Educating Your Employees About Cybersecurity

Making Your Employees Excited About Your Cybersecurity Strategy

Cyberattacks cost businesses millions each year, and employees are the weak point. Here’s how to educate them about cyberattacks and protecting your business.  

Did you know that the average cost of a cyberattack is now over one million dollars? This total factors in the cost of lost or diminished productivity and the impact on customers and their negative response. Many attacks also include some type of service disruption, which can negatively impact your bottom-line as well.

If you’re a small- or mid-size business, you might not suffer a seven-figure loss due to cyberattacks. But it’s clear that the threat of cyberattacks is real, and they have a major financial impact on businesses, no matter how big or small you are. Without the right cybersecurity plan, your business is at risk.

As you start to plan your cybersecurity strategy, the first step is educating your employees. The leading cause of data breaches, for example, is actually human error. In fact, a survey of businesses conducted by Shred-It found that almost half of all companies had experienced at least one data breach caused by employee error. This is not an idle threat. It can, and will, happen to businesses just like your own.

Cyber Security Consulting For San Francisco Bay Area Businesses

To help shore up your cybersecurity strategy and safeguard your company from cyberattacks, here are five important things to do to educate your employees as soon as possible:

1. Don’t Go Overboard to Start

The worst thing you can do is put together a long, boring memo with an accompanying document of best practices and expect your employees to digest the information. You need to keep it short and simple to start. Use videos and infographics to make them care. Start with the most important action items to start and slowly introduce more over a couple of weeks or months. Organize ongoing training sessions for follow-ups and open discussion. You’ll be giving out a lot of information – taking it slowly gives your employees the chance to understand and implement your action items. Spreading it out over time makes cybersecurity a part of your company’s culture, not just a one-time initiative left to collect dust in the corner.

2. Run Simulated Trainings

The best way to learn is to see something in action. For example, have your IT department send out fake phishing emails to employees randomly throughout the month and see who clicks on them and who alerts them of a potential problem. You can use this information to see who needs further training and what types of messages are going to pose an elevated risk.

3. Trickle Down From the Top

A truly effective cybersecurity strategy has to start from the top and trickle down to the rest of the company. Executives and managers must be trained first and given the responsibility of ensuring that their employees are ready to handle cyberattacks, too. If they’re not onboard, there’s no reason for their teams to be onboard, either. Start off by fully training them and everything else will take care of itself sooner than later.

4. Develop and Communicate a Clear Emergency Plan

Training your employees to know how to safeguard themselves from cyberattacks and what to look for is important, but it’s ultimately not going to be effective unless they know what to do when they notice that something is amiss. All employees should know exactly who to contact if they have any questions or in the case of an emergency. Most importantly, they should feel comfortable and confident reaching out immediately.

5. Keep the Momentum Going

Once you’ve gotten your employees educated and excited (or at least onboard with) cybersecurity, you have to keep it going. Schedule regular sessions to talk about the latest industry threats and field any questions your employees might have. Make them a part of the process, introducing any horror stories or threats that they might have encountered or read about. This makes them a part of the process and keeps them engaged with your overall cybersecurity strategy.

A strong cybersecurity plan is only as effective as the employees carrying it out every single day. With a strong employee education initiative, you can ensure that not only is your plan solid, but it’s being acted out and implemented day-to-day. In the end, your business will be protected and your business can operate uninterrupted.

How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware

Ransomware can impact the operations of any organization. Find out how to protect yourself from ransomware attacks.

Organizations everywhere are being targeted in ransomware attacks. Not only do these attacks derail the organization’s operations, but they can also lead to exorbitant expenses, whether or not the ransom is paid. Because ransomware attacks are so devastating, it is important for all organizations to take precautions.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a specific type of malware that takes data and/or system “hostage.” The perpetrator may then threaten to either block or publish the stolen system or data if the owner does not pay a large sum of money. In most cases, ransomware infects a system after a user visits an infected website or opens an infected email.

Protecting Your Organization

Although it is possible to remove ransomware on your own without paying the criminals behind it, the software can do a significant amount of damage in the meantime. For this reason, it is better to prevent infection with ransomware in the first place. Some of the steps you can take to defend your organization against this type of malware include:

  • Securing the web – Setting up security features to prevent ransomware infections while surfing the web is one of the best precautions you can take. Be sure to install security software that scans websites, advertisements and any other links that could lead to danger.
  • Protect email – The primary mode of ransomware infection is through email attachments and links. To prevent users from accidentally accessing infected emails, use secure email gateways designed specifically for this purpose.
  • Safeguard the server and network – Install monitoring tools on your server that can detect any unusual activities and stop them before the ransomware has control of your system.
  • Back up systems and data – Keep full copies of all of your essential data and systems so you can access them in the event of a ransomware attack.
  • Defend mobile devices – Ransomware can infect your system through mobile devices as well. Be sure to invest in mobile device management tools and protection software to keep these devices safe.

