Working from home? Home office safety isn’t just a matter of not tripping over pets or banging your head against ceiling lamps. Computer security is essential to both your personal information and your employer’s proprietary data. Forbes recommends these precautions:

1. Install updates promptly. Software updates usually include antivirus programs and other security protections for fixing flaws and safeguarding data. Don’t ignore them when you get a notification on your screen.

2. Keep the VPN on. If you access your employer’s network using a virtual private network (VPN), keep it going. A VPN encrypts information flowing between you and your organization, preventing crooks from stealing sensitive data like confidential financial and customer information.
 
3. Watch for scams. Scammers can create an email address that looks like your company’s, or some other trusted organization’s, to trick you into sharing information or lets them gain access to your organization’s network. Don’t open emails unless you know who sent them, and never click on a link or attachment that’s unfamiliar.
 
4. Create strong passwords. Use passwords to protect access to sensitive data. Take the time to devise passwords that can’t be easily guessed. Strong passwords should have 10 characters, including numbers, punctuation marks, and random capital letters.

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Leadership calls for the right perspective on people. The website of the MIT Sloan School of Management shares these words of wisdom from top leaders:

1. Carol Cohen, Cognizant: “Your long-term success is not just determined by what you achieve alone, but also by how you empower, engage, support, and elevate your colleagues and teams in the ecosystem around you.”

2. George Westerman, MIT Sloan: “The ability to envision and drive change is just as important as the ability to work with technology. If you don’t have both, you can’t succeed in this world.”
 
3. Craig Robinson, WeWork: “Creating, aligning, and empowering diverse teams is one of the best ways to discover and develop new ideas.”
 
4. Hal Gregersen, MIT Sloan: “Most leaders excel at thinking, ‘Oh, here are the tasks to be done,’ but they often don’t step back to consider how specific roles are changing and what that means for people experiencing a significant identity shift at work.” 

5. Piyanka Jain, Aryng: “If you’re not going to be able to be data-driven and hold your team accountable from the top, it’s not going to flow down. Leadership is the key.”

6. Doug Ready, MIT Sloan: “Go out on the limb, that’s where all the fruit is. Take a few risks— trust that your people will admire you for doing so. Leadership is a privilege. Embrace it as you build a community of leaders in this new economy.”

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A budding anthropologist, who was completing her doctoral thesis while on location in Spain, proposed a game to some children in a small village.

She placed a basket of enticing- looking sweets near a tree early one morning.

That afternoon, after all the children were aware of the basket - and all of them wanted one of the treats - the researcher told them that whoever got to the tree first could have all the goodies in the basket.

She did not lay out any rules or requirements, nor did she encourage the children to pursue the basket with any guidance at all on her part. Seated nearby, she simply held her notebook in her lap and waited, expecting to observe various approaches and plans from the different children, all trying to obtain the basket for themselves.

When she gave the signal to go, all the children gathered together in a huddle and talked in quiet tones with some interjected giggles, then held each other’s hands and ran to the tree together and worked as a group to pull down the basket.

As promised, the anthropologist let the children enjoy the whole basket of treats, but simultaneously asked them why they’d decided to run together as a group and split the treats amongst themselves. One tall child looked at her and, with genuine confusion on his face, asked:

“How can any of us be happy by taking something away from another person?”

“It is only by winning as one that we all win,” the child proclaimed.

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One essential skill to master when cultivating relationships is listening. If you don’t actively listen to other people, you won’t gain any wisdom from their insights. The Healthline website shares these tips for active listening:

Give people your full attention. Concentrate on their words to the exclusion of everything else. Don’t plan your response while they’re still speaking, and don’t use a pause to steer the conversation around to another topic. 

Use positive body language. Your body communicates just as much as your words do, if not more. Make sure you’re fully facing the other person.Relax your body, but lean in slightly to show interest in what they’re saying. Nod to show you’re listening and that you understand. 

Don’t interrupt. You may be tempted to jump in with an idea or solution. Restrain the impulse. Instead, wait for the other person to stop talking before asking questions or offering your point of view.

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Do you remember hearing the “Clean Up” song as a young child? Maybe you’ve recently played it for some little ones? The song is meant as a sweet call to action for young children to clean up communal spaces in the home. However, I suspect all adults, myself included, could use a reminder every now and again to work in harmony, to clean up our surroundings, and restore peace and order to shared community spaces.

Although National CleanUp Day falls on September 18th this year, any day this month that works in your schedule would be a good one for a revitalization project. Perhaps your town is in need of volunteers to pick up roadside trash, or maybe you want to organize something more concrete, say, replacing old crayons at a local preschool with entirely new sets, donated for the children to enjoy?

The important thing, I think, is to choose something that speaks to you, that elicits passion, a project that promotes a cleaner community, and yet also— and this is the important part— lifts you up as well.

Fall is a month of transition. We start with those last hot days of summer and end with leaves falling all around us, a vivid indication that we are turning a corner in life. Cleaning up the world around us is certainly practical, but there is also something soulful about it; bringing sensibility to disorder is satisfying on some innate level.

The idea of cleaning up can be applied to anything from updating a business plan in order to include a new community outreach team, to serving on a Board of Directors alongside people who inspire you to make the world a better place, and in the process, refresh your personal approach to life.

Certainly, we could use a bit of revitalization with most of this year behind us, and what better time to bring a fresh start to life than this month with its increasingly crisp days? Do reach out and let me know if you decide to take on a project. I’m looking forward to hearing what you do with September!

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