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Balancing IQ and EQ with Christian Espinosa

George Grombacher January 20, 2023

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Balancing IQ and EQ with Christian Espinosa

LifeBlood: We talked about balancing IQ and EQ, how to remove ego in service of collaboration, how this fits into the world of cybersecurity, the role of core values in a company, breaking through glass ceilings, and how to get started with Christian Espinosa, entrepreneur, veteran, cybersecurity expert and author.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Christian Espinosa

Episode Transcript

Well this is Georgie and the time is right welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Christian Espinosa. Christian. Are you ready to do this? Yep, let’s go. Let’s go. Christian is a veteran. He is a speaker and expert in cybersecurity and EQ his newest book is smartest person in the room. root cause and new solution for cybersecurity. Christian excited to have you on tough love about your personal lives more about your work, why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:45
A little bit about my personal life. I like adventure. I like things with waivers. Basically, if you have to sign a waiver that you might die or lose a limb. I’m sort of attracted to it like mountaineering and skydiving, Ironman Triathlon, I like to travel. I bought a couple old used RVs and I’m living in one of them. Right now north of Phoenix area, and we started another another one. It’s a 1974 Winnebago. So you know, it’s a bit of an adventure. I had some blood clots in February, my left leg which kind of sidelined me for a while, nearly died from that. And as sort of forced me to reevaluate my life a little bit.

Unknown Speaker 1:21
But I’m working to get back into Ironman Triathlon, I have a couple of scheduled next year, some sort of slowly recovering for those blood clots.

Unknown Speaker 1:30
Professionally, I sold my cybersecurity business Alpine security in December 2020. And I exited the parent company in June of this year. And right now, I’m focused on a few things. One of them is my new book, that I’m doing revisions for right now a TED talk, real estate investing and then launching a brand new cybersecurity company in January, I plan on hitting that pretty hard. And I do what I do to really increase people’s awareness to give them some tools to make that awareness actionable. So they can remove the glass ceiling that’s holding them back and achieve more live a better life. Well, certainly appreciate all that. Blood clots. How does that present?

Unknown Speaker 2:15
Yeah, it’s interesting. I flew back from Phoenix to St. Louis. I live in St. Louis at the time, and I did some burpees. And so core work worked out and then my left

Unknown Speaker 2:28
leg started hurting. I thought maybe I just pulled a muscle. So like right behind my knee, like my upper calf muscle. And then I noticed I was having like trouble breathing walking up the stairs, and I’m usually in pretty good shape. And I was talking to a friend of mine, and they’re like, he probably have blood clots. You should go to the hospital. I’m like, I have blood clots. I’m a I’m an Ironman athlete. I don’t, you know, I don’t have health issues. But she, you know, coaxed me into going the hospital. I went. And I didn’t just have one, add six to my left leg, which was pretty devastating news. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 3:02

Unknown Speaker 3:04
Yeah. Super scary. Thanks to your friend for suggesting that you go to the hospital? So a lot of like hospital? No, no, for sure. Even though somebody that has an affinity for signing waivers. It’s kind of a, you would think that maybe you’d be comfortable there. So I have ended up in a few of them. Because, yes, yeah. It’s an unfortunate byproduct probably. So. Right on. So cybersecurity, I don’t know that. And this is probably the reason for your book that when I think about cybersecurity, I don’t think a lot about EQ. So how does, how does that connect?

Unknown Speaker 3:45
And the cybersecurity industry, there’s a lot of really smart people rationally intelligent or high IQ. And everybody wants to be significant. They want to feel significant. And I think most people in cybersecurity, get their significance by being quote, smarter than other people talking over their head, you know, having all this jargon that nobody understands. And I believe that the lack of emotional intelligence and cybersecurity and in other industries, it’s not just cybersecurity is holding the industry back. Because if you’re always trying to be smarter than somebody, it doesn’t make for good collaboration or good communication.

Unknown Speaker 4:25
Yeah, that’s a and the result is is probably a lot of risk to organizations. That’s a terrible, terrible combination. Obviously, it’s good to be a smart person. And we all do desire to be significant and to be viewed as as an expert in our field. But when that leads us to be more ego driven, or maybe we’re just not thinking about it, that probably

Unknown Speaker 4:49
causes risk.

Unknown Speaker 4:51
Yeah, exactly.

Unknown Speaker 4:54
And when we’re talking about cybersecurity, these are these are probably big, big, big risks.

Unknown Speaker 5:01
Yeah, if your team can’t collaborate well together, then the hacker might be able to find a way in because your team is too busy trying to prove one person smarter than the other one versus collaborating in in functioning better as a team to prevent the hackers from getting into an environment.

Unknown Speaker 5:20

Unknown Speaker 5:24
that is,

Unknown Speaker 5:26
what now seems to me like a pretty obvious problem, because I’ve certainly been around these kinds of people, people who are listening to that go, yep, yep, that’s, that’s this person within our organization, or I’ve worked with people in doubt in the past? It’s not an easy way, it’s not an easy thing to make that shift or, or, or is it? How does that shift happen?

