March 23, 2022

Leveraging Employee Strengths for Cyber Roles w/ Nick Vigier

by Cyber Ranch

Show Notes

There are numerous personality tests available to help identify personality traits, but many of them have very little scientific validity or reliability.  Such tests often aspire to explain what you are good at and what you are bad at, and miss the mark. In this episode, Allan is joined by his friend and owner of Rising Tide Security, Nick Vigier, to explore CliftonStrengths – a personality measurement that focuses less on ability, and more upon your predilections - what energizes you, and what and drains you - and with a pretty good degree of scientific validity and reliability. Nick and Allan explore what makes CliftonStrengths different from the other personality assessments and how Nick leverages that information to better understand his team and colleagues, and to help folks find the right role in cybersecurity. The two sit down to dissect Allan’s own assessment results to identify his top 5 energizers, as well as his top energy drainers. And lastly, Nick shares why he favors the idea of personality development plans vs professional development plans in the workplace. 

 

Guest Bio:

Nick Vigier is the Owner of Rising Tide Security and former CISO at ID.me, DigitalOcean, and former CIO at Gemini. Nick is a technology and security leader focused on innovation to drive business results. In his 18 years of security leadership, he has focused on building high performance teams to ensure security is a business driver rather than a cost center. His focus on all areas of security ranging from physical security to risk management through to application security, infrastructure security, and operations gives him a unique perspective on how security can positively impact an organization. 

 

Links:

Stay in touch with Nick Vigier on LinkedIn and Twitter. Take the CliftonStrengths assessment here

Follow Allan Alford on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a Cyber Ranch Podcast T-Shirt at the Hacker Valley Store

Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio and The Cyber Ranch Podcast

Sponsored by our good friends at  Axonius



Transcript

Nick Vigier:

0:00

If anyone ever makes you do CliftonStrengths and only gives you the top five, demand to see the all 34 because you need the full picture because it's not just about the top five. It's the top 10. It might be the top 12 that matter.

Allan Alford:

0:12

How do you all? And welcome to the Cyber Ranch Podcast. That's Nick Vigier, owner of Rising Tide Security and former CISO ID.me DigitalOcean and former CIO at Gemini. He's talking about CliftonStrengths, which at first glance is yet another one of those tools that employers use to determine the personalities of their employees, ostensibly, to help employees better communicate and work with one another. What sets CliftonStrengths apart is the fact that it does not claim to speak to what you are good or bad at, instead it to where you get your energy and where you feel drained. It's a very different perspective. It's also scientifically both valid and reliable for the most part. A fact that I can claim based on research into scientific studies, the results of which I had to have my neuropsychologist wife actually help me understand. Join Nick and I, as we walk through this system of personality measurement and listen in as Nick takes my profile apart. Yes, I took the questionnaire to generate my own scores as well. Nick, thank you so much for coming on down to the ranch.

Nick Vigier:

1:10

My pleasure, Allan.

Cyber Ranch Podcast:

1:15

Welcome to the Cyber Ranch Podcast, recorded under the big blue skies of Texas, where one CISO explores the cybersecurity landscape with the help of friends and experts. Here's your host Allan Alford.

Allan Alford:

1:29

All right. So you and I have had quite a lot of conversation about this one before the show, and it's all about CliftonStrengths, which is one of those many, many, many personality measurement tools that you see in the workplace. And it happens to be one you prefer. We're going to dive into that, but I wanted to tell the audience first, neither one of us is affiliated with, I believe it's Gallup who owns CliftonStrengths. Neither one of us are licensed or trained CliftonStrengths senators or whatever they're called, but you happen to be someone who's used this to real effect in the workplace. And I happen to somebody who geeks out on these things and loves to because I'm married to a neuropsychologist, really get into the validity and reliability and the scientific validation basically of these kinds of tools.

Allan Alford:

2:14

And I was very pleased after we talked about CliftonStrengths to dive in and do a boatload of research and to discover that, hey, they've actually got a really high reliability and validity. We'll get into that in the show as we progress, but just know that versus other ones like say, I don't know one that might rhyme with Friar's Ledge, this one is a lot more scientifically backed than some of the other ones. And this one actually has a lot of studies validating and proving up that it's a sound system. So I just wanted to get that disclaimer and intro across the board. So let's dive in Nick, why don't you tell us a little bit about your background in cyber and a little bit about your day job?

Nick Vigier:

2:48

Yeah, absolutely. Background in cyber, it started as a com engineer for the New York Stock Exchange, an intense place to start and not to mention four months before 9/11, which was a really eyeopening experience. The ultimate in BCP and as a com engineer, the entire network was down, everything was gone. So that was my introduction to the professional world was 9/11.

Allan Alford:

3:11

Holy cow.

Nick Vigier:

3:12

It's pretty crazy. I was going through the security cord and to vacuum gypsum powder out of Bay Network's equipment was my job at the American Hockey Association-

Allan Alford:

3:20

Oh my goodness.

Nick Vigier:

3:22

... for a couple of days. Yeah, it was crazy, but I was lucky. I didn't sit next to the com engineering team. I was sitting next to the pen testing team. I was like, "You guys are doing some cool stuff." And a gentleman by the name of Al Berg became a mentor of mine, taught me a lot of the security things and brought me into the team. He then moved on to a company called Liquidnet and brought me over there. And my second week there sends me to all good Tennessee to go learn bug sweeping. And we did security at every level.

