The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast

Franck Martin

August 15, 2023 Chris & Zoë Season 1 Episode 55
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
Franck Martin
Show Notes Transcript

Our guest today is Franck Martin, a network engineer, a former trustee of the Internet Society, and an electronic music producer.

We talk with Franck about his journey from finance to tech, and how he got involved in the Pacific islands, where he worked on various projects related to internet infrastructure, security, and development. We also discuss his passion for ipv6 and how he helped to bring it to the root of the internet.

We learn about his experience as a board member of the Internet Society, and how he leveraged his network and community connections to solve problems and create opportunities. We also explore his creative side as an electronic music producer, and how he deals with imposter syndrome in both the tech and music scenes.

Join us for this fascinating and inspiring conversation with Franck Martin.

“Understanding the difference of culture or where people are coming from is a richness that allows you to ask different questions and have a different perspective.
You go after the problem, not the person, and that helps everybody.

Franck's Links:


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Make it a great day.

Machines made this, mistakes and all:

[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 Grundemann and I'm here with our phenomenal co-host, Zoe Rose. Hello, this is the Franck Martin episode, and it's going to be a treat. Franck spent nearly 20 years in Fiji, where he worked with dozens of Pacific Island countries, including deploying ISPs in Tuvalu, Fiji, and Samoa.

[00:00:34] Chris: He also established two country Code TLDs top level domains. One for uh, Kiribati, and one for Nauru. He was also a trustee at the Internet society for several years. I. And has been involved with local chapters both in the Pacific Islands as well as in San Francisco. He worked on the DMARC specification and deployed it at LinkedIn.

[00:00:55] Chris: Where he was postmaster from 2011 to 2017 and he's still there working towards building an IPv6-only data center at LinkedIn, I believe. 

[00:01:07] Chris: Hey, Franck, would you like to introduce yourself any further to the imposter syndrome network? 

[00:01:11] Franck: Uh, I think that's about right. Hi, Chris, Hi Zoe, we're very, uh, awesome to be here.

[00:01:15] Franck: I think that summarize it a a little bit on my course of career. 

[00:01:19] Chris: Great. Yeah, there's a lot to it. And in addition to all of the digital infrastructure stuff, you are also active in the alternative electronic music scene in San Francisco. I. And you've released several electronica albums. I'm a big fan of electronica myself, although I do admit that I trend more towards some of the Dancier stuff, but I do really dig the music you're putting out.

[00:01:41] Chris: And we've had a few other guests who mentioned a passion for making music. So I am curious, is this something you are doing all along and are just now getting more attention for it? Or is this relatively new to you? Or maybe just tell us, you know, how you got into producing music and, and how it's going so far.

[00:01:56] Franck: So I, I've always been interested by electronic music, uh, you know, getting oxygen from JAMIA and evangelists and all that, but also it electronic music has accompanied me through the years while I was doing studies because it's a, when there's no words, then I need background of maybe a noise. So I need the background of, of sounds while I'm working.

[00:02:19] Franck: So that has been accompanying me, especially when I had some very tough program when I was studying. So, I always like electronic music, and I like also the, the freedom and the no boundaries. No barrier. Break the rules. However, this is, uh, only in the recent years when I moved to San Francisco, which is one of the starting point of electronic music in the world, uh, that has started to get myself into buying equipment and producing some music.

[00:02:46] Zoe: That's really interesting. I'm the complete opposite. I either need like background noise of people or complete silence. I love music, but I just, I don't know, it distracts me. However, I will say electronic music is probably better because I'm not listening to words. 

[00:03:03] Chris: Yeah. I'm the same for, uh, most stuff. I listen to electronic music mainly because it doesn't have lyrics like you said, Franck, because if I listen to stuff with lyrics, with compelling lyrics, I end up either writing that into my code or my configurations or my email.

[00:03:15] Chris: All of a sudden there's lyrics showing up on the screen. Uh, it's not good. So better to have stuff. Uh, it's either like piano concertos or, or house music or techno or something for me. 

[00:03:24] Zoe: Definitely. 

[00:03:25] Franck: Yeah. The thing that, uh, interests me also with electronic music is that, uh, you meet a wide range of people.

