In Infosec: You are what you . . .

Men Who Stare at GoatsAlthough it’s not quite as simple as “You are what you eat” . . .

Unless you really are one of the top Rock Stars in your field and can do occasional stupid shit just because you want to (think George Clooney in “Men Who Stare at Goats), the issues below matter. They matter a lot.

The company you work for matters

Is your company (and industry) on an upward curve or downward curve? Is it respected or considered a laughing stock?

Most of us are in part who we work for. If we work for a “sucky” company, people will assume we “suck” at least a bit!

If we work somewhere fantastic, that “fantastic” gets associated with us.

And yes, it does actually rub off.

The boss you work for matters

Do you work for an idiot who makes the pointy haired boss in Dilbert seem profound? Do you want to be associated with that idiot in other people’s minds?

3 out of 4 employees say their boss is the worst and “most stressful” part of their job! Top flaws include: does not inspire, accepts mediocrity, no real vision or direction. (Stats from Inc Magazine, Nov 15, 2012, The Real Productivity-Killer: Jerks)

This is not Rock Star material. Massive action may be necessary!

Your peers matters

If you work with a bunch of idiots, that is NOT positive!

The best way to be a Rock Star is to hang out with them!

I like to be the stupidest person in the room. I want to be the “idiot!” That’s why I love working with SANS. Yes, I know things and have skills that perhaps no one else at SANS does, but everyone I’ve worked with at SANS has skills I can barely comprehend. I learn from them. I’m inspired by them.

I do not want to be surrounded by bozos, even if I’m highly paid.

Your friends matter

And your friends need to change as you change.

I’m not saying jettison your old friends, but a diverse set of interesting friends may suit you better than perhaps your old grade school buddies who live for the weekends, Budweiser, and sleeping late whenever they can (not that there is anything wrong with that . . .).

And yes, yours peers and friends should have significant overlap

If in management, the people you hire matter

If you hire people, do you have the guts to hire people smarter than you? Many bosses do not.


So back to Clooney and “Men Who Stare at Goats.” George Clooney has such a strong brand, people went to the movie despite the horrible reviews and knowing it was a silly movie.

By the way, I greatly enjoyed the movie, perhaps in part because I went with someone inappropriate and brought plenty of Jack Daniels along.

If Clooney wasn’t already a massive Rock Star, he would have been some guy who was in a bad movie. Critics would have declared his career on the skids. But instead, it’s “George Clooney decided to do a silly movie.”

Maybe you too can do the “silly movie” equivalent, something perhaps like Bruce Schneier deciding to blog about squid (the cephalopod) every Friday instead of security. If you do, you’re a weirdo. Bruce doing it is cool.

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    • Lucy
    • December 2, 2014

    I remember one of my favorite security podcasters a few years back refused to comment on where he worked – I think he was embarrassed. Once he switched jobs he was suddenly proud of his affiliation.

      • Ted Demopoulos
      • December 2, 2014

      Simple example, and I’m not picking on anyone here, but would you proudly claim to work for one of the companies that have very recently had a high profile hack? Would you if looking for a new job in security? How about at a conference?

    • Reggae Reggie
    • December 16, 2014

    Only Slightly off topic: I loved Men Who Stare at Goats!

    I often thought how could Clooney get away with this, merely having fun instead of having hits – now I understand.

    Great article!

      • Ted Demopoulos
      • December 16, 2014

      When you are a Rock Star, the rules change!

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