Cybersecurity, Creativity, Leadership: a Conversation with Chris Cochran and Ron Eddings
Perry Carpenter: Hi, I'm Perry Carpenter. And you're listening to "8th Layer Insights." Over the past year and a half of doing this show, I've met a ton of other really great people, from security and privacy experts to people who specialize in human behavior, to spies, deep technologists and storytellers. I've also met a lot of other podcasters who not only have a passion for topics like these, but who are also intensely passionate about the ways that podcasting can help to inform people and build communities. Two of my favorite people in this category are Chris Cochran and Ron Eddings.
Perry Carpenter: Chris and Ron started the "Hacker Valley Studio" podcast back in June of 2019 with the goal of exploring the human condition to inspire peak performance in cybersecurity. The podcast is about Chris and Ron's quest to find inspirational stories and the knowledge to elevate themselves and their communities. That podcast eventually kicked off a journey that led them to create their own podcast network, Hacker Valley Media, foster communities and they recently partnered with SANS to create the Difference Makers Awards.
Perry Carpenter: Chris and Ron are super passionate about cybersecurity, leadership, creativity and podcasting. And so on today's show, you'll hear us touch on all of those topics and more. Welcome to "8th Layer Insights." This podcast is a multi-disciplinary exploration into the complexities of human nature and how those complexities impact everything from why we think the things that we think to why we do the things that we do, and how we can all make better decisions every day. This is "8th Layer Insights," Season 3, Episode 9. I'm Perry Carpenter. We'll be right back after this message.
Perry Carpenter: Welcome back. As I mentioned in the intro, my guests today are Chris Cochran and Ron Eddings from Hacker Valley Media. We'll talk about their journey, their leadership and creativity principles and the topic of podcasting. And speaking of podcasting journeys and creativity, I encourage you to stick around after the credits of today's show if you want to check out a trailer for a new show that I have coming January 16 of 2023. It's not a cybersecurity show. But if you like the topics we cover on "8th Layer Insights," I think you'll like it. The show is titled "Digital Folklore." And it's all about the fun, interesting and sometimes disturbing things that emerge as we humans form groups and find ways to express ourselves online. So stick around after today's show to hear the trailer for that. And check the show notes for links to the website, where we have a ton more information about the show. But now let's get to the interview. Oh, and you'll hear one more voice in this interview. That's Mason Amadeus. Mason works for me as the creative director of 8th Layer Media and is the co-creator and co-host of "Digital Folklore." So now you'll be able to place that voice that comes in as well. OK. Now let's get to the interview.
Chris Cochran: My name is Chris Cochran. And I am the co-founder and CEO of Hacker Valley Media. I've spent pretty much my entire adult career in cybersecurity doing threat intelligence, security operations and the like. And I found my way into content. And here we are.
Ron Eddings: My name is Ron Eddings. I am a co-founder and also executive producer at Hacker Valley Media and really just focused on creating the best content in cybersecurity.
Perry Carpenter: If you could, kind of give a rundown on what Hacker Valley Media is. And then I want to take a step back and then ask how you actually got there.
Chris Cochran: Hacker Valley Media is really - it started as our service to our community. We wanted to have cool conversations and distill all the wisdom and golden nuggets that all these great and brilliant people have and share them with the community. And it just continued to grow. It grew into a network. It grew into a business. But, yeah, that's Hacker Valley in a nutshell. We tend to focus on the human element within cybersecurity. We do talk about technology. We do talk about programs and processes. But really, the key, the main feature in all of our shows, is the people that we're speaking to.
Perry Carpenter: As I understand it, it started with a show and then grew from there. So what were some of the stages of growth that you guys had? And can you identify any inflection points in that?
Ron Eddings: The first stage of growth that we had, which we didn't know we were going through, was experimentation. When we first started the "Hacker Valley Studio" podcast, it was actually called something else. And I won't mention what it was called. But it was a name that didn't make any sense. And we were really just throwing darts on a dartboard to see what stuck. As Chris mentioned, like, our - it was an opportunity for us to have conversations with each other, but to also have conversations with people that we didn't know. And over time, that's only when we learned it was a podcast. At first, we thought it was this video series. And then we thought it was maybe, like, a video show. But when we boiled it down to its nuts and bolts and really found out where the audience stood, it was actually a podcast.
