Hackers are Terrorizing Wall Street by Impersonating These 5 Companies (and Your Accounts Could Suffer)

As Warren Buffet will tell you, you don’t get rich by working hard for money. You have to let your money work hard for you, investing and keeping track of the funds well. Unfortunately, if your chosen investment or asset management firm lets employees use smartphones and other mobile devices (what modern firm wouldn’t?), your money could be just a few clicks away from disappearing.

Many financial companies aren’t managing mobile at all

Mobile security company Wandera conducted a survey of 64 asset management and investment companies, gathering data from roughly 25,000 corporate mobile devices. The company found that one out of every six asset management and investment firms don’t even have an Enterprise Mobility Management Solution (EMM) in place. These plans focus on monitoring, controlling and securing mobile devices and related technologies. Without them, workers might not have the support they need to complete tasks efficiently and competitively. But more importantly, the lack of EMMs makes it significantly difficult for specialists within the firms to determine the extent of mobile threats and implement appropriate security measures to keep thieves away from your assets.

The names you know are used against you

As you might expect, hackers are targeting Wall Street in part by taking advantage of brand recognition. They impersonate well-known companies to make you fall for phishing and similar schemes. Wandera found that the most frequently impersonated companies are Apple, Paypal, Facebook, Google and Amazon. And a typical 100-device asset management and investment firm gets hit with 53 phishing attacks every month, meaning half of all employees will have to deal with an attempt.

But don’t just blame the hackers

Employees themselves are creating trouble through compliance breaches, too. By accessing inappropriate content like gambling services on their mobile devices, workers run a high risk of infecting their devices with malware or connecting to phishing. A typical firm has about 99 attempts to access these kinds of sites every month, and Wandera notes that the line between personal and company use is especially blurred on mobile devices. Web browsers and apps like mail and social media lead data consumption, and much of this data usage comes from non-business tasks. The use of apps is disconcerting because many of those programs are designed with user-friendliness as the priority rather than security. The apps can leak personally identifiable information such as your email address, location and credit card information and also leave workers susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks. Sideloaded apps are particularly fun for hackers because there are no strict quality requirements regulating the availability of the apps. For every 100 devices, there are almost 1,000 connections to leaking sites and four MitM attacks each month.

Why are financial companies in such mobile security trouble?

Michael Covington, Wandera’s VP of Product Strategy, points to general overconfidence as a big part of the problem.

“It’s not uncommon for some organizations to start their mobility by thinking that they can go it alone. These organizations often buy into the myth that mobile devices are ‘secure’ out of the box. They’re not. We have seen sufficient attacks against all of the major platforms (iOS, Android, Windows) and, as a result, no organization should feel safe buying a device and leaving the configuration and management of it entirely up to the user.”

Another problem? A lack of well-defined acceptable use policies. Covington asserts that it doesn’t take long for the lack of planning and management to result in a security incident that the company has to play out in front of the public.

Awareness means operational shifts

Covington also says that, if customers were really aware of the security risks facing mobile users, it would lead to huge changes in the way IT teams operate. Mobility likely would be moved under security so experts could keep a better eye on the devices, and acceptable use policies would be enforced much more strictly. And as organizations accept that the bulk of company data travels over mobile networks, the industry would rethink how it layers defenses.

But how can we start securing ourselves and our assets on mobile right now? Covington says that the best place to start is looking at phishing, since that’s what 90 percent of all cyberattacks begin with, and since users fall for phishing three times more on mobile than on desktops.

“Individuals need to be more vigilant with the links they click on and the information they part with while on a mobile device. Likewise, organizations that are enabling a mobile workforce need to combat phishing by looking beyond corporate email. The mobile device is a unified communications too, which provides access to multiple email accounts, instant messengers, SMS, MMS, social messengers like WhatsApp and LinkedIn and more. Security conscious organizations must identify a solution that defends against phishing attacks across all of these threat vectors.”

If you’re concerned about the investment firm you use, speak up, ask questions and get details. Smart investors look to understand all the risks they face, including ones from technology. Good companies won’t hesitate to explain how they keep you safe in today’s mobile world.

