I AM CEO PODCASTOperationsSystems

IAM1875 – Author Educates Company Leaders on Establishing Cybersecurity Defense Systems

Podcast Interview with Tom Kirkham

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode of the IAMCEO Podcast, Tom Kirkham, the founder and CEO of IronTech Security, shares his professional journey and passion for cybersecurity. Tom is an author with over three decades of experience in software design, network administration, computer security, and cybersecurity. He generously provides cybersecurity defense systems and education, encouraging organizations to establish security-first environments.

  • CEO Story: Tom's life took a dramatic turn when he found himself on the ISIS kill list due to his hack. This event significantly amplified his passion for cybersecurity, prompting him to adopt a philosophical approach to strategy, management, leadership, HR, and vendor relationships. His new book, “Cyber Pandemic Survival Guide,” shines a spotlight on these experiences.
  • Business Service: IronTech Security as a managed services provider serves as an outsourced IT staff for small to medium businesses. Through his educational initiatives and his book, Tom empowers leaders with the knowledge they need to implement administrative controls, adopt the best cybersecurity tools, and offer effective cybersecurity awareness training.
  • Secret Sauce: Tom's secret to success resides in simplifying tools and their implementation. He carries out periodic business reviews to explain updates to clients and prospects.
  • CEO Hack: Tom believes in setting an accurate and motivating company culture. He emphasizes addressing any missing goals or objectives within the team.
  • CEO Nugget: Tom advises that a shared vision is crucial for success. Without a shared vision, no amount of direction will lead to a successful launch. Everyone should swim in the same direction.
  • CEO Defined: For Tom, being a CEO means setting the vision and the overall strategy, taking risks, and exercising imagination and creativity. He advocates for a servant leadership approach.
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Tom Kirkham Teaser 00:00

The point of the book when you're the leader of the organization is getting a high enough level to know what you need to do to buy the best-of-breed tools to implement best of breed administrative controls or procedures and policies around password complexity requirements and putting in cyber security awareness training.

Intro 00:26

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the IAMCEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:53

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresham from the IAMCEO podcast, and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year.

And we're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focusing on operations. The systems will set you free. So think about systems, think about flow, sustainability, potentially working out in your morning routine, waking up early, e commerce, different business models, think of the operations in the models that basically set up the foundation to allow the creativity.

Within organizations, but also to make sure the trains are running on time and things are going as they should. Now, this is extremely important because we often turn to the sexy parts of business and forget about the operations and how important that is. So I really want to focus this month on this specific topic.

So sit back and enjoy this special episode at the IAMCEO podcast.

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast. I have a very special guest back on the show. I have Tom Kirkham of Iron Tech Security. Tom, super excited to have you back on the show.

Tom Kirkham 02:13

Yeah. Thanks for having me back. Always enjoyed it.

Gresham Harkless 02:16

Yes, definitely enjoyed it. And there's so many great things that you're working on and so many kind of tools and tips and tidbits and even stories that you have it. I'm excited to have you back on the show. But of course, before we jumped into that, I want to read a little bit more about Tom so you can hear a little bit more about him and all the awesome things he's doing.

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And Tom is the founder and CEO of Iron Tech Security. He provides cyber security defense systems and focuses on educating and encouraging organizations to establish a security first environment base with cyber security training programs for all workers to prevent successful attacks.

Tom brings more than three decades of software design, network administration, computer security and cyber security knowledge to organizations around the country.

And Tom recently published a new book titled The Cyber Pandemic Survival Guide. Protecting yourself from the coming worldwide cyber War. Tom, again, excited to have you back on the show my friend, are you ready to speak to the IAMCEO community?

Tom Kirkham 03:08

Yes, let's do it.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:09

Let's make it happen. So I wanted to rewind the clock here a little bit more since you last been on the episode. Could you take us through a little bit more on what you've been working on? What your CEO story is and what that you get started with all the awesome work you're doing.

Tom Kirkham 03:20

The big project was getting the book wrapped up and finding a publisher and all of the things that go along with that. So we released it officially July 29th, and it was on the Amazon.

It was a number one new release for about three or four weeks. Got a lot of great positive feedback on it and if you're a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can actually read it for free on your Kindle, if you're in that subscription but there's a paperback and an ebook version as well, all on Amazon.

Gresham Harkless 03:55

Nice. I definitely, appreciate you being able to package all that information. First of all, congratulations but definitely love that. July 29th is my mom's birthday, so that's a very special day for many ways. Now I have another one to add on but I love that you've been able to give so much information to package into the book.

