First 30 Days Blog

19 mar

Traits of a Good Manager in 2014

RobertCordrayBusiness has changed a lot over the years, but certain fundamentals have not. While situations vary from one generation to the next (businesses in the ’90’s didn’t need a personal email/texting policy), classical management excellence has not had to change so much as adjust.

Among the traits great managers will have in 2014 are those that can be found in the Marine Corps’ 14 Leadership Traits, which applies as much today as it did in the past

The leadership traits are:

  • Judgment
  • Justice
  • Dependability
  • Integrity
  • Decisiveness
  • Tact
  • Initiative
  • Endurance
  • Bearing
  • Unselfishness
  • Courage
  • Knowledge
  • Loyalty
  • Enthusiasm

And like all things military, they come with an acronym: JJ-DID-TIE-BUCKLE.

They are all important, but we are only going to dive into a few that are seemingly most crucial in today’s environment.

Justice

There are many times when employees are not treated the same way for the same infraction. For example, two employees may be using Facebook during office hours. One is reprimanded, the other is not.

Sometimes this is warranted – such as when an employee is in charge the company’s social media branding – and other times it isn’t. It all comes down to one’s judgment.

Judgment

It takes time to strengthen one’s judgment. As the old saying goes: “good choices come from wisdom. Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is the result of bad choices.”

Managers need to be able to exercise judgment to make the right decisions, which are sometimes unpopular. Just as in the Marine Corps, there are many times that Mission Accomplishment needs to come before Troop Welfare. This means that people need to understand that what they need to do must come before what they want to do.

Dependability

Managers want people they can count on, but it has to be a two-way street. For example, no one wants a manager who is only going to note their infractions and never their accomplishments.

Additionally, managers need to be relied on to support their staff, especially when it comes to sales force productivity, be it to accommodate a scheduling conflict at home, relieve them of problems with an abusive co-worker, or to give them a fair chance to progress in their careers.

Tact

In this Information Age, personal information is more important than ever. Managers are often privy to people’s private lives to some degree, be it financial stress, problems at home, or health issues. Having this information is a form of trust that needs to be adhered to so as to maintain the dignity of the employee who expects a certain level of confidentiality.

A great example of not having tact was shown in the character of Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell on the show, The Office. Scott regularly engaged in workplace faux pas, some of which were just plain crazy, and others that led to lawsuit settlements, such as when he outed Oscar as a homosexual.

Rather than treat Oscar the same as everyone else, he tried to figure out if anyone else was gay, and then wanted to show everyone that he respected Oscar enough to kiss him on the lips, causing much embarrassment to all involved.

Bearing

Managers have more information than their subordinates and they also need to fight for their team on occasion. Knowing this, bearing is incredibly important. There are times when managers need to lead on that there are no problems from above when there are so that the staff can focus on their work. Other times, managers need to maintain a strong sense of bearing in order to negotiate deals with customers, vendors, or for staff benefits, such as new furniture, R&D funds, or raises.

These are not the only traits a good manager needs in 2014, but they provide a strong foundation to build upon and encourage in others who wish to ascend into leadership positions, be it at work or home.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on March 19th, 2014 in Career | No comments

19 mar

Keeping the Industry Moving: Behind the Scenes of E-Commerce

RobertCordrayAs consumers, we view the websites, and often, we don’t know how we managed to get to the website or what it takes to purchase products are purchased through the website. Most of us just do it and never think about what happens behind the scenes. If you’re a new business owner and developer, you need to know what goes on behind the scenes in the world of e-commerce. Here is what you need to know:

1. You Need a Website with a Shopping Cart Plugin

First and foremost, you need a website with a shopping cart plugin. This is how transactions are made. You need to ensure that you can accept PayPal and all major credit cards. The website should be professionally built to attract customers to the website. Once they are on the website, they shouldn’t have any problems executing the transaction or they’ll lose the sale to a competitor.

The plugin should allow the products to be displayed along with the prices to make the process easier to buy. There should be zero impediments at the shopping cart or buyers will become frustrated and abandon the cart. The advertisers or business owners will have to engage in retargeting to regain the customers through specialized advertising.

2. Acquire a Merchant Account

A merchant account is where the cash transactions will take place. Every business should have one or no forms of payment can be accepted. Merchant accounts are easy to obtain. Simply go online and follow the steps to complete a merchant account. It’s easy once the foundation is laid. Without the merchant account, it’s not a transactional website. Acquire a merchant account and get your business going.

3. eCommerce Software

eCommerce software is a critical component of any e-commerce solution. The software will facilitate the processing of the order and cash transaction mechanisms. The software can make the transaction easier and also capture customer information in databases that can later be retrieved. Data from the transactions can also be analyzed.

