Our traditional educational systems are broken and need to be rebooted into this century. At a recent  Reboot Stories, I conducted another no-holds-barred interview in front of a live audience at the ÄKTA Innovation Series, with Daniel Hamburger, President, CEO and Director at DeVry Education Group.  When I was on the Advisory Board of Keller Graduate School, and the founders – Dennis & Ron, decided to acquire DeVry, I never imagined I'd be interviewing their CEO, after transforming it into a $2 billion NYSE listed for-profit education brand that employs 15,000 people, at 8 colleges with 80 campuses and 100,000 degree-seeking students.

With politicians publically criticizing for-profit institutions and many students questioning the value and costs of college, schools like DeVry have been forced to reboot themselves not just to survive, but to create more useful curriculum that is immediately relevant in the workforce, and in-sync with what employers need now.

See how Daniel has been doing just that, watch the video here:

Based on our talk, I think some areas to design/deliver next-gen higher ed are:

Experiential Learning
Look for an experiential learning explosion. I like experiential programs that substitute templates, tools and answers with tough challenges that allow students to rise up and solve problems that companies face today. I teach Corporate Innovation and New Ventures at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, which is part of Kellogg's very popular Innovation and Entrepreneurial initiative. Every week we take our MBA students out of their comfortable classrooms, and journey into the real world realities of growing a global business, working directly with the top officers of Fortune 500's, startups, incubators and accelerators.

Partnered Learning
Major corporations need help educating their workforces, at all phases of their lifecycles—from basic training to helping them create a strategic competitive advantage with their people. In medical education DeVry is working with Walgreen’s, as they transform from a retailer to a healthcare provider, with in-store clinics, etc.  By partnering up to better educate Walgreen’s staff and help ramp up their facilities, DeVry is also benefiting as they use this platform to transition from a university to a workforce solutions provider in that sector.

Entrepreneurial Learning
Many college and universities are jumping on the entrepreneurial band wagon and offering courses on how to be an entrepreneur. For many schools this needs to evolve from studying Silicon Valley icon’s, like an anthropology class, to actually enabling students to experiment—maybe even experience entrepreneurial failure. Incubators and accelerators around the world are stepping up to this challenge, and delivering alternative education to people who want to learn everything from how start a company to learning code.

As a founding board member of 1871, one of the largest incubators in the world, I was happy when DeVry committed to supporting and opening our EdTech initiative. DVX – DeVry Experimental is an EdTech incubator to support entrepreneurs and startups developing innovative teaching and learning technologies and products. In addition to new products and services coming out of this venture, it has created an alternative learning environment, where students can come and experiment.

Chunky Learning
I am a life-long learner, so chunky learning is old news to me. But for many, and in many professions, chunky learning is becoming more important than a degree. Getting badges, certifications and tailored just-in-time chunks of training along your journey, whether you're in high school, college or retired, will continue to grow in relevance.  Some schools that teach design thinking or  business model canvas, are beginning to turn those tools on themselves to reboot their business models and shift how they deliver value in the age of chunky learning.

UX Enabled Learning
At AKTA, now a Salesforce company, we deliver user-experience designed on screen environments that enable people at work, at home, at play…and at school. Technology is advancing learning methodologies, from data analytics that help teachers help students to gamification platforms. DeVry uses patient simulation games—they even have a Donkey Simulator for veterinarian training! We are still in the early days of EdTech experimentation, there will be much trial and error, but hybrid leaning models will evolve that are more situational and targeted at audiences and learning preferences. My hope is that EdTech investments will continue accelerating and newly minted entrepreneurs will create amazing tools to advance the potential of diverse societies around the world.

Categories : Education

Reboot Stories with United Airlines CMO and President of MileagePlus Tom O'Toole and Dean DeBiase

As I was settling in on a Concorde flight from London in 1999, sipping a glass of bubbly and gazing out the window at the earth's curvature, as we seemingly chased an endless sunset all the way to New York, I leaned over to my seat mate and said…now this is the future of travel!

Alas, I was wrong. The thrill of flying supersonic speeds almost 60 thousand feet above the earth was truly a truly remarkable experience for me and that's what travelers need today—more remarkable experiences.

When it comes to traveling, sometimes getting to your destination safely is all that matters. Right? Not quite. These days, consumers need more. Top frustrations with air travel include being intermittently disconnected from the Web, having no control over the quality of the entertainment you consume, and most dreadfully, weather delays.

At the latest installation of my Reboot Stories, at the ÄKTA Innovation Series in Chicago, I had a chance to conduct another no-holds-barred interview in front of a live audience,with Tom O’Toole, SVP, Chief Marketing Officer and President, MileagePlus. I engaged Tom in a candid conversation about the “Future of Travel,” specifically how United’s mobile strategies will dramatically change customer experience at home or work, on the plane, and at the airport. Here’s a teaser about what we learned from Tom:

Mobile-Centric Customer Experience
For most of the past decade, the introduction of digital channels to the 100-year-old travel industry has only improved where and how bookings transactions were made. United Airlines is turning the travel experience on its head. What's new are “digitally-enabled, mobile-centric customer experiences.” The Fortune 100 Company is changing how technology is utilized in the customer journey beyond checking-in for flights and selecting seats.