[00:03:32] Franck: You know, there's all kind of people that are. In that field, so that allow me to get outside of my normal tech people. Um, so that, that's the interesting part. 

[00:03:42] Zoe: Yeah, definitely. And, and also I'll say even if you are meeting other tech people, I've found it's a variety. So it's like even if they're in tech, they're also completely in a different field than you or have completely different goals than you, which is really cool.

[00:03:58] Zoe: It's a nice little mini community. I saw that you started as a CFO in France in 1989. So you've been a C F O longer than I've been alive. Um, which is cool. Um, but I'm curious, like that's, that's quite a senior position. What was your first job that then got you into a C suite role? 

[00:04:24] Franck: Alright, I need to put a caveat on that. So when I was in a school, uh, engineering school, we have these things in Europe called Junior Enterprise.

[00:04:32] Franck: So we had this junior enterprise and I was the treasurer, cfo of that so, you know, small structure to get project with, uh, with companies and get the student to work on some projects. So I was organizing all the, uh, finance there. The part, France is very structured in term of the ways they do finance as very some code, uh, English system is a little bit more loose.

[00:04:55] Franck: You can put whatever icon number on whatever on what debit profit you want. France is very social, so I learned all that. So that was interesting. And as part of the Junior Enterprises, there's a yearly event where they rate towards the junior enterprise and they send Arthur Anderson to audit, uh, all of them.

[00:05:12] Franck: And we got audited and we got in the top 10. Not that didn't mean much from Arthur Anderson because you know what happens to them, but that was a really interesting experience. 

[00:05:22] Chris: Yeah, that sounds fascinating and it's a really cool place to start. I know we've, we've talked to a lot of folks who as they kind of moved up through technology and maybe moved into management, especially into, you know, VP or, or, or C-suite roles in, in, you know, startups or even larger companies, they kinda had to go back and learn finance and learn that, you know, kind of the more businessy nuts and bolts pieces where it sounds like you got a lot of that maybe in school before you even got into technology career.

[00:05:45] Franck: Yes, and that's maybe something that was useful to me because I've learned, I. The best way to get somebody to do something is to put the cost to it. So you can open the ticket and say, Hey, can you fix this bug? Or you can say, this bug is costing us that much, and that's more than your time you're gonna take to fix it.

[00:06:07] Franck: So that makes the company argument. Uh, I've also used it to find customers. I didn't, but I say, well, this customer is bringing us that much money. But in term of email support, We need to spend that amount of money supporting them. So you decide what you want to do, but being able to bring a dollar value is very interesting.

[00:06:28] Franck: Even when you, I think the way you work on cybersecurity, had this conversation with people. You know, when you've got an F B I agent working on the case, the top of this case is a dollar value. So if you can put a dollar value on NIM, then you're helping him make a more compelling reason to work on your case.

[00:06:45] Zoe: A hundred percent. Yeah. And when we're trying to sell to the business, say, I need you to buy this new tool, I have to give that financial context to it, because I can say it will make us more secure, but to the business, it's like, okay, I thought we were already secure. So what? What's the difference here?

[00:07:04] Zoe: So a hundred percent, I think that's one thing that. Techs need to remember is the financial impact. It may be a sexy tool, but if it's gonna make us broke trying to use it, there's literally no benefit. So you went from the finance side and then you went into tech, I assume. Um, what was your first tech job then?

[00:07:26] Franck: No, I was, uh, studying, uh, tech hours, uh, in the school for engineering and tech. And that was more like a side stuff I was doing. As part of, uh, you know, uh, student activities, but that was really interesting. Oh, sorry. 

[00:07:37] Zoe: But somebody doing side project as C F O, that's, I've never heard that one before. 

[00:07:43] Franck: Yeah, yeah.

[00:07:44] Franck: Um, have a look at the junior enterprise as a good movement in Europe, uh, since there's some in the US too. But it's, it's an interesting move. And, and some of them are moving, uh, quite a lot of money in term of project, you know, what's the difference between an engineer with no diploma and an engineer with diploma?

[00:08:02] Franck: You know, there's not much, it's only one year difference. So a bit of experience too, but, uh, that allow you to, to build these things. So it's an interesting experience. Yeah, my first job, uh, to do my military service in France, but I could convert it into a, a civil one, so that was my first job. There was a French project in Fiji and they sent me there, and it was all about geoscience and, uh, remote sensing and GIS uh, cartography mapping.

