The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast

James Shank

August 22, 2023 Chris & Zoë Season 1 Episode 56
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
James Shank
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we chat with James Shank, a technology professional with over 20 years of experience in network security, community building, and fighting online threats.

James is a member of the NANOG Programming Committee, the founder of the Internet Fire Brigade Society, and a former employee of Team Cymru. James is currently happy to be the Director of Data Product Strategy at SpyCloud.

We talk with James about his passion for serving people through technology, and how he got involved in various projects and communities that aim to make the internet safer and more secure. We also discuss his views on certifications, storytelling, and overcoming imposter syndrome in different stages of his career.

Join us for this insightful and inspiring conversation with James Shank..

“The end goal really isn't the routing of packets.
 At the end of the day, we're not serving technology directly, we're serving people.

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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 unfortunately Zoe Rose is picking up a sick child from school today, so she may miss us, but this. Is the James Shank episode, and it's gonna be a good one.

[00:00:29] Chris: James helps network defenders in their mission to bring about a safer world through a more secure internet posture. He's been a technology professional for over 20 years now with, uh, a dozen of those years working with Team Cymru, which by the way, it took me years to learn how to pronounce. He's the founder of the Internet Fire Brigade Society, a NANOG PC member, and has worked to fight both ransomware and human trafficking.

[00:00:56] Chris: Hey, James, would you like to introduce yourself a little further to the imposter syndrome network? 

[00:01:00] James: Sure. Thanks Chris. I'm so happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me on. That's a pretty good and thorough introduction. I'm not sure what I can really add to that, except to say that one of the things that I've, that I do, in addition to that is I help to run communities that are aimed at fighting different online threats.

[00:01:17] James: And so I helped to organize people to. Be effective at having an impact on internet security. 

[00:01:23] Chris: Awesome. Uh, yeah, let's dive in. I mentioned in the intro that you're a NANOG PC, which stands for Programming Committee member. I was also on the PC at NANOG several years ago, and I've served on PCs for AfPIF and SANOG more recently, so I know what that means.

[00:01:39] Chris: But I'm gonna guess that many of our listeners don't. So can you tell us a little bit about what a programming committee is and, and what you do as a member of the NANOG PC? 

[00:01:49] James: Of course, of course. When you attend conferences, you're seeing kind of the final output of what a program committee does. So the program committee is responsible in sourcing new talks from different people.

[00:02:02] James: So a part of the activity is reaching out to people, suggesting topics and pulling people in and getting them, them to agree to come and present on different topics. And then as they submit those topics in the, in their presentation materials, we help them to make sure that the content is both appropriate for the audience in terms of technical level and description.

[00:02:25] James: But that the slides are also readable and in essence, we, we help bring the presentation from original idea all the way through to like Polish and ready to be presented. And then, you know, there's some logistics that we also handle in terms of arranging the schedule, making sure that we have enough content, making sure that the content is appropriately diverse so that it targets the full community rather than just some subset of the community.

[00:02:53] James: And then we also source content that's aimed at community building or inclusivity and diversity sort of efforts, uh, so that everyone knows that they have a place there and everybody feels comfortable, as well as some sort of tutorials and guides to help people in their career advance in their career in a technical way, but also in a, in the way of like building community and having a successful and useful experience of the conference.

[00:03:20] Chris: Awesome. Thanks. That makes a lot of sense. And definitely good work. And I think that kind of ties in with what you also mentioned in the intro there with this idea of kind of community building. And obviously, I mean, events kind of become, especially, you know, nano is, is an institution at this point and definitely there's a community around nano of the folks who show up and a lot of other events kind of have these communities that form over years of, of seeing each other in, in different places around the world in different cities and things.

[00:03:46] Chris: In your opinion, like why is commu, or maybe it, maybe I should start with, maybe I shouldn't presuppose, is, is community an important part of, of technology and technology careers? Uh, and then if so, you know, why, why, why is community important If, if it is, or why isn't it? 