20 Million Native App Users
But this is not just an e-commerce makeover. True – United.com brings in a revenue stream large enough for the platform to be a Fortune 100 Company on its own. But on top of plans to launch a new website design later this year and continuing to engage their 20 million native app users, the company is also reworking their MileagePlus offerings. More importantly, the company is leveraging and scaling the use of technology across mobile devices.

A measure of the impact of mobile on travel? United estimates that bookings made through the United mobile app will exceed that of all its global contact centers this year. User experience testing of a new and improved app is well underway, but here are a few things you can expect:

Key takeaways:
On top of the other "day of travel" features promoted over the 2014 holiday season, travelers using the airline’s mobile application can now receive weather alerts, give travelers the ability to change flights and adjust their itinerary on the go.

The company is utilizing big data to improve customer experiences in a way that overrides traditional silos. They have been able to identify traveler personas, predict potential problems (like tendency to miss connections), and then deliver solutions via the mobile app that improve customer experience.

Entertainment My Way
Tom also gives us a glimpse into the soon-to-launch “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) in-flight entertainment experience. He has sighted surveys that say, high-quality in-flight entertainment drive the most pleasure ratings for traveling consumers—and here I thought it was alcohol. In true UX fashion for some of you that pleasure comes from Wi-Fi, for others it’s movies or live TV , but for me at 35K feet going less the mach speed, it’s my onboard power that makes me happy on this flight today—because without it I could not be typing this. You'll have to watch the video to learn the details, but United has already installed personal device entertainment on over 200 mainline aircraft carriers.

A flight can be just a trip. United would prefer you "Seize the Journey."

Categories : General

Reboot Stories with McDonalds CEO, Steve Easterbrook and Dean DeBiase

When a Fortune 100 is faced with the harsh reality of record sales declines, and investors and analysts asking about the T-word…it is time for a Reboot. Whether spelled with a lowercase or capital “T”, turnarounds can make for rousing headlines and offer great opportunities for well-timed investments. But all-access passes to the actual plan and philosophy behind the Reboot are very rare, especially as it is just getting underway.

I recently conducted a Reboot Stories interview with Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s then Senior EVP and Chief Brand Officer, at the AKTA Innovation Series in front of a live Chicago audience. Easterbrook was named McDonald’s President CEO soon after this interview. The video offers a rare glimpse into his approach to dynamic innovation, cultural transformation, digital engagement, in-store experience, and his turnaround blueprint now in motion. 

It's one of my favorite Reboot Stories interviews since my first one with Sir Martin Sorrell – CEO of WPP, because of Easterbrook's open/honest answers to hard questions about everything from consumer shifts to secrets and rumors happening in and around McDonald’s key initiatives. Watch how Easterbrook covers the three pivotal ingredients that I believe are the bedrock of an effective Reboot—People, Platform & Passion—in this exclusive no-holds-barred interview.

Some insights and takeaways:

Go Large
When you’re in a turnaround situation, “you can’t incrementalize your way out of it,” said Easterbrook. At McDonald’s, substantial resources are being invested, especially on the human resources side, with top talent being brought aboard to support all aspects of the new initiatives, like Chief Digital Officer, Atif Rafiq, the first member of the new digital experience team. Rafig is a digital pioneer/innovator that brings a refreshing level of “get it done” business mojo to McD’s, and by the end of 2015 his digital team will have over 200 people. “You can’t tip toe around the fringes of this,” says Easterbrook. More importantly, consumers must see a quicker “cadence of activity and energy across the business.” Unless customers care, it won’t resonate. 

Consumer Experience is Everything
Consumer interactions with authority figures have fundamentally changed. Government, corporations and media all enjoy much less trust than at any time in history. Consumers now see family and friends as their frame of reference. Companies that have lost some consumer trust have to win it back by adapting the way they organize and interact with people. How?

“Be more humble,” says Easterbrook. McDonald’s no longer only communicates top down or in advertising speak. They launched Your Questions – Our Food that lets people directly ask any question they want and McD’s goes on the record with a response. And consumers are engaged. One video response showing how food gets from farm to restaurant has 10 million YouTube views. Push the envelope. Be honest and responsive.

Transfer Power
Consumers expect to be in charge of a customized experience. Easterbrook has partnered with various groups from 1871, where I am a founding board member, to the Innovation and New Ventures course that I teach with Paul Earle at Kellogg School of Management, to collaborate on improving the McD’s ideation and innovation pipeline. He says the future may offer 3, 4 or 5 more ways to have the McDonald’s experience with technology doing the heavy lifting. The best ideas may be crowdsourced. Order a customized burger from a kiosk. Or, place an order on the mobile app, tracked by GPS, and have it run out to your car fresh and hot as you arrive. McDonald’s has a track record of scaling these types of ideas, having led the innovation in cashless transactions. They were an Apple Pay launch partner, another intriguing Apple secrecy story you can watch in this video.

Be Curious
Most of all, Easterbrook believes in being curious. Learn from your customers, partners and competitors—the good, bad and hard lessons. Look outside your sector for inspiration. As we have discovered in this series, cross-vertical, B2B and consumer sectors can learn a lot from each other. Encourage this curiosity from top to the bottom of the org chart, says Easterbrook. Organizations whose culture evolves from “yes, but” to “yes, and” will also attract the kind of curious people that can transform even the most established corporate structure.