HP Knows Esports Is an Area It Will Continue to Invest in for Quite a While

Esports industry experts predict that sponsorship in the space will make up 40% of global revenues this year, which would count as a 53% increase from 2017. As such, it is clear that sponsorships are a critical part of the esports ecosystem.

But esports is also becoming a critical part of brands’ sponsorship strategy. Take for instance HP, which invested as a league sponsor in one of the newest esports leagues, the Overwatch League (OWL), which drew 10 million streaming viewers in its opening week in January alone.

I recently spoke with Josh Kocurek, Global Marketing Manager for Gaming and Esports at HP to get a better feel for what HP is thinking when it comes to sponsorship strategy, particularly in the esports space.

What percentage total of your sports-related ad spend is on esports at this point, do you see that percentage increasing and why is HP so interested in the esports industry?

Kocurek: As it relates to our current investments around Gaming, esports is definitely a significant portion of that, which includes the partnerships we have with global organizations like the Overwatch League and professional teams from around the world, such as Counter Logic Gaming.

OMEN, HP’s gaming brand, is 100% focused on being the best competitive PC gaming brand in the world. This is reflected in how we target our marketing efforts, focusing on PC gaming enthusiasts who have a strong affinity for esports and competitive gaming. Given the rapid growth we’re seeing in esports, and the trajectory it is on over the next 3-5 years, we know this is an area we are going to continue to invest in for quite a while.

What type of ROI have you seen from your sponsorship of Overwatch League and what do you use to measure that?

Kocurek: While we’re extremely happy with the how the first few months of the Overwatch League have been going, it’s still a bit too early to start attributing significant business impact to the sponsorship.

Our primary objectives, going into the first season, were to increase the overall awareness for OMEN and show fans the value we’re bringing to the esports scene through the various ways we’re supporting the Overwatch League. OMEN is coming up on its two-year anniversary in May, which means we’re still the new kid on the block.

Sure we’re HP at our core, but in terms of our presence with OMEN in the gaming space, we still have a lot of growing to do. The outstanding viewership numbers we’re seeing out of the Overwatch League, and all the excitement coming from hardcore and causal fans-alike, are a great sign that it will help us hit those objectives.”

What are your biggest challenges in creating meaningful engagements with consumers and/or businesses when advertising in association with esports?

Kocurek: Creating meaningful engagements with the esports audience requires a completely different approach from HP, but it’s definitely a fun one. The audience is so immune to a lot of the standard practices we see in traditional advertising.

We’ve ramped up our investments on social media platforms and original content creation significantly, to make sure we’re reaching that audience in a meaningful way. We’ve also put more emphasis on our event activations, where we are able to make a deeper, hands-on connection with the esports audience. We’ve doubled the amount of gaming events OMEN has a presence at from the previous year, and have put a lot of work into creating must-see experiences at these events vs. doing a traditional tradeshow booth build-out.”

What have you found to be the most effective strategies in esports sponsorship, which may be different from what you’ve found in more traditional sponsorship campaigns?

Kocurek: My advice for any brands who are interested in getting into the space, but have never done so:

  • Put in the effort. One of the most common things you hear about marketing to gamers is to remain authentic to the space. Traditional messaging and tactics, like simply slapping your brand’s logo everywhere, aren’t going to be effective if you’re trying to make a legitimate impact with the esports audience. We do a ton of social listening to identify the topics esports fans care about, and then work with our esports partners to make content we know they’ll engage with.   
  • It’s not about you. The esports fan base is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about everything relating to the game, the teams, and the players. Company’s looking to be successful need to put the fans and community first. Take the time to listen and bring real value to the table by supporting what the fans care about most – instead of pushing your own agenda. You’ll be surprised how many are willing to listen to what you have to say once you’ve earned credibility with the community.   
  • Be patient. Sure esports is a hot topic right now, but it’s still getting its sea legs. Come in with a level head and be ready to commit for the long haul. We look at our investments with teams and leagues as building something great together, which is why we go into all discussions with a multi-year partnership in mind. Short term, unreasonable expectations can actually cause brands to recoil – hurting the industry in the long run.

