Someone tried to Social engineer me on Quora

 

I’ve been phished, spearphished and trolled via Email, facebook, LinkedIn and whatsapp. But even I was surprised to find someone trying to social engineer me on Quora.

 

How do you know you are successful? You draw young, exotic women… this maybe true (and positive) for James Bond, but in the online world, the more people want to be close to you the more suspicious you should be. So one day not so long ago I received this comment to one of my answers on Quora:

 

quora phishing
Yep, Zanita Joy does not sound like a credible name

 

 

Two things caught my eyes- first of all, people don’t usually respond to answers, let alone with a “glad meeting you” header. Second- People on Quora usually use the platform and it’s built in messaging system to communicate. So someone asking you to contact her on email (and a Hotmail account nonetheless!) is highly suspicious. Lastly- people don’t usually take a “romantic” angle on these type of semi-professional platforms (LinkedIn included). So I declined, deleted and reported this.

While I don’t think this is any serious security threat to my safety or privacy, it is an alarming development- it means fraudsters realize there is a new hunting ground for fresh meet, and I’m sure this is not the last we’re seeing of it. The next phase usually evolves to cybercrime, and I can imagine several innocuous looking methods to trick and infect Quora users (I will save these to myself- no one said we need to make the hackers lives easier).

I advise you all to be vigilant and don’t let your guard down even on such trust evoking platform: don’t reveal personal information, don’t connect and interact with people you don’t know and don’t do anything which feels suspicious. If you encounter any suspicious activity- you can always ask the community what people think about it. Worse case- you’ve raised awareness. Best case? You prevent fraud. Good luck!

 

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How one post generated tremendous traffic to my blog.

One blog post generated almost 20,000 visits to my blog. More than all others combined. How did I achieve such fit?

Simple.
I’ve asked people for their help.

original post
The Original post dated 3/5/2015

 

About I year ago I started to write more consistently at my blog. I was wondering how to boost traffic.  I read a little and understood that the best way is to generate interest and engage people. Since my blog was about me and my experience I didn’t know what to do. In the meantime I played with the idea of improving my blog and making it look more professional. I decided I was going to design a logo for the blog and the brand “Owntrepreneurship”. I posted this on a freelance platform and got several designers interested. One of them (which I eventually contracted) offered several drafts for me to choose from. It then dawned upon me that this was a perfect opportunity to “crowdsource” my decision? So I wrote this post, labeled

Please help me select the new owntrepreneurship logo!

 (https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/05/03/please-help-me-select-the-new-owntrepreneurship-logo/)

I then published it in multiple places, including Quora.

https://www.quora.com/I-need-to-design-a-professional-logo-for-my-new-startup-Whats-the-best-way-to-get-a-really-good-logo

And what do you know? The number just dazzled me.

all time stats
The stats – over 18,000 visitors

 

Overall this post saw nearly 20,000 visitors over the past year. I haven’t been able to replicate these numbers since, even though I’ve tried to ask a similar questions. I think what really did it for people was the fact that it was sincere ( I really didn’t know what I was doing in terms of both logo design and working with freelancers), it was engaging (they had an easy survey to participate in- just select one of four options) and it was visual.

So asking for help really did make a difference in this case, and I will definitely think of ways to replicate this in the future.

And the decision for the logo ? it’s the one I was rooting for, proving the wisdom of the crowd…

Sometimes life take a dump on you

Sometimes, shit happens.

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hit happens

sometimes life takes a dump on you. You can’t help it, but you can choose how you want to deal with it.

It happened to me last week. Like literally.

I was walking home and felt a small pat on my shoulder. I didn’t think much of it at the time but when I got home I saw I was what happened.

I was shat upon.

Most likely a bird (could have been a bat too). It hit the lapel of my jacket and my shirt’s collar. Inches away from my neck and face. I washed it quickly and most likely it will not leave a long lasting stain.

I thought about putting this behind me. After all, no real damage was done, and I didn’t even waste much time cleaning it.

