The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast

Zoë Rose

June 25, 2024 Chris & Zoë Season 1 Episode 98
Zoë Rose
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
More Info
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
Zoë Rose
Jun 25, 2024 Season 1 Episode 98
Chris & Zoë

Today, we have a very special episode featuring our own Zoë Rose. You've heard her interview multiple talents in the industry, and now it’s her turn to share her story.

Zoë takes us through the diverse roles and paths she's navigated in her career. She shares how the ironies of life led her to pursue a field she thought would require minimal social interaction, only to realize the critical importance of communication in the IT world.

She discusses the difficulties she faced as a woman in a male-dominated workplace, her advocacy for clarity and communication as someone who struggles with understanding others, and the challenges of being a working single mother.

Zoë also reflects on her journey to self-valuation and the importance of admitting when you don’t know something.

Don't miss this insightful conversation with Zoë. No matter how well you think you know someone, there's always something new to learn.

I've learned that admitting your mistakes and being upfront about it builds trust and respect. It's okay to say 'I don't know.' That honesty has been crucial in my career.

Zoë's Links:


Thanks for being an imposter - a part of the Imposter Syndrome Network (ISN)!

We'd love it if you connected with us on LinkedIn:

Make it a great day.

Show Notes Transcript

Today, we have a very special episode featuring our own Zoë Rose. You've heard her interview multiple talents in the industry, and now it’s her turn to share her story.

Zoë takes us through the diverse roles and paths she's navigated in her career. She shares how the ironies of life led her to pursue a field she thought would require minimal social interaction, only to realize the critical importance of communication in the IT world.

She discusses the difficulties she faced as a woman in a male-dominated workplace, her advocacy for clarity and communication as someone who struggles with understanding others, and the challenges of being a working single mother.

Zoë also reflects on her journey to self-valuation and the importance of admitting when you don’t know something.

Don't miss this insightful conversation with Zoë. No matter how well you think you know someone, there's always something new to learn.

I've learned that admitting your mistakes and being upfront about it builds trust and respect. It's okay to say 'I don't know.' That honesty has been crucial in my career.

Zoë's Links:


Thanks for being an imposter - a part of the Imposter Syndrome Network (ISN)!

We'd love it if you connected with us on LinkedIn:

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. Yes. Even you, my name is Chris Grundeman and Hey, would you look at that? I am here with our cohost Zoe Rose, but this is a special episode because today Zoe isn't actually the cohost. She's the guest that's right. This is the Zoe Rose episode, and I think you're going to love it.

[00:00:33] Chris: Zoe is a highly regarded hands on cybersecurity specialist. Who helps her clients better identify and manage their vulnerabilities and embed effective cyber resilience across their organization. Whilst retaining deep technical expertise, Zoe has extensive experience in designing and executing cybersecurity awareness programs to help people become more aware of cyber threats and uplifting critical cybersecurity processes and ways of working.

[00:00:59] Chris: She also has experience in maximizing the value and effectiveness of technical cybersecurity controls across a variety of programs and industries. Zoe is a Cisco champion and a certified Splunk architect who frequently speaks at conferences. Recognized in the 50 most influential women in cybersecurity UK and the PrivSec 200, Rose is quoted in the media, has presented on national news, has been featured in Vogue magazine, and was the spokesperson for Nationwide's oversharing campaign that had a reach of 306 million citizens.

[00:01:36] Chris: Hey Zoe, would you like to introduce yourself a bit further to the Impostor Syndrome Network? 

[00:01:41] Zoe: Uh, I was gonna say, no. Um, yeah, I don't know, I just, I feel like my bio is very, long. So I'm going to say no, that's good. That's good. I don't think I could do a better job of that. Um, I think really just, uh, my focus right now is, um, just helping people learn more about security in hopefully fun ways.

[00:02:04] Zoe: The comments I tend to get are you're very bubbly, um, which is usually not expected when it comes to security and security audits. 

[00:02:12] Chris: Awesome. Bubbly audits. Uh, let's, uh, let's dive right in. As you know, we often start kind of at the beginning of our guest's careers. Today though, let's roll it even further back.

[00:02:25] Chris: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

[00:02:27] Zoe: That's actually a hard question because I don't have a lot of memories from when I was a child. They say that, well, I'm going to start off this a little bit sad. Uh, they say that trauma tends to impact people's ability to remember things. And so a lot of my childhood, I don't remember.

[00:02:43] Zoe: But from when I was little. What I do remember is I did like sports. I liked activities. I was in cheerleading. I was on all the sports team. I'm not saying I was good. I was quite rubbish, but I enjoyed it. So I think my thoughts of like being an adult meant you drank wine, um, you talked to other adults, and you played sports.

[00:03:06] Zoe: So yeah, I don't think I had a, a plan, but it was more just like, well, this is what adults do. And as I got older, I started to kind of become. more shy. Everybody knowing me now will think that's very weird, but I was a very shy child, um, and I became more shy over time. And I found socializing very difficult ever since I was little, to be fair.

[00:03:28] Zoe: That was, that was not, that didn't change as I got older. I was, I found people very difficult. And so I was in university trying to become a botanist when I found out I was allergic to plants, . So it was a very effective approach. So I dropped outta university and I was, I was in a not so great situation, and I turned to it because I thought, well, I could not talk to people.

[00:03:57] Zoe: I don't get along with people. I don't understand people. I find social interaction very difficult. Technology doesn't talk to you in that way. So let's go with that. And so I think the beginning was, yeah, avoiding people. And then I realized that, um, IT and security, the number one thing you need to do is socialize with people.

[00:04:18] Zoe: So I'm very rubbish at choosing career paths. But, um, as you can tell, I'm a little bit different than when I started out in my career. 

[00:04:28] Chris: Yeah, absolutely. And that, a lot of that resonates with me. Um, I won't wax too poetic because I think we're gonna probably turn the tables and I'll be in your shoes on a future episode, but definitely really resonate with the whole idea of kind of getting into technology.

[00:04:43] Chris: to avoid having to deal with people and then it turns out that to make my career successful, I had to like figure out how to deal with people. Um, uh, I, I love the contrast though of like getting into botany and then you're allergic to plants and getting into tech because you're allergic to people, but guess what?

[00:04:58] Chris: They're there. Um, that, that, that's a fun, um, 

[00:05:01] Zoe: One really funny thing is early in my career, I started out kind of backwards. Uh, a lot of people start, you know, you, Junior and then you work your way up. I started out and I did um, IT management for a little bit in the beginning and um, I was working on this project with, well not project, but this I guess project, I don't know what you call it, but where I worked they had a bankruptcy, Part of this accounting firm, yeah, and they had to do this forensic audit, I guess, for a company and no, not forensic, sorry, a bankruptcy for a company.

[00:05:34] Zoe: And part of that is collecting all of their technology and inventory and seeing what its value is. And I remember I was, Working on this server, and it didn't have a case, it didn't have a chassis, and, uh, it was covered in dust. And I'm sat there like, I just dropped out of university because I was allergic to plants, and now I'm working on the dustiest server I've ever experienced, and I'm sneezing everywhere because I'm bloody allergic to dust.

