On Being Hacked – Again

While I was up in Atlanta, working at a convention, I received an email from an SEO marketer. What I thought was a promotional message to buy their services, it actually was one that put my life – and business – in a tailspin.

Seems that while this company was doing their ‘research,’ they googled my business name and found that my site was being redirected to a pharmacy. I did some research on my own (I’ve become quite the detective) and called my hosting site, but they did not know what was going on. Thank the stars for having good networking contacts, as I called one who specializes in this area which, to my dismay, had verified that my website had been encrypted with codes to redirect; the other bad news was that the hacker was able to get the code to ‘jump’ to another site on the server, which was a website that had been developed (but never published).

Trying to remain calm during the time I was away was a challenge but I knew my contact knew ‘his stuff.’ The good news was that that my ‘pro’ was able to get the bad code off; the bad news was that this person, who he was able to determine came from Russia, was relentless and kept trying to access my sites. This continued for more days, even after I returned home.

I found myself becoming more upset and feeling demoralized – why was this person targeting me? I’ve not found any real answer – is there one? – but have heard: the site was vulnerable, the site got traffic (yeah!) to which they were making money, and they have nothing better to do, aka show their superiority and that ‘they can.’

The site is secure, for now at least. Here are a few lessons I learned from this that may help you:

  1. Pay Attention – be sure to check your brand, meaning do Google searches frequently to see if you come up. Check your website and traffic to ensure you’re still up and running safely
  2. Check passwords – these guys have machines that they can ‘ping’ vulnerability to a site. Not sure how my hosting service did not catch this. Change your passwords frequently and make them really hard to figure out
  3. Don’t assume all is safe, or that it can’t happen to you because you’re small – it can. These hackers are trying to make money but it’s at your expense so keep in awareness at all times
  4. Have good back-up systems and people – be sure to back up your data for the possibility of moving your info to a new site or for your own peace of mind. Knowing the information you created is safe and available helps to be calmer during this type of situation. Hire knowledgeable IT experts who can help you take back control of the situation; your hosting site is another resource to help
  5. Be prepared to start over – this happened to me 7 years ago, where I had to redo a new website. Not being so attached lately to my current one, if I have to start over it won’t devastate me. Actually, I had been toying with the idea of creating a new website with some new branding, which leads me to the next point…..
  6. Watch your thoughts and words, as you might get what you wish for – I recognized that I had been consciously saying my dislike for my website and certain other things in my business. I’ve recognized that the energy I was putting out may have led to this but I can also look that it was the catalyst to finally take the plunge. Funny how the ‘law’ works that way.

Bottom line, all will be ok with me and I’ll push through this. Hope these tips will save you some grief and frustration to protect your business and your personal information. They will try but not win!


Categories: career management

Using Meditation Practices to Start the Day Right

I hear from clients frequently how unhappy they are with their jobs – too much work, not enough time, conflict with their tasks or coworkers/boss, and the list goes on. If only thinking of problems on a day-to-day basis is your ‘theme,’ it won’t be long before you will feel more frustration, stress and unhappiness.

Overtime, with no change in this pattern of thinking, it will soon start to feel like ‘groundhog day’ – doing the same things over and over with no change (this is also the definition of insanity). Soon, predictions and generalizations occur for each day being the same. We don’t realize that our situations are not the same as before but are our outlook and belief.

But what if there was a way to start each day with fresh eyes, and a fresh perspective? And what if these led to a differing outcome and the ability to deal with whatever comes your way? Well, there is a way and it’s all within you, or your mind, to be specific.  Although not new, meditation is one of the more up-and-coming popular ways to decrease stress, regain focus and concentration, and give the ability to face each day recharged and refreshed.


From what I’ve learned, meditation is not about stopping one’s thoughts, it’s about living with them and not trying to do anything about them (control them). Creating a ritual each morning before you start your day, where you meditate, will provide you with a fresh outlook and a calm way of being. Meditation does take time to learn, as practice is involved, but just starting with a minute or two will give you calm and relieve any worries or anxieties that may arise. Here are three quick ways to  create a mediation ritual that will start your day off on a positive note:

  1. To begin, set a minute on your cellphone or an actual timer; doing so ‘preps’ you to know this is not going to be laborous or hard. Mindset sets the tone for success; by starting small, it allows the brain to calm and not reject the activity and you can see quick results, thereby motivating you to continue
  2. Use your visualization or find a focal point to look at – think of an object to focus on as this will redirect all thoughts to that one area, making it easier to calm the mind and keep the practice going. Another suggestion is to make a noise, such as a hum (‘ohm’ or ‘um’) to redirect thoughts; I’ve used ‘mmmooonneeey’ in the past
  3. Focus on your breathing, as this is the best way to get calm immediately; breathing deeply in the belly area will help to calm the stress chemicals released, leading to feeling calmer and more in control. The more you practice, the easier this will become, which will be useful for any situation you come across

These practices can take all of five minutes to start and can prep your day, where you can work your up to meditating for longer periods. It would beneficial if you mediated before going out the door to work, and also once you sit at your desk to create a positive way to start the day. As I’ve said earlier, the more you practice, the easier this practice will become, thereby being a daily ritual you will look forward to and set a positive tone for your day.

