3 Reasons Why Humble Pie is Good for You

               Perhaps one of the most humbling experiences is the moment that you realize that technology is leaving you behind and you have to seek help from a 12-year old.

               This Christmas, we decided that getting a video game system was on the table.  I was enthralled after seeing a display for Xbox at the store showing a racing game with graphics that were so far beyond the Atari video games that I recalled as a kid.  The catch was, due to the cost, that it would be a shared Christmas gift for both my son and I.  So, being a good father, I put my list of tools and gadgets on the back burner and threw in my hand for a gaming system. 

               My son and I started looking in earnest at the best system and, in the end, decided on a PlayStation 3 and put the games we wanted on the wish list for Christmas morning.  Santa was good to us and we did get the PS3, along with several games. 

               My son and I setup the system and began playing, starting with a shooting / soldier game.  Almost immediately, I realized that I was in huge trouble.  While I was struggling to figure out how to turn around or look up, relatively simple things in real life, my son’s hours of playing with his friends made him an expert.  Even handicapping himself with every disadvantage under the sun, he could beat me without even breaking a virtual sweat. 

               I realized that playing with him was hopeless for me, and not at all challenging for him.  So we switched to the driving game that I had wanted.  That was not much better.  It was closer, but still, I could not beat him at any race.  Even my daughter joined in and beat us both routinely.

               Back in the real world, I have been a police firearms and a police driving instructor.  Being beat at games based on both skills was frustrating and somewhat humbling as my son made fun of my rather poor talents (it was rather amusing as well, especially for him).  It was also humbling trying to learn new skills like how to maneuver around a video game, especially ones that are very popular with so many people that I know. 

               The experience got me thinking about what life lessons could be learned.  After reflecting on it, I decided that being humble (or maybe better to say humiliated) is not such a bad thing and actually can be quite helpful.

               So get out your knife and fork and get ready for a dose of humble pie – and trust me it is not so bad.  Why?

1.      Humility keeps you learning.  There is the old expression that necessity is the mother of invention.  Sometimes when things get tough, the tough really do get going.  Realizing that you are hopeless or pathetic is the first step towards making some changes and improving the situation.  In my case, I will just have to sacrifice some of my valuable free time to improve my video game playing skills.

2.     A dose of humble pie keeps you cautious.  When you realize that you are vulnerable and have weaknesses, you can be wary of those shortcoming and work around them.  It also forces you to be conscious of potential threats, such as a competitor who might do things better (or convince a customer that they do).  When you are aware of threats and pitfalls, you can take steps to avoid them.  Another advantage is that when you realize your weak areas, you can build teams at work to bring in people who do better than you do in that area.  I’ve heard a number of leaders say that they are not that smart, but they make a point of surrounding themselves with people that are in order to be successful.

3.     It makes you a better person.  Face it – no one likes an arrogant SOB.  A dose of humility keeps you motivated to help others develop professionally.  Someone without any humility might get that attitude that they became successful all on their own, without any help from anyone else.  Maintaining that touch of humility keeps you in touch with reality and all the people in your life that influenced and mentored you to success.  And it helps you laugh at yourself when you do mess up (and we all do).

               Stay humble and keep moving forward.  And if you want to find me, I’ll be trying to figure out those video games.


Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense.  He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management.  Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces.    To learn more visit http://www.businesskarate.com/profile.html. 

If you would like to reprint this post, please contact Eric at eric@businesskarate.com. 