Unknown Speaker 5:49
I think it’s, it’s a simple thing to make the shift. But it’s not easy. Like you said, there’s plenty of resources out there on how to improve your people skills, and raise your emotional intelligence, I think the challenge is that we have sort of tolerated this behavior for so long, that we’ve made it acceptable we’ve been having on TV shows to make fun of this stuff. And I’m a believer that you get what you tolerate. So if you tolerate in your organization, or industry, that we have these super smart people that can’t get along with anybody. And that’s just the way it is. That’s the way it’s always going to be. So there has to be a little bit of pressure for the organization. But there also has to be some internal drive from the individual to realize, like, you know, I’m super smart, but I’m actually being held beneath this glass ceiling and I, you know, get can’t see it, that’s why it’s called a glass ceiling. Because if I had these people skills, then maybe I would get promoted, like so and so just got promoted, that isn’t as technically as smart as me. So these needs to come from both the inside and the external, a little bit of external pressure as well, I believe in and that’s up to the company. And that’s what I did with my company is I really worked hard to fix the culture, and establish a culture in my company.

Unknown Speaker 7:06
So when we talk about establishing a culture, what, what are the variables that that need to be present? So assuming that everybody working in cybersecurity is probably has the intelligence that’s required to do the actual work? And then talking about EQ? What are some of the other things that need to be there for somebody to grab a hold of this?

Unknown Speaker 7:29
Yeah, so from a culture perspective, what I did is establish core values, I realized most of the problems that I had in my company were because people didn’t believe the same things I believed. And I used to think before I had my own company, that core values were like a bunch of BS. So it’s just something companies put on a wall, but nobody follow them. But when I have my own organization and start from a different lens, I realized that if that the problems I have are because people aren’t aligned with what I believe, so I need to establish these core values. And then I made hiring decisions, not based on someone’s technical ability or their skill set, but based on do they align with my core values? And do they have the appropriate people skills? And only if they meet those things? Will I look at their technical skills?

Unknown Speaker 8:20
That makes sense? And of course, the core values? Yeah, it’s also it’s not something that organically just works, you have to constantly remind people and enforce the core values as well to change behavior. Yeah, hoping, hoping that, that people are just going to figure it out, it’s going to work out great, probably not a great strategy.

Unknown Speaker 8:40
Hope is never a great strategy.

Unknown Speaker 8:43
And that’s one of my favorite, you get what you tolerate. That’s, that’s one of my favorite ideas or quotes or truisms.

Unknown Speaker 8:51
Because that just that’s, that’s how that works out. And so, and I same as you like, oh, core values, that’s that’s BS. It’s just, you know, it’s just a nice thing. It’s talking points. But when in reality, it’s one of the most essential tools that an organization can have on the selection end when you’re making hiring decisions to make sure that you’re making good choices. And do you find did you find that folks that were in existence, like already there before you enrolled or put your values in place that they selected out? Or that they came on board with it? How was that evolution?

Unknown Speaker 9:31
It was, it was tough.

Unknown Speaker 9:34
I had a couple people opt out, quit and I had to let a couple other people go basically and sort of reestablish from a few, quite a few people stayed and they already met the core values. They understood why I value why those are important. But I sort of had to rebuild the team around the core values because some people just some people want more but they’re not willing to make the change, you know, and that’s

Unknown Speaker 10:00
One of the things I talk about my book, there’s a guy I used to work with, as I thought about bringing him on as a partner. But he did not want to develop people skills. And he seriously defended his identity of not having people skills, which meant he wasn’t going to change it. So it wasn’t a good fit.

Unknown Speaker 10:17
So this individual was proud of the fact that I don’t bother with that junk.

Unknown Speaker 10:27
He was proud of the fact but he’s also the I think a lot of us do this, we think this is just who I am. This is my identity. And when someone confronts your identity, he asked you to change it, because he said, So you asked me to change who I am. I said, if you want to be a leader, this company, absolutely, I’m asking you to change who you are. Because the way you currently talking down to everybody, and pissing off clients and teammates, is it the right skill set for a leader? And he said, Well, I don’t, I’m not going to change my identity. I’m not gonna change who I am. That’s just who I am. And I think a lot of us defend who we are at our own expense of progressing in life.

Unknown Speaker 11:07
Yeah, yeah, I think that that’s true.

Unknown Speaker 11:10

Unknown Speaker 11:12
the opportunity is that we have these blind spots, the example used is this glass ceiling that we’re running up against. So we’re banging our head on without realizing it. And sometimes you’re going to run into contributors, like you’re talking about just a second ago, that was my identity, this is who I am, I’m not interested in changing. But presenting that vision of when we put all these variables together, it’s going to make us as an organization way better. And it’s going to help the companies that we serve way better. That’s, is that what you’re driving at?