Perry Carpenter: So then inflection point between the podcast and then deciding to start a network and to make that network into a business - what were the decision stages that happened there?
Chris Cochran: Yeah, we used to do everything in person before COVID. We were there in San Jose, right there in Silicon Valley, and it was at the house that Ron and I lived at together for a while when I was moving my family from the East Coast to the West Coast. I had just started working at Netflix, so we had a nice little studio there. We did it all in person. It was great. And we had MK Palmore, who's at Google Cloud right now. I remember him coming in and looking at us, smiling, and he said, I love working with young entrepreneurs. And I go, entrepreneurs? We haven't made a dime off this podcast. We've been putting money into this thing, making sure it gets out. But it was at that point where we were like, maybe there is something to this. The other inflection point was honestly during COVID, because a...
Perry Carpenter: Yeah.
Chris Cochran: ...Lot of the marketing teams in cybersecurity, they lost all their events. They didn't really have a good way to market the services and solutions that they have. And we said, hey, this is an opportunity for us to help them and then also continue to do what we're doing and invest back into the company. So we took it as an opportunity to really help all the marketing teams out there that didn't have a place to put their marketing dollars. And that's really the next big inflection point, from our perspective.
Perry Carpenter: So you served the world by giving marketing teams a place to give their money when they ran out...
Chris Cochran: Yep. Exactly.
Ron Eddings: (Laughter).
Perry Carpenter: ...Of causes to give to. (Laughter) I love that.
Chris Cochran: I'm super kind.
Perry Carpenter: Give me some years. When did you start the podcast? And then it sounds like the - kind of the other main transition point after the podcast started was beginning of COVID. But how long have you guys been at this?
Chris Cochran: We started in April of 2019. We got it into podcast form in June of 2019, and then everything just started to blossom from there. I would say about at the end of 2020 is when we started to expand into a network. We started with "Hacker Valley Blue" and "Red," which is the seasonal shows that we would drop. We used to drop all the episodes in one day to give people a chance to binge everything. A lot of people loved it. Some people hated it. They're like, we want to listen to all of it. I don't have time to listen to eight episodes right now. But we heard and understood their plight. But then we expanded into shows like "Technically Divided," where we're sitting down having conversations with brilliant folks like we always do, but this time, we're doing it in a highly stylized, highly produced manner, very similar to things like some HBO shows. But yeah, it's just been really awe-inspiring just to see what the response has been from everyone out there in the community and even just how far we've come in very little time.
Perry Carpenter: Yeah. So how did the idea for "Technically Divided" start, and why did you decide to make it that stylized because that comes with a - I'm sure, a higher production cost and has logistics concerns with it? Lots of other things come with that and probably a higher price for sponsorship, as well. So what all came in to that as far as the decision-making for that kind of framework of a show?
Ron Eddings: Well, we were actually looking to do bigger and bigger content. Like Chris had mentioned, at the end of 2020, we were really having some ideas in our mind, like, how do we not just create a network but create a network that has consistent quality that's going to elevate not only ourselves, but really push to elevate all the other content creators in cybersecurity? So we reached out to a gentleman named Nate Burke. He is a chief marketing officer at Axonius. And we asked him, hey, do you want to make a bigger content play? We want to be partners with you. We were already partnering with Axonius for quite some time, and long story short, we ended up partnering with Axonius on "Technically Divided" and a few other projects. And our goal was to highlight the most divisive topics in technology.
