Many people believe culture is essential to work and perform at your best. Leaders that understand high-growth cultures will have an advantage over their peers. Today’s guest is Brett Galloway, CEO at AttackIQ. AttackIQ, a leading independent vendor of breach and attack simulation solutions, built the industry’s first Security Optimization Platform for continuous security control validation and improving security program effectiveness and efficiency. Brett talks about the need for high-growth cultures. We look at what gets in the way of culture.
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Brett Galloway: The Transcript
About: Former Cisco executive and Silicon Valley-based founder joins fast-growing innovator in continuous security validation. SAN DIEGO, CA – November 20, 2018 — AttackIQ™, a leader in the emerging market of continuous security validation, today announced the appointment of Brett D. Galloway as the company’s Chief Executive Office (CEO). Galloway brings more than 30 years of executive and entrepreneurial experience in the technology industry, most recently co-founding Mist Systems and serving as its Chairman. He is the former president and CEO of Airespace, which was sold to Cisco in 2005. Galloway served as the Senior Vice President of the Network Services Group and Enterprise Strategy at Cisco. He was also the co-founder, chief operating officer and later CEO of Packeteer, which launched an initial public offering (IPO) on the NASDAQ in 1999.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Brett Galloway: As executives. You need to do three things. You need to get the right people in the right seats. You need to set a sort of an inspiring sort of vision and strategy for the company. And then you need to drive an operating cadence to get the organization there. , so I think many, many leaders fail, fail to both appreciate those three things and focus appropriately and all three of those things. Oftentimes, you know, people will buy us their activity to one. Because that’s what they’re personally good out of the care the most about, but I believe, you know, being a CEO requires you to focus on all three of those things. You have to focus on them at the right times and in the right context.
Intro: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insights from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: Your people one of the most important aspects to the growth of your company. Don’t take my word for it. You can talk to a lot of founders and CEOs across companies, and they will tell you the only way they were able to scale is because they had the right people in the right seats. They develop those people and they were able to create a culture that unites everyone together. Today, we look at high-growth cultures. We have a special guest with us. He is Brett Galloway, the founder CEO of AttackIQ, their cybersecurity company. He dives into some of the details of what this. But the real important aspect of today’s conversation is what really makes up a culture. What is it? He answers that question, but he also talks about how they got to this place. What do they really include into it? How they got to their values, how they use their values, and all of the things necessary for you to lead a company with a high growth culture.
My job is to help you become the best leader you can be. I love what I’m doing. I love having conversations with people who are not getting what they want out of their leadership, out of their people, out of their growth, and help them identify exactly what that is. I want to make that offer to you. If you are listening in this conversation and there’s something that you want, but you don’t have, I want to help you get clear about what it is what’s getting in your way. And I do this all for free. I love to be able to be of service to my audience. Take me up on this offer.
Just go to GeneHammett.com. Go to schedule your call and I’d love to talk to you about your business, about how you could grow, and how you can be the leader that your team deserves. Just go to GeneHammett.com and schedule your call. Now, here is Brett
Brett, how are you?
Brett Galloway: I’m doing great. How are you?
Gene Hammett: I am fantastic, you, you’ve been, on my mind lately talking about some of the things you’ve been through, but before we dive into our topic of culture of fast-growth companies, tell us about AttackIQ.
Brett Galloway: Be happy to so AttackIQ is a venture-backed cybersecurity startup. , we’re in the increasingly hot space of breach and attack simulation, a gardener named this is one of the top security and risk trends for the year, which is a company in a very crowded market space for cybersecurity software. The problem we saw was very simple. Most enterprise breaches today occur because the existing security program fails, enterprises have built security control architectures and programs, but those security controls they’ve deployed fail to operate. And so our job is to make sure that the security programs that enterprises have built work.
Gene Hammett: Brett, you’ve had a lot of experience you bring with you to this point. , I know you’re, you’re taking a company of growth and you’d probably take all that together. My job is to help us uncover for the audience what does it take to create a hat, a fast-growth company? , one of the things that we’ve seen that you do really well and you focus on is culture. So why is culture is very important?
