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Don't Get Bogged Down in the Jargon

Kerry Guard • Tuesday, March 28, 2023 • 57 minutes to listen

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Justin Brock

I currently handle Demand Generation, where I’m responsible for the growth of high-intent pipeline and digital strategy. For the past 18 years, I contributed to the 23% average YoY growth of a small startup, enabling it to become a recognized market leader with annual revenues exceeding $200M. Bomgar was acquired in 2014 by TA Associates, then two years later by Thoma Bravo, and then by Francisco Partners in 2018. Next, we acquired and integrated three leading cybersecurity companies - Avecto, Lieberman Software, and BeyondTrust (whose brand we adopted). I have been the primary architect of our demand generation engine, initially as an individual contributor and since as a leader. Through my consulting work, I help B2B SaaS companies systematize pipeline, accelerate growth, and lower customer acquisition costs.


Hello, I'm Kerry Guard and welcome to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders.

A lot of people, especially in our market, we're in privileged access management. They don't know that. So some of the marketing needs to be educating people about the problem.

This week, I have Justin Brock, join me. I love Justin store. I can't wait for y'all to hear it, because it's not your typical marketer journey. He's actually a school teacher, seriously, for real. And he made this big leap into marketing. And it's this really beautiful story, he tells him how he got there. Because he was a teacher, he approaches marketing in a very different way, in a very educational way, which lends itself beautifully to content. And so that's where we sit in our conversation today, we really unpack what it means to be human in the way that we show up for our audience, both through the way we write, and the way we show our products and what they do. And Justin just tells us an amazing storyteller. And it's just story after story of how he's been able to do this, and how he's broken down barriers of us needing to feel so corporate and dry and, and professional. Just be real. And from the stories he tells me to hear the one about the robot so good. It's so good. Before we get into the show, a little bit about Justin Brock. Justin is a b2b SaaS marketing leader. He's currently at a company called coro cybersecurity. He just started there as he was at his previous company for since he was there for four years. As they got acquired so he's actually been at beyond trust was his previous company. And he was there for like 10 years. Really beautiful of why he boomerangs back. And what was really empowering for him and being there and being creative. And now he's at he's just been there for two months. He's at a company called Koro. And I can't wait to touch base with him and hear all about I think it's so excited for him so excited for him. Justin Brock, y'all he is a demand generation marketer where he's responsible for the growth of high intent pipeline and digital strategy for the past 18 years has contributed to the 23% average year four year growth of the smell startup enabling it to become recognised market leader with annual revenues exceeding 200 million. Bomb gar was acquired in 2014 by TA associates, then two years later by Thoma Bravo, and then by the Francisco partners in 2018. Next day acquired and integrated three leading cybersecurity companies have vecto Lieberman Software and beyond trust, who is who primarily and then they've adopted the beyond trust brand and named. So that's why you see on trust, they're on his resume. He's been the primary architect of the demand gen engine, initially as an individual contributor, and since as a leader, through his consulting work, he helps b2b SaaS companies systematise pipeline accelerate growth, and lower customer acquisition costs, all the dreams of a great marketing department. I love this conversation so much. So I'm gonna get out of your way and let y'all get to it. Here's my conversation with Justin Brock.


Kerry: Hi, Justin, thank you for joining me on Tea Time with tech marketing leaders.

Justin: Hi, Kerry. So glad to be here.

Kerry: So excited to have you before we jump into the heart of our conversation. Tell me your story. What do you do? And how did you get there?