Nick Vigier:

3:54

It was the physical security, the risk management, the app sec, the security engineering, the security operations investigations, like we really did soup to nuts and really took the broad approach to security. And that's really the foundation of everything that I've done since then. And so along the way you acquire things like learning how to do budgeting and learning privacy and all that, and did a lot built up security program at DigitalOcean as their first security hire. And you've got to deal with privacy there and you got to deal with law enforcement there. And it's been a really interesting journey and then did the CIO thing at Gemini because I wanted to understand why CISOs and CIOs don't get along.

Nick Vigier:

4:35

Yeah, that was a lot of fun. That was a really interesting fast moving environment and a really interesting learning experience having been in financial services. But a spoiler alert, I came to realize it was all about operating rhythms. So always happy to chat more about that one, but I think that's a whole other show.

Allan Alford:

4:54

That's a show we should get into and I'm going to make a mental note to ping you when we get into that one. That is a topic I would love to address more.

Nick Vigier:

5:02

Yeah, it's an interesting thing. And then, most recently I was at ID.me building out their security program there and I've been using the CliftonStrengths side as a way of figuring out how to build those effective teams and mentor and find how people can lean on each other. And especially in this remote world where you miss a lot of the opportune moments to have conversation, to build an understanding around who someone is and what motivates them, drives them, amps them up, drains them. CliftonStrengths was a really interesting way of dealing with that. Got introduced to that through an executive coach that I met through Yaron Levi, who unfortunately passed away last June, but his whole coaching practice was based on CliftonStrengthss. And now I geek out on it. I love it. I think it's a great way to talk about yourself and to understand how to operate.

Allan Alford:

5:56

Yeah. I just shared my CliftonStrengthss results with my team, my direct reports. I shared it with them today as like, here's how to manage your boss better. And we talked a little bit about it and I guess like, that's the first thing for our listeners. What separates CliftonStrengthss from your Myers Briggs, from your DISC and some of these others. I think there's a lot of things out there that purport to tell you, here's what you're good at and here's what you're bad at. What's some of the big differentiators with CliftonStrengths versus some of those other models?

Nick Vigier:

6:21

Yeah. I think the biggest thing is with a lot of these other models, it's about putting a label on you. You are X, you're DISC or you're here in DISC, you're an influence. If you're in Myers Briggs, you're one of 16 things. Humans are so much more nuanced than that. And also, I don't like being in a situation where I'm telling someone in advance, "Take this test and it will tell me what box you belong in."

Allan Alford:

6:48

Right.

Nick Vigier:

6:49

It's infuriating. It's not something that gets people excited. It's something that people dread. And I think the thing with CliftonStrengths is it's really about, it's not on a scale of good to bad, it's on a scale of what energizes you and amps you up versus what drains you and requires a lot of intentional effort.

Allan Alford:

7:07

And that to me is a super critical point because some of the others, it's not just that they're putting you in a box, they're actually telling you, "Here's what you're good at and bad at." And Clifton is just simply saying, "Here's where you're inclined or disinclined," which is a big difference, right?

Nick Vigier:

7:21

Yeah. It's what you'll be drawn to naturally. But again, it's all about intentionality. And so using this and being able to say, "This is how I can talk about myself in a way that isn't going to lead to a ton of bias, but helps people operate better. I think is really important." For me, I think to your point, right? You brought this to your team and you said, "Hey, here's Allan and here's how you manage me." Well, I did the same thing I said to my team, I was like, "Listen, I have ideation in number two. I'm an idea factory. I need you to tell me when I'm crazy."

Allan Alford:

7:53

Right.

Nick Vigier:

7:54

I have an idea every 10 minutes. It's just going to go nuts if you don't tell me to stop. And I try to stop myself, I try to control myself as much as possible, but it gives me an ability to make it okay for them to use a language to call me out that isn't something that's going to be like an amygdala hijack fight or flight type of response.

Allan Alford:

8:15

Yep. No, that's exactly it. And that's exactly the spirit in which it was shared with my team. Just this morning, in fact, and I'm managing not just a security team, but a development team, right? I'm a CISO/CTO and I've got an entire R and D organization. And that idea factory thing does not jive well with an R and D mission. It's a very different... You know what I mean? Like product management is supposed to vet all the crazy ideas and distill them down to the two we're actually going to do for this cycle or the three or the 10 or whatever it might be. But it's distilled down. Craziness isn't allowed in that mix, right? Once it's distilled, okay, now we're going to go into our quiet corners and we're going to create these things we agreed we're going to create.

Allan Alford:

8:49

And the idea factory thing does not go so well with R and D. So I was like, "Here, this will help you better understand how my brain works. And you guys can call me out." Like you said, in a language that works. So I found it to be super useful for that. So I mentioned at the intro a little bit about validity and reliability, and I thought real quick, if you don't mind, I'm going to get into some of this.

Nick Vigier:

9:08

I'm for it.

Allan Alford:

9:09

And my wife, the neuropsychologist, I had multiple conversations with her about this one and some of the other tests that are out there as well. Reliability is basically the notion of internal consistency and what they call test retest reliability. In other words, can I say that the test is actually consistently applying its methodology? If I take the test today, and I get the following results and I take the test in six months, do I get the same results?

