Hacker Valley Studio
Episode 106 - Stacking the Deck of Success with AJ Yawn

Episode 106 - Stacking the Deck of Success with AJ Yawn

November 24, 2020

In this episode of the Hacker Valley Studio podcast, hosts Ron and Chris interview AJ Yawn in an episode that is a mix between a master class and a founder’s journey.  AJ is the founder and CEO of ByteCheck, with a personal and company goal to “make compliance suck less.”  He is a cloud security expert, and brings to the conversation a wealth of wisdom on cybersecurity, leadership, and personal growth.  The episode focuses on topics surrounding a major event in the past week for AJ and ByteChek, addressing AJ’s background, the work surrounding ByteCheck’s genesis, AJ’s thoughts on compliance, and more!  

The interview begins with a look at AJ’s background.  AJ grew up a military brat, and eventually found himself in the Army for a time.  While he did not place much consideration on technology before he entered the Army, it was during his Army career that AJ developed an interest in cybersecurity.  He became passionate about cybersecurity and the cloud, and he went all in!  After he left the service, he began a job in cybersecurity consulting, and he’s been in the field ever since.  

This episode is recorded at another momentous shift in AJ’s career, though, and Ron and Chris invite him to share about the past week, focusing on highs and lows.  AJ shares about how he and his friend Jeff just launched ByteChek days ago, choosing as their launch date the significant holiday of Veterans Day!  This choice was a way to honor AJ’s family members who served before him, and Ron and Chris also thank AJ for his own service to his country.  

In light of this exciting time, AJ explains what the early days of the company have been like and considers some influences that have shaped him.  In this stage of his company, AJ has capitalized on LinkedIn.  He had previously not been accustomed to using the site or to the more general task of business promotion, but he’s found that networking on LinkedIn is a great way to grow a new business.  He also explores ways in which his background in sports and as a middle child among nine siblings have shaped him as a cybersecurity worker and entrepreneur.  Such factors of his youth helped him to foster a growth mindset and competitive nature, and also taught him to stand in his power. 

Next, AJ talks about the thinking behind the tagline, “make compliance suck less,” which is honest, humorous, and relevant to the problem that drove AJ to start the company.  As he navigates issues of business, compliance, and the like, AJ demonstrates remarkable capacities for focus.  Ron and Chris wonder how he manages to focus on a single subject and to stay intentional for months or even years at a time, and AJ answers that he focuses on the process.  In order to do so, he relies on the 90-91 model (which calls for the first 90 minutes of his day to be centered on a certain thing), as well as an array of goals.

AJ is also deeply committed to an active pursuit of personal growth.  One of the clearest demonstrations of this commitment came in the years leading up to the launch of ByteChek.  AJ saw the need for such a company years ago and had it in mind to start his own company, knowing that he needed to take a chance to make the impact he wanted to make.  However, he also knew that he was not yet ready to start a business, so he created a masterclass for himself to prepare.  Since, in first forming the company, he needed to place special focus on learning the business and marketing side of things, his successful navigation of LinkedIn is just one testament to the effectiveness of his intentional training.

Even in the midst of the fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic (and many problems for businesses), AJ was confident in betting on himself and launching ByteChek.  And he’s confident in the future of the company, as well.  He invests himself in making compliance exciting for clients, and among his projections for the future of compliance, he even includes plans for a ByteChek Academy!  As the conversation reaches a close, AJ provides listeners with a final nugget of wisdom pertaining to the two most prominent themes of the conversation: betting on oneself and stepping into one’s personal power.  

 

1:35 - This episode features AJ Yawn!

2:53 - AJ and his hosts turn to background info and what AJ is doing today.

4:35 - This past week has been huge for AJ because of his company launch!

6:33 - Did AJ’s interest in cybersecurity start while he was in the Army?

8:49 - The group speaks of AJ’s family background, including the fact that he is one of nine kids!

10:00 - Has being in the middle of a big family and playing sports shaped AJ?

12:52 - AJ and his hosts consider ByteChek’s tagline.

15:21 - How does AJ focus so well?

17:18 - Why did he launch the company now, even in the midst of COVID-19?

21:21 - AJ created a masterclass for himself.

25:38 - How does AJ make compliance exciting?

29:39- AJ is asked about the future of compliance.

