8 Resources for Staying Safe Online

Most people are fully aware of their vulnerability to cyber crime; however, most don’t know precisely what they can do about it–or where to do for information.

According to the 2019 Cyber Barometer published last month by Generali Global Assistance, more than 50% of individuals around the world were the victim of a cyber crime, or knew someone who was. In the U.S. credit card theft and identity theft are currently the most common forms of cyber crime. If you would like to view an infographic of Generali’s study, click here.

I have come across a LOT of websites when conducting research for the insurance courses I write that provide tips and advice to people seeking to protect themselves. URLs to those websites, and the valuable information they provide, appear below. I hope you find some of the helpful!

  1. Consumer info from the FTC: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/privacy-identity-online-security
  2. Identity Theft Resource Center: https://www.idtheftcenter.org/
  3. Security Awareness Free Resources (click Resources Tab at the top right of the home page): https://www.knowbe4.com/
  4. Security Tips (MANY of them, for various types of threats), from US-CERT: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips
  5. IRS Tax Scams: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts
  6. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: https://www.privacyrights.org/
  7. How Secure Is My Password: https://howsecureismypassword.net/
  8. Password Generator Tool: https://thebestvpn.com/password-generator/

Motivation for a Monday

I’ve always been inspired by the “can do” spirit.

When I conducted research for my book Taking the Mystery Out of Business: 9 Fundamentals for Professional Success, a common refrain focused on attitude. You’ve heard all the sayings and platitudes about positivity–in other words, believing in yourself and taking steps to support that belief.

  • Believe you can and you’re halfway there. – Theodore Roosevelt
  • The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. – Ayn Rand
  • People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing–that’s why we recommend it daily. – Zig Ziglar

Let’s face it, if you don’t believe you can walk those 10 miles on the Run for Hunger, why is anyone else going to back you? If you don’t have the courage to speak your mind, why is anyone else going to believe you when you do speak?

We don’t have to be intellectuals to succeed. We don’t have to be athletes, or tall, or pretty. We don’t even have to be human, as the photo accompanying this blog post indicates. We just have to adopt the right attitude–we need to believe in ourselves.

If you want to sleep in the sun, you need to find the sun, bask in it, and relax enough to close your eyes and enjoy.

Happy Monday!

Do you pick up your marbles and go home?

My mother used all kinds of clichéd sayings, many of them directed at me:

          I have a bone to pick with you…

          Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face.

          Oh, so you’re going to pick up your marbles and go home, are you?

Mom’s been gone for 20 years now and I can still hear her voice when she was disappointed and we were about to have a discussion that would portray me in a very poor light: “Linda Ann, I have a bone to pick with you.” I’d rather have been smacked, grounded, and placed in solitary confinement than take part in the conversation that followed those words.

Each one of us disappoints someone. We irritate and piss off other people, too. Just like other people disappoint, irritate, and anger us. It’s the way of the world. This became crystal clear to me when I began teaching. I wanted all my students to like and agree with me and went home crying if I got a less than stellar evaluation. But it stopped bothering me when I realized I didn’t like all my students, either. (So there.)

In case you don’t know me, I’ll let you in on a secret: I’ve been accused of being stubborn and wanting to be right. Because I’m a basically honest person, I’ll concede to having those qualities. But when I was younger, I hated being wrong. Hated with a capital “h.” I would refuse to accept that I could be wrong.

An old family joke involves me memorizing the names of the presidents. You know the 11th president, right? James Knox PLOCK. I insisted that’s what my teacher told me his name was, so that’s what it was. (Everyone knows that when you’re wrong you blame it on someone else, right?)

I’m the butt of another family joke, this time about the lyrics to the song America. Bet you didn’t know they began with, My country ’tis of SWEET, did you? I went to bed without supper because I refused to read the lyrics in the Encyclopedia my parents pulled off the bookshelf.

You’ll be happy to know my face is intact and I’ve learned to think about the consequences before sticking to my guns.