Allan Alford:

9:34

If I take it in a year, do I get the same results? That's a test over test reliability quotient. And the internal consistency is measured by this thing called... And I'm going to look this one up to make sure I don't get it wrong, Cronbach's alpha. And we'll get a little bit into that, but basically know that it's a complex mathematical formula for statistical analysis to look at reliability. And its output is basically a number between zero and one and anything 0.7 and higher is considered to be okay, that's reliable, right? So they took apart CliftonStrengths and they hit it with all this stuff.

Allan Alford:

10:05

And lo and behold, pretty high degree of consistency test over tests, they've done different studies with two tests and even three test studies, really good consistency. As far as those Cronbach's numbers go CliftonStrengths and Nick, I'll share some of this with you, breaks down at a lot of categories. It's not the 16 buckets, it's a huge list of strengths. And they took every single one of those strengths apart and did the Cronbach's analysis on them. And the vast majority of them are higher than 0.7. Even the ones that aren't like, I looked at my own personal score, and I think the lowest Cronbach's alpha was a 0.69, which is like right there on the edge, in the best we're up in the 80s. So all in all high degree of reliability. Now, validity is kind of another argument of does it actually measure what it claims to measure?

Allan Alford:

10:50

And that's a little bit trickier because if you've invented the first ruler ever, how do you prove that it's measuring an inch? You have to have other things that say what an inch is. And so validity is done through a couple of means. One is congruence with other models that are considered to be established and validated. So they've looked at other things like the Big 5, 16PF, CPITM. These are models that aren't in the corporate workspace, but more in the neuropsychology realm. And they've compared this one to those and discovered there's a pretty good high degree of consistency, in other there's a validity from external means. If five rulers agree that this is an inch, it's probably an inch kind of approach. And then there's also internal clustering, which is a whole nother thing we can get into, XY grid and likelihood of things to travel in packs.

Allan Alford:

11:30

And then you test multiple people and see if the same systems emerge and the same coincidences emerge and the clustering emerges. So basically all these kinds of tests have been conducted against CliftonStrengths. It was found for the most part in most of the categories to be legitimate, both reliable and valid from a scientific method. So for those who question these things and are suspicious about them, know that this is one of the stronger examples out there, based on all the research I was able to do and bouncing these things off my neuropsychologist wife as well, who was like, "Why are we doing this?" But we had fun. And we geeked out and I got to learn what a Cronbach's alpha is. So let's get into the realities of it, where the rubber meets the road. How have you used this to manage your teams?

Nick Vigier:

12:10

Well, I'm going to back it up one second. Did you have your wife take it?

Allan Alford:

12:14

She has not yet, I have. And one of the guys on my team so far, I was telling him all about it, he just got excited and geeked out and volunteered and did it and sent me his. I'm about to pay for the whole team to be able to do it too. And I'll get my wife to do it as well. We'll get her in the mix.

Nick Vigier:

12:30

That's a lot of fun. So the way I've used it with my team... So we talked about it a little bit originally. One is about having that language, right? How can you talk about someone and help them have a little bit more self-awareness about an action in a certain situation? So there's one thing about that, one aspect of it for that, it's been really interesting having an entire team take it. And then you map out where the strengths fall in different teams and trying to understand... I think security risk manager is a very broad thing, right? You've got your engineering mindset, you've got your investigations and observation mindset. You've got your governance, risk and compliance side of the house, and I even have physical security usually. And so it's how do you start understanding where those patterns are, or identifying the patterns? And so having an entire team take it, you start to map it out, you start seeing some really interesting commonalities, like my entire cybersecurity team had analytical in their top 10.

Allan Alford:

13:37

Okay.

Nick Vigier:

13:38

Almost all had responsibility in the top 10.

Allan Alford:

13:41

Okay. Well, yes, it's the noble profession, the noble calling, right?

Nick Vigier:

13:45

Absolutely.

Allan Alford:

13:45

We are here to defend and protect.

Nick Vigier:

13:47

So you start to see these shapes, right? So you're talking about that repeatability and while like a strength might flip flop with another, so there are four categories. There's executing, influencing, relationship building and strategic thinking, are the four categories that the 34 strengths fall into. And you start looking at like, hey, what are the shapes of these different teams? So you have an operations investigations team. They're very heavy on executing and strategic thinking, right? Not as heavy on influencing. The GRC team, super heavy on influencing, heavy on relationships and heavy on strategic thinking.

Allan Alford:

14:26

Yeah.

Nick Vigier:

14:27

Right? And so you start to see these commonalities and these shapes pop up. My GRC team was like almost everybody was really high on strategic.

Allan Alford:

14:37

Interesting.

Nick Vigier:

14:37

Right? They have to be. Or they were really high on relator. They were really high on communication.

Allan Alford:

14:43

Interesting.

Nick Vigier:

14:44

Right? And so it's just a really interesting mindset. You then take this to the next level of saying like, "Well, how do I use this for someone who's working on something who needs a little bit of a leg up?" If I'm working on something and I have communication super low. If I go to somebody who has communication much higher, words and meaning come to them much more naturally and the things that energize them, ask for some mentorship or some partnership, you can find that so quickly. Instead of having to be like, know that person for over a year and finally deduce yourself. Oh, that person's really good. That's where I can lean on them. I could literally walk into a team and say, "Hey, you have this. Let's talk about it and see how we can partner together."

