The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast

Dave Kennedy

February 28, 2023 Chris & Zoë Season 1 Episode 31
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
Dave Kennedy
Show Notes Transcript

Our guest today is Dave Kennedy, Founder of Binary Defense and TrustedSec.

We will discuss Dave's work as well as the struggles and challenges he encountered when starting his own business.

He'll tells us about the importance that social media has on his life and how it helped him as an entrepreneur.

Dave explains to us the importance that health and fitness have in his life the motivation behind his podcast on the subject.

He'll  share his thoughts on failure, his most embarrassing mistake, and how he came to have a tweet from Dwayne "the Rock "Johnson on his  wall.

Things that you can focus on, home in on, and enjoy doing, those things you will be highly successful in anything that you do and accomplish.
Because if you believe in yourself, you're going to be successful.


Dave's Links:


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Make it a great day.

This transcript was machine generated and may contain errors.

[00:00:00] Chris: Hello and welcome to the Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast where everyone belongs, especially if you think you don't. My name is Chris Grundman and I'm here with my exceptional co-host, Zoe Rose. 

[00:00:21] Zoe: Hello. 

[00:00:21] Chris: This is the Dave Kennedy episode, and I know you're gonna love it. Dave is the founder of Binary Defense and Trusted Sec. He's a co-host on the Hacking Your Health Podcast and a former US Marine. He founded Derby Con, created a bunch of widely popular open source cybersecurity tools, and the list just goes on.

[00:00:39] Chris: Hey Dave, would you mind introducing yourself a bit further to the Imposter syndrome network? 

[00:00:47] Dave: Yeah. Hey Chris and Zoe, thanks for having me on today. Uh, such a pleasure to be here. Yeah. You know, been very fortunate, uh, to be in the security industry. I started two cybersecurity companies from the basement of my house and, uh, you know, it was, it was good timing cuz I was leaving a perfectly stable and good job.

[00:01:01] Dave: And my wife just had twins. And I decided to go and start, you know, two companies in the basement of my house, which, uh, probably wasn't the best decision, but it turned out to work out well. Wow. Yeah. I look back at, uh, young Dave, I'm like, what were you thinking back then, Dave? But no, I've been very, uh, very fortunate on that.

[00:01:14] Dave: I do a lot of news interviews. I'm on all of various media organizations like CNBC and MSNBC, and CNN, and Fox and all those other things. Worked on the Mr. Robot TV show. Uh, I've been in the Chris Brown rap video, believe it or not. So I, uh, was a hacker in the background and helped with the stunts and skits for a rap video, which was, which was interesting.

[00:01:34] Dave: Never thought I would ever do that. And, uh, you know, my passion's always been, uh, cybersecurity. I've been in the industry for over 25 years and, uh, started my career off in the military intelligence side of the house doing cyber warfare, and, uh, got out into the private sector. Um, testified in front of Congress on numerous occasion.

[00:01:50] Dave: And, you know, again, my whole passion is trying to make the world a safer place and, and help people come into the cybersecurity industry and, uh, help others out. That's, that's been kinda my goal and, uh, objectives throughout my, my entire career. 

[00:02:01] Chris: That's awesome. Super great. We're gonna dive into a lot of that, I think, but I, I kind of wanna start, you know, you're kind of a big deal both inside and outside of the InfoSec community.

[00:02:11] Chris: Not many security nerds have over 175,000 followers on Twitter. 

[00:02:15] Dave: They're all bots. They're all bots. 

[00:02:17] Chris: Fair enough. 

[00:02:18] Zoe: I'm not a bot. 

[00:02:20] Chris: Got at least one. 

[00:02:21] Zoe: I've got one photo, 

[00:02:22] Dave: one or two followers. There we go. . 

[00:02:24] Chris: Well, and I do suspect though, Some of that may come to you not just for being a hacker, but being jacked as well.

[00:02:32] Chris: I mean, obviously this is a podcast so people can't see you busting outta your shirt there, , and we'll talk about your podcast in a bit. But first I want to, you know, why don't you tell us how you came to have a picture of a tweet. From Dwayne, the Rock Johnson hanging on your wall. 

[00:02:48] Dave: So, so the, the Rock has always been, uh, an inspirational figure to me.

[00:02:52] Dave: Uh, growing up as a kid I used to watch, you know, WCW and WWF and you know, he always had the Rock going through there and, and obviously I followed him throughout his whole career. And, you know, it was one of those things where, uh, I was working out downstairs in my gym and the Rock was just coming out with, uh, the Black Adam movie.

[00:03:08] Dave: And, uh, I was really excited about the movie to see Rocket, and I'm a huge, you know, DC and Marvel fan. You know, I used to, you know, read the comics as a kid. And so, um, you know, I went the first night it came out, went and saw it, but I also bought a bunch of Rock merch, which was Black Adam, you know, gear, uh, that was lifting equipment and Rock.

