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Graham Plaster is a Serial entrepreneur, consultant, national security technology startup advisor, investor, author and speaker.
Following a successful career in the United States Navy he Founded The Intelligence Community Inc. moderating a nextgen trade association of over 100,000 National Security professionals online: www.TheIntelligenceCommunity.com. He is the Author of "In the Shadow of Greatness" which Tom Brokaw calls a "must read for all Americans"
If you are a Start Up AI or anyone looking to provide solutions to our federal government for their need for National Security and Intelligence must join the community of over 100K people working in National Intelligence at The Intelligence Community and The Defense and Intelligence Innovation Ecosystem on Substack
- How Social Media in Iran Inspired his Passion for Intelligence
- National Security
- Hamlet and What "To Be" meant to Him
- Passion for Mentorship
- How the Navy has Influence his life
- Work Ethic and Dedication
Learn from the #Mindset, #Motivations & #Habits of Executive #Leaders in #Technology | #Government | #Military. Their experience helps us align with our #purpose , continue to #grow and achieve our #goals.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: Well, welcome to the DC local leaders’ podcast.Graham. It’s good to have you here.
Graham Plaster: Goodto Be Here
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: So, you are the founder of intelligence community,Inc. You also consult for small businesses that are looking to get into thegovernment space specifically within intelligence. You are former militaryserved in the United States Navy and I want to talk to you about yourexperience with the Navy, what that’s done for your life personally andprofessionally. And I want to hear a little bit more about intelligencecommunity and some of those things about you as a leader and as an individualthat helps shape your mindset.
So, it’s really good to have you here
Graham Plaster:looking forward to it.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: So, what is intelligence community Inc?
Graham Plaster: Theintelligence community Inc is a veteran owned small business that provides asocial network for people interested in national city. Writ large. So, we arewide open for people coming from business intelligence or private security Douggovernment contracting academia people that are in government or in the military.
Generally speaking, we are a social network of people, kind ofat the periphery of the us intelligence community. So, we like to providesupport services either. Holding events online or in person or helping peopleto crowdsource open-source intelligence for different functions. But also, overthe years, we’ve become a pipeline for discovering emerging technology fornational security.
And that’s something that I’ve grown into over the last severalyears is, is mentoring up and coming technology companies that want to provideservices or products for the U S intelligence.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: How’d you, how’d you get into that? Were you alwaysin the intelligence community, like through your Navy?
Graham Plaster: I wasnever formally in the intelligence community. I served for 11 years active dutyin the Navy after I graduated from the Naval academy. And then as I was gettingready to get out in 2013, I started the company partly as a result of somestudies I’d done during my master’s degree about the power of social work.
And so, I saw that there was a real need to establish someinformal groups and national security that would help people connect with eachother. And reflecting on the nine 11 commission report, I saw that there werepeople that wanted to be connected to each other, that didn’t have a good wayto do that.
And traditionally, there were trade associations that did someof that, but as social networks came online, especially professional ones likeLinkedIn, it created a new avenue for connecting with.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: What’d you find about those social networks whenyou were doing your So, masters? Like, what was it about it that stuck out toyou? The most,
Graham Plaster: I wasspecifically focused on the rise of blogs in Iran. So, from 2000 on, and thatwas really the Genesis for the, what was happening with microblogging, which isTwitter during the green movement. And so, I was interested in. Or if socialnetworks could be useful for as a tool during a revolution.
So, the question really at the time was, 2009, 2010, can youtweet a revolution? And there was debate on that issue. If you look at Iran asa use case there, there was no doubt that Twitter was influential but given thefact that authoritarian regimes. Can have a lot of control over the digitalspace in their countries.
And eventually they did have a lot of control. Some peoplewould weigh in and say, no, you can’t tweet a revolution. You have to haveother modes of communication that are outside of governmental control. But whatwe did see during the green movement was a lot of participation outside of Iranin helping people that were on the ground.
Either coming from the diaspora or coming from other governments or non-profits to try to help people that were trying to buck thesystem and, and bring about democratic reforms. And so that’s, that’s what Iwas focused on at the time, but it gave rise to broader ideas about socialnetworks and how they could be leveraged for the equivalent of pamphlet,tiering, basically writing ideas and spreading ideas rapidly in order to bringabout positive change.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: Have you found. And so, when you, when you thinkabout that, the social media networks are open and anyone can write anythingand anyone can read anything. Did you find that like governments would limitsome of those things or because the government that’s in power that ispotentially being overthrown, like in a, in a use case like that would alsohave the power to limit what information is disseminated, right.
