"He Is An Idiot!" Exclaims SIA Director John Mack

By: John Honovich, Published on Mar 23, 2020

Here is another inside look into the "leaders" of the security industry. SIA director John Mack of Imperial Capital is angry at IPVM.

Why? We questioned a letter he and SIA are working on.

Related: SIA Director Dismisses Coronavirus, Don't Cancel ISC West and The Cowardly, Greedy "Leaders" of Video Surveillance - SIA

Supporting Security As Essential Service

IPVM supports security professionals being categorized as an essential service in the face of coronavirus. Moreover, common sense supports security professionals in this because security is a fundamental need, virus or not. Indeed, the US government has made it clear that security professionals are considered essential in March 19, 2020 guidance.

Sign The Letter

Despite this, SIA directors like John Mack spent the weekend trying to get signatures for a letter urging the government to do what it has already done. Indeed, I would not have been scolded if I did not ask the obvious question:

What practical risk is that security services are not considered essential services? From everything we have seen, municipalities and the federal government already consider them as such.

Mack acknowledged that this a battle essentially won:

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You are right most jurisdictions have considered security essential. That said there are some that haven’t and this is with an abundance of caution that we make this point. Doesn’t the hurt to show strong support in any event.

I then asked Mack and other SIA members:

If there is some clear risk for jurisdictions that would not support security as essential, IPVM would support and speak out.
Can you or SIA (cc:ed) or someone clarify what risk jurisdictions are at risk?
Otherwise, it seems like you all are trying to take credit for a battle that is already won.

"He Is An Idiot!"

Mack responded inadvertently to me:

IPVM Happy To Help On Real Battles

The "leaders" of the industry would benefit from using IPVM's great reach. And we are happy to help with issues that really need help. If there are specific jurisdictions that somehow do not recognize security professionals as essential services, let us identify them and focus our efforts on those few.

Otherwise, we risk, like SIA, taking credit for a battle already won and then we really would be ... an idiot.

Comments (37)

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I agree.

It's an obvious attempt to take credit for something and put their name on it.

In fairness, how many other people / companies publish on them?

This one might be the most notable, though. Mack markets himself as a sophisticated mover and shaker.

Pretty funny about the e-mail.

Does anyone know if "security professionals being categorized as an essential service" in Quebec and other Canadian jurisdictions?

Does this apply to security manufacturers as well as integrators? And what does being categorized as essential mean in practical terms? Could I theoretically leave my basement?

John, Just saw the thread on the actual topic of Security being an essential service. I'll re-post my questions there...

US Government Classifies Security Professionals As Essential In Coronavirus

This is the guidance from the Province on Ontario, issued today, on what constitutes an essential service. There is obviously a much longer list, but this clearly identifies the need for security services.

"Businesses that provide support and maintenance services, including urgent repair, to maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial industrial and residential properties and buildings, including, property management services,plumbers, electricians, custodial/janitorial workers, cleaning services, , security services, fire safety and sprinkler systems, building systems maintenance and repair technicians and engineers, mechanics, (e.g. HVAC, escalator and elevator technicians), and other service providers who provide similar services."

Years ago, I had problems with a home builder and made a website/blog about it. It was a nasty battle. I sued them for construction issues and they sued me over the website.

I added a feature to "forward this article" at the bottom of each post. The "mailto" code included a BCC to my email address. Most novice users miss the setting in their own email client to show their BCC line. As a result, I received email forwards on my articles to their board, management, employees, family, friends, attorneys and even the media. It was great insight to the moves they were making.

My attorney viewed it as a mistake on their part and a huge part of a battle that eventually won the war.

Unclear on the concept of “reply all.”

Technically he replied just to me and left off the intended recipients.

I did, in fairness, notify him on the email and my intention to do a post to which he simply replied:

I found a long time ago...never send something negative in e-mail. You will accidentally send it to the wrong party EVERY time. That's just how Karma works.

Even if you don't send it to the wrong person - you never know where it will get forwarded.

Also, it starts to get forwarded around with the original message that eventually gets back to. Make the phone call or do it in person if you can.

see this is why I avoid emails now a days especially on mobile apps. some how reply all gets labeled as reply and a mess ensues.