The software should also monitor your store’s inventory. As soon as the inventory is taken from the automated warehouse, it should be documented on your website with e-commerce.

4. Purchase a Good Internet Service

Purchasing a good Internet server is essential to e-commerce. The server has to be fast and possess security measures to prevent hackers from intercepting credit card information during the transaction. An assigned server is necessary for ample security. Shop around for the best Internet service provider with high levels of security.

5. Website Security

Security is important in any online transaction. Each system should have, at least, a Secure Socket Layer(SSL). The transaction data is less likely to be hacked when this type of technology is employed. Customers will feel safe when you’ve considered website security. With online customers, the single biggest concern about making a purchase is website security. Customers want to know that their data will not be hacked when they swipe on your online store. Website security is important.

What You Need to Know About the Behind the Scenes World of eCommerce

Learn what you need to know about the world of e-commerce behind the scenes. The concept can be difficult to understand, but it’s easier with some tips. Website ecommerce will have you considering website security, type of Internet service, and countless other features to ensure their are not impediments to any customer making a purchase. If you want to know more about the process, consider reading more about it online. You’ll realize the importance of eCommerce when your company becomes more profitable. Search online to find out more about the behind the scenes world of e-commerce.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on March 19th, 2014 in Career, Technology | No comments Read related posts in , , , ,

09 mar

The Self-Sabotaging Behavior of Denial

WEJMDMost people have a variety of self-sabotaging behaviors that prevent them from manifesting the life that they want. The first step in overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors is to first recognize them. One of the most powerful self-sabotaging behaviors is denial.

Denial is a defense mechanism that discharges anxiety and emotional discomfort. By denying there’s a problem we don’t have to feel bad about the fact that there’s a problem. Unfortunately this doesn’t solve anything or make our lives better. It just sweeps our problems under the rug. They’re still there. Still gnawing at us and still getting in our way.

One example is the area of health. If we have a bump and we are afraid to go to a doctor to find out that it might be something really bad we deny that it is a problem. Unfortunately when it becomes the elephant in the room, something we no longer can deny, it becomes a problem much more difficult to resolve than had we acknowledged it and faced it when it first appeared.

One form of denial is denying that our behaviors are actually self sabotaging. For example, when we are late for an appointment we might tell ourselves that it’s not going to matter, that the excuse we give will be accepted and that there won’t be any negative consequences. But this usually isn’t true. When we are late for appointments or don’t call people back in a timely fashion, as another example, people may be gracious about it but they probably are registering some degree of irritation, disappointment, feeling disrespected or undervalued. And this may over time lead to passive aggressive behavior on their part or them not doing something to assist us in the future when we ask them for help.

BLAMING OTHERS AND SEEING OURSELVES AS VICTIMS

Shakespeare once wrote “the fault dear Brutus lies not in our stars but ourselves that we are underlings.” So one form of denial would be thinking that the fault lies outside of ourselves and that we are victims of a hostile, chaotic universe out of our control, as opposed to us being the prime movers of our fate.

This is a very powerful form of denial, blaming other people and circumstances for our difficulties. For example when we tailgate and get into a car accident we have a tendency to call it an accident when it is actually the result of our poor judgment and we tend to blame the car in front of us for stopping abruptly.

This is very common to blame others and not take responsibility for our actions. Oftentimes when couples fight, one partner will blame the other partner, stating that “you made me angry, you made me throw the toaster against the wall, you made me scream at you, you made me hit you, if you hadn’t antagonized me, if you hadn’t pushed my buttons, if you hadn’t called me that name, if you hadn’t provoked me, then I wouldn’t have behaved that way.” Denial in this case is the denial of ownership. It doesn’t matter if we are provoked. We have a choice to behave correctly and honorably or not and if we don’t, and don’t admit it then we are in denial.

Denial is very common with alcoholics and addicts. “If I just have one drink it won’t really matter, I’ll be able to handle it, it won’t escalate into a serious problem.” Alcoholics and addicts tell themselves this despite having a history of one drink or one drug hit escalating into a serious problem.

Another form of denial in regard to alcohol and drugs is that people oftentimes convince themselves that other people don’t know when they are high. This is usually never the case. Most people can tell when other people are under the influence.

We are in denial when we abuse other people and tell ourselves that they’ll get over it, they’re not going to leave us. Usually, sooner or later, they do, and when they do there is often too much water under the bridge, too much built up resentment and anger for the relationship to be repaired.

We are in denial when we keep on putting off proper diet and exercise. The denial part is not that we are denying these are important things to do but that it won’t one day catch up with us and put us in the grave prematurely. We deny the long-term consequences of our actions.

