These are just a handful of pieces I’ve worked on over the last few years. If you’d like to see something specific, just reach out!
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Collaborated on concepts and ideation, wrote/edited copy and worked with designers.
The Importance of Empowerment
Most people know the phrase “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The concept of empowerment is simple, but when we’re all busy with the day-to-day grind of the working world, it can seem a whole lot easier to just catch the fish ourselves.
Many people don’t always see just how important empowerment can be. For starters, taking a little extra time to explain something to a staff member and help them understand it properly will pay dividends, as they probably won’t have to ask you for help with it next time. But it goes so far beyond that in the long run. When you empower someone to figure something out rather than just doing it for them, it shows you trust their skills and ability to learn. It also reiterates that you’re invested in their career and find value in their talents.
Empowerment is also an important part of leadership. We may not always realize it, but the people we work with are constantly looking at how we lead by example. We all have bad days here and there, but if we consistently brush off questions or give short answers, others may take that as a reflection of our leadership style—or, worse yet, may respond in a similar way to a colleague. But when we take the time to empower others, that behavior is contagious as well.
While it may be quicker and even seem kinder to do something for someone, giving them the right tools to figure it out pays off for both of you in the long run. How will you empower someone today?
2020: The Year of Embracing Change
You’ve heard it said over and over, I’m sure. “We’re living in uncertain, unprecedented times.” While it’s easy to understand why change is necessary, that doesn’t always mean it’s easy. In fact, most people really don’t like change—the unfamiliar is scary and often uncomfortable, especially at first. But without change, there would never be improvement.
On Tuesday, March 17, our company moved to a remote working environment as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While our individual offices looked very different, we’ve continued to focus on serving clients while also doing what we can to protect the health and well-being of all. All of our meetings, both internal and with clients, have been largely digital, and we’ve also moved our external events to online platforms. As you can imagine, this didn’t occur overnight or without hiccups, but overall I’ve been very proud of how everyone has adapted (and continues to adapt) to this “new normal.”
Many of us have had to change plans and cancel vacations, and that’s certainly disappointing. Commuting, lunches, happy hours, and a separation between our office and our homes have become a distant memory, and it can be very hard to know when you are “at work” or “at home.” A positive byproduct of this change, however, is that it highlights the importance of taking a break—something many of us may not have been the best at in the past. Learning to step away, disconnect, and take a day off is vital to our mental health, and while it may not be easy to shut off our computers or set down our phones, we should remind ourselves that it’s worth it to come back recharged and better equipped to focus.
Some of our offices are beginning the processes of reopening, but even when we do, I know there will continue to be changes to deal with. With a new emphasis on sanitation, mask-wearing and continued social distancing, office environments will look a lot different moving forward. But I’m confident we will find benefits in these changes as well. Among the anxiety, the unknown, the new phrases and the tragedy, there have been moments of joy, as well as opportunities to innovate and new relationships to appreciate. All these new hurdles provide a great opportunity for us to learn and grow, and I truly think we can all come out of this with increased efficiency and productivity. I’m not going to go as far as to say it was a good year—in all practical definitions, it wasn’t. But if we don’t commend our resilience, our perseverance, our ability to come together in new ways, we’re not giving ourselves enough credit.
On Job Titles
Shakespeare asked, “what’s in a name?” And I’m here to ask: what’s in a job title?
We all remember our first promotion. Mine was a move from Associate to Senior Associate, and that was definitely a confidence boost for someone not too far out of college. Being promoted to Partner was also a proud moment for me. But while that intrinsic motivation and sense of pride comes with your own job title, what are we taking away from the titles of others?
I think the answer there is “more than we realize.” When hiring new talent, we often look at candidates’ previous titles. However, this means we could also be judging them based on inherent bias and passing up on a well-qualified candidate. When we create new positions in our firms, a lot of thought goes into how the new title fits into the current structure, and that title at one firm could mean something completely different at another. On the flip side, we are now seeing more and more new and even funny titles pop up, such as Director of First Impressions, Creator of Opportunities, and even Chief Happiness Officer, so the comparison is even further lost.
