Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Avoid a Deadly Halloween – Follow These 11 Tips to Survive

               Halloween is a scary time – it seems that every psycho killer and thing that goes bump in the night is just waiting, out of sight, for the chance to attack.  And if that is not bad enough, there are all those treats floating around waiting to defeat the stoutest diet and add pounds as we head into the heart of the holiday season.

               Fear not, though.  Halloween doesn’t have to be so deadly.  Follow these basic safety tips and you may just survive…if you’re lucky.

  1. When you find yourself running from a ghoulish beast out of the cemetery, desperate to escape; keep your car key on a ring by itself.  Then you can find it quickly without fumbling through 50 keys as the monster approaches.  Better yet, get a remote starter.
  2. Speaking of cars and getaways, make sure that your car starts immediately and has a good battery.  Also, keep it filled up so you don’t run out of gas in some dark, creepy and haunted backwoods.
  3. Never take the lonely and remote shortcut, especially if it goes through an old cemetery.
  4. If you are babysitting at a gloomy, isolated house and the phone rings – don’t answer it.
  5. Be aware of any and all clowns not traveling with a circus.  They are just plain scary.
  6. Don’t turn your back on the psychotic fiend that you just stabbed, shot, pushed off a balcony or any combination of.  It will come back to life at least one more time.
  7. Stay away from barns or tool sheds full of sharp, pointy farm instruments.
  8. When running for your life from a zombie or other stumbling, lumbering creature of the night, be prepared to fall.  A lot.  No matter how slow it is, it will always catch up.
  9. If the power fails and the lights are out, don’t go looking for what just caused that thump in the basement…alone…and without a flashlight.
  10. There is safety in numbers.  If you have other people around, don’t split up to investigate all the other mysterious disappearances.

And last, but certainly not least….

  1. Never, ever end up in the sequel.  The monster/beast/murderer always kills more victims, with more gore and is harder to stop or destroy.  And the sequels are never as good as the original.

Have a scary (and happy) Halloween from Business Karate.



Have you wondered how to deal with an aggressive employee or phone threats against a staff member?  Do you have the security system you should?  Are you worried about how your business would handle an emergency situation?  There are lots of worries as a leader in your organization.  Security risks do not have to be one of them. 

Get solutions to your questions.  Contact eric@businesskarate.com. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Will the Real CSO Please Stand Up?

               Many large organizations are beginning to add the position of chief security officer (CSO) to the C-suite.  This is great news as it highlights the benefits and importance of a well-designed security unit as a business function.  However, some recent trends suggest that some organizations still may misunderstand the impact and role of security.
               One tendency is to combine information technology (IT) security functions under the same umbrella as more traditional or physical security management.  Just because both use the word security does not mean the same skills, experiences or knowledge are involved.  A CISO (chief information security officer) faces true threats, but ones that are very different from a security management perspective.  Hackers, firewalls, database protection are more the focus, compared to burglars, cameras and employee theft.  A leader with extensive experience blocking cyber attacks from overseas may not have the background or expertise to plan for executive protection overseas or to conduct an internal investigation.
               If you look at the ways IT security and physical security go about protecting an enterprise, you will see that the talents, know-how and abilities are very different.  Both roles are focused on protection, but in very different ways.  Both have grown up as separate industries, each with their own professional organizations and professional certifications.  Even some terms may be similar such as risk assessments or threat analysis and again the meanings vary. 
               Threat assessment for a physical security leader is the process of reviewing threats of violence against a facility or individuals as compared to an analysis of malware and hacking attempts.
               As companies become more reliant on technology there is an increasing need for information security and physical/environmental security to partner together.  Security software systems tied to the Internet may need to be set up in conjunction with IT to ensure that any risks of unauthorized access are minimized.  At the same time, IT should not be selecting the systems based solely on what works best for the network or any applicable databases, switches, encoders etc.  IT may not understand the needs or expectations with the system by those depending on it.
               A former law enforcement officer may know a lot about loss prevention, handling investigations or crime prevention, but be completely lost when it comes to SSL certificates, VPN and database encryption.  On the flipside, an information system manager may be an expert with SQL databases or programming in C++, but not understand criminal law, the warning signs of violent behavior or the force continuum for security personnel.
               So which background makes for the best CSO?  The answer will depend on the organization.  Ideally, there should be a CISO and a CSO to work in tandem with each other and with other business units for the best level of protection.
               If there is only one CSO, careful thought should be given to the job functions.  In this case, it is highly unlikely that one person will have the necessary background for all the job description.  Then the real CSO should be the leader who demonstrates the ability to develop teams and cultivate enough understanding to manage both info security and physical security challenges.
               Perhaps the single most important skill set is the understanding of human behavior; specifically, an in-depth understanding of the criminal mindset and its ability to exploit vulnerabilities in both the virtual and real worlds.