[00:03:24] Dave: The Rock has a whole like Under Armour brand and stuff like that for, for his stuff. And I really enjoy his, his brand. So I posted a picture of myself working out in a full, you know, full on Black Adam workout gear, you know, with a hoodie and everything. And, uh, the Rock responded back to it and said, looking good brother, you know, uh, you know, um, go get it and appreciate it.

[00:03:43] Dave: And so that kind of started off and I was like, well, this will be funny. I'm, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna frame the tweet and hang it up on the wall. But the issue that I had is I didn't really pay attention to the size I ordered. And I got this like, massive, massive frame. I mean, the thing is like the size of me and it, it came in this gigantic box and I was like, oh my gosh, what did I just do?

[00:04:06] Dave: So I thought it'd be funny to, uh, remove, uh, take a picture of my family photos that are hanging up in my, in my, you know, main area, in your first walk into my house and replace it. The whole frame of my rocks of rocks. So all my family photos went down and then I had a, a poster of the rock sitting there.

[00:04:23] Dave: And so the Rock thought it was hilarious, and he posted it back and he said, Hey, what a better place, you know, to put the rock at, uh, hope, hope you sleep well tonight, you know, with, with, with, with the misses or whatever. So it was a really funny tweet and, uh, what, what I, I'll I'll share publicly, you know, now.

[00:04:37] Dave: I framed that picture as well with the same size, and I have that sitting there and I'm gonna have my kids hanging it up with me and send another picture out to the Rock. So I hope he doesn't retweet it, to be honest with you, cuz I don't have to order a third poster. And, you know, this has started to become an issue cause I don't know where to put 'em anymore cuz they're so big.

[00:04:52] Chris: You're have to dedicate a room just to these, uh, 

[00:04:54] Zoe: no, just use it as wallpaper. You don't even need frames anymore. Just start pasting it to the wall. 

[00:04:59] Dave: The whole wall could be, I think that's a great idea. I think, I think, uh, Erin, 

[00:05:03] Zoe: just don't, don't tell your wife that I said that. 

[00:05:06] Dave: She, she saw the second poster coming and she said, seriously?

[00:05:09] Dave: Like, really? I'm like, but I got 50% off of this one. Like, it was like a good deal cuz they like, you know, Yeah, she, she deals with a lot with me, so . 

[00:05:18] Zoe: That's brilliant. I was following that over Twitter and uh, yeah, it was so hilarious. Although I didn't realize it was that massive. I was thinking like the size of me, but bloody hell.

[00:05:28] Zoe: The size of you as well. 

[00:05:29] Dave: It's huge. The thing is, I mean, it's like, it's like the, it's like you're hanging up this massive poster under wall. And it, you know, it took up like half the space of, or my family photos were like, my whole family and everything else. And, uh, it was pretty good. It was, it was a good, good laugh and, uh, rock seemed to like, you know, roll with the punch.

[00:05:43] Dave: It seems like a really, really good dude. So 

[00:05:45] Zoe: Awesome. I, I think for me, it kind of brings me to a question about, I hate using the term influencer, but cuz I find it very awkward, but it's something around like, how do you feel social media has kind of helped with building your personal brand as well?

[00:06:03] Zoe: Taking that for work because as a entrepreneur you are a little bit more directly related to who you are as as the business is. It's if you make a big mistake, it reflects badly on the business. If you do really well, theoretically, you'd reflect quite well on your business. Do you feel like social media has supported you in building your business or has it been more, I don't know, maybe detrimental, I suppose not though.

[00:06:27] Dave: coming up through the security industry. When I, when I first started off, I remember going to, uh, DEFCON, I think it was Defcon 10, was my first Defcon. And I remember seeing all these like amazing folks like Phil Zimmerman and Fedor and the Schmoo Group and Cult Dead Cows, and all of these like heroes that really laid the groundwork for the industry that we have today.

[00:06:49] Dave: And these were kind of like my, my idols I looked at in, in the industry of like, you know, these people are groundbreaking, they're doing new things. And, and I, you know, I looked at that and I was like, there's no way I'll ever be as smart as these folks because they're just absolutely brilliant and there's no way I'll ever be as large as them in any way, shape or form.

[00:07:04] Dave: And, and it wasn't like I wanted to be, it was more so I didn't have the confidence in myself, you know, that, that I was gonna be anywhere near what, what these folks were. Cause they're just absolutely incredible minds and brilliant and sharing their research and, you know, moving the industry along. And so the whole influencer thing's really weird for me because I don't view myself as different than anybody else in any way, shape or form.

[00:07:24] Dave: Everybody's peers to me, we all work together to share our knowledge and we just have different experiences that allow us to have expertise in different areas and ways to kind of share those. And you know, for me, social media was always a a for the, for the most part, I would say 98% of the time, a positive, you know, influence.

[00:07:45] Dave: I could network with my peers and share things and collaborate and learn from other people and what they're doing and just be a sponge in this industry to really kind of continue my progress in the cybersecurity space. And one of the things early on for me that was really important, uh, before social media became really a, a major deal was irc.

