Bragging Rights: Negotiation Mastery Certification at Cornell University

In August I completed the Negotiation Mastery Certification through Cornell University’s online professional certification program.

It’s a well-designed program that is reasonably easy to fit into a full-time working professional’s busy life. The focus is on negotiation with a heavy emphasis on the kinds of negotiations lawyers and salespeople participate in.

If you are looking for something to help with internal negotiations with coworkers and contractors already committed to a project, then the examples and exercises provided may feel like they don’t apply but the techniques being taught are solid and can be modified to suit any situation.

Truthfully, this was my own struggle in this class, because policy development requires a lot of internal negotiation with coworkers, which is distinctly different from a sale call or a legal negotiation over the acquisition of a large property (a common theme in the homework). However, after taking some time to process everything I learned, I realized that it’s all about working with people and most of the techniques are heavily focused on understanding how people behave during a negotiation and the best ways to navigate the conversation – it’s all about working and communication with people.

It’s an excellent class. I strongly recommend it.

Bragging Rights: NITTF Insider Threat Training

The office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), National Insider Threat Task Force (NITTF), has provided access to several Insider Threat training resources. I completed the Insider Threat Training Module.

The module just covers the basics, but it’s well made and clearly explains key topics. It’s a good introduction to understanding insider threats and it provides this nifty certificate upon completion:

Solving Homelessness: Living Wage Work

“Get a job!” is one for the most common insults screamed into the faces of homeless people and individuals begging for change. Extremely poor people are stereotyped as being lazy, unreliable and unwilling to hold down a regular job. In reality, a significant number of extremely poor (homeless and housed) people hold down multiple jobs, working between 40 and 80 hours a week, month-after-month and year-after-year. The problem is not the ability or willingness to work – it’s the extremely low wages being paid by the vast majority of available jobs.

All over the country, the struggle is the same. Good paying jobs are inundated with applicants and almost every other opportunity pays less than the cost of living. Simply paying rent on a full-time minimum wage paycheck is impossible. Add in other expenses and holding down 2-3 jobs may not bring in enough cash to simply live.

The irony of this is the fact that there is plenty of work to be done and plenty of resources to go around. Take a walk around your neighborhood. How much would the 2-3 blocks surrounding your home benefit from a crew of people dedicated to simply cleaning, maintaining and fixing things? Expand that to the entire town or city. How much work needs to be done? How much of it get’s pushed aside year after year?

Then consider the number of small family businesses and start-up companies that struggle to survive in a market where large corporation not only dominate but reduce prices to the point where it’s impossible to compete. Providing people to work at small, local, businesses at a reduced cost to the business while paying the worker a living wage could help boost the local business economy.

A very simple program that simply provided a living wage job to any and every person who applied would go a long way toward reducing poverty (extreme or otherwise), preventing homelessness, and providing homeless people a much-needed opportunity to move into long-term housing.

Couple this program with standard employment assistance services and people who have been out of work for a long time will be provided a much-needed opportunity to return to the workforce. Even if every person working is doing low-skill manual labor, the possibility of being hired for completely different work significantly increases because it’s always easier to get a job when you have a job.

Also, presenting yourself in an interview becomes both difficult and complicated when you are stressed about finding your next meal, a place to sleep, the possibility of being evicted, or the overall safety of your children. These are things that employers consider liabilities and reasons to remove a person from consideration – if they should find out. They are also things that make remaining cheerful and pleasant a challenge.

A significant number of the seemingly insurmountable hurdles faced by extremely poor people could be addressed by simply providing a job that pays enough to cover the cost of living to anyone who wants one, regardless of their work history, background, criminal history, skill set or age.

This program would have to provide opportunities for teenagers, including those who are trying to help their family pay the bills, trying to care for siblings on their own or simply surviving without the help of a family. An education is crucial, but being open to helping these kids cover the cost of living through a job (full or part-time) presents a multitude of opportunities to address things like obtaining a GED.

Providing people with a criminal record or a less-than-perfect background with work that covers the cost living – guaranteed – helps to reduce criminal activity because it makes crime less necessary. When people have the ability to choose to live a good honest life, then making the decision to pursue criminal activity is more complicated because they really and truly do not have to break the law just to survive.

Making work available to anyone who needs it, at all times, also acts as a safety net for individuals who:

  • Lose their job due to cutbacks or a large corporation shutting down.
  • Quit a job due to a hostile work environment.
  • Leave their spouse due to abuse or a crumbling relationship.
  • Were forced to close a small business.
  • Are faced with the loss of work and/or income for any reason.
  • Many more…

The bottom line is simply this, providing a living-wage-job to anyone both willing and able to work benefits everyone in a specific geographic region and goes a long way toward reducing homelessness overall.

Bragging Rights: GDPR Training

I’ve successfully completed the Understanding the GDPR MOOC offered by the University of Groningen’s Security, Technology and e-Privacy (STeP) Research Group on FutureLearn.