Justin: Huh? Yeah. So maybe the How did I get here would be where I should start. So roughly is almost 18 years ago. I was a school teacher. Yep. And in the summers, I was doing ESL classes and GED classes and I was painting houses. And we had we had just had our first child and he was in the NICU for a week. And the bill for my Nikki a week in the NICU was more than my whole salary for the year. And at the end of that school year, my wife and I were looking at each other like I don't think I can keep teaching. And so I quit. And that's why the summer was me house painting and GED and ESL. And at one point, I wrote a friend and said he had that started this little startup in Mississippi. And I wrote him out and said, hey, could I get some advice? I think I'd like to get into tech. And he said, Yeah, sure, come on, in. I show up. And it's an interview. I'm now learning just no warning, just like they're interviewing me. The guy, the founders taking me around and showing me all the, all the things and all the people I missed. There were 15 other people, but it was so it wasn't much of a tour. But it was just like, we went outside. And here's the picnic table. If we make our number, we get pizza on Fridays, and like, stuff like that, you know. And that was almost 18 years ago, and I'm still here. The company became Bom, gar. And then we got shoot, we got acquired three times in four years. So in 2014, we got acquired then two years later again, then two years later, again, the the owners had these four year trajectories, right. And we we met, we met them in two years, what they wanted to hit and, and then after that third time, we went out and acquired three companies. One of them was beyond trust, and we took that brand. So now I'm at beyond trust. But it's for me, there's a lot of continuity from when I started my role, there's really, gosh, I do demand gen. So I've had a really, I don't know if you've ever worked at a startup, but I worked with startups. So with startups. Yeah. So you're familiar with this? Yeah. Early days, it was like, I was the marketing team. And I had like four bosses. You know how to like. So I have all these firsts that I can claim. Like I wrote our first user guide. I built the logic for our first pricing. One like checkout. This is I was an English teacher. And this is right, like, you know. You like figuring it out.

Yeah. And yeah, I came in, I knew Hotmail I had I had a Hotmail account. got started. I knew WordPerfect that was it. That was my word. Perfect. Yes, it was much better than word a long time ago.

The management, so all of the all the advertising, we do online, all of our content, marketing and SEO, all the webinars and yeah, that's, that's my team.

Kerry: So it's amazing how you've, I use this word. But and I don't know that it's the right word. And you're the wordsmith. So you tell me, but you've essentially survived. All of this.

Justin: Survived is good. That's a very good word. Because normally when they're when companies get bought, there's a lot of turmoil that happens. So to do that three times, yeah. And then phase them in by all the company and then by all the companies is pretty magical, that you're still there. That's a really good. That's true. Like you anytime that's happened, and that was like six years of straight anxiety right? There before all that happened, like, that was around 2011, I left the company. I had gotten, we had a marketing leader that was like, I need a specialist in every place. And I don't know what to do with you. You're kind of a generalist. So you could we could get you a job at a startup somewhere else, or you could work in tech comm. So I did a stint in tech COMM And then I left. I'm not the person like I don't I don't need to be running an agency or being on my own. Honestly, that was not a great experience. But I came back because they fired all of those marketing leaders. And me and another guy who had left and actually three of us had left. They brought us back and said we need what y'all were doing because we flatlined, the growth flatlined. And so they brought us back and a year, two years later when we sold because we we went back to what we had been doing is it's so interesting. I think up until that point, it had been like, I'm an English teacher, I don't know what I'm doing. Two big shifts, I'm in Mississippi, this is not the tech capital of the world. Right? And all these people are from, I don't know, San Francisco and San Jose. And you know, we're, we're dealing with online marketing people.

Right. But San Francisco is a whole different. The East, the West Coast in general, is a whole different ballgame. You're working with Yeah, different mindset.

Like, you know, we don't know the terminology. Because we didn't grow up in this, like we don't. But we know what we're doing. And every time we got bought, the, the the venture capital companies that were were buying us, were saying Don't Don't, don't touch the Digital Marketing Group is fascinating, because that's always really great.

Yeah, because you feel like we're all replaceable, right? Because everybody does Google ads and SEO and stuff. But none of them were like, don't break that. And so our group stayed really consistent for those six years, and then even through the big. And the change ever, we just added, we added some people, and they've been maybe we can talk about my team later. But we've got a really great team. And a lot of them were from those different companies that we bought. But yeah, even this year, Gartner did a report on on us, and one of the things like they call out here, four strengths. And here are four weaknesses. When they got to be on trust, one of the things they called out was our what our group does, there was like, they've got a really good online marketing thing going on, you know, it was kind of like, it was validating, I guess, to have well, to have, like, stuck through it. But yeah, I'm not gonna lie. It was it was very, there was a lot of anxiety those years. I bet for sure. I'm curious. It's like your people, feet, friends, you know, it's kind of like the what's happening now. All these tech companies just this kind of been a bloodbath of people getting laid off. And I mean, there's a tonne of talent out there. Now watch. It's hard to watch. But you kind of feel that when you're going through an acquisition, right? Like, you've been made redundant. And my next Yeah, my next. Yes, yeah.

