Neal O’Farrell is an award-winning and veteran cybersecurity and privacy expert who has figured out how an understanding of the neuroscience of trust can be used to improve leadership and management, brand and reputation, marketing and sales performance, customer acquisition and retention, and even personal and career development.
Neal’s path to this point was winding, to say the least. All he ever wanted was to be Ireland’s most famous dressmaker, and be the third generation to take over a famous Irish fashion business whose clients included a who’s who of the world’s rich and famous – from Coco Chanel and Yves St. Laurent, to the Duchess of Westminster and the Queen of Siam.
Instead he became one of the world’s most dangerous codemakers, at least in the eyes of the NSA, and leader of a disruptive privacy project that threatened to bring the NSA’s global electronic surveillance networks (codename Echelon) to a grinding halt. The story is chronicled in his upcoming book The Man from Intrepid.
Today Neal uses his nearly 40 years of global experience in cybersecurity and privacy to teach meaningful and relevant lessons about trust, leadership, and even personal and brand development.
He has spoken on all kinds of topics to all kinds of audiences – as a keynote for the Institute of Management Accountants annual conference in Las Vegas, to the growth in surveillance capitalism at, ironically, the headquarters of Facebook in Menlo Park California.
In 2009 Neal founded the non-profit Identity Theft Council and has won multiple awards for his work in fraud prevention and victim support. He currently leads Foster Warriors, another non-profit with a goal to help America’s 400,000 foster kids and teens pursue studies and careers in the field of cybersecurity.
Neal is an avid adventurer. At the age of 17 he ran away from home, hitchhiking his way across Europe and ending up in Casablanca Morocco. In the true spirit of the Irish immigrant, he came to America by boat, delivering a sailing yacht from France to the Caribbean, via North Africa, in the middle of Winter.
A lover of old movies (he was a Humphrey Bogart fan since the age of 10, hence his interest in Casablanca), Neal’s grand uncle made Maureen O’Hara’s first movie ever, in 1934, and his cousin Michelle Dockery played Lady Mary Crawley in the hit TV series Downton Abbey.