Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Are Your Business Ideas Profitable?

I recently received a request to write about testing business ideas. While we can prepare for and plan our businesses around concepts and data, there is no real way to test if we're going to be successful or not.
There are some ways to double check if you are or are not on the right path when it comes to business. Here are my top three tips to see if you are on the right path to projected success;

#1. Focus on goals, don't just have them.

I know many people who write goals down. They have a goal for every part of their life. What they're missing is a plan. You need to have a goal followed by a plan and work at it daily.

#2. Be reasonable with your time frames. Don't plan to be a millionaire at the end of two years. If only life were this easy. Make sure you have a realistic timeline to compliment your goals and your plans.

#3. Make profit your number one goal. Don't think about expansion, second offices, etc. until you actually have a solid profit coming in. You can't just think big, you have to grow a profit to get big.

I will back with a new blog series this upcoming Monday, January 5th. Until then......

Happy New Year!

Twyla Garrett

Monday, December 29, 2014

How to Survive A Plane Crash

It’s not a nice subject…. how to survive a plane crash. I wanted to write something relevant on tonight’s blog and, unfortunately, plane crashes have been not only a big story in 2014 – but a recent one too. Since I am in the business of helping to keep people safe, I feel that it is important for me to cover this subject- as uncomfortable as it is.

Here are 3 easy-to –remember tips to help you survive a plane crash. I’m hopeful you will never have to use them.

1. Location, location, location. When you book a flight, try to book one where you can select your own seats. If you can do this, make sure to get seats as close as possible to an exit. Aisle seats are generally preferable as they are easier to get out of. In addition, try to sit in the back of the plane. Passengers in the tail of the aircraft have 40% higher survival rates than those in the first few rows.

2. Stay calm and prepare. I know this is easier said than done but most plane crashes afford passengers several minutes to prepare for the crash. During this time try to determine what surface the plane will land on so you can adjust. If you’re going to be landing in water, for example, you’ll want to put your life vest on—don’t inflate it until you’re out of the plane—and if you’re going to be landing in cold weather, you should try to get a blanket or jacket to keep you warm once outside. Make sure to put your ID and cell phone in your underwear to prevent it from falling out upon impact.

3. That oxygen mask is extremely important! If the cabin is compromised by a fire or air damage, you have only about 15 seconds (often less if you’re a smoker) to start breathing through your oxygen mask before you are rendered unconscious. You need to be alert (most of the time) to survive.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, December 26, 2014

Are You Hosting A New Year’s Eve Party This Year? If so, you need to consider keeping your guests safe while they are drinking- and in general. Many parties can go wrong with heated emotions and liquor involved. While I work in Homeland Security, I wanted to provide everyone and anyone who reads my blog with some free tips to staying safe (and keeping your guests safe) during a New Year’s Eve celebration.

If you are hosting a New Year's Eve party, following my simple steps for keep everyone happy, healthy and safe;

First, plan ahead by naming a "designated driver." As the host of the party, you should be checking in groups who arrive together. Ask who the DD is and confiscate the car keys until the same group is ready to go home. This way, you can check to ensure the DD is sober and prepared to drive the group home. If your DD falls off “the wagon” or you have singles without a DD, make sure you have someone else you can trust available to drive people home or be prepared to front taxi fares and worry about being paid back later.

Another great way to keep people safe (and avoid conflict) at a party this New Year’s eve is to limit the amount of alcohol that you serve. You should offer many mocktails and limit the amount of beer and wine you have on hand. This will help control over the urge to over indulge by many guests.

If you are going to serve liquor, stop serving it at least 90 minutes before people will be headed home. Simply shut down the bar and offer coffee or flavored waters (to push urination) along with some greasy foods to help people sober up.

Finally, don’t invite two sets of families / friends, etc. that you know have active drama going on between them. Unfortunately, a lot of gun violence (well, violence period) happens between two people who know each other. The holidays can bring out the worse in people and public gatherings can make people want to air grievances. If you know two groups don’t get along, don’t invite either group.

Until Monday,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Illegal Immigration Is Up.....

A report recently ran citing that illegal immigration is up in this country while the number of deportations are down. This is a DHS issue, of course, because it involves undocumented people entering into the country without any real record of who they are and what their possible intentions are. For the most part, people entering the country illegally are looking for work but we still have to take this report seriously. With New Year’s even almost upon us, security in this country tightens because there will be many parities hosted with large gatherings.