[00:08:06] Dave: There was a lot of groups on IRC that I joined and one of the most prolific ones that I would say was probably fundamentally one of the most foundational pieces that I could have had at the time. Remote exploits are what eventually became offensive security. And the offensive security folks, most specifically muts, uh, Mati Aharoni, the guy that built backtrack and, you know, Kali Linux and all that other stuff, was really supportive of, of bringing new folks in and kind of training 'em and teaching 'em.

[00:08:29] Dave: And I was in the military at the time and signals intelligence and I was learning the hacking side of the things. It was relatively new. And, um, just having a community that I could learn off of and build off of was, was really instrumental for me and my career. I think for me, yes, it is tied to my businesses to some extent, and my persona and I guess in who I am online, you know, could, could have a negative impact on those.

[00:08:52] Dave: But you know, I think for me, what I try to be is positive, um, supportive, helping others, you know, I, I QA resumes, if I get a direct message of those, I spend time with people if they need, you know, questions about their careers. I pose positive messages around, you know, health and fitness when, you know, cuz I, I came from being extremely overweight and obese and unhealthy and alcoholic.

[00:09:15] Dave: Not, not I was an alcoholic, but, you know, a lot of drinking and, you know, not taking care of myself and partying and all this other stuff. And so, you know, I was trying to help others in their journey because I think in our industry, you know, we, we live a sedentary life and stuff like that as well as, you know, sharing the knowledge around technology and everything else.

[00:09:30] Dave: So, you know, for me, social media's been more of a positive experience to help others and to also learn from. I think the collaboration aspect of things has been, been really good. 

[00:09:40] Chris: Yeah. That's awesome. And, uh, I think that that does, you know, play into a little bit of, of kind of why Zoe and I started this podcast as well, which was, To really kind of connect the community on another level and, and expose some of these things that maybe some of us think in the back of our minds, and we don't think anybody else is thinking it.

[00:09:56] Chris: And so we wanna kind of push that forward. And so usually in the podcast we dive a little bit more into career and achievements, but I'll be honest, man, I think you're so well known and so obviously awesome in the things you've done. I wanna dive right into kind of the other side of it, which is, you know, can you tell us about, uh, a time you made a mistake at work, or, or maybe even like your most embarrassing mistake you've made.

[00:10:16] Chris: So far. 

[00:10:17] Dave: Oh man, put me on the spot there. Well, you know, uh, everybody makes mistakes and, and for me, you know, I always get asked the question, what mistake would you take back? You know, and, and think about again. And, and I'll, I'll give you a a mistake example here in a second, but I look at mistakes as something you learn from and you build upon that allows you to be stronger.

[00:10:36] Dave: That's kind of like lessons learned and things like that. So I wouldn't take anything back because I am where I am today based off of the experiences and failures that I've had going on through my career. You know, you want talk about imposter syndrome. One of the first times I ever got to speak at defcon.

[00:10:52] Dave: I was so starstruck because I was speaking at Defcon, the conference, you know, where I'd seen all my idols on stage before, and it was at Alexis Park. And I, you know, this, this had moved, I think to, to a different, uh, hotel at the time, but Alexis Park was where I, where I first started at. And so I was on stage at Defcon and.

[00:11:09] Dave: I had spent so much time perfecting my slides, perfecting my demos, doing live demos, which is the worst thing you could possibly do. The first time you're ever speaking at Defcon, by the way. And I'm like, you know what? This is gonna be the most amazing, you know, thing ever. I spent copious hours, I was up till like four o'clock in the morning.

[00:11:25] Dave: Making sure everything's perfect. And I get on stage and all my demos fail, and you know, I'm in front of, you know, a thousand people and you know, I just feel like I am the smallest person in the world because, you know, somehow I, I, you know, I did last minute coding changes, which of course blew up everything, which of course, you know, you know, I should have just did a video demo.

[00:11:46] Dave: But, you know, I felt totally like my, my career was over at that point because I had totally failed on stage to go and do it. And, and obviously that's such a myopic point in your time and, and demos fail and things happen. It's how you recover and kind of move forward with it. I think it's a big deal, but it was definitely one of my most embarrassing ones.

[00:12:01] Dave: And it was to the extent to where there's a song that I played at the beginning of the thing. It's just kinda like when people were coming in, I had some like techno playing and it was, uh, the, it was the crystal method, uh, name of the game. And I still to this day, cannot listen to that song because it reminds me of how bad I failed at Defcon that time.

[00:12:18] Dave: So, so if, if the name of the game's playing, I'm leaving that room because it reminds me of, of that time in front of everywhere. I was super embarrassed, you know? And, and I felt like I was just the, the smallest person in the world. But, you know, we all have those mistakes. Things happen, you know, the audience was super understanding and uh, you know, it wasn't like they booing me off stage or anything, but at the end of the day, you know, I just felt like I, I didn't do what I should have done and, you know, retrospect.

[00:12:39] Dave: Next year I did a standing room only at Schmoo Con and nailed it and it was one of my best presentations I've ever given. Right. So it's how we rebound and how we share our knowledge and how we feel that I think, kind of overcomes those, those challenges that we have. 

