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Lose the boss & red tape. Add trust in your people. Mix & serve. The ideal ingredients for a great culture.

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By: Jenny Knuth, art director / geek & creative @ wisnet

Company: Morning Star
Crush Categories: Ownership; leadership philosophy; management style

What is ‘Culture Crush’ all about?
There are many great companies doing amazing things for their people, communities and beyond. Here, we’re highlighting those companies, teams, and ideas we’re in love with — to inspire and grow your workplace cultures!

If your team is like ours, it’s highly motivated by food — making it a great way to bring the team together without many questions. Pizza = a constant in our cafe. A delicious Wisconsin bratwurst or a grilled burger topped with assorted condiments during grill out days … yum! Salsa & chips as a snack … I’m there!

What’s the common ingredient here? Oddly, tomatoes!?! Which brings us to the point of the article … and what we’re drooling about most at the moment … that being the workplace culture of California-based tomato paste company — Morning Star.

Bucket loads of the good stuff.

We first heard of Morning Star’s engaging culture and intriguing management style through TED & Adam Grant’s WorkLife podcast episode, “A world without bosses.” While listening to the podcast, we were instantly in love with their self-management mentality and how it brings a refreshing, tangible sense of ownership, bucket loads of accountability, autonomy, and trust — topping it all off with sincere opportunities for growth. This intentional combo brings true freedom to ALL individuals on the team, regardless of working hard in a corner office or on the shop floor.

So, who is the boss at Morning Star, you ask?

They lay it all out as the company mission statement. But it’s a bit more in-depth than that. Make sure you check out this interview on their self-management system, the nuances, and how they experience the greatest success with it.

No time for that? We get it! So, here are our core takeaways about self-management & Morning Star:

Takeaway #1
Whether you prefer the idea of no bosses or everyone as their own boss, this unique approach to a flat hierarchy removes authority and traditional power dynamics. What we love most is the implication of individuals working ‘with’ one another verses ‘for’ another. Major crush brownie points from our perspective that they avoid the word “employee” — preferring the word “colleague” to imply being shoulder to shoulder and in partnership.


Takeaway #2
While we’re not much for strict rules, Morning Star’s two key principles are essential checkpoints for all to live & work by.

  1. Individuals should not use force against other people or their property.
  2. Individuals should respect and uphold the commitments they have made to others.

Takeaway #3
Just because there are no official bosses or managers, doesn’t mean leadership roles or structure are non-existent. Leadership roles are “cultivated and earned … based on competence, trust … and relationship building.” Read more in a short article or check out a full self-management white paper.

Who makes the decisions? The people best suited and committed to them. Where/how have they committed? The colleague letter of understanding — which is a voluntary, negotiated agreement outlining activities and processes for which one wants to be held responsible. It includes scope, definition of decision making for that person/role, and much much more. You can read that here.

If an agreement can’t be made, of course there are teams/people who step in. If you’re getting hung up on that being the essence of a “boss,” you’re missing the point.


Takeaway #4

Team dynamic & accountability — check! Now, what about individual needs & understanding? For this, Morning Star names five core crucial competencies for individual success:

  1. Taking Initiative
    In short, team members need to have a strong willingness and ability to speak up when necessary. No continuous hand holders for everyday tasks need apply.
  2. Tolerance for Ambiguity
    Without that clear-cut path to the boss’s office to have “them” figure it out, the responsibility to find solutions lies with the team — which makes constant communication, with a side of patience, critical for individual and team success.
  3. Consciousness
    Be present. Know and be confident that you’re at the table because you have solid expertise and talents — and the company fully entrusts you with those tasks and commitments.
  4. Contribution Mindset
    You are not in this alone so share, share, teach, learn and repeat.
  5. Low Power Distance Sensitivity
    Throw ego-building from power/authority/command & control out the window. Your credibility is built on a higher demand than that and we know you all have it in you!

Hire the right people and trust they’ll figure it out.

Boss or no boss, what’s most important is determining what core values, expectations, and foundational understandings need to be communicated so the team develops & sustains confidence in each other.

Everything here from Morning Star and their self-management philosophy brings wonderful language and clarity in what we believe to our core works great for culture building — especially a small team like ours where autonomy and ‘moving out of the way’ are essential to a productive, fulfilled team.