3 Easy Ways to Tell Your Career Story on LinkedIn

People tell me all the time how they have trouble writing their LinkedIn summary story. It sounds stiff. It sounds braggy.

Often, LinkedIn users get so fed up that they leave this space — right below their name, title and location — blank or simply repurpose word for word their resume. Don’t waste this opportunity. Instead, tell a story.

Here’s why stories matter. Stories make you memorable. We are emotional creatures who crave these human connections. Research has shown this. In one study, a Stanford University marketing professor found that two out of three students remembered stories from short presentations. But only one out of twenty students recalled facts and numbers.

When you’re trying to land a new job or new client, you want to stand out from the crowd, not blend in. On LinkedIn that means not sounding like the other half billion user profiles out there. You do it with a story, and here are three tips for writing yours.

1. Look for common themes.

Reflect on your life and career, asking yourself questions like:

What do all of my jobs have in common? What have I enjoyed throughout my career? How did I get here? What inspired me when I was younger — as kid, in high school, in college?

In my LinkedIn summary story, I write about how I got a typewriter for Christmas when I was five years old. How perfect is that? Storytelling has been my lifelong thing.

Recently, I was working on a LinkedIn makeover for a client who on paper had had a series of very dissimilar jobs — in the hotel industry and financial services, as a lay minister at her church, as a Realtor and now as a nutrition and wellness coach. Then, we talked, and I started asking questions. Turns out her career path made total sense. She’s always been spiritual and has the soul of someone who wants to help others live a healthy life — in terms of mind, body spirit and personal finances. There’s always a common theme.

2. Ditch jargon and overused crutch words.

Remember, you are not trying to be like everyone here. Almost everyone uses jargon and clings to crutch words like passionate. What do you mean you’re passionate about creating turnkey solutions. Really? Passionate? About that? I call these crutch words, because everyone seems to depend on them, so people are almost afraid not to use them. Trust me, you need to get over it.

The easiest way to let go of jargon and overused words is to tell your story the way you’d tell it to your mom or a close friend. I don’t know about you but when I talk with family and friends, I don’t say I partnered with so and so and we aligned our best practices to create best-of-breed communications on behalf of our client. I might say I worked with other smart professionals to brainstorm and create a communications plan that helped our client appeal to its audience.

If it sounds too corporate, it probably is. Goodness, you don’t have to have your lawyer or legal department approve your LinkedIn story, so it shouldn’t sound like you did. One reason a lot of corporate writing sounds so bad is because there are too many cooks in that kitchen, and none of them great writers. Your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t read like it was written by a committee at a highly matrixed organization. You are free to keep it simple and easy. It should sound like a conversation, because that’s what you’re looking to gain — conversations with recruiters, managers, clients and business partners.

3. Pretend someone is introducing you to speak before a crowd. 

When writing my own LinkedIn story or those of clients, I imagine I’m introducing that person to a crowd. Maybe my client is going to give a speech, and I am setting them up to do that. 

This mindset helps me to find common themes and let go of jargon. I’m not telling the crowd that this person is highly motivated; I’m painting the picture with stories. I’m talking about the lawn care business he started as a teenager or how she earned her MBA while working full time and taking care of her family.

I also write the summary story in third person. This is a somewhat controversial choice. Many feel strongly it should be told in the first person. However, I think that third person allows you to step back, be more objective and straightforward in telling your story and not feel so braggy. 

Whatever you do, don’t leave that summary section blank. Tell a story. Make it personal and memorable and real. No jargon or fluff allowed.

How to Create Core Company Values That You’ll Use Everyday

Company core values. On paper, they are a set of words or phrases that embody who you are as a team. They have been hailed as a “company’s DNA“, “the culture of the organization,” and the “best kept secret of true high performance.”

By definition, core values are the fundamental beliefs of a company.

Is it all true? Are core values really the heart and soul of an organization. Or are they hype?

The truth is, core values are often hype and serve no real value. Too often, teams write a list of idealistic words on a page and then forget about them. 

