Have you ever felt stuck? I have, and I hate it. Feeling that you’ve no choice and that you’ve just got to carry on with the grind, is the stuff of nightmares.
But, things can change in an instant. And, for me, the trigger was a conversation.
When a former great friend and colleague, Tony, got in contact and started talking about creating Layer 8, I remember asking him tons of questions. Despite having 15 years’ experience as a security awareness consultant and executive for some major brands, I was nervous about forming my own security awareness company. I knew I felt stuck, and that nothing would change unless I made a leap of faith. Frankly, it was one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever made. But, once I started sharing what Layer8 stood for – that people are key to a secure and compliant organisation – and having conversations about it, I knew I’d made the right decision. The people I spoke to then helped me shape my ideas, reassured me, gave me tips and motivated me. They prepared me for the challenges of setting up in business. And, they made me realise just how important conversations are.
When I’m with clients, prospects or speaking at events about security awareness, conversations are always at the heart of what I’m saying. I also include the five key elements that you must incorporate when you’re creating a security awareness culture and changing behaviours. I’m going to share them with you now:
- Vision. One thing I’ve realised sometimes you don’t know where things will end up, you don’t even know how you’ll get there, but you do have a vision. You know what you want things to be like when you get there. So in the end if you want change you have to be prepared to expose yourself.
- Exposure. If you want change, you have to be prepared be exposed. When I was 21-years old I worked as a first line manager for BT, and I was petrified that senior managers would bring someone in over my head who had ‘more experience’. However, as I believed that people were the answer – I’d even written a dissertation on it – I started talking about it. Instinctively, I started asking a few questions and getting people to share their experiences. I wanted to understand what they were doing and to learn from them.
- Strategy. Having a strategy and a successful formula is vital. And it reminds me of our clients. Our clients have the most successful strategies and relationships with the board because they aren’t prepared to settle for the compromise. They have a vision and will get themselves heard in the boardroom whatever the cost. They know they’re in for a grilling from the CFO but they’re prepared to put themselves out there because they know it’s the right thing to do. They succeed, however, because they have a formula. They succeed because they’ve had hundreds, if not thousands, of little conversations that build trust, relationships, confidence, support and knowledge.
- Tenacity. As Layer 8 began to grow we had a plan, and we were sticking to it… The conversations along the way must run into the millions. I remember one with my husband, cautioning me when we first went looking for investment: ‘I had a friend who started business with others. They all fell out and lost loads of money, because two of the three decided they’d open a gym when their IT company was doing well,‘ he said. I listened, heard what he said but we had a plan and we were sticking it. Well I was wrong we’ve had hundreds of plans, all genius and flawed in their own way, but at our core, our beliefs remain constant. That’s what drives us, and that’s why our clients tell us they keep coming back.
- Beliefs. These need to remain constant. I don’t know about you, but the vast majority of people I meet are trying to do good in the world, they protect one another, and they are proud of doing things well. We said, ‘the power of people must be something that can be harnessed and used to protect us all from cybercrime’. We believe, and have seen, that to be true.
All the way through I’ve talked about conversation, and that’s because when people change there’s always one constant, conversation. Powerful, influential people that have changed the world don’t do it by creating an e-Learning package, I’m just trying to imagine what Martin Luther King’s CBT package might have looked like. So why should we expect the people in our business to change if we don’t take the time to start a conversation about security? At Layer8 we believe that conversations shape security behaviours and culture.
Now, help me understand:
- How have you used conversations to instigate change? Share your stories in the comments below.