Hone these soft skills to give yourself a competitive advantage in business – and life

 

Have you ever noticed that certain people always seem to have an “edge”? They might not be the smartest, the richest or any of those things we associate with success…and yet, they always seem to do well for themselves. What is it about them? What gives them that edge?

While we may not have had the lucky breaks nor the trust fund to propel us into the societal/social stratosphere, we’re not imprisoned by our social standing. And I think everyone – if they choose to work at it – can achieve a competitive edge.

Here’s how:

Respect everyone

Treat people with respect. All people. Full stop. If you believe you are no better than everyone else it will shine a light on you. It will open doors for you and it will change how you approach life. Humility is vastly underrated and true humility is irresistible.

Reciprocate

It is not about you. It is about the other person. Treat people like they want to be treated. Seek out signals from other folks. If they are quiet and subdued offer that in return, if they are joyous give that back to them. If they are contemplative be that too. Take your cues from the people you are with. Take their lead.

Avoid idle chatter

Don’t engage in gossip. As the adage goes: small minds talk about people, average minds talk about things and great minds talk about ideas. Don’t get trapped in the minutiae; always aim to elevate the conversations.

Be present

If you are at a party, put away your phone. If you are out for lunch, put away your phone. Hell, just put away your phone. Engage people, be in the moment. Look around you; how many other people are on their phones? I rest my case.

Be authentic

Just be yourself – everyone else is taken, they say. Be authentic. Don’t try too hard to be someone else. Changing is not the same as acting. Be real. Be you.

Be honest

Never lie. The best thing about always telling the truth is you never have to remember what you said. And never lying is an integral part of integrity. Be someone people can count on.

Be miserable – just keep it to yourself

Smile. No one really wants to engage a sourpuss. Smile; you will be surprised at how easy it is to do and how easy it is for people to engage you.

Look sharp

Dress better than everyone else – but do not overdress. I always say dress like someone your clients would go to for advice.

Remember the big picture

The final advice is to never fall prey to the “Black Dot.”

What’s the Black Dot? Grab a blank sheet of paper and place a black dot in the middle of it with a marker. I have one of these framed and in my office. I look at it all the time. People see it on my wall and “What’s that?”

In return, I ask them, “what do you see?”
Most – if not all, reply, “a black dot.”

I tell them that black dot represents everything that’s going wrong with my life at the moment. “I’m having a bad day; I got up this morning had an argument with my wife, the cat jumped on the table as I was getting ready for work and spilled coffee on me, and so I had to go and get changed. Then I got stuck in traffic on the way to work, and I was super late. I lost my debit card last night and don’t have a dime on me.” And so on and so on. Poor me, right?

Everyone can achieve a competitive edge – if they choose to work at it.

Every time I find myself with an all-access pass to the pity party, I look at that picture and remember that the white space is everything that is right with my life. I have a great family, a nice home, a new car, a job and a career (I’ll leave my feelings about the cat out of this for the moment) that I love, and I have my health.

So how about it…take my advice and give yourself an edge. It’ll all make a difference. It’s worth it!

 

Small Business Cyber Attacks vs. Large

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In just the first six months of 2017, there were nearly 918 data breaches around the world. As those numbers continue to rise in 2018, cyber attacks represent a massive threat to businesses everywhere. Though the typical assumption for these sort of threats is that only big companies need to worry, we’ve quickly learned that is not the case, with 43% of cyber attackers now targeting small businesses, What these findings demonstrate is that cyber attackers do not discriminate–if you possess any sort of valuable information there is a plausible chance it could come under attack. To best prepare your business for fending off these threats, we’re breaking down the similarities and differences between large and small business cyber attacks. What’s putting them at risk, what are their strengths and weaknesses, and how you can help stop future breaches.

Large Businesses

The past year has been eye-opening for cybersecurity faults in large corporations. Between the Equifax and Yahoo data breaches, leaked government tools, and the exposure of voter records, the vulnerability of our personal information has been alarmingly displayed. However, these disastrous attacks created the necessary dialogue about how large businesses are put at risk and how to defend them.

The obvious reasoning behind large-scale cyber attacks comes from the highly-valued intellectual property maintained by major businesses like Equifax. As cloud security advocate and CEO of Oracle Mark Hurd stated, Equifax was the absolute perfect target for a hack because of its size and the “treasure trove of information” it had on file. The bigger the company, the bigger the data pool, such as customer contacts, credit card info, and health data. This sort of information values at thousands of dollars on the black market where criminals are selling the stolen data. For instance, a thief can sell 10 Medicare numbers and profit around $4700 online.

And when the goal is to gather as many people’s information as possible, these large corporations are a goldmine.