Graham Plaster: Yeah,and I won’t get too technical on this, in this conversation, but in any countrywhere there’s heavy censorship online there’s a risk that, that particular digitalplatform will not be an effective tool to help people. So that’s the question.Really, if you look at organizations like access now, which are trying tofigure out ways to get more internet freedom to places around the world were.
A lot of heavy censorship. Then you can say, okay, well, ifpeople could get access to more internet, then would that help democratize thecountry or promote, ideals of freedom. And I think it would to, to a greatextent, I mean, obviously there’s a very toxic internet culture too, to watchout for.
So, as we increase internet access to all ages for allpurposes, we can see patterns. Networks that are negative. And I think that’scome into scrutiny in the last couple of years. But, to a great extent moreopen access to the internet and, and to each other through social networks, Ithink I can lead to a lot of cultural change.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: How long were you in the military for, in the Navytotal?
Graham Plaster: So,I, I went to the Naval academy from 98 to 2002, and I was in the first class tograduate after nine 11. So, 2002, I was commissioned and served for a few yearsas what’s called a surface warfare officer. So. A frigate called the RubinJames out of Hawaii, which people might remember that the name room James fromhunt for red October was in the movie.
And that’s, that’s the ship up there on the wall.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: Oh, wow. Looking at a picture of the actual ship onthe wall of his office here.
Graham Plaster: Yeah.And so, I did that for a few years and then I was an assistant operationsofficer for a destroyer squad. In San Diego, which oversaw the build-out of abunch of destroyer ships, and then went from there to serve as the assistantDean of students at the Naval war college for three.
In 2007 to 2010, and then I was selected for a special programin the Navy called the foreign area officer program, which is kind of anequivalent in some ways to the state departments foreign service. So, it has a,it’s a diplomatic type of role. So, they sent me into Monterey to learn.
And then I came to Washington DC for three years and servedunder the army at the Pentagon doing United nations, PC operations.
So, I traveled all around the middle east Iraq several timesIsrael, Jordan, Kenya, Egypt. I was in Egypt just three months before the Arabspring. So that was. And so, then I got out of the Navy in 2013 in transitionto the kind of defense contracting role that did policy work at the Pentagon.
Well, I also did entrepreneurial work on the side, through theintelligence community, Inc. And that’s there during that time, a lot of changehappened for me and I started to get more and more into mentoring, small businessesthat are interested in emerging tech for national security.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: What are some of the people that you were able tohelp with your so coaching and your mentorship?
Graham Plaster: Sure.I’ll talk about some themes. So obviously I started out with a general theme ofmy own company of being us a social network. So, the theme was at the time whenI started the idea was crowdsourcing.
So, in the intelligence world, and as I mentioned, I was neveractually an intelligence officer, but there was a, there’s a theme inintelligence of open-source intelligence, which is collecting information fromsources that can be gotten anywhere and then aggregating and curating it,organizing it. So, it becomes useful and it becomes actionable.
So crowdsourcing is one method to try to get some sort ofactionable intelligence. so, since I had put together this large socialnetwork, which is much larger than just the formal us intelligence community wereach, all around the world through LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook.
And so that was one of the early themes is how to open-sourceintelligence. So, we pulled together volunteers. Books. And we held events to,to network and help each other and advise on different things. And at one pointwe actually did a demonstration for one of the intelligence community agencieson how to crowdsource intelligence around a platform that they built.
And then another theme that emerged was has of course beenartificial intelligence. It’s a, it’s a hot topic right now. And it’s somethingthat we are we care about as we try to figure out how to rapidly organizeinformation when we’re, we’re drowning in information.
