Before you lecture, listen

CSO Publisher Bob Bragdon on the key to success

If you haven't heard yet, this is CSO magazine's tenth anniversary. Let me be the first to let you in on a little secret (in case you've been living in a cave somewhere): A lot has changed in ten years.

I've had the unique pleasure to watch the security and risk profession evolve from a backroom player, an afterthought, to a thought-leading, business-aligned profession that helps leadership steer their organizations through sometimes calm, often perilous waters of business.

You haven't always had it easy. Heck, you've often had little or no support. In fact, when this magazine launched in 2002, there was some doubt as to whether the role of the CSO would continue at all or if it would just be absorbed by other parts of the business. But through hard work and leadership, you have helped teach your organization's leaders that what you do is important (nay, critical) to the continued success of your business.

The other day I pulled out a copy of our very first issue. On the cover was a photo of Bill Boni, then CISO of Motorola, now VP of information security at T-Mobile. His image stared at me over the headline, "Let's Talk." But Bill wasn't talking, he was listening. How very prophetic that has turned out to be.

The most successful security leaders aren't the ones who just talked about security and risk until they were blue in the face. They're the ones who do a lot of listening. Listening to the business, listening to their peers...and learning. If I had to sum up CSO's overarching message from the past ten years, it would be just that: Listen.

It is said that with knowledge comes understanding. By listening, CSOs have learned about the business of their organizations. They turned that knowledge into understanding, which in turn helped them align security with the goals of the organization. From that, they have learned to balance risk with opportunity. It's not perfect, but it works...and that precarious balance is the Holy Grail of business.

If you want to become a business leader, you better be able to talk the talk and walk the walk. Otherwise you're just another techie saying "no" to every new technology, or you're just another security guard walking the rounds of a building.

After all these years and all the things we've seen, I truly believe that the role of the CSO has a bright future. The team at CSO looks forward to the next ten years of helping you solve your challenges and enjoy your successes.

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