Regardless of your organization’s size or industry, you are always at risk of ransomware attacks. By following the tips above, you can reduce these risks as much as possible. If an attack occurs in spite of your efforts, seek help from your San Francisco IT consulting professionals and law enforcement as soon as possible to minimize the damage.

The Top Online Journal Services For CEOs

How to Choose the Right App for CEO Online Journaling

Learn why many business leaders turn to journaling to build their brand and improve their leadership skills and see what features the top applications offer.

CEO Journaling

When you want to establish your own personal and professional brand online, using an online journal is an effective way to spread the word about your insights, leadership, business and philosophy. Having the right tool to help you get your message across to readers is an important decision.

Other CEOs use journals to fine-tune their skills, reflect on their days and improve their leadership skills.

“Setting aside as little as 10 minutes a day to record your thoughts stimulates reflection critical to making sense of the fast-moving world around you,” notes a recent Strategy and Business article. “Journaling engages the analytical, rational functions of the brain, which gives the more creative parts of your cranium space and time to work their magic.”

Below are the top online journal services that CEOs can use to build a better online persona or simply track their thoughts and perspectives.

What Features Should I Look For in a Journaling App?

The most effective apps are those that offer features that make it easier to write and publish. Some of the most common features among the top apps are:

  • Easy interface. You want to be able to focus on writing, so you need a minimalist interface that lets you focus your thoughts and write well. The app you choose should also be easy to use, with a limited number of clicks or taps needed to add an entry.
  • Exporting. You want to choose a product that allows for exporting into formats such as PDF, RTF or common word processing extensions that allow you to use the content wherever you want.
  • Syncing. Keep your journal synchronized across your devices with an app that has synchronizing capabilities.
  • Reminders. Gentle automated nudges to enter your thoughts are a good way to maintain the habit.
  • Visual support. You may want to add other elements to your journal, including photos, videos and graphics.

What Are the Top Online Journal Services for CEOs?

You have many choices when it comes to journaling services. Here are a few of the top options:

  • Day One. Automatically add metadata such as date, location, time and weather, synchronize your entries across devices, and use a dark mode if working in low light. It also uses IFTTT (“if this then that”), a free web-based service to automate the creation of entries on multiple apps.
  • Diario. A great choice when you want to add lots of images. You can add folders, tags, dates, locations and other filters.
  • Diary. A simple interface makes Diary popular for shorter entries, which can be shared easily with friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms or via email. Provides cloud storage and reminders, too.
  • Journal. An intuitive interface and clean layout highlight this product. Synchronize with Google Maps to add location metadata and street views. Export entries to file types suitable for printing. Security features include Touch ID, Face ID and PIN protection and automatic backups to Google Drive.
  • LiveJournal. One of the oldest journaling apps dating to 1999, LiveJournal lets you share and read others’ journal entries while writing your own.
  • Momento. Connect Momento to social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube and you can automatically add social activity to your journal.
  • Penzu. Security is the name of the game with Penzu, which offers double password protection and 256-bit encryption, along with customizable backgrounds and fonts.

Whether for branding or reflection, the right journaling tool can improve your professional outcomes.

Staffing In The Digital Age

Staffing Digital Age

Digital Disruption Forces Businesses to Rethink Staffing Strategy

See how rapid technological advances are revolutionizing how companies approach the structure of their workforces and new strategies for employee recruitment.

The remarkable pace of digital transformation has changed how businesses operate at every level. Companies today need to be nimble, taking a close look at emerging technologies, choosing the right investments and continuing to thrive in the face of constant disruption.

That means reexamining business models, processes used and, perhaps most critically, the nature of work and who (or what) does it.

Understanding staffing in the digital age means taking a strategic approach to personnel.

What Staffing Model Works in the Digital Age?

Traditional labor models are not always the right choice in the digital era. Major initiatives are conceived, launched and executed more quickly than ever, requiring companies to act nimbly. Leaders are shifting towards a model that’s both strategic and flexible.