33:45 - What’s one nugget of wisdom AJ can offer concerning two main themes of the episode?

 

Links:

Connect with AJ on LinkedIn.

Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio.

Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon.

Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter.

Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter.

Learn more about ByteChek, and mention Hacker Valley Studio to receive a limited time offer!

Episode 105 - Striving for Impact with David Tsao

Episode 105 - Striving for Impact with David Tsao

November 18, 2020

In this episode of the Hacker Valley Studio podcast, hosts Ron and Chris interview longtime friend David Tsao.  David is a security advisor who leads security engineering at Marqeta, and he is an ever-innovating wealth of knowledge.  Ron and Chris ask David about his background, philosophy of leadership, and more! 

David took a nontraditional route into the security field, as he had a background in chemistry and pharma before breaking into the security community.  Ron and Chris ask David to explain various aspects of his experience, including decisions regarding when to buy or build things, how vendors may find problems to tackle, and his own founder’s journey as a team builder.  David’s story of team-building opens the door to conversation about his role as a leader in the field, and he tells Ron and Chris about his expectations about leadership and how they matched reality, strategies for assuring opportunity for team impact and giving individual employees opportunities, and what he looks for in his work of hiring employees.

Another major topic of conversation is David’s philosophy concerning the social commentary of the day.  More specifically, Ron and Chris wonder how he thinks about issues surrounding both diversity and inclusion and wealth and income gaps.  David explains his thoughts and desire to partner with others in work for change, and also shares the story of a past experience tasting social change and feeling like he made a difference.  Finally, David offers advice to listeners eager to make an impact on their own community, as well as listeners looking with a broad vision and wanting to bring change to the world. 

1:34 - This episode features David Tsao and starts with a look at his background.

3:48 - David handles questions of building vs. buying and operating as a vendor.

9:54 - The conversation turns to David’s founder’s journey.

13:26 - David is asked about his first step into leadership, including expectations and reality.

15:05 -David gets into some team strategies and ways to best serve individual employees. 

20:48 - What does David look for in hiring people new to the security field?

23:59 - Ron and Chris want to know David’s philosophy on social commentary going on now.

28:14 - They ask David to share a story about seeing and contributing to social change.

30:47 - Where should people who want to make a community impact start?

33:37 - What’s one piece of advice to listeners wanting to bring change in the world?

 

Links:

Connect with David on LinkedIn.

Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio.

Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon.

Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter.

Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter.

Learn more about ByteChek, and mention Hacker Valley Studio to receive a limited time offer!

Episode 104 - Analyzing the Enemy with Robin Black

Episode 104 - Analyzing the Enemy with Robin Black

November 11, 2020

In this episode of the Hacker Valley Studio podcast, hosts Ron and Chris provide a very special episode as they interview Robin Black.  Robin is a martial arts practitioner and commentator, and he is arguably the best martial arts analyst in the world.  He believes secrets to the universe lie in the sacred moments of combat - and that couldn’t be any more true in cyber security.  So what does cyber security have to do with martial arts and analysis?  Ron and Chris invite listeners into the conversation to find out!

As the conversation begins, Robin shares about his background, emphasizing the fact that he has the privilege of doing what he loves.  Robin’s work involves taking events and crafting a story in real time; the task is in many ways similar to that of cyber security, but as a general rule,  it requires more speed.  And so, Ron and Chris wonder, what is Robin’s mindset as an analyst?  Robin explains how he developed his interest and skill as an analyst, slowly building skill, sharpening his ability with language, and consciously deciding to go back to the roots of martial arts in his analysis rather than approaching the work as a television announcer typically would.  He is an art curator of violence, so to speak, and is committed to “nutrient rich” commentary. 

Moving forward in the conversation, Ron and Chris wonder about what advice Robin would offer to the “little guy.”  Using the example of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Robin explains the value of knowing more, having more knowledge, being able to change, and being confident.  Such strengths help the apparent underdog in both fighting and cyber security.  Much like they considered unhackability with previous guests, Ron and Chris also raise the notion of an unbeatable fighter, and Robin details the reasons why such a fighter is a myth.  Listeners will learn about such things as the cracks and flaws in fighting (which are located in the root of fighting - within belief systems), the workings and danger of muscle memory, how Robin dissects fighters, and how Robin thinks about cyber security!