Quitting is something both my parents frowned on. You never quit. Never. And neither of them ever did. They always reached for the brass ring and always wanted their first choice. But they had second, third, and fourth choices waiting in the wings if needed. Because no matter how much you hoped, believed, and prayed, they told me, things don’t always go the way you want them to. (My Dad always used to say, Life is a series of plans gone awry.)

I remember a couple of times in my youth when I wanted to quit. Moving forward in a certain direction seemed pointless. Impossible. When you’re faced with a brick wall, you don’t keep banging your head against it, you turn around and go home, right?

Actually, no, you don’t. According to my Mom, you dig a hole beneath it, you keep walking along it until it ends, or you climb over it. And if none of those solutions work, then you use your brain and come up with one that will. Because your strongest weapon is your mind.

For some reason, I believed her. I also followed her advice, for the most part, as I’ve lived my life. When I think about the few times I did quit, I think about the opportunities I may have missed. I don’t quit any more. I seek compromises, solutions that aren’t readily apparent. If I never reach out for that brass ring, how am I ever going to grab hold of it?

When things don’t go the way you want them to, do you quit? Or do you pick up your marbles and go home?

February insurance CE webinar schedule is now available

I just uploaded the insurance CE webinars I’m teaching for A.D. Banker and Company during the month of February. Topics include:

  • Cyber Security
  • Disability Income Planning
  • Annuity Suitability
  • Homeowners Endorsements
  • Medicare
  • Driving into the Future: Uber, Drones, and Driverless Cars
  • P&C Risks and Catastrophes
  • Professional Liability

For more information, or to register, click here.

Can you use more kindness in your life?

I think it’s normal for people to reflect about their youth as they age. Some of us remember special times and people we’ll never see again: our first loves, that summer vacation that just can’t be topped… And some of us are incredibly grateful we don’t have to relive sitting home the night of the prom or that godawful first job.

Either way, I think most of us agree life was different then. No, we didn’t have to walk 5 miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways, but we all remember things our children and/or grandchildren never heard of, like carbon paper, 78s, and party lines. As we look back, the nostalgia of kinder times fills our minds and we can’t help but compare them to the way things are right now. Kindness is what I seek when I look backward, probably because I’m experiencing less and less of it these days.

Psychologists say that to overcome the harm of a single negative comment, a person needs to receive seven positive comments. Do you know anyone who praises more than he or she criticizes, let alone seven times more?

When I grew up, my parents told me to always reach for my first choice, that good old brass ring. They also cautioned I wouldn’t always reach the brass ring, finish first, or get exactly what I wanted. And when that happened, I needed to be prepared. I had to have second, third, and fourth choices waiting in the wings.

Which is why I wanted to be a mother … a writer … a musician … a doctor … a teacher … and a ballerina. (Note: I always knew I couldn’t be a ballerina, but I still dreamed.)

The worst thing in the world isn’t failing to get what you want, Mom said, it’s quitting. Well, actually, that’s not the worst. The real worst is not getting what you want because you didn’t even try to get it or because you sat around and waited for someone else to get it for you.

When you expect other people to do things for you, you set yourself up for failure because they’re too busy searching for their own brass rings. Sure, they love and care about you, and might take a rest from their own searches to help you once in a while. But let’s face it, everyone’s more concerned with themselves than they are with other people.

Which, in some ways, is sad. Yes, we need to take care of ourselves. But we need to take care of each other, too. On our quests for whatever it is we seek, we need to walk around people instead of stepping on them as if they were staircases. We need to listen to the things we say and imagine if those very same words were directed at us. (The Golden Rule isn’t really as obsolete as carbon paper, is it?)

Tell your coworker you love the color of her sweater. Let the driver who’s been waiting patiently at the stop sign pull out in front of you. Give your dog an extra treat. Tell your child, spouse, parent, AND brother you love them. Why? Just because.

Kindness doesn’t need a reason. It is a reason in and of itself.