The journey so far, the things we’ve learned
In This Episode:
I’ve got to share with you that I did not expect the Real Technologist podcast to stretch me in so many dimensions. And if I’m being genuinely open and honest, there was no way to anticipate the impact on my husband, my sound engineer, my best friend, Bob.
You see, Bob joins each recording session to check on our sound levels. He also runs a second audio capture stream in case our primary recording platform fails. Yes, he’s my operations guy, the ops to my dev. He is very much the consummate pro who goes off camera but is listening in the wings. At first, I thought he was only monitoring the sound levels and quality.
When we finish, he’ll often pop back in to say thanks and “that’s a wrap”.
As it turns out, he has been listening… I mean really listening… hearing firsthand the origin stories of my incredible guests and truly pondering their lives, situations, and stories.
The first time I noticed, it was very subtle. Jennifer Leggio and I had been chatting for an hour or so and we were exploring her most recent focus: normalizing sobriety… her sobriety. This part of her journey is less than a year old though in our safe conversation, where the guest has the option to say “don’t include that”, Jennifer said keep that in. I need to open up, be honest and share my story. I want to help others.
When Bob popped in to close out, he cleared his throat. This is a very, very subtle little noise that only a few folks on the planet would know. There are moments that truly “choke him up”.
That sounded great guys, that’s a wrap, Jennifer. Thank you. You are truly incredible.
It’s a newish thing. And so I’ve been out there advocating, let’s normalize this. Let’s take the shame out of this. Hey, don’t be ashamed to say that you choose not to drink and just go out and be your amazing sober self.
It’s a new part of my journey. I’m,just under 6 months into this journey, it’s, I’m just getting to the point where I’m comfortable. I shouldn’t say comfortable. I’m very comfortable in my sobriety, but getting to the point of being more open about it. I posted something on Twitter the other day with a t-shirt that said, normalize sobriety, and I put it like, felt cute, won’t delete later.
Because people die from these types of things. I wanna take the shame out of recovery. And I’m very fortunate. I just woke up one day and was like, I’m tired of hurting myself and others and not having the life I want because of alcohol. And so I made a change.
That evening, Bob and I talked over dinner about how to knit the story together. Jennifer is strong, she’s authentic, her sobriety is one small piece of a bigger story that makes her unique.
Then Bob said, make sure you include my favorite quote. I took the bait. She was at CISCO, Trac, Cisco, and that wasn’t enough. In the world of infrastructure, security, and operations, CISCO is a household name and working for them might seem like hitting the apex.
He would push me and say, “I see more in you. I see more in you.” And so because of that, Cisco wasn’t enough for me anymore. And it wasn’t Cisco, it was the role because it’s such a huge org. My role was very finite there, focusing on security strategy and communications and messaging and such.
I’m like, you know what? I’m gonna quit.
In fact, this is another moment when you need to know a bigger story about Bob. Operations alone are no longer enough for him. He sees that role as finite and is all in on his next adventure: co-owning a furniture design studio with his son. He’s still my Ops SME. Jennifer’s own choices seem to validate his, who leaves a full-time job in technology as a senior ops leader?
You are listening to Real Technologists. I’m your host, Trac Bannon, coming to you from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Each week we choose a unique guest behind leading Edge Tech innovation to explore their genuine stories, their true journeys. Technology touches nearly every aspect of our lives. It’s being driven by diverse perspectives and experiences of real humans.
You’re in the right spot to hear about the real technologists reshaping our world. Stay tuned for stories that will give you something to noodle on.
A couple of weeks ago, my oldest child was trying to decide between two different career opportunities. They are a community builder who is definitely the child of Dev and Ops having led community engagement for a global DevOps group. The recent rounds of layoffs in tech impacted more than the software engineers and the automation experts. Those that support and enable software teams are being let go as well. Amanda owns a house a few blocks away on the same street in our little town of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
This child of mine is sometimes too much A mix of Dev and Ops, seeing both the big picture and the future ways to improve in parallel with being very risk aware and risk-adverse.
The first role reads as though it’s their resume; essentially matching Amanda’s experience bullet by bullet. The salary was fine with healthcare benefits and paid vacation; they are a stable company with over 30,000 employees and decades of success.
The other role is adjacent to Amanda’s work experience, but in a direction AB has been learning and studying about: cybersecurity. The company is very small and the opportunity is exciting and dynamic. AB will stretch to be every bit of a “swiss army knife”. The money is okay, yet the offer was conditional on the CEO landing a new big deal.
Asking your parents is a pretty normal thing to do in these situations and AB sent a text, “okay to stop by after dinner?” I shot back a typical verbose millennial response… a single letter, upper case “Y”.
Bob and I sat down for dinner and began to discuss, debate, and get a bit heated in our recommendations. Daddy is understandably concerned that his firstborn may miss a mortgage payment. And what about all the new skills? Will AB have the grit to pick up and get excited after the gut punch of being laid off? His advice was going to be “take the safe route”.
I’ve been stirring the pot with AB for a few months about the growing opportunities in security and I know the second role gave some excitement. There was more risk. If the role is conditional on a big project, what happens when it’s completed? What sort of job security is there?
We needed to at least have our thoughts coalesced and offer guidance, not parental mandates. Our baby needs to weigh the options.
And that’s when we discussed my podcast guest Lani Rosales. Lani had shared her story of being in love with journalism, but having the seeds of doubt sown The new high school journalism coach sent her on an assignment to interview a classmate and a friend who was also suffering from terminal illness. Lani refused. The coach announced Lani would be removed from the student staff.
She told me that, I wasn’t fit for journalism and I took that because I was so young… an adult telling me that I wasn’t gonna cut it.
