Why In a Former Life I was a Cadaver Dog!

My career has been and adventure along the scenic route speaking conservatively which I rarely do. My number one goal is to be the best example for what I choose to focus my attention on. I rose in the corporate ranks pretty quickly and helped define what it really means to be a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). This path was captured in one of my books called “Securing the C Level: Getting, Keeping or Reclaiming That Executive Title” which I hope becomes the blueprints for another’s success.

Why in a former life I was a cadaver dog

Getting back to focal points, the purpose of a CISO (or any GRC professional) is to eliminate risks to the business. You might imagine that in this pursuit that as the investigator and enforcer within a corporation that at time there would be conflict. That would certainly be the understatement of the century!

When I said that I strive to be the best, I meant it and at times when you put yourself out there in the front of the action, just like in battle, sometimes you take a hit. As long as you are willing to endure some adversity at times, it can be very rewarding. One of the long-standing aspects of my career that is tremendously rewarding is that I protect people who probably have no idea who I am and what I do to accomplish this.

Unfortunately more times than I care for protecting consumers meant that I would do so not from cyber-criminals but actually from corporate criminals. I have a knack for finding where the company skeletons are buried. I’m never happy about this talent because it always seems to cue the end of the honeymoon phase of my corporate experience because for better or worse I will get the problem fixed.

For the longest time I wondered why me? Where is my happy corporate experience and why have I not found it yet? Is it my tenacious personality and why do I feel compelled to “Damn the torpedoes”? Why have I had so many good people along the way tell me that “Michael marches to his own drum beat” in a way that seemed critical but I embraced like a trophy? Finding an answer to my “Why” questions is precisely what the second part of this story is about.

Recently a professional friend of mine, attorney Cristi McMurdie, took some time to talk to me at length. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was under the microscope. You see, aside from being an attorney, Cristi is also what is called a Why Coach. She then revealed to me that I was the type of person who would be categorized in the “Challenge” category which is described as a person compelled “To Think Different and Challenge the Status Quo”.

Here is a bit more detail on what they say about me.

Characteristics – If this is your WHY, then you live outside the box. You do not believe in the norm or following rules or drawing inside the lines. It is far more natural for you to rebel against the stereotypical or classical way of doing things. You aggressively seek unique ways of approaching the world and finding solutions that no one else has considered. You like to create and innovate, especially in “game-changing” ways. You have eccentric friends and eclectic tastes and a large variety of both. You may have diverse interests with little in common with each other. As an entrepreneur, you prefer to create a new market versus serving an existing market. You love to be different, think differently and challenge virtually anyone or anything that is too rote or conventional. People with your WHY often accomplish amazing feats. When you say you want to change the world, you actually mean it. Pushing the envelope comes naturally to you.

Professions – Among those who have your WHY, you will find innovators, fashion designers, painters, inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, CEOs, out-of-the-box thinkers, rebels with (or without) a cause, poets, programmers, chefs, scientists, sculptors, writers and musicians.

The Challenge – The biggest challenge by far for those who share your WHY is that you are generally unaware of it and therefore do not appreciate what a unique gift it truly is. Others find you odd or strange and don’t understand your behavior. You may be viewed as “the crazy one” and ostracized because of it. You may be excluded from gatherings, opportunities and relationships because of the way that you are perceived. People don’t “get you.” Because of this, you may feel misunderstood or not valued and have a hard time getting along in normal circumstances.

The Solution – In your case the solution is most effective though not obvious and requires a bit of tact. It is imperative that you let people know about your WHY, about the fact that you are different, that you do enjoy challenging the status quo and coming up with innovative and novel ways of looking at things. Invite people to bring new challenges that need a fresh pair of eyes or an outside-the-box solution. Once people get a sense of who you are and the fact that you always have a unique take on virtually anything, they will embrace you— even though they may not understand you. When someone knows about your WHY, instead of being the “weird one” you morph into the cool person that simply thinks differently. It has been our experience that for people who share your WHY, gaining the awareness that you are in fact different, that there is nothing wrong with you and quite the contrary, that you have a rare gift that few others share has been nothing short of transformational. Knowing your WHY gives you a keen understanding of yourself along with an appreciation for who you are—often for the very first time.

Famous People with your WHY include:

  • American business magnate, Steve Jobs
  • Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher
  • Mexican actress Sara Ramirez
  • Comedian George Carlin

I’d say that I’m in good company wouldn’t you?

As expected while I did embrace having better personal insight that made good logical sense to me, I still challenged them on the “Why” concept which I suppose proves their point? If you are a friend I’d love to know what you think about my diagnosis. Please be constructive because you know I’m inclined to challenge you!

As for finding career bliss? I have indeed found my purpose and my Why along the way. I started the proactive cyber security firm Lazarus Alliance and instead of being content with that alone, I’ve also created some industry changing technology called ITAM I intend on making a real difference in the world with.

Find out more about Why at: http://www.knowyourwhy.com