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InSecurity Podcast: Jillian Lappetito: Fearlessly Authentic Leadership in a Time of Fear and Fake News


Legendary UCLA Men’s basketball coach, John Wooden, famously  instructed his team every year on the first day of practice how to put on their socks and tie their shoes.

“I think it's the little things that really count," says Wooden. “The first thing I would show our players at our first meeting was how to take a little extra time putting on their shoes and socks properly. The most important part of your equipment is your shoes and socks.

You play on a hard floor. So, you must have shoes that fit right. And you must not permit your socks to have wrinkles around the little toe—where you generally get blisters—or around the heels.

It took just a few minutes, but I did show my players how I wanted them to do it. Hold up the sock, work it around the little toe area and the heel area so that there are no wrinkles. Smooth it out good. Then hold the sock up while you put the shoe on. And the shoe must be spread apart—not just pulled on the top laces. You tighten it up snugly by each eyelet. Then you tie it. And then you double-tie it so it won't come undone—because I don't want shoes coming untied during practice, or during the game.

I'm sure that once I started teaching that many years ago, it did cut down on blisters. It definitely helped. But that's just a little detail that coaches must take advantage of, because it's the little details that make the big things come about.”

~ John Wooden, as told to Devin Gordon

This week’s episode of the InSecurity podcast is about leadership and fear. We take, as a starting point, a simple question: what are you afraid of, and why?

As leaders, the answer to this question can be very revealing. At a time when the world has been turned upside down and we've all been forced to change the way we work, it can seem like everyone is looking at you for direction. Do you panic? Or do you focus on the little details that can make all the difference when it comes to surviving a crisis?

In this week's episode, Matt Stephenson chats with Jillian Lappetito, the President of Leaderology and a member of several World Champion Water Polo and NCAA teams. Jillian grew up inspired by the mentorship of her Army Ranger father and several world class coaches who she worked with one-on-one. As a result, she is now able to use her life experiences to mentor local business leaders and help them meet any business or personal challenges in their lives.

In this podcast, Jillian shares her thoughts on a variety of topics, including leadership, digital marketing, and managing business risk. She draws comparisons between the world of elite sport and the world of business: both areas are highly competitive, and leaders in both fields can learn a lot from the other.

For most of us, the crucial question will be: what does it take to reach that level of performance? How do you maintain the dedication needed to build awareness and reach world class level in a sport or business that is little known outside of a niche community?

Jillian’s responses to these questions are refreshingly humble. As the President of Leaderology, Jillian has much experience in effective digital marketing strategies for today’s changing era. With over 90% of companies now relying on social media for the bulk of their marketing strategies and marketing being more data driven than ever before, many smaller local businesses lag behind larger organizations when it comes to creating brand awareness outside of their specialty communities. Jillian discusses the steps smaller businesses can take to reverse this and build their presence to their customer base on a global level.

Jillian points out that the most important quality in leaders and competitors is persistence and purpose. When we work as part of a team, she says, we need to make a commitment to others, so that everyone in an organization can reach their full potential.

The most important thing we can ultimately do as leaders, Jillian says, is to take an approach where we see our primary goal as setting people up for success. By giving people the resources, skills, and knowledge they need to realize their goals and creativity, we can not only bring people together, but also create highly effective teams.

Accomplishing this, says Jillian, means having a shared goal. Different teams, leaders, and organizations will prefer different styles of management – they might prefer to hire those who think like them, or they might prefer a cacophonous diversity of voices. But whichever you choose, your business needs a purpose. It’s possible to have a diversity of thought and experiences, but everyone needs to pull in the same direction.

Jillian’s unique experiences make her an inspiring mentor, and her thoughts on leadership are well worth paying attention to, whether you think of yourself as an elite competitor or not.


About Jillian Lappetito

Jillian Lappetito is the President of Leaderology (@leaderologyllc) and is responsible for developing the company’s go-to-market efforts and strategic direction. 

Jillian is a former member of the U.S. Senior National Team for Women’s Water Polo, and won four NCAA National Championships at UCLA.

Following her athletic career, she transitioned from the pool to the board room, becoming Vice President of Business Development for Brainard Strategy, where she led the company’s highest revenue-generating market supporting Fortune 500 clients.

Jillian has grown up around the influence of leaders, whether it was her Army Ranger father, her water polo coaches, or mentoring rising stars in the business community. It is her belief that truly remarkable leaders bring diligence and intentionality to their daily leadership practices, working hard and striving for continuous development.

While with the National Team, she received her M.B.A. from UC Irvine and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

About Matt Stephenson

Insecurity Podcast host Matt Stephenson (@packmatt73) is the regular host of the InSecurity podcast and video series at events around the globe. Matt has spent the last 10 years in the world of data protection and cybersecurity. Since 2016, he has been with Cylance (acquired by BlackBerry in 2019), extolling the virtues of artificial intelligence and machine learning and how, when applied to network security, this cutting edge technology can wrong-foot the bad guys.

Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, Matt was on the road over 100 days a year doing live malware demonstrations for audiences from San Diego, to DC, to London, to Abu Dhabi, to Singapore, to Sydney. He says that one of the funniest things he’s ever been a part of was blowing up a live instance of the notorious ransomware NotPetya just six hours after the news broke, in Washington DC, directly across the street from the FBI headquarters. As soon as he detonated the malware (on a VM, of course) a parade of police cars with sirens blaring roared past the building he was in. Matt is pretty sure they weren't there for him, but you never know...

Every week on the InSecurity Podcast, Matt gets to interview interesting people doing interesting things all over the world of cybersecurity and in the extended world of hacking. Sometimes, that means talking about hacking elections, or the coffee supply chain... other times, that means delving deep into the world of social manipulation or the sovereign wealth fund of a national economy.

The InSecurity podcast is about talking with the people who build, manage or wreck the systems that we have put in place to make the world go round. We hope you enjoy the show.


The InSecurity Podcast

About The InSecurity Podcast

Every week on the InSecurity Podcast, host Matt Stephenson interviews leading authorities in the security industry to gain an expert perspective on topics including risk management, security control friction, compliance issues, and building a culture of security. Each episode provides relevant insights for security practitioners and business leaders working to improve their organization’s security posture and bottom line.

Can’t get enough of Insecurity? You can find us at ThreatVector InSecurity PodcastsApple Podcasts and GooglePlay, as well as SpotifyStitcherSoundCloudI Heart Radio, and wherever you get your podcasts.

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