Understanding the “Digital Risks” of Doing Business in Today’s Socially-Connected, Online World

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Yesterday I participated in a conversation with my good friend (and colleague) Eric Cook of WSI Consulting.  In full disclosure, Eric and I have started a new partnership “Digital Risk and Compliance Partners” (DigitalRCP). The topic was “Understanding the “Digital Risks” of Doing Business in Today’s Socially-Connected, Online World” and I outlined 7 specific risks we all need to be aware of – some may have seemed obvious, but others came as a surprise for a few participants.

You can access the recording of the webinar on Eric’s Free Webinar Wednesday Website. Enjoy and join the conversation – what digital risks are you experiencing with your business?


Webinar Description:

Chances are your business has a website, a Facebook page and may even be using Twitter or encouraging employees to engage and connect on LinkedIn. Chances are these same employees are using their own mobile devices to use social media for personal use, but if they have access to business information (like company email, account information or even confidential client details) they may be un-knowingly putting your business at risk. And what about when someone applies for a job at your company? Do you go out and “check ’em out” on social media to see what they really are like before you grant an interview?

Let’s face it, doing business “digitally” these days is not something that can be ignored, but it’s a good idea to take a step back and understand what some of the risks are in this always-connected, socially-networked world. With us this week to lead the conversation about this very issue will be Deborah Gonzalez, Esq., founder of Law2sm, LLC, a legal consulting firm focusing on helping its clients navigate the legal and security issues relating to the new digital and social media world. She is also the co-founder of DitigalRCP, the creators of the Digital Risk Assessment™ tool that assists a company to ensure that their online activity is in line with state laws, federal laws, and regulatory compliance. Additionally, she’s the author of Managing Online Risk, a book focused on helping readers understand the risks of apps, mobile devices and social media security.

Whether you’re a business owner yourself or a consultant that serves clients with digital services, this is a show that you’ll want to attend to help gain a better understanding of where risks may exist. You can then devise a plan to mitigate the risks and ensure that you’re prepared.

Law2sm at 2013 BARKWORLD! The National Pet Social Media Conference, ATL

I, like many, have grown up with pets in the house – cats, dogs, birds, and fishes.  I currently don’t have pets – but I love them and have a secret wish to one day have a big, fluffy, boisterous dog – but of course, not until I finish all my traveling so he won’t be alone all day.  🙂

So I was thrilled to be able to participate in this year’s BarkWorld: The National Pet Social Media Conference, organized by Denise Quashie. (http://www.barkworldexpo.comLaw2sm participated in a number of ways:

  • We were a Silver Sponsor;
  • I presented a session called “Going to Contract: How to Avoid Legal Pitfalls When Working with Brands & Bloggers;” and
  • I wrote an article for the program “5 Tips to Blog Disclosures” reviewing the FTC’s recently released updated guidelines for disclosure.

I really didn’t know what to expect so I brought my daughter, Angelica – a human belonging to three dogs – to help me navigate the Conference and all the fun events at the Buckhead Westin in Atlanta. And I must admit we had a blast!

First we were welcomed by the doggy daycare set-up, sponsored by Best Friends Pet Care. (http://www.bestfriendspetcare.com) I was very impressed by the behavior of the dogs in attendance at the conference, but it was a nice break for them to do their own socializing in this off-leash play area.

Next, we picked up our badges at the registration desk and were handed two gigantic tote bags (courtesy of Petco) filled with an amazing array of goodies and giveaways from the various sponsors – of course all pet related.  One thing that stood out was a hardcover 512-page Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Source book for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World. (Yahoo! Was a sponsor).  I have only browsed through its contents but what a great resource for those who write online.  Also included: doggie treats and chew toys, cat scratching tape, lint brushes, pet shampoos, notebooks, pens, sunglasses, pet bandanas, and the list goes on and on.

As we continued into the Exhibit hall, vendors provided even more take home treats from Yoda ears thanks to Petco’s new Star Wars collection, to marketing booklets full of ideas to promote the pet blogger.  One particular vendor stood out for me – Be Pawsitive – the brainchild of Travis Watson, who I met at the Conference.  According to the Be Pawsitive website (www.bepawsitive.com):

Each month we send you and your dog a new flavor of our delicious oven baked dog treats right to your door for as little as $12.95/month. Each treat box provides a box of treats we give to an animal shelter or rescue organization to help those dogs get ready for a new home. Our mission is to provide the highest quality all natural, USDA certified organic dog treats for your dog and at the same time give back to those dogs in need of a little extra love. While your dog is enjoying one of our treats, know that a shelter dog is too!

Also, as an intellectual property attorney I fell in love with his logo, as well as his concept.  (As an aside, I did follow-up with Travis and placed an order for two Be Pawsitive t-shirts).  BTW, Travis isn’t alone in this endeavor, he is assisted by his mother and his dog, Lola, who is listed as the CTO – Chief Treat Officer. Hope you check them out and tell Travis help from me.