[00:12:53] Zoe: You know, that's a really good point. I've done so many mistakes when it comes to speaking and even like, technically it's not public speaking, but even like client meetings, you make a huge mistake and you're like, oh, that's how they're gonna remember me.

[00:13:07] Zoe: And then somebody comes up to you after it's like, oh, you did really good job. Cuz they didn't pay attention to that mistake cuz only you noticed it. And in that case, I mean a demo failing, uh, everybody you knows a demo fails. But no, that's a really good point is that's the same feedback I give other people.

[00:13:21] Zoe: It's great to have the backups, the recordings, but at the end of the day, it's a demo. If it fails, it fails. You know, we're not there to see the demo. Specifically, we're there to talk about what you've learned and your knowledge and the examples you've gone through. So, no, that's a really good point.

[00:13:36] Chris: interesting one too, right? This idea, I think that. One, nobody cares as much as you care. That's true. Right? I think we get, we, we get this in our heads of like, we think everyone like now hates us or whatever, or is really disappointed and like they, they don't really know. They're like, whatever. Like, okay, maybe you wasted five minutes of my time.

[00:13:49] Chris: It's fine. Whatever. 

[00:13:50] Dave: I'll hit on something that, that, that Zoe said here, which is, I think people from an a imposter syndrome perspective, when they're coming into this industry, they see, oh, this person's already established. They have 20 years of experience. Or they, you know, like HD Moore, he wrote Metasploits or this person did this and this person did.

[00:14:05] Dave: I think the, the lesson here is that when HD first started, he hadn't, he never wrote Metasploit. He was starting and learning new things every single day and, and your experiences on your job. Things that were challenging for you, that you overcame are very much interesting to other people regardless of how much experience that you have.

[00:14:24] Dave: I learned from new folks that are coming into the industry because what's really cool about new folks coming into the industry is that their learning curve is very different than mine was coming back into this in, I mean, they're, they're cloud centric. They understand Azure and they understand, you know, well cloud technology when none of that existed when I was around.

[00:14:42] Dave: So, you know, and they use different systems and technologies and, you know, they have a different level of knowledge in different areas. For me, I learned very heavily off of new people coming into the industry and starting to build their names and credibility. And you know, one of the conferences that I ran, DerbyCon, we had a new to InfoSec track where if you're brand new to InfoSec, you could share your, you know, submit to the call for papers for that talk and share your experiences with it.

[00:15:04] Dave: And I'll tell you, it was some of the most packed audiences that we had because there was some really great topics and talks there that allow people to learn new things that they're experiencing. You know, everybody's knowledge is valuable, especially if it's something that was challenging for you that you couldn't find a white paper on, that you couldn't find a blog on, that you spent a lot of time researching and just wasn't clear to you, and you overcame that and you were able to figure it out.

[00:15:27] Dave: That's valuable to somebody else as well. And I think that's the biggest lesson here is that sharing your experiences is probably one of the most important things you can do from a networking perspective, but also just getting yourself outta your comfort zone and, and being able to expand on that and, and build your knowledge up and help.

[00:15:41] Zoe: No, for sure. And also because of different learning styles. I love talks. I love talks because I can hear somebody talk about, I dunno, whatever topic they wanna talk about. And because they're excited, I get excited and it's a great way to motivate myself to learn something that I wasn't going to watch a YouTube video on or I wasn't going to read a paper on.

[00:16:00] Zoe: So actually for me, talks are really beneficial to growing my knowledge outside of my area of expertise. 

[00:16:08] Dave: Well, that excitement in a presentation is contagious. If you get a, a presenter that is passionate about what they've learned, and it's not just like a, okay, I'm gonna run through this command and then I'm gonna do this, and then I'm gonna do that, but they're, they're actually explaining the struggles and their excitement when they get over things.

[00:16:24] Dave: Like, it's like the first time you ever pop a shell on a system, you know, and you get access to a box. You're just like, this is the best day ever. That excitement that you get. You know, uh, you know, someone that's presenting is very much the same type of feel because you feel their energy, you feel their excitement, you feel what they went through to get to that.

[00:16:40] Dave: And I think that that definitely reciprocates the people that are in the audience. 

[00:16:43] Chris: Yeah. We had a guest on not too long ago, Lisa Forte, who, who said something along those lines. 

[00:16:48] Dave: Oh, Lisa's awesome. Yeah, Lisa's awesome. 

[00:16:49] Chris: And that was her advice, right? Was like, listen, if you're, if you're talking about something you're passionate about, I don't care if it's thimbles.

[00:16:54] Chris: I think that was the example she used. Right? I don't care if it's thimbles, if you're passionate about it, like the audience is gonna come with you, they're, they're, they're gonna be excited too. They can, you can sense that, right? There's that people that energy. So, 

[00:17:03] Zoe: I was also thinking about Lisa, actually.

[00:17:05] Zoe: I'm always thinking of her. She's brilliant. . But, um, you are also, obviously, we already talked about you're a founder of, uh, binary defense and trusted tech. And one thing that Lisa said when our, when we interviewed her is being a founder you have to do, or an entrepreneur, you have to take on many different hats, you know, many different things outside of what you actually are doing, right?