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But then I thought- perhaps there’s more I can gain from this miserable incident. Later that night I told my 3 years old daughter what happened. She looked baffled… how can someone soil her dad like that? She knew that bats and birds dump litter our car (and sometimes our laundry). But the idea that a bird can actually shit mid-flight still looks weird to her. But that wasn’t was I was going to focus on. I told her these thing happen, and could happen to her too. And there was nothing anyone can do to prevent it.

I also told her I was lucky. lucky how?

Lucky that cows don’t fly… 

and while she didn’t really appreciate the joke (after all, if you’ve never seen a cow’s dung this wouldn’t be funny you too), she intuitively understood I looked at this unpleasant situation with a good sense of humor.

Several days later when we’ve talked about this, she remembered most of the details and recapped the incident with a laugh, saying “a bat sat on daddy’s shoulder and made a poopoo” and burst into laughter.

So now I know that if this would ever happen to her she will take it with a pinch of self- humor.

And this is all a father could hope for -not for her to get hit by sh*&%t , but for her to be able to handle it in a cool manner.

4 tips for making Conferences more fun for teams

As I wrote in my last post (https://owntrepreneurship.com/2016/02/07/how-to-makes-conferences-less-painful/), conferences can be a pain. But if you’re lucky enough to travel to one as part of a team you could potentially have more fun.

fl booth.PNG

But make no mistake, in order to have fun and avoid constant bickering, please consider the following tips:

  1. Effective communication
    It’s hard to keep everyone in sync with what’s going on during a conference- one person wants to attend a keynote, the other to walk the halls, third just scheduled an appointment with a potential customer at the café. But wait- who’s manning the booth?? Afterhours can also be challenging- some want to rest at the hotel, other to eat, other to party and others have to prepare for the next day. Just arranging a joint meal could be a strenuous ordeal. To avoid mishaps and facilitate coordination, make sure you update everyone, all the time. Luckily this is easier today than ever- just create a WhatsApp group for all members of the team, and use it to communicate. In addition, make sure everyone has the contact numbers of the organizers, booth builder, IT technician and anyone else you might need in a hurry.
  2. Sharing the load
    Some people work harder than others at conferences- people whose job is to stand at the booth (Mainly marketing folks) all day long are not in for a treat. Sales and business development people walk around, sit for meetings at coffee shops and sometime shoot off to offsite meetings. Make a schedule where everyone is committed to spend some time at the booth, and make sure no one has to stand there all day every day of the event. Same goes for booth building and dismantling and packing. Making it a team effort and the people tasked with it will thank you for making their lives easier.
  3. Having fun by gamifying
    Ok, so you are forced to spend 3 days in a huge hall with multiple people. You can never wander off too far or for too long, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. Create a group challenge- see how brings back the most giveaways, or the most silly/ ugly/useless one. take photos for future use. Or better still, see how many cool giveaways you can collect for the guys back home. Which leads to my last point-
  4. Don’t forget your back-office
    Surely there are people back home supporting you- the office admin who made the travel arrangements for you, your tech guys on call to support you and even your marketing guy who’s doing social media buzz from remote. Be kind and bring back home something for them. Even the smallest gift (which is something you take from another vendor booth anyway) could go a long way in thanking someone.

Keep these simple rules and fun (or at least a more productive time) is guaranteed.

 

How to make conferences less painful

 

Conference are demanding, tiring affairs. You start the day fresh, dressed smartly and filled with energy, and end it crawling back home, bones aching and just wanting to get to bed…

confeerence.PNG
Ready to go…

 

Here are some tips I’ve accumulated over the years:

  1. Have someone go instead of you.
    Sounds silly right? Well- you’d be surprised at how many non- marketing/ sales people enjoy attending and presenting at conferences. For some it’s just the novelty, for other the chance for a trip aboard and for some its and opportunity to explore the industry. Whatever the motivation- why not harness it? For sure a motivated individual will be better at chatting to folks at the booth. You can train them do deliver the sales pitch, or ask them to help with general booth-related tasks (operating the games, handing our giveaways, collecting contact details etc.). since many people in your organization actually know the product better than you (having dealt with it for years) they might actually be better in some regards than pure sales/ marketing people. And you will get the chance to sit back and enjoy a week of back-office fun.
  2. Carry a trolley
    20160127_233104 (1) - עותק
    Unsung hero of the conference halla

    An easy hack, but what a difference. Sure, it will make you look somewhat weird at first. But after several hours of walking around your back will thank you and the naysayers will salute you. By the way- this is also applicable if you’re operating a booth- you still have to carry heavy stuff to or from the hotel to the site (brochures and giveaways) so make the trip easier and stuff it all down the trolley.

