Meet the award-winning cybersecurity expert who wants to be your brain’s new best friend
Neal O’Farrell was one of the early pioneers of the cybersecurity industry who saw his award-winning 40-year career finally came crashing down under the weight of nearly fifty years of untreated mental illnesses.
After a close call with suicide, rather than opt for the predictable path of therapy and medications, Neal wanted to find out first if there was anything he could do for himself, any way he could get a better grip on his mental health.
That triggered a three-year study of the mind and the brain, of mental illness and wellness, of brain health, what treatments and therapies have been shown to maximize our mental and brain health, and what was the science behind the therapies.
He now leads some of the country’s most ambitious mental health initiatives. He’s leading the creation of a mental health action cluster as part of the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Global City Teams Challenge, to explore how IoT and smart cities can improve the mental health of their residents.
He’s a partner in MTV’s Mental Health Action Network, and a participant in MCR 2030, Making Cities Resilient, a UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction global program to make cities and communities more resilient,
He created Get A Grip, one of the fastest-growing libraries of short videos on the science behind mental health. He launched the PsyberResilience Project, to help address the chronic levels of stress and depression in the cybersecurity industry, our digital first responders. And he leads the nonprofit Mynde.me to provide free mental health education websites to cities across America.
A lifelong volunteer, Neal believes that there’s only one thing that can help trigger the dozens of things neuroscientists say can make us all mentally healthier and calmer, happier and more engaged, and that’s volunteering.
He’s married to Cathy from Cincinnati, has a three-legged, one-eyed dog called Finegas, rescued in Los Angeles, and a four-legged, two-eyed dog called Pogue rescued in Oakland in Northern California.
Neal has spoken to audiences across the world, from keynoting in Las Vegas, to speaking at the headquarters of Facebook in Menlo park, to speaking about mental health to participants in 52 countries.
He has spoken to diverse audiences, in-person and online, including the CPA Firm Management Association, the Institute of Management Accountants, the National Association of Secretaries of State, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Ameriprise, Merrill Lynch, Stifel Nicolaus, US Bank, US Trust, BKR International, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the California High Technology Crime Advisory Committee (HTCAC), and the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators.
Neal spent more than a decade as the unpaid volunteer executive director of the nonprofit Identity Theft Council, where he personally helped thousands of victims get through one of the most devastating financial and emotional crimes.
He recently earned one of the highest ratings ever from the Silicon Valley Business Travel Association. Check out some recent testimonials.
In this short episode, Neal speaks about his introduction to mindfulness as a technique to help with mental health and stress. And no, it’s been officially confirmed, he’s not a serial killer after all. And check out some more samples here.