Core Values Gone Wrong

I was part of a team years ago that had core values; we formed them together. We dutifully wrote them down and painstakingly word-smithed each one until we got all six values “just right.” We then rolled them out to the whole company and people cheered! We were thrilled. We had done it. We created a set of core values and rested easy knowing we were destined for great things.

And then, those core values sat on a shelf. Once in a while someone would mention one. Not a single person could recite all six of them.

A year after these core values were created, we discovered one of our clients was a clear values mismatch. An employee brought this to the attention of the leadership team and the CEO shrugged it off. He chose to take the short-term financial gain over protecting the health of the company.

Unfortunately, these core values were hype; they didn’t carry any real weight. When push came to shove, they were meaningless.

Core Values That Boost Success

Fast forward to today. My current team has core values. We formed them together and wrote them down, just like my last team did.

However, the core values that I have today truly boost success. In fact, I credit them for a large chunk of our success. What’s the difference that sets these core values apart from others I’ve seen fail? 

It’s not the value it self. It’s not the wording or the choice of value that matters. 

The only way that core values boost success is if the team is willing to:

  1.  Lose money over it

  2. Fire an employee or customer over it

Core values must guide you on what not to do as much as they guide on what to do. We have fired clients who do not align with our core values. We analyze every employee on each of our five core values and if any employee does not consistently uphold a core value, they are given feedback, and may even be fired or demoted.

Core Values Should Never Be Static

The best way to ensure your core values continuously boost success is to treat them as living, dynamic things.  The concept that you ought to finalize core values and never update them is outdated. Our core values are written in a Google doc. As we learn and get deeper in our company’s journey, we edit the descriptions if needed. Core values aren’t a set of empty promises that make you look good — they are a set of real beliefs. If the company matures or changes and its belief system changes, the core values should be fluid alongside the evolution of the business.

New Study of Investors Reveals Real Reason Why Men Raise More Money Than Women

What’s one thing you used to believe, that you don’t believe any more?

Chances there are quite a few things where experience has changed your mind over time. Sometimes we behave in ways that don’t owe much to conscious control, though. Rituals, traditions and stereotypes are all juicy, embedded behavior shortcuts. Their usefulness, at least at some point in time, is how they got the honor of becoming a stereotype.  

Busted by bias

No industry is a better testing lab for bias than mine, venture capital. Recently a group of Swedish scientists decided to test bias among investors in Sweden, which ranks number 1 in the world for gender equality. (Sounds like they are pretty confident they are less biased.)

By the numbers, 1 in 3 companies in Sweden is owned by a woman. Their government has generous programs for venture capital financing for new business starts, too. Yet only 7% of women raise money successfully. What gives? 

Bias or business sense?

Researchers used data from 126 applications for government venture capital. The applicants were 43% women and 57% men. These applications were reviewed by 11 Swedish governmental venture capitalists–4 women and 7 men.

Do women and men run businesses differently?

Investor notes and dialogue showed 4 common stereotypes about how men and women run businesses differently, which were:

1.    Men take more risks than women.

2.    Men are more growth-oriented than women are.

3.    Men have more money than women do to bring into their businesses.

4.    Men generally run businesses better than women do.

You may think some of these are true, too, based on your biases, your experiences, or both. The researchers then turned to the detailed financial data on the 126 companies to validate the reality behind these stereotypes. They looked at debt, revenue growth, return on assets, profit margins and other hard numbers to determine financial capacity, performance and relative risk. What do you think they learned?

Differences between male and female entrepreneurs by the numbers

On each count, a quantitative analysis showed no statistically significant difference between male and female entrepreneurs on all four measures. In short, the stereotypes were myths with no basis in metrics. Unfortunately, the funding decisions were made in alignment with bias, not business sense.

No-colored glasses

Unconscious bias did its work even as investors saw entrepreneurs presenting the same situations–such as a present lack of capital. For example, investor notes revealed a man needing capital for his venture was seen as an opportunity. One note read, “His major problem is to find enough financial capital for the investments to grow.” Indeed. A woman needing capital was seen as a business problem, not an opportunity. One note read,“We should finance where we can contribute to high leverage and prioritize such businesses instead of financing hand-to-mouth enterprises, which women typically run.”

