Stop SLURPING DATA! The BIGGEST Challenge for Educators.

If like me, you are bombarded with data and information from every imaginable source, you are at times probably feeling overwhelmed. You suddenly realize how much you don’t know about the world.

We now have sophisticated tools to filter through that data and find the pieces we are most interested in, however, we are still constantly being confronted with stories we know nothing about, in countries we weren’t even truly aware existed. We must accept our present condition: we will always be more ignorant than knowledgeable about the world.

Our societies are too complicated and the human lifespan is too short to ever hope to try to bridge that gulf. We need to accept ignorance and handle it graciously.

This doesn’t mean we should revel in our ignorance, but we shouldn’t be bothered when we don’t know the latest trend or some news story, nor should we judge others as “stupid” if they don’t know some factoid. There is a fear that we will enter a conversation not being completely up-to-date, but what is the point of a conversation if all we are exchanging are the facts we already know?

We can consume all the facts in the world and still not comprehend what is really going on. People can be incredibly smart, even brilliant sometimes, and yet still be bad at deep learning. The internet has given us this omniscience that we have never had before, and we suddenly have this ability to see all of the details that we didn’t know about before.

But the key question is: How can we become more purpose-driven learners?

Jonathan Drori a visiting professor at the University of Bristol, posed four questions to science teachers, TV producers, science audiences and seven-year-olds during a TED talk. Surprisingly he found that the seven-year-olds did better than the other audiences.

One of those questions was - Why is it hotter in summer than in winter? We can all agree that it is hotter in summer than winter, but why?

He goes on the say that children get their ideas not from teachers but from common sense from their experiences of the world around .

The challenge is that most of us aren’t actually that good at learning. Sure, we can seek out facts, read news articles and tweets, and even analyze some tough problems.

But we need to develop thinkers, not information processors.

Danny Crichton’s recent article, How Should We Learn explains data is everywhere, and knowledge is accessible on almost any subject imaginable with just a few clicks. Suddenly, we have gone from people ignorant of our own ignorance to content consumers struggling to keep up with the information all around us. We can learn about almost any subject imaginable today, and of course, get the details and data that the internet always offers.

With all this knowledge and data available to us on so many platforms, we wonder why academic institutions still exist. The answer comes down to their ability to teach students both knowledge and wisdom. So far, this combination is not being achieved online or through books. It remains one of the greatest challenges for entrepreneurs in the edtech learning space today.

Hopefully, aided by a new generation of education startups – we can learn how to better navigate in a world where the frontier of knowledge is rapidly expanding and dynamic.

We need to inculcate purpose-driven learning and move away from a model of slurping up all the data in the world.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey. All Rights Reserved.

The game has changed. Are you ready for the fight?

Serious conversations on cyber security are happening in board rooms across the world with many corporate leaders believing they have a strategy in place for dealing with an attack. Yet, conflictingly, further down the chain of command, those at the operational level are not so sure they have enough resources to be secure. How can we forget the last big systems breach when a large American corporation became the target of a foreign government - how humiliating!!

John Stewart, Cisco Chief Security and Trust Officer explains on Bloomberg how the modality of attacks has changed, increasing by a whopping 250% from last year. There is now a greater emphasis on targeting the user. Previously it was a volume play from one site. Some attacks failed but if one was successful, the hackers considered themselves effective. However, now we have two or three attacks from hundreds of different domains. A dramatic change in strategy by the hackers.

What has really helped those trying to exploit weaknesses in our computer systems and networks is that formerly we had a separation between personal and business devices. However, now with BYOD, the lines have morphed and CIO’s are more concerned about malware from private devices getting access to business networks.

Here at CompTIA, we are striving to make cyberspace a safer and more productive place. Security concerns associated with cloud computing and BYOD are covered in our Security+ exam. While more advanced IT security topics are included in CASP (CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner). IT education and certification are critical in the ongoing battle against the hackers.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey.  All Rights Reserved.

We are kidnapping your phone and holding it for ransom!!!

Before you dismiss this as a line from a Bond or Sci-fi movie, it’s actually happening here in real life.

Kelvin Mahaffey, CTO, at mobile security company Lookout discussed the threat to mobile phone users on Bloomberg. He emphasized the danger that arises from downloading “bad apps” from untrusted sources.

These apps take control of your phone and all the data you store on there. Even worse, it can take your phone hostage, figuratively kidnap your phone and hold it for ransom. Lookout are serving sixty million android users across the world and 7% of their users in the US have some sort of malware on their phones. The kidnappers then charge you $700 to release your phone .

Keeping your property safe often comes down to common sense, and your smartphone is no different than your PC or home. Taking basic precautions will go a long way toward saving you time and money.

Some simple, and effective advice: use a pin or password and never download apps from untrusted sources.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey.  All Rights Reserved.


Sales: When the unexpected happens, will you be ready?

Those pleasant surprises, whether in our personal lives or our careers, when life presents an opportunity, why do they happen and what role does luck play? A Roman philosopher once said “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Being prepared is the key.