So, in the information age, the most important thing is to beable to find not just a needle in a haystack, but maybe a needle in a pile ofneedles. And so, it’s a more complex problem that AI can really bring. Power tobear on that problem.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: How have you found the difficulty in creating AIsolutions centered around the intelligence world and being able to secure itand protect it once you create something and then monitor it? Because it’sstill subject to flaws,
Graham Plaster: Youknow, I’ve consulted more generally to a number of AI companies in nationalsecurity. But I think the challenge there is that the popular conception of AIwhich is what Skynet and, a Terminator 2 general AI or strong AI, the conceptof being self-aware that’s, that’s almost problematic because really what weneed is a lot of narrow AIS that can do, specific functions really fast. And soas far as the applicability of a lot of narrow AIS working together on complextasks, but working in coordinate.
I think we’re moving ahead in, in great ways through the jointAI center at the Pentagon and, and other AIS initiatives within government, butthere’s constantly and explainability problem, which is once you build a greatproduct, you still have to sell it to a lot of people that, might notunderstand it that well.
So as AI gets more complex, that problem only gets moredifficult. And if you’re selling into government, the ability to explain how itworks. And why we need it is, is hard. And Peter teal talks about this in zeroto one. There’s always a chasm between the engineering team. I don’t care ifit’s software or hardware and the sales team, the sales team is responsible tothe Communicate
this is why you need this, this iPhone in your, in your pocket.And then the engineering team of course, is hopefully listening to that wholedev ops cycle saying, okay, the user needs this, this, this let’s modify ituntil we get it to the exact fit, the product market. And when you’re workingwith government, that conversation can just get wrapped around the axle.There’s just so many people. And it’s so bureaucratic so long, which has givenrise to a lot of government contracting methodologies in recent years to try tospeed that up and make it, make it more.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: And so, with the intelligence community, Inc, doyou guys provide a conduit to be able to speed that up and help a startupventures and small businesses that want to create a product that will helpsolve the problems for the government to you kind of assist in thoseconversations?
Graham Plaster: We dowe’ve hosted a lot of events that have focused in, on what we call rapidacquisition contract vehicles, different things ranging from a sole source, 8acontracts to other transaction authorities to looking at the SBIR process,small business innovation research pipeline.
And in all these things are just different kinds of tools. So,the more people know about all of them. But from the government side, whatwe’re trying to do is help different people in government that care aboutinnovation, meet innovators. So, we’re almost still more interested in thesocial aspect, just connecting good people together.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: So, I’d like to talk a little bit about like theindividuals so a lot of what we talk about is mindset, Mindset, personaldevelopment, leadership development, all those things. Cause you came out ofthe military and immediately had an entrepreneurial spirit. It sounds like withthe intelligence community, Inc, but not just that your fostering smallbusiness or startup companies, or fostering these conversations between thebusiness community and the folks in the intelligence community that want toinnovate. I want to get into where that came from. And I’d really like to hearmore about what you learned in the Navy. Do you think your Navy experience hascaused you to be a little bit more entrepreneurial or more resilient to risk?
Graham Plaster: Imean, it’s two separate questions, but I was a person. I was a child who lovedto play with Legos and I loved to play with Legos without directions.
If I got a Lego kit that had instructions, I would want tothrow them away immediately and create my own.
And so, I was creative, but I also liked enough structure towork with the blocks. And so, I reflect back on that frequently, because Ithink about different personality types, especially entrepreneurial personalitytypes.
And I think about if they were the type to get a Lego kit andwant to build the thing in the directions, it sounds a little bit more like anengineer. And if they were the person to get the Legos and immediatelyincorporate them with some Lincoln logs and some stuff. Maybe they’re more onthe art artistic side.
So, there’s like some sort of a middle road where you, like,you realize that you want to create something new, but you realize that theconstraints are there. And so, in there, of course there’s nothing wrong withbeing anywhere on that spectrum. But I saw in myself the desire to be verycreative and yet I knew that I needed some hard skills. And so, part of thereason why I went to the Naval academy was to balance out my creative side
and I went there and served in the Navy. And honestly, theentire time I was feeling very strong entrepreneurial urges. And I was, I gotmy real estate license when I was in San Diego., I got, I was advising myfather’s company on a product line that could launch and just constantlylooking for other things to do, not that the Navy wasn’t keeping me busyenough, but I just had a creative.
And when I got out, it’s like, okay, finally, I get to flexthat muscle. So, I would say that if anything being in the Navy obviously taughtme certain disciplines that are very useful, like getting, handing me theblocks to build with, but the drive was there before that.