  3. Hydrate and eat (but beware of junk):
    It’s very easy to get carried away and spend an entire day with eating or drinking. Or even worse, eating candy and chocolate and drinking only coffee and beer. Do your body a favor- grab a small plastic bottle and keep it filled with fresh water. No need to hold it- that’s what you have a trolley for! And if food (real food, not the free stuff they give away at the other booths) is scarce or expensive, keep some energy bars with you for a quick nibble when hunger strikes.

All in all, conferences can be a welcome break from your daily routine. Done right and you might even enjoy these…

I’m not a morning person… really?

The way you start your day pretty much dictates how you will feel and act all throughout the day. Start it late and you will play catch up all day long. Start it mellow, power up and arrive fully energized and you will be far more productive. But how can you change and start the morning strong if you are not a “morning person”?

 

commute to work
If possible, commute using public transportation to reduce stress

I arrived at the offices of a company I work at one day, several weeks ago. The hour was quarter to ten in the morning. The office was all but empty. I drank coffee, made some calls and started working, and one by one the rest of the employees came in, looking somewhat tired and un-energetic (The one or two exception were working moms, who preferred getting to the office early since they had to leave early to pick the kids from kindergarten or school ). On the other hand, when I left around 6 PM people were looking like they were in the middle of the day (the empty Pizza boxes I found the next morning confirmed that someone was working later). Sure enough- the next day this pattern repeated itself. I’ve asked some of these guys (most in their late 20’s, single or without kids yet) why would they rather stay late in the office and the all replied they find it difficult to get to work early (as if 9 or even 10 am is considered early) and have to put in the long hours to meet their goals and deadlines.

Why would someone rather spend the only part of the day where they could be stress free at work is beyond me. But it seems that many people hang to the excuse of not being able to do what is needed early enough and so start their day late and slow.

For these poor souls I have the following tips:

  1. Leave nothing for the morning No tasks. No laundry. No dirty dishes in the sink. Nothing.I even shower the night before, not to mention choosing my attire.
  2. Everything takes longer in the morning, and will just slow down your departure from home. So next time when you look at the overflowing garbage bin and think- I will throw it tomorrow morning- think again.
  3. And especially, no decisions. Making in form of decision (what to wear, what to eat, which route to take) is mentally demanding. Our brains as well as our bodies need time to “warm up” and are adept to making difficult choice so early in the day.
  4. Commute less, and if possible, do so by public transportation
    If you can stay and work from home, even for 1 day, it will greatly reduce your stress level. Studies have shown that Commuting for more than 20 minutes makes you ‘stressed and cynical’ (See: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/commuting-for-more-than-20-minutes-makes-you-stressed-and-cynical-10278874.html). Researchers found a ‘significant link’ between travel and exhaustion, and recommend travelling by public transportation in stead of driving as a means to reduce stress.
  5. Stay offline as long as possible
    This is more difficult than it sounds- most of us reach for our device as soon as we open our eyes. But refraining from doing so will give your brains some time to relax before the digital onslaught of the day
  6. Go to bed early- seriously, if you want to disrupt this sleepy cycle, make an effort to hit the bed early, at least one night of the week. We are programmed to operate when there’s sunlight- only in the last 100 years or so there’s been enough lighting to actually do somethings at nights. Before that- people just went to bed early- and what do you know? They also woke up early with no problem. So do like your ancestors and get some sleep, get up early and get some quality time in the mornings.

It is guaranteed to change your entire day.

 

 

 

 

An easy hack to come out as a winner out of every business meeting

meeting summary

Every business meeting is different- some are good, others are terrible. But there’s one simple thing you can do to make every meeting count.

Write and distribute a summary of the meeting to everyone who’s attended. And do it as soon as possible, even minutes after the meeting has ended.

It sounds silly, but it’s true.