In almost all the sales job interviews I have conducted, I always ask the candidate, “Are you a lucky person?” Not the most common question in an interviewer’s question bank, however, the answer will tell me a lot about the prospective candidate. Do they go into a tailspin or they are confident in their answer? Either way it is always interesting.

Thomas Jefferson must have had a salesperson in mind when he said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Work hard and the unexpected opportunities for success will find you.

Recent research carried out by Joël Le Bon, Why the Best Salespeople Get So Lucky , explores the notion of “provoked luck” and the unexpected events that come about when our behavior as sales people is maximized to react to potential opportunities.

Le Bon’s research found that the belief in luck seems to boost confidence and self-assurance, thereby helping experienced sales professionals remain optimistic in the face of setbacks.  Belief in luck also helps the inexperienced salesperson in overcoming uncertainty and fear of failure. These factors are critical in helping salespeople maintain motivation and job satisfaction. Confidence and assurance are also critical when starting your career in sales. For sales managers it can reduce attrition and therefore decrease recruitment costs.

For the young or new salesperson, who may be struggling, the best advice for getting through the initial wave of despair is to have a firm belief in luck — not the luck of the random windfall, but the kind of provoked luck that truly helps increase the odds of success.

If you apply the theory about hard work to your selling, the “lucky” sales opportunities will present themselves. The important question is, will you be prepared to capitalize on your luck and turn the opportunity into an order?

It would be inconceivable to think that you would have done all the hard work, invest the time and effort to create some luck and then be unable to take advantage of it. Do you know your products, have you the expertise and the business insight to help the unexpected prospect, the one whose requirements are likely to be slightly outside your comfort zone? If you do, it will quickly allow the prospect to gather the information they need to make a fast and favorable decision.

Unfortunately we can’t account for luck in our sales pipeline or sales plans, but you can count on doing your job to the best of your ability. Build your well-defined sales process and consistently deliver day after day. Follow up your leads, know your customers, add value and good things will happen. Then embrace your luck when it appears.

Oh, and by the way, the best answer to my interview question is, “You create your own luck.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey.  All Rights Reserved.

Why Cybersecurity MUST BE your new business priority.

It reads like something from a thriller movie trailer and yet it’s the headline of a recent article in Reuters highlighting what many political and business leaders fear most:

“Destructive hacking attempts target critical infrastructure in Americas”

What’s so remarkable about the most recent hacking attempts in the US, is that the hackers are no longer trying to steal data, instead opting to try to shut down computer networks, delete files or control equipment.

So great is the concern about this, that it was the driver for a recent executive order and proposed legislation to encourage greater information-sharing about threats between the private sector and government.

And yet, in spite of all the growing threat to Cybersecurity, only one in three HR professionals report providing Cybersecurity training to staff.

Is your organization doing everything it can to protect itself?Read more

Sales: From Sandbagging to Motivating

What’s the best way to compensate and motivate your sales team?

Whether you’re a manager or a sales professional yourself, I’ll bet you have some thoughts on the matter.

This month’s Harvard Business Review offers up a fresh take that I wish I could’ve benefited from when I first started out.Read more

UK Failing to address the digital skills shortage

Our industry has done so much advocacy in the last few years trying to get students interested in IT and considering our strong efforts to bridge the digital skills gap, it is almost inconceivable that we are still so short of achieving our goals.

Yet, as we make our way into spring 2015, the digital skill shortage is still a big issue. According to the House of Lords Digital Skills Committee, 35% of UK jobs will be at risk of being automated over the next 20 years. What’s even more worrying is that the committee says the UK government is failing to address the issue.Read more

IT industry must collaborate to solve IT skills gap

As close as we are to the problem on a daily basis, the IT industry alone cannot solve the skills gap. However, when we team up with or gain the support of influential politicians, that’s when things can start to change for the better.

As I currently live and work in the US, I’m interested in ways the skills gap is being addressed here. I recently came across a story highlighting the need for our industry and elected representatives to work together to develop the IT skills needed for our profession to succeed.Read more

IT job market is bright, but fresh skills are needed going forward

It’s now approaching the sixth year of the global economic downturn. We’ve seen banks and even our favourite high street chains go to the wall. However, depending on who you speak to, the job market is looking rosier in certain sectors.

One sector that has to a degree bucked the trend is IT. Research from US-based Burning Glass Technologies found that Q4 2013 IT job openings numbered over 500,000. Additionally, research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the IT unemployment rate was 3.3% in the US compared to the overall national average of 7% across all sectors. We’re the lucky ones it seems.Read more

Business success 2014: Selecting the right technology

In my last blog post I championed the human being the most important element in the workplace. That view certainly hasn’t changed, but the technology deployed in the workplace is almost as essential as having motivated and driven staff. The two need to marry each other, without divorce!

A huge ongoing challenge in the workplace is managing data. Big data, metadata, ever-increasing data – it’ll not go away, so learn to manage it. Now and in the future, a real headache is loss of business data.Read more