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Hacker Valley Studio

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We are Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran from the Hacker Valley Studio podcast. We explore the human condition to inspire peak performance in cybersecurity. Join us on our quest to find inspirational stories and knowledge to elevate ourselves and our communities.
151 Episodes
In this episode, we talk to our special guest, Natasha Barnes. Natasha is the Associate Director and the CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellow of Protiviti. She is a certified mindfulness workplace facilitator and mindfulness-based stress reduction.  Natasha is part of a movement to answer the question of does corporate America have a role to play in advancing racial equity within our nation, and essentially improving our overall societal well-being.  Technology serves as a way to propel the conversation forward, and recognizing global interconnectedness. Listen in for all of Natasha’s insights!   Key Takeaways:   1:02 Welcome back 2:16 Natasha shares her background 3:11 Natasha’s journey through wellness 4:23 Mindfulness purpose 6:28 Instructing others  10:27 Corporate role  10:52 Four pillars 15:06 Her journey 17:24 Creating solutions 19:24 Progress 21:39 Equity through mindfulness and technology 26:48 Impact   Natasha on LinkedIn CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon.  Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter. Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter. Sponsored by ByteChek
In this episode, we've brought in a special guest, Kelsey Hightower.  Kelsey is Principal Engineer at Google, and also co-author of Kubernetes: Up and Running: Dive into the Future of Infrastructure.  To start the show, Kelsey shares he considers himself a self-taught engineer. He started his life out as a small business owner and then moved to a system administrator. Now, he is at Google. Kelsey’s fascination with cyber started post High School. Rather than go to college, he jumped into, tech support, consulting, dropping cat five cable, but about 2004ish he really digs into the world of open source and all the things that you can do with it as a user and as a contributor. When it comes to community and customers, Kelsey felt they were one in the same.  However, in the last five years or so, he has kind of changed that a little bit, thinking everyone is probably in your community. The willing the ones that are willing to pay you money, we call those customers. And then the conversation turns to comedy, and his journey through comedy management and performances.  Along with this comes discussion about acquiring skills.   Finally, Kelsey shares advice to listeners!   Key Takeaways:   1:00 Welcome back 2:18 Kelsey shares his background 3:31 Community and customers 4:40 Professional purpose 6:00 Retirement thoughts 10:31 Journey in comedy 14:35 Getting better 16:28 Propelling forward 20:12 Minimalism 22:18 Immersion journey 25:25 Don’t miss the moment 27:00 Exceeding expectations 37:56 It’s ok to start! 39:25 How to keep up to date with Kelsey Kelsey on Twitter Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon.  Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter. Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter. Sponsored by Attack IQ Attack IQ Academy  
In this episode, have James Hadley, CEO of Immersive Labs, and we talk about the best ways to learn in cybersecurity.  James starts the show with his background and what he is doing today, which is Immersive Labs.  But, he spent a lot of time in different organizations prior to that.   When it came to education, James found he had quite a poor memory, so he would always learn better through doing things rather than reading about things. Things would go in one ear and out the other. In addition to learning styles, they all discuss measuring education.  When it comes to measuring academics, for James it is all about the outcomes you want people to achieve.  They all agree that storytelling is incredibly powerful.  James shares a few of his own drawing back on his incredible journey.  And, of course, they round out the show with how to stay in touch and up to date with James.   Key Takeaways: 1:02 Welcome back 2:24 James’ background 5:06 Education experience 5:46 Changes 7:18 Measuring education 9:14 Balancing in testing 11:40 Biggest a’ha 13:14 Feedback 15:54 Learner vs. learner 17:37 Skill behind catching the bad guys 19:20 Applying knowledge 21:53 Geeks in the basement 23:47 The best job in cyber 26:30 Advice 27:58 How to stay in touch with James   Links: James on Immersive Labs James on LinkedIn Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon.  Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter. Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter. Learn more about our sponsor ByteChek.