[00:05:59] Zoe: I'm like, what is wrong with me? So, um, yeah, there's been lots of bumps along the road. But, um, one other thing I thought was kind of interesting, which probably you can relate to is I always felt very different than other people and I always felt like everybody was working off a script that I just was missing half of it.

[00:06:17] Zoe: You know, I, I always visualized it as, you know, in school where you had to read these like, um, plays and they had like character one and it's words, whatever they're saying and character two in their, uh, their commentary. I always felt like I was missing a character in my script and everybody else had it because I didn't get the context in the social interactions.

[00:06:36] Zoe: Um, yeah. Fast forward to last year, I did do a autism diagnosis, so, um, potentially that may have something to do with it. But I have some even funnier comment on that in a second, but, uh, I found that people are ridiculously hard to understand. And even though I view people and I kind of expect what they're saying to be exactly what they're saying, and actually I didn't get the nuances.

[00:07:02] Chris: Yeah. 

[00:07:03] Zoe: Uh, and so moving into. IT and security was very challenging for me because I wanted it to be command line. I wanted it to be, this is what I need and you respond back with exactly what I've asked for. Whereas it was very, these are social interactions and you have to build that relationship and you have to understand other people's perspective and you have to understand other people's thought processes.

[00:07:27] Zoe: And I didn't, so I think the biggest thing I learned in my career was not the technical. As you said in my intro, I understand the technical. It's the people that is the hard part and that was, I think, the biggest lessons in my career. 

[00:07:42] Chris: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I'm, um, I'm right now reading the Foundation Trilogy, um, with my son.

[00:07:50] Chris: And early on in the first book, this isn't this, I don't hope this is not spoiled because it's pretty, it's pretty early in the book, but the one guy, like the, um, this new organization is like run by the scientists. Right. And then there's this kind of politician guy who pops up and kind of takes power.

[00:08:04] Chris: And he tells them basically what you just said, right? He's like, Hey, like, you know, it's cool to like, look at the world through this scientific lens, but people are messy and they're not predictable. They don't follow the patterns. Like it's, it's, it's different. And that's the way the world really works.

[00:08:18] Chris: Um, you know, from his perspective of like, you know, building an empire and this kind of stuff, it's really interesting. Yeah. I got kind of the same thing. Like, you know, it's not two plus two equals four with people. And sometimes it's not that they're not saying what they mean. It's that like, we're just coming from such different perspectives at that moment that literally we don't understand.

[00:08:36] Chris: The words that each other is saying, I find a really interesting game to kind of watch other people talk because when other, when, when I see two other people talking to each other, I can really easily be like, Oh, they don't understand each other at all. Like they're having a complete conversation and neither one of them has any idea what they're talking about or what the other one's talking about.

[00:08:51] Chris: Right. Like I, I can see when it's happening to me, I don't think I see it at all. But I guess I can see it when other people are doing it. 

[00:08:57] Zoe: Yeah, well, the way that I've dealt with that is, um, I, I repeat back to people what they say. So do you remember, do you remember the, um, when we interviewed Stephanie? I remember her saying, you know, we always are assuming people have the same thoughts that we have.

[00:09:09] Zoe: They, you know, they're, the way that they're thinking is the way that we think, and that's not true. And so I, I try to, which I really enjoyed her conversation, cause that clarified so much for me. But, um, Like, for example, if I have a meeting with someone at work and I say to them, like, they need to complete this task.

[00:09:27] Zoe: And so they say, well, this is how I complete it. And then I say, okay, so if I'm understanding, this is what you're saying, you know, and I repeat back to them what I think they're either asking for or what they've already done or And what I find is sometimes. Yeah. I'm right. That's good. Okay. We can go. But other times they're like, no, Zoe.

[00:09:44] Zoe: There's not even at all what we're talking about. And I'm like, Oh, okay. But it's so much better that I do it in the front because if I don't and I go away and carry out based on the belief that I understood, I end up in a. Um, not so amazing situation, you know, like I, I even had at one point in, when I first moved to the UK, um, my boss, um, for the first two weeks, he said, I didn't know if I'd keep you because one, you said, sorry, too much.

[00:10:12] Zoe: And, um, and two, I, I would ask you to do stuff and you wouldn't bloody complete it while you didn't say that you wouldn't complete it. And I realized that he would say things like, if you have time, can you get to this? Or if there's time or if you have capacity, could you do this? And I would understand that as.

[00:10:27] Zoe: It's not a priority, it's if other things that are a priority. are not, you know, are not taking your time. You can fill in with this. And so I wouldn't complete those because I'd put there as a lower priority. And he assumed, no, no, no, drop everything. You need to do this. This is just my nice way of asking you to do something.

[00:10:46] Zoe: And so there was a huge miscommunication there. And it was simply due to, um, the way he presented it and the way that I heard it, I suppose. 

[00:10:54] Chris: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. Right, right. Which I mean, and then that one kind of probably draws down to like cultural differences. Oh, yeah. Um, but there's all kinds of different ways where we have these like different approaches, right?

[00:11:04] Chris: Whether it's just, you know, things our parents told us or things we were taught in school as youngsters or, you know, wherever this stuff comes from. These different filters and, and, and things, yeah, where we just misunderstand each other. So on that, I mean, are there other, um, I'm sure based on our conversations and then, you know, the topic of the show, there's other mistakes that have happened throughout your career and your life, and maybe more than kind of recounting mistakes you've made.

[00:11:27] Chris: I'm curious to know how you've managed mistakes over time, right? Whether it's mistakes of perception through communication or actual technical mistakes or whatever. Do you have any kind of specific approaches to managing mistakes once they're made and I guess, recognized? 

[00:11:41] Zoe: communication. So if I make a mistake, okay, I have to say that I am privileged at this point, and I am further in my career than some people, not everyone, but some people.

[00:11:52] Zoe: And so for me to admit that I don't know something is okay for me. You know, I'm okay to say to my team, I don't know. Can you explain this to me? Early in my career, I did not have that. Luxury, I'll say. And that led to a lot of issues. I obviously am a woman, um, and when I started my career, I, um, was told by this one man that I'm not going to mention his company, but I'll tell you offline what his company is because it is hilarious and relates to this.

[00:12:21] Zoe: But anyway, um, he told me. Oh, I don't hire women because they're distracting to men. And I had one other job that, um, I didn't work for him, but I had another job where I, when I left, I had to block my old employees numbers because they were sending me really inappropriate messages. You know? So I I've had situations where being a woman.

[00:12:42] Zoe: in a technology career was, I'm not going to say a disadvantage, but it was difficult. Um, the assumption often was that I wasn't technical. I recently had a call with somebody and they were like, Oh, well, maybe you're not the right person because we need somebody that would actually be able to respond to, you know, a technical thing.

[00:13:00] Zoe: And I was like, Why are you assuming I'm not technical? Like, you know my job title. Why are you assuming this? I didn't say that, but you know, it, it goes along with being from a minority group in this industry. Although I don't know if that's still accurate. There was a lot of assumptions. And so I didn't have the luxury of saying, I don't know, because then I was ridiculed or, or people didn't respect my capabilities.

