Allison Minutillo, President of Rebel Interactive Group and Host of the Rebel Leadership podcast, joins the Hacker Valley team this week to talk about her journey from individual contributor to company leader. With a leader’s mind and a rebel’s heart, Allison wants Rebel Interactive Group to break down barriers and say what needs to be said. In this episode, Allison talks about intuition vs insecurity, practitioners vs leaders, and burning out vs staying invested and engaged in the world around you. Be sure to subscribe to Hacker Valley Studio, the premiere cybersecurity podcast for cybersecurity professionals.
[00:00] Shifting from an employee to a leadership mindset
[07:44] Getting real about leadership struggles on the Rebel Leadership podcast
[13:24] Rebelling for the great good of your company & yourself
[19:40] Finding career inspiration as a business owner & company president
[25:41] Struggling to realize your full leadership potential as an individual
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What went into that mindset shift from individual contributor to the leader for you?
Leadership was an appealing concept to Allison, but stepping into the role of President at a company was beyond her wildest dreams. Being close to Bryn, the former President of Rebel, opened her eyes to the qualities of leadership she wanted in herself. However, the true mindset shift from contributor to leader came from Bryn’s understanding of Allison’s skills. It wasn’t until he brought up her being his successor that Allison saw the leader she knew she could be.
“I set my sights on what I thought was high. I started over-talking to [Bryn, at Rebel] because I was so nervous, and he said, ‘No, I'm talking about you being my successor, about you being president of Rebel.’ I instantly stopped everything I was saying and it became crystal clear.”
What exactly is Rebel Leadership and how does it relate back to your philosophies?
The term “rebel leadership” is a concept that existed before Allison’s Rebel Leadership podcast began, but it embodies what Allison hopes Rebel Interactive Group represents for all of its clients. Being a rebel isn’t just about breaking the rules or telling it like it is, it’s about making a difference. Being a rebel leader is about challenging the status quo for the greater good of your clients, your employees, and your industry.
“It's not rebelling for rebels' sake, it's that we're not good with the status quo. We're not okay with it, but we're not careless. We rebel with purpose. It's informed. It's data backed, it's compelling, it's precise, it's meaningful. We are not afraid to state what needs to be said.”
What do you say to those leaders that approach leadership almost like being a martyr?
The hustle and grind of being a leader can feel like endless amounts of hard work. However, in Allison’s experience, overworking yourself and refusing to disconnect maximizes the pain, but minimizes what you gain. Burnout is real, and cybersecurity practitioners definitely know burnout can be fatal for your career. Allison advises resting and giving yourself the time to reflect at the end of a long day, instead of forcing yourself to be a martyr.
“Doing that next ‘to-do’ list on your couch at 10:30 pm when you're spent and you're drained is not going to make you the leader you want to be tomorrow. It's going to make you frustrated and tired and not able to perform at a high level the next day.”
How do you differentiate the good advice of intuition from your inner echo chamber of not-so-good advice?
It’s easy to get caught up in the eternal inner echo chamber when trying hard to learn and reflect on your experiences. Allison has had this happen to her, too; getting caught up in reading online comments and letting self-doubt control her thoughts. However, Allison explains that the grit of a true leader can drive you through the setbacks of criticism, whether that criticism comes from outside or within. What matters most is choosing to believe in yourself as a leader.
“That's when grit and will come in, in those moments where you're at the bottom of the barrel. Do you believe in yourself? Are you going to choose to believe in yourself, or are you going to choose to believe the comments?”
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