If it were up to me, job titles wouldn’t exist! When it comes down to it, everyone plays an important role in our success, and oftentimes hierarchy just gets in the way. Do you ever find yourself trying to speak more “officially” with a member of leadership and more comfortably with someone on your team? Are there moments where you may leave someone out of a meeting thinking they might be too green to need a seat at the table? There are many things like this that we may do without even knowing that we’re doing them, and great ideas could be getting lost in the shuffle.
While I understand that job titles and hierarchies have their place, for me, the overall point boils down to one simple thing: respect. Respect is something that should be shown the same across the board—from the seasoned CEO to the brand-new intern. I challenge you to make a conscious effort to see past the titles to the person behind them. You never know what new perspectives you may find.
Ghostwrote monthly content for a Board Chair
Brochures & Fliers
Worked with subject matter experts to write and edit content and collaborated with designers.
Article & Newsletter Content
Celebrating Diversity & Inclusivity in June
The LGBT+ community and allies celebrate Pride Month throughout the month of June with events, parades and other ways of promoting inclusivity and equality.
Why June? In June of 1969, a police raid of the Stonewall Inn sparked protests and riots that lead to the gay rights movement as we know it today.
June is also a month that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.
What is Juneteenth? On June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Gen. Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas announced the end of the Civil War and highlighted the adequate strength of the troops to enforce the proclamation, meaning enslaved people could truly be free.
Juneteenth is often celebrated through events, gatherings and religious ceremonies, with an emphasis on education and positive change. As the issues of racism continue to be highlighted in the present day, it’s important to reflect on past events so we can continue to work towards a better future.
Racism and discrimination issues may not always be front and center in the media, but let’s all commit to doing what we can to educate ourselves, combat racism, support social justice organizations and keep the conversation going.
Wrote for an internal newsletter.
Top 5 Cybersecurity Must-Haves
Cybersecurity is important, but it’s not always easy to find more room in the budget. That’s why we’ve broken down the top security to-dos, so you can keep your organization safe without breaking the bank.
- Educate your staff. Education is one of the most important pieces to the cybersecurity puzzle, and knowledge can be a better asset than any tool on the market. You’ll need to make sure your employees understand what MFA is, why it’s important and how to use it. But MFA isn’t the only thing you’ll need to provide education on. Since 95% of cyberattacks are due to human error, your employees need to know what they’re watching out for. The burden isn’t all on your shoulders; it’s not possible to implement technical solutions that can catch every potential threat.
Formal cybersecurity training should be conducted yearly at a minimum. We recommend conducting quarterly trainings as well as additional training for new hires. We often say that security is a journey, not a destination, but there are things you can do to make that journey a smooth one. Good education includes:
• An overview of common cybersecurity threats
• Tips on identifying and avoiding these threats
• A clear way to report incidents
Despite your best efforts, incidents will happen. And while this is obviously frustrating, staff need to feel that it’s a positive interaction, because if they’re reprimanded, they and others will be less likely to report future issues. When someone reports an incident, thank them for the information, reassure them that they aren’t in trouble, and work together to gather all the information surrounding the incident. Disciplining employees for clicking a phishing link or being fooled by a social engineering scheme will do a lot more harm than good.
- Invest in a cyber insurance policy. Cybersecurity threats are inevitable, and cyber insurance can help you better position your business to mitigate the financial impacts of an incident. But don’t just buy a cyber insurance policy and file it away; make sure to come back to it yearly to examine and review.
- Tighten up your configurations. Cybersecurity isn’t just about buying the right software, hardware and protection plans. Tightening up your configurations to eliminate unnecessary access is a simple yet often overlooked way to reduce your organization’s vulnerability.