[00:13:23] Zoe: And so I think I should mention that because now, One trick I do is, as I said, I repeat back to the person, or if I don't know something, I flag it. I don't know what you're talking about, or can you give me more context? I've recently moved roles in the same company, but different role. And so when different tasks come up, I might say, Oh, I'm actually new to this role.

[00:13:45] Zoe: Um, can you give me history there? You know, or, or, um, what was the process before? Because I'm not asking how to carry out a task, but I am asking, you know, there may have been. decisions made in the past as to why we take one action versus another, even though the other action, in my opinion, is more effective, you know?

[00:14:02] Zoe: So I, I, I need the context so I can feel safe saying, I don't know. Another not trick luxury, I would say again, is the teams that I've worked for in the company I'm at both teams. If I admit, I don't know something again, they, they're not rude. You know, they'll explain it to me. Even if in their mind, that's a simple question, you know, whereas if they say something and I'm like, you're wrong and I'll correct them.

[00:14:27] Zoe: Again, there's no negative feelings there, you know, that genuinely we want to help each other and there's that trusted relationship. So I think that's the other one, you know, communication is very important. Having those trusted relationships is very important. I've had a lot of positions, I've done a lot of talks, I've worked with a lot of people before I was in consulting, and you know, I had to build those relationships quickly so that people listened to me.

[00:14:53] Zoe: You know, I didn't get those jobs, I didn't get those talks, and I didn't have the success of projects without having that relationship with the person. I think a lot of people during COVID felt so isolated because they didn't have that connection, and it was really hard to start a new job in a new country.

[00:15:10] Zoe: Um, because I didn't know my colleagues at all, you know, I, I, well, I knew one online, but that's it. And so it was really hard for me. And then when things opened up again and I could meet people face to face and I could talk to them, not just about the task at hand, but about further than that, it made it a lot easier for me to, um, feel more connected and actually get tasks done.

[00:15:36] Zoe: So yeah, communication and, um, the personal relationship. The other thing I was going to say is, on the communication again, not just admitting when you're wrong, but admitting when you make a mistake. So I've made many mistakes, I've taken networks down, I know you have as well, you know, we've all made big mistakes, we've all made small mistakes, they're embarrassing, they're frustrating, but if we're upfront about it and we say, I made this mistake.

[00:16:00] Zoe: Can you help me? Or I made this mistake. This is how I solved it. That looks much better than saying, Oh no, no, no, it wasn't me. It was, it was this person or no, no, it wasn't me. I don't know what happened, but it's broken and I fixed it, you know? So yeah, that the honesty part I think is very important. Yeah.

[00:16:19] Chris: Yeah, for sure. That was one for me that came, I got a lot of really good lessons from an early boss. His name was John Taylor and he was running, uh, this wireless internet service provider that, uh, that I worked out for a while. I got a lot of really good lessons from him. He had been kind of ex Pitney Bowes, ex Lexis Nessus, right?

[00:16:37] Chris: It's like a big corporate person and personality and executive. And, um, that, but that was one of them, right? Like, you know, just if you're one, if you don't know, tell me, you don't know. Right. Don't try to BS me. And also just like, if you make a mistake, own up to it, admit it, apologize, say how you're going to fix it because then there's nothing left for the other person to like get on you about, right.

[00:16:56] Chris: If you try to hide it or cover it up or like, then, then people can justifiably get mad at you. Um, which sucks. Right. But if you go to someone and be like, Hey, I just screwed up and I'm really sorry, and here's what I'm going to do to fix it, or here's what I already did to fix it, there's not much left for them to say other than like, Oh, okay.

[00:17:12] Chris: Like, 

[00:17:12] Zoe: yeah, exactly. 

[00:17:14] Chris: Kind of take the wind out of the sails of anyone who's who, if you're afraid of them, like coming after you attacking you or whatever, you can kind of defuse that and not, not that people are actually going to do that, but sometimes it's, it's especially early in your career. You feel like that's what's going to happen.

[00:17:25] Zoe: I have been in situations where it was not a healthy environment, I'll say, and there has been situations where I'm like very concerned. I mean, I work in Europe, so job security is much bigger for me here than I know the US has, so I'm not going to talk to people working in America and, well, you should do it this way because, because I don't know, I understand that they have very different working environments, you know, I get that.

[00:17:52] Zoe: But if you're in a situation where you are literally scared, or you can't make a mistake, I would say it's probably the wrong environment. Because that's not healthy. You're not going to learn there. You're not going to succeed. I view jobs as I'm building my portfolio, I'm building my skill set. So yeah, I'm working for the company I'm working for, but they have a duty to me to help me build my skill.

[00:18:15] Zoe: And if they're teaching me inappropriate practices. I'm not benefiting ultimately. I mean, I had a role. I'm not gonna say what company, but I had a role where I was expected to answer emails 24 hours a day and within a certain timeframe. And leaving that company was hard, not because that was hard to not work there anymore, but it was hard because I literally would have panic attacks because my phone wasn't with me.

[00:18:40] Zoe: What if I missed a message, you know, and I didn't even work there anymore. It took me like two years to get over that. Like it was ridiculous. And at the time, I didn't think about it. I didn't think about the impact to my mental health. And I was younger. I was in my twenties, I'm now in my thirties. And uh, I wonder if anybody's guessed how old I am because I hint at my age multiple times throughout our podcast.

[00:19:05] Chris: There's a pool going somewhere for sure. 

[00:19:07] Zoe: I've never actually said how old I am. 

[00:19:09] Chris: Where is Zoe from? And we'll look for more. Like we're trying to figure these things out. 

[00:19:13] Zoe: Don't guess by my accent. It will confuse the shit out of you. It also confuses me, but no, that partly, I mean, I was, I didn't have kids at the time, you know, I didn't, I was single, so, you know, it, it made it easier for me to be a workaholic, but I was still a workaholic, you know, and that was not healthy and I learned that by working there.

[00:19:36] Zoe: And leaving that company, going to another consultancy, as brilliant as this other consultancy was, I still picked up those tendencies and it took me essentially burning out, not essentially, I literally did, um, and I felt like I wasn't able to function. And I felt like my brain, I felt the same, I know people call it brain fog, but I felt the same brain fog as when I was pregnant, where I just, my thoughts just wouldn't connect and I couldn't.

[00:20:05] Zoe: I struggled with focus to begin with, but at the time, it was so bad that like simple questions I couldn't answer. And that was even more detrimental to my confidence because I'm like, I should know this. Like how do I not bloody know this, you know? And so it was, yeah, it's, it, it was really, really hard. So I think on that, you know, on the learning from your mistakes, on the owning it, on the honesty, on the communication, all of that's important.

[00:20:33] Zoe: But also the environment you're in, like you can do all that you want to do and you can be the hardest working person. But if you're at the wrong company and the wrong team even, that's going to impact your success. 

[00:20:45] Chris: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And we just recently had, um, Marisol on the episode and she said something along those lines that I thought was really good.

[00:20:53] Chris: It's probably worth repeating. They're like, if a flower is not growing, you change the environment, not the flower. 

[00:20:58] Zoe: Oh, that's so good. 

