August 10, 2022

When a CISO Writes a Book with George Finney & Robert Pace

by Cyber Ranch

Listen Now


Show Notes

Cybersecurity practitioners give back to the community by recording Youtube videos, interviewing in magazines, or creating podcasts— just like this one. However, books remain a fantastic method of delivering info and impacting lives that shouldn’t be forgotten with the rise of social media. Allan tallied it up and thus far, nine of his friends have written books. He has been approached about writing one himself, and he wanted to get the inside track on the process. George Finney, CISO at SMU, and Robert Pace, CISO at Invitation Homes, explain the ups and downs of writing books from a cyber perspective. This interview with George and Robert was recorded LIVE! at the CISO XC 2022 conference.


Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Introducing the cybersecurity and the personal books George and Robert write

[08:28] Overcoming writing challenges in order to help others with your book

[15:16] Understanding the monetary gains and losses of book writing 

[23:59] Being purposeful, intentional, and useful with the book you write

[30:02] Advising potential writers on if they should write their book or not


Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsor Axonius for bringing this episode to life! Manual asset inventory just doesn't cut it anymore. That's where Axonious comes in. Take control of security complexities by uncovering gaps in your organization. Sign up for a free walk through of the platform at


What made you choose books as your way to give back to the cyber community? 

There’s numerous ways to give back to the cybersecurity community, including more modern methods of online videos and social media posts. However, books offered George and Robert a means of expressing their feelings and beliefs about cyber and about life that felt unique and special to them. For George, writing books fulfills his dream of being a writer, a passion he’s had since he was a kid, and allows him to combine that dream with his passion for bettering the cybersecurity industry.

“My passion is really around cybersecurity. I really wanted to bring these two things (cybersecurity and writing) together in my life, and do something that I think only I can do, from my unique experiences, my unique perspective." — George Finney


What were the biggest challenges you faced while writing your book? 

Writing a book takes time and requires vulnerability. George and Robert are very familiar with those challenges. Facing these challenges often involves facing yourself, your wants, and your experiences. Robert especially felt challenged in writing his book because it was a personal story about losing his mother. Stepping out of his comfort zone to write about his personal life felt like a massive leap of faith, but he’s enjoyed impacting others with this story.

“Writing necessarily means that the time you dedicate to it is going to be spent in isolation. If you're spending 10 hours or 20, that's time you're not with your family, that's not time where you're going out, having fun. That's time you're on your own alone.” — George Finney


When you look at the time and effort that went into it, was writing a book worth it? 

As Allan shares, podcasting with the Cyber Ranch podcast has offered him an avenue of success, but book writing does not always pay off monetarily. George and Robert have found other ways of seeing the value in their work, but as George especially explains, there are a lot of costs associated with writing a book that many aspiring writers don’t consider. Marketing especially requires a high volume of costs that many don’t expect when writing their first book.

“Mine has not proven to be successful to where I can retire from the job, but there is a feeling of richness that you can get from helping folks along the way. That has been a very fulfilling point.” — Robert Pace


If somebody wants to write a book, what's the best piece of advice you have for them?

If you want to write a book, Robert and George genuinely believe you should go for it. A writer doesn’t have to know everything to write a book, but they do need to understand their audience and intentions with the book they want to author. Aspiring authors, according to Robert, need to be especially cautious of how pride can negatively impact the writing process. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, Robert says, but don’t let pride get in the way of accepting that help, especially from editors and other educated writers. 

“I will say when you want to write a book, remove your pride because it will get hurt if you keep it out there. Everyone is not going to like what you write. We're coming from a cyber perspective, we don't write like the guys that have majored in English.” — Robert Pace



Learn more about George Finney on LinkedIn and buy George’s books, Well Aware, No More Magic Wands, and Project Zero Trust

Keep up with Robert Pace on LinkedIn and buy Robert’s book, I Understand… You Forgot to Say Goodbye.

Follow Allan Alford on LinkedIn and Twitter

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

Continue this conversation on our Discord

Listen to more from the Hacker Valley Studio and The Cyber Ranch Podcast


Read more

Recent Episodes

May 24, 2023
by Cyber Ranch

This episode is a bit scary.  Adrian Sanabria, who on an earlier show busted many cybersecurity myths, is back again, this time analyzing the impact of Large Language Model Artificial Intelligence on a hypothesized skills gap on the bad guy side. Pre...

May 22, 2023
by Cyber Ranch

This is Part 1 of an incredible series of interviews Allan conducted live at RSA 2023.  Guests include: Chris Kennedy, CISO @ Citadel Gary Hayslip, CISO @ Softbank Investment Advisers Michael Calderin, CISO @ YAGEO Group Reet  Kaur, CISO @ Portland C...

May 17, 2023
by Cyber Ranch

Leadership skills, technical skills, cybersecurity skills, pluck, drive and determination are all on display as Allan interviews Merav Bahat, CEO @ Dazz and Mickey Bresman, CEO @ Semperis. Dazz has completed a Series A investment round.  Semperis a S...

May 10, 2023
by Cyber Ranch

What is security chaos engineering?  You may remember Kelly Shortridge, our very first guest, who came on the show to talk about behavioral economics and cybersecurity.  Well Kelly is back to talk about her new book, "Security Chaos Engineering: Sust...

May 3, 2023
by Cyber Ranch

Bryan Liebert is one smart cookie.  Who bakes cybersecurity cakes.  But seriously, Bryan has been a CISO, consultant, architect, and has served many other roles in cybersecurity.  His specialty is creating simple to digest (we could not help it, sorr...

April 26, 2023
by Cyber Ranch

Adrian Wright, "The Cynical CISO" of LinkedIn fame, joins Allan to discuss four areas where cybersecurity is perhaps getting it wrong: Cybersecurity viewed as a necessary evil, related to The Twilight Zone Ownership, Authority, Accountability: Invent...

April 24, 2023
by Cyber Ranch

Join us for a SPECIAL EDITON! episode of The Cyber Ranch Podcast LIVE! from CISO XC in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas! The topic is data security: its challenges and how to overcome them. Joining Allan are Cecil Pineda of R1 ("Cecil the CISO") and Gene Moo...

April 19, 2023
by Cyber Ranch

We always think of cybersecurity startups as companies who contribute to the tech stack in an organizational environment - usually the enterprise.  We also think of personal cybersecurity in terms of protecting Grandma or our kids from the bad guys. ...

April 12, 2023
by Cyber Ranch

Emily Heath is a well-known and well-respected figure in cybersecurity.  She has been a CISO three times in a variety of industries, including software and a major airline.  She has been in law enforcement, is a partner at a VC firm, and serves on bo...

April 5, 2023
by Cyber Ranch

This week Allan is joined by Karla Reffold, COO at Orpheus Cyber.  Yes, that makes her a vendor, but, yes, she follow's the show's rules:  She is a friend, not a sponsor; she is not all vendory; and most importantly she is a subject matter expert on ...