So I would love to hear, a little bit more about what you do, but also want to hear definitely more on what we can find in the book so that we can of course, pick it up.

Tom Kirkham 04:16

For those of you that don't know about Kirkham Iron Tech or Iron Tech security, we have two divisions. One of them, which is the 20 plus year old part of it, is what's known in the business as a managed services provider.

It's basically an outsourced I. T. Staff for small to medium sized businesses. And actually, we're getting larger and larger businesses all the time because not only is it very cost effective to outsource your I. T. Even if you've got hundreds of people. A good MSP is going to have very, very expensive tools to properly manage that environment.

So, it's really great if you've got just a couple of it, but you've got 500 people to support, you'll see those environments outsource a lot and those IT people are there as a symphony conductor. Whether they're outsourcing help desk or cyber security. Now, Iron Tech Security is a managed security services provider, much the same thing.

But the focus is completely on providing enterprise-grade cyber security defenses and training and pen testing, vulnerability assessments and all of that. So you can get your company, you understand where your company is today and what you need to do to really ramp up the protection for really all the stakeholders in the company.

It could be your clients or customers, but it's also your employees for many of you. It could be your community, your state. There are a lot of different moving pieces there that making your company and yourself safe is critical to the longevity of the company.

I wanted to write the book, not for my peers or other InfoSec specialists, but for that small business owner or medium-sized business, president, CEO or whatever, and put it in real-world terms. And I figured the best way to do that was to wrap a fictional story around it.

But what I'm really proud about in the book is it does a really good job of illustrating the failure in management and leadership that led to the entire attack. And that's usually what it is. And I hate to say it like that. Hoping it doesn't happen to you or your company is not a strategy.

And good leaders always have a strategy. They understand their risk. You buy insurance. Many businesses have liability insurance, errors and omissions medical malpractice insurance and on and on.

Of course, you got building and everything else, but and that just seems like just a normal business management decision. You're being prudent. If the worst thing happens, at least insurance will help make us whole. But the vast majority of small business people don't know where to go to get the best cyber security stuff.

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And you really should go to a specialist, and it is outside the scope of I.T. Yeah, it's a different skill set. It's a different experience, it's actually a different objective. My goal is to not make everyone that reads it a cyber security expert.

The point of the book when you're the leader of the organization is getting a high enough level view to know what you need to do, to buy the best-of-breed tools to implement best-of-breed administrative controls or procedures and policies around password complexity requirements and putting in cybersecurity awareness training.

And then you're fulfilling your obligation to be a leader in the company. But the key critical thing to it is just impressing upon people the sheer depth of the problem. And these are all industry standards it's not just me saying you need to put these things in place. The White House says it's part of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, National Institute of Standards and Technologies.

Those of us in the business understand that these are just best practices and it's the cost of doing business these days. So by me writing the book and coming on your podcast and speaking engagements and things like that, my role is to educate as many people as I possibly can.

Gresham Harkless 08:48

I definitely appreciate you obviously, coming on the show, but definitely all the work that you did. I love that you were able to arm the people with that information.

So would you think that I call it the secret sauce, the thing you feel either sets you or the organization apart and makes it unique. Is it your ability? I'm thinking of like Asop's fables of being able to take sometimes, those lessons, those tools, that information to be able to simplify so that everybody can understand.

Do you feel like that's something that, definitely this book, other aspects of the things that you do, do you feel like that's kind of like what sets you apart and makes you unique?

Tom Kirkham 09:17

Yeah, absolutely. We frequently, almost constantly walk into a prospect, a new environment or even the existing clients because we do periodic business reviews. Not only does technology change, but cyber security changes more and faster. And there could be a new threat this afternoon. That's new threat actor and all of that.

But in these meetings with prospects and clients, our job is to explain it in such a manner that they can understand. And okay, this isn't going to be, I get why we need it now, or I get how it's going to be implemented. I understand the impacts on the business and what risk we're shrinking down, right?

You always want to minimize risk to the organization and if we just went in there, or if I had done this with the book, and it was just a dry technical discussion of implement these administrative controls and physical controls and talk about the benefits and all of that. It wouldn't have been as nearly as effective and it really wouldn't have illustrated the management and leadership component of it, as well to impress upon them the need to make this positive decision for their organization.