Ron Eddings: I think in cybersecurity alone, we deal with a lot of divisive topics. One divisive topic that me and Chris can't see eye to eye on still is, can you automate everything in cybersecurity? We thought having other people come in to this conversation as guests would be a great opportunity to hear from other people. But also, one of the elements of "Technically Divided" is a live discussion while we air the episode. And during this live discussion, you get to hear from the guests and me and Chris on the episode itself, but you also get to see, what does the community say? What is their opinion and input on this topic? But ultimately, what we learned, even though these topics may be divisive - is there a cybersecurity skills gap? The goal with bringing up questions like this is really to unite us, to push the field forward. And that's our - that's the goal and motive behind the show.
Perry Carpenter: So describe - for somebody that hasn't seen it, describe what an episode looks like. You talked about the community piece as that show is airing, but what's the setup for that? What's the premise?
Chris Cochran: Yeah, the premise is, like Ron said, a divisive topic in either cybersecurity or technology. And honestly, we drop you right into the episode almost like it's a happy hour or we're just hanging out in a nice, swanky area. We've had really - some really cool locations that we've been to, and every location is different and has its own personality. It's almost like the location is a guest itself. And we just sit down and have these deep, open conversations and go really deep. For instance, we talked about artificial intelligence, and the location we were at was this really cool car club where in the background, you can see this glass window and, behind that glass window, dozens and dozens of really high-end cars, just beautiful cars in the background. And it was just really interesting because we were talking about self-driving cars. We talked about it for artificial intelligence. We talked about algorithms. We talked about algorithmic bias. And we had one cybersecurity practitioner who's really focused in trust and privacy but is really deep on artificial intelligence. And then we had someone else who is a - he's just a wizard. He's an entrepreneur and also works in academia and artificial intelligence, and just to sit down and have that conversation back and forth - sometimes we don't agree on things, and sometimes we do. But what's interesting about this show is every single time we've had this conversation, every time we've had two or more sides of an argument, at the end of the conversation, we always felt closer. We felt closer in communication because we started to understand the sides of the argument. We started to understand that maybe it's more of a miscommunication than a complete disagreement. For instance, the very first episode was on whether there is a gap in actual skills and personnel gap in cybersecurity. What we found was that technically there is because there's unfilled roles, but really, it's a mismanagement of personnel. Really, it's a...
Perry Carpenter: Yeah.
Chris Cochran: ...Missed opportunity for hiring. It's a missed opportunity for growth. So some people say there isn't a gap at all, and some people say, of course there is. But really there's just - this alignment of resources is really the issue.
Perry Carpenter: As you were thinking about growing the number of shows, what made you decide to be a network versus being a production house that then tries to get your shows out to networks?
Ron Eddings: In some ways we're a bit of both. We provide that production support for the podcast within our network. So they do get to benefit from that. They also get to benefit from the marketing support as well. One of the benefits of not just being a production house is we look at ourselves as creators. We look at ourselves as trendsetters. And to be able to set the trend by showing what this content looks like, showing the artwork associated with it - that's one of the things that we're truly passionate about, as well, is the artwork for each podcast episode. And it could be the artwork for the album art that you see on Spotify or iTunes or wherever you're listening, but it's also the artwork of what the show looks like if it's a video show. Me and Chris, we both put a lot of work in how "Technically Divided" looks, not just from, like, the watching from the camera angles, but also watching from the locations. Everything that we do, we try to put intention behind it. And I think that's one of the things that really help us be that premier network that podcasters, creators, come to to want to work with us and create their own content and share it on our network.
Perry Carpenter: What have been some of the lessons learned? You've only been doing this for a relatively short amount of time. You've had a number of shows already. You've bitten off a whole bunch over the past couple of years. What did you - maybe a couple of really cool things that you learned, and then a couple of things you wish you didn't learn.
Chris Cochran: A couple of things that I learned and couple of things that we wish didn't - we didn't have to learn - I would say the first thing that we learned is that when you make a show and then you make another show and then another show, really be clear on who the audience is because not everything is going to be for everybody, but if you try to make something for everybody, you end up talking to no one. So really understanding, like, who are we trying to provide value to is probably one of the most important things. The other thing is that we learned that there is no such thing as competition from our perspective when it comes to podcasting. There's more than enough people and ears and attention out there for everybody to not only do the work that they love doing and be fulfilled, but also to be able to support their families and their lifestyles. So we never got caught up in, oh, well, they're competition. We got to beat them. I think it's all love. We've been on just about everybody's show, and everybody else has been on our show. So I think that's one of the beautiful things.
