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A Good Reminder at the Beginning of the Year

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This is Bl John Henry Newman’s famous Meditation.

It is a good way to start the New Year.

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.

I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place,
while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.

Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”

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Looms
10 days ago
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Seeking Alpha in Georgia

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Alpha (n.) - an excess of return on an investment above that which is considered ordinary for the investment strategy (which may be established, for instance, by a benchmark index)

Alpha is the financial equivalent of the more literary term "je ne sais quoi"- an elusive, hard to pin down factor that makes something exceptional. 

There are plenty of reasons to consider expanding your company into Georgia, or making an investment there part of your international portfolio. Some of these reasons include an improving economy, security of nation, and dramatic improvements in international rankings in key areas such as governance and corruption. 

Let's be honest though- at the end of the day, when making company strategy, you are going to have a few countries that make the short list. At this point, I want you to consider that when you can monitor your investment or company expansion closely and with great interest, the chances of achieving alpha returns improve dramatically.

When you have a great experience working in Georgia on a professional and personal level, you will want to keep going back. The hospitality of Georgians is legendary for a reason. And their propensity for the arts which seems to flourish in every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, will simply bring joy to your heart. 

I had the opportunity to go to Georgia a decade ago and it is one of my fondest memories. I recently wrote a proposal for an entrepreneur who needed business expansion services for his venture into Georgia, and I dramatically cut our fees just in hopes that I would have a professional opportunity to return to this lovely country. 

Whether you use a technical financial term like alpha, or simply say that one manages better when happy, it means the same thing- higher returns on your investment.

We would like to thank H.E. Giorgi Tsikolia, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Georgia, for hosting the Wharton Club of DC in a beautiful reception this past Monday. We all enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about doing business in Georgia.

The Wharton Club of DC is open to business professionals and entrepreneurs of all backgrounds. As International Chair, I have the honor of organizing events like this one, with the help of other club members and the generosity of our esteemed hosts. Hope to see you at our next event!
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Looms
25 days ago
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Saint Luke, the Artist

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Today is the feast of St. Luke, one of the four gospel writers who, according to tradition, was also an artist and a painter of icons. Fr. Michael Cummins shares this artistic gift with St. Luke. Today, he explains how icons are more than mere paintings and can only be truly appreciated when we completely change our "perspective."
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Looms
89 days ago
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IoT Cybersecurity: What's Plan B?

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In August, four US Senators introduced a bill designed to improve Internet of Things (IoT) security. The IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017 is a modest piece of legislation. It doesn't regulate the IoT market. It doesn't single out any industries for particular attention, or force any companies to do anything. It doesn't even modify the liability laws for embedded software. Companies can continue to sell IoT devices with whatever lousy security they want.

What the bill does do is leverage the government's buying power to nudge the market: any IoT product that the government buys must meet minimum security standards. It requires vendors to ensure that devices can not only be patched, but are patched in an authenticated and timely manner; don't have unchangeable default passwords; and are free from known vulnerabilities. It's about as low a security bar as you can set, and that it will considerably improve security speaks volumes about the current state of IoT security. (Full disclosure: I helped draft some of the bill's security requirements.)

The bill would also modify the Computer Fraud and Abuse and the Digital Millennium Copyright Acts to allow security researchers to study the security of IoT devices purchased by the government. It's a far narrower exemption than our industry needs. But it's a good first step, which is probably the best thing you can say about this legislation.

However, it's unlikely this first step will even be taken. I am writing this column in August, and have no doubt that the bill will have gone nowhere by the time you read it in October or later. If hearings are held, they won't matter. The bill won't have been voted on by any committee, and it won't be on any legislative calendar. The odds of this bill becoming law are zero. And that's not just because of current politics -- I'd be equally pessimistic under the Obama administration.

But the situation is critical. The Internet is dangerous -- and the IoT gives it not just eyes and ears, but also hands and feet. Security vulnerabilities, exploits, and attacks that once affected only bits and bytes now affect flesh and blood.

Markets, as we've repeatedly learned over the past century, are terrible mechanisms for improving the safety of products and services. It was true for automobile, food, restaurant, airplane, fire, and financial-instrument safety. The reasons are complicated, but basically, sellers don't compete on safety features because buyers can't efficiently differentiate products based on safety considerations. The race-to-the-bottom mechanism that markets use to minimize prices also minimizes quality. Without government intervention, the IoT remains dangerously insecure.

The US government has no appetite for intervention, so we won't see serious safety and security regulations, a new federal agency, or better liability laws. We might have a better chance in the EU. Depending on how the General Data Protection Regulation on data privacy pans out, the EU might pass a similar security law in 5 years. No other country has a large enough market share to make a difference.

Sometimes we can opt out of the IoT, but that option is becoming increasingly rare. Last year, I tried and failed to purchase a new car without an Internet connection. In a few years, it's going to be nearly impossible to not be multiply connected to the IoT. And our biggest IoT security risks will stem not from devices we have a market relationship with, but from everyone else's cars, cameras, routers, drones, and so on.

We can try to shop our ideals and demand more security, but companies don't compete on IoT safety -- and we security experts aren't a large enough market force to make a difference.

We need a Plan B, although I'm not sure what that is. Comment if you have any ideas.

This essay previously appeared in the September/October issue of IEEE Security & Privacy.

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Looms
90 days ago
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My Conversion Story

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Today over at my main blog (which is now located at my newly designed blog-website) I have posted the first published version of my conversion story. My Conversion from the Anglican Church also introduces readers to the section of my new blog called “Archived Articles”. In this section I will be posting some of the various […]
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Looms
108 days ago
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Please Note that We No Longer Accept Payments in Chocolate

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted on twitter the following critical message:

"I may start accepting payments in chocolate."

One of my twitter friends heard my cry for help, and generously obliged.

Last week I received a delightful box of chocolates that sent my joy meter flying high. Adityajay, the giver of these chocolates, had the following message to share with the world, "We entrepreneurs are crazy with endless possibilities, and this is what makes us unique and keeps us driving [forward]..." 

Thank you, Adityajay (@I_Am_Adityajay), for your friendship on twitter, for the chocolates, and for your message.

In the Multinational Entrepreneur Training, there is a whole section on appropriate business gift giving, versus corruption and bribery, in the section on Legal (and Illegal!) Issues. Check it out.
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Looms
132 days ago
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