 

Have a company culture story or culture-building tactic that you’re crushing on and dying to share? We’d love to hear from you! Email me at jenny@wisnet.com.

Are reviews really that important?

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By: Julie Wild, Graphic Designer / geek & creative @ wisnet

Yes. The answer is yes, they are very important.

Here are some quick statistics from Invesp (2017-2018).
– 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
– 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
– 72% say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
– 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews.

Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools. And in this digital age, online reviews are the equivalent of stepping up to the podium and making an announcement for all to hear. And where there is someone speaking out you can bet there are people listening. That’s why it’s important for you to gain as many honest positive reviews as you can, as well as addressing any negative reviews that may come in.

Online reviews lead to increased sales.

The quality and quantity of reviews is one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO when searching on Google. When a person scans Google’s search results for a local product or service, the business listings that include customer reviews offer greater credibility and, naturally, receive more clicks.

Reviews create brand loyalty.

A person who takes the time to leave a positive review is more likely to come back for more business. They are also more likely to share their opinions on social media.

How do I get positive reviews?

One method for getting reviews would be to add the request to any correspondence that you have with your customers, especially right after they have made a purchase.

Another method is to ask your customer outright for a review. But the timing is important here. The best time to ask your customer for a review is after they have offered unsolicited praise. At that time, express your appreciation and ask if they would consider writing something online. Let them know how much that would mean to you and your business if they would share their positive feedback.

Where should my customers leave their reviews?

Google is a great place to leave reviews but it doesn’t matter which website is used by your customer. Reviews at Yelp, Trip Advisor, Amazon, Facebook, Yellowpages, Angie’s List, and others will be utilized by Google’s algorithms. Stars are displayed by search result listings to show review averages.

What can I do if I receive a negative review?

As mentioned in the stats at the beginning of this article, many people hesitate to purchase from a business that has a negative review. But there are ways to smooth over the jagged edges a negative review can leave behind.

1. Respond promptly. Be personable and genuine — write like a person, not a corporation.
2. Be honest and admit your mistakes, but at the same time correct any inaccuracies.
3. Offer restitution if it’s warranted, but take it offline when you delve into the details.
4. Highlight your strengths and offer your understanding.
5. Be consistent. Make sure you are checking your reviews often. A negative review without a proper response will leave readers wondering if you actually care about your customers.

What can you learn?

You can learn a lot from the reviews you receive. They can provide a clearer picture of what your customers expect from you and the products you provide. They can provide keys to creating better products and offering new services that your customers want to purchase.

wisnet Fun Fact

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Can we let you in on a little secret?… wisnet is intentionally spelled using a lowercase “w.”

No matter how big we get, we’ll always be small

We’ve always had the mindset that great ideas can come from anywhere – and ours come from Fond du Lac. We like to think of each of our clients as another team member and we’re proud of our community while also encouraging involvement within it. The lowercase “w” reminds us to stay humble and approachable.. We want others to know, that while we may not be large in number, we still have the people and talent to deliver what our clients are looking for (and more). The values and beliefs that have helped to define our culture are:

  • Be yourself
  • But, be humble
  • Keep it simple
  • Everything is figureoutable
  • Try new things
  • Be smart about business
  • Build & support community
  • Share idea; collaborate with many
  • Don’t take yourself or your work too seriously
  • Celebrate wins – no matter how small

We don’t take ourselves too seriously

If you ever walked into our office, you’ll be greeted with bright colors, cardboard cartoon cutouts, toys (lots and lots of toys), and plenty of good humor. We love what we do and want our clients to feel at home and comfortable when they come to our office.

All of this, combined with the lowercase “w,” has helped shape wisnet into what it is today. We’ve grown a lot since 1996, but our drive and pride for our work and community have stayed the same. We look forward to continuing to share more about wisnet and our culture with you.

Connecting Culture: wisnet featured in Insight magazine

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What follows is a write-up about a video that was shot during interviews for the “Connecting Culture” cover story in the October issue of Insight on Business

Watch this interview with our founder, Rick Kolstad, for a behind-the-scenes look at our wisnet culture and perks of being a Geek&Creative.

“We encourage people to think differently.”