I was amazed at how many contestants on the Miss America pageant, the other night, said that they regularly meditate and how it helped lead them to be pageant-winners to get to the big stage; the new Miss America discussed how her practice of mediation has lead her to have the confidence to pursue her dream; if it worked for her, it can work for you!

If you’d like help with dealing with workplace stress and learn to manage your career, let’s talk; contact us at http://www.cyscoaching.com to get started!



Why is Change So Hard (and why do we resist it)?

stick_figure_hand_up_stop_6450In being transparent, I am in the process of rebranding my business, not moving so much away from what I’ve been doing but being more focused on a particular area, or ‘the niche.’ I’ve always resisted being so focused – I’m ‘eclectic, meaning I have a lot of knowledge and experience in a lot of areas. So I’ve always resisted choosing one topic to focus on. It’s has gotten me through ten years.

However, I see how it has held me back in some ways. I’ve also recognized a passion forming for my renewed focus, which is leading me to come the decision that it’s time for some needed renewal. (More to be revealed). Why do I tell this? Because I’m realizing how hard this change can be – a name change, new business cards, new website, targeting marketing efforts, and the like. Although I’m excited by this, I find I’m resistive some days.

Why is change so hard? Why do companies struggle with this? Why do workers struggle with changes made within an organization? Our brains have a lot to do with this (actually all). We’re hard-wired to be in threat-mode: the brain is always searching for any type of threat to our safe environment. When we get into our routines and our habits, that is a safe area. We know what we know – and like it that way.

But when are faced with a situation that is new or, perhaps, we have faced in the past, the brain’s threat center goes off. We then either are faced with the choice of staying in safety or moving to the unknown. Most people choose safety, thereby resisting what is on the other side. While they are in their ‘safe zone,’ they feel frustrated, anxious and, sometime, depressed that they can’t seem to move out of this area.

I find myself slipping back into comfort zones – I know how to deal with my frustrations and, if I allow myself to, I can then attribute my lack of staying put to other people or situations (i.e. it’s too expensive to buy that, or I’ll do it later, or I don’t know how). Sound familiar?

So, as I’m going through my own changes, here are some tips that can help you to move you -or your organization – through any change:

  • Be clear on why the change should occur – often, communication is not conveyed often when a change occurs, which I’m unclear why the resistance.  As communication goes, just because you sent something out does not mean it is heard/interpreted the same way so ensuring the reason for the change is conveyed will help buy-in to the need. I’ve been very bored, quite frankly, with some of the work I’ve been doing so I’m needing change; I also have identified a need that I’m now looking to help with.
  • Identify the benefit for the impact of the intended change – what is the desired result the change will bring? People will accept change more readily if they know it will benefit either them or someone else. How will the change impact the workplace, such as by having less paperwork or being able to leave on time, or will it lead to a happy customer, who will come back and buy or refer others? I see the benefit of my changes as more effective workers and happier workplaces.
  • Plan…Plan….Plan… – moving to something new requires a plan for how the change will occur, including all the steps needed, people, time, money, regulations, paperwork, etc. Without a plan, frustrations will come quicker and excuses will be easier to make. I wrote a new business plan, as well as mind-mapped, for the direction my company is going. I have checklists and a calendar for what I’m doing on a daily basis; the change is feeling easier, which is giving me more excitement and motivation to get the change made soon.
  • Be Patient – don’t rush the process -it is tempting to move through a change quickly to get on with the new, but this actually can stall, or screw up, the new outcome, which could involve money or a brand. Pulling a band-off quickly will hurt but then you’re over it; there will be times that moving quickly through a change will be beneficial but not what I would recommend (unless a new opportunity presents itself that is too good to pass up). Being methodical and following the steps  laid out when planning will ensure that all bases are covered, as well as ease any fears that may arise. I actually am expecting that this process will be painful for me, which is helping me to take my time.
  • Communicate steps needing to be made and update on progress: this is very critical during a change to ensure everyone is aware of what will happen during a change and how things are going. If not, this could open the door to ‘the water cooler’ discussions of what employees think is going on. Having the buy-in will alleviate fears, thereby gaining more acceptance and support. I’ve been through several organizational changes in my past work, where I’ve seen it handled well and not so well; successful change always involved transparency and communication as we moved through. As strange as it sounds, I talk to myself, as well as write/journal, about the changes and validating the direction I’m on as I find this helps keep me focused on daily tasks and validating ‘wins’ I’ve made.
  • Trust and believe in yourself – it is vital to have faith in what you are doing, the decisions being made, and the skills/knowledge/abilities you have to do so. Leaders need to know – and stand behind – their ideas and decisions to make needed change; this applies no matter what you may face, such as backlash from employees or customers/the market. The hard part is going against adversity, which is often what keeps people from living in their comfort zones, as I’ve mentioned. Believe you can and you will. I have to remind myself of this step several times a day, but I feel more empowered and excited – and ready – to make changes in my business.