Allan Alford:

15:30

See how we can jam out. Yeah

Nick Vigier:

15:32

And how you can help me. Yeah. Like you, and I love nerding out on this. I know that I can reach out to Allan and nerd out on this.

Allan Alford:

15:38

Yeah.

Nick Vigier:

15:40

People who have different strengths that are higher up, those are the things that energize and usually the things they love nerding out on.

Allan Alford:

15:44

I love it.

Nick Vigier:

15:44

So now, and I think the really important thing in all of this too, is that we talked about early on that the things that are higher up are things that energize you. The things at the bottom are things that drain you, but it's not on a scale of good to bad. Something that is high up can also be not good. Like you could actually be really bad at it. So I use the example of ideation before. The ideation in a good way is harnessed. It's optimized. You're using it. If ideation is this ID running around in a basement, right? Just bouncing off the walls, that's bad ideation. So something that's high up can be spectacularly good or spectacularly bad. And that's why you can't just take this and go, "Oh yeah, that's what you're good at." And walk away. It's like, "No, that thing could be extremely detrimental."

Allan Alford:

16:44

Right. Yeah. I'm thinking of whatever. I love racing cars that doesn't mean I'm not crashing into the wall every 30 seconds.

Nick Vigier:

16:50

Exactly.

Allan Alford:

16:51

Just because I love it doesn't mean I'm good at it, right? Let's pause right there and hear a brief word from our sponsor.

Cyber Ranch Podcast:

16:57

Axonius has crossed the CAASM, the first company to solve the cybersecurity asset management problem. Gartner has recognized cyber asset attack surface management, CAASM as a category in their height cycle for network security, 2021 report. Axonius gives us customers a comprehensive, always up-to-date asset inventory, helps uncover security gaps and automates as much of the manual remediation as you want. Take a look at Axonius and give your team's time back to work on the high value cyber initiatives they were trained to do.

Allan Alford:

17:36

And there's another aspect to this too, that I always am a little bit fascinated by because again, it's not you are in this box or you are in that box. One of the things I don't like about Myers Briggs is, and I'm an EMTJ according to Myers Briggs. As you put together your individual scores in Myers Briggs, you see that you're very strongly E or very lightly E or whatever, but it doesn't matter at the end of the day, you're now an E not an I, and you're in a box, right? And CliftonStrengths is about relativity within the one person. And in other words, your number one could be dramatically number one, or it could be just a little bit more than your number two, right. And it's just all about a nuance there that I think is interesting as well.

Allan Alford:

18:17

You can get into and read and dig, but at the end of the day, it's a treating the human as a complex system with a bunch of relativity. You may have somebody who's a strong, like you said, ideation. Let's say you've got five people in your team that are a strong ideator. One could be really, really, really good at it. And the other four could just be like this is what I do, but maybe not that same level or category of it, but then whatever their number two is, might be much stronger than that primary ideator's number two, right? So I like that aspect of it too. That it allows for gradation, right?

Nick Vigier:

18:47

Yeah. It's nuanced. It's not just a formula, and how you interpret it and how you work your way through it, I think becomes a really important process in discovery. So yeah, no, totally agree.

Allan Alford:

18:59

All right. So we align our working life with our strengths as the strategy here. And I love this idea that you're going to do it for the whole team. And I also love this idea that within cyber, you find these trends, right? It's sad that paranoia is not one of the 34 strengths because that's a strength. That would be a little high in cyber as well. But that's again, where it gets really interesting. I'm making a flippant remark here, but it's not about personality traits. It's about habits.

Allan Alford:

19:25

It's about the doing more than the what you are because you could be paranoid and have a strong ideation. You could be paranoid and have a weak ideation. One is what you are and one is what you do. And I think that's a really important distinction as well. That this can still overlay with personalities. This can still overlay with distinctions about what you are really, right? It's a what you do versus what you are. And I think that's really compelling as well. So any more thoughts on it? I've got my profile here, I've got mine that I dug up and I even put my Cronbach's alphas on my top five scores here to make sure that they were valid. You got yours as well, right? So you're laughing at me.

Nick Vigier:

20:03

Well, so before jumping into it, I think there's a couple... Like one the example I've given to people when I try to describe this is I use woo as an example. And I love the fact like you have woo at number one.

Allan Alford:

20:17

Yes. I am a number one woo.

Nick Vigier:

20:19

You'll understand by explanation of CliftonStrengths that I give to people when I'm trying to describe it, that woo is people winning people over, right? But someone who has woo really high usually likes if you go to a dinner party or a cocktail hour, or what have you, and you have woo really high, you're going to walk out of that cocktail party, amped up. You're going to want to go like, "Let's go to the after party. Let's go talk some more and find some more people." Someone who has woo really low can go to that cocktail party, they can make small talk, et cetera, but they're going to walk out of that exhausted, tired. You don't want to go to the after party. You're like, "I just want to go to bed."

Allan Alford:

21:02

Right.

Nick Vigier:

21:03

And it's not to say that you were bad at the small talk or the interactions, it's just that they were tiring. And we'll go into that a little bit more as we go through the things that are in our bottom because we have a lot of similarities at the bottom.