“None of the beliefs VCs expressed about female versus male entrepreneurs could be backed up by data related to how ventures actually performed,” the team wrote in Harvard Business Review.  “These beliefs have no basis in fact. The unique study design allows for the positioning our results as a means for pushing hard for VCs’ self-examination. We encourage VCs to reevaluate how they discuss entrepreneurs and how they distribute funding.” You can read the entire report and the data in the Journal of Business Venturing Insights.

5 Cryptocurrency Pioneers Who Should Be As Famous As Mark Zuckerberg

Everyone’s heard of Satoshi Nakamoto, even if no one knows the real identity of the mystery founder of Bitcoin. But the world of cryptocurrency is filled with entrepreneurs, visionaries and computer whizzes who have staked their careers on digital money. They’re no different to the giants of the Internet such as Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Jack Dorsey. Here are five crypto name names that you should know.

Vitalik Buterin

The founder of Ethereum, Buterin was born in Russia but moved to Canada at the age of six. In 2013 and aged just 19, he published a white paper describing a blockchain that could be used to track not just the movement of tokens but enforce smart contracts. The following year, he dropped out of the University of Waterloo, took Peter Thiel’s $100,000 grant for entrepreneurial dropouts and created the Ethereum Foundation.

With a market capitalization of $68 billion, Ethereum is the second largest cryptocurrency and the technology that underpins many ICOs.

He’s on Twitter as @vitalikbuterin.

Charlie Lee

Born to Chinese parents living in Ivory Coast, Charlie Lee only arrived in the United States at the age of thirteen. He studied Computer Science at MIT, completed a graduate degree then spent seven years at various software firms before reaching Google in 2007. It was while he was at the search giant that he came across Bitcoin. He started mining, then struck up a relationship with Mike Hearn, one of the cryptocurrency’s first developers.

Lee’s first attempt at creating his own cryptocurrency wasn’t a success. Fairbix, launched in 2011, had too much pre-mining and was vulnerable to attack. His second attempt was much more successful. Litecoin has been described as the silver to Bitcoin’s gold. Lee himself regards it as a convenient way to send small amounts of money for ecommerce while leaving large transfers for Bitcoin. It’s currently the fifth largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Bitcoin Cash.

Follow Charlie Lee’s tweets @satoshilite.

Elizabeth Stark

Most cryptocurrency pioneers bring to the industry a genius for programming and a desire to overturn traditional ways of doing business. Elizabeth Stark brings a law degree from Harvard. She’s also taught at Stanford and Yale but it’s her belief in the future of cryptocurrencies and her determination to unlock the power of the blockchain that singles her out.  In 2016, Lightning, a company she founded and now manages, released its first code on Github.

The company isn’t launching a new token or competing with Blockchain. Instead, it’s creating a new protocol on top of the blockchain. If it works, it should do for cryptocurrency what the World Wide Web did for the early Internet.

Her Twitter name is @starkness

Roger Ver

Roger Ver is one of the most controversial figures in cryptocurrency–the Peter Thiel of Bitcoin. The former CEO of computer firm MemoryDealers.com, he served time in jail for selling firecrackers on eBay. On his release, he moved to Japan and renounced his US citizenship. A libertarian who once ran for the California State Assembly on behalf of the Libertarian Party, Ver began investing in cryptocurrency ventures, hoping that a decentralized digital coin could compete with national fiat currencies. His investments include Kraken and Ripple but he is best known for his support of Bitcoin Cash, a Bitcoin fork with greater capacity. For Ver, cryptocurrency in general and Bitcoin in particular, need to work as a currency and not as a speculative asset.

Find him on Twitter @rogerkver.

Da Hongfei

With much of the growth in cryptocurrency taking place in China, it’s no surprise that many of the current wave of pioneers are emerging from behind the Great Chinese Firewall. Da Hongfei first heard of Bitcoin in 2011 and started working full time in cryptocurrency in 2013. The following year, his company, OnChain, launched Antshares, a Chinese rival to Ethereum. The coin has since rebranded as NEO and, with the support of the Chinese government, has grown to become the sixth largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.

