Steven Keyl is an entrepreneur, speaker, and author. His background is in human behavior and body language, having spent the last 20 years working in the United States Intelligence Community where his services are still employed by various “three letter agencies.” His insights come directly from his time working for the U.S. Government, where his diverse work situations allowed him the opportunity to hone the skills of understanding, connecting with, and influencing others. Published last year, Steven's book “The Human Whisperer” covers everything from: how to exude charisma in any situation, read body language effectively, increase rapport to deepen relationships, know when someone is lying, and use persuasive techniques that really work. We had a chance to interview Steven and asked about his story, how he started his business and the future of Keyl Entreprises.
1. Tell us your story. Why did you start your business?
I have spent over 20 years in the Intelligence Community (IC), and it has become clear to me that cyber security solutions have evolved in one direction. The focus has increasingly become a race to defend the technological points of entry into a corporation or government agency’s assets. The most insidious breaches of security, however, involve the people that have access to the resources being protected. Instead of focusing exclusively on firewalls, port scanners and intrusion detection systems, the human beings accessing this data need to be protected as well. Without this necessary component, sensitive data can be lost through a rogue phone call or email.
I founded Keyl Enterprises to provide a critical need as I noticed there was a lack in focus on protecting the people in most cyber security plans. Educating users about how these exploits work is a vital component to any security strategy and is one that Keyl Enterprises is singularly focused on providing.
I also decided to share my knowledge in human behavior through seminars, training, consulting, and my book, The Human Whisperer.
2. How did you come up with your business name?
Quite unoriginally, Keyl Enterprises is based on my name, Steven Keyl. It’s the German spelling of the more common, “Kyle”, and is pronounced the same way.
3. Tell us about your products and services. How do you help clients?
I offer a variety of services, including IT Penetration Testing, seminars, trainings, and keynote speeches. I also wrote a book which covers how to better relate to other people, including the science behind persuasive techniques to affect behavior, guide opinions, and influence beliefs.
In case you are unfamiliar with the term, “Penetration Testing” is used to describe a type of vulnerability analysis whereby one attempts to legally gain access to resources using the same methods of extraction used by those who would gain illegal access. Traditional penetration testing is a by-the-book endeavor that relies on technological probing for external weaknesses, and when found, pivoting through the internal devices of an organization’s network. This is effective when assessing technical safeguards. The very nature of social engineering attacks, however, requires a very different set of skills to defend against. Social engineering attacks work by deceiving and manipulating employees to provide information and resources to unauthorized individuals. This cannot be defended by conventional cyber security mechanisms. Firewalls, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and intrusion detection systems are all powerless to deal with these threats because they target the people instead of the technology. We provide risk assessment and risk mitigation strategies to keep you on positive footing when dealing with the most dangerous organizational threats facing companies today.
Last year I had my latest book published, The Human Whisperer, which is available for purchase on Amazon. This book was written to help others maximize their ability to relate to, and influence, others. I dive into the science behind persuasive techniques to affect behavior, guide opinions, and influence beliefs. My goal was to create a “soup to nuts” guide that provided practical advice that would equip readers with the skills to achieve their goals. I focus on how to exude charisma in any situation, read body language effectively, increase rapport to deepen relationships, know when someone is lying, and use persuasive techniques that really work!
The Human Whisperer Seminar I offer, is based on the book of the same name and is about understanding people better, deepening relationships, and utilizing the tools of influence and persuasion. The seminars can be tailored for managers, sales people, law enforcement, government employees, and those in the Intelligence Community… and really any profession or person who wants to bemore effective in dealing with people.
I also offer consulting services. With 20+ years in the Intelligence Community (IC), my consulting capabilities include: working investigations with law enforcement and private security firms, providing expert testimony in criminal and civil cases, and offering expert commentary for TV and radio on topics like body language analysis and explaining principles of persuasion.
4. What makes you unique? What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
Unlike other companies that do pen testing, we are focused exclusively on defending human assets from all social engineering attack vectors. Our methods go far beyond simple Information Assurance (IA) training. Our USP is that we don’t compete with other cyber security providers, we work hand-in-hand with those companies. By partnering with them, we provide our clients the most comprehensive cyber security profile available. Companies that focus on technological cyber security solutions can stay in their wheelhouse by working with us. The most positive outcomes occur when everyone specializes in what they do best—not by trying to shoehorn a competency they don’t possess.
In terms of training and keynote speeches, I place a high importance on keeping my audiences entertained, and informed with an energetic delivery that keeps everyone engaged. From smaller events to the largest venues, my keynotes can barely be called “speeches” in the traditional sense–tedious, boring, insomnia-curing. Everyone walks away with a smile.
5. Where do you see your business in the next 3-5 years?
Over the next 5 years, I plan to continue working with government and corporate entities to ensure that their intellectual property remains safe, secure, and out of the hands of those that would use that information to subvert US interests at home and abroad. Keyl Enterprises would ideally be seen as the go-to source for social engineering pen test assessments and mitigation strategies.
Personally, I would enjoy continuing speaking to groups interested in learning how to engage and influence others.
6. Any advice you would give to entrepreneurs and business owners?
Winston Churchill once said that success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. This is not the first company I’ve started, so these words resonate with me. If you’ve found something you’re passionate about and it doesn’t work out, find another passion — or a different way to go about it. But whatever direction you move in, never quit. So many that give up are on the brink of success and don’t realize it. See it through and you will reap rewards well beyond the material trappings of success.
7. What is your favorite business quote and why?
My favorite business quote is: “Success isn't just about what you accomplish in your life; it's about what you inspire others to do.” –Anonymous
It’s funny how as one gets older some of our goalposts for success move subtly, and others quite visibly. My view of success is very different now than it was 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. Being a better father and husband is increasingly important. Being a person that helps inspire others to reach their goals is also something to which I aspire, and this quote says it more eloquently than I ever could.
8. What have been some of your achievements that you are most proud of? Why?
Being part of the IC for this long, the things of which I’m most proud are also things I can’t discuss openly. That aside, what I’m most proud of is that I never let past failure negatively influence my chance at future success. I’ve owned a company that showed promise, made some money, but ultimately collapsed. I was once fired from a job, and also been denied avenues of advancement even though I was the most qualified. Most of us have stories like these, but the difference between success and failure is not the obstacles one has to overcome, but the willingness to keep on going and stay on course, in spite of those obstacles.
9. Anything else additional you want to tell our readers?
On a completely unrelated note, being based in Washington, DC, I get to see all of the partisan rancor up close. For those that feel overwhelmed at times with the increasing hostility, I offer a word of hope. As I travel the country speaking with people, I’m ever reminded that the differences between us are far smaller and less significant than the things we have in common. And if I may paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, who presided over the country at a time of even greater discord, “The mystic chords of memory will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” The light in us will eventually overpower the darkness, so keep faith, and keep heart. Lincoln was a Republican, so to keep balance, I’ll conclude with a hopeful quote from a Democrat, “There is nothing wrong with America that can’t be cured with what is right with America.”
10. What makes the DMV (Washington D.C., Maryland & Virginia area) a great place to be an entrepreneur or business owner?
The DMV area is ideal because here you’ll find both commercial and government enterprises, providing a broader potential client base. This area is also incredibly diverse in terms of the people, which, in my line of work, affords a great opportunity to practice the skills of a “Human Whisperer.” On a personal level, I love the size of Washington, D.C. Downtown gives a big city feel with a million things to do, but it’s also small enough that you’re just a hop away from more rural pursuits. It allows one to maintain that all-too-tenuous balance in life.