[00:04:00] James: So I think that a lot of technologists make the mistake of seeing technology as the end goal and the end pursuit of their output.

[00:04:08] James: And the truth is that at the end of the technology output, there is something that serves a human need at the end. Whether you're, you are in a product sort of role, which I am now, and designing things to solve specific problems within a, a marketplace, or you're a network engineer and you're working to make sure that the routers are routing packets.

[00:04:29] James: The end goal really isn't the routing of packets. It's, it's the enablement of some sort of human activity that's, that makes that goal worthwhile in the, in the first place. At the end of the day, we're not serving technology directly, we're serving people. And ultimately, when in a lot of cases when you're trying to work towards serving people, you'll running run into situations where knowing somebody on the other end of the line or at a different company or or who to call becomes the.

[00:05:00] James: The grease, if you will, of how to get the problem solved quickly versus filing a ticket or something along those lines. Not, not to say that, you know, you shouldn't file tickets, you should absolutely file tickets, but there's a lot of times when you're working on a problem and, and just having a, a network that you can reach out to where you're either directly connected to the person.

[00:05:20] James: At the entity that has the problem or is involved in the problem, or you're directly connected to somebody that has that experience and that knowledge that that gets you over that the hurdle you're currently facing, that will save you immense amount of time. And in many cases, that'll also enable the solution to.

[00:05:38] James: Be effective where it otherwise wouldn't. The, sometimes that connective tissue between people is the thing that changes something from being unsuccessful to being successful. 

[00:05:48] Chris: That comes up a lot on this podcast, uh, that, that did general sentiment. I mean, and, and Zoe talks about it even like, she's like, Hey, I actually got into security so that I wouldn't have to deal with people.

[00:05:56] Chris: Right. I was trying to be like, you know, the hacker in the dark corner or in the, in the basement or whatever. And turns out you can't do anything with, without other people. So, 

[00:06:05] James: uh, yeah, I think that's a good point. 'cause I think that a lot of us, like a lot of us, are more introverted than extroverted and we, that's kind of what drove us into some of these fields for sure.

[00:06:14] James: And as a consequence to that, I think a lot of people, especially in their early careers, that it becomes incredibly limiting to their abilities to grow because you can't grow. If you're only exposed to the things that you stumble upon. I mean, sometimes you need that both introduction of new ideas from other people as well as I would almost say like, so you need that diverse influence in your life to understand things at a greater level, but also like you sometimes need adversity to understand things at a greater level, that that challenging of your ideas and where you, where you stand, or the positions that you hold.

[00:06:50] James: That's, that's how you grow? 

[00:06:52] Chris: I think so. Yeah. I think so for sure. I mean, the whole, you know, cliche or parable or whatever it is of, uh, you know, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? We're, we're not like aircraft grade aluminum where over time, you know, vibration wears us out. We're actually the opposite where I think, you know, those perturbs actually make us stronger, right?

[00:07:09] Chris: Living, living things tend to, you know, I mean sometimes to detriment, right? You can build up scar tissue and have negative effects, but, but usually getting tested and getting pushed just makes, you know, life stronger. 

[00:07:20] James: Yeah. Yeah. And I would say that that's, that's a big part of the reason why I recently, like, transitioned out of team Cymru, I was, uh, so really, yeah.

[00:07:28] James: Part of my career, a good chunk of my career, 12 and a half years, or a little more than 12 and a half years was spent at Team Cymru. Yeah. And I would say that, you know, I, I don't regret that, but in hindsight, I think that, you know, staying that long in one place does limit your ability to grow quickly.

[00:07:48] James: Right. Because, You have a limited exposure to different opinions, different uh, people, different ideas, different ways of solving problems. And with that limited, limited exposure, it does limit your ability to, you know, see the bigger picture and see, you know, just. 

[00:08:06] Chris: Right. Yeah, just, I mean, just those different perspectives, right?