NEO has had issues with stability and security but Da Hongfei could well turn out to be cryptcurrency’s Jack Ma.

Da Hongfei is on Twitter (though it’s blocked in China) @dahongfei.

Who You Don’t Need in Your Company

When one sets out to build their own Great, Growing Company, usually, the staffing solutions that are enacted revolve around solving a shortcoming. 

You need an administrative assistant, so you go track one down.

You need a sales person, so you hire one.

You need a bookkeeper, a cook, a programmer … and so on … so you cast around, find someone who can do the job, then hire them.

The problem with this rather shortsighted hiring technique is that you often only attract people who are hunting jobs right then.

Chances are, the best cook in the world isn’t looking for a job right now – they already have one!  Ditto for nearly every other position you might need in your own enterprise.  The challenge is that, in small business, when you need to hire more staff, it is usually because your company is at a critical level and nearly any help is preferable to the looming 20-hour days you’ll be working if you don’t get some assistance.

In the restaurant business, this is known as “warm body” hiring – anyone who can fog a mirror can apply and be offered a job.

As an owner, you can never let your company get to this stage.  I know, I know, accidents happen and sometimes situations occur that are far outside the norm, but you have to make the effort to never let it get to this stage – the costs are far too high.

The restaurant business considers 150% turnover each year to be acceptable, which it is not.  (For those of you not familiar with turnover percentages, this means that the total number of staff members hired and fired, represented as a percentage.  Obviously, no small business can afford to constantly be training new staff members while losing current employees at a rate approaching this!)

So how do you attract the people you need before you need them?  Simple.  You need to always be looking for them and know where they are – not to “steal” them, but to be aware of when they are ready for a career change.

An example of this has to do with a friend of mine who owns a small business in Texas.  The kid who cut his grass every week was working through school to become a CPA but worked for a lawn service all through college.  Every week, right on time, here’s the kid, cutting the grass, edging the driveway, spreading mulch, you name it. 

Every week, the yard looked perfect when this young man left.  After graduation, the kid left to move to Dallas and join a big firm, but my friend asked that he stay in touch.

Guess who didn’t like working for a big firm and is now my friend’s CPA?  The attention to detail this young man had shown in cutting the grass is still there in managing tax liabilities.  Don’t be scared to look in odd places for your next sales professional – the young lady waiting tables at the corner café may have exactly the skills needed (with your training processes, of course) to fill the shoes that stand empty in your company. 

Sometimes the people who are perfect for your company are hiding in plain site and all it takes is thinking outside the box when it comes to understanding who you need and where they are.

It’s Time to Stop Being the Ugly American

You’ve probably heard of the Ugly American. It’s a phrase commonly used to describe loud, rude, arrogant Americans abroad. These are the types of people who get upset when the corner ice cream stand doesn’t accept dollars and yell at people to speak English already, even though they are in a country where English is not the national language.

I have run into many of these. One of my “favorite” encounters was the following, which I shared previously:

 I forgot to report on a very important event from our vacation. When my husband went to check out of the hotel in Budapest, there was a very obnoxious American (or at least American accented) family checking out. The mom was throwing a fit about every little thing and basically being the perfect example of the “ugly American.” When they finally left the front desk clerk apologized to my husband for having to hear that and removed all of our breakfast costs from the bill to compensate for having to hear the crazy American woman.

When we boarded our train back to Austria, this same family was there. My husband wouldn’t let me go up and thank the lady for the discount on our hotel bill.

One of my fellow expat friends (who I knew in college) shared an encounter she had with some Ugly Americans on a train in Italy on an expat Facebook page. People started to jump in with their stories of horrible people–many of whom were not Americans. 

Basically, it turns out, every country has horrible people who are loud, rude, and arrogant, and these people are horrible when they travel and, presumably, horrible at home. It’s not limited to a single country.