Moving through a change can be hard and will definitely feel uncomfortable but following my lead and the steps I’m taking will diminish any uncomfortable and resistive feelings while producing acceptance and trust (for any future changes). I’ll be updating my progress so stay tuned.

If you, or your organization, is looking to make a change but find resistance and struggle, let’s talk – contact us at http://www.cyscoaching.com



Are You a ‘Sheeple?’

The priest at my church yesterday told a funny story from his life prior to entering religious life. He started out his sermon by relating that he loved animals but that the dumbest of them are sheep, as they just graze and walk and not care about where they are going; sheep need someone to lead them. His story was from his life before entering the priesthood where he worked at Disney World; a long line had formed, with people waiting 45 minutes, not really knowing what they were in line for – turns out the line was for the bathroom!


We are a nation of followers, or sheeple, just doing what others do just because. Some call it the ‘herd effect,’ ‘crowd psychology,’ or ‘conforming’ all of which means that one goes along with a crowd, irregardless of the reason. The concept of group-think also comes into play, where one may not want to go against the thoughts of the group they are in out of some fear of reprisal; the Challenger shuttle disaster was the result of  group-think.

Why is that people are so willing to go along with the crowd and not stand out on their own beliefs? It comes down to a fear of some kind – not wanting to be the ‘odd man out;’ not wanting to make someone mad; not wanting to let others see how vulnerable we are; not wanting to look weak or less than; wanting to (overly) please someone else for their love or something they will give (such as money).

There can be a myriad of reasons why someone will follow the crowd but it does not lead to their happiness – only frustration and, sometimes, steep consequences. Knowing your value and beliefs, and sticking to them – even if it goes against what others think – is scary but is truly the way to inner peace. As scary as it sounds, being a ‘disruptor’ (I love this word) will truly put you out front of the pack and can lead to a life-fulfilled.

Think of many people who went against the crowd and the advances they made, such as: Walt Disney, the Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and even Mother Teresa, to name a few. These individuals had dreams and were brave enough to step away from what others were doing, even though they were laughed at, ostracized or shunned. They weren’t willing to be a ‘sheeple’ – they disrupted the status quo and to make their dreams a reality, which we now are reaping the rewards of flying on airplanes, all of the technological devices we use to make our work and life easier, and to visit the happiest place on earth.

So what will you do to not be a crowd-follower? You must follow your own path and believe in yourself in following your heart. It will be scary and can tap into some insecurities you’ve been carrying around. You can be the leader of your own path, being firm in what you know; it’s also about taking risks. You can either go along with the crowd or not; but wouldn’t you want to be a pioneer and start a movement, living in your own path versus doing what everyone else is doing?

If you’re tired of following others, and not living in your path, let’s talk – contact us today at http://www.cyscoaching.com.

When You Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

Have you ever wanted to move forward in your life but did not and then, later, the answer to move you to that end-result was in front of you all along? I’ll admit that I’ve been there a time or two, but it brought this to light in some work I’ve done recently.

I was working with a young man who was looking to make some job changes, as they were not making enough financially and found themselves struggling. In exploring their options and discovering their calling, they revealed that they really liked working on computers and would like a job in the field but did not know how to go about doing so. Imagine my surprise as we moved on to discover that they actually had completed their AA degree in computer networking and an A+ certification.

What? Here was someone who was struggling with how to proceed in their career while already having viable tools at their disposal. This young man could not see his forest for the trees he had planted; his mindset and outlook were blocking his view. He admitted that he tended to only focus on how he would get started or use his education; this confused state led him to take the first job he found. But, he was no longer willing to stay in this state, thus his coming to me.


How many have been in the same situation as this young man, frustrated at their current situation, wondering how to proceed, but allowing these doubt and frustrations to keep them down? Truthfully, it’s what keeps those in the personal development field in business. Self-doubt and lack of confidence are poison as they raise fears that can be paralyzing, leading one to stay in the same place and not seeing what could be ahead.