In this episode, we brought back fan-favorite, John Strand.  He is owner of Black Hills Information Security, a SANS instructor, and a mentor to many in the industry.  Johns starts the show sharing a little bit about his background and what he is doing today. Ron and Chris dive a little bit deeper into John’s earlier life asking what his personal superpower, personal or professional, and when did that power really came about in his life? John shares his experiences with failure, which he feels are key to where he is at today.  How everyone needs to get comfortable with struggles, failures and hardships.  On top of that, one needs to be able to laugh at themself.     Key Takeaways   1:02 Back with fan favorite John Strand 2:21 John shares his background 3:38 John’s superpower 5:51 Going through the grind to learn 8:30 Partnerships 11:44 Getting a head start 14:58 The entertainment factor 16:36 Journey through being an instructor 19:35 Pay what you can concept 25:53 Education systems 29:18 Advice from John   Links: John Strand blog. John Strand on Twitter. Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon.  Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter. Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter. Learn more about our sponsor ByteChek.
This is the finale of Know Thyself. What an incredible journey, we feel like this entire experience flew by so fast, we got to talk to so many incredible people about knowing yourself, knowing your team, knowing your tech stack, knowing your environment, and even knowing your story. Make your organization better make your security posture better, strive for impact, what are the most high leverage things that you can do today to make everybody's lives easier, or more safe, and then yield the feedback, there might be some things that you might be missing, you might need to ask questions, ask for feedback, get some information from your stakeholders, what what are you thinking about that I might not be thinking about? asking these different things is how you know thyself. And this is how you get to know the people that are around you, your peers, your stakeholders, the more knowledge you have got started with that Sun Tzu quote, in the very beginning of the podcast, if you know yourself and you know your enemy, you need not fear the results of 100 battles. So if you really understand yourself, and you have good threat intelligence, understanding the externals, you have good vulnerability management that understands the externals and the internals, if you mash all that information together, I think you'll be able to do great things with your cybersecurity program.   Key Takeaways 0:02 Introduction to the show 0:49 Our Sponsor, Axonius  2:09 Welcome back 2:31 Reflecting on Know Thyself 3:17 Recap This Seasons Guest 3:22 Marcus Carey 4:17 John Strand 5:05 Aaron Reinhart & Jamie Dixon 5:54 Chaos Engineering 7:12 Lenny Zeltser, asset inventory 7:54 Kevin Allison, Storytelling is a soft skill 10:19 John Strand 12:13 Can we do better? 13:54 What kind of leader are you? 14:26 Do you have unsupported devices? 17:34 Ask yourself these questions 13:33 Go back to the EASY Framework 21:50 Learning 23:29 Exploration 24:00 Immersion 27:28 Reach Hacker Valley   Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter Follow Ron Eddings on Twitter Follow Chris Cochran on Twitter Supported by Axonius  
In this masterclass of HVB season 2 we brought in a master story teller in Kevin Allison. The biggest thing is to get a person to understand, don't just summarize, don't just walk us through a Wikipedia like where you're just giving us a broad overview. And you're explaining; it’s important to remember sensory details that will help us see almost like movie scenes, what was happening between people. That is what brings the story alive. So that's a good case right there where the bones of the story were incredible. Like that's just on paper and an incredible overview of a story, but it's not going to work unless you can fill in all those sensory details that bring it alive and make it emotional for us. Storytelling is a soft skill that offers the ability to contextualize cybersecurity in a manner that any organization can understand to allow their business to stay safe.   Key Takeaways:   0:00 Previously on the show 2:37 Kevin introduction 3:20 Episode begins 3:39 Where Kevin is today 7:58 Kevin’s origin story 12:04 Cybersecurity is performing 17:08 Storytelling for business 21:00 Engineering a story 26:12 Authentic storytelling 34:54 Speaking isn’t perfect 41:02 Where to find Kevin   The Story Studio RISK!: True Stories People Never Thought They’d Dare To Share RISK! Podcast Twitter Facebook Instagram Risk Show Podcast Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter Follow Ron Eddings on Twitter Follow Chris Cochran on Twitter Sponsored by Axonius