SHOOTING THE MESSENGER

When someone tells us something we don’t want to hear or deal with, we find ways to attack them and invalidate them so that we don’t have to acknowledge that they’ve made a good point. We might tell them that “you do it too.” And so this allows us to deny the importance of us getting our own house in order regardless of how other people behave.

In relationships when we tell our partner that “I don’t have any problem. I don’t need anger management. You’re the one with the problem not me. You’re the one who needs therapy not me,” this is denial in spades and is a sure fire predictor of a relationship that will never heal and will most likely one day disintegrate. This is another example of shooting the messenger.

Another form of denial is called “contempt prior to investigation” which means we prejudge and reject an idea without first evaluating it to determine if it might have validity. “That’s not going to work.” “It’s a waste of time.” These are dogmatic denials that have no basis in reality because we actually haven’t looked at the data.

Another form of denial is “doing the same thing and expecting different results.” Some people refer to this as insanity.

When we are told something that is true that we don’t want to hear or deal with and we seek out people who will yes us and support our position, this is denial. Just because we can find a bunch of people who tell us we’re right doesn’t mean we’re right.

“I’m only kidding” is a form of denial. When we say something to somebody that is hurtful and they react negatively, we backpedal and claim that “I was only kidding.” Sometimes it’s not denial, we know that we weren’t kidding and that we were making a harsh point, but oftentimes we con ourselves into believing that we really were only kidding, we were only teasing, we meant no real harm and that the person was being overly sensitive. This prevents us from looking at our behavior objectively and correcting it.

LIVING IN THE PAST

Living in the past and not seeing the handwriting on the wall is a form of denial. Whether or not you think marijuana should be legalized and whether or not you think gay marriage should be legalized, the handwriting on the wall is that these things will one day universally come to pass and to deny this and fight this is really a huge waste of time, energy and resources that could best be spent elsewhere.

Another form of denial is denying that forgiveness, acceptance, and love have the power to move mountains. Most people believe that anger and aggression are the way to solve problems. In the short run this may seem to be the case but in the long run they are not. Love is a miraculous force that can transform. When two people are fighting with each other, if one person can rise above the battlefield and express true unconditional acceptance, forgiveness and love, it oftentimes can discharge all the negativity and restore peace in the relationship.

Most people think that forgiveness is a sign of weakness. They don’t believe that the meek shall inherit the earth. This is denial. Forgiveness is a reflection of great strength and personal power. Survival of the fittest will one day prove to be survival not of the physically fittest but of the spiritually fittest: those who choose not to fight and instead insist upon finding peaceful resolutions.

The premise of my book Forgive To Win! is that we sabotage ourselves with denial and in other ways as well because at an unconscious level we are filled with guilt, shame and self-loathing; at an unconscious level we believe we are undeserving and unworthy of happiness, health and success, and that our subconscious mind, believing what we believe about ourselves at an unconscious level, believing that we deserve punishment and not reward, manifests in the real world that “truth” by causing us to do things that get in our way and generate failure.

So — if self-sabotage and denial are the result of guilt, shame and self-loathing, then the way to end self sabotage and denial is to love ourselves and forgive ourselves. The way to love ourselves and forgive ourselves is to love others, forgive others and be of service to others. The more we do this, the more we send the message to our subconscious mind that we are good, loving beings who deserve happiness and success, the more the subconscious mind shifts its purpose. It stops whispering negative messages in our ears, it stops encouraging us to engage in self-sabotaging behaviors, and it helps us to attract positive people and circumstances in our lives that will be rewarding rather than punishing.

The Forgiveness Diet is a structured program of daily exercises and behaviors to help achieve the goal of ending self sabotage.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on March 9th, 2014 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

07 mar

Big City Home Remodeling Tips

JennaSmithHome remodeling is pretty easy if you live in a place with a lot of space. You can store furniture and boxes in the garage, or use your back porch to keep track of sawhorses, paint cans, or any other supplies that don’t fit in the house.

But what if you don’t have a back porch, a garage, or even an extra room to spare? If you’re living in a big city or urban center, you’re often stuck with the space you have — which isn’t very much. Of course, this very lack of usable space may be what’s prompting you to remodel in the first place! Still, you’re going to have to find a place for your furniture, your belongings, your kids, and your pets to go while you tear out walls or redesign kitchen counters.

Here are a few suggestions to help make big-city remodeling a bit easier, helpfully categorized by city:

Storage in Chicago

Dealing with excess stuff in the Windy City is a breeze if you have access to a good storage unit. Storage units provide inexpensive ways to store your valuables, and storage in Chicago is plentiful and low-cost. This is good, because many historic Chicago homes are urban brownstones that barely have extra rooms, let alone backyards. If you’re remodeling, your stuff has to go, and storage is the best place for it.

