A well-respected InfoSec professional, colleague, and friend passed away last week.
Two years ago, almost to the day, Mike took me aside before an ISSA meeting and said softly, “I’m afraid I have some news.” My first thought was… uh-oh, Mike’s accepted a position at another company. Previous to that night, Mike & I had been developing a program that we were going to roll out. We were days from kicking it off. But what came out of Mike’s lips next caused one of those moments where you can’t breathe and your knees get wobbly. Did I hear him right? Did he really just say, “I found out today that I have a brain tumor.”?
In that moment, nothing else mattered. The hard work that we had both put in. The hopes we had for doing some really great things together. The meeting that we were about to attend. Nothing else mattered. Just stunned silence. The way I remember it, the words stumbled out… “Oh my God, Mike. Is there anything I can do?” Pretty stupid response. I know. I’ve tried to come up with something better in the event I’m ever in a similar situation, but even today, I don’t know if I could come up with anything.
You see, Mike’s life was about making things better. Whether it was his profession, his family, or his friends, Mike was (and still is, quite frankly) about helping others. Mike was doing information security before it was even called information security. He founded the ISSA chapter in Michigan and was a force in just about every InfoSec organization in Michigan.
During the last two years, Mike never relented in his passion & support of the groups he participated. He was quiet about the health challenges he faced with courage & dignity. He focused on the organizations in which he was involved, always with a focus on making the groups stronger, and our digital world a safer place.
Mike led by example. He chose his words carefully, but it was his actions that inspired. Mike thought things through and spoke with conviction. I saw Mike “passionate” at times, but he avoided words that would hurt. I can’t recall him ever saying anything negative about anyone.
Mike lived his life with integrity. You knew where he stood on things, and you knew that his intentions were to make things the best they could be. Michael was a giver. You could see it in the work he did for his customers, in his leadership in the local InfoSec community, and the way he talked about his granddaughter.
Mike’s presence will be missed in the InfoSec community, but his contributions, perspective, and inspiration will stay with all those that worked with him over the years. With that in mind, I want to live a memorial to Mike. What I learned from Mike and his influence causes me to resolve to:
- Actively participate in the local InfoSec organizations, with a focus on making our profession better.
- Go about my work with integrity & passion.
- Find more balance in my life and let those I love know it.
There’s not a more fitting tribute than if each of us would commit to “Be More Like Mike”.