Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Internet Explorer and Homeland Security

The U.S. Department of Homeland security is advising Americans not to use the Internet Explorer Web browser until a fix is found for a serious security flaw that came to light over the weekend. The bug was announced on Saturday by FireEye Research Labs, an Internet security software company based in Milpitas, Calif.

My company, IME, works within the industry of Cyber Security and deals with issues of Cyber Terrorism. So, why is the Department of Homeland Security involved? Your personal data and the transfer of money to fund terrorism. It is this simple!

"We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem," the Department of Homeland Security's United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team said in a post Monday morning. It recommended that users and administrators "consider employing an alternative Web browser until an official update is available." Because the hack uses a corrupted Adobe Flash file to attack the victim's computer, users can avoid it by turning off Adobe Flash. "The attack will not work without Adobe Flash," FireEye said. "Disabling the Flash plugin within IE will prevent the exploit from functioning."

So, if you haven't already turned off Internet Explorer and Adobe Flash, please do so. The DHS is doing everything possible to rectify the situation but it still is a situation. "We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem," the Department of Homeland Security's United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team said in a post Monday morning. It recommended that users and administrators "consider employing an alternative Web browser until an official update is available." Because the hack uses a corrupted Adobe Flash file to attack the victim's computer, users can avoid it by turning off Adobe Flash. "The attack will not work without Adobe Flash," FireEye said. "Disabling the Flash plugin within IE will prevent the exploit from functioning."

Until next time,
Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Common Business Mistakes

I am asked often about common business mistakes, which is why this is my third blog post on the subject. The problem with asking general questions is the answers will always be generic. You see, there are different types of industries in business which means there are different types of mistakes to be made. Some you can recover from, some you can’t!

Below are three common ‘general’ business mistakes you want to avoid and the reasons why:

1. Hiring the wrong people. Don’t trust a resume, vet it. Hiring the wrong person costs time, money and can ruin your reputation in the very delicate first three years of a start-up. Make sure someone doesn’t simply looks good on paper. Call those references.

2. Pricing. Yes, price point is a major issue because it pays the bill. Price something too high and you will not have sales. Price too low and you will not make a profit, maybe you will even put yourself in more debt. Take the time to do your research and really price your item or services within competitive range. Adjust as needed!

3. Being cheap about marketing. No one ever wants to spend money on marketing or advertising or public relations. And when a business isn’t receiving any attention or customers are not walking through the door, business owners question why. It takes money to make money. Whatever you can afford for marketing, double. You need it. Period.

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, April 28, 2014

The secret to productivity!

I was introduced to an amazing tool that helps me increase productivity and get to know my clients better. In fact, it has boosted my productivity and my profits. What is it? A recording device.

Yes, in the day of the app, I am relying on a basic digital recorder to move my business forward. I highly recommend this tactic to anyone and everyone- employee or business owner a like. You see, as a business owner I have to deal with many people, many problems, and many prospects daily.

Using a recorder allows me to record conversation highlights to review at a later date or time. When I am done pitching a client, I record my key thoughts about the client’s project and personal items he or she may have said to me right after the conversation and while it is fresh in my mind. Then when myself or my team is working on the proposal we can easily recall key information to include into the proposal. Even something as simply as a client mentioning they like Chiptole is useful. I will often record preferences noted by the client during a meeting so I can send a tailored ‘Thank You’ gift at a later date or as a follow up push.

So, simply taking a few minutes to recall important events into a record can truly help your productivity and your profit margin. Until next time, Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, April 25, 2014

Running A Business…. Are You Training?

You train for a marathon. Well, running a business is exactly like running a marathon. Thus, you have to continuously train for business like you would a marathon.

Like training for a marathon you need to consider opportunities. Which ‘marathons’ will you attempt and which ones are you going to pass on? Think about this when considering any and all business deals and partnerships. This rule should be applied to money, too. Simply because you are approved for a $600,000 loan doesn’t mean you should take all the money if it is not needed.