I agree not on the not negative, and if there's something related to a customer, client, etc. that is sensitive, I re-label the subject with something like "CUSTOMER OFF EMAIL CHAIN" to all-caps for everyone else to see and keep it out of the same threaded view.

John mack is just another uneducated Dinosaur, that’s on the board of SIA. Members of SIA should wake up, What is SIA really doing for the industry.

The irony of that email is quite amusing. However, I'm a bit disappointed that this was put on blast as a post. To me, there's no difference in what he did and your response. It would have been just as easy to write about security as an essential service/function and the initial interaction with the SIA, but it seems as though IPVM is just like any other media outlet right now. The post took a turn for the worst IMO and left a bad taste in my mouth...

This is my first comment as I'm generally here to read the content and gather as much info as possible on security news and technology from a unaffiliated third party perspective. I hope the content will reflect that going forward.

#7, thanks for your first comment!

It would have been just as easy to write about security as an essential service/function

We did - US Government Classifies Security Professionals As Essential In Coronavirus - and that was the lead item in our newsletter overnight:

As for:

To me, there's no difference in what he did and your response.

For me, the difference is that I raised a legitimate concern and the SIA director, instead of answering professionally and addressing the matter, decided to call me an idiot.

I think that gives an important inside look into how these people make decisions and why our industry 'leaders' are so unimpactful. Does that make sense? I am not offended if you disagree, thanks again for the feedback!

I did read that and thought it was quite informative and one of the reasons why I read the content here.

As to the other part, I get that you felt like you're raising a legitimate concern and felt it was glossed over. I just think if I published every email out there that was derogatory or rude the cycle would just continue.

Just continuing to rant here, but in a time where we as an industry, country, and world should be focusing on helping each other and encourage each other through uncharted scenarios, there is far more negativity in hopes that people, organizations, and current political parties fail. Just sad IMO.

We can agree to disagree on the post, but I'm not saying I wouldn't be upset receiving that email.

I'm not saying I wouldn't be upset receiving that email.

I am not upset. I was happy when I received it. I mean, literally, excited.

A central element of IPVM is having people vigorously disagree with us so I've long since gotten quite comfortable being criticized and even being called an idiot.

I was excited because this gave me a chance to expose this.

in a time where we as an industry, country, and world should be focusing on helping each other and encourage each other through uncharted scenarios

Totally agree with you. I actually raised the same concern with Don yesterday that I did not want this post to dominate the bigger immediate problem. For example, that's why Don did Disaster Relief Loans For Integrators Examined and Rhodes has a post coming up later today about providing remote access to help integrators and end users dealing with coronavirus, etc.

Thanks again, good points!

In my opinion (this seems to be an opinion thread), SIA is advocating for the Security Industry and have provided resources to help their members stay informed and productive while much of the world is locking down. It seems this story is more about the fact that you were accidentally copied on an email that was insulting to you, than the fact that SIA is continuing to advocate for the security industry. Why put quotation marks around "leaders" unless you are intimating that the persons in question are not actually leaders? Why do you think the battle is already won when some of the largest manufacturers in the industry don't understand what the letter from CISA means to them while under state mandated lockdown? Security is one small bullet point listed under "Other community-based government operations and essential functions" on the second to last page of the CISA Guidance doc, so it would seem to me to be better for the industry if more was done to advocate for us. This is all still new territory for everyone, and it would be more tolerable if there was more unity and promotion of the industry.

In my opinion (this seems to be an opinion thread)

Rueben, thanks, for sure your opinion is welcome!

email that was insulting to you

As I mentioned in another response, not insulted at all, I was quite happy as it shows their lack of professionalism.

Why put quotation marks around "leaders" unless you are intimating that the persons in question are not actually leaders?

Absolutely, yes, I don't think they are leaders. Look how much they bungled the whole NDAA / China issue, how they screwed up handling ISC West, etc.

Why do you think the battle is already won when some of the largest manufacturers in the industry don't understand what the letter from CISA means to them while under state mandated lockdown

If they don't understand it, then it should be explained. We explained and promoted it here - US Government Classifies Security Professionals As Essential In Coronavirus.