[00:17:28] Zoe: Marketing, you have to do sales, you have to do this, you have to do that. I imagine you've run into that situation as well. I, the last update I had about your business is you had just gotten a new office that was very lovely looking and I believe you have a gym in it as well, understandably. 

[00:17:44] Dave: Absolutely. . 

[00:17:45] Zoe: But, um, is there ever a time that you feel, even now you feel like, how did I get here?

[00:17:51] Zoe: And, um, maybe, do you ever feel that sense of not knowing enough or not being good enough to do what you're doing? 

[00:17:57] Dave: Absolutely. I mean, when I first started these businesses, I had no idea what I. and you know, it's an unknown factor because you're leaving a perfectly stable job. You have a family to support.

[00:18:08] Dave: And I had, I had no idea how to even start an LLC or what, uh, an MSA looked like, or a statement of work, or a proposals or legal things that I had to do. I didn't know how to have, you know, liability insurance. I had no idea what I was doing. And, you know, these are the things that, it's, it's very similar to, to cybersecurity when you're first starting off in your cybersecurity degree or your, your.

[00:18:28] Dave: You don't know the foundations of networking, what Ping is, or ICMP or TCP or UDP or anything else. You don't know how web applications work. You have to learn those things, right? And you have to take that knowledge and you have to build upon that knowledge to continue to grow in the specializations that you have.

[00:18:43] Dave: Business is no different. You know, it's, it's going into an unknown and you have to take on new hats and roles and you have to start to figure things out and then you start to build on those knowledges. And, you know, going back to the, the thing about mistakes before, there's plenty of mistakes that I've made in my career in business cause I had no idea what I was doing, but I learned from those and I was able to then build upon those and, and, you know, be successful with it.

[00:19:04] Dave: And, you know, I look back now, I don't think. Dave today. If I didn't know everything today to to Old Dave, I probably wouldn't have done what I did before just because it's such a risky deal. But when you're young, you're like, oh, I can do anything. Right. You know, I'll be. But I'm glad I did because, you know, we have over 400 employees.

[00:19:22] Dave: We're worldwide. You know, we continue to grow. I'm having the best time of my life and I get to work with people, you know, day in and day out, that are just amazing individuals that do awesome things and align with my mission of trying to make the world a safer place. So, you know, en unless you take that plunge and you go into the unknown, knowing that you don't know anything about what you're doing, that you have of belief in yourself and a trust in yourself, that you're gonna spend the time to learn it, you're gonna be successful with whatever you.

[00:19:48] Dave: Because nothing we do other than maybe some of the crazy stuff around artificial intelligence or quantum cryptography or anything that, everything that we do in cybersecurity is learnable and it's, it's doable. Spend as long as you spend enough time. I remember there was a frack article that came out, I think from Egypt on getting around data execution prevention and it was when depth was, was brand new.

[00:20:09] Dave: And so data execution prevention. is a way of stopping, uh, rewriting of an overflow of a stack to make it read only so you can't write instructions for it. So it's commonly used in exploits, uh, and buffer overflows and things like that. Traditional exploits. And I was learning exploit development at time and reverse engineering and this type of stuff.

[00:20:26] Dave: And there wasn't a lot of data on data execution prevention cuz it was brand new. So this frack article comes out and I read through it and I have no idea what it means. I'm like, I don't understand this at. And I must have spent two weeks in my basement just pounding away in a, in, in a disassembler and a debugger and trying to figure out how data execution prevention works.

[00:20:46] Dave: And I, I felt like the, the dumbest person in the world because I couldn't figure this out and other people were figuring it out and it wasn't something that I just understood. And after about two weeks of persistence, I finally figured it out. I understood the topic inside and out. I was able to write my own exploit that bypass data execution prevention, and I got through it.

[00:21:01] Dave: It's those, those challenges with ourselves. The, the frustration, the, you know, I can't do this. The overcoming that, that makes you such a better person down the road because you know, a little bit of pain and frustration means that you're learning something new and you're, you're getting a new trait and just overcoming that adversity.

[00:21:19] Dave: And pushing through it will make you such a stronger person because of it. And so I, you know, those lessons that I've learned throughout businesses and, you know, anything else has really made me a lot stronger of a person because I'm able to plow through things that may be challenging. Know that, knowing that I need to learn something that maybe I don't know, uh, enough about on a specific topic.

[00:21:36] Chris: Now I'm guessing that that same, I don't know, instinct or, or maybe it's, maybe it's not, it's not an instinct, right? It's something you trained into yourself, I think, it sounds like, to, to kind of push through these challenges, push through that little bit of pain because learning is uncomfortable, right. I think there's, there's a video that went around a while back and there's this like really old rabbi and he is telling this story.

[00:21:53] Chris: I think it's more credible cuz he is this really old rabbi for some reason. But he's telling the story about the lobsters and he says, Like if we gave lobsters Prozac, they'd never grow. Because what happens is a lobster grows inside of its exoskeleton. It gets cramped in there, and it goes under a rock and scraps that thing off because it's painful and it sucks.

