On Leadership and Facing a Massive Data Breach

Data Breach

Data breaches are becoming a serious threat to companies of all sizes. But many business leaders are underestimating the debilitating costs associated with a hack — and paying the price for this ignorance.

Data Breach on Someone’s Watch

Look at what happened to Neiman Marcus. Hackers stole the credit card data of 350,000 of the luxury retailer’s customers last year. The breach cost the company $4.1 million and counting in legal fees, investigations, customer communications, and credit monitoring subscriptions. Plus, it suffered a $68 million loss during the holiday quarter.

The company later learned that hackers set off system alarms 60,000 times — but it failed to see the warning signs amid the massive accumulation of data.

In the digital age, companies have to be wary of potential breaches. And leaders are the ones responsible for identifying the threats, taking action, and mitigating the costly consequences.

Underlying Implications of a Data Breach

Cleaning up a malicious breach in the U.S. can cost up to $246 per record. And the effects of an intrusion extend across an organization.

A company can lose revenue, as Neiman Marcus did, or face fines from regulatory agencies. In Massachusetts, for example, a company faces a fine of up to $5,000 for each compromised record. A hacked company can also lose trade secrets.

Breaches can impede financial transactions, causing data to become unavailable or unusable and disrupting business. Furthermore, a defaced website weakens a company’s integrity and credibility. If customers can’t access cloud services, check their accounts, or make purchases, companies could lose their trust as well.

Major Industries Hackers Are Pursuing

Not surprisingly, financial firms are attractive targets. A recent survey of 5,000 senior executives in 99 countries by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 45 percent of financial services firms had been hacked. Only 17 percent of other types of firms had the same experience.

Health data is also high on hackers’ lists. While a stolen credit card or Social Security number is worth a dollar or less, a person’s medical information can yield hundreds of times more, according to the World Privacy Forum.

Hackers recently stole the personal information of 4.5 million patients of Community Health Systems’ 206 hospitals in 29 states. The government has tracked 944 health institution incidents, affecting about 30.1 million people, since 2009. A majority are tied to theft, followed by data loss, hacking, and unauthorized access accounts.

Very often, successful intrusions can be traced to sloppy management practices. The health information of 500 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles was compromised when an employee’s laptop was stolen from his home. The laptop didn’t have hospital-required encryption software.

Nearly every industry is at risk. Hackers stole personal financial information of about 25,000 employees of the Department of Homeland Security after a breach in a contractor’s system. But this widespread susceptibility to breaches doesn’t mean leaders should accept this fate.

A Leader’s Role in Protecting the Company

Digital security is not an IT problem — it’s a company problem. If a breach happens, the board won’t call the technology director; it will want to speak to the CEO. Here are a few ways leaders can actively prepare for and prevent breaches.

  1. Understand what you’ve got. Decision makers should have a full understanding of the data they are housing or interacting with that could present a valuable target for cybercriminals.
  1. Know the law. Examine any data security regulations governing your industry. If a breach occurs, which regulatory body should be notified?
  1. Make a plan. Administrators and employees should know their responsibilities ahead of time so they can react quickly if any suspicious activity is discovered on the network or within their internal systems. The plan should include timely public announcements.
  1. Ensure that your culture emphasizes security. Leaders should implement tangible security programs that employees are actively involved in. Everyone should be responsible for securing their information, not just the chief information security officer and members of the compliance and technology organizations.
  1. Invest in training. This is especially relevant for compliance and technology security staff. The methods malicious users utilize to attack organizations are constantly changing, and it’s critical that your employees keep their skills up-to-date.
  1. Run security assessments on your network. This allows an organization to potentially find security issues before a malicious user does. Prioritize external-facing systems during the scan to locate holes.
  1. Monitor compliance. Target was breached because an HVAC contractor was given remote access to its systems without requiring two-factor authentications. And when hackers stole the personal or credit card information of 100 million customers, it cost the company an estimated $148 million in losses in one quarter.

Data breaches can compromise a company’s reputation and financial stability. And as a leader, your name is associated with your company’s preparedness and response to a hack.

To lessen the burden or even bypass a potential cyber attack, you need to understand the extent of this threat, actively plan for it, and properly educate your employees. When you’ve prepared for the worst, you can protect the positive customer rapport you’ve worked so hard to build.


