What Happened on Friday?

Dear Friends and clients of Jack Russell,
Did you lose your internet service or access to an important website this past Friday? You weren’t alone.  Although it sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, a foreign government attacked a multitude of DNS servers and was able to take down a big chunk of the internet. They did this by co-opting tens of millions of online devices, everything from baby monitors to Nest thermostats, and directing those devices to send data to very specific locations.  This was a very sophisticated attack that likely took months to plan and therefore hardly the work of your typical hacker.  Big online sites such as AirBnb, Twitter, Spotify, Woo Commerce, Shopify, etc, were all brought down, some for a few minutes, others for a few hours.  So what does this mean to you and how can you take precautions?
boom

Imagine if you lost your internet service for a week or more? It’d feel like someone dropped a bomb on your business.

First of all, here’s how this happened. Websites have unique online addresses based on a numerical value. These are the IP (internet protocol) addresses. My site, chefjohnmalik, can actually be found at 192.186.219.73
A DNS server translates that numerical value into the web address of chefjohnmalik.com.  When the websites started going down it was because the DNS servers (not the actual websites) were taken offline. 
The downside is that this will probably (definitely) happen again but who knows when? So please think about this.  If you did lose your internet for a day or so, how would your business survive? What could you do today to prepare you for the next outage? What systems could you backup to a local hard drive (not cloud based) that you could still access even if your internet went down?
If you’re one of my restaurant clients, how could you prepare yourself if Open Table went down on a Friday night? Perhaps you can make a paper copy of the night’s reservations on a daily basis?
If you’re in health care or medical, could you do the same thing with your appointments?  Is your POS system online and if so, what could you do if it went down? How would you make a sale?
Now when this does happen again, you might want to try accessing a particular site directly via its numerical value, all you’ll need to do is find it.
If you’re running Windows, just hit the start button, type in “command prompt” and a black box will open
Type in “tracert” then the web address
A search for my IP address would look like this—>  tracert www.chefjohnmalik.com

The IP address is what comes up next to where it says tracing route to chefjohnmalik.com
Here’s a screen shot of my own IP address.
ip-address
So my suggestion is to spend 30 minutes or so finding the IP addresses of your important sites, save those addresses somewhere safe, then if the same thing happens, you can try typing in the IP address which bypasses the DNS servers and perhaps you can still access your most important sites.
And here’s a story from C/Net on the recent web attack.  “That Massive Internet Outage, Explained

“Is This Your Car?”

 

We’ve known for months that a new contractor was about to build in our neighborhood.  We were excited as well as a bit nervous.  New home construction comes with all sorts of variables and challenges for the existing neighbors.  There’s the headache of construction debris, the constant traffic, the noise, and the influx of the labor force. Yet we’re looking forward to a new set of neighbors.  Our quiet, unassuming neighborhood was about to go through a 180 degree about-face.  But we needed it.  We needed someone to come in and turn our neighborhood around, fix our pool, finish the clubhouse, and maintain the amenities.  So although the transition could be challenging, the end result would be worth it.  Or so we hope, because the jury’s still out.

The builder would also come into this relationship with challenges.  And as the tenant of the home across the street from their new model home, one would assume that the builder would want to start off on the right foot with the new neighbors.

So imagine my disappointment when the first words out of the mouth of the initial point person in this new relationship were: “Is this your car?”  Not good morning, not my name is…, not hello.

“Is this your car?”

“Yes.”

“Well we’re about to start building here, you need to move it.”

“And good morning to you, too.”

Sheesh!

Here’s the deal folks.  You only get one shot at a first impression.  One.  Who’s going to make that impression?  Not your CEO.  Not your CFO.  Not your Director of Human Resources.

I don’t care if you’re selling dreams, a new lifestyle, horsepower, bicycles, or an opportunity to retire in luxury.  You best make the right first impression or all of that goes right down the drain.

Now imagine if that first encounter with this builder came with a greeting:  “Good morning, I’m Robert Jones.  I’m head of construction for West Field Construction and tomorrow morning we’re going to start building across the street.  This is Julio, he’s our Construction Supervisor and here’s our contact information should you ever have any concerns.  And your name is?”