[00:22:09] Chris: And then it's able to grow and it grows a new shell, and then it just, that keeps happening. Right. But, but the growth all comes through this pain. And hearing you describe that, I'm guessing that that's part of, you know, how you've been successful in, in fitness and. And, and so I wanted one just kind of, you know, verify that.

[00:22:25] Chris: But then also maybe you can talk to us a little bit about the hack in your Health podcast and like, how does, you know, a cybersecurity founder and, and company owner end up on a fitness podcast or running a fitness podcast? Right? Like, how, how does, like, where does that transition happen? Where did that come from?

[00:22:41] Dave: Yeah. You know, you hit on a really good point there around when you go into something kind of going all in on it and removing the, the discomfort, uh, from that. So when you go into something new, you know, I, what I, what I like to do is I study the heck out of it. I try to understand one, the, the high level of what my topic is, but then start diving down into areas that interest me and that interest is, I think what's made me successful because I make it more of my hobby.

[00:23:09] Dave: And make it more of something that, that I enjoy doing. So same thing for, for security. You know, I made security my hobby, you know, I remember writing the social engineer toolkit literally 10, 15 hours a day because I loved doing it. I loved coding, I loved figuring out new ways of doing things. I would go on a pen test and, you know, I'd figure out a new way of hacking into something.

[00:23:27] Dave: I'd code it into the tool, I'd release it, I'd publicized it. I help others out, you know, and that type of stuff was, was really fun for me because it was my hobby. I think if you can make something, your hobby that you enjoy doing, your chances of being successful at it are much more greater than, than not.

[00:23:44] Dave: And fitness is, is kinda the same thing. So a little bit of history myself, I've always struggled with weight my entire life. Ever since I was a kid, I was overweight. The only time that I didn't struggle is when the military had me and they forced me, you know, to run every single day and, and when I eat and everything else.

[00:23:59] Dave: And I, so I, I thinned down then and I was able to run and do all those other things. But, you know, as soon as I got outta the military again, I ballooned back up. You know, and I think my heaviest diet was around 318 pounds. At that point. I was having, uh, uh, health issues, uh, you know, putting on that much weight and, and carrying that around, being such a big guy.

[00:24:15] Dave: So, you know, being a tall, big guy is like the worst thing for your heart and cardiovascular and everything else. And my doctor came to me and said, listen, we have to do heart surgery. And I'm like, wait, what? Yeah, we gotta, we gotta work on your heart because you know, your weights and your health is just not there and it's causing an issue in your heart.

[00:24:29] Dave: And we gotta basically correct. And he said to me, one thing that, that really stuck with me, which was, if you don't change your habits, you're not gonna be around for your kids long, for a very long time. And that like, like, was a jolt to my system saying, I need to do something different. And my whole career, you know, I, I sacrificed my health for my business, for learning for technology.

[00:24:51] Dave: You know, I would, it was a, it was a bragging right to sit there and code until four o'clock in the morning while drinking alcohol and then waking up at six o'clock and going to work and doing that every single day and just taking a toll on my body. And those things eventually started to catch up with me.

[00:25:07] Dave: And I think that's a, a thing that's very, very much looked, looked highly upon in our industry, which is, Hey, how long can you code for? You know, what'd you do, you know, four o'clock in the morning, burn people out? How much can you work at an office on an incident response engagement? This lifestyle that we have here is always like a firefight mode, and it takes a toll on our body.

[00:25:25] Dave: You know, I finally had a realization, like I had to take a step back and say, well, do I really need to work, you know, 10 hours a day or 15 hours a day, or 20 hours a day, or 22 hours a day, or 24 hours a day? Sometimes I would do two, two days straight. Is that really necessary or can I be more efficient with what I do and also focus on my health?

[00:25:39] Dave: So I started a journey on really trying to take care of my health and uh, to. Redesign who I was, and I've had a lot of success. You know, I'm 40 years old, I'm doing 600 pound deadlifts, uh, you know, and I'm lifting six days a week. I'm doing hit training. I can still do a five minute mile and I can do, uh, you know, 17 minute, uh, three miles.

[00:26:00] Dave: So, you know, it's one of those things where fitness has become a really important piece of mind. And that was really because I was able to put a framework around my myself and also make fitness kind of my hobby and be successful with it. Right? If you see a trend here, cybersecurity was kind of my hobby and what I focused on successful at that business made it my hobby and what I like to do.

[00:26:18] Dave: And you know, the business thing's kind of an interesting one because you wouldn't think business would be a hobby, but being able to build a company the way that you want. Like if, if, if you come to our offices, it's extremely rare to see somebody here past three or four o'clock in the afternoon. We have massage chairs and nap rooms if you want to.

[00:26:37] Dave: We have a gym here. We, we stock the fridge full of food. We don't want people working 10 hours a day here. In fact, if I see people on Slack or Mattermost more, you know, past six o'clock, I'm like, Hey, what are you doing? Why are you still up? Why are you still online? Why don't you go spend time with your family?