Be the hero

No one likes to take notes. No one likes to be responsible for accurately capturing the meetings’ essence and action items. By doing so you position yourself as the go-to guy and as the authority. You will earn the immediate respect of everyone- here’s a responsible lad they will think. This one can be trusted with getting the job done.

Control the agenda

But the truth runs even deeper. It was said that history was written by the winner. Well- your’e not actually making history but you can tweak it to suit your needs- because whoever writes the summary also chooses what is left out (such as annoying tasks for yourself) and also what are the action items for everyone. Sure- sometimes people will try to shout back and say this isn’t what was decided, or “remind” you of an unpleasant task you need to perform. But more often than not, people will just appreciate you for taking the time and the effort (and secretly thank you for removing this burden) and would refrain from arguing in public about decisions and task allocation.

Speed trumps accuracy

Yes, you can send the summary about 24 hours later. People will still appreciate it, but the impact will be reduced, and someone might either beat you to it (taking your hard earned credit) or ask “where is the summary” (by which point it will seem very late to send this at all). The best is to distribute this within the hour, but several hours are also find. Given that today you can carry a laptop/ tablet/ smartphone to any meeting and takes notes during it’s course makes it a no brainer (in F2F meetings it is better to take hand written notes- no one likes to look at you typing).

Be consistent

In all my professional life I was only beat to a summary once, and that’s because I had a long drive from the meeting back to the office, which the other guy used to his advantage. But in all other cases I was the first, and I’ve always been surprised at how much people appreciate this small gesture.

 

Don’t be lazy. Take notes, organized them and send quickly. You will gain the respect of your peers, business associates and potential customers and would be able to extract some “Yey” points from even the lowliest of meetings.

 

 

 

 

 

Three things I’ve learned on my first week as a freelancer

Working Nights is a apparently a big part of freelancing…

20160108_000218 (3)

 

Exactly one week ago I’ve packer my stuff and said goodbye to my last employer, and also to organized employment world, which I’ve been part of for the last 17 years. This week I’ve started a new phase in my career as a self-employed, freelance consultant, providing marketing and business development services to growing startups without the knowhow, capacity or manpower to handle these areas of the business. Funny enough, without knowing so, I’m part of a much larger shift in the labor world from organized to self-employed labor (see this terrific article titled “The Freelancer Generation”

http://techcrunch.com/2015/12/27/the-freelancer-generation-why-startups-and-enterprises-need-to-pay-attention/

Unlike my previous post, which summed an experience I’ve gained over a decade (see https://owntrepreneurship.com/2016/01/04/what-a-decade-of-business-travel-has-taught-me/), this post will do the exact opposite- meaning provide my initial insights from this new form of employment. It would be interesting to see in prospect how these observation fare- meaning, would they hold true on the longer run. But since the prophecy was given to fools I dare not estimate how I will feel and thing in a month or a year from now. I will simply concentrate on my most immediate, uncut observations.

  1. Time moves faster
    This week has flown bye so quickly I can’t believe it’s nearly over. I don’t seem to recall what I’ve did yesterday, let alone two or three days ago. And that’s not to say I’ve had short work days- no, quite the opposite- I haven’t finished a day earlier than 2 am. Surely the excitement of doing something new contributed to this feeling, but I’m pretty sure I will feel this way for a very long time. There’s simply so much to do and not enough time to it, that you find yourself cramming 10 different activities in a time-span where until now (sitting comfortably at your desk) you would utilize to do one thing (if, you were doing anything at all. Corporate culture is full of idle moments- meetings, lunches, water-cooler discussions- all gone when you are your own boss)
  2. But you get so much more done…
    I’ve scarcely checked the news sites, the stock exchange or non-work related social media (Owntrepreneurship blog statistics being an exception). TV? Only to catch the weather forecast to decide in advance which clothes I’ll be wearing the next day. I’ve managed to be super productive and multi-task my way out of multiple work and domestic choirs this week. Most likely- it’s the sense of urgency and the need to please multiple customers (wife and kids included), but the result was unparalleled efficiency. Hope I can keep this up.
  3. Your Karma changes
    I don’t want to say that Karma is smiling upon me (although I feel like it). But for the last week I’ve been the center of attention of recruiters, headhunter and corporate talent acquisition professionals. Something must’ve drawn them all to me at THIS precise week. Funny thing is- for the first time in a very long period, I’m actually NOT looking for a job that they would offer! Nevertheless, I paid my respect, talked and met some of them because you really can never tell what the future will hold, and gaining and nurturing connections is even more important for a freelancer operating with the corporate safety net.

