I was selected to be a speaker at one of the largest international security conferences, RSA. Yes, I was just as surprised as you. How? Just a whim and a push, then there was a series of unanticipated events that led me to RSA. It still wasn’t real, until I looked down at the exorbitantly large plastic covered badge weighing on my neck with the gleaming yellow tag, “speaker”.
I genuinely believe information is not ours to keep. Information sharing necessitating knowledge management is the cornerstone of my subsistence. None of us would be where we are today if we didn’t “stand on the shoulders of giants”. We would literally still be trying to figure out what’s edible versus what will kill us. Thanks to those that have come before us there is foundational knowledge, we can all lean on and utilize to grow.
In the IT world the conference circuit is where innovation bursts onto the scene. Here knowledge is seemingly unrestricted and freely shared. Practitioners and academics from across the globe with similar interests come together to listen, learn, and share. It’s literally a cornucopia of endless advancements. As long as you’re able to garner the substantial entry fee. At my level it can be difficult to justify attendance at these costly events. However, that never dimmed my aspirations. I wanted to speak. Like the great speakers before me, I wanted to share what I know to those who could leverage it to change their realities. Or so I can only dream. But step one was just to speak. After speaking with a few mentors and expressing my desires, I was encouraged to try. Aim for the top, they said and take it from there. So as call for papers came out, I monitored them closely and submitted to those that peeked my interest. I later learned there was a strict process I was supposed to follow since I’m employed, but hey…live and learn.
With most of my attendance being at academic conferences I struggled to understand why anyone would want to hear about something that’s already known from me. But after blocking out that thought I submitted multiple abstracts. I’m probably the most coordination ally challenged person you will meet, so I’m no athlete but Gretzky says, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
So, there I was selected to speak at RSA on a topic that’s been around since the 80’s but, I felt this needed to be highlighted once more. In all my research I just didn’t understand why we’re not using it. This is a construct I found extremely interesting and really just wanted to see it utilized in my industry. I went with it...
However, two weeks before the session someone I deeply care for passed away. This was eye opening and ended up significantly defining my presentation style. As I looked at the summation of her life: 4 boxes, a suitcase, and a piece of paper. I finally understood the Dalai Lama...” Share your knowledge it’s a way to achieve immortality”. In the end we take nothing with us but what we leave behind could significantly help someone else. So, I dedicated my session to her, refocused and decided to kill it. It was no longer just a presentation. I was no longer just a speaker. It was what would become remnants of my contributions. It was what I would have shared during my time.
From this experience I decided unlike most security professionals who desire to move in silence and under the radar, I want to leave a mark. I’m not sure who I will help or if anyone will ever stand on my shoulders, but I spoke and will continue to speak.