[00:08:08] Chris: Just coming at things from different angles, and I don't know about you, but like, I like to say that I'm productively lazy, but I think, you know, human beings, and again, life in general, like life is lazy, right? Yeah. Um, like the, the whole point is to expend less energy than, than you're consuming to, to stay alive and, and raise the next generation of life.

[00:08:24] Chris: Like, so we are kind of naturally lazy. And, and I think for myself, what I've seen, you know, like the kind of life hack of that is I find that I need to put myself in situations where I kind of have to do the thing that I want to do. Or I, I just won't do it. Right. So like, it, it's great to be like, oh yeah, you know what, I'm gonna go learn Python and like, or you know, I mean, this is a silly example, right?

[00:08:42] Chris: And then for me that, you know, I, I, I, I took a class once, like, you know, years and years and years ago, but un until I actually had a problem that I. Had to solve with Python, I didn't actually learn it, you know? Yeah. And so, you know, if you, if you have to like, oh, now I'm, now I'm like, pushed into more of an evangelist role or more of an architecture role, or more of an engineering role, or, or now I have to look at the world through more of a business lens or more of a security lens or more of a network lens.

[00:09:02] Chris: I mean, I think, you know, it forces you to have that different perspective and that different experience that you're probably just not gonna pick up accidentally or even if you want to. 

[00:09:09] James: Yeah. I, no, I totally agree. And I, I think the programming language analogy is actually where it, it is most clear in how it manifests for me because, You know, there's that saying necessity is the mother of an invention.

[00:09:21] James: But I, but I also think that being thrust into a situation where you have to do it is kind of, in some ways the best way to learn. Because, you know, if, when, when you see like, failure is not an option and you need to just get something done, well, you know, that focuses time, attention, and energy towards figuring out how to get through whatever it is that you're, you're facing.

[00:09:41] James: And. For me, programming languages, I've, I have tried the, the read a book on it method. I've tried the, like take a class on IT method and. Those never sink in as well as I've got a job to do and I just need to figure out what it is to solve the problem. Right? 

[00:09:58] Chris: Yep. Yeah, I find the same thing to be true for sure.

[00:10:00] Chris: Yeah. That resonates with me a a lot early on in my career. You know, really kind of was was awed by the power of the internet. And started digging into kind of how this thing works and, and what's going on and, and, and found, you know, the, the RIRs, Right. You know, ARIN and RIPE and, and, um, the, the ones for Africa and Asia and then, and, uh, 

[00:10:18] James: a AfriNIC and LACNIC, 

[00:10:20] Chris: AFRINIC and Apricot and, and, uh, or APNIC and, uh, and LACNIC.

[00:10:24] Chris: Yeah. And, and the internet society. And ended up, you know, forming a chapter within the internet society and, and just kind of, you know, digging into this that, you know, so much of it is, is built on this collaboration, right. Or, and co-opetition in, in a really interesting way. And that may show up in other industries, I guess, but you know, specifically in networking and building the internet and then securing the internet and all the things connected to it.

[00:10:43] Chris: Has been this really interesting process where, you know, going all the way back to like the early internet where you, okay, yes. You know, you're building competing networks in some ways where you want to serve the same customers, but, but the thing won't work unless you also collaborate and connect to each other.

[00:10:58] Chris: And, and that kind of is, has followed on through, I, I don't know of another industry where that's so present where you really have to have these. Connections across companies and then across the world to make the whole thing work. 

[00:11:09] James: So I think it is more common than just to networking. I mean, if you imagine the, the meme of the hacker that's, you know, in a hoodie in a basement, it's like right behind a keyboard and there's green and red like numbers flowing on the, on the, the screen, right?

[00:11:23] James: I, I think that's the image or that's the, that's the stereotype that people think about hackers and about a lot of people that are involved in technology pursuits, but, Well, there might be some truth to that as the origin of of that gets us into the field. Like a lot of, a lot of people I know my origin getting into the field, um, was about being able to connect to people over, over a computer being easier for me than being able to connect to people in real life at the time, at the end of the day, like it's still about connecting to people, right?