Today, wisnet provides website application development, branding services, and website hosting for our customers. Over the past 22+ years, some of those services and offerings have evolved over time as technology and processes evolve. Because of that, our primary focus on customers and team members since day one has been vital. “Our company culture and our drive has stayed pretty consistent. We’ve always been customer-focused and employee-focused,” says Kolstad.

Developing the whole person is another facet of what Rick wants for each team member. In addition to general training and constant skill set growth, Rick talks about the community involvement that he has helped to foster across the entire company. “We encourage our team to find organizations they have a lot of interest in and get involved.” Including the work done with, “some of the universities and area high schools to help encourage and inspire the next generation of programmers and branders to work in this environment.”

As for what’s next at wisnet, Rick shares the excitement the team has for our bright future. “We’re focusing on a lot of our own products as we go forward,” says Kolstad. “We’ve got a digital sign product that we’re working on. And we also have a corporate fitness program and applications that we’re working on to help spread the culture we’ve developed here to other companies.”

All in all, as with any great culture, Rick explains that it’s all about the team. “A lot of our ideas come from our team. We always look forward to new ideas and we encourage people to think differently,” says Kolstad. “So we can take those ideas and apply them, try them out, and if they work, great! If not, then we try something different.”

After you’re done checking out the video, be sure to read the entire Connecting Culture cover story from the October Insight on Business magazine.

Carving Ducks: Thinking Differently about Challenges

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By: Rick Kolstad / geek & creative @ wisnet

As we grow through life, we often have mentors and teachers who have a great impact on how we approach the way we live and challenges we face. The key is taking the time to know and listen to them. Sometimes the greatest advice comes when you are not looking for it – or they are not providing it.

Thinking differently about it.

In high school, I like to think that I was a good student, just bored, frustrated at times (like many kids). I had a geometry teacher, Tom Strauss, who saw that and invited me to take one of his algebra classes at the same time I was taking geometry – now I was challenged. I enjoyed his process of thinking and solving challenges so much that I would spend my lunch hours in his classroom going through more projects, challenges, etc. He made problem-solving fun.

Tom was an exceptional artist, he loved to carve ducks out of wood. He spent many hours during lunch making some amazing creations from a plain block of wood. One day I asked him how he learned to carve ducks. He told me, “carving ducks is easy, you just cut away everything that does not look like a duck.” I can still hear him say that with his little chuckle and smile.

Tom passed away October 2017 after losing a 4-year fight with cancer. At his funeral, I was telling this story to his wife (who was also one of my favorite teachers), and it hit me that what I thought was a joke about carving ducks is really what he had been teaching all along. Don’t directly attack the challenge, define your goals, remove the clutter around that challenge, simplify as much as possible, let the challenge optimize itself, think differently! It is a great philosophy for optimizing life and creating a strong culture around you.

I realized that I have used that approach in many elements of my life – making decisions, raising a family, the way we attack website programming projects. Remove the noise, optimize, and focus on what is important. This philosophy has been a big part in the evolution of the culture here at wisnet. Thanks, Tom! You are greatly missed…

I am very grateful to have had many people like this in my life who provide little nudges & nuggets of advice (sometimes without knowing it) that have a great impact on my life.  

Who has given you little nudges & nuggets that have impacted your life?

Remembering Scott Kirkpatrick 1961 – 2018

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We are incredibly saddened to share that we lost a dear friend, colleague, and fellow geek & creative, Scott Kirkpatrick.

Scott brought so much to our lives that can’t be described. He approached life with an energy that was unmatched. We will always remember what he did for each of us through the years of knowing him, which now, seem all too short. His ability to push us each to be the best we can be, his desire to always elevate what we deliver to clients, and his passion for those he loved and how he always put their needs over his own.

Scott’s five words ring so true today, just as they did the day we met him. We’re sure many of you experienced these through your interactions with Scott. Each one brings a story, laugh, and memory to mind that we’ll hold on to dearly.

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and support.

We love you, Scott.

It’s fairly easy or common to seek distraction in one’s day-to-day even after such a great loss – after all, life inevitably goes on despite our shock, sadness, confusion. That said, there are so many reminders of Scott’s impact on our work and personal lives.

