What to Read and When

Either you need information or you desire entertainment. In either case, a young person’s time fills with activity. Yet, young people stumble and fumble through their early lives because they have not experienced the pitfalls and rabbit path trails of work, love, finances, and real estate. Young people should read voraciously to get an edge on what comes next in their lives. An older person might have more time in the day, but less time in life. Older people possess the wisdom to be selective in their reading. Rather than seeking an edge of knowledge, an older person might juice more sweetness from life by identifying with a fictional character who came out on top by living a moral life in spite of torment and misfortune.

Consider this: regardless of your age, the media bombards you with plenty of information on daily news that will enable you to converse socially. Are you an online social media aficionado? You know that it only takes a few glances and a tiny bit of reading to keep up with current events with your friends. In your profession, yes, you should read to advance your knowledge, but realize that by only reading yesterday’s technical guidance, you neither prepare well for today’s technical problem, nor do you advance technically for tomorrow. Besides that, the technical go-to-person in a company receives visits from people who have technical problems. Unless that person interacts socially with the managers and employees, he or she will not be remembered for promotion. However, the technically astute person who brings fun, happiness, charisma, and stands like a moral rock, might slice through company politics like a hot knife through butter, to advance beyond his or her peers. Read fiction to learn how to be that person.

Why read a made up story? Most fiction writers create interesting stories based on what they know – things that have happened to them. The singer, Prince, famously said, “Before I dreamed it, I lived it.” He meant that he had a better story to tell through song because he sang about things that happened to him. You learn his story, appreciate his experience, and possibly get an edge for yourself while he entertains you with his song. You can get that by reading fictional stories too. Don’t limit yourself to stories that closely align with your life. It will do you little good to read what you have experienced. Instead, if a writer piques your interest in the first five pages of any genre: thriller, mystery, romance, science fiction, drama, history, or comedy, acquire and read that novel. Especially, if you feel a hook in your mouth that pulls you into wanting to read the rest of the story, do it. Don’t walk away with regret.

The time and setting do not matter. A 200-years-ago story on the planet Mars can be relevant to you today, as well as entertaining while you read it. You will perk up when you read about a character who faces a nasty experience similar to one that happened to you at work or at home, yet, he or she determined the effect wanted amid chaos, planned, then acted on a plan that switched them from victim to world-shaper. That information may be far more useful to you than today’s news story or your friend’s latest Facebook photo. Like Prince, you might live it, then dream it. Find a lifetime of free fiction novels online, but understand that inexperienced authors break into the writing business by giving their work away. Don’t deny yourself the better read by being stingy with vending machine snack money. #TAG1writer

Fixing Personal Branding Errors

When it comes to personal branding, there really is no right or wrong answer. So much of it is subjective. However, that doesn’t mean that you are incapable of making mistakes or of wishing that you could have done something better/differently. If you had the chance to do it over again, of course, you would probably do those things differently. Well, even if you did make mistakes, all hope is not lost. You can still fix what needs to be fixed and move on from there.

Make fixes in a sensible manner
When it comes to fixing the errors that you made in your personal branding, you will want to approach it sensibly and methodically. There are several aspects of your personal brand that you will want to examine and, hopefully, you will be able to identify whatever needs to be corrected.

