Paul Kenyon – Co-founder and COO of Avecto

[quote style=”boxed”]Prioritize and do the most important stuff first — and don’t get distracted by displacement activity. It’s seems obvious, but it’s not so easy to do in practice. I regularly check myself to make sure that what I am doing matters.[/quote]

Paul Kenyon is co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of Avecto. He is responsible for driving the revenue and growing sales globally with a focus on North America & Europe.

Paul is a successful business executive with an outstanding 20-year track record in building, growing and leading high-performing, multinational high-tech companies in North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim. Prior to Avecto, Paul was CEO of Artificial Dynamics who pioneered browser virtualization technology similar to private browsing technology found in web browsers today.

In 1999, he founded AppSense, the global leader in User Virtualization solutions. Leading sales and marketing globally within the business, Paul was responsible for driving sales from inception to profitability with revenues of over $30 million.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I’m predominantly focused on building our US team. North America constitutes 60% of our revenues, so it makes sense that we have aggressive goals for the region. In fact, we need to triple our size in the next 12 months to keep up with the growing market opportunity. However, I have a tendency to recruit slowly because I recognize people make all the difference.

The driving force behind our expansion is companies are moving away from Windows XP and, in turn, looking for better ways to manage user privileges. As a result, we’ve seen tremendous demand for Privilege Guard in the market.

Where did the idea for Avecto come from?

I would love to say the idea was mine, but in fact, it wasn’t. It came from my business partner, Mark Austin. He is a truly unique individual and has all the right traits of a leader, the necessary skills to run a business and the development expertise that puts him in the top ranks of business leaders around the world. Working with him motivates me to be better.

For the backstory, Mark and I were bought out and left the previous company we founded, AppSense. When this happened, we knew we were going to start a new company but didn’t know what. Mark pointed out that we needed to build technology that was simple, but absolutely necessary, to get us off the ground. This led us to select Privilege Guard from 17 ideas he had mapped out. Four years later we are winning awards and global enterprises alike, so I’d say things turned out OK.

What does your typical day look like?

I spend one to two weeks a month in the US, so my day changes depending on where I am. In the UK, after the morning routine, I log on to my email around 7:00 a.m. to bring my inbox up-to-date from anything that came in overnight. Then, if the weather permits, I cycle the 16 miles to work and get to my desk around 8:30 a.m. Once there, I’ll meet with the marketing team to discuss plans for the day. The team is very experienced, and so generally, need little input from me other than direction. Talented staff can make a manager’s job easy. After that, my day is usually occupied with various meetings and calls until 5:30 p.m. when I cycle home. After having dinner and spending time with my wife and kids, I typically log on to my PC from my home office and start to work on US activity.

If I am in the US, the day is pretty much the same, minus the cycling. Plus, I tend to start at 3:00 a.m. and work through to 6:00 p.m. to cover both time zones.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Collaboration. I genuinely believe there is no monopoly on good ideas and that it’s rarely, if ever, me who has the best one. I feel inspired by the hardworking and talented people I work with, so I look to them to help me turn a good idea into reality. Motivating people to do that — and then getting out of their way — is my real skill.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

This sounds like a plug, but other founders know that your favourite trend is probably the one you started your business around. For me, that’s the increased awareness of Windows privilege management. I’d say, for the past 10 years IT administrators have been aware of the problem of providing users with too many privileges — but they have not had the tools to do anything about it. That’s changing, as solutions like Privilege Guard, become better known and help organizations of all sizes and types. I find it exciting to be a part of changing history and to be making the corporate world a safer place.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I once worked at a car dealership when I was around 15 and washed cars for a whole day. At the end of the day, I looked across the lot and realized I had cleaned around 30 cars. So, I went to the owner to ask for my pay. He gave me $8.00, which was around 25 cents per car! That taught me to negotiate up front for the value of services rendered…well, I am sure you get the moral.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Cast a wider net and recruit faster. Not having enough good people has slowed our growth to double digits.

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

Prioritize and do the most important stuff first — and don’t get distracted by displacement activity. It’s seems obvious, but it’s not so easy to do in practice. I regularly check myself to make sure that what I am doing matters.

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

Making gut decisions too often. I am a person who assesses a situation by his gut and then goes with what feels right — and generally I do this quickly. That works well some of the time, but not all of the time. I haven’t overcome this habit, but what I have done is gone into business with a partner, Mark [Austin], who is considered and thinks a situation through, in great detail, before he acts. This makes us a perfect blend of instinct and intellect and has worked well for 15 years and counting.

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

I think there are business ideas everywhere you look: at home, at work, in the park even, you just have to look for them. It’s all about looking for an idea that will displace something, an activity or alternative approach. Mark [Austin] and I play a game in our downtime where we come up with wild cell phone app ideas and then later check to see if anyone has developed them. And generally, they have been invented. For instance, iMilk, the iPhone app that lets you virtually drink a glass of milk! The key is to think what would make my life easier and then take the idea from there.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

That’s huge so that I am going not avoid the obvious stuff, like war and famine. I would change the working week. There is no real need to work five days when four would suit us, just as well. For instance, considering the speed at which we work today and our increased productivity thanks to technological advances, we’re certainly well-positioned for this.

Tell us a secret.

I talk to myself, a lot! Sometimes, my wife catches me having a conversation with myself in my head and asks, “Are you talking to yourself again?” Then, I ask how she knows and she says because I’m making facial expressions without actually saying anything aloud. Crazy, right?!

What are your three favourite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Notepad – I am writing this in notepad on my iPad and will shut it down when I finish. And then, it’s there when I open my PC later in the office. I love the flexibility that’s allowed me to be so spontaneous without having to worry about formats and saving, and such.

SkyDrive – For similar reasons, I find SkyDrive so incredibly useful for working on files wherever I am, and then later, they are on every device I use, wherever I am.

Flight track – Great app that tell you everything you want to know about your flight, including how long you will truly be delayed.

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

I have lots of recommendations when it comes to books, but the one that had the greatest impact for me was Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Despite that it was written 70 years ago, the advice for managing people and their expectations is aspirational gold.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

Stephen Fry – A true wordsmith who dances with his words. The articles on his website are a joy to read — and he is a gadget geek like me.

Frankie Boyle – A very edgy Scottish comedian who pushes social boundaries and makes you laugh first and then admonish yourself for doing so.

BBC News – For totally unbiased coverage of the facts.

When was the last time you laughed out loud?

I laugh all the time, every day and as often as possible. My motto, and something I tell all the people I interview, is Avecto is about fun with a purpose. I spend a lot of time working and, of course, want to be effective. But I also want to enjoy what I’m doing, and can only do that if I enjoy the people I work with. This is why humor is so important to me. In fact, the last time I laughed — a real belly laugh — was at my desk in the UK when talking about dieting to two of my colleagues.

What caused it?

One of the two colleagues had lost a lot of weight from diet and exercise. When I asked how much, the other colleague said he doesn’t track his weight in pounds, he tracks it by Elvis Presley’ career – right now he is in the ‘68 comeback tour stage and is aiming for Blue Hawaii stage!

Who is your hero?

My Mum. She endured much hardship and brought up five kids on very little income. I will never forget her and can only hope I have made her proud.

What the most important lesson that you would like all your staff to learn?

Taking responsibility for yourself. When people take responsibility for everything they can change and accept the stuff they can’t, they can achieve most anything they set out to do. I have worked with people like this and constantly strive to get there myself.

When the whole thing is over what is the one thing that you would want to be known for?

I would want to be known for being an honest, fair, kind, hard-working, loving, humorous and decent human being.


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