It must have been around 2008 when I was first introduced to Jim Shields by then head of Security and Risk of Barclays, Stephen Bonner.
I had mentioned to Stephen that I was thinking of making some YouTube videos on the topic of information security, but in an entertaining manner. He told me that they had recently commissioned Twist & Shout to create a security awareness series for them which were educational, entertaining, award-winning… overall amazing. In essence, it sounded like everything I envisioned I wanted to be.
Being from London, anyone outside of the M25 is usually considered as being “Up North”. Stephen had told me that Jims company, Twist & Shout was based up in Leicester, but even then I expected a shrewd businessman to answer the phone. Or worse still, one of those Hollywood exec stereotypes you hear of that are sharp-tongued, who hire interns and personal assistants only so they can devour their souls and fire them a few weeks later.
Much to my surprise, I was initially taken aback by how friendly Jim came across (not surprising given his soothing northern accent), and how generous he was with his time. But perhaps, the thing that struck me most was how unbusinesslike he was. Not that Jim doesn’t know how to run a company. But the fact that for Jim, money really wasn’t a driver. Money was something that just happened to be a byproduct while he went out and created amazing films.
Imagine there’s a firework factory, and you pull the pin on a small grenade and toss it in through the window. You want to rush back to a distance and admire the beauty, the chaos, the mayhem knowing that flashing blue lights will be arriving shortly. Well, that’s the kind of thing that goes off in Jims head anytime you mention an idea to him. As soon as I told him about my desire to create YouTube videos, the firework factory in his brain exploded.
Of course there was way too much information for me to process or handle. It’s like trying to wield all infinity stones at the same time.
Over the years I got the opportunity to see Jim and the whole Twist & Shout team work. I’ve visited their offices many times, I’ve seen them shoot videos, and even had parts in a few. We made a series of Christmas videos which started off with, Santa Gets Hacked (which is still one of my favourite videos).
We also joined forces one year and went on the White Hat Rally, which took us by road from London to Venice.
Over the years we’ve shared many good times. We’ve attended conferences together, travelled to far-flung places, once got stopped by border patrol, and I’ve been entertained by Jims karaoke and stand-up comedy skills on more than one occasion.
I’m proud to call Jim a friend, and am happy for everything he’s achieved, and the fact that he’s enriched my life immensely.
Which is why I am so happy that now we’re officially colleagues, as KnowBe4 (my employer) has announced its acquisition of Jims company, Twist & Shout.
Let the shenanigans begin!