If want to get into computer security, you're going to learn to love it, you're going to have to be successful, because a lot of computer security isn't just about bits and bytes, it's really about effectively communicating what needs to be done to the right people. In this episode wet have the incredible John Strand. Organizations need to become more proactive, and see where those weak spots are to protect themselves from something like ransomware. You need to run a pen test because you can have somebody literally launch those attacks, and identify those weaknesses in those vulnerabilities before the bad people do. What's the gap that we can all learn from? It's passwords. By and large for most users, passphrases are the way to go. And, multi-factor authentication is actually a very sound strategy. If you look at one key tenant of computer security, complexity is the enemy of computer security. And security is constantly trying to catch up and protect against yesterday's attacks. So, the future is more connected, it's more complicated. And the problem is, we still have people that use weak passwords, we still have people that click on links from strangers. And ultimately, when we're looking at that future, you're going to see the exact same problems that we've always had complicated on a much, much, much, much, much larger scale. As things get more and more pushed to the cloud. There'll be no shelter here, the front line is everywhere. World of computer security.    Key Takeaways: 0:00 Previously on the show 2:02 John introduction 2:44 Episode begins 2:47 What John is doing today 3:45 John’s core tenets 5:51 How pen testing is “Blue” 6:17 Why understanding fundamentals matters 8:55 Ransomware 10:41 Organizations need to be prepared 11:58 Password gap 13:37 Password philosophy 17:07 Multi-factor authentication 21:40 What to do today 24:24 New problems 26:44 Learn your own network 28:26 Where to find John   John Strand on Twitter John Strand on LinkedIn Black Hills Information Security Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter Follow Ron Eddings on Twitter Follow Chris Cochran on Twitter Sponsored by Axonius
In this episode, we brought in two exceptional guests that are no stranger to chaos. In fact, they've identified ways to engineer for chaos. In the studio, we have Aaron Rinehart, CTO, and founder at Verica. We also have Jamie Dicken, former manager of applied security at Cardinal Health and current director at Resilience. These two are also authors of Security Chaos Engineering. If you haven't read that book it's already out, you should check it out.  Chaos engineering is the technique of introducing turbulent conditions into a distributed system to try to determine the conditions that cause it to fail before it actually fails. So they simplify it. What we do with chaos engineering is learn about the system without experiencing the pain of an outage or an incident. You learn to trust your gear by testing. The biggest impact really came once we understood how security chaos engineering fits into the bigger security picture. It's not about just being a part of the latest and greatest techniques and having the excitement of doing something that's cutting edge, but security chaos engineering at the end of the day. It's useless unless what you've learned drives change.    Key Takeaways: 0:00 Previously on the show 1:40 Aaron Rinehart and Jamie Dixon introduction  2:08 Episode begins 2:59 What Jamie and Aaron are doing today 3:13 What Jamie is doing 4:13 What Aaron is doing 5:00 Discuss chaos engineering 9:26 Importance of chaos engineering 10:16 Myths of chaos engineering 12:55 Chaos engineering customer impacts 17:34 Learning to trust the test and end result 19:03 Reader and customer feedback 22:21 Chaos engineering gone wrong 27:39 Implementing change in cybersecurity 28:11 Building a team of experts 39:08 Getting involved in chaos engineering  41:09 Tools for listeners 43:25 Keeping up with Aaron and Jamie     Aaron Rinehart on Twitter Jamie Dicken on Twitter Verica on LinkedIn Verica Free Book  Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter Follow Ron Eddings on Twitter Follow Chris Cochran on Twitter Sponsored by Axonius
In this episode, we brought back our good friend Lenny Zeltser.  Lenny is Chief Information Security Officer at Axonius.  He's developed a mindset of looking at security components as building blocks to create a holistic security environment. To this day, even while operating as an executive, he has wisdom that anyone can learn from. Quite often, the less sexy aspects of information security are ignored, when in reality, you need to understand what resources you're supposed to protect, which assets are compromised, and the infrastructure for your organization.  People jump right into fighting the big fires, and as you know, there is a reason why there are so many day-to-day urgent activities.  To start moving in a positive direction, Lenny shares this advice, “Understand what the major data sources you can tap into rather than thinking ‘let me create this one new way of serving everything I have are.’”  