Chris Cochran: Some of the things that we wish we didn't have to learn is that not everybody is going to be a good fit in your company. And I really wish I could just hire everybody and everything just works out, but sometimes it doesn't. Ron and I, we went through quite a few different production houses. We went through quite a few different executive assistants to help us out on our team. We went through it when it came to that. And whenever you hire somebody, you bring them on, you train them up and it doesn't work out, that's a lot of time and money invested into a person, and then you have to do it all over again. And we just really had to learn, like, how do you hire intelligently? How do you hire with intention like Ron is talking about? That's something we had to learn in spades over the last couple of years.
Ron Eddings: One thing I'll add to that is, you know, we work in technology. And being in technology, you work with a lot of venture-backed organizations. As a small outfit that produces podcasts and video series, we're not venture-backed. So we have to think differently than the organizations that we worked at and worked with. We have to be creative with who we hire and what their role may be just because this isn't coming out of a VCs pocket. This is coming out of our pocket, which means it's coming out of, like, our partners' pockets. And that's one thing we take very seriously.
Perry Carpenter: I've noticed, Ron, on LinkedIn, you've been doing these, like, creativity office hours recently.
Ron Eddings: Right.
Perry Carpenter: How does that fit into your sense of mission and then your overall strategy for what you're doing with Hacker Valley?
Ron Eddings: We want to be as sticky as possible. We want to create as much trust as possible as well. And what we've seen over the years is cybersecurity practitioners and technologists - podcasters, even - we're all creators. We create things with programming languages. And we take seemingly nothing - we do alchemy all the time. We take something that has no value, and then we turn it into something with very high value. We do that with programming code all the time. We do that with our security policies - you know, just words - and turning that into something that's going to protect an organization.
Perry Carpenter: Yeah.
Ron Eddings: But we also do that with content. And the creativity office hours is all about how do you take that genius within you that's so creative and do something productive with it, whether it be at your work - or even think about your work differently? One of the examples that I gave was it's hard to know what your purpose is or what your mission is. And that's been a struggle for me my entire career 'cause it's always evolving. So what I've set for myself are conditions instead - conditions that will make me say absolutely yes or absolutely no to work. And when I'm using these conditions, I look at meetings differently 'cause now, instead of a meeting, it's a collaboration opportunity. And reframing things within your mind is going to help you get that creativity out. And that's what I'm hoping to share with the world when it comes to something like this.
Mason Amadeus: Can you dive a little deeper on the condition setting? Like, how could someone replicate that method that you're using? That sounds interesting.
Ron Eddings: (Laughter) Yeah. So for me, I have this process called limitless. And limitless is also an acronym. Me and Chris are no stranger to acronyms. But I'm not going to go through all of it 'cause it would take probably about 20 minutes. But the limitless process is all about collaborating with people endlessly. So part of my - the L for the limitless process is look for more information via others. And I used to have such a hard time to stay on meetings. I thought meetings were a waste of my time. But the first step to my limitless process, my endless creation, is actually working with others to find out more information about an idea that I had.
Ron Eddings: So now that I've understood that, I look at, like, all right, is this a body of work that I'm doing in isolation? If it is, then it's not a good candidate for my time or my emotional well-being 'cause I'll be burnt out. And then the final S in my limitless process is solve endlessly. So not only do I want to create something really cool, but I want to keep on polishing it over and over again. So whenever I'm looking at new work, new business opportunities, new collaborative opportunities, it has to really fall under that limitless process. And that's the condition that I look at.
Mason Amadeus: Interesting. Is limitless - was that something that you and Chris came up with? Or is that from somewhere else?