Endurance is going to be needed and you will have to ‘train’ for this as well. We are simply not conditioned as new business owners to understand the long hours and the magnitude of stress we will have to ensure. So, start off slowly and learn to take on more and more work / contracts / stress slowly and not all at once. No one runs and completes a marathon in record time their first bid out of the gate. Apply this concept to your business and your endurance.

Until Monday,

Twyla N. Garrett

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fighting and Business.....

“Conflicts are common between you and competitors or employees and bosses. How you deal with conflict and those moments when you feel like you’ve been decked can mean the difference between success and failure.” – Bobby Campbell.

I read this statement today and sat on it. It hit me hard because Bobby talks about how running a business is like getting into a boxing ring each and everyday. The key is knowing when to get out of the ring or when to stay in and fight. As business owners we will encounter daily conflict. This doesn’t mean we have to engage into a conflict everyday. There is something to be said about the above statement.

Walking away from conflict is easier said than done. Chosing your battles wisely will be the difference between failure and success for you. If a conflict is minor, meaning it isn’t going to harm your company regardless if you win or lose, let it go. That fight isn’t worth it. However, if you are engaged in a battle that can harm your business – at the advise of a lawyer- then a fight must proceeed.

I am writing a book on failures in business right now and addressing the issue of fights won but businesses being lost as a result will be included in a chapter. If you have a similar story then I want to hear from you.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pilots and Guns... Is This A Good Idea?

Today’s Homeland Security blog covers a topic recently brought up by Rand Paul. Mr. Paul stated more pilots should have guns. Is this really a good idea? Will a gun held by a pilot truly defeat potential acts of terrorism?

According to Guns.com, “In the latest Presidential budget for 2015, the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program is seeing its funding slashed, which could endanger the program that has armed approved pilots since 2003. Among those upset is Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who is calling for increasing, not decreasing, the funds appropriated for arming pilots. “I’m concerned about what is the most cost-effective way of preventing another 9/11: I want all pilots to be armed,” said Paul to Sean Hannity recently.

Now, there is no proof FFDO actually stopped any acts of potential terrorism since there is really no controlled study to back up the data. I’m not convinced the slashes to the budget will result in a terrorist attack. In fact, there has been a terrorist attack in Boston and a security guard with a gun didn’t make a difference because the method wasn’t a one-on-one shooting scenario.

Again, these congressional arguments become an issue of sustainability in the planning phase more than a “did it work” scenario. We will never know for sure if FFDO made the impact it was set out to do because, luckily and thankfully, nothing happened. This brings me to my thought of the day – why do we continue, as a people and a government, to set up programs without the ability to sustain them? Isn’t this setting ourselves up for failure and continued red-tape?

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When NOT to Delegate!

Here’s the thing, I am often asked about delegation. I am both for and against it. I don’t believe in micromanaging employees but there are certain tasks that shouldn’t be delegated. In fact, these tasks should be micromanaged and handled by you! What are they? Keep reading.

1. How you are spending other people’s money. Yes, this is a subject that is sensitive but if you have business investors then you need to be speaking with them and updating them on the progress of the project and how their money is being spent. It is crass to delegate this tasks to an administrative support position.

2. Leadership. This defines your company brand and your company’s culture. If you delegate leadership to a poor leader or a leader who has a different vision then you- your company will not reflect your vision. Be your own leader. Be your company’s leader. Actually lead!

3. Pitching products or services. Sure, you will need a supportive sales team. However, do not allow this team to decide how things are pitched or how your company is represented. You need to train and check in upon all the people who sell your products and services for you. Again, I believe in delegation – just now when it comes to the above tasks.

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Positive Impressions, Do You Make One?

I have met several business owners who are nice people on the inside but not so nice on the outside. Why? There is no reason to be a shark in business and a mean person personally. You can be nice but conduct your business well. In fact, it is proven being positive goes a lot further when compared to being too strict of mean.

