The Black Hat Attendee Guide Part 5a - The Magic of People

Blog Post created by treyford Employee on Jul 30, 2015

Joining us for the first time? This post is part of a series that starts right here.

So this post is a bit of a bonus. I've asked my dear friend Quinton Jones to share some wisdom and inspiration on how he injects passion and energy into his introductions. He's simply unforgettable, one of the greatest customer champions and business development folks I know, thanks to his passion for people. Please enjoy this five-minute mental vacation, and get excited about the magic of meeting people next week! ~trey


I’m tickled to the core, from merely being invited by the super posable action figure Trey Ford (as I call him) to weigh in on this topic of talking.


On the authority of my own personal “spidey sense,” it seems to me that we’re on the course correction path as an industry, but it feels like we almost completely turned into a zoo for a minute there, and simply need to start over at the beginning.


What I mean is something I learned from one of the lesser-acknowledged-and-discussed-but-equally-credentialed other disciples of the Jesus of Nazareth—most call him Alex Stamos—basically, the narcissism in the room was strangely strong a minute ago, back when we somehow all agreed the aspirational finish line of the infosec discussion was when we identified the problem.  Which, admittedly, was highly strange and I’m as guilty as anyone.


But the simple, actual truth—like the zen economics of how we really got out of the game of counting our 9s and broke through to 100% uptime type phrases—began when we first admitted we were pretty dumb to have been aiming for 100% of anything in the first place. After all, it’s one of those paradoxically true things, you can’t try or think your way through into the “we did that now” place.  The last mile is only available as a path when you’re trying your best, and have tried every theory you could invent, and then give up and admit defeat. Only then do you find the actual finish line of anything, whether it be “a happy family” or “resilient computers” even “a brilliant Black Hat” or “less insecure and risk-calibrated appropriately-applied and fully-considered security”-types of things.


So when we similarly aim for the best practices in how to “connect with other humans” at—hilariously and ironically—a conference, in person, in Las Vegas, of an enclave of statistically-correlated introverts…. oddly, maybe the obvious is worth saying real quick.


The Black Hat experience that I feel contains the densest betterment moments for my career all year, every year, actually happens in the one-on-one, or small clusters of, say, three to six or sometimes ten “in-between the talks” moments.  In other words, the best bits are always with the other people attending.


Which therefore requires—if we aspire to fertilize and foster the spawn of those learning moments as well as we can—the simple sad-but-true truth that SOMEONE is going to have to shove their hand out at some point toward some stranger (while I know it’s super freaky to do this) and say, “hi” to some presumably highly-scary person, who is obviously scary due to their “stranger-danger!” qualities…


…who suddenly becomes “now not-a-stranger” once we say “Hi.”


So we talk to others, and that’s when the magic happens. And if—having zero personal cupid-esque qualities like archery skills, wing-ed, diaper-wearing, or even benevolent pudginess of cupid-like person (having no cupid-ism whatsoever) —we may have the role of introducing two of our girlfriends to one another, it’s absolutely imperative that you do something brazen at that moment.  Such as lying, breakdancing, or disclosing curious but true quips about them both, in each other’s ear-space, in other words anything that might help make the relationship spark you’re dropping on your gal pals memorable (in their post-conference brains, of course).


And in case this isn’t what some of you might aim for organically, it must clearly also be heartfelt, born of an altruistic region in your—not brain, nor mouth—heart zone within yourself. Not profit-seeking nor ego driven.


In my case, I readily offer to make a fool to myself to achieve the “WELL IT SHALL FEEL STRANGE FOR SOME TIME TO HAVE JUST SEEN THAT….  BUT AIN’T NO WAY I’LL SOON BE FORGETTING THIS PERSON” feeling in whoever just watched me breakdance. I promise you, it’s way worse than bad… it’s unapologetically unforgettably horrible.


Of course there’s the always-true shorter path, if available -- simply introduce the people you might know to one another, so they may speak fiercely and join our Internet unborking team and stuff, but then give them each a unicorn so they can always remember this new colleague of theirs.  If I see this thing in the wild myself, I typically put a comment card in the boss’s office and recommend the introducer for a promotion.  That right there is the righteous stuff that scales.

My name is Quinton Jones and I endorse this BCRA-Compliant message.

Want more? You can read all parts of the Black Hat Attendee's Guide series by clicking here.