 

1:45 - This special episode features Robin Black!

3:19 - The conversation first turns to Robin’s background and what he’s doing today.

5:31 - What is Robin’s mindset as an analyst?

11:21 - Ron and Chris wonder what advice Robin would give to the “little guy.”

14:02 - Is there such a thing as an unbeatable fighter?

17:17 - The episode turns to the flaws and cracks within fighting.

20:54 - What is the component of muscle memory, and what role does it play?

24:31 - Ron and Chris want to know how Robin dissects fighters.

33:24 - Does Robin have any questions about cyber security?

 

Links:

Follow Robin on Twitter, Instagram.

Follow Bellator MMA on Youtube.

Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio.

Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon.

Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter.

Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter.

Learn more about ByteChek, and mention Hacker Valley Studio to receive a limited time offer!

Episode 103 - Social Influence and Voting in Cyber with Kiersten Todd

Episode 103 - Social Influence and Voting in Cyber with Kiersten Todd

November 2, 2020

In this episode, our guest is Kiersten Todd, a cybersecurity innovator for small and medium sized businesses. Kiersten is also behind creating the legislation for Department of Homeland security. There are very few subjects that Kiersten doesn't have experience on in cybersecurity. She's also the managing director of the cyber readiness Institute. Chris and Ron had a great time speaking to Kiersten and she comes with a wealth of knowledge. 

 

The Cyber Readiness Institute 

Kiersten's LinkedIn

Email: ktodt@cyberreadinessinstitute.org 

Take our Free AttackIQ course and earn your badge here: www.hackervalley.com/easy

Get your free audiobook from Audible.com

Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio

Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon

Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter

 

Episode 102 - Tale of Three C’s Craig, Corey, and Cyvatar

Episode 102 - Tale of Three C’s Craig, Corey, and Cyvatar

October 28, 2020

In this one-of-a-kind episode of the Hacker Valley Studio podcast, hosts Ron and Chris interview two amazing founders who are disrupting the industry and bringing in unique perspectives.  They are Corey White and Craig Goodwin, the founders of Cyvatar, a cybersecurity-as-a-service startup.  The conversation centers on the business itself, Corey and Craig’s journey as founders, and more!

The conversation starts with Craig and Corey sharing a bit about their respective backgrounds.  Craig has been a CISO for about 20 years, having moved into that line of work after spending the previous years working for the government of the UK and in security services.  Corey has been in his current industry for about 25 years, and he details his work with companies such as Foundstone and Cylance that eventually led him to his present work.  Craig and Corey share an entrepreneurial spirit that they’ve each had since childhood, but they have complementary backgrounds that help them to work well together, with Corey approaching the company from an industry perspective, and Craig from a CISO perspective.

Corey and Craig talk with their hosts about Cyvatar.  They share about their first seed round, the gaining of their first customers, and their aim to be cyber avatars for their customers - putting customer needs first and taking a background role to make the customers look good.  Further, Corey and Craig discuss the way they navigate dynamics of team synergy and collaboration when they live on different sides of the world, address their decision to include services with their startup, explain their slogan and the terminology they’ve developed, and finally share lessons they’ve learned from their journey.

0:56 - This is a one-of-a-kind episode!

2:05 - The conversation turns to Corey and Craig’s respective backgrounds.

5:18 - What is the background of the company?

8:45 - The focus shifts to Craig and Corey’s complementary skills.

13:19 - How did Corey and Craig realize they had an entrepreneurial spirit?

17:06 - A team needs synergy and collaboration.

20:40 - Corey and Craig decided to include services with their startup.

24:57 - The two founders introduced new technology.

27:21 - Corey and Craig are asked about lessons they’ve learned.

 

Get your free audiobook from Audible.com

Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio

Connect with Cyvatar on LinkedIn.

Follow Cyvatar on Twitter.

Connect with Corey White on LinkedIn.

Follow Corey White on Twitter.

Connect with Craig Goodwin on LinkedIn.

Follow Craig Goodwin on Twitter.

Email Corey at corey@cyvatar.ai

Email Craig at craig@cyvatar.ai

Learn about Cyvatar’s recent seed round and press release.

