The New CISO Ep. 79: Building Your Framework for Fulfillment with Demetrios Lazarikos
Podcast Transcript | Air Date November 3, 2022
Listen to Steve and Laz discuss his approach to career development and how his passion for learning led to his success:
Meet Laz (1:43)
Host Steve Moore introduces our guest today, Laz Lazarikos. With over thirty years of security experience, Laz wanted to build a platform where security leaders could measure, optimize, and develop their security programs, which he accomplished with Blue Lava.
As a child, Laz’s mother encouraged his interest in technology. Passionate about solving tech problems at an early age, Laz credits his childhood interest as his cyber security start.
Growing Up Greek (6:56)
Laz shares what it was like growing up in a traditional Greek family, which he compares to the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding. From a family of entrepreneurs, Laz felt pressure to take over the family business but instead started a security career.
At twelve years old, Laz’s mother advised him to go to his uncle, a loan shark, for a loan to buy tech, which he paid back with interest. Laz appreciates the lessons he received from his mother and credits her for giving him valuable life experience.
Meeting Carl Sagan (10:46)
At ten years old, Laz heard Carl Sagan, of the original Cosmos fame, speak during a field trip. Much of Carl’s speech resonated with Laz, including that anyone could do anything they wanted if their actions aligned with their goals.
Going Into The Airforce (13:13)
Steve asks Laz about his time in the airforce. While being recruited, Laz became interested in how systems and machines worked. Before he joined, the airforce promised he would get much training and education around security communications, which secured his interest.
At seventeen, Laz’s mother allowed him to emancipate, and he officially joined the airforce and learned foundational lessons for functioning in society.
A Foundation Of Learning (18:30)
Steve presses Laz on what he is doing today in his pursuit of education. Laz shares how his mother took him to the library every weekend as a kid and how his father had him complete writing exercises based on the newspaper.
Today, Laz looks at education as something you can never lose and can apply to life and work. Still a lover of libraries, Laz has three library cards for three cities and looks to history to improve his efforts.
Working Backward To Move Forward (22:32)
In terms of mentorship, Laz recommends thinking about your goals and working backward. This approach has always worked for Laz and other CISOs as well.
Laz puts thought into how he uses his time for personal growth and looks to the great CISOs of history to evaluate actions for success.
MBA Or Side Hustle (30:00)
Steve presses Laz on if CISOs should get an MBA or do a side hustle to build a security network.
To make this decision, you should evaluate the cost and time investments required and determine if either opportunity is needed for your overarching goals. At the end of the day, you have to make choices based on what’s best for you.
Advancing Through Mentorship (36:58)
To Laz, your CISO career boils down to mentorship, and he acknowledges that his mentors were his family and, later, the airforce. With meaningful relationships, training, and academic learning, you can advance your career and succeed at your job.
The Missing Piece (39:32)
Steve asks Laz what senior security professionals are missing in terms of mentorship tactics. Laz recognizes that CISOs should understand their goal as leaders and then work backward. He also suggests being open to feedback and working on teaching effectively.
Laz felt inspired to teach to give back to the community and share his life lessons with his students that he found valuable.
A New CISO (49:25)
To Laz, new CISOs should ask themselves if they are coachable, open to feedback, and willing to learn new ways. Although the old tactics were helpful, we must look to new strategies as we move forward.