However, the letter is grandstanding, as you noted, in my opinion.

Here we go again. Yet another embarrassing rant. IPVM should seriously consider the degree to which the negative feedback it gets might be true. "Idiot" is of course hyperbole, but it does not seem very smart and certainly not very professional for the same person to allow himself over and over to initiate or get drawn into these painful and generally useless inflammatory discussions that detract from the main business of the organization. I'll bet the rest of the hardworking staff at IPVM cringe every time one of these issues comes up. Too many of the IPVM newsletters include confrontational and overly critical language apparently aimed at stirring up controversy.

This latest rant features an unflattering photo of the current target, and a cute little emoji is added — I guess to suggest that the person is a drooling stroke victim with a disconjugate gaze. Perhaps professional behavior is too lofty a goal for IPVM; maybe it should just shoot for adult behavior.

On the other hand I was very pleased to achieve a certification from IPVM this last year after completing the IP Networking course run by John Scanlon who with his pleasant sensible relaxed manner was the epitome of competence and professionalism throughout the course. The disconnect between that terrific experience with the networking course and then these unpleasant newsletters is hard to understand. I don’t say much in IPVM discussions since I’m just an interested end user recently retired at 66 from an unrelated field. Still, it seems worth stating the observation of an outsider, for what it’s worth: I suspect that these inflammatory discussions repeatedly deal significant blows to IPVM's general credibility and perhaps to its longevity.

This latest rant features an unflattering photo of the current target, and a cute little emoji is added — I guess to suggest that the person is a drooling stroke victim with a disconjugate gaze.

fwiw, the emoji with the "disconjugate gaze" represents J.H., not J.M., as described by Mr. Mack, via a hypothetical and illustrative speech balloon.

also, not being an expert on John Mack's photogenicity, i can't say for sure how "unflattering" the photo is. what part is unflattering?

finally, i find it confusing that you dismiss the "idiot" statement as "of course hyperbole", while embellishing and articulating the elements of the emoji, "disconjugate gaze", "drooling stroke victim". why is that not hyperbole as well?

“Unflattering” only to the extent that J.M. was not given the opportunity look at the camera and try to look his best — and of course also due to the fact that he appears to be interacting with a brain-dead blue emoji.

interacting with a brain-dead blue emoji.

In fairness, the brain-dead blue emoji is a representation of me, e.g., Google image results for 'idiot icon':

Also in fairness, I think it's quite clear in my original comments that I considered the emoji to represent JM, not JH. Further, my comment that "Idiot" is hyperbole was intended to point out that I do not consider JH to be an idiot.

Your comments above indicate that I interpreted the photo/emoji differently than you intended, but I'll bet many others did too. Thought bubbles are supposed to point to the head. The emoji bubble in your article points to JM and to the quotation of "He's and idiot!" as if spoken by the emoji and conveying the derogatory message that JM is a brain-damaged individual who is calling someone else an idiot.

The Google emoji you attached has equal pupils. The emoji in your article adds unequal pupils to the tongue hanging out and the eyes pointing different directions. The emoji in your article is brain-damaged by stroke or some other process and could very well be brain dead. Such emojis often drool, especially the blue ones.

I hate emojis and am done discussing them.

I stand by my original comments, as I said, for what they're worth.

“Unflattering” only to the extent that J.M. was not given the opportunity look at the camera and try to look his best

i prefer a candid shot over a yearbook photo any day.

also, and IMHO, Mr. Mack strikes quite the dashing figure, with the glint-in-his-eye and his devil-may-care attitude and bigger-than-life presence, almost like a movie tv star.

In my opinion, disrupters are needed to balance the world. This applies to any instance where the political culture allows those with money, power or influence to control a narrative.

We are seeing this in politics today. Whether it's a politician, a journalist, or the average citizen, the internet has given disrupters power they've never had before. Often times, the disrupter is a certain style of journalism, like John's.

One thing is sure, if your taking flak, you know you're over the target. In this case, "He's an idiot" is the flak.

