Last night I took the opportunity to celebrate another (Key West) sunset. Ironically, it was the sunset I have been searching to capture on camera for a while – and yet it eluded my lens. Regardless, I drank it in, felt some stress slip away and then took in a “show.” The street performers of the Sunset Celebration in Key West are some of the most entertaining and practiced I have seen. When you visit and take the time to celebrate, do plan to stick around and be entertained.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to see the Great Rondini, an escape artist, dazzle and entertain the crowd. What I enjoyed (as much as the performance itself) is how he built the crowd, got the energy going and then put on a show – and in the end, he escaped his bonds. In addition to his humor and well-practiced quips, he stopped at least once, commanded our attention and issued a heartfelt thanks for supporting him. No, not the pitch for money… a true thank you for rewarding his efforts with our attention and applause. It was an honest emotional connection with the audience.

(I tried to insert a picture here, but my software bombed out – maybe soon!)

Beyond his excellent performance, I noticed that he held the attention of my children for the entire time (I also don’t recall any cell phone conversations or people using blackberries!). Better yet, when he was done, he came and thanked each child that came by – and rewarded them with a glow-stick style bracelet. It was genuine and classy.

On the walk back, I started thinking about how we could apply what I just experienced to our practice of security and how we protect information….

Rondini worked his timing, built interest, got people engaged and then put on a show. He waited until the sun went down (and people were less focused on finding the “right” spot. He waited patiently until the tight rope act was done, and then quietly stood on a chair and then blew a whistle. A bright orange get-your-attention whistle. SHOWTIME! He immediately engaged those standing right near him (including me) to form up at his line. He even said – look like you’re a crowd (to some laughs). He has a line for each of us as he invited us to participate. He threw out some practiced lines to get you to laugh… which is immediately disarming… and slowly, the crowd grew. When the crowd was right, he selected volunteers – got the crowd to support them and started the show.

It was clear that he was a professional. He’s practiced at his craft – and yet the show was different than I have seen in the past (so he’s still improving, changing and growing). Think about it for a second – how do you brief people? How do you explain what you do? How do you approach security?

Rondini smiled. He engaged. His passion for performing came through. As a security professional, this is an approach we need to follow. Rondini only gets paid when he puts on a good show. The larger the audience, the better the involvement and the stronger his performance, the more tips (and larger tips) he will be able to collect. He is motivated to improve and to perform. Most of us are lucky – the paycheck shows up no matter how well we do. Take a moment, though, and imagine ALL of your compensation based entirely on how you connected, engaged and entertained?

I don’t think it makes sense to tell people security is hard, complex heavy and something they _have_ to do. We can all learn something from the Sunset Celebration Performers – and bring a bit of entertainment to our efforts to make a difference. I am confident you will reap rewards from this approach.
Here is what I learned from Rondini – and how I think we can all benefit with our practice of security:

1. Choose the right time to perform (or deliver your message)
2. Engage your supporters and build them up (we need to find and build security champions)
3. Bring the audience into the performance and reward them (we need others to engage – but they have to be encouraged and rewarded)
4. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse – so you seem practiced, smooth, confident – and really entertaining! (we *all* need more of this. period.)
5. Show sincere thanks and remain genuine and classy

Need help – shoot me an email: se**************@gm***.com. When this works, share your success with me!

About the Author Michael Santarcangelo

The founder of Security Catalyst, Michael develops exceptional leaders and powerful communicators with the security mindset for success.

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