[00:11:56] James: It like you, you just can't remove the people from the, from the activity and, and still end up. Serving some useful end. Right. I think, I think that's true in most career fields, but you know, my, my experience is, is limited to just, just a handful, so. 

[00:12:14] Chris: Yeah. Yeah. Fair enough. Me too. Uh, but, and I also, you, you know, going back to what you were saying a little bit earlier, really like this idea that the, the human factor of technology is, is twofold, right?

[00:12:25] Chris: One is, This, you know, reminder, which I really love that you pointed out, right, that, that the end goal here is never technology, right? That like that's never really the point. Um, no matter how cool or whizzbang or innovative anything is, if it doesn't serve a human need, I. You know, it's not really gonna go anywhere.

[00:12:44] Chris: Right. And then, and then the other side of that, which is that, you know, you, you also need humans to get the, the thing done, right? So, so the purpose of the thing is always humans and then the way to get the thing done is always humans also. Which, which is interesting that, that the, you know, those two pieces there.

[00:12:57] James: Yeah. And I, and I think that, you know, if you think about technology in general, and especially in the abstracted sense of technology being a tool that people use to get a job done, even, I don't know, maybe that analogy doesn't hold completely, but. In, in almost all cases, the, the connection to people is, it's not even very far away.

[00:13:17] James: It's, it's directly there. We understand that oftentimes when we're making changes or implementing different features, that the end game is to enable some sort of human activity, even if we're abstracted from that. Right. You know, selection of protocols is going to, that you're using on a, a network is going to change like what the skillset and.

[00:13:37] James: Is needed for, you know, staffing the other teams, uh, within your company. So all of this, there, there has to be a, a human element to it because it, without the human element, there's just no point. 

[00:13:51] Chris: Yeah. And again, right, like I'm really fascinated by this kind of two-pronged thing that, you know, needs to serve humans and, and we need humans to serve it.

[00:13:58] Chris: And I think, you know, while you're right that, you know, those human factors must be considered in these decisions. They're, they're often not, I think sometimes we, we do tend to make decisions just for technology's sake or, and that that always ends up, you know, going badly. But back to this kind of idea of, of community and like, and creating this, right, actually just on the last episode, we were talking to, uh, Tom Nadeau, who was talking about the fact that, you know, You know, because he was a postmaster for a long time and he said, you know, knowing who to call, I mean, the same thing you just said, right?

[00:14:26] Chris: Knowing who to call and, and who to talk to. Having, you know, friends or, or at least acquaintances or colleagues on the other end of the line at different companies to be able to hash out these issues with abuse or, or spam or whatever was going on, is just critical to making all this work. So diving back into that a little bit further, you, this is something you've had a lot of experience with in your years at at Team Cymru and other things.

[00:14:45] Chris: How do we go about building communities in, in technology? You know, a lot of the things I've been a part of, I've kind of sought out. I I have started some myself, but yeah. I'm interested, right. Like how do you go about creating these useful communities and creating these relationships or helping others create these relationships?

[00:15:02] James: Yeah, so I think the, from the creation side, it's, it's a little bit different, but, but let me, let me talk in first about the getting in side, right? The, oftentimes it's going to take some effort for somebody to get into a community, because a lot of the established communities, there might be, you know, a very large and like substantial groups of, of like-minded thinkers and people that share your same passions that might meet weekly or monthly at a coffee shop locally in different cities.

[00:15:32] James: But the way that you find out about those is you go looking for them, and oftentimes it takes that initial, Hey, I need to grow. And it would be useful for me to grow from, to find a mentor. It'd be useful for me to find a community where I can grow and where I can find like-minded people. That sort of seed of understanding on the individual's part that they need to reach out and, and find that community is where it starts.

[00:15:58] James: Right. And that could be searching for your city name and then whatever your specialty field is, meeting or group, or. Some sort of, I'm failing to think like coffee club, whatever, like some sort of thing that pulls people together. And once you do that, the next step is to follow up, right? The next step is go introduce yourself.