In order to be perceived as nicer or more positive try to take care of your employees. Even when you don’t have to, care about your employees. Give away personal health or mental wellness days once in a while. Buy lunch for the office when it is least expected. Say ‘yes’ to donation opportunities within the community!

My point is that you must make an effort to change how you are perceived in the world. You can be a great business owner without being a jerk.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla Garrett

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gifts to Your Employees

You may be thinking the title of this blog surely means giving your employees a cash bonus or a physical gift. Well, I’m talking about educational and support tools as gifts within the office. It is a win-win for you and your employees.

Most people do not understand the value of providing employees with tools and education as a gift. One of the biggest “gifts” you can give your employees is the gift of independence. Let them do their jobs. Sure, management is needed but you shouldn’t be over their shoulder every second of the day.

Employees are typically hired because the employer believes they have the skillset, or they can learn the skillset, to do the job. Peering over the shoulder of employees stresses them out and puts them on the defense. Unless they give you a reason to do this, give your employees the gift of independence.

Employees love independence more than they value a raise or a gift certificate to the movies (which is a lame appreciation gift BTW). So, as we head into Friday – consider what educational and growth “gifts” you can reward your employees with on Monday.

Until Monday,

Twyla Garrett

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Employee Turnover - Why!

I recently read that forty percent of employees who left their jobs voluntarily in 2013 did so within six months of starting in the position, according to data recorded and processed by the work-force insights arm of credit-reporting agency Equifax. I was horrified by this statistic. People are having massive issues finding work. Why in the world would they quit their jobs after trying for so long to gain employment. Well, the issue is simple – company culture.

Company culture is the unsaid, yet most important, element for employees staying happy and staying hired. Poor company culture causes mass turnover. Yet companies today don’t care if an employee stays or leaves a company because of the culture simply because there are too many fish looking for work in the employment sea.

My best advice to an employee is to make it work. If you don’t fit into a company’s culture, try. It truly is the difference between your next paycheck or a stint in the unemployment line.

Until next time,

Twyla Garrett

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Homeland Security and Pornography

Many people are not aware that the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) also handles issues of illegal pornography. My point is proven with the latest topical arrest of a Michigan man today. One Michigan paper titles the story ‘Otter Lake man faces child pornography charges after Homeland Security probe’. You can read the entire story here: http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/04/otter_lake_man_faces_child_por.html

According to the paper, “ Homeland Security Investigations officials began investigating the man after he allegedly downloaded a video Feb. 4, 2013, which showed a young child being sexually abused by an adult, according to an affidavit filed with the complaint. Officials were able to obtain a search warrant for a home associated with the IP address used to download the video, according to the affidavit. Investigators allegedly discovered more than 900 videos and 6,000 images of child pornography on the man's computer, the affidavit states.”

Yes, the DHS does more than just prevent terrorism. The department covers issues of cyber-security, which are often directly related to crimes against children. When people complain about how the DHS’ funding is being spent, they often do not consider cases where young victims are able to be recovered and further acts of sexual violence cease from being committed as a result of the Department’s actions.

I wanted to cover this in today’s Homeland Security blog because I feel it is important to give credit where credit is due.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Homeland Security Blog Surpasses 10,000 Views!

(Press Release) - Apr. 15, 2014 - BALTIMORE

Dr. Twyla Garrett owns IME and is a Homeland Security expert. She has worked with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and she writes a daily business and Homeland Security blog. Her blog recently reached over 10,000 readers and is now listed in Masters of Homeland Security as one of the top ‘100 Greatest Twitters for Staying Informed’. http://www.masterofhomelandsecurity.org/informative-twitters.html

“It’s an honor to be listed as part of this guide and resource. I’ve been working on this blog for over a year, with a post dedicated to the topic of Homeland Security each and every Friday. This listing didn’t come self-solicited, which makes it even more special,” said Dr. Garrett.