Harden your system and reduce the potential for compromise by periodically:
• Removing admin rights
• Reducing other user permissions
• Closing unused ports
• Removing inactive user accounts
• Uninstalling software that is no longer used
• Ensuring your VPN is required
• Following a hardening benchmark (such as CIS Benchmarks)
Cybersecurity professionals can also conduct penetration testing exercises to give you a full picture of any gaps that may be subject to exploitation. This testing can highlight weaknesses in your network configurations that could allow unauthorized and/or unsuspected access. While this may seem like an extra step, the benefit remains clear: would you rather have an expert find and flag these vulnerabilities or realize too late that a cybercriminal has exploited them?
- Enable MFA. Multi Factor Authentication should be a standard these days, but if you haven’t enabled MFA for email, intranet and other business logins, you’re missing a crucial security step. According to Microsoft engineers, 99.9% of account compromise attacks could have been prevented with MFA.
MFA is classified as something you have, something you know and something you are (e.g. a biometric like a fingerprint or facial recognition) that creates a second factor to another trusted source. When MFA is enabled, if (and when) a user’s password is stolen, the password alone is not enough; there’s still that other authentication method needed.
While it can seem inconvenient for users to have to provide their fingerprint or type in the six-digit text code that never seems to arrive quickly enough, the difficult truth is that passwords alone just don’t cut it anymore. MFA adds that necessary second layer that a threat actor can’t know ahead of time, and it is a simple step that can go a long way.
If you’ve tried to find a middle ground by enabling MFA for certain privileged users, we’ll have to burst your bubble: that’s not enough, either. MFA should be enabled for all employees, not just admin users. Business email compromise is the second most common threat behind ransomware, and there’s a lot of tempting personal information in people’s inboxes, so your best bet is MFA for all.
- Practice, practice, practice. A good incident response plan isn’t just a “one-and-done” kind of thing. Good plans are built, practiced, reviewed and improved on an ongoing basis. Practicing your organization’s plan can help you account for things that may be missed on paper.
In tabletop exercises, cybersecurity professionals meet with business leaders, attorneys, IT professionals and others in the organization to ask “what if” questions. It’s also incredibly helpful to include your insurance policy details and team in these exercises, so you can shed light on what’s covered and what’s not, and so you know the specifics of contacting them when an incident occurs.
Typically, the process of a tabletop exercise involves identifying a scenario, walking through how it could play out and examining any questions or curveballs that may arise. These exercises can help identify gaps and inform recommendations to strengthen your plan against future threats. Just make sure that plan is stored somewhere separate and secure — not just on a hard drive — so it isn’t lost if your systems are compromised.
Your practice exercises should also include testing your backups. Think about incident response like running a marathon. You won’t be able to wake up one morning and run 26 miles; you need to train. Tabletop exercises are one way to work on that training, but you also need to make sure that your backups, like good running shoes, are in good shape. Failing to test your backups before an incident is like never taking your shoes out of the box before the marathon: you’ll have no idea if they fit, and it’s probably going to end up being really painful.
Backup issues are one of the main reasons businesses end up paying when hit with ransomware. They may think that their backups are safe, complete and ready to use, but that may not be the case when it comes time to reinstate them. It’s also important to understand how long it takes to reinstate your backups: it could be weeks or even months before your systems are ready to use again. Many businesses just don’t have that kind of time, which makes paying the ransom all that more enticing.
If Ransomware Happens, Should We Pay the Ransom?
The short answer is: no. But when it comes down to it, each organization has to decide what is best for them moving forward. And paying the ransom doesn’t always mean recovery; it’s rarely that simple. That’s why it’s important to work with law enforcement and cybersecurity professionals who deal with these incidents every day, because they know which threat actors will actually keep their word and pay and which ones aren’t likely to.
If you can quickly implement your well-practiced plan and utilize your backups, you may be able to recover effectively without paying the ransom. Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors to consider in each specific situation, so there isn’t a one or a zero answer. That said, there are certain entities you absolutely should not pay: certain countries and organizations are illegal to pay due to terrorism connections or conflicts with the United States. Partnering with a trusted advisor as soon as possible will help prevent you from making any wrong moves.