So I need to know, because they brought you back in and said, We flatline and we need you to come back and do what you're doing. And then you were bought again, and they were like, don't break whatever it is that you've been doing. Well, what were you doing that was that was working? So well was? Was it a? Was it one specific thing? Or was it a combination of things? What would you say hope, you know, from a high level? What was it about your marketing approach that that was? So working so well, to the point where they literally brought you back and told everybody to not break it when they?

Justin: Well, I think a big part of it was just some of the tactics like tactics and strategies we had. We had a big, a pretty robust inbound thing going on. SEO for us, is huge. We, we spend millions on ads every year, but 40% of our traffic and more than that, of our leads come through organic so I think that was a big piece of it. Another big piece, I think, too, was we the we were not corporate that whole kind of what's the word that Vince Vaughn did this photoshoot one time to get stock photos of corporate America corporate people you know, I'm talking about

Yeah, sounds familiar for everybody in the suits sitting around the tables and all that stuff.

Justin: Yeah, we I think part of the thing was this intangible tone. We really knew and understood the people that bought us and we would talk their language like for instance, we know we one of the things we want to talk about was like, how do you make marketing more human and we I remember one example that just kind of came up, I went through when when I got brought back we I was like, we need to redesign the site. It sucks. It was so Sunday, SPX system and it was very difficult to change. And so it was one of those like, it felt like a brochure site, you know, yeah. Where you just, it doesn't change much you just publish it and nobody. So we moved to a different system. And we were doing a redesign. And then the redesign. I don't know why they let me do this. But I went through all these royalty free, old black and white photos. And those became the photography for our site. And like one of them. And I use them to talk about product features, and capabilities. So So for instance, we have what's one feature in one of our product that was, I guess, scripts? Right? You write a script, and then the script goes out and does all the stuff for you? Well, for that I got a picture. It was like, The Lost in Space Robot.

You know, it's fantastic. Yes. And that was kind of the banner image. And the the page title was, Can scripts or something like that. And then underneath that is, why work hard when you get a robot to do it, or automate things that are boring, or it was something like that direct. We had another feature that was command shell, like, a lot of more way more technical people than I do, they don't want to use a GUI. They want to just like, talk to the through shell. Right, right. And I don't ever do that. But so I went around, and I talk to our developers. And one of the guys said, we weren't even talking about this feature. But he said, Whenever I have to use a GUI, first, I feel dirty. Then I go grab a command shell. And I was like, that's like a wonderful quote. For, for a technical person that does not want to use an interface. And not like that was on the site. Like syntax. So we did all kinds of stuff like that, that was just very, not what you would think from most SaaS companies most I mean, some do it now. It's more common, I think, in marketing tech, like, I remember MailChimp would do stuff like that. But this was, this was 2012.

And you're talking about a very technical audience. I'm gonna, I'm gonna pause for a second, because we're starting to get into the nuts and bolts of what we want to talk about today. So that was a little teaser y'all for where we're taking this conversation. Okay. But I love what you're saying in terms of, you know, I think it all comes back to your story of the fact that you were this you were an English teacher, and how you were able to bring that through even now you're talking about language, and the words that you use and how you found that and being more human. So that's why I always start with everyone's story, because it always comes back to where they started and where for you where you started. Before we get into the, the more nuts and bolts of what we're going to talk about today, you are currently at beyondtrust. Yes. Things are seem to be going well. But you know, we're all human and life is hard. So what's one challenge you're currently facing?

Justin: That's a great question. Um, so I got the role I'm in now, this is my husband, my first year in it. We did a major restructuring last year. My, my boss at that time, had a great opportunity to go work for an investment company. And we, we had just signed on, like we had defined the budget and signed on agencies and then she left and I talked a lot of you carry we talked last week. But in so it was just this moment of okay, who's gonna lead this now? And we, we worked internally to kind of restructure things at that time. All of content marketing was in one group. All of our ads and SEO were in one group, which is weird that content marketing wasn't but they were doing thought leadership stuff and very technical very variant. Elegant research base kind of things. And then all of our webinars and programmes were in a totally different group. And we, we've just restructured, and we put all that stuff together. And we also, were like, Okay, we're not going to do MQL is, and this is one of the things I said when I started was, okay, team, we're not going to do MQLs we're going to do pipeline. And that there were moments this year that that became stressful. Like, we got less fewer leads, and sales was anxious about it. But when we dug into it, we found out you know, yeah, leads are down, but the good leads, the high intent leads, those are up. So we're gonna keep doing this. But all that to say budget did not go up. So the budget we had this year was flat from the year before. And I'm looking at the current economic climate, talking to my boss, the budget we're gonna have in 2023, is probably gonna be the same. Yeah. And we're wanting to increase what we're producing 30% a year. So that's, that's probably the big chance to do more with the same how to do more with the same, which is no one else's feeling that I'm sure, yeah, everybody's going through that. But if I were to, if I were to drill down, kind of into that, the challenge, identifying what those activities are identifying what could actually out, like, move the needle there. That's the real challenge. As much as we have visibility into the performance of digital marketing. A lot of it's still unknown.

