Amer Deeba is a Lebanese entrepreneur and go-to-market executive, as well as the CEO and cofounder of cybersecurity startup Normalyze.
Ideamensch Interview (2021)
Ideamensch Interview with Amer Deeba, November 2021 - "Amer Deeba Co-Founder of Normalyze"
- I came in just with $800 and a one-way ticket…I started my teaching assistant job and that was the beginning of my new life. It was my second trip outside of Lebanon. I had been to London before to visit family – I stayed for a month and a half. The trip to the US was just a completely fresh start from the beginning.
- Everything was fascinating. I was so homesick at the beginning, but everything was so fascinating from the moment I landed. I remember getting on 101 and seeing all these big green highway signs and everything was so exciting. I mean, after I got over the homesickness in the first six months, I was over it completely, so integrated with school and programs and people and friends and teaching and the research and interviewing for summer jobs, all of that. I just was like, “Okay, this is what I want to do.” And I was supposed to do a PhD, but then I took a summer job and I started coding and programming and I really enjoyed that. So I’m like, “No, I’m not going to go to school. I just want to be in the industry.
- As commercial officer, you’re the customer champion, you’re the product champion. You are the one who is connecting all these pieces together and figuring out how to scale it, how to take it to market the right way, how to position it to the customer the right way, how to pitch it to a new prospect the right way, and how to make the customer journey very unique and different and memorable.
- Be a good listener first…Listen to the market, listen to the customer and try to really understand the problem you’re trying to solve is I think the key, the number one thing.
- Another very important thing is really understanding how you package technology to make it accessible and available, not just for one customer, but you make it ubiquitous. You make that from the moment they touch you and they connect into your product until they start using it, it’s a process of joy.
- When you’re doing one thing, just be in it, understand it really well. Have that sensitivity to understand things the right way.
- When you make decisions, you use your mind and you are empathetic, also. You have the right balance, not just ‘I’m going to be all based on these numbers.’ Sometimes numbers are important, but you’ve got to take into consideration other things also when you’re making decisions.
- Just don’t be scared of trying. The most important thing. Just put yourself out there, and connect yourself with the right people that can really guide you and help you. And, of course, as long as you have the eagerness to do it, you have to have that innate kind of drive in you, that you’ve got to do this. But just don’t be scared. Just scared. I mean, the worst thing that happens? You fail. You fail, you learn. And you learn, you can become a better human being.
- Always treat people with respect and with dignity, and never ever be condescending to others. Especially if you achieve success. That’s where humility becomes so important. Always do it with humility, no matter what.
- Listening to the customer is my thing, because they usually tell you what you need to do that you’re not doing.
- Packaging is so important, particularly how you package technology. What I mean by packaging is from the price point to how they connect to your product, to how you start a trial with them, to all that experience. Because it’s all product-led marketing. It allows you to create this kind of beautiful experience for the customer where, from the moment you touch them until they engage with you, they are in awe. They just see the beautiful things that they need to see. They understand the flows that they need to understand. And that’s what differentiates good products from great products from amazing products. Because when you build that experience to the customer, you scale, you cross the chasm faster, you just do everything at another level altogether.
Forbes Interview (2019)
Forbes Interview with Amer Deeba, October 2019 - "When The Tough Get Coding"
- As chaotic and crazy as it was to grow up in a war zone, it gave me a great perspective on life. I don’t take for granted the privilege of living in a free, democratic society with civil liberties, peace, and opportunity. I learned to be resourceful and resilient. My experience taught me it’s important to be decisive, and to trust my judgement. It made me prioritize life-long learning and hard work. I have always been willing to stretch beyond my comfort zone to grow personally and professionally.
- [Phillip Courtot] gave me my first opportunity to branch out from engineering to the business side and became my mentor. I learned so much from him throughout the years: How to design and build a technology platform; How to run a business at scale; How to understand the customer’s point of view; How to deal with competitors; How to market a product; How to view things not from the conventional angle but from the correct angle. And much more.
- [Obstacles are] always there, yet I take each challenge as an opportunity to learn. It’s the nature of business. Being involved in taking Qualys public in 2012 was full of challenges. But as you face and deal with all those obstacles and challenges, you learn and hone your leadership skills.
- My leadership style is based on understanding things before I act. That means doing my own research and then talking to people who have relevant knowledge and information, whose opinions are valuable. Then I feel confident about making the right decision.
- Once I’ve made a decision, I don’t look back. I don’t get distracted by others. If you’re hesitant and doubt yourself, you’ll suffer from “analysis paralysis” and people around you will lose confidence. What’s worse, the people you manage will sense your lack of conviction and may become confused. I move forward with conviction, but if and when I realize I’ve made a mistake, then I pivot quickly.
- In life, my wife gave me the best advice: To be more mindful. With her help and encouragement, I started practicing mindfulness and it’s been very beneficial. Mindfulness lets you be in the present moment. It increases your emotional intelligence. It helps you understand your situations, make better decisions, and become calmer, less reactive, and more engaged. Having grown up surrounded by civil war, I naturally try to anticipate problems so that I can proactively and quickly address them. But too much of that attitude creates unnecessary anxiety, especially when concerns are unjustified. Anxiety prevents you from appreciating the present moment. These mindful qualities are important for business leaders as well, to project calmness and confidence.