Another reason we’re seeing more and more attacks is growing reliance on internet storage and transactions. According to Mark Nunnikhoven, VP of cloud research at Trend Micro, as we do more and more of our business online, criminals are realizing the value of the data that organizations are protecting, which in turn is resulting in an increase of high-profile breaches.

Considering cyberattacks on large businesses are expected to increase rather than decrease, the question we’re struggling to answer is: what is putting us at risk and how can we stop it? Well, one reason we’ll explore is a bit of a double-edged sword. With big businesses come big budgets, and the majority of those resources are used for updating and maintaining existing software. In theory, this is great practice–it makes sense to want the most up-to-date and effective software in place to secure your company information. However, in between these updates is a lag time of extreme vulnerability. On average companies take 100-120 days to patch vulnerabilities, if they do at all. Attackers are hyper-aware of these security holes and as we learned from WannaCry, failing to properly patch can have devastating results.

Larger companies also have numerous strengths in defending against cyber attacks. When not compromised, the large budget available to large companies is crucial in implementing the very best cyber-security solutions. The cloud is a better option that will handle security while reducing the need for on-site servers, which in turn eliminates requirements for full IT support team. Software companies not only have top of the line security requirements in place, they continue to update their product for ongoing improvements to protect businesses.

Small Businesses

As mentioned earlier, the general assumption for cyber attacks is that they only happen to large corporations and companies with giant data pools. What’s come to light over the past several years, however, is that small and mid-sized businesses are becoming more attractive targets. Small businesses, for the most part, are not as technologically equipped as their larger counterparts, yet they contain the same sort of valuable information attackers seek. Not only do small businesses generally store financial and personal data that can be used for fraud or identity theft, in many cases, they supply larger enterprises with goods and services that can be used to gain access. Secondly, without the budget or resources for up-to-date security measures or education, employees lack risk awareness and attackers are more likely to sneak in without ever getting caught.

What these small businesses risk by not staying up-to-date with security software, properly employee training, and other shortcomings, is opening themselves up to automated brute force attacks. Small and mid-size businesses generally choose their own security policies; in the case of easily remembered passwords, while these can be convenient for employees, they make it easier for attackers to gain access through common login credential dictionaries.

There is no one size fits all solution for cybersecurity. Applying a set of best practices that worked for another company in hopes it will work for you too is unrealistic. There will always be threats coming from different angles in search of various information. The best we can do is stay aware and implement precautions best suited for specific company needs. To figure out what exactly “best practices” means for you, it’s recommended to start by running a security risk assessment. Regardless of size, it’s crucial to have your assets prioritized and a company-wide understanding of what your confidential policies are. Educating employees on what company passwords should include, warning signs to look out for, and social media sites and applications that should be avoided when on company WiFi are all simple tasks that can make a world of difference. On a higher level, migrating your IT to the cloud and dividing your hard drives between personal and production can decrease your vulnerability.

As technology continues to improve, the capabilities of cyber attackers will as well. It’s important for businesses of all sizes to stay vigilant and always account for the worst possible scenario. It’s troubling to admit, but in our hyper-connected world, no one is totally safe from the threat of a cyber attack. Working to improve with even the most basic security tips now will save you a lot of stress later.

Brian Thomas is a contributor to Enlightened Digital, long-distance cyclist, and lifelong advocate for women in business from Philadelphia. Tech and business are his lifeblood, but he’s also a fanatic of brewpubs and just about every sports team in Philadelphia.

In the news … June 19, 2018

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Apple aims to solve problems locating 911 calls for help

Apple is trying to drag the U.S.’s antiquated system for handling 911 calls into the 21st century.

If it lives up to Apple’s promise, the iPhone’s next operating system will automatically deliver quicker and more reliable information pinpointing the location of 911 calls to about 6,300 emergency response centres in the U.S.

Apple is trying to solve a problem caused by the technological mismatch between a 50-year-old system built for landlines and today’s increasingly sophisticated smartphones.

CTV

These 7 graphs lay bare Google’s diversity problem

Google has published its 2018 diversity report.
The figures show that while Google’s diversity is improving, it’s moving at a very slow pace.
Numbers of both black and Native American workers at the firm have grown less than 1 percentage point over the past four years. Black US employees are leaving more than any other ethnic group.

BUSINESS INSIDER

Students Save Nonprofits Thousands of Dollars in Video Production…

One of the quickest ways for nonprofit organizations to pull at the heartstrings of potential donors is by showing who they are and what they do for the community through videos. However, most small- to medium-size nonprofits may not have a budget for a high-production video that can cost several thousands of dollars.

To fill that void, Northwest Vista College in San Antonio provides free videos to local nonprofits in exchange for hands-on production experience for students. According to faculty at Northwest Vista College, the Digital Video & Cinema Production program has saved local organizations close to a half million dollars in video production fees.