Observations:

  • It’s a four week course but I completed a good amount of on-the-job research prior to taking the course and, therefore, managed to complete the entire thing in about a week.
  • The topics covered are both comprehensive and realistic. It doesn’t get bogged down in the details and does an excellent job of covering the issues companies need to know in order to begin a gap analysis and ensure compliance.
  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is still very new and many of the questions professionals, researchers, companies, corporations and governments have are not possible to answer. The reason for the lack of answers is simply this: when the issue is taken to court, the courts will hold a full investigation and trial. The results of that legal process will stand as Independence for suture decisions. There is very little in the way of legal precedence currently established, so the academic and professional focus is on the ‘spirit of the requirements’ and the ‘primary objectives behind the establishment of the law.’
  • The course has a series of quizzes that must be passed at 75% or higher (total cumulative score) in order to receive a certificate. There’s only one opportunity to take each quiz – they cannot be redone. It’s possible to open up the videos, articles and lecture notes while taking the quiz and there is no time limit – so it is (in essence) open book. It is not possible to search everything and auto-find the answers. So, be sure to do your readings, watch all the videos and pay attention to the notes provided during the practice quizes!
  • Successful completion of the full (paid) version results in a certificate that can be used for continuing education credits (this is useful if you hold a professional certification in a related area!).

The MOOC is well worth the time and effort. I highly recommend it to anyone involved in GDPR compliance or information security.

Bragging Rights: Insider Threat Training

I completed the Establishing an Insider Threat Program module in the CDSE Insider Threat Training program.

The certificate to prove it:

Bragging Rights: Insider Threat Training

This is a rather small brag but – why not?

I completed the first module in the CDSE Insider Threat Training program.

This training/module provides this very useful toolkit: https://www.cdse.edu/toolkits/insider/index.php

My fancy new certificate:

Information Security Resources: Federal USA

United States of America Federal Regulations and recommendations affecting Information Security, cyber security, data security and privacy.

 

Information Security Resources: International Organizations

Organizations providing international information security standards and recommendations:

Book Review: It’s Not About You

Amazon.com

“Give people something good to live up to—something great—and they usually will. In fact, often they’ll even exceed those expectations.”

This book reads like a novel. It’s a lovely, heartwarming, story about a manager trying to coordinate a merger between a small family business and a larger corporation.

He’s there to convince people, persuade them to do what his employer wants them to do. He’s there to meet his own career objectives. While he achieves his goals, he also learns crucial lessons about doing business both ethically and effectively – about negotiating a win-win situation and about leading a people toward goals that may not be clear to everyone involved.

“The single biggest challenge to any organization is the constant cloud of fear and doubt that swirls around the heads of the people involved. As a leader, your job is to hold fast to the big picture, to keep seeing in your mind’s eye, with crystal clarity, where it is you’re going—that place that right at this moment exists only in your mind’s eye. And to keep seeing that, even when nobody else does. “Especially when nobody else does.” Your people count on you to do this. It’s the biggest job you have.”

This isn’t the business management version of a Christmas Carol. The main character is a far cry from the wicked Mr. Scrooge. In fact, he’s essentially a really good guy with some rather standard perspectives on management and business. This is a story about a good guy transforming into a better guy – a better manager and a better person.

“Building a business takes skill, work, and materials . . . but those are details. More than anything else, building a business—really, building anything—is an act of faith. Because you’re creating something out of nothing, you see?”

It’s a light read filled with truly useful advice, making it the perfect business book to pick up over the holidays.

It’s Not About You: A Little Story About What Matters Most in Business by Bob Burg, John David Mann

Book Review: Women and Career Decisions

There are a lot of books focused on women in the workplace. Most are written by women who are CEOs, successful entrepreneurs or otherwise well know for their professional achievements. Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction by Marcia Reynolds is not that book.

Wander Woman is filled with facts:

What most surprised the managers was that the top-performing women did not stay and fight. These days, strong women take their expertise and knowledge to greener pastures.

Their workplace wish lists rarely state “being promoted” as a prime motivator. Instead, my survey respondents told me they look for (1) frequent new challenges that stretch and grow their ability to achieve; (2) the opportunity to be flexible with their schedule; (3) the chance to collaborate with other high achievers; (4) recognition from their company; and (5) the freedom to be themselves.

And with highly quotable and inspirational statements:

If you want to change how you relate to others and run your life, you have to first transform your concept of self. If you try to change your behavior without first transforming who you think you are, the changes will last a few days until you quit thinking about them.

But the real strength of this book comes from her personal experience. She describes being an overachieving teen who gets into trouble that very nearly destroys (or ends) her life:

I learned one of my greatest life lessons—if you don’t know who you are, you will never be content with what you can do—in one of the darkest places on earth, a jail cell. A year after high school graduation, I ended up spending six months in jail for possession of narcotics, an experience I swore would never happen to me. In truth, the sentence saved my life.

And delves into her struggles as the daughter of a man who was so tied up in his self-imposed identity as a man-who-works that he was unable to handle retirement:

The day the doctors told my father he could no longer work was the day he accepted his death sentence…In my anger for his leaving me, I somehow missed the lesson in my father’s passing. My father could not be a retiree. He could not free himself from the identity of being a successful businessman. When he could no longer hold on to that identity, he quit…When he had to give up his formula for prestige, he gave up his will to survive. I desperately tried to help him see what else he could accomplish if he redefined his goals. I didn’t see that his addiction to achievement was killing him.

There are pages upon pages of down-to-earth realistic advice pulled from the life of a highly-relatable professional woman. Reading it feels like sitting down for coffee or tea with a friend and hashing out the day-to-day frustrations every one of us has to face. I came away with advice that I regularly use:

I choose my work based on what I have defined as my purpose and say “no” to everything else. When I am buried under a to-do list, I prioritize and let some things go with no guilt. My exercise and fun time can’t be compromised. These are the good days.

This isn’t grandiose advice handed down to the masses by a woman who has achieved dizzying heights. It’s perspectives, thoughts and ideas that actually apply to the challenges of daily life, provided by someone who has been through it herself.