It’s harder to focus on those reminders and memories as they highlight the gaps we’re all experiencing in different ways. Sharing those memories and stories of Scott are sure to bring smiles to faces, as well as some tears – but all in all, help the healing process begin. We’ll keep adding more stories as we continue to reflect and remember our dear friend.

Tracy & I had a fantastic and very amusing call with Scott after his speech at the Governor’s mansion. He was so pumped up and proud, yet incredibly humble, about sharing his story of receiving the gift of life after his heart transplant. On top of that, his remarks about his interactions with Governor Walker were quite entertaining. He kept talking about giving Walker a big french kiss to make his story extreme and keep us laughing.

I remember the day Scott called to offer me a job at wisnet. I was at Six Flags riding roller coasters on a random day off and he thought that was so awesome. We talked about roller coasters more than we talked about anything else during that call – and it was a constant theme/comment when working together.

Countless whiteboard sessions in the Green Room – a.k.a. “War room.” Passionately arm wrestling with words and ideas … one day it got to the point that Scott stopped me and asked if we were arguing and if we were okay –– just one example of many where his care and compassion for people was ever present. No matter how hard he wanted to push for a big idea, he was always concerned about the wellbeing of his team and the relationships between us all.

I can’t remember what day it was technically, but Scott wore a batman mask practically all day – AND maintained talking in a low, deep, scratchy voice to stay in character. Cracks me up every. single. time. I think about it.

Scott’s laugh. Could hear it / pick it out of a crowd. ANYWHERE.

Every morning when I get into work, I usually play country music.  One morning, after Scott was here for a bit, he messaged me “to whomever picks the music… can we have less Country, please?”  I politely said I usually pick the music right away in the morning cause I like country. His response: “I like country… but when it’s over the top I will reach for my ear bugs… so I would like less…” My response: “I could play Christmas music instead :).”  Needless to say, every morning after this, I would make sure I listened to country music before he got in the office. In honor of him, every morning I can, I will play country music.

Scott hates the color purple.  Because of it, he had a hard time wearing his geeks & creatives shirt cause it was so close to purple.

Scott never told Carrie (his wife), but the first day he got his new car and was driving home, he got pulled over because he was swerving in his lane of traffic.  Truth of the matter was he couldn’t figure out how to change the radio station. The cop was super about the whole ordeal and let him off with a warning.

The entertaining & creative word combinations/creations of his email subject lines. Always dramatic about the creative process, but he had so much brilliance there. Examples: “Shitski! This is as far as I got” – “Scott babble” – “Throwing shit at the wall” – “logo farts” – “blurg!!!” – “meatballs are served…” (in reference to his “meatball surgery” idea combinations).

When I first met Scott, he asked me, “What’s wisnet’s brand?” Knowing that’s a big question and one that’s hard to answer (especially for a prospective employee, I wasn’t even hired, yet!), he just wanted to see what kind of a BS-er he might be dealing with.

I was working on a community project with a group of friends and a couple of us had the opportunity to present at a conference in Madison regarding our project. I didn’t ask him to come since I knew he was busy, but Scott was genuinely interested and wanted nothing but to support me and this presentation. So of course, he was there as our cheerleader and made the day even brighter, just because it was a nice thing to do.

On many occasions when I was having a crappy day or felt I was not contributing enough, Scott would always tell me “I will never lose faith in you, ever!!”

Many times when I would get an email or talk to him, it would start out with a “Hey Buddy!”  Always made me smile.

Scott ALWAYS wanted to do more for our clients. Not to get paid more, but to give more. To do more. Didn’t matter if he was already booked up with projects, he wanted to give each and every client that “lucky strike extra” so their branding could be that much better. Just because.

I was reviewing the schedule for the day and was covering the agenda for a client meeting that was coming up later. I mentioned that we’d have to ask if anyone had to wrap up by a certain time by saying, “We’ll have to see if anyone has a ‘hard out’ and needs to leave or if it can run long.” Either Scott misheard me (that’s my story) or I misspoke and said something other than “out.” Either way, he never let me live that down.

The first time I saw Scott after his heart attack and accident was at our Christmas party at Fat Joe’s.  We had a long hug and one of the first things he jokingly said was “you had to pick a place with stairs?” I guess I deserved that one. 🙂

Last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas,  we started sending anonymous superhero gifts to Scott.  They included a Superman Cape, shirt, Superman socks with their own little capes and a few figurines. He soon figured it was us and vowed to wear his Superman garb after his heart transplant, which he graciously followed through on.