Ron Eddings: There's a funny story behind it. We have some acronyms that we created before we started doing executive coaching. And this executive coaching is really like relationship counseling in some ways. It's like couples' therapy because it brings me and Chris closer together. Our coach has helped us identify our superpowers. She's helped us identify our areas of kryptonite, our core emotional challenge, as she calls it.
Ron Eddings: And doing - working with our executive coach, Laura Garnett, she's provided us with acronyms that help us understand how to tap into our genius. So limitless is one of the acronyms that she gave us. But she's also given us acronyms for our values, acronyms for our core emotional challenge. So when we find ourselves in a sticky situation, you always have an escape route. You might not know how to make that - those moves, but you at least know the phases of the escape when you're feeling frustrated.
Mason Amadeus: How to think about them and then...
Chris Cochran: Yeah.
Ron Eddings: Yeah (laughter).
Mason Amadeus: Cool. That is cool.
Perry Carpenter: Yeah, love that. We'll be right back after this word from our sponsor.
Perry Carpenter: Welcome back. Why don't we talk a little bit about community. Having been on your Discord, it seems like that is a natural outgrowth of your journey and your original passion for Hacker Valley, which was to have great conversations with really cool people and also this self-development journey. It seems like there's a lot of people that are on the journey trying to figure out how to make a better version of themselves on there. So when you think about the community that you're building, what are the things that you really want to accomplish with that? And then what are the things that you're seeing that are really cool right now that are happening in that community?
Chris Cochran: Yeah, I would say part of my purpose as a human being and part of the purpose of Hacker Valley and even the community that we're building is about inspiring people to be the best version of themselves, because I think a lot of folks, they forget that I can be better, right? We get caught up in the day to day. We get up. We go to work. We do stuff with the kids. We do stuff with our spouses. We might hang out with friends every once in a while. And then we go to bed. And we just keep it status quo. But I think sometimes if we just remind people that, oh, I can be better or I can do something new or I can do a new hobby or try a new sport or I can pivot from one thing to another - I think the more people hear other people doing that type of stuff, I think it inspires them to give it a shot.
Chris Cochran: Even if they just dip their toes in the water or just try something new, I think is beautiful for anyone to do. So to have a community of folks - that's all they are about. They want to try new things. I mean, there is just as many cybersecurity practitioners as content creators in our Discord. And I think that's just a beautiful thing that you can unite two very seemingly different communities into one, which I think is what makes the Hacker Valley kind of brand something special.
Perry Carpenter: You talked about people being the best versions of themselves and really helping each other along that journey. If you're comfortable, name some of the folks that have been instrumental in getting you where you are today.
Ron Eddings: One of the pivotal people that Chris mentioned earlier was MK Palmore. He's made a very important statement that he loves working with young entrepreneurs. And that spiraled into all of this. But I think we also have to give a huge props to our wives because they've been around since the beginning. And at first, they were just supporters. They helped us identify our areas of opportunities, our area of weaknesses. And then they ultimately joined us to help us out with those...
Chris Cochran: Yeah.
Ron Eddings: ...Areas of opportunities and weaknesses. And that's been amazing. I've heard so many horror stories of working with your spouse, working with a family member. And now that we're in the situation that we're in, I can't imagine doing it with anyone else than my wife. I can't imagine not having Chris' wife work at our company because having her and then seeing the back-and-forth between them and the back-of-forth-between our wives is magical. And that is trust within itself. If you have a trusted family member or a close friend working for your organization that has that same purpose and passion, then magic is bound to happen. You know, if you were to take a second and think back to playing sports in high school and feeling that synergy between your team members...
Perry Carpenter: Yeah.
Ron Eddings: ...Or being in a club in high school and feeling the synergy between all the members there, that's that same type of synergy we try to bring into Hacker Valley. And I think we feel it every day that we're on a Zoom, every day that we're doing a podcast just because it's a high area of trust.
Perry Carpenter: Let's talk security-related takeaways. You mentioned that your sense of purpose when you first started everything was really to focus on the human side of things. So I'll ask a very open-ended question, then. Where do you see the human fitting into cybersecurity in general?
