I was reading Martin McKeay’s post Fighting a Bad Habit. Martin makes a dozen or so points in the post – and shares some career angst – but there is a key theme that really resonates with me. Most technology lifers I know have their own sense of self worth tied up in what they are able to contribute professionally. Without the feeling of building, contributing, or making things better, the job is not satisfying.

In college a close friend taught me what his father taught him. Any successful career should include three facets: You should do research to stay ahead in your field. You should practice your craft to keep current. You should teach those around you what you know. I find these things make me happy and make me feel productive. I have been fortunate that over my career there has been balance in these three areas. The struggle is that the balance is seldom entirely within a single job. Usually any job role is dominated by one of the three, then I choose another role or job that allows me to move on to the next leg of the stool. I do know I am happiest when I get to do all three, but windows of time when they are in balance are vanishingly small.

Another point of interest for me in Martin’s post was the recurring theme that – as security experts – we need to get outside the ‘security echo chamber’. The 6,000 or so dedicated security practitioners around the world who know their stuff and struggle in futility, trying to raise the awareness of those around them to security issues. And the 600 or so experts among them are seldom interested in the mundane – only the cutting edge, which keeps them even further from the realm of the average IT practitioner. It has become clear to me over the last year is this is a self-generated problem, and a byproduct of being in an industry few have noticed until recently. We are simply tired of having the same conversations. For example, I have been talking about information centric security since 1997. I have been actively writing about database security for a decade. On those subjects it feels as if every sentence I write, I have written before. Every thought is a variation on a long-running theme. Frankly, it’s tiring.

It’s even worse when I watch Rich as he struggles with waning passion for DLP. I won’t mince words – I’ll come out and say it: Rich knows more about DLP than anyone I have ever met. Even the CTOs of the vendor companies – while they have a little more technical depth on their particular products – lack Rich’s understanding of all the available products, deployment models, market conditions, buying centers, and business problems DLP can realistically solve. And we have a heck of a time getting him to talk about it because he has been talking about it for 8 years, over and over again.

The problem is that what is old hat for us is just becoming mainstream. DAM, DLP, and other security. So when Martin or Rich or I complain about having the same conversations over and over, well, tough. Suck it up. There are a lot of people out there who are not part of the security echo chamber, who want to learn and understand. It’s not sexy and it ain’t getting you a speaking slot at DefCon, but it’s beneficial to a much larger IT audience. I guess this is that third facet of a successful career. Teach. It’s the education leg of our jobs and it needs to be done.

With this blog – and Martin’s – we have the ability to teach others what we know, to a depth not possible with Twitter and Facebook. Learning you have an impact on a larger audience is – and should be – a reward in and off itself.

On to the Summary:

Favorite Securosis Posts

Other Securosis Posts

Favorite Outside Posts

  • Mike Rothman: Preparing to Fire an Executive. Ultra-VC Ben Horowitz provides a guide to getting rid of a bad fit. These principles apply whether you’ve got to take out the CEO or a security admin. If you manage people, read this post. Now.
  • Adrian and Gunnar: Those Who Can’t Do, Audit. Mary Ann calls out SASO – er, OK, she called out Veracode. And Chris Wysopal fired back with Musings on Custer’s Last Stand. Not taking a side here as both are about 80% right in what they are saying, but this back and forth is a fascinating read. On a different note, check out MAD’s book recommendations – they rock!
  • Rich: Veracode defends themselves from an Oracle war of words. I’m with Chris on this one… Oracle has yet to build the track record to support this sort of statements. Other companies have.

Project Quant Posts

Research Reports and Presentations

Top News and Posts

Blog Comment of the Week

Remember, for every comment selected, Securosis makes a $25 donation to Hackers for Charity. This week’s best comment goes to Marisa, in response to Incite 8/31/2011: The Glamorous Life.

We may not comment as much these days, but we are still reading. Please continue to write, Mike, Rich, and Adrian! Your blog still one of my favorites 🙂

Is it possible that with the increase in conferences and gatherings these days that those ‘blog wars’ are happening in conversations in person?