Unlocking Leadership: The 100th Episode of The New CISO Podcast
In this milestone 100th episode of The New CISO Podcast, our host, Steve Moore, is joined by two remarkable returning guests: Michael Meis, Associate CISO at The University of Kansas Health System, and Mark Weatherford, Chief Strategy Officer at The National Cybersecurity Center. Together, they explore a range of topics that, of course, include cybersecurity, but also extend beyond it to explore effective leadership and championing your personal aspirations.
In this article:
Small decisions, big impact
CISOs, relied upon for their technical expertise and decisive nature, often face perplexing choices in their careers, such as security operations center (SOC) decisions and threat prioritization. Steve starts the conversation by asking Michael and Mark about pivotal career opportunities they once passed up.
Michael reminisces about rejecting multiple promotions during his time in the Army, realizing he didn’t want to wear a uniform forever.
Mark, who also has a military background, shares an interesting anecdote. While overseeing information services at a Navy technical training center in Florida, he was “flabbergasted” at receiving orders to relocate to Virginia. Initially reluctant, this move led him to a transformative role as an operations officer for a brand-new cyber organization, initiating the Navy’s first red team operations. Mark chuckles as he says, “It changed my life, changed my career. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. But I’m telling you, they took me up there kicking and screaming.”
The power of books
As Confucius wisely professed, “You cannot open a book without learning something.” Business leaders, particularly those involved in team management and organizational skills, can find wisdom in myriad texts. Michael recommends “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” and “The First 90 Days.” The former applies military principles to civilian organizations, while the latter he finds especially valuable for leaders new to their roles or organizations. He says, “It gives a lot of very actionable guidance on how to get started quickly. ”“I’ve seen people that have dug a hole in their first 90 days that they never dug out of for several years, and then, vice versa, people who got off to a fast start.”
Mark, on the other hand, suggests the timeless classic, “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. He also draws from his naval background to recommend “It’s Your Ship” by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff. This book recounts the captain’s remarkable transformation of an underperforming naval vessel, emphasizing a culture of candor where every sailor had the chance to say “Hey, I think I have a better way of doing something.” Mark explains that this “gave everyone on the ship the ability to influence how things were going” and take pride in their team — a philosophy that can undoubtedly benefit any workplace.
In the high-stress world of cybersecurity, balance is a rare commodity. Threat actors continue to plot increasingly sophisticated attacks, demanding vigilance from security analysts and leaders.
Mark points out, “People in our business, we don’t typically live by a “nine to five clock. We respond to what’s happening, and we all know that five o’clock on Friday, when the phone rings, it’s probably not good news.”
As the conversation wraps up, Steve explores how Mark and Michael find equilibrium. Mark turns to beekeeping as his sanctuary, offering a chance to connect with nature and enter a “zen-like” state. For Michael, it’s travel, video games, and meditation that provide solace.
Michael stresses the importance of “understanding what balance means to you. It’ll look different to everybody, but just find something that works within the parameters of what you think is normal and don’t really worry about what everyone else thinks.”
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