[00:16:21] James: If they're listing information publicly, it's because they want you there. So be rein reassured that if you go and you say, Hey, I'm new, there's going to be somebody there that says, Hey, great to meet you, and then you have a conversation with them and you, and you make another human connection. 

[00:16:36] Chris: I like that a lot.

[00:16:36] Chris: I think, I think that happened to me at least at a couple points. I tend to just kind of dive into things, but, but even still, you know, sometimes it's intimidating, right? You, maybe you hear of this group or this, this community or, or something and then maybe kind of put it on a pedestal in some ways and hesitate to reach out or to, to try to become, you know, uh, you feel like an outsider and, and don't wanna ruffle feathers or, I don't know, right?

[00:16:58] Chris: There's a lot of reasons why you might not, you know, feel good enough or feel comfortable enough to reach out, and I love that just. If they're putting the information out publicly, like there's a reason. Like they want you to come and, and ask about it and talk about it, and that's, that's good reassurance.

[00:17:10] James: Well, and the thing that I like about, or really love about the fact that you're doing this Imposter Syndrome Network, uh, podcast is that if you look at the people that you're, you're interviewing, a lot of them are established in their successful in their careers, but we're coming on. Then Imposter Syndrome Network, because we still have those feelings of not belonging or not being sure of ourselves at different times.

[00:17:33] James: I mean, that's part of being human. The, the world like seeks to defi, divide people or present, especially, you know, in many cases the, the image that's presented is that there are so many differences, but the truth is there's way more that unites us than divides us. And when we like start to think about what we can or can't do, or where we belong or where we don't belong with, with one minor caveat to say that if you ever get in a situation where you don't feel safe, then that's a different sort of consideration, but, From a inclusion perspective, as a professional in a, in a, a technical field, none of us belong and all of us belong.

[00:18:12] James: And that's, that's the dichotomy that's always existed in this field. None of us are good enough to be the expert on all things, and all of us are good enough to contribute to, to something. And, and when we, uh, start to see these groups and want to start engaging, I think it's essential to understand that there is something that you've seen or something that you've done or something that is part of your experience that is going to be useful and interesting and helpful to somebody along the lines because none of us are, are able to understand everybody's experience and none.

[00:18:46] James: None of us are able to understand to everybody's history, their perspectives, or what they've done. Their successes and failures and sharing those stories is really the, the way that as technologists, we pursue a greater degree of excellence in understanding what it is that, that people have seen, what people have done, and sharing those experiences with each other helps everybody to be more successful.

[00:19:10] Chris: Yeah, absolutely. That's awesome. I really like the way you phrased that. Zoe and I spoke to Rosemary Wang, uh, a few episodes back. We were asking her about writing a book. She recently wrote a book on infrastructure as code and, and just kind of the idea of, you know, I mean, the word author comes from the word authority, right?

[00:19:25] Chris: And so there's this idea that you're writing a book, you're an expert, which it can be super intimidating. And she said something along the similar lines. She said, you know what? Like, I approached it as just telling a story of things that I found that worked. Rather than trying to prove my expertise or be an expert or state, you know, that this was the way to do it.

[00:19:42] Chris: She's like, Hey, you can tear it apart all you want, but I know that it worked for me at one point. You know? 

[00:19:48] James: Yeah. It, well, and it's, it's interesting. I think that if you think back on the presentations and talks and, uh, different videos that you've seen, the ones that probably stand out the most are the ones where somebody is telling what they did or what they experienced versus what you should do.

[00:20:05] James: When you start to, when you start to broach that, that this is what you should do, it starts to sound pedantic and it starts to sound like you might be an ideologue that might not have that fullness of perspective, that understands that, you know, across the world there's going to be different situations and different, different things That, and culturally and even in the same cities, there's gonna be different things that that require a different way of looking at problems to solve them ideally.

[00:20:31] James: And so I, I guess like the, the point I'm trying to make here is that telling your story is always going to be interesting to somebody. There's something unique about you. There's something unique about, you know, what you've done and what you've seen focusing on that you are the defacto authority for your story.