And if anything, the drive is unique from other people in themilitary. Cause a lot of people in the military are more like, hey, you give mean instruction. I’ll build it. No, they’re good at following protocols andprocedures and that’s great. That’s what we need. And then there are a veryentrepreneurial people in the military, adapt and overcome kind of personalities.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: What are some of those building blocks that theytaught you to be able to use now that you had that spirit?
Graham Plaster: Well,they’re there it’s very stereotypical, but, the, the attention to detail, theattention to detail. The reverse engineering of a process in order to get to anend goal.
, if you tell me, okay, we’re going to have to take that hill.I said, okay, let’s start without us the goal. And let’s work backwards andfigure out how we’re going to do it. I’m breaking it down into steps. So, themilitary is very big into planning, which is great., if you’re a creative, ifyou’re an entrepreneur and you are just focused on, head in the clouds, I hadbig ideas. It’s going to be hard to reach those ideas. So. If you get the, the,the blocks on, how to set a goal and then reverse engineer it to what I need todo today, that’s a great skill set for an entrepreneur.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: And you think these are, these are teachable thingscause you, you learned it there.
Graham Plaster: It’steachable things. I think the harder thing is entrepreneurial drive. Like Ithink you can learn, you can learn the, the. The operational skills of, ofbreaking things down and achieving them. But if you’re not an imaginativeperson you might not necessarily be able to on your own, at least envision thegoal. And that takes leadership and that takes imagination.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: And it sounds like you had those things innately inthere.
Graham Plaster: Well,I hope so.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: Well, you know, so are you, is there any otherperson in your family that’s in the military?
Graham Plaster: myfather after I got into the Naval academy he was, he was already 40 and he’dalready served as a physician for many years as an ER doctor. And he applied toget into the Navy as a reserve. And because he was specialized, they broughthim in with an age waiver and he joined and then he deployed to Iraq twice withthe Marines running a shock trauma platoons. So, we were actually both deployedat the same time and they brought him into the Navy actually at a higher rankthan I was when I graduated from the Naval academy. So even though he came inafter me, I still had to salute him
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: Okay, but do you think that you’re joining the Navyinfluenced him or was it the other way I’m trying to figure out like why theNavy, if you had these things, you probably would have had these ideas at thatage anyway. Why the Navy and not some other path?
Graham Plaster: Well,both my grandfather served in World War II. Yeah. I grew up in Delaware, but wewould take family trips to Annapolis and on a weekend here or there. And so, Iwas aware at the Naval academy and junior high school. And so, I had the strongpatriotic desire to serve coming through me. Although my father hadn’t servedduring Vietnam cause his number got passed over.
He also had thought about joining the Navy when he was youngand me, we, so we would go sailing as a family. We’d sail around Annapolis. Wesaw the Naval academy and I just, I just fixated on that in junior high. Sothat’s where I’m going to go. And so, he likes to say that I inspired him tojoin, but I think that I basically just kind of pushed him over the edge.
I think he was already wanting to do that. And the fact that Imade the decision to go, he, he jumped in the water.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: Have you ever read Jocko? Willock’s an extremeownership.
Graham Plaster: II’ve read some of it and I do have a copy., I do respect chocolate quite a bit.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: He’s a big discipline equals freedom kind of guyand a big morning routine kind of guy. Do you have a morning routine or did youlearn one in the military that you still practice?
Graham Plaster: Iwould say that having a morning routine is something that I need right now. Iam, I’m far enough over on the entrepreneurial spectrum.
Every day is different and every, and I basically am alwayscreating every day new, but it just like when I played with Legos creatively,and then I went to the Naval academy, I learned certain disciplines.
I feel like getting a better morning routine right now would begreat for my own personal development. So, it’s something I’m studying rightnow.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: Did you, did you have one when you were in themilitary?
Graham Plaster: Yeah,of course. Yeah, we all had, so that was all about getting up early. Thenewspaper, doing some, mindfulness, meditation type Plaster: of time.