Allan Alford:

21:15

Okay. Interesting.

Nick Vigier:

21:16

So you'll be able to relate to that. So that's how I describe how this works. It doesn't mean you're bad at it or good at it, it's what amps you up and what drains you.

Allan Alford:

21:29

Yep. And I'm definitely the one who at the party goes and meets everybody. I just was at a gathering last night, in fact, a whole room full of people I'd never met before. And by the time I was done, I had like eight new LinkedIn connections and two promises to hook up and talk to this guy about this other thing. And yes, I'm a wooer. And I think it ties into why I'm a podcaster as well. Quite honestly, I get to make a new friend every week.

Nick Vigier:

21:49

Yeah, absolutely. You also have communication at number three, Right? So you are someone who likes words, who words come naturally to you. You like to talk, you like to communicate, you like to write things down. These are things that are extremely valuable in influencing.

Allan Alford:

22:08

Yep. All right. Well, why don't we dig into this? I'm going to let you take this apart and do this. So woo is my number one with a Cronbach's alpha of 0.76 to 0.80. We're going to call that a totally reliable measure that woo is my number one.

Nick Vigier:

22:22

After we've already proven it anyway, in this conversation.

Allan Alford:

22:25

Anecdotally, we all agree.

Nick Vigier:

22:26

Yeah.

Allan Alford:

22:28

So woo is number one. How do we want to do this? We can get into what the woo is and talk about... I've got the whole report in front of me here. It talks about instinctively this and by nature that. How do we want to dig into this?

Nick Vigier:

22:39

Yeah. So just for the benefit of the listeners, so the top five in order for Allan are woo, strategic, communication, positivity, and activator. Right. And I think the other important thing too here is that CliftonStrengths traditionally, they're like, here's your top five.

Allan Alford:

23:02

Right?

Nick Vigier:

23:03

If anyone ever makes you do CliftonStrengths and only gives you the top five, demand to see the all 34 because you need the full picture because it's not just about the top five, it's the top 10. It might be the top 12 that matter. Right? I think we can go through and I can give a quick understanding of what some of these things are. We already talked about woo briefly.

Allan Alford:

23:23

Yeah. Well, and also, I want to mention, you mentioned the top 10, I believe when you get the full report, they actually tell you focus on the top 10, not just the top five, that there's actually a top 10 and everything else is almost their more approach. So my sixth through 10, I'll rattle them off real quick for anyone who cares.

Nick Vigier:

23:36

Sure.

Allan Alford:

23:36

Restorative, futuristic, empathy, achiever and ideation. All right, so we've covered woo. So what is strategic? Help me understand strategic in the CliftonStrengths model?

Nick Vigier:

23:48

So people who have strategic thinking and futuristic in their top 10, I like to try to tell people that your brain goes fast. You see the picture very quickly, right? So futuristic is about, can you see far away? But someone is futuristic without strategic sees a thing far away, but has trouble figuring out, or coming to all the steps in order to get to that thing that's far away.

Allan Alford:

24:17:00

Okay.

Nick Vigier:

24:17:00

So you might have a vision, but the execution of how you get to that vision is the challenge.

Allan Alford:

24:22:00

Got it.

Nick Vigier:

24:22:00

Becomes difficult. So strategic thinking is really about how do you put the pieces of the puzzle together in order to get to that strategic? In order to get through that strategic plan, how do you put the pieces of the puzzle together?

Allan Alford:

24:33:00

Okay.

Nick Vigier:

24:33:00

So if futuristic is the letter Z, strategic is A through Y.

Allan Alford:

24:39:00

Okay. I get it.

Nick Vigier:

24:40:00

Right. But what I tell people is that, especially if you have a lot of the strategic thinking traits, if you don't have that self-awareness, and you're with people that don't have those, you're running down the road as fast as you possibly can. And they're just standing there and they're not keeping up. And having that self-awareness that like, "Oh, I need to slow it down. I need to break it down a little bit more," becomes really important.

Allan Alford:

25:05:00

Yep. Well, this is back to the R and D team, right? If I'm doing the strategic and in my top 10 are also futuristic and ideation, I can run the risk of just rattling off 10,000 new ways. We could be coding the product while they're still trying to code the thing I just asked them to do five minutes ago. Right? Like I can really run a dev team into the ground if I'm not careful.

Nick Vigier:

25:24:00

Absolutely. The good news is that you are the communication high. So your ability to then be able to communicate that strategic plan, that strategic vision and how you're going to execute towards it is great. Right. So being able to pair that stuff together, and the way I use this is I try to encourage people to have a personal brand. What are you about? What's your elevator pitch about you? What is that sentence? What is that thing? And so for me, for example, as a strategic at number one and ideation at number two, I can walk in and say, "I'm a strategic ideator." It's fundamentally what I do it's who I am.

Nick Vigier:

26:02:00

And I can go through like all the rest of them, but at the same time, it's like, it's a good shortcut to building that brand out. So if I'm thinking about Allan, I'm looking at someone who can strategically communicate and win over a room. And I can just look at that and say, "Hey, that's that's Allan." Right? He's going to have a lot of ideas. He's going to be very strategic and I'm going to understand what he's talking about.

Allan Alford:

26:26:00

Cool.