[00:26:49] Dave: So being able to build a company that. Embodies your culture and what you want to accomplish is why we don't have a large loss of, of retention. I think we've lost at Trusted Sec I think we lost two people over the past two and a half years, and that's for more family related things. That's insane for a cybersecurity company when this field moving around, right?

[00:27:07] Dave: And we continue to grow and add because we take care of our folks who take care of our people. So that business became a hobby as well. So things that you can focus on and hone in on and enjoy doing those things you'll be highly successful on in, in anything that you do and accomplished. Because if you believe in yourself, you're gonna be success.

[00:27:23] Zoe: Yeah. Well, it it, it goes to the intrinsic motivator, isn't it? It's being a part of something bigger, making a difference. You're, you're intrinsically motivated to change something or grow or build something. I think security has done a really good job at not listening to social sciences for a very long time.

[00:27:42] Zoe: And we really messed up when it came to that, cuz I, I took the same approach to you. Did. Is I would work till two in the morning and then I'd get up at five to go to work and I was like, oh yeah, this is achievement. And then I burnt out really, really badly. And then at my current role, I'm doing the error.

[00:27:59] Zoe: Fun, annual annual assessments. Everybody loves those. I know I hate doing my own self-assessment, but one of the findings or one of the competencies I have to measure myself as a manager is my ability to measure or to stop myself going beyond my capabilities, not, not skillset, but beyond like, um, allowing myself to burnout.

[00:28:20] Zoe: If I do burnout, then clearly I'm doing something wrong. Right? And I thought, I remember looking at that and being like, that's such a weird thing to get a company to measure you on. 

[00:28:30] Dave: I like, I like that metric. I might, I might incorporate that. That's an interesting one. 

[00:28:33] Zoe: It's a, it's a really good one though.

[00:28:34] Zoe: And it's not something I've ever been measured on before and it was like trying to change my perspective cuz this is my first like, internal role. I've always been a consult. And workaholic is a consulting thing. . Oh yeah. A hundred percent. Right. And so it was really weird going through the objectives and seeing I need to be, to be a good manager, I need to not overly myself, I need to measure myself and, uh, work more smartly.

[00:29:03] Zoe: I'm using really wrong words. 

[00:29:04] Dave: No, no, you're making perfect sense. 

[00:29:05] Zoe: But I need to work smart. Yeah. Not, um, overwhelm myself. Uh, and so I think that's a really good point to make. The other thing I was gonna say is one of my best achievements in my career was failing. I was a business owner as well many years ago, and I had to close my business cause I moved continent.

[00:29:21] Zoe: So you can't, it's a little bit difficult. And also I don't have the money to afford the Visa required to be able to be allowed to be, um, self-employed in this country. But I think that was such a good experience is seeing that other's perspective, seeing an entrepreneur, but then also failing because ultimately I closed the business.

[00:29:40] Zoe: That's not successful. But I think that was a really good lesson. And uh, I think even if somebody ultimately wants to do the entrepreneur route and maybe they do fail, they think that's a bad thing, but actually sometimes I. I'm happy to hear your insights, but I think, I think that's also a good thing, even if you do ultimately not succeed in that area.

[00:30:02] Dave: Failure is one of the, the best things that we have as human beings to learn from. Our brains are incredible and you have kind of an autonomous system that learns. From failing. You know, if you ever played sports, do you think LeBron James was amazing at basketball the first time he picked up a basketball?

[00:30:18] Dave: No. He's, he's played thousands and thousands of hours and he's shot from a whole bunch of different places, and his brain has learned in different positions where to throw different things at because his failures are what make him stronger. And that's how we learn as humans, regardless of what it is, whether it's sports, whether it's picking up a new career, reading a new book, you know, that that is specifically mind intensive.

[00:30:37] Dave: Those failures really make us a, a much stronger person individually because eventually we're gonna figure out why we failed and what we need to do differently to, to not fail in the future. And so in this industry, the one thing I will say about this industry, the cybersecurity community, cuz there's, there's the industry and then there's the community.

[00:30:56] Dave: I think the community is very accepting of new people coming in. It wasn't always that way. There's still areas where it's not, but the industry, the community as a whole is very accepting of new folks coming in as well as failures because it, we all fail. We all have failed in some capacity in some way, shape or form.

[00:31:14] Dave: And I think, you know, the community uplifting people, and you had mentioned Zoe, that being part of something greater. I think the community aspects of what we do in cybersecurity is really important. You feel like you're contributing to something greater to help the industry become better, whether that's the cybersecurity industry, whether that's your home, whether that's your job, all of those things.

[00:31:32] Dave: I think, you know, there's a lot of statistics on this too, around like the newer generations care less and less and less about monetary aspects of things. You know, you look at kind of my generation, which is you work a nine to five and you come home and you work with your family for the rest, and then you go to your nine to five and you come home.

[00:31:47] Dave: Whereas the newer generation wants to be a part of something collectively. Is making a difference in the world. And that shift is, is to me, is a good thing. You know, a lot of people will complain about the, the newest generation of, of not working. I find the exact opposite where they wanna work, but they have to be motivated by something that is bigger than them.