For an entertaining and informative look into insights about McDonald’s Reboot, including their new downtown Chicago and Silicon Valley tech teams, secret “innovation labs,” and partnerships with Kellogg School of Management, Apple and Kraft,  watch this revealing episode of Reboot Stories with me and Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s new President and CEO.

Categories : General

Reboot Stories with Sonny Garg

There is an Entrepreneurial movement sweeping the planet, creating a wave of startups that are rapidly solving (attacking) some of the biggest government and corporate problems we are facing today. They are disrupting age-old practices, mindsets and organizations—and are creating new ecosystems of sustainable solutions that are both agile and scalable. But what about all the big-fat-slow corporations facing the same disruptive future? Can this breakneck entrepreneurial-innovation, they often find themselves witnessing from the sidelines, be accessible to them? Yes…if they learn a new dance.

There are a few ways to help big companies get an all-access pass to the entrepreneurial movement. My favorite is through the "Dancing with Startups" Program, which helps them upgrade their growth and innovation by tapping into the movement, embedding entrepreneurial-grade talent into their organizations and creating hybrid partnerships with incubators/accelerators (like 1871), stealth-startups and entrepreneurs around the world.

While the majority of leaders in both the public and private sectors, are still scratching their heads on how to light that spark of entrepreneurial-innovation inside their organization—smart ones, like Exelon, are jumping in and curating relationships with agile organizations that can help them solve their most challenging problems and create value for their shareholders.

At a recent episode of Reboot Stories at the AKTA Innovation Series, no-nonsense innovator Sonny Garg, Chief Information & Innovation Officer of Exelon, and I debated how best to tap into the startup ecosystem from a big company's perspective. Listen in for some insights on how big business can develop startup-thinking by enabling and protecting a culture of innovation, dealing with failure and nurturing partnerships. Here are some tidbits from our Reboot discussion/debate:

  • Leaders, your biggest task is to lay the foundation that allows innovation to occur by setting the right environment and culture and then empowering people to do what they know is right every step along the way. Innovation should be allowed (not required) to exist everywhere in your organization.
  • Internally crowd-source ideas, but externally source a wide variety of small and big partners who can help you execute and implement solutions that can impact your key growth projects.
  • Big companies need to increase their “learning velocity” by keeping up with the technology trends and changes that are taking place across different disciplines. My favorite way to start doing that, with Big-Fat-Slow organizations, is to teach them how to dance with startups and engage select external partners who know how to cut through the clutter and actually get the right stuff done.

Is your organization Dancing with Startups yet? Watch Reboot Stories Video here:

Categories : General

Dean DeBiase co-created, produced and taught an experiential-leaning course at NIU based on NBC's The Apprentice TV show, where he played Trump. This college credit class, which captured the elements of the hit TV show (including firing students in the boardroom), quickly developed a following, intrigue and positive PR buzz for the university through the local and national media that followed it. However, when the real Donald Trump found out about it, his team called NIU to discuss a cease and desist for copying his show without permission.
After the dust had settled, Dean was quoted as saying, “…once calmed down, I think Donald found our entrepreneurial spirit and raw creativity compelling. He not only allowed the class/show to continue, he also agreed to call into our boardroom and talk with the students…who had not been fired yet.  Donald provided some lifelong business lessons that our students will never forget.” After giving the students some blunt advice he endorsed the innovative platform, taking to the airwaves and announcing on his radio show, "I want to hand it to Northern Illinois University's College of Business, they are just a little bit ahead of the pack. If I were 20 years old again, I'd be in that class." The final class was aired on local radio, NBC News and made the front page of the Chicago Tribune. 

Years later, Donald invited Dean to join him as an episode guest host on NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice. This time Donald wasn't on a conference call with Dean's students, he was face to face on TV and the pressure was on!  As Donald wrapped up the episode in the boardroom, getting ready to fire someone from the team which Dean selected to loose, Donald went on to say, "Dean…there is nobody like him…to take your company to the next level".  

As a Senior KIN Fellow and Lecturer of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Kellogg School of Management, Dean continues to design, curate and deliver experiential-learning into the curriculum, including a class he co-teaches inside the boardrooms of multi-national corporations–like McDonald's, Leo Burnett, Accenture, United Airlines, Pepsi, Whirlpool, P&G and United Healthcare–where students go toe-to-toe with the worlds top business leaders.  Look for his Kellogg video soon!

Categories : General

There is an entrepreneurial movement sweeping the globe!  But unlike previous one, reserved for exclusive corners of the world like Silicon Valley, this democratized movement can transform the prosperity of every organization, industry, country and city one the planet, like @1871Chicago—IF you join it!  BRAVEntrepreneurs need you, the NONtrepreneurs, you are the connected tissue of the movement, that can be the difference between sustained prosperity…or yet another bubble.