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Scott Byers

Scott Byers is the President and CEO of EDM Americas
EDM Americas a Global Company dedicated to Information Lifecycle Management
Email | LinkedIn | Web

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Learn This: 5 Awesome Apps That Grow Knowledge

Awesome Apps

Leading people and teams in this new era of connectivity, having the right tools in hand can really help make a difference. With literally thousands of smartphone and device apps to choose from, finding educational apps may be truly easy.

But finding educational apps that are worth using is another story!

5 Awesome Apps That Grow Knowledge


That’s why this list of the best learning apps includes some of the most talked about and highly rated apps on the market today. Armed with the right app and mobile products, you can learn virtually anything, from how to prepare Russian cuisine to simply brushing up on your mathematics.


Most math apps are little more than fancy calculators, but Mathomatic is different. In many ways, this app is closer to an advanced graphing calculator than to a simple smartphone app. For instance, it can actually solve algebraic equations. It also comfortably handles derivatives, indefinite integrals of polynomials, and essentially everything else under calculus. While solving problems, Mathomatic shows all its steps as well as all possible answers, so it’s easy to learn just by watching the app.

Best of all, Mathomatic does this in a reasonably clear, easy to manage, and simple to understand interface that doesn’t add any more confusion to an already difficult subject. No matter if you’re trying to check your homework, solve a particularly complicated system of equations, or just simplify a polynomial, this app is definitely worth checking out.

History Line

The highest quality education is often the result of a collaborative effort. And that’s no doubt one of the reasons why History Line has been so popular in the academic community. History Line is a collaborative learning app with an emphasis on US History, and it supports anywhere between one and six players simultaneously.

In short, the app presents series of events, and players have to order the events into the correct sequence.

But in a multiplayer game, every player is responsible for only a portion of a much larger timeline. Players have to choose if the elements the game has given them belong on their own timeline, or if they need to be sent to another player handing a different period of time. Besides being truly engaging and entertaining, History Line can help you build an impressive command of history for such a simple app.

iTranslate Ultimate

Trying to learn a new language? iTranslate Ultimate lets you quickly translate between five languages: English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. One of the most difficult parts of learning a new language is handing the pronunciation of new words. That’s why iTranslate Ultimate can pronounce the thousands of words in its multiple dictionaries for you.

Apart from being an excellent aid for learning a language and accurate pronunciation, this app is a useful tool for navigating through some of the more diverse cities in American and abroad.

USA Factbook and Quiz

Want to know more about US History? The USA Factbook and Quiz app can help teach you all about the world around you, modern and historical.

Apart from the state by state information, including regional maps, flags, and data bout major cities, the USA Factbook app equips you with the ability to test your knowledge in a quiz. In many ways, this highly patriotic app is as educational as it is fun. If you’ve ever wanted to know all the state capitals or master US geography, the multiple choice quiz is about the best an app can do.

Taber’s Medical Dictionary

Whether you’re just looking to expand your own knowledge, or you’re an active medical professional, Taber’s Medical Dictionary is a must have. Containing a dictionary of 65,000 terms, 32,000 audio pronunciations, hundreds of videos, and detailed patient care statements, Taber’s Medical Dictionary is one of the most in-depth medical apps in the world.

No matter if you’re interested in nutrition, therapy, nursing, or just want to keep in touch with the latest information in the medical world, Taber’s Medical Dictionary is all you need to do it.

Do you have a favorite educational or personal development app? Please let me know what it is and how it helps you!


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Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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On Leadership, Customer Experience and Analytics

Bid Data

Leading any organization is difficult. For many, the operational components are easy and dealing with the “people part” is where their challenges emerge. But for others, the soft-skills people-part is easier and the nuts-and-bolts part of the business cause the pains.

When it comes to the operational nuts-and-bolts part of leading a business, there are some great ways to lead with better results.

And this is how you deal with using business information, big data, and analytics strategically to lead through better results.

In his book “Hooked on Customers: The Five Habits of Legendary Customer-Centric Companies,” author Bob Thompson spells out the strategic approach to help with the operational side of leading success.

Below are some of his thoughts and examples.

Using Analytics to Improve the Consumer Experience

"Hooked On Customers"Business leaders are turning to analytics to uncover insights in so-called big data. However, big data is like a vein of gold buried under your feet. Unless you can mine it effectively to improve business performance, all that data could be a worthless distraction.

Analytics is a terms applied broadly, perhaps too broadly. The most common form is descriptive analytics used to slice and dice data to understand what happened in the past. But increasingly attention is turning to forward-looking analytics, using specialized algorithms and software.