The modern staffing model may include a mix of the following:

  • Permanent employees who focus on the most critical initiatives
  • Skilled contract employees that support the work, complementing permanent employees and providing talent not available internally
  • Specialists that provide additional capabilities and are available on an as-needed basis to complete high-value projects

This approach allows companies to be responsive, provide the right resources for time-sensitive and mission-critical work, and make key hires.

As a recent Deloitte report notes, HR offices are grappling with how to address personnel management in a digital age. “HR’s concerns will soon be revolving around the changing nature of the organization and employees becoming increasingly digital,” the report states.

Organizations must be mindful of the realities of work, including:

  • Digital trends that are pervasive, including cloud computing, social media, mobile connectedness, cybersecurity and data analytics
  • A multigenerational workforce that includes several generations whose entire lives have been digital in the same workplace with older employees whose technical comfort and skills may be lacking
  • Hyperconnected employees looking to blur the lines between work and personal lives
  • An emerging group of digitally skilled employees
  • Business models that are challenged by digital disruption and new competitors
  • Employee perceptions that they are the first consumers of and ambassadors for their employers’ brands

“HR needs to be more pre-emptive with regard to digital transformation as it plays an important role in shaping the organization’s digital identity,” cites Deloitte. “It is a challenge and a real complexity to plan future capabilities of a workforce in the digital economy.”

What Are the Challenges of Staffing in the Digital Age?

The greatest challenge is talent. For many highly skilled positions, competition is fierce, with potential employees having considerable leverage. Advanced data analytics, robotic process automation and cloud computing are just three needed areas where demand is high as companies seek to incorporate emerging technologies into business processes.

Recruitment is fiercer and requires more creativity than ever before. Companies are using a number of tactics to improve their hiring outcomes, including:

  • Pre-Employment Networking. Companies are forging relationships with potential candidates well before there are available openings. A focus on engaging potential talent may include providing insights into the company and its strategic plans, offering informational interviews, social gatherings and regular check-ins with a recruiter. Relationships forged early can lead to faster-hiring processes.
  • Digital Solutions. Digital labor platforms allow for integrated personnel management, connecting the primary HR functions under one roof. With recruitment, hiring, onboarding, training, development and evaluation in the same platform, it allows organizations to be more nimble and cohesive in employee matters. According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, using a digital labor platform can increase output by 9 percent, reduce employee costs by 7 percent and add 275 basis points to profit margins.
  • Flexibility. Many employees today expect to have a high level of flexibility in when, where and how they work. Remote employees can use digital technologies and powerful collaboration tools that keep them in contact with colleagues. A digital mindset in the HR office and throughout the organization makes companies more attractive to candidates.
  • Focus on Company Culture. Businesses today need to focus on corporate culture. Why? Because there is more information available about most workplaces. Sites such as Glassdoor provide detailed information about companies, including employee reviews that can paint a clear picture of how an organization treats its workers. “Top performers know their value and are growing more footloose as a result; many are going online to find new opportunities and to evaluate potential employers,” notes McKinsey.

Recruiting and retaining employees in the digital age requires employers to think very differently about their workforce. Flexible, creative and strategic approaches allow for better outcomes.

Why Today’s CEOs are Worried About Cybersecurity

The top concern for CEOs today isn’t competitors or a recession — it’s cybersecurity. See why this is becoming the biggest challenge for an organization’s top executive.

Why Today’s CEOs are Worried About Cybersecurity

A business’s top executive has plenty on their minds: the potential of a major recession, competitors nipping at their heels and a shortage of talent. However, none of these hot topics are the top concern for US CEOs in 2019 — that banner falls to cybersecurity. When there are so many other issues facing organizations, why is cybersecurity the highest business concern for CEOs? Perhaps part of the issue is the continual cycle of mainstream media coverage of the massive breaches such as Equifax in 2017 that affected millions of individuals and can cost billions of dollars to resolve. It could also be the high-profile challenges that FacebookYahooUnder Armour and Marriott have been facing over the past few years. A recent poll of over 1,400 CEOs and senior executives by The Conference Boardpoints to some of the reasons cybersecurity is a top strategic consideration for CEOs in 2019.