The information is there. Think about three sources of information that might get you the biggest bang for the buck!   Key Takeaways:   0:00 Previously on the show 1:40 Lenny introduction 2:05 Episode begins 3:10 What Lenny is doing today 5:35 The evolution of Lenny’s career 8:30 Parallels between beginning and now 10:38 Journey and growth of REMnux 13:00 Challenges Lenny has faced 15:21 Collaboration surprises 17:18 Horror stories 20:18 Enforcing policies 23:34 Asset management 26:08 New tech and trends 28:45 Biggest discovery about self 32:38 Advice for others 34:24 Keeping up with Lenny     Links:   What Lenny Does   Lenny on the Web   Follow Lenny on Twitter   Lenny on LinkedIn   Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio   Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon   Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter   Follow Ron Eddings on Twitter   Follow Chris Cochran on Twitter   Sponsored by Axonius
In this episode of Hacker Valley Blue, we brought in a guest who has been on a journey of transformation of self and technology.  Our guest is Chani Simms, managing director of Meta Defence Labs.  We talk about what is essential for cybersecurity.  If there was a magic box that could solve an issue, what problem would Chani want solved? “People!”  They need to be trained, and care, and have buy in.  They must be devoted to what they’re doing.  They need cultural awareness and support – it isn’t easy and the hardest job.   When it comes to leadership, organizations need to use people already in the organization.  It is important to know what they’re trying to do.  You have to use security as an enabler.  Leadership is responsible for communicating objectives and goals.     Key Takeaways 0:00 Previously on Hacker Valley Blue 1:36 In this episode 3:10 Background and day job 5:37 Cyber essentials 13:46 Keeping up to date 15:26 Access control 17:07 Security hygiene 19:48 Magic box 21:32 Leadership fundamentals 26:22 Formula 1 analogy 28: 46 Wrap up   Links: Chani on LinkedIn Chani on Twitter Email: Sponsored by Axonius Hacker Valley Studio Chris Cochran on LinkedIn Ron Eddings on LinkedIn
Know thy organization is key! Wise words from the powerful Marcus J. Carey.  Don’t be afraid to admit the bad stuff and be honest about the situation.  Most of the time people get fired because they are scared to admit the failure.   You have to build a tight network of people you trust who will be brutally honest with you.  You need those people who are going to tell you the truth.  Other people will see your superpowers before you do.  Superman didn’t know he was different, but others saw the differences and the strengths he didn’t even realize he had.  Always pay attention to how people react to what you do, then you will figure out what you are really good at.  We over emphasize what we suck at and ignore what we are good at.  Don’t do that. You need to understand how amazing, awesome and beautiful you are.  Double down and double down hard.  Do not be afraid to show your talents and be confident in your superpower.   In security, there is a role for everybody.   Key Takeaways:   1:40 In this episode 2:12 Welcome 3:40 Marcus background 4:57 What lead Marcus to cyber 7:09 Self discovery 9:48 Creations and inventions 14:22 Gathering and retaining information 17:53 Auxiliary skill 21:35 Abilities and mission 25:26 Overlooked areas 31:44 Advice to others 35:41 Staying up-to-date with Marcus   Links:   Marcus on Twitter   Marcus' Books on Amazon Marcus on LinkedIn Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter Follow Ron Eddings on Twitter Follow Chris Cochran on Twitter Sponsored by Axonius
Welcome to Hacker Valley Blue Season 2 “Know Thyself”. Instead of focusing on the enemy – threat intelligence and environment, we are focusing on knowing yourself and security stack. You need to know the business, but also the fundamentals of security landscape. Without the fundamentals, you cannot reach the level of success you desire. Getting laser sharp on computer networks and how computers speak to each other. Without understanding how each of the pieces work together, you cannot make strategic decisions. We have many guests this season that will teach more about the fundamentals. Stop ignoring the fundamentals and find synchronicity among your team. Building this team makes an impact for the business. You will have positive outcomes. Stop sweeping the issues under the rug to make better decisions. Cybersecurity is a lot like playing a game of chess using pieces, policies, and guidelines.  Opponents use the same things but don’t play by the rules.  You continually must up your game and face the opponent who isn’t playing fairly.  Knowing business, team, story and self is so important and that is what is coming up on the rest of the season.     Key Takeaways   0:00 Welcome 2:00 Kick-off 3:13 The fundamentals 5:46 How do you get people excited? 7:07 Making an impact on a business 8:43 Where does one begin to know thyself 10:32 Formula 1 analogy 12:32 Leadership 16:00 Superpowers 19:38 Three Rs of memory 24:58 Chaos engineering 27:56 The brother’s trip 30:11 Stepping into unknown 31:15 Play at work 32:00 Season recap   Links:   Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio   Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon   Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter   Follow Ron Eddings on Twitter   Follow Chris Cochran on Twitter   This entire season is sponsored by Axonius