IPVM is subscription based. You either know what you're getting when you subscribe OR if it's not what you expect, you can simply cancel your subscription.

My guess is, you'll still be around.

This is an interesting conversation and I would say that it is certainly a commercial decision that John and IPVM can make. I know a large group of industry professionals that refer to IPVM as "satire" because of some of the way that news and in some cases, opinion, is delivered here. In other cases, I am sure that IPVM captures more revenue and subscriptions by having "sensationalized" articles. It likely goes both ways.

Not trying to offend anyone and I don't particularly have an opinion on the matter; just an interesting topic that I do see individuals react to both sides.

I know a large group of industry professionals that refer to IPVM as "satire"

Sure, I know a lot of our "leaders" like to dismiss it as a blog, e.g., as well. However, we do more research and investigations in a month than groups like SIA have done in years.

The reality, for most, is that they are upset that they are publicly called out and recognize accurately that if it was for not us, no one with reach would criticize them.

I am sure that IPVM captures more revenue and subscriptions by having "sensationalized" articles.

That gets trouted out from time to time but think about - I just criticized the industry's most well-known investment banker. I regularly criticize the largest manufacturers in the world (e.g., your best friend Axis). How possibly could I make anywhere the amount of money from that versus how much I lose from offending such big players?

Certainly, people disagree with IPVM but it's not a very coherent thought that this is done as a profit optimization strategy. I do this because I believe in it, even though surely we would make more profit by cozying up to these people. Agree/disagree?

I don't disagree on the amount of work and research put in. I am a happy member here for a reason :-)

It's funny that you mention Axis, which I guess is a fair assumption with me but those comments weren't at all directed in that manner. From my interactions, they all know better than to mention IPVM at all. Outside of Axis, other SIA members are much more open to commenting.

In regard to profit optimization strategy; I wouldn't have enough journalism/publication/marketing experience to comment on whether being cozy with those organizations or staying neutral and charging for memberships would make more profit. I appreciate you sharing your experience and expertise that you would expect more profit out of taking the ads than being able to take the neutral approach. I'm sure a good portion of your success has come from being transparent and I appreciate that. However, you are correct; it is natural for me as a business leader to assume that you take whatever commercial means gain the most revenue for you and your organization. Seems that is not the case and I would say kudos for staying passionate about what you do and not compromising that for capital gains :-)

Axis, which I guess is a fair assumption with me but those comments weren't at all directed in that manner. From my interactions, they all know better than to mention IPVM at all.

I believe that! It's funny though that Axis hates IPVM when no company has benefited more from IPVM's investigation and criticism into Hikua than Axis. Those guys just sat on their hands...

However, you are correct; it is natural for me as a business leader to assume that you take whatever commercial means gain the most revenue for you and your organization.

I think from an MBA perspective, the profit optimization route would be to be neutral, still report on things but never directly call out companies like Axis. It's not just advertising. As your example shows, because we criticize them, they ghost us, if we were neutral, surely Axis would recommend us and we would benefit from their massive sales team's recommendations.

I was with you until you used "sensationalized" in your reply.

Sensationalism is typically associated with inaccurate journalism.

I won't disagree that others may make that association but that was not at all my intent. I would say - IPVM's goal should be to strongly highlight stuff that has high click-rates. Maybe sensationalism wasn't the proper term if that is the knee-jerk association.

IPVM's goal should be to strongly highlight stuff that has high click-rates

Just to clarify, high click-rates is one element of many. If no one wants to read something, it probably does not make sense for us to publish it. But all 'clicks' are not the same. I want clicks that have an impact. For example here, the point as said upfront, is to show how the old guard thinks and acts. In the Athena post, it is to expose troubling business practices. In our shootouts, it's to give clarity about what really does work the best.

That's fair. I am a member for shootouts first and foremost, but I won't lie and pretend that some of the juicy headlines don't get me clicking in a hurry. I also find great intrigue on the business strategy side and that you are willing to share motivations for how you operate. I can get that kind of value out of closed-door conversations with other business leaders but it isn't all that often that it is out on a public forum.

Amazing. lol

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