Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)



Michael Santarcangelo: Internationally Acclaimed Author, Speaker, Educator, Leader in harnessing the human side of security, improving business by helping people effectively communicate value.

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Michael Santarcangelo.

Michael SantarcangeloMichael Santarcangelo is the catalyst* called upon to deliver successful results when others have struggled and failed to harness the human side of security.

Blending a degree in Human Ecology with over a decade of experience in information security, and recognition as a professional communicator uniquely positions Michael as the authority to speak, teach and consult on how to improve organizations by helping people effectively communicate value.

Michael's ability to develop a platform-based ecosystem of effective communication that provides models, methods, and frameworks that explain and guide success come, in part, from his unique background, including:

  • Human Ecology degree from Cornell University: Michael is formally trained in the combination of "hard" social sciences, economics and policy with the ability to use multiple disciplines to assess and measure people, information (including communication) and risk.
  • Security and risk management leader and educator: Michael guided thousands to certification success as a CISSP instructor and helped redefine and develop the Common Body of Knowledge (CBK); he was part of the team that created the CompTIA Security Trustmark; he writes a regular column for CSO magazine, and continues to serve industry, enterprise and individual clients with keynotes, workshops and consulting.
  • Professional communicator: a full, professional member of the National Speaker's Association, Michael is also a published author, experienced editor, regular columnist and draws on diverse audio and video experience to blend science with the principles of effective communication to deliver successful messages.
As the bridge between technology and the user experience, Michael focuses on and amplifies the good™, acknowledging the good work of individuals while revealing to them they have the power — and the responsibility — to protect information.

The result is simple and powerful: by helping companies bridge the human paradox gap, where people (and organizations) are disconnected from the consequences of their actions, Michael has mastered the delicate and essential art of advocating for individuals and advancing organizations — at the same time.

Michael connects with people, shifts their thinking and creates natural situations that inspire behavior change. He then shapes, guides and supports change for maximum individual and organizational benefit.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:41: Can you quickly list your major past roles and stories that will grab our audience?
"....As a result of this (degree in Human Ecology) and the things that I've done in the last fifteen years, my niche now is on the human side. I really focus on how we communicate, how we influence the behaviors of people, and how we make sure that we're getting the information that we need to make better decisions...."

:06:54: You talked about Security Catalyst, can you tell us more about the company?
"....We are a US company (a New York corporation), and currently I live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina....We are working primarily with large global clients and helping them cross cultural and actual geographical barriers, and learn how to effectively internally communicate their value so that they can make better decisions and communicate them externally. It's bringing a higher level of consciousness to the importance of communications and then supporting people with the actual ability to do it...."

:10:56: What are three lessons from "Into the Breach"?
"..... We in technology have unintentionally disconnected the people from the consequences of their actions, as a result those people do not accept responsibility and we are powerless to hold them accountable....We need to engage, empower and enable people, and each of these words hold a specific meaning and their order matters....Our underlying challenge we face is one of communication and it's bilateral...."

:21:22: Michael, I know you focus on helping others effectively communicate value; why is that so important today?
"....The current challenge facing information security today lies more in the ability to effectively communicate value and harness the human side of security than in developing new technologies or processes...."

:28:01: What is the difference between communication and effective communication?
"....Communication in its simplest act is where you are sharing information. You have to have 3 basic parts: sender, recipient, message.....Effective communication changes because it is deliberate in purpose and in process. Minimally, effective communication must include a feedback mechanism where the sender verifies that the message that was received matches the intent of the purpose...."

:33:10: Do you have some myths and barriers about effective communication?
"....Here's the 5 things you have to have if you want your message to have a shot at being understood: Authority....Being authentic....Be set in a context that the audience understands....Interaction with the information....Have a review....Three basic myths are: Effective communication cannot be taught....Effective communication cannot be measured....Effective communication is not necessary for a good product or solution...."

:47:12: Michael talks about the Perfect Message Fallacy.
"....A lot of people get this notion that they don't know who they are going to communicate with so they can create one perfect message for everybody....What I like to say about this is: 'If you try to be everything to everybody, you'll end up being nothing to nobody.'....I default to the 80:20 rule 80% of the message will work for most of the people and you have to change the last 20%...."

:49:26: Is computing professionalism necessary and why?
"....What does it mean to have a canon of ethics that you subscribe to and how do you uphold them? I think we need professionalism in the computer industry and to broaden it to the technology industry....We need to subscribe to it and communication has to be part of that...."

:52:05: Where do you see the role of professional certification and is there a role?
"....When we talk about professional certification I'd like to see a certification model that emphasizes 3 things: what you know, what you can do and who you are....Certifications that matter to me are certifications that are earned...."

:01:01:28: What is the value in professional associations for computing professionals?
"....When we say what's the value to the association, the value is that they get the opportunity to see a lot of diverse opinions and a lot of really cool ideas. The challenge and the potential frustration though is then it becomes really hard to be everything to everybody and as you get bigger it becomes harder to shift the direction or shift focus because people don't like change...."

:01:04:47: What are your thoughts on computing as a recognized profession like medicine and law, with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, and recognized credentials?
[See and the Global Industry Council,]
"....I think it's a great concept. Here's my question: What's the problem that we're trying to solve?....I think the right answer is one of simplicity. It's laying out the core of the challenges and saying we have this fantastic opportunity to learn from history of how other noted professions have handled this. We can look at their successes and the things they would do differently, then regress them against the problem that we're trying to solve. We need a very clear problem definition and a vision of what success looks like. We have to define what the value is going to be and there's got to be some measurement...."

:01:14:04: Michael, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.
"....I thoroughly enjoy connecting with people. If there is anything I can do to help anybody - reach out - I'm happy to have a conversation....I know there's always a better way to do what I've done and I'm constantly on the search for it. Thank you for this opportunity to share and reflect and to learn...."