Simply pack up everything you can live without, and move it into one of Chicago’s many storage units. These units are often climate-controlled, have 24-hour security, and include drive up access. Choose a unit with the features you need, and live a minimal life at home until your remodeling project is finished.

Sublets in New York

Sure, you could look for a storage unit in New York as well, but you’re going to have a harder time; the New York Times reported in 2013 that, like everything else in the overpopulated city, storage units were at a premium. To store your stuff during your home remodeling project, you’re going to need to compete against everyone else trying to store items in the Big Apple.

So if you’re in NYC, consider trying a different tactic. If there’s one thing the city does well, it’s offer up sublet apartments. Other cities often have many rules about who can or can’t sublet, but in New York, according to the Metropolitan Council on Housing, “tenants in privately-owned buildings of four or more units have the right to sublet by law.”

Sublets also have to be for at least 30 days in duration, which is perfect for a small remodeling project. When it’s time to tear down your interior walls and fill your home with drywall dust, simply put painter’s tarps over your furniture and move yourself and your family into a sublet. If you need a longer sublet, say, six months or more, don’t worry — you’ll find plenty of opportunities as the city’s many residents shift from apartment to apartment and open up sublets so as not to break their lease.

Tiny Houses in Portland

Portland is slightly less population dense than other cities, which means you’re probably going to have a bit of an actual backyard with which to work. And what’s better than moving directly into the backyard while you remodel your home? Tiny house living has taken hold in this eco-friendly city as a way to share space and reduce environmental footprints; in fact, America’s first official Tiny House Hotel opened in Portland in 2013.

These tiny houses, which generally measure under 500 square feet and include a living space, kitchen, bathroom, and lofted bedroom, are easy to build or to buy pre-made. They live on trailers and can be placed wherever you need them. By putting a tiny house in your backyard, you have a place to live while you remodel your home. Then, you can keep the tiny house and use it as an accessory dwelling (often called a mother-in-law suite or a “granny flat”) or as a rental space and a source of additional income.

Although many other cities have a lot of strict rules about renting granny flats, Portland’s rules are relatively few, and is one of the most accessory-dwelling landlord friendly cities in the US. When you’re tired of being a landlord and want to enjoy your newly-remodeled home by yourself, simply sell your tiny house and move it onto someone else’s property.

Whether you choose a storage unit, a sublet, or a tiny house, you know you have options when remodeling in an urban area. There are as many ways to get this job done as there are types of homes — so use your imagination, along with these tips, to make your urban renovation as smooth as possible.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on March 7th, 2014 in House and Home | No comments

07 mar

Fun Hobbies That Can End Up Making You Some Good Money!

RobertCordrayHow many times has someone told you that you are so good at your favorite hobby that you should turn it into your career? You may have laughed off the idea when it was brought up, but you should give it some serious thought. There are several hobbies that, if done with passion and dedication, could wind up making you money.

Wood Pen Making

Woodworking experts always find unique ways to express themselves through their art. Wood pen making is a hobby that could bring you orders from business professionals, companies, and people looking for the perfect gift for the executive in their lives. Bullet pens make handy little gifts that people can give on holidays, birthdays, or to commemorate a special occasion.

Photography

Thanks to the many advances in technology, more people are starting to be able to take pictures like professionals. If you love taking pictures, and you get compliments for your work all of the time, then offer your services for weddings and special occasions.

You can also take the kinds of pictures that you like and sell them online to customers all over the world. If you really want to get into the world of photography, then look into setting up a booth at your local arts and crafts show to sell your work to the people who pass by.

Car Restoration

You spend your weekends restoring old cars and you have become very good at it. You can use that hobby to make a lot of money in two different ways. One way is to sell the cars that you restore. Just be sure that you do some research on their value and get a fair price each time.

Your other source of income can come from restoring cars for other people. You would be surprised at how many people in your area have classic cars that they would pay handsomely to have restored.

Music

If you are a musician and you love to play your instrument and sing for friends and family members, then you have all that you need to make some good money on the side. You can go out as a one-man show and play for dinner crowds all over the area, or you can get involved with a group and play clubs on the weekends.

You can also join the local musician’s union and get work in the live theater productions that come through your area. If you can read music, then you can make a lot of money playing those part-time gigs.

Putting Together Computers

A technically inclined person who spends his spare time building computers for his own use can use that skill to make good money. Let your friends and family members know that you build computers and quote a fair price based on the needs of the customer. After a while, you will start to get referrals to make computers for people all over the area.

