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Take Your Laundry Off the Line

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Take Your Laundry Off the Line

In multi-team meetings, there are frequently situations where people within the same team contradict one another. I might view the project as being accomplished in one way; my colleague might come right behind me and say it can’t be done that way. If there’s any sense of time available to get things done, take that coversation offline.

  • Unified Message– Airing your differences with a teammate in a group setting tells the rest of the team that your contribution to the overall project will be less reliable. Giving the impression that your part isn’t well considered and the unified belief of the team throws doubt into the mix.
  • Opportunity for More Cooks– Sensing your disagreement, external teams now feel empowered to mettle with your team’s decision and recommend the best alternatives based on their team’s needs, not your internal workings.
  • FUD– Whenever fear, uncertainty, and doubt can be exploited, it will. (Ask anyone in the US). Within a project, any part of the project that makes other teams feel uncertain is the elected “whipping boy” of the project. You can rest assured that if it’s your part of the project, you’ll be eating a lot of time in explaining, reassuring, and restoring confidence.

Here’s some advice for ways you can avoid these circumstances, and then some advice for firefighting should the problem arise.

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  • Clear Roles and Plans– Before any multi-team meeting, meet with your colleagues and be sure you’re all going in there with the same roles and plans. I know this sounds stupid to list out, but it bit my ass not more than 45 minutes ago. Believe me, it can be missed. Be clear. Be clear again. Make the other person parrot back that you’re both in agreement.
  • Agreement about Curveballs– Agree ahead of time that if someone throws out something in the meeting that no one was predicting, that you’ll take the conversation offline, decide what to do, and then report back to the coordinator promptly. Thinking on one’s feet isn’t everyone’s strong suit, and worse, if someone’s a “yes man,” you might find yourself politely smiling while a colleague sets you up to certain failure.
  • Jump in, Go Offline– If all else fails and your colleague decides she has the right way to do things, regardless of your previous planning, interrupt as politely as possible and recommend you finalize things offline. Mention that there are some final details to be nailed down, but that you’ll get back to the coordinator (or project manager) promptly. Don’t be rude. Let the other person and yourself keep “face,” but do your best to squelch that signal promptly.
  • Fight in Private– The next failing when these situations occur is that the fight almost always takes part in the hallway outside the meeting, STILL in plain sight of the teams involved. Take the fight back to an office, our out to the coffee shop, or for a walk around the building. Don’t further disrupt and distort your external appearance (and thus your team’s position in the project) by fighting in front of everyone.

Some of the keys to completing a project on time and within budget is to be sure that confidence is high, cooperation is free-flowing, and communication is up-to-the-second. Following some of the advice above falls into the “damage control” part of project management, but it’s just as important as knowing how to send a proper status email, and how to handle cost overruns. In fact, it’s often MORE important.

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Chris Brogan never argues with himself on projects at Grasshopper Factory , nor does he disagree with the team at [chrisbrogan.com]. He’s working with others to create PodCamp Boston for Sept 9-10th in Boston.

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Last Updated on November 25, 2021

Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

The easy fundamentals

First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

Here are some examples of strong passwords:
* i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
* ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
* mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

And not so good examples
* sammy1234
* password123
* christopher

You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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Managing your passwords

I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

Upkeep

You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

Alternatives

You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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  1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
  2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
  3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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