And for me, that’s my some, personal faith in getting into theBible and praying. And then also as we, as we get about the day, there wasalways of course, built in time for physical exercise. So, the, the idea of youcan’t manage stress well without exercise. It’s the best possible way.obviously eating well, but, getting out and getting a nature is important forthat.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: Spiritual teachers that will tell you that a lot ofmindfulness teachers that will tell you that cause the body and the mind aremade of the same things,
If you think it’s all made of cells and if we can hold tensionin our mind, we can hold it in our body. And sometimes, physiology andpsychology are connected. I’m a big Tony Robbins guy and that’s his that’s hiswhole thing. And sometimes, it seems to work.
Do you journal at all? Do you have a time where you put downgoals or anything that you might, is there any sort of written process that youfollow?
Graham Plaster: It’snot a process, but it is an impulse. I I’ve been a writer. I was an Englishmajor. So, I’ve always written poems, songs, stories. 20 different books kindof started on my hard drive. And so, then I used to do a lot of writing,believe it or not on my calculator at the Naval academy,
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: you can write on a calculator.
Graham Plaster: Wehad these big, kind of graphing calculators that had a full keyboard on them.And so, I’d be taking calculus and then I’d have a break and I’d have an ideafor something. And I would switch over to a file and be banging away at writingsomething.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: What about I am statements, do you, so I do. Andthey could be called affirmations or whatever, but I do this practice of like,I am statements because it’s been suggested that I am as two of the mostpowerful words in the English language that whatever you insert after that whatwe think is what we become.
So I am, and then insert whatever it is that you want tobecome, or that you think you are, will help solidify a thought, those synapsesneurons, that fire together, wire together, that sort of thing. So, I amefficient, I am successful. Like I am what I, I use it in a way that anythingthat I’m trying to improve upon in my life,
Like I am punctual. I am, whatever I’m fit. I am maintaining ahealthy diet, like whatever. I start to just repeat these things to myself sothat when, the fried chicken sandwich comes along, I’m like, no, I’m, I ammaintaining a healthy diet. I’m maintaining physical fitness. So, I am going togo do this work out for the day, even though I don’t feel like it.
Graham Plaster: Imean, it’s a profound question. It’s something I’ve thought about quite a bit,because my master’s was actually in humanities. And I re I wrote a poem calledI am actually at that time. And it was partly a reflection on Hamlet’s to be,or not to be speech, which is a conjugation of the word. the term of the verbto be which is I am was one of those conjugations. And so, the fundamentalquestion before you add anything, after the words, I am something it’s justthat I am I’m here, and so starting with a thankfulness for being alive. And athankfulness for the existence that I have is fundamental for even making anydecisions after that, of what I want to become with that.
And I think that Hamlet was meditating on that, is it good tobe or not to be, that’s the question. And but if I were to take the next stepand say, what do I want to be? I love the idea of being an entrepreneur. And Ilove the idea of working with other entrepreneurs because these.
These are the, the men and women who create, they’re the oneswho built. And it’s exciting to me to do that.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: Well, you mentioned something else. Gratitude. Itsounds like you, you practice gratitude in your daily routine, somewhere alongthe line. Have you, did you pick that up as a formal practice or did you.
Graham Plaster:that’s be, something that comes from my faith, but I would say that it’s also astress management technique. So, I would say that as, as life gets hard andalways does for everybody at some point., coming back to what you’re thankfulfor is the most positive thing that you can do for yourself and for the peoplearound you.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: What what’s one of those tough moments. I call itthe jumping off point. It’s a. It’s a point in time where you can no longerkeep doing what you’re doing, but you’re unsure of what to do next. Or it couldbe a moment of pain, that at that time it was very painful, but now you lookback and you’re very grateful that it has.
Graham Plaster: Yeah,I think Seth Godin calls it the dip. So, in 2005 is, we were in San Diego andwe had just sold our condo from Hawaii and we made a little bit of money.
The housing market was rising and we plugged that our money asa young couple into a house in San Diego and the market tanked right afterthat. And so, we lost everything that we had. Well in our first place, plus wewent into two major debt and at the same time, my wife’s younger brother Jessewas dying from leukemia and he passed away during that.
And so those, those kinds of stressors on our family while wewere at that time, we had three kids and another one on the way. And we movedon to Newport Rhode Island. All of those stressors were on us as we wereconsidering whether to get out of the Navy or to stay in. And
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: were still in the Navy at this
Graham Plaster:that’s when I was the assistant Dean of students than the war college.