There's a performance of digital marketing, you're talking specifically about pipeline, and it's just what is generated? Are you talking more like, top of funnel metrics?

Justin: I mean, I would even say both. So we started listening to a podcast. I don't know if you've heard Chris Walker. With refund labs, they've they've been an agency of ours this year, as well as ROI DNA. Yeah, they're both great agencies. The the framework we've adopted is from, from Chris talks about. And we see this dichotomy between what the attribution says and what the actual human says. And so earlier this year, we kind of we added a form that said, How did you hear about us to all of our high intent fields, so not every document, webinar or whatever. But when they asked for pricing request a trial when they contact us, that's one of that's a required field, and it's open text. And so when I go in and look at that, most of our attribution stuff is organic, paid search, etc. But then when I, when I read what people write, there's a tonne of a saw you like I was on the use the end user and of this product, and it made me curious. Or, I use you at another company, and I'm in a different company now. Or my buddy over here told me about it. So end and weird things like I saw you on Reddit, or I saw you on some chat group I'm in. Right, it's now what happens is they go out and they do a search and then you get the attribution of paid or organic. But that's not that's not what moves the needle. What moves the needle was somebody else saying you really ought to check out beyond trust for this challenge you have, right?

And so but but identifying that, I think is really finding out what those things are, and then how do you impact those because those are happening? Really, it's organic, it's fluid. It's not really marketing driven.

Justin: Well, it's also not linear anymore. It's not like they did this and then this and then this, they work their way right down the funnel into our ARVs.

Yes, federal funnel and in stage, whatever is a creative imagination. It's not reality.

No more Yeah. But that's really interesting in terms of the challenge you're currently facing, I know you're not the only one from working with more of the same to get and needing to produce more. And then figuring out those tactics, I think it's interesting that you move completely to pipeline. And you're still trying to figure out, I mean, I know that you're not necessarily putting all your weight into MQLs. And, you know, but figure out what those metrics are up at the top that you can pull on a regular basis, that's then going to lead to that pipeline in the long run, right, that that takes time and consistency and like to, because it feels easy to sort of try a tactic that big, oh, it's not working? And it's like, well, would with this strategy, you don't, you have to get the stick with it and stay the course and and tweak versus kind of have to have it's, there's a bit of the scientific method thing going on, right? Like, you have a hypothesis. And you're like, we're gonna see if we can get initial reaction doing this. Right. We're, we're trying that with one channel right now. Like, we think it seems like a lot of people that have these titles or these interests hang out here. So we're going to try something. And what we'll see is we're like, will we start getting these leading indicators that? Okay, the first measure, can we hit the right people? Yeah, check. Now, can we? Can we move that along to that actually leads to pipeline down the road? That's, that's kind of a Chris Walker calls it revenue r&d. Where do you have this discipline of research and development around revenue, just like you would have for a product? Yeah, turning that into an internal discipline. It's a, it takes time, it also takes budget. So like, one of the things we were talking about internally, it's like, historically, almost all the budget has just been, these are for ads. Or these are for this is for SEO, or this is for whatever. I'm on purpose this year, going to do a percentage split, where X percent is for testing and figuring out what could create demand. And then the rest of it can be those capture channels like paid search, remarketing, etcetera, the traditional things we've done, but I'm going to be committing a significant chunk of budget to the stuff I don't know if it works yet or not.