How to Throw a Punch

               Arguably, the punch is the best-known self-defense move.  It is the first one to come to mind when thinking about defending yourself.  It is ubiquitous in Hollywood fight scenes and action moves.  It may also be one of the least effective self-defense moves if done incorrectly.
               In the typical Hollywood style, the punch is thrown in a wide arc or roundhouse (aka the “haymaker”) and can be seen coming for a country mile – which works for movie audiences.  In a real defense situation, this can be easily blocked or sidestepped.
               A better technique is the straight punch or jab.  Instead of a long arcing path, the fist travels in a line straight to the target – thus the name – straight punch.
               Before going any further, however, we need to look at two critical elements.  First is how to make a fist.  Second is how to position your wrist.
               Making a fist incorrectly can actually cause you more harm than the bad guy (or gal) attacking you.  The trick is all in where you position your thumb.  If you tuck your thumb against your palm and wrap your fingers around it to form a fist you risk serious injury – to yourself!  Another common mistake is to leave the thumb hanging out and exposed; something of a hitchhiker mode.
               The first step is to roll your fingers into your palm until your knuckles are even.  Then tuck the thumb against the fingers between the 1st and 2nd joints.  This fist gives you two solid surfaces for striking.  One is the area formed by the base of the fingers along the knuckles.  The other is the bottom of the hand often called the hammer fist.
               The second piece of throwing a punch is the position of the wrist.  Most martial arts teach students to punch with a twist so the knuckles end up horizontal or parallel to the ground.  The twist or snap gives the punch more power.  However, this is dangerous for someone who does not practice extensively.  It is easy to snap the wrist on impact if the wrist is not kept perfectly in line with the forearm.  If the wrist folds up or down as you are punching into a target, the blow can easily sprain or even break the wrist and put you out of action. 
               To avoid this, defense tactic instructors for police train officers to keep their wrists vertical so the knuckles form a line perpendicular to the ground.  This provides a stronger position for the wrist and helps avoid injury when striking.  Incidentally, this is the same wrist positioning used by bare-knuckle boxers of the past.
               Remember to practice.  Self-defense moves need to be instinct and practice is the key.  Now you know the right way to throw a punch, and better than a Hollywood action hero.

Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense.  He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management.  Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces.    To learn more visit http://www.businesskarate.com/profile.html. 

If you would like to reprint this post, please contact Eric at eric@businesskarate.com. 

Have a Safe and Merry Christmas!

Twas the week before Christmas and all around town
People were bustling and shopping and scurrying around

On top of it all, over the noise of the traffic, all across the city
Carolers could be heard with a happy holiday ditty

Most of them had a heart full of cheer
But there were a few, a dark few, with a Grinch-like leer

For their thoughts were on thievery and robbery
Car break-ins, burglary and other nefarious skullduggery

 But don’t worry or let your holidays be ruined with fear
Simply follow a few of the security tips presented here

 Remember if going out for the night
Set a timer to turn on a light

 Christmas decorations hanging from the rooftop with care
When turned off, tell a burglary ‘no reason to beware’

If someone tries to take your wallet or purse
Trying to fight them may make it worse

 But if your life is in danger, then fight tooth and nail
Yell, scream, kick and bite and don’t stop until you prevail

In a busy mall, tell your kids, if lost, find a store clerk
Teach them to seek help rather than some perverted jerk

Identity theft is always a popular scam
So be alert to fraudsters on the lam

Since I am running out of rhymes
And this may be a waste of your time

Read the additional tips lower down
And don’t let security worries make you frown

 In any case, while you’re out and about at play
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday

            To help keep your holidays safe and happy, Business Karate offers the following tips:

If you’re traveling:

*    Get an automatic timer for your lights, including outdoor Christmas lights.  A home decorated with lights left off in the evening is an open invitation to potential burglars, letting them know that no one is home.

*      Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home, shovel snow and even park their car in your driveway.

*      Be sure to have the mail and newspaper delivery stopped or picked up by a neighbor.

If you’re out for the evening:

*      Turn on lights and a radio or TV to make it appear that someone is home.

*      Don’t leave gifts where they can be seen from outside.

*      Be careful about locking all doors and windows, even if leaving for a short time.  The majority of burglaries occur through unlocked or open doors and windows.

While shopping:

*      Stay alert and be aware of what is going on around you.

*      Park in well-lit areas and be sure to lock your car.  Keep shopping bags and gifts in the trunk, out-of-sight.

*      Avoid carrying lots of cash; use a credit card or check whenever possible.

*      Be alert to persons using cell phones with cameras behind you in checkout lines.  Identity thieves may try to obtain you credit card numbers and driver’s license information through cell phone photos and use the information later for Internet purchases.

*      Don’t leave your wallet or purse unattended – it will make a great target for a crook looking to go on a shopping spree with your credit cards.

For more security and crime prevention tips, click here.

Your biggest risks may not be your biggest worries.  About 33% of small businesses fail after becoming victims of crime.  Ordinary, everyday criminal acts – not high profile terror attacks or disasters. 
Get real solutions for real problems.  Contact eric@businesskarate.com to learn about security management coaching and how to help your organization thrive.