[00:08:32] Franck: So I went there about the French project, worked for there for two years, and then at the end, the organization I was in hired me. So it was specialized on gss, but at the same time, you know, everything, it, uh, capacity development, planning, uh, when I went there, We had a, a small email system. So, uh, expanding that.

[00:08:54] Franck: Then I started to want get some internet to it, you know, full connection. And then that was, you know, the internet portion of it. And this organization we're dealing with about 20 member countries and territories. So also a lot of travel in this place. With the usual, uh, while you're here, can you fix my computer?

[00:09:14] Chris: Interesting. So, so that's kind of what kicked off your involvement in the Pacific Islands was that that job and that kind of move there and then that catapulted into a, a bunch of other things. So, I dunno, maybe you can walk us through kind of, you know, the 60 second version of, of your, your 20 years spent, uh, in the Pacific Islands and, and rolling out ISPs and rolling out TLDs and, and I mean there's a ton of stuff there that you did while you were, while you were local.

[00:09:35] Franck: Yes, indeed. So, Getting the email and communication was, uh, something interesting. We were working with, uh, scientists all around the world, so getting the team to be able to communicate. So that's something I focus. And uh, uh, when I got hired, my boss, uh, Les Allenson was coming from another organization. So after one year working together, I said, okay, let's go back to my organization and see what they are up to.

[00:09:59] Franck: Some of the difficulty in the Pacific Islands is to get informed about what's new, what's happening in the IT industry as a world. So being able to make this connection with another organization and CEOs are making different decision or what technologies are investigating was interesting. So we went there for a week. We had the chat and we said, oh, we need to.

[00:10:21] Franck: The trip to our bus. So we wrote a report and then we decided we'll do that again. So we started to have that on a regular, uh, basis, I think. What did you call it by? I'm confusing the name. 'cause he got through several, through several, uh, naming. And one year our friend, uh, Sam Foa was coming from a workshop in New Zealand with the Internet Society, I think.

[00:10:43] Franck: Oh. And they say, oh, there's this thing called the Internet Society. We should create a chapter. And then, okay, well what do you need? Why do you need 25 paying members? Oh, okay. How many are we in the room? Oh, we are 25. Okay, let's get our organization to pay for all this membership. So we created the first chapter of the Pacific Island, uh, of the Internet Society.

[00:11:04] Franck: And then from there, then I was involved with it, and then there was organizational membership. So I got elected to, uh, be on the board of the Internet Society for three years working also a little bit on the revival of chapter. So that was interesting 'cause the Internet society also was, uh, managing the finance.

[00:11:25] Franck: We are back in that of, uh, the IETF. So that was interesting also to get involved with the IETF and I was there when, I think for me, the start of the IPv6 was, uh, when I did IPv6 in the root. So till then, there was no IPv6 in the root, so you couldn't resolve anything with an IPv6 only.

[00:11:46] Franck: And then that same year, IETF did, uh, an IPv4 outage. So during the meetings, they shut down IPv4 for a couple of hours, and then everybody went on their computer and tried to figure it out, what's happening, how to fix it, et cetera. So that year was for me, the real beginning of IPv6. 

[00:12:02] Chris: Yeah, that makes sense.

[00:12:03] Chris: And you know, I'd like to kind of explore that idea of, you know, being a trustee for the internet society a a little bit more. I think one, I mean, that's a very prestigious position to end up in. It's, it's a really cool, and I think definitely, you know, kudos to you for, for taking that responsibility on and being rewarded with that position from, from the work you were doing.

[00:12:18] Chris: But I think it might be interesting to dive a little bit deeper into kind of what that entails, right? I think there may be folks out there earlier in their career who, you know, haven't been on a nonprofit board yet. Are, are curious about what that's about? Maybe you can talk to us a little bit about what's actually involved, what you actually do in a role like that to, uh, to help the internet society and guide them.

[00:12:38] Franck: Yeah. I think the biggest lesson that I learned there was think strategic, not operation. That's something when you are an engineer, uh, you not necessarily understand, you know, what's the board of the company or what the executive, uh, directorate is thinking about. And how do they work? What do this thing, you know, if you talk on CISO, CFO, or CEO, what this think, so this thing strategically and you need to remove the operational part of.