Chris Cochran: This is kind of part of the topic that Ron and I argue about quite often, and that is, can you automate everything in cybersecurity? And my answer is always absolutely not. You can get, perhaps, 90% of the way there. But at the end of the day, you're always going to need a human being to make a decision or take an action based on the information given because sometimes there is some risk acceptance that you need to take into account from a business perspective. Sometimes you have to make a judgment call whether to bring in legal or the comms person during an incident. Sometimes you have to say, we're going to hold off on that particular patch because we don't want these production servers to go down during our busiest time of the year.
Chris Cochran: I think that in cybersecurity, there's always going to be a place for human beings. The better those human beings are as individuals, the better our technology is going to be. The more automation we bring into our environments, the more we can focus on the things that only human beings can do. That's creative. That's language. That's making decisions. That's taking context and really putting it into the world as it fits with your organization. So I think there's always going to be room for people. And really, people is what makes cybersecurity go around.
Ron Eddings: I think we find ourselves in a pretty interesting situation. I 100% agree with Chris. Like, you really shouldn't remove the human out of the loop. But I think we put humans in a very weird situation in cybersecurity by asking them to sit in a chair and look at alerts. And don't move until all these alerts are closed out.
Chris Cochran: Yeah, right.
Ron Eddings: That really takes away from the human experience. We are multidimensional. We're multifaceted. We're so talented and creative. But to ask someone to do something very mundane, I think, is really limiting capabilities and the capacity for security, and it also hinders what we can do as humans.
Perry Carpenter: Let's take that concept of all of the alerts and everything that somebody is having to pay attention to and now remember that the end users are seeing those same things - right? - because we just had an incident with Uber very recently where the number of prompts that somebody was getting just to respond to multifactor authentication login was enough to drive them crazy, enough to go ahead and just accept it. So where are we going? What have you seen? What have you heard about human nature as far as - can we ever really lock everything down to the point where technology will solve all these issues around authentication, authorization and everything else around the way that we deal with data?
Chris Cochran: I think it's going to continue to mature, but I don't think there is a place in which people can be completely mindless when it comes to security, especially from a cybersecurity sense. There's still going to be behaviors that the adversaries or the attackers are looking to exploit. And that's the behaviors that they're - that they benefit off of. Folks clicking on something they shouldn't click on - of course, you can have things like URL rewriting. You can have things like firewalls. You can have other solutions that - to keep the garbage emails from coming out, things like Proofpoint. But we're going to continue to evolve as human beings from a technological standpoint. So that attack surface is always going to widen. And when that attack surface widens, that gives the attacker more opportunity to come up with something that's going to help eat our lunch.
Chris Cochran: So I think it's going to be - we need to do our best that we can from a cybersecurity technology perspective to keep the user safe. But there's also going to be a little bit of the responsibility on the user to understand good practices when it comes to things like passwords or when it comes to safe browsing on the internet. We can't just say it's, oh, do whatever you want. You're safe. We all have to take a little bit of responsibility to ensure that our data is where it needs to be and we can continue to operate on the internet.
Ron Eddings: We all grow up with this technology, and over time, we learn just by nature that there are some good practices, some good hygiene practices. And I have one analogy that I can give from my own life.
Perry Carpenter: Yeah.
Ron Eddings: When I was younger, I used to be told to floss all the time, and I never did. I was like, no, I'm not going to floss. But as I got older, you know, there is a consequence for not flossing. You might get a cavity, and after you're an adult, you don't - you no longer are going to accept cavities like you would as a kid. But I never knew how to floss. I always knew that flossing was really good for me, but whenever I did it, it was painful. It hurt. It felt like friction until one time I had a great dentist show me the proper technique on flossing. She said, instead of me flossing your teeth during your cleaning, let me give you the string and show you how to do it. And then I started to do it, and it felt great. My teeth never felt cleaner. I felt awesome about it. And this was how it was for someone like my wife. My wife came from a physical therapy background. Using password managers was complicated because no one showed her the ease of using a password manager and also the benefit, long term, of how to use it and what it would result in. I think with the work that you're doing especially, Perry, is great because you are educating people how to think differently about best practices in hygiene. We know that there's hygiene tactics that we can take, but I think it's just knowing that you can apply them, and it's not going to be painful along the way.