Employee Background Checks, Education Fraud and Diploma Mills

               Some bad decisions are easy to correct.  Many are not.  Hiring the wrong person can be a very expensive ordeal and may be very disruptive to your business, co-workers and, perhaps worse, to your customers.  According to the Department of Labor, the cost of turnover is approximately 1/3 of the employee’s annual salary. 
               When employees steal, the average cost per incident is much higher than the losses due to outsiders, such as shoplifters or burglars.  The cost on average is $62,000 for a lower level employee and increases the higher up in management the employee is.  There is also the impact on the company reputation is an employee is not properly vetted and causes harm, especially in an event that garners a lot of media attention.  Just look at the impact a handful of employees are having on the entire organization of Penn State in current news. 
               According to one study, as many as 61% of resumes contain false information.  The three most common areas falsified are education, job titles and dates of employment.  In general, a call to past employers will help validate past job titles and dates of employment.  Human Resource departments are often allowed by policy to provide that much information and hopefully, you have a background screening that includes making those calls.
               That leaves education as a “high risk” area that is often falsified.  And that leads to the question, how risky is it to hire someone with exaggerated or falsified education?  That depends on the position, how critical the education requirements are to succeed and what is needed to help your organization succeed.  In my opinion, the most important aspect is that the candidate is truthful about the information on their resume or application.  If they are deceitful at this stage, how could you ever really trust them after they are employed?
               First, you must clearly identify what education is needed for each job description.  That base requirement helps to determine what kind of educational background you need to verify and helps guide the screening process.
               Second, confirm that a potential candidate meets the necessary requirements.  Sounds obvious, but dig a little deeper.  This means that you need to verify that the education meets your requirements.  Did the classes teach the basic skills or knowledge necessary?  Did your potential new employee pass the curriculum?
               Third, the college or university needs to be researched.  The education provided must be accepted or, at the least, the school must teach to a level that matches the industry.  In short, is the degree in question issued by a recognized or accredited college or university?  If not, the degree could be from a diploma mill – an institution that sells degrees without any education or curriculum supporting it.
               This all leads to the verification process.
               Start with the college or university.  Is it accredited?  If not, that does not mean that it is not a valid education.  Some schools choose not to be accredited as they feel it might conflict with their goals – religious schools are one possible example.  For colleges and universities in the United States, accreditation can be confirmed online through the Department of Education. 
               Search the Internet for information on the school as well.  If the university does not have information about the curriculum or education process – beware.  Some diploma mills go so far as to offer education credits for work experience and do not require a student to attend any classes, either online or in person.  There have also been programs set up that appear to be affiliated with legitimate universities, but have no connection.
               Next, verify that the candidate attended and graduated from the program.  Many universities will send an official or unofficial copy of the transcript directly to an employer.  This is even done for many professional certifications in order to confirm that minimum standards are met.  Within the European Union, the comparable transcript of record is used to verify class work and grades.  A copy of a degree provided by a applicant could easily be forged on a computer so rely on verification provided directly by the school.
               Education tends to be more of a dominant focus on entry-level positions where there is not a lot of work history to review.  However, many industries deal with compliance issues and some require verification of education for many positions.  Healthcare is one example.  Hospitals that want to be accredited by the Joint Commission or those that want to be eligible for Medicare / Medicaid funds must meet specific standards surrounding verification of licensing and background screening.  Sarbanes-Oxley requires that all officers of publically traded companies have background screenings done, including verification of education.
               Getting the right people onboard is one of the tougher decisions and is not easy.  A background screening that includes educational experiences is one piece to help build the right team for long-term success. 
Your biggest risks may not be your biggest worries.  About 33% of small businesses fail after becoming victims of crime.  Ordinary, everyday criminal acts – not high profile terror attacks or disasters. 

Get real solutions for real problems.  Contact eric@businesskarate.com to learn about security management coaching and how to help your organization thrive.

Six Critical Steps to Follow When Domestic Violence Comes to Work

               Scott Dekraai sat on the beach contemplating life – his own, as well as that of his ex-wife.  He was apparently upset over the custody issues with his son and had just lost a court request to change the custody orders.  He was worried, as his son would come home from stays with the ex-wife with bruises.

               Sadly, his meditations led to a series of wrong decisions leaving eight dead and one person in critical condition, Dekraai in police custody and his son in protective care.

               Dekraai got up and went to the hair salon where his ex-wife worked.  He promptly shot and killed her, then shot a co-worker and friend who had helped her through the divorce.  A manager tried to stop Dekraai by charging him with a pair of scissors and he was also shot and killed.