Just last month, when I came to work after my mom died, he didn’t say anything, just walked toward me with his arms out and gave me a big hug. He was a “word man” but he also knew when words just weren’t enough.

Moving On

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By: Rachel Lederer, intern / geek & creative @ wisnet

My time here at wisnet has been great, it really has. I’ve learned a lot about Communication and about myself too. I’ve learned I can’t simply wait for good/bad things to happen to me – I have to act now. No waiting around for people to tell me what to do & when – because I don’t have time for that and neither does anyone else. It’s difficult though, and yeah everyone else is going to say it is difficult too, but I am just so used to people telling me what is right and wrong – it is near impossible to transition. Take my summer for instance. The duration of my internship I was quiet and shy because I didn’t know what to do. Sure, I did ask but I didn’t really speak my mind and say what I actually wanted to do. The best day I have had at wisnet was actually my last day. I was given a project to complete within the last few weeks of my time here, and the last day was when I thrived. I live for organized chaos, and that’s what my last day was. I was in such a rush to complete my deadline and I am most creative when I am rushed to get things done.

I graduate in May, so that means I have to start getting my act together and looking for jobs now. Not just jobs though, careers, or decide what I want to do for the rest of my life. In this sense, I don’t like to rush because I would like to plan out what I am doing and where I am going for the rest of my life-preferably prior to two months before graduation. I understand that everyone is different though, and some people already have jobs before they graduate, others travel first, and with other people, graduation just doesn’t phase them.

I actually had the chance to intern with a great company. The team saw a need for me, and so I became an intern with the Geeks & Creatives of wisnet.

HTTPS Encryption – The Website Standard

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By: Julie Wild, senior designer / geek & creative @ wisnet

Is Your Website Secure?

On February 8th Google announced that “beginning in July 2018, with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as not secure.” This means that sites without an SSL certificate and an URL that starts with HTTP will be flagged to viewers as an unsecured site. This could scare visitors away from that website, reducing traffic, ultimately leading to less contacts and sales.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS uses encryption to protect the information sent between your browser and the website making it nearly impossible to intercept, protecting you and your data as it is sent across the Internet. Without encryption, it would be possible for a hacker to intercept this information or to inject malware into a web page. HTTPS encryption was introduced in 2003 and was primarily used on portions of websites where customers enter sensitive information such as filling out forms or ordering products online. Google has been a strong advocate of making HTTPS the standard for all web pages since 2014. Flagging unsecured sites in Chrome will be a final push for website owners to update their sites.

How do I add encryption to my website?

HTTPS has become much easier to implement through automated services like Let’s Encrypt. Google also offers its own Lighthouse tool, which includes tools for migrating a website to HTTPS.

At wisnet.com, newer sites created with WordPress are set up as HTTPS from the start. To make things even better, all WordPress sites at wisnet.com come with a free SSL Certificate. If you have an older WordPress site that is not HTTPS, contact us so we can help you get more secure. Whether your site is created in WordPress or another format, wisnet.com can answer all of your questions about your website’s security and help you convert to HTTPS.

Resource Links:

The Creative Flow

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By: Rachel Lederer, intern / geek & creative @ wisnet

Now that I am halfway through my internship at wisnet, I have learned a lot. But not necessarily about web design, which is what I initially wanted to do when I came here. It makes sense that I didn’t learn a whole lot though, because that is not my specialty. Working with people and figuring out ways to make their lives better is what I am good at, and the people at wisnet have helped me realize how much good I can actually do.

I still don’t have a specific idea in mind of what I want to do as a career, in life after college, and I doubt that I will ever have that in mind, because I think that would narrow my search too much of what I want to do. I know for sure I love working with people, event planning and collaborating with others to create social media campaigns. I have figured out that I do not want to work in web design business, but here at wisnet there is a good distinction between web design and customer care. I have amazing team members who are willing to help me get from point A to point B in a way different from what I am used to. After all, wisnet is a team of Geeks & Creatives. Here, the geeks and creatives work together as a team, and there is no distinction between them. The wisnet team includes everyone, no matter what their background may be.