[00:21:00] Chris: Yeah. Right. Like, you know, let's move this thing to a new pot. Get some new soil. 

[00:21:03] Zoe: Yeah. She's so clever. Oh, I never would have said that. 

[00:21:05] Chris: I really like that one. Now I will say just as kind of a counterpoint, cause I agree with everything you've said.

[00:21:09] Chris: Um, but I also know. That probably as much as environments or companies or kind of toxic behavior around me has gotten in my way. At least my, you know, in my own career and my journey, I've probably gotten in my own way. And the reason I made that up is because, you know, I want to make sure that folks are are both looking outward as well as inward.

[00:21:29] Chris: If you're gonna make any kind of changes in your career and things because we have had quite a few folks on the show have said, Hey, Listen, I mean, we've gotten this advice several times, right? If you're in a bad situation, the best thing you can do is get out. Um, because you know, if you're stressed out and if it's a bad environment for you, it's going to sour you, which is going to make the environment worse for everyone else also.

[00:21:48] Chris: Right. I mean, there's all these kinds of carry on effects, not just for yourself, but for everyone, it's probably healthiest just to get out of there. But I will say I definitely kind of ran myself to burnout several times in my career. And then finally. Kind of looking back fairly recently, I've been like, Hey, wait a minute.

[00:22:03] Chris: You know, the common denominator here was me. I was the one who was in those situations and drove myself to burnout multiple times, right? I mean, and sure, there may have been things that could have been better in these different environments, but you know, after the third or fourth time, you're like, wait a minute, it's, it's, it's not them.

[00:22:18] Chris: The people keep changing and I keep doing the same thing. 

[00:22:21] Zoe: Well, it's just like relationships coming from a single mom at the moment, probably the bad person relationship advice from. But it's boundaries. And that's what I never got. It's being able to say, no, that's not okay or no, I can't take that task.

[00:22:37] Zoe: And you're right. That's something I'm responsible for. You know, I'm responsible for communicating. I'm responsible for saying what I'm okay with. I'm responsible for pushing back when it's inappropriate behavior because, because it could be that somebody is like, I need you to take, to do this. And their assumption is.

[00:22:53] Zoe: You do it on your time, you know, just like people that in their email say, if this, you know, comes to you outside of your working hours, respond to me within your working hours, you know, because I work at a global company at the moment. I work at a company that has, EMEA is my region. Yeah. So lots of different time zones.

[00:23:11] Zoe: And also, I've worked with people that are, you know, in Australia, or in America, or whatever. So, you know, they may be responding in their time zone, and that doesn't work for me. And generally, they're okay if I respond in my time zone. Unless you're Australian, for some reason, lots of Australians like to have calls at night.

[00:23:28] Zoe: I don't know, they're, they're dedicated. But, uh, yeah, and, and that's a boundary that I should have upheld, you know, and I didn't. So that is a very valid point, just like in a relationship if I, you know, I don't like the way that somebody's speaking to me and I don't tell them. They might not know, so, 

[00:23:46] Chris: right.

[00:23:46] Zoe: Yeah. 

[00:23:46] Chris: Yeah. That resonates. And, and it kind of almost, you know, resounds back to kind of some of the stuff you were saying earlier about this, you know, the one boss you had was like, Hey, if you get a chance, kind of do this thing, which to him was, Hey, go do this right now. And to you was, ah, I can ignore that because like other stuff to do.

[00:24:00] Chris: Yeah. Um, the opposite can happen too, where somebody's like, Hey, go do this right now. And they actually in their head are saying. If you can fit this into your schedule, I'd like you to maybe check this thing out, right? So yeah, I mean, it kind of goes back to everything you've been saying around communication and kind of double checking with people, you know, repeating things back and all that.

[00:24:16] Chris: Yeah. 

[00:24:16] Zoe: Do you know what? The thing I've been thinking about are talking about mistakes, we're talking about experiences. The most embarrassing things in my career are not technical, really. And in the beginning, I was always so scared about admitting I didn't know something. I was terrified. Don't get me wrong.

[00:24:31] Zoe: Like now I will admit it. In the beginning, I would not admit it. I would spend hours watching YouTube videos, reading white papers. I would go out of my way to become an expert because I did not want to admit I didn't know something. But looking back, the most embarrassing things I can remember have nothing to do with my job.

[00:24:50] Zoe: Like one time when I first moved to the UK, yeah, um, trousers are trousers and pants are underwear. When I moved to the UK for the first time, that wasn't how I talked. And, um, I remember I had to rack these, I think it was a router or maybe it was a switch. I don't know. I had to put some hardware in the server room.

[00:25:07] Zoe: Yeah. And I was wearing a skirt. And I was like, Oh, I should wear pants today. And I said that in the middle of the room, just, I talked to myself. And, you know, the, the, the managing partner was there, the partner of my team was there, my entire team was there, and they were all British. And they're just like trying so hard not to laugh, because I'm wearing a skirt and I just told them all I wasn't wearing any knickers, like, and I was like, Oh, did I say something embarrassing?

[00:25:36] Zoe: You know, and that's, that, that's what I remember from my first job, uh, in the UK. You know, not all the mistakes I made, because I made many. Um, I took things down. I, I remember, yeah, there was one server that I turned off instead of rebooted, and it was not physically on my location, so that was challenging.

[00:25:56] Zoe: Um, you know, like, I made stupid things, but, you know, those are the things I remember, not, not being technical enough. 

[00:26:02] Chris: Yeah, uh, that resonates with me as well. I hadn't thought about that quite yet, but it's definitely part of like, I don't know, aging and maturing and things. I definitely noticed like now looking back, like how much of like, yeah.

[00:26:13] Chris: And most of it's just communication, right? It just comes down to whether I said something in a way that I didn't need to, or could have said better, or didn't understand what they were saying. Those are the things that seem more important now. Whereas you're right before I would definitely hide myself away for a couple hours and like, Read on the technical stuff as much as I could to try and come back and be like, you know, act like I knew what I was doing.

[00:26:31] Zoe: Oh yeah. 

[00:26:31] Chris: Um, and that's much less important to me now. Now I'm much more happy to just like ask somebody, Hey, how does that work? Why don't you explain it to me? Um, cause then I'm actually deepening the relationship while getting the information, pretty awesome. 

[00:26:42] Zoe: And the person is, people generally like to talk about topics.

[00:26:45] Zoe: Like, like I know that if it's a topic I like, I can talk for hours and annoy the shit out of people cause I don't recognize that you're bored. Um, I'll just keep talking. 

[00:26:54] Chris: I'm excited. Why aren't you excited? Right. 

[00:26:56] Zoe: Um, but people like to talk about things they know, you know, and, and so if you're like, I don't understand this, can you explain this to me?

[00:27:03] Zoe: Yeah, you're building that relationship just like you said, but you're probably getting a really good lesson on what it actually is and what's important as well in the context. Because there's, you know, if you want to learn about a technology, there's so many different use cases, you can use that technology, but for your specific use case, what are the things to highlight?

[00:27:21] Zoe: You know, if you're talking to somebody in that context, you get a condensed version. 

