With Halloween in the rear view mirror and Christmas right around the corner, it is easy for Thanksgiving to get lost in the shuffle. Bordered by two holidays where much of our society is focused on gifts of candy and presents, Thanksgiving is sort of an “odd man out” and like many of the other holidays, much of its meaning is oftentimes overlooked.
While not the official start of the Thanksgiving holiday that we celebrate today, it was George Washington who in 1789 declared Thursday, Nov. 26, a day of “thanksgiving.” This was a one time occurrence and its intent was to devote a day to “public thanksgiving and prayer” in gratitude to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
(Read the full proclamation here)
It wasn’t until 1863 that Abraham Lincoln set aside the fourth Thursday in November as our official Thanksgiving holiday, but it is the day that George Washington set aside that gives this holiday special meaning to me. The meaning of the word “thanks” is associated with an “expression of gratitude”; and to give thanks is to express that gratitude to others.
(Read the full proclamation here)
In both cases, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were expressing gratitude to the Almighty God for the wonderful gifts He had bestowed on a fledgling nation. While we can join in these expressions, each of us has something unique to be grateful for. Maybe it’s your health, or your family or friends. Maybe its your finances or the fact that you have achieved long sought after goals in your life, or simply that you have a roof over your head – each of us has something to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day.
So, on one of the most important holidays of the year, one that focuses on giving thanks for the blessings that we have received in the past year, let’s stop and take the time to thank the God Almighty, respective spouses, family members, friends, or whomever deserves that expression of gratitude.
After all, isn’t giving thanks what Thanksgiving is all about?
A humorous look at the role of a leader in any organization. If you have ever been a leader, I’m sure you can relate to this quote from an anonymous author.
As nearly everyone knows, a leader has practically nothing to do except to decide what is to be done; tell somebody to do it; listen to reasons why it should not be done or why it should be done in a different way; follow up to see if the thing has been done; discover that it has not; inquire why; listen to excuses from the person who should have done it; follow up again to see if the thing has been done, only to discover that it has been done incorrectly; point out how it should have been done; conclude that as long as it has been done, it may as well be left where it is; wonder if it is not time to get rid of a person who cannot do a thing right; reflect that the person probably has a spouse and a large family, and any successor would be just as bad and maybe worse; consider how much simpler and better matters would be now if he had done it himself in the first place; reflect sadly that he could have done it right in twenty minutes, and, as things turned out, he has had to spend two days to find out why it has taken three weeks for somebody else to do it wrong.
Did you know that Lord Nelson, England’s famous naval hero, suffered from seasickness his entire life.
“I am ill every time it blows hard and nothing but my enthusiastic love for the profession keeps me one hour at sea.”
(See YouTube video: Lord Nelson Seasickness Letter in Tunbridge Wells.)
How could the man who destroyed Napoleon’s fleet lead men into battle when he himself was fighting a battle within himself? He did so by not only learning to live with his weakness – he learned to conquer it. And in so doing, he went on to become England’s greatest Naval hero.
Most of us have situations in our own lives that challenge us on a day to day basis. These may be physical or they may be psychological, but rest assured, everyone who has ever tried to accomplish anything in life has had to overcome their own personal seasickness.
Oftentimes it is a private war; carried on quietly within our own lives. But unlike heroes like Nelson, no one will celebrate our victories, no one will recognize our successes, and no one will pin a medal to our chest for winning. But even without the fanfare from others, nothing can dim the quiet satisfaction of knowing in our own hearts that we did not give up!
A hopelessly lost salesman came upon a farm house where the owner was rocking away on his porch. Late and desperate to get back on the road he stopped to ask for directions.
“Take the dirt road in the direction that the sun sets; keep going until you go past the old post office. Make a left after you drive past the broken down tractor that them Taylor boys left a sittin’ there,” explained the farmer. “Keep a goin’ a bit more until you pass the old sawmill, …” he continued but was interrupted by his old hound dog who let out a rather painful groan.
“Aroooogh,” moaned the dog.
The farmer continued, “…once you get past old McGreevy’s farm, make another left, and …”
“Arooooooogh”… once again, the dog lets out a painful moan.
“Excuse me,” asked the salesman, “but is there something wrong with your dog?”