Jeh Johnson of the DHS recently spoke to reporters about the increase in illegal immigration. An administration official said the drop in deportations was at least partially due to the surge of illegal immigrants from Central America, who require detention, flights and travel documents, which makes them more expensive to deport versus the cost to deport illegal Mexicans, who can usually be quickly sent back across the land border.

The official also said part of the problem is that so-called “sanctuary city” localities are increasingly refusing to turn immigrants over to federal authorities for deportation. Homeland Security said localities refused 10,182 different requests from federal agents to hold illegal immigrants the agents wanted to pick up for deportation. (Washington Times)
Regardless if the numbers are slightly up or slightly down, the problem remains and will be carried into 2015 as an issue this country has yet to resolve. In fact, I don’t believe there is a “one size fits all” solution right now to address this problem. I’ve said several times on this blog that there has to be a series of protocols implemented but the ability for the DHS to look at illegal immigrants on a case-by-case basis before deciding if they should be deported or provided with an option to apply for citizenship. Either way, this is certainly an issue I will continue to address in the New Year.

2015 will be interesting for us as a country and from a homeland security perspective. I look forward to covering these topics (and more) for all of you in the future. This said, I will be taking a break from the blog to celebrate the holidays- returning with a post on Friday, January 26th.

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, December 22, 2014

Social Media & Disaster Planning

Social media has become relevant in the last few years when it comes to helping disaster planning agencies and emergency responders deal with the unexpected. In fact, agencies have used everything from e-newsletters and blogs to Twitter and YouTube to post information on how to contact carriers, provide storm updates, notate emergency shelters locations, provide road closing information, showcase office hours, pass along FEMA info, provide “how tos” on preparing a disaster supply kit, deliver storm surge maps, give “thank you’s” to emergency responders, and so much more.

Social media really has provided first responders and federal agencies with a unique tool to prevent disaster communication protocols as well as to engage with civilians to correspond critical information when the unexpected does happen. With the ability for social media to break news in real-time, many agencies and officials are able to steady stream of information that is accessible from anywhere.

I am writing about these benefits today because in 2015 I will start a social media series on the benefits of civilian interactions (using social media) with federal agencies. I will talk about how tips, information, tracking and more can be collaborated using the inexpensive tools that come with today’s social media landscape!

Want to join the conversation? Please follow me on Twitter!
Twyla Garrett of

Friday, December 19, 2014

IME Wins Bid for CATS of Montgomery County, Maryland.

IME has been awarded, along with its partnering co-chairs, a Consulting and Technical Services (CATS) contract with the Department of Technology Services within Montgomery County, Maryland.

For Immediate Release

IME ( has been the partial recipient of a contract award with Montgomery County, Maryland. The company will service the Department of Technology Services for the county as part of its CATS program. The bid award announcement came in early December with a 2015 service date.

“My team is thrilled to be a part of this bid win. We are going to co-chair it with some of our peers which is always fun and a tremendous collaborative experience for the client,” said IME’s President Twyla Garrett. “IME is invested in providing solutions to our clients with challenges and I’m pleased to help drive this project forward with cost-effective results in mind.”

IME is an innovative leader within the technology services industry- among others. The company has spent the greater part of a decade dedicated to solving complex problems in support of its clients. IME was also recently featured on America Now, Politically Incorrect, and in Business Journals DC Edition. IME also provides government agencies, private sector organizations, and commercial business with IT support services and IT solutions to maximize resources and efficiencies.

“My team and I are proactive. We like to fully engage our clients with options and ideas, as well as explanations as to why some strategies work or will be setting a scenario up for failure. It is our goal to provide a full picture of risk versus results and then implement unique solutions that really solve problems and provides a great service and or product,” finished Garrett.

IME recently launched its new multi-media capable website with amplified service and capability options. Members of the media are invited to speak with Twyla Garrett about this opportunity and IME’s other capabilities.

Media Contact for IME:
Helene Vece
702-749-5925, Ext. 210

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Interview... Con't

Should I write about what a waste of resources and money "The Interview" movie is costing the Department of Homeland Security. Nevermind the fact that since 8am this morning CNN has done nothing but cover the story. I understand the threat that was made. I'm not downplaying its seriousness at all. I just can't believe that a movie has now turned into an international incident.

