Unusual Gathering | Episode XX | Guests Georgia Weidman And Larry Whiteside

Conversations At The Intersection Of IT Security And Society

Georgia Weidman | Larry Whiteside

Selena Templeton | Sean Martin | Marco Ciappelli

This episode:
Bringing representation to the underrepresented.
Let’s talk about mentors.

By definition, a mentor is a wise or trusted adviser or guide, a counselor or a teacher.

The origin of the word goes all the way back to The Odyssey, the ancient Greek epic poem by Homer, in which Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who placed him in charge of his son Telemachus when he left for the Trojan War.

When Athena visited Telemachus, she took the disguise of Mentor and encouraged him to stand up against the suitors and go abroad to find out what happened to his father.

Because of Mentor's relationship with Telemachus, and the disguised Athena's encouragement and practical plans for dealing with personal dilemmas, the name Mentor has been adopted in English as a term that means someone who imparts wisdom to, and shares knowledge with, a less-experienced colleague.

The first recorded modern usage of the term can be traced to a 1699 book entitled Les Aventures de Télémaque by the French writer François Fénelon, in which the lead character is Mentor. This book was very popular during the 18th century and the modern application of the term can be traced to this publication.

That was then. What about now?

In today’s Unusual Gathering, we discuss the many aspects of mentorship: who can be one, how to find one, what it takes to be a modern mentor, and where we stand now with this practice — and in particular, where we stand in the cybersecurity industry with respect to mentors.

A mentor is a role model and nowadays this role can be a very powerful figure as an educator, a motivator and a facilitator for someone’s career in cybersecurity.

Not only can everyone be a mentor, but everyone needs a mentor at some stages of their career. Also, the benefit of mentoring goes well beyond and above individual growth: an entire company, community, industry and society as a whole becomes more productive, open, inclusive and evolves because of mentorship.

As we discovered while having this conversation, the best part of mentorship is that there are no rules, no limits on places, no specific qualifications or skills, no minimum time commitments; it can be performed in an infinite — yet equally beneficial — number of ways.

As long as you mean it, as long as you are passionate about it and, most importantly, as long as you are not an asshole, you can be both a mentor and also an amazing role model destined to change someone’s life for the best — even if you didn’t set out to do so in the first place.

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