Imagine, for a moment, you’re driving for Uber, and one of your riders changes your life forever! That’s the story we are sharing with you. It's all about Kendrick Trotter, the entrepreneur that has had an incredible journey in technology. Kendrick talks to us about that and the relationship between sales and engineering.   Ron and Chris are glad to be back with Kendrick Trotter who is helping diversify technology through partnerships with top technology firms. He is excited and humbled to be part of this! Kendrick shares his passion about Us in Technology. Their mission is “We are going to diversify the tech industry with more underrepresented people.” This is a very broad definition intentionally.  People associate diversity to black or brown, but really, it is variety.  Us in Technology partner with people who have coachability, drive, intelligence, and integrity. He feels they are teaching these mentees to be an entrepreneur, not a worker.  Change won’t happen until influential positions are more diverse.   To stay in touch with Kendrick or to learn more, visit his website, LinkedIn or Instagram.  Thank you   Key Takeaways   0:00 Introduction to the show 1:03 Welcome back 2:06 Kendrick joins the show 2:44 Kendrick shares his background 6:17 Catalyst to the trajectory for Kendrick 9:18 Power of Networking 13:35 Complexities of sales and engineering 15:53 Maintaining confidence 18:32 Big lesson learned 21:18 Diversity in the industry 26: 37 Surprises along the way 30:03 When change happens 30:53 Advice to those wanting into tech 32:39 Best ways to stay in touch with Kendrick 33:20 Thank you   Links: Us In Technology Website Kendrick's Instagram Kendrick on LinkedIn Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon. Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter. Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter. Learn more about our sponsor ByteChek. 
In this episode, we have the powerful Tamas Henning, Director of Security Engineering at Marqeta and also Trust and Safety Advisor for XR Safety Initiative.  Tamas got started in technology at a very young age and that is credited to his dad.  In the Early 90s his dad built a software company, and he was a super curious kid. By 6th grade, he learned trigonometry just so he could recreate Tetris.  Take a listen to this incredible origin story and passion project of securing XR.   Key Takeaways 0:00 Intro 1:22 Show starts with Ron & Chris 1:50 Introduction to Tamas Henning 2:25 Tamas shares his background 3:30 Introduction to tech 6:48 Challenges faced 8:20 How Tamas’ dad feels about him 9:50 Brotherly relationships 10:50 Why security? 17:37 Kids and exposure to the internet 21:27 Thoughts about information collection 24:22 XR and what it really means 27:25 Making the internet safer 29:58 Advice to people who want to make an impact 31:01 Best ways to keep up with Tamas   Links: Tamas on Twitter Tamas on LinkedIn  Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon. Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter. Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter. Learn more about our sponsor ByteChek.   
In this episode, we welcome Chani Simms, Managing Director of Meta Defence Labs as well as Founder and Chief Architect of She Ciso Exec.  Chani tells us the story of her rise from tragedy during childhood to being triumphant today.   0:00 Intro 1:03 In this episode with Chani Simms 2:22 Chani shares a bit about her background 3:35 Exposure to IT 5:24 First cold call experience 6:24 Chani’s early years in Sri Lanka 12:25 How did Chani recover from the trauma 13:08 What gave Chani hope 16:24 How a specific billboard spoke to her 18:12 Surprises along the way 20:35 Superpowers 23:00 Emotional intelligence 25:40 Having a good relationship with others 28:43 Chani’s advice to others 31:08 Connecting with Chani   Links: LinkedIn: Twitter: Website: TedX Talk: Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio. Learn more about our sponsor AttackIQ and enroll in The AttackIQ Academy!  
Vote here: It might seem impossible... but we need an incredible amount of votes to have a shot to win this People's Choice Webby. Who would have thought that two black cybersecurity professional with home studios, would have a shot against these huge media companies. But this prize is more than the trophy or the title. We are representing cybersecurity. We are representing the independent creators. We are representing the underrepresented. The audacious part... We believe we will win this thing. 30 seconds of your time can put us in the history books.