So, I was there and we were trying to figure out where to pivottoo next. And so, losing that. Losing a close family member and then havingfour children were the pressures on us at the time. And I look back on it andthen it was, it was a hard time and there were other hard times that camebefore and after that, but they were the forcing functions that caused me toend up going into the diplomatic field of the foreign area officer community.
And then. Back to the DC area to, to be at the Pentagon andbrought me to where I am now. So, I would say that for me, looking back, ifthings weren’t, hadn’t been quite so hard, I might’ve actually gotten out ofthe military at that time. Because.
, being in the military actually provided a benefit for myfamily, that I had enough security that I could just keep going,
So, it was hard, but it, it brought me to where I am now andI’m thankful for where I am now.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: You’re grateful. And you’re impacting a lot ofpeople. It sounds like not just with the intelligence community Inc, but alsowith your mentorship of other, other companies and other people. And do youhave a mentor yourself right now?
Graham Plaster: Yeah,I have several mentors. I would point to one in particular right now. His nameis Admiral Paul Becker. He teaches leadership at the Naval academy right now,and he served in the us intelligence community at very senior levels. And justas an inspiration because he’s Plaster: survived cancer several times andalways has incredible optimism.
Despite every challenge.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: So, when I talked to a lot of leaders and I talkedto a lot of people that are in entrepreneurial position, each one has some sortof memory that sticks out to them from their childhood, that solidified athought or an action or something that they’re doing, that they carry with themas a motivator or something that either they don’t want to be, or that theywant to make sure they continue to do.
Can you think back from your childhood as the most impactful memory,that shaped who you are as an individual today even if it’s a belief that youhave or that you don’t want to have.
Graham Plaster: Imean, there’s a lot, for the purposes of this podcast, I’ll just say that myparents achieved a lot together, professionally and they did it coming from abackground where they didn’t have room. My father went to college on abasketball scholarship and then went to med school and then went through lawschool and then started a successful business.
And together, then joined the military after, after I wasn’table academy. But but my mother was there supporting him and he was supportingher in and they really stayed with each other through some challenging times.And so, they were role models to me about, what you can do with the Americandream.
And so, I think that a big reason for why I joined the Navy andwent to the Naval academy is looking at their example and wanting to be someonewho through my own hard work could do something great.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC Local LeadersPodcast: And now that you’re a parent, you’ve got four kids. Do youthink about that when you’re parenting them and talking to them that likeyou’re having this profound impression on them? Not even realizing
Graham Plaster: Yeah.I mean, you think about when you’re a parent, you think about the effects ofyour parenting every single day.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: How does that affect you in your mentorship ofother people and your communication with other people? Like, have you foundmore patients now that you are a parent?
Graham Plaster:before I had children, I w I had a little bit of and overconfidence in, inthings like my patients and my leadership, what ha having children does, is ithumbles you in all of those areas, you realize that you’re more selfish thanyou thought. Or you realize you have less patients than you thought you had.
So, it’s in the same way of going to the gym and thinking I’mpretty strong, I look pretty good. And then you pick up that, weight that youthink should be easy for you, but it’s not. And being in the military wassimilar. I think that there are ways that, I looked around and I said, wouldsay that the thing that they’re asking me to do, shouldn’t be as hard as itfeels right now.
But it’s through those challenges that we grow, that themuscle. So, I would say that I probably am a lot more patient than I was beforeand hopefully a better leader and, and through being a parent and, and growingas a parent, but at the same time, oftentimes I feel weaker than I was before,because, in the Socratic sense, like, as you grow in knowledge, the more yourealize how little, and as you grow in virtue, hopefully things like patients,the more you realize how much more.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: I talk a lot about fear in the sense of when wetalk about mentorship, when we talk about personal development, we talk aboutgrowth. Fear plays a big role in that. Doing new things is scary. As wecontinue to learn new things, we have a tendency to grow through pain, If thecircumstance is difficult to deal with, or if it’s challenging in some way,we’ll grow through it. But that also creates a lot of fear in the moment. Itfeels overwhelming or it feels like it may not happen.
How have you dealt with that fear or what are some of the toolsthat you’ve learned either from the Navy or that you’ve picked up in yourexperience, especially for entrepreneurs starting a new venture with no ideawhether or not it’s going to work or just people in general?
