Brad Liggett, CTI Intel Engineer Manager at Cybersixgill, puts on his improv hat and joins the pod ready for anything. After COVID pressed pause on daily life, Brad kept himself sane and gained some new skills by returning to his improv roots (a hobby he had in the ‘90s) and taking up Dungeons & Dragons. In this episode, Brad covers the importance of improv skills in the professional world, the opportunities to add elements of gaming into cyber, and advice for practitioners looking to be more agile. Be sure to subscribe to Hacker Valley Studio, the premiere cybersecurity podcast for cybersecurity professionals.
[00:00] Introducing the unique combination of improv & cybersecurity
[05:57] Being a life-long learner in cybersecurity & in improv groups
[13:20] Practicing improvisational skills for cybersecurity customer conversations
[18:17] Bringing in games & elements of play into cybersecurity environments
[24:38] Advice for a more agile, improvisational tomorrow
Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and NetSPI for bringing this episode to life!
Life is complex. But it’s not about avoiding challenges or fearing failure. Just ask Simone Biles — the greatest gymnast of all time. Want to learn more about how Simone controls complexity? Watch her video at axonius.com/simone
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Is there a skill that you called upon during an interaction with a customer where you really leaned on your improv muscle?
Improv often involves one phrase that Brad believes other industries should incorporate, too: “Yes, and.” In cybersecurity, Brad leans heavily on the “Yes, and,” phrase because it encourages conversations to move forward authentically. Meetings aren’t successful when customers and clients feel uncomfortable and unengaged. Being able to think on his feet and prepare for changes makes Brad a stronger, more agile practitioner and communicator.
“The whole concept of moving the meeting forward and making sure that there are no uncomfortable silences. Be prepared, have an idea of what you want to talk about, but inevitably, the client you're talking to, everyone's going to be unique.”
What do you think is the glue that holds your interests in cyber and improv together?
Being a life-long learner is something extremely important and valuable for Brad. For improv, research on the latest media, memes, and movies influences his work and motivates him to stay up-to-date and be involved in some fun research. Cybersecurity is the same way. Brad believes to be the best practitioner and leader for his team, he needs to be knowledgeable about vendors, threats, products, and all things new in the industry.
“You always have to be reading, you always have to be aware of what's going on in the environment out there in the world, so that as those things come up, at least you can somewhat talk to them and start to put those pieces together.”
What has been your experience with bringing an element of play into cyber?
Cybersecurity can’t be all work and no play. Instead, Brad believes that cybersecurity teams should continue to prioritize the gamification of training processes, as well as just letting their teams have a little fun. Sometimes, to build a strong, trusting team, there needs to be an outside outlet for problem-solving, puzzling, and creativity. Brad even brought his team at Cybersixgill to a Meow Wolf exhibition this year for that same team-building reason.
“We work hard, but we also should make sure that we play, and not only just do that individually, but even as teams, especially now. It's not always going to be about the training aspect, you also have to take that time to bring that team together.”
What is a piece of wisdom that people could take with them to work tomorrow to make them more agile and improvisational?
When it comes to agility and improvisational skills, you have to have a strong foundation to build off of. For Brad, taking time for himself and understanding when and how he learns best has been vital to his success. Listening to podcasts at the gym, reading something new at hotels, and getting a good night’s sleep are all little things that help Brad consistently become more agile and improvisational at work.
“For me, it’s always having some sacred time at the end of the day. There's no TV in my bedroom, and my phone is telling me around 8:30, ‘Hey, it's wind down time,’ and that's when I'm getting in the mode for sleep, and then making sure I've got a good night's sleep.”
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