Archive for February, 2014

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.

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 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.

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 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, 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

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

18 feb

Why Sales Isn’t Dead and What’s Keeping It Alive

RobertCordrayIt’s easy to argue that the days of cold calling, door-to-door-salesman and the traditional sales funnel are coming to a close because they largely are. The traditional salesperson has lost a good amount of advantage, as the consumer has gained access to greater information about products and instant access to buy virtually anything he or she can think of via the Internet. While these particular sales methods may be dying, that doesn’t mean that the sales industry is declining as well. In fact, as the industry adapts to this new customer-centric environment, sales will continue to thrive by using new tactics and tools. Here’s a look at some of them.

Demand Creation

The problem with cold calling is that the sales team ends up spending a huge percentage of their time talking to the wrong person or talking to the right person who isn’t ready to buy. This takes a toll on the salesperson as well as the customer who may be turned off by a salesperson pushing a product they aren’t ready to talk about. Instead, companies are turning to demand creation in order to build up their reputation and form relationships with their entire consumer market. By doing this, when the customer is ready to buy, they come to the sales team rather than the other way around. Accomplishing this requires a multi-faceted approach that involves search marketing, public relations efforts, content marketing and presenting at industry events.

From Funnel to Lifecycle

The traditional sales funnel worked well for closing sales and moving on to the next customer, but in today’s competitive market ending a relationship with the customer after the sell is a surefire way to alienate your customers. Instead, the sales funnel should be converted into a continuous lifecycle where the customer continues to be engaged after the sell. The salesperson should develop a plan for how they can continue to proactively provide additional value to the customer through relevant and personalized conversations. If done right, this ongoing relationship will lead to additional purchases of upgrades, add-ons or new products and services.

Tools to Stay Organized

Obviously completing sales as described above will require keeping much more detailed records about potential customers and current customers in order to keep content relevant. This is where technology such as CRM from Salesforce become important. These tools can keep all of the information in one place where it is easily accessible by the entire sales team increasing efficiency and reducing costly customer service mistakes.

While certain sales methods are certainly declining, the sales industry will continue to remain relevant as long as sales teams continue to adapt how they approach sells and develop leads. In many respects, these changes are beneficial for both sides as the customers are no longer pressured into buying products they don’t need and the sales team spends more time with consumers who are truly interested in buying.

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 18th, 2014 in Career, Finances, Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , ,

04 feb

A One Bedroom Apartment Isn’t So Bad After All

JennaSmithMy time in college was coming to a close. I was beginning my senior year and it was also the time when things started to get serious with my freelancing career that I had been developing during the off-hours in my dorm.

There was a problem though …

It was beginning to get difficult trying to balance study and work all from a tiny little dorm room. Papers were starting to stack up. I constantly had to mail things so boxes were plentiful. The printer, computer, and video equipment I used to make promo videos was simply taking up too much space.

I started looking around and found a nice apartment complex just down the road from my school, which was perfect since it didn’t take long to get to class and it meant I had enough space for my stuff.

It also helped me relax a bit because my school wasn’t too keen about running businesses out of the dorm room.

But … being on a college budget didn’t give me a whole lot of options, so I decided the best option would be to get a one bedroom, one bath.

At first, the place felt huge compared to the tiny, little dorm room but it makes sense when people say “the more you earn the more you spend”. Getting into the new apartment had me buzzing with energy because things felt like they were truly legit. My freelance income started to climb because I didn’t have nearly as many distractions from my roommates; I now had the funds for bigger and better furniture and household items. These items quickly began to add up, which meant I was quickly running out of space again.

Since I’m not the type that wants to throw out good items, I had to find a compromise to make my living situation work.

I’m out in San Diego, which means the weather is almost always nice. I also happen to have a nice balcony, which until that point was mostly used to store my bike and some of the weird odds-and-ends that I seem to acquire whenever I swing by my parents’.

One of the things I decided to do was to treat this balcony like an extended part of the apartment, so that it would always be open and used frequently. I picked up a few nice chairs that would go out there along with some neat lights I found on, which gave it a real relaxed atmosphere during the night time.

That’s like one extra room – in my book.

I also started to get real about how I kept everything organized. Luckily, there’s an Ikea in San Diego. I had been there before when I picked up some of the furniture at the time I first moved in, but I hadn’t looked much at the storage and shelving units. It’s amazing what you can do with what they have without breaking the bank.

With a budget of about $300 I picked a few shelving units that would go in the room and ones that could double up as night stands.

It took a while to declutter since everything was all over the place, but eventually I got it under control. The shelves I hung onto the wall above the headboard let me keep all my business books in an easy-to-reach spot for when I was winding down for the night.

