August 10, 2022

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

by Cyber Ranch

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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


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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 

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


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