The Smartest Person in the Room: The Root Cause and New Solution for Cybersecurity is the number 1 bestseller from Christian Espinosa, an expert in leadership and cybersecurity who brings these skills together to help companies face new threats in the digital world and use their available resources, human and otherwise, in the best way possible.
The book focuses on a 7-step process that is meant to awaken leadership and life skills and create the best possible solutions for each company. It tackles a variety of topics that make it helpful for anyone looking for IT, cybersecurity, business, and life help, with something for any reader.
Espinosa is not afraid to tackle hard-hitting topics and challenge the common assumptions existing in the field of cybersecurity, such as the need to hire inexperienced staff to tackle the subject for the company, when other better solutions might be available to protect the company's information.
The idea of a cyberattack is frightening, as it always has the possibility of devastating consequences for a company and, as such, inspires business owners and executives to try and find the best and brightest to do the protection for them. But this often means that the CEOs themselves don't understand the topic and don't dig into the situation. Is hiring someone with good credentials truly enough? What are the risks? What are the best options for this specific company?
Espinosa explores how to use the smartest members of the staff to create the best benefits and win-win scenarios, considering how to embrace true leadership and intelligence, as well as skills. The book draws from Christian's own journey from cybersecurity engineer to company CEO.
Espinosa describes his seven-step methodology to achieving the best possible results and developing each team's technical expertise and ability to help each member become stronger in their leadership skills and soft skills, as well as their ability to face and deal with cyber threats that can impact the individuals and the companies. This book offers a practical guide rooted in expertise and real-life stories that allow companies to turn things around and turn their weaknesses into their strengths.
The book is a must-read for team leaders and company executives who are interested in the topics of cybersecurity and leadership, in particular, those who recognize the need to develop their teams' unique skills and strengths and those who want to gain a more in-depth understanding of the subject and find solutions closer to home. The book offers a novel approach and perspective on the topic of cybersecurity and how it connects in unexpected ways to the topic of team development and leadership, offering solutions through a seven-step method that can be applied in many companies. As a great read for leaders, it is a book that should be considered by individuals and companies who want to take their digital security to the next level.
You can find The Smartest Person in the Room: The Root Cause and New Solution for Cybersecurity on Amazon. Get it on Kindle and as a paperback, hardcover, or audiobook.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Christian Espinosa. Here are the excerpts from the Interview.
Hi Christian, Great to have you with us today! Please tell us about what it is that you do.
I've worked in cybersecurity and leadership for nearly 30 years, from the beginning of my career as a communication and computer officer in the United States Air Force through my recent role as an entrepreneur, business owner, and CEO with my former company, Alpine Security (now owned by Cerberus Sentinel). I currently work as a Managing Director with Cerberus Sentinel and mainly focus on cybersecurity sales and solutions. My main passion is bringing back emotional intelligence to cybersecurity, which has systemic problems with high IQ/low EQ staff. Intellectual bullying, posturing, and poor communication and collaboration manifest when people get their significance from being “smarter” than others and lack emotional intelligence.
Please tell us more about your journey.
I've come full circle on my journey. I used to be similar to Doug, one of the main characters in my book “The Smartest Person in the Room.” Doug was the old me, driven by significance. My significance came from knowing better than everyone and being intellectually superior to everyone. This mindset got me far in my career, but I hit a glass ceiling. I was actually at a glass ceiling for a long time and just didn't realize it – that's why they call it a glass ceiling.
When your identity is about being more intelligent than everyone, it's challenging to work with others, communicate well, and have meaningful relationships. When I ran my own company, Alpine Security, some of my staff were like the old me – always trying to be smarter than everyone else. The mindset of “I know better” and “I'm smarter than you” caused many issues in my cybersecurity company. Over 90% of the challenges I experienced in my company were related to a lack of people skills, not a lack of technical skills. In the cybersecurity industry, the only abilities valued are technical. The industry has created a high IQ/low EQ monster, and we've tolerated it. I'm a believer that you get what you tolerate. This high IQ/low EQ monster we've created in cybersecurity is why we are losing the cyberwar. When most cybersecurity professionals only value being smarter than others, communicating effectively or collaborating well is nearly impossible.
When I connected the dots looking backward, I realized that the high IQ/low EQ challenge was a common theme over my 30-year cybersecurity career. With this newfound insight, I knew I needed to shift and help my industry by bringing back emotional intelligence to raise EQ. I believe a higher EQ combined with a high IQ is the key to unlocking someone's true potential, happiness, and fulfillment. More emotional intelligence in the cybersecurity industry is also the secret to winning the cyberwar.
Please tell us about your book, The Smartest Person in the Room.
“The Smartest Person in the Room” is about my journey as an entrepreneur with my cybersecurity business Alpine Security. As an owner and CEO of my business, I had a unique perspective of the challenges associated with high IQ/low EQ staff. Most of the problems I encountered in my company were due to a lack of people skills, not a lack of technical skills. The cybersecurity industry almost exclusively values technical skills above all else. This acceptance and tolerance of high IQ/low EQ staff have created a culture of intellectual bullying, posturing, and poor communication. We even make fun of IT and cybersecurity people on television. The reality is this lack of people skills is why we are losing the cyberwar. I experienced this firsthand with my company when my best engineers would tell me things like “the client just doesn't get it”, meaning my engineer spoke over the client's head and blamed the client for not understanding technical jargon. This issue stems from the need for people in my industry to be significant by being “smarter” than everyone.
What are the strategies that helped you become successful in your journey?
I'll hit three main strategies that helped me become successful. The first one is to embrace discomfort. All my growth has come from doing “that's not me” things. We get the same results if we continue doing what we always do. Many of us resist changing or shifting our identity and wonder why we can't break through a glass ceiling. We have to become more to attract more. Growth is the key. You need to be comfortable being uncomfortable and letting go of the status quo to grow.
The second strategy is “life is meaningless.” We are 100% in control of the meanings we attach to an experience. These meanings can either serve us or hold us back. Many of us attach a story (meaning) to an experience from the past, then use this story as justification for why we are not where we want to be in life. We have the power to change the story to one that empowers us instead of one that shackles us. I had a challenging childhood filled with poverty, chaos, and a drug-addicted single mother. I used to have tons of resentment and blame my mother for my bitterness and lack of faith in humanity. After I realized I owned the meanings I attached to my experiences; I shifted the meaning of my childhood to one that empowered me. My childhood gave me the drive to get out of that environment, and I probably wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't have the kind of childhood I did.
The third strategy is monotasking. You must block out time on your calendar to work on the things that matter to you. Otherwise, you will end up being the supporting actor in someone else's life, rather than the star of your own. During a block of time, you 100% focus on the item you are working on. The 100% focus means turning off email, instant messages, and everything else. You will be much more productive if you concentrate on one task instead of trying the ineffective and antiquated “multitasking”. Multitasking will keep you busy, but you won't be productive. Monotasking also improves your relationships and makes you a better communicator. You are present when you monotask during a meeting or at dinner with a loved one. This presence makes the other person feel you care and appreciate them. We often only half pay attention to people, making our relationships shallow.
Any message for our readers.
The intention of my book, “The Smartest Person in the Room,” is to help you dissolve your ego and break through your glass ceiling (what's holding you back from achieving what you want in life). I simplify this process with a 7-Step Secure Methodology. This methodology results from over five years of trial and error with my team at Alpine Security – it is a battle-tested process. I think knowledge without application is useless, so everything in the book is based on application. The exercises and activities help you apply the concepts covered in the book.
Fantastic! So tell us, how can people find out more about you?
Thank you so much, Christian, for giving us your precious time! We wish you all the best for your journey ahead!