[00:13:06] Franck: So internet society was that there was a staff and the CEO, they were in charge of the operation and the role of the board was the strategy. You know, what do we think about for the next five year? Where do you want the organization to go? What are the incentive we are going to put to the CEO to encourage her to go in those direction?

[00:13:26] Franck: So that was the interesting part and, and thinking a little bit more, thinking differently. The other part that helped me a lot is that, um, I met lot of people from the IETF, from ISOC, from ICANN, uh, doing this job also on the security side because we're also looking at the, you know, the future of security and we starting to see now, you know, uh, how to protect computers, privacy, encryption address.

[00:13:54] Franck: So we are thinking about these things. Getting all this connection helped me in my next job, which was, uh, postmaster. So I was postmaster on the marketing company first and then after I joined LinkedIn. But one of the role, and it's the same in security, it's all one-on-one connection. So your company may be connected to another company, but it's a one-on-one trust relation.

[00:14:17] Franck: So if I have a problem with your company, I know how I can call Chris and tell him, Hey, I'm seeing this stuff coming from your site. I know that Chris or Zoe is going to help me resolve it and in a way that, you know, it's not necessarily public and will be handled correctly. So it's all this one-on-one relationship, which are very helpful.

[00:14:39] Zoe: Communities and having the connections in the community is quite vital. 'cause even, um, you'll see people on, like on my Twitter, my friends, uh, or any other social channel, and they'll be like, does anybody know a security contact at this company? Because they've gone through all of their private channels and they don't want to announce it.

[00:14:59] Zoe: But it gets to a point where, okay, I've run out of personal channels, I need to reach out to the community. So the more you can get, the better it is actually, especially when it's related to security events, we'll say. 

[00:15:13] Franck: Yeah. And, and also, uh, sometime, you know, you've got the, um, I know the nuclear option.

[00:15:19] Franck: Okay, let me block them so they're gonna pay attention. Yeah. So, That save you from this program because somebody say, oh wait, I know somebody is there, so let me talk to them first before I, I use the nuclear options. Yes. And you know, that save a lot of grief on both side. 

[00:15:35] Zoe: Yeah, definitely. The one thing I I like that you touched on is being a part of that, uh, the internet society.

[00:15:41] Zoe: You not, you not only have to understand the technology, but you also have to kind of future proof. You have to understand the technology and understand where it's going and kind of. Build a plan so that your, the choices you're making and the decisions you're encouraging make sense in the long term, which is actually quite difficult, I think anyway.

[00:16:03] Zoe: 'cause I can't plan a weekend ahead. So, 

[00:16:06] Franck: yeah. And some of these things takes a lot of time, like from the work in the internet society. So we met lot of people in security. That's where I met the, um, Cymru people. And when I came back, I think I was still, yeah, still in the Pacific Island. When I came back from that, I said, okay, well we need to create a CERT in the Pacific Island.

[00:16:25] Franck: So I was trying to, we were having the Pacific Island chapter of the Internet Society and Conference. So I was starting to bring some people to talk about security into the Pacific Island and then get people to understand CERT. So it took many years, but some CERT started to flourish into the Pacific.

[00:16:44] Franck: Some people started to understand, A little bit better internet security. Yeah. And that's, that's a long game. Sometimes, you know, you say, Hey, we need to build a CERT. Why, uh, why you've got all this problem, why we don't have this problem? Because all our internet connection, all our modem, so the bad guy don't care about modes.

[00:17:02] Franck: Oh, wait till you upgrade to A D S L, you know, we should be ready. So that kind of stuff, you know, see, see where things are going. 

[00:17:08] Zoe: Yeah. IPv6 is an excellent example of long term because, oh yeah, yeah. That's still not, uh, Deployed. Uh, okay. So you did what, 20 years over there and then you moved on and you were the, if I'm reading this correctly, you were the founder and director, CTO and CEO.

[00:17:30] Zoe: My goodness. That's a lot of titles of Avonsys. 

[00:17:34] Franck: Yeah. Yeah. That's just to show off on the resume. Yes. Uh, through, um, through the year. So I founded this stuff with a couple of friend <unclear names> we were all in Fiji. And we took some different turn and we had had also different path of career as well as, uh, was six. So I started to take over and the friend come and help me also on, on, on all the finance.