[00:27:26] Chris: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And targeted. Yeah. You're curated. Yeah, exactly. No, I like it. So you've alluded to being a mother and the fact that, you know, you were single earlier in your career and then you had a partner for a while and you became a mother and now you're single again, single mother.

[00:27:39] Chris: I'm wondering how that kind of journey in your personal life has affected or changed maybe your actual career or just your perspective on your career. Yeah. 

[00:27:48] Zoe: I think So, I mentioned it briefly in the beginning, but I had a lot of abuse growing up. I had a difficult childhood, and I didn't date the best people in the world.

[00:27:59] Zoe: Not saying the recent thing is bad, it was just when I was younger I didn't choose the best partners, we'll say. And that really impacted my confidence. I went to college only for the paper. I mean, I did find benefits later on, but the reason I went to college in the first I had no confidence in my capability.

[00:28:18] Zoe: Dating people or being in relationships with people that belittle you or, um, you know, basically tell you you're worthless or literally tell you you're worthless does not lead well to a confident person. It does not lead well to somebody that is the most Excellent at, um, making decisions quickly. I mean, I would second guess myself a lot.

[00:28:41] Zoe: I, as you said, you impacted your career, I impacted my career. At one point I was asked if I wanted to write a book and I turned it down because I had no confidence that I could do it. I've had opportunities to do more than I've done and I've turned things down because I didn't have the confidence that I could do it.

[00:28:57] Zoe: And then I see other people doing it and I'm like, Oh, I could have done that. You know, and that's the regrets I have. Not that I wasn't technical enough. Not that I wasn't smart enough. It was that I didn't think I was, you know, I didn't have the confidence in myself and struggling to see my value. I think that often, um, I would hold myself back and it also leads to, you know, if, if you do any kind of research into psychology, it leads to you finding relationships that, you know, if you don't value yourself, your partner's not going to, you know, uh, not to say that I'm not trying to gossip about.

[00:29:30] Zoe: Um, a previous relationship I had, but, um, but in general, that is a generally accepted, um, thing where you probably are not going to get the best relationship. If you don't understand yourself, you probably are not going to know what you need or what works for you as well. And I think as I've gotten older and as I've, you know, grown as a person and grown in my own confidence, I think my career has improved because I've known what I wanted.

[00:29:54] Zoe: So not only do I know what I want in my outside of work hours. I know what I want in work as well because I understand who I am as a person better. And I know my limitations now and I know my capabilities. One of my best friends, he actually got me a bracelet that says, uh, remember who the We can say fudge.

[00:30:13] Zoe: You are. And I thought that was really sweet because I said to him, you know, when I was offered the role that I currently have. So to give you context, just when I got my first job at my current company, I was eight months pregnant when I was hired. I had to move country. It was during COVID. I was becoming a mom for the first time.

[00:30:33] Zoe: My confidence in my capability wasn't as high as it could have been, but it wasn't disastrously low. Um, but it was, it was hard. It was hard. Pregnancy brain is legit, like it is a thing. Like I could not think. And so I remember starting and I only worked for three weeks and then I went on maternity and I just felt like I didn't know anything.

[00:30:52] Zoe: My current role, I was hired again whilst I was pregnant, and I, well, the official hire was after I had delivered my youngest, and I had gone through a rough time. I had three miscarriages between my first and my second, which were really hard, really, really hard, emotionally and physically, like your hormones are all over the place because you're pregnant, you're not pregnant, pregnant, you're not pregnant.

[00:31:14] Zoe: So it was hard, and that happened in the span of a year. And then I got pregnant with my youngest and I'm getting older when it comes to pregnancy. It was tough. It was physically tough. Um, and I was exhausted and I, and I was a single mom. I became a single mom in my second trimester and it was unexpected.

[00:31:34] Zoe: Um, again, I'm not gossiping, but, but you know, that's what happened. And so I was exhausted. I had a toddler and I was pregnant, heavily pregnant. And my hormones again, were, you know, all over the place because I was pregnant. And they asked me, they told me actually, they're like, Hey Zoe, this role is available.

[00:31:50] Zoe: We, we think you should apply. And I'm like, I don't know, man. Like, I don't know. That's, that's, that's a hard job. I know how hard it is. I don't know if I'm good enough. And my bosses, both of them in my previous team were like, no, no, no. Separately. They were like, no, no, no. Like, we really think that you would be a good fit for this.

[00:32:08] Zoe: And I went through the interview process whilst pregnant, and my final interview was supposed to be, uh, in the week I was supposed to deliver, so we postponed that. But, um, in the interviews, I became more confident. Which is super weird, okay? Interviews usually are, like, hard, but I honestly became more confident through the interview process, which is a weird thing for me.

[00:32:29] Zoe: And I remember talking to my now boss boss, so not my direct boss, but his boss. And he's like, you know, I interviewed you for your first role and for your second role now. I'm confident in your capabilities. This is, you know, I, I just want to talk about your mindset and how you would approach these things.

[00:32:46] Zoe: And I was like, wow, like what a nice thing for somebody to say. Like he, he meant it and it was genuine, which is why it was so impactful for me. And I was I just had a baby, so maybe my hormones were a bit over the place. But it made me a bit emotional. Like, I respect this man. And he, he said to me, Oh, I know that you're good at this.

[00:33:05] Zoe: So I'm not going to test that. I just want to hear, you know, how you would approach it. And I'm just out there like, that is such a nice thing to say. And that was like, I remember sitting there. I was sat on my kitchen table. And a volunteer was watching my baby, and I'm sat there like in the other room, and I was sat there, I'm like, that is such a nice thing to hear, you know?

[00:33:24] Zoe: Besides the fact that it's an interview, that was just so, that was such a relief. So when I started my role after maternity, I didn't start this job until I just came back from maternity. I already felt more confident than I did my first time, even though, even though, you know, this is a harder job, um, it has more responsibility, a bigger team, you know, there's a lot more to it.

[00:33:46] Zoe: And I'm a single mom now with two kids, so it was a nice thing to know that they had the confidence in me. And I know, I know a lot of people say, you know, well, they hired you, so they know. that you were good at it. You know, and, and that's what my friend has said to me many times. Um, Ian, he said, you've already made it through the interview process.

[00:34:04] Zoe: They, they want you already. Or Elisa's officer said this to me of when I'm doing a talk and I'm nervous about it. She's like, they, they, they asked you to talk. They already know that you're good. They already know that you're capable. So just do what you can do. But it was so different because He had said that during the interview, and so I felt, I actually felt it, you know, when I started, so my confidence was higher, I would say, and I felt more ready to start, I suppose you could say.

[00:34:31] Chris: Yeah, I mean, that's a really, I love that, and not to be maybe cynical, right, but like, because it's interesting, right, you know, what he did there was, you know, boost your confidence, create that connection with you, but he still asked you the question, right? He said, hey, you know, I know you, I know you're good at this.

[00:34:47] Chris: So I'm not going to like ask you, but let's still talk about it. So he still worked through the questions of the interview that he needed to, but he did it in this just really amazingly. supportive environment, which then catapulted you, you know, through that interview into this role in this really cool way.