Have you wondered how to deal with an aggressive employee or phone threats against a staff member?  Do you have the security system you should?  Are you worried about how your business would handle an emergency situation?  There are lots of worries as a leader in your organization.  Security risks do not have to be one of them. 

Get solutions to your questions.  Contact eric@businesskarate.com. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Failing and Flailing of American Businesses

Have you gone to a favorite store or restaurant and left feeling disappointed?  Sadly, it seems that it happens all too often.  My wife and I find that our old favorites are simply becoming mediocre at best and sometimes a place we will never visit again.

This is most common with restaurants – or at least it feels like that is where I have noticed this the most.  The past weekend was no exception.  A large group went out to dinner at a popular family restaurant.  Nothing too fancy, but not exactly cheap either with most meals costing over $10.  We went to the first restaurant and found that there was an incredibly long wait for our group of eight (although there were a lot of empty tables).  The hostess called another of their locations nearby and they said no problem, we could get right in.  Everyone got back in their cars and drove to the next spot. 

When we got there, no one knew about the call ahead and we were given another long wait time.  When we asked about the reservations, the host could not manage anything other than a shake of his Justin-Bieber-wannabe hair and said “whatever.”  That didn’t go over too well and we ended up talking to the manager.  In the end, we got a table with broken legs that twisted and rocked like a ship in a hurricane, moved to another table where one of the seats had a mysterious black stain that had to be avoided.  The food was not as good as expected either, another disappointment in the evening. 

After we left, I thought about all the times recently where I have gone in a store or restaurant and have left less than satisfied.  It could be for a variety of reasons – rude or uncaring employees; out of the item I was looking for; prices were up; quality down and so on. 

In light of all the talk about the economy and how businesses are struggling, how is it that so many are allowing customers to walk away unhappy or at least with less than the best possible experience.  Now, more than ever, companies should be going all out to give their customers the best possible service and experience.

Of course, companies are struggling.  There is uncertainty and worry about the economy.  Prices for fuel and food are rising; salaries and incomes are not.  Business leaders need to maintain and attract customers, while battling rising costs at the same time.  Balancing these challenges can leave businesses straddling the fence and ultimately sacrificing quality, pricing or both, and more importantly sacrificing customers.

The good news is that there are ways to solve the dilemma.  Every business is different and some ideas may work better than others for your specific circumstances.

  1. Make (or keep) the emphasis on the customer.  Make them feel special.  Welcome them to your business and give them the attention that will keep them coming back.  Having employees who remember them is huge.  I once went to a McDonald’s and the clerk remembered me from the week before and how I had ordered my coffee.  A simple, small thing, but something out of the ordinary.  If you have employees that send the message, “whatever” to your customers, you are in trouble.  Fix it.
  2. Deliver value.  Yes, you have to be price competitive in most industries.  Consumers are worried about their own income and spending, but still want a value product.  Back to the restaurant examples – price may be important in picking where to go for dinner, but is not everything.  If it was or for those times that it is the most important, then most people will go to fast food or get the cheap pizza for $5.  If you run a sit-down restaurant, you will lose that battle so don’t try to win it.  Instead, make sure that you give customers the overall value they are looking for.  Value is the right mix of quality and price.  Sacrificing quality to save a few pennies may be the wrong approach – cheap can get you through the short-term, but may fail in keeping customers in the long haul.  Focus instead on the value that your customers want.
  3. Focus on building long-term relationships.  Develop trust by meeting and exceeding your consumers’ expectations.  That will create loyalty and in turn, repeat customers plus referrals.  In his book, “If Disney Ran Your Hospital” author Fred Lee talks about customer satisfaction surveys and scores.  He notes that on a scale of 1-5, most organizations consider a 3 or above satisfactory.  However, he points out that only a score of 5 will translate into consumer loyalty, an idea that has worked well for Disney over the years.
  4. Have a clear strategy.  You must understand what makes your customers tick.  What are their price points?  What drives their buying decisions?  It may be price, it may be service, location or better options.  Depending on your type of business, you have to understand your customer and develop a plan that meets their needs, not just yours. 

Following these guidelines will help your organization survive and thrive, building the foundation for long-term success.  If you can exceed your customers’ expectations in a down economy, then you have the key to true victory as things improve.



For more on customer service read “The Five Steps to Great Customer Service.”



Have you wondered how to deal with an aggressive employee or phone threats against a staff member?  Do you have the security system you should?  Are you worried about how your business would handle an emergency situation?  There are lots of worries as a leader in your organization.  Security risks do not have to be one of them. 

Get solutions to your questions.  Contact eric@businesskarate.com.