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On Taking Chances

You’ll never know what could happen if you don’t take a chance

It’s time for my end-of-year blog post where I reflect on the year and try to write something inspirational for anyone who cares to read my musings. I certainly don’t have all the answers and I think the answers are relative for each individual. But I can say that this has been a good year. And one of the reasons it has been a good year is because I was not afraid to take chances, now and in the past. Those chances I took many years ago led me to where I am at this moment in time.

Psst. I’m engaged!

During the middle of the pandemic when people were socially distancing and supposed to be staying away from other people I reconnected with someone I had met over 20 years ago. One thing led to another and eventually, I agreed to visit him and the rest is history.

This year, I sold my house and moved from Seattle to Savannah, Georgia. Along with that came a road trip across the United States. I wrote a separate blog post about that. Those are some pretty big changes!

As much as I love Savannah, I’m not here purely to be in this city. I’m here because I was tired of some things and open to new possibilities. The timing seemed right. The stars aligned, fate, love, freedom, peace, and what-have-you …it all led me here.

On taking chances and a change of scenery

I can attest to the fact that going somewhere new doesn’t solve all your problems. I’ve done it before and ended up back where I started. It does, however, give you a new perspective. I went to Australia for three months in the past to see things from the other side of the world, and it was well worth it. You’ll meet people and experience things you wouldn’t otherwise. You’ll get a new angle on your life.

As it turns out, a past move out of Seattle to live in California led to my current move. At the time it seemed like just a hiatus from my life in Seattle. But as it turns out, that move had long-term consequences. If I hadn’t taken the chance to move back then, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Back then moving was easy. I was renting. I packed up and moved in with a friend in San Diego. I was running an e-commerce business, Radical Software, Inc., and my main client was in Seattle. After I’d been working in San Diego for two weeks, I informed her that I had moved. Initially, she freaked out a little bit (as I expected she would if I told her before I left) but after I pointed out that she hadn’t even noticed, she then was OK with it. As it turns out I helped her grow that business to a multi-million dollar company after that, so my location was definitely not a limiting factor.

This past year, the move was more complicated because I had a house. I was already thinking about selling my house in 2020 and moving. As you may have heard, Seattle was dealing with quite a bit of unrest and I think I was just tired of the conflict in my life. I just wanted to go somewhere peaceful ~ ideally with lower property taxes and maybe lower real estate prices or a downsize. My property taxes in Seattle went up over 30% in one year!

I did some research and eventually gave up on the idea, as I couldn’t figure out where to go. It seemed too complicated to move and the benefits would not outweigh the cost and hassle. I couldn’t think of what would be better than where I was. I had a nice house with a beautiful view of Puget Sound and I loved taking walks in the area.

Then, a person from my past appeared suddenly in my life, talking to me about coming to visit him. It all started with pictures of tacos on Facebook and a comment. When he wanted to chat on the phone I thought it would never go anywhere, but I hadn’t talked to him in ages. I could see what he was up to these days. Why not?

Evaluating Chances

My move may seem sudden, but that’s because no one even knew I was talking to anyone — and how much. Once we started talking we were chatting one or usually multiple times per day. One of the side-effects of a pandemic is that when you’re trapped inside and have nothing to do but talk to people on the phone or online. One month of communication every day during a pandemic is probably the equivalent of a year of normal dating, considering how much time we spent conversing. And no, we did not use Zoom.

This was not a rash decision by any means. First of all, both of us had been attracted to each other back then, though I didn’t know it. He was with someone else and when they separated I think it was right about the time I was leaving again. What if I had stayed? Who knows, but I think the timing was not right for either of us back then.

I spent time researching the possibility of living in Savannah and gently interrogating the person who was inviting me to come visit. We talked on the phone every day for I think a month and a half before I finally booked a ticket.

I was also monitoring covid because I was nervous about traveling. Cases were going down at the point I booked my ticket, though they spiked back up as soon as I got to Georgia. As I wrote in another blog post I took steps to protect myself on the plane. That was before a vaccine existed.