You want to make sure that your reputation is intact: If you aren’t sure what other people are going to find when they search for you (personally), you should search for yourself. The top items on the search engine should be positive about you. Additionally, those items should have value and they should help to enhance your reputation and boost your credibility. If you see that it is not the case, go back to those items and enhance them until they show you in a more positive light.
Entertainment versus marketing value: It is very important that you understand the balance between good value and the ability to entertain with your personal brand. You don’t want to have more of one than the other. Of course, if you don’t have enough on the entertainment side, other people may not remain interested. On the other hand, if you don’t have enough on the value/marketing side, from a business perspective, people may be entertained/amused but they may walk away feeling that they don’t have much to show for it.
Don’t go overboard: There is definitely value in revisiting the content that is connected to your personal brand so that it reads better. However, overediting is definitely not a good idea in general. The last thing that you want to do is to edit so much that you lose yourself and what you stand for in the process. It is important to show your vulnerable/human side but, at the same time, to demonstrate how valuable you are professionally and how your expertise can help other people.
Marry your personal and professional brands: The truth is that there is a strong connection between your personal and professional brands. They are two parts of you and those parts should have at least a discreet connection for other people to embrace. If you are communicating messages from both brands, they should be synchronized. You really can’t separate the two anyway. The best that you can do is to make sure that they exist in harmony.
Make sure that your social media profiles are current: The profiles are extremely important to your personal brand. They must be kept current. That means that you update your status periodically (at reasonable intervals), change your photo if it isn’t appropriate or is not relatively new, etc. You will want to work on all of your social media profiles. People will definitely notice if you don’t keep them current.
Make sure that your photo is appropriate: First of all, make sure that you have a photo which people can identify with your personal brand. Second, it should be an appropriate photo. That means that it should be a professional headshot. It shouldn’t be you with your cat, your logo instead of your face, you drinking in a bar or at a party, etc. After all, even though you are working on your personal brand, you want people to remember you in the right way because there will definitely be crossover to your professional brand and persona.
Make sure that your bio is what it should be: Your bio should be substantial enough so that other people are able to get a sense of who you are and what you believe in. On the other hand, you don’t want to go on and on to the point where the other person has no patience to keep reading. However, you should definitely highlight your accomplishments because not only are you proud of them but they add value to you and other people will have the understanding that you are someone with whom they should form a relationship and interact.
Always be yourself: Authenticity is an essential part of your personal brand. If you are not authentic, people will know it and they will not want to connect with you. You certainly don’t want that to happen. The reality is that you will not be able to have a successful relationship with everyone but you want your relationships with those people who want to be connected to you to be solid and enduring.

Conclusion
All of the elements listed above are important for your personal brand. Getting your personal brand in the shape that you want it to be will take time and work but it will be well worth it for you. You should keep in mind that your personal brand will take you very far in business. It is really important for you to understand your target audience and to do your best to give them what they want and need. If you give them your best, you will get it back in full.

Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. He also reduced company travel and travel costs by introducing and implementing various collaboration technologies.

His expertise includes business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.

Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.

How Prepared Is Your Board for Cyberspace?

While cyber security is an important issue for boards, it has not always been top of mind. Because a major corporation like Equifax had a breach in its IT system, many companies are rethinking how to secure cyber security.

Boards around the world are examining the Equifax case to determine how to best secure their organizations valuable information stored in their IT systems. So who is responsible? Since the CEO has stepped down, it is apparent he was being held accountable. However, where was the board of directors?

In today’s world of cyberspace, corporate boards have to think about more than governance, CEO compensation and strategy.

As it stands, it is in the board’s best interest to ensure the company is not exposed to debilitating risks. Companies have workplace safety standards and sexual harassment policies to mitigate lawsuits. They even have disaster recovery plans in the event of natural disasters or occurrences like the World Trade Center plane crash. These plans and policies are in place to keep business running smoothly and perpetually. It protects customers and employees.

However, with sophisticated computer hackers around the world, it is no news that computer systems and valuable information can be breached and stolen. There are hackers who breach computer systems as a business. They ask for ransom in the amount of tens of millions of dollars. If it is not paid, they threaten to release the companies secure information, which sometimes could contain private email communication from top executives.

While many enterprises as large as Equifax may have disaster recovery plans for their physical operation, they may not have the same plan for cyber breach. The disaster recovery policies would include immediate action steps based on size of the breach, who made the breach, what information was taken, were company smart phones breached, what to communicate to employees, the public and shareholders as well as other important factors.

In some cases, it may make sense to inform the FBI. In other cases, it may be better to pay the ransom. The challenge with calling the FBI is that the hackers could be in countries like Russia. In Russia, the FBI may not pursue them. Why? Because the Russian government is always looking for good hackers. If the FBI exposes the hackers in Russia, the government may hire them, which can present long-term problems for the US. When it comes to paying ransom, it’s tricky. If you pay, they may hack you again as though you are an ATM machine. If you don’t pay, they may expose confidential information. These are also the kinds of challenges that directly involve the board.

What’s most important is that the board is talking about cyber security before there is a problem. There should be constant audits of the cyber security system to mitigate any risks. In addition, as a board, they should hold the CEO accountable for that security. Furthermore, there should be clear policies to guide the board and the executive team on how to handle the various moving parts in a delicate situation. Boards with disaster recovery plans and high accountability with the CEO are more likely to be forward thinking about cyber vulnerabilities and proactive about updating the security system.