When you enjoy a hobby, you never really think about its financial possibilities. But if you are good at a service that people will pay for, then you should think about using your hobby to make good money.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.


Posted by Robert Cordray on March 7th, 2014 in Career, General, House and Home | No comments

05 mar

6 Ways You Torment Yourself at Work and How to Stop

Kerrigan2Let’s face it: At one time or another, you have tormented yourself at work. Often, the ritual is daily. Without a doubt, it’s more frequent than most people know. You have to catch yourself to even know what’s making you feel bad or sad. We are so conditioned to look on the dark side, that negativity becomes our automatic default. In fact, I ‘ll bet that the main reason you’re reading this right now is the word “torment” in the title. Yes?

So—why do you do it? What is the main reason for all that torment?

Here it is: Fear of failure, of not being good enough, as though you have to prove yourself–-often.

Here are 6 ways you suffer and how to stop:

#1: You’re afraid to ask questions

Of all the performance and productivity killers I’ve seen in the workplace, confusion, by far, is numero uno. It can hold you back and delay progress, and often goes undetected because most people hate to admit when they’re confused. Ipso facto: They hate to ask questions.

Whole processes can screech to a halt when someone somewhere along the line is too afraid to ask: “How does this work?,” “What am I supposed to be doing?,” “Why is this needed?” You get the idea.

When you’re afraid to ask, you lack clarity, and torment yourself in many ways. Your job becomes a guessing game. You have no idea what you’re doing and you fear that, if you ask, you’ll look ridiculous. So, you put yourself and your team at risk.

Worst of all, your anxiety increases as you worry about things going wrong, and then it reaches an all-time high when they actually do.

Stop. Ask. The more confident you become, the stronger and less fearful you will be, and the better you will perform.

#2: You’re afraid of answering questions

This brings me to the flip side of that coin: fear of answering questions. Many executives are known for this. They think it’s the mark of strong leadership if they appear as though they have all the answers. So, instead of seeming weak, they avoid questions like the plague.

They become politicians, not leaders, sidestepping questions with vague and inane answers. Then, their insecurity and torment passes to their team, and everyone is confused and lost.

Is this what you really want?

Stop tormenting yourself and your team by trying so hard and making it up as you go along. Stop giving wrong or incomplete information. It is your job to problem solve, to get answers, and to know where to look. It’s not your job to know everything—nobody does.

If you don’t know, say so. And then ask.

#3: You second guess everything you do

When you can’t ask or answer questions, you have little confidence in yourself. Your anticipatory anxiety runs at an all-time high with “what if” thinking. “What if I do this, and that happens?” Initially, this can be great for planning, but you can’t get stuck there. You need to make a decision and move forward–to trust yourself and choose. Yes, sometimes you choose wrong, but that’s life.

First, know that most of the time, your anticipation is much worse than the actual situation. How many times have you worried yourself to the Nth degree and the outcome was far better than you imagined?

Anticipatory anxiety keeps you from taking chances that would improve your life.

Step through that wall of anticipatory anxiety! Get on the other side. Give yourself permission to feel anxious. Then, get in the present moment and ask yourself: what’s the next positive step I need to take to move myself forward? And do it!

Think of “what iffing” it this way, “What if I succeed?”–You won’t know until you try.

#4: You second guess what everyone else does

If you don’t trust yourself, it’s hard to trust others. This brings about huge control issues. People often think control freaks are strong—wrong. It’s a sign of weakness, of insecurity. So, stop it. Once again, you’re not only tormenting yourself, you’re tormenting your team. Stop hovering over them and not letting them do their thing.

We all bring something special to the table. No one is good in all areas of work—that’s why there are teams—to collaborate. Collaboration is the alloy that makes companies strong. It’s fine to ask and answer questions to monitor progress, but you must trust your team to do what they do best. That’s how you all grow and succeed.

#5: You have an excessive need for approval

If you feel victimized, manipulated or guilty often, then you are tormenting yourself by always needing approval from others. Anxiety runs high when you feel this way because you’re just too afraid of stepping on toes. You show people where your buttons are, with a big sign that says “Push!”

The most important approval you need is the approval you give yourself. I wrote about this in 10 Steps to Get Over the Impostor Syndrome. As a people pleaser, it’s easier to be compassionate to others, but not to yourself.

If you heard a close friend talk badly about him/herself, you would defend that person and say it’s not true. You would comfort the friend with kind and supportive words. You need to be able to do this for yourself. Speak to yourself as though you were speaking as if speaking to your own best friend. Be compassionate to yourself. Use those same convincing words and be supportive — to you.

#6: You suffer from the “terrible too’s”: too young, too old, too inexperienced, too forgetful, too tall, too short—you name it!