Brett Galloway: So well, culture is, is actually pretty simple. , culture is norms of behavior, how people behave, you know, every company has a culture, right? So the question is whether those norms of behavior are constructive or destructive. , and you know, many companies will have sort of culture, statements and executives say things. The reality is culture is not what the executives say. It’s what people do now. So the leader’s job then is not to say what they want the culture to be, but it’s to shape those norms of behavior.
Gene Hammett: When you think about, culture statements and things like that, I’m sure that there there’s some good ones out there. There’s probably some that, that are pretty weak. Can’t hold a, a drop of water. But what do you think about having a culture statement?
Brett Galloway: Well, we do have a culture statement, and what’s, what’s fascinating is how we went about doing it. We actually interviewed our employees. We did this, in, about a year and a half ago, and we asked them what they valued about AttackIQ, and we got the answers. We wrote them down, and there were six, they valued one team, press, every customer do the right thing. Innovation operates with transparency, and people first. What we then did with that information. As we then went back to the employees and said, this is what you said, you value about AttackIQ, let’s work together to make this more and more true of how we operate and how we behave.
Gene Hammett: Is that different than your core values or is that wrapped all together?
Brett Galloway: It’s the same thing. Okay. We actually described them as our values and we, but obviously what these really are descriptions of norms of behavior. You know, when, when, when I introduced this, I was actually very explicit. I said, you know, these, these are the values that Pete, that you all value. That doesn’t mean we always do these. It doesn’t even mean that I always do these. And so, you know, part of operate with transparency was, you know, finding ways for each of us to hold each other accountable.
Commentary: Hold on, I just talked about a survey on values to be able to create this culture statement. Well, this is one of the principles of fast-growth companies. They don’t just sit back and do things themselves. They want to include others. And in fact, something like values is something to really stretch yourself and include others around you. Maybe not even your executive leadership team, go beyond that. Beyond the directors, beyond the managers, all the way to the frontline, because all of those people are shaping the culture. And you want to make sure you tune in to what they’re saying because when they have a feeling of being heard inside this process, they were more likely to feel ownership around the values. Maybe, even some of the words they select get used and that feeling translates into how they show up for work, how they treat the customers, and how they drive value for the organization, include people when you can. And this is beyond just the survey on values. It’s everything you can do. If you can include more people, it would take more ownership. Of that process and have the results they get include people. That’s what fast-growth companies do. Back to Brett.
Gene Hammett: One of them that you said was people first, what do you mean by that?
Brett Galloway: Well, we, we, we, we structured our values to bookend our list with people. So we started with one team, right. And then we ended with people first. And what we mean by people first is really a few things. You know, one is empowering people to work in an environment that’s conducive to creating an optimal work-life balance. You know, it’s also an explicit way for us to communicate that we’re really all dependent on one another. And that that dependence means we help each other. And it means that we operate, in ways that sort of tie back to the first value, which is one team.
Gene Hammett: Yeah. A lot of people take offense to the people, first stuff inside of values of a company. And really when I talk about it from leadership perspective, because they think that customers should be first. But I think there’s a distinction that they’re missing. And I don’t know, I don’t want to lead you too much. Why wouldn’t you put your customer values as customers?
Brett Galloway: Well, by the way, people first isn’t just our employees.
Gene Hammett: Okay.
Brett Galloway: Right. In fact, in fact, one of the most important things to technology sales is to realize that particularly as a startup, you know, you’re certainly selling your product, your software, but you know, to a great extent what you’re selling is the team behind that software. , and that, you know, and customers know that right. They know that the product they’re buying today, you know, is actually less than the product they’re going to have tomorrow and next week and next month, the next year. And they’re counting on, on a partnership with our vendors to continue to deliver value and deliver capability. And so what does that mean? Well, that means for us as a vendor, one of the most important things for us to do is make sure that our customers get value, not just professionally, but personally out of their interactions with AttackIQ, right? Many of our customers are actually building significant staking, significant part of their professional reputation on, on a bet with us as a vendor. And it’s incumbent upon us to make sure that that bet pays off in spades.
Gene Hammett: I ask a lot of people. What I call the impossible question. I never know what’s going to happen. Cause it could, you really could just depend on your perspective. Maybe it’s even your day of the week, but the impossible question kind of looks like this as the leader of a fast-growth company. What’s more important customers or employees.