CEO Concerned About Cybersecurity

CEOs Struggling to Find the Right Cybersecurity Leaders

One of the key threats facing today’s CEOs is the ability to adequately resource their cybersecurity teams. This relatively new need is one that is causing a significant shortage in the hiring market, with organizations wrestling with budget requirements for an increasingly-expensive skill set. Unfortunately, the dearth of talent is not just at the executive leadership level, it is also causing IT departments around the country and the world to flounder as they attempt to staff up to meet the growing needs of cybersecurity as well as data compliance requirements. These individuals will be in high demand for the foreseeable future as gaining knowledge about cybersecurity requires time and investment in education. Savvy CEOs and other technology leaders have been growing these skills internally for the last several years, but having a split focus between cybersecurity requirements and their “day job” can quickly cause individuals to fall behind in the ever-changing security landscape.

Keeping Cybersecurity Initiatives in the Limelight

It’s relatively easy for CEOs to keep shorter-term strategies top-of-mind for their executive teams, but there are no quick solutions to enhancing your organization’s cybersecurity. This requires a long-term, focused effort — and resisting the siren songs of short-term gains to ensure that your strategic focus on IT security stays in place. Changes in the economy or in the competitive marketplace may tease CEOs to redirect some of the funds or teams to other parts of the organization, but it’s crucial that top executives stay in tune with the benefits that cybersecurity provides to the organization. In many cases, the changes that need to be made to make your organization more secure will also have payoffs in the efficiency of your operations, too.

Marketplace Perception of a Data Breach

The extremely negative perception and sheer quantity of negative publicity that can come with a data breach are reason enough for CEOs to be overly concerned about the cybersecurity within their organization. It doesn’t take long for smaller, leaner competitors to enter many marketplaces, and these organizations can receive positive publicity if larger organizations are caught up in a breach situation. How the business handles their communication around a massive breach, ransomware or other cybersecurity incidents can be as damaging as the incident itself if the CEO isn’t careful. These situations require a great deal of proactive communication and notification to customers along with the major effort required to evaluate the incident and begin remediation. Without a comprehensive incident response plan in place, the situation becomes that much more difficult for leaders throughout the organization.

Creating a proactive field for cybersecurity does start at the top, which makes it encouraging that CEOs are considering cybersecurity their very top initiative for 2019. As long as this focus on IT security and the value for the business continues strong over the next few years, businesses should be able to prepare adequately to weather this type of storm.

3 Ways to Improve Your Cyber Security Plan

CEO Reviewing Cyber Security Plan

3 Ways to Improve Your Cyber Security Plan

Cyber attacks cost organizations millions of dollars per incident and often results in system downtime. The average cost of system downtime per cyber attack is as much as $1.25 million, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. System downtime can be costly due to lost sales, frustrated clients, and unfulfilled requests that lead to a significant backlog. Some clients also have long memories that lead to negative word of mouth and a future drop in sales. Despite the real threat of cyber attacks, Cybersecurity Ventures reports that only 28% of firms involved in installing network-dependent technology regard security strategy as highly important. Although completely preventing cyber attacks is often regarded as unrealistic, assessing threats, establishing key performance indicators, and mitigating human factors can help technology leaders improve their security strategies.

Threat Assessment

A proper threat assessment does not involve a single activity or happen once. Threat assessment is an ongoing strategic activity involving research, analysis, simulations, and follow-up. Starting with a series of questions is critical during the start of the research phase, as it helps security teams and technology leaders develop a profile of potential threats to the organization. Some of the questions to ask during this phase include:

  • Who is most likely to launch an attack against the organization and its resources?
  • Why is the individual or group of individuals motivated to launch an attack?
  • What data or information is valuable to the potential attacker(s)?
  • How are the potential attacker(s) likely to try to gain unauthorized access to the organization’s systems and data?
  • How has the potential attacker(s) breached other organizations?

Once security teams and leaders determine the answers to these questions, an analysis of the firm’s IT systems and infrastructure can occur. Finding vulnerabilities and ways to detect intrusions and other types of cyberattacks is as much about thinking like the potential attacker(s) as it is about discovering ways to stay a few steps ahead. This means setting up preventative measures and also conducting exercises to try to get around those preventative measures. By trying to accomplish a mock cyberattack, internal security teams can better identify previously unseen vulnerabilities in the organization’s infrastructure, processes, and security strategy. Follow-up activities involve analyzing system logs to determine if past indications of common or known attack methods exist.

