Matthew Kane is a retired military intelligence officer and co-founder of Prodigy Intelligence where he teaches and consults on a variety of subjects from HUMINT (aka Social Engineering), OSINT, analytical skills, body language, and deception detection. He started Prodigy Intelligence in 2010 though had to take a step back for a time being due to health concerns. Now the team at Prodigy Intelligence is back in full swing providing training and consulting services to a variety of organizations, including the US Secret Service, AMEX, VISA, ACFE, professional negotiators, Military Intelligence, and many more. He is currently in the final stages of publishing a book on deception detection in politics.
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Let’s start with a brief introduction first. Introduce yourself to our readers.
Matthew Kane: I am a retired military intelligence officer and co-founder of Prodigy Intelligence where I teach and consult on a variety of subjects from HUMINT (aka Social Engineering), OSINT, analytical skills, body language, and deception detection.
Our audience is interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to become a CEO or was it something you were led to? Our readers would love to know your story!
Matthew Kane: I got my start in my current field as a young intelligence officer in the military. I learned a vast amount about human interaction, research/OSINT, and leadership along with a vast amount more. Sadly I was injured while deployed to the Middle East and had to leave the military. This led me to start my Prodigy Intelligence along with another friend with who I had the pleasure of serving. I had never sought out a leadership position in a company through starting my own company back in 2010 led me to take on roles that I had not expected to overtime.
“Selfmade” is a myth. We all received help, no doubt you love to show appreciation to those who supported you when the going got tough, who has been your most important professional inspiration?
Matthew Kane: My most important professional inspiration has changed over time from my wife to my daughter. My wife helped me overcome my injuries and lead a normal life and become successful in business. My inspiration changed though when we had my daughter and wanting to leave a positive legacy for her became one of my greatest professional inspirations.
How did your journey lead you to become a CEO? What difficulties did you face along the way and what did you learn from them?
Matthew Kane: I’m the second in command at my company though we equally co-own the company. Despite being the second in command I’ve served as the CEO of Prodigy Intelligence previously. It was a tough job that puts a lot of stress on me in a time where I was not properly able to handle that stress, so I took a step back and gave up the reigns at that time. Since then I’ve come back to Prodigy Intelligence in a leadership role and I love every second of it despite its hardships at times. This though reinforced in me the lessons that if I want to lead others then I have to be taking care of myself first.
COVID was the largest difficulty we faced as the vast majority of what we do is in-person training and consulting, and we are not huge fans of webinars / all-day online workshops. So we’ve pivoted the business to revamp our training ad do some small projects that we had put to the side. Now we are happy to be back in person (where we can) and provide some training over webinars and online courses.
Tell us about your company. What does your business do and what are your responsibilities as a CEO?
Matthew Kane: We train people in the art and science of spycraft and how to use it in their everyday life. From Human Intelligence (Social Engineering) to OSINT, to writing reports, analyzing information, team building, and leadership. As the second in command at the company, I am responsible for the training and consulting we provide.
What does CEO stand for? Beyond the dictionary definition, how would you define it?
Matthew Kane: Leader of people, maker of tough decisions.
When you first became a CEO, how was it different from what you expected? What surprised you?
Matthew Kane: That you have to be an expert in every area of your business as the final decisions, or who to delegate them to, are up to you.
There are many schools of thought as to what a CEO’s core roles and responsibilities are. Based on your experience, what are the main things a CEO should focus on? Explain and please share examples or stories to illustrate your vision.
Matthew Kane: A CEO should focus on finding the right people to lead each section/department/area to accomplish the CEO’s mission. It is then their responsibility to delegate as appropriate to ensure that mission is accomplished.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Matthew Kane: To lay people off. We were going through a tough time and we maybe could have gotten away with keeping the staff though it also could have sunk us permanently. The staff at that point who we had to lay off were my friends and it was rough but the right long-term decision for everyone. The positive impact was that the company lived on and that it showed me I was resilient enough to take on this task in a humane manner.
How would you define success? Does it mean generating a certain amount of wealth, gaining a certain level of popularity, or helping a certain number of people?
Matthew Kane: Success to me is a never-ending dream, it’s about being a better person and company that can deliver quality products to the customers. For us, that means always learning and going over the scientific research to constantly improve our offerings.
Some leadership skills are innate while others can be learned. What leadership skills do you possess innately and what skills have you cultivated over the years as a CEO?
Matthew Kane: I have no problem getting up and talking in front of a crowd, and this is a trait that I have had my whole life. I love getting up there and being the person that everyone is listening to and especially answering questions from the audience. Over the years though I have had to cultivate the skill of giving bad news as it happens and I want to please everyone, something that you can’t do as a leader in a company.
How did your role as a CEO help your business overcome challenges caused by the pandemic? Explain with practical examples.
Matthew Kane: We decided to take time while no one could be out training or consulting and learn and add to our course offerings, develop new courses and write some of the books we had been meaning to write. This gave everyone a sense of purpose during the pandemic and kept us moving forward with tasks we were putting off.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CEOs and future leaders? What advice would you give a CEO that is just starting on their journey?
Matthew Kane: For any CEO or future leader, my biggest suggestion is to learn to speak in public. It’s a nerve-racking skill and when done wrong can send the wrong impression. While done right it can set you up for success in so many situations. Toastmasters is a great place to practice your public speaking if you’re in need of a suggestion.
Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge with our readers! They would also like to know, what is one skill that you’ve always wanted to acquire but never really could?
Matthew Kane: Playing the piano. I love piano music though everevery time I try to learn it feels like my fingers go sideways and stop working.
Before we finish things off, we have one final question for you. If you wrote a book about your life today, what would the title be?
Matthew Kane: ‘Resilience got me through it all’
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Matthew Kane for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Matthew Kane or his company, you can do it through his – Twitter
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