Often, when faced with change, we torment ourselves with the “terrible too’s.” We use self-criticism as an excuse to procrastinate and resist change. What we’re really saying is that we’re too afraid to leap because we’re too afraid to fail.

Your thoughts make up your reality. So, change the messaging in your mind. Get more positive in the way you think–especially about yourself.

Get confident: Ask and answer questions. Trust yourself and your team. Give yourself the support you need. Get out from under the “terrible too’s” and your excuses. One thing is for sure: It’s never too late to stop tormenting yourself and start enjoying your life!

Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace confidence and performance who has been helping businesses and professionals grow stronger and more successful for over three decades. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on March 5th, 2014 in Career, Global/Social Change, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , ,

27 feb

7 Steps for Securing Mobile Devices

RobertCordrayIn the wake of reports regarding security risks posed by Apple’s just released iOS 7 mobile platform for the iPhone and iPad, individuals and enterprises should take time to reevaluate the security risks of all mobile devices they use.

These risks fall into two main categories. The first category, Device Risks, deals with the fact that today’s mobile devices are in fact sophisticated high-powered cloud-connected computers. The second category, App Risks, refers to the installation of third-party mobile apps that could result in personal or corporate networks and data being compromised.

Fortunately, there are a number of actionable steps that can be taken to better protect mobile devices from both types of risks, with the following 7 steps being among the most important.

Step #1: Don’t let basic protection lag

Today’s smartphones and tablets are just as susceptible to the malware that is targeting desktops and laptops. In fact, they are becoming more vulnerable. To keep sensitive information safe, users of internet-enabled mobile devices must make sure that all basic protection tools, such as antivirus programs, personal firewalls, password protections and other built-in security settings are in place and kept current.

Step #2: Beware of wireless connections

Wireless networks, particularly open WiFi hotspots, make mobile devices much more susceptible to security breaches. Just ask the folks at Google how it works. Users should activate wireless connections only when absolutely needed and only for brief periods of time. Organizations whose employees are using open WiFi hotspots should require them to use a VPN server to safely connect to internal resources.

Step #3: Avoid app mishaps

Mobile devices such as smartphones are going everywhere nowadays. And with the proliferation of apps—many of which are free, easy to install and potentially harmful—users need to exercise caution when selecting and installing apps. Designed to exploit data, many apps can disable security functions and collect personal data unbeknownst to the user. Individuals and organizations need to make sure that only apps from reputable sources are installed on mobile devices. Even then it’s important to be clear as to the permissions or access rights that are being granted to each app before installation, as some apps may be given more access to sensitive data than is warranted.

Step #4: Be clear on BYOD

Enterprises that permit BYOD in the workplace need to adopt ways to reduce the data footprints of mobile devices and minimize security risks. Sensitive data should be stored with encryption software and corporate data should only be made available via local servers and with password protection. In addition, enterprises need to have clear “data sensitivity” policies in place so all employees know exactly what is allowed and expected, such as NEVER storing sensitive information on a cellphone.

Step #5: Perform regular backups

Mobile device users need to get in the habit of backing up the data on their devices regularly. This is especially important in the event a device is stolen or is incapacitated due to physical damage. These backups can be done either locally or on cloud-based platforms. In addition, backups should be encrypted and protected by very strong passwords to prevent unauthorized access. Many Internet security experts recommend long random passwords that avoid actual words, years and calendar dates, as these are much more difficult to crack.

Step #6: Utilize locate, lock and wipe software

Although smartphones are getting bigger, it’s still possible to misplace them. And smartphones are always attractive to thieves. In either event, enabling remote locate, lock and wipe software on a smartphone can enhance the chances of finding said phone with the data intact. And if the phone is determined to have been lost or stolen for good, the ability to wipe all the data is a crucial security benefit.

Step #7: Turn off Bluetooth and geotagging

Geotagging is a cool feature, but it can divulge a user’s whereabouts when a particular photo or video was taken. Therefore it may be best to switch it off. The same goes for Bluetooth discovery mode, as leaving it on all the time, even when not trying to pair a device, can result in an unauthorized connection to the phone. Although this security breach would have to be made by someone in close proximity, it could easily be done and not detected.

As the mobile device explosion continues, security risks associated with smartphones and tablets will continue to pose a threat. Therefore it’s more essential than ever that individual users and organizations stay educated and informed about the risks associated with the devices they are using and more importantly, the ways in which those risks can be mitigated.