Brett Galloway: I mean, there’s an obvious cop-out which you can’t have a company without both of them. I mean, the obvious answer is customers just as just an external level, right? I mean the nature of a business as you have customers and certainly, you know, You know, we’ve talked about values. That’s how we operate as individuals and as people. But we do that in service of customer value. The worst companies are companies that are arrogant. The best companies are companies that actually use the fact that they’re focusing on delivering customer value to pull people together. Right. You know, get past political barriers, get past organizational barriers, get past through a personal interest in service of team interest in service to the customer.
Gene Hammett: You know, the research that I have because I did a lot of these interviews with the Inc 5,000. You’re aware of most of the time when I ask that question, 94% say it’s employees, there’s a little bit of an issue inside the question. And if you didn’t pick up on the nuance of it, you know, it’s my fault for probably not pointing it out, but also don’t want to lead people. As a leader, what’s more, important and I feel like leaders should be putting employees first so that the company and those employees can put the customer first, but understand that
Brett Galloway: that actually would not change my answer. Right. You know, and part of it has to do is sort of different suburb, you know, means. Right. You know, at the end that we’re delivering is delivering value to our customers. That purpose is what actually gives meaning to our operating together, right. That, you know, the extreme, extreme difference in a business and a social club. We’re not a social club. Right. , and so, you know, obviously part of it comes back to what you mean by important. And clearly, there’s lots of research that, that companies. The company’s operational effectiveness is completely dominated by how well their team works together. , which is, which is true and clear.
Gene Hammett: I wanna go back to the whole conversation on culture. You’ve talked about the culture statement. You were able to survey them, get to the values. What else would we see inside your culture that we could learn from?
Brett Galloway: Well, what if one of the, one of the lessons that I went back up, so, you know, most of the tricks in my tool belt or things that I’ve observed and copied from people, I worked for people I worked with and people that worked for me. And one example of that is I worked at Cisco for six and a half years. I sold my company airspace to Cisco, the CEO was John [00:10:00] Chambers, a very storied CEO. , and one of the things that I observed John do that was incredibly powerful, was consistent messaging about vision and mission. And he just said it over and over and over and over and over and over again, you know, and I’m, I’m by training an engineer. So my default mode is if I’ve told you once, I assume you’re not an idiot, so you must remember it. That turns out not to be true. So when I came into AttackIQ, I came in with two things. I came in one with a very firm conviction. Our mission was really important, you know, cybersecurity matters deeply in the last year.
We’ve seen, you know, several very, very noteworthy, you know, cybersecurity breaches, , most recently the colonial pipeline hack. That was probably the first cyber security breach. It actually affected lots of real things. , and if it’s a case where the adversary, it was just a simple stick-up job. They didn’t even need to disrupt deliveries. And they did imagine what would happen if an adversary really meant to cause harm. If you combine that with what I started, which is most breaches are due to the security programs, failure, security control failures. This is a problem. We, as individuals and society are dependent on a large number of platforms that are increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks. We’ve been lucky so far. I believe what we’re doing at AttackIQ is the missing ingredient to make sure that the enormous investments that the industry is making in, in security technology and security programs can work. So that’s why I came to the company. That’s the one thing I brought, nothing I brought was this, , observation about the power of John’s communication strategy.
So my very first day at the company, I talked about the mission of the company. The, you know, and I did three things mission, and then I talked about our priorities and I talked about, you know, my desire for feedback from people, right. Operating with transparency. I started that story on the very first day, and I keep talking about that all the time, and having a powering of powerful purpose clearly and consistently messaged is my single biggest tool for attracting people, retaining people, employees. Even customers and partners and this is a huge learning for me. , it was just the power of that as a, as a, as a communication tool. And as a leadership tool.