If (and when) an incident does occur, it’s important to have a PR person, not an IT person, in charge of the communication piece. Incident communication is a delicate dance; you want to be honest and not hide anything, but you don’t want to overcommunicate, either. Many organizations communicate too much too early and have to go back to try and clarify inaccuracies. Unfortunately, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, so to speak — once information is out there, reputational damage is hard to undo. Having an advisor on your side can help you pause and know what needs to be communicated and when.
We often hear clients say: “I’m just a small business, I’m not big enough for cybercriminals to go after.” Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Cybercriminals aren’t looking at business sizes or locations, they’re looking at opportunities and scanning any computer that they can see. To them, you’re just an IP address. They don’t see whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a mom-and-pop business; if the vulnerability is there, they’re going to exploit it to steal your sensitive data. If anything, smaller businesses should care more, because they likely don’t have the cashflow to survive a serious incident, and the results can be business-ending.
It may seem impossible to keep up with new technology and new threats, but cybersecurity incidents are often crimes of opportunity. The more you work to prevent those opportunities, the better off you’ll be. A trusted advisor can help you cover the gaps and take the burden off your team.
Wrote for an external web publication.
Wrote for an external print publication.
Radio & Podcast Content
Are you looking to grow your practice or enter the world of sports dentistry? Our recent podcast episode has practical advice from the team dentist for some of the most renowned athletes of all time. For many sports enthusiasts, being able to work for a major NBA, NFL or NHL team would be an absolute dream. In this episode of The Art of Dental Finance and Management podcast, Art talks to Dr. Jeffrey Hoy, who’s had an epic 30-year dentistry career serving as the team dentist for the Lakers, Rams and Kings, as well as other large LA sports teams.
With the business landscape in a constant state of change, many have wondered what’s next. As questions arise about planning for the future, tax legislation, remote workforce technology and more, we’re here to help you make sense of it all. Now, more than ever, businesses and individuals must understand compliance, adjust expectations and renew focus to remain successful. From navigating relief programs to making real-time and informed decisions, Eide Bailly has the resources you need to keep moving forward. Visit eidebailly.com for timely updates, webinars and additional information.
Worked with subject matter experts to write and edit.
Wrote script and collaborated with stakeholders to storyboard imagery.
Working at a nonprofit has its moments. Powerful moments. Difficult moments. Moments of resounding success. But in between these moments come the little things that are a big deal … regulations, revenue generation and maintaining tax exempt status can all take up time and pull your focus away from your mission. And it can often feel like there isn’t enough time to dive deeper.
Wouldn’t it be nice to free up time to focus on what really matters? That’s where we come in.
Eide Bailly can take the pressure off your day-to-day financial, organizational and operational challenges. Whether you’re looking for accounting help, technology solutions, education, or you just want to make sure you’re on the right track, let’s talk. No matter what the next moment has in store, we’re here to help you meet your goals and live your mission.
Eide Bailly: What Inspires You, Inspires Us
Wrote script and collaborated with stakeholders to storyboard imagery.
You wake up, make your coffee, think about which podcast you’ll listen to on the way to work. Maybe you meet with patients all morning, attend a board meeting or spend your hours reviewing the practice financials. The afternoon flies by in a blur of lunch chats and meetings and paperwork. You get home, and think about what your family should have for dinner. And not once did you think about the upcoming merger or the security of your IT systems.
But we did.
We started our day by aligning your data and your financial records, and we ended our day by setting you up for tomorrow. The healthcare team at Eide Bailly has served as CFOs, Business Office Managers, RNs and more, so we’ve been in your shoes and share in your passion. And we know you have other things to think about. If you’re looking to improve overall efficiencies and profitability, but you’d rather spend your time focusing on what inspires you, let’s talk.
Eide Bailly: What Inspires You, Inspires Us