There are plenty of us still searching to find a positioning that fits our interests and our values. We crave to be so good in what we do that people will give us credit for our knowledge and associate our name with a topic or a whole industry.
If you’re lucky enough to know your positioning, when somebody thinks of you, with what they associate you?
But what if you want to reposition in another industry? Can you do that? And what are the ups and downs?
Today we’re going to talk about one of my friends, Andra Zaharia.
She successfully repositioned herself twice in such a strong and empathic way without losing anything in the long run, on the contrary.
1. Get a test in the industry as an employer
2. Get a deeper dive into the industry
3. Create a platform in the industry
Who’s Andra Zaharia?
Andra is a seasoned content marketer who has a decade of expertise as a communication specialist with a primary focus on cyber security since 2015.
What started as a simple job as a content creator for a cybersecurity start-up company led Andra to become a freelancer and later go into creating her own business around cybersecurity making her a top voice in this industry.
She calls herself a “cyber-realist”, helping not only her clients, but all the other specialists in cybersecurity to make smarter decisions as they navigate the fast-paced and ever-evolving information society.
But creating an entire platform around cybersecurity.
Her dedication to educate the world about cybersecurity risks brought her podcast, Cyber Empathy, two awards in both categories in which it was nominated at the 2023 European Cybersecurity Blogger Awards, exclusively through community votes.
Besides everything she does, she’s also a marketing advisor for DefCamp and the Head of Content and Community at Pentest Tools, and continues her freelance work in the cybersecurity industry as a content creator.
But let’s dive into what defines Andra as a B2B creator.
What makes Andra Zaharia a B2B creator?
1. Get a test in the industry as an employer
Andra was an employee at Heimdal Security (a cybersecurity company) doing what she knew best: creating written content.
And that’s where her interest in cybersecurity started.
So she started to gain as much knowledge as she could about cybersecurity, spending hours learning from other people in the industry to understand the market’s layers better.
2. Get a deeper dive into the industry
After she worked in two companies in the cybersecurity landscape for a few years, she decided to transition to the freelancing world.
Not because she did not enjoy the industry but because of mismatches between her values and the culture in which she found herself.
She wanted to be more flexible and choose the founders and CEOs she’d work with.
This allowed her to explore more topics of her liking while also writing content for cybersecurity companies.
2.a. Exploring new topics of interest
She started to explore new types of content formats and repositioned herself in another industry creating her first podcast about decision-making.
This was called “How do you know?”.
Her podcast focused on interviews with great decision-makers who shared the thought-process behind some of the toughest choices they’ve made.
Doing this podcast helped her improve her skills interviewing people – something she actually tried before at Heimdal interviewing new hires.
In her blog Andra shares all the lessons she learned from her podcast.
The first five lessons were:
- You can’t make a good decision without introspection.
- Trust you gut but check for biases if you want to make a wise choice.
- For life-altering decisions, seek to gain emotional distance and give yourself enough time to evaluate your choices.
- Consider the best and worst outcomes of a big decision before you make one. Write them down for clarity.
- Not making a decision is also a decision.
One key lesson she learned from her podcast besides building processes, making introspection, being transparent, was trusting her gut.
Andra told me that Eric Moeller helped her understand how to have trust more in her senses, and she put it in practice.
When she was just starting freelancing she received an exclusive offer from a company but she had the feeling that something was off.
And she was not wrong.
The employers she talked to started to use inappropriate vocabulary after several discussions and that’s when she realized her guts was telling to pass this offer all along.
Based on everything she learned on her podcast, Andra created a PDF file with 100 questions for better decisions.
For this PDF, she drew inspiration from insightful mentors, coaches, and therapists and discovered the transformative power of great questions that carve out mental space, process emotions, and foster alignment.
It was not just a random list. Her valuable resource is based on tested and validated questions she asked herself while looking for answers for her personal dilemmas.
This list serves as her go-to guide, providing patterns, answers, hints, and new possibilities whenever needed, reflecting my belief in the enduring impact of shared wisdom.
Andra was also curious to know more about empathy.
Possibly what started this interest of hers was her podcast episode with Peter Shepherd, where they’ve discussed how to connect with others through empathy.
Andra was the podcast’s host for two seasons in which she improved her interviewing skills and her knowledge about rebranding.
But as much as she enjoyed and learned a lot from her podcast, and other side projects, her passion for cybersecurity was stronger.
2.b. Get more involved in cybersecurity
While freelancing, she created and led content projects (articles, websites, campaigns, etc.) for various cybersecurity companies.
This let her continue her deep dive into the realms of cybersecurity and built her authority.