Overall I enjoy my internship here at wisnet, because I feel like I am appreciated and have a purpose. I am not the typical intern that goes on coffee runs and serves as more of a secretary. I have made my mark here, expanding on social media campaigns for clients and working on client onboarding and tutorials, and I am glad I had the opportunity to become a part of this team. I am excited to see what the future (well actually the rest of the summer) holds here at wisnet.

Geek Throwback: Fountain Pens

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By: Steve Maass, senior application programmer / geek & creative @ wisnet

I’m a programmer. I type on a keyboard for a living. In fact, while the backspace key is my best friend, I type pretty fast, despite being self-taught. Typing is such a big part of my life that if I need to make a note of something at work, I type it into a text editing app. About the only time I grab a pen and paper is if I’m heading to a meeting, and that’s only because I find it too distracting to type while I’m listening.

Which brings me to the point of this post. About a year ago, my wife expressed an interest in getting a fountain pen. “Why?” I asked her. Why not use a ballpoint? They work well, they’re inexpensive, and they don’t leak (fountain pens leak, right?).

She gave her reasons, but I wasn’t convinced. Luckily, we have a great pen store not far away, so we paid them a visit to see what was what and to ask lots of questions. We did settle on a pen for her, but personally, I still didn’t get it. (She loved using the pen, so that first visit was far from our last, but I digress.)

Eventually, after picking up a couple of nice ballpoints for myself (hey, I knew what I liked), I started wondering what all the fuss was about, and I decided to get my first fountain pen. And then I got it. It really is a whole different world.

Fountain pens certainly aren’t for everyone. They need to be cleaned occasionally, they can run out of ink and require a refill, and they don’t always work well on cheap paper (think copy paper and the like). And depending on the ink you use and how much ink your pen lays down, it can take several seconds for your writing to completely dry.

As for leaking, it’s a joke in the pen world that a fountain pen is basically a controlled leak. And it’s true that if you take one on an airplane, the changes in air pressure can cause the pen to “burp” into the cap. But if your pens stay on the ground (or fly empty), you shouldn’t have a problem.

So, why fountain pens?

With a nice, fountain pen-friendly notebook, the writing experience can be almost magical. You barely need to apply any pressure when putting pen to paper. The nib (the part that touches the paper) glides across the page. And the ink colors! Unlike with ballpoints where you’re generally stuck with blue or black or red, there’s a literal rainbow of colors of ink to choose from: oranges, purples, turquoises, pinks, greens, every possible shade of blue or brown, and on and on.

All of that makes a fountain pen great for journaling, drawing, writing letters, adding a note to a birthday card, or even just jotting down a reminder.

Now granted, for the sake of convenience, you may find that a ballpoint is still the best option at work, and I won’t argue the “point.” But for de-stressing and just enjoying something the way it used to be, fountain pens can be a real delight. And an addiction. But I’m getting help. 😉

What does the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mean for you?

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We’re confident you’re received a number of privacy policy update emails, but do you know why and how this might impact your website and communications? Here’s our attempt at a synopsis and if GDPR impacts you.


Disclaimer: This post is not legal advice. We’re not lawyers.

What is the GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU) and also regulates the exportation of personal data outside the EU. This new set of rules is designed to give EU citizens more control over their personal data. But this law affects any organization doing business with or collecting information from an EU citizen.

What do you mean by “personal data”?

Your name, address, credit card number and more all collected, analyzed and, perhaps most importantly, stored by organizations. The types of data considered personal under the existing legislation include name, address, and photos. GDPR extends the definition of personal data to cover:
– Web data such as location, IP address, cookie data and RFID tags
– Health and genetic data
– Biometric data
– Racial or ethnic data
– Political opinions
– Sexual orientation

Does it affect my company or organization?

If you hold any EU citizen data via your website, app, or service you MUST act now (in fact you’re super late to the party). All organizations are expected to be compliant with GDPR as of May 25, 2018.

If you have international reach with your website, social, email – really any online media, you should probably still pay attention to GDPR and take some action.

What happens if I don’t comply?

There is a fine for not being compliant. The maximum fine for noncompliance with the GDPR is up to 4% of the annual global revenue generated by the company.