Perry Carpenter: One last question. I want to get the answer from each of you. If you were to think of any of the shows in your network, the episode that stands out to you in your mind as we've arrived, when we captured this quote from somebody, we got this story from somebody else. Or we released this episode, and it just felt great because of whatever. What is that episode for you, Chris?
Chris Cochran: There's a lot of episodes. There's a lot of moments in those episodes that really fit in that same vein. But I got to go to the classic. It's the episode we submitted for the Webbys. It's the one we became a finalist. It was the one that has probably the better story. We wanted to - we put out these big seasons for Hacker Valley Blue and Red, and we had this great guest lined up, but it was the day before we were due to push everything out. And it was chess Grandmaster Maurice Ashley. Incredible speaker. He's got a Hennessy commercial, which is incredible. Really cool guy.
Chris Cochran: We have this conversation. His mic was a little hot. There was some distortion in his - in the wavelength that was coming through. There was some distortion in his sound coming across the wire, and I thought I could fix that in post. I couldn't. I spent hours and hours trying to fix it, downloading plugins, sending it to places, using applications. I just couldn't fix it. I call Ron at 10 o'clock at night. I say, hey, this is not going to work out. We're going to either have to scrap it. Or I can reach out to him tonight and see if he would do it again. He said, let's give it a shot. Let's see if he does it. We reached out at night. He replied almost right away, said, hey, let's do it in the morning. Great. We recorded the episode. Thirty minutes after that, I had it edited up. We pushed everything out. Everything out - went out on time. We submitted that podcast because it was 10 times better than even the day before...
Perry Carpenter: Nice.
Chris Cochran: ...And that's the one that gave us our Webby nomination for best technology podcast in the world. That's one of the presentations that I keep up on my shelf as our really first - our big award. And we've had a few since then, but I'll always remember that episode.
Perry Carpenter: That's so cool. All right, Ron, you have to pick a secondary. You can't go for the same one.
Ron Eddings: I can't pick the same one.
Chris Cochran: I was hoping...
Perry Carpenter: Nope. You can't pick...
Chris Cochran: ...I went first.
Perry Carpenter: ...The same one.
Ron Eddings: That's funny because that was actually mine. If I had to pick another one, I would have to pick - because it's a very big one - is Simone Biles. And just like the Maurice Ashley story, the Simone Biles is very similar to why, you know, these were two of my we are here moments. We've...
Perry Carpenter: Yeah.
Ron Eddings: ...Made it. We've done something different because we've always known - Chris and I - that everything that we do is related to cybersecurity, whether it's going on a walk and looking at nature, whether it's doing a podcast and learning about the sound and waveforms of how we can edit it and do different things. But these two individuals, Simone Biles and Maurice Ashley, they both came at cybersecurity from a completely different lens. And everything that they do is directly related to cybersecurity. These two guests both have adversaries in their field. Simone Biles is one of the top gymnasts. And to be a top gymnast, you have to beat other top gymnasts each step of the way. And that's exactly what we have to do with hackers. There might be someone that's not so skilled and someone that's very skilled. Either way, we have to play against them. And we have to prove that we are willing to do what it takes to be the best. And for us in cybersecurity, being the best means being safe, having our organization...
Perry Carpenter: Yeah.
Ron Eddings: ...Our data, our users safe. And it was so refreshing and inspiring to see that any field is directly parallel to the work that I do. I just need to find the parallel, and that's what I love about doing the podcast.
Perry Carpenter: That finding the parallel - I think there's probably a tee off for one last question, then, there. When you have those conversations and you've got somebody big like that - a chess grandmaster or Simone Biles - how do you prepare for that interview? What are your keys to success when it comes to speaking to somebody like that? And then what are your keys to success when it comes to extracting the story that needs to be told from a - through the cybersecurity lens?