So, why don’t we hear about the “Ugly Dutch” or the “Ugly Chinese” tourists? Well, I suspect as China continues to become wealthier and more Chinese travel, we’ll hear more about such people. (I encountered an incredibly rude Chinese man in Vietnam who was doing his best to reduce the hotel clerk to tears. They were both speaking English, so I understood exactly what was going on.) There just aren’t that many Dutch though, to warrant a stereotype around their travelers.

I ran into some Ugly Swiss on my trip this past week. The kids have spring break, so we headed down to Venice. (It’s an hour flight.) Venice is like European Disney because there are so few actual Venetians and so many tourists. Everywhere you turn there are tourists. Many are American because there are simply a lot of us.

We were on a Vaporetto, which is a boat that functions like a bus, taking you from stop to stop. There was a Swiss family with three obnoxious children, who were running around and bumping into people. Now, while I don’t speak Swiss German (I speak High German), I can certainly understand a good deal of it, especially when it’s directed towards children. So, I knew flat out that the Dad (Mom was sitting away from the others) wasn’t instructing his kids to knock it off. He was speaking to them, but not telling them to behave better.

I ignored it. Then one of the kids slammed into me. The dad said to the kids, in Swiss German, “leave the lady alone.” I responded, in “macht nichts.” It just means, colloquially, no big deal. The dad, at this point, turned white, grabbed his kids and headed to the other side of the boat.

It seems that as long as he could be anonymous in a sea of what he presumed to be non-Swiss people, he was okay with his kids being nightmares, but as soon as he understood that I could speak his language and understood what was going on, he was embarrassed.

Sometimes I think we’re all too much like this. We are rude to people we don’t know precisely because we don’t know them, and we think it doesn’t really matter. We reserve our manners for people we know and think it’s okay to be rude to people we don’t. There are evolutionary reasons for this–strangers often meant danger. But, those reasons are long gone (at least on boats in Venice). But this guy saw me as an “other” until I made it clear that I  was part of his group.

I see a lot of “othering” within cultures as well. People who treat people with differing political views as evil rather than consider that they have had different experiences and ideas are a huge problem that we face. Social media enforces this.

For a while, I followed everyone who followed me on Twitter, which means I follow over 12,000 people. But my Twitter feed rarely shows me anything except the few people whose posts I’ve liked or retweeted. I tend to like and retweet things I agree with. So, even though my actual list of people I follow is incredibly diverse, my Twitter feed was incredibly one-sided. If I wasn’t aware of this, I might think that the whole world agreed with me! (Never fear, I know that’s not true!) So, I’ve started liking things I didn’t actually agree with but merely wanted to see to get different viewpoints into my feed.

A very critical part of my job is to see all sides of an issue, and I can’t do that if all I read are things that repeat my point of view. It’s a huge issue.If you’re mean to people who are different than you are, you’re being an Ugly Person, regardless of nationality. 

Agree or disagree, stranger or neighbor, we’ll be better off if we quash the “ugly” side of ourselves and be kind to everyone. 

Amazon Beats Its Brand by Locking Customer Accounts for No Apparent Reason

No question that Amazon is a smart operator. But it’s also capable of some astounding blunders, particularly when automation and big data take a hand. That seems to be the case now as a lot of Amazon customers have found their accounts locked without much in the way of explanation or efforts to rectify the situation.

For at least a week, many Amazon customers have complained on social media that their Prime accounts — the ones that people pay for — were either locked or closed with little to no explanation. Some are affiliates, meaning they help drive some business to the company.

In some cases, people have received some reply from Amazon. In others, nothing.

One user, who claimed to be a prolific reviewer on Amazon, tweeted that the company did eventually unlock her account, but all her reviews were gone. Another said that Amazon sent a link as help that won’t work because the account would first need to be unlocked.

Amazon told a portion of the affected customers that they had broken the company’s terms of service. Except, apparently Amazon didn’t tell them how or what to do to avoid future trouble.

It isn’t clear exactly how many people are affected. Some reports suggested hundreds while others said thousands. Whatever the number, the results have been a lot of bad word of mouth on social media along with a hashtag of #amazonclosed and terrible press. It also appears to have happened before, although without as much publicity and whether at the same scale, no way to know.