Other Twitters listed in Masters of Homeland Security as one of the top ‘100 Greatest Twitters for Staying Informed include the Department of Defense, the U.S. Secret Service, Notify New York City (which falls below Ms. Garrett’s #56 ranking). “Students and industry pillars are using this resource, which is great for my company and my brand. However, it is those who read and interact with my blog every day that really win. This listing has inspired me to take the blog to a new level with more photos, opinions on topical news, and video!”

Members of the media are invited to contact Ms. Garrett on the topic of Homeland Security and anytime there is a nationwide event that is of concern to the press.

Dr. Garrett’s blog topics are fed daily to her Twitter account, which is https://twitter.com/TwylaGarrett

About Twyla Garrett: Twyla Garrett is an extraordinary entrepreneur, corporate speaker, and compelling author who has been personally invited to speak at The White House on the issues of creating jobs, economic growth and the controversial fiscal cliff of 2012. Garrett is known for her notable (sometimes 100% self-funded) business deals as much as she is known for providing excellent opportunities to individuals facing immense challenges. Twyla’s memoir will be published in 2013 and it will be followed by a series of “how-to” business books, starting with one based on Homeland Security. Currently, Twyla’s business blog and social media accounts furnish motivational quotes and an over-the-shoulder view of her unique perspective on profiting in business while helping others.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Business Lessons – Monday

I wanted to start a weekly ‘Business Lesson’ theme on my blog. You see, I often write about what is either trending or in response to questions I receive on Twitter or via email. Mondays, however, will be dedicated to business lessons I’ve learned in life. Today, I am going to share my first business lesson that is very, very important. What is it? Technology will not kill you.

Ok, it really is ‘Ignoring technology and smartphones’ will not kill your business. People tend to check their email accounts, on average, twice an hour. Why? What happened in the business world before email was invented? Did it cease all together? No! Checking your email, your social media accounts, and the rest of today’s technology actually slows your productivity and creative process down. You become a slave to the power of your smartphone and then you can kill your business. Don’t rely on technology 100% of the time.

Today’s business lessons is to focus on getting things done properly and not quickly. Responding to emails right away is impressive but not the best business practice and will not help you get promoted or more customers. Multi-tasking and technology can be your downfall so remember to slow down!

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, April 11, 2014

Help A Failure! (Failure Fridays)

I have an upcoming book on failure. I am writing it now. Failure is both a part of life and business. We all have failures and most of us want to avoid talking about them or revisiting them. But what if you are on the other side of the coin? What if you see someone failing? Do you stand by and let him or her learn the lesson on their own? Or do you step in?

If you do decide to step in then there are a few ways you can help someone who is failing. First decide if you are concerned about the actual failure or improving the other person’s skillset. If the answer is skillset then keep reading. You want to address the skillset problem from a positive place and offer step-by-step guidance on how the failed task should have been executed.

You also want to make sure you’re not encouraging a skillset that is above that the person is capable of. If someone asked me to explain in detail how a rocket ship is launched, I couldn’t. I could give you the basics. If you needed someone to give a presentation to teenagers, I would fail. You could give me a milestones but that doesn’t mean the presentation will be a success. In this case, I would be set up for failure.

Again, failing is a part of life and an opportunity to grow. Some failures, however, can be prevented as we all have talent and skillset limits. This about this during the weekend and decide how to, and if you will, approach someone whom you see is struggling right now.

Until Monday,

Twyla Garrett

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Who Has Your Money?

I love when people turn their money over to their accountant and walk away. Why? Would you turn over all your money to a stranger on the street and tell him or her to take great care of it? Nope! So, just because someone is a licensed accountant doesn’t mean they have your best interest in mind or are incapable of making mistakes. You need to be in charge of your money regardless if you have an accountant or not!

Here are 5 questions to ask any accountant you are considering to hire and, again, make sure you audit him or her regularly.

1. What are a few considerations, financially speaking, that I should be touching base with you on and why?

2. Can you help me grow my business? How?

3. What should be my break-even point?

4. What are common mistakes I should avoid when working with you?

5. Can I have a few past clients as references and the reason why they are past clients?

If you start with these questions then you are on your way to being move involved with your own finances. Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Expanding?!