In the studio today is Jimmy Sanders, a mentor, technician and all-around leader.  Jimmy is the head of information security at Netflix DVD where he secures data and systems from cyber threat while building resilient compliance programs across technology, financial services, and healthcare organizations. Jimmy is here to talk about what we are worth in technology and cyber security.  He is always full of advice and knowledge and is always promoting positive change in our community.  To start this podcast, Jimmy shares a little about his background and how he came to the role he is in now for Netflix.  Along with his career background, he shares all the organizations he is involved with. Jimmy talks briefly about what happened to him that encouraged him to go 120% and then some in this career choice.  He didn’t find his passion in technology until 12 years after graduating college.  You will hear how the possibility of never walking again affected his work ethic.   Allan and Jimmy talk at length about those 12-years where Jimmy was stumbling, bouncing from college to college, to flunking out of college.  It took those years for him to discover how the absence of passion can truly feel.   The show closes discussing knowing how to recognize opportunities and taking them.  In addition, they talk about how important it is to know your worth, recognize your value and that everything in life or work is negotiable.  You will only be better than your job description if you make it that way.   Key Takeaways: 0:00 Intro 1:27 Episode begins 2:28 Jimmy Sanders introduced 2:40 Jimmy shares his background 4:20 Jimmy shares how he made his way into cyber security 6:28 What happened to Jimmy that got him going headstrong into cyber security 8:57 For 12-years, Jimmy stumbled through life – what did he learn and do? 10:40 Journey into his career choice and how it skyrocketed 13:00 How does Jimmy stay fresh and on top of advancements 14:54 Jimmy shares his “superpower” 17:55 Making the most of opportunities and getting into that mindset 20:15 Jimmy shares how to know your worth and understand your value 23:35 Negotiations when looking for a job 25:10 Jimmy’s hopes and objectives for the Technology Collaborative Summit which Cyber Ranch is hosting 27:26 Advice to those questioning their value in their cyber security job 28:55 Thank you and how to keep in touch   Links: Sign up for the April 27th event 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM Pacific Time: Jimmy Sanders on LinkedIn Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon. Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter. Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter. Learn more about our sponsor ByteChek.  Vote for Hacker Valley Studio to win a Webby!  
In this special announcement, we talk about the Webby's, the incredible honor it is, and the stiff competition we are up against.   Vote and help make our dream become reality here:
In this episode, we welcome Gabriela Ariza, a cybersecurity practitioner, influence, and wealth builder.  We talk about her incredible story and how she got into social media influencing.  Gabi started her IT journey in web development and then decided to transition to cybersecurity.  She now works in protecting and analyzing government infrastructure for state and county governments across the United States.  In addition, Gabi has founded a non-profit called HaITian Common Space.   0:00 - Intro 1:04 - In this episode 2:03 - Gabi introduced 5:42 - The story of where Gabi felt the magic for cybersecurity 7:07 – Special segment on CNBC 9:10 – Mindset of earning and saving 12:28 – Influence of parents 14:54 – The launch of Gabi’s nonprofit 15:50 – Superpowers 17:34 – Goals 22:23 – What’s next 23:17 – The impact 24:39 – Thank you 24:52 – Connecting with Gabi   Instagram: fab_millennial Website: Nonprofit: Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon. Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter. Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter. Learn more about our sponsor ByteChek. Vote for Hacker Valley Studio to win a Webby!
In this featured episode of Hacker Valley Studio podcast, Ron and Chris are joined by Sarah Groen, founder and CEO of Bell & Bly Travel, a luxury travel advisory firm. Bell & Bly Travel helps executives, entrepreneurs, and their families take a holistic view of their vacation planning, allowing them to save time, enjoy amazing experiences they can't plan on their own, and make lasting memories with loved ones. Sarah is a contributing columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine and is the host for the Luxury Travel insider podcast. In most of our episodes, we talk about work, the grind, and getting better every single day.  In this episode, we talk about something a little different; talking about taking time for yourself and maximizing vacations and time off, time with family, friends, and time for experiences.   Sarah is no stranger to experiences; she has traveled the world and is an expert at planning vacations.  We brought her into the studio to talk about getting the most out of our time off.   Her background is varied; she has an extremely random resume. She is from South Texas and lives in Houston.  She started in the financial world but wanted to get off the corporate rat race track because she didn’t enjoy what she was doing.  She went back to business school, not knowing what she wanted to do, but focused on entrepreneurship.   After school, Sarah went back to Houston and did many things, such as investing in an energy software startup and being an accelerator that she co-founded.  She worked at Uber - launching and running UberEats in Houston and Phoenix.  Finally, Sarah realized that if she was going to put that much time and effort into a business, she wanted it to be her own and build her own equity.  