Andra became part of the largest international hacking and information security community in the CEE called DefCamp.
She started there as a Marketing Specialist writing articles around cybersecurity and said that “Through the conference and everything we do around it, I’ve polished my public speaking skills and my ability to interview people and extract useful insights. “
3. Create a platform for the industry
This is the moment when Andra repositioned herself in the cybersecurity industry.
She built her authority in the field by testing, writing, and reading about others’ experiences.
So it was time for her to share what she knows and become a B2B creator.
And people recognized her value including her in the Top 100 Content Marketing Influencers and Experts made by SemRush.
Andra mastered the way to create a platform for other voices in the cybersecurity industry.
The platform is called Cyber Empathy and is based around her podcast which has the same name.
In this podcast she interviews and tells “the stories of people who focus on empathy and make their contribution to cybersecurity and online privacy through their work and personal values and principles.” – as she informs everyone in her first episode.
She’s already done 31 episodes and she’s eager and determined to make more.
What does she hope to accomplish with Cyber Empathy?
Andra wishes to teach people how to make safer choices online in a way that doesn’t put anyone in dangerous situations whether they’re at work or in personal life.
She wants to demystify and break down the cliches about cybersecurity advocating for alternative solutions that promote self-care, awareness, mindfulness, and safer online and offline behaviors.
And this is what B2B Creators do. They have a big product in their hands – the content and their sharing it with their audience.
Andra shares her knowledge beyond her podcast and website.
She was invited to discuss crisis communication in the Cyber Resilience course for the Digital Communication and Innovation Masters at College in Romania (SNSPA).
She’s building her audience on LinkedIn by educating people around cybersecurity.
She talks about what cybersecurity is, what it does, and also about things that we would not normally think about when it comes to this topic such as soft skills.
Even though she’s a content writer, creating her two podcasts, and being host to a lot more, made her create and share short videos on LinkedIn about cybersecurity.
An example would be this short video where she explained the difference between offensive and defensive security.
Majority of marketers are oriented on LinedIn or Twitter, but Andra, besides these two, activates on Infosec exchange.
Infosec exchange is a platform of 18.000 info/cybersecurity people, and Andra shares her thoughts here to this entire community of like-minded people.
Most recently she wrote about the launch of her podcast’s fourth season and everything she’ll talk about with her guests.
How can you follow Andra’s footsteps?
1. Experience helps you take your next decision
To make informed decisions you must rely on what you learned or on what you’ve experienced.
And all our experience helps us make — hopefully — better decisions.
Andra’s past experiences working in cybersecurity and continuous freelance in this industry, gave her the power to make her bold decision of starting her podcast.
Everything from her past prepared her for this.
2. Build upon what you know
Exploring different areas within your field of interest or taking on side projects helps you expand your skills and knowledge.
This can be done through continuous learning, staying updated with the latest trends and developments, and seeking out opportunities for growth and improvement.
All this will help you shape who you become and figure out what you want to do next.
It will guide your next steps.
Andra immersed herself in various experiences learning about decision-making, empathy, rebranding which all shaped her career and perfected her skills.
She built upon all her skills and confidently started Cyber Empathy bringing to light a side of cybersecurity we didn’t think of.
Building upon what you already know makes you become an expert.
3. It’s ok to reposition
Sometimes, you may find that your interests or goals have changed, and it’s okay to reposition yourself in order to align with your new passions.
Indulge yourself in learning as much as you can about your new curiosities because you never know how they’ll help your future self.
For all you bookworms, Andra’s book recommendations
If you’re curious what’s on Andra’s bookshelf, she wrote a LinkedIn post about the best books she read, but we’ve also done some digging to find some more of her favorites.
- Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well – Douglas Stone, Sheila Heen (Andra found about this while taking on Seth’s Godin course called altMBA)
- The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life – Rosamund Stone Zander, Benjamin Zander
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
- Four Thousand Weeks: Embrace your limits. Change your life. Make your four thousand weeks count. – Oliver Burkeman (Book recommended to her by her friend Cristina Chipurici, founder The CEO Library)
- Why Won’t You Apologize? Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts – Harriet Lerner
- Company of One – Paul Jarvis
- Everything from Seth Godin who she strongly admires.
It’s been four years since Andra and I discussed in my podcast what she does with her decision-making podcast, and I’m amazed by how much she’s grown since.
Repositioning in cybersecurity, creating an entire platform around this industry, building an audience on LinkedIn, and expanding her reach engaging in the Infosec exchange community makes her a B2B creator.
She just launched the fourth season of the Cyber Empathy podcast and cannot wait to listen to it and see who will be the next guests.