You can also watch Dean's TED Talk on the official TED site here.  TEDTALKS

Categories : General

Opening Cyber Governance remarks, Kellogg Corporate Governance Conference 
by Dean DeBiase,
Chairman, Reboot Partners and Boardroom Innovation, Senior KIN Fellow, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Board Leadership Fellow, National Association of Corporate Directors

Dean DeBiase Pinnacle Award Profile Interview

As a fellow director, I thought I’d give you some of my inside perspective of cyber governance. I think it’s a part of the larger picture of enterprise risk management in the digital age, but the time has come for cyber to become its own domain and its own area of board policies, procedures and expertise.  

Our last CIA head, Leon Panetta, basically said that there is a potential cyber Pearl Harbor coming that could cripple our financial systems.  Our FBI head said, surprisingly, in one meeting, “There are two types of companies out there right now.  Companies that have been hacked and companies that are going to be hacked.”  So, welcome to the club.

What we are experiencing is the largest transfer of wealth that we’ve ever seen around the globe, most of it, of course, being illegal.  And they’re all correct because there are cyber criminals out there stealing your data, trade secrets, patents and intellectual property.  There are activists that are really just trying to disturb your company or your brand and then there are insider threats, both malicious and accidental.

So my view is that boards are under attack, companies are under attack and we need a new game plan to go after that. Imagine that every night your headquarters building was being broken into.  First they’re stealing Post It Notes, maybe a potted plant, maybe they might take some disk drives eventually, a laptop.  

But if you found out that anyone was getting into the building just for little incidents you’d be calling the CEO at 2 a.m., saying, “What the heck is going on?” and probably have a board call the next day.

And that’s what’s happening with cyber…but often you don’t know it.  As we are sitting here, all of your companies are being hacked, or “pinged” right now.  May multinational corporation have attempts on their systems tens of thousands of time per day!  Do you know what your threat volume looks like.  Many boards do not know what there stats are, I recommend, as a first step that you find out and track it at the board level.

Some quick stats.  The average breach right now, depending on whose data you believe, is about $2 million to $5 million in costs for companies, which actually sounds low from an insurance point of view.  So that just deals with things like forensics and legal and PR and payments to consumers and the communications that have to go out.  But there are many breaches that have been huge, some reported, some not.

Everyone remembers the Sony breach. It was about $170 million of hit to their P&L and about a 30 percent share drop because of one massive breach. Estimates are that over $114 billion is spent on mitigating such malware attacks.  It hits about one in ten companies.  My colleagues will probably say the numbers have gotten worse, but this is public data.

About a billion people have been affected.  That’s up about 40 percent.  So that’s about, what, one in three consumers from a state-side number.  So for those who think, “You know, that’s really scary, Dean, but not in my industry,” guess again.  It happening in every industry that you can imagine, including everyone in this room.

Most of us tend to sit back in boardrooms and say, “Hey, we’ve got IT guys working on this.  They’ve got really great vendors that take care of things…right?”  But the cyber security industry is really struggling to keep up, and some breaches go on, over and over and over again, some not being  detected, or taken care of.

Groups are trying to fix these problems.  One that a few of us are involved in is called “The Security Innovation Network” that brings startups together with government and major corporations to get entrepreneurial startups to solve more rapidly solve our biggest government cyber threats, to solve corporate threats and develop the next generation protection products.

There are over 100,000 cyber security jobs open in this country. We don’t have enough people to catch up with the hackers.  So if you are a hacker, you know the advantage is on your side.  They love your websites. There was a survey done with the Fortune 2000 sites.  There are a lot of hidden files in your websites, some called “temporary files”.  And simple things like a Word document or PDF have data that the hackers can use to get information. Often it’s undetected. Usually, it leads to what is called a “DOS” or a disruption of service. Someone goes into the site and disrupts it.  And that could lead to a string of incidents.

What’s worse than that? I think it’s when they don’t just disrupt your site, they actually control it. Those of you in banking and finance and insurance know that that’s a really hot target right now.

From a governance and liability point of view, the IT losses from theft are huge because they can lead to restatements.  But the government sometimes makes it harder, like the SEC evolving disclosure opinions that are not always clear.  Congress, just passed a draft cyber bill that is pulling between the privacy advocates and disclosure.

So, under the auspices of protecting your company, if this law does pass, we will have to disclose to the government private sensitive data about your consumers, all under the auspices of protecting the homeland.  Yet another heated board debate.

Compliance and disclosure are also interesting, and vary by state and by country. Just by state, there are things that the board has to be involved in.  There are timing issues about when and how you disclose.

One interesting example is something called the “Red Flag Rule.” The FTC basically says, “How do we protect you guys from giving loans to people who are the identity thieves?” They already have Dean’s ID and they are trying to get a loan for their house.  So there’s a whole series of things that the board has to be aware of with these Red Flag Rules. And they’ll keep coming out.

So here are five of what I think are key cyber security governance challenges.  One is the attack of sophistication.  I think we are going from scareware to “ransomware” where they’re not just taking control of your site or something behind the firewall, but they’re actually holding it hostage. And that will become more and more prevalent in the next 24 months. The disruption of services stats, depending on whose numbers you like to believe, have gone from about 1.5 million incidents in 2011 to 120 million a year later.  So, it’s going up…not down.