The farmer looked down at the dog, paused a second, and then replied, “Naw, he’s just lying thar on a nail”. “Wait a minute,” asked the puzzled salesperson, “if he is lying on a nail, why doesn’t he just get up?” Without missing a beat, the farmer said matter of factly, “Don’t hurt enough to get up, just to complain about it…”
Moral: How many times have you criticized someone for how they are doing something? How many problems have you solved with your friends over beers at the local pub? How often do you feel like you have a better idea? Well, stop complaining about it and do something about it!
Remember: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
(I wrote the following article for BABM Business Magazine back in May/June of 2009. The article is reprinted here with their permission.)
With the latest layoff news continuing to add chaos to the economy, CEOs need to protect their businesses in case of staff cuts, restructuring or consolidation of offices. While your company may not be planning layoffs now, there is no guarantee that in three or six months from now this will be the case. There are steps your business should take, both proactively and reactively, to ensure that your most valuable information such as customer data and contracts isn’t walking out the door with terminated employees.
Ideally, even before layoffs occur, businesses need to be prepared to protect their assets. Employees may sense a layoff is imminent and start grabbing what data they can before they get the official word. This could lead to a loss of your company’s most valuable contacts that former employees may use to compete against you. Proactive monitoring of systems, before layoffs begin, can ensure that your company’s data is protected.
There are a variety of technologies you can implement to monitor your employees’ access of specific applications. For example, you can monitor who has access to what type of database and determine if an employee is running unusual reports. Are certain employees extracting every field, downloading the data to a local disk and/or sending it to themselves over email?
Having a solid process for role provisioning and access management will help limit access of certain information to those people who need it to do their jobs. If levels of access to various applications and corporate information are assigned for each job description, it is easier to set up monitoring systems for each employee as well as protocols for changing passwords and other termination procedures to remove access when an employee is let go.
A good rule of thumb is to trust, but verify. Monitoring can be performed at many levels and includes database access, disc usage, and whether or not USB drives are being plugged into company computers. Monitoring can even determine if proprietary data is being sent to an email account. When it comes to access management and monitoring, CEOs and executive management need to weigh how much protection they want with how much they protection they can afford. It’s a formula that will vary for every company.
Once a company is in an action stage and layoffs are about to begin, it’s almost too late to protect and secure its data without shutting off access altogether (which may not be feasible in all cases). As a fallback plan, many companies provide their security team with a list of users they plan to let go. On the morning the layoffs are to take place, the team is tasked with acting on the list and locking out those employees from their accounts. But there’s often the lingering feeling that something was missed. Are they prevented from accessing your systems remotely? Are they still receiving their email on their home PCs? Does the employee have access to vendor accounts? Can your security team effectively map the employee to all the accounts they have accumulated over the years?
There are many types of technologies that can be used from a proactive perspective and subsequently verified from a reactive perspective. CEOs should be proactive and have an effective user provisioning solution in place. This ensures that they have accounted for all the systems and the types of system access where a user has an account. Once layoffs have occurred companies should continue monitoring mission critical systems to ensure that the access has been terminated appropriately. A security event monitoring solution on the back end can monitor log files or traffic patterns to these systems and immediately notify of any unusual activity.
Companies that have implemented centralized account management systems have peace of mind that they can quickly prevent access by employees who are no longer associated with the company. They can be certain that they have locked all accounts being managed by the system and actions such as terminations can be performed by management (ahead of time) rather than needing to involve people from the security team.
Companies that have not implemented a centralized account management system are increasing their workload and effectively putting valuable corporate assets at risk. At this point, there has to be due diligence as you have to perform these tasks manually. The potential for damage is great, however, and fallout will rise exponentially as more layoffs occur. If you have implemented a centralized user provisioning system, congratulations! If not, don’t panic, there are still tasks you can perform to help protect your assets.
- Prepare your list well in advance and give your security team a chance to locate the various user accounts.
- Work with functional managers, supervisors, or project managers to further determine the user’s access.
- Monitor system logs and network traffic to determine if any unusual access or traffic patterns appear. Respond immediately.
Even with this type of preparation, the tasks can be quite time consuming and it could take weeks to properly locate and delete access. Hence, our advice is that it’s better to take more proactive steps to avoid headaches and possible customer data and other business asset loss later on. Getting a handle on your role provisioning and user access procedures and having a plan for monitoring employee application use are good places to start.
Staff reduction is never easy and you should make the separation as painless as possible. It is unfortunate that some employees view corporate assets as their own and feel entitled to take information with them when they leave. As a business owner responsible to shareholders or even to the remaining workforce, you need to take every action possible to ensure the protection of this data.