Nick Vigier:

26:26:00

Yeah. And the positivity, I think it speaks for itself, right? People who are generally seeing the good side, but also like having that energy level and being able to bring that to the table. The one that's awesome, that is not common is activator, which you have at number five, which is that go button.

Allan Alford:

26:45:00

Yeah.

Nick Vigier:

26:46:00

Right? Now that can also be awesome or really bad.

Allan Alford:

26:51:00

Well, honestly, positivity has its negative aspects too.

Nick Vigier:

26:54:00

Absolutely.

Allan Alford:

26:55:00

I was talking with some friends about this, that I'm a horrible judge of spotting the bad person. I tend to give and the benefit of the doubt more than I should. I tend to see the value in everybody. And I'll later on find out that I have a whole group of friends that's like, "Why is he hanging out with that guy? That guy's evil and crooked." You know? And I'm like, "But he pet my cat that one time." I see the positive in people, right?

Nick Vigier:

27:18:00

And you have deliberative at 31. And deliberative would be the one that would probably counteract that.

Allan Alford:

27:24:00

Got it.

Nick Vigier:

27:24:00

Right? So it's just-

Allan Alford:

27:26:00

So I'm a hopeless optimist. Is that the conclusion?

Nick Vigier:

27:28:00

That's a maybe. Just ask your wife.

Allan Alford:

27:33:00

Nice.

Nick Vigier:

27:34:00

But yeah, the activator is the like, let's go. Right. And that is an amazing trait to have. I think I have it at 14. You don't see it a lot. It's not in a lot of people, especially not in the top 10, that one's a real gift because it's the one that's driving. It's a driving force. It's not just, I have an idea. It's not just, oh, I came up with a plan it's like, now let's execute. And you're going to lead the execution, which is awesome.

Allan Alford:

28:01:00

Yeah.

Nick Vigier:

28:02:00

Right? And being able to speak in that language of like every single one of these strengths is awesome in its own right. Right? There is no, "Hey, this is a great combination. This is a bad combination." There is a potential for amazingness in all of this. And so when you think about things like your personal development and where you want to get better at, you can focus on those strengths and say, "Hey, I want to be awesome. I want to make sure that this is tuned. I want to focus on tuning this one and being awesome at it." The restorative at number six is actually pretty common in security people. I actually had it a lot within my team. My engineering team had it pretty high.

Allan Alford:

28:42:00

Okay. So what's restorative?

Nick Vigier:

28:43:00

So restorative at my engineering team, actually, everybody had restorative at number one. Restorative in the bad way is I will spot all of your problems, and I'm going to tell you about all the problems I spotted. So might think of the audit team as maybe having restorative really high. Right? Restorative in a good way is I spot the things that broken or wrong, but I'm able to see how we can make them better. I'm able to see how we can fix them. Here are the opportunities for fixing those things. Like we bought a point, I would call a dump of a ranch on Long Island. And I had restorative at number five and I was like, I know exactly what knocking this thing down and rebuilding it looks like in my head. I had all the pieces that puzzle put together and knew it. And that was a combination of the strategic, the futuristic and the restorative.

Allan Alford:

29:33:00

Okay.

Nick Vigier:

29:34:00

As opposed to just my wife who looked at it and was like, "This is a dump." That's it. That was the only thought. This is a dump. But from a security perspective, we look at, we see all the problems. We're like, "Oh my God, this thing's broken." But if we do it well, we also spot the opportunities for making it better.

Allan Alford:

29:51:00

That's cool. Okay.

Nick Vigier:

29:52:00

Yeah. I think that's a really great one. So futuristic, we already talked about. Empathy is exactly what you think it is. Right? Like how do you relate to others? How do you understand them? That curiosity. Achiever is another one that I saw appear a lot on security teams, especially on the operations side. And achievers love to finish something. So I have ideation number two, and I have achiever at 24.

Allan Alford:

30:23:00

You come up with the idea and then you get bored by the time it's about wrapped up.

Nick Vigier:

30:27:00

I need the people that have the achiever high up. The good news is that having strategic means that I can break that into the smaller pieces. So that then there are the boxes that can be checked.

Allan Alford:

30:40:00

Right.

Nick Vigier:

30:41:00

But if you're working at a company where things are moving very quickly, you never really finish anything because it's moving so quickly, that's going to drive an achiever crazy. That's going to be very difficult and exhausting for an achiever. So I think it's really about understanding your own rhythms and the things that drive you, energize you and how do they fit into to that puzzle? How do the pieces fit together? And am I working in the right spot? But I think when I think about the achievers, it's really the people that are doing the things and getting the things done, but making sure that it's broken down so that those boxes are constantly being checked. The bad version of achiever is someone who only acknowledges when the epic is closed, but not when each task gets done, right? Or [crosstalk 00:31:31].

Allan Alford:

31:30:00

Story in the epic. Sure.

Nick Vigier:

31:32:00

I didn't finish the epic, and so therefore nothing's good. And that's the bad version. You have to be cheering yourself on as you go.

Allan Alford:

31:40:00

Take those small wins.

Nick Vigier:

31:41:00

And providing those check marks. Yeah. Take the wins.

Allan Alford:

31:43:00

I like it. Okay. And then ideation, I think that one's pretty self explanatory. That's in my top 10 as well.