We are so blessed in 2021 to have a vaccine and both of us are triple-vaccinated. So far so good, but Georgia is the 6th least vaccinated state in the country and covid is once again on the rise. Cases went from 600 to over 14,000 in about a week. The new variant may not be as bad but it’s still affecting some people and mostly unvaccinated. Hospitalizations are up 100%. I'm far beyond trying to convince anyone to get vaccinated, including people in my own family.The problem is less than we will get it and have serious symptoms, and more than the hospitals will be full, should something else happen. I'm reading about shortages of nurses because they are fed up with people not getting vaccinated and getting sick. I've listened to talk shows on the subject where they interviewed nurses and doctors. There's a new book on the topic I want to read at some point: Year of the Nurse: A 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic Memoir. But overall, it feels safer now than it did back then.

I also admit, before I agreed to come visit, I did some OSINT. I stalked his Facebook page to see if the things he was telling me were true. It seemed like they were, and more importantly, it seemed like he was a really good guy. Through my investigative work and many conversations, it seemed that we shared common values and wanted the same things out of life. Simple things.

At the same time, I was researching Savannah. As I wrote about before, I have already visited all 50 states. I went out of my way to visit Savannah on one of my road trips because it was a beautiful name. Other than that I didn’t know much about it but decided I had to go there. I remember loving the historic houses and getting lost in search of Southern food. I remember the noise of the cicadas. (I had to ask someone what it was.) I visited River Street, bought some pralines, and headed out to my next destination. My visit was short but sweet. River Street is in one of the photos below in this montage from the blog post I wrote a few years back on my travels.

But could I really live in this city on the other side of the country which was so incredibly different? I looked at houses, researched neighborhoods, and any other information I could find.

How much were houses? What do they look like? Could I see myself living in one? What are the chances of a hurricane? Did they have the stores I like? What is the cost of living and where was the airport if I needed to travel for work? How diverse is the city and what is the political climate? Would I fit in? Is it close to water? I always need to live by water.

As it turns out, Savannah has the fourth-largest port in the United States — bigger than Seattle. The ocean is only 30 minutes away. It’s like a small town with a lot of big city amenities. The downtown core is very historic. If you move there you will have to abide by regulations to preserve it. Modern houses are not appreciated here. The Savannah Historic Society works to save old buildings. Savannah is over 50 percent African American and Georgia politics are about as diverse as my Facebook friends. Savannah has its challenges, just like any city, but I’ve been here about a year and still love it.

Business Impact

People ask me if it was difficult to leave Seattle due to my business. Not at all. Ironically, when I reviewed my customer list before deciding to move and I think I had two customers in the Seattle area and one of those was headquartered in Atlanta. Most of my customers came from other parts of the country. I’ve also had customers in other countries.

How do I get business? People contact me on LinkedIn most of the time to request one of the services on my profile or listed at 2ndSightLab.com. (I’ve been too busy to update the web site, sorry). Often we schedule a call, but sometimes I just send a contract if it’s a very simple service like a basic penetration test or class. Typically the client’s legal team will review the contract. Sometimes I have to create an account in a vendor management system like Ariba. We sign an agreement, schedule the work, and I get busy. All the work my company does is remote at this time.

In the past, I provided in-person training, but that is on hold until further notice. Most of my work in 2021 consisted of penetration tests, cloud security assessments, and cloud security product assessments, such as one I did for Cloud Health by VMWare. I also spoke virtually at their annual cloud conference about how the product can help defend against cloud attacks.

When it comes to CloudHealth, I knew something about the product before I agreed to speak about it because they had sponsored my AWS meetups in Seattle in the past. I get approached constantly to “take a look at a product demo” for free. Others want me to be a paid “influencer”, but I don’t do that because not getting paid allows me to be honest in my product recommendations.If a company wants a true assessment, I offer a paid service for that. They can use the output in their marketing materials if they like what I have to say or fix the problems if I find any. I used to work for a security vendor, so I know something about the internal workings of those kinds of companies and can provide insight to help improve the product. I will speak about a product at conferences, in training, and consulting calls, if I find it has value. I often write about products I already use like AWS, GCP, Azure, and Yubico. But as I wrote about in a separate blog post, it takes time to evaluate a product properly, and I don't do that for free.

I started working on a revamp of my class to teach online but got too busy. I also offer phone consulting through IANS Research.

People are still reading and buying my book: Cybersecurity for Executives in the Age of Cloud. I am incredibly grateful for the positive reviews. I tried to write something that was timeless, not just applicable in the moment. Some of the statistics could be updated. It is uncanny how some of the things I warned about came to fruition in some of the biggest data breaches over the past year.