During lunch I sat through a presentation by HGTV’s Mallory Colliflower on Pet-Friendly Gardening. Those who know me know I am terrible with plants – I even kill bamboo, but I found this session full of interesting tidbits and my daughter took a lot of notes – besides the three dogs they also have a very, very large backyard.  She told me the session as very helpful, and I’ll take her word for it.

After lunch, I did my presentation on contracts providing attendees an overview of contract concepts and special considerations to keep in mind when creating agreements with bloggers and brands.  Topics included: components of a contract, myths of contracts, contract clauses of interest, breach of contracts, remedies, and tips on negotiating.  You can download the PowerPoint below. The room was filled and the interaction with the guests was great, but as always, not enough time.

At this point I was exhausted from all the sights, sounds, and flavors of the Conference and we headed home – full of swag, new friends, fond memories, and did I say swag?

BarkWorld_August2013  (PowerPoint Presentation on Contracts Handout)

BarkWorldArticle_2013   (On Disclosure Tips for Bloggers)



2013 Global Health & Humanitarian Summit, Emory, Atlanta, #GHHS

On April 13, 2013 I was invited to be a speaker at the 2013 Global Health & Humanitarian Summit held at Emory University’s School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA.  (http://www.ghhs2013.org).  It details its mission to “bring the local and global humanitarian community together for an educational and inspiring forum, fostering sustainable, world-changing humanitarian action.  The Summit strives to improve the delivery of humanitarian services, raise awareness of organizations committed to creating better world and to inspiring the next generation of activists and volunteers.”

The Summit consisted of three days of panels, keynote speeches, musical performances, thought-provoking roundtables, exhibits, and films.  It was a packed schedule – three speakers in an hour, four sessions going on at once time – but it offered something for everyone, especially motivation to continue to do the good work.

I was only able to attend a few of the sessions and visit the exhibit hall but here are some of my impressions.

  • Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro: R.E.A.L. Life Lessons, One Step at a TimeDebra Corbett, LPC took us on a journey of discovery and meeting challenges as she relayed her experience climbing the famous mountain with a group of fellow Rotarians.  Her REAL lessons include:  Resonate, Engage, Affirm, Lead & Learn.  www.Choose2Grow.com
  • Walking & Spreading a Culture of Volunteerism: The Canto Cidadao Hospital Clown Troupe from BrazilDr. Raviolli Bem-te-Vi and Dr. Ispaguetti Saracura traveled via sponsorship of Delta Airlines from Brazil to share with us the language of the clowns and the healing energy of joy.  Powerful and inspiring I invite you to “share” their insights and their site: www.cantocidadao.org.br.
  • Digital Identity & Global Health in a Digital World.  My presentation explored the concepts of digital identity, digital health, digital global health concerns, and solutions & lessons learned.  Although I was the last speaker for the day the attendees stayed around and engaged with me on the topic.  A shout out to Ramotalai Coker, a DPHE Fellow at the Office of Minority Health in Montgomery Alabama, who was excited to see this “missing” topic finally part of the conversation.

I have embedded the powerpoint slide of my presentation below as well as the .pdf of the slides to download.  Enjoy and more importantly be part of the conversation.  How is digital affecting your health, your family’s health, global health?



#Foursquare #Home #Holidays

Here it is the day after Christmas and I am up early.  A little after 5 am, why?  There has been a blog brewing in my mind since Thanksgiving and it felt it needed to come out now.  So, in the interest of getting any rest at all today here I go.

It started the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  I was flying to New York to meet my family for the holiday.  Our home base would be my brother’s place and his place was about to get full – loud and cluttered with people, voices, luggage, presents, opinions, ideas, and stuff.  He picked me up at the airport and I announced my quest – to see how many points I could rack up on Foursquare during my seven-day visit.  He claimed his highest score was close to 300, his girlfriend’s was over 400 (she went to Law Vegas).  My highest score up to that time was 82.  Should I shoot to beat my brother, his girlfriend, anybody else?  No, I settled on a goal that I thought was achievable (I did not want to fail – the embarrassment if I did since it would be out there for all to see) – 200 points!  I would learn a lot about myself getting those points – including what wouldn’t I do to rack them up.

My first obstacle was to remember to check in wherever I went.  I am a little older now, and checking in to Foursquare is not a habit with me, so that was a little challenging.  To help me with this obstacle I enlisted my entire family, especially my tenacious niece who made it a point of pride to remind me each time I forgot.  Love her!  She alone accounts for half my points.  My mom joined in (even though her memory is worst then mine) but it was a way for her to “help” her child.  It became a game, my family reminding me to check in, me checking in for the points.  In fact, I believe the key phrase that entire holiday week was “Did you check in?”  I try to recollect now if we said that to each other more than “I love you.”  But I understand now that “I love you” was exactly what my family was telling me as they reminded me to check in.