Unknown Speaker 11:50
Yeah, absolutely, it helps the individual. Because a lot of people want to defend that they don’t need people skills, they just need technical skills. And I typically, you know, will counter that a little bit and say, Well, if you learn people skills, which have an infinite shelf life versus technical skills, have a finite shelf life, that will help you in all aspects of your life, because you probably have parents, you probably have a spouse, you probably have children. So these skills, we’re talking about learning will enhance your overall life, not just your professional life. And in that individual improves those skills. And I think the industry as a whole will improve as well. Because industries are made up of individuals. And this is a problem across other industries as well. And I think today in our world where we’re more disconnected, people don’t talk face to face hardly ever. A lot of people don’t even put themselves on video on Zoom calls. I think that people skills is becoming a pandemic of its own in some regard, lack of people skills.

Unknown Speaker 12:54
It’s, there are people out there lots who are more introverted, who doesn’t come naturally, that they’re not necessarily comfortable.

Unknown Speaker 13:05

Unknown Speaker 13:07
having casual interactions. So

Unknown Speaker 13:12
how do you approach training for somebody who says, You know what, Christian, I’m open to this, but I just have no idea.

Unknown Speaker 13:23
I think number one is they have to have the embrace that growth mindset, which basically says my traits are malleable, my brain is not just hardwired for one specific way of thinking or one way of feeling or one way of taking action. So once they embrace that, and and you can give them enough reasons to want to make the change, like I said, improving their career making more money, if that’s your motivator, because if you know, if you’re if you’re a good communicator, in cybersecurity, and you have the technical skills, and your teammates, like you, for instance, you’re gonna make a lot more money than just somebody that’s just really good hands on keyboard in the closet. So if you can give people enough reasons to make the change, and they can adapt that growth mindset.

Unknown Speaker 14:10
And in my book, I talked about seven steps, seven step methodology, kind of walk them through a systematic approach to improving in this area. I think people can make the shift.

Unknown Speaker 14:25
Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s a it’s fascinating.

Unknown Speaker 14:30
always fascinating to watch people who are willing to embrace difficult change. And then once they have that methodology, or steps in some kind of a process, you do this, then you’re gonna do this, and this is the result you’re gonna get.

Unknown Speaker 14:45
I think that that’s the that’s, that’s that’s a really exciting thing.

Unknown Speaker 14:50
And for the folks who aren’t, well, then maybe it’s a D selection process, so probably not going to be a fit here.

Unknown Speaker 14:57
Right. And I would say

Unknown Speaker 15:00
that I am an introvert probably by nature, I like to be alone a lot.

Unknown Speaker 15:06
And it took me a while to learn these skills and to realize that I, you know, I used to want to be the smartest person in the room as well. And what I had to get used to was being uncomfortable and sitting in that uncomfortableness for a while. And I think that force you to grow. So if you’re not good at small talk, you have to practice it, just like a skill on the computer, you have to walk up to somebody, start a conversation is gonna be uncomfortable. And you got to sit with the discomfort for a while, but that’s where when really growth comes. So it requires practice. It’s not just like, there’s a switch, you flip it all sudden, you’re great with people.

Unknown Speaker 15:47
Yeah, 100% it’s gonna, I mean, incremental change, for sure. I mean, it’s true of

Unknown Speaker 15:55
completing an Ironman or moving from being somebody who doesn’t consider myself to be a people person. Or maybe I’ve never thought about what EQ is to all of a sudden I’m comfortable.

Unknown Speaker 16:07
Being more patient with with people and and explain my thinking and involving them in it as well and moving together versus me just sort of lecturing or giving orders because I’m the smartest person.

Unknown Speaker 16:24

Unknown Speaker 16:25

Unknown Speaker 16:27
I love it. Easier said than done. Or

Unknown Speaker 16:30
it’s, it’s hard. It’s easy, but hard to do. That’s, that’s probably the right way to look at it.

Unknown Speaker 16:37
Yes, a lot of things are hard to do with their easy, you just have to have the right motivation that takes steps to do them.

Unknown Speaker 16:46
I love it. So the new company that’s that’s that’s, that’s, that’s exciting as an entrepreneur, are you you’re, you’re ready to get back into it.

Unknown Speaker 16:57
I am, I have been doing real estate investing primarily this year, the past six months, I’ve got quite a few properties are renting out a property management company. Then my next cybersecurity company, I’ve got it formed, but I’m really launching it. January will be focused on on healthcare, the healthcare industry and doing security risk assessments for them as well as medical device penetration testing and web application penetration penetration testing doesn’t mean areas. Yeah, but those are, those are good ones to focus on. I have to imagine, or probably always have been but moving into the future. Certainly. So what’s super exciting. Kristin, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? What’s the best way to engage? And where can they get a copy of the smartest person in the room, the root cause and new solution for cybersecurity?

Unknown Speaker 17:49
Then go to my website, it’s Christian as to learn more about me. I’m also on all social media. My book is available on Amazon. And it’s also on Audible if you’d like to listen to books like I do. Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did, show Christian Christian, your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, go to Christian CHR pick up your copy of the smartest person in the room on Amazon. And listen as well on Audible and find Christian on social media. I’ll list all those in the notes of the show. Thanks. Good Christian.

Unknown Speaker 18:33
Yeah, thanks, George. Appreciate it. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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