What To Note While Shipping To China

With a lot of players entering the international logistics market, shipping to countries that are located thousands of miles away from you, has become a hassle-free task today. Gone are the days, when you had to wait for relatives or strangers from a particular country to pass on things to your near and dear ones staying there. With international logistics becoming highly cost-effective as well, you can use them for your business and personal purposes quite easily. One of the hot shipping destinations is China. It is one of those economies that has been growing at an exponential rate. Hundreds of thousands of items worth millions of dollars get shipped to China on a daily basis. Here are some of the important processes that are involved while sending goods/shipment to this country.

1. Customs clearance/paperwork

When you want to send anything to China, you should be aware of the custom laws and regulations prevailing in that country. Items, whose values are quite low (approximately lesser than 500Yuan)are free from customs duty. If you are sending items that are worth more than this value, you need to pay the required customs fee and submit all relevant paperwork, so that your shipment doesn’t get rejected. Chinese laws are quite strict when it comes to documentation. You should have a checklist of the requirements and plan accordingly, so that you don’t miss out on anything.

2. Method of packing

Whenever you ship anything to China or any other country, you need to take extra care while packing your products. Fragile items should be covered in cardboard boxes that are well corrugated so that they are well-protected against abrasions and friction. All the items should be sealed to avoid leakages, breakages, spillage and other related mishaps. Your shipments involve a lot of investment; therefore, it is only natural that you take enough care in ensuring that they reach their destination safely and perfectly.

3. Banned items

This is one of the most important points that you need to keep in mind when you are shipping anything to China. Every country has different laws related to the list of prohibited items. You should be fully aware of the rules that stop you from taking certain items into Chinese territory, so that your package is not confiscated at the time of security checks. Prohibited items mostly related to food, electronics and other materials like wood, cane, bamboo etc. Under each category, you should know the list of items that are allowed or disallowed, permitted weight and other aspects, in order to get your shipments cleared without any hassles.

4. Service provider

This is the first step that you need to follow when you decide to send your shipment to China. Choose a service provider who is highly reputed in the world of international logistics and who has enough experience in this field. When you choose the right company, you will be given professional guidance about the items that can and cannot be shipped to a particular destination, saving you lot of time and embarrassment.

Why Packaging Labels Should Be Clear

It is an age when consumers are the most demanding. When purchasing a product, any customer has a specific set of requirements, which the buyer needs to meet. The requirements of the consumer are based on the kind of product which is being purchased and of course the purpose of use. Thus, it is important that retailers and manufacturers offer complete transparency, especially in case of food products.

Labels are an integral part of packaging. But the important fact is that the labels should ideally serve their purpose. They should offer all that the customers are looking for in terms of information. If the labels are not informative or clear, the manufacturer might lose out a chunk of customers.

Importance of Packaging labels Clarity

Source of Information:

Labels are the only source of information about a product. A label needs to be clear so that the consumer gets all the necessary information needed before use of the product. If there is no such information, consumers might be in doubt and they will lose faith on the product. This is especially important in case of food products, where consumers need to necessarily have some information on the product. This includes information, on the calories, nutrition count, method of use, storage information and more.

This is also most important in case of pharmaceutical packaging. Buyers need specific information related to the product, which includes ‘best before date’ and composition information. If labels are not clear, customers will not buy the product next time. They will instead opt for another product which offers them complete information related to the product.

Brand Image:

If your package isn’t clear and professionally done, your company might lose its integrity. The consumers might have suspicion in their minds about the product since they have no clarity of information regarding different things. It doesn’t help the brand image. Besides, consumers never purchase anything unless they are aware of the content. Would you like to purchase a package of cookies if you are not aware of the calories or the ingredients?

Also, having a clear packaging is not enough. You need to know what should be included in the packaging label as per the manufacturer. There is usually no formal definition of what needs to be included in the label. But, you need to include information as per the requirements of Food and Drug Administration authority. Thus, labels which do not offer clear information also mean they are not complying with the safety standards.

If there is a natural product, the label should be clear with information. Such information includes words like ‘minimally processed’, ‘gluten free’, ‘simple’ or natural. If such words are present, the buyers are actually sure that the product is safe for use. Also, there should be certification or logo about the product being safe for use.

Thus, whenever you buy a product, ensure that the product has a clear label. It includes all necessary information about the product. If there is no clear label, it might be possible that the company is hiding something.