The toughest thing was finding the best spot for my desk when moving all this stuff. I’m constant working at my computer (between study, freelancing, and doing the blogging thing) and so I decided to go with a DIY option — I mounted a desk top to the wall with hinges so that I can fold it down when it’s not in use (I use a laptop so this worked well).

Doing so also made me further declutter because I didn’t want to constantly move things back and forth when I wanted to put the desk up. Switching to some online services certainly helped (like invoicing) which I’d recommend to anyone trying to get rid of all that hard copy in work and study.

Overall, I’d like a bigger place but when you start to organize and make use of the space you’ve got, you really start to see it’s not really necessary. You’ll end up getting more stuff. If you’re crafty (or if you’ve got someone that can help out) then a one-bedroom is often all you really need when you’re younger, so don’t fret if you’re feeling cluttered … get creative, instead.

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 February 4th, 2014 in Finances, House and Home, Personal Stories | No comments

04 feb

5 Tips to Safely Shop on a Mobile Device

RobertCordrayWhen you need to make a purchase, how do you usually go about doing it? Do you open a catalogue? Do you drive to the mall? Or do you, like an increasing number of consumers, whip out the old mobile smart device and take care of business all from the palm of your hand?

Studies show that in 2012, people spent $25 billion on purchases made from phones and tablets, which is an increase of 81 percent from the year before. Unfortunately, many people are making the switch to mobile shopping without taking the time to figure out exactly how it works. Here are five tips to help you get the most out of your journey into m-commerce.

1. Do your research

There are hundreds of thousands (or more) sites online from which you can make purchases. However, not all of them are created equal. Some sites may offer deceptively low-quality products. Others might have terrible service or unfair return policies. And then there are others which might simply be nothing more than online scams designed for no other purpose than to steal your money.

Before you make any purchases, be sure to research the site in question. Look online for reviews from customers who have used the site, and see what kind of experience they may have had. Additionally, check for the name of the website along with the search term “scam.” If you find anything that might indicate that the site doesn’t offer everything it’s supposed to, then you’re better off shopping elsewhere.

2. Avoid using a debit card

Most m-commerce sites allow you to enter a card number for payment. Thus, when getting ready to finalize a purchase, many shoppers choose to pay with a debit card. After all, it’s way easier to keep track of your finances and avoid going into debt if you pay directly from your account.

However, when it comes to online shopping, this can be dangerous. Should the site in question become compromised, criminals could easily do serious (and possibly even irreparable) damage to your finances. This is because debit cards act as a direct link to your account, allowing whomever has them unrestricted access to your bank info. Credit cards, on the other hand, simply act as an extension to your personal credit. This means that although a criminal may make charges to the card itself, they will not be able to actually remove any of your funds from your account.

Additionally, the Fair Credit Billing Act protects credit card users by making them liable only for $50 in the event of credit card fraud. Credit companies also offer additional protection, and may contact you in the event that any suspicious charges are being made.

3. Be protective of your personal information

Many online sites require that you give them a substantial amount of your personal information before you can make a purchase. However, other than your card number and perhaps your billing address, none of that data is necessary to the purchase.

Although many sites will request telephone numbers, email addresses, social media credentials and any number of other personal details, know that once you give this data out, it is no longer secure. Many companies will sell personal data to marketing and advertising agencies, thus resulting in inboxes full of spam and constant telemarketer calls. If a site is demanding more information than you are willing to give, either contact the business directly and see if you can make the purchase without giving out additional details, or leave the site and shop elsewhere.

Be especially sure never to give out your social security number no matter what the circumstances.

4. Be secure

As with in any internet activity, you need to make sure that you’re protected while using your device to shop online. This means, first and foremost, activating your device’s built-in security measures. Locking and password-protecting your device is the best way to keep thieves from being able to access stored account information.

For added protection, there are apps that can be downloaded that will allow a user to remotely erase a device’s entire hard drive in the event that it becomes lost or stolen. Also, only make purchases from secure sites. These are sites that have an “S” after the “HTTP” in the address bar, which indicates added security to keep your information safe. Other safety measures such as a secure web gateway are also recommended.

5. Keep up-to-date on the paperwork

Whenever you make online purchases, you should remember to keep an eye on your statements. Be sure that the amount you’re being charged is the same as the amount you agreed to pay. If it’s not, or if other charges begin to appear, then you should contact your bank immediately. Also, be sure to keep a digital copy of your receipt, in case you end up having a problem with the order; it will be a lot simpler to correct the issue if you have all of your information on hand.

Shopping from a mobile device is a convenient way to avoid the crowds and headaches of going out, but you need to be careful with how you go about doing it. Take these tips to heart, and enjoy the freedom of m-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 February 4th, 2014 in Technology | No comments Read related posts in , ,