Justin: Yeah, that's, that's a leap of faith. But when you when you've been doing what you've been doing for the amount of time you've been doing it, and it's been working, then you have a lot of instinct. Yeah, that you need to follow. So good hypothesis, right? That's the beauty of science is, you know, hypotheses aren't created willy nilly. No, they're they're created out of questioning and curiosity of like, and based off of research and and data to say, it seems like this is what's happening, let's go, put that more into a controlled environment and see what happens.

Kerry: So I love I love that I think, I think that's a great approach to it. I'm gonna I'm gonna follow back up with you, Justin, see how that's going? In a few months?

Justin: Let's do it. Make it after Q1.

Kerry: Okay, I'm gonna do it. Okay. In the meantime, coming back to the heart of where we were leave where we were leading earlier around content and writing, and the language we use. One of the questions I wrote and sent over to you earlier, and I just kind of want to reread it because I liked the way that I've, I sort of framed it because I feel like, I'm curious to hear your answer in regards to this idea of an echo chamber. So there seems to be this shift in messaging or or maybe I've just created an echo chamber, where marketers are moving away from jargon, fear based marketing and acronyms to simpler, more straightforward, more human messaging. Are you are you seeing that not necessarily just in what you're doing but just in the market in general? Or are you still in the sort of the cutting edge of that?

Justin: I don't know if I'm on the cutting edge of anything, but I would say I am seeing that trend. It's I think it's a little in cybersecurity especially. There's just kind of two things happening. Actually Nick's that in cybersecurity, we there's tonnes of acronyms. gyms. And, and there. There's also historically been this. I mean, we have Saturday Night Live skits about the IT guy, right? Like, there's there. There's a badge of honour, or I'm like I'm better than you. Because that can talk in this language. Or you look at someone, so you get an email from someone, and there's an alphabet soup after their name, right? Like, we love the acronyms. And they, I don't know that they they communicate to the in crowd. Right? So if you're in there, then you you kind of can know, oh, he's got more certifications than I do. Or the vendor is saying my acronym the way I think about it, and so they know me. Right? So there's, there's some of that tension. But I would say most of the people that work and are going to work in cybersecurity are new. And there we need a lot more people in cybersecurity. We just so we just had an election yesterday. Was it yesterday? Yep. Mississippi. So where I'm from. There's no controversial issue on any of our ballots. There's nothing even huge in the election, I don't think like and yet our our government got attacked with a DDoS attack the day of and I was actually I found this out, because Tuesday night was poker night, and I go to my friend's house and the guy that comes as he works there, he's like, one down from the CIO of the of the agency. And it's like, yeah, we've had a DDOS all day. And we, we need more people in cybersecurity, like, the attacks are just going to be growing like that. And so, so part of me is like, okay, yes, there is. And we get this in marketing to like, SEM, SEO, like, PB we have all our acronyms, right. Yeah. And we use them because we, we name things poorly in the first place. And so we always shorten it. That's, I think one reason, it's all so long. It's so long. Yeah. Well, then why don't you call it that anyway?

Search Engine Optimization.

Just need a good first, right. And then, and then there's also that, when you're talking to the in crowd, it's okay to short stuff. That said, I do think I do think there's a trend and also a need. And it's definitely something I'm trying to push Maghreb to do is use plain language. Like, let's, let's talk like people.

You know, the story piece of how did I get here, I remember when I first got hired. I knew like my first job was, we want you to rewrite the website content. And so I go, okay, okay, I've pre written lots of stuff. I roll up my sleeves, I go look at the website. And so I have to rewrite the website. I know it's English, but I don't understand anything. And I had done this exercise with my kids. When I was teaching it was, I was teaching the diagram sentences. And I said, Okay, diagram the sentence and the sentence was the Loggly.

Think squirt Zaarly Meyer the harp. Right, you don't have to know all those words. You know, they're, they're not words. But you could you could figure out what's the subject was all the pieces, right?

I couldn't even do that. Like it was. It was a mess. And what I realised was okay, they're talking to themselves. That's what's so they're, they're talking to as if they're talking within internally versus the developers talking to developers. The developers not talking to users. Right? There's often a huge a huge chasm between the knowledge of all the things. From the end user to that person who designed or mapped out or created the software. Yeah, and so it's insecurity, like, we started a podcast this year, which I commend you doing a podcast. So regularly, that's, I'm not sure I could do anything every week, like, or every month, but some process systems process. But so we started one. And the, it's the adventures of Alice and Bob, I'll do a shameless plug right there.

Amazing pictures of Alice.