Nick Vigier:

31:49:00

Yeah. We talked about that one. I think it's a really interesting one. I love it. I get amped up just thinking about coming up with ideas.

Allan Alford:

31:58:00

Yeah.

Nick Vigier:

31:58:00

So I totally relate to that.

Allan Alford:

32:00:00

And I'm going back to activator in my top five. One thing I've learned in my life is that I can be sitting around the table and having a chat and we're all just chatting about what could be. And at some point I go, "That's it, we're doing it." And I'm always the guy that says, "That's it, we're doing it." And sometimes I'm leaving people in the dust. Like they thought they were having a conversation and the next thing, and they know I'm out in the driveway taking a car apart or whatever the conversation might have been about. Right? That's it, we're doing it. And I leave people behind so often when I pull that switch and say, "That's it, we're doing it." I don't think everybody just switches from chatting about it, to doing it so quickly. And I can leave people in the dust on that one.

Nick Vigier:

32:41:00

Yeah. And listen, if you have activator empathy, woo, you're the cruise director, right? You're the person that wants to get people together and get people moving and all those fun things. Those are great strengths to have for like an HR person building culture. Things like that becomes huge. So it's trying to understand those strengths. And part of my goal is trying to... I like using this to try to find career paths for people.

Allan Alford:

33:09:00

Nice.

Nick Vigier:

33:10:00

Right. I don't know what it was like for you, but for me it was, I started my career in pen testing and I came to realize over the course of the year that I hated it and I hated it because like pen testing is an art. I am not an artist, but I can also use this as a roadmap to basically say, "Hey, where do I fit? What should I try next?" And so taking even people who have no security expertise, but this can help identify aptitudes right? Of, "Hey, you're actually shape that fits in with a GRC team. Let's see if there's a way for you to try that out." And instead of wasting years iterating to finally end up in the thing that you love, and that energizes you, maybe we can shortcut that.

Allan Alford:

33:54:00

Right.

Nick Vigier:

33:54:00

Right. Maybe we can find that pathway faster and bring more people into the field.

Allan Alford:

33:58:00

So there's a challenge here and I'm reminded of the time we had Omkhar Arasaratnam on the show and he and I started solutioning on the spot. I think the activator thing kicked in, I think he's probably a high activator as well. We were talking about supply chain and the next thing, we got a project, but my first thought is that you and I should sit down and break out the entire cybersecurity world and the roles in the teams and list what we think the strengths are that jive with that role and publish a matrix for people like go spend your 50 bucks, take your CliftonStrengths, and if you come out with A, B, C, D, well, look over here, there's a perfect role for an A, B, C, D over here. That kind of thing. We can actually put together the cyber job role, CliftonStrengths, cross reference chart and that could be fun to do.

Nick Vigier:

34:41:00

Call all the action, "Hey everybody, have your teams take these and send me their roles and what that top 10 looked like. And let's use that as a statistical analysis across the industry."

Allan Alford:

34:51:00

I love this. All right. We're going to crowdsource this folks. So pay attention. I forget where, I think it was gallup.com or something. It was 50 bucks. I took the test, I got my print out. It was fun and cool. Feel free to do it and share with us and reach out on LinkedIn. That would be awesome.

Nick Vigier:

35:06:00

It's a good time.

Allan Alford:

35:07:00

All right. So now for grins and giggles, let's look at the bottom five.

Nick Vigier:

35:12:00

Oh man. The bottom. Well, Allan listen, we're pretty close to the same and we have the same bottom three and we're pretty close to the same bottom five.

Allan Alford:

35:20:00

Interesting.

Nick Vigier:

35:21:00

And the way that I use this is because these bottom ones are key to our jobs. As security professionals, these ones are key to our jobs to some extent. And so the way I use this is it's how I prioritize my time. So because these things are draining, I find the time when I have the most energy to do these things, instead of waiting until I'm already tired at the end of the day.

Allan Alford:

35:47:00

Right.

Nick Vigier:

35:48:00

So the bottom ones for Allan, the bottom three are the same ones that I have are discipline, harmony and consistency.

Allan Alford:

35:55:00

Yep.

Nick Vigier:

35:55:00

Can you follow a procedure over and over and over again and stay on that procedure?

Allan Alford:

36:00:00

Not without stabbing my own eyes out.

Nick Vigier:

36:03:00

Go do this thing. And understanding that, right? If you have somebody on your team and you're like, you have to follow a playbook and they have these things at the bottom, and they're supposed to do that all day long, they're going to be exhausted. This is not going to be their jam. And so they're the things that, so like consistency is exactly what it sounds like. It's are you able to do the same thing the same way over and over and over and over and over again? Are you able to pump out that widget over and over and over again? You can see why that would not jive well with strategic and ideation and activator. It's like, "No. Set me free." Harmony is a great one. It's trying to get everybody on the same page. Like being an obsessive consensus builder.

Allan Alford:

36:48:00

Okay.

Nick Vigier:

36:49:00

Versus, "Hey, we have enough information. I'm sorry, I can't please everybody. We're going to go." So the act of everyone on the same page and having everyone agree is something that is draining. Right?

Allan Alford:

37:05:00

Yes.

Nick Vigier:

37:06:00

And so again, it's say, "Hey, let's do that early in the morning for me." That's really when I have my energy and I'm not distracted, let's get that done early in the morning.