VIRTUAL STRATEGY MAGAZINE

Digital evolution creating more careers

One truth we cannot deny is that digitalisation has and still is taking the world by storm; so much so that Amy Edwards, a search engine optimisation manager for Bubble Jobs said, “The digital industry is growing at an incredible rate and, with new platforms, websites and apps being released daily, it shows no signs of slowing down. There are a wealth of niche job boards, specialist recruiters and career sites dedicated to jobs in the sector, most of which weren’t around a few years ago.” If you looked around today, you will notice that social media is awash with marketers who sell their goods to customers they only meet online, we have apps that get us doctors, where we order food and merchandise or even get you a mechanic to fix your car. The convenience that digitisation brings has created new career opportunities.

DAILY MONITOR

 

In the news … June 18, 2018

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Emmys: A Snapshot Look Inside NBC’s Digital Strategy

Each year, NBC grows and highlights their digital and mobile strategies. After investing in Snapchat in 2015 to work with the social media networking platform for the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversal Special. Last year, The Voice on Snapchat was nominated for Creative Achievement in Interactive Media within an Unscripted Program.

As their digital strategy expands, so has their interactive experiences. For example, the peacock network has taken to using multi-platform approach to storytelling with its popular Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, SNL, Voice, This Is Us.

AWARDS DAILY

3 Considerations When Implementing Digital Transformation

The topic of digital transformation has overtaken executive meetings and boardrooms, and for good reason. According to Gartner, 56% of CEOs in a recent study found that their digital strategy improved profits.

Despite the opportunity digital transformation provides, taking the plunge can be daunting. With so many components, it’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint where to start. Here are three things I encourage companies across industries to consider when embarking on a digital transformation journey that will ultimately help position them for success:

INFORMATION WEEK

A British Columbia lawyer has been awarded $1 in damages after suing a former client for posting a negative review online, raising questions about the balance between free expression and defamation.

Vancouver lawyer Kyla Lee and her firm, Acumen Law Corp., claimed at trial that a Google Plus review calling her the “worstest lawyer” led to a decline in client calls.

“I spent nearly $2,000 for kyla lee to lose a case for me that they seemed they didn’t put any effort into. Anywhere else would be moore helpful. worstest lawyer. would not recommend,” the one-star review says.

GLOBE AND MAIL

Google Translate got this man arrested — and redeemed

In the news … June 16, 2018

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Zero to hero: how Vancouver upped its digital maturity to become one of the most innovative cities in Canada

Vancouver was Canada’s first city to implement a digital strategy more than five years ago in an effort to transform the internal processes of the municipal government and the public services it delivers to citizens. While embarking on such a high-profile strategy was risky, the city has gone from having relatively low digital maturity according to professional services firm PwC, to being an exemplary template and model for cities around the world looking to digitally transform.

As such, the city has been nominated for IT World Canada’s Digital Transformation Awards in the Large Public Sector Transformation category.

IT WORLD

Rogers Media is reducing its digital and publishing staff by one-third, citing pressures on the print industry and the loss of advertising revenues as cause for another round of deep cuts.

The division of Rogers Communications Inc. that publishes titles such as Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Today’s Parent and Hello! Canada, told its staff on Thursday that 75 full-time employees have been laid off.

“The publishing industry continues to face challenges, as print declines outpace digital growth,” Andrea Goldstein, senior director of communications for Rogers Media, said in a statement.

GLOBE AND MAIL

Canadian advertising spend expected to grow by 2.3% in 2018, highest year over year growth than any other market

Leading advertising and digital communications group Dentsu Aegis Network today released its biannual forecasts, pointing to a more positive 2018 for global advertising expenditure than previously expected. Global ad-spend growth will rise from 3.3% in 2017 to 3.9% in 2018 while Canadian ad spend, which remained flat in 2017, is expected to increase by 2.3% this year.

Globally, events such as the Winter Olympics & Paralympics, the FIFA World Cup and national elections will play an important role in stimulating growth. In Canada however, these events are less tied to an increase in ad spend but rather a re-allocation of funds with the exception of elections.

CISION

Google is still very white and very male

Google released its annual diversity report today and though strides have been made in some areas, in others, the company has shown little improvement. Globally, Google is 69.1 percent male and in the US 53.1 percent of the workforce is white, 36.3 percent is Asian, 3.6 percent is Latinx, 2.5 percent is black and 0.3 percent is Native American. Compared to last year, the biggest gains were made in the representation of Asian employees, which increased from 34.7 percent. But the percentage of women in Google’s workforce as well as the representation of black and Latinx individuals saw hardly any change, increasing just 0.1 percentage point over the year. Native American representation didn’t change at all.

ENGADGET