When she told me I couldn’t cut it in journalism. I should have asked somebody else.
I should have asked somebody else that I trusted.
I ended up kind of full circle where I began, but I, I feel like it did kind of take me off track away from my passions for several years.
Bob, we can’t be that journalism coach. We can’t sow the seeds of doubt. I won’t do that. We need to walk through the facts and be honest with the risks. This is an adult who will need to own their own success. I don’t ever want Amanda to look back and say “I should have asked somebody else”.
When we record the Real Technologist Podcast, we are all virtual. Even Bob and I are separated by two floors with my office being upstairs and Bob having a sound engineering and op center in his basement office. A few weeks ago, I interviewed Robin Yeman and we had a simply lovely discussion. We had a number of parallels in our lives: kids while in college, often being the only woman in the room. We both are working for federally funded research and development corporations. We LOVE what we do. Robin and I share a love of helping and mentoring others as well.
When we were about to close out, Bob popped in to say “Great job! That’s a wrap”. He was grinning from ear to ear.
When we ended the call, I started to answer an email. When I heard Bob bounding up the two flights of stairs. He ran into my office and with a big shit-eating grin said “Did you hear that?”
I was happy with the recording and simply said, “Yeah, this would be another great episode. I love working with Robin.” He kept staring and grinning at me until I stood up and said “what”?
He playfully poked me in the tummy and asked “How can she have imposter syndrome?” My response was something like “I know, she’s so incredible how could she ever doubt herself?”
That’s when Bob said quietly, “Remind you of anybody?” Not putting two and two together I said, “yeah, Jennifer Leggio and Carolyn Wong both talked about it”.
“No Trac, he said, I’m talking about you.”
I think believe in yourself. I was very unsure… there were so many times that I was unsure that, you know, this something was going to work or that I could get this position… or things like that. And I would just have stomach aches and just have angst. It turns out that it just works out fine.
So have confidence that you actually know what you’re doing. I am definitely one of those, people that have, you know, feel like it’s pretender syndrome… you’re always waiting for somebody to find you out… you need to get over that.
Well, damn. There are days when I have to take a step back and breathe. Some days I’m flying so high after a day of leading design. I’m in my wheelhouse and I’m happy.
Every once in a while, when the stakes are so high, I’m a human and I wonder if I have all the skills to bring the impact necessary. I’ve learned that I know what I know. I’m constantly working on the leading edge and can never stop learning.
I don’t always know the right answer; seeking inputs from others that’s just plain smart.
I mentor my teams that sometimes, we have to do some tasks that are not glamorous or fun. Being married to Ops, I hear all the time that “stuffs gotta get done”. A new phrase has been added to the Bannon family lexicon that came from my discussion with Caroline Wong. She and I were discussing our shared mission to improve software security. I’m hellbent that we need to be secured by design. Everybody needs to be taught the OWASP top 10 security vulnerabilities and how to avoid them!
I do have a mission… and my mission is I really want us to have a new OWASP top 10. And I don’t want us to have a new OWASP top 10 just for kicks. I want us to have a new OWASP top 10 because I actually want us to make some headway on being able to find and fix and prevent security vulnerabilities in web applications at scale.
What Caroline said next is what made Bannon history.
We have to do things that are boring and hard.
If we just track our inventory properly, keep it up to date, find and fix vulnerabilities, back up our data and test those backups to make sure they’re working. We actually can avoid being victims of ransomware. But we don’t do those simple things. We, as an industry have an opportunity to focus on the basics and do them really well.
I think we totally can. We just have to decide that it’s important.
Boom. Drop the mic.
In reality, the goal of this podcast is to highlight the unique humans behind leading edge tech innovation. And introduce listeners to new people, different ideas, spark innovation, amplify creativity, and broaden thinking.
I never expected that working this together with my husband would impact us so deeply and in different ways. Simply taking a pause to consider this podcast journey to date has given me so much to noodle on. Funny, when I took an impromptu poll of family and friends on their fave quotes there were myriad though Alyssa Miller’s advice to her younger self resonated with us all.
I think that’s probably the biggest thing would be just to reassure myself that… hey you know what? You always wanted to do really good things. You’re going to do really good things and you’re going to meet a lot of people… you’re going to have the opportunity to impact a lot of good people and help make life better for a lot of people. And that to me, I think if I had known that as a kid, that would’ve just relaxed in me. Just knowing that, all right… that’s what I want to do is be a good influence in the world.
And that’s a wrap for today’s episode of Real Technologists. I want to thank all the guests for sharing their stories. Your insights and experiences are truly inspiring. I’m grateful for the opportunities to share them with our audience. A special thanks to Jennifer Leggio, Robin Yeman, Alyssa Miller, Caroline Wong, and Lani Rosales for inspiring today’s retrospective and pushing Bob and I to continuously grow.
This episode would not be possible without my life partner, husband, and muse, Bob Bannon. Thank you, boo, for being game and open to sharing some of our story. This podcast is a Sourced Network production and updates are available weekly on your favorite audio streaming platform. Just search for real technologists and consider subscribing. Special thanks to our executive producer, Mark Miller, for making this show possible. Our editor and sound engineer, Pokie Huang has done an amazing job bringing this story to life. Thank you both. The music for today’s episode was provided by Blue Dot Sessions, and we use Descript for spoken text editing and audacity for the soundscaping. The show distribution platform is provided by CaptivateFM making it easy for our listeners to find and enjoy the show.
That’s all for today, folks. This is Trac Bannon. Don’t forget to tune in next week for another intriguing episode of Real Technologists and something new to noodle on.