[00:35:01] Chris: I mean, yeah, what a beautiful way to approach that kind of a situation. 

[00:35:05] Zoe: Yeah. And, and the point you made about, you know, being a single mom, that was a, that was a concern I had. I mean, I work in an operational role, like I'm, I'm a mom, but I'm the person in this house, you know, I'm the adult, I can't leave these children.

[00:35:19] Zoe: So, so I was quite concerned about that. And I did raise that in my interview, you know, I said, What are your thoughts, you know, and, and I was very realistic with him as to, you know, any limitations. And, you know, we talked through scenarios and what would work, what wouldn't work. And I think early in my career, I would never have done that.

[00:35:36] Zoe: I mean, I wasn't a mom at the time, but I would never have been that honest. I would not have said, these are my limitations, you know, I wouldn't have said this is my capability and my capacity limit. You know, I would have talked about, I'm awesome. You know, I could do everything. Whereas now, I'm much more realistic.

[00:35:50] Zoe: I know that my knowledge scope does not encase all of security because that's too big. I know that I have limitations in my technical skill. I know I have limitations in my personal skill. You know, I told you earlier about going for my um, autism diagnosis. The hilarious part there is, if you want to talk about imposter syndrome, the official diagnosis is, well, you have autistic traits and you have the behaviors of autism, but you had trauma when you were a child, so it could be that you could get better.

[00:36:22] Zoe: So I'm autistic, but not autistic. I don't know

[00:36:25] Chris: maybe autistic. Yeah, I think. Super helpful diagnosis. Thanks, Doc. 

[00:36:30] Zoe: Yeah. Well, the person that diagnosed me no longer does that. Yeah. Yeah. And I spoke to another person that knows people that do that, and they all said that was really weird, like that's not an appropriate diagnosis.

[00:36:41] Zoe: So I suppose I could redo it, but now I'm sat here like, I don't really need the official diagnosis, I just, I would never have thought I was autistic, to be fair, I thought it was something else. But after hearing about that person confirming that you have all of these behavior traits of an autistic person, and all of my friends that are, uh, neurodiverse, and specifically one of my friends who is autistic, they're more saying, no, no, no, no, you fit in our team.

[00:37:06] Chris: Just makes sense. 

[00:37:07] Zoe: You know? Yeah. So yeah, I think knowing my limitations and knowing that I do view the world differently has benefited me in my career because I acknowledge that and I take steps to work through it and make sure that I'm not making assumptions. 

[00:37:24] Chris: Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. So one of the things that stands out to me in all of this, right, especially like, so right now, right, you're in this kind of, you know, maybe it sounds like maybe the most advanced, I don't know if that's the right word, but you know, a challenging position, right?

[00:37:37] Chris: Role in your career so far, kind of getting towards that, you know, at least current pinnacle of your career. You've got two young kids at home with no other, you know, at least built in domestic support, right? You don't have a partner right there to lean on being a single mom with two kids while doing this career in a country that you've only lived in for a little while.

[00:37:54] Chris: You know, basically I'm saying you're probably very busy. How do you stay current? On, on technology. How do you keep up with what's going on in the, in the field and make sure that you can maintain that confidence because you know that like your knowledge isn't getting out of date. 

[00:38:07] Zoe: Yeah. Well, okay. So I should, I should specify that I am in an internal role at the moment.

[00:38:12] Zoe: Um, previously I've always worked in consulting. I'm more familiar with working in consulting. So, so that one was hard because you had to see current, but you had to stay current with a lot of technologies and a lot of use cases because all of your clients, you need to know. what their environment's like, what their industry is like.

[00:38:29] Zoe: I work internally now, so I do have a little bit of a smaller scope. I need to know the trends of security industry. I need to know, you know, top threats, um, for our, our threat map. I need to know what are the risks in our industry. Um, and a bit beyond it, I need to know our technologies, but it's not as, I would say it's not, it doesn't feel, and maybe I'm wrong, but it doesn't feel as vast.

[00:38:55] Zoe: So I feel like I can narrow it down a bit, but I also rely heavily on my teams. So the people on my team, they all have their own skills. Yeah. I don't need to duplicate them. I can have similarities, but I don't need to be an expert where they're an expert. So I have the broad knowledge and they have the depth of knowledge.

[00:39:12] Zoe: In certain areas, I might have the depth, but I can't have it for everything. So I think the main point there is knowing what you need to know and knowing where you can get help, right? So if I have an issue and I need support on that issue, I know who to turn to in the team. You know, I know who to ask the questions for.

[00:39:32] Zoe: I also know what limitations that we have in our team. So I know where else I need additional support and where maybe we need to hire outside expertise or maybe I need to do a bit of research myself. So I think the main point there is staying current is looking at what you need to know and where your gaps are.

[00:39:51] Zoe: And then when you know that. There's so many, so many places to keep current. I mean, early in my career, I watched a lot of YouTube videos to understand technologies and then be able to, you know, figure out if they work in my environment. Now I might, you know, talk to my vendors because I'll see what's their roadmaps.

[00:40:09] Zoe: I might, um, you know, I work in security operations, so I'll see what types of alerts we get, what kind of incidents we get. I'll attend talks even remotely that I think are applicable to me. I will read articles, maybe it's a one off article, maybe it's a newsletter, you know, those are the kind of things that I do.

[00:40:29] Zoe: Um, I used to use Twitter a lot last couple of years. I used to use Twitter a lot, now not so much, but I, I, I have kind of, I feel like maybe I'm becoming less social, but I've, I've gone less on the whole public spaces and more on our kind of private channels. So Slack, I use a lot. Um, the different communities, the Cisco champion community, the tech field day community.

[00:40:55] Zoe: Those are big communities that are, you know, we, you know, we have lots of people in them, specifically the tech field day I connected with you on, and then Cisco champion, there's a lot of people there and there's a lot of industry experts. And so I can see kind of what they find interesting as well, because maybe they're an expert in this area.

[00:41:12] Zoe: I'm not, I can ask them questions and they can point me in the right direction to learn more about that. You know? I'm not going to say that it's all in business hours. I do look at things outside of business hours, but not to the point that I used to when I was a consultant. 

[00:41:27] Chris: I definitely also see this trend away from big public social media platforms to more like group chats, private chats, Slack work groups, discord servers, matrix, whatever it is, right.

[00:41:40] Chris: But it seems like. People seem to be flowing to more kind of curated groups versus just shouting from mountaintops. Um, that's probably a whole nother topic for a whole nother podcast. 

[00:41:51] Zoe: Well, I will say, I will say that blogging has helped me as well. I mean, kind of an exception now because yeah, I had a baby.

[00:42:00] Zoe: So in the last year I was pregnant and then I had a baby. So I didn't have a ton of time to blog. But that also does help me keep current because I need to understand it. So it's almost like a forced timeline. Yeah. As well as when I've got a project at work, you know, I need to understand it, so I'll look at it.

[00:42:16] Zoe: So I think those things kind of help, but I, I agree with you, it, I don't really like saying I need to know this. I know Troy Hunt does that. He, he'll be like, uh, I have a question on this, or, I need to understand this, and this is what I did, and he has the confidence to say that. I will say that I still struggle a little bit with that confidence.

