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Cybersecurity Time Crunch

The Fortnite developer teams at Epic Games are working in a perpetual "crunch time" situation. That's not sustainable by any measure...and from all reports, things are bad over at Epic.

Cybersecurity Time Crunch

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Reasonably Accurate 馃馃 Transcript

Morning everybody. How you doing today? In this episode of the show, we're gonna talk about the cybersecurity time Crunch. Now, I was reading an interesting article by Colin Campbell, uh writing for Polygon about uh the team at Epic Games that makes Fortnite the global phenomenon, Battle Royale Game.

Um That's been really um at the forefront of competitive gaming and online gaming for about the last 12 to 18 months and this article wasn't very flattering and it wasn't about the game, it was about the culture around the teams that build the game.

Now, video game culture has long had this real challenge at least video game developer culture said the significant challenge especially around AAA like multimillion dollar budget games of having crunch time and crunch time refers to the period leading up to the launch where they can't move the launch back.

It's a hard deadline. Um And people start to work a lot of overtime, they're really trying to push hard to get something across the finish line.

Now, I know what you're thinking like overtime is a reality in most jobs and it can be, that's not a bad thing. What's a bad thing is when that over time becomes the expectation, the cultural norm is that you work all of these hours, even though you're either compensated for less or you're not necessarily coming in with eyes wide open.

You know, you think you're agreeing to something that's 40 hours a week and it's really 80. Now, collins' article for Polygon highlighted the fact that Epics teams were not prepared and the culture was not set up to live with the popularity of the game to deal with it.

The fact that they are essentially in, in crunch time nonstop. It is always crunch time for this team. So they're all working crazy amount of hours.

They're bringing contractors in, they're burning people out, people are quitting, people are leaving, people are not getting renewed at their contract because they're just simply exhausted.

They're not even applying for it because the culture now expects that nonstop crazy amount of work like the 12 hour days of working over the weekends, things like that.

Now, before this goes any further, don't get me wrong. I am a proponent of working hard. Uh I think you really have to put in the time in order to get the results you want.

But I'm also a really big fan of working smart, working efficiently, making sure that you're doing the right thing at the right time. So you might have noticed that this episode is coming to you on a Friday and a little later than normal rather than the Thursday at 9 a.m.

Eastern. Now, that's because I took a couple of days off, middle of the week. My partner and I and some friends went, we took a road trip to go see an artist that we all really wanted to see. Really enjoyed. It. Had some good drinks, ate some good food, had great discussions, saw an awesome show. It was really refreshing. It was nice to be able to set things up so that we could leave the home life for a little bit, leave the work life for a little bit and recharge in the middle of the week. It's important to take care of yourself. Now, we're gonna be a little personal for a second here. But before we do that, I want to cover a couple of key points. There's also a recent um quote from Jack Ma who uh is of Alibaba B fame talking about this new phenomenon of six by 12. So 12 hour work days, six days a week and he was cheering its benefits. And now I know a lot of people are gonna say, well, wait a minute. That's just in China. It's a totally different cultural acceptance. Very, very true. But working those kind of hours is not uncommon in the valley around tech start ups.

Really pushing for that to get across to be first to the market, to be first to try to go after that, you know, exponential growth in order to be the next unicorn billion plus dollar valuation. So six by 12 may be a uniquely Jack Ma proposition appropriate for the culture in which he's, his business is run. But I don't think it's an outlier further to that. I'm a big fan of Gary Vor Truck. Gary V. Um He runs uh Vor Media. Uh He started with wine library TV. He's big on social media. He's big on business strategy. He's also sort of the, the godfather of this hustle culture. And I think hustle culture gets a really bad name because a lot of people like you shouldn't just be hustling and they're either, you know, so forth, they're like hustle all the time um or so against it because like you shouldn't be hustling, you should have work life balance. And I think both of those views are a misunderstanding. Gary is a big proponent of working efficiently working smartly and putting in the work. And if that means putting in the hours, sometimes that means putting in the hours and if that creeps in the night, it does.

But he's also just a big proponent of having personal time and having family time and having friend time and going hard at that as well. He's all about really focus and I think that's a huge thing and that ties back to today. It ties back to my personal aspect of this. It ties back to the cybersecurity story because why I wanted to tell you this. I know this is sort of not our normal cybersecurity and privacy topics. But I think this is a massive issue for the cybersecurity industry and we've actually talked about it before. It will pop up here for those on youtube. We've talked about burnout before and I think it's sort of rumbling underneath him with this understanding that there's a cyber security skills gap when we don't have enough people to fill the available roles. I think it's going to get worse. And the problem there is while we don't have enough people to fill the roles as they are set up today. I think not enough people are asking my key point of this entire video is, are we doing the right work?

