The Top Online Journal Services For CEOs

August 16th, 2019 by Julie Lough

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

August 2nd, 2019 by Julie Lough

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

July 25th, 2019 by Julie Lough

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

July 18th, 2019 by Julie Lough

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

July 15th, 2019 by Julie Lough

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?

July 7th, 2019 by Julie Lough

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

June 18th, 2019 by Julie Lough

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)

June 6th, 2019 by Julie Lough

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.


CEOs Guide To Corporate Mobile Device Security

June 3rd, 2019 by Julie Lough

Mobile Device Security

One of the major advantages of newer technologies is their ability to connect employees working remotely. Connections to colleagues, data and files help make doing business more productive, effective and accurate, no matter where employees and their teams are.

That’s why more companies are establishing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. Such guidelines allow companies to save on the costs of providing employees with their own mobile devices or paying for their maintenance and replacement.

Adopting such policies requires companies to set clear guidelines for the use of such devices and what obligations employers and employees have.

What Are the Advantages to BYOD Policies?

Along with the cost reduction, there are several other advantages for companies that choose to use BYOD rules:

  • Increased employee satisfaction. Employees who can bring their own devices are more satisfied in the workplace, don’t have to manage multiple devices and can use their own device for work-related tasks.
  • More productivity. Employees with access to workplace apps on their own devices can respond faster to inquiries, gain needed information and address issues quickly.
  • Flexibility. Make it easier for employees to work from home, remotely or while traveling with ready access to communication and apps that let them do their work effectively.
  • Reduces uncertainty. For companies that pay for voice and data services for employee devices, switching to a BYOD policy saves not only on contract costs but also on data and voice overage charges.

“Employees who are willing to spend their own money to procure their own devices can be a boom for their bottom line. In some ways, this is a perfect arrangement. Employees get to use their chosen device, which can improve productivity and morale while saving companies money,” notes a recent article.

What Are the Primary Disadvantages to BYOD Policies?

The primary concern for many companies considering adopting a BYOD policy is security. Consider that for every device you add to your network, that’s one more device that has access to sensitive, proprietary or protected information. A company-owned device provides far more control of what websites are accessible, when devices are updated and how usage is monitored. Companies can control what anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-phishing tools are installed and how frequently they’re updated. Control means a greater understanding of what’s protected and how.

Another concern to BYOD workplaces is compatibility and support. Your employees are likely using multiple devices with multiple operating systems and capabilities. Your IT team will likely be responsible for some aspects of device management, including installation and updating of apps, security processes such as VPN and other protections, and ensuring security patches are applied. Having more devices in play means more expertise is required of your IT employees.

When employees leave, there need to be clear procedures and auditing rules about ensuring that all access to company files, apps and data is removed immediately.

Scalability is another concern. As the number of employees grows, with some of them using multiple personal devices, the staff demand for management and updating grows accordingly. Company network infrastructure also needs to be expansive enough to accommodate all the new devices.

For employees, the main concern is privacy. Employees may wonder how much of their personal activity and device usage is accessible to their employers.

Are There Other Options Besides Company-Provided and BYOD?

Some companies choose one of two alternative policies that reduce the risk:

  • COPE. Corporate-Owned, Personally Enabled devices are those employees can use as their own but are purchased by and owned by the company. However, employee privacy concerns can make such an approach unpopular.
  • CYOD. A choose-your-own-device approach requires employees to select from a limited number of devices for use with employer applications and access. While this helps minimize the amount of support required, it may require employees to spend more on new equipment.

How Can Employers Maintain Security with BYOD?