Prescriptive analytics take it a step further and attempt to actually influence the future. For example, analytics can be used to help a call center agent decide the best offer to present to a customer to increase the odds of making a sale, or to suggest actions to deal with a service issue.

Macy’s is a great example of a major retailer competing for the loyalty of “omnichannel” shoppers—those using multiple channels, such as retail stores, websites, mobile devices, and even social media. Several years ago, the company began a customer-centric shift, led by Julie Bernard, group VP of customer centricity.

Speaking at a 2012 conference, Bernard said her goal was to “put the customer at the center of all decisions.” Sounds good, but old habits die hard in a 150-year-old brand where data was organized around products. The retailer used POS data to analyze product sales but couldn’t figure out what individual consumers were doing. One simple example: Did a spike in sales of a new pair of jeans mean the product was a hit or that one person bought all twelve pairs in a store?

By also looking at data from loyalty programs, credit cards, and other sources, Macy’s was able create a more complete understanding of the products, pricing, and experiences that move “loyals”—those consumers already buying regularly.

Another Example

Let’s look at another example in the world of e-commerce. Let’s say you want to present shoppers with hotel options in a major metropolitan area like New York. According to then Expedia VP Joe Megibow, most users won’t do a complex search of hundreds of hotels, so it’s critical that Expedia put the “best” options at the top of the list. If your instincts told you to present the cheapest or more popular hotels first, Expedia would frustrate a lot of shoppers and lose bookings.

Analytics determined the factors most likely to meet customer demand, such as real-time availability, inventory by class, rate deals, reviews, and purchase frequency. Then, using technology from an analytics software vendor, Expedia built a predictive analytics model based on the handful of factors that really mattered, out of about two dozen possibilities. The model was operationalized using Expedia’s own proprietary technology.

Result: When consumers search NY hotels, they’re more likely to find the hotels that they really want, and Expedia will get the sale. A great example of technology enabling a win-win.


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Bob Thompson

Bob Thompson is Founder/CEO of CustomerThink
He is also and Author of the book “Hooked on Customers”
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Leaders: Filling the Talent Pool

Filling the Talent Pool

Top 25 Faces of Learning and Leadership Development 2014

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Top 25 Leadership Development 2014

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3 Steps to Leading in a Foreign Land

Freak Out and Lose Control

Leading situations and teams can be difficult on any given day. But when you jump into a situation where you are called upon to lead in short-order and everything about the ordeal is absolutely foreign to you, then this is when you need to get a leadership plan that works.

Freaking out is not an option! Your plan has to be a plan that is short, smart, and sweet!

No Worries Leadership

Different culture? Different technology? No do-overs? No problem…

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to present on a Google Hangout from the editor of a popular philanthropy blog. The CEO of the organization had read one of my ebooks and was interested in having me share a few of my thoughts on nonprofit leadership with her community.  

After excitedly accepting the invitation, I considered the situation I had just put myself in.

  1. This organization was based in a different country, and served people of a different culture than mine. 
  2. I had never presented on this specific topic before and the show would be liveno do-overs if I made a mistake.
  3. I had never used Google Hangout before and was admittedly nervous about using new technology.

My 3 Step Game Plan

As I considered all these variables, I began to map out a game plan of how I planned to deliver a meaningful, natural presentation in spite of my concerns.

Here is the action plan that I walked myself through during the weeks leading up to my first Google Hangout. 

1) Research everything and and thing about the organization that had invited me to present. 

I had to answers to these questions:

  • Who were the people on the panel that would be leading the discussion?
  • What was important to them?
  • What was the mission and vision of their organization?
  • What were they hoping to accomplish by having me on the Hangout?
  • Who were some of the people they had had on the show previously?
  • What was the style of communication they were looking for?
  • Were there any precautions I needed to take to ensure I was presenting in a tone that respected their unique culture?
  • What was the demographic of their audience?

2) Write up a detailed minute-by-minute presentation outline. 

I knew that the show was forty minutes long and that the panel wanted five questions they would use to lead the discussion. Forty minutes minus ten minutes for off-the-cuff dialogue here and there left me with 30 minutes of content I needed to create (or six minutes per question).

From there I went to my notes and wrote down three talking points per question allowing myself two minutes to cover each point.

After I had my outline, I had some other people read it to make sure that it made sense and then began to practice on my own.

 3) Master the technology. 