In a way, this sounds similar to the case where some high-profile websites lost access to Google AdSense when a combination of AI and claimed human review decided the sites had shown inappropriate content. Except, Google ultimately reversed the decisions, suggesting that even with human oversight (often gained through gig economy assignments), decisions can be a toss up.

Dependence on automated systems becomes a greater problem the more companies rely on them. Learning systems are only as good as the information they receive as the models of action. Software systems can be buggy. Developers might not understand the particular business function they are to recreate. In fact, it can become a demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger effect, where highly trained developers assume they know more than they do. Expertise in one area can have a crippling effect if not balanced by requisite humility.

Automation of business processes can be fine if someone keeps close watch over the result. Companies get carried away and assume that systems put into place once will continue to work correctly. Machine learning systems have to keep learning as conditions change.

It all means reworking the corporate mindset about automation. Yes, reduction of workforce will be one of the intents. To pretend otherwise is absurd. One of the standard excuses that companies give when implementing automation is that they will redirect employees to activities that offer more value. Only once have I seen someone in management admit a real aim was to reduce headcount.

Some might argue that should be the intent. Companies frequently have many needs that need tending. To pretend that they can do without help may be profitable in the short term, terrible in the long run. That isn’t to say companies are never overstaffed. At times they are. Business conditions may change and require a response.

And yet, so often executives and investors are short-sighted. They want quick solutions, easy money, and no criticism. As economic and social forces struggle with changes that technology evokes, corporations cannot plead indifference. Not should they be short-sighted toward the needs of the company. Perhaps it is time for many companies to think hard about their strategies and steps they assume are wise but that may not be.

This Man Took His Mercedes for a Service and Left the Dashcam On. This Is What It Recorded

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Some types of business relationships are based entirely on trust.

Especially when you’re dealing with so-called experts.

These, after all, are supposed to be people who know their stuff and would rather bathe in the detritus from a thousand gutters than have their reputations sullied.

Me, I tend to trust the people who service my car, for example. 

Principally because I trust Gene, the service advisor who’s looked after me ever since I bought the car.

Daniel Sheikhan says he had a slightly difference experience when he took his Mercedes S63 AMG for a service in Mississauga, Canada.

Well, when I say he says he had a slightly different experience, it would be more accurate to say he saw a slightly different experience.

You see, he left the dashcam on and then played back what happened. (Warning: the language isn’t pretty.)

Which was that the technicians appeared to take the car for a joyride.

Yes, it appears to have been taken to a Wendy’s in order to get some ice cream. 4 ice creams, to be precise.

Shekihan says he found ice cream residue in the car when he got it back.

First, though, a service does seem to have been attempted.

For 11 minutes, that is. Sheikhan says he was charged for 90 minutes of labor and the transmission service that he’d asked for wasn’t even done.

He ended up putting the evidence it on YouTube, of course.

This all allegedly occurred in 2015. And Shekihan says he’s still not happy with the reaction — or non-reaction — he received from Mercedes.

“In no way do we condone or tolerate the unacceptable behavior shown in the video. We investigated this incident when it was originally brought to our attention in 2015 and appropriate actions were taken,” Mercedes-Benz Canada told City News.

Sheikhan, though, says he wants to know whether Mercedes actually changed anything about the way it services cars, so that no one else endures what his car did.

Of course, how can one ever know?

It’s not likely that his experience was unique. After all, here’s video of a woman who caught her mechanic taking her Indy 500 Pace Car Edition Camaro for his own little spin.

Oh, and here’s a Canadian investigation into some of the interesting practices that occur.

Recommending work that’s not really needed, for example.

So-called Factory Required Maintenance is one ruse that appears to have been employed.

This isn’t to suggest that all service operators are the same.

It does, though, show the importance of at least an element of trust in every business relationship, especially when a substantial amount of money is involved.

As for Sheikhan, you might be wondering why his video is emerging only now.

“My lawyers also told me not to share the video anywhere until we hear back from Mercedes because if we share the video there’s not much to negotiate so I held onto the video and then after two years when I realize they are not replying or even interested I just decided to post it to raise awareness,” he told Jalopnik.