The second area to keep focused on is emerging technology.  We all hear about mobile and social and BYOD.  Does anybody know what BYOD is?  Is not bringing your own drinks to the office, it’s bringing your own device to the office.  All of us do that as board members.  How many of you look at your board decks on your ipad, sitting at home back on the couch?  It is a totally unsecured device!  We are part of the problem. Dell tracks that half of the client breaches they have now are somehow tied back to these BYOD devices.  So your CIO’s and CISO’s are struggling with that.

The next trend in social is not just being on Facebook or Twitter.  That’s where malware is going. Now they’re going after those profiles to get in touch with people to get access to your websites and your corporate servers.  That’s very sophisticated.  

And then you all know about mobile.  Mobile is essentially the enabler that is making this a bigger problem as we move to mobile payments.  It ties right back to people’s networks.  And you don’t just have to be in the financial services industry to be concerned about mobile.

Then there’s the outsourced Cloud and “open source software,” which is free stuff. Mostly unsecure. The tech industry, as an example, affects about 26 percent of the data loss for consumers.  And guess what?  The tech industry is the largest user of outsourced providers. So make sure your outsourced provider has better standards than you do.  And most are, many companies have done audits of their outsourced provider and found that their own internal regulations were not as good as the cloud provider.

You may also hear about “exploit kits,” automated programs that go into your servers, attack and then start spreading malware.  So it’s not one little program, it’s more of a systemic thing.  Dell is tracking about 16 million malware samples.  I’m sure this number has been upgraded.  So that’s about 44,000 new programs created a day as we sit here right now!

And the last threat that I’m most concerned about, just because they have more resources, is nation state cyber terrorism. Most people point the finger at Russia and China.  There are others, of course.  But, you know, China has a five-year plan that’s going after top industries, many of them represented in the room.  They’d like to get your secrets.

So someone like Monsanto that has a very proprietary corn formula, they’d may want to get their hands on that.  In the old days, they used to have break into the building.  Now they can just go after it through cyber means.

Any of your ever watch Alias, the TV show that had this secret CIA group that really wasn’t the CIA, it was fake?  It was called “SD6.”  So China has this building you might have heard of.  It’s called “Unit 61398.” In and around that building, there are estimated to be over 10,000 scientists, “analysts” they call them.  I call them “hackers” who are state funded and coming after your data and are probably responsible for billions of dollars of theft.

From a board perspective, what do we need to do?  I break it down to three things to focus on – the three “Ps”:  protections, procedures and public disclosure. It’s very much like you protect other parts of the company.

“Protections” prevent the likelihood of an attack or a breach. These are procedures to actually mitigate it, to minimize that disruption, and then there are public disclosures.  It sounds easy, but you have a tug of war with the executive team that is trying to innovate and compete in a connected economy.  It’s very tough to go in and start clamping down.  

So you are going to get a lot of tug of war.  You’ll see it if you bring a CMO and a CTO into the same room.  You’re going to see a lot arguments about how secure your network should be and how much we should be taken off the net and locked down.

You need to ask the right questions. Let's look at a couple of examples. One multi-national corporation had a major breach where companies got into their database.  What they couldn’t establish was, “Okay, they accessed it, but did they download it?”  Because when they were trying to fix the problem, they kind of stumbled on all the evidence. It made forensics very tough.  So they called one of the big 3 auditors in to say, “Okay, we know they accessed, but we don’t know if they downloaded these 160,000 files of consumer information.”  The board had a dilemma about should we disclose this or not. The auditor came into that meeting and could not definitively say, “They were definitely accessed.  You should disclose.” There was kind of a muddled decision about how to disclose.  And that’s why sometimes you see partial disclosures out there.

Another multi-national never knew about the breach.  So one day, the GC gets a call from the FBI saying, “Listen, you guys have been breached.”  “Really, how to you know?”  And he mumbled something about the CIA and the NSA, so there were a lot of investigations going on around the globe.  The problem was the FBI can’t tell you much, so your CISO is frustrated.  The best thing to find out is WHEN it happened, in that case it was over a year ago, and the FBI was just calling them. They can’t track it down.  They can’t figure out what to do and typically those don’t get disclosed because you have no idea what’s happened and the government’s really not going to give you a lot of information to solve it.

Here are some tips that I use as a director.  I’m not an absolute expert, but I’m an example of how you can learn about complex digital and cyber governance issues, become a better enabler of the board, get the right people in to help…even if it is as simple beginning to ask the right questions.

Some things that I look at are, “Do you have a committee set up?”  Twenty-nine percent of directors are focused on IT cyber issues right now, which sounds small, but is up.  So I think you should have a separate committee. I think you need a Chief Information Security Officer.  I don’t think it should report to the CIO of the company.  Typically it should report much higher because it is very broad-based.  And you need to meet with those people and ask them the right questions and audit and validate the answers.

You need insurance.  Fifty-seven percent of directors are not looking at insurance, according to the latest surveys.  It’s simple.  You guys know how to do D&O. It’s very simple; it’s the answers that are complicated.  You really need to understand the coverage and the gaps there.  The good news is coverage is up about 33 percent in 2012, so people are focused on this.

Of course, disclosure would be my third one.  There are new teeth in these SEC cyber disclosure rules that were released in 2012, and probably being updated now.  