So Alice and Bob are to persona, like stand ins for cybersecurity people. And so just saying that title, people know, oh, this is cybersecurity podcast. But, but what some of the conversations have been around. People, like we train people on how to use the software, like how to do the scanning how to do like, but we don't necessarily train them on. Mark may for AR, or later, there's calls it the physics of cybersecurity. Right? So like, you can go in and you can remove all admin accounts, and give everybody reduced permission accounts. And you can require authentication, multi factor authentication, you can, you can say, you're not going to have access to this, this this, or you need permission to change things. That's all kind of tactical things. But people really need to understand what is the concept of least privilege? And how do you? How do you like, if I know going in kind of the physics of it, then it to me, it's more than just check boxes and buttons in the software? To me, I'm, I've got a framework for what's actually happening, and what to look for and why it's happening that way. And, yeah, yeah,

I think I think we need to be, we need to be talking more first principles. Like, I had a friend that called it the No mas Irati roll like you. You get your licence. You're 18. And you're like the most I know, because I have one. Boys are the most expensive people to insure drivers. Well, you don't give. He's got the keys. Does he? Can he drive a Maserati? Sure, he could. Am I gonna give him one? No. No, we can. So you, I want him to have lease privilege, right? Like you want to, you want to pull back on? What's the most damage that can happen here? And then kind of limited?

Yeah, so I think those kinds of talking about things at that level. And then mapping it up to this, how you do it in our product.

Kerry: Is probably the way to go? Not, this is all the stuff we know and all of our acronyms and whatever. And I don't know, I think, right. It's the idea of, of not leading with features, right?

Justin: Yeah. But people are really it's like, the it feels like the easiest thing to do this is what are this is the thing that our product does. And yeah, the thing that goes it yes, yeah, versus the more holistic approach of like, what the actual problem is that the user is having your product solves that holistically, and then getting into the hat, like the how needs to come home much later.

It does. And I think also like a lot of users, like we find ourselves like this. A lot of people especially in our market, we're privileged access management. They don't know the problem. So some of the marketing needs to be educating people about the problem. And that's not to say they're not smart or advanced or, you know, excellent at what they do. It's just especially cybersecurity, like, stuff's changing so quickly. The threats are perennial, they're happening all the time. And you, you kind of end with that with that and with we're trying to get more people into cybersecurity. I think vendors need to do a lot more educating on just here's like the baseline reality now. You If you don't buy from us, here's what the world of this is like, and giving people those frameworks that they can map up into.

Kerry: Yeah, there's a couple of things you said that that I really loved. One of them is that, you know, we are using non technical jargon and acronyms, you're able to bring people outside of the industry, in which is so important from two things you're saying.

One is the fact that we actually need more people to work in cybersecurity. We are short handed, y'all. If an English teacher can make the jump, y'all can do it, too. We got you. The second thing that I love what you're saying too, is from an end user standpoint of them not even being familiar with potentially cybersecurity or knowing that they even have a problem.

Justin: You know, it comes back to I know that this is maybe not, it's the the least technical example I can think of, but you've been talking and have you, as you've been talking about the user not even knowing the problem, the the image that kept popping up in my head is Steve Jobs on stage, holding up the first iPod talking about 1000 songs in your pocket. Right? People not even realising that they the idea of what 1000 songs in their pocket could even do right that had kids,we had these big, three ring binders with CDs, and yeah, yeah, I remember almost crashing your car if you wanted to change the album.

Or you had the tape with you and your Walkman that you could flip over. But like as your emotion you couldn't like Harry, you couldn't skip a song you had to festival you know, fast forward the worst. So this idea of 1000 songs in your pocket that you could skip and go back and like watch shuffle, shuffle. Wow. So it is this, you know, I'm taking a very simplistic approach to this. But I think that's what you're trying to say of like, we need to take a simplistic approach, because the people we're talking to don't even know that this is a possibility. And I feel like a lot of companies too, are sort of in that like, not not even thinking about it until it happens to them either.

Like so true. So true.

And then and it will happen. Like they're hackers and bad actors, or are going more and more after smaller companies. It's just the reality, we just did a cyber insurance Summit, and looking at the used to be some insurance companies. It was easy if you're a small business to get cyber insurance. Because you weren't really a target. That has changed.