Commentary: Now, Brett has talked about something. I want to put a spotlight on for a second. He said the feeling that when you repeat yourself that sometimes you have this kind of inner voice that says I’ve told you once, can’t we just move. Well, here’s the reality. You’ve got to be able to share a consistent message and repeat it over time because that’s what it takes for people to understand it and know the importance of it. Yes. They may roll their eyes sometimes, but the idea is for you to bring such passion and such clarity to it, every time you talk about the mission and the vision. The priorities, the strategies that we do, the real things are most important to you. Now, we unpack that inside this episode a little bit later, but I wanted to make sure that you understood that sometimes when that inner voice says I’ve already told them, maybe I don’t need to tell them again. I’m here to tell you, tell them again. And then tell them again and tell them again, you might say different words, you might wrap it in different stories, but you want to get the same message across and you want to make sure you do it consistently, repeatedly, and keep doing it until everyone gets it. And they’re all aligned together. That’s the way you lead a company back to Brett.
Gene Hammett: You’ve been a part of many companies that have grown fast. This is another one that you get to take to the next level. And you’ve learned a lot about leadership. Where do you think people aren’t getting it right. They just don’t have an awareness or a blind spot to leadership in today’s world.
Brett Galloway: That’s a good question. , I, I tend to think that as executives, you need to do three things. You need to get the right people in the right seats. You need to set a sort of inspiring sort of vision and strategy for the company. And then you need to drive an operating cadence to get the organization there. , so I think many, many leaders fail, fail to both appreciate those three things and focus appropriately in all three of those things. Oftentimes, you know, people will buy it. Their activity to one of those things. Cause that’s what they’re personally good out of the care the most about. But I believe, you know, being a CEO requires you to focus on all three of those things. You have to focus on them at the right times. And in the right context,
Gene Hammett: I take notes over here. I want to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Give this to us again. I got right people, right? Seats, operational cadence,
Brett Galloway: number one, number two is sort of vision inspiring vision and strategy for the company where we’re headed. , and then three is sort of an effective operating cadence for the company. So you actually get. Which is where he puts are processes and org structure and so on to does, does, does that make sense?
Gene Hammett: Yep. And that can make the assumption under the first one, right. People, right seat. That would be the development of people that would be any kind of coaching that you have to do to do align people together. Is that fair to say?
Brett Galloway: Yeah, it includes, well Incruse hiring, you know, not a high growth company, you know, your usual. Hiring a lot. So the quality of your hiring is super important. The, you know, it’s also letting people go when they’re not fitting. , and then, then obviously most importantly is continuing to provide guidance and feedback and coaching to people. So they can be maximally effective, not just in isolation, but in the team.
Gene Hammett: As we record this, there’s a lot of discussion about the great resignation, right? People are going to be not happy with where they are. They have to go back to work there. They’re really happy with flexibility. There’s a lot of kind of factors in this culture, I think is one of the driving forces that will keep people, even if they’re a little bit curious about what else is out there, I have this kind of theory inside of great culture. You don’t want to risk it to maybe go to a place where you’re going to be micromanaged and that you just don’t have the freedom and transparency. , what are you guys doing to be proactive around this, this great resignation?
Brett Galloway: Well, so with, you know, we, we made the transition from, sort of traditional working to remote working. We’re all remote working very seamlessly. We already had a lot of employees, remote employees. We had multiple offices. And, you know, my, my personal view about this is, is actually informed by my experience at Cisco. So Cisco famously entries, telepresence, which was probably the first real business-class video conferencing experience. And it was fricking amazing how well it worked, , and how. Time, it could save compared to traditional business travel and so on. And so, you know, I was at Cisco, you know, we were at Cisco, it’s a power of networks. I’m thinking this is like going to take over the world. And you know, all of us getting in a car and driving to an office each day, as knowledge workers is just silly and it didn’t change the world. So, you know, COVID has been terrible. But I actually believe the, that one of the silver linings to COVID has been showing people a better way. And I think, I think the best way to work is everyone all together in one room. I think the worst way to work as some people in one room and some people remote on the phone.
So if you can’t get everyone in the same room, I actually think you’re better off operating in a distributed fashion. So we are purely distributed and are going to stay that way.
Gene Hammett: Give us a little bit more around how do you keep a culture in a distributed environment? Like some of the tactical things that you guys are. That you feel like we’re making an impact.