On that front, I would recommend three things. First, separate these disclosures from your normal disclosures. The SEC is looking for more granularity.  Second, report the actual breaches and they are looking for more succinct information on that.  They also want to know about potential breaches. The SEC now wants detailed information of what a potential breach could be and what its impact would be on shareholder value if it were to occur.  My issue with it is that if you put too much information out there, guess who is reading it?  That secret unit in China? So you have to be very careful.

Also do your due diligence.  It’s tough, you know, really understanding the BYOD policy and how it affects the company and what happens if you lose a mobile device and really getting into that granularity – not as a manager, but just as a understanding observer.  And don’t be afraid to bring somebody into the meeting with you.  You know, you don’t need a huge consulting thing, there are focused audit groups that can help to give the board a snapshot of, “Now we know what we don’t know” and education is the next important thing.

As directors, we just need to get more educated and move from the learning stage into, “What do we do about this?” and tip it into the regular risk profiles that we look at.

A good place to start is with ourselves.  So when you’re asking “What about this?  What about that?” just think about it with yourself.  What are your procedures when you get board documents on your unsecured phone and ipad?  What are your delete procedures there?  We used to always get Board Decks, which some of us still do and we are never sure if everyone shredded them properly, but usually you knew if they were left at the meeting.  So, I just challenge each of you to look at all of your devices and see, “Gee, I’ve got unsecure software.  I’ve got outdated software.  It’s not secure.”  Most people say, “Well, Dean, I have a Blackberry.  So I’m good, right?  They’re more secure.”  Even things like Blackberry, they have just come out with a new program that separates your personal data and your business corporate data … well the UK government has not accepted that as a secure approach, just another example of cyber governance ambiguity!

Categories : General

For those of you who enjoyed reading the speech, or would rather skip right to the video, here is of the official video of my commencement speech.  Please enjoy and share!

Categories : General

I have been asked by dozens of students, parents and administrators who attended this remarkable commencement to publish my "inspirational" speech that I delivered TWICE at CLC in 2013.  Here it is:

CLC is where I began my life journey….and my brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and sons have all studied here. So from all of us …congratulations and thank you for this great honor. As you begin YOUR life journey, I want to share with you two simple words..…Semper Paratus! NO, it doesn’t mean seize the day—BUT feel free too! Its a powerful and extremely useful metaphor for today’s complex world…it means ALWAYS READY.

More than a Latin phrase….Always Ready is the United States Coast Guard moto where I serve and learned to appreciate the meaning of readiness.  Created in 1790 to safeguard our nation, this motto was developed decades later to capture the unpredictably rigorous nature of their missions.Now more than ever…I urge YOU to be…..ALWAYS READY!

When I arrived here 1975….I was NOT READY!  I was a 16 YEAR OLD junior in High School who had managed to graduate a year early, thought I’d learned enough and wanted to join the working world….but first I thought I’d use my new found freedom to travel the world! You see, a couple years earlier I started my first company, a snow plowing business, clearing driveways with a commercial tractor my family owned …named Herby.  I named the business Sunset Snowplowing, since we lived on Sunset Lane and I could only plow at night in order to get to school on time.  I really worked at night because I didn’t have a drivers license…and oh…I neglected to tell my parents about my new venture, fearing they would shut it down immediately.

After a couple of seasons, there I was, a high school graduate, ready to spend my snow removal savings on traveling the world. But when my Dad caught wind of my half-baked travel plans—he would have nothing to do with it!  He handed me a CLC brochure insisting I visit this campus…like immediately!  My Dad was a big Italian guy from a family of thirteen, with seven kids of his own.  He didn’t mince words or talk much—BUT when he did…you best do it.  With seven of us, you can imagine we didn’t always honor his requests, but this time—thankfully—I did. 

So, I reluctantly drove here that day…..yes I finally got a driver’s license….and found a remarkable place.  CLC was a growing college still under construction….with a few temporary buildings scattered around—and I loved that.  Back then you could park right in front of the buildings.    WHAT is up with the parking here????   You could lose a few pounds just getting from your car to class!  I mean…if your name is College of Lake County…shouldn’t all your parking lots actually be in the county???

Like a good startup….I loved the potential CLC had to offer…and signed up on the spot for welding and automotive classes.  That seemed like a priority to me….so I could repair Herby and keep my business going through the approaching winter!!! Later I figured out that I’d outgrown high school curriculum…and lost my love of learning.  But here I was challenged again. I was amazed by all of the classes, clubs and cool things I could do.  

I could take anything…I could do anything….including occasionally skipping classes….and they didn’t even call my parents when I did!  Next I thought…well I might as well try business classes.  Having my first fledgling startup under my belt I thought I knew enough about business.  I thought I was ready.  WOW,  was I wrong.   After, rekindling my love of learning here, I finally found what I was passionate about studing—it was business!! 

When I transferred to NIU—I was almost ready for business.  Apparently, I was in such a hurry, I transferred without taking the last class needed to graduate CLC. President Weber informed me I will finally get my CLC degree today…and it is an honor to walk with all of you.   I guess he thinks I’m finally ready!!