Yeah, I just the requirements that you have to have in place, it's Yeah. And back to what you said about like, we need people if an English teacher can do it, like this surprised me a few times. We, we had on our podcast, we've had two guests that I know of that do ethical hacking. And two of them did not even know how to code.

They do. One of them is I think, I think he's autistic. He's, he's two, both of them came from really rough childhoods like, but what happened? They because of that, they became really observant of people. And then they used those observations of people to figure out how could I get into a company get people to let me in, and then give me information that they shouldn't give me and it's, it's fascinating. How much how much security stuff you can do without even sitting at a desktop or open up a laptop. Like that. That's one reason I think the like talking about first principles and getting back to like what we need as intelligent people that can make the transition. Because the concepts I think, one they all started with, I think like the Department of Defence or the CIA or something, but they they all started before this technical Evolution. Like least privilege is not a computer thing.


Right. It's who can get in the building thing. It's a who can get in this room thing? Or who gets to see this report? Right? It's it's a lot broader than that attack surface. That's a much broader thing than what ports are open. Yeah. So yeah, and then look at, I was fascinated that, given my educational background, my work experience, that I was fascinated that I could even do the job. But really what the job was, was taking things that seem really complex to most people. And articulating it in a way they could learn it. It was just teaching. And then the whole, like, figuring out how to write the the website was just writing a research paper, I would go find the experts were to hear what they had to say. I would have them explain it to me. And then like, I would write it in my own words, like it's an answer, those things are served. In fact, every year. For a number of years, it's been this way I missed last year because my daughter had health issues. But every year, I would go to my alma mater, and I had talked to the graduating English teach English majors, online, here's what you can do besides teach English? Because that first year, year two of working, I was three of my account reps at Google. They were English teachers, or they had been English majors. I would find people in marketing all the time. Oh, yeah. I majored in English. Yeah, so I don't so much you can do it that there's so much you can do, I almost want to tell my kids like, as long as it's a real thing, study what you want in college. Cuz the likelihood of you finding a job in that and staying in a job in that, like, okay, med school, do med school, med school lawyers, and yeah. And that and like, CPA stuff, like, you need to go for those things. And then you're gonna leave, and you're gonna go do those things.

But if you're, if you don't have that clear of a direction, like, let your curiosity lead you, I mean, don't do underwater basket weaving. If you're my kid, they'll listen to this. You can't do that. But But yeah, I mean, like, do something that's useful. It's a real thing. But I fully believe that you're, you're going to be able to translate those skills. Like it's, it's really not, I don't think anything was wasted from education. And I think just seeing all these people that are not, they're not, they don't have the alphabets behind their name, but they're in cybersecurity. And they're actually getting hired by companies to go in and test, test them and see, yeah,

Kerry: That's awesome. My husband's developer, and that poor guy has been trying to train me on how to write code. It's the day we met, he pulled up a terminal, and, and taught me how to write hello. And to this day, I'm still I can, I can do HTML. And that's a tiny bit of JavaScript. Or if he writes code, I can pretty much be like, figure out what he did, and then copy it for other things that I need, but I can not write it from scratch. So for people to have not learned code in the early days, and then pick it up, and then actually figure out how to use it for Ethical Hacking just blows my brain like that is wild to me. I also want to say I went to school for photography, and I am not using it to this day one lick of it. But but it did teach me the art similar to you. It did teach me the art of storytelling, just from a visual standpoint. So every time I put together a presentation, every time I put together any sort of documentation, the visual of that matters to me as much if not sometimes more than even the words and that balance and photography taught me that so I agree something that's love that be difficult to learn on the job.

Yeah, right. But the things that you can learn on the job. Those are if you're if you've kind of a level of intelligence and above, you can learn those things. Like you can learn the software. You can learn the interfaces, you can learn the processes all that companies are getting better communicating you Huh, writing fast start early and you gotta start often and you got to, you got to practice it too, for sure. And I think the systems and processes are getting so much better and how we're also teaching people and onboarding them. So it's, that's, that's becoming a lot easier to like it's not a sink or swim environment anymore. Like you're gonna come in and you're gonna be in a really great place to really learn and be on boarded. So it's an easy it's easier to transition these days, I think versus when you probably had to, which was probably total sink or swim like myself.