It’s time to blog about Homeland Security. Yes, it is ‘Watch Your Back Wednesday’ already! Today I want to talk about a meeting that happened earlier at The White House. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met, with lawyers present, regarding the issue of deportation. Regarding this subject, many of you will recall the blog I posted last Wednesday stressing the need for more resources and more action. Well, today we go more action.

Today’s meeting was to discuss revamping policy on how to deport someone and if we, as a country, should deport someone truly here illegally without a conviction. The meeting also addressed the issue of criminal activity and illegal immigrants.

The recommendations included suspending or even doing away with the deportations of the estimated 8 million undocumented immigrants who would quality for legal status under the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate last year but stalled in the House.

So, what is next? Well, this was just a meeting. There is nothing set in stone now. With Congress, getting anything accomplished right now is nearly impossible. I’m hopeful the meeting today does create a favorable outcome for those seeking to make a better life for themselves while we are still able to protect of freedoms.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Color and Your Website

People tend to use blues, black and shades of red when designing corporate-based websites. While this may be a nice way to design a website, research shows the use of color is changing when it comes to ROI.

In a peer reviewed journal article, Satyendra Singh determined that it takes a mere 90 seconds for a customer to form an opinion about a product. And, 62-90% of that interaction is determined by the color of the product alone. So, boring and corporate based websites that all look alike will not stand out!

This doesn’t mean you go out and start throwing wild colors on your website. There has to be a right way, the right time, and color catered to the right audience. Yellow is associated as a kids’ color. Unless you sell services or products aimed at kids and their parents, yellow would be a wrong choice of color. Orange is associated with discounting products and services. Does this fit your demographic. There is something to be said about the color of psychology. So, it isn’t just about using color but what colors you use and how you use it!

Targeting women? In a survey on color and gender via Inc.com, 35% of women said blue was their favorite color, followed by purple (23%) and green (14%). 33% of women confessed that orange was their least favorite color, followed by brown (33%) and gray (17%).

My suggestion if you are getting ready to spring clean your website, consider color use. Do a web search on the phrase ‘psychology of color’ and really think about who your website sells to and what colors you should incorporate. For some companies the use of color is a bad thing, even with the popularity of color and social media being high. Risk management companies shouldn’t ever use color. It defeats their purpose.

Still have questions? Connect with me on Twitter!

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, April 7, 2014

3 Steps to Winning Proposals

If you are like me, you as a business owner are constantly writing proposals. Some of rejected, some are won. This is the nature of the game. However, if your overall numbers of wins isn’t always increasing then you should address how you are writing proposal. Below are my top three tips to winning business proposals through great writing.

1. Read before you write. This is a critical step and it is also often overlooked. If you don’t read the RFP line by line then you are missing opportunities. Most RFPs will clearly define what is needed and guide you through what to tailor within the proposal.

2. Don’t talk bad about your competition. Instead, show how you are different and better. This is a great way to define your value without being negative.

3. Make sure you talk qualifications versus price. If you are underpriced because of a lack of experience, state this. If you are overpriced because of experience, state this. Don’t leave the person reviewing your proposal guess as to how you came up with a figure.

Writing business proposals is hard but not impossible. The more you practice, the more chances of winning you have!

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Save Time Cure

Someone recently asked me how they can cure themselves of being stretched too thin. Easy! Stop multi-tasking. There isn’t a single shred of evidence that shows this is productive. In fact, multi-tasking is based on the sole concept of spreading yourself thin over a variety of tasks. Why do this to yourself? You will only become frustrated when you are producing a bunch of mediocre products / services!

The key to curing yourself of over extensions is to realistically schedule time for certain products and then refrain from checking your phone or answering the phone when you are working on them.

As you head into the weekend try to stop overcommitting or multi-tasking. I promise you will find the quality of your work goes up.