Key Performance Indicators

Assessing vulnerabilities and developing a profile of high probability threats is important, but even the most sound threat assessment will be ineffective if performance measurements are not established. A sound cybersecurity plan contains ways to measure whether the organization’s strategy is working and identify areas for continued improvement. Common key performance indicators include:

  • Average detection time
  • Average time to mitigate detected threats
  • Number of identified vulnerabilities
  • Ability to control and prevent threats
  • Ability to meet and comply with the plan’s objectives
  • Whether key objectives or milestones were accomplished

Human Factors

Securing an organization’s systems and IT infrastructure against external threats is only part of a thorough cybersecurity strategy. Planning for the internal threats related to human error and inappropriate system access is even more crucial. Employees and vendors that have access to an organization’s systems should be subjected to security policies, including controlled access, account-level privileges, several layers of authentication, and awareness of social engineering and phishing techniques.

Education that includes security policies and training related to scenarios depicting potential threats is the cornerstone of a sound mitigation plan. Employees who understand what phishing attempts look like will be less likely to click on suspicious email links and less likely to download files that contain malware. Good communication, interactive training sessions, tests that simulate phishing and social engineering attempts, raising awareness about best practices, and implementing metrics can go a long way towards mitigating vulnerabilities related to human error. Implementing access policies that only give employees the system access they need to effectively perform their jobs is a secondary factor involved in mitigating internal threats.

The possibility of an organization becoming a target of a cyber attack is high if not a guarantee. Technology leaders and IT security teams cannot afford to not take cybersecurity strategy seriously. Conducting constant threat assessments, developing and refining key performance indicators, and finding effective ways to stress the importance of security protocols to employees and vendors are three foundations of a sound cybersecurity plan. Preventing cyber attacks from becoming serious incidents is important to an organization’s sustainability but learning how to make improvements based on existing vulnerabilities is even more critical to continued success.

How to Stop Your CEO from Becoming a Phishing Target

CEO Fraud

How to Stop Your CEO from Becoming a Phishing Target

Business fraud affects businesses of all types and sizes, and there are no individuals within your business that are truly immune from the possibility of a targeted attack. However, there are some people who are more prone to an attack, simply because of the high value of their knowledge or access to the information within the business. Accountants, finance leads and your CEO are some of the most commonly-targeted individuals when it comes to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, more commonly known as phishing attacks. Knowledge is power, and these tips will help keep your CEO from becoming the next victim of these vicious attacks.

What’s the Difference Between Phishing, Spear Phishing and Whaling attacks?

While phishing is the most common term that you may hear, there are two additional terms that are often used when it comes to upper executives or more targeted attacks: spear phishing or executive whaling. These more specialized attacks go beyond the broadscale spam of phishing attacks that are meant to net any type of “fish” who is willing to click a link. In a spear phishing or whaling attack, the hacker has researched your business and knows enough from either social media or your corporate website to target specific individuals. Cybercriminals spend the time and effort to find any key vendors for your business or some personal details that will inspire confidence in your executives. The assailants then leverage this information to create a highly specific and tempting message that feels more like a personal email from a known vendor partner or internal asset in an attempt to gain control of your systems or to get access to sensitive information. The term spear phishing generally refers to tactics that are specific to a few mid-level individuals in your payroll or accounting department while executive whaling is targeted directly at your CEOs and other C-suite leaders.

What’s the Potential Payoff for Cybercriminals?

This investment by the cybercriminal is expected to have a high-dollar payoff and there’s only one chance at success — so the hacker has a vested interest in taking the time to do it right the first time. Each subsequent request increases the potential of being discovered and reduces the possibility of a return on their investment of time. The fraudulent emails are often requesting that the recipient transfer a large number of funds, pay a massive invoice or otherwise release information to what the target thinks is a “trusted” party. The FBI estimates that a single targeted whaling attack can release upwards of $150,000 in funds to a cybercriminal, making this an extremely lucrative pastime for these malicious actors.

Your CEO Should Be Wary of These Tactics

Coaching your CEO to stay out of the way of cybercriminals starts with an ongoing dose of education. In this case, attackers tend to follow a pattern of sorts that is relatively easy to isolate as long as you’re actively looking for this type of interaction. Receiving an email from vendors that have already invoiced you for the month, or requesting a different payment method that they have not used in the past (such as a direct funds transfer) should be a big red flag for your senior executives. Be cautious of emails that come in from trusted individuals with a slightly different email address; e.g. “@Micros0ft.com” instead of “@Microsoft.com”, as hackers are now spoofing entire mail domains in an attempt to release funds and data from your organization. Funds aren’t the only things that are requested by these organizations — personal information such as tax records also command a high rate on the dark web. This quick flowchart from KnowBe4.com may be a helpful graphic to share with your executive team.