Overcoming our fears is not easy, as our body is meant to search out for threats it detects – doing something new is threatening.  But, we have to question these fears to know if they are a reality we have to deal with. If we face something that threatened us in the past, i.e. getting yelled at, being told a negative comment, failed at something, etc., we don’t know if the same incident will happen, or in the same way yet we live as if it will.

Questioning the source of your fears is the only way to move past them – are they absolutely true, which no one can say with certainty. Being a problem-solver to the situation will also alleviate any doubt and puts your brain into action mode for potential solutions to any issue you face. For this young man, it became for him to explore the varying careers/jobs in the IT field and organizations who are looking for someone with his background. He also was able to focus on connections he could make who could refer him to a potential hirer, as well as places he could contact to volunteer in order to get some experience.

Coming up with a viable plan for his next steps was useful in chopping down any trees that were blocking his view from his future. Our work still will focus on reinforcing positive actions he is taking, as well as continuing to overcome his fears but this young man left with renewed hope and spirit that will take him far.

I saw a great quote today that related to this topic: “If something isn’t working, move. You’re not a tree.” (author, unknown). Your path may covered by obstacles (trees) but you don’t have to stay behind them- go around them, over them, or cut them down. There’s always a way.

If you’re facing obstacles to achieving your goals or desires, let’s talk; contact us at http://www.cyscoaching.com



For Leaders: The Importance of a Monthly Review

This week, for me, ends another graduate class, of which I’m now spending time finishing up grading. One of my favorite questions for the last discussion board is their take-away’s from the course. It is very uplifting and heartfelt when you see that the material covered has ‘sunk in’ and made a difference.

For leaders, doing the same type of review is important to see what their ‘lessons-learned’ have been, and to see results the team has made and how the leader has impacted these results. These reviews can be done daily, weekly or monthly (preferable) to keep on-track with goals and results earned. It also ensures that problems have been handled well and assesses the status of relationships with their workers.

So what goes into such as review? Here are questions to use and adapt in a leader’s assessment:

  • What worked well – what were the ‘wins’?
  • What can I do more of to build on?
  • What did not work well?
  • What do I need to stop doing?
  • What has gotten in the way of being effective in my role?
  • Did I access appropriate resources to get the work done, whether in people, outside resources, or tools?
  • Have I addressed any employee issues or conflicts that have occurred? Have I met with the employee in a 1:1 meeting to get to the root of the problem and coached them for a positive resolution?
  • Have I met regularly with the team? Have I encouraged and supported them?
  • Have I maintained good relationships with my upline and other partners in the organization? Have I encouraged this with my employees?
  • How has my attitude and outlook been? Have I worked on this?
  • Have I communicated effectively, ensuring that my message is heard the same by all?
  • Have I worked on my personal development and self-care? What actions did I take?
  • What are my ‘next’ goals?

These are just a few questions to assess and reflect on, all with the intent to build off current successes and move on to the new day/week/month’s goals. We can’t go forward if we don’t know where we’ve been; self-awareness and assessment is the way to start.

If you need help or would like support/accountability in completing your self-assessment and making plans to lead more effectively, let’s talk; contact us today at http://www.cyscoaching.com

Graduation Day – A Rite of Passage

I am so proud to say that today my daughter is getting pinned as a nurse; this is a special graduation day for her nursing class, of which they all have sweated, cried, and now finally celebrate their passage into the nursing field. But I was a bit dismayed that some of her classmates will not be attending the formal graduation, which is next week. My daughter, who already has a bachelor’s degree and went through that ceremony, was not really seeing the benefit of joining her fellow classmates (she will).


I think this does a big disservice to the work one’s done over the years of study; graduation day is a rite of passage from being a student to being a diploma holder, who is now ready to take on the world. Graduation is a celebration of why you went to school to begin with; not going is not honoring that. It is a way, also, to uplift your classmates and school and honor their teachings. It also honors the people who have supported you along the way, i.e. family, friends, teachers, etc.

As one who teaches in higher education, but online, I haven’t been in the classroom in several years but I still attend the local graduations; I don’t know who the student are but I can see their appreciation and excitement when their professors are there and the traditional ceremony it brings. It formalizes the overall experience.

If you, or perhaps your children, are ready to graduate, I encourage you to attend graduation. Honor  – and celebrate – yourself, and you achievements; you will never get this chance again. Congratulations to all who will reach their milestone this year!

If you’re needing help with reaching milestones, let’s talk; contact us today at http://www.cyscoaching.com

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