How CISO’s Develop a GROWTH Mindset

On this episode, Dr. Eric Cole discusses his journey from a college student to being the successful entrepreneur he is today.

His story begins with the choice to move away from architecture, one of his real passions at the time, to making the prudent decision to learn computer science. (Remember this was in 1984, just as personal and business computers were gaining wide adoption.) In college, he met with a CIA recruiter, and did better than he realized at the interview thanks to his preparation and skill at asking clear and articulate questions.

After a successful period in the CIA, he went into the private sector and founded multiple successful business ventures.

Jump to your favorite part:


  •  0:37 What is the mindset necessary to become a successful CISO? On this episode, I’m going to talk about my journey from a college student to a CISO, and the skills and lessons that I gained along the way. My story begins in 1984. I was a high school student, and I was interested in architecture. But just because it was my passion doesn’t mean I was good at it.
  • 3:52 Lesson one: In life, people need to find their true calling. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I had a friend who suggested that I learn computer science. The thinking was that everything would someday be in computers so it was a flexible skill. That turned out to be correct.
  • 4:28 Lesson 2 – Always have trusted advisors. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, the POTUS, all have advisors. Don’t do it alone.
  • 5:44 Lesson 3 – Everything is business. Whether you’re looking for a job, finding a date/spouse, everything involves selling yourself.
  • 8:30 Lesson 4 – Always test your theories. You might have a good idea or a bad one, so you need to test it and get data.
  • 9:37 Lesson 5 – You’re going to be tested in life.The stronger the roadblock, the more you need to execute.
  • 11:09 Always take action. The best way to learn is to take action, possibly fail, learn what the lessons are. You’re never going to be “prepared” enough, there’s always another book you could read or class you could take, but don’t overprepare and not take action.
  • 12:01 Lesson 6 – Listen more than you speak, ask questions before you answer. Authorities listen more than they speak.
  • 13:51 Lesson 7 – Smart people have the right answers, brilliant people have the right questions.
  • 18:37 Lesson 8 – You might not think you did your best, but compared to others, if you’re prepared, you’ll outshine others who didn’t try. Always be prepared and opportunities will appear. 
  • 17:32  Lesson 9 – Advice from others is good, but you have to ultimately follow your heart.
  • 19:25 Lesson 10 – When it’s appropriate and respectful, you can break the (social) rules.
  • 20:50 Lesson 11 – Learn to ask clear, articulate questions.
  • 22:49 Lesson 12 – To be a really good CISO, you must understand and think like the offense (the criminals)
  • 23:54 Lesson 13 – Everything in life is a game. The people who win games are the ones who understand the game and think 10 moves ahead.
  • 26:04 Lesson 14 – As long as you have functionality, you can’t have security.
  • 27:02 Lesson 15 – Make sure you’re playing on the same scoreboard as the executives
  • 28:15 Lesson 16 – Always overcommunicate ability?