Protecting your organization from the tactics of cybercriminals is not a one-time problem or solution, but requires an ongoing and dedicated effort to foil the efforts of these actors. Keeping your finance teams and senior executives safe can save your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars in remediation and notification costs, not to mention the frustration and difficulties associated with handling a significant breach.

How Can You Protect Your Data in a Natural Disaster?

Business Continuity Plan

Disaster can come from external factors, such as wildfires, floods and storms, as well as internal events, such as a toxic chemical spill or boiler failure in your facility. It’s crucial to have a plan to recover from these events and to provide a framework to return to work as quickly as possible.

Developing a business continuity plan can reduce recovery costs, safeguard your company’s reputation and may even save lives.

What’s the Difference Between Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity?

Business continuity planning creates a back-up plan that documents how your business will operate if it’s is crippled by unforeseen events. Examples include natural disasters, terrorist attacks, strikes and arson. A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a subset of the BCP; it documents detailed instructions on how to respond to these unforeseen events.

Before fabricating a detailed plan, your organization should conduct a risk analysis and a business impact analysis that establish recovery objectives and time frames.

What’s the Percentage of Businesses that Close After a Disaster?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that 40% of small businesses close following a disaster, according to CNBC’s hurricane preparedness report. Many small business owners don’t consider disasters among their business risks when making contingency plans or purchasing insurance coverage. It’s a mistake that could threaten your company’s very existence.

How Do You Decide Which Systems Are Essential in an Emergency?

Most BCPs consider how to keep essential functions running throughout a disaster and to shorten the recovery period. BCPs are essential for organizations of all sizes, but it may not be feasible to have complete backups for all your business systems. That’s why it’s important to prioritize essential systems, such as customer relationship management tools and compliance and reporting systems.

Many experts agree that once systems are prioritized the recovery budget should be allocated accordingly. Failovers systems should be initiated to ensure crucial components can be restored in case of cyber attacks, terrorism and other catastrophic events.

What Are the Components of a Business Continuity Plan?

The Components of a Business Continuity Plan:

Disaster Preparedness – Recognize the types of events that might compromise your business, assess the threats facing your company and identify steps to eliminate or minimize the impact of those threats.

Emergency Response – Develop procedures that enable you to respond when a disaster occurs or is forecast to occur. Continue with the plan until everyone is safe and there is no further threat of property damage or bodily injury.

Business Recovery – Identify your company’s critical business functions and define procedures that will facilitate restoration of sales, production and operations to pre-disaster levels.

How Do You Create a Business Continuity Plan?

There are five steps to creating a BCP:

1. Build Your Team. Use a top-down approach to build your plan. That means getting the buy-in of the C-suite, including sign-offs by senior management. One point person should own the process, supported by a core team with representatives from every business department.

2. Assess Risk. List out and rank all the hazards that could threaten your company. Examples include: climate, cybersecurity, supply chain, fire protection, facility construction, staffing and utilities.

3. Analyze Business. Create a business impact analysis (BIA) to rank the risks on your list. The idea is to strategize which systems need to come back online first after an emergency. The appropriate business units should be responsible for suggesting recovery strategies to get up and running within a recovery time objective. For example, backup data files need to be stored offsite and available within a few hours of a disaster, and your IT vendor may be able to expedite the shipment of replacement equipment following a catastrophic event.

4. Document the Plan. Documentation needs to include step-by-step procedures. This doesn’t have to be fancy — most plans are written using word-processing programs.

5. Test the Plan. To verify your recovery strategies, testing is essential. These tests vary in complexity from a discussion of the steps needed to respond to a disaster to comprehensive testing of your backup and recovery of core files and systems. Keep in mind that, business continuity planning should be continually reviewed since your systems and business relationships are static.

How Do You Plan for Personnel Disruptions?

Be sure to have a website or number that employees can call to check in. Services may be disrupted for several days, but most employees should be able to check in within 48 hours. Having a documented plan with one website and number makes it easy for everyone to stay in touch. Social media sites are another great way to let everyone post their status or ability to return to work.

Personnel disruptions. The BCP is often mainly operational, dealing with physical infrastructure. However, a business also needs its people to function. A potential disaster can affect your employees’ lives in various ways, including:

  • Employees may live in a disaster zone, even if your company is in a safe location.
  • The commute may be compromised.
  • Nearby disasters affect attendance and productivity.
  • When food, water and other necessities are scarce, it’s hard for employees to concentrate on work.