So when you come up here to receive your well deserved honors…remember your parents may not think you are ready…they’re thinking what happens on Monday! Having two sons of my own graduating soon, I think your folks are worried that they may have to help longer than expected….maybe let you live at home longer,  and….you know, keep paying your cell phone bill!    That’s OK…..just make sure you pay their cell bills when you begin to make it.

Each of you will make it—in your own unique way.  But your journey may not unfold as planned….you must be ready for not just what’s happening nowbut what’s possible in your future. The rules of the business are being disrupted—and traditional education will not completely prepare you for what’s next. That’s why I created “READY MODE” …which means you have to let go of your fear and accept the responsibility of preparing for what’s possible. So, I’d like you to consider 2 ways you can get into Ready Mode.

First by Joining the Entrepreneurial Movement- and- Second by Rebooting Yourself through Lifelong Learning

If you track the news this could be labeled as the Worst of Times with high unemployment and a sluggish economy. Im here to tell you that Your Time will be the best of times if you get ready to seize the opportunities lurking in the entrepreneurial movement sweeping the globe.

Forget news reports…when I graduated….back in the 1800’s…interest rates were at all time highs and we were rationing gas in a crippled economy.    You probably guessed there was no campus recruiting or enough jobs, and a limited number of career tracks. Forget back in the day stories…what matters is Todays job market is shifting from:

Structured location based chronological careers -to-  More flexible, open entrepreneurial ecosystems

It’s true…BIG companies are cutting back and hiring less.  But we are also experiencing an entrepreneurial renaissance that is driving our growth and creating new jobs…and it will not back down!!  In the Cyber Security sector alone, there are 60k open jobs … waiting on people who are getting ready.

For those interested in pursuing the movement…..it’s easier and more socially acceptable to explore an entrepreneurial  journey …be it inside your existing company, outside in an incubator, starting a company on your own…or just joining a risky startup. For those into test drives… you can even explore entrepreneurial ventures while you have a day job. As a hybrid, I’ve always been on a dual track … when going to school I was working…and when working I’d explore learning.  Not sure it was normal…. it is now.

For some of you this entrepreneurial exploration will be a matter of choice.      But for others it may be thrust upon you—so it pays to be ready.  In every one of your chosen industries there is business model disruption ahead.  Lets look a one cause near and dear to me …. technology and the Internet. The Internet has been transforming industries, like news, entertainment, travel and real estate.  It’s ushered in new companies and wealth, unseated market leaders, created entire new industries…and in the process welcomed over 2.5 billion people online.  BUT with 7 billion people in the world…we’ve only scratched the surface.

It’s altered forever  how we work, play, study and connect.    20% of our industries have been impacted by the web.    Over the next decade you will witness the enablement or disruption of the remaining 80% that have only begun to feel the effects of what we call….the Internet of Everything….when connectivity is embedded in everything from our sun glasses and dog collars to our refrigerators and toilets.

Moores law continues to plow ahead making our devices smaller, more powerful and cheaper every year.  Your iphones have more power than all of the computing capacity that existed on the planet when I was born.  By year end there will be 7 billion cell phones….further accelerating our information explosion…which is a HUGE opportunity for you!!  Since the dawn of civilization until the late twentieth century mankind created  5 Exabytes of information.  What’s 5 exabytes…..just visualize the Star Wars Death Star.   But NOW we create that much data every two days…now that’s a lot of dancing cat videos! 

And when the class of 2014 graduates we will generate that much content EVERY TEN MINUTES!!!  ……… I just hope Im not paying my kids cell bills then!   Some are thinking, geeeez why don’t people use their delete button more often.   But for those who are always ready for the next opportunity…..those Exabytes of digital exhaust could be your next business opportunity where you make your mark on the world.

Your peers are doing just that.  The pace of students starting companies is accelerating, from Zuckerburg’s Facebook and  Crowley’s 4Square to Dorsey’s Twitter….and you can join them!!  As we move to the Internet of Everything, look for advancements in every sector that you have been studying…including education energy, healthcare, transportation, government—and even manufacturing!  Entrepreneurs are using 3D printing for rapid prototyping. So when you come up with a cool idea…you will soon be able to go to a Kinkos and print out a 3D prototype for manufacturing.

Any of you can create the next billion dollar company. Many of you will try, some will succeed and one of you will be here addressing the class of 2030 on how you seized the entrepreneurial movement and became a millionaire. For those who choose to stay in the industry you are pursuing, it can be the best—or the worst of times—your choice.   It depends on what side of the status-quo you are on.  DO NOT be on the side of defending it.   You think you wont…but when you are in the fog of war…and you haven’t prepared for what’s next …you get stuck in the status quo borg.

Doesn’t matter if you start working in a hospital, corporation, government or services shop—you can create your first entrepreneurial journey in parallel.  It could be a blog, book, charity…a startup….your choice. Even while finishing your undergrad work —you can pursue dual journeys.  I apologize to the parents, but we need to tell them the truth.  DO NOT just pursue your major, explore something disruptive too. 

The next two years of undergrad are critical for sure—but coming out on the other side with more than a degree is extremely valuable.  Employers will value it….because it means that you can handle more than what the system throws at you. One way to get ready for the Entrepreneurial Movement is to Reboot Yourself through Lifelong Learning. You got this far and proven you are lifelong learners…and the last thing you want to think about at your graduation is more school!!  I get it   When I finally finished Grad School I never wanted to see a classroom again!!   