So, what do I need to do?

  1. Get permission of data collection.
    The GDPR requires companies to clearly state the purposes of data collection to the customer, when and how it will be used, and when it will be destroyed. It cannot be hidden in a privacy policy statement nor recorded by default. If you are collecting data from a form page then you must ask customers to give consent to use their personal information. (unless it is for compliance with a legal obligation). And the data cannot be kept indefinitely.
  2. Protect the data that is collected.
    Make sure your company has the proper security measures in place should be first on your task list. Contact your IT administrator, find out what you need to have in place to be compliant, and then create a protection plan.
  3. Inform all persons of a data breach.
    Your company must inform victims individually of any breach within 72 hours.
  4. Respond to data collection requests.
    Any customer can request what type of data is being collected and stored about them (Right to Portability), as well as the right to request that it be deleted (Right to Erasure).

Here’s what a lot of other companies and organizations have been doing:

  • Updating their privacy policy on their website.
  • Adding notices about personal data collection on all form pages.
  • Emailing their updated privacy policy to current customers, and providing opt out requests for email lists, etc.
  • Adding an opt in on websites addressing acknowledgement of data collection

If you are concerned that you may not be GDPR compliant, please contact your lawyer to help guide you.

Online Resources:
https://www.zdnet.com/article/gdpr-an-executive-guide-to-what-you-need-to-know/
https://www.csoonline.com/article/3202771/data-protection/general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr-requirements-deadlines-and-facts.html
https://www.cio.com/article/3256086/privacy/becoming-gdpr-compliant-quickly-effectively-and-risk-free.html
https://www.ogury-gdpr.com/

 

No Screens Attached: Balancing a Fast-Paced Development Career

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By: Ben Knier, developer / geek & creative @ wisnet

Life in the tech industry can be tempestuous.

Quality time away from work is just as, if not more important for career growth…

Whether you’ve been in the game for 30 years or are just starting out, staying on top of the latest trends, devices, programming languages, and everything else that goes into web development is part of being the best developer you can be. On top of that, you have to infuse those changes into your projects, lest you fall behind the times. With that in mind, you can’t just go to a conference for a day to get a break from the hubbub of the office: you have to engage with the speaker(s) and absorb the content. You have to follow blogs, read articles, watch tutorials, and take courses in order to bring the latest and greatest back to your customer (after all, that’s what they’re paying you for).

In a profession where processes and protocols change more frequently than my son’s diapers, it’s easy for any developer to become overwhelmed by it all (particularly one as green as myself). Some people simply can’t handle it: they bow out before their career takes off. Others will stick it out for a time, but will ultimately either drive themselves crazy trying to keep it together (think Bing Crosby when he first took on the farming life in “Holiday Inn”), or will stop growing as a developer and produce the same site over and over, with no regard to improvements and changes in the industry. The ones who will stick it out, however, are the ones who can use “the Force” to bring balance to their inner universe.

For me personally, I like to balance the speed of a web development career with what most people would call an uneventful, laid-back lifestyle. I’m a homebody: I prefer to spend my time away from wisnet at home with my family rather than going out. I have a couple acres of land that I enjoy mowing every five days in an unincorporated village where the average resident is in his/her 60s. My neighbors and I make a point of stopping to talk when we see each other outside or lend a hand when we see each other struggling with something. We even know each other by our first names (isn’t that a novelty nowadays).

My wife, son, and I spend most evenings outside away from all the screens (I spend the majority of the day in front of three after all). Whether we’re playing yard games, shooting basketballs, or sitting around a campfire looking out at the cornfield and listening to the crickets, we’re spending quality time together. More importantly, we are actively present while spending that time together. After all, family is even more important than work, so I strive to make sure that my family receives just as much attention as my career.

On top of quality family time, I enjoy reading and exercising. Science-fiction and fantasy novels, when joined with my over-active imagination, are an escape from both the rigors and doldrums of everyday life. My daily 5:00am weight-training session functions as my “me-time” and helps me shake loose from the shackles of frustration and stress.

In short, those are the activities and the lifestyle that balance out my fast-paced career. The peace and quiet of a relatively screen-free home-life gives me the ability to focus intently on my screen-laden work-life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.