[00:17:58] Franck: So I was focusing on the technology side. So yeah, that's, that's some interesting, and also that allowed me to manage, uh, many people. We had that 20, 30 people to manage, so that was interesting. And in the Pacific Island, but working from Fiji for the west coast of the us. So culture shift. And it's really interesting also because you, uh, you take a student from the university and then say, okay, no, you are going to work with American and have to let you know that's a different perspective.

[00:18:30] Franck: If you tell them something, they're going to ask a ton of question if you're not sure. So be ready of the question. And the first meeting was always some surprise, you know, different, different things. So I saw sometimes, you know, the way they were doing it was a lot of certificate based, so they will bring a lot of certificate, but that's not the way you conduct an interview.

[00:18:49] Franck: So, you know, you say, oh, okay, you've learned about these things. Let me ask you a few question about these things. And they were surprised because they, they were not prepared for that kind of interview. And that's normal in the US or in Europe to do, you know, job interview like this. So, and getting the part, okay, don't worry, relax.

[00:19:08] Franck: It's questions. If you, you know, don't go in panic. Take your time. We've got the time. Let me help you. If they were not, it was a surprise, but that was interesting. 

[00:19:18] Zoe: Yeah, no, that is interesting. I obviously, I'm not located in America. I'm located in Holland, and when I moved to Holland, I had to change my perspective, uh, as well because I, I thought when I first moved here that everybody was angry with me.

[00:19:35] Zoe: Um, but they're just very blunt and very direct. Uh, which is good, which is good. But it took me a while to shift my thinking. And I also work for a, um, well, like a parent company is Japanese. Uh, so that culture is also quite heavily influencing my company culture. So I have to shift the way I think sometimes and think, okay, does this make sense in this context of this business versus does this make sense in general?

[00:20:02] Zoe: Right. So it's. It's actually quite a difficult thing, and paying attention to those specific cultural differences is quite key because when I worked for the first time in London, I almost didn't keep my job because one, my boss was annoyed with the amount of times I said, sorry. And two, he told me once, when you have time, could you do this?

[00:20:24] Zoe: And I took that as when I'm done all my other work, pick this task up. And he took it as drop everything and do this task immediately and. Yeah, just shifting the, that mindset is quite, is quite challenging. It is quite challenging. But I like that you worked with the people interviewing that weren't prepared for that type of questioning and kind of coached them through the interview essentially.

[00:20:48] Franck: Yes. And understanding the difference of culture, where people are coming from. But at the same time it's a richness because you know you've got your culture and then you start to understand the other culture and you say, okay, let's use the tools in my culture to disrupt this. So, you know, for advantage, not a advantage, but that allow you to ask some different question to, to the problem and, and have a different perspective.

[00:21:13] Franck: So sometime it's interesting and to be able to say, okay, this is what they react. But if I come from a different angle, then I'm, I may. Surprise them or I may bring something new to, to, to the equation. So that's interesting to have all this different culture and be able to understand them and be able to, to place the, the full ologist.

[00:21:32] Franck: I don't know. I saw Ted lasso with a Dutch player and they said, don't worry. It just, uh, it's normal. They're just blunt. I don't know. It's a caricature. And there was a French player too on the car stuff, but that's interesting. One thing also I learned, so I think in LinkedIn also is you go after the problem, not after the person.

[00:21:50] Franck: And that's really important to remember. Yeah, definitely. We all make mistakes. I've, I've done some crazy stuff. Slip a finger. Oh, time and you know, people come and help you, you know, rule are live accident. So the important part is, uh, yeah. If you go after the problem and know the person, then that helps everybody.

[00:22:09] Chris: Yeah, I like that. I've heard other people say that we try to fix the problem, not fix the blame. Which I think is, is similar, but I, I think yours, yours may even be more direct. Right. Go after the problem, not the person. I, I, I like that as a good reminder for managers. 

[00:22:21] Franck: Yeah. And especially, you know, yeah. You have to realize everybody's going to make, uh, some silly mistake at one stage in their career.