Gresham Harkless 10:39

Yeah, absolutely. There's so many people that are involved and you have to be able to empower leaders to be able to think about all the different things that are going on within an organization. So I think that's huge. And that might be like, your CEO nugget.

Do you have like a CEO hack, which is a little bit more something from your book or could be something that you feel like makes you more effective and efficient that we can take away from your book.

Tom Kirkham 10:59

Your role and your responsibilities to set the vision and the overall strategy. Understand, oh, there's there's market opportunity. Here's to investigate it. And one of the things that I do is when I am truly confident that we're breaking into a new market and it's something no one else is doing, it's unique, it's risky. You got to be a risk-taker or else you're not going to be a good leader, right?

Imagination, creativity is all part of it. A lot of business owners are technicians, they were an accountant that worked for an accounting firm that decided to hang their shingle out. Now that all of a sudden you've got to start wearing different hats and you've got in one of those is to look at the overall strategy.

What's going to be coming down the road five years down the road? If everyone doesn't share your vision, no amount of commanding is going to make it a successful launch into a new endeavor. Everyone's not swimming in the same direction or flying in the same formation. I guess that's a nugget.

But yeah, I think that it all works together with servant leadership and all of that.

Gresham Harkless 12:09

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Absolutely. I think you really are able to drill down deep and understand. What does success and winning mean for each individual person and being able to dial into that? So that ties into the overall vision that you have.

Tom Kirkham 12:21

Real key, is it. Is this somebody that everyone in the organization is going to enjoy working with and it's going to make everyone better at their job and their personal lives and their professional lives? If you're running a business and there's a lot of drama around the office, you need to question what kind of culture are you setting?

That's… I would say in my belief that's not a very productive environment and you're costing your company a lot of money.

Gresham Harkless 12:51

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that I love that you said that because I think sometimes when you're thinking, I'm bringing on the summer intern, so it's going to be for a few months and then they're going to be gone and go back to school, whatever it might be.

But I think if you start to look at that force multiplier, for lack of a better term, you start to see the impact that person, whether it be the intern, whether it be the new person that's going to handle accounts or whatever the title might be at the end of the day, that impact, just like we talked about from a cyber security standpoint is going to carry on.

Not just from that 3 months is going to carry on and on and on. So you have to be so aware and very diligent about who you're bringing into that culture because it will stay with that culture beyond sometimes even when that person's there.

Tom Kirkham 13:33

Yeah, absolutely. And sometimes they come in as an intern and they think they want to do something else, maybe with a publicly traded company, be a small fish in a big pond or whatever the stability, so to speak, whatever that means these days and then they discovered that not only do they really enjoy certain aspects inside of our company.

But then they go, I want to do professional development here and contribute to the culture because I really enjoy working here and it's not unusual for, a fortune 500 company here in town to pick up somebody and hire them away from us. And then 2 or 3 years later, they come back to us.

And there's one in particularly local that it seems like it's like a door going there and a door coming back. In fact, the 1st time I heard somebody from him was over 30 years ago and he works for us today. So, it's just a real interesting deal. So, but I'm happy for him, if that's part of their goals in life, it doesn't change our relationship.

It impacts us. Yeah, when they leave but that happens in life and my objective is to make sure that we do everything as we can as a company to address whatever goal or objective, whatever they're missing in our company. Is there something we can do about that?

Gresham Harkless 15:00

Truly appreciate that definition and perspective. And of course, I appreciate your time even more. So, what I wanted to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know. And of course, how best people can get a copy of the book about all the awesome things you and your team are working on as well.

Tom Kirkham 15:16

It's on Amazon. You can search my name or cyber pandemic and it'll take you right to it. You can find me on LinkedIn and all that stuff. But the company is irontechsecurity.com. I have a website where it's tomkirkham.com where we promote the book and speaking engagements.

If anyone's interested in having me speak in front of the organization, just reach out with that and we can see what we can do for you. Same thing with webinars, if you're a part of a society or, we deal with engineering societies, accounting society, bar associations.

Gresham Harkless 15:51

Nice. I absolutely love that. Of course, we're going to have the links and information to show notes so that everybody can reach out and connect with you. Of course, get a copy of the book as well, too. And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Tom Kirkham 16:00

Thank you very much. And it was my pleasure being here, really is.

Outro 16:03

Thank you for listening to the IAMCEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. IAMCEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Want to level up your business even more? Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos@cbnation.co. Also, check out our IAMCEO Facebook group.

This has been the IAMCEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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