Graham Plaster: Yeah.Coping with fear is, is a great skill. I think it’s a, in some ways it’s alearned skill and obviously somebody. Have little less fear and maybe for,chemical reasons. I love that documentary free solo. It came out last year. Andso, there’s arguments about the physical adaptation to fear that come frompractice or from chemistry.
And I would say just when it comes to like coaching a kidthrough their fear or coaching a friend to their fears. My general advice, itcomes back to my own experience, which is okay, slow down, take a deep breath.There might be some things that you can alter in the situation that are in yourcontrol, get a little more sleep or eat right workout to help kind of decrease,that fear.
And sometimes it comes down to simply coping, like
This too shall pass. We’re going to get through this. I thinkone of the really interesting, fear coaches are bear Grylls. When you watch ashow and you see him have a celebrity, try to, go over a chasm or something andhe’s like, okay, we’re going to take it one step at a time.
We’ll get, we’re going to do it together. And I reflect on hima little bit actually, when I try to coach my kids with fear, how hard you needto push somebody so they can.
, how to work hard and push through fear. How much do you needto slow the process down and give grace? And that’s true with ourselves too,how hard should I push myself through fear?
Or how much do I need to, like, what this is, we’re going totake a train time out here and reattach it tomorrow morning. But coping withfear is practice and its discipline. Discipline equals freedom as well.
And in my experience, looking back, there are some things nowthat I’m much more afraid of than I was before.
Cause I was naive and there are some things I’m much lessafraid of because I’ve just been through that roller coaster a few times.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: Does the cybersecurity and intelligence stuff kindof freak you out and cause any fear for you?
Graham Plaster: Imean, obviously there are dangers that are, imminent threats that we should be preparing for, but it doesn’t cause fear only.
Urgency for action wise. Action.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: What are some of the things that folks listening should kind of just in their daily life, be practicing to be a little bit moreaware of some of the cybersecurity threats in everyday life, not the militaryand the government stuff.
We, your coaching, plenty of companies that are able to providethat solution. Hopefully what are some of the things that us everyday peoplecan be doing?
Graham Plaster: I’mnot a cybersecurity guy, but it comes basically down to just your privacyhygiene, just basically changing your passwords. If you get that alert, youneed to update your software, update it. And then be aware of, the the phishingand social engineering risks, if you get that email from somebody that saysthere, has a bunch of money and they need you to write it up.
Don’t do it. Fortunately, kids are picking up on that stuffearlier and earlier, and they’re getting good training and at the youngerlevels, but I’m concerned mostly for use of platforms like Tik TOK. And thevulnerability for social engineering through foreign owned social mediaplatforms.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: Do you think you would have been able to achievethe things that you were doing in your life now, had you not had the experienceof being in the military and learning some of those skill sets and leadershipand that discipline,
Graham Plaster: Ithink that leadership and discipline can be learned outside the militarythrough a lot of other things through sports, though, different kinds ofleadership training curricula. But everyone’s path is completely unique. And mypath coming through the military, I definitely learned some things I couldn’thave learned other places, specific things, contextual things having to do withhow the, how the military works as an organization. And. Being exposed to thetypes of leaders around me in the military.
I like to tell my kids that, you learn a lot from the peoplethat are sitting next to you, not just from a teacher or from even the books. There’s a lot of teams teaching and you know, peer learning that can happen.So, the military has been a great place to get access to certain types of peersthat have helped me become who I am.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC LocalLeaders Podcast: All right graham. Well, this has been great to, toget to know you and to learn a little bit about intelligence community, Inc,and some of the other small business development things that you do, but justone more time, tell us where they can find you on LinkedIn, where they can find you on the web and your sub stack.
Graham Plaster: Well,y ou can find us firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also go on LinkedIn and join any of our 12 LinkedIngroups. Our largest one is called the intelligence community. It has about80,000 members. And you can also connect with me on LinkedIn and I’m constantly sharing information. And then I also on my own, I run an email newsletterthrough sub stack called the defense and intelligence innovation ecosystem.
Which is D I an E dot sub stack.com. And you can join that forfree or the premium list for $50 a year and get all kinds of interesting information and invitations to a virtual happy hour to discuss defenseinnovation.
Phillip Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders Podcast: All right graham. thanks for so much for spending some time.
Thank you so much.