In case you've been hiding in a cave, "The Interview" was scheduled to open Christmas Day, but Sony canceled its debut following a threat from a group that claims it hacked the studio. Despite speculation the comedy might be released digitally after this whole series of nonsense and threats of been put into motion, studio Sony Pictures said in a statement that it "has no further release plans for the film."
Variety calls "The Interview" an "alleged satire that's about as funny as a communist food shortage, and just as protracted." Yet this "comedy" about two TV guys tasked with assassinating North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has sparked a cyberterror campaign that amounts to extortion.

So where do we go from here? Well, I'm not sure. The DHS and the FBI have to handle things on there end. The DHS did state there was a credible threat and so they are moving in accordance to policy to seek out who made the cyber attacks, etc. I do agree that this country shouldn't put anyone in danger over a silly James Franco / Seth Rogan movie but what kind of message are we sending to the world by pulling the movie? We teach our kids to stand up to bullies and the minute the big bully pushed us as a country, we fell. Sure, the movie is silly and probably not that funny- but I think we are missing the principle. We shouldn't back down from bullies- period. Our country exists on the premise of freedom of speech. We just showed how much we, as a country, are willing to retract that freedom because of a threat. I think that is a real shame.

Share your thoughts with me on Twitter of Facebook.

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stop. Think. Connect. Are You Aware of This Campaign?

Today I want to cover the Stop. Think. Connect. Campaign being run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Not many people are aware of the campaign, which is counterproductive to why it was initiated in the first place. As a leader on Twitter for being a Homeland Security resource, I thought it would be a good idea to update everyone on what exactly this campaign is.
According to the National Retail Federation, 141 million people spent $57.4 billion dollars during Thanksgiving weekend last year, and consumers spent nearly $600 billion during the 2013 holiday season. The biggest shopping season of the year comes with great deals and benefits to shoppers, but it also comes with certain risks.
Stop. Think. Connect. Is an online security campaign, which ties into how much money people are spending online. The DHS launched the campaign to help consumers shop safely and keep their personal information and financial accounts private. The campaign offers tips on how to do this, some of which I have noted below;
1. Use and maintain anti-virus software and a firewall. Protect yourself against viruses and Trojan horses that may steal or modify the data on your computer and leave you vulnerable.
2. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true. Use caution when opening email attachments and don’t follow web links included in unsolicited email messages. Watch out for extremely low prices on hard-to-get holiday items. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Keep a record of your order. Retain all documentation of your online orders in the event that your purchase does not ship or there are unauthorized charges on your credit or debit card. Also, be sure to review your credit card statement each month for irregularities.
4. Get savvy about Wi‐Fi hotspots. Limit the type of business you conduct when using public Wi-Fi networks. Avoid shopping online when using public Wi-Fi as your information can easily be accessed by hackers on a public network.
5. Shop on reliable websites. Take a look at the website’s trademark or logo to make sure it’s valid. Also, pay attention to the website’s URL. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate website, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).
Since our social media culture is so 24/7, we often forget that (like the real world) bad people exist. Don’t allow yourself to become vulnerable during this holiday shopping season- or anytime. Follow the tips noted above and connect with the DHS directly for more information on the Stop. Think. Connect. Campaign.
Until tomorrow,
Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Really James Franco?

I can't believe that I have to address the issue of James Franco and Seth Rogan's latest movie scandal- but I do. Homeland Security also had to release a statement about the pair's latest movie project, The Interview, today. Why? Well, the plot of the movie is about killing the leader of North Korea. The Department of Homeland Security said today that it is unaware of any active plot against movie theaters in connection with the hacking of Sony Pictures in spite of many stories circulating the Internet.

That's right, the DHS had to address a James Franco movie because of terrorist plots / rumors online that are making people nervous about heading to the movies on Christmas Day- which is one of the biggest movie days of the year! “We are still analyzing the credibility of these statements, but at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States,” the DHS official said in a statement. “As always, DHS will continue to adjust our security posture, as appropriate, to protect the American people.” The unsigned note, assumed to be from the hackers who breached the computer system of Sony Pictures last month, is the first threat of physical violence in the on-going drama. (Forbes)

If you're concerned about safety during a movie, please follow the steps below and always report suspicious activity You can always connect with me on Twitter too. Let's continue the conversation.

Steps for Movie Safety;

1. Sit in the back row, preferably on one side or the other. This not only gives you a clear view of everything — and everyone — in the theater, but it also gives you easy access to the door.

2. See movies early in the day. There’s no telling when a psychotic person might open fire in a crowded area, but safe to say it’s more likely to happen at a midnight screening than an afternoon matinee.