[00:20:50] James: And if you, if you confine it to your story, then there isn't, it doesn't make sense to worry about the authority element of it because you are the authority of your own story. 

[00:21:02] Chris: I like that a lot, that you are the defacto authority of your own story. It's really good. Uh, that reminds me, again, not not to do like all these throwbacks, but we also spoke to a Gifted Lane and she was talking about this career move she made where, you know, some people may have thought it was a step backwards.

[00:21:18] Chris: I. You know, people like, you know, asked her like, you know, isn't that a step backwards? Aren't you going backwards in your career? And she said, no, this is, you know, it's my journey. I know, right? There's no backwards or forwards. This is, this is the path I'm on, which ever reminds me of that same thing. Right?

[00:21:30] Chris: Like, you know, different, uh, different sides of that coin. So, speaking of communities and things, I'd like to touch on the internet Fire Brigade Society for a second. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about what that even is and, and what you guys are doing there. 

[00:21:43] James: Sure, yeah, I'd be happy to. I, I guess the origin story for Internet Fire Brigade is that, uh, some friends of mine and I were looking into a series of threats that were impacting this, the security of the internet at large, uh, specifically DNS.

[00:21:58] James: And we came across some particular problem areas within DNS that there wasn't a solution for, uh, specifically like the, the audit trail. Of changes to TLD zones is something that no one can really audit because there isn't a single vantage point for it. And as a consequence of that, there's several nation state actors that are taking advantage of that lack of visibility into that space.

[00:22:24] James: When we sat down and we realized that there's a internet architecture problem here, we realized as well that there isn't a single company that can solve this. And that this sort of problem lends itself well to a nonprofit sort of activity or a nonprofit sort of organization to run it. And, you know, looking, I, I guess the analogy that we looked to at the time when we were trying to figure out how to solve this problem was, uh, the certificate transparency project that does the X.509 certificate tracking and TLS certificate tracking helps people to understand whether or not there's any...

[00:23:00] James: Certificates that are issued by any of the certificate authorities out there against their domains, and people can track that now because generally speaking, if somebody outside of your organization creates a TLS certificate for your domain, that's probably not a good thing and you're probably going to want to understand what's going on there.

[00:23:19] James: In a similar way, the changes to the TLD zones have the ability to influence answers across all the domains in the world. Or anything within that TLD zone, I guess is the, the more appropriate response. But the truth is that there's so many interdependencies across zones that they, they can impact even in the TLD space, that they can impact a lot of answers around the world.

[00:23:39] James: And in a way we kind of see it as a gap in the architecture of the internet that such a audit trail and such a vantage point doesn't exist. So we're trying to create that vantage point and solve that problem. 

[00:23:52] Chris: Awesome. That's very cool. So, and, and I mean, how's it going so far, I guess? 

[00:23:57] James: Well, I, I will, you know, to be honest, the pandemic impacted things.

[00:24:01] James: We had some meetings that were, were scheduled. There's, there's certain architecture things that are just very difficult to do remotely, or at least at the beginning of the pandemic. We had that belief. Right. And I think a lot of us did. There's a lot of things that, that, you know, when you stand in front of a whiteboard and you're all drawing and you're all talking, and you're all right there, It's easier to move forward on that, like mind share of like a concept than it is remotely in general.

[00:24:29] James: So we, we got slowed down by the pandemic, to be honest. That's fair. And we, and in addition to us being slowed down, the i r s was slowed down as well. The, the approval processes for approving 501c3s, that was impacted by, by the pandemic and their staffing levels. So Conseque. It, it took us a while to get to where we are today, but right now we have an outstanding R F P where we're looking for, uh, bids from companies to submit, uh, against that R F P, to build the, the service.

