Incite 12/21/2016: To InciteBy Mike Rothman
In the process of wrapping up the year I realize the last Incite I wrote was in August. Damn. That’s a long respite. It’s in my todo list every Tuesday. And evidently I have dutifully rescheduled it for about 3 months now. I am one to analyze (and probably overanalyze) everything, so I need to figure out why I have resisted writing the Incite.
I guess it makes sense to go back to 2007, when I started writing the Incite. My motivation was to build my first independent research business (Security Incite), and back then a newsletter was the way to do it. I was pretty diligent about writing almost every day – providing inflammatory commentary on security news, poking the bear whenever I could, and making a name for myself.
I think that was modestly successful, and it really reflected who I was back then. Angry, blunt, cynical, and edgy. So the Incite persona fit and I communicated that through my blog, speaking gigs, and strategy work for years. During that initial period I also started adding some personal stories and funny anecdotes to lighten it up a bit. Mostly because I was getting bored – it’s not like security news is the most exciting thing to work on every day. But the feedback on my personal stories was great, so I kept doing it.
So basically the Incite turned into my playground, where I could share pretty much anything going on with me. And I did. The good, bad, and ugliness of life. As I went through a period of turbulence and personal evolution (midlife transformation), I used the Incite as my journal. Only I know a lot of the underlying machinations that drove many of those posts, but the Incite allowed me to document my journey. For me.
I got through the proverbial tunnel back in July of 2015. Obviously I’m still learning and growing (mostly by screwing things up), but I didn’t feel compelled to continue documenting my journey. I did learn a lot through the process, so I wanted to share my experiences and associated philosophies, since that was how I coped with my personal turmoil. I also hoped that my writing would help other folks in similar situations. But I don’t seem to have a lot of ground left to cover, and since I’ve moved forward in my personal life, I don’t want to keep digging into the past.
Where does that leave me now? The reality is that the Incite persona no longer fits. I’ve been alluding to that for a while, and on reflection, it’s left me a little untethered and resistant to writing. My resistance comes from having to maintain a persona I no longer want. Grumpy Mike is an act. And I no longer want to play that role. When people you just meet tell you, “you’re not so mean,” it’s time to rehabilitate your image. But the Incite perpetuates that perception.
When looking at a situation without an easy answer, my teacher Casey always counseled me to flip the perspective. Look at it from a different viewpoint and see if a solution appears. Since I seem to be triggered by the word ‘Incite’, let’s dig into that.
It’s clear the idea of encouraging “violent or unlawful behavior” is the problem. But if I look at the synonyms, I see words that do reflect what I’m trying to do. Encourage, stimulate, excite, awaken, inspire, and trigger. I always wrote the Incite for me, but based on many many discussions and notes of support I’ve received, it has done many of these things for readers. And that makes me happy.
Everything changes. I’m living, breathing proof of that. And it’s time to move forward. So I’m going to retire the Incite newsletter. That writing is an important release for me and I still like to share anecdotes, so I’ll continue doing that in some way, shape, or form. And I’m going to get better about doing 3-5 quick security news analyses each week as well, since we are kind of a security research firm.
But it won’t stop there. I will be launching some new services early next year to develop the next generation of security leaders, so I’ll be integrating weekly video interviews and other personal development content into the mix as well.
I know 2016 was hard for many people. From my perspective there were certainly surprises. Overall it was a good year for me and my family. I have a lot to celebrate and be thankful for. So I’ll spend my holiday season catching up on projects that dragged out (meaning I’ll be active on the blog) and pinching myself, just to make sure this is all real.