Your social media should be in sync with your company’s.  If you’re going to be on social media, no matter what you’re selling, make sure that your people are portraying the same image as their employer.  If you own a strip club, no one will be surprised to see photographs of pole dancers showing off their legacy.    For the rest of us, your people better have it buttoned up.   If you want to go out on the town with your co-workers on Friday night, go right ahead.

But DO NOT post anything on your social media about how you “Love hangin’ with the Wild Bunch at Company  XYZ!”

sams_hofbrau_girls_facebook_thumb_560x384

Gettin’ hammered before the slammer with our awesome HR Director!

 

Remember, your social media may be someone else’s first impression of your company.  And when a prospect interacts with your social media,  what will their first impression be?  Make sure it counts.  And if your team isn’t accurately representing their employer, perhaps it’s time for some counseling.

As for my builder,  there’s always the next project and another shot at making a better first impression.

 

 

Sky Dive!

At 7,000 feet, the jump master opened the door and offered me a thumbs up.  The air whooshed through the cabin, animating the nylon of my jumpsuit.  As the green patchwork gently retreated past the spinning props and whistling wingtips, I stood up, gripped the hand rail, and hesitated.

“John, I have a job I think you would be interested in, it’s a Food and Beverage Director at a wonderful resort hotel.  It’s in the Midwest but I think you’d love it.  Listen, before we go any further I want you to talk to your kids, talk to your family first.  Then let’s talk again on Tuesday because I don’t like to send candidates out of state unless they’ve taken everything into account.”

I would parachute out of an airplane tomorrow.  That is, if my wife would give me permission.  A few years ago she grew weary of meeting me at the ER, of cleaning the gravel out of my shoulder, of stitching my cuts and icing my bruises.

“Sweetheart, you really should learn how to slow down.”

I grew up in a time when boys were expected to get out of the house, to catch snakes and frogs, to fish and hunt.  We were supposed to challenge ourselves, to run barefoot, climb trees and take chances.  I still have an enormous sense of adventure and the desire to push myself.  And when that phone call came, I blurted out Yes!  And as I listened to her, I caught my own reflection in the glass of a family photograph.

Did I really need to jump out of this airplane?

For months I had been on the job hunt and it had slowly ground me down.  A chef that had spent almost six months on crutches was not what one would call a hot commodity.  I began to question myself and spent too much time in regret and pondering what-ifs.  One lousy 80-pound case of ground beef, a tiny scratch on my femur, an unappreciative employer and a knee that slowly lost stability had sidelined me for almost two years.  Months after the surgery I wondered not if I would be able to cook again but would I be able to run or go up and down stairs.  And finally I drew the interest of a talent scout in Chicago.  And she had one heck of a position she was looking to fill.  If it was just me, no family waiting for me to arrive safely back on the ground, I would have leapt out of that airplane, yelling with delight all the way down.  Yes I would have missed my town and friends but the adventure was calling.

Amy and I had a long discussion that weekend and decided that the timing just wasn’t right.  We had a lot of friends and contacts, we live in a great town and our kids, both teenagers, would most likely be heartbroken.  And what about my knee?  Would I be able to handle the stress of five or six consecutive 12 to 14 hour days?  Amy has invested a lot of time helping me get back in shape. Is this how I wanted to thank her?  Did we really have to start over in a new town, a new state, a new everything?  I don’t always know when to say “no” and that could have been my downfall.  If I had gone back to a hotel too early and a few weeks in had to relinquish my position; that could have destroyed me.  But I have a desire to be helpful, I love to make people smile and I really miss being part of a team that has its heart set on a common goal.  So what now?  If I say no to this, what would be waiting for me around the corner?  So I said another prayer and asked not for an answer, but a little bit of patience.

About two weeks later I was approached by a company that wanted to pay me real money to manage their social media.  Really.  And now here I am with a new career, a new company and new challenges.

skydive-in-thailand

In many ways, I jumped out of that airplane months ago, I just hadn’t realized it.