Lifelong learning is NOT about you sitting in a classroom the rest of your life—it isn’t always about YOU being the student.  It works in reverse too.  Look for ways to help or teach or tutor someone.  You’ll be amazed when you reverse the process and give back, you learn soooo much…it truly is priceless. We are lucky to be living in the age of always-on, open-sourced, chunky learning.

Did he say CHUNKY??  Yes, look for ways to learn skills in “chunks” like in-demand certificates, project management curriculum, technology and industry specific credentials..  I eventually stopped getting degrees and moved on to chucky learning—because its fun. In this extremely competitive world we need to expand our learning, step up our game and feed our curiosity! Whether it is taking a class or volunteering for something cool…..getting chunks of knowledge along your journey is good for your body, your brain, your soul…and oh yeah….your livelihood. Want Proof?   Did you know companies may not hire you if you haven’t shown proof of lifelong learning. Some even measure your agility…how quickly can you learn and apply new things in real time.  Talking to a manufacturing CEO last week, he said, Dean if they score low on agility…they don't get the job. 

Good news is…. it’s never been easier to participate in learning programs.  Even me, the paranoid optimist…just to be safe…I still do some chunky Ed every year!  And I am not alone….dozens of your fellow graduates here today are in their 50’s and 60’s….and I applaud their commitment!! Chunky learning keeps you in ready mode….and can happen in a flash.  When my career got stuck , the power of stories helped me.  Two, in particular inspired me:  a banished CEO from the company he created…and a fed up corporate leader plotting his escape from the bureaucratic borg. One night,I watched a Steve Jobs documentary soon after he was fired from Apple.  The story was about him shaking off the sting of defeat and launching a brave new venture called NEXT.  At the end of the program I knew…somehow/someday I needed to be in Silicon Valley.

The second story was on Barry Diller who had just bought one of the first cool mac laptops, an early maverick symbol in the corporate world.   He would sit in the boring  staff meetings, secretly typing out his plan to create his own media empire—which he did.  I didnt know how much their stories impacted me then:  Meticulous Steve showing me how to come back from defeat and Bold Barry on how to marshal up the guts to make a courageous move.

Years later, when my phone rang about a Silicon Valley CEO opportunity their stories already put me in ready mode…making it easier to shake off my fear of leaving my corporate confines, jump into the startup world…..and rekindle the entrepreneurial fire I developed when I was a student here.  I had rebooted myself into ready mode…but was not literally ready, never fully trained or qualified.  Truth is we never are!!  But if you wait until you are perfect, your remarkable opportunities will p a s s – y o u – by.  I just needed to be willing and able….and so must you!!

Whatever your chosen career, in the Internet of Everything era, I encourage you to get closer to technology and entrepreneurship.  The two collide at 1871, our startup accelerator in the city that we named after the great Chicago fire.Would-be  Entrepreneurs come there with new ideas …and if they want to learn how to build it themselves… we have classroom based programs, where anyone can learn how to code, design and launch web app companies. People in their 20s to 60s are creating the next-generation of Chicago companies…and I encourage you to visit 1871……..it is an exciting, supportive and contagious environment. Don’t have time to go to a class or hang out with entrepreneurs???  No problem…because we are also living in an educational renaissance where online education and technology is at your fingertips—take advantage of it!

Over the next two years you have a choice: only pursue your major or  discover a dual learning track while at school.  Without leaving your dorm room, you can learn about anything from speaking Arabic to designing a ZEN garden. So when you are tempted to go home on the weekends—don’t.  Use that time to learn about anything that you are passionate about. 

Your lifelong learning will be a rewarding adventure if you stay curious, stay agile and have some fun along the way.So today, I’d like to leave you with three thoughts to guide you as you begin to reboot your always ready life journey:

  1. BELIEVE in yourself—you’re a CLC graduate now and nothing can stop you!
  2. CHERISH your journey—and remember life is short
  3. GIVE more than you take along the way

I know it may be a bit scary…even risky…and your journey will be bumpy as you reboot yourself into the future.  I wish each of you the strength, the courage and the passion to seize the heady times ahead. 

So go fast…go steady…..and when your opportunities come ……….may you be….always ready!


Categories : General

Digital disruption of the blockbuster movie category continues to feel the pressure from changing lifestyles, viewing habits and the powerful technical and distribution capabilities from likes of Hulu, Netflix, iTunes and Amazon. The days of $300 million budgets will continue to come under pressure and regulate the number of high quality big-budget films that make it on the "big screen".  Smart producers and studios are realizing that the big screen is shifting to the homes of the mass-market viewing audience and that old release window business models will continue to come under pressure.

Like many industries, it may take the proof of a few blockbuster flops before Hollywood reboots itself, with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg sounding an alarm. Proactive studios may take preemptive steps to avoid the potential brink their that lies ahead. Rebooters believe that it is better to start cannibalizing yourself early (developing sustainable direct-to-home platforms) than to sit back wait for the market to do it to you–in the theater of war.

Categories : General