Episode 101 - US CyberWeek With Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and Laura Robbins

Episode 101 - US CyberWeek With Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and Laura Robbins

October 22, 2020

The Daniel Initiative was kind enough to involve us in a special event for CyberWeek. We produced a live podcast session called "Our Space". Ron and Chris, from the award-winning podcast Hacker Valley Studio, interviewed Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY-9th) and Laura Cathcart Robbins from "The Only One in the Room Podcast".

Both interviews focused on representation, people of color in technology leadership, and occupying our place in society.

 

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke's Social

https://www.instagram.com/repyvetteclarke/
https://twitter.com/VoteYvette
https://www.linkedin.com/in/yvette-clarke-9b3aa810/

 

Laura Robbins' Social

https://theonlyonepod.com/
https://www.instagram.com/lauracathcartrobbins/
https://twitter.com/lauracrobbins?lang=en
https://twitter.com/TheOnlyOnePodc1

 

Get your free audiobook from Audible.com

Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio

Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon

Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter

Follow Ronald Eddings on Twitter

Follow Chris Cochran on Twitter

Episode 100 - A Very Special Episode

Episode 100 - A Very Special Episode

October 21, 2020

In this special 100th episode we dip into the Hacker Valley Studio vault to bring you never before heard content from some brilliant experts in their field. We will be releasing these episodes in their entirety on our Patreon page down below.

Travis McPeak

Rishi Bhargava

Simran S. Sakraney

Gary Berman

Josh Halbert

Nick Vigier

Davi Ottenheimer

Christina Morillo

Rafael Nunez

 

Get your free audiobook from Audible.com

Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio

Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon

Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter

Follow Ronald Eddings on Twitter

Follow Chris Cochran on Twitter

Episode 99 -  Securityweek’s 2020 CISO Forum: HVS Style

Episode 99 - Securityweek’s 2020 CISO Forum: HVS Style

October 12, 2020

In this special live recording of the Hacker Valley Studio podcast,  Chris and Ron are joined by Fredrick 'Flee' Lee, chief security officer at Gusto and an inspirational cybersecurity leader who is focused on making security "lovable" across the organization.

Securityweek’s CISO Forum is designed for senior level security leaders to discuss, share and learn innovative information security and risk management strategies. The forum addresses issues and challenges that are top of mind for today’s security leaders and what the future looks like as chief defenders of the enterprise.

The Hacker Valley Studio podcast explores the human element of cybersecurity programs and the inspirational stories and knowledge to elevate culture and quality of security programs.

 

Learn more about Securityweek’s CISO Forum

Follow Flee on Twitter

Get your free audiobook from Audible.com

Hacker Valley Red Finale - Marco Figueroa

Hacker Valley Red Finale - Marco Figueroa

October 6, 2020

This episode of the Hacker Valley Studio podcast concludes the Hacker Valley Red series.  In this finale, Ron and Chris interview their friend - and formerly their shared roommate - Marco Figueroa.  Marco is a security researcher and cybersecurity speaker, and he is also a bug bounty enthusiast.  He and the hosts constant improvement, bug bounty, and more, while also looking back at the conversations thus far in the season.

 

At the start of the conversation, Marco shares about his background and what he’s doing now.  He runs through the past 7-8 years of his career, ultimately arriving at his current transition to Sentinel.  Ron and Chris jump in to thank him for his contributions to their podcast, and to share with listeners about their friendship with Marco.  Moving forward, Marco talks about how he first got into the security community, and eventually found a niche in reverse-engineering malware.  He also involved himself in the bug bounty community, and in his various spheres of life, he is committed to building relationships and staying relevant.  Marco explains his system of scheduling calls, his practice of (and future plans for) content creation, and love of learning and feedback.

 

Throughout the conversation, Ron and Chris lead the conversation to cover a wide variety of topics.  They ask about the possibility of an unhackable device (which Marco denies), the mindset of a hacker, Marco’s philosophy in protection work, and the question of whether or not coding experience is needed for hacking.  The group looks back to former conversation about the hacker mindset (with Ted), about community (with Alex), and about social engineering (with Rachel).  In view of the whole season, the group considers two main takeaways: the value of mentorship and the need to put oneself out there and take a first shot.  Marco shares a lot from his own experience, and makes sure listeners know to press on and trust the process.