[00:25:00] James: And we also have, uh, legal agreements that are in several people's hands, including some of the data provider's hands that are going to be essential for this to work where there the are being reviewed. Things are we, we've cleared a lot of obstacles along the way, but we're finally at a, a point right now where I'm really hopeful that, you know, the, we're kind of at the point where the rubber meets the road and we're gonna start moving forward, so.

[00:25:24] Chris: Awesome. That's great. That's very cool. Speaking of obstacles, And this is gonna be a, a totally, uh, boomerang, uh, segue. But, but I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna build on obstacles anyway. You know, obstacles reminds me of gatekeepers and gatekeeping, which, which reminds me of kind of certifications, at least in, in kind of the network and security and just IT infrastructure in general, digital infrastructure world.

[00:25:44] Chris: I know that at one point you had the, um, what are it, like the G I A C certified, incident handler certification. I don't know if you had other certifications. I think that's also expired. Yeah. And so I wonder, you know, what your thoughts are just in general on certification in the industry for yourself and for others.

[00:26:00] Chris: You know, when you're hiring or when you're getting hired, you know, how, how do you think about certifications? 

[00:26:04] James: Yeah, no, that, that's an interesting question. So I think that they serve a different utility at different points in your career. I guess what I would say is that in many cases, what people that are hiring people in HR teams are looking for is something that proves that you know, a thing or can do a thing.

[00:26:19] James: Ideally it's, you can do a thing, but in many cases, uh, you know, a thing might, might substitute for that. And certifications, I think are a way of saying that, you know, that there is some process by which I've proven that. I know a thing that doesn't necessarily mean that you can do that thing, but, but at the same time it is something.

[00:26:38] James: And so I think when you're looking at how do you change careers or how do you advance to your next position, or how do you prove even to your manager that you're becoming more valuable, they can serve as a thing to point to. That is generally recognized by HR teams and, and others as proving that there is some base level of knowledge as you advance in your career.

[00:27:03] James: I think that they become a little less significant than they are earlier in your career because in, in your early days you, you really are. There, there isn't a, a body of work for somebody to look at and say, well, he's done this or she's done this, and that proves that they, they have that capability. So, uh, using certificates to augment the work history, I think is useful.

[00:27:28] James: I. In the later career, there are some certificates that are targeting sort of later career moves, like C I S S P, for example, might be something that's, you know, mid-career at a senior level or senior level to a little bit higher into the executive level, uh, sort of, uh, positioning. But in many of those cases, jobs are also available through networking, human networking opportunities, right?

[00:27:52] James: You can, when you're looking for jobs, at that point in your career, you should be reaching out to friends, in my opinion. To figure out how to make that next move. And in many cases, that's, those, uh, certificates are great for on paper sort of reviews, but, but when it gets down to being reviewed as a person, it's going to come down to what have you done, what is your experience say that you can do, and how can that be applied to whatever the company that's looking to hire you needs done at that point in time?

[00:28:20] Chris: Absolutely. Yeah. And that kind of brings us full circle back to the idea of community and relationships and these things. Not only are they important to help the technology work, They're really helpful for ourselves and in moving our careers. I know, I think, you know, I'm very fond of telling people that I've never.

[00:28:34] Chris: Gotten, I've never taken a job that I was qualified for, and a big part of the ability to do that was, um, I mean, one, apparently I'm good in an interview, but, but, but I think bigger than that, most of the time it's been because I knew somebody, somebody recommended me in, somebody said, Hey, you should come, come check out this job.

[00:28:49] Chris: Or I said, Hey, can you talk me into this job? Or, or whatever it might be. The one job I got where I didn't know anybody at the company at all, I actually found the CTO's email address. Emailed him directly with my resume and stuff. And so then, you know, basically he just passed that down to the hiring manager as you would, but the hiring manager didn't know why the c t O was handing him this resume or this, this, you know, this introduction to this person.

[00:29:18] Chris: So I think I, I, you know, you kind of pretended like I knew somebody to get a boost in and it's worked pretty well for me in my career anyway. 