Who Should You Contact First After Checking on Personnel?

Consider your customers. During a disaster, your first calls may be to insurers and vendors. Don’t forget to keep your customers in the loop. Remember, customers want their regular services and are ready to go elsewhere to get it.

Consider vendor stability. If core services are provided by third-party vendors, double-check to make sure continued service is available during a disaster. Vendors may have an issue delivering goods to your business in a disaster area; vendors in other regions impacted by a disaster may not be able to make deliveries.

How CEOs Can Use Their Blog To Communicate With Staff & Customers

CEO Blog

As a CEO, you have tremendous influence over your company’s brand, messaging, values and strategies. You also have a personal brand that increasingly today needs its own shaping, nurturing and feeding.

One powerful way to improve your personal brand and your company’s messaging is to have your own blog. Your voice, insights, opinions and news needs a vehicle that can project your thoughts across multiple channels.

Knowing why a blog makes sense and best practices is an ideal way to get started.

Why Should I Create a CEO Blog?

First, consider the multiple audiences to which your voice matters. There are stakeholders and in some cases shareholders that value your communication.

Internal blogs allow you to communicate to employees in a very different way. The benefits include:

  • Providing an up close and personal insider perspective on work, values and messages you want to convey
  • Promoting your internal persona
  • Promoting and reinforcing key messages
  • Building and celebrating a positive company culture
  • Fostering two-way communication between the c-suite and other employees

What Is the Difference Between Internal and External CEO Blogs?

External blogging has its own advantages. The tone and content of internal and external blogging likely will be different but the tone, themes and messaging should remain consistent. The advantages of external blogs are:

  • Thought leadership. Insights on industry trends, needs, challenges and transformation help establish you as a leader in your field.
  • Valued added. Customers and potential customers are more likely to choose your business if you can provide them with valuable, needed information that helps them do their business better.
  • Authenticity. Build authenticity with external stakeholders with consistent valued content, especially in challenging times or crises. That’s when your voice should be loud, not silent.
  • A face with a brand. Too often companies, especially as they grow larger, become faceless. A blog helps put a human face on your business and brand. Your blog helps keep your business front of mind, especially when they see your information popping up regularly in email inboxes and on social media.
  • Brand loyalty. Customers are going to come back when the products and services they receive are of high value. A blog can help in reinforcing your commitments to quality, customer service and continuous improvement.
  • Spreading your message. When your content is compelling, readers will like, share and forward it to others. This viral marketing, at no additional cost to you, spreads your brand and your thought leadership.
  • Beating the competition. It’s likely some of your competitors are blogging. Get ahead of them with better, regular and more valuable information.

In a 2016 New York Times article, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who focuses much of his energy now on his philanthropic foundation, spoke about why he blogs. “It … helps to have a platform for talking about the work I’m doing, both through the foundation and separate from it, because I find people are curious about it,” Gates said.

What Makes for a Successful CEO Blog?

The best CEO blogs are authentic. They don’t just regurgitate press releases or quarterly results. They inject humanity and persona into the work that your company does and gives you a visible, recognizable brand. Here are some other elements of a successful CEO blog:

  • Personalization to a point. This is not the place to talk about your son’s high school graduation. However, personalization is important. Instead, offer glimpses behind the curtain about why and how decisions were made or what you see as key issues or opportunities in the industry.
  • Design matters. You want your blog to be easily readable, especially on mobile devices.
  • Onmichannel. Content is valuable … and you and your marketing team should strategize about how to get the most out of what you provide. Longer blog posts can be followed up by other content — written by you or others — that points back to your hub information. Posts should be teased or delivered via multiple social media platforms. Depending on your business, that may include LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
  • No jargon. Inside baseball is cool, but not when no one can understand what you’re writing. If you’re going to use jargon, be sure that it commonly used within your industry. Otherwise, you could alienate existing and potential customers.
  • Focus on customers. All of your blog content should have a singular focus: What do our customers need? Whether it’s product information, industry news or company information, be sure that it is written to help customers solve problems. Ideally, those problems are those your company is uniquely qualified to address.
  • Use humor … if it’s funny. Humor is a lot harder to write than you would think. Written words cannot easily express tone, pace and intent. Humor adds a personal element to your writing, but it has to be done with care and strategically.

Where Can I Find Good Examples of CEO Blogs?

Looking for inspiration for your own blog? There are plenty of sources of great CEO blogs and leadership blogs from which to take inspiration. Here are a few examples to review:

CEO blogging can have a deep impact on internal and external messaging. With a clear understanding of goals and tips, your blog will be ready to be published.

