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An Inspiring, Courageous, Fulfilling Life Cut Too Short

An Inspiring, Courageous, Fulfilling Life Cut Too Short

It’s not often that we at Security Systems News write an article that just tugs at your heartstrings and makes you want to hug your loved ones a little tighter. I just put together a feature that really tells a story of courage and inspiration that I wish had a happy ending, but unfortunately does not.

The story of security coach/mentor Jeff Snyder is one that was brought to our attention by Min Kyriannis, CEO of Amyna Systems, who informed us that he passed away in June at the much too young age of 54, succumbing to the effects of the debilitating disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

It wasn’t just that he battled this horrible neurodegenerative, incurable disease that causes muscle weakness and paralysis and ultimately deprives one’s ability to speak, eat, move, and even breathe. It wasn’t just that he suffered so many health setbacks after making the decision to play hockey at age 43 – a heart attack, aortic aneurysm, an episode of ventricular tachycardia that forced him to be placed in a medically induced coma for several days, and a mini stroke that he suffered after doctors cleared him to play hockey again.

It was the courage and the will and the determination that Jeff showed in the face of so many physical challenges, including the most difficult challenge of all – ALS – that really showed what this man - this husband and father of two young daughters, and coach and mentor to so many security professionals - was made of.

I asked Min for her reflections on how Jeff influenced her on her rise in the security industry to the point where she is now, owning her own security technology company.

Min noted that nearly six years ago, she needed to transition out of the job she had at the time, and Jeff, who was a resume writer among the many hats he wore, helped her with her resume, and as Min put it, “essentially changed my outlook on how I needed to look at myself professionally.”

“From where I was back in 2017 to where I am now, he never doubted that I would be able to run my own company, but always said he will see me there. I believed him,” she said. “He helped me gain the confidence I needed to persevere myself and propel me in my career.”

Upon hearing how much of an influence Jeff was in Min’s career, I asked if she could reach out to some of her colleagues in the industry to talk about what Jeff did to propel their own careers in security, to learn more about the type of person he was and how he did what he did while his body was breaking down.

I myself was inspired by the feedback I got from so many industry folks who got to know Jeff at security conferences and one-on-one sessions during which he employed the various coaching techniques he utilized and was certified to teach (Please visit to learn more about these techniques).

Greg Biegen, CISM CDPSE, Director of Global Cybersecurity at Quest Software, noted Jeff’s futuristic thinking when reflecting on his own professional development.

“He knew that if he put a bunch of brilliant people together who were highly strategic, you could create a wonderful brain trust,” Biegen said. “Companies want engaging, collaborative, well-communicative people to work in security at many organizations. This ability to understand your emotional intelligence, and when tied to a career in security, really was a powerful step for me in understanding what I can bring to my career. I will miss my conversations with Jeff more than I can ever say.”

Another security professional influenced by Snyder’s coaching was Yaron Levi, Chief Information Security Officer, Dolby Laboratories.

“Due to his teachings, I became much more intentional about how I lead my team and how I approach people around me,” Levi noted. “Having the security knowledge and expertise is one thing, and while very important, as a security leader, the skill that we all need is building relationships and trust. Focusing on doing it more intentionally is one of the most impactful things I learned from Jeff.”

Duaine Styles, SVP and Chief Security Officer, Torchmark Family of Companies/Globe Life, told us that he was a better person personally and professionally because of Jeff.

“Jeff taught life skills, life skills that apply to personal relationships, not just work,” he said. “The things Jeff taught became a part of the fabric which knitted you together and you reaped the benefits from that point forward in all relationships.”

When asked about the legacy that Jeff left behind in the security industry, David Lam, Partner/CISO, Miller Kaplan, replied, “Leadership is essential in our field. So much rests on the work that we do as information security leaders, and Jeff stressed how much work we needed to do to be good at our jobs, not from a technical perspective, but as human beings, managers and leaders.”

It’s just amazing to me how Snyder continued his daily coaching activities while battling ALS in his later years, vowing to mentor others until he flat out could not do it anymore.

This snippet from Jeff’s bio on his website sums up what his mission was for those he mentored and coached over the years.

“In my life, I’ve had to work harder than most people to overcome significant adversity. I know how to set and achieve goals that most people have never had to address. I believe in connecting one’s words to one’s actions in order to build deep, meaningful, trusting relationships. It is my mission to help my clients learn how to connect their natural giftedness with the work they do so they can deliver the best version of themselves in all facets of their lives.” 

Jeff Snyder passed away on June 16, 2021. In announcing his death, his wife Wendy made sure to share Jeff’s last LinkedIn post, which I’m happy to share in this blog. 

“Thank you to all my friends, family, and connections for hanging with me through a decade of medical issues that I had nothing to do with creating. Thank you to all my friends and teammates for helping me through multiple recoveries. I could not have recovered as I did without your support.

“Thank you to my coaching clients for putting your trust in me to help you to discover and unlock your potential greatness. For those who have already shared some of their recent successes with me, thank you for doing that.

“Thank you to all the people who allowed me to have a fruitful career in recruiting.

“I have been working on several digital products that will help you find keys to unlocking and displaying the best version of yourself. These products will show up on my coaching website and through marketing sometime in the future. I hope you enjoy and appreciate the efforts that have gone into capturing some of my life’s work.”

Truly inspiring words. Working until his body simply wouldn’t allow it anymore and allowing others to learn from him even after he is no longer here. That was Jeff Snyder in a nutshell.

Rest in peace, Jeff. We hope you’re playing ice hockey and continuing to coach others in a much better place.


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