Life as an FBI Retiree
Ah, the retired life. I would be lying if I said this season of life has brought me less work and more relaxation. However, I’m happier with my reality than the sunbathing-on-a-beach mirage most of us dream of. Shockingly, it’s been over two years since I retired from the FBI. Whether it’s during one of my presentations, book signings, or meetings, I always get asked, “Do you miss the FBI?” to which I sternly reply, “No.” Once the surprised look on their face disappears, I simply explain my reasoning.
Don’t get me wrong; I was beyond proud to be an FBI Special Agent.
If I had my chance to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. So why don’t I miss it?
It’s simple. Today, I am living a passion-project life; taking what I love, and what I’m good at, and turning it into something huge.
There were three questions presented to me just the other day that made me so content with the path I’ve chosen. To know you’ve chosen the right “passion-project” you could ask yourself these questions:
- Are you doing what you love to do? I love to share my experiences and educate people.
- Are you doing what you are good at? I take rather boring yet complex topics and make it simple to understand.
- Does the world need it? Cybercrime is a major problem, growing daily, affecting the globe catastrophically.
I know I’m right where I belong. I mean, while I’m reflecting back I can’t forget that this time last year I released my first book, The Secret to Cybersecurity: A Simple Plan to keep Your Family and Business Safe. I wrote it with one goal in mind- to share the experiences I had when I was with the FBI, and to teach the takeaways to the masses so it doesn’t keep happening.
Learning the mistakes of the victims I worked with in close to 30 years really put things in perspective. It teaches you what not to do. I share these experiences to teach individuals and organizations how not to become the next cybercrime victim. The main commonalities between cybercrime victims were these:
- None of them ever expected to be a victim.
- Once the money or data is stolen, it’s almost impossible to get back.
- Since cybercrime is a global problem bringing the cybercriminals to justice is challenging.
- Almost 90% of the victimizations could have been prevented by user education and awareness and a few very simple controls.
In my early days of the FBI I would try to play the hero role by bringing the bad guys to justice for the crime they committed. Today, I no longer attempt to be a hero. Instead, my purpose is better served in being a guide.
Writing a book took me completely out of my comfort zone. On January 29th 2019, it was released to the public. At first I was nervous and thought, “What if everyone hates it? What if it’s too simple?? What if I fail???”
Well when your only expectation is to share your knowledge with people to keep them safe- how can you fail?
It’s one year later, and the book has made its way to over 10,000 individuals. According to one report, the average first time author can expect to sell approximately 500 books. In a very humble way, I think I crushed it. I also received 90 Amazon Reviews and was so touched by the comments. The book was ranked Number 2 on a Top Ten List of CyberSecurity Books for 2020. Reviews from people like Steve Morgan, of Cybersecurity Ventures, are just the icing on the cake for an ol’ FBI retiree-turned-author guy like me.
As I pat myself on the back for a job well done, like with most things I’m still not satisfied. Why? Did I want to be number one on that list, or reach the NY Times Bestseller’s List, or make more money? Not at all. So why am I not satisfied?
Cybercrime continues to grow at a record pace.
As the cybercriminals continue to up the level of sophistication, there are still too many victimizations that could have been prevented.
I feel blessed because this is not a job for me. Someone recently asked if I ever really will retire. If I won the lottery today I would continue to do what I’m doing and would put more resources into spreading the message.
So what’s up next? I’ll continue to follow my passion by speaking, doubling down on my writings and blog posts, and working on my next book. It’s been a great year, and I can’t wait to see what this next one has in store! Stay cybersafe!