I first discovered the art of the essay in my twenties. Unsure of my own political leanings at the time, I would buy copies each month of the New Republic and National Review, and I would devour the clever arguments from writers like Kinsley and Buckley. This was the Reagan era, so there was much to debate, but I found myself just as intrigued by the art form as I was with the substance of the positions taken. (I think of myself as an independent today, by the way.)
After my retirement from AT&T last year as SVP/CSO, capping nearly thirty-one years with that fine company, I knew I would eventually try my hand as a regular essayist with a column and at least one reader (my Mom). It took me six months to get up the courage, but last November, I penned my first essay, and haven’t stopped writing since. Each morning, I start my day with writing, and it’s the last thing I think about each night before dropping off to sleep.
Selecting a platform on which to write was a bit of a challenge. I’ve penned seven books over the course of my career, and have published dozens of peer-reviewed journal and conference papers – but this essay thing was going to be different. I wanted my cyber security articles to teach, and to entertain, and to cajole, and to poke fun, and to do so in manner that would include zero filtering or censorship. And I wanted it to stand out from what others were doing.
Which is what brought me to consider LinkedIn as a platform for my work. Like anyone with a paycheck and boss, I’d been on LinkedIn for a couple of years prior, but had maybe 50-75 connections and pretty much never clicked on the app on my iPhone. To me, it seemed like a super cheesy place to go – sort of like a dating app for accountants. But when you retire, there is a Federal law that says you must spend at least one hour per day on LinkedIn, so I complied.
What I found was a weird protocol where you developed connections by either clicking on someone’s little picture and asking to become friends, or by sitting and waiting for them to ask you. I didn’t understand whether there was any pre-condition to asking someone to connect (number of mutual connections?), so I figured what the hell – and I started asking people to connect. I think I started by asking ten a day, and it’s stayed at about that level since.
What’s happened since has been quite enjoyable: I am now well over 11,000 connections, and the signal-to-noise ratio is impressive. I get notes from all over the world from readers telling me that they enjoy my articles. Today, I got a nice note from a loyal reader in Bosnia, and another one from a young lady studying math in Arizona. Both said they consider me a teacher, and that almost brings a tear to my eye. It’s what I’d intended.
If you’re still with me, this far down into my article, then I will assume that you’re one of the hard-core readers of this column, which is now not only on LinkedIn, but also Twitter, my team’s website (https://www.tag-cyber.com), and syndicated by three different massive channels. I’ve even been contacted by the LinkedIn team, which is apparently delighted by the original content and is using it to test new content presentation features.
So, enough about me, and enough of this recursive writing about writing. I need to get back to my next cyber security article, which I must say is going nicely. I just need a better ending (maybe it’ll come after lunch). Thanks for being a wonderful audience, and I promise to check back in with you when I hit 200 articles.