So, she started looking into companies to invest in and buy.  She finally began to focus on her passion for travel.   She describes herself as crazy about travel and shares how many countries she has visited and continents - and it’s a lot!  She is always thinking about where she is going next.  It all started due to her early experience where at 15 she went to Germany for an entire summer.  She loves planning travel for families who have kids at that age which is an impetus to loving travel.  This love led her to use all her free time for travel. Sarah loves all her travel experiences for so many reasons.  Trips fulfill you in many different ways.  Her ability to share what she loves led to her acceptance at Stanford.  Travel reminds her that she is so small in the world.  There are so many other ways to think and live, that when she travels, she is reminded of that.   As the episode progresses, Sarah describes how travel benefits the mind and health.  There is a lot of research that shows how vacations and travel is good for you.  People need it!  One example is neuroplasticity.  If something brand new happens, you will remember it more.  This keeps your brain more agile and to be more creative.  Travel puts you in a different environment and helps create new neuropathways. It is a fact that Americans are skipping tons of vacation days; there are millions of vacation days left on the table.  As that number goes up, all sorts of things are happening such as anxiety, mental health issues and other things that are symptoms of working too hard. In order to plan travel for groups, they bring people in and ask multiple questions to get to the bottom of what’s most important about this vacation and why.  What helps them relax.  This helps discover what is needed most by the travelers.  Making the most of the vacations is different for every person.  Some want to do everything, and some don’t want to do much at all.   The needs are different for everybody!  Luxury travel means something different, however.  She hesitates to put the word “luxury” in marketing, etc.  Generations want different things and luxury means true customization.  People don’t want to feel like a number anymore.  She is catering toward personalized and customized things.   What does customized mean?  How does it get specific?  What do people look at?  Sarah can do and plan things that are “ungoogleable.”  There are so many experiences that can be customized based on interests and passions.  These are “behind the scenes” and not amongst the packed tours that one encounters when on typical vacations. Sarah shares how networking is important in the role as a luxury travel planner.  She specializes in clients’ needs and wants, and they plan the world.  That can only happen through fantastic networks and partnerships. They have worked with them and keep up with them on a regular basis.  They have vetted partners in every corner of the world, and are kept up-to-date and help curate these specific itineraries and ideas.  Doesn’t matter if it is art or basketball, they make it happen due to their network. How people spend their money is personal, but don’t save it for a day you are never going to spend it.  If there is something you want to do, make a plan to make it happen.  Lay out what you want to achieve in your travel bucket list, and make a plan.  Pencil the experiences in that you want to have! Travel has changed alot since Covid-19.  Don’t let it scare you off when you are planning travel.  Hotels and airlines and tour operators have adjusted to safety protocols.  Safety is different for all people and their wants in regard to the degree of risk they are willing to take. Booking and cancellation policies have flexed greatly.  Those dream trips can be planned almost risk-free right now.   When it comes to food, it is trending to having more local cuisine experiences.  For instance, going to the market, following a local expert, going to different places and trying different things.  It is food combined with stories and history that is the trend.   Sarah is planning our “Think Week”, and we were excited to hear what she had in store for us.  She has our interests and general information based on the forms sent to us.  The next step is a call to hear what changes from the form and speaking in person.  This gives a true vision of what might make sense and then talk about options and possibilities.   Impactful Moments 0:00 - Welcome back to the Hacker Valley Studio   1:26 - This episode features Sarah Groen   2:25 - Where they met Sarah   2:44 - Sarah’s background is extremely varied   3:19 - Where the entrepreneurship started   3:57 - Decided to start focusing on her passion - travel   4:14 - Why travel?  What does it mean to her?   5:19 - Most memorable travel experience?   7:40 - How good travel is for you   10:35 - How people get the most out of time off?   13:04 - What does luxury travel mean for clients?   17:57 - How important is networking in this type of role?   20:23 - What would you say to our listeners who want to dip their toes in luxury travel?   22:08 - How travel has changed due to Covid-19.   25:36 - How food fits into travel    27:58 - What’s in store for our “Think Week”   29:29 - Best ways to stay in or get in touch with Sarah Links:   Learn more about BelleAndBlyTravel   Luxury Travel Insider Podcast on all platforms   @Sarahgoesglobal on Instagram   Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio.   Support Hacker Valley Studio on Patreon.   Follow Hacker Valley Studio on Twitter.   Follow hosts Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran on Twitter. Learn more about our sponsor ByteChek.
Comments (1)

Nick Olson

I needed this! hands down favorite episode!

Feb 8th
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