[00:42:34] Zoe: I'm happy to admit, I don't know, something I'm happy to admit. In my team, I don't know something. Online, I could say I'm not an expert. But I still do struggle with saying, randomly, to the world, I have this huge gap here, please explain it to me, because there are still those people that are quite negative, and I don't have the mental capacity to deal with them.

[00:42:54] Zoe: Yeah. I'd much rather worry about what my children are thinking about versus what. Random strangers on the internet are thinking about so that's why I tend to stick to more private channels because again, it has that relationship. I know that the other people in this chat have, you know, they want to help me.

[00:43:11] Zoe: They don't want to hurt me. They don't want to be jerks to me. They want to support me. Versus random person on the Internet. Mmm, probably not. 

[00:43:19] Chris: Right, right. Yeah, there's that level of trust there, right? I think that's um, there's kind of this shared trust environment. Or we may not even know each other, but we're friends of friends, or friends of friends of friends, and we're all here for the same reason.

[00:43:30] Zoe: Same goal. 

[00:43:31] Chris: And maybe there's somebody, you know, there's probably a little bit of kind of community policing going on, right? I actually haven't seen any really bad behavior in any of those smaller groups yet, but I think part of the reason for that is, I think everyone kind of understands that if you do do something crazy, you might just, you know, you're going to get booted or at least talked to, right?

[00:43:48] Chris: Like it doesn't feel like when it's on the open internet or the big public platforms, you can kind of feel a little bit more free if it seems anyway, to just be a total dick. Whereas in these smaller groups, there's a little bit, maybe there's more social pressure or something there. But anyway, mostly it's about trust, I think, just trusting that that reaction is not going to happen.

[00:44:05] Chris: Um, yeah, that makes sense to me. 

[00:44:07] Zoe: And I know that the person that's telling me they're an expert. It's more likely they are versus the experts on social media. 

[00:44:15] Chris: Right, right, right. So, so speaking of that, be kind of becoming an expert, I don't know about you, but you know, some of the things you've said kind of, again, resonate with me and, and kind of the journey that I went on from, you know, being.

[00:44:26] Chris: Nothing, nobody not knowing anything and kind of approaching work from that way, right? As we talked about, right, there's some, some defensive characteristics earlier in your career and things that you can kind of tear down and, and then as you grow into your career and become more of an expert and more known that there's some, some walls you can really, it becomes a luxury or a privilege to be able to drop some of this stuff and just be able to admit you don't know very much or easily or admit you made a mistake.

[00:44:47] Chris: Everything becomes a little bit easier, um, as you build that real true confidence. But there's other things that changed too. So I wonder, you know, when did you realize that you held some sort of authority, that you had power and how has that kind of changed the way you, you work? 

[00:45:02] Zoe: That one's a hard one because, because I remember there are certain things in my career that.

[00:45:07] Zoe: I remember being taken aback for like, for example, in 2015, I was chosen to be part of the Cisco champion, Cisco Dream Team, Cisco Live Dream Team, which is 10 Netacad students being asked to set up Cisco Live US. And I remember being accepted there and, um, my teacher in university or college told me to apply and I was like, nah, I don't think I'm the right person.

[00:45:30] Zoe: He's like, no, you definitely are. I was like, okay. And I applied, and it was a long bloody process. I had to, like, answer a bunch of questions, record a, a video on YouTube. I hope it's still not up, that's embarrassing. Um, I had to record a video. 

[00:45:47] Chris: You're applying it now. 

[00:45:48] Zoe: I'm not. I do all these things, yeah. And then they accepted me.

[00:45:52] Zoe: And I was like, I was so shocked. And, and they accepted me and they were like, well, you know, you have a lot of experience. And I remember being like, no, I don't. And I remember talking to the other people they accepted and being like, I do have more experience than most people, my age. And I remember being really surprised.

[00:46:11] Zoe: And then later in my career, A man that I very much look like, quite respect. He's very intelligent and Michael Bessel, he's very big in the OSINT community, expert in open source intelligence. And I remember he asked me to be on his podcast and I was like, why? Like, why would you want me to be on your podcast?

[00:46:30] Zoe: And then the Vogue thing, well I think Vogue thing was first actually. And they interviewed me for this Vogue article and I'm like, why do people care what I have to say? Like, why is it important what I think? And then I had interns and I, okay, I, I'm saying this completely out of order because I had interns between that and that interview and I have interns now, but anyway, rubbish at telling timeframes apparently.

[00:46:54] Zoe: But um, I remember talking to them. I have talked to interns because I have interns and them asking me about my career and asking how I did things and telling me I've, you know, that they're impressed or, and how I sound really stuck up. But you know, I think for me, I need somebody else to validate me. I need that because I don't see my success.

[00:47:15] Zoe: When I was asked to do the Vogue thing, I was like, okay, yeah, that's cool. But I didn't think anything cool of me until years later. Until actually quite recently when my daughters were born and I'm like, Oh, I can show them I was in a magazine. And I always struggled with this confidence and I didn't think I had authority and people would ask me to do public speaking, not just the public stuff, but also private like engagements.

[00:47:38] Zoe: And, and I remember being like, well, yeah, I want to, I'm excited to share this, but why do you care about me sharing it? And I don't think it's accurate to say I've realized I have any sort of authority, but every time people listen to me, I'm always kind of surprised and have to think about it for a minute.

[00:47:53] Zoe: And one trick that I do is I write my CV, or if you're not in Europe, uh, your resume. Um, and I look at all the things that I've achieved, and I look at all the things I've learned, and how difficult I found it. Simple things in the beginning of my career and how much easier I find them now. Like my current role, I wouldn't say it's probably, I don't know if it's counted as the most senior role I've ever had, but I think it's probably the most visible role because it is senior and I have a decent amount of people on my team and I have a decent amount of authority.

[00:48:26] Zoe: You know? So I think in that sense, for me personally, it's a, it's a more senior role and it's what I enjoy doing. So I think realizing I have authority. Again, I don't realize it until somebody points it out to me, but what do I do with it? I think is the more interesting question. When I have interns, I take accountability for them.

[00:48:49] Zoe: And so I make sure that I highlight to them where my management style might differ from other people, where I have preferences. For them to speak to me, not, not like, you know, you have to speak to me in this way. No, more like, um, what's the most effective way for us to communicate? I like to have regular feedback sessions, but I need to know what's their motivation type so I know how to give them proper feedback.

[00:49:12] Zoe: Good and positive. Good and positive? Good and, and constructive, we'll say. You know, I need to know what they find motivating. I don't say, well, this is the way I like to communicate. This is the way I'm motivated. So you have to follow that. No, I've had managers like that. So I take the accountability to say, what works for you.

[00:49:31] Zoe: And I'm going to make sure that I communicate to you in a way that works for you so that you can see your success and you can see what you're achieving without having to also learn what's going on. what's appropriate for me, you know, and I teach them what's an appropriate boundary at work and what they should expect.

