We had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with an awesome Hip Daddy, Andrew Borene. Not only is he a Cyber Security Expert and IBM Executive, he has shared the same room as Frank Underwood…#enoughsaid. Well, also, he’s a great Dad too. Some really good lessons and thoughts in this one, so please enjoy the read!
Talk to us about your kids. What’s it like being a Dad?
There simply aren’t sufficient words to express the kind of love and happiness that being a dad brings into my life. Being a dad has brought me the greatest pride of my life.
Right now, I have two pre-teen sons (Magnus and Dane) who live in Minnesota with my first wife, and a new baby daughter (Elizabeth) with my wife Alice in McLean, Virginia. It’s been a long journey, but we’ve found how to blend our stepfamily and thrive. I talk to a lot of other fathers in the post-divorce situation as well, and try to remind them that even if they can’t be the custodial parent they will never stop being their kids’ father and primary male role model.
Tell us about your parenting style.
I believe that the first fundamental responsibility I have is to let my children know that I love them more than any other human beings, aside from my wife. I believe that if I can help to support their emotional needs, then they’ll have the inherent self-confidence and faith in the future needed to survive the slings and arrows of childhood and thrive as adults.
What’s the one thing you cannot live without as a Dad?
I couldn’t possibly live without my iPhone. It not only lets me FaceTime with my boys from anywhere in the world, but I can also manage my simultaneous responsibilities as a husband, father, executive, and professor with a tiny computer that fits in my pocket.
So you are a “Cyber Security Expert.” What does that mean exactly?
Basically, I try to break down complicated policy, legal and technology issues into language that average Americans can understand.
While I’ve been focused on national security over the past decade, cyberspace is increasingly the method of attack for threats like criminals, spies and America’s foreign rivals. Cyberattacks are an increasing threat to all kinds of U.S. businesses, as we’ve seen in the examples of Target, Home Depot, J.P. Morgan, Anthem and many others, so there’s a growth industry in emerging technologies and more traditional security disciplines.
I have an incredible day job leading a team at IBM that can help solve the U.S. Government’s hardest challenges in cyberspace related to threat attribution, whether the attacks are coming from foreign countries, organized criminals, insiders or hackers. Through moonlighting with a think-tank called the Truman National Security Project I’ve made a number of media appearances as a guest commentator or analyst on defense,intelligence and cybersecurity issues. After the Sony cyberattacks in the wake of the movie “The Interview” I was asked by MSNBC Hardball to help explain how the FBI Director was so confident that North Korea was behind the crimes. I’ve also done some segments for other media outlets on topics like how the ISIS terrorists are leveraging social media.
All that said, I’m really excited about what I get to do in the real world, but my sons think the coolest thing I’ve ever done is appear on TV with Kevin Spacey in President Frank Underwood’s White House as a National Security Advisor on “House of Cards”.
How do you feel about the world of social media when it comes to your kids?
I’m very protective of my kids on email and social media. Obviously, I want them to participate with their friends, but I’m trying to teach them the equivalent of “street smarts” for the internet. Things like the fact that what we post can live forever, that creepy people they’d avoid in real life can pretend to be friendly on the internet, and that they need to protect themselves with basic hygiene like not sharing their passwords with others.
Also, with the rise of online bullying I want my kids to be the defenders of the victims and to treat others as they would like to be treated.
The bottom line is that I try to teach them that they should treat their internet activity like they do their real world interactions, and to follow The Golden Rule.
From leading an IBM business team today to your past experience as a a Marine fighting in Iraq, what are your life lessons learned for your kids?
I’ve been exceptionally lucky to be a cog in the machinery of a number of high-performing, elite teams whether as a Marine officer, here at IBM, or in a number of athletic endeavors. The common denominators in those experiences have always been deep respect between individuals and love for the organizations.
Most importantly, I’ve learned about resilience and how to bounce back from adversity. In the early years after I got back from Iraq, I slipped into a cycle of drinking too much that led to a major life crisis, divorce, unemployment and a diagnosis of alcoholism. That was more than eight years ago, and I had to learn to live again without alcohol in my life. I hope that I can sustain my own life change as permanent, and that I can always serve as an example to my kids that no matter how badly they screw up (which is pretty much inevitable for all of us as humans at some point) that there is always love and a path to recovery.
This next part my may sound a little corny but I got the best tactical lessons about parenting on the football field. It was there that I learned about putting a team ahead of my own interests, that I learned what it means to have great coaches who love their players and lead by example, and where I learned that whether the last snap left me on my butt or celebrating- winning or losing, it is always the current snap that matters most.
I guess that life and parenting, like football, are best when we do it with love and just one play at a time.
For more on Andrew, check him out at andrewborene.com.
photo credit: jodyrussellphotography.com