Brett Galloway: It’s a great questions question. So, you know, we, you know, I said earlier we had four priorities. We had mission customer acquisition, customer success, and family, you know, the first three are, , well, all of these sorts of relate to why we’re here. So the first three relate to all of us coming together as a team to achieve our business objectives. The last one reflects the fact that each of us comes to a company with our own personal, for financial and professional objectives for ourselves and our families. So we call that out as a priority and we recognize that in the last year and a half, we’ve talked a lot about that. You know, we’ve talked about, you know, how do you, you know, how, how do you sort of navigate sort of work in life when there’s not a clear dividing line between them? You know, we, you know, we, you know, typically in startups you’ll do like a summer barbecue or event for all the employees and get the families together. We couldn’t do that. So we did instead is we gave her an extra day off and said, take pictures and share them. So we’ll have a vicarious distributed virtual, , you know, summer event, which was, which was, which was great fun.
And we, we spent a lot of time. I have biweekly all-hands and that the topics are actually half split between the business topics and sort of fun topics. Right. We run, we run sort of events. , you know, we, we recently gave everyone a stipend to upgrade their remote office environment, but again, they had to like take pictures and they just share them on our all-hands call. So we’re trying to do. Is, you know, create sort of a personal experience, even though you’re not standing next to each other in the water cooler. And then obviously, you know, as, as restrictions of sort of ease and obviously, they’re getting stronger again, you know, we’ve created opportunities for the teams to actually to get together.
Gene Hammett: I want to give you one more question here. I don’t know what we have, might’ve missed inside this idea of COVID. We’ve talked about a lot of things from the values. How do you, how you’re actually doing it through the special things to the distributed workforce, what else is missing that we need to cover today?
Brett Galloway: Well, I mean, coming back to the, you know, the three things I said, you know, I, there there’s, there’s a famous video of Simon Sinek start with on YouTube, which, which if your readers haven’t seen, I encourage you. It’s actually a very powerful statement about the power of why in a marketing context, , I’m going to use the same construct, but not applied to marketing and play the leadership. You know, as a leader, you can operate at three levels for why wasn’t it. And my consistent experience as a leader, not just the CLB, when I ran engineering teams, et cetera, was the most important thing to focus on was why? Because you get the why right. Then good people will pick the right. What, and if good people will then figure out the right house, you know, my very, very first assignment as a manager, I delivered a sucks successful software project.
That’s the good news, the bad news. I micromanage two people working for me and I damn near killed myself. And I swore I’d never do that again. So, you know, my focus as a leader has been continually to try to empower people, and the best way to empower them is with a shared purpose. That’s why, you know, John Chambers’s technique around sort of mission and vision communication is so important. So I spent a great deal of my time, educating people on why we’re here and not just at the level of the mission, but more specifically, you know, connecting the dots for people between what they’re doing and responsible for and what we’re trying to get done overall.
Gene Hammett: Love it, Brett You’ve shared it with us, a lot of insights around what you think about leadership and culture. Appreciate you being here.
Brett Galloway: You’re very welcome. I enjoyed it. Thank you.
Gene Hammett: Fantastic interview, Brett. Just. With a lot of the insight around, what does it take to create a high-growth culture? We talk about some of the details along all the interviews on the show, but hopefully, you got a lot of out Piz insights today. What I take away from it is specifically, you must repeat yourself that inner voice that comes in. And I know I’ve said this before, but I’m repeating myself again to show you what. If you want to make sure that you are repeating yourself consistently, you want to make sure that the message is clear and that people get buy into it. Your job as a leader is not to say the words, but to make sure people are committed to it, have a sense of urgency to it, our body, and committed feeling a sense of ownership around the message and these things you have to drive. Now, if you are wondering what your next step is or your blind spot inside leadership, my job is to help you figure that out.
I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and if you are the founder CEO of a company and you want to figure out what your next step is, where do you focus? Where do you spend your time? What’s the most important thing. I hear all of these things, and I want to help you do that. I have a way for you to schedule time with me, just go to GeneHammett.com and schedule your call. It’s absolutely free. I promise that to sell you and I want to serve you to help you figure out what’s next for you? Just go to GeneHammett.com schedule your call. When you think of growth, when you think of leadership, think of Growth Think Tank. As always lead with courage. Will see you next time.
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