Chris Cochran: I was never the biggest fan of small talk. I had the hardest time. And it wasn't until recently that I realized the beauty of small talk. The beauty of small talk is to build as big of a piece of Velcro as you possibly can so that the other person can stick to it. So they can say, oh, wow, oh, yeah, I've done that. Or, oh, I have a cousin from there. So when we do these big-name folks, we do as much research as we can because we want to really understand who they are as people, and we want to give them as much Velcro for them to stick to because they're out of their element. They don't know much about cybersecurity. And, in fact, sometimes, people will be like, hey, I don't think I'd be a good guest for your show because I don't know anything about cybersecurity. We're like, no, that's not - we're not bringing you on here to quiz you about cybersecurity. We're here to talk about you, your background...
Perry Carpenter: Yeah.
Chris Cochran: ...What makes you tick. What do you love? What is your purpose? And our job is to take what your life is and connect it to cybersecurity in a way that our practitioners can use it to do better in their work. That's what we do - is we build out this package. We do our research, really understand who they are, understand some of the stories that they tell. And then we open it up so that they can find stuff that they can stick to in cybersecurity.
Ron Eddings: For me, it's there's two powerful forces in the world that I can't get enough of. And these two powerful forces are knowledge and relationships. If I know that I'm not the one expected to speak intelligently about this - the subject, I'm just here to ask questions and to learn about you - that relieves the nerves or relieves any tension on my side and allows me just to focus on what's most important. And that's the guest. It's really important for me to make sure that the guest feels comfortable. So I have to build, you know, a level of curiosity about the things that they do, the things that they're passionate about and then just bring that to each episode. And when I do that is when I feel the most comfortable. So for both of those, we've always had glitches. And Chris mentioned that microphone being too hot. On the Simone Biles one, it's funny - you can't see it, but my legs are in a very awkward situation, like...
Ron Eddings: ...In a very awkward position. Chris is sitting at a weird angle, but what I decided to focus on was just the situation at hand - learning more about Simone Biles and hearing her story, hearing what she can relate back to gymnastics and cybersecurity. And that made it fun, and it made me forget about all of the other chaos that may be going on around me.
Perry Carpenter: I hope you were inspired by Chris and Ron's journey. I know that I'm inspired and challenged by their creativity, passion and commitment to excellence. If you want to hear more from Chris and Ron, check out hackervalley.com for a complete list of their shows and updates on everything they have going on. They are also very active on LinkedIn and have a great Discord community. I'll put all of that information in the show notes for you to check out. And also remember to stick around after the credits of this episode if you'd like to hear the trailer for my new show, "Digital Folklore". You'll find more information about that in the show notes, as well.
Perry Carpenter: And with that, thanks so much for listening. And thank you to my guests, Chris Cochran and Ron Eddings of Hacker Valley Media. I've loaded up the show notes with all their relevant links and social media information so that you can follow up, listen to their shows, connect with them wherever they are. They've always got a ton of great stuff going on that I'm sure you'll be interested in. So go check that out. If you've been enjoying "8th Layer Insights" and you want to know how you can help make this show successful, there are two big ways that you can do so, and both are super important. First, if you haven't yet, please go ahead and take just a couple of seconds to give us five stars and leave a short review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or any other podcast platform that allows you to do so. That helps other people who stumble upon this show have the confidence that this show is worth their most valuable resource, their time. And the second big way that you can help is by telling someone else about the show. Word-of-mouth referrals are the lifeblood of helping people find good podcasts. And if you haven't yet, please go ahead and subscribe or follow wherever you like to get your podcasts. If you want to connect with me, feel free to do so. You can find my contact information at the very bottom of the show notes for this episode.
Perry Carpenter: The show was written, recorded, sound designed and edited by me, Perry Carpenter. Artwork for "8th Layer Insights" is designed by Chris Machowski at ransomwear.net - that's W-E-A-R - and Mia Rune at miarune.com. The "8th Layer Insights" theme song was composed and performed by Marcus Moscat.