Clear and consistent policies are key to effective BYOD workplaces. Here are a few of the considerations you should use when implementing BYOD policies:

  • Determine what operating systems and devices your company is willing to support
  • Create device enrollment practices, requiring devices to be registered and authenticated before they are connected to your company network
  • Require strong password or passphrase guidelines, including length, complexity, change frequency and failed-attempt blocking
  • Create automatic lockouts on devices after a period of inactivity
  • Require employees to immediately report lost or stolen equipment
  • Mandate that personal devices can be disabled or wiped in the event of a loss or theft
  • Install required anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spam software on all BYOD smartphones, tablets and laptops
  • Automate regular backups of company applications and data from personal devices
  • Keep devices and applications up to date using automated patching and updating tools
  • Encrypt all BYODs, ideally with full device encryption. If that’s not possible, require all sensitive data to be stored in encrypted folders on the devices
  • Determine if BYOD users will be allowed to print, copy, save or email information pulled from your servers
  • Require employees to sign an agreement stating they understand all the policies, procedures, regulations and consequences for noncompliance
  • Detail the consequences of not adhering to company policies

When companies pay attention to the policies and guidelines necessary to ensure secure and proper use, BYOD policies can be an advantage to employers and employees alike.


A CEOs Guide to Artificial Intelligence

May 31st, 2019 by Julie Lough

CEO Artificial Intelligence

Today’s CEOs are increasingly being asked to lead their business into a data-driven world, but does that mean that immersive courses in understanding the technology are crucial? Not necessarily — in fact, it’s much more important that CEOs understand the potential of the technology and how to drive culture change throughout their organization. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) is truly changing the landscape of business, it’s doing so because fearless leaders are dreaming about the changes and improvements that are now possible through the genius of technology. See how this cultural revolution in the way we work is sweeping through business and leading a fast and furious discourse on how organizations will interact with data and individuals in the future.

The Promise of AI

CEOs have likely seen several generations of “transformative business models”: cloud-based computing being the most recent. As businesses are still reeling from this rapid-fire shift to Software as a Service (SaaS) models, the promise of artificial intelligence has the C-suite scrambling to understand the implications for their business. Scrappy start-ups do as they have always done, harnessing a new technology direction to quickly make changes to their business model as tech is introduced into the marketplace. Larger businesses and enterprises may be slower to act, as they can be weighed down with limited budgets, heavy infrastructure and disparate legacy systems. It takes time to move in a new direction, but the promise of AI is significant enough that business leaders throughout the world are exploring how to deploy data-driven decisioning in their operations, marketing and accounting solutions. From computers that recognize an individual human’s face to predictions of sales based on the weather, AI can be found in any number of practical applications throughout the business world — as evidenced by the 270% growth rate that AI has enjoyed in the past several years according to Gartner research.

Understanding How AI Works

In this season, the hype around AI is beginning to manifest itself in workable business models such as chatbots, next-best actions for customer service and predictive analytics. These systems can sense, analyze and respond to their environments in a way that is both interactive and intelligent. Creating a machine that is able to make better decisions over time based on the validation of its hypotheses requires a great deal of programming and math. However, the beauty of AI is that once the background work is done, humans are able to interact with the systems to continue the cycle of learning. AI systems “see” and “hear” sensory inputs and are able to translate that information, extract value and provide intelligent feedback to the user. Sensors and IoT (Internet of Things) connected devices also serve as input mechanisms, allowing machines to “feel” when something is cold or hot, positive or negative. This level of intuition is what is new to the business horizon, and it provides organizations with an ever-expanding range of possibilities to solve business problems.

3 Levels of AI Comprehension

While AI may have initially brought to mind futuristic robots that have taken over the world, true intuitive thought and “leaps of logic” are still beyond the limits of current AI technology. For example, an AI program can identify the difference between dogs and humans. The same program may be able to recognize how the two relate to each other as owner and pet and make the leap that they were going for a walk because the owner was holding the dog’s leash. However, it would not be able to intuit — or make an educated, quantifiable guess — anything about their relationship to each other in the future. This type of abstraction is still beyond the limits of current AI computing. The three primary levels of AI comprehension can be defined as:

  • Recognition: Identify items in a picture or video
  • Comprehension: Determine how the items relate to each other
  • Abstraction: Evaluate the information and make a prediction about future performance

Each stage in the evolution of AI has taken years, but the advances are coming more quickly all the time as business leaders and technology teams come together to dream and create the interactions of the future.

Bridging the Knowledge Gap

Business people are struggling with an unfathomable knowledge gap between their understanding of business intelligence and AI and the possibilities for the future. Data scientists are swiftly becoming the bridge that helps cross this gap between technology teams and business leaders, providing the insight that can translate business needs into practical applications of AI and machine learning. As CEOs deepen their understanding of data and possibilities for their business, a data scientist or business analyst may provide the necessary cohesion to maintain forward momentum on these highly technical projects.