[00:49:49] Zoe: That to me is more important. I still think I am shocked when people say that I have authority. And I remember in 2019, no, 2017, 18, somewhere around there in, maybe it was 19, uh, B-sides London, Uh, FC had a copy of, I think it was Andy's book and all of the industry experts were signing it and it was going to be raffled away and they asked me to sign it and I'm like, why?

[00:50:16] Zoe: Like, so shocked. 

[00:50:17] Zoe: You know? Like. To me, that was like a turning point, signing this book. 

[00:50:23] Zoe: I was like, these people I respect, respect me. 

[00:50:27] Chris: That's a really good feeling. Awesome. Well, if anybody's watching the clock, they know that we've gone way over the amount of time we normally spend on an episode, so we will wrap it up there.

[00:50:39] Chris: So Zoe, do you have any projects or causes that you'd like us to know about? Something that we've talked about or haven't talked about or anything you want to kind of highlight for the, the listeners to jump into? 

[00:50:50] Zoe: Um, I don't have any projects besides trying to raise two humans, 

[00:50:56] Chris: big, big, big projects. 

[00:50:59] Zoe: But um, I would say, look into your local resources for organizations like Operation Safe Escape.

[00:51:08] Zoe: Supporting domestic abuse survivors, people in high risk situations, because if you're a technical person, you don't realize how much information you have that you could benefit these organizations. Even, you know, donating a couple hours to do a technical review, donating a couple hours to help them improve their own infrastructure, their own practices, or, you know, creating content that they can reuse, like, personal security guides for survivors, or, you know, OPSEC practices for people doing investigations, or even just putting, you know, I know a couple years ago, Operation Safe Escape had, uh, was, um, creating USBs with Tails OS on it so that survivors could plug that in.

[00:51:56] Zoe: do the investigation and unplug it and then that evidence is lost because it's not persistent. Um, you know, things like that, any time you can donate, any knowledge you can donate or, or if you want to work with them, which I've done in the past, I highly recommend it. It might not be visible what changes you make, but you could literally save people's lives.

[00:52:17] Zoe: And then, yeah, I think also if you can put time into mentoring, I mean, I, if people reach out to me and ask for resources to start their career, and I'm not talking brand new, like young people, I'm talking people that are, you know, older than me, even I've had my age older than me being like, I want to start a technical career.

[00:52:35] Zoe: I want to start a security. I'm more than happy to reach out and, and connect them with other people in the industry. You can do that as well. Only put the effort in that you can, like don't overwork yourself, but you'd be surprised at how much you can help somebody's career and their, their life, you know, just by giving them five minutes here and there.

[00:52:55] Chris: Yeah, those, those are, those are great things for folks to be aware of and jump into, I think just kind of, again, underlining what you said there, finding the local system of support for domestic violence, um, recovery and survival and that kind of stuff and, and lending some it help huge, right? I mean, massive.

[00:53:12] Chris: Potential for, for helping your own community and folks around you and stuff. And then, like you said, with the mentoring, I think at least on myself and I think I've seen others do this, we send to work mentoring up into this like big thing where like, oh, I can't do mentoring. I don't have time for that.

[00:53:25] Chris: And often it's just answering someone's question one time or making one introduction, right? And those little things where like, somebody's thinking about something, they're stuck on something, they reach out. If you can just, you know, spend the five minutes to just answer that one question. That can be life changing for someone.

[00:53:39] Chris: I've been on the receiving end of that many times where I, you know, somebody said something that just for whatever reason made the pieces fall into place in my brain and changed my life because this one person was willing to, you know, answer a question or give some advice or, or connect me with somebody else.

[00:53:53] Chris: So yeah, both of those things are great for folks to do. Thanks, Zoe. And thank you so much for spending some time with all of us today and sharing your story with the Impostor Syndrome Network. Of course, thank you also to all of our listeners for your time, your attention, and your support. If you found this episode insightful or interesting, or even just entertaining, please consider paying it forward by letting others know about this show and the great guests we have on.

[00:54:17] Chris: Now before we close out, Zoe, I am curious. In all of this, I mean, you've got a lot of stuff going on in your life right now. How do you handle stress or, or how do you reset your mind? Or maybe those are two different things. Maybe the same thing. I don't know, but I'm interested in kind of your approach to keeping yourself sane, maybe.

[00:54:34] Zoe: I don't know if you can classify me as sane. I don't know where the level is there. Um, I am going through the phase where children scream a lot at me. A lot. This morning started with lots and lots of screaming. And so I think for me, I remind myself that I'm happy. I remind myself that this is where I wanted to be.

[00:54:57] Zoe: And whilst right now this is really hard, I am happy. You know, I have two beautiful children. I have a good career and I have things that other people could only dream of. That helps me lower my stress level. I also read a lot of fantasy books. I like, I like fantasy. It gets me away from the world. Um, that's what I did when I was in school when I was little.

[00:55:21] Zoe: And I tell the people that I care about how much I care about them because I know how much it means to me when somebody says, you know, I respect you or I, I'm proud of you. Like that, I know that sounds not, that's not de stressing, but it is for me. Because it's acknowledging my feelings, which I struggle to understand, and recognizing that I need somebody else to talk to.

[00:55:45] Zoe: And so I think part of my de stressing is talking to people, um, weirdly because I'm not social, and kind of explaining my mindset and seeing if they agree with me or if I'm completely off, and telling myself over and over again. that I am ultimately happy. I reached big goals that I've always wanted.

[00:56:03] Zoe: There are more I want to reach, but I've achieved a lot and I'm where I want to be right now. Even when I make a big mistake, I'm scared of something. I'm stressed about being a mom or being, you know, having a lot of responsibility. Ultimately, I am happy. So this small problem will go away. 

[00:56:22] Chris: I love all that.

[00:56:23] Chris: That is great, great advice. I think all around, if I had to kind of completely boil it down, I think what we're talking about there is really a great set of practices around gratitude. Um, and then, and also compassion. And that's definitely been those two themes have been rolling around with me for a while lately too.

[00:56:42] Chris: So maybe I'm just attaching to them, but I think kind of seeing where you are in life and really being like, Oh yeah, like actually this is. Fantastic. I mean, you know, uh, this is great. 

[00:56:51] Zoe: Yeah. And like when my daughter is like screaming at me and I, and I'm like, Oh, and I'm like, Oh, I should have handled that better.

[00:56:58] Zoe: I say, actually it wasn't the best. I do apologize to my daughter if I do something wrong because she's young, but she, she knows, you know, she knows if I'm saying, Sorry, she understands that. And so I do apologize and I say, you know, to myself, maybe this wasn't my best day, but tomorrow will be better. Yeah.

[00:57:15] Zoe: Or maybe this wasn't my best situation, but in an hour it will be better. And so I just celebrate the wins when they come and acknowledge the things I do wrong and realize that I can do better next time. 

[00:57:27] Chris: Yeah. Yeah. Which again is, you know, kind of compassion towards yourself. As well as towards them, which I think is, I don't know, very important and something that we, at least I tend to miss.

[00:57:37] Chris: Um, sometimes I'm not always, I'm I've tend to be more kind to other people than I am to myself. Anyway, I think that's a great place to leave it. That's great advice. Thank you for this amazing chat. I think people are really going to love it and we'll be back next week.