[00:29:24] James: Yeah, so I, I kind of have a, a similar sort of story. Like I, I recently moved on from Team Cymru to Spy Cloud and that transition at, at Team Cymru, I was a chief architect and senior security evangelist, so I, I held two positions.

[00:29:38] James: Right? I, I, I like to joke and say that's means I'm a nerd that can talk to people, right? So, but the job that I have right now, I'm, uh, at, at Spy Cloud, I'm the director of data Products Strategy. So I'm moving from a highly technical field to a kind of a more business oriented field about creating products and understanding the, the markets that those products can fit into, and what market problem they can solve versus what technology problem they can solve.

[00:30:04] James: I, I'll be honest, like I, it is a transition for me. It's something that it, I, I don't have the experience in that, in this particular space that says that I can do this, but. I do have the confidence of my manager and a, a, a very, very good manager that's basically looking at, you know, the body of hist, uh, of experience that I do have and the body of knowledge that I do have, and said like, look, you can just take that and, and from that come to understand and come to do the product strategy sort of role using all of that and applying all of that in a different way.

[00:30:38] James: So, Through that. Like I, I'm fortunate enough to have a manager that, that takes that perspective. But the way that I got the job though is that I've, I, I know several of, I would count as friends, several of the people that worked here prior to me joining, uh, including, uh, some people that have been very, very early, uh, at the company.

[00:30:58] James: Uh, and when I, when I kind of like put out some feelers saying like, Hey, I think it's time for a change for me. They reached out to me and said, well, let's talk about what you can do for us. And that started a conversation that eventually led me to, uh, to the, the possibility of this, this product strategy role.

[00:31:17] James: Which, which honestly I, it's, it's an area that I wanted to develop in myself as well. So I, when, when I got the opportunity to jump into that space, That's, that's kind of a little bit greenfield for me. I don't necessarily, I, I wouldn't necessarily say, if you look at my resume, it says like, this guy's a product strategist.

[00:31:34] James: But when you combine that with a leader that's developed other people into that product strategy sort of role and is looking for, looking for the foundation of technical knowledge where they, where, you know, they create the support system for building that understanding of how to turn that into, uh, an applied product strategist sort of role.

[00:31:53] James: I was what he was looking for, and it, it worked out. So I, I guess I'm very happy to say that like, you know, the, the whole networking and human approach sort of, uh, perspective on the technology, it's served me well in my career and it's, and right now it's allowed me to transition into a, a complete new area of focus that I don't think would've otherwise been open to me based on my experience alone.

[00:32:19] Chris: Right, right. It's really hard to sell that resume without those, those connections there. And it's really, really cool that the, the manager you're working for is, is is a sponsor. Right. And is willing to kind of say, Hey, I, I see your skillset. I think you can develop this new one, and I'm gonna, you know, help you kind of do that and give you this position.

[00:32:32] Chris: That's, that's really, really cool. 

[00:32:34] James: Yeah. And I, I think that's essential too, by the way. 

[00:32:37] Chris: Yeah. Right. Definitely. I mean, a good manager changes everything for sure. Yes. Yeah. Less cool than a good manager is the fact that we've run outta time for today. James, Muchas gracias for sharing your story with the Impostor Syndrome Network.

[00:32:50] Chris: And thank you to all of our listeners for your time, your attention, and your support. It really means the world to Zoe and I, that these stories are getting out there to entertain and, and inform as many folks as possible. If you found this episode insightful or interesting, please consider paying it forward by letting others know about this show and the great guests we have on.

[00:33:10] Chris: Before we turn off the lights, James, I do wanna know one more thing. How did you figure out what you're good at? 

[00:33:17] James: Trial and error. Right? Uh, I, I think that, you know, figuring out what you're good at is a path that has, in some cases more failures than successes, but through that process there's growth. And it's kind of like forging, forging something, right?

[00:33:32] James: It's, you know, with heat. You create something stronger, you create something better, and that's kind of the story of a career and a story of of life, in my opinion. 

[00:33:42] Chris: I couldn't agree more. We will be back next week.