Although I had attended Google Hangouts in the past, I had never presented on one before. Priority number one became learning HOW to use this tool like a pro.

To get as much input as I could, I asked anyone I knew who had presented on a Hangout for their personal advice, researched best-practices blogs and played around with it knowing that the more comfortable I felt with the technology, the more relaxed I would be during the presentation.

I made a shortlist of the top five tips I had found and began to get everything ready. Examples: I made sure to use a room that had great lighting, made sure my kids wouldn’t be making noise with the babysitter in the background etc.

When the Hangout day finally came I was ready and the feedback I got afterwards from the panel was that I had nailed it. I was really happy that it had gone well but honestly I was more excited that my game plan had worked – I now had a proven template I could follow for future presentations.

Leading in a Foreign Land

I found that because I had taken the time to prepare, I was able to be completely present during the discussion and truly enjoyed the experience instead of being rigid, rushed and anxious.

Following these or similar steps will help you lead like a winner when everything seems foreign to you.

have you ever been “thrown into” a situation where you had to lead in a place or circumstance that felt foreign to you? What do YOU do to prepare for presenting in an environment that is foreign to you? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Natasha Golinsky
Natasha Golinsky is the Founder of Next Level Nonprofits
She helps nonprofit CEO’s take their leadership skills to the next level
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Leadership Crack Head: Addicted to Your Smartphone?

Addicted to Smartphone

Why Are We So Addicted To Our Phones? 

I see so many people who are seemingly addicted to their smartphones! It truly makes me wonder some things

  • I wonder what the average daily count is of people checking during dinner, while driving, in a meeting, on the phone with someone else?
  • Ever meet someone who is texting while engaging in a conversation with you, and then letting you know that they are listening?
  • Is our work really that important, that we need to stop being present in the moment and get back to people every 2 seconds?
  • What is driving this addiction and how might is be negatively affecting us?

Searching for Reason

I have been trying to understand the reason why people are so “distracted” by their devices. In all honesty, I must admit that I am addicted to the prospective thrill of seeing a new exciting email message arrive.

And then I become disappointed when the new message on my device is only another Living Social coupon…

I also feel the need to get back to people so quickly these days. I feel that if I don’t check every 2 seconds that I may risk not giving “excellent customer service.”

Surely I can’t be connecting to my kids, friends, employees, family AND living in the moment while constantly looking at my phone waiting for the next great thing to show up.

This bothered me very much. So whenever I could, I sought out the reason(s) why people are so seemingly addicted to their phones. And then one day I came across something.

I now think I might finally understand the reason…


L2L Reader Survey 2013


“I find good and useful tips, suggestions, and valuable content through L2L
which makes my organization and me more effective. Keep up the good work!”


Understanding Power vs. Force

During a meeting with my business coach, she shared David Hawkins – Power vs. Force chart. Mr. Hawkins describes this chart as the hidden determinants of human behavior.

I went digging for something on this chart that could shed some light on why millions of us are in a romantic relationship with our phone. Out of 17 levels, scoring 20-1000, lowest to highest respectively, I found the word DESIRE!!

Click on the chart below for a full explanation.

Power vs Force Chart

Yes, this makes sense; the desire for reward, accomplishment, a new client, to be praised for great service, all of these things that could be present in an email, text or voice mail. Then I realized, according to this chart “Desire” is only 6 out of 17, with a score of 125.

But wait, isn’t it good to desire things, to have goals and wants? Then I kept reading, and understood the dichotomy.

Understanding Desire and Priorities

According to Dr. Hawkins, “Desire is also the level of addiction, wherein it becomes a craving more important than life itself.”  This craving can then lead to frustration when you don’t get the response that you want.

Ahh- hence the disappointment in the Living Social coupon!

The egotistical answer sitting in front of me did strike me hard for a second.

Then I got over myself and looked at the lesson in all of this:

The bottom line is that nothing is more important to me then my family, friends and vision to help others. So when I’m focused on my priorities, I will make a promise to be fully present on those things and not my phone!

The world (and the coupon) can surely wait as I check my phone periodically and not constantly.

Are you addicted to your phone? Are some of your priorities out of line with your top values? What are ways you balance being present with the task at hand, while knowing their might be important messages waiting for you? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Val Ries, RN, MBA, CPC
Val Ries RN, MBA, CPC is CEO of the Ries Company
She helps leaders RECHARGE so they have the strength to impact the world
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Web | Blog | Book

Image Sources: pplware.sapo.pt


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