Not afraid of work. I don't think you should be afraid of work. I don't think you should be afraid of putting in the extra time when it's required. I think you should be making sure that you're putting in the time doing the right things. So personal story for those of you that have the unfortunate uh or the misfortune to watch me on video. Um You know, you're used to seeing me like this, but right now I'm carrying about 30 extra pounds compared to what I should be. And that's not old man dreaming of, you know, glory sports days where I was at a playing weight. You know, this is just reality based on health um, you know, all of the, the, you know, 40 plus years of injuries and, um, you know, creaks and moans in my body are catching up with me because I took my off the ball and a couple of years ago, I was so eager, so ambitious to make an impact to further my goal of helping people and teaching people security and privacy and helping them understand that it doesn't need to be as complicated as it put out to be and helping sort of shape the new digital future that I was traveling a ton.

I was working long hours, you know, I was spending time with the family, but then after they went to bed, I was working again and just taking my eye off the personal ball and burning out on a insidious subtle level. It wasn't just like all at once. Bam, I'm done. It was this sort of gradual thing and a big part of that was carrying this extra weight because I was traveling a ton and, you know, you grab crap food at the airport and you're not sleeping as well and your clocks all messed up. And it really took a personal toll and I'm finally walking that back and I don't, I'm not trying to get sympathy here. I'm happy with where I am and my path forward. But I think that there's a lot of people in the same boat and I think it comes down to this whole, you need to work, you need to put in the, yeah, you need to work, but work smartly, work efficiently. So I've gone on a personal crusade for my own work style to get really, really ruthless in the projects I'm taking on and the task I'm taking on. I'm trying not to take on other people's things when it's not required.

If I'm not the only one who can deliver it. And I'm also trying to manage timelines and expectations a lot better. And I think that's a far more effective way of working. And when I read stuff like Colin wrote for Polygon around the fortnight, um, teams that's really planning as an issue, they know they're constantly delivering new updates. And if you can't plan and scope those, you're either overpromising and setting yourselves up for failure or you're not setting, uh, um, your team doesn't understand what they're working towards enough to make sure that they're being ruthless in what they're applying. Here's a little experiment in your office around your teams go around and see, throw an eight hour work day, just casually ask people how much actual work they do in an eight hour day, you're gonna get answers probably around the 4 to 5 hours of work effort. So instead of trying to get, you know, 12 hour work days in, why not make that eight hours more efficient? Be ruthless in what you're doing. Meetings are normally a huge time, suck very rarely are they worth the time invested because you're not making active decisions.

What about other activities that you're taking on? You're processing email constantly, you're responding to social media. There's notifications on your phone, all this stuff is coming through and distracting you from delivering. And if you really put your foot down, if you really get ruthless about it, I think you can be far more efficient so you can put more work in without expanding the time. And I think that's the key to finding this balance because if you're not finding that balance, your body is at some point just going to stop and force you to find it. I think in cybersecurity specifically, yes, the game industries have a big challenge. Yes, Silicon Valley has a challenge. But I think cybersecurity specifically, this is going to be a massive, massive problem as the skills gap or the perceived skills gap widens because in cybersecurity, there are emergency incidents at certain points, you're going to have to work long hours to deal with an incident to respond with it. And that's just the reality. It's a time constraint that you don't have control over.

But the rest of the time you should be focusing on delivering whatever your top priorities are. And if you can't answer why you're doing a task or go get an easy answer from your team as to why a task is important. It ain't important. Drop it, focus on what is important to push your mission forward. Quick, personal example, before we wrap up in this process of being ruthless in what I'm doing ruthless in my time, I've looked at the stats. So, uh you know, I keep pretty detailed stats on what I do and what the results are over the last while and I filtered out a ton of stuff that I used to just automatically accept because either people asked and I didn't. It was like, yeah, that sounds fun. I'll do that. Um But you know, it's, there's a time, there's a, there's a toll on that. There's travel time, there's all these different um costs that you don't necessarily total up. So I've been really trying to be ruthless and going. No, no, no, no. What's effective, these videos to you. They're effective writing blog posts that's effective doing my radio column.

Those are kind of things that are effective, doing selective speaking engagements, those are selected are effective but doing everything that I'm asked to 100% not effective. Let's keep this conversation going. But you know, after the weekend because we all need balance, hit me up online at Mark NC A for those of you in the vlogs in the comments down below as always by email me at Mark N dot Ca. I hope you truly have a fantastic weekend disconnected, enjoying whatever um gets your motor going, whether that's time with friends sports, uh reading a book, anything just take some time for yourself, your friends and your family. I will talk to you about this very important issue online, uh, next week and I'll see you on the next episode of the show.

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