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Posted by Robert Cordray on February 27th, 2014 in Technology | No comments

27 feb

More Than “Just Friends”: Using Content Marketing to Take Your Customer Relationships to the Next Level

RobertCordrayCustomers are the lifeblood of any business. Whether you’re offering a product or a service, whether you’re the head of an international mega-corporation, or the single employee of a company that you run out of your garage, without customers, your business is really nothing more than an expensive hobby. As such, if you want to be successful, you need to know how to take your relationship with your customers to the next level. Gone are the days in which a few television commercials, newspaper ads, direct mailers, and a bit of space in the phonebook were all that you’d need to get a customer’s attention. The modern consumer tends to instinctively recognize and distrust any sales pitch that they can identify. So, in a world in which DVR allows customers to skip commercials, and years of training have turned most internet users into quick-draw experts when it comes to closing advertisement pop-ups, how is a modern business supposed to connect with the people on whom it depends? Well, the answer is a simple one: content marketing.

Today’s customers are more interested in discovering information for themselves, than in trusting a faceless corporation to supply them with the relevant facts that they need in order to make a decision. So, if you want to succeed in today’s market, you need to know how to help your customers help themselves. In the process, you’ll find that your relationships with your customers improve as well. Here are a few tips on how you can use content marketing to take your customer relationships to the next level.

1. Do your homework

If you want to improve your customer relationship, you first need to get to know the customer as an individual. What do you know about their interests, or about the kind of internet sites that they are most likely to visit? Do they have any particular questions that they want answered? What are their ages, social backgrounds, ethnicities, and incomes? What about personal beliefs? The truth is that any piece of information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can be used to help you get a better idea of who your consumer is. Of course, acquiring and keeping track of all of this raw data can be difficult, so know what kind of tools you’ll need to get everything started. According to a survey of B2B marketers by TechValidate, 47% of companies said that case studies were very effective or most effective in acquiring new leads and customers. Likewise, a company like Salesforce has CRM tools that will help you organize and analyze your data, so that it will be available to you when you need it.

2. Give them what they want

Once you’ve taken care of the hard part of getting to know your customer, next you’ll need to put that knowledge to good use. That means that you need to start creating content that they will find useful. How do you go about doing that? Well, if you can answer that question for yourself, your content marketing problems will be as good as solved. Unfortunately, the only way to master this step is by seeing what works for you, but for starters you can check out successful company blogs and see how they handle the situation. For example, home automation company Vivint uses its blog to provide useful tips, ideas, and facts for homeowners on everything from security to decorating, and does so without overtly promoting its own brand. By focusing on giving helpful advice, rather than just another sales pitch, they manage to draw more interest from potential customers. Don’t discount the impact of social media and blog sites, as these reach 8 out of 10 of all U.S. Internet users and account for 23% of all time spent online.

3. Make it shareable

Hey, speaking of which, what’s the best way to promote your new content across social media sites? The answer is don’t. Instead, make your content useful, relevant, and interesting, and your readers will take care of promotion for you. Once readers who are not affiliated with your company start to share your content, then the mistrust associated with marketing and organizations becomes a non-issue. After all, it’s not some salesman interrupting a conversation between friends to push a product; it’s the friends themselves who are discussing the product. Half of all social media users under age 35 follow their online friends’ recommendations, which means that if you can get those friends to recommend you, you’ll be on the fast-track to success.

4. Focus on existing customers

“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other is gold.” This is a rhyme that many of us encountered in our formative years. However, by the time we reach adulthood and begin to deal in business relationships, we often forget this simple truth. Yes, we should be trying to find new customers, but not at the expense of the ones that we already have. It costs between six and seven times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to keep a current one. So, make sure that your future content is directed back towards those who have already shown an interest.

5. Don’t be afraid to take a chance

As we’ve already pointed out, there isn’t any mathematical formula that you can use to achieve content marketing success. The upside to this is that it gives you the freedom to try anything that comes to mind. So, go for it! Try to think outside the box, and come up with content that really touches your target audience. And don’t worry, with a bit of perseverance, creativity, and a little luck, you’ll be able to take your customer relationship to the next level, and beyond.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on February 27th, 2014 in Career, General | No comments

27 feb

3 Ways Families Are Like Conveyor Belts

RobertCordrayConveyor belts are a great asset to businesses, whether they’re used in warehouses, assembly lines, or other applications. In the same way, families are a great asset when each member supports the others, pitches in, and works for the good of the whole.

There are 3 ways that families are like conveyor belts:

1. Like conveyor belts, families are always on the move.

Life, like business, is always moving, and it seems that something is always happening to upset the apple cart. Unexpected events, like illnesses or accidents, call for changes. Family members are ready to roll with these changes, and help out wherever they can. A family in Dallas had a mom, a dad, and three college-aged kids. When Dad was struck with multiple sclerosis and confined to a wheelchair, Mom took over the driving until Dad was able to purchase a modified car. The kids also helped out with driving and assisting Dad with physical therapy, and cheered him up when he felt down.