3. Keep your cell phone handy. It’s polite to stay off your cell phone during a movie. No one likes seeing that flash of blue screen in a dark theater. But keep your phone on and handy, in case you need to make an emergency call.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Thursday, December 4, 2014

3 “MUST” Networking Tips for Women Business Owners

I was recently asked if I had ever felt funny networking at a mixed gender event. Well, first of all, life is a mixed gender event. Second, I never have felt “funny” but I’ve always been a straight forward person who has worked among more men than women. That’s when it occurred to me that new business owners, who happen to be female, may need some tips on networking.
So, I went back and checked-in with the woman who asked me this question. I wanted to know what her experience was that she would ask me such a question. It turns out, she felt that men may have mistaken her business advances as an excuse to flirt. She was concerned about lines being perceived wrong at mixed gender events.

As a result of her question, I’ve put together 3 tips to help females new to business ownership proudly boast their companies, and build professional relationships, without feeling “funny.”
1. Practice your elevator pitch in the car and into a recording device. There are many apps that can record your thoughts while driving. Download one on your smart phone. Practice several elevator pitches in the car on the way into work. 8 hours (or more) later when driving home, listen to them. You will know what sounds great, what makes you cringe, and what to polish.
2. Be a giver. Don’t go into any event seeking a business deal or referral source. Instead, offer to do something for everyone you meet. This way, no single person feels you’re offering an “extra special” incentive because you’re interested in him or her. For example, if you own a bakery- have special business cards printed up with an offer for a free brownie every time the person visits your shop in-person.
3. Don’t drink more than one glass of wine and no hard liquor. This goes for any event at any point during your career as a business owner. No one likes a sloppy drunk and no one will take someone who can’t be responsible with their liquor intake at a corporate event seriously- especially when it comes to signing a contract or referring business to that same person.
Have more questions? Let’s connect on Twitter.

Twyla Garrett

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Two terrorists set free into U.S. by Homeland Security Dept.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged Tuesday that his department had to release two men who admitted they were part of a terrorist group from Turkey, after a judge ordered them to be let out — a decision he said he disagreed with. So, why even spend the money to catch them? Where is the balance and common sense?

As I discuss in my book, there is a lot of red tape and rules that don't seem to interact well with one another in this country. Plus, we have rights that still have to be protected and we have programs without the proper funding resources. There isn't a single issue that I can point my finger at tonight and say, "Yes, this is where we failed" when it comes to this specific situation. So, where are these men today? We don't know. We lost track of them once they were released. All we know is they entered Canada seeking asylum. That's it.

Mr. Johnson had to be transparent with this matter and I'm sure he is very frustrated with the Judge's decision. I think many people are. Now, to be fair, the men in question are considered terrorists by the USA because of their group affiliation. Both men were members of the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been battling for Kurdish rights within Turkey for decades. Our country put the PKK (and its members) on the list of Terrorists groups even though they technically don't fall into the same category as other terrorist groups who truly want to hurt America. So, it is a grey area and while we need to use more common sense in this country (who is to say the PKK claim wasn't a cover), we also can't have across-the-board rules that confine people seeking asylum or let those who want to harm our country slip through our hands because of a loop hole.

There is no "right" answer here. Only frustrating facts and valid arguments on all sides of this issue. I'm hopeful, going forward, that we can address scenarios like these in a more microscopic manner. Now, because the men are in Canada, it will be hard to watch them and see if we made the right decision as a country. Instead, we have to hope, wait and see.

Twyla Garrett of IME.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cyber Monday and Holiday Shopping Online

There is no doubt my company, IME, specializes in consulting on homeland security issues and mass gathering security concerns. This said, today is Cyber Monday. Many of you are shopping right now while reading this from a split screen. We are spending money online and handing out our personal information as if it were candy. So, how do you know if your credit and personal information is truly safe today- or any day you partake in online shopping?

Well, in honor of Cyber Monday and the holiday season in general- I’m listing my top 3 ways to keep your personal info. secure online.

1. Keep your firewall security and anti-virus software up-to-date. The biggest mistake I see people make is to assume that just because they have downloaded anti-virus software, that it is good for the life of the computer. No, it’s not! You need up update all your software- including your anti-virus software- on a continued basis otherwise it is ineffective.
2. Be wary of add-ons. Many games and plug-ins are written by third party companies and not the social network. Look before you leap.
3. Make sure the store you are shopping from has an https:// header before checking out. If it doesn’t have the “s” then the website isn’t secure and your personal information and payment information can easily be breached.

Until tomorrow,
Twyla N. Garrett