[00:22:29] Franck: And, you know, it doesn't mean that. You know, as are bad people or whatever. It happens, you just need to figure it to, if it happens off or not. But we're all doing, you know, or if the person has learned from it, that's important part, but you know, be forgivable. 

[00:22:43] Zoe: Well, and we're all growing, right? Like when I started my career, I was 18 or 19 when I started my first IT management role.

[00:22:52] Zoe: Yeah. I think was 19. Looking at me at 19, to me, at my age now, I am a much more mature person as well. So it's understandable that early in my career I made stupid mistakes. Not just technical mistakes, but also people mistakes, which actually I think was harder to deal with, especially when I was so young.

[00:23:12] Zoe: Right? So I think also taking the perspective of, well, where is that person, not just in their career, but also in their life, like they may be a very senior person. They may not have as many life experiences as you, so put that into context as well. I think that's key. You've had in your career, you've had quite senior positions.

[00:23:31] Zoe: I've assumed you've had quite junior positions as well. You started somewhere, but out of all the positions you've had, what was your favorite? 

[00:23:39] Franck: Sometimes the, uh, the role of a postmaster has been fun, and that was also interesting in some way because it was encompassing a lot of things. Also you are dealing with products.

[00:23:54] Franck: So there's security, this products, there's legal, uh, this technology, you know, this system are running on some servers and you need to take care of them. So that was really encompassing a, a lot of things and dealing with the, you know, different, uh, A category of, uh, of people, different people inside the organization.

[00:24:13] Franck: So some, some really interesting connections. 

[00:24:16] Chris: Fantastic. Well, that is about all the time we have for today's episode. Franck, do you have any other projectsthat you'd like the imposter syndrome network to know about? We're, we're gonna link to all your social accounts in the show notes. So folks are interested in what you're doing.

[00:24:31] Chris: Either over on Medium or all the music stuff will all be linked there as well. But I dunno if there's anything else that you want to, uh, put a shout out for. 

[00:24:38] Franck: Yes, uh, well, I may conclude something. I'm interesting if people are, you know, checking a little bit my music and my music project, uh, with a couple of friends.

[00:24:47] Franck: We did a documentary in the middle of the desert and that was really fun and everything. And, you know, I work with people and also in the music. I work, uh, with, uh, JM Gao with a famous French producer. And what you may see is the results, but what you don't see is all the work ethics. That is behind it and how much work you are putting behind it to get what's visible.

[00:25:11] Franck: And that works on the music side, that works on the technology side, that works on everything. So if you want, you know, just check my site, You will have all the link professional one. If you've got any question, please feel free to, to reach to me and ask question. I'm, I'm quite open.

[00:25:27] Chris: Awesome. Franck, thank you so much for sharing your story with the Imposter Syndrome Network. Thank you to all our listeners for your attention and your support. We do have a LinkedIn group for the imposter syndrome network that we'd love for you to join to get or give career advice mentorship or just general community support between the episodes.

[00:25:45] Chris: But before we close out, Franck, I am curious. I. I assume that at some point during all of this work across, you know, many technology areas, many nonprofits, as well as for-profit companies, as well as maybe in the music scene as well, then maybe at some point you felt like an imposter. I wonder if you could tell us about a time that you felt like an imposter or, or what you do when you, when you feel that imposter syndrome kicking in.

[00:26:06] Franck: Yeah, it's sometimes, you know, you fit out of your league, you feel out of your league, you feel out of your re of competence and. You just need to pause. I don't remember exactly some, some part, but you know, I sometime, it nearly happens every day at work, you know, or on the music scene, you say, well, you know, I'm, I'm not that good or I'm not at this level yet.

[00:26:31] Franck: And but then you start, you know, look at around other people. And see where they are. Like in the music industry, I see my results and uh, I just got some stat, like 42% of the songs that are on Spotify, apple Music, wherever they are. Have had less than 10 stream in the last year. So you look at that and you say, well, I'm not too bad.

[00:26:54] Franck: And you know, compared to that, I'm not bad. And then you go back and you, you blow through some work. You, you try to make that as a, you know, learning moment. What I'm missing? Yes. It happens all the time where you know someone is more advanced than you in some area field. And then okay, take that as learning from it.

[00:27:11] Chris: I like that. I think taking it as a learning prompt is, uh, is great advice. Thanks again and we will be back next week.