I have been thinking a lot lately about all of the new “holidays” that are being invented. While I am all for celebrating National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day and National Sibling Day, I am having a hard time keeping up. While scrolling through Facebook recently to catch up on all the cute baby pictures my friends have been posting, I saw a notice from the Facebook Privacy Team about “Data Privacy Day.” Turns out, Data Privacy Day is an annual event that occurs each year on January 28th.

This announcement from Facebook got me thinking about how private my online presence is across all of my personal accounts. Although I am very cautious about my social media privacy settings, only allowing my “friends” and approved followers to view my content, I am not so sure about how secure my other accounts really are. So, I decided, to go all in on celebrating Data Privacy Day.
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At the beginning of last year, I wrote one of my favorite posts about why getting a mentor should be your New Year’s resolution. In a nutshell, that article posited that we live in a world full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, and one of the best ways to help you through it was to find a trusted advisor. In my view, an essential quality of a great mentor is knowing the limits of their expertise and working as a team with others to achieve the best result for the mentee.

This year I’ve decided to ditch the New Year’s resolution concept and implement a yearly theme, inspired by the Theme System. My 2020 theme is the Year of Teamwork. I want to focus on teamwork because I’ve found that the most rewarding relationships I’ve had are when I’ve been a part of a team, where there’s been give and take by each teammate, all working towards a common goal. These relationships lead to successful outcomes.

I’ve been part of teams for as long as I can remember: little league baseball, my Boy Scout Troop, lacrosse, my family, our firm. I’ve been a part of high performing teams, and teams that fell short of their potential. I think it’s always been my goal to be a good teammate, but sometimes it’s easy to lose focus of your individual role while you’re focusing on the bigger picture.
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One of the most common issues I am asked about is what a small business can do about online criticism. Here are five practical tips any business can use to help manage their online reputation.

  1. Know What is Being Said About You

To effectively manage your online reputation, you need to know what is being said about your business. Keep an eye on the platforms that matter most to you. For a professional services business like mine, that means watching platforms like LinkedIn. But for other businesses Facebook, Twitter, or Amazon might be more important. And almost every business benefits from keeping an eye on Google’s reviews.

And try to keep an eye on what is being said in the news because many online newspapers allow comments to be posted after articles. We use Google Alerts to get automatic email notifications when our firm or attorneys are mentioned online.

  1. Respond, But Remember You Cannot Argue with Crazy

It is important not to ignore online criticism. But you also cannot argue with a crazy customer. Remember that the primary purpose of responding to an online critique is not to resolve that customer’s situation (more on that below). The purpose is so the rest of the world reading the criticism can see you responded in an empathetic and respectful manner. Use some form of “we are sorry to hear you had a bad experience,” but do not use a stock response. Craft each response based upon the criticism leveled. That shows you are aware of the concern and care about it.
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Wrestlemania was this past weekend, and Linda McMahon is rumored to be stepping down as the head of the Small Business Administration.  I have a rule that when those two things happen in the same week, it is time to link back to my favorite blog post: How Your Small Business is Like Professional Wrestling.

My son and I are still watching wrestling.  And there are even more lessons you can learn from wrestling.  Here are more to add to the list:
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I recently attended a SCORE luncheon where the presenter commented that we live in a “VUCA” world. VUCA meaning volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. I’m typically not a huge fan of such corporate-speak, but in this instance I thought it was a perfect distillation of the daily challenges we all face personally and professionally.

There’s no better time than early January to consider your goals for the year. If you’re still debating your top New Year’s Resolution candidate, let me make a suggestion to survive this VUCA world: get a mentor.
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Back in July, Matt Landis updated us on several of the stories confirming Lancaster’s technology sector continued to thrive in 2018. As we close out the year, let’s look at a few more that made the news in our area during the second half of the year!

  • Think self-driving cars are still an early-stage

Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP is proud to sponsor the Junior League of Lancaster’s 16th Annual Author’s Luncheon featuring bestselling author, novelist and short story writer Alice Hoffman.  I am particularly excited about this event because I am an active member of the Junior League of Lancaster and I have the honor of chairing this year’s luncheon.

Ms. Hoffman’s most notable works include Practical Magic, its prequel, The Rules of Magic, and Dovekeepers, a New York Times bestseller.

The Author’s Luncheon will take place on Friday, November 30, 2018 at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square. The program starts at noon, but the doors will open at 11:00 AM leaving plenty of time to enjoy a book signing with Ms. Hoffman, raffle, silent auction and cash bar.  Tickets for the luncheon are $75.00 ($35.00 for students) and can be purchased on the Junior League of Lancaster’s website.
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What do robots and lawyers have in common? Although some might suggest there are a lot of less than stellar similarities, none of which apply to the fine attorneys of Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, of course, they are both now able to engage in successful public debate. That’s right, a robot computer took on two humans, including the 2016 Israeli national debate champion, and won!

The program, called Project Debater, was developed by IBM and exists as a freestanding black computer that’s roughly the height and width of a person. Project Debater participated in two debates in front of an audience of mostly journalists. At the conclusion of each debate, the audience was asked whether the debate swayed their opinion on the topic. While the humans won the debate on government subsidies for space exploration, Project Debater successfully changed the mind of nine audience members regarding an increased use of telemedicine, winning that debate. 
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