This is the first in a series of posts detailing the journey and experiences of Joseph Sokoly as a first time speaker in InfoSec.

Continuing on the “things I learned from speaking” track, the next step is why I did what I did. What would prompt someone to speak at their first InfoSec con ever? And for that, it’s time for a story.

Picture this, if you will. You’re young, impressionable, and have just discovered the incredible community that is the InfoSec community on Twitter. You find a few names you recognize from your blogs, and follow them. Then you go down their follow list and start following anyone who mentions security in their description. Suddenly, you’re sitting at a few hundred people followed, and without realizing, you’ve stepped into a community of truly awesome people. You don’t know them by much more than some their handles, maybe their display name, but you now know you’re part of a community, if only on the fringe.

Then, one day, one of those people who seem to be talking with everyone all the time mentions he’s on your side of town. (I’ll give you a hint; he’s got a beard almost double my age.) One random lunch later, and I had decided that I needed to go to any con I could get my hands on. So imagine my excitement when I heard a con was coming to my state! That con was BSidesAustin.

Almost as soon as BSidesAustin had been announced, I put my name down on the wiki and began making travel plans. I wasn’t going to miss this. (As an aside, at one point I told my family that I wouldn’t be going with them on our family vacation so that I could go to BSidesAustin. Just to give you an idea of how dedicated I was to going.)

But then, in my con-noobish eyes, I saw a problem. One month out from the event, there were only about 4 or 5 speakers signed up, and most of those had denoted only twenty-minute talks. I did some quick napkin math and realized that there weren’t enough people signed up to fill time for the day. And if there aren’t enough speakers signed up, then people won’t come, and then the con might not happen. And there was no way that I would ever let that happen! So I mulled it over for a few days, and made a decision. I was going to speak at BSidesAustin.

And why wouldn’t I? I had taken Professional Presentations, so I knew* how to give a presentation, right? So I thought for a while, and decided that since the only real experience that I had was being young and an InfoSec professional, that would be what I would speak about. I asked a few people who I could bounce some ideas off, what they thought, and in short order, had added my name to the list of

speakers with a quick title and description. The talk was titled “The Young and the Restless.” It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I got my real wake up call.

*See my previous post for some of the revelations I had when I realized that I, in fact, didn’t know much about giving a talk.

Tune in next week to witness thrilling breakdowns, startling revelations, and heroic rescues!

About the Author Guest Blogger

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