Top Challenges Facing CEOs (How to Solve Them)

CEO Retaining Employees

If you’re a CEO — whether your company is big or small, new or old, successful or working on it— there’s no doubt certain problems do a great job of keeping you up at night.

These are the challenges you just can’t seem to master. They plague you day-to-day, quarter-to-quarter, year-to-year. Yet try as you might, there seems to be no getting around them.

The good news is, yours are likely the same problems that all CEOs face. In other words, you’re in good company.

Below, we take a look at a few of these common CEO challenges and offer up some useful tips for tackling them once and for all.

Top Challenges CEOs Face

#1 – “How do I hire the best talent (and keep them motivated)?”

Attracting the best employees is certainly a leading cause of concern among CEOs. As a CEO, your team is the engine that drives your business. You may be the “ideas man” or “ideas woman,” but you need great talent to bring your concepts to life.

The Solution: Top employees can definitely hard to find, but it’s important to take your time. Quality hiring is doable if you know where to look, what to look for, and how to entice the right people.

First, make sure you’re clear about your job descriptions. Don’t be wishy-washy with prospective candidates.

Next, know where to look. Job fairs, sites like LinkedIn, and open job searches are good places to start. Still, you should always thoroughly review applications and prescreen candidates with a tight checklist before narrowing your best options.

Be thorough about checking your candidates’ references, backgrounds (job and education history), and experience. After you’ve made a short list, hold in-person interviews to get a feel for each candidate’s interest level and how they behave.

Lastly, when you find the right candidate, make sure you have a stellar hiring package ready to show them. Make it one they won’t be able to say no to. Budget restraints are certainly a challenge here, so if your resources are tight, find ways to promise pay and benefit increases with improved performance and company success. This shows your investment in your company — and in your employees as members of the larger company family.

#2 – “How do I retain my talent?”

Keeping employees motivated is certainly essential for extending and prolonging the flow of unique, creative ideas and hard work. Still, if you’re not taking care of your employees in other basic ways, some of them will walk away. Of course, this won’t necessarily be because they want to … they simply might have to.

The Solution: To ensure a consistent, long-lasting team of the best talent in your industry, you have two jobs:

1. Find ways to keep your employees motivated to do well.

2. Reward them for their hard work.

Many CEOs have trouble grasping the fact that their best employees won’t necessarily hang around just for the love of the work. This is often because, as CEOs, they’ve turned over their own life over to their business.

But remember that your employees — no matter how similarly passionate they are about your company — have lives of their own. Many have mouths to feed at home, student loans to pay, and second mortgages on their homes. If you’re not providing for them (as you said you would when you hired them) and incentivizing them to continue doing amazing work … you can probably expect their two weeks’ notice sometime soon.

In order to motivate employees, you’ve got to have a great idea that’s worth working for. Of course, it helps if you’ve hired a team that’s passionate about the same things you are.

Team-building is another great way to keep employees motivated. Organized company events, fun incentive programs, a comfortable work space, and opportunities for self-development within your company are key.

# 3 – “How do I make my product (or service) stand out?”

Yes, your company solves “problem A” … but so do six other companies. What you have to decide upon and sell is how you solve your problem better than anyone else.

Easier said than done, right?

The Solution: For the most part, the key answer here is creativity. Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, there are a lot of creatives out there doing awesome work. You’re probably creative too. But you have to be more creative than your competitors.

The good news is you have some options.

If you know for sure that your company is just like another company, for example, look for ways to differentiate by:

  • Unique branding
  • Varied size, shape, or level-of-service options
  • Amazing discounts and sales
  • Bonuses for loyal customers
  • World-class customer service
  • Added, unique features
  • Exceptional marketing *

* This is key. By investing in your marketing strategies, you’re tinkering with the first thing potential customers and clients will see — and that’s the right place to begin.

It’s true, if you can get someone to your website to read about your unique product features or see your amazing discounts, you might be able to turn them on to your product or service. But if you can “have them at hello,” you’re going to see a much higher and more immediate rate of success. Smart marketing will also give you one of the highest returns on your investments.

Generally speaking, all CEOs will face the above challenges at one time or another. The key to overcoming them is two-fold: First, try to anticipate whatever key issues you’ll have before they become serious dilemmas. Second, using the advice above, don’t be afraid to face these issues head-on. When something doesn’t work, don’t give up — simply try a new tack.

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