Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bright spots

I read recently that sugar reduces the amount of cortisol your body produces under stress.  It makes perfect sense when you think about it, and before they even ran clinical trials -- but based on the last several weeks, I would say that the world gives us more reason than ever to produce the cortisol.

Whether it is the catastrophic earthquake in Tibet and the loss of both human life, property and cultural heritage...or the devastation in Baltimore, a byproduct of an anger that has been festering for years...or simply personal challenges we all face in our work every day, we need to reduce the cortisol. And there are no easy solutions.

I have found generally that doing what I love evens most other risks (including cortisol) out. I love sharing what I know with others, so being a guest luncheon speaker for the Washington Association of Continuity Planners (ACP) gave me back energy when I spoke on leadership and professionalism.

Earlier this week, I led a panel discussion on "Access, Privacy and Information Risk" for the iSchool's iAffiliates Day, held this year most appropriately at the downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library.  My panelists were high bandwidth and compelling -- Jim Loter, who is the director of IT for the library; Bryce Newell, working on his PhD in the iSchool, who discussed his work with body cameras, public disclosure and Washington State Law; and Aaron Weller, director of privacy and security in the Pacific Northwest for PriceWaterhouseCoopers.  You know that it has gone well by the count of hands in the air to ask questions.

Now I'm getting ready for another kind of thrill -- today's guest speaker in my advanced risk seminar is Mike Howard, Chief of Security at Microsoft.  He's had at least two other professional careers before he arrived at Microsoft, and they play continuously into the work he does globally now.  He is a well-known and respected speaker inside and outside security circles on topics of leadership and policy.

"In the zone."  "Doing what you love."  Both good recipes for cortisol reduction.  Find those bright spots.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Keeping It New

One of the challenges I face in teaching carries some risk.  That's the challenge of keeping the content refreshed, and bringing the same level of excitement each time I teach the course.  I first taught each of my operational risk courses as "special topics," and have been teaching them as permanent electives for a couple of years now.  Each of the courses lends itself to updates in the reading material, especially based on recent or current events.

But for the students the challenge is in learning how to have a conversation about certain types of risk, how to make an individual assessment and then provide recommendations for a course of action.  We use a couple of different kinds of skills in class:  discussion among peers, facilitated discussions, presentation by example (myself, themselves, and our guest speakers); and writing for an executive audience.

Along the way, we've had to deal with what it means to be present and contributing in class as a seminar member.  I ask that students listen respectfully, with their laptops turned off, to the presentations.  There are so many challenges for their attention, or for my own, that many of us who teach have reverted to showing them studies of how much more effective it is to take notes by hand rather than on the computer -- assuming that what you were doing was taking notes rather than (for example) checking Facebook or Twitter.

There is so much pressure on students to do well that I think it's also important to stop and smell the roses along the way when you can.  Today we're discussing a variety of articles,  including several that purport to explain behavior, of both rogues and executives.  What happens to the calm, rational process of decision making when you are under pressure?  Do you take bigger risks or do you take the most cautious approach?  I think you'd be surprised at what some of the studies say.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Is it possible to manage our privacy?

 I apologize for the long interval between my last post and this one.

Those who've read Advice From A Risk Detective already have a good sense of what I advise in terms of your online privacy.  But here's a short piece I wrote for a Seattle magazine, The Connector,  that hits the high points.