Creating a Culture of Innovation

Perhaps the most important challenge faced by CEOs when it comes to AI isn’t technical at all — it’s cultural. If the organization is not willing to embrace the future potential of this emerging technology, it’s unlikely that AI-based projects will be successful. There is a fundamental fear within many organizations that AI or machine learning tech will replace individual knowledge workers as the AI can produce similar results in some instances as long as the correct inputs are being provided. A great example is in healthcare, where nurses or intake professionals traditionally gather basic information while assessing patients in an emergency room. AI chatbots can be programmed to not only gather and log this information quickly but also use micro-data to determine the level of distress of the individual — potentially classifying their level of pain for more immediate action by doctors. Minute facial changes, heightened breathing and sweating are all inputs that an AI can process in milliseconds that might be overlooked by a harried charge nurse.

While that scenario sounds as though it could potentially replace a position, what it actually means is that the human nurses are freed of repetitive tasks so they are able to add more value to other interactions. These lower-level engagements with patients are simply a distraction for nurses, taking time away from patient care and their ability to connect on a deeper and more proactive level instead of being stuck in a place of reaction to outside stimulus. CEOs who are able to clearly communicate the value of AI to their organizations in a way that is both non-threatening and that drives excitement within staff are more likely to be able to successfully sustain change initiatives for the future.

Rethinking Traditional Business Models

In a traditional business model, managers, directors and even chief executives are accustomed to making decisions based on incomplete data or inaccurate assumptions. While this often works out, the deluge of data that is now available allows for more informed decisions to be made — as long as business leaders are willing to take the time to ask questions and refine their understanding of business problems. Machines are exceptional at uncovering patterns, and many of these designs can fool people into making certain decisions based on their intuition. With the introduction of AI-driven decisioning, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are unexpected variances in the data that point to inefficiencies, inaccuracies and outright errors. Understanding how to interpret this information can often fall on the shoulders of a data scientist, but helping work through those questions and drill into root causes of issues will be a crucial skill for all business leaders in this brave new world of data.

Getting Started with AI

Whether you have a million ideas you want to vet with your team or are just starting to consider how AI can impact your organization, the time to get started is now. Organizations of all sizes are embracing basic AI — everything from social media chatbots that can help customers place a simple order or learn more about a product to connected systems that predict which products consumers may purchase next based on the buying patterns of others throughout the world. Determining where to begin is challenging, but here are a few basic considerations as you’re prepping for action:

  • Determine the reporting structure for AI, and this could change for every organization depending on the needs of the business. Will AI be mostly used in marketing or communications, operations or as a predictive analytics engine to determine when a potential breach has occurred? Understanding the application of AI technology can help ensure that the project gets the support that it needs to be successful.
  • Will you hire or rent the technical know-how for implementation and ongoing support? Here again, there is no “right” answer, but it requires contemplating the breadth of the engagement and how quickly you want to ramp up for your AI-based project. A similar question is needed to determine whether you will buy a codebase that contains the majority of what you need and customize it, or build your AI applications from scratch.
  • What’s the business case for AI? The most successful organizations are the ones that are able to quantify the value that they expect to gain from AI in terms of time savings, productivity boosts or improved customer engagement rates.
  • Understand (and be able to articulate!) the “Why” of your project. Are you solving a problem, beating a competitor to a goal or simply exploring the potential for the new technology within your business? Being realistic about expectations helps reduce the potential for pushback from non-believers within your organization.

Artificial intelligence has far surpassed the time when it was simply a buzzword that people loved to throw around and is now a thriving part of the business landscape with over 60% of businesses adopting some form of AI in the past year alone. Understanding the potential for disruption in your industry — both positive and negative — and how AI can be leveraged will be crucial skills for successful CEOs both now and in the future. There’s one thing for sure: AI is here to stay. Business leaders can make a decision to avoid moving forward with any AI-driven initiatives, but the cost to the organization may be higher than stakeholders are willing to pay.