Sometimes I perform the work for clients myself. Other times I hire people to help me. I may still get my class revamp out depending on a few factors. At the moment, I’m considering hiring a local intern from a college in Savannah that offers a cybersecurity degree program. I found out there are two in the area. If you go to college in Savannah and are interested, reach out to the person responsible for internships at your school (not me directly, please). They will have the details shortly if they don’t already.

In other words, there hasn’t been much impact at all on my business. I had to deal with some legal issues related to registering in another state and took some time out to fix up and sell my Seattle house and drive across country. Covid put more of a damper on some of my revenue streams in 2020, but in the end, I was very busy in 2021!

How did I get here?

At one particularly challenging point in my life, I picked up and moved to San Diego for a couple of years. I didn’t feel like San Diego was the place for me in the end, but it was beautiful and fun for a while. Maybe if I had stayed, I would feel differently, but some business dealings led me out of San Diego to other places and then back to Seattle.

It was expensive to live in San Diego. I liked the beach culture, where I played volleyball and hung out with some surfers, but I wasn’t a big partier and that’s what everyone seemed to be doing all the time. I’m a nerd! I also found some things to be complicated for a number of reasons and once again moved on after a couple of years. I wrote about some of that in my book.

I met some great people while I was down there. There was this one guy I found interesting and attractive. It wasn’t purely his looks or that he was a great beach volleyball player (he ended up playing in the AVP after I left). I was mostly attracted to his smile and friendly demeanor. He had a bit of a Southern drawl. He seemed real if you know what I mean — and if you don’t, you don’t.

We didn’t really connect back then other than casual conversation, but 20 years later he’s talking to me about tacos on Facebook and one thing leads to another and here I am. If I had never packed up and moved to California, I would have never met him. If he didn’t invite me to eat tacos in Savannah on Facebook I wouldn’t have ever thought about it. If I hadn’t taken a chance to chat with him on the phone, even though I wasn’t expecting it to go anywhere and taken a chance to come visit, I wouldn’t be here right now.

Enjoying the moment

Do I still like Savannah? I absolutely LOVE It! I grew up in a small town. Savannah is like a small town with some big city amenities — but not all. If you like big cities, Savannah might not be the place for you. The one thing I miss occasionally is an Apple store but I often visit them while traveling. Savannah’s not perfect, but it’s great for me so far. I’ve been here about a year now. Lately, we have been picking oranges off our orange tree and making fresh-squeezed orange juice. We gave away some for Christmas.

A butterfly is flying around me as I sit outside writing this in 79-degree weather on January 1st. Georgia is full of butterflies and I love them. I gave my grandmother a big book of butterflies before she died and it has circled back to be with me here in Savannah. It’s not always this hot at this time of year. Savannah has more rain than Seattle, I’ve come to learn, but it is gone about as fast as it floods the streets. We put a bird feeder in the back yard and I’m watching and listening to cardinals, doves, and other birds who visit us. Squirrels are everywhere.

My significant other was willing to move to Seattle to live with me, but I was ready for a change. For me, all the positives outweigh the negatives here and I’m very happy with the move.

Will it last?

Everyone talks about how hard relationships are all the time. I think my fear of a failed relationship probably affected some of my choices in life. Having to hear other people say, “I told you so,” because I wasn’t conforming to their expectations would be mortifying. Other people warn, “Oh, you don’t know what’s coming.” I’m sure.

Here’s what I have to say to that.

I don’t care.

Life is good at this moment. I think everyone has gone through some rough patches in life. We all have our ups and downs. All I can say is that right now, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m enjoying the moment, and the moment is good. I’m hopeful the moment continues. But it doesn’t do any good to worry about it.

So all I have left to say is:

Stay safe my readers and friends but don’t be afraid to take informed chances. Do your homework. Make a plan. Let go. Make a change. Be real. Enjoy the moment. Live. Love. And…

Have a Happy New Year!

Teri Radichel

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Teri Radichel

Teri Radichel

1.1K Followers

Cloud Security Training and Penetration Testing | GSE, GSEC, GCIH, GCIA, GCPM, GCCC, GREM, GPEN, GXPN | AWS Hero | Infragard | IANS Faculty | 2ndSightLab.com