DeepSec 2023 Talk: I’m Ok, You’re Ok, We’re Ok: Living with AD(H)D in Infosec – Klaus Agnoletti
[This is a different topic than information security. Klaus’ presentation was included in the DeepSec 2023 schedule, because it deals with the way some of us are dealing with the individual thought processes. The work environment doesn’t fit for everyone.]
I was diagnosed with AD(H)D almost three years ago, aged 44. Getting the diagnosis and being able to get proper medicine meant the world to me; suddenly I understood all those symptoms and I could function remarkably better. Better understanding also meant that I got more insight to why it was becoming increasingly harder for me to get and keep a job. So something had to happen.
I’ve been an InfoSec professional for almost 20 years but after my diagnosis I moved to community marketing which basically meant doing the spare-time thing I love as a living. In December 2022 I got fired again and by then I knew I had to make yet another career change and make a career for myself that works better for me. Keep getting fired is obviously not sustainable. My (wise) wife said “You can’t talk about having ADHD and the challenges you have without acting upon them”. So I decided to go freelance in Infosec probably after realizing that would probably work best for me.
So this is what this talk is about: Regardless of mental diagnoses or not, you should always go for what makes you happy. And especially when being mentally challenged, it’s extremely important to know what the challenges are so you can mitigate them. It’s also about ADHD, what it’s really about, what the symptoms are and that you only have one life, so it’s important to make the best of it.
By doing this talk I hope to spread knowledge about ADHD and break down taboos about it so more people can be helped and help themselves as this obviously is a very important subject. I am sure there is an overrepresentation of mental diagnoses in Infosec (and IT in general) so the knowledge is definitely needed so we can talk openly about this, ensuring more companies understand how to handle diversity in every way and more people in the industry live happy lives.
We asked Klaus a few more questions about his talk.
Please tell us the top 5 facts about your talk.
- ADHD is very different between genders and people in general. My ADHD is mine, not everyone else’s
- ADHD is more than annoying kids who can’t sit still
- There is an overrepresentation of neurodivergence in IT in general so it’s about time we start talking about it
- Being neurodivergent is not a weakness – and neither is talking about it.
- The key to sucessfully having a working life with neurodivergence is to get to know yourself well, what you’re good and bad at, to find your superpower in what makes you special and utilize that to become the best version of yourself at doing that.
How did you come up with it? Was there something like an initial
spark that set your mind on creating this talk?
It all started four years ago when I was diagnosed with ADD (which is also ADHD. More in my talk). I didn’t know anything about ADHD at that point. So after I learned more about it and got to know myself more I realized that many others probably didn’t know anything either. So I started talking about it.
Why do you think this is an important topic?
A bit down the road I realized how unique this is and that other people find alot of comfort and inspiration in seeing someone else expose themselves and talking so openly about their ADHD like I do. People see a role model in me. That has never been the case but by doing what I do and give people the chance to mirror themselves in that, I touch people’s lives and inspire them. That and spreading awareness about ADHD and neurodiversity is immensly important – especially in our field. People need to realize that having ADHD or being neurodivergent in general is ok and nothing to be ashamed about.
Is there something you want everybody to know – some good advice for
our readers maybe?
I want people to know more about what ADHD is and maybe find inspiration to be more open about whatever problems they might have when they see me and hear my story.
A prediction for the future – what do you think will be the next
innovations or future downfalls when it comes to your field of expertise
/ the topic of your talk in particular?
I hope that this will start a movement that makes people being more open about neurodivergence and employers to be more understanding and supportive in general. The better they are at understanding neurodivergence, the better they are at harvesting the benefits. And that’s a win-win for everybody.
Klaus Agnoletti has been an all-round infosec professional since 2004. As a long-time active member of the InfoSec community in Copenhagen, Denmark, he co-founded BSides København in 2019. Currently, he’s a freelance storytelling cyber security advisor specializing in security transformation and community focused marketing, employer branding, playing security games and other fun assignments and ideas coming his way.