All in all it has been an amazing week, and I really hope this is a precursor of things to come. I will revisit this post in about 3 months’ time and let Y’all know how I feel then and what I’ve learned in the process.

What a decade of business travel has taught me

I remember my first business trip clearly, although it has taken place exactly a decade ago. It was late 2005 and we were heading for Singapore to deliver a project to the local Navy, and upon arrival I could not locate my luggage. What an annoying way to start my very first business trip abroad! Not only that I was tired after an excruciating trip ( 10 hours flight from Tel Aviv to Bangkok, a short 2 hours layover and then another 4 hours’ flight to Singapore) I knew I will not get much sleep that night and that the next day I will need cloths and other objects which were now lost. Lucky for me, this was Singapore- my luggage was located in exactly 5 minutes (plus many, many apologies ) and I was on my way. The trip was a great success- we deliver the system quickly and had 2 days off to enjoy shopping and sightseeing.

I did not occur to me until now, but almost all of my travels were like that- some anxiety, somewhat uncomfortable, but in the end successful and rewarding.

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Sometimes you travel with style, and have time for a cruise and a cold one

 

I did not stop there of course- over the next 10 years my various jobs took me to Australia, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, India, Greece, Romania, Germany, Czech republic, Poland, Italy, Ukraine, Switzerland, South Africa, France, the UK, US and Brazil. I’ve gone from no-status to Gold-status in multiple airlines and have tasted the sweet taste of business class food. I’ve flown with the worlds’ best and worse airlines, I’ve missed flights due to traffic blocks, storms and strikes, and slept in luxurious hotels as well as on cold concrete floors of the airport after a missed connecting flight (thank you for that, United !).

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Other times its a Rickshaw in India in the scorching heat

But what I’ve learnt seems to be universal “truths”, that I’m very glad to share with you here today:

  1. Preparation is everything- the better you are prepared, the more enjoyable the experience will be. If you know what you are to do professionally and travel –wise you are more likely to relax and enjoy (see https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/10/05/were-on-a-road-to-nowhere-travel-anxiety/)
  2. But no matter how prepared are you, things will screw up. Bad weather, aircraft malfunctions, customers who decided to bail in the last seconds are all realities of business travel. You can neither anticipate these nor you have any power to fix these. Accept the uncertainty, and enjoy whatever the road has to offer.
  3. The best travel companion is You- traveling with a group of colleagues can be fun, but also induces stress and tensions. But most times, you will travel alone. Learn how to pass the time and even enjoy it. If you are too bored- this is an excellent time to find new friends (for instance, during a trans-Atlantic flight after you’ve consumed all the books and movies but still can’t sleep
  4. It’s hard- yet rewarding. Seen to an outsider like a fantasy, business travel is more often than not a pain in the arse. Especially if you travel often to difficult locations, it can be grinding. Yet however difficult, it still has rewards nothing else can offer. Traveling in rural India is grueling, but you will taste nothing but original Indian food.
  5. And it’s the only real way to experience our magnificent world and get a sense of adventure. Stuck behind a desk, and the world turns into a mixture of Facebook posts and news articles.
  6. Your annual vacation to some cozy spot in the Mediterranean is fun yet unexciting. You will never see anything unusual going to a mall or sitting in a tourist bus. But traveling for business, even to fairly organized places will always offer some kind of adventure and a chance to try something new, which you probably wouldn’t dare trying if you were to visit the very same place with your significant other or family.

So, was it worth it? It sure was. I got to see and experience things I had never dreamt of (like escaping death by switching trains in India only to find the original train derailed and dozens dead), tasting exotic dishes in southern China and enjoying the chilly Ukrainian winter (minus 20 in February). Today I travel, albeit less often, but I’m always keen to board a plane which will take me to some place new, someplace I’ve never been to.

Owntrepreneurship Blog- 2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 28,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.