Justin: Yeah, 14 years. Yeah. But just just the fact that almost everybody's got an email account now and all this Wi Fi does some stuff online. That like, back then it was more this is a interface lives how to navigate there. Yeah, it was crazy. Crazy. What amazing wild ride you've had I we could keep talking all day. We didn't quite get into the heart of what we want to talk about. But I think we've really danced around it and and beautiful way of talking basically to your on your user in a way that's human and thoughtful and not full of acronyms and jargon. And I'm coming back to even the way that I loved how you said it so succinctly. Around the we've all had to do those. I call them dreadful, because they weren't my favourite, but for those who love research papers, more power to you, but you know, sitting in school and going, what am I ever going to need this right? Like, this is a great example of how you take what you've learned in writing a research paper and how you apply it to writing a website like, yes. And simplifying all of that beautiful research out there into a way that people can just anybody, anybody can understand it, whether that's an end user, whether that's somebody who's trying to learn cybersecurity for the first time. You know, speaking in a way that isn't internal. Right, you're not talking to yourselves, you're talking to a broader audience.

Kerry: So I'm so grateful. Justin, thank you for joining me before we close out. Yeah. Is there any last piece of advice you want to give folks who are listening from a writing standpoint of like how we need to communicate better? Do we miss anything?

Justin: Yeah, I would just say analogies are your friend. If you can, especially as a marketer, I mentioned the no Montserrado roller, as a as an analogy, or a metaphor for for least privilege. Like the way to get people across that bridge of what they know, to maybe the more technical complicated thing that you're trying to sell or promote or whatever. Analogies are that bridge because they have a framework for what they understand already. You can say it's like this. Man, I wish I could come up with a really good one right now. Okay, I'll give you one. But my team was like, don't talk about this. So I'm like, I gotta talk about this. Here's my analogy. So we recently got challenged, like, you need to be really scrappy with the economic environment, right. So eliminate waste, make sure things are used as well. Well, I, I have this analogy with my team of the native the plains, Native Americans. So First Nation, plains people and the bison, they would win, they killed a bison. And it was part of it was out of the respect for the animal. There was no part of that animal that did not get used. I mean, every part like there's a, there's a website where you can just go look up what parts of the bison did get used by the Indians, and you'll find out, all the parts got used. And I tell my team like you think that way. If someone is going to even then like it was honouring the animal. If someone has gone through the effort to make an event happen, and they're going to present the event. It's not really fully respecting all of that work that they went through for that to be a one off. Right. So everything that you do, find a way to repurpose it. Find a way to reuse it. Find like you can do one webinar and have 10 outputs. Easy, right? It can be it becomes a little clip, one minute clip, that becomes our social media stuff that we're posting. And then we use that for ads and remarketing or we just send it off and get a transcript. And now we get a blog post or we use the deck and we push that somewhere like that. There's especially now like there's so much more that you can do with what you're already doing, there's so much more you can get out of it. But as a leader, this is where the analogy thing comes from. I can't go manage everybody and make sure they're doing it. So I use the analogy. And now I've kind of infected them with this idea, which some of them it grosses them out. But they remember it. Yeah, forget it. They don't forget it. And so that's another thing analogies can do.

Kerry: There's their visual. So yeah, that's, that's what I would say. Like, that's so important. I think that's such a really great moment to say, I love analogies. I use them all the time when I'm talking to my team. And of course, I can't think of any now similar but like, but it's true, but it's true. Like, I'm gonna walk around with that story now, because people also remember stories more than than they remember data. And if you can relate it in a way to something that they already understand, especially in cybersecurity, where it's still this sort of Enigma, it's still very technical and still hard to wrap your brain around. But if you can relate it to something very every day like that, it's going to be hard to forget. So just I can't thank you enough. Thank you so much for joining me. It was an absolute honour.

Justin: This was a delight. Thank you so much, Kerry.


That was my conversation with Justin Brock. If you would like to learn more about Justin, and how to make content more human and more accessible, please reach out he is on LinkedIn. The link to his profile is in the show notes. Also check out Coro Cybersecurity.

Yeah, yeah. Awesome. Justin, thank you so much, so much for joining me.

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This episode is brought to you by MKG Marketing the digital marketing agency that helps complex tech companies like cybersecurity, grow their businesses and fuel their mission through SEO, digital ads, and analytics.

Hosted by Kerry Guard, CEO co-founder MKG Marketing. Music Mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.

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