How I became an Industry Speaker | Part one of a two-part mini series
Updated: Mar 18, 2019
How It All Began
Everyone has a different story. I thought I'd share mine with you today. I wanted to pen down my journey so that I will always remember how I started. I also wanted to include some of my secrets, and lessons picked up along the way that will be helpful to the curious.
Years ago, I never would have thought I would be in the position I was today.
It all started out with a simple desire of bringing like-minded people together. When I started the Cyber Risk Meetups, it wasn't about re-inventing the wheel. I wasn't even attending ISACA, AISA or (ISC)² events. It was pretty much a blank canvas. I first attended the DOTM (Day of the Month) social networking event back in 2017.
Since then, I wanted a platform where I could hear directly from the executives (that hadn't had the chance or time to speak in public, outside of their organisations). I wanted in particular to hear about industry topics in a different manner. Unfiltered, ideally. In a less official setting. And about their most passionate topic.
Most people might not believe me when I say this. But it's true. I am afraid of public speaking. Yes. You've heard me right. Now, I am not afraid of the idea of public speaking. But when it comes to it, the night before the event, the day itself, the thirty minutes before I go up, and right before I do, it actually terrifies me. I might be preparing the words to say, my mind might be blank at times, but my heart is racing; I am on an adrenaline rush.
Be Hungry for New Experiences
Yet, one thing is certain for me. I am hungry for the new experience I gain each time I step up. Yes, I know I will make mistakes. I accept that I am only human. I know that with a platform and as the tent expands in front of critic eyes, you are vulnerable to more people forming judgement of you.
Somehow, I have the confidence that every single time that I do step up, I will ALWAYS end up richer. Be it in experience, or in learning.
I learn what to repeat and what not to. Despite the fear, I am training my subconscious to be more comfortable in a naturally uncomfortable environment.
And so I began hosting, emceeing and then learning how to moderate panels. I remember I kept telling myself; it's ok, baby steps. Don't compare myself to the professional public speakers. Comparison is the fastest form of deterrence and self-disqualification.
Recognise where I am, go for the improvements, celebrate small wins, be my own greatest encourager, and continue improving. Don't go for the end product. Go for the process.
I went from reading off my script when I was moderating C-suite panel talks, to learning to have faith in my preparation, and simply believing in myself; that I have what it takes, and being unafraid of what others think. I told myself, I have to keep the focus - the bigger picture of why I was doing this. That it's not about me. But about being truly invested in the discussions, ensuring I draw the richness out of the deep wells of my speakers, that my Cyber Riskers attendees get a real value out of their time spent. And that helped keep me on track.
It has only been 18 months but the Cyber Risk meetups which are held every quarter have flourished. It is now in the major states in Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth), and also in Singapore. A total of 1,500 people have attended these meetups. So much so that we are now doing joint events with ISACA, (ISC)², AWSN (Australian Women in Security Network) amongst many others.
Capitalise on Every Moment
I guess when you are meeting new industry leaders frequently, either through the meetups itself, networking or people referring new speakers to me, you have a massive opportunity presented to you. It is times like this that you keep your curiosity alive! It is not about you talking away. No, this is the time to ask questions. Learn from them. Be intentional. If you have the opportunity to meet them for coffees, be mindful that their time is precious. For those who have been following my weekly #coffeewiththeCsuite edition, I try to capture and share a key learning point with my followers each time I had a session with one of the CISOs, or other C-execs. #sharingiscaring ;)
Before I knew it, I realised I had gathered so much knowledge and insights beyond my years and experience along the way. I also started saying yes to speaking opportunities elsewhere. Most people feel that they are only qualified to speak on topics if they have decades of experience. That is not true. Everyone always have a story to tell. Everyone is unique. You will have a different experience. You will always have something to offer to the less experienced.
I went from giving short talks to people, to imparting to the students at the local universities, and then being invited to speak at international conferences, and even giving keynotes at events! Through it all, I just kept saying yes to the opportunities that came up. That's how I discovered two special keys in the process, which I will reveal in part two of this mini series.
About the Author
Shamane Tan is the APAC Cyber Security Advisor at Privasec, a leading and independent Security Consulting Firm. She has worked with exciting start-ups all the way to global organisations extensively in the Asia-Pacific region. Shamane advises the C-Suite and IT Executives on their business security posture to the reality of the challenges they faced from regulatory issues and cybercrime. She is also the founder of the Cyber Risk Meetup which is in four major cities in Australia, as well as in Singapore. Her meetups offer Security Enthusiasts and Executives a unique platform to impart and exchange innovative insights.