Until Monday,

Twyla Garrett

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Your Body Is A Champion – At Least It Should Communicate This!

There is a lot to be said for body language. We are constantly judging people by their appearances and how they act. Don’t be fooled into thinking this doesn’t occur, it does! Now is a great time to decide how your body behaves on purpose to communicate the message of a champion to others.

Start by evaluating if you act confident or defensive in any and all situations. It seems simple but we often fail to check this within ourselves. If you are speaking at a coffee shop, giving an order or talking with passers by, chances are you aren’t standing with your arms crossed. Chances are you are also not standing in an engaging position. Change this about yourself.

Each day you should make a conscious decision to act confident, even in casual situations. Stand with your arms to your side , excellent posture and smile when you speak. Don’t say ‘hi’ to strangers, engage them. Reach out your hand, shake theirs, introduce yourself by name and ask for theirs. Be bold. Even if you are not that confident, these tricks will work.

Communication is everything. Remember this on your road to success.

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

68,000 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions released in 2013!

An internal Department of Homeland Security document compiling statistics on arrests and deportations in 2013 showed that ICE agents encountered 193,357 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions but issued charging documents for only 125,478. More than 67,800 were released.

The data came from an end-of-year “Weekly Departures and Detention Report.”

What does this specific data have to do with Homeland Security or my blog today? A lot! The Center for Immigration Studies reports that ICE officials moved to deport 28 percent fewer illegal immigrants from the interior of the country in 2013 than in 2012. The issue at hand is security, but more so this issue has to do with family. The issue is too complex for resolve to arise in my blog. However, it is important enough not to ignore. If these illegal immigrants didn’t host this status, they would be released back to their families here in America with no notice. The fact is overcrowding in the prison system is the root of this problem. And then there are issues of addiction, covered by many insurance companies as a medical condition, that leads to arrest.

When an illegal immigrant is arrested because of addiction and he or she has young children here- what do we do? Deportation requires resources and most of the time it isn’t effective. Does their status truly remove the human element or make them less worthy then the thousands of Americans arrested each and every year and also released because we have an overcrowding problem here at home?

Senator Jeff Sessions recently told the media “DHS is a department in crisis!” And related to this issue, it may be. We can’t burn the candle at both ends. We can’t have the TSA treat our own citizens as criminals coming in and out of the country because of a potential security risk or the Lone Wolf element when we let thousands of illegal immigrants, who can pose a security risk, go Scott fee. However, punishing those arrested because of addiction and who have families establishing themselves in this country isn’t fair, either. What do we do?

In my opinion, we need a case-by-case assessment of each situation. This is going to require resources, time and patience, something our country is already low on. What I do know is how the DHS is handling this subject matter isn’t working. Neither side is happy, tons of money is being wasted and we don’t have the resources to keep up this facade.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla Garrett

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Customer Retention 101

I want to use today’s blog to talk about customer retention. What happens when customers look somewhere else? Are you trying to keep your customers or are you more interested in the next big contract?

Customer retention is important. In fact, it is vital to your business regardless if you sell products or services.

To employ true customer retention practices, you first need to empower your employees. Don’t make them get the manager in order to fix simple problems. If an employee encounters a problem first then he or she should be able to start immediately rectifying the situation. Saying “ I can’t do that” or “I have to get my manager” adds fuel to the fire. Teach employees to take ownership of negative situations and let them know how much gratis or corrective tools they have.

You also need to measure retention and not satisfaction quarterly. No, these are not the same thing. Think about it. I’ve gone to McDonald’s on three occasions during my life where orders were messed up, the food wasn’t good, etc. I can’t tell you the number of occasions I’ve gone to McDonald’s and had a great experience. The company isn’t interested in my satisfaction , they are interested in my retention. I don’t let small mistakes ruin the brand for me. This scenario should be your goal when it comes to retention, not satisfaction.

Have more questions? Connect with me on Twitter via the links.

Until next time,
Twyla Garrett

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