Even when no major problems arise, family members often arrive at new milestones in life. A family in Maine had two at once. John graduated from college and entered the military as an officer, and Dad got a big promotion at work. The other family members were supportive and encouraging, congratulating them both and wishing them well. When the conveyor belt of life rushes into new situations, families are ready for both the joy and the challenge.

2. Families work as a team, like an assembly line.

Conveyor belts are often used as assembly lines, and families work as a team on an assembly line, producing happy and productive members. A family in Ohio had 2 kids who loved sports. Their parents attended every game, and their dad coached baseball and track. When the kids wanted to try a new sport, their parents encouraged them, and when the kids didn’t do so well, Mom and Dad told them, “That’s ok, as long as you do your best.” Mom and Dad emphasized that team spirit, fair play, and sportsmanship were as important as winning, and the kids repaid their support by being good team members and good sports.

Another family in Tennessee was not into sports, but they had a favorite project they did together. All good singers and musicians, they sang and played Christmas carols at the retirement home in their community every Christmas. Dad played the guitar, Mom was lead singer, Jeff played the violin, and Sara the clarinet. Just like conveyor belts are used in an automated material handling system, this family work together as a system to making the world a happier and more loving place.

3. Like assembly line workers, everyone plays a different role.

When a conveyor belt acts as an auto plant assembly line, each worker on it has a different job; one worker installs the motor, another puts on the fenders, and another does the painting. In the same way, each person in a family has a role to play, the role he or she is best suited for. In the Smith family, Dad was a model of strength, and taught the others responsibility by going to a difficult job. He was also an example of love, a sentiment President Howard W. Hunter past prophet of the LDS church, expressed in his inspirational quote, “One of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Mom taught love and patience by being an example. When 4-year-old Bobby colored on the wall, Mom understood that the wall was very tempting, but explained that paper is for drawing.

Each child was encouraged to discover a sense of self, and to develop his or her best attributes. Sally was very motherly, and helped with the baby. Tom was good at repairs, and put a new cord on the vacuum cleaner. Rob helped Mom learn computer skills. Each person in the family felt that he or she belonged, and had an important part to play.

Like conveyor belts, families are team-oriented, but with a place for individuality. And like conveyor belts, they’re adaptable, but there for the purpose of a greater good.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on February 27th, 2014 in Family, Relationships, Teens | No comments Read related posts in , , ,

18 feb

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

Jope2“Should is a learned response.”

Those words were once said to me by a sage advisor (read: counselor). Until then, it never dawned on me that feeling obligated to others and myself wasn’t some lucky trait I was born with; it was something I picked up along the way.

When Should is Good … and Bad

There are varying degrees of “should.” Certain things are taught to us from an early age and make us decent people and functioning members of society, such as sharing and having compassion for others.

We also learn that some obligations simply need to be fulfilled.

“I should go to the dentist.”

Yes. Yes, you should.

But then the notion of “should” gets murky and we place unnecessary guilt on ourselves and become anguished by huge self-inflicted obligations. Not so great for our mental health.

As life marches forward, we learn that we “should” do something because society says so, all our friends are doing it or the pressure from family is too much. We learn that we’re supposed to be a certain way in order to be successful professionally and personally.

  • “I should socialize more.”
  • “I should go back to school.”
  • “I should have a baby.”

But what if you don’t actually want to do what you feel obligated to do? The minute we make statements like the ones above, we’re taking ourselves to task. We’re scolding ourselves when we didn’t do anything wrong. We beat ourselves up and damage our self esteem in the process.

You shouldn’t have to apologize for how you feel. Think about it: If you don’t enjoy going out very much because you’re an introvert, what’s your crime? There isn’t one.

Women seem particularly prone to saying they “feel bad” if they fight against the “should.” We think we owe someone something, but I think my counselor said it best:

“Says who?”

Let’s be clear: This isn’t an argument in favor of throwing your hands up and never listening to your “should” again. Sometimes things need to get done. Instead, it’s time to evaluate how it affects your mental well-being. Every time the word is uttered, do you feel guilty, worthless or like a failure?

Believe it or not, it’s not always obvious why we feel compelled to do things we don’t want to, but our mind and spirit suffer anyway. Understanding the root cause can be immensely liberating. Is it fear, habit or something else leading you down this path?

Jennifer Jope is the author of www.thebrainpain.wordpress.com, where she documents her own struggles with depression, including what she learned in a behavioral health program. Her other health writing has appeared in Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing Newsletter and Body1.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jen Jope on February 18th, 2014 in Uncategorized | No comments