John Hubbard, SOC consultant, SANS Sr. Instructor and host of the Blueprint Podcast, joins the Hacker Valley team this week to discuss SANS, SOCs, and seeking new hobbies. As the curriculum lead for cyber defense, John breaks down what makes a good SANS instructor and how to inspire passion in students when teaching for long hours. Additionally, John gives away his life hacks for pursuing passions outside of the cybersecurity industry, including podcasting, video editing, music creation, and nutrition.
Time Coded Guide:
[00:00] Instructing for SANS & what it takes to be a good instructor
[07:33] Exploring the potential of a SOC-less cyber industry
[13:38] Teaching complicated topics with clear visuals & simple comparisons
[19:37] Podcasting his way to better SOC consulting skills
[26:12] Finding a balance between jack of all trades & single skill master
Thank you to our sponsor Axonius for bringing this episode to life!
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What do you think are the makings of a good instructor, especially for SANS?
Transitioning from the world of electrical and computer engineering, John’s journey to becoming a SANS instructor took over 3 years of study. Although he jokes that training to be a SANS instructor was the longest job interview ever, John is thankful for the mentorship and inspiration his training gave him. SANS courses require long hours and hard work, but John believes the best instructors bring a real love for what they do to each class.
“The technical aspect has to be there in a very strong way. Beyond that, you have to deliver this message not only with razor sharp clarity, but also with passion and energy. People are sitting there watching you talk for hours. If you aren't excited, they're not going to be excited.”
Cyber defense is a pretty broad topic. What makes you feel comfortable teaching a course on cyber defense?
Cyber defense can be a topic that’s both broad and confusing for students, but John has been dedicated to building a curriculum that cuts through the confusion and inspires innovation. Teaching his students to focus on priorities, John wants to bring clarity to complex topics like SOCs, Kerberos, and related security issues. While the topics can be broad and debatable, John wants to equip his students with real world examples and simple comparable concepts.
“If there was one word I was going to summarize both of the classes I teach with, it’s ‘priorities.’ It's getting the right stuff there first, and not getting distracted by all the other details that are potentially trying to pull you in the wrong direction.”
Have there been unintended benefits to being a podcast host, that either helps you as an instructor, or even someone that does consulting in the SOC space?
Taking the chance to start the Blueprint podcast was inspired partly by John’s previous interest in podcasts like Security Now, but also by his pursuit of learning content creation. Starting a podcast, for John, was an exercise in testing his comfort zone. Learning the technical aspects as well as the creative aspects of content creation and podcast hosting continues to build John’s confidence in his storytelling and teaching skills.
“For me, a lot of things have come out of podcasting. Probably one of the biggest things is just flexing that muscle of doing things that are slightly uncomfortable and scary. Any time you think, ‘I don't know if I can pull this off. Should I do it?’ The answer should always be yes.”
What is one piece of advice or philosophy that enables you to do more and squeeze as much as you can out of life?
In the same way that he teaches his SANS students about priorities, John focuses on his personal priorities often in order to accomplish his well-rounded, jack of all trades lifestyle. Building new skills and cataloging new experiences feels vital for John. Taking full advantage of the time he’s been given and getting curious about expanding his comfort zone is an essential philosophy that has taught John not only about cyber defense, but about every hobby he enjoys as well.
“I try to get up as early as I can manage to get up every day, well before I start getting emails and meeting requests and all sorts of stuff like that, and try to plan out my day and ask myself, ‘How am I going to actually approach doing the things that matter the most to me?’”
Listen to John’s podcast on the Blueprint Blog
Learn more about John’s work on the SANS Institute website
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