DiscoverHacker Valley StudioWe Are Here Part 2: A Cyber Masterminds Discussion
We Are Here Part 2: A Cyber Masterminds Discussion

We Are Here Part 2: A Cyber Masterminds Discussion

Update: 2021-02-10


Hacker Valley Studio presents: We Are Here - an audio journey and series exploring black excellence in cybersecurity. In part two of this series, Ron and Chris host a mastermind conversation with Tia Hopkins, Charles Nwatu, AJ Yawn, and Kelvin Coleman. In this special conversation, we discuss ExIST, a framework to promote excellence in the pursuit of human endeavors like hobbies, careers, and finding purpose.


As humans, we’re always on the brink of discovery. Watching a documentary, witnessing someone perform a piece of art or a eureka moment might be all that it takes to pull you in a new direction to explore a new topic. Learning something new can be like stepping into a new world that you’ve never experienced. This leap can be exciting, scary, or even uneventful but always leads to discovery.


Tia Hopkins began exploring technology since she can remember. One of her first memories of her interest in technology was when she noticed her mom stopped buying her toys because she would take them apart to understand how they worked. Tia took a giant leap into the new world of technology when she took apart her family and realized that she had to put it back together before her mom found out. Tia has explored many facets of technology from working with Internet Service Providers, IT teams, and Managed Detection and Response teams.


After deciding which world to ExIST in, the next step to understanding and mastery is immersion. This is surrounding yourself in a new topic or idea and learning what it means to succeed in that arena. In sports, this might be watching a professional game and learning more about the rules. In cybersecurity, immersion may be reading blogs on the topic or watching YouTube videos that explain a focus area. While immersing yourself in this world you’ll identify the mindset needed to remain there and grow.


Charles Nwatu’s advice on immersion is to not be afraid to fail - It's the only way you succeed. Not giving yourself the opportunity to take the shot is even worse than failure itself. Learn how to consume content in any way that works best for you - read, listen, watch everything you possibly can. Identify ways that help you articulate what you’ve learned to others.


After learning the rules and where the boundaries exist in the new world, the next step is to study. Using tools, knowledge, examples and mentors to improve your capabilities. If you’re learning about a topic with subtopics, you may need to re-immerse yourself in areas that you’re weak on. In this phase of the framework, you're using your new capabilities to rapidly learn and improve.


AJ Yawn provides the advice of staying focused and ignoring the results. To Focus AJ often implements the  90-90-1 rule. And it's taking 90 days spending the first 90 minutes of your day, focusing on ONE thing. Whenever AJ is trying out a new endeavour he ignores the results for the first 90 days, even if there’s no visible improvements. When picking up anything new the focus should be on the attempt rather than the outcome.

Translate / Transform 

Translation is expressing the sense of wisdom into language. During this part of the ExIST framework, you’re using the collection of experience and wisdom to create, innovate, or teach. Taking your developed ability and bettering the lives of others.


Kelvin Coleman has always been an advocate of teaching others and promoting the people in the cybersecurity industry. Kelvin can recall researching and reciting state capitals that he’d take to his meetings to build a rapport with city and state government stakeholders. While the name of a state capital or mascot may not seem critical, it helped his customers understand that he does the research and cares about doing what is best for everyone.


Impactful Moments

0:00 - We Are Here a series exploring black excellence in cybersecurity

1:13 - Kelvin Coleman, the strategic mastermind

1:50 - Tia Hopkins, the technical juggernaut

2:25 - Charles Nwatu, the wise warrior

3:00 - AJ Yawn, the empathetic CEO

4:28 - ExIST, a framework to promote excellence

5:40 - Explore

22:14 - Immerse

56:09 - Study

1:10:10 - Translate/Transform

1:20:12 - Sage wisdom from our mastermind group

1:25:20 - How to keep in touch with our amazing guests


Stay In Touch Kelvin Coleman on LinkedIn

Connect with Tia Hopkins on LinkedIn and Empow(her) Cybersecurity

Follow Charles Nwatu on LinkedIn

Stay connected with AJ Yawn on LinkedIn

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.


Get your start in cybersecurity with SANS through their Diversity Cyber Academy!
Applications are now open, and SANS is looking for the best and brightest to diversify the field! The
SANS ICMCP Diversity Cyber Academy is available for current college students, college graduates, and
career changers who are not already working in cybersecurity.
Those interested can go to or if you’d like to learn more about what SANS is doing on the
Diversity and Inclusion front please visit









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We Are Here Part 2: A Cyber Masterminds Discussion

We Are Here Part 2: A Cyber Masterminds Discussion

Hacker Valley Media