Allan Alford:

37:15:00

I got it.

Nick Vigier:

37:16:00

And discipline is being able to stay on task, right? Like stay very... Focus falls into that similar area and being able to manage through that. And then the deliberative one is again, I think I have that one at 30. You have that at 31. That's the, let's think through all the different per mutations of risk, for example.

Allan Alford:

37:43:00

Right. Or the nuances of this new feature I'm asking for.

Nick Vigier:

37:46:00

Yeah, exactly. But the benefit here is that part of what I do is I know that within my circles, I have people who have deliberative very high. So I give them a call like, "Hey, what am I missing?"

Allan Alford:

38:00:00

Right.

Nick Vigier:

38:01:00

I want to tap into your deliberative.

Allan Alford:

38:03:00

Right.

Nick Vigier:

38:04:00

So it's really that slower paced, slow thinking, let's look at all the angles type of mindset. The fifth lowest one for you is maximizer. Maximizer is really someone who takes something that's already good and just wants to make that thing great. These are your coaches. Right?

Allan Alford:

38:21:00

Yeah.

Nick Vigier:

38:23:00

Someone who's got maximizer high up, it's like make that person a coach, make that person a mentor, that person's going to want to make everything better. And they're going to do it until they can't do it anymore.

Allan Alford:

38:34:00

Right. Okay. Versus I've got the good enough syndrome and move on to the next activation.

Nick Vigier:

38:40:00

Exactly. And again, it's not to say that you can't do it. It's just not the thing that energizes you.

Allan Alford:

38:46:00

Right. Yeah. I'm not going to fuss with taking it from B plus to A plus. I'm going to go create another B plus.

Nick Vigier:

38:53:00

Oh yeah, absolutely.

Allan Alford:

38:55:00

Yeah. Okay. I get it. Well, this is fascinating. This is fun. I'm being taken apart here, live on a podcast. Well, but I'm getting it. This makes good sense. And I think Nick is right to all of our listeners. I think it was 50 bucks to go take the test.

Nick Vigier:

39:10:00

Yeah.

Allan Alford:

39:10:00

Or 39 or 49, something like that. Go take the CliftonStrengths test and reach out on LinkedIn and share results. And I think we're going to try to put together a CliftonStrengths versus the cyber industry, kind of a little plug and play grid. It could be really fun.

Nick Vigier:

39:25:00

That's right.

Allan Alford:

39:25:00

I think this could be real fun to do, and we could all learn from it. And to the next point, if you can shortcut wasting years of your life beating your desk on your forehead because you can't find your space in the working world, like boy, what a quick way to get there. I need a job that gives me X, Y, and Z.

Nick Vigier:

39:41:00

And to quickly be able to identify whether or not... If you're working in your top 10, you're energized. You're loving life.

Allan Alford:

39:49:00

Yeah, exactly.

Nick Vigier:

39:50:00

And finding those pathways, I think becomes real... They become very interesting career conversations. So the way I use this with my teams is really around saying, "Let's not just have a professional development plan. Let's have a personal development plan." Right? Professional development plans focus on some skills. Let's do that presentation skills class, et cetera. But the personal development plan is now that thing is a thing that's really going to make people know that you care about them. And to say, we're going to pick one of these, and we're just going to focus on that. I think it has so much meaning to people at that point to be able to say, "Oh yeah, let's do that. That sounds amazing." I don't know anybody who's taken their professional development plan and be like, "I'm so excited about this. This is amazing." They're like, "No, man, I got to take these stupid presentation skills classes."

Allan Alford:

40:40:00

Right.

Nick Vigier:

40:41:00

Negotiation skills and whatever. I think you can get a lot more excitement and buy-in from people when you frame it in this way of like, "I'm not just looking to make you a better security person or a better lawyer, or a better whatever. Let's make you a better person."

Allan Alford:

40:55:00

And let's get you feeling better about what you do with the majority of your time on your short time on this planet.

Nick Vigier:

41:02:00

Yeah. Exactly.

Allan Alford:

41:03:00

That's good. That's real good. Well, listen, Nick, I got one question I ask every guest at the end of the show, and this has been a phenomenal conversation. This is going to be one of our long ones. I knew it was before we got into it. I knew you and I were going to geek out on this one, but I got to close it with the same question I ask every time, which is, what have you learned outside of cybersecurity that helps you in cybersecurity?

Nick Vigier:

41:26:00

So I was on a trip to Italy and I had a tour guide who, she said to us, she's like, "Italians, they're a little different. They run around, they're loud." Just because they do it that way, it's not right? It's not wrong, it's just different. And I took that and I was like, I spent my entire career being so upset when people didn't agree with me. But in reality, if I get in the right information to make a decision, they don't have to make the same decision I make. It's not right, it's not wrong. It's just different.

Allan Alford:

41:59:00

Yeah.

Nick Vigier:

42:02:00

And that one sentence, and I think we were in like Florence and I was like, "Oh my God, that just changed my life." I can now be more objective in my thinking and how I respond to someone's other decision versus taking it personally.

Allan Alford:

42:18:00

I love it. Well, Nick Vigier, thank you so much for coming on down to the Ranch. Thank you listeners. You all be good now.

00:00:00