[00:32:04] Dave: And you know, I think your career, when you look at your career, I wanted to leave this earth saying, Hey, you know, I made the world a better place in some way, shape, or form. And, um, that is my goal, you know, and that's what drives me. So whether that's stuff I do on the side, I'm, I build, you know, I try to get, uh, once a year, but I build eSports gaming facilities for inner city schools that don't have, you know, technology budgets, things like that.

[00:32:26] Dave: And so creates, you know, anywhere between 15 to 20 new, new full boat scholarship opportunities for kids to go to colleges in tech degrees. Get 'em out of the cycle there. So I build eSports gaming facilities, you know, and I'm, I have a new one that's getting launched this. I did another one, um, at Bedford, where I graduated from was inner city school.

[00:32:42] Dave: Net meaning income was 30,000 a year, which is well below the national average, very poverty stricken area. So I try to help others, not just in the capacity of cybersecurity, but local communities and things that I can do by myself in my capacity to help others. So being able to help others, that I think is a big deal.

[00:33:00] Dave: And if you're just coming up in your career and, you know, talking about imposter syndrome. Know that your experiences are valuable and it may help some other people. So can you overcome that imposter syndrome and say, if I can help one person, or 10 people or 15 people, is that worth it for me? You know, to, to kind of move, move myself forward and progress forward.

[00:33:23] Dave: And I think those are things that you can kinda look at in retrospect and say, yeah, I, I like helping people, so let's go and do this. 

[00:33:27] Chris: Awesome. I love that message. Unfortunately. That is all the time we have for today. Dave, thank you so much for sharing your story with the Imposter Syndrome Network, and thank you to all of our listeners for your attention and your support.

[00:33:40] Chris: Uh, we do have a LinkedIn group for the Imposter syndrome Network that we'd love for you to join and get or give career advice, mentorship or, or just general community support. 

[00:33:49] Chris: Before we close out, Dave, I am curious being a fitness person and somebody who also runs a business and seems pretty put together, I I, I'm assuming you have some kind of morning routine, daily ritual, and I wonder if you could share with us what your morning routine looks like.

[00:34:02] Dave: Sure. So for me, uh, workouts are immutable. I have to do them. There's something that, that, you know, as part of my schedule, so if. I'm up partying all night, which doesn't happen very often anymore. Um, I know that I still have to wake up at six o'clock in the morning and get my workout, and I'm gonna deal with the ramifications of that, right?

[00:34:17] Dave: So my, my morning ritual is I wake up at a certain time, I get my workout done before, you know, the chaos of the day starts. So I'm showered, I'm fresh, I'm ready to go. But the one thing that I found about exercising in the morning is that it starts the day off in an already amazing, positive, high note.

[00:34:33] Dave: I've already accomplished something for myself. Where I'm bettering myself, and so the day is already a positive it. Regardless of how the day goes, it could be a totally horrible day. That positive start usually means that it's gonna be a positive day for me. So that's usually my morning of, of, you know, working out.

[00:34:48] Dave: I have a, a gym that I built in my basement. I usually knock it out there so I don't have to deal with people. Uh, I like dealing with people, but it's easier for me. Just go downstairs in my basement, get that knocked out, and then I usually go into the office and start my day working, you know, with folks.

[00:35:00] Dave: I prefer working interactively with humans, but we don't require folks to come in the office like it's, you know, work from home wherever you want. Work flex hours, you know, come in at two o'clock in the afternoon, work whenever you want. Doesn't make a difference to us. As long as you get your work done. But for me, uh, I like human interaction and working with people.

[00:35:14] Dave: So, you know, anywhere I can, you see other people in dialogue and work together is kind of my, my thing. So, yeah. But I work on a lot of things. I'll, I'll still do penetration testing, I'll still do red teams, you know, try to allocate time for the hobbies that I enjoy doing, but I also gotta run businesses too and, you know, be in marketing meetings and sales meetings and things like that, which also excites me.

[00:35:31] Dave: I get a wide plethora of things I get to do throughout the day, which is a lot of fun. 

[00:35:34] Chris: Awesome. Um, I know you're on Twitter at Hacking Dave. Obviously you've got Binary Defense and Trusted sec uh, plus the podcast. We'll link to all those in the show notes. Do you have any other projects or places folks should reach out to you or anything else that, uh, the listeners, the Imposter Network should know about?

[00:35:48] Dave: Nope. That that's, that's pretty much my main, main thanks for now. We'll have a big announcement coming out, uh, next year around helping others out, which is really cool, but I can't talk about it yet. But a way to get new folks into the industry that may not be able to afford college and things like that, and get their careers progressing.

[00:36:02] Dave: So that's one of my big passions has been kicking off and working out for four years and finally next year when we launching it. So that'll be a really cool thing coming out, uh, here really soon that I'm really excited about. But other than that, I think you hit all the main areas and really appreciate you having me on today.

[00:36:15] Dave: Uh, I've been, been really great talking to you two.

[00:36:17] Chris: Yeah, likewise. We will be back next week.