dropbox. I use it all the time across devices including mobile.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” by Simon Sinek.

This book helps people move closer together. It offers some great management principles and framing for managing products.

What is your favorite quote?

“I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.”
―Thomas Paine, “The Age of Reason.”

Key Learnings:

  • Anchor new ideas with why questions focused on what the customer needs.
  • Focus on what you can control and your response to what you can’t control, and you will feel and be better.
  • Don’t give up. Stay focused. Realize that what seems like failure is simply a step on the path to success.
  • Realize that as an entrepreneur, product is only a part of what you are building. You need a viable business that includes product, but also market need, access to customers and the ability to execute.