 

-The episode features Marco Figueroa, and listeners are introduced to the content ahead.

-What is Marco’s background, and what is he doing now?

-Is there such a thing as an unhackable device?

-The group talks about Marco’s philosophy in his protection work, the place of social engineering, and the value of building relationships.

-What is the hacker mindset, and do you need coding experience to be a good hacker?

-If interested in the red side of the field, what should someone do first?

-Marco shares about what he sees on the horizon.

-The group considers two major season takeaways: the value of mentorship and the need to put yourself out there and take the first shot.

-Where is Marco planning to take his contact creation from here?

 

Links:

Connect with Marco Figueroa on Twitter

Connect with Marco on LinkedIn

Follow Marco’s Livestream

Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio

Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon

Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter

Follow Ronald Eddings on Twitter

Follow Chris Cochran on Twitter

Learn more about the season sponsor, RiskIQ

Hacker Valley Red Episode 7 - Maurice Ashley

Hacker Valley Red Episode 7 - Maurice Ashley

October 6, 2020

This episode of Hacker Valley Studio podcast’s Hacker Valley Red Series features guest Maurice Ashley, a chess grandmaster and author of Chess for Success. Maurice is a chess guru and has been playing it ever since his high school years. He is currently involved in commentating for chess events, teaching chess, and training national chess champions. In this episode, Maurice and the hosts talk about Maurice’s chess journey along with some parallels between chess and cyber security.

The hosts, Ron and Chris, start off the interview by pointing out one parallel between chess and cybersecurity: the art of training. Maurice responds by sharing about the rigorous training of chess, and of the different strategies and techniques that must be learned. He also takes some time to explain his own journey with training in chess and how it progressed through the years. In high school, he started playing with his brother, and then moved to playing in more formal settings with more challenging opponents. This eventually led to earning the title of chess grandmaster. Being the first black male to receive the Chess Grandmaster title, Maurice speaks on how this accomplishment inspired others to reach for their goals.

Circling back to the parallels between chess and cyber security, Maurice touches on the importance of practicing for performance. This means knowing your opponent, studying their strategies, and using their energy against them. Chris and Ron highlight how this parallels with cyber security in knowing how to approach the opponent. They then ask Maurice about his thoughts on an unbeatable chess player and how it relates to an unhackable system. Maurice responds by explaining that in the game if chess with its millions of possible outcomes, having an unbeatable player is impossible. Additionally, He emphasizes how this truth relates to cyber security. Rather than focusing on being unbeatable, Maurice encourages focus to be spent on readiness which is acquired through practice. In cyber security, Chris and Ron explain how readiness means having the ability to respond automatically to situations. They ask Maurice about blitz and bullet chess and how it relates to this kind of practice. According to Maurice, blitz and bullet chess rely heavily on instinct and experience.

The conversation ends as the hosts ask Maurice to share some tips for people interested in learning chess. Maurice encourages people interested in chess to download his new app, Learn Chess with Maurice Ashley, where he provides lessons on chess. He closes by encouraging others to reach for the greatness inside them. According to Maurice, greatness is defined as having the right mindset, doing the hard work, making the sacrifices, and learning through the process. This is the greatness that will be reflected in the end goal.

2:49 - Maurice introduces himself

6:46 - Maurice’s journey of becoming a grandmaster

9:20 - The impact of Exposure

11:07 - Maurice tells of the significance of being the first black male to earn the title of Chess Grandmaster.

15:00 - Maurice tells of the influence of his family in earning the title of Chess Grandmaster.

17:58 - Maurice speaks on practicing for performance and how it relates to cyber security.

22:00 -The parallels between an unbeatable chess player and an unhackable system

25:18 - Maurice explains blitz and bullet chess and how it relates to cyber security.

33:25 - Maurice gives some tips on how to get started playing chess.

37:04 - Maurice gives advice on how to reach greatness.

 

Links:

To learn more about Maurice Ashley, visit https://mauriceashley.com

Follow Maurice Ashley on Twitter and Instagram

Learn more about Maurice Ashley’s book Chess for Success and his app Learn Chess with Maurice Ashley

Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio

Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon

Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter

Follow Ronald Eddings on Twitter

Follow Chris Cochran on Twitter

Learn more about the season sponsor, RiskIQ