I eventually ended up with a high score of 557 points – how did I do it.  Thanks to my family I checked in everywhere.  On the bus, in the subway, at the corner truck getting my coffee, each store I went into in Grand Central Station, including various stops in the Market (awesome market!).  It was at the market that I realized you can check in to a place more than once – by checking into sections of the place.  This revelation got me almost 200 points alone as I explored the Metropolitan Museum of Art – points for the Egyptian section, points for the Dandur Temple, points for the mummy exhibition, even points for the Grand Staircase!  Oh, I was on a roll.  And the points were racking up – no longer was 200 for the week enough – no I wanted 200 for the day!  20, 50, 75, 100 points added up on my mobile screen – each one giving me a little boost and then, then – the badges started coming in – Far, Far Away badge, The Warhol badge (4x), Trainspotter, and THE SWARM.  Wow, the Swarm.  Had no idea what it was until my brother explained that is meant many people had checked into Foursqaure in that locale at the same time.  I was now part of a swarm!  I was elated – I was on top, the points, the badges, the check-ins, the game.  And then I went home back to ATL and realized another truth.

Sure I had check-ins that were only about the points.  But then I saw I had taken photos at some of the check-ins, not all, only some.  Why did I photograph those and not the others?  The photos had a common theme – they reflected back on my past, fond memories with family, especially my daughters.  The photo of the New York Aquarium – damaged so badly after Hurricane Sandy it was closed indefinitely.  But I remember that as I walked past it on the boardwalk I heard the seals call out, almost as if saying “we’re still here.”  The photo of the New York Public Library’s Christmas tree – the big library with the lions (and I took a photo of the lions too).  This place that holds so much knowledge and adventure and history – it was running an exhibit about the history of the New York Lunch Hour – from oysters in a cart to the automat to brown bag lunches to the power hour lunch.  The photo of the Tick Tock Diner’s menu – reminding me of one of the reasons I love New York – the food!

But there were few photos on my Foursquare account compared to the photo stream on my iPhone.  Hundreds of photos, of places, people and things that sparked in me one ultimate truth – home.  See, I am a military brat – my dad served proudly in the US Army and is a retired Sargent now.  I believe this is what gives me the travel bug, and a restlessness sometimes to just board a plane and discover a new world.  But New York became home when we finally settled and I went to college and law school there.  I raised my daughters there.  I started my career there and learned life lessons of struggle, perseverance, love and even forgiveness, for I bore witness on 9-11, like so many of my friends at the time – my office was on the 27th floor of the second building.  I was not there that morning having to go meet my daughter’s counselor at school, but just being near and in the chaos scarred both me and my daughter.  We could not get home – we walked across three bridges – from Manhattan to Queens to Brooklyn.  That feeling of not being able to get “home,” not sure if “home” still existed, was devastating.  The check-in that will never happen – Ground Zero.   After that fateful day I never returned.  I would venture no further south than Canal Street and on this visit it was the same.  Does that mean it is less significant because it won’t have a check-in or too important to minimize it with a check-in?

Did the check-ins mean anything else?  For Christmas a special friend asked me to go hiking in the woods.  So we set off early in the morning and ended up at Raven Cliffs Falls trailhead in the North Georgia Mountains.  Packed with sandwiches (expertly made by me I may add), Powerade and Vitamin water, pound cake and sunflower seeds we started.  I wanted to check in on Foursqaure – for safety reasons, so our last coordinates would be known should anything happen – but there was no service.  My friend had a solution, he had a compass that was given to him that had his name engraved on it.  They would know who he was by that.  But it made me think – what about me?  Would they know who I was?  What evidence would there be of my presence there on that day if I could not check-in?  Evidence of existence – is that how we now see our digital footprints – not tangible pieces of artifacts such as letters (we only do email now), or postcards (Instagram please), or silver compasses with our names engraved on them (Facebook status and posts)?  If my cell phone goes away am I lost too? Or am I just relegated to what I’ve already posted online?

And when I return if I do not post on Facebook did the hike even happen?  Did I not see the most amazing waterfall tucked between two high cliffs wedged in a slice of nature and so high my fear of heights kicked in?  Did I not stumble upon a valley of rock piles left by others – who left their marks, physically, by piling those rocks as if to say – we were here – if I do not Instagram the photo of those piles?  Did I not taste and see the clear spring water if I did not Tweet the sensation?  Why do I feel the need to prove it all happened by these digital statements?  In a time where media can be manipulated so easily how do you trust a photo, a video, a Tweet?  And yet, here I am at 5:30 am on the day after Christmas, writing down these thoughts and posting them on my blog to what – prove I had them?

During the hike, I remember the feeling of feeling good, at peace and happy.  My friend said it was natural to feel that way when you return to where you come from – to home.  In New York, did my Foursquare experiment prove I was “home” with all my check-ins? Making my memories official of places I had been to so many times before? In the mountains, did my service failure prove I was not?  Do these just come down to the question of just what is the meaning of “place” and “home” in a digital world?

I don’t need Instagram or Fourquare or Twitter to validate where I’ve been or what I’ve felt.  That is not their purpose.  “Home” is a check-in of the heart, not an app.