               The suspect continued to fire at others and later told police that they were “collateral damage.”  As he left, he shot another male sitting in his car, as he believed that the victim was an off-duty police officer reaching for a gun.  He later surrendered to police without a fight.

               Fortunately, domestic violence does not always end up at a victim’s workplace in such a deadly manner.  It is, however, common for suspects to search out their victims at work, as that may be the only place they can find the victim.

               After a domestic violence situation, the aggressor is likely going to be taken into custody if any crime has been committed due to mandatory arrest laws.  While the suspect goes to jail, the victim may be offered the chance to move into a safe house or may leave to stay with relatives or friends.

               The suspect will not be in jail forever, perhaps only overnight.  When he (yes, typically he, not she, but not always) gets out, he often wants to get in touch with his wife or girlfriend right away.  If she is in a safe house, he may not have a way to contact her.  But, of course, she will still go to work and he likely knows where that is.  He may have visited frequently, knows how to get in, knows where she parks and knows when she leaves and arrives.

               According to an article in Security Director Report, domestic violence was most likely to happen at the start or end of a victim’s workday, often in the parking lot as they come or go.

               An organization that has employees (and most do) runs a risk of dealing with domestic violence issues at work.  The larger the organization, it is arguably more likely that a victim’s manager or department director will not know about the situation.  If the victim does not tell anyone at work, the business cannot do anything to help look after the victim or others.

               What should be done at the workplace to help the affected employee and protect both them and other colleagues, customers and visitors from a potential attacker?  Fortunately, there are a number of basic steps that any organization should follow to help prevent and respond to violence when it spills over from the home into work.

  1. Encourage employees to share with human resources when they are involved in a domestic violence situation.  The written policy should spell out that the case will be reviewed to assess the best steps to protect everyone exposed.  It also needs to be clear that the company will not hold it against an employee or retaliate against them in any way for reporting the problems.  The policy must address the individual’s privacy while ensuring that the issue is only relayed to those who ‘need to know.’
  2. Take all domestic violence situations seriously.  Even law enforcement takes these types of family disturbances very seriously and understand the great risks and potential for violence.  When responding to a DV call, police will check for past incidents at the address.  Officers understand that these types of calls are extremely dangerous as emotions run very high and they always respond with cover officers.  Jealousy or loss of control over a loved one can push someone to violence very quickly.
  3. Find out if there is a restraining order involved.  Even victims are often confused about whether a restraining order is in place.  Often victims are told that the suspect is not allowed to contact them, but that is due to bond conditions when the suspect gets out of jail.  These stipulate that the bond will be revoked if the suspect contacts the victim, but are different from a restraining order, which is a court order signed up a judge restricting access.  The RO must be served to the suspect if they are not in court.  Get copies of any RO.  This can help facilitate police response if the party does try to contact the victim at work, even by phone, email or through a third party.
  4. Protect the victim.  A few simple steps can help keep the affected employee safe.  Changing their work shift even a half an hour from normal can make it harder for the suspect to catch them in the parking lot or as they come or go from work.  It also makes it more likely that the suspect will attract attention or be seen as suspicious if forced to wait in the area longer.  Moving the victim’s parking area is a great option if available as well.  If not, be sure that they are not going to or from their car alone.  Screen phone calls to limit contact by the suspect.
  5. Review and assess any domestic violence case.  Find out if there are past acts of violence or threats.  Does the suspect have access to weapons?  What do they have to lose if they become violent, meaning are they at wit’s end or feel like they have lost everything?
  6. Involve others.  The victim may not want anyone to know and his or her privacy should be respected.  A few details should be passed on to screeners such as security or lobby personnel to be on the lookout for the suspect.  Ask the victim for a photo and description of the suspect, as well as a vehicle description to help the ‘gatekeepers’ identify the right person.  If the victim wishes to remain private, a general alert can be passed on to keep appropriate personnel alert to suspicious activity or tighten access control measures.

               This is a general overview.  Details need to be adjusted for your specific organization and work environment.  When violence spills over from home into work, it can be very dangerous.  Following these basic steps can help keep everyone safer.

Your biggest risks may not be your biggest worries.  About 33% of small businesses fail after becoming victims of crime.  Ordinary, everyday criminal acts – not high profile terror attacks or disasters. 

Get real solutions for real problems.  Contact eric@businesskarate.com to learn about security coaching and how to help your organization thrive.

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. 

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.